Many as One


antje_icon.gif carver_icon.gif chris_icon.gif dave_icon.gif dumortier_icon.gif elisa_icon.gif eve_icon.gif finn_icon.gif hull_icon.gif

june_icon.gif bf_kara_icon.gif lang2_icon.gif lucille_icon.gif magnes_icon.gif odette2_icon.gif bf_rue2_icon.gif tara_icon.gif yi-min_icon.gif

Also Featuring:

usagi_icon.gif vos_icon.gif

Scene Title Many as One
Synopsis Though they come from many walks of life, worlds apart, they gather as a community.
Date September 25, 2020

These days, community dinners in Providence are rare.

They used to be commonplace, back when the settlers from Sedro-Wolley first made their home out in the Pine Barrens, drawing disparate communities together under a stronger banner. Back just a couple of years ago these kinds of mass gatherings were commonplace. Marriages were announced, weddings were held, newborn children were shown off to the community at large, and a sense of camaraderie and unity held court.

These days, Providence isn’t what it used to be.

Ever since the explosion up north last year, Providence has changed. The ostensible heart of the community, Eileen Ruskin, has all but vanished without a trace. The birds people see as an omen of her comings and goings linger, but it’s hard to say if her eyes are behind them any longer. Iago Ramirez changed everything when he took control, stripping down the community that Eileen had worked so hard to build in such a short time, focusing on militarization of the settlement’s militia and security against “external” threats.

Now there are community ambush drills, evacuation plans that involve burning down houses to slow invaders, and talk of outright war with the military police if they threaten to push south past Staten Island. The presence of the Coast Guard up on the north end of New Jersey in Sandy Hook has only escalated those tensions. Ramirez seems emboldened, for all that anyone knows what he’s feeling. For all that his mandates are hands-on, Ramirez himself has been a distant and cold leader rarely making public appearances and never outside of his powered armor.

But today there is rebellion in bounty, in three baked turkeys, two game hens, and one spit-roast pig over an open fire. Today there is rebellion in song, carried through the cavernous space of a dining hall that was once an old textile mill at the turn of the century. Today a dozen tables that can seat two dozen people each fill a space with laughter, humility, and a sense of belonging. Iago Ramirez be damned.

The Sunken Factory
Pine Barrens, New Jersey

September 25th
7:49 pm

Outside the tall factory windows, fireflies dance in the tall grass and the sun has long since set. Lantern-light floods the common room and a bonfire outside sheds a warm enough light. Joshua Lang appreciates the dinner in progress from in the middle of one of the twelve tables. He doesn’t have a chair at the head, doesn’t seat himself at the empty chairs reserved for Iago, Eileen, and Hector at a separate table. He sits among the people of Providence, eating among them.

Elisa Sonders sits further down the table opposite from Lang, largely minding herself and quietly eating amid company while most everyone else is content to talk, sing, and share in a humble sense of shared community. The food here was farmed on Providence lands, after all. From the game animals to the vegetables, the pies baked in wood-fired ovens, the songs of a pre-war world sung by local musicians, this dinner was of Providence, by Providence, and for Providence.

Next to Lang, Tara takes up a seat and a plate among the people as well. She hasn't been seen much since the switch in leadership, ditching drills and generally making herself scarce to the powers that be. But this is what she likes about Providence, so she's come out of hiding for the occasion. She hasn't lost any of her sense of flair, though, as her clothes are loud and her nails are sparkling.

It's a special night, after all.

Across the table, June has taken up a spot next to Finn. She's a new face here, seen in glimpses when Finn comes down into the area, but not a fixture like some of the others at the table. She seems a little nervous, looking around at the faces seated at the table with quick glances. There and away again. Down to her plate. Up to Finn. If anyone needs her introduction, well she hasn't given it so far. But she has been free with compliments to the food, the spread, the company. She came from a small town herself, but even there, her family kept to themselves. No community gatherings like this one where she grew up.

Beside June, her father Finn is cheerfully telling the story of recovering Hector and Shambrook from Fort Irwin; his storytelling is animated and he changes his voices for the unlikely “characters” that include a cyborg pig and zombie chimp (or was it the other way around).

“Shoot ’im, he says, and he fucking shoots me, right? But, well, I’m lucky, and I can’t even explain how except the door moved and I moved, and suddenly what should have been a bullet through my heart is just a graze across the width of my back. His face was fucking priceless.” Finn makes an exaggerated wide-eyed expression, staring down at an imaginary gun in his hand.

“And then we became friends and lived happily ever after,” is the equally unlikely conclusion to that tale of action and intrigue. Finn points to the pile of green bean casserole. “Who brought this? It’s fucking delicious, and reminds me of my mom in Ohio.”

He’s a little drunk, the local stores of moonshine augmented by his own contribution to the party — having come in from the Safe Zone, he’s brought with him a couple of crates’ worth of alcohol that’s less likely to make anyone blind with him, from actual distilleries with licenses.

Carver is typically not much for conversation. He is, however, all for good food, and there's plenty on offer. Even if he's going to have to work like a mad bastard to burn all this off. Still, keeping his face stuffed with food has the added advantage of allowing him to listen to the conversation going on around the table.

As a result, he is now certain that Finn is full of bullshit… but it's entertaining bullshit, so Carver will count that one in his favor. Bringing booze is a second point in his favor.

And it's in that spirit that he speaks up. "I did," he calls, leaning back so he can look at Finn. "Reminds me of your mom in Ohio, too," he says, stone-faced. Then, after a moment, he winks and raises his beer.

With empty seats to either side of him, Chris Ayers has the rare luxury of plenty of elbow room at the table. And it's a luxury he's making sure to take advantage of while visiting. It's a well known fact that there's little that's as good in life as home cooking. The rich and hearty flavors a family kitchen can achieve are rarely rivaled by more commercial settings. And that's something that he regularly misses in the safe zone.

That and freedom.

The relaxed atmosphere and slower pace of settlement life are still appealing, even sometimes sought after. Hell, he has yet to find steady work in the city so it's not like he's missing much if he leaves for a day or three whenever he feels like it.

So while everyone else talks or sings or whatever they will, with no one immediately to his left or right to entertain, Chris takes pleasure in the simpler things: hot, wholesome food and listening in on the local gossip.

Once, Kara Prince would have kept firmly to the company of only the Remnant and others who traveled from Sedro-Woolley when it came to mealtimes. The munitions chaplain was helpful, if gruff, but kept to her own social circles. However, the presence of Yi-Min Yeh by her side is enough of a comfort she's ventured out further than usual tonight.

If only by a few seats.

The near-stranger seated to her left, Dave, is a new enough face to make up for it. When she returns to her seat with a filled plate sporting portions from various dishes, she offers him a nod. She's dressed in plaid and jeans tonight instead of the intimidating black that makes up a sizeable amount of her wardrobe. She's kept it only to the tank visible under the mostly unbuttoned shirt.

"Kind of you to join us out here," she says to him after settling in. A metal fork wrapped in a napkin is set aside the plate before she looks back to him. "I'm not sure we've been proper introduced. I'm Kara."

