Heaven Will (Not) Betray


bf_kara_icon.gif yi-min_icon.gif

Scene Title Heaven Will (Not) Betray
Synopsis Yi-Min calls on Kara to discuss her feelings about Eileen's affliction. That is not quite all that is shared.
Date April 5, 2019

Yi-Min's Room in the Sunken Factory

The elegant aesthetics of Yi-Min’s quarters sit in conspicuous opposition to those of the laboratory she is responsible for fabricating not far from this corner of the factory. For anybody who has set foot inside that other building, they would have witnessed the carefully cultivated sterility of the space within— the ubiquity of the feel of bareness despite its nominal clutter, coming together into a tiny world of desolate and windowless white.

On the opposite end of a sliding scale of pleasantness, this room’s atmosphere is one of lush but appreciably simple beauty: mint-colored walls overlook stylized Eastern artwork and the greenery of a thriving lineup of plants and multi-hued flowers, including the piercing profile of a dragon tree in one corner. A vast, office-style window reaching to the ceiling normally commands a sweeping view of the Sunken Factory's skybridge and the Oswego River beyond, but at this hour of the night, curtains are drawn shut over it. Actual curtains as well, of a pale and lightly luminous fabric, and not the dusty pieces of shit that had originally clung to it in the form of bent creaking blinds.

It would be difficult to guess that the same person is in fact responsible for both setups, save for the precision that has gone into both.

Yi-Min is lying in bed leaned up against a pile of pillows, slim wrist settled atop one bent knee, playing distractedly with a tall silvery crane statuette she had plucked off the nearby nightstand; perhaps the first sign that she is just a little drunker than usual. Earlier in the evening she had invited Kara over for drinks and a casual discussion over the other woman's current reading material— and though she is typically very good at measuring her own alcohol consumption, with everything else clouding her mind lately, she’s managed to glibly underestimate the lingering impact of the entire bottle of port she'd downed earlier in the day.

And so, here she is now. And how.

There is a heavy sigh from her, and a roll of her eyes away from the wall niche housing her presently darkened little altar to Kuan Yin, towards where the blonde is sitting at the dining table nearer to the center of the room.

"….Kara. I am worried."

Straight into it. At least that much is normal.

Sitting at the table with her hand cupped around the single, if generous pour of whiskey she'd brought with her, Kara is less heavy in all things. Yi-Min had polished that bottle off alone. Her brow arches easily at the mention of the worry, attention still firmly on the Taiwanese woman to eye that she doesn't go tipping to one side or the other. Even on her throne of pillows, there was still room to fall.

"You, worried about something?" Kara teases her good-naturedly. "Perish the thought."

She still doesn't drink from the glass she holds onto, head canting to the side as she considers the sighing state Yi-Min is in. "What worries you?" she asks a beat later, voice light like the previous comment hadn't happened.

It is true that Yi-Min doesn't commonly make a habit of showcasing what worries may occur to her, if any. She has always been deeply pragmatic: when faced with any kind of problem, if she can discern solutions to it that are reasonably based in some kind of reality, then these naturally supersede her feelings in priority for mental space.

Exceptions occur when 1) there is no single solution to a problem that she can even vaguely perceive and 2) when she is fucking shitfaced.

Unfortunately, both of these things are true right now.

"Eileen," Yi-Min admits hazily, slanting her gaze diagonally downwards and flexing the long fingers of one hand in front of herself at lap-level as though she has never seen them before. Whee. "The curse inside her body. What— it is doing to her." There is of course the matter of the younger woman recovering from the ordeal she had put herself through at the gala, but, Kara can tell, it has to be more than this. If the concern were based only on temporary physical state, there would be more physical ways to deal with it, and she likely wouldn't be bringing it up.

Though it is likely to go unseen by Yi-Min regardless, there's a slight widening of Kara's eyes that's immediately tempered by a sharpening of her gaze. Her movements, small shifts as they had been, stop entirely after hearing it is Eileen of all things causing her to worry.


Something similar happens when the Conduit is brought up all but in name, her gaze returning attentively to Yi-Min. She's looking at some point just beyond her, a metaphysical space where the spoken-of curse is screaming and claiming bodies left and right in a careless, indiscriminate ravaging of life.

