Happily Ever Now


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Scene Title Happily Ever Now
Synopsis The thought of tomorrows and all the days after become easier to face in the presence of good company now.
Date January 17, 2020

Cat's Cradle

It's been a while since Silas has walked in on Asi seated at a bar, more than a cup into whatever they're serving. It's been more than a while, never in this timeline, and yet he knows that look on her face very well. She's lost in thought, feet dipped in the past while she tries to prepare for a tomorrow she doesn't want to face.

Most people might think she was just already properly drunk, but no, that's a different face— but one she'll wear if she spends another hour here. Each new consideration will spurn another sip, and there's no shortage of them, surely.

Silas's appearance is something that distracts her from them, her lean against the unique bartop letting up. "Ah," is the note that leaves her to acknowledge him. Asi breathes in, posture lifting, like she's waking up from a near-sleep. "I meant to call you, actually." Her mouth doesn't lift in a smile, but the corners of her eyes soften anyway. She is glad to see him. "I will buy your first round should you keep me company for a while."

Silas arches an eyebrow, looking faintly amused, but he doesn't tell her that she had sent him a text. "Well. I'd be hard pressed to say no to an offer like that," he says with a smile, settling into a seat next to her at the bar.

He orders a bourbon neat, but he doesn't drink it right away. Instead, he just holds it between his hands, staring at it thoughtfully for a moment. Then he looks over to Asi, mustering his best grin. "So. Penny for your thoughts?" he asks lightly.

Asi lets out a note like she's considering giving them so cheaply, lifting one hand from her folded arms to hold the glass before her by its rim. The beer glass rotates slowly under her grasp, and she sighs through her nose, peering ahead. It takes a moment, but she remarks offhandedly, "I've been in New York for some time." Another twirl of the glass. "Months." Obviously, but this implies it was longer even than Silas knew.

The spin of the half-filled glass is stalled as she flattens her hand atop it, forcing it to settle. "There was a prison break recently. Just after Christmas. It was here in New York, and now people are throwing my name around." The drink is scooped up into her hand, held loosely by its middle. She lifts it like to drink from it, but pauses to speak again. It's not that words get caught in her throat, but she realizes she's not sure what she means to say only then. Instead, she lets out a disaffected sigh. "Just my luck, isn't it?"

And then she does drink, enough to clear her palate of those messy words she doesn't want to get around to yet.

"Liberty Island, yeah. Heard about that on that radio," Silas agrees, his tone growing grimmer as he studies his bourbon. He's silent for a moment, considering, as if hoping to find answers in the depths of the glass of liquor, or perhaps in the reflections dancing on its surface.

"I seem to recall hearing some other names mentioned in association with that, too," he says at last. "Naidu, for one. Lang for another," he muses, peering over at Asi hesitantly.

Asi is content to let the silence linger until Silas breaks it, the last quarter of her current beer held at an angle away from her. Her expression grows placid in that interim, and she appreciates the moment for what it is. The mention of Naidu's name doesn't bring any outward tension to her— it drags it in, eyes darkening. She considers finishing off her drink, but opts not to. Maybe his is a name she doesn't want to drink to in any capacity.

"I'm not sure what Eve has or has not said," she explains more quietly than before, "but Chess has a number of identical twins. Clones, technically," is barely a murmur before it resumes that previous furtive decibel. "If Naidu was involved— and they have him on camera— then Lang is Chen. Lanhua Chen. She works for Praxis." A beat, the angle of her glass shifting as she supposes, "Or she did. Maybe she is permanently on loan to Mazdak now."

Who knows isn't a cavalier attitude this Asi would normally take, but it's all she's got at the moment.

"I didn't," is something she abruptly feels the need to clarify, still not looking back Silas' way. For a moment, it seems like the context will have to be guessed at, at least until she adds, "It wasn't me. Didn't have anything to do with all that." Her jaw sets, after, and she settles the glass back down on the bar. Asi turns back to Silas, more clarity in her gaze than there was before. "Even so, I think what happened stands to put anyone near me in danger. So … I can't stay any longer."

She sits upright, explaining her reasoning for it calmly. "Monica, Luther, and Eve— their terrorist status was cleared with their government. They can't afford to be seen harboring or being near one." Her fingers drum along the side of her glass. "So that's that," she murmurs without enthusiasm.

