It Gets Weirder


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Scene Title It Gets Weirder
Synopsis After movie night, Des and Richard realize there are no good answers.
Date September 10, 2018

The Last Road

Richard draws in a slow breath, and then exhales it slowly, shakily. He releases his hand so he can wrap an arm around Desdemona’s shoulders, so he can pull her in against his side, leaning in to press a kiss to the side of her head.

What am I?

“A survivor,” he says quietly, “Of whatever those bastards did to you… to save the world.”

He has some ideas of what they may have done. But now’s not the time.

For a couple minutes, all she does is cry softly in his embrace. Still unyielding in her posture, not clinging, like she won’t allow herself to truly indulge in the comfort. Eventually, she swallows audibly and straightens herself back up to sit. “A sacrifice,” she corrects softly.

Without waiting for the argument, Des pushes herself to her feet and returns to her open duffel bag. She has to shuffle through the miscellaneous files that caught her eye at Luis’ before she finds the one she wants. Her expression is almost stony when she turns back to Richard. “It gets weirder,” is her promise as she flips through pages of the Shanti file. Finding the subject she wants, she holds the page up so that the patient’s name is covered. “Tell me what you see.”

There’s no argument forthcoming. She’s right, after all. Then she’s pushing herself up, and Richard follows, a hand bracing to the edge of the bed for leverage as he pushes himself up as well. He glances to the files, then back up to her face, his brow furrowed.

“That’s… ah, your mother, right?”

Des laughs, a bubbling nervous sort of sound. Like she’d really rather be crying, but everything’s just absurd enough to allow her to continue to toe the line for the moment. She moves her hand and holds out the file for him to take.

“It’s Juliette Luis.

“Wh— “ Richard looks baffled at that, reaching out to take the file in hand, “That’s impossible, that’s not— I’ve seen pictures of Juliette Luis— admittedly not from this timeline— “ The question of how Edward got those pictures still unanswered, “— but she didn’t look anything like… wait.”

He looks up at her, “You mean like— like Sera?” There’s still a faint ache in the back of his head as he thinks about that particular aspect of Rianna’s ability and the way it warped his perception and memory. If it even is Rianna. Who the fuck knows?

He thinks about mind-bending things professionally but figuring her out is beyond him for the moment.

“It was a very long drive and I still don’t know what to think about this.” Des sinks down to sit next to Richard again. “She said she was my surrogate where she comes from. Hiro Nakamura swears it’s a lie. Juliette Luis died ten years before I was born, to the day. My mother steps into other people’s lives like it’s nothing. What if the Rianna of this world… What if she was Juliette first?”

Des drags her fingers through her hair and rubs at her face with the heels of her palms. “With an ability like that, how long could someone sustain their life? How many lives did she live before?” The back of her index finger presses to the underside of her nose, stifling a sniffle as more tears threaten. “And I keep wondering if… If Luis ever saw his daughter when he looked at me. I keep wondering if he knew something. He always said he knew more than the Company ever told me.”

Closing her eyes, finally she allows herself to really lean against Richard’s shoulder, letting the proximity bring her some measure of comfort. “Did he hate me so much in the end because I was a disappointment?”

“Christ,” Richard murmurs as he glances through the first few pages of the fine. Shanti. That was a nightmare that they hoped was gone, in all its forms and mutations and engineered variants. “It must be like your file. The one where the faces we saw— they weren’t the same. How the hell does her ability even work…?”

Hesitation— and then he reaches out, wrapping his arm back around her once more. “He didn’t hate you, Des,” he says quietly, “I wish I’d tried harder to keep him with me— had tracked him down when that first package arrived. I waited too long.”

“The last time we saw each other, he called me ‘that harpy.’ I don’t think he cared for me much in the end.” In his defense, she had literally stabbed him in the back. In hers, he was going to shoot Tamara Brooks, and she had no ability to stop him with.

“I always hoped I would track him down someday and get a chance to apologize. Try to make some kind of amends…” Des shakes her head. “I got his address from Julie. His… adopted daughter, if you wanna call it that.” She considers it kidnapping, regardless of what kind of bond those girls wound up forming with Luis. “She wants nothing to do with me anymore. I guess she was on the rooftop when…” She brushes her fingers over the latest scar on her forehead, indicating Samson’s latest attack. “It sounds like she intended to stab me. I suppose I’d deserve it.”

