Meet The Family


bolivar_icon.gif miguel_icon.gif raquelle_icon.gif

Scene Title Meet the Family
Synopsis Past meets present in ways neither expected nor wanted.
Date May 23, 2019

Cambria Residence, Red Hook

The invitation was extended about a week ago, a half stammered and partially hemmed and hawed request for Miguel to come and visit for dinner.

5 minutes after the conversation, the panic attack started. 30 minutes after the conversation he let Bolivar know. 5 hours after letting Bolivar know, he told the girls.

Now a week later, the Rodriguez-Cambria household is in preparing for guests manic mode. Things have been cleaned and re-cleaned. There’s enough Japanese in Raquelle’s roots that most of them don’t wear shoes in the house and the shoes have been carefully set out near the door. Guest slippers have been put out. They’ve never had to use the guest slippers!

Raquelle is currently settled on a couch that has been cleaned as a leggy blond pre-teen sits between his thighs as he brushes and sprays detangler in her long and wet blond hair. “If you hadn’t taken 50 minutes to shower, maybe I would have time to touch up your edges, BJ! - Your red tights are in the, for fucks sake - Bolibaby!” Fingers are quickly and deftly parting, twisting, and through some type of black magic he’s working two French braided pigtails into place, securing them with little yellow bows that match the shirt of choice.

BJ huffs a sigh because the world does not understand her troubles, the darker skinned teenager is stomping past the kitchen and dining room, waggling an eyeliner pencil almost mockingly, because she’s /wearing/ the same red tights she was just yelling about being stolen by Diana. She looks as innocently as possible at the backup called upon by the tallest of her parental figures. “Found ‘em. Can I borrow this, thanks.” It's not a question as she’s moving past those in the living room. Someone has been in Raquelle’s own cosmetics case.

Diana, has chosen to be quiet in this moment, head leaning to the side as she is getting her hair tamed, but the glare in her blue eyes is the glare of the falsely accused who plans on getting revenge at a later time. She just idly picks at the hem of her Raquelle’s fitted black jeans.

Raquelle glances up towards the clock, taking a deep breath. Any minute now.

From the back of the house. “Deedee! Why is there red in my grey eyeshadow? You little thie-”

Diana is quick to jerk her head and almost mess up the completion of a braid as he yells back. “I didn’t TOUCH your stupid Addam’s Family themed ashtray of a makeup pallet!”

Raquelle says a quiet prayer.

Bolivar is trying to take the leashes off his dogs, in the meantime, having recently, u no, emptied them out on a walk. Maybe he's gotten soft in his old age, because the pooches are misbehaving! Not like, shitting and chewing on things, but by Bolivar's rigorous standards of canine training, this milling around and bumping into his legs and wagging their tails and making mowawwow non-bark moany dog sounds is misbehavior.

"Just use silver and black," Bolivar calls across the house to BJ. He pushes one dog's butt with his hand, reminding her that she knows better than to get underfoot; her partner immediately takes off to the doggy bed in the corner of the living room. "You know the high-contrast works for you, and Diana's already going for a night-time look with the red. We'll get you some new grey in the morning." He beelines into the recesses of the apartment, his tiny, scarred figure vanishing for a moment.

And then Bolivar reemerges with makeup setting spray. "I'm putting the spackle mist in the reading nook," he announces, brandishing the slender bottle. "Nobody's hiding in the bathroom for fifteen minutes to recontour. You mist in the reading nook, ten seconds, then you come straight back to talk to your granddad. Everybody clear?" The number of people in this household who use makeup as an anxiety soothing ritual is wild.

But flattering to Papa Cambria, no doubt. Bolivar can't remember the last time they were this terrified and excited to meet anyone.

The knock at the door is just a few shallow and courteous taps. Miguel was never one for patience, and showing himself in to the Cambria residence is largely par-for-course with his general demeanor. “Sorry I'm early!” Is Miguel’s awkward greeting, voice carrying from his unseen entrance. “I walked the block three times, and then… you know— then I just said enough is enough.”

With Miguel beginning to ramble before he's even shut the door, it's obvious that he's nervous. The frenetic energy he's been trying to control manifests as inability to stay put. He comes clomp-stepping into the house, head ducked down a touch as if he were creeping through a stranger’s home.

