If We're Lucky


carlos_icon.gif eimi_icon.gif rafael_icon.gif

Scene Title If We're Lucky
Synopsis Eimi follows an old wayfinder through unfamiliar territory on a promise of seeing home again.
Date April 5, 2018

Mexico; Middle of Nowhere

Days have passed. Confined to a bed, limited people she could actually communicate with, it was a frustrating time for the young teleporter. But the moment Ofelia cleared her, Carlos was there to pick her up for their trip to the coast. Likely, the nurse told him before she told Eimi. Or else he has really good timing. He didn't explain where they were going, just passed her a pack and told her to come on.

It's been a quiet journey so far, at least on Carlos' side. The pair sits in the back of a truck, a ride hitched outside of the little mining town. The truck is full of cages, the cages full of chickens, so there is some noise from behind them. Their backpacks sit on the bed of the truck next to them, loaded with supplies and food. When she looks inside of it, she might be left with the impression that Carlos plans for the worst. But the drive has given her a view of empty towns, empty fields, burned and abandoned, so she might understand that such planning is necessary.

The teen trudges along the bits of the journey so far that they have to walk. Sullen, silent, and worried, and distracted once or twice out of the corner of her eye, before she bites her lower lip and tries to shake it off.

She furrows her brows and remarks, after a minute, "I lost my book in that basement, too. Or in the cavern. One or the other," but it's likely that Eimi won't be getting that copy of Macbeth back.

Carlos looks over at her, tipping his wide brimmed hat back from his face. "This your way of saying that you're bored?" It's true that he didn't bring anything in the realm of entertainment. Unless she's keen on trying to decipher the Spanish on the various labels in her pack. "Let me give you this bit of advice: don't try to go back for it. Find a new book." Helpful.

"I guess." There's a flatness to her voice that doesn't make the nod that she gives to the whole 'don't go back' statement very convincing. "More that… I need to know if my friends are alright."

Eimi lets out a breath. "Because sitting. It feels like half of me that's just…" Not using her ability is perhaps driving the teenager nuts. In fact, aside from brief flickers and a foot at a time once she was allowed up, Eimi hasn't used it in days, but she gestures to the far scenery as a completion to her sentence and just stares off.

The note about her friends gets a more sympathetic look out of Carlos. "We'll find out as soon as we can. You and your friends have a contact point?" They aren't a network so probably not in the manner he means, but close enough for jazz. "Some place you all check into after doing something crazy? I know someone, nearish. We could use a phone, check in." His tone isn't near certain, like he doesn't like the idea. But he still offers it.

"Hard for a teleporter, sitting still. Think of it as practice." Carlos glances over at the chickens, listening to them for a long moment before he looks back to her again. "Next stop, we'll go on foot. It'll be a quiet stretch, you could hop around to your heart's content."

She pauses. "I could call Gillian maybe." There's a lift of her shoulders in a shrug. "Or Colette. Those… those are the only numbers I know."

Not that she expects either of the names to mean anything to the man. There's a nod, though, and she looks at him. "How long is it?" There's a worn out pair of binoculars they were able to get, the one request other than clothes, and the girl rubs her thumb over the side of them, idly. "This sort of practice… kind of sucks." There's no more intensity to the complaint than any of the other statements she's made, and she does fall quiet again.

She's right that the names don't ring any bells. But Carlos nods to them all the same, because they mean something to her. When she asks the quintessential road trip question, he can't help but laugh. A low sound, short, but definitely amused.

"However long it takes," is his helpful answer.

"Practice is supposed to be uncomfortable. If you're having fun, you're not challenging yourself." Old man wisdom, that is, doubtlessly lost on the young. When she goes quiet, so does he, seeming unbothered by the long ride and the boredom. He's alert, though, if she cares to pay attention during the ride. Odd sounds, unexpected turns, he's always checking on their surroundings.

It's hard to say how much time has passed by the time the truck stops. Too long by Eimi's count, certainly. But when they stop for gas, Carlos has a quick conversation with the driver that ends in what is unmistakably a farewell. Splitting off, Carlos gathers Eimi and first stops in the little shop attached to the gas station. He gets her a cold Jarritos and some snacks before they head back out. To walk this time.

