In Living Memory


ff_ace_icon.gif ff_des2_icon.gif ff_silas2_icon.gif

Scene Title In Living Memory
Synopsis The past is not dead, so long as it is yet remembered.
Date July 2, 2021

Delphi Scrapyard
The Mainland

Silas walks wordlessly into the labyrinth of scrap, beneath the softly falling snows of summer. He's said as little as possible after issuing his invitation to Des and Spades, just… walked.

There had been a cacophony of noise, at first — the distant and not-so-distant sounds of vehicle work, the sounds of conversations back at the Convoy. But as Silas charts their course through the labyrinthine corridors of this automotive boneyard, those sounds fade into the background surprisingly quickly.

It doesn't take very long at all before they wander into a relatively sheltered cul-de-sac, and here at last Silas stops, dusting off some space on the hood of some long abandoned derelict and settling down. "Alright, this'll do," he says. "Let's sit for awhile before we head back. Des… we're safe."

Des is just two steps away from hoisting herself up to sit on the car’s hood next to Silas before she simply sinks down to the ground, curling in small on herself, her arms braced over her head as if to protect her from something. Or to give her the illusion that she’s hiding while she finally lets the triggered grief crash into her like the school bus Silas will be helping to drive across the country.

She’s trembling, breath audible and shaky, the little puffs of it visible in the air where it escapes from the gap between her forearms. The little captain has tried so hard to show only her strength not for her own sake, but her crew, her friends, and those she cares about — for their sake. And because of just how much she has had to fight to be taken seriously. But this… She’ll give herself this. For a minute or two.

Never one to be sure how to engage in situations like these, Spades can only watch at first as Des sinks down. His eyes never leave her, but his breath stills– snowflakes falling from above passing through him during that time.

What plagues both the others isn't a thing he knows of. Gunfire startles, sure, but it's not like there's ever been cause for her to tell that particular story in the time he and Destiny have known each other.

He goes whole again enough that he's able to come to her side, leaning down slightly to lay a hand on top of her head, sinking the soft warmth of the hood down onto her hair. "It's all right," he promises. "I was never in any danger, and Tay was…" he trails off, voice soft. Spades lets out a huff of a breath before summarizing it all as, "Tay was an ass." He pulls the hood of her coat back so it's easier for her to look up at him, easier for him to look down at her. "Only thing he was right about is that we can't afford to fight like that on the road."

"I'll keep quiet and in a corner until it comes time to defend you, it looks like," he notes with the driest of drawls, one corner of his mouth beginning to knife its way back for the humor in it for him. "Thought about doing more than just that for a minute, but it's not why I'm here, am I."

There's no question in it.

Silas regards Spades for a moment, his expression pensive. "It's… not easy building something. It sure wasn't, right after the Flood. Queen Lowe had to be a hardass to hold anything together at all, let alone build a community that could thrive with the Sentinel boot on our necks," he says slowly, his troubled expression and the slowness of his delivery at odds with his words.

"But it was good advice," he says, looking to Spades, his mouth tight. "When you're more concerned about not appearing weak than you are with matters of survival…" He shakes his head. "Fear and steel had their place when this world was drowning, but there's got to be a time for that to pass. All of which is to say: I don't think you were wrong there, Spades."

He's silent for a moment.

"More to the point… seeing someone you thought you could trust to be a reasonable authority figure suddenly go knives out at the drop of a hat… brings back some bad memories. For me, definitely, and unless my guess is way off, for Des, too," Silas says, eyes looking somewhere between Spades and Des at nothing.

He takes a breath. "We're alone right now, by the way. Someone could walk by and they wouldn't see us; hell, they could sit next to us and never even know. We can talk and no one will overhear. Which is to say… Des, you wanna talk for a bit?" he asks gently.

That Des can’t bring herself to look at Spades, even when he’s so near, is not a failing on his part, and more a stubborn clinging to the illusion that if she doesn’t see him see her, then she hasn’t been seen in this moment of profound fragility. But even though she’s a coward, she doesn’t shy away from him. She doesn’t recoil when he peels her hood back. She listens to his voice and lets it keep her anchored to the moment.

And she isn’t surprised to find paler shades of herself in Marlowe’s own struggles. Or maybe she sees Marlowe in herself? She isn’t sure how that works when The Queen did all that first, and she came later. Puzzling about it gives her something to both focus on and zone out with, and it helps her finally push the panic back to the darker recesses.

