hana_icon.gif nora2_icon.gif

Scene Title Kinship
Synopsis Two Gitelman women have a heart-to-heart over the memory of a fallen kinsman.
Date October 13, 2011

Pollepel IslandBurial Grounds

It starts with one freshly turned grave, a swatch of black earth that will only grow over with flora in the coming spring. Out the corner of one's eye, an erected cross, leading the gaze to yet another burial site. And another. Moving through the trees, the evidence of burial becomes more frequent, coming to a cluster at an open clearing devoted to burying the dead of the Ferrymen. There are rocks of grey and black to mark each site, and on chalk that is renewed nearly every day, especially when the rain comes, are the names of the deceased, the day of their death, and their age.

Placeholders, for when they can be honoured properly. This place is quiet, reverent, and almost claustrophobic in the press of trees and the density of the buried. Crosses made of wood, both cut and raw, can be spied looming their shadows like guardians, save for one cross made of metal, a relic of a church perhaps, leaning against a tree.

The predawn sky is clear, still dark enough to be speckled with stars across most of its expanse, though a paling in the east speaks of dawn soon to come. Autumn chill nips at skeletal branches, at leaves just barely rimed with frost, at any bit of skin not insulated by clothing. Colder still is the metal cross that centers the island's graveyard — figuratively, if not literally. Or at least the metal feels colder in the way it leaches vitality from Hana's fingers, numbing skin and the flesh beneath; she cannot feel the prick of its edges anymore.

If only other things could be numbed so easily. Grief. Heartache. Love, bane and blessing that it is.

Hana Gitelman stands in the silence, in the dark, as alone without as she feels within. She is grounded, blinded; she cannot reach into the digital ether, cannot touch the song of silcon angels, and while on most days the woman tells herself she's come to terms with that, buries her abiding sense of loss and resentment beneath a million other details, today… today is not one of those days.

The younger Gitelman is not here to mourn. Instead, she's on duty. Whether official or not, she often walks the periphery of the island in the dark, keeping an ear out for any radio chatter that might herald a siege on Bannerman. Somewhere there's someone on a look out, of course, but she'll hear radio chatter before they see a boat. She's wrapped up in a peacoat much too big for her petite frame, a toque on her head, to try to keep the autumn chill from biting in too much.

When she sees Hana, her feet still on their path; Noa does not want to invade on the other woman's personal space, or worse, grief. No doubt Hana's heard her approach, but she can give her mother the decision to pretend not to hear her. It's the least she can do, if she's interrupting a private moment with Hana and whatever ghosts are haunting her. She considers it a moment — silent, now that her feet aren't moving on rubble and twigs.

The soft rustle of displaced leaf-litter heralds someone approaching — someone whose steps fit a rather familiar cadence. Hana listens as the walker comes around the edge of the island, and as she stops, the silence of the night quickly reasserting itself around them. The older woman hesitates in that moment, transfixed between competing desires — between the solitude that has so long defined her experience of grief, and the second chance (of a sort) she has so strangely received.

Hana turns her head, the gathering light faintly limning the profile of her face. "Noa," she says, soft-spoken without whispering, solemn as the memorial she stands within.

Cast thus, the naming is permission as much as acknowledgment, only a step shy of true invitation.

Noa's just on the verge of taking a step in the direction that will take her away from the graveyard and its sole mourner, her weight shifting to do so when Hana says her name. The two short syllables stay her feet, though. There's another pause, but then Noa moves forward. Her dark eyes watch the ground to ensure her Converse-clad feet don't displace any markers or step where she shouldn't.

"I didn't know you were back on the island," she says quietly, her voice not a whisper either. She doesn't ask if Hana's okay, at least not yet. There is so much she doesn't know about her mother and yet she knows that asking a question Hana doesn't want to answer is a futile endeavor. "It's good to see you."

