In Pursuit



Scene Title In Pursuit
Synopsis LeRoux hounds her prey.
Date June 20, 2018

The Wilds of New Jersey

The human body excels in neither speed nor endurance when compared to animals that wink and scissor through the air, or complete impossible migrations across vast stretches of barren land, so Lindsey Durant didn’t ever really stand a chance, even before he took the bullet to his thigh.

His blood leaves a trail in the tall grass where it sticks to the dry, brittle fronds, and creates a path for his pursuer to follow on foot. She might like him to be in a state of mind where he has the opportunity to reconsider his life’s choices, but the sequence of bad decisions that brought him to this place is the last thing on Durant’s mind as he staggers through the field on the edge of an old pine grove.

The grass thins out as he haphazardly cleaves his way through it. This is where the gnarled woodland meets the beach, soil giving way to sand stacked into tall, rolling dunes by the wind. He’s thinking about how many more steps he needs to take before he crests the top and can spill over the other side. If he can just reach the highest point—

Moving through the grove, LeRoux watches the man as he struggles to get away. Her pace is steady, bringing her ever closer to him as he flails for perceived safety. She was always getting closer.

Part of her wants to let him have those few moments of hope, that idea that he might have his freedom, only to take it away from him. Another part just wants to get through this as quickly and cleanly as possible.

Both parts agree that he needs to take another bullet.

LeRoux stops and gives herself a moment to line up a shot— it wouldn't do any good to miss at this juncture. When it comes, the bullet rips through his leg, in one side and out the other. And then she walks again.

Getting closer.

The scream that claws its way out of Durant’s throat sounds more human than animal, although it’s cut short when his knee gives out beneath him. He gets his wish at the crest of the dune and leads with his shoulder as his momentum carries him over. Gravity takes him the rest of the way down, end over end in an uncontrolled spin that doesn’t stop until his body does.

The sand on the other side of the dune is damp. He feels ocean water wash under the scruff of his cheek and saturate his clothes. Salt would sting if his nerves weren’t already lit and burning so brightly that he thinks he can see the light behind his eyes.

One hand goes out and sinks fingers in deep to the shore in an attempt to straighten his arm and gather enough leverage to push himself back to his feet.

It doesn’t work.

Her figure crests the rise after he's come to a stop. LeRoux perched atop, watching, a bird of prey hunting for fun rather than food. But she follows his trail down, descending with far more grace than he did.

The rough sole of her boot pushes him back down into the wet sand.

"Mister Durant," she says, her voice low and raw like she'd been using it to scream for too long. Only it hasn't been her screaming. And since bullets haven't inspired him to remember his past, she does so more directly. "You worked for the Commonwealth Institute."

Durant holds up his other hand in front of his face, which he holds steered away from LeRoux with the same misguided faith possessed by a small child who believes that tugging the blankets over his head will protect him from the monster lurking in the darkness under his bed.

Except that’s not the way the world works, imagined or otherwise.

“No,” he croaks out. “No, I— I was just numbers. Accounting. Accountant.

LeRoux makes a noise, skeptical.

"I don't think you're being honest with me," she says, her foot putting pressure on his sternum, slowly pressing him down into the sand. "You had your opportunity to come forward, if you were just the numbers."

A heavy sigh follows and the woman sinks down into a crouch next to him.

"Why didn't you?"

What this is, he might recognize even through the pain, is a chance. A convince me.

LeRoux’s weight produces a thin, anguished hiss that originates from somewhere inside Durant’s chest. “They were hanging people,” he chokes, “or lining them up— up against the wall. N-Nobody cares if you’re guilty— or not.”

In other words: He was scared.

Maybe not as scared as he is now. His eyes are big and white and wild.

“I’m not,” he insists. “I’m not.” Guilty.

Truth is, it would be very easy to disregard his words and carry on. One touch.

LeRoux sighs.

"You were an accountant. Do you have information? You had it. It would have been easy to trade for a pardon." So many people did. People who did not deserve it. But the fear, she understands. "What did you think the company you worked for did?"

Some people didn't know, even some of the scientists weren't involved in the depths of the Institute. But some people did know. Money people are not stupid, even this one. The question was if he was blind because of willful ignorance or because he was kept away from the secrets.


The hand that had been covering Durant’s face drops to his injured thigh. His next breath has to be forced out through his teeth. “They gave me line items. That’s all. I didn’t authorize the spending— I only tracked it. Spreadsheets. S-Software. Math. It was just math.

Tears carve visible paths down his cheeks where they erode the sand plastered to his face. His eyelashes instinctively bat them away without any conscious effort at all. Bleary-eyed, he looks past LeRoux as something behind the young woman catches his attention and doubles the tension in his frame as he tries twisting away from her.

“Jesus,” he says, “oh Jesus.

Lacking in curiosity. LeRoux settles on the answer in her head.

"Mister Durant," she starts, noting the glance beyond her, "easy, easy." Her hand reaches for him, as if she were going to dust the sand off his face. At her touch, his wounds start to heal, taking off the worst of the damage. Only the worst, because there is another layer to this conversation.

She stands. And turns to look for what is sending him into a panic. Her feet step clear of him, since her attention is elsewhere. Any moment can be an opportunity; she knows that, and even though she isn't sure he does, she doesn't risk it.

