avi2_icon.gif rue_icon.gif

Scene Title Incongruent
Synopsis in·​con·​gru·​ent | \ ˌin-kən-ˈgrü-ənt — adj. not consistent with itself.
Date January 7, 2020

Fort Jay

Despite assurances that it was believed she had no involvement in the kidnapping of Richard Ray and that she would be released in 48 hours, there had still been a barrage of questions to answer. Findings of Rhys Bluthner’s ability aren’t considered conclusive evidence in court, after all. Statements had to be given, alibis established. All in the presence of her lawyer, of course. When it’s all over, she sits alone in a room with a cooling cup of coffee in front of her, waiting for her commanding officer.

Glossy nails pick at the cuff of one sleeve of a grey sweatshirt with PROPERTY OF SESA printed across the chest and back in charcoal block lettering. She’s had the chance to wash her face, at least. It’s not often she’s caught without make-up on these days. Without a layer of foundation, her freckles are more numerous and stand out more against her pale face. The dark circles under her eyes are more prominent. Rue actually looks as tired as she pretends she doesn’t feel.

When there’s noise in the hall, Rue lifts her head, ceases her fidgeting and reaches out to wrap her hands around her coffee instead, bringing it up to sip. She watches the door intently over the rim of the paper cup.

It isn’t long before it opens, before Avi’s broad-shouldered silhouette slips in from the hall and wordlessly assuages someone out of Rue’s line of sight. He shuts the door before turning to Rue and shaking his head. “Feds kicked this up to DHS, SESA’s running interference to try and keep you from being interrogated off-site.” None of which sounds above-board or good. “There’s some spooky, classified-level shit whatever the fuck’s happened is all tangled up in.” And it doesn’t sound like Avi was on the need to know list.

He has two coffees, though.

Avi walks over to Rue, setting it down on the table in front of her, then just sits down on the corner of the table and takes a sip of his own. “The weasel-looking guy, Voss, keeps reassuring me you’re not going to be locked up. But he also wasn’t exactly happy to see me.” His jaw works from side to side. “I think some folks from the DOJ here remember the uh,” he scrubs a hand over his stubbled chin, “you know, the stupid shit.”

Clearing his throat, Avi sets down his coffee next to himself and fixes a square look on Rue. “What’s your take on all this?”

“Jesus fuck,” Rue mutters against her original coffee, regarding this whole thing being escalated. The cup settles down on the table again, pushed aside in favor of one that’s not just this side of cold. “Well, hey, at least I didn’t call Demsky to post my bail, huh?” She laughs, and it’s entirely without humor.

She doesn’t mind letting him see that she’s freaked the fuck out by all of this. If she can’t be honest with him, who the hell is safe to be honest with? How many times have they pulled each other out of shit just as deep as this appears to be?

The fresh coffee is sipped and she winces to discover it’s a little too hot yet, but makes no complaint. “My take? Is that I’m really fucking confused as to how you, and Dev, and Liza, and sss—Agent Diaz, and everybody else seems to think I arranged this.” Rue is betrayed.

“I’ve been betrayed enough times to understand that you never really know someone,” is Avi’s explanation, “until you suddenly do.” That’s as much as he says about the matter, leaving both his history and his previous career choices to fill in the gaps for Rue.

“I’m trying to find a way in which you’re released.” Avi explains, redirecting the conversation. “You’re not being charged with a crime, but every minute you’re out on the street is a potential false-positive for people looking for the real culprit here. No matter what form out of this looks like, I don’t think you’ll be back on active duty until this is resolved.” He hesitates, then adds, “Think of it as a vacation, not suspension. You aren’t in trouble, and you’re getting paid. You’re just… maybe under house arrest?” He grimaces. “I haven’t nailed that last part down yet.”

Maybe she should be mad about that last part, but she isn’t. The last time she’d been here, it’d led to the bottom of the mineshaft. This prospect is considerably better, if only in terms of accommodations. The fact that the government is involved and the charge against her - however much she’s being told it’s not going to stick to her - is serious.

But Avi has to know that misdirection in conversation is a tactic that doesn’t work on Rue. He pays her to do that to other people. “Great,” is the only acknowledgement she gives to the rest of what he’s said before she circles back to the part that matters to her right now. “How the fuck do you all figure I arranged for my own fucking arrest, Avi?”

“I don’t know, how’d Sylar pretend t’be me for a whole fucking year and nobody noticed?” Avi says in a mumbled slur. “Look, the whole fucking world got tricked into believing the President hadn’t had his brain eaten by a fucking watermaker-gone-Hannibal-Lecter but we all did. Sylar sure as fuck wasn’t the last shapeshifter in the world, and hell… for all I know Candice Wilmer decided to follow us back from the Dead Zone and fuck all of us for funsies.

Avi throws his hands into the air, helpless in his shrugging. “There’s a million and one weird fucking bullshit things this could be, and without a single fucking clue as to how, I’m not gonna just go off on a tangent and assume it’s any one of them.” Pinching the bridge of his nose, Avi takes a deep breath. “This is already a massive clusterfuck and the commissioner of the NYP fucking D wants to have a personal chat over this, which is probably a fancy way of saying he wants to reevaluate our relationship which we cannot fucking afford!

