Fractured Fairytales


bf_cassandra_icon.gif devon2_icon.gif elisabeth2_icon.gif

Scene Title Fractured Fairytales
Synopsis Digging into what was can sometimes bring about answers. Other times it leaves only more questions.
Date April 27, 2019

Raytech NYCSZ Branch Office - Corporate Housing: Jared Harrison's Apartment

Shoes slap against wet pavement that’s still releasing the smell of good, spring rain. The air feels fresh, even with its damp chill. It feels like spring, like everything is finally refreshed and renewed.

It wasn’t raining when Devon left, it had started out partly sunny, but he welcomed the brief shower while he jogged. There was no actual destination in mind, only the single-minded desire to enjoy a change of scenery and fresh air. The apartment was beginning to feel stuffy sometimes. Or maybe, more likely, it’s just his own nature telling him to stretch his legs more.

Whatever it may be, it feels good to get out, to start actually moving again. A nap might be in order when he gets back to the apartment, though.

Raytech Industries, Housing Campus

Jared Harrison’s Apartment

April 27, 9:46 am

Locking the door behind him, Devon kicks off his shoes to leave near the front door. He’ll clear them away later, but for now they need to dry a little bit. He still can’t believe it decided to rain, and that it lasted just long enough to soak him head, shoulders, and shoes. It felt good though. His key follows, set in its place on the small table just inside.

Turning from the door, he sets his sights on the kitchen. Hands rake through still damp hair as he wanders deeper in the apartment. Maybe there’s still some leftovers from last night. Those are easy enough to heat up.

Pops is in the kitchen — Jared and Carina have been a little… tense… together lately and apparently the lady of the house is out at the moment. Often enough, she can be found in the garden rooftop, digging her hands into Richard's flower beds. Or smoking. She does that a decent bit too, a change that Jared's not too terribly thrilled with.

When the door opens to admit Devon, the old man's shoulders ease. Whether he was gearing up for walking on eggshells with his wife or expecting something else is hard to say, but he shoots the young man a smile. "Hey," he greets mildly. "I was just throwing together some sandwiches. Would you like one?"

It’s a bit of a surprise to find Jared home. Devon wasn’t expecting to see either him or Carina around until sometime later in the day. But he hides it by dragging those hands from the top of his head and down his face. He’d just come back from jogging, after all, so it’s as good a cover as anything.

“Hey, Pops.” He wanders into the kitchen to pick off whatever yet hasn’t been put between slices of bread. “Sure.” A sandwich sounds better than leftovers, especially when it’s someone else making it. He pops a piece of cheese into his mouth as he ducks away from the counter.

“Liz is coming over soon.” Even though he’d already agreed to a sandwich, Dev opens the fridge to find something more. “She’s bringing this person over, Cassandra. Does things with… finding things?” He’s not entirely sure how postcognitive abilities work.

Jared grins at his adopted grandson and starts setting out the makings for another sandwich one the counter. He makes good ones. But his blue eyes come up warily at that last tidbit. "Liz and Cass are coming by too?" He goes still — he's not stupid. And the situation with Kaylee being rushed off? That's definitely made it to his ears. "What are you up to here, kiddo?" Genuine worry wars with disbelief. The boy cannot be thinking what it sounds like he's thinking.

“Getting answers.” A bottle of water is what Devon ends up coming out of the fridge with. It’s set on the counter for Jared, and a second is grabbed before the door closes. “Trying to anyway. It’s been almost a month since whatever happened and no one’s been able to explain what happened. What I’ve gotten back so far… Wasn’t a lot.” And it cost too much. He looks down at the bottle of water in his hands, thumbnail scraping against the lid. “We’d already planned to check every avenue of possibility. Cassandra’s one of them.”

He looks up. Pauses. Carefully sets down the knife that he was using to retrieve mayo and put it on the bread. And wraps his hands around the end of the countertop. His blue eyes do not even look at his grandson.

"You're grounded."

The words are calm. Almost casual. Jared keeps both of his hands on the counter, and the only indicator of the potential right now for a furious explosion is the fact that his knuckles are white on the edges of the counter. A part of him is practically daring Devon to dispute it. The young man is, after all, past the age of majority.

The words may be calm and even casual, but they trigger such a dumbfounded look that they might as well have been yelled at him. For a minute, Devon is clearly torn between laughing at the very assumption that Jared even had the authority to do that, and arguing his case for why he shouldn’t be and demanding to know why that card is even being played.

He goes for a third option, used often with the elder males he’d spent his Brickfront adolescence around.

“Only Liz is allowed to ground me.”

It’s delivered in the same calm, nearly casual tone. But Devon watches the older man very carefully. He knows he’s likely treading on some thin ice, even if he has no inkling as to why.