"Tch, sharing is caring!" Dumortier is making his way back to the table with a basket of rolls in hand, sidestepping as he grabs one and takes a bite of honey-brushed brown in the direction of whoever it is he's teasing with it. As Rene thumps back into his chair he sets the basket to the middle of the table, lifting a look down the way towards Hull and Yi-Min.

"These. These are the ones I was talking about." As if he has just delivered a treasure. "He makes his own honey butter and I swear to God there's got to be cocaine in it." There isn't, but Dumortier's insistence is playful and contagious amidst everything else.

Of all the stuffed animals that Odette has chosen to bring with her to dinner tonight— it might be to her daddy’s regret that she has brought Vos. Hertog Vos. The foul mouth thief that seemed to be the way that Odette tried to get away with repeating terrible words that she shouldn’t be learning at her delicate age—

Not really. She knew more than she probably should.

“Daddy,” she turns to Lang and asks, pointing the stuffed red fox in his direction, “Hertog Vos wants to know what cocaine is.” She bats her innocent eyelashes. She didn’t ask what cocaine was.

The fox did.

Suddenly skateboarding into the room, as if summoned by Hertog Vos' question, Magnes J. Varlane is carrying a pile of pizza boxes. Where he gets these pizza boxes, one may never know, but he is certainly making the pizzas.

He starts to sit the boxes on various tables at random, wearing his new black shirt with white text that says Dad to the Bone, since his original shirt that said the same is long gone. Then he immediately takes a seat next to Odette after popping his skateboard up into his hand. "Cocaine is what supervillains use to control people, so you should always stay away from it."

He smiles at numerous people around him, and waves to Finn and June more directly across from him. He's been around Providence, but he's been mostly staying out of people's business to not seem like a bother, unless they need help with repairs and construction.

But now is his time to get to know people properly. "So, hey, anyone who doesn't know me, I'm Magnes J. Varlane. I've been around in New York for a while, probably on TV for a lot of different things, not all of it true but well you know how the media is. Uh, current pro wrestler and construction guy. If anyone needs help around here, well, I'm around. Also, I'm Odette's other dad. Not sure on my current dad rating but I think I'm doing okay."

He smiles over at Odette.

"Cocaine is something I most definitely have never made or ever offered in my lab, no matter how much certain people ask," is Yi-Min's much more offhanded and very, very dry contribution to that ongoing conversation, swiftly lifting her tankard of homebrewed mead to take a generous swig from it. It comes down onto the length of the tabletop with a clunk as she hones in on Dumortier with his new basket of delicious-smelling prizes.

"嘿! Toss me one of these cocaine-filled rolls then, Dumortier."

But even as she proclaims that, she’s already reaching out for one. Her other hand has been linked reassuringly into one of Kara's own underneath the tabletop, just on top of Kara's knee. This is something she leans into a little further as she also leans for a more inquisitive look at Dave, one brow slightly upraised. Yes, who the hell is this person, and what is he doing at their nice, insular Providence dinner?

She only slides one brief, involuntary glance towards Magnes as he makes his unconventional entrance. At least that's one she is somewhat more used to.

Magnes is trying to cover Odette's ears as Yi-Min begins mentioning cocaine.

Lang is just laughing through all of this, cradling a pork rib between pinched, greasy fingers. “You do know she’s heard worse than what cocaine is on our way across this whole damn country?” He says to Magnes with a wry smile before biting down and tearing a strip of meat off of the rib. “Wasn’t even Iago,” Lang adds with half a mouthful, “Eileen’s got herself a right potty mouth.”

A few seats down from Lang, Dave looks distracted by Magnes antics enough to have missed Kara’s introduction on all but a superficial level. He blinks a look over to her, focusing on her features a hint longer than most people do. But his expression shifts to apologetic when he realizes he’s staring and says, “Dave. I work on the cars over at the community garage.”

“Sorry about…” Dave starts to apologize, trailing off as he reaches across the table to tear a corner off of a large, shared loaf of bread to dip into the raspberry compote in a small bowl in front of him. “Sorry about staring,” he clarifies before taking a bite. “You remind me a lot of my wife when we first met. Very serious.”

Awkwardly, Dave closes his eyes and shakes his head. “Sorry I— haven’t— had a lot of conversation time lately.”

Down where Yi-Min is sitting, apart from Dave’s awkward interactions with Kara, Clover Hull is making an absolutely unrepentant fucking mess of everything. That she’s had the foresight to roll up her sleeves says a lot, considering that she has grease and honey coating her fingers and hands, smeared across her mouth, with a dribble down her chin. She tears into a plate of honey-roasted pork ribs like she’s never had them before, making small contended noises like the pig itself probably did before being put on the spit.

Hull looks up at Yi-Min and says an entire sentence of jibberish for how full her mouth is. The only indication that it was words was the uptalk at the end that made it sounds like a question. All Yi-Min really gets with any clarity at the end is a muffled, “Right?

“The casserole is mine.” Comes from the young Elisa, sitting not far from Carver. “The trick is the crispy onions,” she notes with a tilt of her chin up. “The shredded cabbage is just a little extra. My grandmother used to make it for me when I was a little girl, comfort food.” She says with a hint of southern twang, even though an onion and cabbage green bean casserole doesn’t seem like southern cooking.

Further down the table, across from Carver, the wild-haired silhouette of Antje Kallenbach is an unusual sight in large social gatherings. The beekeeper and holistic healer of Providence entertains herself eavesdropping on the many conversations at the table, meticulously making her way through a plate of roasted vegetables, starting with the ruddy beets. The gray-haired old woman looks squarely at Magnes, one eye squinted and lips pressed in a thin line.

“Are they all meat?” Antje asks of Magnes, specifically about the pizzas.

On Elisa’s left sits the willowy figure of a woman with bushy ginger curls and a cherubic face. She was brought to Providence by Kara Prince and has introduced herself as Marlene.

Chris recognizes the woman kitty-corner from him as Rue Lancaster, with whom he had faced down a Triffid Telepath and then done the do with afterward. If she recognizes him at all, she hasn’t given any indication.

She hasn’t shown any recognition for Finn’s tales of Fort Irwin either. Only an incredulous furrow of brows here and there, as though she’d been biting back assertions of there’s no way that happened. Because, really. Zombie pigs? C’mon. Everyone knows that’s just some viral video nonsense some Russian teenagers were peddling, right?

Carver’s commentary does get a snort of laughter out of the redhead finally. A rare smile coming to her face at the your mom joke. Marlene leans forward to peer down the table to where the basket of rolls has been set by Dumortier. “Mister Lang, could you throw one of those to me, please?” She holds up both hands in anticipation of making the catch.

Lang leans over, picking up a roll and underhanded tosses it to ‘Rue’, followed by a “Y’all want butter?”

"Sorry I'm late." Lucille's voice is clear for the people assembled who know her, the ones who really know her can tell she's been drinking a little already. A bag that definitely has a few bottles of wine is held in her hands. She was late and felt horrible about it but she smiles and makes her way towards Finn and June, the people she's here to see. Not outright noticing Yi-Min, Kara or Marlene. "Hope you saved me some babe," Whispering in Finn's ear and giving him a kiss and a squeeze on the shoulder.

