From A Distance


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Scene Title From A Distance
Synopsis From a distance, everything looks different.
Date May 29, 2009

Verrazano-Narrows Bridge

The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge is a double-decked suspension bridge that connected the boroughs of Staten Island and Brooklyn in New York City at the Narrows, the reach connecting the relatively protected upper bay with the larger lower bay. Before the bomb, this vehicle-only suspension bridge spanned the divide between two boroughs as one of the major through-ways, but shortly after the bomb, this bridge, like many others were blockaded by Homeland Security and used as a Government-Personnel direct access route into the city. Only authorized emergency vehicles and government agencies were allowed passage across from Staten Island, as a measure of keeping emergency traffic flow free.

In the months following, the blockade remained despite the lack of necessity in the matter. By the beginning of 2007 it was deemed that the bridge would remain restricted to government vehicles indefinitely until the majority of repair to Manhattan was completed. Currently both levels of the bridge are blocked on all but one lane by concrete dividers that, without the assistance of heavy lifting equipment, cannot be bypassed by vehicles. The bridge remains reserved for emergency use only, though in the beginning of 200, pedestrian traffic was authorized on the upper deck of the bridge between Staten Island and Brooklyn. Trespassers on the lower deck could be detained by Homeland Security indefinitely.

For a long time, the bridge was one of the best ways in and out of Staten Island since the Staten Island Railway ceased operations shortly after the Bomb. At the end of January, 2009, it was partially destroyed in what authorities called a "freak explosion" and is no longer operational.

From a distance, all the hate in the world looks beautiful.

From a distance, all of the pain that can be had seems like a colorful shade of gold.

From the jagged and broken spine of the Verazanno-Narrows bridge, where dusty concrete and twisted steel splits into a jagged fissure of urban decay, the distant glow of bright golden-orange from Manhattan on the horizon seems so picturesque when set against a field of bright, shining stars overhead and a sky that has finally cleared of rainclouds.

From a distance, maybe the plumes of smoke rising up from the still-burning heart of Midtown could be something else. From a distance, maybe the icy cold waters of the Hudson below, where irregular shards of concrete and rebar rise up from the ruined remnants of the bridge could be seen as picturesque.

Maybe from a distance, Staten Island doesn't look like an inescapable black hole that eats away the good in everything it touches.

From a distance, it's hard to tell a young woman perched on the sundered edge of the bridge is crying.

For all of the abstract beauty there may be to behold in a world on the brink of yet another consumptive destruction, the only thing that Bebe can bear to look at is the letter currently clutched in her quaking hands. She's been perched on the crumbling edge of this bridge — this bridge that was once a battleground and played host to a spectacular showdown between the forces of righteous good and epic evil — for over an hour and while she has, from time to time, been inching ever forward, she still has yet to find the fortitude within her to take that one last literal step. And, yet, all of the others that had preceded it had happened so fast she could hardly recall her own arrival…

Thanks to some twisted measure of serendipity, the disaster that brought her to the razor's edge was also what endowed her with the uncanny ability to clear the gauntlet between bedroom door and the other side of a Staten Island sidewalk in nothing but a blink and leaving barely more than a Bebe-shaped blur in her wake as she made her escape from what had been both paradise and purgatory in the months she'd spent laboring under Logan for the sake of someone's else bad mistake. Still, she couldn't help but cast one last look over her shoulder before her fleet feet sent her flying over the threshold and out onto the streets.

In truth, her absence might not even be noted until the morning and, even then, it's doubtful that anyone could be bothered to think the worst. Perhaps her Jack had come back. Perhaps she was off on another errand for the Woman in White. Perhaps Logan had miraculously located his misplaced heart and set her up elsewhere. Wherever elsewhere was, it would surely be a better place. Do whores go to heaven?

