I Am


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Scene Title I Am
Synopsis Shaken by the experience of having her ability stolen from her and exchanged for another, Gina goes to her boyfriend for support, and shares her very existential crisis. Kincaid discovers that dating Gina Sanders is a lot more complicated than he ever imagined.
Date January 3, 2011

Kincaid's Apartment

The fine clothes that Kincaid wears probably wouldn't prepare a guest for the actual state of his apartment. Better than the one that they spent the night in the first time, yes, but there's still something… bachelor-ie about his particular pad. Not the best building in the area, there's no elevator to make the trip up the five flights easier to get to his room. The hallways have a smell to them that's unappealing, and the heat coming from the vents smells like something's on fire as well.

Hopefully nothing really is. The city has seen enough fire in the last few years…

There's sounds beyond the door this early morning, and smells. These smells are much more appealing. The smell of eggs, the smell of frying bacon— yes, much more appealing. And while Kincaid is cooking himself breakfast, he is not wearing an apron. Or a shirt, for that matter. Standing in a long pair of boxers, he shifts the bacon around, listening to the crackling of the meat.

The jog up the stairs isn't too bad for Gina. Even without superhuman strength, her workout regimen pays off in the form of stamina. Being jittery helps by supplying enough nervous energy to be burnt off. A paper coffee carrier is balanced in one hand as she raises the other to knock firmly on the door to Kincaid's apartment.

Her long brown hair hasn't been styled with its customary loose curls, and has instead been left to hang limp compared to her usual style. It's a little damp from stray flakes of snow outside, so maybe it's for the best. Her lips have been coated with a pale shade of pink that's also present on one of the lids of the four Venti coffees in the carrier. (Only one of them is actually meant for her.) It matches the shade of the cable knit sweater worn under her loosely cinched white trench coat. Pale blue skinny jeans hug her legs and disappear into a pair of white faux fur boots. She bounces anxiously on the balls of her feet, but carefully so as not to spill the precious coffee.

The bacon crackles right up until Kincaid hears the knock on the door. The soft curse isn't heard outside, as he calls out, "Just a minute!" and puts the pan down on a cold burner and clicks off the stove. The kitchen is the only thing he keeps in good shape right now, with the rest of his apartment being in various states of unrest. There's a lot of newspapers laid out with various articles, a pin up board with some articles stuck up and highlighted in areas. The radio set up on a desk is the other out of the ordinary thing, complete with a microphone and even a microphone-headset.

Once he's sure his food and apartment aren't going to burn down, he turns away from his stove and to the door, not even thinking to check who it is first. Only a few people know his apartment— "Did you…" he starts to say as the door opens, and then stops before the third word comes out. "Gina…" he says, obviously surprised by her showing up at his apartment. It takes a few moments before he notices anything else. Like her state, and the coffee. "Hey… Come in," he recovers, motioning her into the warmer apartment. "I didn't expect you." In part cause he doesn't recall ever giving her his address… But. Sometimes he'd been a little drunk, so maybe he did. "I was just cooking breakfast," he adds, as if the smell wasn't obvious.

Gina smiles a little when the door open. Her lips press together as she rather shamelessly sweeps her gaze up and down Kincaid's boxer-clad figure. "My phone doesn't work, or I'd have called ahead. I was hoping three coffees might make up for being all unannounced?" She steps inside when he ushers her in, finding a place in the kitchen to set the carrier from Starbucks.

"I'm sorry to… show up so early. But… Fuck. Something… Something happened to me on New Year's Eve…" Gina bites her lip and tugs her coffee cup gently out of the carrier, leaning against the counter and staring down at her fingers curled around the white paper, tapping candy floss coloured nails against it.

As soon as she enters, there's a sudden burst of feedback from the radio, which is always on. It may not be playing music, but it's on for another reason all-together. Kincaid glances over and frowns faintly, before making soothing gestures at the woman who stopped in unannounced. "It's fine, it's— what happened?" he asks, before quickly moving over to unplug the radio.

The strange feedback stops as soon as it powers down.