"Once the station is out of sight, if you want to, it should be clear. Don't teleport onto anyone's lap, though. We're heading due north." Even using her binoculars, all that seems to be ahead of them is fields gone fallow.

"'druther be having fun," is barely audible as a retort.

For a little bit, Eimi walks along, until they're out of sight of anything else. And then, a few times, it's five to ten feet at a time, and her breathing evens out and steadies in a way it hasn't since she woke up, but the fourth time while she waits for Carlos to walk the distance she just teleported, she holds out a hand, binoculars in the other.

"It'll be faster," she notes, as insistently as she can manage in the face of an older authority figure. Even if she can only see a mile clearly with the binoculars.

"Then you'll probably find yourself in a lot of caves in the future." Carlos cuts a sidelong look her way, trying to remind himself that she's young and that the world is different than it used to be. But however different it is, there are still dangers in the shadows and monsters lurking in the woods.

He walks as she teleports ahead, his pace steady instead of hurrying to catch up to her. She's got space to stretch her proverbial legs while he stretches his flesh-and-blood ones.

"It would be faster," he notes, conceding that much to her, "but it throws off my sense of direction." He taps his temple there. He hasn't explained his gift, exactly, only that he knows the way. "Don't want to get us lost. Go ahead. Just not too far ahead."

Eimi tucks her hand back into her pocket, and nods, then shrugs, drops the binoculars back around her neck. And with a slight rush of displaced air, she disappears and reappears a few hundred feet away, pausing to wait right before Carlos is out of sight. Not too far ahead, not so far that she couldn't be back in the same few seconds it takes her to get there.

Eventually, the teenager waits for Carlos up in the branches of a tree such as it is, low and scrubby but a tree nonetheless. She's crouched somewhere that she certainly didn't climb up to. Too many thorns in the way.

By now she knows that Carlos is even paced and dogged. So the fact that it takes him longer than expected to reach her is strange. And perhaps worrying. But then, he is an old man, so maybe the walking has caught up to him. But there's hardly time to contemplate what happened to him, because the area around Eimi grows suddenly dark. Dark as a starless night. She can't see the tree she's sitting on. She can't see her hand in front of her face.

Which is a problem. But not her only problem.

Something strikes her in the side, something hard and thrown at her. It's followed by another and another, like someone trying to knock an apple off a branch that's too high to reach.

One hand grips tighter around the branch that she uses for balance. Eimi is used to perching in high places, trees and ruined rooftops and the like. good at keeping her balance. Her other hand grabs — fumbling in the sudden darkness — for her flashlight. It's crank-powered but she's had plenty of time to crank it so it will turn on while she waited, a few of the times. It's battered, but. Light, seeing.

When it's clicked on, it's pointed roughly in the direction that whatever is being thrown is coming from. That maybe for a moment, that sudden light will be be enough to disorient anyone else. Preferably whoever is throwing things at her.

When Eimi turns on her flashlight, it looks much like it's shining on black curtains for all that it lights up anything. And even that is short-lived, because the darkness swallows it, too. If she looks at it, it's still on, still working, just not illuminating.

She hears voices talking, one loud and angry, the other soft and scared. But both speak in Spanish, so the content of their conversation is a mystery. But before long, a telekinetic force hits her and her balance fails her. Leaves are stripped from the tree just as she is. She just might have a chance to grab onto something before she hits the ground. The leaves can't do that.

Her usual strategy for dealing with falling is her ability, and well… it's still dark.

Barring that as an option, Eimi screams at just about the top of her lungs, wordlessly, even as she's grabbing for the branch that she was just crouching on. At the very least, if it lets up then she can drop to the ground more gracefully. This scream isn't panic, or fear, this scream is borne of anger.

If something is going to happen, she isn't going to let it go down quietly. Eventually, though, the scream turns into words. "Leave me alone!"