Her attention once again turned to the letter from her lost lover. Once she had convinced herself that his parting words had been committed to unerring memory — for however few moments of memory she had left to retain — her fingers finally released their vice-like grip on the piece of paper and allowed it to be ripped away by the warm and slightly smoky summer breeze in order to be carried off by an aerial current to somewhere downwind… perhaps even to the sea itself. It was only then that Bebe allowed herself to look down at the dark debris waking for her beneath the river's waiting waves and suck in a sharp breath.

"Is there a line?" That callous, if not weakly mumbled phrase comes out of nowhere. A voice from beyond the grave, or more accurately one that trodded up the bridge during emotional focus on a piece of paper now whirling about in the wind. The voice is a familiar one to Barbara Dahl, a voice that reminds her of a terrifying night not entirely dissimilar from this one — barring the raging inferno in the distance.

Finally the sounds of scuffing shoes coming up the broken pavement, broad shoulders slouched in defeat, hands tucked into pockets of ratty jeans, a far cry from the man wielding crimson lightning that evening in Chinatown. "Cause… I mean if you're not in a rush, I can— uh— maybe go to the Tapanzee, or the George Washington." There's some hint of sardonic humor there, despite that flat and humorless way in which the words are delivered. "Or… if it'd make you feel better, you could push me."

John Doe leans up against a skewed slab of concrete upended from the fissure of the bridge, one that is stacked atop the burned out hulk of a car destroyed in whatever explosion rent the bridge in twain. He manages a smile, rueful as it is, and then bows his head, "I mean… what're the odds?"

The supernatural speed at which the young woman on the brink of the bridge executes her over-the-shoulder head swivel makes the gesture seem simultaneous sharp and sudden in an uncanny way the provokes a sort of feeling as though maybe she'd been staring at him this entire time and he only just now noticed. This sort of thing was hard enough to enact without an audience, let alone one intent on critiquing the action with caustic commentary. Her expression, however, speaks far more of fear and apprehension rather than annoyance — it's those big, brown, and irreparably red-rimmed eyes that somehow seem capable of penetrating even the most heavily-hefted emotional armor.

What words could possibly avail her now? What does one say in this sort of awkward situation? "I'm sorry," she says, sounding small but sincere. And what is she apologizing for? "…I must have missed the sign-up sheet," she adds in a voice painted over with a thin layer of borrowed sarcasm.

Tear-stained cheeks mixed with sarcasm aren't the most expected reaction, and when John finally gets a good look at the bereaved expression on Bebe's face, his eyes avert and his head hangs, shoulders slouching just a little bit further, "I— No it's— " there's a moment of tension, hesitant breaths taken in shuddering form. "I'm… sorry, me, not— " he only now realizes she was sarcastic about the apology, grimacing as he scratches the back of his neck.

"Christ," John breathes out the word in a sharp manner, "I— I didn't mean to— I— " worn out sneakers scuff on the pavement, drawing John away from where the girl stands perched on the edge of the bridge. He wants to just turn and run and forget he ever ran into her at all. But that look on her face, those tears and the wind-tossed look of her hair, everything backlit by distant fire, there's something familiar about the whole scenario.


It's not a notion John deals with often, and when something does finally rattle loose in that big empty head of his, he stops his backpedaling, but then grimaces for lack of anything productive to say. "Uh…" his brows crease together, eyes darting to the side as he rolls his tongue over the front of his teeth, "Don't… jump?" The words come off as hard-fought, one brow arched high as he glances back up to Bebe.

"It— it's not permanent." Those words come as a bit of a surprise, though in the same notion the fact that he thinks she's going to jump because he switched her ability seems a little absurd as well. "It— a month, maybe more, maybe less? You— it'll sort out on its own, like— I don't know, stuff?" Like stuff, he says.