He missed the guest slippers entirely. He also forgot his middle name, what to call the car that you pay for rides (a cab), and the name of his son’s partner (Bolivar). That last one has thrown him for a big loop and he's still trying to recall it. By the time Miguel rounds the corner and comes into view, there's a sheepish and apologetic smile nervously plastered across his face. But the moment he sees BJ and Diana, his expression twists and he lifts up a hand to his mouth, frozen in place and overwhelmed by a cascading wall of emotions.

This is the organized chaos that works for this household. In fact, the sound of Bolivar’s voice is the only thing that grounds Raquelle for a brief method as he diffuses the bomb that was about to go off pertaining to unauthorized usage of cosmetics.

Raquelle finishes the blond’s hair, leaning forward to kiss the top of her head and then gather up the comb and spray bottle. BJ is hollering from the back. “Fine!” Which is Teen-speak for ‘Thank you and I love you’.

The hairdresser is placing the supplies back into a small caddy and is in the process of kneeling down to slip it into place in a cabinet. Diana is smoothing down her skirt and admiring her hair with a pat of her hand.

Then everything freezes when Raquelle is moving past Bolivar to lean in for a quick kiss of gratitude and he hears Miguel’s voice. Standing at about 5’4, all legs and smiles Diana is the first to blink a few times and just stare back at Miguel.

The girls have seen pictures of Miguel, they have just never met him in person. They’ve met their grandmother but outside of pictures and his voice. This is a first. Even BJ comes from the back, her dark brown hair currently styled with half of it shaved down and the rest thick and curly. She’s a bit taller, 5’6 and still growing and she also stares at the man who’s jawline she’s inherited and her eyebrows raise.

After a brief pause, Diana just runs for Miguel with arms spread to half tackle/hug the man with a hug.

Bolivar is setting the bottle of fixing spray up in the nook in question. His tiny, commanding presence hangs like a cloud over the place, not exactly dark, but imposing, you know. Like rain, which is vital for survival but unpleasant to stand in if you upset the stormcloud just so. And then of course

it immediate vaporizes when Papa Cambria bursts in. Bolivar settles a book into place, camouflaging the cosmetic products in question. What a fucking commotion out there, isn't it? He leans over sideways, peeking past the corner of the wall.

The man does look exactly like one half of Raquelle. Maybe a third, given that rather drab sense of style and somber attitude has nothing on the drama of Raquelle's self-expression, even in the singer's darkest of moods. Bolivar doesn't come forward immediately, watching the younger girl dive into the unexplored depths of Miguel's affection with arms open. He also watches the older girl's expression, out of his periphery, and he stretches out his scarred hand to touch her elbow.

"At least show the man your handshake," Bolivar encourages. He didn't help raise the girls to have a limp clasp upon greeting. But the judgy eyebrows and hang-back reserve


Bolivar is probably at least partly responsible for those.

“Just look at you two,” is the only thing Miguel can say, and does so repeatedly. Bolivar might be eager for them to show off their handshakes, but Miguel is neither eager for nor accepting of those gestures. The bravest child to attempt that gesture instead finds Miguel’s arms up and around them, hoisted briefly off of their feet and spun around before being deposited back on their feet with their grandfather’s hands clapped on tense shoulders. “Look at you two!” Miguel practically sings, tears in his eyes and jaw unsteady with emotion.

Bolivar notices the steel cuff bracelet around Miguel’s wrist after that. The kanji stamp on it, the implication of Japan’s registration system. Miguel doesn’t seem to feel its weight anymore. Or at least in the moment he’s forgotten, focused so clearly on his grandchildren. When he finally looks up from them, it’s to see Bolivar. Miguel has a momentarily haunted look in his eyes, but one that smooths into a familial smile saturated with the emotion of this moment.

“I’ve got eight days left in the US,” Miguel says with tightness in his voice, trying to push past emotion that he perceives not having time for, “let’s spend it together, yes? Not crying and hugging and… whatever else I might do if left to my own devices.” There’s so many shades of Raquelle in his father.

Raquelle hovers (hides) partially beside (behind) Bolivar best he can (not at all, still not invisible) as Miguel greets his grandchildren. When his father comes through that door, under the guise of having to put something away, Raq is moving closer to Bolivar and smiling encouragingly to Billy Jean who is looking from Miguel, to Raq, to Bolivar and back again uncertainly.

