aman_icon.gif faulkner_icon.gif isis_icon.gif

Scene Title Fragments
Synopsis An old flame's return sets off a chain of events with shattering consequences.
Date March 28, 2021

Alone on a rooftop, Isaac Faulkner sprawls on the concrete and thinks.

He probably looks dreadful. He'd been dealing with the ghost of a headache this morning, but he'd thought he'd managed to beat it back… but between the stress of today and the unplanned all-out run he'd launched himself on, it's developed into a full-blown bastard of a migraine. He'd picked up a change of clothes, at least, so he's not quite as ill-prepared — thankfully he still keeps a few clothes at the Park Slope place. The overarching question, though, is what the hell he's going to do now.

He could go back to Aman's place; maybe Isis is gone. He hopes so… and that feeling provokes another stab of misery, followed shortly by another stab of nausea. It's so great having an artificial brain that even gets fucking artificial migraines, god isn't it the actual fucking best hooray.

Faulkner groans and closes his eyes and wishes he was in bed… sadly, wishing won't bring that any closer. With a sigh, he forces his eyes open and digs out his phone. It takes him a few moments to get the thing unlocked, but before he can text Aman he notices the voicemail symbol… along with a notification of missed calls. From Isis.

He closes his eyes again, steeling himself against another assault of misery and nausea. It's funny — before this morning, he'd have been so fucking happy to get a call from Isis. To know that she's alive. But then, that'd been before he found out she sees him as a subhuman thing. Fine. Whatever. He dials his voicemail.

For a long minute, Isaac listens. His eyes narrow. He would very much like to tell her to go to hell…

…but he doesn't think that's going to accomplish much. This is someone who threatened a hostile plant controller with burning down the entire Botanical Gardens. Her fire had always been one of the things Isaac had loved about her, but at this point he doesn't think it's going to do him any favors, seeing as he, being a goddamn idiot, had gone and told her the actual truth and she now sees him as a subhuman thing.

Oh look, he's tripped and stabbed that knife into his chest again. Argh.

Besides, as much as he hates to admit it… her idea is something they haven't tried yet, and it's not like they've got any leads. He's warned her about the risks she's running; if she still wants to go through with it… so be it. As for the risks to him… maybe it's just the migraine talking, but right now he honestly can't find it in himself to give a shit.

So he sends her a text.

Fournier-Bianco, east side, one hour. Bring Aman.

Faulkner closes his eyes for a moment more… then levers himself to his feet. One hour gives him plenty of time —

— to immediately get ambushed by an explosive surge of nausea. He retches — luckily there's not much in his stomach at the moment. Isaac waits a moment longer to make sure he's not going to be ambushed again… then he sets off, moving carefully towards the stairs leading down. One hour gives him plenty of time.

54 Minutes Later

Northern Roosevelt Island

"…not the most hair-brained idea anyone's come up with regarding this clusterfuck."

Her voice precedes her appearance around the corner as Isis slants a sideways look to the tall, dark figure on her right. But, as she does her accusatory expression quickly falters under doubt. "I mean. It can't be. … Right?"

The little redhead jabs her fists into pockets to tighten the hug of her brown leather bomber jacket around her.

Amanvir's hands are likewise shoved into the pocket of his coat, another light jacket around the crook of his elbow. He casts the shorter woman at his side a guarded look that still somehow rings skeptical.

"I don't know," he admits. "Abilities have had weird reactions in the past with them. When I tried pulling Isaac and Kaylee's abilities, the best depiction I've got for what happened was like a zap of static electricity? But beyond that, just… hollow. I knew it was supposed to be there, and it wasn't. They weren't." With a slight shake of his head he goes on, "Then after he took that fall last summer just before I had him move in with me, a healer tried to help him with his injuries, but it sounded like things didn't go as planned. Something… a weird reaction happened."

Too is an unspoken addition there, bitten back as they round the corner toward the hospital's east entrance.

Aman lifts his head, looking ahead.

