Like-Minded Company


carver_icon.gif kara_icon.gif

Scene Title Like-Minded Company
Synopsis Stewing about her parting experience at Cat's Cradle, Kara shares a beer with Carver, and talks them both into checking something out in the Safe Zone again by the end of it.
Date January 2, 2020

Carver's Residence, Providence

Time: Later
Place: Carver's House, Providence Outskirts

The hour is late, the sun has set, and the winter wind is cold over Providence. Luckily for Doctor Harrison Carver, his fixer-upper of a house has been fixed; the floor's intact, the walls are solid, the roof doesn't leak. The chimney works and he's got a stockpile of wood and a workable stove; no electricity, no running water, but that's how it goes out here in the sticks. He's lived in much worse.

There's more work that can be done, of course — there's always something out there to do, if you look — but for the moment, at least, Carver's not looking. Instead, he's indulging in a moment of rest — listening to the radio and soaking up the heat of the fire. It's been a busy day today — he'd had to cover some shooting lessons for Kara, something about a sudden trip to New York. Hopefully she'll bring back some beer for him; his own stock is getting low.

The storm door clatters shut behind Kara like a gunshot through the still, winter air as she invites herself in. The truck out front had only just stopped rumbling, the speed with which she parted from the vehicle a touch impressive. She’s interested in putting as much space between herself and it— herself and any conduit of the world beyond— as humanly possible.

Right now, that happens to be done by seeking shelter in the temperate conditions of Carver’s home.

A cardboard container clatters by her side. Six brown bottles clink against each other. At least she’d brought some beer.

“If I’d needed a reminder for why I avoid civilization, I could think of none better,” is what she says instead of saying hello. She sets the box down on the kitchen table, snaking one bottle free with a deft, three-fingered grasp on its neck. This is her tax for services rendered, apparently. A flourish of a multitool on the car keys sees the cap flipped off in short order.

If she were less straight-laced a type, one might get the feeling she’d have opened one while driving. Or maybe she would have anyway, had she not been playing chauffeur. Kara looks askance at Carver with the bottle still tipped into her mouth. “Hoping you had a better day than I did,” she asides after a healthy gulp.

Carver's eyes follow after Kara in the wake of her high energy passthrough, his customary scowl deepening into a frown. "Seems a safe bet," Carver rasps.

"Why don't you bring one of those bottles in here for me, and come take a load off for a bit," he says, gesturing to the guest chair — it's probably nearly as old as Carver himself, but the upholstery is still comfortable. "We can complain at each other for awhile while we assess this booze you've brought."

That's an easy trade, by her estimation. She brings the second bottle over and offers it out by its neck, a rude man's gesture of demonstrating the make and vintage of the drink. Except this isn't wine, it's a beer, made by one of those not-so-micro-breweries that have sprung up in the post-war era. Dryly, she comments, "It's not my cup of tea, but it passes inspection. Maybe if we had a second box, between the two of us, we might even get drunk."

Perish the thought.

She settles down into the old chair without bothering to guard her posture or her leftover aggravation with the outside world. If she wanted to do either of those things, she'd be drinking in theoretical privacy back at the Factory. But she's not— she's here. Maybe it's not as private there as she'd like.

"It's just the usual— people assuming they know what you've been through. Offering their sympathies. Their understanding." Kara ties that thought off with a tepid sip from the beer. "Presuming they know who you are, because they assume they know what you've been through." The bottle is rotated in her hand as she looks down on it, letting out a quiet scoff.

"There was some fuss in town," she asides, perfectly tangential. "A bundle of Evos afflicted with dreams of the end of the world. Shared dreams— this bar owner put together a 'Dreamers Round' earlier to discuss."

There's an odd appreciation to her tone as she remarks, "It was a shitshow."

Carver lets out a quiet snort, taking the beer; he digs out his own multitool and pops the cap off, taking a sip. It's not Guinness, but it's wet, contains alcohol, and is recognizably beer. Kara gets a passing grade for booze discernment.

He lets out a quiet scoff at Kara's talk on offered sympathies, but it's not until she gets to the talk of this 'Dreamers Round' that he speaks. "Sounds like a surefire recipe for one," he rasps dryly. Then he frowns. "Surprised you drove all the way to New York for that."