Its path had devoured one of their own before her eyes — someone who she'd known for years — since Sedro-Woolley had been a mere fraction of the size it became. And it had unquestioningly come from Eileen.

Eileen, who had ordered a path of least violence. Eileen, who had lost control. Eileen who had then ordered a retreat.

Kara's jaw sets and she lets out a note of frustration before she drops her steadying hand from her rifle to grab Eileen by her arm and help her come to her feet more quickly.

Eileen leans into Kara for support, an arm slung loose over the taller woman’s shoulders. It takes all her strength and effort to put one foot in front of the other; her knees wobble, buckle, ungainly as a newborn fawn taking its first steps.

“Adynomine,” she slurs under her breath at Kara. “Can’t hold them— The voices. Too many voices. Don’t want to hurt you.”

Eileen, who had spent months making up for it. Eileen, who had exhausted every last ounce of her power trying to secure them all a path out of the gala. Eileen, who had focused her energies more than ever on minimizing risk, on fortifying the stronghold.

Kara shifts the grip on her glass after that brief moment of stillness. "Has she told you about its effects in detail?" she asks, lifting the drink to sip thoughtfully from it.

While this is going on, Yi-Min's eyes have fluttered closed and reopened to stare unhappily at the long, spindly shape of the figurine in her other hand. Her fingers stretch towards the curvature of the crane's face, morosely flicking something unseen from the base of the beak — a simple distraction while she thinks about everything. She may not quite have been thrown into flashback territory, but it is obviously a loaded subject matter for her nonetheless.

"She has filled in the blanks of what I knew, yes," she breathes in confirmation, noticing some of the sudden dwindling in movement accompanying Kara's reception of the topic but not showing that she does; she is too deep in the murky fog of her own thoughts.

"And there is nothing about any of it that means anything good. It is not something that should be a part of her, Kara. I do not know what to do. I don't know if there is anything I can do, and this infuriates me."

"Well," Kara offers up immediately, then lets the word linger for a moment while she thinks. "There may be nothing you can do." is ultimately what she decides, looking back to Yi-Min after making that speculation. "Bad things happen to good people," she adds with a touch of gravity. Like they were discussing someone coming down with a particularly bad sickness, such as cancer.

Just not cancer of the soul.

"I have to admit, it's not something that just … comes up in conversation. I know it's a part of her, and…" she trails off at that, eyes narrowing a tick. Well, what else did she know? "Not too much else." Who knows if Yi-Min's particularly up to sharing, though.

"What's it doing to her?"

"Well,” Yi-Min parrots with a sharp gesture of her hand, “that is what I'm afraid of. But I refuse to acknowledge that as a certainty until I exhaust the possibilities." That, at least, only seems logical. In some sense. She meets Kara's gaze as levelly as her level of inebriation allows (which is not very), reflecting a kind of surprise that the other woman does not already know more. "There is, for a start, the memories she houses that are not her own. And that she cannot touch others without fear of hurting them. The most basic of human contact."

Largely due to basic cultural difference, Yi-Min had never been quite as big on the casual element of touch as Eileen has always been, but she can healthily appreciate the impact of the loss all the same. To forego interaction on such a level in every capacity is certainly not something that is usual for any culture, and it hurts her to think of it now.

"It is funny, you know," she continues on with a tiredness that is both physical and otherwise. "In my days with the Vanguard, I never thought so deeply about how the conduit might have affected Volken. Perhaps it was a different experience for him, as he had possession of it for so many years? But in any case, it was more of a thing that simply was. Now— things are different."

"Ah," Kara remarks, the sound neither long nor clipped. It's a middling remark, one she punctuates by drinking long from her glass for leaning forward in her chair. Memories not her own might have been nice to know at some point, though she supposes it wasn't need to know. She abandons the whiskey on the table with a rattle as it settles on the wood. She's not standing long— crossing to the bed to sit at the end of it, leaning on one arm bridged across Yi-Min's shins while she considers the drunk woman.