"Hey there girl," Winking at June lightly as her free hand is placed on June's back in a greeting but she moves to take her seat next to the young woman. Not eager to steal anymore attention that she already has. Her vision is a little blurred and she sets three bottles of wine on the table in front of her but there have to be three more in the canvas bag she carries lazily.

As Lucille gets settled the door opens nearby and a familiar face to everyone in the factory becomes visible with a smile on black painted lips.

"Oh hello neighbors,"

That voice.

Eve Mas smiles as she boops out of the bushes and shrugs her shoulders trying to get the leaves out of her hair and from clinging to her black dress. It would have been easier to cloud over after hearing the noises, the preparations but Eve didn't just intrude on parties. She liked to bring something. Which is why her hands are full with what appears to be a large steaming pot of something as well as a small stuffed animal that dangles from her hands. "Did somebody lose this poor creature? I think they are lonely and lost."

Eve Mas’ entrance draws Lang’s attention away from Rue, eyes narrowed and hand slowing moving under the table. He hesitates, drawing in a slow breath through his nose as he assesses her eyes. Not gold. Lang’s hang moves back up from under the table, playing it off as an itch.

Crimson red eyes land on the child of the group and she offers a dazzling smile as she sweeps closer to the table. The contents of the large pot are almost immediately recognized by the smell of spaghetti and meatballs. "It's still really hot but my mother's recipe. Can feed four families and then some! Mmm." Eve winks at Magnes.

"Holy shit is that Eve Mas?" Lucille laughs into her hand. Okay, she's drunk.

Marlene catches the roll easily, but sits bolt upright suddenly, head swiveling at the sound of a voice familiar to her. She pulls up the hood of her sweatshirt quickly, waving off the notion of butter. Never mind. “I gotta go,” she murmurs to no one in particular, standing up from the table and abandoning her food in her quest to flee the mill in the opposite direction of Lucille and Eve, before either can recognize her face.

By the time Lang looks back to ask Rue about the butter again, she’s gone. He looks for her, a few fleeting glances around at the other tables, but doesn’t seem to think too much of people coming and going. But the fresh roll is left abandoned beside her plate.

“I know what cocaine means— it’s Hertog Vos that doesn’t,” Odette innocently responds to other daddy— “innocently”.

No. Lang is right. She’s been exposed to language her whole life. Some more colorful than others. And some not even in English. But that line of discussion is forgotten when a stray wanders in. Not that stray. Another one. Carried by a spooky witch.

“Usagi-hime!” Odette suddenly cries out, abandoning Hertog Vos, the naughty fox behind to save her seat and steal some food, as she scurries over toward Eve, holding her hands out for the little white floopy eared rabbit, which she takes. “Thank you for finding her, she must have been wandering around. Where have you been, hime! You’re late for your date.” She tsks. “You were so looking forward to it.” What date? Well, apparently, Usagi-hime had a date. The girl doesn’t seem to notice much of what’s going on with Marlene but she also doesn’t have Senor Tortuga with her today. If she had

But no, for now, the girl is safe and lucky, and she only has to worry about being followed by the beady black eyes of a little red stuffed fox, while Odette moves down the table to plop the little white rabbit down onto an empty seat. Next to Chris.

“She has been waiting for weeks for you to come back. She missed you. Is Jester okay? Is he well fed? Are you keeping his hooves clean? Does he miss his friends?” These were all Usagi-hime’s questions, definitely. Not Odette’s.

No, they were definitely Odette’s. “She thinks you should come back. She misses your sassy mouth.”

Lang shoots a look over to Tara, leaning toward her. “If Chris snaps at her, you get t’smack him upside the head this time.” He says with a crooked smile.

Magnes tilts his head and looks around until he focuses on Antje. "Oh, yeah, there's a few cheeses, some vegetarian ones. I tried to make a wide variety, since I don't know most of the people here." He smiles, then turns to Eve when she walks in, his eyes a bit wide. He's surprised for perhaps a number of reasons that he shouldn't be, but then he watches her give his daughter a stuffed animal.

“You’re a darling.” Antje replies, slowly easing out of her chair and walking down the length of the table toward one of the boxes. She slows as she walks past Magnes, gently pressing a hand to his shoulder with a reassuring smile that implies far more than a thank you for pizza, though he has no real context for what the look might mean.

Antje continues down to the boxes, opening one up with a slow rise of her brows. “I haven’t had a slice since…” she smiles fondly, “well, I’m not sure. Since Mino’s closed up down on the wharf. That must have been eighty-seven.” She mumbles to herself, pulling a single slice out.

There's admittedly a bit of an unfortunate flashback for Magnes when Eve and Odette make contact, but he shakes it off when Odette returns to the table, and Usagi-hime starts asking Chris questions.

But Magnes has his own question, clearing his throat. "Odette, do you remember Sailor Moon?" he asks, given the rabbit's name.

Lucille gets the stare of someone who is possibly thinking, 'did I make out with her or am I confusing her for someone else'. He's even squinting, as if to gain clarity.

Dumortier has zero regrets in mentioning cocaine; not only does it get the addictive rolls doled out, but it's ripe for entertainment. He laughs brightly at Odette's companion, and then the one on her other side. "Supervillain? Me?" A spared look to literally anyone else as if to seek visual confirmation that he totally isn't. There probably aren't many takers.

Though through the laughing, there's an incredulous look, which turns into him leaning closer to Tara so he can not-whisper at Lang. "Other dad? I'm hurt."

If there was something else he was going to add, he doesn't give it airtime. Instead, the blonde sits up in his chair when he sees Eve strolling on in. Rene turns a somewhat wide-eyed look at Kara, confused but unwilling to question presence.

At first, there's only the conversation happening immediately by Kara to respond to. "Oh, you're a mechanic?" she asks, curiosity lifting her voice. "Nice to have someone else around who's mechanically minded…" But she starts to sound distracted, because she is. Yi-Min's hand slipping from hers under the table brings her attention involuntarily in that direction, enough that she hones in on cocaine bread and her serious, unimpressed nature returns to her at once.

There are children present.

Never mind that this subject has been well addressed.

“Second generation,” Dave answers Kara with a side-long glance over to her. “My father owned a garage, taught me up when I was little. Been fixing cars most of my life. Use t’have a business of my own. A couple. But…” Dave shakes his head, chewing on a crust of bread, “you know how life is.” He laughs, but it’s a dry and defeated one.

When Dumortier's expression changes at the appearance of one Eve Mas and he looks to Kara for direction, the munitions chaplain makes a subtle shake of her head to him. Allow it, the tight action encourages. Explaining what she knew of Eve's current state would take longer than a few seconds at the dinner table would allow for. "Entity's got a different host now," she tries to summarize it best, voice low.

Looking down the table allows her to see Marlene picking herself up to leave, seeing Kara lean back in her chair to reach out and grab her by the arm when she passes behind Yi-Min's chair. Her brow pops in a quiet demand to know where she thinks she's going, followed by a more pointed, if quiet, "You okay?"

Carver’s reply is so unexpected that for a moment Finn’s eyes widen, and he might seem like he’s actually offended. Ohio moms are pretty off limits for such jokes, at least if you’re over the age of twelve. But slowly, his eyes still wide, his brows lift and his mouth turns upward into a wide look of joy.


