It's Been a Lifetime


curtis_icon.gif isis_icon.gif

Scene Title It's Been a Lifetime
Synopsis Isis sees an old flame. Only to find out that it's only half him.
Date February 10 2019

Satoru Memorial Garden

Winding paths slip between wood frames filled with soil, each growing its own, unique variety, giving the garden a mosaic of greenery. The northwest corner holds plant beds dedicated to seasonal plants, each blooming in turn and providing flowers almost all year around. Centered within these beds is a tall menhir with a plaque inscription reading “Satoru: Forever Loved, Always Remembered”. The Satoru Memorial Garden was reclaimed from old parkland in Elmhurst and the residents of the Safe Zone are welcome to rent out a plot to grow whatever they choose. The eclectic nature of the garden and its gift of beauty and nourishment are all part of the dedication, whether the people partaking know it or not.

Much like the Safe Zone itself, the garden is fenced to prevent theft of food and is patrolled regularly not only by garden customers but other volunteers that Delia has helped with donations of food.

NYC is not a place that Curtis can usually be found these days. He spends nearly all his time in Rochester, at the Bunker, doing Wolfhound things. But after the completion of their last mission he took a couple days for himself, came into town. Walk the old stomping grounds so to speak. He's visited a few spots. Significant spots. Walked the streets a bit, seen a few people. But now he's taken a moment from the bustle of the steadily reviving city, to walk the garden. It's an actual garden though. Most of what is growing here is food. There are some flower plots, possibly florists growing their own flowers. But a lot of the plots are growing food. Curtis's footsteps are slow and relaxed, not in any great hurry. He'll look rather different from the last time Isis saw him, unless she saw footage of him during the war trials. His scars are gone, the ones across his face. And he's aged. He still doesn't look his actual age, not quite, but if someone looks in his eyes, they'll see it.

Isis stood outside her building's door a time, looking up at the decrepit side. It wasn't the outward appearance of the forlorn building that bothered her so, but the prospect of what was inside - nothing, no-one. She couldn't face that yet today, so her feet back her slowly away from the bland metal door before she turns and makes her way through Elmhurst. It's not long before she finds the memorial garden, but it is certainly not what she expected.

At one end of the garden near the meandering footpath that winds throughout, Isis is crouched down beside a raised garden bed. It's not hers, but that hasn't stopped her from tending to it. One glove still on, the other on the ground by her boots, she reaches out and trims of some of the deadened leaves that are sucking the lingering life out of a plant struggling in the crisp New England winter. The crunching of footfalls has her tensing instantly. Strangely, she tries deliberately not to look at first, but there's a little twitch and she finally turns her pale visage and hazel eyes up to the figuring coming closer on the path, watching curiously…

There's a lot of differences between Ash and Curtis. The way they walk. The way they dress. Even the way they talk. Ash's New York accent is thicker than Curtis's. And he talks less. Curtis is more talkative, though not by a lot. But there's a different demeanor too. Ash was always dangerous. All the time. Curtis knows how to put that way. Most of the time. Curtis's walk is relaxed and even paced in a way that Ash's never has been. As he approaches soft muttering can be heard, the sort of conversation someone on a bluetooth earpiece might be having but not want to be overhead, though the muttering pauses as he nears people.

He slows as he spots someone nearby. There's a spark of recognition but it takes him a few seconds to place the face. Those seconds have him walking along, then past a few paces before he stops and turns, his brows furrowed in focus. "Isis?" He asks, his head tipping to the side quizzically.

As the man draws nearer and the course fails to deviate, there's something nervous about the way Isis tries to keep her head down but turned just so that she can see the approaching man in her periphery at all times. Even just a pleasantly chatting, meandering stranger… No! Not a stranger. Her name draws her full attention back to the casually strolling figure, no longer obscured by her scarlet curls, she squints warily. "I think you're mis-…" She's about to correct him. That name, it hasn't been used in forever. That name, it's dangerous. …Right

But, before her new life can wrestle the old back into submission, recognition strikes and her protests of identity fade to nothingness. "… Ash?" There's that tone that specific to nostalgia - it is surprised, always pleasantly regardless of whatever foot you left off on, and recalls memory lane in rose-hued tones that leave one smiling. She pushes to her feet, forgetting a glove on the ground. "Is that really you?"