As Noa — as her daughter — draws nearer, Hana lifts her hands from the cross, turning to face the girl more fully. She flexes her fingers, then crosses her arms so the chilled digits can more readily warm back up. About all that can be said of Hana's clothing in this light is that it's dark; and that, really, goes without saying. "I don't exactly advertise my presence," she remarks, tone neutral. That has always been true; is especially true without her cyberpathy. In many ways, Hana Gitelman might as well be a living ghost — flesh and blood still, but attached to little, beholden to none.

I'm glad to see you, should be the next words out of her mouth, or other similar sentiment; something positive, complimentary, affirming of their kinship. Words have never been Hana's strength, not even in the halcyon days of her youth — especially not when applying them kindly. She says nothing.

Instead, Hana unfolds one arm and reaches out, graceful, unhurried, until cool fingers rest lightly against the angle of Noa's jaw.

"You said you knew of Richard Drucker." Nodded, rather, but the difference is immaterial. "What were you told?"

Noa's dark lashes dip, perhaps too aware of that silence where the usual reciprocal nicety is placed. But then comes the unexpected touch and her eyes come back up to find Hana's. She nods once, though not to displace the hand.

"Your uncle. Ghost in the machine," she says quietly, brows knitting together a little. "He was merged with Rebel but…" she trails off, her voice a little uncertain. When she learned these lessons in the future, they were told almost like history lessons, by third parties who weren't personally affected by Drucker's — or Rebel's — existence or loss thereof. "Sacrificed," is the word she finally alights on.

Sacrificed. An almost sterile word to encapsulate the fraught ravaging that was their confrontation, the agony of imprisoning and inexorably dismembering the complex entity that had included her last living kin. Light glints off Hana's eyes in the moment before she closes them, her head angling slightly away. She does not cry, remembering the long days of building constructs specifically to contest Rebel, all done with premeditated, lethal intent; does not shed so much as a single tear, but there is sorrow in the deep breath Hana draws in, in the soft murmur of her exhale.

"Sacrificed," Hana echoes, her voice edged, bitter. "Sacrifice was what he did to become Rebel," she continues, "saving me. What I did to him…" What Rupert Carmichael did to him first, but just because someone else set the stage does not absolve Hana of the burdens of her own actions. "Seven hundred and thirty-nine pieces," she says, a non-sequitur that isn't. "That's what's left…"

The woman steps back, pivots with an energy that dissipates as quickly as it rose; there's neither wall nor enemy before her to strike. Just words, delivered with urgent intensity for all that they are quiet. "And I cannot even reach them anymore."

It's the wrong word. Of course it is. Noa's breath is stayed in her chest for a long moment, as Hana speaks. Finally she exhales, watching this near stranger she feels so close to and distant from at the same time.

"You felt you had to," she says, finally, her voice very quiet. "We do what we have to. Choices… if they're easy, they're not really the important ones." She frowns, wanting to say something more eloquent than that, more meaningful, but she's eighteen and all too aware that she doesn't know enough about anything Hana's gone through to really say the right things.

She shifts subjects instead, along with her stance, Converse scraping dead leaves as she shifts her weight. "I don't know if there's a way to put those back together. But is there a way to get you back to being Wireless?" she asks.

The girl speaks platitudes. It's dark, and Hana's back is to her; Noa cannot see the skyward flick of the woman's eyes, though she might read something of it in the shift of her posture. It's not exactly something Hana ties to hide. "I have always done what I had to," is her reply. There is no particular heat in the words; rather, they are cold as steel, cold as grief. "I always will."

Silence ensues then, short-lived though it is; leaves rustle, words are voiced. They frame a question Hana has pondered time and time again, and always returned from with the same unsatisfactory answer. "So far as I am aware," she answers, "the only recourse is to undo the power swap." Once, the woman known as Wireless could have plumbed the depths of innumerable databases, filtered through all the digital conversations of an entire world, to find someone capable of that very thing. Now, she is limited to the reach of her words and her contacts, so many of them made face-to-face or by crippled, constrained device. It is a daunting challenge on the best of days.

Today… today is not one of those days.

Another breath, its timbre shaded differently: cleansing, resolute. Hana pivots to face Noa again, a small jerk of her head directing the girl to follow. She leads the way out from under the trees, coming to rest on a boulder that will eventually be bathed in sunlight, when dawn at last breaks. Color has begun to paint the eastern sky, but that moment is yet some time away.