Shuffling steps are all Eimi can hear through her screams. But it seems like leave me alone is not being heeded. But it is being listened to, as her voice is what brings her attacker to her.

A fist connects with her side, wildly, carelessly. They can't see any better than she can, but once a fist finds her, the hits land more firmly. Otherwise, her attacker makes no noise. Just fists on flesh. Boots in the dirt.

But, she can hear one other thing cut through the dark.

"Eimi!" The voice of an old man she barely knows, but he's here. Even if his shout is cut off with a groan.

Eimi fights back, with all the scrappy lack of grace, ducking away and almost managing to stop screaming. But her fingernails are sharp, and it's more clawing and scratching and kicking than anything else. The flashlight works to try and hit with, too, giving a little more force than she could manage on her own. "God damn it!" This is still at nearly screaming volume, her breath giving her new position away even when her voice doesn't.

"Carlos?!" She's not good at telling direction by sound. But she runs that way anyway.

She lands a couple good hits, breaking her attacker's hold on her enough for her to scramble away. But she can hear them getting up from behind her and feel them following behind her.

"Run, girl!" Carlos shouts, his voice strained. He can't see that she already is, of course, but he probably means for her to run and not stop. Which would be a lot easier if not for the hands grabbing onto her shins and pulling her down to the ground. Her head collides with the ground hard, leaving her dazed as hands work to tie a blindfold over her eyes and ropes around her hands and feet.

She knows when the darkness fades, too, because light just barely filters in through the fabric covering her eyes.

"No," Carlos says, when he sees her. He watches as a pair of hands haul her up, flinging her over a broad shoulder. Carlos yells, angry Spanish firing out of him as if he might hurt them with words like he could with bullets. Eimi passes out before his shouting ends.

And she wakes on a thin mattress, handcuffed to a radiator pipe. There's dried blood on her face, but her feet are free. And one hand. She's not blindfolded. Across the room, Carlos is in a similar state, although they were obviously rougher on him than they were with her. His wounds haven't been tended to, either, and his hands are still tied behind his back. He hasn't woken up yet.

Eimi pulls her knees to her chest, half awake, and tugs st the handcuff a few times, frowning at it. Deep breaths, before she simply teleports out of it. "Lame," is muttered under her breath. "So not primal." First to standing a foot or two away and stretching, and then over to Carlos, and there's worried, flat murmuring underneath her breath as she looks at him, shakes him carefully with one finger of her other hand held to her mouth in the gesture of "shhh".

The handcuffs clatter to the floor as Eimi 'ports out of them. Carlos opens an eye at the shake. Only one, because the other is swollen shut. He nods to her gesture, then directs his glance off to his left. A staircase leads up to a door. She can probably guess that it's locked, but also the only visible exit. He looks at her again and slowly shifts to sit up. He muffles a groan, but there's nothing to be done about the grimace that moving brings to his face.

"I'll be right back," Eimi says, just as quiet before she walks over to the bottom of the stairs, and carefully tests the first one. Makes sure it doesn't squeak.

And then she teleports to the top, face pressed against the glass of the window to see the little bit that isn't covered on the other side, listening for any chance that there's someone out of sight before she teleports once again, to be able to unlock the door from the other side.

Things seem quiet through the door and when Eimi lands on the other side, the hallways she stands in is empty, dusty and quiet. But the door, unfortunately, is fitted with a padlock. And they aren't so helped as to have a key hanging nearby or resting atop the doorframe.

As she looks around, one other thing becomes clear.

She's not as alone as she thought.

A small boy, no older than seven or eight, stands at the end of the hallway with a juice box in hand. Brown skin, dark hair, cherub cheeks marked with dirt. And wide eyes as he sees Eimi standing there. He gasps, dropping the juice before he turns to start running. And shouting.

"No, no no," but it's not so much at the boy as just in general. The rest of whatever plan she'd had is discarded, though, and she doesn't run after him. She teleports right up to him, catching the small boy. One hand around him to keep him from running off and the other hand muffling over his mouth to stop the shouting, finding whatever crevasse of the hallway and shadow she can pull back into, be unnoticed on first glance if possible. Somewhere to hide.