Kara lets out a grunted tone of agreement. What a fuss to have gone all the way up to the city for. "Wasn't for my sake I did. Didn't want Yi-Min to be alone." She doesn't drink, nor does she sigh. It is what it is. Her gaze rolls back over to Carver as she leans forward, elbows braced against her thighs while the drink is cradled in both hands. "Crazier things have happened than a woman going into the city alone and not coming back. These are crazy times, too."

Carver nods glumly. "It's a jungle these days," he rasps, the ghost of a very real bitterness slipping into his voice for a moment. He washes it back down with a mouthful of beer.

"You know," he says thoughtfully. "One day, I'll actually meet this Yi-Min of yours." He's heard enough about her — both from Kara and from the rumor mill. The rumor mill seems to have a less charitable opinion of her than Kara does.

That they haven’t met is a realization that only comes to her then, brows arching while Kara takes another drink. “You’ll know her when you see her,” she suggests after swallowing it away, resuming her comfortable, neutral position again. “Aside from being one of the few people of color in the area,” because let’s face it, it’s a culturally dry zone once you get used to the differences between the Amish and the Modern, “she’s distinctive. Very sure of herself in a way few are.” It’s said in a way where ‘these days’ isn’t a thought that could be prescribed to the end of it. Yi-Min simply stands apart— in Kara’s eyes.

Yet it’s grudgingly spoken. Yi-Min’s confidence is as admirable as it is vexing, apparently. Or alternatively, a source of some current frustration.

But she’s been dominating the conversation. “Haven’t really seen you, since I’ve been back.” she remarks, in a way that politely bypasses that she’d not really seen him in a while to begin with, given how long she was gone. “I miss much around here?”

Carver grunts. "Not that I've heard. Biggest thing was that explosion and you going AWOL." He takes another swig of his beer, frowning; the rumor mill churns, but a lot of any rumor mill is pure dross. "One-handed Ryans is AWOL. Miller crashed his car," Carver rasps. "I've been trying to keep busy helping out around the town. Always work to do that could benefit from an extra pair of hands." Which, in turn, is how he's been keeping himself fed. He takes another long drink of beer.

As an afterthought, he adds, "I handled some of the shooting lessons while you were gone." He knows she's heard about that — else she probably wouldn't have asked him to cover her for the trip today — but he's not above a little subtle bragging now and again. She's the one who hadn't been sure of how he'd stack up to Ryans, after all.

Maybe it's not much that happened, but it's still surprising. "No shit?" Kara asks under her breath to the two surprising events, taking another sip of her own drink to contemplate that. "If Ryans left, wonder what happened to the others with him. And Miller… I wish I could say I was surprised, but I suppose I'm surprised it took that long, you know?" She considers Carver out of the corner of her eye, at once amused and unhappy with the observation. "Hopefully he didn't run in to anything out here?" Maybe Carver would even know such a detail.

When it comes to the lessons, she lets out a grunt of acknowledgement. The corner of her mouth curls up. "From what I hear, no one's accidentally shot themselves, either, so you must be doing something right." Despite the tease, there's true appreciation there. She lifts her bottle in thanks.

"Don't know the specifics," Carver rasps; it doesn't sound like he's too concerned about it, either; people come and people go, for reasons their own. Although…

Now his scowl twists a bit, taking on a hint of a frown. "Doctor Miller's back in town; haven't heard anything beyond that, so he probably didn't get banged up too bad." There's a thoughtful tone in his voice. "Maybe I oughta pay him a visit sometime."

At the 'no accidental shootings' crack, he smirks. "Only deliberate shootings on my watch," he says dryly, raising his bottle in turn. He lets out a dry chuckle, thinking back to his training days, then shakes his head. "Some of them aren't bad; I just wish we had some real guns for them to practice with. They might be able to benefit from that."

Kara tips her shoulders in a disaffected shrug. "Real guns take real ammunition. It's a case of using what you've got, and what's cheap, when it comes to teaching basics," she remarks carefully. "If they want to go into town and get something more along those lines, we can still provide pointers…"

There's a but there, one politely left unspoken. It would take effort not just on the part of the teacher, there. And it seemed she'd only go so far. "It's got to be their choice, their initiative," Kara says. "I'm not interested in feeding the rumor that Providence is full of a bunch of…" What's the word?

