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Scene Title 目と目が合って
Synopsis 見たくないもの
Date June 19, 2021

Residential Area, Lowe's

"You've got this this time," Asi encourages Elliot as she watches through his eyes while he approaches the place they've learned her Flood counterpart seems to base out of. The door is cracked open, light from within spilling out. "It'll go better than the last. Just… apologize for before and tell her I want to talk to her."

He can feel the way her heart begins to quicken from that admission, an annoying sensation she notices and notes out of self-modulating habit. She does want to take advantage of this strange opportunity, however awkward it might be for everyone involved in arranging its occurrence.

Elliot does his best to make noise that's obvious and casual as he approaches the door. "Yeah," he says quietly despite his announcement of his presence on the way to the local Asi's door. "If history repeats itself again then I should have this bit down pat."

He adjusts his burden, a tattered, reusable cloth shopping bag, carrying this iteration's apology. The things inside came at a high price in the local market, but he's found ways to be surprisingly useful without announcing how he knows so much. He breathes in then exhales it as a short sigh. Stepping forward, he knocks against the open door only to immediately step back to give Asi space to react to his presence.

There's definitely something going on inside. "Hold on," the Asi of this world sighs as she shifts around something noisily, grumbling as she moves forward toward the door. She leans forward to grab the handle to pull the door in just slightly so she can peek around it. Her expectant, if inconvenienced, look drops at the sight of Elliot. "Oh," she states with some disappointment. "またお前か2," comes as a mutter in that aftermath.

"Already trying to make you feel awkward enough to leave her on her own," Asi notes from a world away while watching herself step over a crate of bits and bobs in a room filled with shelves of like containers. Carefully preserved piles of what might otherwise be junk are found in those jars and boxes, but the abandoned panel she's left behind on the worn-down mattress in the back corner of the—

Closet. This was once a sizable storage closet. She's made the most of the space, to be sure, but it doesn't ultimately change how nearly-claustrophobically small it is in here between her personal effects and the odds and ends of electrical components stuffing so much of the space.

Asi finishes her tiny trek back inside her den and collapses into a seat on a pillow placed before an upturned milkcrate shoved against the back wall, upon which an old computer monitor and keyboard rests, complete with an unplugged desktop snug between it and the five-tier metal shelf that occupies the wall not occupied by mattress. She turns to pick up what's on the mattress— an electronic panel she's in the process of trying to rewire for use.

"Did you need something?" she asks only then. "I'm kind of in the middle of something." Which she might have immediately re-engaged in for performance's sake, but she does actually pay a critical eye to, returning to winding wire with the help of a tired old set of pliers.

“またわたくしです3,” Elliot says, hoping to forestall any incorrect assumption that he doesn’t—at least currently—speak Japanese. It wouldn’t do to let her walk herself into embarrassment over something she doesn’t expect him to understand. His eyes dart around the space out of curiosity, though he quickly returns his focus to the room’s inhabitant.

Raising the grocery sack before himself in offering, he continues in English. “I come bearing an apology for my recent…” he pauses before settling on how to phrase it, “inability to keep my foot out of my mouth. Some of the captain’s salmon, as promised.” Well, not technically promised so much as suggested as potentially possible. And either way, not just salmon.

“Assuming it’s acceptable,” he continues, “I also have a message to deliver for a friend of mine with whom you share a mutual friend in Silas Mackenzie. In truth, this was the reason I sought you out last week.” He’s not entirely pleased with the execution, but he’d rather not have the conversation immediately pivot to why he, a stranger, found out where she lives.

Asi pauses in what she's doing when Elliot speaks to her in her own language, beginning to look up when he moves on in English. Her eyes narrow in thought at him, unguarded in her scrutiny in a way that makes her other self uncomfortable. "なるほど4," she remarks to the apology.

The latter comment brings her to sigh openly, her neutral expression shifting to something more… unsettled. "Why me?" Asi asks aloud uncomfortably as she reaches out to indicate she'll accept the bag anyway, not immediately setting her work aside in doing so. "Surely whatever message you have is meant for Silas."

"No," the Asi of the other side murmurs her reminder to herself and Elliot both. "He doesn't need reminded of a world he can't return to more than he already is. Better he lives his life there happily enough without the melancholy caused by that."

Elliot shakes his head. "She told me that Silas is somebody I can trust, and believes that shared friendship warrants trusting you as well. The message– or opportunity– is for you, and of a personal, if unusual, nature."

He takes a tentative step forward into the space to hand off Apology Breakfast Two to the local Asi. He stands back and away once the transaction is complete, trying with care to not present himself as a threat blocking her doorway. He leans backward into the hallway to double check for nearby listeners before continuing. "That being established," he says at a more conspiratorial volume, "the Tetsuyama Asi of my world would like to extend to you the opportunity to speak with her through a telepathic network of my creation."