Her eyes finally lift to her partner, studying him first for some sign that he’s disappointed in her for this, or that she has something to apologize for. But she doesn’t see it, just the acceptance he always offers to her.

Then, it’s finally Silas who gets her attention. She nods her head slowly, confirming his suspicions and signaling that, yes, she’d like to talk for a bit. And for this rare moment, she sets aside her pride, allowing Ace to assist her back to her feet. She winds up pacing her way to a stack of tires, which she carefully climbs up to sit on. The rubber is cold even through layers, but she doesn’t let it bother her. At least she’s not rain or sea-soaked.

Still, for all she said she’d like to talk, all she seems able to do is fold her hands together in her lap and stare down at them. “I’m sorry,” she eventually says in a small voice. “You shouldn’t feel like the only reason you’re here is just to defend me.”

But she just proved she can hard shut down and actually need it, didn’t she?

"Only from knives," comes Ace's reminder to her. He folds his arms in front of him tightly, glancing to Silas and then back to Destiny again. "Whether they're deserved or not."

It's his turn to feel uncomfortable now. He doesn't talk like this. Not in the open. Not ever, really. His being fixed to Destiny's side was always a matter of crew sticking together, at least until…

Well, all this.

"For what it's worth, I respect her for it. All right?" He dips his head, fishing for Des's acknowledgement, a sign his attempt to ease her concerns might actually be landing. Then he says something he only dares because he trusts Silas' ability, somewhat familiar with it as he is. "Crazy bitch came at me to say no one was going to put her in a corner, that she decides for herself, and she said it in a way that had to be listened to. A way that got through."

A glance is given to Silas. "I might not be wrong, but I'm not top of the food chain, either. Plenty fine to not have to watch my back like the people who are, too." A fickle glimmer enters his eye, the crook of a small smile returning. "More than content to be somebody else's 'hell yes' man if it means comfort and something like freedom." He looks back to Destiny, realizing this probably isn't reassuring in any way, if only belatedly. "I've heard about this so-called Queen Lowe, and if she's heard of me and where I came from, she might've thought that was the only way I'd listen." He tilts his head to inquire, "She's been a rock in the Pelago, hasn't she?"

"I don't think anything like that'll happen again," he assures her. "I think you're safe, that we all are with her if we give her the latitude for it, and that you shouldn't linger on this, Des."

A beat.

Then Ace concedes, "But if this brought up some other shit for you…" It's his own open invitation to talk.

Silas raises an eyebrow at Spades's bluntness, feeling a flicker of genuine amusement mixed with his surprise. He nods slowly at the other man's assessment; his logic's sound. "Yeah. Yeah, she's always been a rock. Someone we could rely on… which was part of why seeing her suddenly pull steel on an ally was such a gutpunch. But you might be right, too," he admits. "Some of it might be our own ghosts, rattling their chains. Not all of it… but maybe the biggest part. Probably the biggest part."

He looks briefly to Des, then back to Spades. "You served with Sawyer's crew, back in the day; you might remember, back around Christmas a couple years back, a flotilla tried to cut through the Stormfront. Des and I were both there."

With that, Silas glances back to Des, to see if she wants to take over this story, at least at the start.

Spades dips to try and search for her, and Destiny lets herself be found, lifting her gaze from the study of the weave of yarn that makes up her mittens, to his face and the language of his posture while he continues to speak. She nods along to show she’s listening, understanding, getting some of that reassurance by explaining how all of that landed with him, rather than her making assumptions firmly rooted in her own concerns.

And when he finishes, she smiles, even though it’s tempered by the miasma that seems unwilling to leave her. Not just yet anyway. “I’m not scared for my own safety,” the captain explains softly, picking up from the cue Silas has laid at her feet.

The Featherweight,” she begins, “we were leading the way to the Commonwealth Arcology. The Ark,” she emphasizes with reverence, “built to withstand the end of the world.” And while the world didn’t end, as evidenced by the fact that they’re sitting there, the world they used to live in is long dead. This expedition will only traverse its husk and its bones.

“I’d lived there, for a while. My brother left when I was a kid, looking for his birth mother, so, when our parents were—” Her voice catches in her throat momentarily. “When our parents died,” she forces out, “And then the Flood came, and… I looked for him, and that search led me there.” Destiny lowers her gaze ahead, her head tipping soon to follow, but not so much that she’s speaking only to the ground when she continues.

She’s had enough practice commanding a crew to know how to project from the stage. Even and especially while being unassuming.