Curtis is surprised to say the least. Of all the people he expected to run into today Isis was definitely not one of them. He pulls his hands from the pockets of his black BDU jacket. Matching pants and a charcoal grey t-shirt underneath leave him in a very somber outfit. But then he's never dressed very colorfully, in either of his lives. So while they might not always agree on what they should wear, they can both agree on colors. Curtis stands and watches Isis.

"Sorry I must be mis…" He starts to say it when she starts to protest and he moves to take a swinging step back around and resume his walk when he hears his name. Or at least one of his names. The foot that was lifted settles back down, boot thumping lightly on the concrete pathway. "Sort of." There's still a quizzical look in the man's eyes as he studies Ash's old flame. "Sort of." He repeats again. He has a smile on his lips at least, though his scars are gone, no longer marring his features when they smile. "God but it's been a long time." A long long time. Most of a decade at this point. A very very long decade.

First brows furrow, eyes squint, there's a near imperceptible shake of her head. Then those same pale, wispy brows move up along with the corners of her pale lips. She holds out her hands towards Curtis. "Look at you. Look at you!" She closes the distance between them much more confidently and welcomingly than she would ever have previously. Perhaps it's the lack of scars on his face, perhaps it's the lack of company in her lonely apartment, or perhaps she's that deeply changed, but she doesn't shy away. "A long time. It feels like … a lifetime." Isn't it though - a lifetime between the ages of 20 and 30 when perspectives are so drastically shifted? "It's good to see you," she says, and after a heartbeat to consider her words a supportive, sincere nod seals them as the truth. "Where-? What-?" She chuckles. "Sorry. I mean, how have you been?"

"You've barely changed. Look at me? Look at you. You could still pass for your early twenties. If I didn't recognize you I'd assumed you snagged a younger body." It's jokingly said, and in a low tone so that other people don't overhear the conversation. Not that other people are close by but you never know. He'll step in and embrace the little redhead, giving her a tight hug before stepping back, a genuine smile settling in place. "It has been a lifetime. The last decade has been well… I don't think anyone needs reminding of the last decade. It's good to see you too."

There's a faint laugh from the soldier turned terrorist turned back to soldier, and his broad shoulders lift in a shrug. "I'm… alive. Where others weren't. Any answer beyond that is incredibly complicated." He's a less clean cut too than she would remember. He's let his hair grow out a couple inches, and he's got a beard. It's kept short and trimmed but in the past it was never more than a day or two's stubble. "How have you been?" He asks, returning the question.

The hug is not shunned. Better still, it is embraced! Isis's slender arms loop up under Curtis's and draw briefly indulge the embrace in a way that only warms her smile and seems to lighten her very stance on her toes. She gives an extra squueeezzzee before reluctantly letting go. She stands close still and reaches up, idly brushing a hand along the thin stubble. "Oh, you flatter," she says distractedly in response to the compliments, too busy taking in her ex-lover's features. "You've changed. The scars. The… " she squints here, searching Curtis's eyes. "The weight? The …" Anger. But, she chooses not to say it. Perhaps her eyes are similarly changed in that regard.

The touch of her hand does not cause any untoward sensations, only a soft fluttering, as natural as butterflies re inspired by an old flame's touch. She smiles fondly. "I'm sorry. It sounds like you've lost a great deal." She shakes her head and backs up, bobbing up her arms and letting them slap back down at her sides. "I'm… here! I guess. Haha. I mean - I have no idea what I'm doing here. But… home sweet home, right?" She grins foolishly, but it's a charming change for her.

"That strays hard into the realm of complicated. Very complicated. Most of it is a matter of public record. Most of it. Not everything though." He didn't tell the courts that Ash was still in his head. He smiles again, something he hasn't done much of in a long time, and it shows, the expression looks… unfamiliar on his features. "I have changed a lot though. A great deal. It's…" Curtis glances around them a little bit. "Not really a matter of discussion for the middle of a garden. We… I'm okay though. Over all." Curtis doesn't back up any further himself, just watches her as she steps back. "I have. And yeah. Home sweet home. Not home for me these days though. Rochester is where I'm living. Part of Wolfhound these days." He turns his shoulder to show the unit's crest. All in black thread, so not terribly noticeable on the black material. But a sharp eye will catch it. Unless he shows it to someone. "I came into the city for a couple days. Wanted to visit with a few people. Walk the city. Walk in the memories you might say."