"So formal," Asi chides him with some mirth in her voice completely at odds with the expression on her double's face as she looks up from examining the wrapped food contents inside the bag. For a moment, she looks vexed. "Tetsu…yama?" she murmurs to herself in that confusion before saying it aloud slots some understanding into place. Her eyes narrow, nose wrinkling at that particular choice, and then she looks back up to properly process what's being offered.

"なん…てこと." Her bewilderment hasn't faded, and the Other Self watching her sits through the processing of that patiently. Asi looks down into the bag again, reaching in to pull out a seaweed-wrapped rounded triangle. The shape of it she studies more intently than she did before, thumbing the edge of it. She begins to shake her head in disbelief, eyes lifting afterward to consider Elliot again with wariness.

"And how does that work?" she wonders in just as guarded a voice.

"She believes you," Asi notes, something like surprise in her voice for being able to see it as well as she can from an outside perspective. "She's not sure what to think about it, but she doesn't think you're tricking her."

Elliot nods his head faintly enough for Asi to feel the motion without the her seated before them noticing. Which reminds him that he should include that fact in the explanation. "I create a telepathic link between other people and myself that can transfer sensory information, memories, and emotions across any distance," he sums up, leaning against the door frame.

"I'm keeping this information contained here," he says, "for operational safety. Also keeping the fact that Asi is currently linked into the network secret from my team for now. So she is experiencing this conversation as though she were standing where I am and I'm borrowing Japanese from her. And a couple recipes."

He stuffs his hands in his pockets because he can't think of anything else to do with them. "So this is one of those run of the mill, once in a lifetime opportunities for interdimensional personal enrichment."

Asi considers what he's said for only a moment before she decides with muted firmness, "Shut the door." She looks down to the rice ball in her hand. Borrowing a few recipes, he says.

She takes a bite of it even as she's placing aside her work to judge just how well he's picked this particular skill up. Enough she lets out a surprised hum of appreciation while getting the rest of herself together, setting aside the bag and lifting herself up to pull out a thin floorpad she uses under the tired, thin pillow implemented as a chair. She dips her head to show Elliot should make himself comfortable using that.

"So," she surmises. "She… got my message then."

Only the barest of pauses happen before Asi blanches. "Her what?"'

"How does this work?" the Asi of the here wonders. "Is it like a translator situation, then? You tell me what she's saying?"

Elliot removes his shoes when he steps into the small space, closing the door behind him as he takes the offered seat. “She doesn’t appear to know what you mean by sending her a message,” he passes on.

He stretches as he finds a position to comfortably sit in for a while. “Though that brings up the answer to your question,” he continues. “There are two ways that the conversation can take place. The first is that I repeat back everything she says to you as she speaks. The second is that I link you into the telepathic network, then you can experience everything she says as though you were sitting where she is.”

“If the former sounds preferable, I am perfectly willing to operate in that regard,” he assures her. “The network can take some time to learn, but it’s entirely voluntary; if you don’t want to be connected, you can’t be. Strain breaks the link. We can both break the connection whenever we prefer and for any reason.”

He settles on sitting with his legs folded to the side with his back against the now closed door. “With the latter you can pass memories back and forth to compare as well, as though you’re remembering your own but with a bit more effort. I can keep her linked into the network for a couple more weeks before the strain of maintaining her link forces me to drop it, so there’s also time to think on that before agreeing.”

The use of the word network again draws an arched eyebrow from Asi, her interest flashing in her eyes— literally— despite effort to conceal it. An inner green light flares in her irises before she lets go of her ability.

Not that kind of network, Asi. But she couldn't help but check.

"We don't exactly have networks here anymore. So you'll have to forgive my curiosity in discovering just what you mean by…" The end of that sentence doesn't come, her eyes narrowing thoughtfully. A second, smaller bite is taken of the snack brought to her, one meant to help it maintain its integrity well-enough to go back into the bag once more without falling apart. "Knowing it's a voluntary connection certainly helps," she absently segues away to admit after chewing. "And if it's something that takes time to get used to, maybe it's better to start… sooner."

A tone of agreement sounds quietly in reply, with all the subtle but persistent presence of anticipation verging on nervousness.

Asi lifts both brows as she considers Elliot, wiping her hands together to clean them of anything that might be clinging to her fingers. "She trusts you, though," she notes. "And you trust each other enough to stay… networked even over this distance."

"Why?" she wonders openly, with blunt curiosity that surprises her other self out of having an immediate answer.

Elliot gives the question the scrutiny it deserves, his eyes flickering up and away unfocused. “I can only speak for myself of course,” he answers as he returns his eyes to Asi’s, “Other than the speaking for her in an intermediary capacity obviously,” he waves away his own digression.

