asi_icon.gif ff_silas_icon.gif

Scene Title 眩しい
Synopsis i-adjective meaning: blinding; dazzling; radiant
Date February 12, 2020

Shit, it's bright.

This feels like a walk of shame somehow even more by how Asi squints against the light of day, eyes shaded over by cheap dollar-store sunglasses. She grunts uncomfortably as she nears the building in Elmhurst, having abandoned the Mantis she rented a block away. She's got a paper-bagged bottle in one hand…

But it's not for her, even though she could use some of its liquid courage.

With a short exhale, she pulls herself together just before pulling the building's front door open, navigating silently for the stairwell to head for the second floor.

Herkimer Apartments

February 12, 2020

On Silas' door comes a peculiar pair of knocks, soft and single-knuckled. Knock-knock, knock-knock.

The woman on the other side of the eyehole is glancing down the hall and dressed against the weather still, shades still worn indoors. Until this point, she'd not so much as called to say if she was alive, where she was, or when she'd come to sort out her packages… but suddenly she's here at the hideaway Kain had shoved him in, a bottle of liquor in one hand.

Silas sings softly under his breath, the sound of sizzling filling the air as he pokes at the meat in his frying pan. It's been awhile since he's cooked; it's a habit he needs to get back into. He's not here as often these days, but this place has got a working stove and he's still got a key. Plus some of his stuff that he can't fit in a go bag, he leaves here. This place might not be home, but it's a nest that he's had ample opportunity to feather over the last few months.

At the knock on the door, though, he goes still, spatula pausing in mid poke, the song freezing in his throat. He is not expecting guests.

That moment of frozen stillness lasts a moment longer… then he moves. Quietly, carefully, with purpose. He turns the heat down on the stove and pads towards the door, shrouding the sounds of his movement — the knock was the right one, but a little discretion goes a long way; Silas would rather avoid starring in another surprise pay-per-view event if he can help it. He'd feel bad if Kain's bolthole got trashed.

"Who's there?" he asks, doing his best impression of the Cajun.

It's a poor impression. Asi would call him out on it, but now doesn't seem the appropriate time. Her throat works as she debates the nature of her reply, who could overhear. What could she say without being obvious or drawing curious listeners? Aces?

No— no, that wasn't her, and it would be unfair to him. A few moments pass before she sighs, her voice lifted to carry through the door quiet and tired.

"It's me," she affirms with no further details save for: "I brought some bourbon, but I can go if you don't want it."

SIlas' phone pings with a message about the same time.

11:14 am
really me. promise.

"Well," Silas says, surprised. "Well," he repeats, glancing at the message on his phone, surprise already starting to give way to delight.

There's a click as the door unlocks. "You got the password right; it's bourbon," Silas says; as the door opens wider, Asi's first sight of Silas is a warm grin. The second thing that jumps out about Silas is that, in addition to the faded out, nondescript shirt and threadbare pants that have become his usual attire for blending in around the Safe Zone, he's also wearing a faded apron bearing the words Raise the Steaks.

Some things, it seems, are more indelibly stamped upon the fabric of the world than mere apocalyptic floods or civil wars, and bad apron puns are one of those things.

"Come on in!" Silas says warmly. "I was cooking," he explains, as if the apron and smell of fried chicken hovering in the air didn't make that clear. "I'll trade you some food for that bourbon of yours."

The shades obscuring her vision masks the surprised flit of Asi's gaze over Silas when he greets her with a grin, much less with everything else he's wearing. Her brow lifts over the top of the shades to give away some of her demeanor, though, along with the shift of her feet almost like she was prepared to take a step back when faced with such a bright disposition.

But then she offers out the bourbon, smiling thinly in return. "I had planned on sending you a bottle when you opened your restaurant … but this will have to do, it seems."

She shuts and locks the door behind her after they head inside, pulling off the sunglasses and threading them over the top of her jacket. "I am sorry for the silence. The job itself went well, I think, but everything after…" Asi questions herself all too late for jumping straight into the topic, but shakes her head and continues on. "I was under surveillance for a period, then—" Her look flattens. "Sent 'home'."

Then her attention shifts to the kitchen, chin tipping in its direction. "What's on the menu?"

That momentary spell of uncertainty on Asi's part reminds Silas that he's probably supposed to be annoyed with her about the whole 'package' debacle… but he can't bring himself to be. Score one for self-awareness, he thinks to himself as he takes the bottle. "Well. I'll have to save some of it for when we do open up, then," he says with a nod.

