For The Damaged


richard4_icon.gif robyn5_icon.gif

Scene Title For The Damaged
Synopsis Say you were me / Then you could see the view / You'll know we are equally damaged
Date February 4th, 2020

Kaleidoscope Studios

It’s almost sunset, the light outside Richard Ray’s room dying softly by the minute as he stares out the window through plastic lenses tinted to make the sight bearable for him. The curtains are swept back across it as he turns away, stepping through the small apartment that he’s taken over for the safety of his family.

Just until he gets control of this, he tells himself. If she could do it, so can I.

Sinking onto the couch, he leans forward and picks up a notepad, checking his list of things he needs to do and look into. He’s divided it into sections, since half of them he can’t do at the moment due to… various reasons. His eyes settling on one line, he frowns at the thought of it.

Might as well rip off the bandage though.

He pulls out his phone, tapping in a number and bringing it up to his head, feet kicked up onto the table.

As a generic ringtone echoes, a hand slams down on a desk in Robyn Quinn's office. With a groan, her fingers dance across the wood surface until she finds it. Hazy eyed, she rises up from where her head had been laying, a bottle of Southern Comfort laying on it's side next to a long empty glass. She coughs, taking the phone into her hand slowly.

Eyes narrow as she stares at the phone for a long moment, before she decides that the ringtone is too annoying and hits the answer button.


“Hey. You know, I’m still not used to the whole French thing,” is Richard’s greeting on the other end of the line. It’s certainly his characteristic wit, but there’s something just— off about it, as if his heart wasn’t really in it. As if he were forcing it.

Which, of course, he is.

“How’s tricks?”

Richard. Of course if anyone's going to know this number, it's him. The SESA agent groans. "I can always tell you to fuck off in Gaelic, if you'd rather. I can still do that." Funny thing is, she doesn't quite sound like she really has her heart in it either.

Though certainly for far different reasons.

"I don't know. How's being kidnapped?" Naturally she assumes he isn't if he's calling her, but- well.

There’s silence for a long moment.

“Shit. I don’t recommend it,” Richard finally says in quiet, bitter tones.

Another moment passes, his gaze set on the wall across from him but not seeing it at all before he speaks again.

“Any chance I can come over? I don’t want to talk about this over a phone.”

With a heavy sigh, Robyn rolls her eyes and settles back in her chair. "Now? Sure, whatever. Bring a bottle of midori with you." Richard can hear the clinking of glass afterwards, followed by leather creaking.

"You're going to tell me how you got back. Last I heard your friends were holding my friend for something I'm almost certain she didn't do, and you were nowhere to be found." There's a tang of bitterness to those words, but it's brief. "But hey, you're back. Magnifique. We'll drink to it."

“Sounds like a plan. You got an address?”

Up to his feet, and Richard steps over to slip his shoes on without hands - harder than it sounds, really, especially since he’s still not one-hundred-percent steady on those feet.

“I’m guessing you’re not in your old place, since you tried to disappear.”

"The fuck?" Another sigh and a sharp exhale, and Robyn pulls herself to the feet as well, stumbling her way to her office door.

"I mean, I still live at 218 41st St, like the last year. Who told you I tried to…" A door shuts behind her. "Never mind. The glass doors are locked, so ring the buzzer when you get here. I'll try not to pass out before then."


“You will notice that I didn’t call you on your usual number, and that your current cellular service provider is most often sold out of Taco Bells,” Richard deadpans. He’s exaggerating a bit. Taco Bell doesn’t sell phones.


“Alright. I’ll see you in a bit. If you’re passed out I’m raiding your liquor cabinet.” Click.

An hour later, there’s someone hitting the buzzer outside the door.

When Richard arrives, Robyn is sitting in the Kaleidoscope Studios lobby, staring up at the ceiling in a manner that makes it hard to tell if she has, in fact, passed out or not. Head laid back against a plush chair and dressed in what could be called "aggressively casual" compared to her normal dress, she doesn't react to the buzzer at first.

At least not until it rings out a second time, at which point it becomes clear that it's probably Richard and not some knob stopping by without an appointment. Straightening her white button up shirt she's slow to rise and make her way to open the door, unlocking it and pushing it open.

"Stay the fuck out of my liquor cabinet," is her mild greeting, though at least there's a hint of a grin as she says it.

Richard’s dressed casual for Richard these days; a pair of worn jeans, a black windbreaker. A pair of biking gloves and sunglasses conspire to hide hands and eyes, and the former are resting on an antique cane topped with a silver wolf’s head, worn and scratched from years of use and misuse.