Being born in possession of a two-strike set of chromosomes automatically means that every woman becomes the lucky recipient of a lifetime pass to ride a roller coaster of unpredictable emotions that every so often goes loop-de-loop without so much as a cautionary 'heads up' or a 'fasten your seatbelts' sign on the side of the track. It is in this manner that Bebe abruptly swings from sorrow to rage and, unfortunately for John, she's now sporting stolen superhuman speed which only serves to avail her with the upper hand when it comes to a confrontation. One moment she's perched on the precipice of suicide's stoop, the next she's pounding her petite fists against him — the sensation is not entirely unlike being bludgeoned with baseballs while standing bare-chested in a batting cage — and exercising her anguish audibly.

"This is all your fault!" she shrieks, slamming her small hands against the stranger's torso with such surprising strength and rapidity that not even the shelter of a jacket coupled with a layer of cotton underneath will save him from bearing bruises tomorrow morning - if he ever actually sees tomorrow morning, that is. "I hate you! I hate you!" It's the usual violent litany. "How could you… how could you do this to me!?" Thankfully, her strength has already begun to wane as emotional exertion easily exceeds her energetic reserves. Fists transform into flat hands, open palms which still sting but aren't nearly so difficult to endure, especially at a slower and significantly more pathetic pace. Not long after that she is abandoned by momentum almost entirely and forced to resort to little more than clinging to cotton while she slumps and sobs open-mouthed against John's slightly tattered t-shirt, "…how could you leave me?!"

Abject horror is John's initial reaction, horror that molds and flexes into confusion and sorrow, carried along for the roller-coaster ride that is Barbera Dahl's emotional state. John's expression contorts, lips downturning into a frown, hands held up and out, palms up in a placating gesture until the tiny girl collapses against him into a sobbing heap, and it's about then even an amnesiac can realize this isn't just about what he was told to do to her.

"I— " his voice cracks, hands shakily moving to settle down on her trembling shoulders. That's the right thing to do, right? "I— I'm sorry I— " she isn't crying about a lost power, she isn't crying about being able to move incredibly fast. She's crying about losing someone. For some reason… that hits him harder than anything.

"I— I'm… I'm sorry." Words more honest now than defensive, "please… please stop— " his chest aches from the rapid-fire bludgeoning he had taken, but right now the crying girl hurts so much more. "It— it'll… be alright?"

For a few more painful minutes, it's all Bebe can to simply shed tears and adhere awkwardly to some stranger who saw fit to fuck with her life in such an unlikely manner that she never could have prepared for it, even if she'd known what was coming. It was one thing to be swapped out and switched out with a speedster for the sake of someone else's unknown agenda — a vendetta that not even the agents who enacted it had fully reckoned — but it was something else entirely to then be subsequently deprived of the one person she had come to rely on so heavily it felt like nothing short of losing a limb. All of them. Or maybe an organ. The heart.

At last, her sobbing ceases and while her shoulders still tremble, she no longer nurses the notion to cry so unabashedly while on the brink of ending it all in the arms of an unknown soldier of ill-fortune. "…why did you do it?" she sniffles, chin lifted and big brown eyes filled with the remnants of her recent watershed. "Why me?"

"You— " John's lips press together, words bitten back, but why? Loyalty to Edward? The notion almost makes him sick to his stomach before he finally answers, "You were with Ivanov." There's a furrow of John's brow, and his hands stay resting on the small girl's shoulders, unable to look at her for the unsettling feeling that swells in the pit of his stomach, that bitter sting of familiarity that haunts his every waking moment, but refuses to explain itself.

"Ed— er— " Waffling on how to explain, John's tone drops into a guilty murmur. "The guy I work for, he… he wanted to make sure Ivanov didn't have his power. You— were just sort've a casualty of coincidence, I— maybe. I don't know, he— he really doesn't tell me everything. Maybe it's because of the metal guy… I don't know." He's hardly making any sense.

Then, with a swallow, he adds, "Why— um— " John's eyes flit over to the edge of the bridge, then back to Bebe. "You're… not going to jump anymore, r— right?"