Then… to business. His expression grows more serious as she talks about the prison break — he opts not to think too deeply about the details of that particular 'job' — but when she talks about being sent home, Silas's own expression flattens for a moment into something blank, mask-like. "They told you to go home, did they?" he murmurs, his voice eerily quiet, gaze slipping off in the distance somewhere; a cold, patient anger stirs in him as he considers the sheer enormity of the insult inherent in that command. Telling her to go home, after they've blackened her reputation with their own damn brush? That's like extending a hand to a man after you've just cut off both of his arms.

Asi's question brings him back to the present, though, and his smile is quick to return, anger carefully set aside for a moment in which it is more appropriate. "Fried chicken. I'da done karaage if I'd known you were comin', but…" he raises a hand in an off-handed shrug. "Let me get some plates!" he says, heading off to do just that.

He talks as he bustles about, turning the burner back on, then setting chipped and mismatched plates on the wobbly table. "I figured you were probably under surveillance when I found out what the package you wanted delivered was," he says, glancing at her with a faintly amused look for a moment before turning his attention back to the pan; the chicken is starting to sizzle nicely again. "Food'll be ready in a bit!" he adds.

The quiet dip in Silas' voice, the hints of anger on her behalf before he accepts her distraction back to the present, brings Asi a sense of relief she wasn't expecting. It makes being here somehow easier, knowing he understands the significance and her own anger with the decision without her so much as needing to speak it. For once, she's able to let go of how odd it is he knows her that well when she is still learning him, embracing that familiarity as comforting.

"Yes, 'home'." The word is too flat to be just an echo back, hinting at her bitterness they went so far as to assume her home for her. "Naidu insisted my day to choose was still not at hand," Asi clarifies in a similar quiet, one that hides under the brighter topic of home cooking. She works on returning back to this moment, too, attempting to force it by following after him to linger in the kitchen doorway.

"I can't say I've ever had American-style, so there's that," she offers up, attempting to lift her voice to achieve even a shade of Silas' cheer. It's something that doesn't quite fit well on her, for all her trying. There's something human about the exchange in a way this Asi is so often not. "Something new, I suppose."

Maybe it's why slipping back to that other topic again comes all too easily, the words much more smoothly said. "I did not want to risk it, being in their country, their care, being provided their devices," Asi explains. "Were you able to get him to Monica safely? And the other to Eve?" Her mood settles. "The courier did not break?"

"Huh," Silas says aloud, surprised by Asi's confession. "Something new," he echoes. He doesn't turn away from the pan, but his smile can be heard in his voice, even if it can't be seen.

Asi's next question is a thornier one. Silas doesn't answer immediately, taking a moment to consider his words; his hands continue through the basic motions of flipping and pressing the chicken as it sizzles and browns in the pan while his mind works.

"The courier was fine and well, last I saw him… though none too happy to see me, let me tell you. I… might have underestimated just how much of an impression my evil twin seems to have left on him," Silas says. "I'm sure he can afford to replace that endtable, though…" he murmurs.

"As to the other two… both were safely delivered to their destinations." he sighs. "Des left the instant she saw where I was taking her — said she'd be safer anywhere else. I was able to line up some alternate accommodations for her, though."

"As for Momo…" He begins, then trails off as he presses the chicken again, nodding at the satisfying sizzle; he turns the burner off. The pan's hot enough that it can finish the last of the cooking process without any additional heat.

Asi arches an eyebrow at the murmur about the endtable. Had Aman leapt off the top rope at Silas? Maybe she owed him two bottles. "It is more likely that I didn't warn you adequately. My communication skills lately haven't…" She sighs shortly from her nose. "Haven't been the best."

She takes a moment to sit down at the table before responding to the news neither rescuee is where they're supposed to be, making sure her words are tempered before she speaks. Her hands clasp loosely between her knees as she leans forward. "I suppose 'Des' is free to do with her freedom what she will. I had thought Eve's a good enough springboard, since Eve would do anything for her. But if she chose to go her own way…" The technopath shrugs, indifferent on that topic. But as for Mohinder:

"They asked me to kill him, Silas. It was imperative before, when I was still under their hand, but it's … still just as important that he remains out of sight." She glances across the kitchen at him. "If Mazdak would not kill him, then his government very well may. He would have rather died there on Plum Island, but the world is not done with him yet. I am not done with him yet."

