It's Always Delilah


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Scene Title It's Always Delilah
Synopsis In times of crisis, when the entire world crashes down all around him, Magnes always finds his way back to Delilah. But this time he just innocently plays with her son and gets some dadding done
Date February 6, 2019

Delilah's House

It's honestly a pretty normal day, all things considered. It's been weeks since the Aurora, a few days since the travelers were released. Unfortunately, Delilah probably wasn't kept particularly in the loop about their return.

That probably makes it a bit of a shock when Magnes tracks her down and stands outside her house, knocking on the door a few times. He certainly looks different from how she remembers, with his long curly hair reaching his shoulders, his long black coat, the long boots, and the purple paisley shirt that borders on being a long tunic. The expression on his face is almost like someone who's just returned home from a war.

Much like when he showed up to her house after Claire's memory loss, after Alaska, he's once again showing up to her house after just… too much.

Nothing has changed for most. People have gone about their lives, heedless of whatever dangers that were faced in New Mexico or elsewhere. Not so much of ignorance, just necessity.

The house that Magnes finds at the end of the yellow brick road is very much one he'd think would hold what it does; sitting on its own little square and very much lived in. The paint isn't new and the porch needs fixed, but it's face is nonetheless welcoming. A pair of bicycles are chained to the side of the house, a few stray toys going un-tidied around a series of little bootprints in the grass and slushy snow. Winter makes the flowerbeds empty, and the gutters drippy with melting ice, a tiny puff of hot air trickling from the vent in the roof.

The days when Delilah fully expects a knock at her door, she doesn't bother checking the eyehole. Why bother? It is always the one she's expecting - except the one time that it isn't. The door doesn't have time to finish opening the entire way; precisely halfway into the swing of it Delilah's heart leaps into her throat and Magnes is staring down the blanched cheeks, mane of red hair, and wide doe-eyes he remembers. Of course… she's older, just like him. Leaner, mature, still colorful.

He has a man he's never met to thank for the door not slamming fearfully in his face. It was Daniel's resurrection that makes her hesitate with immediate thoughts of 'someone is impersonating him'. Delilah remembers to breathe after a few seconds of the last milling in her chest too long. The sound is small, but it is there.


"Yeah… took a while to get back. Robots and pirates and stuff, you know how life is. You get the uh, you were supposed to get comics when I died, right?" Magnes asks, considering how strange this might seem. He looks pretty exhausted, like he hasn't been sleeping particularly well. "I hope I don't have to get really gross with information only I would know to prove it's me."

That at least seems like something only Magnes would say.

It seems to occur to Delilah that maybe he has no idea what to say- - he looks ragged, and so does the shade of his eyes. Robots, pirates, died, of course it goes from one radical to another.

"I…" She can't help herself, but she laughs, soft and stifled. "No, I've done the third degree enough lately…" Whatever that means, she doesn't elaborate. Delilah takes a half-step to reach out, first one hand at his cheek, then the other, as if testing to see if he's going to puff into the wind. Or maybe she's just dreaming. There have been ones like these before, with so many others.

But he doesn't vanish, and she doesn't wake up- - so of course, her arms do their best to engulf him into a tight embrace.

Magnes wraps his arms around her, and she can feel the shift in her weight as he lifts her up to walk into the house, the door shutting behind them seemingly by itself.

When he lowers her, he's looking down into her eyes, smiling, some tears. "You're the first person I came to see. I… I can't see anyone else right now. I need to get my head back into the right place so I can look for my daughter. Well, my daughter who isn't an adult…"

Her hugs are as solid as they ever were, a host of memories of others coming right back. She tilts her head from its brief bury at his neck as he moves them inside, glancing up as the door clicks shut. The weightlessness is familiar in the way of things years gone. Far away thoughts of flying and floating.

Delilah puts her hands to his face again when he looks down at her, a thumb soft over the apple of a cheek and the faintness of tears.