"No," she clarifies with something too firm in her tone for it to be called gentle. "I can't say that's come up in conversation before. What we have discussed was related to safety — how to keep her and others safe in cases of injury." And as for the rest of it — as for the Vanguard — she just nods and emits a tone of sympathy for her shift in mentality. "Now it's a little more personal," she agrees.

Just learning lots of things over here, Kara was.

"I can tell you from experience negation isn't a comfortable option. At least, chemical negation," Kara offers up in an attempt to be helpful. But to be honest, she's not sure Yi-Min even wants to do any active plotting to help rid Eileen of the Conduit. If she waited to discuss it until she was this drunk, perhaps she just wanted to bemoan the state of things and wasn't seeking actual advice right now. Who knew if she'd remember it, anyway. Sloppily drunk was a grey zone for expectations there.

"So practical," Yi-min says matter-of-factly to the safety commentary with something that vaguely but genuinely resembles approval, tossing the entire statuette aside beak-first into a rift between two plump cushions and lacing her fingers across her midriff as she watches Kara changing positions. "That's something I've always liked about you."

Practicality in many of its forms had, quite honestly, comprised much of the reason why she hadn't sought Kara out with this while more clear headed. With all the larger and much more immediate perils threatening the settlement, the present and future comfort of one individual might have seemed incredibly minor in comparison. As it rightly should be, but still—

Sometimes just being able to bemoan the state of things is nice.

Her eyes half-lid hazily as Kara leans on the end of her legs. The contact is not unwelcome. "Unfortunately, I know it well. Negation hasn’t been the answer. Drugs haven’t been the answer, at least none that we have considered. …There must be an answer, then, but what? She was not born with such a thing. There must be a way it can be made to leave." There is a muttered rancor behind this that goes well beyond any short-lived mood: over the years, Yi-Min has matured in that she no longer considers the expression of any typical power to be out-and-out evil. The manifestation of Volken’s ability represents the longest standing challenge to her accessions yet, by far.

"Well, you have to be," is Kara's very practical reply to her being practical. There's something lighter about her tone, a lack of seriousness given the state her conversation partner is in. She chuckles when Yi-Min goes on, shifting so she can go as far as to pat the side of her leg in a vague gesture of affectation. Yes, Yi-Min, Kara likes you, too. "And you, always so forward." she states to back it up, still with that same distancing lightness.

Just how openly Yi-Min her distaste for the power that haunts Eileen brings an inquisitive lift to the munition chaplain's brow. "Science may not have an answer," is as far as Kara goes to suggest, in a tone bordering on seriousness. The advice is at least sincere, at any rate. "It travels, death after death. It could be as old as mythology. There may even be mythology surrounding it."

Not that she's leaping to go investigate any, herself. Instead, her chin lifts in a gentle tip toward Yi-Min. "Why are you bothering worrying like this?" she asks, careful to keep her voice from sounding chiding. She's genuinely curious, after all, and interested in a response. "If Gray wanted it gone, I'm sure she would have found a way by now."

"Would she have, though? I am not sure it's so simple. You said it yourself, this is something science itself may not have a satisfactory answer to." Yi-Min closes her eyes fully, more wearily this time— somewhere in the darkness of her skull, she can feel her miasma of intoxication starting to very gradually peter out, and this is not something she is sure she wants to be the case. It is making everything just a little sharper. A little brighter, a little more prickly to think about.

"And, you know, it is rather hard not to be concerned," she says with genuine-sounding amusement of her own, her eyes still closed for the moment in reflection. "When someone you care about is possessed by something old enough to have its own mythology." One, and then both of her eyelids crack open, coming to rest on a point beyond where Kara sits: the decades-old framed photograph sitting innocuously at the side of Kuan Yin's resplendently posed shadow. A dimly backlit Taiwanese youth of twelve or thirteen laughs back at her, a too-big grin splitting his face from ear to ear.

In silence, Yi-Min’s glance veers away from this, contemplation masking the lion’s share of what she is feeling. It is easier to look Kara’s way again, so she does so. "But even were it not something so serious, I would still be worried. You cannot tell me you've never had anyone in your life whom you just— worry about, even when it is not the most rational thing to do so.”