But children are present, and he glances over at June. “Kidding. He’s not your granddad. He could kick your granddad’s ass, fix it, and kick it again.”

Elisa’s claim to the casserole earns her a solemn nod of respect from Finn, who lifts his glass in a small toast to her, then tosses back the glass of whiskey. “Sup, Magnes J. Varlane,” he says when the man comes in and introduces himself, then contents himself eating some more and listening to those around him.

“Hey,” he says when Lucille comes in plunking down wine, lifting a brow at her tipsy state. “You didn’t crash the Mule, right?” He’s only slightly worried about that, but she doesn’t seem too banged up. Eve’s entrance on Lucille’s heels is more surprising and less expected, and he looks to Lang and Kara curiously to see how they react to the volatile seer’s presence.

Chris doesn't seem to be put off by the slighting from Rue. He can ignore her just as easily. Which is exactly what he does right up until she all of a sudden decides to leave. Then he gives her a look of what the fuck, and he very nearly calls the woman on her bullshit then when Odette and Usagi-hime step into his field of vision.

Both get a chipmunk style grin, nose wrinkled and cheeks puffed. “I thought you forgot,” he claims loudly. It's followed with a peck of a kiss on the rabbit’s cheek and a ruffle of Odette’s hair, even while all the questions about his adventures come tumbling out.

He listens patiently and with an obviously strong interest. All the while he's fixing up a plate for his date — which really means he's taking the one Marlene has abandoned. “Oh, Jester’s fine. Still an ass but that's from his breeding. He's got a stable but I think he'd rather stay here. He misses sharing apples with Odette, you know. And he had something planned with Vos after harvest?”

Yeah, Chris is on to the fox. He lifts a look at the thief, very suspicious of what plans those might have been. “Stealing one of Elisa’s pies?”

Eve's appearance has Yi-Min's lips pressing themselves somewhat thinner. This troublemaker rarely spelled good news wherever and whenever she appeared, possession by an Entity or no. Lucille is a better sight to see, though, and the Taiwanese woman curls her hand in a cheery wiggle of a wave from across the table before responding to the ungodly distraction happening right next to her.

"…Child. Literally nobody knows what you just said," she chides the squirrel-cheeked Hull, taking a cloth napkin close to hand and wiping away an entire gob of meat glued to the girl's jaw by honey and grease.

Hull fixes Yi-Min with a narrow-eyed look and a roll of her tongue around behind closed lips before carefully enunciating. “Call me child one more time,” she squeaks, face flushed bright red with embarrassment, “and I’ll eat both your hands like these ribs.” Messily and quickly, if her face is any indication.

There is ill-concealed laughter in Yi-Min’s expression, though, and it’s lingering there still when the sound of Kara's question steals away her attention yet again.

Ah. This one.

Yi-Min barely knows this stranger, it is true — but if any stranger meets Kara's seal of approval, then vicariously she has Yi-Min's as well. "To me," she bids Marlene with quiet officiousness, beckoning with fingers and sideways-turned palm in a curt 'come hither' gesture.

Lifting a flowery sun hat from the pile of possessions lumped beneath her chair, she half-rises from her seat and jams it onto Marlene's head, covering most of the other woman's bright, telltale red hair. Pity it's getting a bit late in the evening for shades, too. "Here. You are just talking with us, now." Play it casual. Keep turned.

Carver barks out a laugh at Finn; it sounds as dry and raspy as most of everything else he says, like the clatter of bones. It is not a sound that is often heard, but contrary to what many may believe, Carver does have a sense of humor. He just rarely has cause to indulge it, these days.

Still, there's some real humor in his laugh; Finn's demonstrated his mettle under fire when he carried a wounded man back on his shoulders, and now he's demonstrated he can take a joke. Bonus points for appreciation for Carver's skillset. He raises his beer again.

Point to the redhead, too, for appreciation of military-grade humor…

…which is why her sudden urge to flee draws a furrow to the old doctor's face. His eyes flicker to the door — it isn't hard to figure out that the new arrival has got something to do with it. He frowns… but when it seems that that's going to be the end of it, he turns his attention back to his plate. But though he makes an effort to return to enjoying the festivities, there's still an edge of unease lurking in him now.

Someone's brought spaghetti, at least. That's nice.

In spite of the disruption Eve’s presence causes in those that know her, it hasn’t yet ruined the communal dinner. Tables apart from this one continue to eat unaware of what’s transpiring around Eve and likely unaware of her presence for the moment. Soft guitar music continues to play from one of the other tables lending a folksy charm to everything.

Lang is cautious through all of this, watching the diminutive drama playing out around Kara, Yi-Min, and Rue, unaware of the context but assessing body language. Odette is always in Lang’s periphery, always on his mind, but he’s trying to damnedest to allow Magnes time to be the father he says he wants to be. In the past few months, so far Magnes hadn’t disappointed.

Tara mirrors Lang's crooked smile in her direction, glancing only briefly in Chris' direction. "Oh, you know what I like," she says, laughing gently as she settles back in her chair. She hasn't gotten to smack anybody for a long time, really. Although, she doesn't seem too serious about it, maybe because she knows no one here would snap at Odette. Not if they know what's good for them, anyway.

She glances to Rene when he leans over their direction and laughs a little more heartily. "Hun, if you want to get into my lap, you only have to ask," she says. She turns toward the trio of Lang, Odette and Magnes, her head tilting slightly. "That girl is gonna end up with endless fathers." It takes a village, after all.

“Yeah well,” Lang mumbles, “let’s try stickin’ with two fer now and see how itchy that makes me.” That he’s handling the situation with Magnes this well is a testament to how Eileen’s manipulation worked on toning down his more knee-jerk instincts. She was nothing if not a good read of people’s potential.

June leans back in her seat when Carver delivers a your mom joke, her eyebrows lifting. Finn handles it, of course, but she can't help but add her own comment to the grandpa. "You look like shit for a twelve year old, you know."

She takes a bite of a dinner roll there. For emphasis.

But when Lucille comes in, June is ready with a smile and a warm hug, even though Luce is already toasted. She pushes the chair next to her out enough for Luce to sit down more easily. But before she can start a conversation, she catches sight of Eve. Her eyes widen and she looks back to Finn. "I saw her on the news. Is it… I mean, should she be here?" Are we safe is the real question, more than likely.

The redhead lets out a soft whimper of surprise and fright when her wrist is snared by Kara. She’d been so intent on just getting to the door, eyes glued to her escape route, that she hadn’t noticed her friend leaning out to intercept. She falls back two steps like she’s reached the end of her tether and is snapping back. The poorly secured hood falls back to her shoulders and she keeps her head down, pointedly keeping her back turned to the direction she came from, even as Yi-Min fusses with the sunhat.

Wolfhound,” Marlene whispers sharply to the pair of women, her head canting briefly in Lucille’s direction a few seats down. Her blue gaze lifts and lands on Lang, realizing he’s watching what’s happening across the table from him. It’s easy enough to see that she’s spooked once he can get a good look at her. But she gives her head a small shake, looks apologetic for any trouble she might be causing. Then her attention shifts back toward the door. She’s a frightened rabbit looking to bolt.