It doesn't take long to spot Faulkner; he's sitting on a bench a short distance from the entrance. His attire is different, though — he's wearing threadbare jeans, a black bomber jacket, and sunglasses, and there's an old duffel bag on the ground beside him. His hands are also shoved into his pockets.

He doesn't get up, but his eyes follow them as they approach.

The little redhead appears to be listening, but the continued shake of her head might suggest otherwise… or just a state of complete denial. Who knows!

She frees a hand to scratch glassy nails over her cheek. "You tried to pull an ability that wasn't there. And, the healer tried to heal something unnatural. Besides, I'm not hoping for 'normal', I'm hoping for connection."

There's a determined set to her face and step, so much so that even with his longer stride Aman may have had to quicken his step a time or two along the trip. There's the slightest falter, though, as she realizes their destination - the hospital. A quick cough and a roll of her shoulders reassures her pace until she stands in front of Isaac 2.0.

"Thank you for…. Agreeing to this," she manages quietly, even as her fingers curl and unfurl inside her coat pickets. It beats the alternative.

"For the record," Aman inserts his entirely unasked for opinion, "This seems like a really stupid idea. Problem-prone all over." He looks between the two with a momentary uneasiness that passes quickly enough when he goes on to say: "But if you had to pick a place to do a stupid thing, a stone's throw from the emergency room isn't a bad place to pick it."

He sighs hard, breath clouding in front of his face. A moment is taken to look down to get his bearings, then another to look at the bag on the ground beside Isaac. It takes only a moment for him to make it back to the person it belongs to. "I hope the only reason you have that is because you planned to bring more clothes over from your other place," he advises. Not sternly, but not in a way that leaves room for argument. "We're going home after this, man."

Well. Assuming this didn't end with needing the services of the hospital they were standing next to, anyway.

"Would I have had a choice?" Isaac asks Isis quietly, and for a moment there's a flicker of that old sardonic smile on his face. The smile fades as quickly as it had come, though, leaving him studying Isis from behind those sunglasses.

Aman's question draws Faulkner's gaze to him, though, and this time there's a more honest smirk. "Didn't want to leave my dirty gym clothes laying around," is the explanation he offers for the bag, shrugging. "And yeah. That's why I chose this place. This way if I have another stroke, they can maybe get most of my brain duct-taped back together."

His gaze swings back to Isis; now he rises to his feet, pulling his hands out of his pockets and rolling his sleeve up, extending his right hand. "You're right. This is a bad idea," he says to Aman, but his gaze is still on Isis. "Last chance to back out," he warns her.

Then, again, there's that flicker of a smirk, this time with a faintly rueful edge to it. "Not that I think you will, but…"

He takes a slow breath. "If nothing else, he'd be torn up if something went wrong and I didn't at least try to warn you off." There's more of a bitter edge to his words than he'd intended… and then he falls silent.

His hand remains outstretched. Waiting for her decision.

"Have a choice? Do any of us really?" She matches Isaac 2.0's fleeting smile with a brief, devilish tilt of her own. After all, for the moment he is not an imposter, he's an ally.

Her gaze falls to the outstretched hand. The effort it takes not to reach out instantly is clear in the twitch of an arm. Gaze trained upon the planes, creases, and life-lines of his palm, she addresses them both. "If there was a better idea, you guys might have come up with it in the months I was hiking my ass across the country, hm?"

There's only one thing that manages to break her eagle eye attention. He'd be torn up… It softens the icy edges of her visage. "Even as a copy you are so selfless it hurts." Her head tilts, eyes narrowed, as if she could puzzle out the goodness that makes up what it is to be Isaac through the eyes of this doppelganger. But, even as measures of curiosity mingle with confusion and hurt and hope… she relinquishes the reins on her ability as her index and forefinger tap gently into the cen

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“Pna ur urne hf?”

Muffled voices.

“Ur'f sbhe. Jung'f ur tbaan' qb, gryy Fnagn?”

It feels like drowning.

“Ybbx, V whfg qba'g jnag Ze. Yvaqrezna gb—”

It feels like dying.

“Fgbc orvat fhpu n shpxvat onol. Wrfhf Puevfg.”