"I'd heard so many weird things and then suddenly nothing for months- -" She starts, and stops. He doesn't want to hear about that, even if she does. Delilah knows suffering when she sees it, and it's what finally turns the shine in her own eyes into some tears in return, brow knit upward. And yet, a smile, if sad. "You have a little girl…?"

"Yeah… I… a lot of things happened, I'll tell you about them when I can. But yeah, Addie. Kazimir, in Eileen's body, he took her out of some crazy sense of revenge. Brought her back to this world. When I ended up in my first world, I met another Elaine, we had a kid together. We made it back here, finally, going from world after world…" Magnes' tears are already starting to rise to the surface, his embrace getting tighter as he buries his face into her neck.

"This… thing, it killed Elaine, it followed us into this world and just… she burst into pure light, and then nothing…" He can barely say it all, practically shaking. "I have to get my head together so I can get our daughter back." is all he can say before a few moments of silence, and then he says, "I need to stay here for a little, I'm… I'm not ready for anything else. I just need a few days."

It's far worse than she'd imagined, and even then what was she supposed to imagine? Another world, another Elaine, another daughter. Making back to only…

As Magnes curls into her, Delilah pulls him close, one hand smoothing against his curls. Sympathy comes in the kiss to his temple and the softness of cheek, the damp of tears for him- and an Elaine she's never seen- under her eyes.

"I'm so sorry, Magnes…" Another press of lips to his hair, that maternal quality he knew having grown into itself. "I'm so sorry." A second whisper of the same. "You can have as long as you need. I'm here."

"It's taken so long. Getting back home was supposed to be the biggest relief of our lives, a chance for us to just be a family, for her to meet all of my friends…" Magnes carefully pulls away, looking around for a couch to sit. "We got engaged on a rooftop restaurant, in the supposed Bright world that was just a shiny hellscape. We were supposed to get married here."

"God, home, this world is so much better. It's not an apocalyptic hellscape." Given that he can fly, and that he's seen what this world is like, that probably says a lot about where he's come from. "I can barely believe it, I can barely enjoy it. That I'm here, that I don't have to rush to figure out what crazy circumstances we have to go through to make another hole in the universe. I'm just… I'm here, I should have everything, but she's not here…"

Delilah may not be clear on the worlds he talks about, but what she does know is grief. That's all she needs, though. The den is as homey and welcoming as he might expect, and a jar candle makes it smell just a little sweeter. She was about to lead him there, so his venturing is joined by her hands at his arm and back, herding him inside.

There is a shuffle against the ceiling from upstairs, the only indication of anyone else. No footsteps, though. Just the idle sounds of an eight year old with headphones on. Delilah only gives the sound a cursory look before wrapping her arm around Magnes again, drawing him against her shoulder and letting him talk until he trails off.

"I don't know what to say, this is…" She starts, and stops, and falters. Instead, Lilah breathes out and looks into her friend's face, studying the new lines and scars and the shape of his eyes. It's still Magnes. "…I'd take away all your hurt if I could." Bring her back, if that's what it took.

Something tells her that he knows this already. Delilah hasn't changed at her core, even though everything else looks so foreign.

Magnes sits back, his head craning to stare up at the ceiling. "This all feels like a dream, that's the hardest part. It's like… I can't process it. It's all happening so fast. Elaine being gone, we stopped the closest thing to a literal god, Isabelle is gone, Ruiz, Lynette. And now I'm home. It's all… it's so much at once."

He turns to look at her again when she begins to study his face, looking a bit helpless. "How do you just… process reality?"

The other names mean something to Delilah, at least the latter. Lynette? Mateo? No, what? She doesn't have any sort of outburst just yet, brow furrowing. Maybe it is not what she thinks…

"This is gonna feel silly coming from me, but… Time is the biggest." Dee is aware of the irony here, though she isn't sure that Magnes does. Her voice is soft, worry muffled underneath of caring. "Baby steps. People to lean on." A slender hand links through his, touch affirming. "Hell, this is so out of my head. I'm not sure how.. All of. This. And you." With his despair hanging overhead. "I'm not going anywhere."