“No promises,” he replies, managing a slight smile as he moves inside, “It’s been a shit month for me, and I’ve gone through most of mine.”

That’s probably an exaggeration, given his personal wealth.

She gets a long look, “Getting the feeling you’ve had a shit month too.”

"Probably." It's not that she doesn't remember most of it, but Robyn wouldn't blame anyone for thinking that with how she looks right now. "Come on in. Matthew's off having a play date with Walter Trafford, so… I dunno. Don't feel any need to hold the fuck back."

Said with a distinct sort of emphasis.

But as she steps out of his way, she stops mid-stride. Eyes glance down, and then back up to Cardinal. Her grin is gone, expression steely as she motions to his cane. "The fuck is this? A bad joke?"

Yes, she knows that cane. Or at least one that looks much like it.

There’s no mirth in Richard’s face as he looks down at the cane in his hand for a long moment at her question as if seriously considering her question.

“Yeah,” he admits bitterly, “Yeah, I think it is, actually.”

He waits for her to move completely out of the way before moving in, making sure he doesn’t touch her - even through clothes. No point in pressing his luck.

“Like I said. Didn’t want to talk about this over the phone.”

"Uh huh." Robyn keeps her eyes on the cane for a second, before shivering. "Leave it by the door. I don't even want a replica of that thing around here." Finally stepping out of the way, she makes her way back into the lobby.

"So when you say this isn't a phone conversation, do you mean we should go upstairs and have a beer, or should I get out the bottle of Redbreast 21 and we go to the soundproof studio rooms? It's you, so I'm guessing the latter?"

She makes her way over to where she had been sitting and lifts a glass off the small table beside it. "I'm going to guess this has something to do with that whole kidnapping nonsense from your more dour than usual look and, well, the fact that you always seem to come back knowing more than I ever wanted to know when you disappear for a bit."

That one's an actual joke at least, said with a smile and everything.

"That stays here though," she adds, again motioning back to the cane.

“Yeah… kidnapping nonsense,” Richard mutters under his breath, leaning the cane by the door before moving to follow her in, fingers flexing and unflexing at his side as if used to leaning on it. There’s a tension to him, a shakiness that’s certainly not normal to the usually-confident man.

That gloved hand pushes back through his hair, and he exhales, “Studios might be better. I can give you the— rundown. You were with Wolfhound awhile, so…”

"Mm." Pulling keys out of her pocket, she makes her way over to a door marked 'Studios". "You know, this was how I used to do things back in the day. It's because of Cat and the Verb that I even live here now. Soundproof studios are great for talking about secret plans and terorism."

She pushes the door open and stands on the threshold for a moment. "At least until you realise that they were probably smart enough to bug those too." Which she hadn't until it was far too late.

Quinn has grown more observant during her time working for SESA, but her entire state today seems like a regression. Casual, white shirt and jeans attire, talking of terrorism, an almost obstinant unobservantness. It's like looking to a living time capsule, were it not for her gray eyes and French accent.

"This isn't anything that's going to get me in trouble with Voss, is it? He already doesn't like that we're friends."

“I don’t give a fuck what Voss thinks.”

There’s no venom to it, it’s just a dismissive cast of words as Richard follows her into the studio, gaze sweeping over it. “I assume that you’ve already checked it for bugs, then,” he quips tiredly, rubbing his gloved fingers to the nape of his neck.

He stands there a moment before glancing back, “You— I remember you were looking for Nathalie LeRoux. Did you ever find her?”

As they reach the two doors to the studio green rooms, Robyn stops with keys in hand, slowly turning to look over her shoulder at Richard. "Nat? Nat's dust in the wind. I figure at this point she doesn't want to found." After a moment her eyes narrow, and she turns to face Richard fully.

"Wait. What does Nat have to do with anything?" There's a challenging tone in her voice, one that isn't normally present. "What are dancing around, Richard?"

“She didn’t want to be found.” Richard stops as she turns back towards him, pulling back a step so as to not accidentally contact her, his lips twisting in a grimace, “I found her, but… she asked me not to tell anyone who she was.”

A faint, mirthless smile soon fades, “Ironically? She was my cousin. Sarisa’s kid, with Avi, of all fuckin’ people. He didn’t know.”

“You probably met her. I think she was going by Berlin?”

There dead stare that Robyn gives Richard would maybe be one that would give someone else pause, but it's not uncommon for her to share this particular disbelieving glare with her friends, which likely serves to diminish it's effect.