The apartment door opens even as Jared's blue eyes pin the boy — and yes, in this instant, Devon is a boy — to the kitchen wall. "Fine… then I'll discuss with your mother why she's allowing you to double down on stupid in this instance and risk yet someone else's sanity digging into your brain with no goddamned monitoring equipment or medical personnel. And then I'll ground her ass."

His tone is definitely one that Elisbaeth knows well. And she stops dead in the living room just after coming into eyeshot of her parent, her own blue eyes wide. Oh shit. She might as well have said it out loud. Because some things are eternal… and it doesn't really matter how old you get, when your parent whips out that tone, you duck and cover. A part of her — the part that is still her father's daughter — really wants in this moment to leave Devon to fend for himself in the face of Jared's wrath.

And that moment feels like eternity while she and Jared stare at one another across the opening of the kitchen bar.

Clearing her throat, Elisabeth manages to force out, "Really, Dad? Doubling down on stupid? Cassandra's ability doesn't have the same risks as a telepath." She is trying so hard to be calm here, lest her father lose his shit. It's never pretty when it happens.

Bringing up the rear and a witness to all this is poor Cassandra. Framed by the door, she certainly can recognize the brewing of a familial battle about to take place and, as a testament to her resilience, steps right into the midst of it all. A paper bag of something is held loosely in one hand, a good smell of fried something covered in sugar coming from within that has never failed to soothe the savage beast. “I brought beignets.” She interjects cheerfully. “They're Aurora's favorite, you know. if you don't have a plate I can just use the paper….” Her hazel gaze moves from Liz to Jared to Devon as she unwraps the bag, ripping it just so to keep the powdered sugar inside while making the pastries available to those outside. “I'll just use the paper.”

It’s a look he’s familiar with, but far from try to retreat from it, Devon holds his ground. Or he thinks he does. He matches the older man, look for look, until he talks about the stupidity of what’s being attempted. “Low blow, Pops,” he comments quietly.

His head half turns when Liz speaks up over his shoulder, but he doesn’t really take comfort in the support. He’s slanting another look at Jared, partially to gauge his reaction. But also to show his frustration at the sudden turn of events. “No one could’ve guessed that anything was going to happen to Kaylee. She didn’t even warn us that anything she found could hurt her. And hell, I never expected I’d ever willingly go to a telepath for anything.” It’s no secret he’d tended to go out of his way to avoid dealing with telepaths.

“You want to ground me for something that’s not my fault, fine.” Devon turns to leave the kitchen. He’ll grab one of those beignets, he’s not so sure that proffered sandwich is going to be made now. “But I’m still going to look for answers.”

Jared grinds his teeth. "I want to ground the whole goddamned lot of you — you, your mother, Richard, Kaylee — especially Kaylee — and … I don't even fucking know who else but I'll think of someone," he retorts. It's rare that he feels this angry and this helpless. This utterly terrified.

"Dad," Elisabeth says quietly, "Look… Cass's ability is nothing like telepathy. It's entirely separated — it's like watching TV. You can stay and see this — if there's even anything to see. There may not be. I'm actually not really expecting there will be. But nothing that shows can actually touch anyone. It's not thoughts, it's… projection of an image. That's it." Her voice is soothing, and it might occur to Cassandra — because she's seen Liz do this to audiences before — that the audiokinetic is manipulating her power to see if she can calm her father. Devon might or might not remember the usage, but it's much more subtle now than it used to be.

Jared's blue eyes flicker to Devon, and he finally moves. "No. I don't think I can…" He trails off and moves to leave the kitchen, pausing only long enough to grip Devon's shoulder and leave a brusque kiss on the top of the young man's head. "For God's sake be careful. I'll be out on the terrace off the break room. Come get me when you're done." He can't be here for this. He can't bear to see what Devon might have suffered — not when he's dealing with his own issues internally too. He grabs a jacket, leaving the sandwich stuff out on the counter, and departs with nothing more than a nod at his daughter and Cassandra.

The couch is comfortable, the faded floral pattern sagging when Cassandra sits in the center with a view of the whole room, dusting her hands over her knees leaving little patterns of powdered sugar on the denim of her pants. And once Jared is gone, she finally speaks, putting into words what she's thinking. “It’s not the projection he's afraid of seeing. It's seeing whatever I'm here to show you. It might be nothing, or it might be something. It's the something that he's worried about….”. She lets out a sigh, shaking her head in the negative, eyes closed as she centers herself, returning to the conversation a few seconds later.

“So.” She looks to Devon, all business now that the civilians are out of the room. “I've been filled in very little about what we're looking for…and I don't know if I can even help. Can you tell us what you do remember?”

It’s only after Jared’s moved away from him and toward the door that Devon chances a look at the older man. His brows knit together, understanding the worry but believing it’s misplaced. Or unnecessary. His eyes slide to Cassandra next once the door is closed behind his grandfather’s back.

His arms fold across his chest, a defensive habit he’s never outgrown. Liz would recognize it right off, along with the calculating look he’s keeping on the postcog. His jaw works, lips thinning and mouth tugging toward one side just so. Even seven years later he still makes that face.

