Ghost Of Christmas Present


chris_icon.gif sophie_icon.gif yi-min_icon.gif

Scene Title Ghost of Christmas Present
Synopsis On Christmas Eve, a figure walks away from the light at the end of the tunnel and reveals themselves to be a familiar face.
Date December 24, 2019

Sunken Factory

The firepit on the train tracks has been cleared of the icy remnants of snowmelt, and has been set ablaze to cook the hunted boar someone shot earlier in the day. It’s the first time it’s been lively like this outdoors after dark since winter encroached on the Pine Barrens, brusque and unforgiving— but the weather had been decently warm today, and the air was being good to them tonight, barely rustling. It’s not clear if the holiday caused the boar or the boar caused the holiday to be better noted, but in either case Christmas music plays from a battery-powered radio near the fire while a small number of the Remnant mill outdoors.

Some are supposed to be on watch, while others are just there for the food and fellowship, and it’s hard to tell between the two groups.

The darkness of the tunnels looms on one side, and the shadows cast by the scarcely-lit Factory linger on the other. But here at least there’s warmth, stories being traded during the wait… and there’s alcohol, which doesn’t hurt, either.

"You shall be sticking to the schedule that I have appointed for you."

Despite not actually being in any way loud, this light, utterly unperturbed-sounding exercise in simplicity still seems somehow a little too pointed in tone to fit into the strange sedateness of the December evening. Or any of this, really. The thick and atmospheric crackle of music from the radio. The warm, pleasant lethargy of holiday spirit settled into almost everything else around.

There is a slightly more real-sounding sigh from that same voice afterwards. It is equally cutting.

"I do not care, Franklin. Whiskey is still a firm no if you place any value at all on your liver."

On the outskirts of the gathering, barely catching flutters of illumination from the last concentric fringes of firelight, the slim silhouette of Yi-Min Yeh lurks beside that of a conversational partner far larger than her. A whole bottle is in her hand. Of unlabeled, home-distilled whiskey, funnily enough.

Silent night, holy night. All is calm, ….” The whispery tone would melt almost seamlessly with the quiet drum emanating from the distance radio, except that it’s crisp in the absence of any hissing static. Sophie keeps her gaze cast down to her hand. Or, where her hand should be, but now only a cloudy shape exists. The haze coalesces as if being sucked into a vacuuming, forming dark dexterous digits pinching the blade of a knife. She flips the weapon expertly between her knuckles.

“Kinda a creepy sentiment, isn’t it? Silence is… unnatural. And calm, always coming before the storm?” Sophie intones, seemingly to none in particular. She looks up from her apparent post. It would seem, at least based on her distance from the roast and nearness to the tunnels, that she is one such assigned to the watch. And yet, there’s a half-empty bottle down by one tiny, black boot. She lets her gaze slide from one edge of the dark horizon to the other.

“Better silent and calm than what-the-shit-ever else is lurking out beyond our borders.”

Chris’ flippant observations do a lot more to announce his arrival than the crunch of his boots on the cold ground. He's come in from one such patrol, and looks to be planning to return, after some supper of course. His rifle still hangs from his shoulder, gloves tucked into a back pocket. “Fucking storm better hold off or not come at all,” he continues as he enters the firelight. “That's what I think.”

The orange glow cuts strange shadows along his face. His usually bored expression is drawn, distant in the flickering light. The young man cups his hands together and breathes into them, bringing some extra warmth to his fingers in spite of the mildness of the evening.

Better silent and calm than whatever else is lurking beyond the borders.

Or within it.

Silent from this distance, a pinpoint of light flickers at the end of the tunnel. It's just for a moment, and then it's gone. The sound of the river behind the factory runs without cease, and nothing rumbles or stamps in the distance to disturb it.

All is calm. All is right?…

Leaving the wideset, now thoroughly dumbfounded profile of Franklin towering behind her in a deepening pool of shadows, Yi-Min rotates subtly but smartly on her heel when she hears the voices of Sophie and Chris from an area that is slightly closer to the blaze than she had been. Still in a relative pall of darkness, she raises her eyebrows in interest at the spectacle of the trick performed with gaseous ability and knife blade, but does not otherwise comment on it. Instead, she raises her appropriated whiskey an inch or so further into the air and waggles it with a coy kind of knowingness.