Clones. Jesus. What a barrel of monkeys that must be. He's having oh-so-much fun with just one evil twin running around, but terrorist clones? "Now that is rough," Silas opines, reaching for his bourbon—

—only to stop when Asi says she didn't. His gaze finds her, remains on her as she offers her explanation, until she turns to look at him again… then he offers a nod. I believe you, is left unspoken, but it's as firm as bedrock.

The rest of what she has to say, though, is a harder pill to take. A much harder pill to take. He looks back to his bourbon, letting the silence settle for a moment. "Where you gonna go?" he asks quietly, and now it's his turn not to look Asi's way.

It makes two of them.

Asi polishes off the beer, admiring the glass afterward while the last bit of foam slides back to the bottom of it. “Do you remember when I called you, after it all happened? How convinced I was? How… at peace I was, with what I thought needed to happen?” She blinks her eyes narrowed, brows starting to knit. “I thought there was little else they could take from me. This, though? This hurts.”

Maybe he can even hear it in the breath she takes in. “Do you think they will understand?” she asks him. Her head turns slightly in his direction, even if her eyes don’t follow.

There is a certain familiarity about this scene, sitting in a bar with Asi, listening as she does varying combinations of thinking and drinking. One thing he knows — assuming his memories of Aces map true to Asi, at least — is that, when she gets in this particular mood, she can sometimes say a great deal by what she chooses not to say. It's a rare grace that Silas has never quite mastered, but he's seen enough of it that he can pick up on it now and again. And one thing he has definitely not failed to notice is that, when he asked where she was going to go, her response turned towards what Mazdak has done to her.

He has also not failed to notice that she neglected to answer that particular question.

So he sits, facing his drink, letting her question sit a bit, watching her out of the corner of his eye. "I don't know, Asi," he says quietly… then he smiles, a faint huff of air slipping out in place of a chuckle. "Probably not. I don't know Luther that well, but… if Eve and Monica are like the ones I knew, they aren't real good at giving up on people," he says, his voice warm with affection. "They'd probably tell you to let them decide who's a risk."

Then, taking a moment to shroud them so that no one eavesdrops on their conversation, he adds on the heels of that: "Did you ever get a call back from Mazdak?"

His kindness in guarding their conversation is a nuance that goes over her head right then, but she doesn't seem too concerned about it in this moment, anyway. Mazdak is less of a concern than the other topics of this conversation that have made her drop her voice low. "I'm not asking them to give up on me," Asi points out mutedly. "I would ask them to not follow me. Not sacrifice their lives." She gives a slight shake of her head, knowing as well as Silas does the likelihood they'd take that information and act in any way self-preserving with it.

Her shoulders start to pitch in a shrug but never quite make it there. His rephrased question about where she is going can't be avoided a second time. "They did find me again. An agent of theirs approached me when I was on Staten recently." Her stare ahead deepens again. "'If Japan was a test, you passed with flying colors.' They outlined a path forward, but I do not know where it will lead, Silas. The agent who contacted me was clear, though: Complete another task for them, and I will meet with Naidu to discuss 'my future'."

While she doesn't sound happy about her course and what she has to do, it's clear the prospect of a meeting is what lures her. The disdain in her tone shows she doesn't see much of a future with them, or at least not one she finds rewarding. But that meeting—

"Perhaps it is a lie. Perhaps I will always be told 'just one more thing.' Schedules will just happen to never align." Asi could see it happening so easily. "I might always be needed elsewhere, somewhere more and more dangerous." She sits upright, hands loosely clasped around her empty glass while she looks down at the bar. She resolves to not let the layers of abstraction rule her future, but acknowledges, "They are the type to sooner feed their own to the fire. The ones who emerge again are the ones they find worthy. I can only hope they mean their word that this time will be what gains me access, because I am not sure there will be ground left for me to stand on, after this. Except maybe— India."

She lets out a chuckle, the thought taking her by surprise. Right, there was that contingency. She'd have to be truly desperate. It wasn't even her ground to stand on. Asi's look sours, then, upon that mental reminder. Right— Never India.

She could use a refill.

"They will either take me in," she decides. "Or I will begin to burn them back."

Damn. Silas had really been hoping that he'd been wrong about that. He still doesn't look directly at her, but he gives a grudging nod at Asi's assessment of Mazdak. He does glance over at the talk of India, raising an eyebrow at the look on her face at whatever thoughts India provokes. "Not a fan of curry?" he asks, one corner of his mouth turning up in a lop-sided grin.