"Last year I found out my Dad was alive, and even that is still… Setting in. But I visit him and take things slow, even if his head is a little… Gone." Delilah knows that it is no death portal or fight with a god. Just her own story, recent and relevant. "The least you deserve is peace to help you process. And to find your little girl. I can try to help, I know people."

Finding Addie would be his first baby step.

"I know that Eileen has her. I need to see Cardinal and ask where Eileen is, and get some people to come with me so that I don't lose my mind. I can't just… go in guns blazing with my ability, I have to think, keep my head together." Magnes starts to remove his coat, then his paisley shirt, leaving just a plain white button up under it.

"I hope your dad is a good man. Turns out I've been a clone all this time and the original version of me died in 1988." He shrugs his shoulders. "So, yeah, my father isn't the best man, I hope yours is."

Whoa, where does she even start with that? Delilah blinks once in bewilderment, and it is followed by a flutter of eyes as if she might phase the surprise out of herself.

"I'm… sorry… you're a what now?" She finally whispers, looking concerned more than averse. Curious, maybe a bit. Context? She has none. But she absolutely heard him right, and the question is born out of confusion. "1988…? What the fuck, Magnes?"

"He is. I don't think he's quite grasped the grandpa thing yet, though… and Eileen? She's been dead since Heller raided Pollepel… that was years and years ago. Did you see anyone else before me? Do you know what year it is? You do, right?" Delilah has a moment of panic, eyes widening. "Oh fuck, please say you do- -"

"Delilah!" Magnes reaches over to gently grasp her cheeks and look directly into her eyes. "It's been the same year in every world I'm in, that's how the jumps sync up. I 'm… a theoretical physicist, I know a lot about how the universe works, I guess."

"Eileen… what?" he sounds rather shocked at that. "In this world too…" He takes a deep breath, as Delilah probably didn't know what his relationship with Eileen even was, but it's clear he isn't happy about the news of her death. "The… the Eileen that I'm talking about is from the Bright universe. She got here before us."

He tries to get his head back on track, though, focusing on the bomb he dropped. "So, the original me was born in the sixties. He survived in the Flood world, he taught me how to use my ability better. He was in his fifties. But in this world, he died of the Shanti virus. Then my father lost his mind and started cloning me."

His hands slide down to her's, figuring this is probably difficult to hear. "The first clone is the Alpha clone, he was created in 1988, as a baby. But I think he still had a lot of issues, and my father kept making more of us from him. But the ones made after him would deteriorate and die, I actually met one of them. He kidnapped Remi and went kind of crazy, this was before I 'died'."

"Anyway…" He gently squeezes her hands. "When I was made, in 2006, I didn't deteriorate or anything, so I guess the Institute or whoever started referring to me at the Aberrant clone, because of how different I am from the others."

Well, if the theoretical physicist knows what year it is- - Delilah lets out a sigh of relief, shoulders sagging with the release of tension.

"You mean a different Eileen? Shit." That's more news she wasn't expecting; Eileen may have been hovering around certain friends or places she knows, but all the same she never saw the other woman at all. No reason to know. As Magnes explains the whole cloning business, Lilah can feel her head practically bloating in trying to process. Funny, that. His hands earn a tighter grip by the time he finishes.

Originally one man, now how many? From a clone? She isn't surprised to hear that those that came after the first fell apart; the animals they used to clone didn't last very long either, and that was decades ago. "How many…" No, that's not as important.

"You are not some aberrant." Delilah's jaw sets, momentarily angry that anyone would imply he was fundamentally wrong. "You're just you. Sorry, I just- - If I ever meet your dad I'm going to punch him in the nuts." She fusses away the irritation with an apology for it. The last thing he needs is to hose a fire. At least she follows up with the threat…?

"2006? So… you're…" Dee squints. Math. "Thir… teen?" It sounds bad when she says it like that, considering their relationship.