After Diana gets her greeting hug, BJ steps forward starting to offer a hand before she’s swept off her feet as well. Try as she might, her smile might have less teeth than her sister’s but she’s still smiling softly. As they are hugging and moving around awkwardly, and trying to usher ‘Papa Cambria’ towards the couch. Diana opens her mouth to speak, ducking her head almost shyly and looking around wildly before looking apologetically as she raises her hands to sign ‘Hello’. BJ nudges her and gives her arm a squeeze before looking back to Miguel. “Hey.” And its hard to tell but yes, she’s blushing.

Their father is watching Miguel with teary eyes but he doesn’t let them fall, he just lets his mask slip into place as he smirks gently and reaches for Bolivar’s hand. “Well shiiit. No crying and no hugging. What am I supposed to do?” There’s a roll of his eyes as he tugs Bolivar forward a bit. “Well, while you’re here you might as well finally meet Bolivar. Bolibaby, my father Miguel Cambria. Papa, this is Jason Bolivar Rodriguez-Smith. My fiance.”

BJ and Diana peek around their grandfather to see how this introduction goes, lips forming a ‘o’ as they look back and forth.

Bolivar has to crane his head in order to get both of the Cambria men into the same frame. How are they all giants. Don't Latino fellows trend toward shorter stature? Actually, Raquelle should have such inclinations in both sets of genes, theoretically; East Asians tend to be smaller too, aren't they? (Don't mind that Bolivar, actually, very much enjoys his fiancee's height.)

Things he enjoys less: the odd look he got from Miguel for an instant there. Gone the instant next. If Miguel were anyone other than his to-be father-in-law, Bolivar probably would have made a stink. Not very subtle. Not subtle at all, possibly. But Raquelle doesn't seem to have noticed, and so, Bolivar swallows down the kneejerk suspicions — homophobia maybe, machismo maybe, the belief that Raquelle deserves someone who isn't half burnt keloids, handsomer. Taller. He swallows them down in a vague intention of eating enough dinner tonight that he'll just release it all into the toilet bowl before bed tonight.


"Pleasure," winds up sounding a touch short from Bolivar anyway, no height puns intended. But not short for Bolivar. He makes a smile that's mostly sincere, reaches out to grasp Miguel's hand and demonstrate that handshake that the older man has been missing out on. He meets Miguel's eye, unblinking, much more frank than the discreet glance he'd spared for that bracelet. "We're really glad you could make it, and hoping the reunion's going to be bigger before the year's out."

“I really hope so,” Miguel says with a hint of emotion in his voice. He tries to leave the topic of Azami back there, in that tight tone and the promise of a better future, but it’s clear that she haunts his thoughts no matter how hard he may try otherwise. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Bolivar. I’ve heard so much about you,” might be a lie but he’s playing it off straight-faced. “It’s good to see my boy happy, and it’s even better t’know that he’s with someone like you.” There’s a look over to BJ and Diana, one that reassures them that their grandfather (he can feel his bones creaking when he so much as thinks of that word) hasn’t forgotten about them.

Compartmentalizing as best as he can, focusing on immediately present family rather than the negative space of those not present, Miguel claps his hands together and looks over at Raquel. “Cambria family tradition states that we sit around the dinner table, feed me until I’m ready to burst,” he smirks at Raquelle, then looks over to Bolivar, “and I Bolivar here tells me some sweet, embarrassing stories about my boy.” He’s missed enough of Raquelle’s life to need that, to need every piece of this engraved in his bones.

Irrespective of the familial conversation, there is a moment where the reality of this meeting seems momentarily unreal to BJ. In her peripheral vision she sees a shadow move, a silhouette not entirely unlike a person backlit by windows. Out of focus, indistinct. But when her attention is drawn to it, there is no one and nothing there. But it felt, in that instant, entirely real.

There’s a nervous dart of blue eyes from one side to the other as he looks between his lover and his father, Raquelle watching them both carefully. He moves forward again once the handshake has taken place to place a hand against Bolivar’s back, rubbing there in an effort to be silently comforting. “Sweet and embarrassing? Oh papa, you should know by now that all stories about me are fabulous or embarrassing. Nothing in between.” He drawls and winks before nodding towards the dining room table.