It takes a few minutes for him to decide how he wants to answer. There hasn’t been a lot of time to process what he does remember and how much of it he really wants to share. Devon exhales slowly and angles a look at Elisabeth. “I was held captive,” he settles on. “I don’t know for how long. I was in California, then a couple days later I was on Brighton Beach. Somewhere in there, I was a captive.”

Elisabeth notes his body language — it's beyond familiar. She covers a faint smile. Some things don't change with the years. When he finally decides he's going to talk, she is serious. For Cassandra's sake — and maybe Devon's as well — she offers what little she has. "I know from Lucille that when you went into the facility in California, Praxis Heavy was involved in the ambush. Which, Richard tells me, means Adam Monroe." She grimaces. "That's what hit Kaylee too. But… I doubt that we're going to find proof of that or anything so amazing and detailed. I'm hoping that the clothes you were wearing will perhaps net us a lead to follow. A face or the place you went into the water or a boat's name or something that can be followed up on." It's about the only thing they can hope for.

“She's right.” Cassandra turns to look at Devon, solemn. “I can't read off of living beings - I really can't explain it well, but every time I tried it was like looking into a mirror reflecting another mirror. Just…reflections, all the way down to infinity. So if you have anything that might have been with you on your little trip, pass it over and let's see what I can get off it. A wallet, a dog tag, a shoe. If it was on your person, I should be able to get something from it.” Cassandra grins and then slaps her hands on her knees. “Before we start, though? Disclaimer time.”

“So.” Cassandra glances to liz, then back to Devon. “I'm not a psychic. I can't see the future or show possibilities. My ability works by taking an object and showing the past that it went through and nothing else.” This is edited a little from the usual disclaimer she gives - apparently changing universes several times makes things a little crazy. Still, she continues. “Anything I show you is between you and those you choose to have here when I work. I'm not a judge or a confidant - I'm just a way to see the past. I will not spread your secrets to the world unless there's some supremely criminal stuff in there. Period. And the fact that you’re Liz’s family….that gives me a lot of peace of mind that it'll be closer to not letting anything come out. And probably, most important of all, I can't change the past. What comes out can't hurt you physically. They're illusions. I can blur things or skip past horrible parts to keep stuff PG-13, but what i show is what happened with this object in close proximity. If you're okay with that, I can show you what I can.”

“Praxis.” Devon’s said four-letter words with less venom. He’s not entirely certain he remembers them being there, but he remembers the ambush. It nearly took out the other members of his team, and trusts Lucille to be telling the truth as to where they came from. As Elisabeth continues, his eyes shift to her. His expression hardens for an instant, and again it’s a thing the audiokinetic would recognize. There are things he’s not saying.

He returns his attention to Cassandra as she begins explaining what she does, and gives her disclaimer. It certainly sounds safer than what Kaylee had done. His arms shift, snugging more tightly against his chest, as he again looks at Liz.

“You trust her?” Devon asks quietly. He knows she does, but it’s a question to show he’s trying, that he’s sure he wants to know what had happened. He’d, after all, gone to a telepath for assistance.

"With Aurora's life," Elisabeth says simply. Cassandra has been through hell at Elisabeth's behest, has stuck by the audiokinetic through thick and thin. It is a no-brainer for Liz — and Devon's well aware of the depth of trust that those three words convey.

“We do storytime with my ability.” Cassandra explains, adding some nuance. “Rory really has gotten into watching old broadway shows and concerts in the park from before.” Cassandra shifts on the couch a little, brushing her fingers through her hair and smiling. “I actually got lucky and found a box of playbills in the market so we have tons to watch when I come visit.” Sure, the seats sometimes aren't that good, but how many six year olds can legitimately say they watched Wicked’s first run? It's impressive and improbable, considering it came out ten years before Aurora was born, but it's what happened.

She goes quiet then, waiting patiently. It's up to Devon to trust her and pushing him to do so doesn't help.

“This isn’t like story time,” Devon quietly points out. He unfolds his arms so he can drag his hands through his hair. His fingers curl and scrub at his scalp, and he exhales slowly. It can’t be very much worse than the memories that Kaylee was able to find, can it? And it’s far less invasive.

His hands drop and he turns so he can watch them both. “So here’s my disclaimer. Kaylee found some things. It’s still fractured, still feels like California was just… a couple weeks or so ago.” It frustrates him, more than he’s let on, that his missing time is literally missing and it takes him a second to shake his head and continue. “But she …I was held captive by… Adam Monroe. And things …happened. Done to me.”

What things, he’s not sure he’s ready to go into. He’s still struggling with processing that discovery.

Devon looks between Elisabeth and Cassandra, waiting for their decision before he goes further.