"I don't think most people like my father." Magnes admits, then manages to laugh when she counts up the years. "I can remember everything that the Alpha clone does, except the stuff that I guess they memory wiped. I'm not really sure how it all worked, I still have to find my father and question him. I still need to know why I'm different. Clones, from what I've heard about them, never have the ability of the person they're cloned from… so why am I different in that way too? It's like I'm a perfect clone, something doesn't add up."

He can't help but examine her face, a bit more calm despite everything. "You're so thin. I mean, you were before, but…" He holds up his hands, clearly in the midst of digging a hole. "Listen, I never complained, I don't mean it like that."

Delilah pays careful attention to the details now, filing them away. From a scientific standpoint, it's fascinating. From an emotional one, it's harrowing. For Magnes, of course. She'd never be able to reconcile that if it were her, would she?

Whatever she was about to say gets caught on her tongue, his words striking a chord enough to get a small laugh.

"I know what you mean, it's okay." Delilah shakes her head with a smile, brushing dark hair further away from his face. It kind of fits him. "I just toughened up a bit more, yea?" Her eyes squint some with her words, amused. "And fuck, Magnes, so did you. Much more than I ever could."

There's a thump against the stair railing from the other side of the wall, followed by a faint hiss of pain that starts into a pitchy cuss- -

"Don't you dare…" Delilah has pivoted at the waist to look at the doorway, not quite scowling. Just stern, in a shift of expression. "…What did I tell you about listening in on grown-ups?"

A pause, silent.

"Um… don't?", comes the answer in a small voice from behind the wall.

"Fighting robots and a bunch of dystopian governments will do that." Magnes looks over when Delilah does. He remembers Walter as a baby, so he doesn't really need to ask, this isn't so surprising.

He floats up from the chair with much more fluidity than she might recall. He used to fall to fly, it was a mess at the time, but now he hovers on over, and carefully turns himself upside down, crossing his arms as he looks into Walter's eyes.

There's a smile as his hair hangs down, not bothering to shift its gravity or anything. "You know, I was on a lot of adventures, but they're secret superhero things, so you have to keep it between us." He offers his pinky out to Walter. "I'm Magnes J. Varlane. I was away for a while, I remember when you were a baby."

The floating is kind of… new. Everything is. Delilah laughs softly and turns in her seat to watch Walter poke his head out only to get faced with an upside-down man. His arms windmill some and he hops a step back, looking Magnes up and down. Down and up?

Walter's eyes have that vulpine cant and that oh-so familiar seaside blue; they are eyes that Magnes hasn't seen since before they all jumped into the Looking Glass. He's smaller, of course. In miniature. But, it's him.

"Uh," The boy isn't sure how to respond; the mention of top-secret things helps jar him back. Walter's grin is earnest and his laugh with it. "Oh my god it's you!" And before he forgets, he offers the pinky promise right back, practically with the force of a thousand little shounen boys. Yes, of COURSE he'll promise! He helpfully skims right over the whole 'knew him as a baby' just because he is not a baby anymore and that's not important- -

"Is not being dead one of your super secret things?!" Walter pushes his hair away from his forehead, looking up, down, and promptly sticking a foot under Magnes to check and see if anything is holding him up. "We have your comic books! And your car! I really liked reading the ones not in the special plastic- -"

What a chatterbox. Mother's son, et cetera.

"It's not a secret that I'm alive, but I'm not ready for everyone to know yet." Magnes very smoothly rotates himself right side up, suddenly on the floor again. "I can walk, too." He steps his booted foot up, then steps down on the air, like a mime. But to show what he's actually doing, he pushes his boot down a little, causing space to bend under it.

He stops though, placing his foot firmly down onto the floor again. "You've gotten big. Why don't you try jumping towards me? I can make you fly a little." It's very clear that he's used to being a dad now, that he's missed this kind of stuff. He immediately lowers Walter's weight a bit, which might feel a little weird, but he doesn't actually move him. He waits for Walter to figure it out himself.

Of course, he has full control, and wouldn't allow him to accidentally bump into anything.

"Ohhhh. So you were pretending? You made mom really sad- -" Yet, Walter answers the foremost with a nod. He gets it. Hush-hush. He can keep a secret, don't you worry. He looks up to Delilah when Magnes asks him to jump, quizzical.