“There’s a lot about the network that requires trust in order for it to work,” he explains. He slouches back a bit to become more comfortable. “I’m functionally the switchboard that controls the traffic, so I can see anything shared even if it’s shared from one co-host to another. You get a feel for who is watching something you’re sharing, so it’s not just constantly worrying about whether or not you’re being streamed. If you remember this conversation after we link, assuming we do, you would know if I was remembering it with you.”

“And I control the doors, which means it’s always possible for someone to step into your perception unannounced,” he admits. “Which means rules, and mechanisms for asking and granting permission to do so. Bad behavior is possible, though I have the ability to revoke any particular facet to a given co-host. So I can keep the link active while inaccessible to keep people on task.”

“Since I work with Asi,” he finally gets around to answering the question, “we have more opportunities than most to share. Other than my partner who’s still at home. Of everybody I’ve ever linked in, Asi has taken to the network the most naturally and doesn’t require a lot of upkeep to sustain the link. She’s also a good friend.” The only one, possibly, he realizes but doesn’t add. He manages to send appreciation through the network rather than embarrassment.

The length of the reply is one that would have given Asi time to finish the rice ball she'd started into, she realises all too late. Instead, she sits posture imperfect, brow slanted while she listens. "Ah, you work with her," she repeats by the end, seeming to find this the key factor. Even moreso than friendship, perhaps. It's a tone which gets under Asi's skin, leading her to clear her throat.

She tries to focus on the feedback from Elliot instead and settle her nerves.

"It makes sense why she's less stress on you. My presence created no load on the systems I piggybacked on. Our minds are… light, if she's anything like me." To which Asi too begins to set her jaw and look down, momentarily uncertain. She overrides herself quickly with, "All right. How do we begin?"

Elliot notes Asi’s frustration with her other self, but can’t think of a way to address it other than allowing the two to fight it out in the Network. “Assuming that you’re sober,” Elliot says, “we can start. There can be odd effects in the network if somebody is intoxicated, but mostly this rule is out of respect for my partner who is a recovering alcoholic.” It still feels odd not to lie about this.

“The process isn’t particularly spectacular,” he explains. “We need to maintain physical contact while I set the link. Usually I will hold my hands out so a prospective co-host can hold them and let go if they become uncomfortable at any point, which I totally understand.”

He holds his hands out before him, palms up, cupping the air. “I need to find the places in your mind where the link goes,” he says, “so I will call out words to see what sparks in your mind. Memories, colors, flavors, emotions. It can be anything really. Once I have enough the link is set and I can walk you through the process of interacting with the network. Generally I’ll maintain physical contact during this period to correct for any unintentional disconnections.”

He flexes his fingers closed as the idea of touching another person is carried on a wave of revulsion. This doesn’t work without contact, he thinks. It’s just Asi, he lies to himself, Asi is safe. You’re safe. He shakes out his hands, relaxes his shoulders, gives in to the lie.

“All in all the process takes a minute or two. Learning how to stream something, or to following where a co-host directs you, takes a bit longer,” he says, “but I’m optimistic about that not stretching on for too long.”

The note about being sober leads Asi to draw an eyebrow, but it makes sense, she supposes. "I've not had anything today," she admits lightly. "Clean of mind." For now, at least, though her other suspects she might be a lush— a thought she keeps firmly to herself.

She supposes the explanations and the disclaimers are a reassuring thing, but she's already agreed to this, and finding them somewhat moot she plants her hands on her seat to swing her seated self forward in a trio of scoots to bring herself within touching distance of Elliot. Asi takes his hands, settling his knuckles in her palms instead of the reverse. Her touch is coarse, weathered— healed from any cracks brought on by sea life from months of being home, but bearing the scars of sun and salt all the same.

"Okay, then," she says, and Elliot can feel the Asi he knows take a metaphorical step back to give him the space to make the connection. On thinking, the forward woman in front of him reflects, "Been a while since I've met another technopath." Her eyes flare a sea green color as they close and she steadies herself, emptying her mind. Her shoulders settle, and she looks at once more familiar to him.

"What first?" Asi asks.

Elliot keeps his sympathy for Asi’s loss of her ability off of his face, though not out of the network. “We’ll start with emotions, which are kind of foundational to the other facets, and the only link I can’t close.”

His eyes lose focus for a movement as he feels it begin. It begins as a prickle in his scalp that cascades down his body. Down his neck where the hairs stand on end. Down into his arms, into his fingertips where he traces at the seams of it. Where he pulls against it, fingers splayed as though Wright is driving and his hand is free to surf the wind. He sighs, his world expands, his hands fold gently over Asi’s. Fingers ignore the air, sink past it. He begins to build a bridge.

“Forgotten,” Elliot begins. It isn’t personal.