June’s barb directed at Carver draws an exaggerated o of surprise on Finn’s face, and then he laughs and turns to give the teenager a high five.

“That’s my kid,” Shepherd says proudly as he shovels some more of Elisa’s nostalgia-fortified casserole into his mouth.

More quietly, he adds, “Probably fine,” before glancing curiously at Eve again, then down a couple of seats to where Kara has stalled the fleeing Marlene. “Shit’s never boring in Providence.”

Finn tips his head and thinks for a second. “I lied. It’s really fucking boring ninety-five percent of the time, but man, that five percent is insane.” The jovial banter doesn’t change the fact that he’s got one hand at his hip ready to draw at the slightest indication he should.

"This place is ours," Kara reminds Marlene in an undertone, giving her a firm look. She squeezes supportively before letting go. "She's the visitor here. Not you. You don't have to leave if you don't want." She shifts a look across the table to Lang to better make that will known, and receive support on it if necessary. "Besides," she interjects more conversationally, "I agree with Finn, it's a wonder she didn't wreck on the way out here."

Letting out a huff somewhat like a laugh, she picks up her fork to enjoy at least a bite of her plate lest anything go awry. She keeps the goings-on of Eve in the corner of her eye, but on the whole seems minimally concerned about her presence. There were other eccentric hermits at the table already, and this one brought food. What better sign her presence should be a peaceful one?

Kara turns her head back to Yi-Min at her side to give her the thin press of a smile as thanks for her support, then slips back into her usual gruff demeanor. She keeps an ear open for the way Chris weaves stories with Odette. They were always an endearing pair, somehow.

"Too much rough living," is Carver's offhanded answer to June. He takes a drink of his beer, then squints down the table at her. "Hey. Mind passing one of those coke biscuits?" His glance shifts, peering down the table to see what else is available. "Someone pass the mashed potatoes? Please?"

Silently, Kara hears the request and reaches across herself to hoist the heavy bowl and begin passing it down that way, dolloping an extra bit of it on her plate first.

Noticing Lang suspiciously ogling them, Yi-Min slings a sly, conspiratorial wink back across to him, followed by a far more matter-of-fact tapping of her finger onto a flash of her exposed teeth as though to inform him (and everyone around him) in the subtlest unsubtle way possible: 'bro, you have a strip of pork stuck in this crack.'

That’s all it takes for Lang to become momentarily distracted, picking up a steak knife to probe at the gap between his teeth, picking at the suspected pork interloper there. He stops after a minute, tongue wandering around teeth behind closed lips, casting furtive glances at the rest of the table to see if anyone else noticed.

Yi-Min also isn't done with the Marlene situation yet. Oh, no. She rises up primly from her seat, all the way this time. When she does, she jabs her pointer finger down at the newly-vacated space for Marlene's benefit. "Sit. Eat."

Enjoy, or else.

Kara can watch their new charge alone, she trusts. As for Yi-Min, all she removes from the table to take with her as she trots off towards Magnes, Lucille, and the animated conversation transpiring over there is her sloshing tankard of mead. "Luce!" she exclaims warmly the moment she gets within proper earshot. "How is my favorite grizzled Wolfhound warrior holding up? You've discovered our resident children, I see," she continues on with a hint of a serene smirk, casting one eye over June and Odette, to be sure — but more pointedly, Chris and Finn.

Kara doesn't seem remotely concerned safety-wise, and the brief, vague explanation is enough to get Dumortier's ease back into place. He promptly turns his head to Tara, smile bright and crooked. "Really? What if this is me asking?" Jokingly, but only for the sake of the table and greater good. There is no chance that he'd actually give up the opportunity.

Kara would probably give him such a scorching look that he'd burst into flame. In lieu of that brand of troublemaking, he just shakes his head at the rest of the antics at the table, a laugh on his features. His eating lasts only as long as his willingness to listen to the soft guitar, at which he eventually turns around in his seat.

"Il n'est pas exactement fougueux…" Dumortier mutters to himself, before downing what is left of his mead; there's not an insignificant amount going in. Then he's sliding his seat back a few inches and gesturing at Kara something that he only thinks she'll understand, drink still in his mouth. It's mostly indecipherable to everyone except a short bit where it looks like he's excusing himself with a 'ssh'. The blonde slips out of his seat and starts across the hall; Rene could be onto anything from mischief to a piss-break, who knows.

When Dumortier excuses himself from the table, Hull looks up with brows raised and quickly grabs a cloth napkin and wipes at her mouth and hands as fast as she can. The young woman throws the napkin on her plate like it was on fire and slides off her seat, booted feet clomping down on the floor before she winds out of her chair like the Devil himself was chasing her, right up until she starts to close in on Dumortier. Then Hull very obviously slows down and smooths a hand over her hair, wipes at her mouth with the side of one hand to make sure she didn’t miss any barbecue sauce (she did, and still does) before calling, “Hey!”

Hull offers a beaming smile at Dumortier’s back. “Going out for a smoke? Or…” She’s trying to shamelessly insinuate herself into his trajectory.

“Usagi-hime would never forget!” Odette says with a smile and a giggle, one that’s half hers and half the stuffed rabbits. Well, it’s probably all hers, really, but unlike the fox, the rabbit brings out her sweet and sassy side more-so than most. She puts the rabbit down gently in the chair between Magnes and Chris, pulling her hands against her cheeks in kind of a shy manner before she looks up at Magnes with a tilt of her head. Sailor Moon, Sailor Moon…

“Usagi-hime is a Japanese princess. Who’s also a rabbit. Her name means Princess Rabbit!” She explains, as if that is all that’s needed to explain it, but then she presses her lips together and tilts her head to the side, then she makes a gesture with two fingers over her eyes. It’s not quite right, but it’s very close. “Was it a cartoon? I kind of remember a cartoon. We don’t really have them here…” They didn’t really have much in the way of television, not that she needed it with her imagination, but…

Maybe she did remember Sailor Moon. A little.

Magnes stares at Antje with a tilt of his head, and then just smiles. "I learned to make pizza at Panucci's Pizza, from Mr. Panucci. I can make other things too. Like pasta, hoagies, burgers. He was all about doing stuff from scratch, so if anyone has ingredients, I can make it happen."

Antje angles a look at him with one brow raised. The name means nothing to her, but she smiles regardless. “Well, if Mr. Panucci is still among us, he has my gratitude. If not,” she looks down to the table, “he is well remembered.”

Magnes stares at Yi-Min as she gets a bit closer, clearing his throat a little nervously. She makes him awkward and nervous for whatever reason, so he smiles at her and then immediately turns to Odette.

"Yeah, it was! I'll try to find it for you to watch some time, I think you'll love it." he reaches out to gently rub Odette on the head, smiling down at her. "Would you like to have cartoons?" he asks, with the tone of someone who fully intends to bring his daughter cartoons if she demands cartoons.

I knew you wouldn't forget.” Chris sits back, for a minute meeting Tara and then Yi-Min’s looks. Yeah, he noticed. See how many ducks he gives. “I think Jester’s just being jealous since he's not allowed in here. Unlike some people. You and Odette should make sure he gets some treats before we head out. So he doesn't feel too left out.”