It doesn't last, though.

He turns and looks back to his bourbon for a moment, thinking. "I'm betting that you'll probably get your meeting," Silas sighs quietly. "I'd actually be more relieved if you didn't; it'd mean Naidu isn't as smart as I'm afraid he is," he says, scowling at his bourbon. "Personally, I'd skip the middle step and start burning right now," he grumbles… then he turns back to Asi, frowning curiously. "This conversation's private now, by the way; no one's gonna be able to overhear us. So… what'd they ask you to do, anyway?"

Silas’s joke begins to salvage Asi’s mood, to the point his suggestion to get on with burning them brings her to breathe away a quiet snort of amusement. “After everything that has happened, I would not waste it on burning branches when I could get at the roots with a little more patience,” she tells him, finally looking his way to arch her brow. “You know?” A tsk follows that. “Not unless I have to…”

Her fingers drum along the side of her glass again when he shares the rest of the world is currently deeming them beyond notice. This explains, she realizes belatedly, why the bartender has not noticed her empty glass and refilled it. He’d been doing so good a job of it until now, that Sassy. But not even his keen eye can pierce the shroud Silas’ ability settles around them.

Between that thought and the question he poses, her heart tightens. The drink makes it impossible for her to avoid letting that pain lance into her expression. At first, all she can do is shake her head in reply to it. “Silas…” comes from Asi almost as a sigh. She leaves it at the resigned warning. Don’t press.

Silas lets out an almost sigh of his own. Nothing good, is what that non-answer — and most especially that flicker of pain — tells him. "Alright," he says, reluctantly. "I won't press."

"Just… be careful, will you? I've got a real bad feeling about this one." There's a lot more he could say along those lines… but he's said it before, hasn't he? So instead he bites his tongue and tosses back his bourbon, downing it in one shot. "And… if the waters get too deep or too wild, you've got my number."

With an effort, drags his attention away, looking back to his glass. He frowns as he sees that it is now empty. "And suddenly I am short on bourbon. I should fix that." He drops his shroud and gestures to get Sassy's attention, grinning. "Another for me, if ya would," he says, then glances over to Asi.

"You'd have a worse feeling if I told you," Asi mumbles more to herself. It isn't funny by any means, but she chuckles to herself anyway. "And your worry now is all I can handle." She looks back at him, unsmiling but sincere. "You are a good friend, Silas. I am sorry I was not able to get you your face-to-face with Redd."

When the bartender comes back down, he eyes Asi with a crooked stink-eye while drying a glass. "O-kawaree?" he asks her, and her eyes glimmer with as much amusement as enthusiasm. She slams her hand down on the bar. "おかわり!" Asi agrees boldly. Her enthusiasm for it seems to let him know how close she is to needing cut off, and he snorts, looking to Silas next.

They both have their refills in short order and he moves on.

It's with a new glass that Asi has a fresh set of thoughts to consider. It might be unfair to ask questions when she's answering so few in return, but she does anyway. "The boat—" she wonders aloud. "When it is done, will it still sail? Or must it stay in one place?"

Great. Silas is not encouraged by hearing Asi's aside; whatever it is they're asking sounds pretty bad. He gives a smile back to Asi; it's a bit strained, but equally sincere. The mention of Redd adds a bit more strain. "So it goes," he shrugs. " It'll happen sooner or later, regardless. I just… gotta try and be ready for him this time," he says with as much nonchalance as he can muster. Be ready for him. Har har. If being ready for Redd was easy, the man wouldn't be nearly as effective; Asi had been the one he'd hoped would be able to see through Redd's trick.

Luckily, Asi's question provides a welcome distraction from their respective grim circumstances. "Oh, she'll sail," Silas says. "Not great — center of gravity and wind profile have both been thrown off — but Nouvelle Vue's a big girl. She was an ocean tug, designed for lugging barges around; she could sail if she had to." He pauses. "Well. I could probably sail her, at least. You'd definitely want a good seafarer at the helm."

For a moment, Asi looks vaguely confused. She? "She?" she echoes the thought aloud unwittingly. But it comes back to her a moment later how English loves to personify everything. She lets out an amused hm after, christening her new glass with a sip off the top. It tickles her to know the boat is a she. "Would you take her on the road?" After the words leave her, her brow screws up. Is that the right way to refer to that?