Emotions are the point, he's just said, and she tries to remember that as her forehead tics. She sits in this room, stomach turning over with guilt and grief, trying to reassemble a pearl necklace onto a string of fishing line. It's nothing like it used to be. It'll never be like it was again. She tries to believe that by putting it back together again, Kaori won't be… Forgotten is such a loaded word, with such feeling behind it. Despite her flinch, Asi doesn't move her palms from his hands. He feels the edges of her suspicions sharpening like knives against the first lacing of bonds between them, wondering why this set of feelings.

“Overwhelm,” he continues. His own imagination not believing such a wave could topple her.

Her eyes nearly open as she takes in a breath instantly summoned by a memory of loss so powerful all she can truly remember is the pain behind it. Her awareness expands against his as she recalls Holding onto something dead and cold with all the desperation of hoping to call them back to life by clinging; screaming into the skies for their loss with eyes so blinded by tears she couldn't see her loved ones' faces one last time anyway.


Asi screams this time in her soul, sight tinged with red as she plunges a knife again, and again, and again into the face and neck of a man trying in floundering grades to fight her off. Bubbles trail from his mouth when she slices through his cheek and he can no longer breathe through his oxygen tank. Bubbles trail from the submarine behind him, tipped oddly on its side as it floats up from its back end. She hears blood rush her ears as she reaches back again, kicking heavy flippered feet forward so she can plunge the knife one last time into his…

Heart hammering, Asi's hands fly back from Elliot's and into her own lap. Her eyes flutter open and then immediately shut again, a strange vertigo held at bay by depriving herself of that sense. The strong, visceral emotions in those memories called forth aren't the cause of that, but something else she felt in the pit of her being. The back of her mind.

"Was the point of asking me if I haven't drank today to drive me to?" she poses defensively, feeling … almost nauseous.

Elliot makes no movement to reclaim Asi’s hands, moving them to his own face to cut away the tears of pain of her recollection. The primal panic and rage. He takes a staggered breath in, eyes closed and fingers pinched against the burn of grief between them. His mouth works to form words that don’t follow.

After a moment he scrubs at his face in embarrassment at having just experienced the betrayal that preceded the termination of the link. He breathes in and out, in and out. He looks up finally, willing himself to meet Asi’s eyes before a shake of his head to discard his gaze to the floor with tears of involuntary sympathetic understanding.

“Powerful emotions make for bright sensations,” he says. “I pick search keys at random based on what I assume will produce meaningful connections. That was thoughtless of me. I’m so sorry.” He lets his hands fall back to his lap, clenching them into fists to hide the shake of the hand that held the dead; that placed the knife that killed a man.

Asi's eyes open to slits as she reconciles that the thing she felt forming is no longer there. She doesn't look up at him directly while he speaks, but doesn't need to to hear the sincerity and discomfort of the apology and feel it. She shakes her head once.

She reaches out again, placing the backs of her knuckles down into the spaces where his curl into his palms. She tries to make space for herself there, stubbornly digging with the points of her joints like spades, then softens the plane of her hand out when he begins to give way to her.

She sits for a moment in silence with her hands in his again, eyes unfocused as they color and brighten in green hues. She tries reaching out through herself, trying to wrap mental fingers around the edge of her where she felt that bridge forming. Yearning for it, even.

"You can't take it back," Asi acknowledges in a muted quiet. It's not forgiveness, but a lack of pressing further guilt. Calmly, she presses, "But you can make it worth something. Just… if we have to start over, don't be surprised if there's something different there on a second pass."

Elliot sighs as his hands reopen, letting the newfound tension in his shoulders dissipate. He nods subtly, choosing to return to the task without further explanation. He knows what he’s looking for. This time, as his mind finds the places in Asi’s where he has already been, she doesn’t remember. She only senses that those things are being recalled from a detached perspective, without the hollow pain of her own recollection.

With those feeling mapped there comes a tide of alien emotion. Not unnatural, merely distinct in the way that Elliot feels the regret of his carelessness slowly subside. He’ll do better this round. “Now, sensory,” he says slowly, attention fully on the task at hand.

“Sunrise,” he says.

Asi's eyes close, the hair on her arms and the back of her neck rising when The light prickles her skin as she watches the sun rise up over the water again. Her gloved hand tightens on the wheel, finding herself nearly blinded as they sail straight into the emergent bright. It had been down so very little time at all, but the way the sun breaches through the sea and sets the horizon aglow is beautiful nonetheless.

When she exhales a cloud of steam, she imagines to herself even that turns the color of the morning sun, too.

“Marble,” he continues.

Hand to the cool railing, Asi's eyes are demurely lowered to the steps as she navigates them at a respectable pace. She can hear her heels click on the marble of them, a rush building beneath her skin as she makes her escape. The sounds of the party are dimming behind her, the doors at the landing promising a more relaxing night ahead of her. Just as she thinks she's home free, a voice calls out to her from the top of the stairs, scandalized. "あさみん!" She turns her head over her shoulder at the sound of her name, artfully-freed strands from her pinned-up hair framing the overly-innocent cherub of her face … She meets her sister's eyes unabashedly while she frowns in disappointment down at her.