He shifts a look to the little girl, but allows the subject to fold in favor of Odette and Magnes’ reunification. Chris returns to his meal as smoothly as he had transitioned to the arrival of Usagi-hime.

"June here actually helps me babysit the giant right here." Gesturing to Finn with a loose smile, she hasn't clocked everyone's face yet and isn't in a rush to. Lucille pointedly slides over the question of how she's holding up. Her sleeves are long and flap over her hands, but as she lifts her glass to take a sip of wine, various abrasions and dark bruises are revealed on her knuckles.

Whatever the Wolfhound has been feeling, it's been exorcised in the Crucible.

"How are you and… Kara?" That's polite.

The dinner crasher loads up on pasta and meatballs while seemingly unaware to the various reactions to her intrusion, but someone is commenting on there being some Italian cuisine brought to the dinner table and Eve beams brightly. "Grandmother's recipe! She was a tough lady with an iron right hook and a mean wooden spoon." It would seem Eve is content to just eat her spaghetti but then she sees another friend and she perks up.


Leaning forward.

"Pssstt," in a loud whisper directed at Marlene. "Cherry cherry fo ferry fo fe fi bo nary Cherry!" The older woman grins widely and a smear of red sauce gleams from the corner of her mouth. "How are ya, ain't these parts for the hooligans?" A faux deep southern accent taking the forefront, it's also a tease, it's not like they haven't run into each other out here before.

Seeing Eve Mas angling for Rue, Elisa grips one of the steak knives on the table with one hand and slides it down off the table and out of sight. She flicks a furtive look to Lang who is too preoccupied with his hillbilly dental hygiene to really understand what is going on. She makes a frustrated noise and slowly rises up to stand, tucking the steak knife up into her sleeve as she does.

Elisa regards Rue with uncertainty, and Eve’s back with just as much, as she tries to figure out how best to intercede given the givens. She steps away from her seat, tentatively treading across the bare wood floor with a cagey energy. If it were anyone else but Eve, she’d know how to handle this, but it’s like trying to lead a hyena by a leash. You never know when it’s going to bite.

Suddenly an idea comes to mind and Elisa loudly calls out, “Eve Mas?!” Multiple conversations at other tables stop, heads turn, chairs scuff on floors and guitar music stops. Suddenly many eyes are on Eve.

Marlene drops into the seat previously occupied by Yi-Min like someone tied a stone around her waist and dropped her off a pier. It’s difficult for her not to look back to see if she’s been discovered yet, but she keeps facing toward Kara pointedly, grabbing at the other woman’s arm like that will be enough to keep her from swiveling around.

“It doesn’t matter who belongs here and who’s a visitor if she kills me,” Marlene asserts, voice a low whisper. It isn’t just that she’s uncomfortable, but she’s scared for her life, and she isn’t certain she can pull wool over the eyes of one of the closest friends of this world’s Rue Lancaster.

Cherry sees the redhead’s attention snapping up and in Eve’s direction. There’s an instant wave of revulsion that has nothing to do with the former seer’s term of endearment and everything to do with the fact that she keeps expecting to hear a masculine syrupy sweet voice calling her Cherry Pie.

This is it. She’s certain of it. But she catches Elisa’s movements out of the corner of her eye at first, then turns to watch her properly. If she were this world’s Rue Lancaster, Marlene would note the posture, discern that the blonde’s carrying a weapon. Those sorts of observations are not her forte, however. But she does hear something that causes her to cant her head to one side, listening for a moment with her gaze unfocused before she comes back to the moment.

The shout is her cue. “I’m sorry,” Marlene shakes her head, letting go of Kara’s arm. “Please tell Miss Sonders that I’d like to thank her properly. Later.” Rising then from her seat, she intends to make her exit this time.

Those boots are already a sound he knows, even after they slow down. Checking the corners of his own mouth in a casual touch to his face, Dumortier turns around, feet still moving and that crooked smile on his lips. Trajectory unhindered, but now Clover has his attention.

"Actually, going to see 'bout stealing that guitar… Needs tuned." Or, in other words, someone who can play more than a few songs. As he finishes answering, Rene breathes out a chuckle and gestures a thumb to his own face where, in mirror, Hull has missed a spot. He did not miss her devouring dinner- - not for his life. It was a little endearing. Plans to go swipe the instrument are diverted all too easily when Elisa shouts, and the hall's echoes of utensils is what's left in the quiet. Rene coasts to a stop, raising a brow and looking furtively between Hull and the table they'd scampered from.

Whatever's going on now, he's not horribly keen on interfering. Still a lack of trust for Eve Mas, despite Kara's assurances.

Hull’s eyes go wide and Dumortier’s motion catches her dead in her tracks. Her face flushes red, thumb coming up to her mouth with a lick, then the spot of barbecue sauce he so helpfully pointed out. She manages a winsome smile in spite of herself, then sidles up beside Dumortier and a side-long stare. “You takin’ off? ‘Cause if so I’m more’n willing to uh… change the scenery.”

Among those interrupted, Chris levels a look at Elisa, a fork loaded with some kind of casserole and a mash of veggies raised half way to his mouth. But his ire for her only lasts a moment, he twists so that Eve can take a share in his deadpan annoyance. Now he doesn't properly know that woman but she seems like trouble if Elisa is calling her out. And Marlene with her pissed in Cheerios acting more skittish than Charity when called on her bullshit trying to sneak off again. Why the hell can’t people just sit down and enjoy supper.


“You know what I think.” No one ever does, but Chris asks anyway. His chair scrapes back as he stands. The forkful of food is thrown onto his plate. “I think this is one of the best fucking suppers we've had since coming out here. Easily better than most and… fuck. Did any of you even say thank you?” He looks around at each and everyone face at the table and beyond. “Fucking do it, put the psycho bullshit away for one night, fill your plate, ducking be civil already.” His pass of scowling look finished its circuit and he holds a second of silence before he drops into his chair.

“And you're all fucking upsetting Usagi-hime. Knock it off.”

Carver peers up, having finished off the load of mashed potatoes he'd spooned out for himself. "What he said," he rasps, pointing at Chris with a fork. "Don't shit where you eat."

Then, peering down the table…

"Someone pass me some of that spaghetti?" He considers for a moment. "Please 'n' thank you."

Finn was reaching for the cocaine biscuits when things got tense, and his green eyes lift, gaze alighting on Elisa. He glances at Eve and then back to Elisa.

“For once, Chris makes some sense,” he says with a slow nod. “Don’t bring a knife to a whatever-the-fuck-she-can-do show.” He tips his head in Eve’s direction. “Because I’m pretty sure that knife isn’t going to do much good. Sit down, eat something, and show some hospitality.”

That said, Finn glances at Eve, brows lifting. “We didn’t get your répondez s'il vous plaît, so you caught us by some surprise, I think. Who invited Eve and forgot to mention?”

"Kara and I are…….." Yi-Min starts, to Lucille.

And ends, thanks to Elisa's strident interruption. Hers is one of the many gazes that turn onto Eve in that moment, though in her case, it's more because she had perceived the ex-seer’s attempt to call out Marlene just prior.