"No," she tells him again, "I just want to go home." Her voice is quiet, and calm, but she's not letting him go. "Hola," she manages, in a bad attempt at Spanish. "Shhhh."

Eimi's hand cuts off a scream and the boy freezes when she grabs him. If she could see his eyes, they're wide and frightened. He isn't hard to pull along with her. He's small and frail under her arms, more delicate than a healthy young boy really should be. She finds them a nook between a wall and a staircase, to wait and see if anyone heard the boy.

Of course, there's another problem.

Inky darkness starts to ooze out from the boy, pulsing outward with every panicked breath, with every rapid beat of his heart. However good their hiding place, that is a dead give away if anyone passes by. It also swiftly leaves Eimi with a problem of not being able to see again. But it's clear he doesn't understand her, and that what he does understand is frightening.

"Shhhh," she repeats, but in the crouch manages to pull the boy more towards her lap, the hold gentler, her hand smoothing out his hair. Not preventing him from breathing. There's a nervous flicker of her own ability, teleporting in place, her own breathing is a little ragged and not good for calming someone else down. "Mírame," she repeats, one of the few words of Spanish that's stuck over the past few days. "Mírame. Not dark, por favor?" She's just about almost begging the child she holds. "It's okay it's okay it's okay it's okay."

When he can breathe again, when her hold loosens, the boy lets out a heavy sigh. The darkness starts to clear like a heavy fog around them. "No deberías estar aquí," he says to her in a whisper. He points upward, his eyes still wide. And then he points to the basement door. Up close, without the dark, without the panicked movements of a child running, Eimi can see bruises along his neck, shaped distinctly like fingertips. A cut runs along his cheek, healing, but it also wasn't seen to. Just like her and Carlos weren't.

Her fingers run through his hair, gently, still. Her brows furrow at the bruising, at the general state of him, and she murmurs wordlessly as she gets her own breathing back under control. Maybe even somewhat comforting.

She still doesn't let go such that he could run off. Still waits to see if they've been heard. And she clearly doesn't understand everything that he says, but there's a nod. "I know," she says.

"That's why we," she points back to the basement to include Carlos in that statement, "vamanos." There's a pause, and she half asks, half tells, "You could come. No es aqui?" Her Spanish accent is terrible, but the offer is made nonetheless as she gets up, gets to her feet. His hand is taken in hers so as to not let him run off yet, and she starts to walk back towards the basement door.

The boy seems confused. He understands some of what she's trying to say, but not others. But vamanos he gets. And when she takes his hand, he comes along. He doesn't scream, although there are worried glances cast over his shoulder and down the hallway. But wherever the adults are, they haven't heard. His hand reaches up to ruffle his own hair, as if he thinks she might have straightened it with her fingers. He can't have that.

Back to her original plan, then. Or at least something resembling it, plus one smaller child along. When they get to the door, she lets go of his hand for a moment, makes another shhh gesture, and grabs the padlock. Then she and the padlock disappear for a blink of an eye. It's so quick that he might miss it, but Eimi and the padlock reappear a foot to the left, and she tucks the padlock into her pocket, and then removes the window covering from the door the same way. No use opening the door right yet, that sound might carry.

After which she takes the boy's hand again, smiles slightly, and then they're inside the staircase, then at the bottom of it.

"Carlos," she says, quietly enough it won't carry outside of the basement. "We're getting out of here." Pause. "I unlocked the door." There's a glance to the boy, and she continues, flatly. Flat because now, she's angry. "Whoever they… upstairs… are they hurt him. Tell him he can come with us?"

It's not really a question, and the entire statement the teenager just dares there be an argument offered. And she doesn't want to leave the boy behind to be punished for their escape, either.

The boy doesn't seem surprised by her porting around, since whoever these people are they obviously targeted her for her ability. But when she ports him with her, there's a small, surprised sound from the boy. And again when they skip the stairs entirely. Carlos looks up at them, then over at the boy, then up toward the ceiling.