Of course. How could a common whore matter much to history? This was all about Agent Ivanov. For a moment, she mulled Mu-Qian's mysterious magnanimity and resented that the Woman in White had ever considered raising the man from the dead in the first place. He was nothing but trouble, besides. Bastard! Bebe added one more name to the list of everyone else she might be able to blame for her sad situation.

Slowly, she struggles to escape the shelter she'd tried to take in John's arms and shrugs her shoulders in order to pull away and reconsider the broken bridge as he inquires about her suicidal tendencies. "Maybe," she says with genuine uncertainty that soon bleeds into a somewhat sneering sort of derision. "What difference would it make?"

"I uh…" John's brows furrow together and then rise, hopelessly searching for a difficult to vocalize answer. "I… don't really think I like the idea of— uh— pretty girls, you know, killing themselves?" There's an awkward, very teenage boy mannerism to his expression, a crooked and uncertain smile of a man not comfortable in his own skin.

Breathing out a sigh, John takes on a slightly more serious expression. "I mean, if— if Edward— " he slipped again, but this time doesn't seem to notice, "— wanted you dead, I mean, he would've just had you killed, right? Or— okay maybe he predicted this whole bridge thing, or…" John's head swims in the possibilities. "I— don't want you to." There's a mild smile given, if not somewhat guilty, "How's… uh, that for— you know— an answer?"

Bebe's previously blubbering lips purse in an attempt to weigh the man's words against what passes for reason while still dancing dangerously close to the frayed fringe of the broken bridge. She then begins to embark upon asking a series of inevitable but unanswerable questions. "Who is Edward?" she inquires without right realizing the difficulties her dysfunctional companion might have in trying to provide a reply that seems sane. Worst yet, she has the innocent audacity to wonder, "…who are you?"

All the while, a warm but wild wind blows about them, rolling over their shoulders in order to tussle hair and whip up coattails unapologetically.

"Edward's…" John struggles to find the words, looking down to Bebe in a weak moment of disquiet. "He's— special. He's trying to— I don't know— save the world?" His head tilts to the side, not entirely believing everything he's saying. "I ah, I don't know… he has a kind've odd way of doing things. He— he's special, though, he can like… see the future? Or— I don't know. That's how he sets everything up, it's kind've confusing."

The second question, he's danced around answering for long enough, but the look of helplessness on his face comes only with a mild frown. "I— I was hoping you… might've known that answer. I— you remind me of someone, but…" John's eyes close, "Edward calls me John. Like, you know, John Doe. This other lady I met called me Tyler. I— guess that's my name?" He doesn't know?

Sure. She'll bite. That hook's simply too tasty to leave alone. "You don't know who you are?"

Of course, the tone of voice she just so happens to employ seems to suggest she isn't entirely convinced of the man's amnesia, despite his stuttering and disjointed explanations for everything. It isn't as if she hasn't ever been in the presence of an amnesiac before; it is quite possibly the height of irony that the two other men figuring so centrally in her thoughts right now — Jack and Felix — were also once John Does, too. Jack couldn't recall a thing before his African adventures on the high seas, or so he had occasionally claimed in their rare moments of conversational intimacy, and she had born eyewitness to the reformation of Felix Ivanov's brain and understood full well why he couldn't remember anything initially after his walkabout below the waves. And now, here she was once again confronted with a man uncertain as to his own identity who had only just so recently been fixed, however briefly, in her embrace while hovering precariously close to a watery grave. What is it with these aquatic men and their short-lived memories? But, then…

"Which other lady?"

"Yeah I… this guy did something to my brain before I got locked up— " Locked up? "I— no I mean, I'm not dangerous— " he fumbles over his own words, jaw clenching as he warily looks down at Bebe. "I mean it— it's complicated." John swallows dryly, watching Bebe with uncertainty as she asks that question. "I… I don't know, someone Edward knows, this really weird lady named Catherine. She's like— I don't know, a rock star lawyer or— " he only now realizes how that sounds coming out of his mouth. "Yeah it don't really believe that either."