"I agree with Sophie," she expresses very succinctly once she has drifted into sufficient earshot of them. Her target does not appear to be the pair of them specifically, but a convenient opening a few feet beyond them where she can better survey the progress of the roasting boar between tussocks. Here, she stands. And here, she drinks. "With everything has been happening around here, I think I would prefer the presence of the storm."

Better the devil that is visible.

The blade stops its silent little whirlwind around Sophie’s tiny dexterous fingers. The little woman inclines her chin to Yi-Min by way of greeting, but her toothy grin is for the tauntingly dangled liquor. “Taking my side and bringing gifts? Come sit by me.” Sophie’s smile is warming in the absence of a hearth. She casts Chris a playfully smug smile to seal her point.

“The anticipation is a mind fuck I can-…” Sophie pauses to glance back down the tunnel with the absent flick of someone who catches a shadow just so in their periphery. “-… do without,” she finishes half-heartedly. A focused squint convinces her that the tunnel is indeed dark before she turns back to her companions.

Wait, what? Chris extends a hand in Sophie’s direction, his face furrowed and shadowed as if trying to understand. He figures it out, after a second, by rotating his hand from palm down to palm up, then curling all his fingers but the middle one into a fist.

Yeah, he's that mature.

He might also be joking. Or he just really doesn't give two shits about the whole thing. His expression turns impassive and he tucks his hands into his jacket pockets.

The flare of light down the end of the old tunnel flickers again before dopplering away in a slow turn. When it comes back again, it’s stronger yet, casting thin but growing beams of light along the furthest edge of the tunnel walls. They encroach forward.

There’s a lack of telltale stomp to indicate perhaps the shields set up at Providence’s edge failed and that they’re about to be set on. What light approaches is more mundane, possibly.

It heralds an approaching vehicle in the dark — one that’s performing the series of curves through the woods on the other side that’s necessary to successfully navigate the mines still hiding out in the trees. When the vehicle pulls right up to the tunnel, headlights streaming almost halfway down the walls, it comes to a halt and the bright light that pierced the veil of darkness suddenly fades.

Yellowed running lights take its place, and down the tunnel they can hear the sound of a car door opening and shutting. Feet crunch on gravel.

A shadow passes in front of the vehicle, blocking the yellow-orange glow coming from its hood. The figure continues on shrouded in darkness, heading down the tunnel toward them.

Everyone who was supposed to be here was here already. In short: they weren’t expecting visitors. Certainly not anyone who wouldn’t identify themselves at the first sign of life they see — and whoever it is, they can almost certainly see the dim flicker of the firepit as they draw nearer, even if they can’t make out features, much like those on the factory-side of the tunnel can’t make out theirs.

Mundane in derivation or not, the intrusion of something into their midst that is not supposed to be present is— concerning, to say the least. "Hold on," Yi-Min says quietly to the two of them, even as Chris is maturely raising his middle finger to them in the foreground of things. She doesn't set about finding a place to put down her bottle of whiskey, nor does she hand it off to Sophie as just might have been her intent beforehand.

What Dr. Yeh does do, however, is delve her free hand beneath her overcoat to rest calmly on the handle of the revolver concealed there, taking several small, methodically cautious steps towards the concealing gloom of the tunnel. Though she can feel her heartbeat in her ears, she says nothing aloud, nor does she advance past that final line of straggled groups of twos and threes on the edge of the clearing.

But every fiber of her is drawn towards trying to discern the identity of the driver. To trace the source of the lights.