The traded smile back and forth is seemingly contagious. Isis finds herself rubbing her own cheek now as it grows soar from bearing the bright expression in the nippy weather. She whistles appreciatively at the patch overall, reaching out and running her fingers quickly over the outline of the wolf head. "Wolfhound? Wow! Look at you, still fighting the good fight." She looks up with that unerring smile, freckled cheeks growing rosey in a combination of cold and merriment. "You wanted to walk memories, eh? You got 'em." She winks, but it scrunches up the left side of her face just a bit too much, it's not super suave to say the least.

"Maybe you could fill me in on the rest of the story? If you're going to be in town a few days, I mean. I don't want to steal you from any plans and well, I don't even recall the last time we met…" She blinks wide several times as if trying to subsequently recall and wash away all those year ago. She lets the rest of her thought trail away to silence, bothered only by crisp breeze around them and whatever thoughts the pair of ex lovers can recall of a troubled youth.

"It's all w-I've got left." There's an odd little twitch in Curtis's neck, causing his chin to twist ever so slightly to the side before it settles back in place. "Don't know… what I'd do without the good fight to fight. Not sure I want to find out if I'm being completely honest. Don't know who I am without it." He starts walking again, if she will, just a slow stroll, something easy for the smaller Isis to keep up with. "No plans. Really just been floating around the safe zone. Saw a few sights. Been awhile since I was in the city. Usually don't have much time. But I took a few days personal time. Wolfhound is pretty easy about that sort of thing as long as there's no missions on the books." Curtis thinks about that, the last time they saw each other? "I'm… not sure." He thinks about it a few moments more.

"The alley." He remarks in a sad tone. "Not the way I would have wanted to leave things off. But everything got insane after that. Messiah. The missions. Rupert and his turn New York into rage zombies. And then… well then is when things really got complicated." With them walking it's easier for him to keep an eye out for other movement. "I…" He breathes in deep, holding it for several seconds, then several more before he lets it out in a long exhale, and then lets out a soft laugh. "You know, you might actually be one of the few that can really get it. I mean not truly since you don't have two minds in your head, but you body swap. You understand the strange and…" Curtis is trying to start getting something out. Trying to start explaining the oh so complicated to his ex.

Walk she does. It's natural to fall into step beside the more confident, calmer man. More natural than it was all those years ago, even. She tips her head forward and to the side just so, watching Curtis's face as they walk. A few times she adjusts her paces trying to find a proximity that is close but not presumptuous as the carry on. And then there is the revelation, the mention of her ability, the concept of to very different personalities. She cringes and its only the cold already nipping at her cheeks that manages to hide a blush that warms them.

"Two minds, huh?" She looks up with unerring concern. It's not sympathy in her hazel eyes, now tuned into a emotional gree. No, it's some magical mixture of empathy and sympathy. She does understand. "Is it medical or something else?" That fact that she recognizes there is a difference lends some insight to her experience outside their relationship and her level of understanding.

Curtis has his head on a swivel, alert, keeping constant watch around them for people being too close and being able to overhear them. He's also keeping his voice down so the conversation is hopefully going no further than the two of them. "Sorry." He murmurs when he sees her cringe like that. "It just… is semi pertinent. Because you might understand. At least a little. No one else really seems to. Not that I've talked to many people about it. A couple of old friends at Wolfhound. That's pretty much it." He breathes in, slow and even, calming and centering himself.

"As it turns out this body did not originally belong to Ash. It belonged to me. Now it belongs to us. My name is Curtis Autumn. I was a Lt. in the Marine Corps. Did a lot of spec ops type stuff. My grandfather General Sebastien Curtis Autumn had ties to the Institute. Asked me to take on a mission for them. After which I was supposed to be one of the premier Frontline officers. That mission was to go undercover as Ashley Williams. In MOAB. Only to be Ash I had to actually be Ash. I was… suppressed or removed. I'm not sure. And he was put in my body. Then the breakout happened and everything else. I was recovered and restored to my original body when the streets became a nightmare because of Rupert Carmichael.”

“I didn't realize it at first but now It's Ash and I both in here. And it's not just memories. It's two full personalities. Likes, desires, dreams and hopes. We dress differently. We talk differently. I would say it's a split personality but it's not. We're aware of each other. Each other's memories and the lives we've lived. And you might be one of the very few people that have an inkling of what that might be like. Not that you share bodies with other people's minds but… the sheer alienness of being in someone else's body."