The girls bounce a bit and laugh to run towards the dining room, even if BJ lags behind staring at something only she thought she could see. Only to be tugged out of it by Diana as they run to do their usual task of setting the table and what not.

If you want a man who will talk forever, Bolivar is


not the one. He stares at the older man, some combination of compulsive irritation and dude ego and his understanding of the greater context of this conversation threatening to produce a very sour reply. So nice of you to fuck off for decades then kick in here, start telling me what your family traditions are. So nice of you to demand stories and keep your silence. BJ and Diane know him well enough, probably, to guess at what he's thinking; Bolivar has a very strategic relationship with silence and acerbity. Where once he was a dick who didn't like to share and that was all, he's told them more than once, now, that when he worked Narcotics, when he supported detectives, everyone knows, it's the quiet ones you need to watch out for.

And if and when the girls are ever up to something, they are very much expected to confess. Bolivar can recognize evasion, even in its subtler permutations.

But with a Herculean effort, Bolivar pushes back his own prickly reflexes. "Sure." It helps, Raquelle touching his back. He gestures toward the dining table, laden with its feast. "Why don't we get started. I'll begin with Lonely Girl Radio. You're about to find out that the ratio of embarrassing to dignified Raquelle content is pretty exaggerated. He has a gift for showing vulnerability without making a Goddamn fool of himself, while the rest of us are busy playing keepaway with what really needs saying."

If it seems a little like Bolivar is actually just twisting a verbal knife, well. Bolivar… eighty percent pushed back his reflexes! That's still eighty whole percent. :)

Miguel’s half-assed attempt at pretending that nothing is wrong with the familial dynamic appears to be going smoothly on the surface and his desire to be blissful in the ignorance of that moment blunts the teeth in Bolivar’s biting comment. He flashes a smile over to BJ and Diana, one trying to paint over any tension in the air the children might be picking up on, to plaster over it with a fine veneer of normalcy.

“Lonely… Girl radio? I…” Miguel clearly hasn't had the headspace to be keeping up on late night radio broadcasts of the mysterious and depressed residents of the city. “I’m sure it's interesting, and— probably a good start. You know, save the heavier conversations for dinner.”

Heavier conversations like why there's an eighty year old white man in a suit standing in their dining room.

Because there he is.


Lingering at the head of the table like an uninvited Butler is a short old man with far receding snow white hair and a weathered face laden with a road map of wrinkles and creases. He stares with sleepily-lidded eyes and an inscrutable smile in the direction of Bolivar, specifically, but then with growing interest on Miguel.

“And that must make you Raquelle,” the old man says in a coarse British accent, attention squared on Raquelle.

“So like…” BJ starts out before glancing over to Raquelle and Bolivar who have both, at times, probably given the girls grief about /starting a sentence out with those two words/. She corrects herself. “Basically, what had happened was…this chick was blasting this sob story about her life and how sad she was..”

Diana nudges BJ (read: shoves her with an elbow) as she sets out a bowl of muffins she may have helped bake, leaning in to whisper something before BJ rolls her eyes and nods. “Okay fiiine, we’ll let /Dad/ tell it then. He probably will make Daddy sound more coo-”

She’s half way through that sentence when Diana lets out a scream, Raquelle drops the pot of some green vegetable he was bringing over, BJ lunges for a butter knife while tugging Diana backwards towards their parents.

Raquelle just surges forward with that protective instincts, desperately glancing at Bolivar and then to the girls and then his father. Nobody he would trust more to help keep the ones they love safe. A deep breath and then back to the stranger. “And that must make you Sir Whodafuck Areyou of the house of Getthefuckoutmyhouse…” Because names are dangerous. Names mean someone knows who you are. “If…you are in need of medical attention or help, we can discuss it outside…” He reflexively lets his gift wrap around his words, trying to keep his tones calm yet firm.

There was absolutely a time in Bolivar Rodriguez-Smith's life that he would have gone for a weapon, the biometric gun safe in their bedroom, a knife from the kitchen. But that was a long time ago. And what he does now, as reflexive as kicking under the pop of a hammer on his knee-cap or the pull of his trigger finger once was to the launch of a clay disc, is step in front of the girls.