“I found nothing good in the Ark.” That blonde head shakes back and forth slowly. She’s waded out from the shallows of her sorrow, and the bottom has just dropped out beneath her. But she’s a sailor, she can tread water. “When we got there, it sure wasn’t a welcome home party.” Her lips twinge in a pained expression that tries to dress up as a smile. “The director — Richard Ray’s mother — was removed by…” The sentiment shimmers slightly. “Don used to be my friend, before that power got him all twisted.”

Destiny’s voice grows thin. She looks to Silas. “We were at dinner,” she says, his presence somehow able to keep her talking, at least for another moment or two. “And Don… He just lost it.” Her voice cracks and she shakes her head quickly to Silas. “I can’t,” she croaks before burying her face in her hands.

Spades isn't good at this. He's good at many things, and once he was better at this, but that was before the world ended. Some of the muscle memory is there, though– the remnants of a life where he was free to feel and be and hurt and grow without it being life or death. He reaches out for Destiny for a lack of words to soothe her, rubbing firmly through her coat just below where neck and shoulder meet, standing at her side rather than closing in on her and crowding her.

"It's okay. It's all right now. That all… it's in the past where it belongs," he murmurs his attempt at help. "Can't hurt you anymore, Des."

He looks askance to Silas and tells– warns?– him, "If it's too much to talk through, you don't have to go through the details. I get the jist."

"Someone you should have been able to trust and look to betrayed it," he surmises more solemnly than normal for him. "Caused unfathomable hurt. And the scars aren't scars yet." He lowers his voice and looks to Destiny at his side, a flicker of concern– empathy?– visible on him as he admits, "I get it."

“No,” Destiny cuts in, quiet but firm as she looks up at Spades again, “you don’t.” There’s more context there that he doesn’t have. He can’t understand. “I watched my dad bleed out on James Woods’ couch.” There’s a scratchy quality to her voice, which is somehow bone dry. This is an emotion he’s never seen on her before, and never with such an intensity. “I was eleven.”

Twenty-two, if they’re counting by their standards, but that’s not how she measures herself in years.

“Jimmy took me in, and he made sure we survived when the Flood came. He got us The Featherweight so I would have a safe place to… be who I am.”

That he has enough context to imagine. In that world, a teenager who was likely still trying to learn to control her ability…

“He didn’t go to the Ark with me when I went before. I begged him to take me back.”

Destiny falls silent for a long moment, but it’s one they can feel she intends to break, just when she’s ready. And when she is, she surprises herself by having fought back any urge to cry. “Don had Jimmy shot in the middle of dinner so it would rattle me. He killed my dad to hurt me.” Her mouth pulls into a smile, the pain evident and sparkling in it. “I lost everything in that place. I came out of it with the ship, and I had Eddie.” Who she still feels was hurt, paralyzed, because of her. But maybe that debt’s been repaid, at least.

Now, maybe he can get it.

Swallowing dryly, Des finally feels a sense of relief to get it all off of her. To have talked about it, when she otherwise doesn’t. And yet, the word that trips off her tongue when she expels that hard breath speaks to tumult, rather than tranquility.


Silas nods slightly when Des looks his way, a silent encouragement. Spades's look his way — the hint of warning underlying his words — is met with a return nod as well. Spades's message is heard loud and clear, and if Des can't go any further when it comes to staring down this ghost, he can guide this story safely back to port…

…but he doesn't need to, because she rises to the occasion. Stares that awful ghost in the eye, unflinching, and doesn't so much as blink; as grim a task as it is, Silas is proud as hell of her for facing it down.

Under other circumstances it'd be surprising to hear Des curse, but here and now it seems nothing but appropriate. From the depths of his coat, Silas produces a battered flask and offers it to her; if ever there were a time for a taste of somewhere warmer, this is it. Especially since I'm gonna be driving a bus to Alaska, apparently. No drinking and driving.

"As for me… I'd never been to the Ark before, didn't know Don from Adam. But the man invited us into his hall, held a dinner for us, played the gracious host… and the entire time he was waiting for an opportunity to stage executions. To make sure we were properly afraid. Meredith. Woods. Geneva. Jasper. A lot of brave people who'd risked a lot to make it that far, just… gunned down. Without ceremony, and one hundred percent with malice aforethought, because Kenner wanted to make an example." Silas's voice sounds calm and horribly even, but the way his fingers slowly curl and uncurl, as if around the hilt of a knife, gives away just how deep the anger still goes.