A flicker of sadness, brief and perhaps imperceptible, sparks across her features and those verdant, green eyes. She looks to the ground in front of them. He's looking out enough for both of them. She doesn't have to be on alert. Whether she's consciously aware of it or now, her paranoia is on the back burner and it allows her to focus more on Ash's… Curtis's words. "So, you're not him." She clears her throat, trying to cover up any hint of the forlorn that may have carried on her honey, alto tones. "But, can he hear us? Hear me?" She asks first. There seems to be more, but nothing she awaits an answer beforehand.

"I am. And I'm not." Curtis offers in a soft tone. "I know that is…" He lets out a deep sigh, a lot of frustration in that sigh. "No one understands. He's here. He can hear you but…" Curtis reaches a hand up and pinches at the bridge of his nose. "He's broken Isis. Probably beyond repair. I'm trying to find someone who can fix him. I don't know if we can be separated at this point. I don't know anyone that could even do that. Simon Broome of the Institute is the one that did this to us. But I'm not trying to have us separated. But he is shattered. I don't know if he can be fixed. I want him fixed. Because then he'd rage less. Maybe stop trying to murder everything around him when he gets loose of the cage I've managed to lock him in. And yes, I've had to do that. During the war… gods the war."

Curtis breathes in again, and then lets it out, long and slow. "We lost someone. Someone that meant a lot to both of us." There's a slow swallow from the soldier. "And it broke him. You know how he was. Always on the edge. Always ready to inflict violence on the world around him. And yes, he had his tender moments, but you even mentioned it. The weight. The rage. The fury. It was there. Always ready to boil over. Well it did. During the war it did. Before that we… shared. We cohabited. But after that… it was him. He took charge. He took the reins. And he ran wild. The things he did during the war…" Curtis's head shakes a bit. "I caged him. When it was done I caged him. He slips the leash occasionally. But I've gotten good at keeping him caged. I don't want to though. I want to fix him. And God I know this sounds absolutely insane. And it is. It really is."

Isis stops slowly, a gently hand reached out to tug calmly at the elbow of Curtis's jacket. If he stops as per the silent request she turns to face him anew and reaches up. She seeks to take Curtis's face in her hands, one still without it's glove. Her vivacious green eyes narrow - either with the effort to maintain her place in her own flesh or for the weight of her words, it's not entirely clear. What is clear, is that her first words are not for the man at the helm. She wouldn't share this with the stranger. "I… They call it borderline personality disorder. It doesn't excuse my own rage. It doesn't excuse any hurt I caused you, but I know what it's like." Her dark lashes kiss against her cheeks and she lowers her hands.

With a deep breath she opens her eyes anew and seems to be addressing Curtis, or perhaps both of them. "I won't judge what you've had to do. Either of you…" Her gaze searches his. "Broken people can't be fixed by an outside source, though. At least, not that I'm aware. They need… unconditional support. They need to be protected while they find that part of themselves that are broken. If Ash acknowledges he is wounded, acknowledges that he wants something else, something… more, then there's hope." She takes a deep breath. "Broken people don't need a knight in shining armor, they need a guiding light of a moon." It's a weird phrase that seems to carry some sort of importance for the redhead, and she shares it with a heavy heart weighing her tone until she offers a flittery sort of smile.

Curtis does stop at the tug on his jacket. He stops, and he turns to regard the little redhead, a smile forced onto his lips, though it fades quickly enough. It's a heavy subject, what he's been talking about. He doesn't speak as she takes his face in hand. He knows how much effort and control that takes for her, not to switch. He knows. He remembers. Ash remembers. They remember. "You didn't cause him any hurt. He thinks he hurt you. We remember the night in the alley. We almost killed you." There's a slightly rougher tone to his voice there. A tone much more reminiscent of Ash than Curtis. Not fully there, but allowed to peek a bit. Allowed to look out for a moment if only just a moment. But even in that moment it's like a vortex of rage and pain and absolute fury in his eyes. Then they close and it's gone when they reopen. The same eyes. But also entirely different.

"I have all of his memories. And he has all of mine. So I remember everything. I remember his feelings for you. I remember it all. And I know that's a bit like having a stranger intruding on private moments and I'm sorry for that." Curtis frowns, but there's a subtle shake of his head. "He knows he's broken. But he doesn't want help. He wants to destroy. He wants to vent his rage and his pain on others. Not innocents. He wouldn't go storming through the streets of New York indiscriminately. But God help any criminals he might happen upon if I let him loose."