“Liette was the one who realized what was going on was… not right,” Richard breathes out a sigh, shaking his head, “Julie— I think Julie drank the Institute’s kool-aid eagerly.”

“She’ll never really get over to loss of her sister, either, she’s… well,” he shrugs one shoulder, “Luis told me what I needed to relay about how to take care of her, and— I did what I could, anyway. We all have regrets, Des. We just need to— move on.”

He shifts, dropping down to sit on the bed, “What other surprises do we have here?”

It’s a good thing he’s sitting down. This next part is a doozy.

“Remember when I said I had more information about Hydra?” Des reaches across to flip the page on the file. “Magnes Varlane is a clone and I thought that was messing with me before, but after those videos? That’s the least incredible thing I’ve heard in a while.”

Richard just stares at Des for a moment, and then he starts flipping through the file. He slows down after a page or so, and just starts to mutter ‘what the fuck’ every few paragraphs, which given the contents of the file is entirely reasonable.

“How bad do you have to be if Bishop said you’re too amoral to work with the Company,” he comments once, and then near the end blinks, “Clara? That— “ A look at the picture, the blur, “Hrn. Guess it is.”

The file is dropped to his side, and he just falls back on the bed, covering his face with both hands. “What the fuck do I even do with all this, Jesus I’m going to have to build an entire new map.”

“I know,” Des murmurs after every ‘what the fuck’ from Richard. “I don’t know much about Pete Varlane… I know he was important within the Institute. Big enough that Magnes thought some kind of connection between him and I would help protect me.” Odessa nearly fake dated Magnes. That’s a thing that almost happened.

When he falls back on the bed, she turns and stares down at him with concern. “I don’t know what to do with any of it,” Des admits. “I don’t know what we can do with most of the shit we saw. God, I’m going to see that fucking walking circulatory system in my sleep. Or maybe I’ll just never sleep again. That sounds like it might be a good plan at this point.”

“I’m going to have to think about all this, this is just… a lot to digest,” admits Richard, “Even for me, this is just — crazy. Some sort of telepathic infectious parasite that— what, they used you somehow to banish to the void between superstrings? It was bad enough that they had to erase, change… decades of memories. It was— “

Then he sits up sharply, staring at the television, “That’s it. That’s why the tapes were like that.”

With a helpless shake of her head, Des rises to her feet again and begins to pace the floor between the two beds. “Like what? Fucked beyond recognition?” But then she thinks she’s stumbled upon the path that Richard’s taking.

“You… Do you think someone used an ability to erase the records? And that’s why everything’s so distorted?” Disjointed. In disarray. “Maybe… Maybe we should just… Just stop, Richard.” Des hugs her arms around her body and stops, turning to face him again. She looks apprehensive, and lacking in conviction for her own suggestion. She wants answers about who she really is, where she really came from. But what they’re uncovering… “Maybe this all needs to stay buried.”

“No, that’s— that’s not it at all, someone purposefully did that,” Richard opins, gesturing to the tapes, “But the reason they’re so disjointed, so fragmented. It’s so when they’re watched, someone can figure things out by inference. Because if we were told outright— “

He looks back at her, “We’d be infected.”

“Jesus. What if all of this is what Arthur was talking about?” Des makes a sort of growling sound in the back of her throat, frustrated. Nothing, in her mind, is certain anymore. “I get it. It has to be in bits and pieces so we understand how fucked it is.”

The video equipment gets a hard, accusatory look from Desdemona. “I have half a mind to drive until I reach the desert and bury the lot of this shit.” If not for the fact that she’s afraid there’s still some purpose to be served by keeping these videos.

“So… Let’s say Luis understood what this meant, in some fashion. Do you think it’s why he’s dead?”

“So we’ll understand, but so we aren’t in danger…” Richard rubs against the bridge of his nose, “We need to make assumptions and conclusions, skirt around the edge of it. Since the more direct the contact— it’s memetic. We’re dealing with a fucking living meme.”

She gets a frown at the last, and he admits, “I think so. And— I think that it’s likely that Adam remembers.”

“The question that I have then… Is he trying to keep it buried, or bring it back?” Des has an assumption, but Adam has a history of doing things she finds counterintuitive in order to further his own agenda. “This is so fucked, Richard.”

When she looks back at him, she’s scared. “What are we going to do?”