Bolivar is a tiny person, of course. He's less than five and a half feet tall, and a solid quarter of that height and breadth is severely damaged by scar tissue, which impairs his movement, his ability to regulate his body temperature, the amount of time he can go through his day without pain. But he makes himself bigger, arms wide and chest out. "Stay back, sweethearts," he warns the two girls, as if they need to be told. "Sorch, Soot, growl."

That would be the dogs. Heretofore incredibly quiet, since they got back from the walk and their pooping, miming furniture. But they understand that command. In an instant, both animals are up on all fours, grinding out a chest-deep growl into the air. White teeth, exposed all the way up to the gums, hackles up like knives. Mind you, Bolivar knows that any old white man with the ability to show up and fuck around at a family dinner without bothering with doors and walls is very unlikely to be intimidated by well-trained canines, but he wouldn't be 'Dad' if he didn't try.

The silhouette of that old man doesn't move much as the rest of Raquelle’s family moves in reaction to him. Miguel steps up beside Raquelle, a hand on his chest and brows furrowed. He watches the old man with a tension in his posture that only breaks at the sound of the dogs. Something about their growl, their suddenly very evident presence, sends an inexplicable chill down Miguel’s spine.

“I apologize for the intrusion,” the intruder says with a slow palms-out raise of his hands, “but it does seem like this is the only time where I could find the two of you together. Serendipity, after a fashion.” But then he looks to the children, chest rising be falling in breaths that seem shallow. It's around that time that Bolivar notices the dogs aren't quite looking in the old man’s direction. They're looking where Bolivar indicated, but he can tell there's something amiss. It's like the dogs can't see him. The tell is the movement of their ears, swiveling, trying to identity the threat they're intimidating.

“I do apologize for this.”


In an instant the sights and sounds of the Cambria residence bleed away like watercolor paint, revealing a more sturdy oil-based paint below that depicts not a family home, but an altogether unfamiliar building of narrow halls, windowed offices with vertical blinds drawn, and walls that are painted a forest green up to chest height and then eggshell white above. It looks like the layout of an old police precinct, but more clinical.

“Yeah, well, you can tell that to the senior agent on duty.” There's someone behind them, as if this chaotic transition wasn't enough. Bolivar can see Raquelle and the children, Miguel, but not his dogs. He can hear them growling still, as commanded, but they aren't included in whatever surreality this is, not is the old man anywhere to be found. But that voice— the person behind them— people


Vete a la mierda cerdo,” comes sharp and crisp from the mouth of Miguel Cambria, possessed of a thick void of bushy, dark hair and dressed in orange bicycle shorts and a black tanktop. He’s also maybe eighteen or nineteen years old. And—

—being escorted in handcuffs by




“I'm not a cop,” Aaron Smith says with clipped precision, his sleek black suit looking not entirely unlike the style of the old man who'd intruder into their home, complete with a skinny black tie. Everyone’s clothes, the cut of the fabric, the hair, all looks decades out of place.

“What… the hell?” Miguel’s older self says, watching in abject confusion as Aaron and his younger self pass right through him like ghosts. “What the hell!?” Miguel yelps, touching his chest and rapidly turning around to look at the phantom’s backs.

Raquelle feels somehow comforted by the sound of growling. And for a split second, he sees the old man thinking twice about this dinner crashing and then leaving for fear of being attacked by dogs. But that is only in his imagination. Because he is still there.

His brow furrows almost a mirror image of Miguel's expression, echoed faintly on BJ's face as well. She is supporting (read: clinging to) the material of Bolivar's shirt as Diana clings to both her and Bolivar, trembling like a leaf and squeezing her eyes shut.

Apologies never precede something good. Yet before Raquelle can snap back…Reality shifts and bends and it takes him a minute to place and identify 'young Miguel'. "Papa really…those shorts…" Then they pass through Miguel like ghosts.

Raquelle just echoes his father. But with a little extra which is expected. "/What/ in the hell?" He quickly rushes forward to try to grab Miguel's arm and drag him closer to the huddle of family. A 'wtf' glance to Bolivar.

Well, Bolivar and his to-be father-in-law have one thing in common, that is the verbal reflex reaction to a second, spectral old dude showing up and casting — illusions, or something.