She smirches her tongue off her palate as it comes to her. "—Murder Amish." She sounds reproachful of it. It's a stupid rumor. But if it drove away would-be tamperers of their lifestyle here, it wasn't one she'd put effort into diffusing. Maybe it'd be a threatening enough thing to last even after the Remnant move on.

Kara lets out a thoughtful hm as she takes another drink. "You're right," she supposes after. "It'd be nice if there were more than crappy hunting rifles and pellet guns for them to shoot with. But it'd be nicer if they didn't need to shoot at all."

When Kara mentions the phrase Murder Amish, Carver's eyes widen a bit, and a few moments later there's a rusty chuffing noise at the back of his throat; it takes one or two of them before they're recognizable as laughter. Carver actually looks genuinely amused.

It doesn't last.

When she talks about how it'd be better if they didn't have to fight at all, Carver sags a bit, slumping back into his chair. "It would," he rasps, and that's all he says for a long moment. He stares at his beer for a moment… then, deciding that this is doing precious little to transfer the alcohol from the bottle to his bloodstream where it belongs, he elects to take an alarmingly deep drink.

Then he looks back to Kara. "But that's not always an option we get in this world," he says slowly, his voice grim. "You know it. The people of Whitesbog know it. And I sure as hell know it." He falls silent again, taking another drink of his beer.

The silence is met with silence for as long as it lasts, save for a single tone of agreement for what's been said as well as what's been unsaid. It's a sentiment repeated when Carver gets to stating the reality they all face. Kara drinks in solidarity to acknowledge the grim sentiment, letting the quiet linger between them a moment longer.

"Wishful thinking, I know." Kara replies quietly, as much responding to Carver as she is chastising herself. "You'd think this close to civilization we'd not have half the problems we do out here. Out West, at least half the issues we faced made sense, being so far off the grid as we were."

She drums a finger on the side of her bottle thoughtfully. "Even that's changing now, too, though." The bottle is lifted as she looks off at some distant point halfway between this room and nowhere at all. "That new Seattle-Tacoma Safe Zone that Yamagato's working on." Her eyes half-lid. "Just when everyone was getting comfortable with a new normal, the world went and kept on changing." Kara drinks then, the presumed follow-up of how rude of it lost in the sip.

"Normal?" Carver rasps, looking over at Kara. He shakes his head. "This isn't normal. This is something that was done to us," Carver says, and for a moment there's fire in his eyes. It dies quickly, though. "And we were the ones that did it. Us. Americans. We did it to ourselves." Carver stares off at some point a few thousand miles past his beer bottle.

"It always changes," he says slowly. "I just hope that when it's done this time, there's something left that I recognize. Something that isn't just more shit."

Kara looks thoughtful for a moment. She almost lets the comment pass, but gruffly opines, "We is a bit of an exaggeration, wouldn't you say?" A sideways glance is afforded his direction. The fire that had glinted in his eyes can be seen in a way in hers, and it persists, smoldering and small but very much present. "It was done to us, but not by us. I don't know what else there is to call any dog of the Mitchell administration but a traitor to their country and people." Her grip shifts on her bottle, looking for just a moment uncertain of the content of what she's said.

Rarely could she be said to have an opinion nearing political, yet here they were. Ultimately, she doesn't retract the thought, sealing it with a quiet hm. "They didn't hang enough of the people who did this to America. If they had, maybe we wouldn't be backsliding toward that time in history so quickly again." Kara mutters her final addition.

Carver's eyes move to Kara as she speaks; he doesn't miss the fire in her eyes when she speaks. He remains silent, eyes narrowing into a squint as she finishes. He nods, making a noise at the back of his throat that seems to indicate approval. "Damn straight they should've," Carver agrees. "I spent my whole damn life stomping around shitholes across the world, doing what needed doing — de oppresso liber. I believed in that. Then when I get ready to retire and settle down, my country turns into yet another shithole right under my feet. The Army — my Army — starts doing shit like massacring kids on live TV!"

Carver bites his tongue before he goes into a full on rant; there's a lot of vitriol there, and Kara deserves better than to listen to him foam at the mouth for a full on rant. "That administration was an embarrassment. A cancer. All that I've got left to hope is that maybe they got enough of it. Cut enough of the rot out. The poison." He isn't sure whether he believes it, or only wishes he could. "That maybe the shit we're seeing now — assholes like the Shithead Militia, for one — are just the death throes of the disease. That maybe America's gonna be able to get back on its feet again someday, even if I won't be around to see it."