Sophie grins at Chris. "I see your birdie and raise you a crane." The tiny woman begins to balance on one foot like a karate master. She wistfully draws an arm up, clearly intent on bringing it down over the other in a very fongool gesture…

She drops her foot swiftly and turns a sharp look on the tunnel. The soft swirling cloud of Sophie's breath is suddenly matched by twin mists drifting up from her shoulders. Sophie cuts the duo at her side a sharp, quizzical look. She could scout ahead? Or they could all just let Chris's wise-mouth…

“What the shit.” Less exclamation, more complaint is what drags out of Chris when lights from behind flicker and contrast with the firelight. He turns to look at the tunnel as well, not because everyone else is but because who the fuck is going to try and ruin a good night now? “All your ducking talk about calm and storms,” he continues. All the blame is given to Yi-Min and Sophie. All of it. He wanted none of the storm, remember.

Sighing, since he's been completely out upon and his night is so obviously about to be ruined — it just wasn't enough to not share the whiskey, was it — he checks the pistol at his hip. He'd rather have a long gun, but fuck if he wasn't expecting trouble at his own fire. Maybe Charity was right calling Yi-Min a snake. She wasn't. He doesn't believe that. He grouses some further explicatives that were unable to pass the censoring, all while walking toward the mouth of the tunnel.

The ghostlike mist coming off of Sophie's very being lends a little ambiance to the moment that's oddly on-point for what happens next.

Because it's a ghost that comes forward.

"I could have shot the lot of you twice, three times by now from this distance… you do know that, right?" All that suffices to identify them at first is their voice. "There's something to be said for waiting until you have a confirmed ID, but if the situation were reversed, I'd not have been this patient."


When the ambient light crawls up her form, Kara Prince's hands are at first raised slightly up and out from her sides in a gesture of peace. They start to lower after her quip, sagging back to her side as her expression blanks. Sophie's a face she expected to perhaps see out here.

But Yi-Min? Chris? For her, she looks like she's seen a ghost, too.

"You're…" she starts, the thought stopping short. She's currently too breathless to finish it, given her shock.

Any reaction Yi-Min might have started to develop to the message of that quip is lost past the first few syllables, given the sound of the voice behind it.

Theatrically, the appropriate response would have been to drop the bottle of whiskey she is holding in mirrored shock. Realistically, despite the narrow, understated shudder of emotion that runs up the length of her slender frame, Yi-Min does not do any such thing. Whiskey is valuable.

But— she does push the fully-laden bottle nearly straight behind her without even looking, squarely into Sophie's partly-translucent chest. Enjoy your new prize.

"Kara?" If this could in any way be real—

"No." Yi-Min concludes, her voice strangled with cold distrust. Her now two-handed grip on her revolver tightens, rather than loosening; she takes a single, reserved, sideways step to very calmly readjust her stance. "We looked for you everywhere."

“Kara?! Ka-Oof.” Sophie snaps into proper solidity and folds around the precious bottle of whiskey, arms wound protective and yet measured as if around a swaddled newborn. Perhaps it’s for the best. Because, unlike Yi-Min she doesn’t consider a ruse. Too elated at the thought of Kara’s return, her impulse to rush forward is checked by the bottle and then strung up on a leash by the suspicion rolling of Yi-Min in waves.

Still juggling a blade in one hand, Sophie tucks the bottle under her off arm and glances to Chris with a lofted brow. Dude.

“And you would have missed.” Chris’ mouth runs ahead of his thoughts as it always does. His pistol is raised, an eye staring past the iron sights on the silhouette that approaches. Even after it's revealed to be Kara who's supposed to be dead, he's still got a steady aim on her.

Probably because Kara is supposed to be dead.

“What. The. Fuck.” It's the least eloquent thing the young man could say, and yet it's the only thing that comes to mind. “Fucking. This some kind of skin-changing bullshit? First triffids now face stealers?”

Kara had expected to be doubted, to have to provide an explanation for how she survived and woke up later, but she didn't expect to have to answer to anyone else who had been there— who she thought dead, too. And definitely not to have to face Yi-Min. Even in the scant light, the gun trained on her and what of her expression Kara can see makes her glad she can't see the full of it at the moment.

She just had to go and get sentimental, get lonely on Christmas and slink her way back to Providence… this was an idea poorly conceived and poorly, executed. Kara was as likely to get shot as she was to be welcomed back into the fold, at this rate. And getting shot seemed to be a possibility that was getting bigger.

