High Hopes


ff_asi_icon.gif ff_silas_icon.gif

Scene Title High Hopes
Synopsis A parting between friends
Date December 21, 2018

Silas Mackenzie's favorite bar is all but completely deserted. Part of it, no doubt, is the news of the coming Sentinel attack; as the news had spread, the people of the Pelago had burst into a flurry of frenetic activity — some laying groundwork for defenses, others plotting to flee, yet others preparing for Eve's mad expedition.

It seems that all of this has left the inhabitants of the Pelago with little energy to spare for drinking at ungodly hours of the night. Which doesn't make a terrible lot of sense to Silas, really, but he's not one to complain about having an opportunity for a quiet drink… which is why, having made all the preparations he can think of, he's sitting in his favorite dive bar, a carpetbag full of tools and miscellany at his feet, a glass of booze in front of him.

It seems, though, that Silas is drinking in the quiet more than the alcohol, judging by the fact that his drink seems largely untouched. Occasionally he reaches out and moves the glass, or picks it up and swirls it around while he stares at the faded spider-lily patterns on the peeling wallpaper… but he hasn't had more than a sip in the hour or so he's been here. Something melancholy plays in the background; for lack of anything better to do, he focuses on trying to pick out the words. "…steps taken forward, then sleepwalking back again; dragged by the force of some inner tide…"

“There you are,” says a voice from the door. “I’ve been looking all over for you.”

It had been a long night, and would be an even longer tomorrow, which is why it was important Asi found Silas before it started. She slows in her step as she sees him there with the glass, brow arching up just slightly. Not that she’s judging, just that she didn’t think now was the time for that. Purpose was her driving force at the moment, drinking only stood to weigh her down.

She doesn’t sit, but does place one hand on the side of the bar, leaning into it. He’s got his tools — good. He’s ready to go. “I plan on staying with the Cerberus, or wherever Ryans directs. What are your plans for the morning? Have you figured out what ship you’ll be stationed on yet?”

Yes — yes, it’s entirely possible she’s misinterpreted the purpose of those packed bags.

Silas stiffens a bit as he hears that familiar voice call out to him. He hesitates for just a moment, working to pull himself together, to don the facade that he's almost always wearing. "Ha. Couldn't sleep either, huh?" he asks, turning the barstool around to regard Asi with a grin that feels just a little more strained than usual.

At her question, though, his smile fades a bit, the expression becoming more serious. "Cerberus, huh?" he repeats slowly. It takes him a moment to process what that means. She's staying here.

After a moment, he nods more briskly. "Ryans has got a good reputation. 'S a good fit for you, I think," he says, reaching back for his liquor and taking a drink.

Asi's head tilts just slightly as she looks down at him. "This … is just until the Sentinel are destroyed, of course." she clarifies warily, testing out his response. He looked sober enough, but perhaps she'd been mistaken. This wasn't for forever. Surely he knew that.

After a beat, she asks again, pointedly but voice light, "What ship are you on tomorrow? I want to make sure to keep an eye out for you." With less enthusiasm and the beginnings of a frown, she adds because it seems necessary to badger an answer out of him, "Otherwise I will worry." She hasn't even considered his course of action could be anything different than the defense of the Pelago.

He nods, waves a hand at her clarification. "Of course," he says lightly, offering a grin.

Then she asks again; it isn't until she adds the bit about worrying about him that his expression changes. The smile remains, but the usual bright gleam in his eyes seems to somehow dull, becoming almost leaden.

He lets the silence stretch for a moment, considering his words… but drawing this out any longer is only going to make it messier, uglier. "Eve's asked me to go with her. On the Forthright," he says gently. "About as serious as I've ever seen her. I figure where she's going, she'll probably need a good mechanic if she wants to make it back in time to do anything." It's technically true, though not the whole truth.

He pauses, and now his smile fades too, leaving him looking not merely looking his age, but looking old. He'd like to leave it at that, but with all the regrets he's drowning in right now, he doesn't want to take on another by lying - directly or by omission - to a friend. "And… I owe it to her," he adds.

Asi goes through a similar shift in expression, the tension in her going slack. It's not that she looks crestfallen or anything, it's just —

She slowly sinks down onto the seat next to him as she processes, meets his gaze.

Mad Eve wasn't known by the name she was because someone thought it would be cute to make fun of an old woman like that, but this was different. This time was different. Asi didn't have much faith the Forthright would return at all, this time. They were sailing into the Stormfront. And the Sentinel were coming here.

Sitting makes the wind being knocked from her easier to handle. "You—"

Silas meets her gaze, forces himself not to look away. She doesn't look crestfallen, she looks someone blindsided her with a taser. Which is probably close to how she's feeling right now, come to that.

"Did Eve ask you?" he asks gently.

"I'd not, even if she did." she replies, still sounding breathless. Asi blinks rapidly, reconsidering her need for a drink. There weren't many people she'd actually formed bonds with in the Pelago for exactly this reason — people can go. Life is dangerous. For some reason, though, she'd endeared to Silas.