"They're here," he says, his voice flat and his expression stony under the blood and bruises. Then he looks back to her. If she was expecting an argument, she's not getting one. Instead, he gestures her over, "Can you unlock these, too?" The handcuffs. But he addresses the boy next and the pair of them have a quick-paced conversation that she can't understand beyond the fact that Carlos gave the boy their names.

"His name is Rafael," he explains to Eimi. "He'll come." Their exchange was more detailed than that, but they're pressed for time.

Upstairs, a door opens and slams shut.

"Eimi, you get him clear, head north. There's a road, stay on it. I'll find you, but you keep walking and don't stop for anything."

Eimi furrows her brows as she lets go of Rafael for a moment, grabs the pair of handcuffs and performs the same trick as she did with the padlock while they have the conversation. She keeps them, too, and looks at Carlos.

"I can take you too, c'mon," she says, even as she takes the boy's hand again. "If I go with my ability you'll never catch up." Even though her voice is flat, her expression betrays the attachment that she has formed to the older man, and the fondness that is there. "And you're hurt."

Carlos looks back at her, gaze searching. He watches as she takes the cuffs off, but Rafael tugs on his sleeve and draws his attention that way. They don't speak this time, but seem to come to some kind of understanding all the same.

"Alright. Your way," Carlos says to Eimi. He gestures Rafael up onto his back, piggybacking the boy as he stands up to his feet. He is hurt, but that's not stopping him from carrying the kid. In case they have to run. And he doesn't seem unused to the situation of working through a few injuries. "Quick as you can. I'll warn you when I smell them coming." He reaches a hand over to rest on Eimi's shoulder. It's a moment of encouragement, perhaps giving away that the fondness goes both ways. "North. Then west. Don't stop until you have to."

Eimi takes Rafael's hand once he's situated, and then reaches up and wraps her other hand around Carlos's hand, staying close. Her grip is tight. "Take a deep breath."

It's her usual warning, and then there's an absolute flurry of teleportation. Usually, he'd seen her stop and pause and get her bearings between jumps. But she doesn't really need to, and right now she goes as fast as she can while taking others with her.

Top of the stairs. Out the door, up the hallway, through the door, the direction where Rafael had been going to run before she had stopped him. Each jump takes less than two seconds, and they're remateralised for the same amount of time before she's found another place, and she keeps going until there's a window to outside, a line of sight to get them out of there.

It's an odd sort of trip. Quiet at first, but once Eimi makes it out of the house and people notice, activity springs to life. Between the early jumps, the small group hears alarmed shouting, sees people running, grabbing guns far too slowly to do any good. Then, a shot is fired, still echoing in their ears as she ports them away. Rafael hides his face in Carlos' shoulder, little hands tightening of his shirt and Eimi's hand.

They jump.

"Rafe— "

They jump.

A bullet grazes Eimi's arm.

They jump.

Sounds of car engines are barely heard in the distance, but close enough to be a worry. Or they would be, if the young teleporter wasn't with them. The jumps continue, Carlos giving her direction until she finally starts to flag and the jumps become slower, shorter. And she has to stop. But the distance she put between them and danger is no small thing and the trio find themselves on the open road, lights blinking on in the distance as dusk settles over them.

It's only then that Eimi looks down for the binoculars that she didn't recover, although in the clearer portions of the trip the jumps were frequently over a mile long. It's only once they stop that the pain from where the bullet grazed kicks in and she winces, bites at her lower lip, and looks into the distance behind them.

But teleportation doesn't leave tracks, not really.

"I…" she winces, glances down."We should find some water."

"Yes, we should." Carlos reaches up to pat Rafael on the arm, hefting the child up before he looks over to Eimi. "Think you can walk for a while?" He points ahead, where she can see the lights of a small town, "We get there and I'll call in some backup." Since whatever money or supplies he had with him are long behind them. And he's not about to suggest they go back for them.

"You did good," he says, not looking at her, but the sentiment is obviously meant for her. "Come on."

He starts them down the road, toward the lights. And help, if they're lucky.

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