She tries to resist a smile as a fresh skewer of fish hits the grill and music plays across the deck. She lounges like a cat along the railing of the Forthright, one leg draped down while she observes the crew revel in the aftermath of their latest crazy job. Even Mad Eve is on deck, cackling and turning. Asi turns her head just slightly to regard Silas out of the corner of her eye while she sits at ease under the warmth of the sun, him at work while everyone else is working on their fair share of play. She leans slowly, surreptitiously over to snag one of the already-barbecued skewers; fingers successfully closing around the still-warmed metal before she's noticed. She's taken a bite of the hot, seasoned fish before she can be told to wait, feeling the meal bubble against her tastebuds.

Asi exhales slowly this time, the procession of memories and sensations still slightly uncomfortable for their intimacy, but not in the way the delve through some of her worst memories had been. Her awareness of Elliot's regret for invading her privacy and putting her through that again is a salve which she unconsciously pings acceptance of.

"Is there another layer?" she asks in a murmur, mindful of the hush that's fallen in those moments of recollection and mapping.

The sensory components of the tagged memories play together in a strange way, stripped of context to be experienced as sight, temperature, flavor, sound, balance, and the body’s place in a room.

“One,” Elliot says, not elaborating further. His eyes have drifted open, though it’s clear that they are unfocused as his thoughts are elsewhere. Their work to this point has highlighted a lot of memory incidentally, here he probes for broader wells of knowledge.

“Program,” he says.

Asi's lips part to question, but then she stills and resigns herself to it. Bittersweet emotion filters over a memory. Her shoulders and arms roll in a wave like a particularly bad dance move— because it is— before she claps her hands before her and places one on a humanoid frame in front of her. She feels the connection made, the transmission of intent and intention. "出番だ5!" The frame's arms lift and clunkily begin to mirror her actions. Her grin falters when the rig wobbles unsteadily. A swear later and she's halted it before it can fall entirely over, turning back to a connected computer to correct the instructions given— to write out that the machine needs to plant its feet before waving its arms, and it should always check to ensure it's not about to cause itself to tip before acting.

“Secure,” he adds.

For a moment, nothing. There aren't clear enough memories to draw from after so long, from a technological standpoint. But she lets go of feeling like it has to be something like that, and something comes forward. "There," Asi pronounces as she takes a step back from the sheets they've fixed into place over the windows, looking to the sails they've tied down sturdily with complex knots. Her brow knits, but she remembers each step they went through. It'll hold. It has to.


Asi grunts as she pulls harder on the crowbar, letting out a shout as the lock finally gives way. It's dark and musty past the door she's just pried open, and her eyes sweep the black ahead with a pulse of green light making its home in her eyes. She reaches out with her senses and finds no live tech hiding ahead— no other scavs potentially here already. "Clear," she says softly, but she exchanges the crowbar for the sword sheathed across her back anyway.

Elliot breathes in deeply, drawing Asi’s perception forward only to release it on the exhale. Her senses ripple back and forth between the two of them for a brief second, as though on a raft dipping above and below the waves without moving forward. There’s a sensation of a pressure change through the both of them that can’t be cleared by swallowing but dissipates on its own, slowly.

His eyes open and align with attention. His hands stay raised and connected as he nods with satisfaction. Understanding of the connection comes, a telepathic sense of where the doorways in her mind lead. “You’re in a room with a doorway on every wall,” Elliot says. “Beyond each doorway is a room containing the other people currently in the network.” There are three doors, only the one leading to Elliot feels open.

The knit of her brow eases gradually, her own eyes still closed. But easing toward that open doorway, she finds she doesn't need that sense, not explicitly, not exactly. Because Elliot is seeing, and hand on that door, face looking through, she can see what he sees.

She sees and feels in tandem the breath she exhales in surprise. No lag. One hand lifts, and she experiences the same. But now here's the trick. Mentally, she steps back, retreating to the room with doors. She's not keen on inviting the vertigo of two perspectives simultaneously. Her eyes open, the green flare in them as she regards Elliot with a look of vague wonder.

"You weren't pulling my leg," she observes on the edge of a laughterlike breath. "You really…"

Asi trails off when the door on her 'left' cracks open. Her lips purse into a line as she settles back, then pushes her hands to the ground to bring herself into a standing position, wandering the few steps back to the bed. Her eyes unfocus as she considers, but doesn't yet touch that other opened door.

"On one hand," Asi notes with a quiet sigh, "She's not immediately biting off more than she can chew." She lets out a quiet laugh as she acknowledges, "And yet I'm impatient."

Elliot pulls his awareness from the local Asi’s perspective so that he can split his attention with the Asi at home. He chuckles, turning his head to the side to focus on the middle distance as he responds. “Always a good sign,” he says through the barrier between them.