“I don’t know, but…” Richard shakes his head, “…we’ll figure out something. We have to keep digging, and— “ His jaw sets, “We need to find Caspar before someone uses him to unlock something he really shouldn’t.”

He reaches out a hand, fingers brushing to her shoulder as he offers her a faint smile, “We’ll figure this out, Des. We always do.”

“You’re right,” Des sighs, relenting. “I’m not sure where he would have gone to ground… He hasn’t been picked up in any of the raids as far as I know. The protocols in place for this were… Astounding.” One corner of her mouth ticks up in a brief smirk. “They really had their shit together. The important ones, anyway.” Everyone else, if they didn’t know too much, could be hung out to dry.

Dropping down to a crouch, Des loosens the laces of her boots and slips out of them before crawling up onto the bed not currently used to display her haul. “You know… There are parts of this country that are just like the war never happened,” she says softly. “Or places where they’ve recovered in their way, better than New York.” Her gaze wanders his face until she meets his eyes. “A person could disappear real easily out there.”

Maybe even a couple of people.

Richard watches her for a moment, and then he sighs… shaking his head slightly, he brings one hand up to push a bit of hair back from his brow.

“No, Des,” he says quietly, watching her face, “You want to run away. I get it. You’ve always run away before. You shouldn’t this time.” He doesn’t say she can’t.

“You want to change, you need to start with that.”

The urge to argue simmers below Des’ surface. To say that it’s about a fresh start or that it’s safer that way, but that’s what her position with Raytech was supposed to be, wasn’t it? A clean slate. A chance to start over. To prove that she’s changed. How likely is this situation to play out again?

Des frowns. “Alright.” The annoyance doesn’t last. Not when she knows he’s right. “What do we do next?”

It was a fresh start… it didn’t mean that she’d changed though. Not necessarily. Working quietly in hiding was something she’d done many times, after all.

“Now,” Richard admits, “We get some sleep — if we can — and we keep digging. I’ve got a…” He pauses, “An old friend of yours from Eltingville, who seems to remember you fondly. Delia. If you’re willing, we could go into your dreams — see if we can reach out to those other yous. Try and figure out why you’re connected like that. I have a few other things I’m working on…”

Of course. He always does.

“Including getting you legal again, of course.”

“Delia?” There’s shades of disbelief in her tone. But she remembers the woman, of course. Her assumption is that she must not trust everything she reads in the paper. Rather than the notion that she has no idea what was printed in the paper at all. She’ll be disappointed later. Likely they both will.

“You’re sure you want to try going into my mind again?” Des’ brow furrows. “It was a risky proposition the first time. Now that you know how poorly it can go… You’re sure?

“You’re connected to your… other selves, somehow,” Richard observes, a single brow lifting, “Do you think we can afford to just— ignore that? Anything we don’t understand is potentially dangerous…”

He shrugs a shoulder, “It’s up to you, honestly, I just— we might be able to communicate that way, potentially.”

She’s connected to her other selves. “You’re right.”

They can’t just ignore that. “I know.”

They might be able to communicate. “Oh. I see.”

Des sits up and slides off the bed. “Yeah, of course. That’s a great idea.” She moves over to the other bed and starts repacking her things into the duffel. The files get tucked away one by one. The tapes, for now, stay on the floor. “Using my… inter-string visions might actually be safer than the radio station.” She nods her head with just a little too much vigor to allay the sneaking suspicion Richard should be having about now that says she’s not thrilled with this notion. “Good call.”

There’s more than a sneaky suspicion there. “Whoa, hey— “

Richard rolls up from the bed to his feet, hands spreading out, “Look, we won’t, then. I said if you were willing, Des, I’m not— I don’t want to put you in any more risk than you’re comfortable with. I don’t want to put you at risk at all, I— fuck, you know how I feel. I just…”

He gestures to the tapes, “That.”

Jesus Christ, Richard.” The brunette whirls on him, lips pursed tightly. “It’s not the risk. I don’t even give a fuck about the risk.” Not to herself at least. “You,” she jabs a finger into his chest accusingly, “want to use this opportunity to contact Elisabeth.”

She knows him well enough to know that he’ll do anything to get a message to her. To reconnect with her somehow. And perhaps if the events of this evening hadn’t left her so damned rattled, she wouldn’t be upset with him for it. If she stopped and thought about it for longer than the two seconds of consideration she’s given, she might not find it in herself to blame him.