It feels like—

“Jr'er urer.”

Blinding sunlight. Skyscrapers. A black pyramid. Palm trees. The sphinx. A broad-shouldered man, bald, squinting against the sun. He picks you up from the back of the car, carries you like a sack of potatoes and lets you ride on his shoulders. He smells like coconut suntan oil.

“Lbh ernyyl arrq gb trg n shpxvat ung, Znaal. Lbh'er tbaan ybbx yvxr n shpxvat gbzngb gbzbeebj.” Another, thinner man says. He has a wide smile. It is not welcoming. Sunglasses hide his eyes, crows feet crease the sides of his face. He smiles like a wolf. You are afraid of him.

“V'z tbvat gb or n oebamrq tbq.” The bald man says in a sing-song voice, jostling his shoulder so you bounce up and down. You giggle. He is delightful. “V chg ba gnaavat ybgvba.”

The thin man snorts and laughs loudly. It turns into a cackle as they turn away from the pyramid and the sphinx, across the street, toward a blindingly white building with towering columns. Red letters arch near the roof, neon glow drowned out by the blinding sun.

You cannot read.



Isis’ arms and legs kick wildly, her back arches, foam froths up in her mouth and trickles down the side of her cheek. Aman is the only one who has been able to tend to her, because Isaac might as well have been a mannequin for the last four minutes, standing with a vacant stare, eyes unfocused.

It’s only now that Isaac comes to and sees Isis on her back, convulsing from a seizure.

He can still smell coconut suntan oil.

Having experience with this, having dealt with just this very thing with Isaac four months ago doesn't make it any less stressful for Aman to deal with now. His hand under Isis's head to keep from thrashing it against the concrete, he keeps his other pressed to her chest.

He's going hoarse from yelling for help. "Somebody!" he's screaming, at the same volume he has been. Because being this close had been meant to mean something he in his current state is failing to appreciate.

Maybe they're too far from the door for his voice to carry inside, but he's been too busy trying to keep Isis from injuring herself to place a call, and he's given up on help from Isaac. He looks up to his friend anyway, vestiges of panic in his eyes. At least whatever was happening on his end, he wasn't in a like state.

God, Aman doesn't think he could handle that.

Between one moment and the next, something changes — there is, all at once, a spark of awareness in Isaac Faulkner's eyes, hidden behind his glasses. He is here, and there is a him to be here.

Alongside that awareness, creeping along behind it like a shadow, is the implicit horror of the realization that it had been gone, that for a moment he hadn't been there.

He'd been thinking something for a moment, before she'd touched him — something about how stupidly wrong it was of her to call him selfless — before every thought in his head had been drowned by… by…

What the hell had that even been?! A memory? The desert… red neon… what… what the hell? What the hell?

"Wwwww…" he starts trying to speak, but his mouth feels like it's full of dust; he flops backward, falling into a sit on the bench, staring stupidly between Aman and Isis. "Wwwhat… wha da fuck?" he slurs out. His hands are shaking; part of him very much wants to get the fuck out of here, right now, but he hasn't quite gotten around to fully articulating that thought just yet, let alone acting on it.

"Thank fucking God," Aman swears, looking up to Isaac for only a moment before redirecting all of his visual attention back to the convulsing Isis. "Run and get her some fucking help, would you? I've been screaming myself goddamned hoarse, and—" He shakes his head, his unsteadiness only going that far. Isis needs them both to not falter here.

"She's like you were when all this fucking shit started."

"I-I…" Faulkner starts, blinking as he tries to unravel what Aman just said; his eyes go to Isis, and he pales. "Y-yeah. I'll…"

He doesn't finish that — he doesn't have the words to finish that or anything else at the moment. Instead he levers himself unsteadily to his feet, lurching off as quickly as he can manage to the hospital's main entrance — he has even less desire to be here now than when they'd first started this bullshit. He'd find that impressive if all of his mental bandwidth wasn't currently taken up by internal screaming consisting of variants of what the fuck was that.

That's a question for later, one which will be had out at length, surely.

For now, they'd have to tackle things one emergency at a time.

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