"Sorry about that— no it's all right. The coffee can go on the counter," he says, motioning to the one empty spot that's free. "But— why don't you sit down and tell me what happened?" he adds, glancing around his apartment. No dining table in the entire place. The one table seems to be a drafting table, and it's full of papers and maps of the city, with strange marks in various locations, and no chairs— he must spend a lot of time leaning over it. So instead he hurries over to the couch to pick up some clothes and toss them aside. Yeah, his place is not the cleanest, but he likely wasn't expecting visitors either. "Here, sit."

Gina winces at the feedback of the radio. "Jesus Christ. I'm sorry about that. I just—" She crosses to the couch and sits down heavily, with a weary sigh. "Some asshole jacked my iPod while I was trying to watch your show." Kincaid's show. That's cute. "So I chased after him to break his fucking nose and take it back, but…"

One grey blue eye squeezes shut in something like concentration and bracing for an impact. "The story is way complicated, but I will give you the simple version." Gina draws in a deep breath. "There was a guy in FRONTLINE armour and he hit me and the little fucker with this… Red lightning. And it… swapped our abilities." The brunette shakes her head helplessly. "I don't even know how that happens, but now I've got this… microwave emission power. And I can't even pop a fucking bag of popcorn with it. It just jams my fucking cell phone and makes radios do that." An accusing finger is jabbed toward the now unplugged radio.

"…excuse me?" Kincaid asks, as if not understanding exactly what she's saying. There's a lot of strange things in the world, abilities being one of them, but… that doesn't mean he's heard of something like that… "I thought…" he shakes his head. "Nevermind." What he thought isn't really important right now, as he leans over her and touches her shoulders on both sides.

"I've never heard of anything like that, the ability switching." Scramble radios and cellphones? In some ways, he's sure that could be extremely helpful, but he can understand it being a bother.

"Someone in FRONTLINE did this?" he adds after a second, processing that part.

"Yeah… Someone… Someone really dangerous." Gina knows who's responsible, but would anybody ever believe her? "Okay… This is going to sound even crazier than telling you my ability's been swapped, but… It's a time traveller. My sister works for this guy named Richard Cardinal. He runs Redbird Security." It's glossed over like she doesn't expect those names to mean anything to the man in front of her. "There's a version of him from the future here and now, but he's in a body that isn't his own. Okay, see? This sounds even crazier when I say it out loud, but I swear it's the truth, baby."

At first there's a blink when the name is mentioned, because Kincaid does know of Redbird Security, but it's the words that follow that seem to make his mouth hang open a bit. "I— that is a very crazy story, but…" he trails off, shaking his head and letting go of her shoulders, to wander back to where she left the coffee so he can get one for himself. After that, he likely needs it.

"I'm going to get a plate together for you, some eggs and bacon, and why don't you tell me about this— guy. I've heard of Redbird, I was going to try to get one of the people who works for them on a show soon, but they're apparently left town for the time being, but I don't know much about Richard Cardinal… and who's your sister?" While he talks, he's doing what he said he would, preparing a plate for her in the kitchen, checking the bacon to make sure it's cooked, even if not burnt, like some people like it.

"There are… five of us, actually," Gina confesses. "And… we're all identical."

And three of us share one body is likely to ruin any credibility her story may still hold for Kincaid.

"You ever notice that I look a lot - like exactly like Tracy Strauss? She's one of my sisters. We were split up at birth. I don't think she knows…" Gina frowns. "That's not important. Two of my sisters actually work for Redbird. Niki and Jessica Sanders." Now would be a bad time to ask if he'd like to meet them. Probably. "But the Future Richard had his consciousness transferred into a different body, however that works. And he's apparently part of this Double-Oh-FRONTLINE unit."

Five. Identical. Siblings.

The fork that piles eggs on a plate pauses until he finally shakes his head and laughs a bit outloud. "Sounds to me like I suddenly found myself in a scifi movie and I'm dating a clone," Kincaid chuckles under his breath, before he presents the plate to her. "I had noticed the Tracy Strauss, thing, but all her pictures were blonde, so I figured it was mostly an uncanny resemblance…" They do exist. Sometimes.