Elisabeth says quietly, "In point of fact, this is exactly like storytime. Unlike when Kaylee unlocks memories, these have no emotional tie to you except that which you allow." She seeks a way to explain. "So… in the Flooded world, during the event that yanked me into this world in 1982… my parents and I were in a car accident. My father had to make a choice, Devon… get me loose from my seat belt and out of the car or get my mother, who was unconscious, loose. He chose. And I was given a penny later that allowed me to see those memories, like you're about to see the memories associated with your clothes. It was sad, it hurt my feelings, seeing what they went through. But it was them. It wasn't until Kaylee unlocked the door in my head that I had real emotional attachments to those memories because I could feel they happened to me. I remembered, I wasn't just watching. What Cassie does? It's just watching, kiddo."

She reaches out to touch his shoulder and squeeze. "It can't hurt you. And you literally don't have to see this if you don't want to — Cassie can use these clothes, show me what happened, and I'll tell you if there's something you need to see. If that's how you want to do it." Elisabeth swallows hard, her blue eyes on the boy haunted. "I know what it is to have to relive torture. I don't recommend it. But if this is something you need to do, then I'll stand with you."

“It's not only that.” He'd already seen pieces of what was done, and the two months he's missing leave far more for his imagination to pick at. Even beyond his own fears, he's worried about allowing anyone else to see what he'd gone through. “Emily knows what happened too,” he says as an explanation for his hesitation.

He walks out of the living room and down the short hall to his room. It's only a moment or two before he's returned, the old sweatshirt he'd been found wearing in his hands still smelling vaguely of seawater and beach detritus.

The fabric is turned over in his hands and squeezed slightly, as if maybe the memory of its origins would come back to him. But they don't. The chasm remains as it's been since March. Devon shakes his head and holds it out to Cassandra.

That’s settled, then.

As Devon and Elisabeth speak names of people she hasn’t met before, the little seer makes herself more comfortable and the room a little safer for viewing. The coffee table between the couch and the chair is carefully moved out of the way, against a wall where it won't accidentally get crashed into in the event that people need to get up and really explore the space. Back at Pinehearst, she had a room specifically for this, with padded rails that were a bit inside the range of her ability along with a single chair that was easily moved of bumped into. Doing this in unprepared spaces or, god forbid, public was a sure route to bruised shins or falls.

A few more things are prepared - a blindfold and a pair of sunglasses are pulled out and placed nearby and, when Devon disappears down the hall toward his room, Cassandra shares a glance with Elisabeth, her expression worried, shaking her head. “This could be bad.” An understatement if there ever was one. “And I've got so many questions already…” to her credit, they're not asked but they are certainly stacking up. Who’s Adam Monroe? California like dead zone California? This conversation is like starting on volume 3 of a series somewhere in the middle of chapter 12 with established characters and backstories you're expected to know, but don't.

When Devon returns, Cassandra stands, reaching out to take the offered sweatshirt, turning it over in her hands and retaking her seat, folding it carefully in her lap, drawing her legs beneath her. “Take a seat, Devon.” Liz has done this enough to know the basics, so Cassandra doesn't even worry about her too much. She ties the blindfold around her eyes tightly, slipping the oversized shades on over them, settling back on the sofa, hands resting lightly on the sweatshirt. “Please keep your hands, feet, and other extremities inside the vision, and remember it's only an image. If you need me to stop or slow down or back up, say so and we stop until you want to go again.”

If you want to go again, that is.

Once seats are taken, Cassandra starts. Reality fades into impenetrable darkness after a few seconds and the three remain sitting, quietly, as whatever is there is slowly comes to light. The memories impregnated into the sweatshirt fan out like a peacock’s tail, newer memories over the past few days discarded, things too far back, like the purchase of said sweatshirt, combed away. She's methodical. Efficient. Things that aren't useful are separated with a deft touch, briefly examined then discarded. It's really quite pretty to watch, with flashes of the past blinking into view, ghost-like, as they're quickly examined.

Finally, after a good ten minutes of combing, Cassandra hits on something.

A folded set of loose fitting cotton pants and a loose v-necked shirt of the same material common to hospital clothes are set down on a metal table. There is a hum in the air, from the walls, the vibration of machinery operating in an enclosed space, the running noise of a great engine. “Wèi bìngrén zhǔnbèi de xīnxiān yīfú,” a thin, dark-haired man in scrubs says to the claustrophobic room.

Nearby to the table, Devon Clendaniel lays in silent stillness, strapped to a hospital bed with metal railings. The leather restraints at his wrists and ankles are padded but look several years old. The fluorescent lights overhead are flickering and irregular. Everything in here is either riveted metal or molded plastic.

“Wǒ huì zhàogù tā de,” another person in medical scrubs says, dismissing the other with a wave of his hand. He's checking a digital chart on a handheld tablet, and wherever they are it's so cold that the technician can see his breath. He sets the tablet down, then looks over to Devon on the bed. “Qíshí…” He says with a side-to-side motion of his head, looking over his shoulder at the person leaving. “Nǐ néng zhuā… zhù tā de tuǐ ma?”