Realizing he was raising his voice, Avi exhales a sigh and waves a hand at Rue, dismissively. “Look, I’ve got a lot on my mind right now. Which I realize you probably fucking do too, but this is the best solution I’ve got.”

I don’t know, maybe because you didn’t have any fucking friends back then, Avi? Wrong thing to say, but satisfying enough to think. The fact is, she believes it would have been different if someone tried to pull that now. She didn’t know Avi then, but she knows him now. Rue wants to believe she’d know the difference.

Which is about the time that she realizes what exactly he’s implying.

“You mean that someone who looks like me… What? Said please fucking arrest me and you all thought that sounded like an amazing idea?” Rue laughs bitterly. “Stow the other bullshit for five fucking minutes and help me understand this shit, so I can figure out what to do with it. Then we can worry about the NYP fucking D.


Perhaps presumptuous of her, but if he hasn’t noticed by now how she’s been angling to step up to do more and be more since he’s been left to run things on his own, then he’s wilfully blind. “Avi…” Rue breathes out, searching for answers in the lines of his face. “Help me figure out what happened and then we can figure out how we can fight it. You’ll need that when you face the commissioner.” If she can’t appeal to his emotions, which has almost never worked in the history of ever, maybe convincing him of her usefulness will do the trick.

“Fuck-all happened,” Avi says with dwindling patience as he paces back and forth. “I got a call at Fuck-Thirty in the morning and it was Liz Harrison. This was like, right after Richard disappeared. She came up to the Bastion because we needed to chat about you.”

“Me, Liz, Devon, and your doppelganger went into the conference room, and Liz showed us a video on her phone,” Avi says, gesturing with one hand into the air. “Showed you and Ricky getting a little familiar with one-another, Richard passes out, and that pink-haired kid that blew up the Fellowship building popped in and grabbed him and you,” he says with air-quotes, “walk out the front door.”

Smoothing a hand over his forehead, Avi continues to pace like a caged tiger. “So then your double, who is watching the fucking video, laughs her ass off and insinuates we pulled a prank. She asked if Lucille did it as payback for drinking something after the Zeitgeist op or something. Look, she knew personal shit. This wasn’t just some rubber mask Scooby Doo bullshit. She knew you inside and fucking out.”

Avi finally comes to a stop, fingers on both hands wound in his hair. “We bat around some possibilities, up to and including you being a Manchurian Candidate pod person in your off-hours, and we suggest getting Thatcher to poke her fucking psychic fingers around in your head to look for evidence, because obviously that’s a fucking horror show blast from the past we knew you’d be so down for.”

That’s when Avi stops, shakes his head, and lowers his hands. “See, this is the thing that got me, Rue. You were fucking scared, because we were echoing the shit that happened to you on Pollepel. It was all there,” he says with a spread of his hands, “every little quirk and nuance. So…” he trails off, scrubbing a hand over his mouth for a moment, “I proposed the arrest. If you checked out as you, we’d pull a fast one on your double. Buy in to the whole thing, arrest you as a fucking cover and lure her into a false sense of security so she comes up for air.”

Avi leans back against the wall, scrubbing his hands over his face. “She walked out the fucking door, again.”

Rue had been so prepared for a battle on this. A screaming match. Chest puffed, fists curled, ready to go in for some bare knuckle boxing.

But when he lays it all out like that, all the details, the blood drains from her face and the fight drains from her bearing. She stares off into the middle distance, because this does smack of Pollepel. This whole thing has from the beginning. The set up, the planting of details, the jailing.

Churning begins in her stomach and it shows in her expression. Because she is properly scared that the next step is letting Kaylee poke around in her head again, and she’s still very protective of her privacy. Her thoughts are her own. Especially given the semi-public life she’s lived since the age of two. Those inner desires and frustrations and loves and hates? Those are hers.

There’s a vain hope that if she swallows down more coffee, she can drown her doubts. “I don’t… have any missing time.” No more than he tends to have, anyway, with their similar vices and coping mechanisms. “Not like Dev did.” Meaning she doesn’t expect that she’s been cloned, or whatever the fuck happened to her colleague when he was presumed dead.

Blue gaze briefly lifts to follow Avi’s pacing, then stares hard off into the distance again while she reaches deep inside of her to latch onto her anger at this situation and hold it tightly in her chest. Letting it soothe her and stoke her indignation at the same time. It’s better than being terrified.

Eileen Ruskin taught her that.

“There was a note.” Rue focuses on Avi again. “When I was checking my mail, there was an unmarked envelope and a note in my own fucking handwriting.”

A hand is dragged through already stress-mussed red curls, loosening their weave and introducing a bit more frizz to the mix. “All it said was don’t trust your friends, and then SESA showed up.”

“Fucking wonderful.” Avi says flatly, massaging one hand at his forehead. “So your double is playing this, what, fucking Memento game? Super cute.” Still frustrated by the series of events, Avi can’t help but use humor as a shield. There’s so much more that’s emotionally worn him down over the last few months, this feels like a gentle speed bump.