"What the fuck?" is what Bolivar says, in exact synchrony to Miguel's question.

During his time in the Second Civil War, Bolivar saw unimaginable things, feats performed by the Evolved that ran the risk of invoking his old fear, the bigoted paranoia that had once driven him to shoot a child in the street. He saw a woman pull knives of razor-edged ice out of a running tap, and a man bleed acid onto bandages that they had had to reinforce with duct tape. He saw an old man rip the weathered, wooden facade of a warehouse off its posts and moorings with only his voice, and he had seen it happen from inside a car that had trembled with the force of it. He had even see the SLC-Expressive kill one another, finding traitors or thieves in their midst in a time when solidarity took more than blood traits, and bullets were in too short supply to use when executions were available by other means.

Bolivar doesn't talk about that time to the girls, has mentioned it only sparingly to Raquelle. Eltingville had its own version of that. He and his fiancee both know that this, what they're seeing, is an Evolved ability at work. And still, it's like nothing he's ever seen. He stares rapt at his father's youthful face. He hasn't seen Aaron in years, and still, the bridge of his nose, his dowdy white guy hair, it's what he remembers.

"What the fuck are you apologizing for!" is Bolivar's follow-up question. When he is scared, he gets angry. It is a debatably useful reflex. He forces himself not to look at his dogs, bending his arms back to make BJ and Diane small behind his own tiny stature. "Playing out your fanfiction in uninvited psychic movies? Get the Hell out of my house."

But the presumed director of his shadow play says nothing from stage left.

Miguel is without words, at least his present-day self is. His younger self is spouting a litany of profanity in Spanish that involves colorful alliterations and analogies to various parts of porcine anatomy. Aaron Smith is having nothing of it, and he bounces young Miguel into one of the thick wooden supports dividing the windows, then hauls him out of sight into the adjacent office.

“I don't…” The older Miguel says with uncertainty, “I don't remember this. I've never been arrested.” Not as a young man anyway. His attention drifts to BJ and Diana, worry and guilt that this is all somehow his fault is plastered across his face.

There's shouting in the office where Aaron and Miguel vanished into, followed by Aaron’s raised voice. “I told you I’d drag your dumb ass back here if you couldn't keep your shit under control! Didn't I? What the fuck were you thinking, you could've killed someone!

Miguel stares at the open door to the office where those voices emanate from with silent confusion and horror.

The girls have their own types of PTSD. That is why Diana is squeezing her eyes shut and rocking slightly from where she’s hidden behind Bolivar, and BJ may be trembling but she’s doing what she can to keep a brave face. Her wide eyes betray her as she looks between the vision and the people she knows and trusts, brow furrowing again.

Raquelle is staring, watching the scene play out with confused wariness. Paying close attention to the words and tilting his head to the side as he shakes his head. “What…is this?” He finally asks, of the stranger and of Miguel. “Why…are you showing us this?”

"It's a fucking illusion of my fucking dad," says Bolivar. Because he doesn't keep secrets from his fiancee, even when the truth he is sharing happens to be about a technicolor lie invoked psychically, artificially in the minds of everyone present. He's sure of it. His dad was a cop awhile, but that was the closest he ever got to being a clandestine agent of an institution that identified and regulated the activities of the SLC-Expressives. For fuck's sake, he's been working the last few years as a paralegal, as far as Bolivar knows.

But that's not the lie that pisses off — and scares — Bolivar the most.

He used to hate people, you know. When he was a short, skinny little half-breed kid coming up, tormented by boys who were taller than him. When his parents were absent, and fought, and cheated on one another, and left. When he was a cop, and saw people at their worst; had his own ugliest habits excused, or sanctioned, even. When "the Bomb" tore him out of a building and a quarter of the flesh from his body. All of these experiences taught him to hate people, for being malicious or cowardly or awful, just as he was himself those things. But that changed when he met Raquelle and his girls, you see.

And Bolivar cannot bear the thought, the rising possibility, that Miguel had lied to Raquelle about how long it was he knew. That he had endangered his son and his wife in full knowledge of what he could do. For Miguel to have the stones to lie about it now would be extraordinary; for an agency to have left his dangerous ability unchecked for decades, too. Something's fucked.