"Go on, you got it." Delilah responds, hands up in a gesture for him to get on with it. She knows he wants to, reluctance around new powers notwithstanding. For now she supervises, hands folded in her lap while she watches Magnes and his more paternal side. She can see it there, mixed all up in the rest of him.

"Primal- -okay, okay, I got this!" Walter hops onto the bottom stair, a bit light on his feet, before hopping back down with a mighty (boyish) leap.

"I wasn't pretending, I was lost for a very long time. I'm finally back." Magnes clarifies, knowing just how one should speak to a child. Young Magnes probably would have stumbled over this entire encounter.

When Walter leaps, he'll easily float over in Magnes' direction, especially since he controls the young boy's movements. When he catches him, he gently floats off his feet and drifts backward.

Like astronauts, Magnes kicks off the air, seemingly kicking nothing as he floats over to Delilah, holding Walter out to her. "He's as light as a baby now!" he teases. "But you know, you'll grow up to be a hero one day. I bet you'll even save me."

Floating is amazing. Walter kicks his feet and wags his arms, but he doesn't need to balance at all! He bobs right into waiting arms with a giggle, socked feet still treading at air. One hand holds onto Magnes when he lifts off, ginger hair fluffing around his head as they play at moon landing.

"I'm not a baby! I'm eight!" Walter protests half-heartedly, dropped into Delilah's lap. "You really think so?" Protesting is passed. Magnes thinks he's hero material? "I dunno but if you think so, maybe… you're like a for real superhero, right?" Just re-checking.

Delilah reaches in to tickle Walter's ribs, bringing him out of his wide-eyed wonder and eliciting a tiny squeal. "AaaAAahhh! No!" It's a surefire way to keep him from getting too suffocating.

"Well, I did save the world a few times, so probably." Magnes moves to take a seat on the couch again, resting his head back. "It's nice to be able to relax. It's been too long. Tomorrow I might not feel great, but tonight I'll try to sleep."

He looks over at Walter with a warm smile. "How about tomorrow I show you which comics in plastic it's okay to read?" he offers, knowing how to get a kid excited. "Though only if you listen to your mother, go to bed on time, do everything you're supposed to do. Then we'll have fun tomorrow."

"He did." Delilah backs Magnes up on his claims, tugging Walter in beside her and tousling his hair. "I told you about a couple of them, didn't I?"

"I just wanted to make sure." The boy squirms under the attention, but his mother knows he basks in it. She rests her hand against his forehead as he looks up at the adults, eyes curious even if he doesn't voice what he is thinking. Something that he hides behind an answer. "Okay, tomorrow! And I always listen…" Delilah pushes her hand down over his eyes and shakes her head. No, he doesn't always.

As ginger boys go, however, Walter isn't terrible and soulless.

With Walter under one hand, Delilah reaches out to put her arm around Magnes again to pull him close; she puts her forehead against his, smile bittersweet and eyes glistening. "…I've missed you so much."

"I've missed you. I thought about you and everyone else every day. It kept me going, the idea of seeing you all again." Magnes smiles as well, closing his eyes. "I hope I wake up soon and realize this isn't all a dream."

"That's what tomorrow will be." Waking up, taking it in, thinking about where to go from here. Delilah tips her head back to look into Magnes' face, taking him in again. It's a lot to absorb even now. The heel of one hand rubs tears from her cheeks. She smiles and gives Magnes' cheek one more touch before she moves to nudge Walter onto his feet. He escapes any more tickling she might chance, grinning as he goes racing upstairs with a, "I'll be right back!"

Probably finding something to show off to their houseguest, knowing Walter.

The more things change, the more they stay the same: "For now, though… are you hungry? I know it might seem insignificant up against everything else…" World shifting and loss can make anyone forget to take care of themselves, and Lilah is all too familiar with that. She offers a hand as she moves to her feet. "Still, you've got to eat and rest. Let's get that taken care of first, alright?"

Baby Steps.

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