“In case it wasn’t blindingly obvious,” Avi says after a moment of thoughtful silence, “I locked down your expenses card, shut off your company phone, and tried to limit the resources of yours that your double might have access to. But you might want to check your personal bank accounts, if she’s on the run she may’ve drained everything.”

Avi realizes that’s just heaping more things she has to worry about and can’t fix on her, but he doesn’t walk any of it back.

“So… yeah.” Avi throws his hands up in the air. He doesn’t have anything else. “Until we get this figured out, if we can keep you out of a prison cell, you’re going to be on furlough until we know the security risk has passed. Your clearance will be revoked to everything except your quarters and common area, and we’re going to ask you to stay out of the Bunker.”

All of that is the right call. If their roles were reversed, if she were Command, she’d be doing the exact same thing to him. To protect Wolfhound, to protect him. That doesn’t make this sting any less, unfortunately. “Yeah, no,” she confirms, “That was blindingly obvious. Soon as they let me out of here,” if they let her out of here, “I’ll start getting that shit locked down. I was in the middle of calling my credit card company when…” Her hands spread out to indicate her surroundings. This.

This whole thing leaves her feeling sick as she mulls over again all the evidence presented. How whoever it is that’s walking around, pretending to be her, is doing so convincingly. The people closest to her couldn’t tell the difference. That stings, too.

There’s a seed of doubt that’s been planted in her chest, using her heart as fertile soil to sprout deep roots and sinuating vines that grasp and constrict at the muscle in her chest. “Avi, I need a favor.” She plows forward before resignation or frustration can settle on his face. “It’s not a big ask. Something you can take care of here and now without… much effort.”

She won’t say there’s no effort required. All delicate matters require effort of some kind.

When Rue lifts her face up to him again, she’s the 23-year-old staring at him through the bars in the dungeon of Bannerman’s Castle. The girl who didn’t beg him to save her, but looked to his gun and begged him instead not to let her drown. That girl died on Pollepel Island that day, and yet she lives again nine years later.

“Tell me if you believe I didn’t do it.” It’s not the comforting lie she seeks. Since she took up the role of intelligence, Rue’s only ever been interested in the truth that hides underneath the layers people build up around themselves. If he does believe that maybe she doesn’t have a double at all, that maybe she really is the culprit, that’s worth knowing, too.

Her gaze grows distant for a moment as she explains why it’s important to her: “Eileen never would.” Instead, Miss Ruskin told her she would hang, and told her to get angry about it. And then, there Avi was, so focused on getting to her that he forgot to get the fucking keys to her damn cell. If she doesn’t have his support now… Well, it will crush her, but if there’s one thing Eileen did for her, it was force her to fashion a weapon from the jagged edges of her broken spirit.

Avi breathes in deeply through his nose, pinching his forefinger and thumb at its bridge. He doesn’t answer, which in and of itself feels like one to Rue, sitting as a heavy weight in the pit of her stomach. It’s as if she can feel the icy waters of the river lapping at her legs again.

“People don’t always get what they want,” is Avi’s cold, mumbled response as he heads to the door. “And I’ve lived long enough to never discount anyone of being capable of anything.

Avi gives the door a rap with his knuckles, then turns to look at Rue over his shoulder. “But for what it’s worth, the facts say you didn’t do it.” It’s hard to read his expression, eyes hidden behind sunglasses as they are. “And I believe the facts.”

It feels like being pulled under by the current. But it’s what she asked for, isn’t it? By the time she fights her way to the surface again, it’s the operative in the room with him, not the young model-actress looking for a place in the world. “Well, that makes two of us,” Rue responds with a cant of her head to one side, deceptively casual.

The facts aren’t worth as much to her as his confidence, but it’s like he says. People don’t always get what they want.

Her own expression is unreadable, which, between the two of them, is a tell in itself. “Thanks for the visit, Aviators. I’ll check in when I get back to the Bastion.”

“Text and call,” Avi says without looking back, like she was his daughter going out on a date. He slips out of Rue’s room into the hall, quietly shutting the door behind himself.

After the door clicks shut and Avi's footsteps fade away down the hall, Rue pulls her cup of coffee back toward herself, her expression blank as she struggles with her emotions. Then she hurls it across the room, the older cup following quickly in its wake. The black coffee goes scattering over the table, splashing against the far wall from her and pooling on the floor. There's no frustrated cry to accompany it, lest her CO overhear.

Clearly she's already lost enough points with him as it is. He doesn't need to know how this affects her. (She's fooling herself. If anyone knows how this is affecting her, it's Avi Epstein.) Rue lays her head down on the table, one cheek pressed to its surface and staring off away from the door, and waits to be retrieved so she can go sit in a cell until someone decides what to do with her.

A sudden movement out of the corner of her eye has her lifting her head and turning in that direction swiftly. For a moment, she could swear she'd seen—

But there's no one there. Not even the sounds of a retreat. Rue closes her eyes and presses the heels of her hands against the lids until she sees black stars blossoming with white auras. Nothing adds up. Don't trust your friends, the warning had said.

Rue is no longer certain she can even trust herself.

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