She might need a few minutes before she comes back around to that side of rational.

“Is that…” Richard’s hands drop to his sides, and he looks at her for a long moment before shaking his head slowly.

“No, Des,” he says simply, “Not Liz. I want to try and contact my mother.”

“Your mother— I—” Des’ jaw gets tight and she can’t hold her fury, or Richard’s gaze. She closes her eyes heavily, mad at herself for letting her insecurity get the better of her like that. Especially in such a way that really highlights for him how bad it is.

“Yeah,” she murmurs, the wind having gone out of her sails. “Of course. You know I’ll help.” Right after she crawls into this hole she’s dug for herself and dies.

A sigh whispers past Richard’s lips, and he brings one hand up to nudge her chin higher, looking down at her with a serious expression. “Odessa,” he says, quietly but firmly, to get her attention.

“You know I love you, right?”

The change in her when he says her name like that is instant. While she’s still ashamed of her outburst, and apologetic, she doesn’t look like she might next burst into more tears. There’s been enough of those for one night already.

“I know you say you do.” She doesn’t let that hang for long. “And I don’t have any reason to believe you’re lying to me.” Lying to himself she’d believe, which then makes it a lie to her by extension, but she’ll forgive it for the purposes of this conversation.

Odessa stares up at him, vulnerable. Intentionally so. “I know I love you enough that it scares me to know the day will come when you don’t feel that way about me anymore.”

“Now,” says Richard dryly, “Now you’re being ridiculous.”

His hand brushes up to cradle her cheek, thumb grazing the corner of her mouth, “Love isn’t something that just goes away one day, you know, and oh my god you have me talking like a romance novel just to justify how I feel about you Jesus Christ Odessa.”

He brings that hand back up to rub at his face, “Isn’t happening. Even if you turn on me completely, I still will. Can we not do this? It’s been a night.”

The run-on sentence at first causes a widening of blue eyes. Then, she flinches, instantly more timid. “Of course.” Des nods her head quickly. “I’ll just—” She ducks away from where he has her sort of pinned down between himself and the bed. Turning, she grabs the straps of her bag and drags it to the end of the bed before swinging it around to the side and setting it on the floor between bed and wall.

“I’ll just sleep over here,” she tells him. He’s right. It’s been a night.

She’s watched, as she flinches, as she ducks away… and then Richard just sighs, falling back onto the bed to stare at the ceiling. “If you want,” he says quietly, “You don’t have to. I’d rather you didn’t. But that’s up to you.”

“I’m feeling fragile.” Her voice is very soft, it makes her seem smaller than she is. “You don’t seem to like me as well when I’m fragile.” Des doesn’t turn around to look at him. “You like me when my edges are hard, but I still yield. You like me when I’m terrified, but I find my spine anyway.” Now who’s talking like a romance novel?

“I’m sorry that I yelled at you.” She may not have raised her voice, but she may as well have. “I don’t want to fight.” One hand comes up to rest at the place where neck meets shoulder, her thumb absently brushing over her skin as she stares at the wall and scolds herself for causing this rift. Even if it’s one they might heal easily tomorrow, it hurts now. When they need each other.

“I’m not good with fragile things, Des,” Richard says, still watching the ceiling, “I mostly break them.”

A slow breath is drawn in, and he turns his head to look at her, saying quietly, “And I don’t want to break you. C’mere. Just…. let me hold you, and we’ll try to sleep. And we can talk tomorrow.” Before they have to separate again.

There’s a rueful smile for the wall and a bitten back retort. That much is abundantly clear. Still, Des raises her white flag of surrender. Lowering her hand from her neck, she unbuttons her pants and pushes them down her hips until they hit the floor. She steps out of them and turns back to where Richard lays on the bed.

She’s still hurting. That much is evident in her expression. But not sharing a bed with him when they have the opportunity is something she knows she’ll regret, and that will be a hurt that lingers until the next time they manage to steal away again.

In stocking feet, she she crosses the room, stepping over the discarded video tapes, making sure all the equipment is turned off as she passes by on her way to the door. She puts her hand on the switch there and turns off the light. Only the neon from the sign outside struggling against the curtains illuminates the space now.

Des crawls into the bed next to him. Nests herself against his side, her head settled on his chest. Stares off into the dark.

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