She leans back for a moment, hand wiping down her face. "Snickers, the chances of coming back are low." she explains to him, like he doesn't already know that. An additional comment made at Eve's expense is almost passed, but she can't bring herself to make it. She respected what Eve was trying to accomplish, just as much as she had to respect Silas's choice to follow her. If he really meant to.

"'Course you wouldn't, Aces," he says softly, smiling kindly. "This is your home. You're a fighter, and if there's a chance in hell that you can make a difference in what happens here, you're gonna take it. Maybe even if there isn't," he says lightly, his grin taking on a bit of the old good-natured teasing for a moment.

He doesn't say anything for a moment at her statement about the odds, though, just keeps that smile. It's uncertain death; I know that. Hell, maybe that's part of the draw. Certain death I'd run from, but uncertain death… Silas thinks, but does not say; doesn't even let himself think on it for long, come to that.

"There's nothing I can do here, though. I'm not a fighter, and one more repairman hangin' around isn't gonna make a difference, no matter how whizbang he is at lashing bulkheads back together with electrical tape and bailing wire. But out there? Going into the Storm and pirates and god knows what else? There, maybe, I can make a difference." Now, for a moment, he looks away, jaw quivering for just a fraction of a moment… then he's under control again, and he looks back to her. "Forthright's crew is probably the closest thing I've got to a family, Aces. Anything I can do to maybe help em out here…" he trails off, shaking his head; seems he's finally run out of words.

Asi's expression falters again when he ventures why she's staying behind. She wanted revenge against the Sentinel, pure and simple, or so she'd told herself. The Pelago wasn't home, not really, she'd told herself. But why else would she care this much? Silas hit on the head what she had been refusing to acknowledge to herself.

Home might not be a single tangible thing for her, but the Pelago, the Community, the Library… Those were all things worth fighting for. Things she'd die safeguarding, if it came to it.

One hand reaches up to clasp his shoulder firmly. "You thought it would be too boring out here," she remarks knowingly. "Had to up the ante and sail into a hurricane, be chased by pirates, and fight for a cause all at the same time." Her somber expression fades, the hint of a smirk tugging the corners of her mouth.

"I guess I will have to try to find something to do just as interesting while you are gone." Asi teases, squeezing his shoulder. She's not normally a physical affection kind of person.

"Ha," Silas laughs, grinning at her. "Smartass." His smile takes on a bit of a warmer note as she puts her hand on his shoulder; the gesture means a lot.

He nods after a moment. "Interesting, huh? You do that. I'm sure we'll both end up with some pretty tall tales to tell," he says. He starts to say something about swapping stories when all is said and done… but something stops him. He's had a feeling for awhile now, in the back of his mind - a foreboding, almost - that that isn't going to happen. That this is going to be the last time he sees the Archipelago of Manhattan in a long, long time. Maybe ever.

'So be it, also! And may I and all my pirates share the grave where these and their creations lie…' he thinks to himself; words from one of the few books he's really enjoyed. Not entirely appropriate, but close enough for the moment; close enough that he can shove forebodings and doom and gloom out of his mind, and focus on having a conversation with a good friend.

"So when's Cerberus ship out, anyway? Got time for a glass of something or other before we part ways? They've got something here that they claim is related to tea, if you're not feeling like alcohol at 3 a.m.," he says, still grinning.

At that, she does smirk at him now. "When has any time ever been a time I don't feel like drinking?" Asi laughs, mostly at herself. She drinks too much, normally. "Tomorrow, though, I have do be at my best." Her smile falters as she corrects herself by saying, "…Today."

She takes in a breath, turning toward the bar. "It has been a while since I have used my ability offensively. I need the clearest mind possible. Mud tea for me, it will be." What an occasion indeed, if there was cause for Asi's ability to be used. She shakes her head slightly as she folds her arms atop the surface. "As for when… I should probably go soon." It's said dismissively, as if that's a problem for later.

Silas's lips twitch again at 'mud tea', but he can't say it's particularly inaccurate. He flags the barkeep down and orders a glass of the alleged tea, putting it on his tab - joke's on the house, har har.

"Fair enough. We've got a little bit of time, then," he says, nodding. "Fortunately, my abilities only improve when I'm drunk!" he says with a grin, sliding his cup across the bar from one hand to another - as it leaves one hand, it seems to somehow slide out of sight (out of mind?) until he catches it with his other hand.

His grin is replaced for a moment by a haughty expression. "Or at least, I think they do." He's only able to hold it for a moment before he snickers. "Anyway. A toast! To fortune: may it favor the bold, the mad, and the Archipelago of Manhattan," he pronounces. Then, as an afterthought, "And may the Vanguard burn in hell. The sooner the better."

Every time he does that, she always has to doubletake. It's rare he flaunts, and that almost never happens outside of drinking. It earns him a dose of side-eye, and a nudge as her drink is brought. "Show-off," she mutters low to him.