Turning his attention back to the new inductee, he watches her patiently. “As long as you don’t break the link we’ve got plenty of time to acclimate before you venture through the network. There are a handful of ways to communicate with someone you’re not actively streaming,” he says, drawing her attention to a memory, worn as a childhood toy, of a hand knocking on a door. It’s so simple, so timeworn, that things like color, sound, the number on the door, aren’t recognizable anymore.

“This is our go-to to request the attention of somebody else without stepping into the body to find them mid-shower,” he says. This memory is mine, which is why it’s so beat up. I’ve used it a lot, and the act of remembering things can change the memory. Drawing someone else’s attention to a memory of your own takes practice, so for now I’m keeping most of the doors closed. It can be overwhelming until you find your footing.”

Asi turns her head physically when her attention is summoned, breathing out slowly. One hand lifts, curling, knuckles peaked like to knock herself. Her gaze blurs before she blinks and surrenders herself away from it, examining mentally the options that are available to her.

"This…" she acknowledges slowly, "is going to take a minute."

Her physical attention finally finds Elliot again and she considers him like she's seeing him anew, the glow in her irises fading as she narrows her eyes at him. "I'll be… aware of you, then, until it's broken?" Hands parting before her, she feels the need to defend herself, "I've never fucked with anything like this before. This is…"

He's seen the exact same look in her eyes before. That cautious, private wash of intrigue— even excitement— over being networked in a way she thought lost. The way she weaves herself through steps forward and back, forward and back, touching a door but not leaning through, ensuring she has a firm grasp on the steps required in case she needs to retreat back to herself without dropping the link entirely. The need to have the option for continued connection.

“You’ll be aware that we’re connected,” Elliot explains. “And you’ll be aware that I or any other host are streaming your senses or memories, as long as they’re doing it. So you never have to worry about being watched.” He momentarily steps into her perspective to illustrate the point before quickly backing out.

He feels her motion in the network, noting how it too is just a touch different than Asi’s. A little more worn at the edges. He lets himself get familiar with it to more easily tell the difference if one or the other should stream him in return. “Knowing that someone is streaming is automatic,” he thinks to add, “though who is doing the streaming takes a little familiarity. Everybody has their own traffic fingerprint.”

Without thinking, a faint smile comes to her face. How familiar a sentiment this all is, in some strange way. "Makes sense," Asi replies slowly, one hand lifting to run it back through her hair.

Still hanging on through Elliot's perception, Asi murmurs at her own expense, "Here's hoping she doesn't finally decide to come around when I'm midshift with the NYPD." After a moment of study, she relents, "But it likely won't take that long."

“Would you like to try a couple exercises to help you acclimate?” Elliot asks, not wanting to rush anything until Asi feels she’s ready. “I can teach you how to share memories, or unspecific general skill memories before we dive into sensation sharing. It’s a good place to start with the mechanics that will apply to sensation whenever you’re comfortable there.” He doesn’t have a large platter of fresh fruits and pastries like he usually provides for work training, which is unfortunate.

Asi's hand slides off the back of her head, hanging off her neck with her hair bunched underneath it. "That would be great," she says bluntly, looking back up to him right away. Her wandering mind wonders no longer with this offer of instruction. After a moment of thought, she leans down to clear the blanket-topped mattress of immediate things she could break by sitting on it and lowers herself down into a seat, letting out a long breath.

"What mnemonic do you use for packaging and sending memories, then?" she asks. There must be some mental trick to it, she figures. Like the doors, like the knock.

“It’s hard to describe without demonstrating,” Elliot says. So much of the mechanics of network use seems instinctual to him, not learned, but only because he doesn’t remember learning. So he does what comes naturally to him, remembering something, thinking of Asi, and pulling.

"Hitchens," Asi calls out. She's caught sight of him as he passes past her office, and she pushes back from it and comes to her feet in one fluid motion. "You didn't just break in," she explains in a voice that pretends to be calm. She's seething, but politely. She holds up the card scanner that's supposed to be outside. "You broke it–" The useless machine is tossed into his chest. "And will be paying to fix it. If you break it again, I'm breaking something of yours as repayment. Are we clear?"

“You sort of draw the other person toward the memory. Which sounds weird, I realize,” he says, propping himself up for a moment to tuck his legs beneath him. “So, two things. You actively remember…” he draws the memory back to his mind, “and reach for the person you want to view the memory and pull. Just like you’re stepping up to the door to look through.”

Asi lets out a faint, involuntary laugh at the sensation, strange and wonderful. "Well that's… disorienting." Maybe at something else, too. The memory that's not hers, and not of her– and yet is– disappearing slowly from behind her eyes.

All she needs to do is pull, huh?

The corner of her mouth quirks as she recalls back on a memory made fond with time, and imagines opening the door to Elliot in her direction.