Road? Sea? Up and down the coast? She can't be bothered with correcting herself. Whatever the case, it seems particularly important to her that he have the freedom to do so.

"You could follow the warm weather," Asi suggests, not at all projecting what she thinks would be an ideal lifestyle.

Silas's lips curl up in a faint smile; there's a faint exhalation of breath that sounds like the ghost of a chuckle as he stares at his bourbon. He's heard that suggestion before.

Like Ah said… it all comes back around, echoes from a less happy memory… but even that doesn't have the power to bring him down from the haze of affectionate nostalgia that's swept over him. For a moment, he doesn't speak, just… smiles. "I could," he says softly, still smiling.

He lets that thought sit for a moment, idly tilting his glass back and forth, watching the liquor within. "I've thought about it before, you know," he says, glancing over to Asi. "Heading south. Island hopping," he says, laughing softly and turning back to his bourbon. "Who knows? Maybe someday, I'll get tired of the view from the Bay; get a crew together — you have to have a crew if you want to take a boat as big as Nouvelle Vue out to sea — and just… cast off. I've always heard Jamaica's a nice place; never had a chance to see it before, though. Flooding and all."

"There's a lot of places out there like that. Places that I've heard of, but never got a chance to see…" Silas muses aloud. "Maybe someday I'll get to see them yet."

Then he looks over to Asi. "What about you? After all of this is over, I mean. Once your name's clear, once those assholes've all… died in a fire, or several separate fires, or… whatever. What'd be your happily ever after, anyway?" he asks curiously.

The notion of gathering together a crew to go off on some grand adventure brings a smile to Asi's face. She tries to picture it— that boat with its lights, sailing just at the edge horizon. "A city on the water, it could be. Sailing away… A very tiny city." she supposes, voice low until she rumbles out a chuckle. "To Jamaica." Her enchantment with the idea fades as she considers the state of the world. "If it's a place on the water you wish to see," Asi suggests with a touch of disappointment, "It is still best to go soon. There may be no catastrophic flood on the horizon, but many places … the sea rises, and it will not stop any time soon."

She lets out a sigh, drowning that small sorrow with another sip. A shake of her head follows, and it's in the middle of that that Silas fires his return question. She looks to him, brow slowly lifting. After all of this is over? What an interesting point on the horizon that will be. the technoapth muses to herself, ever so quietly so as not to jinx the possibility of it. She drinks again to buy herself an additional moment of thought.

The moment ends, and she's squinting one eye at the proverbial horizon still trying to think of a reply. Her drink doesn't lower entirely, still near her mouth. "I could wax poetic," she confides a little loudly, "but I think I will just move on to pissing off yet another government." She turns to look at Silas, face scrunched slightly in an expression of I hate to say it, but.

"Likely China." She starts to lift her glass again, but the scrunch deepens even further. "Again."

But suddenly— clarity. Purity. Her head tilts to the side, that faux-guilt vanishing entirely. She lifts her index finger off the side of her glass to help accentuate her point. "But this time, it will be on my terms, and with no one to apologize to," Asi remarks with far too much glee. "I will enjoy that very much." Her hand shifts to the side, looking to involve Silas more in this thinking. "This… business with Hong Kong, for example…"

She looks very knowing for only a moment, but by the time she begins to nod, a wicked grin caused by a lack of inhibition comes over her. It's a very serious topic, but all she can do is remember something related to it. She's trying to keep from laughing. It's a losing battle. "It… oh, god, Silas, it's so much more fun when their cameras don't work properly. When they can't tell the protestors apart from their own police." And then she sniggers, pulling her glass back to herself to try and hide her laughter, her smile.

She's supposed to be a very serious person, after all.

Her other hand lifts to help her calm herself, a soft exhale blowing away as Asi fights off the urge to continuously snicker. "But— anyway— happily ever after you were saying…" she says, trying to bring it all back around to something more relevant.


And that’s as far as she gets before she starts laughing again, leaning over the bar and slowly setting the glass down before she accidentally spills it. She’s amused as she is about whatever it is she’s laughing about as she is about her inability to keep it together. Oh, no. She’s more drunk than she thought she was, possibly. Possibly so far gone as to have accidentally drunk-texted Silas in the first place… but she’ll not realize she’d done just that for some time yet.

She never gets around to describing what her happily ever after might be. Perhaps there isn’t one— only the moments of joy and mischief stolen between strifes—

Only a happily ever now.

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