Yet seeing them again, even for a moment, she doesn't regret it.

The wonder in her gaze disappears, but her hands don't raise in surrender again as she slowly looks away from Yi-Min back to Chris and Sophie. "Speaking of 'face stealers', did someone put a bullet in Sharrow yet?" Suddenly that's a very real concern. Her voice hardens. "Tell me someone did. He turned on us, at the exhibit. It wasn't him, just someone wearing his face."

But that doesn't address how she walked away. Kara pauses, looking past them to the fire, to the factory. All she can initially do is explain, "I thought you all were dead after that. And if not that, then from the robot. How… how many made it out?"

"How did you make it out?" It's Kara's turn to sound a little confused now.

This last question is clearly meant for the other two, as Yi-Min had not been present in Providence when all that had happened. But the fact of who it's meant for could not matter less to her in this instant, because she has heard enough.

"Pianzi," Yi-Min interposes in Mandarin, the first syllable of what sounds rather like an accusation razor-sharp with calm scorn.

The last time Kara had seen Yi-Min's face, the lips of the Taiwanese woman had been parted barely enough to allow a ribbon of blood to seep out slickly from between them. The subsequent smile that had been offered up from her to her partner across the field, red and soft and wistfully sad, is an image still burned into the back of Kara's memory—

how questionably fortuitous it is, then, that there is nothing that remotely resembles that in what Kara sees now when the smaller woman steps forward one last time into less muted lighting. Yi-Min's current bearing is cool and glitteringly hard, completely unclouded by further betrayals of emotion. Whatever had escaped from her in her initial reflex of shock is gone, her expression smoothed back into one that is taciturn with judgment alone. And there's

the acute


in the empty night of Yi-Min cocking the hammer of her revolver, and leveling it at Kara's head.

"Silence. You are not the one who gets to ask questions, nor speak demands. Tell us why we should believe you this time, beneath this face that you wear without shame."

Kara Prince admittedly does not know many words in Mandarin. There are tens of thousands she is unfamiliar with. But something in the way Yi-Min says that particular one cuts deep, just as much as the click of her weapon does.

The sounds of the conversation and the raised weapons has drawn the attention of the others outside. "Hey," one of them calls out, stepping away from the firefight. "What's going on over there?" Morales sees Yi-Min and Chris's raised weapons and reaches for his own, getting as far as drawing it before he realizes who their guns are trained on.

Kara merely continues to stand there with her arms partly raised, hands away from her side. "It's me," she promises with a forced calm, leaning into each word. "What kind of stupid play would it be for a fake to come here, after all this time, instead of replacing someone who would get less scrutiny?" She turns back to Chris and Sophie in particular, though she knows Chris's skepticism will be just as tough to beat as Yi-Min's. There's less measure to her tone, now. "Get a test kit if you have to, have my blood prove I'm not a shapeshifter. Shouldn't there still be some left, from when we confirmed the status of the locals? After the barn?"

She's looking back and forth between the two with more insistence. "Ask me anything," Kara urges them. "What do you need me to prove?"

Sophie twitches, the habit — the instinct to follow Kara’s order nearly sending her off at full tilt to acquire the testing kits. But, a quick glance to the others reveals just how out of balance the odds are. And it’s quite possibly her family dancing up there on the tilted precipe ready to drop with the press of a button, or in this case a trigger. The tiny dark woman steals a quick step forward, enough to put her in the line of at least one fire: Morales’. “You heard her! Go get the damn kit!”

She keeps her gaze trained on blonde, searching diligently for signs of deception amidst the glamor of her own hope. Finally, her voice nips, quiet and persistent on the heels of the heavy tension. “Your first field mission with us…” The Guardians. “Scouting. Shoulda been a piece of pie, except Johannes…” Sophie bites the right side of her lower lip to silence herself and leave the silence for Kara to fill. If she can, if it’s really Kara.

“Blood’s just as easy to fake,” Chris points out. For one who's never been much into conspiracy theory, he's pretty firm on that statement. His fingers ease around the grip of his pistol, working the molded plastic into a comfortable, but tactful, grip. He's also not much for following orders, especially when they're shit orders (in his so very humble opinion) or when they're from face stealers. So it shouldn't be a surprise to anyone when he doesn't even consider the idea of getting a kit.