When he makes his toast, she holds up her hot-to-the-touch cup as well. "May the Vanguard choke on their blood and drown in the salt of the sea," Asi agrees with venom clearly not directed at her friend. She pauses just before drinking, then holds the tea up one more time. "To fortune," she echoes him with purpose. "And may it serve the likes of Silas Mackenzie, and Tetsuzan Asami."

When she drinks, she does so casually, as if she hadn't just used a name never before spoken. She takes a moment to look down into her cup, judging the tea with a deadpan expression. "Odd, mad fellows they are." Asi tacks on as an afterthought. She looks up from her pondering to finally glance back at him. "Are you bringing something to keep you lucky?"

Silas only snickers a bit harder as she gives him the side eye… but it's replaced by a look of genuine surprise as she drops that name. Tetsuzan Asami, he repeats mentally, committing it to memory; after all, given the fact that he's known her for this long and never actually heard that name, he's not about to believe it's an accident.

Her question takes him a bit offguard, though. "Something to keep me lucky? Can't say as I am. Don't, uh, think I have anything like that," he says, frowning thoughtfully. "Why, you have something in mind?"

"Fortune favors the bold, and the superstitious." Asi remarks with some humor. She's reaching into her pocket as she explains belatedly, "My name, in case you don't return. And some luck, that you might."

A single pearl free from its string spins on the bartop as she lets go of it. She's taken to carrying it around to keep its memory with her, without it being so flashy as the full necklace that could cause trouble for her again. Asi considers it for a moment, not exactly hesitating, but pausing to recognize the significance of the tiny orb.

"I'd bullshit you together a proper omamori, but this will have to do on such short notice." She's not disgruntled, finding that the valued object might just be a worthwhile substitute. "You'll need all the luck you can get to come through. You, and the rest of the crew. " Asi's expression softens as she asks, "Give them my best, will you? We will fight hard so that you all have a home to sail back to."

Silas's expression grows entirely serious as he sees her put the single pearl on the bartop. He looks from it to her, uncharacteristically silent for a moment.

"Heh. Can hardly refuse something like that, can I," he murmurs after a moment, nodding. He reaches out to very delicately pick up the pearl, studying it for a moment before looking back to Asi, pearl still in hand. "I'll accept this. And I'll definitely let the Forthright crew know that you're wishin' 'em all the best," he says, grinning.

"'Course, in the spirit of fairness. Since you're gonna be here and all…" Silas begins, grinning as he lays a keyring on the bartop. "You'll be around here, I won't. Worst comes to worst and the Sentinel manage to get boots in the Pelago, maybe a decent flat with a good lock will come in handy; give you enough time to wind up and kick their teeth down their throats. Plus this way I know someone I trust has got the keys to the place."

He sobers. "Seemed appropriate. Like you said - you're fighting for our home, after all."

"I'll water the plants and keep the cats fed until you're back," Asi teases in reply, warmth in her eyes. She leaves her fingers over the keyring for a moment before closing her hand over them, the fight that lays ahead of them both inescapably in mind now. Despite that, her positive (if occasionally solemn) humor is unshakable.

"The Sentinel will fall." she swears as she accept the keys. "I'll be sure to kill one or two just for you."

Asi lifts her hand with a wry smirk. "After all, you've given me the keys to the city. Least I can do."

Silas grins and chuckles, raising his glass. "I'll drink to that."

Asi smirks in return, lifting her cup and draining what remains of the nearly-scalding tea. "Just so long as you do me the same favor with any pirate fool enough to come near you." A steamcloud of breath escapes her after, her expression turning thoughtful.

"So that's that, then." she declares, pushing her seat back to come to her feet. "Mind yourself out there, because now I will definitely worry." There's a twinge to her smile as she considers not following the statement up and walking out instead of speaking again. "… Do come back safe. The market for replacement friends is worse than the one for coffee."

Asi waves for him to stand, presumably to give him a hug. "I'm heading out, Snickers." she informs gruffly.

Silas nods, polishing off his drink and coming to his feet; in truth, he probably ought to get moving soon, too. "Vayas con Dios, Aces," he says quietly.

Arms lift to embrace him firmly around the shoulders, swaying side to side once in its sincerity before she steps back. She's only able to pull a slight smile as she walks backward toward the door before turning away entirely.

She walks with purpose in the direction of dawn and the bright stadium lighting visible from almost every dock across the Pelago, ready to throw herself back into the preparations being made even at this hour.

Silas watches her go; even after she's gone, he stares at the door for a minute. He's not thinking, exactly, so much as he is just being, drinking in the atmosphere of this quiet place, just as before… but somehow, Asi's visit seems to have lessened the quiet dread that has been hanging over him. For a minute, maybe two, he remains there, standing silently in place - taking one last moment to remember this place, as it is right now. To take at least that with him when he goes. To see the battered wooden counters, the peeling wallpaper, the two glasses still sitting on the bar, to hear as the melancholy track playing on the radio finally reaches its end.

"With friends surrounded…
The dawn mist glowing…
The water flowing…
The endless river…
Forever and ever…"

As the guitar wails, Silas smiles to himself… then he reaches down, scoops up his bag, and strides out the door.

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