"When you aren't trying to be like me," Hana asks, with what might be a surprising amount of sympathy to the phrase, "what do you want for yourself?"

"Exactly," is all Noa has to say when Hana replies to her platitudes. She knows it doesn't help, that the fact that it was the right thing to do doesn't erase the pain of it for Hana, and so there's nothing more to say on that front. So she doesn't.

She shoves her hands in her pockets and follows when Hana leads them out of the little graveyard. She looks to the east, to gauge the time, perhaps, until Hana speaks again.

There's a moment where she looks like she might argue the first clause, but the question makes her tip her head. That's not really a question she knows the answer to, it seems.

"Honestly?" As if Hana would want another answer. Noa knows better, but it's a filler word. "I don't know anymore. To change the future seems a bit grandiose, yeah? But that's why we're here. And…" she glances down, white rubber toe of her shoe kicking a small rock, "I haven't really allowed myself to want for myself. It doesn't go well when I do."

Seated on the boulder, Hana regards Noa casually, obviously waiting on the answer but without the degree of intensity she so often displays; for once, neither Gitelman has pricked the ire of the other. Yet. And indeed, after Noa has said her piece, they continue in that silent almost-amity, the elder Gitelman gazing out over the water. I haven't allowed echoes in her head, in what might as well be her own voice. It's true, after all.

"You're already more like me than you know," Hana finally says, tone so dry it borders on humor of a rueful and biting sort. Falling quiet again, she tips her head back, looks up at the twinkling, slowly fading stars. Spots the moving glitter of a satellite gliding its steady way across the heavens: an uncaring angel passes by.

"Drucker would say my sin is pride," Hana remarks to the sky, the stars, the girl who might someday be her legacy, if anything at all of the Gitelmans survive. "I think he's only half right; the other half is wrath. He himself was — or became — a proponent of Zen philosophy. Peace, harmony, all of that." Hana had not gleaned much understanding of that philosophy, even when Drucker tried to teach it; for her, it simply did not compute. "He may well have been the best of all of us."

There's a small smile when Hana says she's like her. She doesn't mean it as a compliment, but that doesn't mean Noa won't take it as one. Her entire life she's tried to be like the lioness her mother was written as in Ferry lore.

There's a small huff of a laugh at the words of pride and wrath. "That does sound like me," she admits, given that she's known for a short temper. But she's somber a moment later, quiet for the memory of Drucker. "I'm sorry for your loss," Noa adds quietly. Like all condolences, the words feel hollow and useless, but that doesn't mean they aren't true. "Maybe that's why they made sure I learned Tai Chi," she offers. A little of Drucker's legacy passed down by her many Ferry teachers.

"Maybe," Hana allows. She can't say anything for those people from a future that may never be, can't ascribe motivations or reasoning. "Tai Chi is a useful style." The statement is nearly an afterthought; sorry for your loss catches in her thoughts, lingers there. Kindles sparks — not the kind that flare and fume, but the brightening glow of embers breathed back into life.


"He's not lost yet," Hana says — resolves — pushing herself up from her seat. "Just — delayed."

Two steps down the path, Hana pauses midstride, glancing towards Noa. Her lips draw back in a close-mouthed, sharp-edged smile. "And won't he be surprised to find out about you?"

There's that look Noa gets when she uses the wrong word. It's a common thing and not just with Hana, since the younger Gitelman is the youngest of the intrepid time traveling children of the Ferry — no doubt she says the wrong thing a lot of times. She holds her breath while those kindles sparkle and then settle again, so to speak. She offers a nod in agreement at the word delayed.

When Hana begins to move, she follows. Her somber expression blooms into a smile, but hers shows teeth and amusement at the rare hopeful quip of her mother.

"You can do it," she says, after a moment. It's not a platitude, not the way she says it. Not a motto for a Nike ad. Her words are confident, a sharp juxtaposition to all the times they haven't been in this conversation.

The Gitelmans do what they have to, after all.

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