"Get out," Bolivar shouts at the old white man. He suddenly decides, incisively, to steer the girls toward the doorway, the corridor where the bedrooms are. Safe and away from unsavory visions. "We don't need your bullshit. Girls, get in your room. Lock yourselves in. Don't open the door for anyone but Daddy and me."

If only the girls could find their room, or the apartment, or anything that wasn’t these half-tone corridors.

“Look pendejo,” the younger Miguel’s voice comes from that office, “you try living on Henry St and let me know how you fuckin’ handle it! A saw a guy fucking shot! The Dragons were gonna pop me too until I lit up!”

Aaron’s voice is a clear cry of frustration with a Brooklyn drawl. “Well every single one of those gang members you scared off with your lightshow are probably going to fucking die of cancer now and we have to clean up that mess! I told you, Miguel, I fucking told you!

Down the hall, Miguel’s older self is slowly shaking his head, tears welled up in his eyes and voice a slow and low murmur. “This didn’t happen, this didn’t happen,” is his mantra. Neither Miguel’s protests nor Bolivar and Raquelle’s to get this shadow play to stop are heard.

“Do you have any idea what’s going to happen now?” Aaron shouts, but his voice isn’t the most alarming sound to the Cambria family out in the two-tone hall, it’s the sound of shoes on tile coming up behind them. There’s a single man in a burgundy suit so dark it nearly looks black, caramel turtle-neck worn beneath his suit jacket. He’s tall, dark-skinned with his hair clipped close. Confident in his stride, and wholly unfamiliar.

“I had to call my boss,” Aaron’s voice rings from the room, “do you remember what I told you would happen? If I had. To fucking. Call my boss?


None of the Cambria family know Charles Deveaux, nor do they recognize his face. But it leaves a memorable imprint in them now as he passes like a phantom through them and haunts the doorway of Aaron’s office, arms crossed over his chest. His voice is rich, smooth and flat. “Your boss is already here,” Charles says into the room.

All the older, tangible Miguel can do is keep a hand clapped to his mouth, repeating that same mantra of shock over and over again.

There is no escape from this vomit of color and what one can only hope is an illusion. The girls are looking around desperately for that exit, so can only cling to Bolivar. "Dad…where, where did the apartment go, where the hell is the apartment?!" BJ's voice is creeping up on shrill.

Raquelle is paying attention now, lips parting with a soft exhale of shock and disbelief as the scene continues to play out. His eyes dart between Bolivar and then back to Miguel. He hears the identity of the stranger in the vision being Bolivar's father.

His brain flashes back to first meeting Bolivar. The grocery store. The yelling. The flowers sent afterwards. It was just a random meeting right, right? Random meeting, this vision bullshit is just playing with data that might…be known?

Then words about cancer, lighting up, etc…He can't help but focus and stare at the metallic bracelet that shows as Miguel is covering his mouth.

He folds his arms over his chest and takes another step back closer to Bolivar and the girls, taking a deep breath and then another. He just murmurs softly. "No…"

Maybe it's true, Bolivar thinks. No it can't be true.

But if it's true, his dad is definitely not invited to the wedding. And also, he foresees a few months of wedding postponement because he is going to have to digest the possibility that his own father was complicit in a potentially terminal illness affecting Raquelle's father, and for all of his keen cop senses, Bolivar had ever known. (Was it possible to know?) (No. Obviously not.) (Raquelle will forgive him, but it'll bring back that feeling, like bad luck, moral corruption, suffering as destiny, that shit clings to him like a smell, like a disease, like karmic Plague Mary; that he inherited it from his father. Worse than being SLC-E, by any stretch.) His mind should be rampaging down in hot pursuit, the same questions that Raquelle is wondering now.

But instead, Bolivar gets stuck in a different place, inevitably. He gets stuck wondering if — if Raquelle could have seen his father in him. His voice is like lead when he says, "It's okay," to the girls. "You can stay with me, just stay where you are. You're fine. He'll have to get through me to get to you." He drops only one of his arms, only a little, grabbing blindly into his own pocket. Not for help; there is none for this. He can tell.

“Agent Smith,” Charles says in the doorway, his deep voice becoming a point of focus in the funhouse mirror of anxieties that is this tableau. “Could you please step out into the hall with me for a moment.” Ever much the attitude of a school teacher, Charles steps away from the threshold closer to the side of the hall that the Cambrian are on.