My one regret about my actions aboard the Ark is that I didn't get the opportunity to kill Kenner myself, he thinks… but he doesn't say it. The man got his, and there's no point in dwelling on that. Back to your grave, ghost, he thinks; come to think of it, a bit of the okolehao might do him well, too. He's not driving until tomorrow, after all.

He lets out a slow breath, letting that rage seep away. "Anyway. I'm not gonna say Tay can't be an asshole… but he did sign on to guide us, and he's put in the work to get us enough vehicles to get us across four thousand miles of nightmare country. And asshole or not… he had a point, too. One he was willing to spend six bullets to prove. We've got a hard road ahead, and if we squabble to prove who's harder on the road, people are gonna die. We're all in a corner, every one," he muses, his expression pensive.

Ace mutters, "We didn't have six bullets to fucking waste to begin with," and then lapses into an uneasy silence.

He doesn't know what else to say to Destiny, only has the presence of mind to know it won't make her feel better. The most he eventually comes up with is, "I'm sorry. I know he meant a lot to you." His hand continues to rest on her shoulder, and he has to content himself with that. He doesn't have an experience like she does, nothing to relate with, not from the old trauma, nor to the new of it.

"Think the best we can do for here to try and make this situation work. Give Jou-san–" the Queen– "her space, and figure out how to make the rest of us a functioning crew. Including Tay." Spades cants his head before he notes, "That boy seems like he's two more experiences like that from saying 'fuck this' and leaving us out to dry."

Yeah,” Des agrees as she takes a sip from the flask. She braces for the sting of the spirits in the Pelago, but actually brightens from her dour state when that’s not what greets her. So she nips from it again before passing it back to Silas. “Thanks.”

Now she finally tips a little, reaching out to grab Spades around the waist and drag him the rest of the way to her. “If you decide you want to go back to Delphi and try to catch up with Sawyer’s crew…” Destiny lifts her head so she can catch his eye, “I’ll understand. This is a lot.” But that look in her eye says she still believes in it.

Silas nods at Spades. "Agreed," he says, on all counts. He accepts the flask back from Des, then takes a drink of his own, savoring the warmth of the okolehao. He smiles a bit — the taste brings back memories of Hawai'i, and warm sands and of hospitality and hope for the future, all of which are sorely needed at the moment — then offers it to Spades, as well. "Something from warmer climes. The last, for awhile," he says, not without a bit of sadness.

Pulled in to Destiny, Spades manages to keep his balance and lets out a huff for her having done it. His expression is impossible to parse one way or another when he's told he could turn back.

He takes the flask instead, drinking deep from it for the warmth it provides both in memory and gullet. Ace waits for it to spread to his limbs before he offers it back. He doesn't answer the offer, just wonders, "Who was that guy, anyway?" A glance is given between Silas and Destiny both. "The one who called out, from that group that came from afar. The one who called me by a name that's…"

Spades' gaze sharpens, his voice dropping coldly. "Not mine."

Silas lets out a long breath; he'd not expected to get hit with that one, although he probably should've. "Richard Cardinal. He's… a friend of mine. There was some time between the Ark and when I got fished out of the ocean and came back to the Pelago; I met him then."

He takes another hit from his flask; it's mostly empty now. "It's… a long story. I'll tell it if you want to hear it, but I'll warn you right now up front: it takes some detours through the Twilight Zone."

Destiny winces. “Yeah, it’s… Pretty wild,” she agrees. There’s a roll of complicated emotions within her that she’s uncomfortable with. It sees her shoulders shift some, her hug around Spades firming.

“Richard’s a good person.” The assurance is probably not necessary, and it’s not for her. She knows this and believes it wholeheartedly. It’s just that there’s more at play than just her personal opinion, and it’s not something she’s had to confront all that much.

This trip is likely going to necessitate getting very comfortable with that internal confrontation.

But for now, Des tips her face up to study her partner’s face. “What do you mean?” The shift in the temperature of his voice rivals that of the air around her, and that’s not to be dismissed.

Ace only narrows his eyes at Silas' explanation, thinking on it for a moment. Destiny's gentle prodding for more information is well-intended, but he's already unkeen on the concept of talking about all this further.

"It's just Spades now. Ace still is there– it feels hard to get rid of– but everything else? I left that behind a long time ago." He shifts his look away from Destiny back to Silas while he considers the offer. "Way before the Flood."