The person in scrubs that was leaving stops, sighs, and nods as he turns to walk back to Devon. “Jīngxì,” he says with a reluctant sigh, helping unfasten Devon’s restraints while the other man goes about the process of stripping the older medical garments Devon is wearing off of him. They talk, casually, around Devon as though he can't hear them. Or, perhaps, like he was a corpse.

“Cóng bóshì shénme shíhòu huílái?” One asks the other, who gets a helpless shrug in response. He doesn't know the answer.

That's…. Interesting. Perhaps they should have expected it, but she didn't. "Cassandra, make sure you've got this saved?" Elisabeth asks. "I know someone who'll be able to translate." She doesn't know which language this is — Japanese, Mandarin, Cantonese… could maybe even be Korean or Vietnamese, though her bet would be on Japanese. It is Adam Monroe and he has significant ties to Japan. Mandarin, however, is certainly a plausible option — but she doesn't need to know the language to monitor body language and interpersonal cues, and the surroundings.

"That looks like an older boat," she comments quietly. Given that she's just come from a world where everyone is living on them and that he washed up on a beach, it's not a stretch to know that. "Is there still any remnant of a Coast Guard anymore?" she wonders aloud. Tracing a boat might be possible.

Devon's face is a mask without connection to the scene. He'd warned them that he was experimented on, that he'd been held captive for however long. He's not surprised to see what's shown. There's no relief shown that the memory isn't being lived over again, no anger at the impassive treatment to his body. Just cold, disconnected observation.

“I think it's the same language that Adam and Doctor Cong were speaking,” he supplies quietly. He doesn't know what they're saying though. The language is as unfamiliar as the events.

“I’ve got my tag on, Liz, so it’s saved.” Cassandra taps just below her collar where, beneath her clothing, the well-worn dog tag hangs. That thing has accompanied her through her life, three worlds, and now here and, like a sentinel, it keeps watch over what she experiences through visions second-hand. It’s not a perfect reproduction, of course, but it’s certainly enough to get the speech related to a native speaker.

Cassandra pushes herself to her feet, making a mental note of where she was sitting in relation to the image and, using her left foot as a guide, makes her way along the front of the couch to the man that’s reading the digital chart. Chances are it’s in whatever language they’re speaking, but there might be a few numbers, a logo on the corner, a flag, or something that might point to who these men are, where they came from, and why they’ve got Devon in what seems to be a meat locker.

“ I don’t think it’s coast guard.” Cassandra remarks, looking over at liz through the blindfold before working her way back over to her seat, nearly tripping over the corner of the couch before she re-establishes herself. “I’m fairly sure that, after the war, any remnants were probably redeployed into places where there were people to support the ships. They can’t go long without restocks or refueling, so anything American probably went to the Gulf and the East Coast.” California was supposed to be a technological dead zone, after all. “If anything?” Cassandra retakes her seat. “It’s a pirate vessel, or some foreign government.”

“I can keep going.” she offers, quietly.

"I was actually thinking that if somehow the name or a type of boat could be ascertained, that information could be given to the Coast Guard for a BOLO," Elisabeth observes. "Given how they're acting toward Devon, this would make sense that it's the ship he was dumped off of… which means it's on the eastern seaboard. Or at least it was."

She's trying not to have an emotional reaction to what she's seeing, but Cassandra has traveled too long with the audiokinetic not to know it's gutting her… and Devon likely remembers that subtle hum against his skin.

The hum is noticed, in the way a chill air is noticed. Dev draws his arms against his chest, to be a buffer against the vibrations and the cold he does remember, if not from this particular scene. “We don’t have to if you don’t want to,” he hears himself saying. In contrast to the reaction Liz is having, he’s closed himself off from it. The memories Kaylee unlocked are still too fresh, and this is too near what he’d seen to not bother him. He was little more than a science experiment, a laboratory rat, for the days he was held captive.. But he makes the offer to Liz, not himself.

Elisabeth's response is simple. "Do what you need to, Devon. If you've seen enough, it's your call." She looks at him and adds softly, "Not wanting to see more isn't a weakness. This is about getting what you need, not anyone else."

“I don’t know where this happens in the timeline of anything.” Those were the clothes he’d been found in, he’s almost sure. It fits, given the sweatshirt he’d handed to Cassandra. But Devon’s grasp of time between when he’d been on the mission and been recovered on the beach is tenuous at best. He lowers his head so he can drag a hand through his hair and turns away from the image of himself laying on the table.

“Let’s go a little further.” The decision isn’t made lightly or easily. Reluctance is in the young man’s tone. If asked a third time, he’d be calling it finished. “Just a few minutes more.”

The doctors dress Devon in his new clothing, making certain that he is restrained back to the bed afterward and that EKG sensors are put back on his head and chest and that his intravenous fluids are reconnected. Then, they walk out of the room, their footfalls echoing distantly on the grated metal floor.