Asi lifts her head to look at Silas more openly. Where is he? isn't a follow-up question she feels needs aired to be asked.

"He's… still at Monica's," Silas says, listening as the sizzling dies down. "She's. Not all that thrilled about that," he adds, back still turned as he works on transferring the chicken to a platter; his grimace, like his earlier smile, can be heard in his voice. "But. We got him talked into sitting still, at least, and not trying to throw himself under every passing bus. Richard helped with that. Your cover should be safe."

He heads for the table with the chicken, grinning Asi's way. "Annnd… lunch is served. Just gotta grab some forks…"

Asi winces in anticipation of Monica's ire, looking off to the side. She owed her friend far more than just whiskey for her help. And Richard was involved, too, was he? A thin sigh passes from her, uncertain what to make of that. If nothing else, Mohinder served as confirmation that she wasn't exactly devout with Mazdak's cause. It may not erase that she maintained an uneasy alliance with them these last months, but hopefully it kept her off of Richard's list of people to kill for what was done to him.

He'd told her she wasn't on it, but one could never be too sure.

She snaps from her reverie when Silas comes back, light entering her eyes again. Sitting upright, she nods her thanks, swinging in to sit properly at the table instead of turned to see him. "I'm not done yet on my apology tour. I owe one to Monica, for it not being safe to better explain just what I was asking of her, and owe her my thanks. And Eve…"

Asi looks down at the food with a shake of her head. "I'm hoping her cousin's freedom will be enough of an apology for the fact I'm not going on the boat trip."

There's a certain care to her voice, like she's handling a wild animal, or a sharp knife by throwing around revelations like that.

Silas tilts his head at those last words. Considering them. Considering their implications… and, for a moment, considering the echoes of another discussion he'd had about a boat trip.

His smile doesn't fade, exactly, but… maybe a hint of something rueful creeps in around the edges as he sets the platter down. "Something come up?" he asks kindly, setting down some silverware and settling into a seat opposite Asi.

Asi cants her head to one side in a shruglike gesture. Yes would be the clear answer taken from that. "It… will help Eve, still, I think." she says, still not sounding entirely certain. "Just in an entirely different way. Monica and I, when she came abroad to Japan, we… broke into the Praxis headquarters there."

Reaching out to stick one of the pieces of chicken on top, she muses, "This is basically the same thing."

Just much, much bigger.

"Reading the wind, I think the trip I need to take and the one Eve wanted me to join her on will be very closely timed, if not overlap." Not exactly happy about it, she admits, "So, to be blunt, I'm going to go for what I see is the bigger fish to fry."

Silas nods slowly. He knows about Praxis — knows that they basically run the state of California, and knows that Adam Monroe is in with them like meatballs with spaghetti. Hitting them there probably would help keep Adam distracted… but it's also sure to be hellaciously dangerous.

"Well," he says, spearing a piece of chicken of his own and easing it across onto his plate. "Well," he repeats, staring at the chicken for a moment, thinking… then he looks back to Asi. "Well," he says for a third time, but this time with a grin. "You'll be missed, but… you've gotta do what you've gotta do." He nods once, resolutely. "I'll do my best to take care of things on the boat ride, so you don't let yourself worry about that, and I won't let myself worry about you out there, fryin' up sharks," he says, his grin taking a roguish character for a moment.

"As for Eve… if this one is anything like the one I knew… she'll understand." That's not a sure thing… but if she doesn't, he can try to have a word with her, pour some oil on whatever troubled waters might try to develop.

Asi eats in silence, her opinion about the food kept while he works through his reaction. It… would feel too much like an interruption otherwise. The entire time, she keeps her eyes down on her plate.

But when he works his way around to a grin, she looks up with a blank expression, her eyes searching his as she tries to formulate a response. The sluggishness given to her by her hangover shows in that moment, in how she doesn't know how to react to the brightness of Silas.

Except to mutter, something faintly amused in it: "眩しい."

She shakes her head after that, trying to mask how his acceptance and encouragement touches her with little success at it. Averting her eyes again really is the best she can do. "頼むよ," Asi tells him a little more clearly before realizing she's not offered a translation. "I'm…"

Maybe there isn't one that suffices right now. So, she settles for "Thanks."