Brows crease together, and John watches Bebe a moment longer, looking down at her with a hesitant smile. "You… um," he looks around, "do— do you want me to give it back?"

The heartbroken hooker's expression betrays a trace of apprehension. But, it isn't so much the idea of conversing with a convict that sets Bebe a bit on edge so much as it is the fact that he's apparently had someone poking about at his brain for whatever reason. That doesn't even begin to come anywhere close to normal. And, speaking of whatever passes for normal

"It's done," she says, sad eyes desperately trying to seem strong behind those tear-laden lashes. "I think I'd rather just… go." But, go where? Robbed of her original reason for climbing up onto the back of a broken bridge in the first place, it suddenly occurs to her just how much of an awkward and unsafe a place to carry on a conversation their shared perch might be. Perhaps a venue change is in order.

Biting down on his lower lip, John seems crestfallen at her decision. He'll always blame that weak-willed part of himself for what he did to her, for listening to Edward, but at the same time it's the nagging sensation of familiarity to the girl that keeps him from fully doubting the plan. If Edward could — one day — help him remember who he is, then conceivably he could remember why she seems so familiar. That conflict is what spurs John's lips to move in quiet speech. "I ah… Go?" His eyes flick to the edge of the bridge, then back to Bebe's tiny form. "So, like— that way," he nods his head back down the ramp of the bridge, "and not… uh…" he nods his head the other direction, off the broken precipice.

With one last look leveled at the view to be had from the jagged edge, Bebe, for the first time, observes the orange glow on the ken — her eyes had not been so preoccupied with the horizon line before now — and the still-burning aftermath of another bombshell dropped on what was once a great city. The heart of New York was hollowed out and on fire; she knew just what that felt like.

Trading passion for sorrow and squalor, Bebe's gaze slowly fell back down the back of the bridge and cast off into the barely lit shapes and shadows of what had become of Staten Island ever since the Devil was delivered back to Hell. The whole place seemed plunged into darkness and tonight the contrast appeared to be all the more obvious. Did she really want to go back to the Dagger? What was left for her there? Logan? Not likely.

"Come on," she says to the other lost soul still lingering somewhere over her shoulder. "Do you have someplace to stay?" Perhaps this was an inquiry for her own sake, should she have forsaken her own accommodations prior to her trip to the bridge… or, maybe it was an offer in the face of absence, should he so desire to tether himself for an extended dose of déjà vu for what was left of the evening…

John's heart lurches in his chest, brows creasing together as he looks out towards the glow on the horizon, then back to Bebe with a puzzled stare. "I— " his heart skips a beat, "Sort… of?" His place to stay is currently mere blocks away from that raging inferno, but he has enough faith in Edward's predictions to assume the fires won't reach the hideout, but the smoke and the ash and having to be around those people

"Actually," John's lips downturn into a frown, and he takes a hesitant step away from Bebe, tucking hands into pockets as shoulders roll forward. "I— guess not, really. Ah— where do you," one brow rises higher than the other, looking around the empty confines of the bridge and back to Bebe, "do you live here?" Of course, pretty girls live under bridges like trolls.

"I wouldn't exactly call it living," she says with her first few steps already dedicated to a path that will lead them both back down into the darkness. "I work for someone here." Technically two. She's skillfully trying to avoid owning up to the fact that, yes, she is a whore. The badge that comes with her occupation isn't one she's inclined to wear proudly.

"I know a place we can stay, though. Out of the way. Quiet." No one to hear you scream. While Bebe may be walking away from the edge of a watery grave, she hasn't quite committed to giving up the ghost — or, at least, the prospect of becoming one. If John just so happened to be precisely the kind of man he claimed he wasn't and sorted out strangling her in her sleep… well then… that was a risk she was more than willing to take.

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