When Carver begins to voice his agreement, a certain stillness fades from Kara and she relaxes once again into her seat. The silent, ghostlike relief is hidden away by another sip from the beer. Not everyone fought on the side of the Resistance, be it the Ferry or any number of smaller cabals-turned-freedom-fighters. No— if that had been the case, there wouldn't have been a civil war to begin with. Just because the old man didn't seem like someone who had fought on behalf of the administration didn't mean he might not have grudgingly heeded their call.

It didn't seem that way, though, and for that she's glad.

But it wouldn't be the strangest change of heart she's seen; to go from a gun of an anti-Evolved administration to someone who co-existed peacefully with Expressives.

Or sing praises of their genetic superiority, she opines in silence while she swallows her drink. This one hits slightly more bitter than the rest.

"Based on the way these presidential debates are going?" Kara feels compelled to draw attention to it, somehow. The time spent away and actually living in the world have made her more aware of its goings-on if not something nothing else. "I don't know if it'll come to blows again in the next decade," said with a healthy heap of but it could hiding in her tone, "But things are going to get worse before they get better. The rest of that cancer has got to go, or be made impotent, at least. Otherwise…"

Well, otherwise the Murder Amish really were going to have to pick up arms after all.

"But who knows," Kara opines with false cheer and a small smile. "Maybe the end of the world the Evolved saw will do us in before that." And with that, she tips back the remainder of the beer.

As she swishes it down, she wonders at something, looking back to Carver. "You know, as little as I want to ever head back to New York at the moment, there's this group I heard about. A group for veterans, essentially. I'd never given it any thought before, but honestly?" Her voice lifts up there, brought back to normal with a shake of her head. "Bitching like this is a bit cathartic. It feels… I don't know, good to be in the company of someone who gets it. Who saw what we saw, with our experiences."

A heavy, muted breath passes from her as she tries to silence the belch the rapid drink had wanted to bring up. "I don't think I asked where you served before, did I?" she wonders, partly to herself. If she had, it's been a lifetime since then. And besides, she remembered the important part— that he needed ribbed endlessly (if only on occasion) to remind him he's Army.

Carver lets out a grunt when Kara starts talking about elections. "Suppose I actually should start paying attention to that, shouldn't I," he rasps, sounding regretful.

He eyes her at her comment about bitching being cathartic… though he doesn't disagree. When she asks where he'd served, though… Carver lets out a low chuckle. "Wherever they sent me. Last of 'Nam. Panama. All over Asia. Anywhere they needed mean sons-of-bitches," he rasps. He pauses to take a drink of his beer. "Then Fort Bragg for awhile. Training the baby Berets when I started getting too old for jumping out of helicopters."

He eyes her a bit skeptically. "So what kinda group is this, anyway?"

"Beats me," Kara says, figuring she'll spare him the illusion she knows more than she does. "But they're supposedly a support group for veterans. Mostly the civil war, I take it, but…" A slanted tip of the bottle still in hand serves as her shrug.

"I haven't gone, so I don't rightly know. I'm not much of a … town person." A tiss of a noise follows that, along with a look off at nothing in particular.

She wrinkles her nose as she looks back to Carver, considering him. "You having been so many places, who knows, maybe you'll run into someone with… eh, similar experiences." Kara rocks up to her feet. "If you're interested, that is. If not, I'll settle for the local watering hole and pretending I've not heard the same stories told ten times already."

Carver squints harder, staring off into the distance at nothing in particular. He's fairly certain he's not a town person, either, and he's definitely not a people person. But…

"I'll think about it," Carver rasps. He's fairly certain that sooner or later he's going to end up checking it out at some point; it's mostly just a matter of how long he can, as Kara says, pretend he's not heard the same stories ten times already at the local watering hole. His gaze shifts back to Kara. "If I decide to check into it, I'll let you know," he rasps, raising his nearly empty bottle to Kara.

"If you do want to check it out, I'll drive. Might let me get rid of the last of this wanderlust." Kara looks down one last time at the bottle she's had, consulting the label, then puts it on the table by the rest of them. "Who knows," she supposes as she heads for the door.

"Have a good one," is her farewell that might as well have been spoken by the air, for how quickly Kara sees herself out.

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