She takes another bite of the chicken before her brow arcs up, head shaking in disbelief. She chuckles, almost despite herself. "You know, maybe it's just the hangover, but this is really good."

"Might not hurt," Silas admits, though not without a bit of amused side-eye. "And you're welcome," he says, a bit more seriously.

"Eat all you want, there's plenty," he says, starting on his own piece.

Asi considers it for a moment, glancing up before gingerly pulling a second piece for herself despite only having started on the first. "Have you always been this good a friend?" she wonders, using the side of a fork to split herself off a smaller bite. "You…"

Her posture slumps as she resigns herself to finishing the observation she's started, glancing up at him directly. "You have every right to be upset with me. What I asked was unfair. How I brought it to you aside, it… was a lot to ask for. This after I let you down, even. And still, you just…" She begins to furrow her brow, eyes closing.

"I'm not used to having friends," Asi admits as she looks back to him. "And I hope I'm not eating through the last of the goodwill left behind by someone… not me. I hope that I've not abused that. Your trust, because you knew someone like me. That I'm not—"

The movement toward this honesty is a struggle, but it's one she overcomes.

"That I'm not taking advantage of you." she mutters, looking aside.

"Enough people do it to me, you figure I would stop doing it to others." Asi turns her fork to take the bite she'd sawed away before she can stick her foot in her mouth any further.

Silas's smile remains as Asi speaks, but as she goes on, a stillness settles over him. His eyes remain steadily on her throughout her speech, holding her gaze.

He listens until she's finished, then for a moment or two longer to make sure… then he lets out a single exhalation through his nose. It's not a laugh — he's not about to laugh at anyone who's brave enough to be this open with their insecurities — but taken with his expression, there is more than a hint of gentle humor in there.

"You're not," he says quietly. "I know you're not her."

"Which! Is not to say the two of you don't have qualities in common," he says, arching an eyebrow. "I would say, for instance, that both of you are good people — though I expect both of you might be inclined to argue that point a bit," he says, grin broadening for just a moment.

"With that said, though… allow me to remind you that, had we not met, and had you not chosen to extend me a not-insignificant amount of goodwill yourself, my southern-fried ass would probably be not be having this conversation with you right now, and would, in fact, most likely be the subject of a segment on Unsolved Mysteries or whatever the version they have here was called," he says wryly.

His expression sobers as he continues to speak. "First, you agreed to look into the whole Redd thing on a lark. Second, when I stuck my foot in the mouth and you thought I was Redd, you actually gave me a chance to explain myself. And last, but definitely not least…" he begins, and now his expression is deadly serious, "…you showed up like a goddamn hero out of nowhere on Halloween night, despite everything going on, fought off my evil twin, and carried my gutshot and bleeding body out of there."

He lets that one sit for a moment, peering at her seriously. "So that's something else you've got in common. Both of you have saved my life. And both of you have got your own goodwill from me, and plenty of it," he says, pointing his fork at her — bite of chicken on it and all.

Then he grins again. "I'll admit, I was a little… irritable… when I found out what your package was. But. I trusted that you had your reasons… and I guessed, even then, that when you showed up I'd be too glad to see you to be mad." He shrugs, and now it's his turn to look a bit awkward.

"And… I was right," he adds, turning his attention back to his own plate.

Asi does balk when he attempts to call her a good person, just as Silas expected she might. She fixes him with a look that breaks off when he acknowledges she'd argue the point, a sigh coming from her as she fixates her attention back on her food.

It'd been hard for her to see how things looked from his point of view. But when he lays them all out, they seem obvious. She remembers all those things happening, but not quite from the perspective that he has of them. It's humbling, a little.

Maybe a touch relieving, too.

She lets out a quiet hm to echo his initial chuff. "I'm glad I made it back, too," Asi relates with no small amount of appreciation, no matter how quietly it carries. "I'm glad, too, the gambit worked, and you were able to help keep Suresh safe and hidden."

Looking back up to him, her mouth hardens, nearing a frown. "I don't know what Mazdak hoped to accomplish by seeing him dead, but a man with specialized knowledge like this … perhaps it's knowledge that could stop them from harming innocents." Her eyes narrow then. "Did he tell you what they were working on at PISEC? The US Government wanted them to develop an agent to kill Adam Monroe. He and Price saw the dangers, the different ways such information could be used, and sabotaged the efforts. But… were someone else to succeed, or to create such an agent targeting the non-Evolved, his expertise would be invaluable in undoing it, or inoculating against it."