He'll let Morales figure it out.

A look slides to Sophie when she starts in with a story. For fuck’s sake, this is not a time for reminiscing. He makes an annoyed sound, then promptly turns an absolutely derisive look on Kara. Well? Fucking answer so we can do some real interrogating. Fuck.

Morales starts when Sophie gets in his path with that glare of hers. She’s not someone he’d normally consider taking orders from, but there’s enough guns in there already, and maybe not enough information. With a frown, he tucks his gun away in the holster behind him and turns back in the direction of the Factory. He doesn’t head off at a sprint, but there’s a swiftness to his step. Someone else peels away from the fire to join him, the night air letting the question of what the hell is going on? carry plainly to anyone in earshot.

Don’t get her wrong, Kara’s all here to answer questions, but Sophie’s fill in the blank has her blinking. There’s something she’s missing. She must be. The look on her face is reserved for wondering what the hell just came out of someone’s mouth, right before she makes peace with it and moves on with her life. Except this isn’t a situation where she can do that. Her nerve wavers. “Soph,” she starts, sounding uneasy. “It… Johannes wasn’t with us then. We met him here, in Jersey.” She looks to Chris and then back to Sophie. She’s convinced of her answer, even if the discrepancy wasn’t what she was expecting to be the question.

“One of the horses got spooked, took off. I can’t remember whose it was. We’d never have had the issue if Johannes had been there— he keeps all his animals calm.”

Slowly, Kara’s hands lower just a little bit further down to her side. She warily looks back to Chris. Perhaps she passes? Or perhaps he brings that gun just a little closer to her head.

Yi-Min's guard does not waver. Nor does the barrel of her revolver, poised right between Kara's eyes. Yet, hearing that answer brings about the insertion of a more careful note into the steel of her wariness, and her lips press together as she waits to hear Sophie's response.

"It is not so easy to fake the results of a blood test," she conveys more mildly to Chris, never taking her eyes off Kara in the meantime. It stops just short at being a refutation: such a feat isn't impossible, especially given the technically-unknown potential of whatever bag of demonic tricks they might still be dealing with.

Just, unlikely. And Dr. Yeh prefers to stay inside the realm of things that she knows, rather than fall victim to paranoia.

"Your last patrol here," she directs again to Kara, still in that pointed, quieter manner. "You brought back something into town with you. What was it?"

Sophie releases a breath she didn't entirely realize she'd held, a plume of anxious condensation spilling from her nostrils like a dragon's hot breath. She gives a little nod of comradery to Kara, but makes sure to look across a shoulder to Yi Min and Chris and give them another quick dip of her chin.

Even if she is bolstered by the obscure tale, she lets the other play their version of high stakes True or False, now with a more careful attention on the askers than the askee.

Not that she believes Yi-Min’s hand will slip, but Kara’s regard of it and her has been gradually more stony as the seconds tick by. Usually in scenarios like these, she’s shot by now, or at least drawn her own weapon in return for the discourtesy she’s been shown. But she has no weapon on her to draw, and she’d not draw it anyway. The question Yi-Min poses sees that her eyes go back in that direction, a little more tense than when she’d been considering the others. At first, there’s no visible indication from her while she thinks, the light too low to show the thoughtful tic in her gaze.

The hard line of her jaw becomes less severe, though. The question is left to hang. She breaks eye contact, her head tipping down.

Slowly, her dominant hand comes to her neck, dipping just under her collar. Fingers snare around a thin silver chain that before was hidden, tugging until a pendant reveals itself. She pulls it forward to better display it, letting the warm glass dangle in the balmy air.

A pressed, small sunflower is at home in the broad, circular pendant, frozen in time.

“I took a different way back,” Kara reminds Yi-Min, though she doesn’t need reminded. Her voice is carefully neutral. “And discovered blooms among other wildflowers. I brought one back for you. It was barely bigger than this.” Her support on the chain lessens, letting the weight of the pendant fall against her coat as she lifts her arm from her side again. She lets her gaze lift back to Yi-Min, unable to keep a small frown. “But that was the last patrol only before Praxis came. There were weeks after.”