From Durant’s hazy perspective, flat on his back, the sight that greets LeRoux must appear more intimidating than it is in reality, because nothing about either the horse or the rider at the top of the dune strikes her as a threat.

It might be that the animal is so large it completely dwarfs the woman straddling its back and Durant fears being trampled under its hooves or getting caught in its teeth, which flash crooked and yellow behind a curled lip. Its pelt ripples once, accompanied by a decisive swish of its ashy tail and flicked ear meant to discourage summertime insects from settling there.

The woman is similarly pale in the tones of her skin and clothes except for her dark hair worn in a braided crown at the top of her head. A breeze rising off the Atlantic billows her cotton dress and makes the bouquets of freshly-picked wildflowers fastened to her saddle tremble.

“Don’t stop on my account,” says Eileen Ruskin. “Please.”


The sight of her is taken in with a soft gasp. A roiling of emotion not entirely her own tumbles through her chest.

"Munin." The name comes unbidden, but she knows it better than she knows her own. It's tinged with familiarity that might worry the man at her feet. Her expression is far more uncertain than her voice and she steps forward, putting herself between Durant and Eileen. The move is casual, her feet stopping where they do by chance— it would appear so to just about any other person apart from the one she's looking at.

If the name means anything to Durant, it doesn’t immediately show on his face.

If LeRoux was paying attention to him anymore, she might interpret that as evidence of his innocence.

Instead, she’s distracted by a familiar prickling sensation that causes the fine hairs on her arms and the back of her neck to stand on end. The force isn’t being directed at her, but rather seeks the mirror she contains inside her. It creeps, invisible, searching with a forked tongue.

“I was wondering where it was in this place,” Eileen says, winding the leather reins around her knuckles, “but here you are.”

He's not been forgotten. Oddly enough, his attacker now seems to have flipped her own role and made herself his protector. But it is true that his reactions to this encounter are not noticed. That feeling climbing its way up her spine is more than enough to make sure of that.

That isn't supposed to happen to her.

LeRoux stares in Eileen's direction, power feeling her out for longer than it needs. That alone speaks of her surprise. But more. Because it feels off.

"Here I am," she says, feeling for the first time today like she's on the back foot. "How are you here?" A more complicated question than it appears.

Eileen has been asked this enough times that she should have a concise, easily digestible answer by now. Her hesitation suggests she doesn’t.

Durant can’t complain. He watches LeRoux’s back, trying to focus on anything else except for the involuntary trembling in his limbs or the wet, reedy sound his breath makes even when he sucks it in through his nose.

“It used to be that we could only move backwards and forwards,” Eileen tells LeRoux, “like pawns on a chessboard. But if a pawn makes it all the way to the other side and trades out for another piece, then it can move in any direction it wants.”

She’d been saving that one for Richard, actually.

“I’m not from this world,” she amends. “I’m sorry. I wish I had a better explanation.”

LeRoux can't argue with that explanation. There is something here that cannot be here. She takes in the whole speech with a tilt of her head and a heavy sigh.

"I understand." Honest words from a woman who feels longer lived than she is. "There are more things in heaven and earth," she quotes with an upticked eyebrow, "than are dreamt of in your philosophy."

Conversely, LeRoux is also young, and there's a question burning in her mind than she can't hang onto.

"Do we have to fight now?" she asks, nose scrunching up against the idea. This is new territory, meeting someone so very much like herself, and the protocols must be set.


The corners of Eileen’s mouth turn down instead of up. “I hope not,” she says. “It wouldn’t be an even match.” Her feelers retreat, curling back in on themselves like flowers closing to protect themselves against the cold night air. Whatever she’s carrying inside of her shies away from the idea of confrontation and compels the Englishwoman to begin turning her horse away, although she does not yet spur it into full motion.

“I can feel what else you are,” she says. “Let’s not find out what happens if I get too close.”

"No, it wouldn't be," LeRoux states, evenly. No urge to find out for certain. No reason to. "I can feel what else you're not," she says, a curious comment, rather than a taunting one. "I hope you can tell me how your world was different. One day."

A step back. For Eileen's comfort, if her posture is anything to judge by.

It brings her back to her catch and she looks down toward him. "You're going to be okay," she says, although there is less comfort in those words than she showed to Eileen. She holds a hand down toward him, to offer him help back up. Her gaze cuts over to the woman on her horse, something wistful in the smile that peeks through her features.

LeRoux would not be able to explain exactly why.

Now Eileen does command her horse to move with a foot positioned in exactly the right place in exactly the right way. It swings around and picks hooves through the dense white sand, carrying her back toward the treeline and its pine-crowded maw.

“If Herr Volken’s voice ever grows too loud or demanding,” she calls back over her shoulder, “come to me and I’ll show you how I cast him out.”

Durant doesn’t expend the energy required to crane his neck and watch her go.

The real threat is exactly where it’s always been: beside him.

LeRoux watches her go, the offer ringing in her ears, richoetting between feelings and memories that are both her own and not. Hard to tell which is which, some days. Some moments.

"I might take you up on that," she says, to herself. A ball of tension releases between her shoulders for the first time since she was a child.

Her hand reaches down and takes Durant's to haul him up to his feet. Still not gentle, but not intent anymore. "I was going to suggest you find a way to donate your time. Do some good with yourself." Her words sound tired, but her gaze is still sharp. "I'm watching, remember that."

Leaving him behind, she walks her own way, thoughts heavy with the realization that she can tell no one about this.

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