"And most her pictures she looked like she just ate a bad lemon, so I didn't think she could be you." He finds her far too sweet to be as sour as the ice queen of politics… "Why would he go after you? Cause of your sisters?"

"Yeah. She's much more serious than I am," Gina says of Tracy. And that's putting it mildly. "I'm a natural blonde," if her roots didn't give her away. "The brown thing is actually… really recent."

The plate is accepted with a quiet hum of gratitude, Gina taking a couple bites of egg before she answers his question. "He thought I was Jessica." She was Jessica, but that's not the point. Her fork taps quietly against the plate as she thinks. "Let's… Let's go with the sci-fi analogy for a minute. Bear with me, I'm just curious about your opinion on something…"

"You're already asking me to bear with a lot— power switching, time travelling body snatchers who switch people's powers…" Kincaid trails off, as he settles down with his coffee. It is a lot to soak up for a guy who's only known her a few short weeks. Most guys might be terrified about meeting the parents at this early a stage, and…

There's a lot more here than meeting parents that don't exist as far as he knows.

"But go ahead," he starts to sip his coffee, then pauses and decides it would be best to maybe not be drinking while she talks. To avoid choking on his favorite drink.

Gina's eyes get wide a moment, her cheeks puffing out in an expression of oh boy. "Never mind. It… can wait. Another day." Her eyes shut as her head dips down so she can silently curse a blue streak. "I swear it's all true. I just… My life is weird." Her lips quirk up in a little smirk as she rocks gently to one side to bump shoulders with Kincaid. "I like having you in it. You're so refreshingly grounded."

"I believe you," Kincaid says quietly, leaning against her for much longer than a bump, even removing one hand from the coffee cup to wrap around her back and hold her closer to him. "It sounds insane, I know, but… well, if someone had said four years ago that a man would go nuclear in the middle of the city and the government would crack down on people with abilities… I don't think anyone would have believed that either. So maybe time travel isn't completely out of the question."

The silence that follows seems longer than it is, as it only really lasts a few moments. "I'm not completely grounded— but I'm more grounded than a lot of people I know, I guess… But— I wouldn't mind hearing what you were about to say… but— is there a reason someone would go after your sister? How do you know about this time traveller? I don't imagine he gave a monologue while he did it."

"You're grounded in comparison, and that's enough." Gina rests her head on Kincaid's shoulder, snuggling up. "I'm not sure why he targeted us. He said he was doing this for our own safety or something. He's trying to preserve the timeline he comes from, near as I can tell. I'm not sure how changing people's abilities around accomplishes this. Bastard is fuckin' crazy." And she's now definitely in Jessica's camp, where the solution is to put a bullet in the man's skull and be done with it. Except that now she's going to have to force him to give her her own ability back first. Crap.

"I only know so much about him because he apparently talks to my sisters' bosses, and then they tell my sisters, and that's how I find out about what's going on. I'm… I don't have all the details, but I know enough to realise that it's all fucked up." A mournful little sound escapes Gina's lips. "I just want to live my own life. I want to do normal girl stuff like go dancing, and drinking, and have a sweet boyfriend. Without all the other bullshit interfering. I just want my own life."

"Sounds to me he's doing a lot of the opposite…" Kincaid mutters quietly under his breath. "Swapping abilities to perserve something? Unless that happened to you in…" he trails off. The more he says, the more insane he likely realizes it is. "We'll be able to do some normal stuff, even if you can't call me on a cellphone anymore," he promises, though for a moment he looks over at the drafting table with the maps.

"Did you like my eggs?" he changes subjects rather sharply. "I hadn't had the chance to cook for you yet, but— despite appearances, I can cook." Appearances meaning being male.

"They're good!" Gina looks down at the plate, then back up to Kincaid. "Oh, jeez. I'm eating your breakfast." She holds the plate out toward him sheepishly. "I'm sorry. I'm such an ass. I show up here without telling you I'm coming, I burden you with my crazy life, and I eat your eggs." One hand comes up to cover her face. "I am officially the worst girlfriend ever."