There is a skeptical narrowing of her eyes, and then only a flowing shrug of confused commiseration with Finn’s question before she swivels her attention towards (hopefully) less exasperating individuals. "Who is bringing out knives, now?" she inquires in Elisa's direction without really sounding concerned about it, taking the liberty of picking up the heavy bowl of spaghetti herself and handing the thing over to Carver.

After that, Yi-Min plops herself right down into Marlene's original vacated seat as though it had been hers all along, thunking her tankard of mead down beside her on the table like the inseparable companion it is. "I agree with Chris for once, too," she remarks as though this surprises her, already picking up knife and fork to cut up the sausage links Marlene had abandoned.

"We would not dare upset… what was the name again?" The. Er. Rabbit's. She tilts her head at it.

Kara lets Marlene slip away without further argument, her eyes on the distraction that unfolds. She nods tightly to her parting comment despite that, afterward coming to her feet. There's the potential for foul moods to still fly— just different ones than even before.

Raising her voice, she asserts: "Every guest here tonight will respect the hospitality shown to them." The stern look she sets forward goes to Eve as much as to Elisa. Eve's probably heard the word knife enough times to start wondering, for her part. "This is a night for coming together; to celebrate what we all have and look forward to a bright future for us all. For the young ones; for all of Providence…"

The corner of Kara's mouth twitches up into a smile. "Can't be a proper celebration if the music's died. Rene, why don't you fix that?" Her hands lift up from her sides amicably. "Everyone, please, enjoy your supper."

And then slowly, she sits back down, flitting a quiet look to Lang at odds with the rest of her presentation.

"I do love a sharp blade, may I see it?!" Who is so bold as to give Eve a knife?

"My, my my. Are we more touchy than ducks heading towards the slaughter. Autographs will not be permitted until after we have dined sillies," Her laugh glitters across the space and eyes close. Music stops, faces all turned towards her. Eve does the most natural thing anyone would do in the circumstance.

She poses.

One hand on her hip, the other thrown high into the air and her head tilted to the side as she leans slightly back, "Cheese." Eve snaps and opens her eyes, crimson shining. "I forgot the cheese! Sei uno sciocco," Smacking the side of her head rather hard and sending midnight tresses flying. "Do you always speak like this in front of your young ones?" Maybe Eve is prepared to lecture this group of pleasant people but instead she giggles and notices Chris' look of disapproval and she winks and sticks a tongue out at the boy.

“I'm pretty sure Finn’s kid has heard worse,” Chris counters.

"Reminds me of my parents, so full of life!" And dysfunction, that's where Eve thrives. Hovering over it like a buzzard ready for lunch. Finn's inquires has Eve's blinking and she blushes, "I don't think I've ever seen you around you Lumberjack you, rawr," Eve claws at the air in the direction of the man.

"Oh hell no," Lucille's eyes focus on Eve and she grips her bottle of wine that sits in front of her.

The older woman doesn't seem to notice and she draws closer to Finn, "Why I was just being neighborly! I've been nestled out here for so long, I mostly talk to the birds— speaking of Bird.. have any of you seen her? I owe her a compliment on her hair," Eve realizes she's getting sidetracked though and refocuses on the tall man before her.

“Oh sit your ass down already.” Chris shoves his plate aside and starts to stand again. “I swear, I'll come over there and cut off your fucking legs so all you’ll be is an ass.”

"The air is getting kinda frosty here darling, how about we go outside and warm up our little—" Eve starts to say before


Blood red eyes widen a touch and Eve slams to the ground face first, legs thrown out behind her and knocking into the chair leg next to Yi-Min's. As the woman falls, Lucille is revealed behind her nostrils flared and broken ends of a wine bottle in her hand.

Eve begins to snore on the floor.

The Wolfhound sits back down and calmly takes a sip of her wine before reaching for the spoon shoved into the spaghetti and dishing out a fat glob for Carver's plate. "Enjoy," Is said softly.

From the look on Odette’s face, she’s learning some fun new words for the fox to say. Or for the fox to say through her. Those brown eyes brighten a little, and she pats Usagi-hime on the ears. “It’s okay, hime-sama. They’re not meaning to ruin your big date. This is what happens when big families get together.” She seems to recall—

Something. Somewhere.

Somewhen. “Oh no, don’t you start causing trouble too, Vos!” she suddenly yells, going over to pick up the stuffed fox as if he might have been about to launch himself and do something terrible. He was just sitting there. Watching. She puts him firmly in her lap and sits down with him between her two dads.

Yi-Min is just laughing silently through all of this, only making sure to inch her chair safely out of the radius of the fallen Eve before turning back. "Kara and I are marvelous," she asides to Lucille at long last, her gaze turning dreamy as it stays on Kara through that authoritative address. "Isn't she just wonderful?"

Magnes smiles and moves to pet Vos on the head, unable to not smile and be proud of his daughter at all times for every minor thing.

He finally looks around at whatever is going on at large, as he was incredibly laser focused on Odette. "I mean, if a large fight starts, I'll just kind of start making people float around until they calm down." He holds up his hand in a mock threatening manner. "Don't make me turn off the gravity and turn this into a space dinner where we all float around drinking Tang and eating floating pizza."

Placing a hand on Odette's head, he says, "You're teaching Odette's children a lot of bad words."

He has to smile down at Odette again, as her presence generally fills him with a happiness that cuts through any particular frustration or alarm he may have felt about this situation in the past.

“Did that crazy horse-bitch just fall straight the fuck asleep?” Lang thinks to ask Tara as he reaches for his beer, motioning with his head to Eve. “Providence, I swear to the Lord Above. Ain’t never normal here.”

Shaking his head, Lang looks over at Magnes. “Hey, can you levitate me over that tray a’biscuits ‘fore that little green-haired lady gets back and just eats ‘em all.”

Amid the chaos, Elisa look both humbled and slyly satisfied. She slinks back, offering a grimace to Chris and a quick look to Rue’s departing back before returning to her chair. “Sorry about that,” she says as the conversation begins to start up in the dining room again.

“Someone drag her ass outside and put her with the pigs,” Chris decides, with a dismissive wave of his hand at Eve. She can sleep off whatever nonsense there with a group who’ll be more tolerant of it. He leans back in his chair, catching Elisa’s look. The one he returns is an indecipherable mask, vaguely grumping and amused and a bit of what the fuck are you apologizing for. “Sit down and eat,” he advises, instead of any further quibbling or tomfoolery about whatever the shit just happened with Eve and Marlene. “Here.” He liberates the serving of some kind of mashed squash from Usagi-hime’s plate — no one actually likes them anyway, not enough nutmeg and cinnamon — and flips the heaped spoonful at Elisa’s plate.

If someone were to take a photo, ‘Who, me?’ could be the caption for the look on Finn Shepherd’s face as Eve comes close to him. He literally looks behind himself, to see if some lumberjack has crept up beside him. This means he misses Lucille creeping up beside Eve, though he’s not so naive to put together two and two — or broken bottle and unconscious Eve.

His brows lift, and he reaches for Lucille’s hand. “I think we should probably get back to the city,” he murmurs, looking for June and nodding to the door.

“Something like that,” he says to Lang, with a nervous laugh.