After you were gone. is how that statement should end, but Kara can’t bring herself to say the rest. To a certain extent, she still can’t believe Yi-Min is here to begin with.

“They day we met, it wasn't raining. The sun was actually sort of shining but the air still smelled like damp earth and shit.” Chris remembers that day well, the day after he'd arrived himself, having followed Eileen and the other Horsemen into the settlement. It smelled, he wasn't kidding about that. Rain caused rot and mildew and there was a distinct odor — he claimed — of something much worse. But that's a story for another time.

“Jester was tied to a post and I was sitting at the fire when you walked up.” He pauses to make sure she's following. “Supper was supposed to be some kind of game bird and those godawful roots that what’s-his-shit always liked. Like carrots my ass. But you asked the most ridiculous fucking question. Didn't even say hi first. What was it, and what was my answer?”

Either Chris has been holding out on having something like an eidetic memory, or this was a truly impactful moment on him. Kara seems almost impressed as Chris recounts the details, distracted away from the conundrum that is Yi-Min.

That is

until he gets to his stupid fucking riddle.

Kara can't help it. Her features flatten. "For the last f—" Her eyelids flutter as she bites back the swear, apparently not wanting to give him that particular satisfaction in having riled her. In the moment, she forgets she has at least two guns trained on her, and her arms fall back to her side. "Asking you what you planned on doing in Sedro wasn't a ridiculous question. What was ridiculous was your kneejerk reaction to go 'who you calling a fucking kid?'"

That one's a quote. It doesn't count.

The look she gives Chris is far more unamused now than it was then. After all, he's had years to keep bringing this story up in one shape or another for the express purpose of insulting her people skills and getting under her skin— and it clearly works.

When Kara first tugs out that long, gossamer-like chain from beneath her collar, the pace of Yi-Min's breathing slows. It’s the subtlest of changes, the subtlest of feelings, but one that blossoms deep in her chest as she confirms— with the help of a twinkle of light playing about the curve of the glass— the pendant’s contents. The sight of that whorl of lively yellow petals is one she would have recognized anywhere, for once it had been a gift from her hands.

Whatever Yi-Min had been about to say to both this and Kara’s account regarding it, however, is lost as she witnesses Kara's entertainingly visceral reaction to Chris' line of questioning a minute later. That is a very particular quality of irritability that could only belong to one single person she knew.

So the last of Yi-Min's cold skepticism crumbles away, seamlessly and softly, like dust into a silver wind.

Into laughter.

"Kara," she breathes, dipping the tip of her revolver towards the ground. It’s the second time she’s said the name tonight, and this time it’s an affirmation, steeped through with the warmth of a still scarcely-dared gladness. Unlike the new arrival in their midst, she is not bothering to keep her tone neutral, at least not anymore: if a face-stealing demon could manage such an impressive feat of imitation as this, they were probably all doomed anyway.

As deftly as she is able, Dr. Yeh uncocks the hammer of her revolver in both of her small hands. Tucks the whole thing back into its holster deep inside her long coat.

And then Yi-Min is striding forwards through the firelit, shifting shadows of the evening, closing whatever distance remains between the two of them physically and otherwise, and burrowing herself into the arms of the angry-faced woman in an anguished embrace.

Sophie, the hopeful optimist amongst the skeptics, rocks forward onto her toes - the outward display of her barely restrained impulse to hurry forward as the other parties take turns asking whatever questions lead them to the same truth. When Yi-Min lowers the sidearm, Sophie’s utters a squeaky chirp of enthusiasm. And relief. A fond smile warms the tiny woman’s face as she watches Yi-Min move deliberately into Kara’s embrace - the kind of smile that says everything is right with the world. Right now, anyway.

“Not nearly so ridiculous as your face,” Chris hands back. He makes a show of rolling his eyes, feigned exasperation that Kara guessed right. Mostly. He holsters his gun so he can fold his arms over his chest. When Yi-Min moves in to actually hug the face stealer, he tosses a look at Sophie.