Minutes turn into hours, and Casandra speeds up the playback. It makes it look as though Devon is making a number of tiny, whip-crack movements when it's really just the slow shifting of his body over hours of sleep. He's alone for a long time without any real details that help them put these images to context, until…

A woman walks into the room, dressed not as a doctor but in a loose black skirt and a patterned blouse in earth tones with long, billowing sleeves. Her hair is ink black and straight, eyes as dark but expressing a great deal of trepidation and hesitance. It's hard to tell her exact ethnicity, something from around the South Pacific. She's barefoot, moving across the grated floor and partway over to Devon’s side. It's there that she pauses, leaning over him and gently brushing a lock of hair from his face.


Shes quiet for a time, then, she turns and looks up almost directly at where Cassandra stands outside of the moment. Her hand falls away from Devon’s brow, and she draws in a slow and thoughtful breath. “Hello Cassandra.”

The spike of shock adrenaline is immediate. She's looking directly into Cassandra’s eyes.

She sees her.

Scanning through memories of people sleeping was usually the most boring part of the research that Cassandra did. She could easily zoom through hours of filler, as she called it, in a couple of seconds, eliminating the doldrums, but if that happened, she ran the risk of missing something important and would have to do it all over again. Sitting through monotony once is bad, but sitting through it a second or, god forbid, a third time? Pass, thankyouverymuch.

When the woman in the out-of-place clothing appears, Cassandra’s fingers stilling, the scene slowing from its breakneck pace to move in real time, allowing everyone to watch as she moves through the room in bare feet, brushing the hair out of Devon’s face with a touch. “I wonder who….”

And then she speaks, which in itself isn’t entirely odd, since people talk to themselves all the time, but it’s directed towards Cassandra.

“W…what?” Cassandra catches herself from swearing, an ingrained habit from watching Aurora. She shifts in her seat, sitting up straight on the couch with the thread of memory they’ve been following clamped tightly between her thumb and forefinger. With her ability, this should stop the memory from moving forward, freezing the scene. This means that the woman should stop speaking and moving if she was a part of the image being shown. Already this is different - someone knowing that they’d be looked in on with Cassandra’s ability adds in all sorts of things to ponder. Perhaps she’s a precognitive that knew Cassie would be brought in to look at the scene and wanted to give a warning to keep away would be her first guess - but if she doesn’t stop moving? If things keep continuing and she keeps getting talked to? Something much, much more complicated is going on.

That is not supposed to happen — Elisabeth knows it. "What even the fuck is going on?" she demands in a low voice. "Cassandra… is that actually part of his memory or something else?!" She is instantly on her guard, but there is nothing to hit, shoot, or otherwise fight that she can perceive.

Thankfully, Elisabeth has no such qualms about holding back the f-bomb, and Cassandra's head whips over to look at Liz, away from the woman who spoke to her by name in her vision. This never happens! “I don’t know.” She finally says. “I’m trying to figure that out.” With a slight motion of her fingers, Cassandra tries to inch the scene back a few seconds to see if the woman moves at all…

“That's Joy.” Devon's expression hasn't changed from his careful control and tight command of emotions, but his surprise — and anxiety — tremors in his voice. This isn't supposed to happen, it's supposed to be a bit like watching a movie, not interactive. “She helped me. She got me out of there.”

As he speaks, he starts walking closer to the woman he's called Joy. His head turns slightly, just enough to look at Liz and Cassandra for a fraction of a second.

“I'd probably still be there, if she hadn't done anything.” Dev stops when he's within arm's reach of Joy, just to the side so his head and shoulders can turn and afford another look at Cassandra and Liz.

The woman — Joy — slowly raises one brow and opens her mouth, about to say something when

Nothing. A paused video, a moment crystallized in time. Until Cassandra consents to resume the terror. A horror movie freeze-framed at the jump scare.

Swallowing her heart back from where it was resting somewhere below her jaw, Cassandra slumps back with a soft sigh. “This happened as shown. It's not happening, thank god.” A very important distinction.

“I….I think we should see what she says. Whatever it is, It must be important if she managed to figure out we'd…I mean, that I'd be watching.” Cassandra looks to Devon and Elisabeth, then to Joy, biting her lower lip for a second as she thinks, wondering why.

Elisabeth is too stunned to do more than nod. Go ahead.

“Do it. Make it play.” He’s curious enough about this change in things that he’s wanting to see more. Dev takes one more step closer to Joy, eyes shifting from Liz and Cassandra to the woman who’d helped him.

Cassandra nods to Devon, turning to look right at Joy before letting the memory play. “Here we go.”

“All set now?” Joy asks with a playful smirk, once that seems quick to fade.

She knew they were going to pause the playback.