"I made you the plate and handed it to you," Kincaid says with a laugh, leaning in to kiss her brunette hair. "When I did that it became your breakfast. You're not the worst girlfriend," he assures, closing his eyes as he leans in closer. The straight hair is new, but— she's a blonde as he just found out, with four sisters that look just like her. "I like your hair dark," he says. "But based on pictures of Tracy Strauss— you probably look good as a blonde, too."

Kincaid manages to draw a smile out of Gina. A bright one at that. She tilts her head up and leans in for a kiss. Soft and brief. "You're so sweet. Makin' me breakfast and givin' me compliments. I've never… been treated like this before." Being a splinter of a fractured mind, and most people being aware of that can be problematic.

"Okay. Science fiction. I've seen… stuff with abilities that… I mean… Okay, we've already established that I've seen weird shit." Gina takes in a deep breath and collects her thoughts, somewhat. "Imagine three conscious…ness…es," words are hard, "in one body. Do you think each one is entitled to their own life? My sisters say that the three have to act as one. That the three can't lead separate lives." Only it isn't an ability that's put three women in one body, but childhood trauma and tragedy.

What she says makes Kincaid raise his head so that he can look at her. "That's a difficult question," he admits after a moment, hesitation in his voice as he perhaps wonders exactly why he's being asked this. "There's barely enough time in a day for one person," is what he finally comes up with, but there's a look in his eyes, confusion and worry, that might cause rise to those doubts she has. But he's not pulling his arm away, or moving away further than what would allow him to look at her.

The smile Gina puts on is forced and tense at best. She passes him the barely-touched plate of breakfast and ducks out from under his arm, moving to stand up. "I should get going. Got errands to run and… Just seeing you made me feel less rattled. Thanks for being my ear, 'kay?" Gina pulls the ties of her trench a little tighter as she makes her way toward the door. "Thanks for everything."

"Gina…" Kincaid starts, standing up as she slides out of his hands before he can hold her back. The trench coat is definitely more clothes than he's got on— she has him at a strong advantage. Though he could ignore the cold and follow her if he chose to. "Everyone has secrets, Gina," he says instead of trying to make her stop, following her toward the door. "I do— you do— we don't have to tell each other everything… The past doesn't matter, right? When you're here, you're here— And that's what matters. Nothing can really change that unless we let it."

Gina stops with her hand on the door, rigidly still for a moment until her head tips down and she begins to cry softly. "I just want to have a life of my own," she whispers between little gasps for air. "I want a life with you for as long as this lasts. But I…" She turns around again, sniffling quietly in her misery. "My past is part of my present. I can't just be."

"Technically speaking, everyone's is," Kincaid says softly, as he reaches her, to pull her closer to him. She'll have to cry on his bare chest, but— she likely needs it at the moment. "No one can live entirely in the present…" Though he sounds like he wishes they could. He'd wanted that illusion once, with her, but… He hesitates a moment, before he finally says, "You can be when you're with me."

When Gina breaks down completely, it's with choking, and squeaking sobs. She lets it take her, content to dampen his skin with her tears for a full minute that seems to stretch on into eternity. "Oh, 'Caidy," she whines when she lifts her head again. "'Caidy, I'm not always me." For that, she pulls away from him. She doesn't deserve the comfort of his arms around her when she tells me he's been sleeping with a psycho.

"Sometimes I'm Niki. Sometimes I'm Jessica. They're… They're both in here." A finger is tapped against the side of her head. "I guess I'm… an alternate personality. That's what psychiatrists say." Her eyes get wide, fearing Kincaid's reaction. She soldiers on. "But I'm not!" she insists. "I am real. I'm my own person. I exist. And I care about you. I'm just… stuck in some fucking mental timeshare."

Well, even with the build up that preceeded this confession, Kincaid still looks quite surprised at her words, and what she's telling him about herself. Three people, one body. A mental time share. And she's just one of them, one part of a mental timeshare. "So… the other two… they work for this Cardinal," he says quietly, a faint question to his voice, despite the fact it's not a question he expects to be answered. It's one she already answered, really.