“Actually, she fucking called me a kid because I told her what was for supper.” It's droll, apparently. The young man hitches a shoulder. “Who knew she'd get pissed being told it was Rocky Mountain oysters and Casu Marzu. Fucking…” He grins for a fraction of a second, shakes his head, turns for the fire. “Tell her that's what's on the menu tonight. In celebration of her inability to die properly.”

The sneer Kara wears in Chris's direction is cut short by Yi-Min's lurched embrace into her. When the collision happens her expression goes blank, one hand lifting


to rest on her back in return. Sophie can clearly see the hesitation that flickers in Kara's gaze, the caution in accepting that her partner is here, she's satisfied with her identity, and that she's… real. A beat passes as the realization sets in properly. A hollow breath of a laugh escapes her as her tentative grasp on Yi-Min growing more firm, then more desperate. She staggers as she fiercely embraces the smaller Taiwanese woman. "You're alive," is a wondrous exhale only she can hear.

The sound of returning footsteps— a pair of them— draw her head up from Yi-Min's. Morales has come back, and he's not brought a field kit with him: He's brought a second gun with him.

Kara straightens further, her arm sliding free of Yi-Min. She doesn't shove her away, doesn't have the heart to step away, but she tries to create a separation. Morales looks between the two of them, then to Sophie, and even to Chris's retreating form. While it seems those here are convinced, it doesn't look like he is. Neither is the man with him.

"Need you to come with us. Ramirez wants to see this for himself."

It's politely enough said, but they're not asking. The man at Morales' side shifts his grip around the rifle in his hand. He himself shoots Sophie in particular a warning glance.

Kara considers it for a beat, her only reaction being to tilt her face back to the top of Yi-Min's head to crush a kiss into her hair. Then she steps away, presumably to follow wherever she's lead.

"Ai ya, so are you," is Yi-Min's muffled-sounding retort into Kara's arms, words still fraught with all the latent energy of her disbelief, and it is difficult to resist the temptation of forgetting everything around but the joy of their embrace. Without needing to turn and look, though, she detects the approach of the two men a few seconds before Kara does. In the face of this new growing awareness, she is content to create a little distance herself, squeezing the other woman's hand in hers.

Just for a moment or two more, at least. Once Yi-Min finally finishes her disengagement, allowing the trio space to depart together, her eyes remain alight with the glow of a quiet, immeasurable fondness.

"Go. Do what you must. When Ramirez is done with you, I shall be waiting for you." Coupled with the very slight smile she imparts afterwards, it's almost a strange kind of blessing to those that had materialized to escort her partner off.

She had waited for months, after all. What were but a few more minutes on top of that?

A sharp jerk turns a narrowed gaze back over a shoulder, Sophie’s narrowed look directed upon Morales Interruptus. Kara’s and Yi-Min’s reactions draw a rolling motion from one shoulder to the other beneath her thick, soft-leather jacket. Settling. She waits until Kara has stepped after the group of escorts before canting her head. “Well, wouldn’t you know it, I was headed that way anyway.” The wink she gives to Yi-Min is the trigger that sends her evaporating - flesh, fabric, and metal turning into a lazy fog that seems to melt into the cold, frost-kissed earth and out of sight.

It’s the sound of Sophie’s intent to follow that brings Kara to look back, a tightness in her gaze. She was glad when Yi-Min had let her go without a fuss, knowing she needed to face whatever additional questioning alone. Protective Sophie dispersing into mist leaves her hesitating, a flicker of concern present before she sets her jaw and heads forward, aware just as much as before of the guns ready to be trained on her going forward.

She’d passed the scrutiny that had been leveled against her so far, but who knew what kinds of assurances Iago Ramirez would want out of her— or what he actions he would take if he doubted her identity, or her purpose in returning here.

If nothing else, Yi-Min’s certainty that Kara would pass and return shortly instills a sense of peace in her she would otherwise lack, and the cool mist that shifts past her ensures she doesn’t feel as though she’s facing the inquiry alone.

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