"It gets under my skin in ways I can't explain that he saw me and called me by that name." Only for the space of the single word emphasis, his voice curdles with anger and indignation. "I had a knife in my face in the moment, so I didn't make a deal of it, but the longer I think on it…"

Jaw tensing, he shakes his head. "I really don't care who he is, good person or not. I don't appreciate anyone who thinks they fucking know me, much less anyone who dredges up the past." He lets out a quiet huff of a humorless chuckle before he surmises, "Fuck that guy."

Silas regards Spades for a long moment, then nods once. "I'll have a word with him about it," he says, nodding one more time.

The blonde’s head tilts, brow furrowing. Destiny releases her hold on Spades and climbs to her feet, reaching up to touch his face. “I’m sorry,” she murmurs quietly. She’s shed last names like some people replace their shoes. Not for the same reasons, she can tell, but… Maybe she can empathize.

Turning to look at Silas, Des shakes her head. “No. I’ll do it. I think… I might have some additional context.” She turns her face up to her shipmate again. “I’ve got the big hat,” she teases with a smile that is meant to be placating, assuring, but not patronizing. “I’ll take care of it.” She’s the captain, after all.

"She is my Captain," Ace echoes the meta, wry in tone only because it's true. "But honestly, I'd rather no one have a word with him. He's no one I care for– but so what? I'm not interested in another 'do you bite your thumb, sir?' scenario on this trip."

He scoffs out a laugh of, "We've already done that once."

Spades takes hold of Destiny's hand, placing his over hers with some fondness, quiet, but visible as he looks down at her. He shifts it down and looks to Silas after, wondering, "You doing all right yourself, now?"

Silas has a frown on his face like he wants to argue; he doesn't answer Spades' question immediately. "Mostly," he says, fingers drumming restlessly on his leg as he thinks.

You really ought to be more scared of me. Odessa had told him that, once, in another world; it's only now that he really sees the shape of what she'd been trying to tell him, reflected in Richard's unthinking assumption. Reflected in his memory of Redd's eyes, staring at him from behind the barrel of his gun.

Meet someone in one world and you think you know them. Different rolls of the same dice… but seven's a winning roll, and three's a losing one. Just one face away, but it makes all the difference in the world… Silas muses.

He chuckles grimly to himself. "The more I understand what Lis went through, the more it boggles my mind," he says, shaking his head before looking back to Spades. "I think this is gonna be a bigger problem than you think, Spades, and not just one pertaining to you. But it's not my business; if you're askin' me to butt out, I'll respect your wishes," he says, nodding. Then he looks over to Des. "But if you should happen to have a conversation with Richard and the subject of roads diverging in a yellow wood happens to come up… might not to hurt to remind him that I'm not Redd, either."

With that said, Silas levers himself to his feet, taking one last swig from his flask — the last of the Hawaiian liquor. Until they get to the Anchor, anyway; he's got two bottles stashed away in his belongings, one earmarked as an arrival gift, the other to share with the Convoy. "Anyway. Yeah, I'm alright. Or at least better," he says, shrugging. "You, Des?"

Destiny lacks the context necessary to know exactly who Redd is, but she can put the pieces together just fine on her own anyway. She wraps her arms around herself, giving a quick nod. She’s been asked to let it lie, but she knows Silas is right. It’s unfair, but she thinks Spades can’t possibly appreciate just how different two versions of the same person can be.

She struggled with an internal instinct, for just a moment, to really hurt someone when he was being threatened. If not for her own instinct to panic being stronger than the more distant one to make sure no one ever made her a victim again…

“It’s not going to be a big deal,” she assures softly. “Let me address it, because I won’t have anyone messing with my crew, good person or not.”

Ace considers Destiny's softspokenness, wondering at it. He doesn't trust, entirely, any confrontation at this point to not have unintended consequences…

but he trusts her.

He lets out a grunt of acknowledgement, his own feelings put aside. She's the Captain. "At any rate, we should make sure the trucks are clean and comfortable enough. We should… get back to that."

Spades leans away from the stack of tires and heads off without asking for leave to, moving quickly enough and far enough that when he glances back, he can't see those he's left behind. Can’t see the worried look Destiny was giving to his retreating form.

He exhales a long, smoky breath and relishes the illusion of being alone for whatever time he has it. It'll be a long time before he feels it again.

Silas nods as Spades takes his leave, then looks over to Destiny and smiles warmly, nodding to her as well. Spades has some good points… but on this, he thinks Des has the right of it.

But they do have work to do, and for all that they'd both needed a moment… they've given enough time to remembrance of the past. The present is for the living.

"Come on, Des; let's get back." They've got vehicles to clean out, goods to stow, and the whole try to help make a functioning crew thing to do, after all.

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