"It's been a while," Kara admits openly, sliding her thigh up onto the bed so she can more directly, and comfortably face the smaller woman. "But yes, I have had someone like that. Except, the last one, the worry was justified." Her lips firm together, like she might smile, but she doesn't. The memory brought to mind isn't tinged with happiness overall.

She turns for a moment to observe what it is Yi-Min's attention keeps being drawn to, turning back slowly. Only because she thinks she'll get away with it given the other woman's current state does Kara go through the effort of asking, "Who is he?"

Kara could probably get away with a lot more with Yi-Min than she thinks, if she dared. Certainly in the realm of the spoken word.

"That's Yi-Shan. He was my twin," Yi-Min says simply, leaning her head into the give of the pillow behind her. It has been so many years, so many mornings she had prayed before his old and familiar portrait overlooking the simple ancestral tablet bearing his name as a vital portion of her daily devotions, that she can say it without the automatic needle of emotion that had once eaten her from the inside whenever she even thought of him. The quasi-acceptance it has morphed into with age shows now as a somber heaviness beneath her lashes, in this moment when is she is not quite so clear-headed as she would have liked.

By contrast, the concern that alights for whomever Kara is talking about is new and fresh. "Who was that someone?" she asks gently. "Here. Come." It is a kindness rather than any kind of command, and though the bed itself is not lacking in space, she redistributes herself further to one side of it so that Kara has more room to seat herself on it properly. Tosses a downy cushion in the other woman's direction, as well.

The weight that comes into her tone is sight heavier than the well-meaning pouting she'd had for Eileen's sake, Kara notes. The munitions chaplain has looked back to the photo again to study the young face, perhaps ask a follow up, but Yi-Min beats her to the punch. She catches the pillow thrown her way, a frown tugging her deadpan expression slightly less neutral.

What if, she wonders to herself as she works her boot off, Yi-Min did not recall the conversation in the morning? Should she bother to bring it up at all? Kara glances up at the smaller woman. Well, on the other hand, maybe she wouldn't remember, leaving Kara to be as honest as she liked. She pulls herself onto the bed, still facing Yi-Min instead of sliding in next to her.

"She was very brave," Kara begins, sounding at first like this might be told with the air of a fairy tale. It's an illusion quickly dispersed as she continues speaking. "Foolishly bold, even." Sobered somewhat, she looks to Yi-Min directly. "There used to be a policy in place in the military, something called Don't Ask, Don't Tell. We both served before it ended, and god, did she fly in the face of it. When they were having trouble getting people to extend their tour, she started to get more brazen." Kara realizes she's omitting certain specifics such as time and place out of habit. It's not like that mattered anymore.

"Or at least, she tried. She wasn't afraid of who she was, who she wanted to be, and I admired that about her. But policy was policy." Kara settles the offered pillow in her lap, making a show out of using it by patting it with her hand. There, Yi-Min. Kara was comfortable now. "I kept telling her pushing it wouldn't win her any favors, no matter how many times she signed on for additional time. She didn't listen." Even now, her disappointment at how unfortunate that was shows through. Kara gives a mild shake of her head. "So we parted ways quickly, but I still found myself worrying about her like it was my business. She called me on it once or twice." She lets out a breath of laughter, marveling at that before she shakes her head.

Looking back to Yi-Min, she shrugs. "Some people are just stubborn."

The crucial difference between Yi-Shan and Eileen, which would account for any perceived difference in Yi-Min's tone when speaking about them, is that Eileen is not dead. Currently, anyway. And it would be the understatement of the century to say she hopes it stays that way.

Yi-Min notes the trajectory of the thrown pillow; notes, with lowkey entertainment, Kara's cheeky little show of illustrating her own comfort with it. The deliberateness of the gesture is a background-level delight that succeeds in faintly lightening the otherwise solemn exchange to her, at least for a moment.

"She sounds admirable," she commiserates after the tale is recounted, sympathy curving her lips into the frank poise of a smile. A low little laugh as well, riding the aftermath of Kara's own. "It is difficult for, well… some to tolerate living a life where they cannot be true to themselves." Time and place for it aside, the spirit of it is something she would be hypocritical if she found fault with.

The smile quirks brighter for a second. "But no wonder you worried."