A series of mistakes have been made. Asi groggily awakes out of bed and out of familiar bounds. Bleary of eye, she comes to enough to come up to an elbow; wake the person beside her with an arm over her, their features otherwise lost to time. "What?" they murmur. But she's thinking back to what she should have. Sword is missing, but— last night wasn't a night like that. Her coat is nearby. Her boots—

Her boots. Missing. Without so much as thinking another moment on it, her hackles raise and she growls out, "Eve." The sea witch had finally gotten her again.

Elliot giggles at the memory. “While the complexities of temporal mechanics do truly boggle the mind,” he says, scratching at the scruff on his face, “it is of some great comfort to me that there is a universal truth in Eve being a fucking goblin in every string.” The only two he knows much about are enough of a sample size for a joke of this caliber. He returns to the task at hand.

“A slight upgrade in complexity is more distributed knowledge, such as American Sign Language,” he says. The method is slightly different, as he begins to think in ASL as he directs her attention to his fluency in it. Any broader skill set share requires putting yourself in the headspace to use that skill, he signs. so if you wanted to share Japanese with me you’d think in the language as you pull attention to it, though different skills have different mnemonics. For instance, I’d picture meal preparation, or a handful of sense memories in the kitchen if I wanted to show you how to cook. He directs her attention to his culinary knowledge next, each skill becoming known and remaining available to her.

It's this transmission that surprises her, the shape of it utterly foreign. And yet, somehow, by following where she's lead and pulling in return one use of the skill, she finds she's able to look at those signs– so much more than anything she's ever picked up by having worked in the presence of Remi's crew previously– and her brow knits in stern wonder at it. Here she finds herself finally hitting a point of cognitive dissonance, purely human lag between picking up and suddenly finding that she can understand Sign, and actually employing that. It's the first time she's seeing it with her eyes, and her visual attention struggles to keep up.

Gradually, Asi leans forward, elbows to knees as she peers more intensely at Elliot, still with the sensation she's looking through him– or rather, sensing him and reading from him– as much as she's actually looking. "So, does it work like…"

She thinks back to a review of a series of components on a table– on eyeballing whether or not they'd have use to the Library. She holds in one hand a salvaged hard drive, her eyes unfocused as she instead puts her energy down into the palm of her hand, the tips of her fingers, feeling the device out. The pulse of a moment highlights structures– shows her what's there and what's left to be filled, granting her surface-level knowledge about what to expect if they plug it in to anything. Her gaze focuses after that, turning it over for any signs of corrosion her check wouldn't see, and she clicks her tongue at the memory she's pulled Elliot toward. "You can't… use it, obviously," Asi points out demurely. "But is it something you can 'pick up'?"

Fascinating, Elliot thinks, feeling at the same time a twinge of guilt that he can feel what Asi no longer can. “I can feel how it felt to you,” he says. “Abilities don’t work across the network other than the possibility of overflow from targeting psychic attacks. If somebody tried to alter your mental state with telepathy it might feedback through, but not always, and depends on how much you’re sharing at the time.”

This does bring him to as good a place as any to plant the seeds for enlisting her help in breaking Silas’s cipher. “However, it’s possible for co-hosts to donate cognition to bear part of the burden of mental ability use. I have had very little opportunity to test this facet of the network, but I can make it easier for you to do what you do. Also non-ability mental activities: problem solving, multitasking. Taking on the effort of a co-host using a network feature.” His eyes lose focus as he redirects Asi’s attention to his knowledge of cooking, simultaneously taking on the burden of reaching for it. It’s there, free to grab without even focusing on it.

This Asi lets out a long, partly audible hm that definitely has an eh sound in it. She turns over the use-memory she's brought Elliot to, and leans for another door, her eyes trailing off of him. Smart or not, ready or not, the sensation of judging the hard drive with her ability is something she pulls her other self's attention to.

For her efforts, she feels a strain of familiar yet foreign surprise and confusion battling for predominance in an emotional palette.

Her eyes suddenly sharpen back into focus as she goes back to listening to Elliot. Once the explanation is through, her head tilts slightly. "That sounds… advanced," Asi notes as she sits better upright. Her own eyes move to where she's mentally being redirected, some point just slightly off of him. She blinks when this time, knowledge is lighter to pick up and integrate. It's not like having picked up a book and needing to read it— it's like the information has been connected on a drive, ready to go.

"But useful," she breathes out, brow knitting as she marvels.

“Honestly, Asi might be your best resource for explaining the in and outs.” he says as it occurs to him. “What worked for her, what didn’t. I’ve been doing this for so long that I use it without thinking about it. If you’re not ready for that though, any other questions I can answer?”

That's an easy ask to make. "When I'm done, instruction on how to disconnect," Asi clarifies, mentally releasing the offered information. "This is… nice, but your business isn't mine." Save for the small cases where they overlap, and she's interested in clearing those off her plate as quickly as possible. She even gives a small firming of a smile to accompany it to try and stress no hard feelings.