Sighing, she admits, "It's a long-shot theory. But whatever the case may be … I mistrust Mazdak's reasons for wanting him dead in the first place."

Silas looks uneasy. "Yeah, it's… not hard to see how that isn't a good idea," he says. What bugs me is that there's someone in a high enough position of power to arrange that sort of bullshit who couldn't see that, he thinks. It's a sobering thought… one that is almost enough to kill his appetite.

"We chewed on it for a bit; that was the best idea I was able to get out of it. He started talking about… DNA methylation or something. I could only barely understand what he was talking about, and I'm pretty sure he was dumbing it down about six steps so I could get that much," Silas says glumly.

"I think we've got him convinced to sit tight without having to handcuff him to a radiator, at least. Even if he's not too enthusiastic about it." Silas is trying to sound bright as he says it, but somehow the very mention of Mohinder sucks most of the cheer out of his voice.

Bah. Silas shakes his head, as if to shake off a cloud of gloom. "But. They wanted you to kill him. Even if we don't know why, we know that… and based on what I've seen of these guys, the fact that they wanted it makes me glad that they didn't get it. Better yet — they don't know that yet." He grins, and there's something a little feral in it. "Here's hoping that when that bites them in the ass, it bites hard." He raises his fork again, a small piece of chicken still on it, and pops it in his mouth; it's not quite a toast, but it's close enough.

Asi arches an eyebrow at hearing the potential theories on why Mazdak may or not have wanted Mohinder dead. She's not entirely sure she'd follow if the words had come even from Suresh himself— not without one hand pressed to her phone to siphon information regarding the topics on the fly.

She looks sympathetic when Silas' mood dips. All too well does she remember the wet, petulant rug he'd been when she was trying to save his life.

The toast in her direction is met with a gracious tilt of her head before she curls away another bite from her own plate. "Here's to making sure it does," she offers in reply, not offering her fork out, but simply taking another bite. "And to weaponizing what we have at our disposal."

She lets out a quiet note before adding, "Once all this gets settled— after we're both back from our respective trips— I want to figure out where it is your double is laying his head so we can try again to take him out. You deserve the peace of mind."

Silas grins. "Sounds good," he says to her countertoast.

The offer of assistance with Redd, though, causes Silas to frown thoughtfully. He wonders, briefly, if Kain hadn't been right — if they wouldn't have been better off, as Kain said, stuffing a grenade down his pants. Certainly Kain seems to think so; there's been a sense of distance slowly building between him and Kain, and Silas isn't a fan of it.


He remembers what Kay had said, about Redd taking to the life he'd ended up living, and… no. No. Violence brings violence, and that's not a cycle he wants to get caught up in. But… is it right to put others at risk?

Well, she seems to be okay with it. She knows what she's up against. Trust her; she's trusting you. And besides, she's on Redd's shitlist already. Getting him behind bars is gonna do her good, too. He can't argue against that, so he smiles instead. "Yeah," he agrees. "It'll be nice. Not having to live under the radar all the time… maybe I'll finally be able to open up the boat. For real, this time; no more Halloween Surprises from the Silas of the Dead." Despite the grim reference, his grin broadens; he's not actually thinking about last Halloween at this point, so much as he is looking forward to what's to come. "We're getting closer. I've got someone out there working on the thing; if he's willing, I might have him stay on and help run the place."

Asi takes some comfort in that— that his life hasn't been completely destroyed by what's happened. That somehow, he's found a way to press forward, to keep pushing toward his goals. "That's wonderful," she says with warmth, brightening to hear it. "I'm relieved those efforts didn't stall out."

"With any luck, maybe by the fall…" But stating precise hopes out loud always seemed to be bad luck. She leaves it at the implicit wish.

"I'll drink to that, anyway," she decides, glancing across the kitchen in search for easily accessible glasses. "If you want to have one before I go?"

"I'd be delighted," Silas says. He gets up out of his chair and heads for one of the cabinets. There are two glasses up there — one more than there had been when Silas had first visited Kain's little bolthole. They're mismatched, chipped, and most of whatever design was on them is worn away… but they're clean, and they get the job done — namely, holding bourbon.

He places the glasses on the table, opens the bourbon bottle, and pours a splash into the bottom of each glass.

"To the fall," he says, raising his glass. "May it find both of us in better places."

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