It seems about the right time to slip out, what with Chris starting to fling food. “See you in a couple of weeks, y’all.” The emphasis on the southern accent is punctuated with a sharp look at Elisa. “Bye, Dad,” he adds to Carver with a grin as he heads for the door.

Any thrown food missiles at him or those he escorts will somehow just miss. He’s just lucky that way.

"Kara's got my number," Dumortier tips a look to Hull, his answer coming just on the tail of the chaplain's request. "And looks like they need a little less chaos. I'm staying for dessert, chere, you should too." A more toothy smile takes over, maybe half of a wink, and Rene steps off to more or less abscond with the musician's guitar— thank you sticky fingers. They know him enough to know he'll give it back.


Right now, though, Rene is motioning for Clover to join him back at the table- - and at the free seat to the right of him when he arrives there. The guitar didn't really need tuning, apparently, as the blonde just scoots his chair out and starts along some less sleepy chords than were playing before. Dumortier's no Wonderwall; more of a Black Dog.

Somehow, the world doesn't fly to pieces once Lucille smashes Eve's head in, and that's just fine with Kara. "Jesus," she murmurs to herself, but for the moment, lets it be. Her sole overt reaction is to incline her head in farewell to Finn and June when the former decides Lucille shouldn't be in polite company.

"At least with this motley bunch," the munitions chaplain asides across the table to Lang. "we can be sure every event will be some kind of a barnburner."

The good kind or the bad kind, well, that would always depend.

"This was worth it," Kara decides with a small smile, lifting her glass barely off the table to emphasise her opinion. It might've put them against the grain of the vision others held for this space, but tonight felt to her almost like being back at Sedro-Woolley. It had that same sense of fellowship, even for all its quirks. "If we're staying, we might as well live while we're doing it."

“It’s okay, daddy,” Odette says to Magnes. “Vos already knows a lot of dirty words. Leenie really did have a dirty sailor’s mouth sometimes,” she jokes. This is the first time since he started staying here that she’s actually called him daddy the same as Lang, but she doesn’t seem to notice that significance.

Maybe the two men will, maybe the others will, but she’s too busy pulling her plate closer and getting back to picking at her food now that the interruption seems to be over. The lady who fell asleep might have been scary to some, but it was just a family dinner to Odette, really.

Family dinners were supposed to be weird.

Excuse you, Chris. Yi-Min is actually a fan of that mashed squash, thank you. "Hey," she scolds instinctively when the orange gloop floops through her airspace on its way to Elisa's plate beside her, a bite of vegetable quiche raised partway to her lips. "I'm going to cut off your fingers and add them into the cobbler if you do not pipe down and eat."

Iago Ramirez be damned; live wonderfully, yes, yes. She would happily drink to all of that. Actually, she would just be drinking regardless. Right now, she'd just like to be able to eat her way through this delightfully rich food without any barns actually burning down or anyone dying. For once.

Look, there's even some decent dinner music going now.

Magnes has temporarily stopped paying attention to the entire discussion to instead give Odette a big hug as she eats. Then he forces himself to let go as he holds up a hand, pulling the biscuits over in a slow and wobbly manner with his gravity, before they abruptly drop down in front of Lang. "Sorry, when you spend years fighting robots and pirate ships and stuff, you tend to lose grasp of fine control in favor of being a blunt force object."

"You're welcome! Have a great evening," Lucille waves her hand and smiles as Finn guides her from the table. "Do you think I might have overdid it?" Hiccup Leaning on Finn for support. "I'm sorry," It had been a rough year from the very start of it. It was said that humans could bear enormous weights and tragedies and be able to press forward from it.

It was also said that everyone had their breaking point.

On the ground, Eve's prone form begins to smoke. Fine wisps of crimson mist lift from her body and her shoulders shake as she rolls over and laughs, "I just," A cough and a snicker, "Wanted to share the fine delights of a Mas cuisine." Coughing again the woman bursts into a blood red mist and takes off into the air.

Whatever Eve's true intentions were, at least she left her spaghetti for the group.

She would bring cookies next time.

Slowly pulling his eyes away from Eve Mas’ prone form, Lang looks across the table to Magnes with a silently thoughtful expression. This may have been a rowdy night, but it wasn’t a complete disaster. Instead, it showed to Lang that the world he assumed was out to get him may not be quite so barbed after all. That perhaps Magnes Varlane could keep his end of their bargain up, and that Odette might have a future that involves them all.

Slouched in his chair, Lang looks away from Magnes toward a window where a large crow looks in from outside, perched on a branch. His brows tense, jaw sets, and he remembers how he came to be here in this moment. He remembers the things that are yet left undone, and he remembers loose ends left dangling in the wind.

“I’ll be right back,” Lang says with a hand on Tara’s shoulder, then quietly excuses himself among the revelry. Elisa watches Lang leave with a partly-lidded stare, but cannot pull herself away to follow in this moment without being obvious about her intentions. Lang is able to slip away…

…to handle a loose end.



A cell phone rings on a cluttered nightstand. The chorus from Ah-Ha’s Take On Me chirps loudly through the brick-walled bedroom. A few thundering footfalls on hardwood floors herald the arrival of the phone’s owner, her hair up in a messy bun and long sweater of cabled wool hanging too large on her narrow shoulders.

“Helloo?” She greets on picking the phone up without so much as checking who the caller is.

«Long time no see, Pillbug.» Lang’s voice is unfamiliar sounding at first. The woman cradling the phone to her ear looks confused, then slowly sits down on the corner of her bed.

“J-Joshua?” She asks in disbelief, fingers of her free hand forming a cage over her mouth.

«Yeah. Sorry I ain’t been in touch. You know how it went back west.»

The woman’s pale eyes search the bedroom in distress and she can’t sit still. Boosting back up to her feet, she paces the floor. “I thought— I thought you were dead. Why haven’t you— where are you?

«Look, it’s a long story. But we need t’meet. I moved in outside the Safe Zone, down in Jersey. Little settlement called Providence. You heard of it?»

“I… ahh…” The woman paces around, threading a lock of hair behind one ear, eyes scanning left and right as her mind tries to catch up to the conversation. “Providence? Yeah? Yeah. Yeah, I’ve heard of it.”

«Just take 95 south and look for exits for Wharton State Forest. There’s a bar on the outskirts called the Corral. We can meet there.»

“No. No, hold on. Hey.” She pauses, one hand waving in the air emphatically. “You can’t just show up out of the blue after years and— and— Joshua. Things have been a mess. My life’s— there’s a lot.”

«Then you can tell me all about it. Tomorrow, sunset. Please?»

The woman sucks in a sharp breath, looking up at the ceiling with wide eyes. Lowering the phone from her ear, she exhales the breath as a steady sigh. After a moment of silence she brings the phone back up to her ear and says, “Fine. Okay. Tomorrow, sunset. Corral.”

«I promise, I’ll explain everything.»

“Yeah,” is her soft-spoken reticence. “I’m glad you’re alive, Josh.”

«Thanks. Me too,» he says with a laugh. «Y’all don’t tell nobody, okay?»

“Pinkie-swear,” she says back, scrubbing at one eye with the heel of her palm.

«You’re a peach. See you then.»

“Okay.” She says quietly. “Bye, Josh.”

«Bye Sera.»


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