"That's the easiest part," Elliot says. "All it takes to leave is the intention to do so. Links break pretty easy at the beginning, so you may do it whether or not you want to. If you'd like to do it now I can link you back in for the conversation. It may help to think of banking away from all the doors at once, but again it's slightly different for me."

Asi shakes her head, leaning back. "I'll take your word for it," she allows, and looks back to the bag with the gifted snacks. "I'll… take a few minutes here and then reach out, then. And if it breaks, it breaks. We try again later."

Her chin juts up as she looks back to him, acknowledging, "You're a good friend to her, going all this way and setting this up." It sounds like grudging respect, but respect all the same. She reaches to the side to find the abandoned rice ball in the bag.

Elliot nods, mildly uncomfortable for the compliment. “Happy to help,” he says, honest despite the discomfort. “You can ping me for my attention as demonstrated if you need anything. Otherwise you can find my in the vicinity of Yeah, Buoy!

He stretches and stands, steadying himself against a rack. He adjusts his coat, then stops for a moment in thought. “As an aside,” he says, “I’ve been tasked with transmitting, or possibly breaking, a code. Your friend Silas brought it to the attention of my group leader. I could use all the help I can get. He’d rather it not go through our oversight, trying to keep it as contained as possible. So we’re going to try an overclock on a scale I’ve never attempted before, which could be interesting.”

Asi's got the bag in her lap, up to her elbow in it when Elliot comes back for his second thought. She pauses, lets out a huff of breath that might be a laugh and then goes back to sifting. What lies under her skin speaks so much louder, bittersweet humor flooding her over the irony of the situation.

"Yeah," she answers with a flat nonchalance. "I'm sure another native speaker in your network would help with that, wouldn't it."

She only shakes her head, forestalling further talk on the topic by taking another bite of the snack from earlier. Nostalgia swells silently for just a moment. "Ah, 懐かしい," she sighs shortly to that very effect after chewing. Quickly, she proceeds to take another small bite only to speak through it. "Fine. Just let me know when."

"Much appreciated," Elliot says with a nod. He checks his pockets out of habit before reaching for the door to excuse himself. "Take care." He slips into the hallway with a careful look in either direction.

"Thank you," Asi has waited until now to say, but it pours forth from her coated in an explosion of embarrassment. She sighs, uncertainty roiling under her skin. She literally asked for this, but she had no idea it would feel and be this awkward a thing to arrange.

She entertains briefly the thought that perhaps she and Silas… No. No, this was already too much. He needed to be left free to live his life.

"I'll try to make this quick, whenever she does reach out," Asi promises. "I want to be respectful of the strain it puts on you to facilitate this."

"Don't worry about me," Elliot assures her, smiling faintly at the oddity of the arrangement but not digging into Asi's embarrassment. "I can easily sustain four for a day or so, though I'm actually not sure what my upper limit is there. Worst case we reconnect."

He grimaces for a moment as he walks toward the nearest stairwell. "Which reminds me, if I do link in more people to break that cipher it may not be possible to pretend we're not linked. I'll probably keep memory and sensory links closed so people don't get any weird ideas, but someone astute enough could identify the number of people through the emotion link," he says. He waves this away after a second's thought. "You and Wright are probably the only people with enough practice to do that, so as long as she—" he jerks his head back in the direction he just left, "doesn't narc on us we should be good. But there's potential Silas might ask me about you, considering."

Various things to consider. His mind is already turning on just how many people a feat like this might require.

Ah, and there it is. Her jaw shifts with the way she bites on the inside of her cheek, eyes shifting away as though the topic could somehow be steered from. "I'm well," Asi lies, and by proxy directs him to lie. "The job that took me away from being on that boat with him is one that's lead to legal residency in the US, working with Wolfhound. Kimiko Nakamura was working on clearing my name with the Japanese government." Things had been going so well there, too, hadn't they? "No more heaterless nights trying to live under the radar," she assures no one, because this is a hypothetical conversation that she absolutely won't be having. "Haven't run afoul of his doppelganger, either. He's been keeping a low profile."

Tongue pressing into the cheek she's just bitten, Asi quickly shifts away from that. "Regardless," she presses on. "If it's just for a short period while we overclock the code cracking, like you said– potentially little time for that overlap to happen."

Her head begins to turn, eyes losing focus. "She's pulling already," she notes. "I'm going to go ahead and just get this over with." Without thinking, without precisely meaning to, she tags on a wry, nearly-sarcastic, "Wish me luck."

Among the many and varied wares on the table of the market stall sits a ceramic calico cat, one paw raised as if waving to the passing customers. “Not for sale,” the owner informs him regretfully.

Asi snorts after being fed the memory, lips firming together in a smile that's for her alone. "Fair enough," she concedes to Elliot, and then lets the line between them slack.

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