“My window is very small, and that delay just now set us back a little. While you have the luxury of stopping time, I don’t.” Joy takes a few steps forward, then looks through a doorway toward the sound of clanking metal. “We have two minutes. Roughly. Make the most of it.”


You know…. If there is one thing Elisabeth has learned in the years of seeing ridiculous and impossible things, it's that one does not look a gift horse in the mouth until after you've asked it every question you can think of. She rallies very quickly. "Okay, fine. What exactly are they doing to Devon and why? Is he going to suffer side effects that we need to watch for? What's your agenda here — why are you helping him? And what, if anything, can you tell us about what the hell Adam is up to?"

It seems a good place to start. And … well, if they have only two minutes, give or take, better to have as much information as possible.

“I don’t think it’s going to work that way. It might, though.” Cassandra says with a slight frown, somehow sounding hopeful at the same time . She’s sure question and answer period will come after whatever important statements are given by Joy, and considering that the time’s been taken to get this woman to wherever this boat is, presuming questions are even going to be responded to is stretching the boundaries of what could be considered plausible. “Okay, Miss Joy…” Cassandra gestures to the woman. “What do you have for us?”

“Are you actually seeing us?” Liz might go for the hard hitting questions, they’re obviously more important as well as ones Devon would have asked, had she not beaten him to it. So he angles for another, one more personal, because it weighs on his mind as needed information. He remembers the telepathic instructions, the imprints of urgency during his escape.

Lifting a hand, Dev reaches toward the image. He’s not expecting to find anyone real there, but he still extends a hand toward Joy’s shoulders. Like reaching toward a stove that may or may not still be hot enough to burn.

Joy squints, head tilting to the side as if listening to a sound she can't quite hear. Then, sliding an errant lock of dark hair behind one ear she starts to speak. “Devon is part of a research project. Descendants of people infused with Adam’s blood. It's complicated. Too long to explain here.” She tips her head to the side again. “I don't know about side effects, I can't see that far ahead and I'm not a scientist.” She grimaces, looking down a hallway quickly, then back. “I'm helping you. That's my agenda. Adam is… he's trying to save the world. But we both know it's more complicated than that. I disagree with how. But it's a longer explanation. People will die.”

Joy wrings her hands together, looking back to that doorway that leads into the hall. She's tense, expecting something or someone. “Yes, Devon. In a sense. I'm seeing the future, Devon’s future, and reacting to it. Again, it's complicated.” Her brows furrow, trying to figure out how to explain as much as she can in as little time as possible. “I'm a mosaic.” But it's never that simple.

“Fifty-three seconds,” Joy warns. Lightning round.

“This’s…” Insane, impossible, dangerous, there's plenty more to choose from and yet Devon doesn't finish the sentence. There isn't time. He knows that, it's there in Joy’s tone, and in the memory of his escape.

He drops his outstretched hand to his side. The other picks up but drags through his hair. Not enough time. “Can — ” she’s seeing his future, not the future. “Will we meet? Will there be a time you can answer these questions?” As he asks, Dev looks back at the others for their input as well.

It might not be supposed to work this way, but work this way it does. Elisabeth will debate the matter when their time with Joy is up. "Do you need to be helped to get away from him?" Because that could be something they can do, if she wants out. "Is there some way for us to get hold of the information on this experiment with Devon? And can you tell us who some of the other descendants are?" Because that might allow them to figure out the experiment with some time and scientist at their own disposal.

She's really tired of thwarting someone's I'm saving the world agenda, thankyouveryfuckingmuch. And yet, here we are again. She's gonna make a point of resting more in between and not waiting until they're through — cuz that did not go so well last time!!

There are so many questions to ask, but not nearly enough time to ask them. This really isn't supposed to happen with Cassandra's ability, but, in context, it makes a bizarre sort of sense. A postcognitive contacting a precognitive via a shared item. It's like two sides of the same coin working to figure out what's in the middle. Cassandra settles on the most logical, in her eyes. “Is there a timetable for this happening? Are wheels already in motion? And if meeting Devon isn't possible, is there a way that we can contact you again, later? When you have more time?” Joy knew this would happen, so she might have a contingency in place. “Are there any other Easter eggs you've hidden that we can find that would give us more time to talk? And what's the most important thing you think we should know?” Questions rattle off, rapid fire.

Joy looks back to Devon’s unconscious body on the table, curling the fingers of one of her hands closed into a fist, then turns her attention back to what is squarely Cassandra, in the future. But it isn’t Cassandra’s question she answers first. “Project Umbra,” Joy says quickly, “It was research done by the Company — research to combat the Dragon — but all history of it was redacted. Maybe you can find something, it’ll be the only thing that provides the answers you seek.” The sounds of approaching footsteps are drawing closer now.

“I don’t have good answers to anything else,” Joy says with a shake of her head, whispering now. “I’m sorry, this was the only opportunity I had. As far ahead as I can see, anyway. It’s — Don’t come looking for me, you can’t save me. Not now, and maybe not ever.” There’s a helplessness and frustration on Joy’s face, her eyes searching for something, a simple clue that she could lay down that would answer everything. But that look in her eyes says she is left wanting. Instead, she offers something simpler.