At hearing Yi-Min's take on the situation, on the woman in question, Kara returns the smile. Hers is little more than a brief firming of her mouth, but she's by no means grim or anything nearly that dour when it fades. There's little point to open melancholy in the reflection. "It wasn't going to be for forever," she says with a shrug, neither in defense of or retaliation toward the unfairness of it. "Just for the moment. But some people can't bear even that, can they?"

She thinks on it briefly and then smiles again. "Yeah, I worried a lot about her." As a form of relenting, she tosses the pillow before her and adjusts her seated position to lay down on her stomach, elbows resting on the comfort of the pillow. Her ankles cross and she looks more at the headboard than the woman sitting beside her, still pensive in her own way. "As for things in this moment," she segues, because it seems like the best time to. "Do you not have resources you could leverage at Praxis? To research the thing Eileen has?"

"You are not wrong," is something Yi-Min is not shy to acknowledge. "Cause draws the line between courage and foolishness. Some burdens are worth bearing, when it is needed. Others not." Despite her dislike for any kind of compromise involving self-suppressive behavior, she knows well that the wisdom of choosing one's battles is just this. It is a practical perspective she submits respect to, when it is due.

But then again— such is an outlook befitting of Kara Prince.

It is a good question that Kara asks next, one which makes Yi-Min incline a quiet look downwards at the other woman as she comes to rest closer beside her. “It was the first thing I thought of. So far, that is a path that has lead nowhere." A beat, as she thinks further of all the limitations inherent to this enterprise. This, more than anything else, makes her offhandedly wish she had more alcohol on hand slash was not beginning to sober up.

"I have been praying, more than I used to," she imparts, lifting her chin towards the altar and that picture again. "In Chinese, there is a saying. It translates as something like; 'Heaven will not betray those who are trying their best.' I can only hope this has some truth to it, because the way things are going with this, I need it to be true." It's not really a humorous situation, but she cannot at least help sounding wry at her own expense.

"That is wildly unfortunate," Kara posits stiffly. Her next words, in contrast, are layered with an airy lift. "What are all those resources good for if they do nothing for creative problem-solving?" It was easy to have a vendetta, to have money — weapons. It was harder yet more necessary for a potential owner of loyalty to help its people in their time of need.

She sighs softly from her nose, realizing her internal voice might be being unreasonable. After all, were they not also jockeying for Yi-Min's loyalty? What was she contributing to the situation to help sway her? Kara glances back up toward Yi-Min just before she looks away, attempting her bout of self-deprecating humor.

To her, it just sounds sad.

Kara shifts her weight on her elbows, pushing herself up onto her knees. Religion has never been a comfort zone for her, so she'd rather not be sprawled out while discussing it. "You're in good company for people praying a lot. It might be to a different God, but it's still praying. Hoping someone up above will grant mercy, understanding, a miracle of some kind."

She feels as though she should perhaps say more, but she's presently preoccupied with trying to judge how drunk Yi-Min may or may not be, her gaze practical in its wandering over the other woman's increasingly familiar features.

Again, Kara is not totally wrong about this.

"The problem for this is just how creative the solutions need to be. It is as though the conduit does not exist, and what little there is to be found does not even call it by that name. Where to begin a search if it is full of dead ends before you even take a step?" This is Yi-Min airing some of her prior frustrations aloud, not really expecting an answer from Kara in the same vein, and not disagreeing with what had been said. She does release a breath of silent assent at the comment about not being alone in prayer in this community: a thought that, she stops to suppose, had not really occurred to her in such a way.

Something grazes the outside of Yi-Min's thigh— the crane statuette, it turns out, which had rolled into a new position alongside her when she had shifted towards the side of the bed. She is apparently non-drunk enough at this point to replace the stray item on her bedstand with what is roughly her normal, lightly graceful level of coordination. When she withdraws back to where she had originally been, she catches the look in Kara's eye out of the corner of hers. Is she reading it correctly?

Her expression, ruminative as it had been up until now with this talk of religion and gods, takes on a touch of shrewder speculation as she more fully meets the distraction of Kara's gaze. Ever since the gala, it had become more difficult to ignore— well, many things.