"I know Wolfhound likes their prank wars, Richard," she replies as she turns back to the door and pushes it open. "But don't you think this one's a little in poor taste?"

But wait.

She again stops in the threshold, looking like she's puzzling something out before continuing through. "Wait. How do you know that Avi is Nat's father? I was the one that told him that, and I certainly haven't told anyone else. I wouldn't expect him to either."

Fingers curl tighter around her glass.

"What the fuck is this, Richard?"

It’s an accusation that has Richard’s jaw tensing. “Why does everyone,” he bites off bitterly, “Keep accusing me of joking about this shit?

“No. I’m not fucking joking, Robyn.”

One hand comes up, rubbing over his face, “Christ. They took both of us. Mazdak, Shedda Dinu— they fucking picked us up like fruit off a tree and stole us to Iraq.”

"Mazdak?" That brings a look of shock to Robyn's face - no, this isn't a joke. But it's still not adding up to her. "I don't believe for a second-" She stops herself, eyes closing as she moves further into the green room.


Uh huh.


She swallows, looking Richard up and down. "Look, Richard. I'm- sorry. I just- It doesn't add up, and I'm-" A huff. "Nat. Berlin? Wh- Then-" Her teeth grit, and the focus of her thoughts visibly shifts. "Wait. If you're not joking, then- what the fuck?"

Why is she just hearing about this, is the unspoken question clear as day in her eyes.

“She asked me not to tell anyone, and…” Richard steps past her into the green room, walking past her with a slow shake of his head, “She was my cousin. Christ, she’s one of two blood relatives I had left.”

Not counting Dave. Dave’s made his feelings about being counted on that list very, very clear.

“She was a little concerned people would find her, since she had the conduits. Both of them.”

He finds a wall, slumping against it with both shoulders, gaze looking out through the room.

There's a lot being left unsaid, but still implied in the choice of words Richard uses. Robyn's been through the wringer enough at this point that they don't pass her by, at least not after a moment. There's a lot to unpack here, but those unspoken details are what grab her attention to most.

Her posture tenses; where Richard slumps, she stiffens, chin tilting back slightly as she looks down at him with her glass in hand.

Fingers tighten further around the glass.

Asked. Was. Had. Had left.

The glass audibly cracks under her grasp, whiskey leaking out onto her hand.

She doesn't speak.

As he hears the crack, Richard’s head lifts… regarding her quietly for a moment.

“Yeah,” he says softly, “I’m sorry.”

He looks down at his hands, black gloves covering his fingers. “That bastard brought us there to kill her, the only way he could. The only way she could die. It’s like— he knew somehow, knew what she’d do.”

There's no response as Robyn stares ahead blankly, the hand holding her glass shaking. Until, finally, she squeezes just the right spot a little too tight.

As it shatters in her hand, the jagged and broken base of it - along with dozen of little broken pieces and splinters of glass - tumble to the floor. Whiskey covering her hand mixes with blood that drains down her fingers and falls down to the dark carpet. Dark enough to at least momentarily hide blood stains.

There's a pained look in her eye and a soft gasp, like even she didn't realise she was holding the glass that tight. Still, she stares blankly ahead a moment longer, before shakily turning back to the couch on the other end of the green room. She sits down with a thud, pulling over a thing of paper towels. Several are set down on the coffee table in front of her as she holds her hand over it, and begins picking out pieces of glass.

"Please tell me you're joking," she finally says quietly. Like this time, she wants it to be the case.

She knows it's not.


Richard pushes away from the wall, starting to reach out… and then pulling his hand back, fingers curling towards his palm. A grimace twists across his lips, staring at her, staring at the blood.

“I wish I was. I— you have no idea how much I wish I was, Robyn. It should be her standing here right now. Not me.”

She’d be able to help here. She’d be able to heal Robyn’s injury as a matter of course, such a minor hurt easily within the realm of her mastery of the conduits.

It’s all he can do to not make things worse by touching her.

Rather than immediately respond, Robyn focuses instead on making sure all the shards of glass are out of her hand. It looks more painful than it really is - she's been shot, explosion adjacent, caught fire, all sorts of trauma. A little glass hurts, but it's nothing she hasn't felt before.

Plus it gives her something else to focus on.

"There's a few bottles of water in the fridge in the corner," she says quietly. "Can you grab one?" As she waits, she clears her throat. "I don't understand," she says. "Why? Why kidnap you both, to kill her? Why- kill her? The conduits?"

The plural clicks wit hher for the first time, furrowing her brow.