“I’m sorry.”

For what, isn’t clear. Joy stops responding, attention paid to one of the doctors from earlier, whom she walks out of frame to follow.

A moment in time, an opportunity seized, and just as easily slipped between fingers.

“The Dragon?” Devon's full attention returns to Joy as she resumes explaining as much as she's able. But he shakes his head over much of it. None of what she's saying makes any sense, and the lack of answers is equally frustrating. Too many questions, too little time.

“No, Joy.” He half reaches for her, intangible or not, when she turns away. “Wait…”

The hand falls when the enigmatic woman leaves the frame. Devon stands, staring at the image of his own body for the long moment that follows. He's silent, except for the sounds that only Liz can hear, tense breathing, anxious heartbeat. “Turn it off,” he eventually says, without looking at Cassandra or Elisabeth. “We're done. Turn it off.”

Elisabeth groans softly, scrubbing her face with her hands and dragging them up over her head to hang them around the back of her neck, pinning her hair there as well. "Fucking brilliant," she breathes out. "Descendants of people given blood transfusions of Adam's blood and ties to the fucking thing that came out of the bridge with us. Well… on the up side, at least Richard's only gonna shit half a brick." Her tone is dry as the Sahara.

There’s so many questions to be asked when the time they all have with Joy ends. The men re-entering the room, followed by Devon’s declaration that it’s over is enough for Cassandra. The thread she’s holding is released, the scene subsuming into the darkness before the world around them takes hold again. “Only half?” Cassandra asks as she unwinds her blindfold, wiping her eyes as she sits up straight.

“And, really. What’s with the ominous project names?” she asks, almost as an afterthought, trying to bring a little levity to the situation and failing miserably. She finally looks over to Liz and then Devon. “This is way above my pay grade. I don’t have any clue of what to do next. Or even what the end goal is here, or if I can even do anything about it.”

“Richard'll get my report,” Devon says quietly once the images have disappeared and the living room returned. He doesn't seem to notice how close he'd come to walking into the coffee table in his haste to speak with Joy. It's just barely missed again when he turns around to take the shirt back from Cassandra. “Of this, and the memories Kaylee unlocked.”

Once he has the shirt, he seems drawn between tasks, his mind works to process what just happened and what his next move should be. The postcog’s spoken uncertainty draws a look from him, a frown settling on his face.

“Hopefully I don't have to warn you about keeping this silent.” The speculation that he might serves as a warning in itself. “Right now you don't do anything else. I'm an escaped science experiment and our one possible ally on the inside just risked fuck all to help. I need to take this to my command, as well as Richard.”

There is a moment when the young man — not a teen anymore but still, in her head, the boy she loved and cared for — issues his orders on the topic where Elisabeth goes still and gives him Mom-Eyes. REALLY?

But she simply nods and says, "You should definitely talk to him. Cuz… it's a big thing. And I've no idea who you report to besides Francois at this point, with Hana gone, but … definitely that should be told to them as well. We should… really sort out as a team what the next moves are." She has some thoughts, but they'll wait for now. And she grins slightly. "Let us know if you're planning a round table on it."

Cassandra taps the necklace hanging around her neck. “Don’t worry about me. I know a few things about keeping secrets, and like I said at the beginning, this is between you and whatever happened in the past. I’m not here to judge or to tell secrets out of turn. That’s the fastest way to lose trust when you can do what I do.” The darkened bandanna and sunglasses are tucked away into various pockets, Cassandra getting to her feet. “If you need a replay of what happened, just let me know. I can do the dog and pony show off the sweatshirt you were found in or any clothing that you’ve got on now - primary sources are generally better, though, for clarity’s sake.”

Cassandra looks over to Liz, pensive. “Let me know if you need me for this? I wasn’t expecting to leap into craziness right off of the bat here, but….” She trails off. “Idle hands are the devil’s plaything, after all.”

“I appreciate your help, Cassandra.” He does, even if he's adopted that quasi-cold, walled off look again. But the words are a dismissal of sorts. She doesn't have to leave, but he's putting an end to the subject. Dev’s time soldiering and functioning as part of a paramilitary organization has wrought some changes. He doesn't have answers yet, for who he might tap or what his plans are. He needs to get to Rochester to know where his command stands.

He looks at the postcog for a beat, then shifts that look to Liz next. It's less of a dismissal for her — he's smarter than that. But it is a look that plainly states he's finished with the visions and everything that goes with it. It's time to start sorting through the mess.

The shirt is folded again as he turns from both. “There's cookies in the cupboard,” Devon offers while walking back to his room. “Help yourselves.” Not the best of hosts, he needs time for himself, to let the new information marinate with the old. Besides, Liz has a key and can lock up when they leave.

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