Curtis straightens up, having leaned forwards a bit to make Isis's hands on his face a bit easier for her. "I didn't want to lie to you. Even by omission. I could have played it off. I have all the memories. But that would be wrong, and you deserve better than that." There's a faint if wry laugh from him, a huff of breath really laced with amusement. "He says thank you. And I'm an asshole. Because I won't let him talk. And… no I'm not repeating that." He blinks a couple of times and his lips stop but the way his eyes move, the way the muscles under his skin move in his face. He's definitely having a conversation. Just not an external one. "I'm trying to help him. And if there ever comes a time I feel safe letting him out I promise you you'll be on the list of people he'll immediately want to see."

The redhead listens, watching each subtle shift in the taller man's visage and, most especially, eyes. She nods, curling her ungloved fingers at his side. "So, you know how much the truth matters to me," she comments. At least that much hasn't changed. "Thank you." She finds herself smiling, a wry little tilt of her lips, as Curtis carries on and admits he is not repeating something specific. "Well, now I'm curious," she admits with a playful little lilt. With that she hooks her arm easily in Curtis's if he will allow, encouraging them to resume there walk.

"I'm here if you need me. Either of you…" she intones in quiet, sincere way. So much has changed. So much time has passed. A lifetime…

"I remember." Curtis comments softly. "I remember." He intones again, his head dipping a little bit, but only for a couple of seconds before his attention is shifting around them again. "When you mentioned the borderline personality disorder. Is it something you suffer from? We would both like to know." Maybe the dual person searching for a kindred soul in that. "Because I know that that… doesn't fit us. I've done a lot of research into it. Into the various personality disorders. None of them fit. Not like this." He lets Isis hook his arm and they continue their walk. There was a little worry on his features, that she was going to cut it short after he told her. But she doesn't, and the walk resumes. His steps are still slow, not wanting to outpace her or make her hurry.

"He said you're still smoking hot." Curtis admits after a few moments. The rolling of his eyes doesn't need to be seen. It can be heard in his voice. "I thought it was inappropriate given the gravity of the discussion." There's a snort, and then a cough from him, a chuckle at something that… wasn't said aloud. "You know… this might just be a good thing. We haven't run into many people that he knew. Very few in fact. And only two that we trust to know what's going on inside our head. And they don't get it. At all. They try, but they don't get it. He's… more at ease than he's been in… quite some time."

Isis nods slowly as the conversation is turned back around. "Yes, sorry. I wasn't clear. It's hard to come to terms with the label. It sounds so…" She grimaces and makes a swirling gesture of the pointer finger on her free hand near her temple. "I'm sure it's a drop in a bucket compared to the crowded nature you two have going on, but I thought I owed it to him to explain why things were they way they were. It was not all him. We were volatile, both of us."

The Ash-worded compliment makes her cheeks hot, but a bright laugh falls from her pale lips. She fans herself. "Ever the way with words," she comments in turn, tilting her head to the side so her playful grin can be better seen by her walking companion. "I hope it's a good thing. I think it could be, for all of us," she adds serene and sincere. "It's been tough being back and it really has been good to see you, Ash, and truly meet you, Curtis." The two walk a while longer, enjoying the company on the crisp day. Isis occasionally pauses to trim a plant here or there until they find themselves back at the end of the garden. She gives the complicated man her address and there they part ways.

Curtis rolls his head forwards in a quick nod. "I get it. Everyone I've told just thinks I have a split personality and that's it. They don't truly understand. They don't get that while yeah there's two of us in here, there's nothing split about it. It's…" Shoulders lift again an almost helpless gesture. "They just don't get it." Curtis's head tips a bit, a small laugh, but an honest one. "Volatile doesn't quite do it justice. But yeah, that's a good word for it. Oil and fire might be a better analogy. Fueled each other. We remember." He sighs again, lips pressing together into a thin line. "Ash has zero tact. I mean not that I'm overflowing with it either. But…" There's a chuckle from him that carries on for a second or two. He walks in simply conversation after that. Recounting a few of the better memories. A few of the funny times. But mostly just chatting. Actually relaxed around someone. When they do part ways he punches the number into his phone immediately so there's no risk of losing it. He'll watch her walk away for a time, until she's out of sight, then he'll turn and resume his trek through the city.

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