Richard pushes off from the wall, walking over to the fridge and bending over to pull it open and retrieve two bottles of water. Hip-checking the door closed he walks over towards her once more, offering one out at arm’s length - clearly keeping from contact.

“I… don’t know why, per se. They— they’re the ones who’ve been behind all the really bad shit. Shedda, Mazdak— they’ve been using Adam as a fucking cover, I think. We’ve all been being played, we’re all being manipulated, it…”

A mirthless bark of laughter, and he brings the other bottle up to press against the side of his neck, cooling him down, “I guess this is what it felt like being on the other side of Edward’s plans.”

That even brief laughter fades quickly, though, and he looks down, “They wanted them in me, I guess. Had a lot of time to think about it. I think they wanted someone who couldn’t use them to have them, and shoving them in me also took me off the table, or… I don’t know. I don’t understand their design yet, their plan.”


Taking the bottle of water, she opens it with her uninjured hand. MWith little regard for anything besides the paper towels, she sets about trying to flush any leftover pieces of glass out of the wounds on her hand.

Though at one point, she does freeze and shake.

"I-In you?" She hadn't pieced that together yet, looking up at Richard in horror. "You have the conduits?"

Suddenly the interactions of this conversation start to settle into place. She's certainly not the most well versed in the lore of the Conduits, the Vanguard, or Kazimir Volken, but… she's done a lot of research. Particularly in the last few years.

Looking down at her hand, it shakes. "That's why you have the cane. I- swear to god, it better be you talking right now, Richard."

“Heh. Don’t worry, it’s me. After Antarctica, I think the old man was done with the whole business… he hasn’t stuck his head up yet. None of them have,” Richard admits quietly, glancing to the door as if worried someone was listening in.

“Naidu took the cane from Hana. I think he gave it to me as a sick joke, honestly,” he says bitterly, “But I’m keeping it all the same.”

Hana. There's too many moving parts to this. It's all a bit overwhelming, showing in how Robyn buries her face in her free hand rather than wrapping her cleaned hand with… something.

"I never met him, not in this timeline," Robyn remarks of Kazimir. "So I'm glad we're keeping it that way."

Silence falls between them for a long moment, before she speaks up again.

"I'm sorry."

There's no specification of what for, so in essence, everything.

“Like I said, it… it should be her standing here right now. I’ve escaped death enough times, she— she should’ve gotten out of there instead.”

Richard steps over back towards the couch, slowly sitting down upon it, the bottle held between his hands. Staring at it for a long moment before he says quietly, “I may have some answers for you, though. Or a way to find them. A silver lining on this cloud of shit.”

"You've already given me one answer." It comes out almost as a grumble, clear that Robyn still doesn't want to believe the news she's been delivered tonight. But there's that silver lining she's only just now starting to see through the haze of disappointment in Nat's fate:

That she had known the young woman she had hoped to find again, and that she //had trusted her. In her own, strange way.

"What else is there? I'm not sure I'm the one who needs them anymore." Her uninjured hand curls up into a fist, skin creaking as she digs her nails into her palms. "I've given up. Moving on. Moving out."

Picking up the paper towel roll, she pulls some off and begins wrapping up her hand. "Thank you for telling me," she offers him quietly. "At least now I can have some peace about that." Her voice warbles a little at that, eyes closing as she leans back against the couch.

“Yeah, you do.”

Richard looks up to her, offering a faint smile, “You remember that little trip down south, where you were hoping to find some of Roux and Drucker’s records? Well, I happened to have a little talk with— ah— you remember Rebel?”

His hands spread a little, “Turns out, Hana’s spent the last few years piecing him back together one piece of code at a time. He calls himself S.Attva now, but there’re still parts of Drucker in there.”

“And you already have the records that all three of us have been looking for. Me, you, and Attva.”

As Robyn nears the end of wrapping her hand, she pauses. Richard can hear her swallow audibly, even as a bit of red still stains the paper towels. She's going to need gauze soon, assuming she doesn't need stitches.

"I'm not giving up my mom's records," she gripes quietly. "They're the last thing I have. I mean, besides Matthew. This chase to find out more about who she was… it's taken a lot. I'm not letting it take anymore. But I'm not letting go of her either."

She looks over at him, and then almost - almost - seems to relax. "If you can get them back to me undamaged, do whatever you need to with them."

“Hey, who said I wanted to take them away from you? I know what it’s like to not have much left of… people,” Richard says with a grimace, shaking his head, “I just need to get the data off them, and then they’re going right back to you, as far as I’m concerned. Your mother - and Drucker - they were smart as hell. They saw the redaction coming, and put everything on those records, encoded in a silent lock-groove in the vinyl.”