"I— you were right, this is complicated…" Moreso than he might wish it to be, considering how they met, and how much he wanted her to be a distraction from the past. "And Tracy and the other sister you mentioned?" Possibly the most innocent followup question he can ask, but it's followed by something a little less so.

"The other two don't have boyfriends, right? Cause I am prone to jealousy."

Gina nods her head to Niki and Jessica working for Cardinal. "They… I don't normally get control. Both of them think I'm a joke. But I'm not. I have just as much right to a life as they do," she reasons. "I'm not also Tracy Strauss. Or Barbie. I'm not her either." Oddly enough, Barbie doesn't have blonde hair.

The young woman (mentally) is a little stunned by Kincaid's last question. "Niki's kind of married. They're estranged, though. And I think she or Jessica might try to throw him through a window for being stupid anyway. And there's that other guy that I think Niki should hook up with, but… That's not me. I like you. You have no competition." She smiles and her brows knit with a little bit of confusion. "Does this mean you… still want me?"

Estranged husband. Possible other guy to hook up with. There's a distant look in his eyes, and Kincaid glances toward the radio for a moment, as if that might have an answer to something he's not voicing. "I won't say that this is… entirely what I thought I was getting into originally." Picking up an older woman at a bar isn't supposed to be this complicated. But I'm not going to leave you just because your life is more complicated than I expected. You were there when I needed someone— more than once…" He trails off, shaking his head a bit before, once again, he's moving closer to wrap his arms around her, possibly in part so he can look over her shoulder, and unknowingly giving her easy access to the one mirror he has in these rooms to look at.

Gina hooks her chin over Kincaid's shoulder as she wraps her arms around him in turn. She catches sight of her reflection and tenses in his arms for a moment. Someone on the other side of the looking glass is not happy. At all. Even though she squeezes her eyes shut tightly, it does nothing to drown out the voice inside of her mind. She holds that much tighter to her boyfriend for it.

For a long time, no words are said. Perhaps the hug itself is more than enough. Kincaid's skin is warm, warmer than the air in the room, his heart beats heavily in his chest, and he closes his eyes and presses a stubbly cheek against her hair. But the silence does eventually have to end, just like the hug, and he's the one who breaks it, with a sigh. "I need to get ready to go— I'm doing research for a show, one I'm producing by myself. I had to change my idea around cause of things that happened, but— I think my new one will work, but it requires a lot of extra footwork."

And danger, but… despite the fact she's sharing her secrets, he's not entirely ready to share his.

"I guess I can't tell you to call me, anymore…" he says with his voice trailing off. How will this work, if they can't call each other? Well— it can. "You know my apartment. If I'm not here, leave a note under the door if you stop by, if you need anything, with where I can find you. And I'll do the same at that Hotel-Casino you took me to." Not as immediate as a cellphone, but… sometimes stonage rules can work. Sometimes.

"Text messages still work. I just have to not have my phone near me so the signal unjams and then it sends and receives. I swear I'll figure out how to control this new… stupid ability at some point. Right now, all I've been told is to not get angry." Gina leans in for a brief kiss. "So don't piss me off, okay?" she teases with a lopsided smile. "Good luck with your research, baby. I'm gonna order a pizza tonight. You should come over if you have time."

Perhaps a good thing he didn't react badly to her disorder? Kincaid doesn't look too surprised that he shouldn't get her angry. "If you can do what I think you can do— I'll be very careful. Though before you had super strength…" And that could also be a scary thing if applied in the right ways? He shakes his head. "Yeah, I'll stop by if I can, promise. Depends on how late I finish." And if here is closer than there, he might slide here to avoid curfew violations.

"No big deal if you can't, but…" Gina trails off and shrugs. "Be careful out there. Stay warm." Now she does turn and twist the knob on the door to head back out into the winter weather again. That could have gone better. But it could have gone way worse.

Small victories?

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