Kara, in a single comprehensive word, happens to be one of them.

The replacement of the item is tracked, noting how quickly Yi-Min is able to switch from an impossible task to a much less impossible one, none of her frustration carrying over. Good. That kind of compartmentalization was required for facing seemingly insurmountable things. It was required for other things, too.

Kara lets her gaze track back to Yi-Min after the item is set aside, making a decision about her state. There is a certain amount of enough to it. She is sober enough, she is shrewd enough. She is compassionate enough. Yi-Min would likely chastise her if she could hear thoughts, but thankfully, Kara only has to worry about being poisoned if something were to go wrong.



There's a shift of breath as Kara considers saying something, decides words are mostly inadequate here. Instead, she reaches one arm across Yi-Min to support herself as she leans her torso closer. Kara tilts her head down, lifting her free hand to tuck a strand of Yi-Min's hair behind her ear. After, the tips of her fingers curl around her jaw, her hand cupped around her chin.

"You are an intelligent woman," she reflects, ever-practical in her address of Yi-Min's spoken concern. "I am sure you will find a way."

It's an opinion she seals by leaning in to close what distance remains, head tilting just so as she brushes her lips against hers with a gentle firmness.

It is true that Kara probably would be chastised for the progression of this chain of thoughts, at least purely for how analytical it is being. For someone who is also the farthest thing from negligent about the possibility of things (anything) going wrong, there is still a large amount of spontaneity Yi-Min allows to happen within her own parameters and thinks is rather appropriate now, especially if there is something that she has decided that she wants. And Kara,


There is only the most minute of smiles on Yi-Min's face to begin with, moreso just an allusion to what one might be, but even so the intensity of depth otherwise in her expression speaks all that it needs to for her. She does not bother responding to Kara's reassurance verbally but rather leans into the kiss that comes after it with grace: a reserved action at first, but deceptively so.

When she comes away again, her expression has evolved further into the most coy of playfulness, which she permits Kara to see at that distance just for a moment longer.

Yi-Min wraps one of her hands around the base of Kara's neck to deliver the next kiss, slender fingers splayed, the fingers of her other hand joining it on the back of Kara's cheek a moment after. This one is much stronger than the first. Hungrier. As she had intimated to a certain close friend only recently, it has been awhile, and longer yet since she has found someone worthy.

When Kara leans away to get a gauge on Yi-Min's reaction, her gaze flickers unreadably, studying that coy expression intently. Lips part to ask a question of her before the smaller woman is grabbing hold of her, pulling her back in. Whatever query she had is immediately dashed away into a surprised, pleased exhalation before she leans back into the kiss.

Instead of the increasingly-awkward lean, Kara comes up onto her knees, swinging one across Yi-Min's thighs to straddle her — all the better to capture her face between both hands. Craning her neck downward to return those demanding kisses with probing ones of her own, she settles into something like a sit across that suddenly-inviting lap. It takes only moments for the hold on Yi-Min to turn into caresses, fingers wandering back through her hair before trailing down her neck.

The precision in her movements lose their smoothness in transition, the kiss deepening with a roughness accompanied by her hand drifting lower. One arm wraps around Yi-Min with a firm embrace, fingertips stopping in their gentle descent in the middle of her back. Kara pulls back for only a moment, pupils dilating as she searches Yi-Min's expression again.

They could stop, if they wanted to. There's no time to even pose the ridiculous question of it, being snared again into another deep kiss thanks to the hand woven into her hair. Kara slides her fingers beneath the hemline of Yi-Min's shirt, brushing her fingertips along bare skin. It's not much longer before her hand wanders up again, dragging the shirt with it until her fingers pause at the tiny clasp again she'd paused at previously. Kara realizes only after she's undone it that she lifts up a small prayer—

One for the miracle of this moment to not end. One that heaven will not betray those who are just trying their best.

Their kiss is broken long enough only to strip the shirts off of each other, skin on skin as they lie down together in a tangle. It's Yi-Min's hands that first past south of any waistlines, Kara's eyes rolling shut as she murmurs softly, breathlessly into her partner's lips.

Neither of them have ever been the type to hide what they want.

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