He offers her a faint smile, “You wanted these answers too, didn’t you?”

Blinking, Robyn looks over at Richard, and then down at the floor. "That's brilliant," she says quietly. "It's old vinyl, too. Thin, grooves poorly spaced and cramped. No one's going to look for information in old 80 gram vinyl. You'd use shellac or microgroove for that." There's a moment where she almost seems to beam with pride for her mom.

It's short lived, her eyes closing as her smile fades.

"Wanted." Both her hands fold her to her lap, with only a slight wince on her part. "I just… I can't anymore."

“I understand. It’s…” Richard looks down at a gloved hand again, “…it’s a hard road. And it takes more from you every mile. If you don’t want to know what’s on them, to hear the recordings— I understand why.”

He looks back up, eyebrows raising slightly, “If you change your mind, though, I’ll keep the data on hand. And if you want to talk to— what’s left of Drucker, well…”

A twitch of an almost-smile, “I imagine if you put S.Attva’s name into the internet, he’ll find you.”

"Maybe. We'll see."

For once, not a lie.

"If it were a month or two ago, I'd jump at it. But… After we came back from Antarctica…" A smile tinges her lips. "Matthews finally calling me 'mom'. I just… I think it's time to move on. Like, move move. If I can get past my fear of Choi's disappointment, I'm going to see about finally getting out of New York. Maybe go to Kansas City and push a desk."

A rueful chuckle escapes her lips. "But maybe I'll be up for once more last surprise before then."

“Hey, if you end up in Detroit, let me know…”

More of a smile, then. A genuine one, if a slight one, finally, from Richard.

“I can hook you two up with a killer apartment at one of the towers, if you do. And I know SESA’s got an office up there, so…” Hands spread, “…just saying. I’m sure they’ve got desks too.”

"Only if Valerie's working out there," is a reply that lacks any heart behind it, a half assed and hollow effort to bring her normal kind of levity to the conversation, transparent as she feels the world is right now.

Falling silent, she stares ahead silently, a long moment passing before she finally rises. And makes her way over to the fridge. She opens it, pulling out a quarter full bottle of Southern Comfort and a smaller bottle afterwards.

She doesn't extend a comment or even an invitation to Richard, instead she starts towards the Green Room door, stopping at it before prying the cap off the bottle and just upending it straight.


“She is, often…”

Then Richard pushes himself up to his feet, moving to follow her towards the door. “So, uh… do you need a ride to the emergency room? Because your hand looks like it’s cut up pretty bad, you should probably get it looked at…”

Yeah, he’s worried about her. But he can’t blame her.

"I'll be fine." Even if meant sincerely, it sounds like a lie. Another swig of the liquer, and Robyn shakes her head. "Will you?"

She looks back over at him, before continuing back down the hall towards the looby. "Have an Old Fashioned with me before you leave. Feels like we could both use it."


Richard smiles wanly at the question, and the answer, but he follows her anyway.

“I suppose it wouldn’t help if I point out that alcohol’s a blood thinner,” he notes dryly, “If you bleed to death, Matty’d be real sore with me I suspect.”

“But yeah, what the hell.”

"Does it ever?" Help, that is.

Once back in the lobby, she locks the door to the studios with a heavy sigh. Her hand hurts. Her head hurts. Her eyes hurt. Her heart hurts. But blood thinner or not, it'll all be gone tomorrow, just like usual.

Wordlessly, she makes her way over to the small apartment-like kitchen area attached to the lobby. Two glasses are pulled down from a cabinet, the Southern Comfort set down beside them.

A packet of sugar is fed into each glass, followed by a splash of water and bitters from the other small bottle she had pulled from the minifridge in the green room. Followed up with the SoCo itself, and perhaps surprisingly garnished with orange peels when she steps back outy.

"I don't recommend handling citrus with your hand like hime," she says dryly, wearily. "But here."

She holds one glass out to him.

"A drink," she remarks, her voice immediately taking a more lyrical cadence, "For the horror that I'm in. For the good guys and the bad guys, for the monsters that I've been." There's more to that quote, but she stops there, holding her glass up.

"A drink for the damaged."

“No, but I have to say it anyway.”

Richard watches as she pours the drinks with a surprisingly professional hand, and then he reaches out with a gloved hand to accept the glass.

The drink’s raised up, the edge of it clicking against hers with the crystalline echo of glass on glass.

“A drink for the damaged,” he echoes, before taking a sip.

A more apropos toast, he can’t think of.

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