When Aaron — Agent Smith — emerges from the office he shuts the door behind himself with a little too much heat, causing the glass in it to rattle noisily. “Mr. Deveaux, he microwaved a group of— ”

“I realize.” Charles cuts Aaron off, concern evident in both his voice and the deep furrow of his brow. “I need you to release Mr. Cambria to Arthur’s custody and go down to Staten Island and fetch Ms. Morrison.” The cognitive dissonance caused by Charles’ orders practically makes Aaron’s head spin. He jerks a look back at the door, then Charles and opens his mouth to talk, but Charles doesn't give the opportunity.

Aaron,” Charles says firmly but gently. “Take Valerie and get it done and get back here ASAP.” The change in Charles’ tone causes Aaron to hesitate, looking back at the closed office door and then Charles.

“What happened?” Is all Aaron asks. Charles exhales a slow sigh and says nothing, but Aaron’s expression shifts as though he'd heard something shocking. His demeanor immediately changes, and he nods twice sharply.

“I'll go get Valerie,” Aaron concedes, turning to reach for the door to the office Miguel is in and—

Cambria Residence

Present Day

— then nothing.

The low growl of the dogs fills the air, soft noise of traffic outside, the dining room is unoccupied save for by members of the Cambria family in different measures of shaken. Miguel hasn't said anything in minutes, his hand still cupped to his mouth, eyes showing nothing but confusion and horror. “I don't remember that,” he says again, though not with the denial of someone who doesn't believe it's real, but rather someone who is afraid that it is.

The specter of the old man, whoever he was, is gone.

All the pieces coming together like an explosion of skittles for Raquelle. They might all fall back into the bowl but shift with every new way it tries to process what he just saw and heard.

He turns to just stare at Bolivar, with silent apologies in his eyes. Apologies for what? He’s not sure. He feels guilty, weighted by a reality that he knew nothing about. But there’s also his attempt to school his facial expression to be reassuring. He’s submitting names to member, and playing over this nightmare again and again of the idea of…somebody did know. Somebody did know the danger brewing inside his father.

Then he looks back to Miguel as it all fades away around them. His jaw sets as he just stares at the man. “Just because you don’t remember it, doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.” A hand moves to pinch the bridge of his nose as he takes a deep breath.

The girls meanwhile are clinging to Bolivar, Diana is crying quietly, BJ may be teary eyed but they are quickly stumbling backwards towards the stairway that leads to their bedrooms. Not asking any questions.

The hairdresser just moves towards the kitchen. “I’m getting coffee and liquor.” He announces as calmly as possible, taking a deep breath in the way the individuals like Bolivar can recognize as him trying to keep his gift under control.


would be the sound of Bolivar yeeting his phone into the wall, where the ghost of an old man had been standing before. In its wake, Bolivar's arm hangs in the air. He's breathing hard, he's still angry. But he turns automatically when he hears and feels the girls begin to move behind him, touching them each on their backs once with one tiny hand, seeing them off back to their rooms. It's not good that they're shaken, but it is probably not bad that they're too shaken to internalize that throwing things is an acceptable form of anger expression in this household.

Bolivar hesitates to look at Raquelle and his will-be father-in-law, but once the door is closed behind their daughters, he does. "My dad was a cop, not an agent," he says. Only, suddenly he doesn't sound so sure. He fought on the side of the Resistance, and before that, he was burned alive by an Evolved. This is an era of genetic legacies formerly thought impossible, and the Albany Trials had forced so many clandestine agencies and their dark works to light. Is it so unbelievable, that Bolivar happened to know someone involved? Liz Harrison, he read her name in the news. Jesse Alexander Knight. There were cops with second identities, secret lives.

Half-scarred, Bolivar's face is too unreadable for apologies. But maybe he'll owe Raquelle one later, because he turns to Miguel and says:

"I don't think you're lying about what you know. But if I find out you are, we're going to have words, old man."

Blinking away tears, Miguel looks in the direction the girls were brought to, then to Bolivar with a momentarily inscrutable look on his face. “I am not a liar,” comes almost as a shout, but Miguel tempers it for the children’s sake. A nearly raised voice, met with immediate guilt. He’s not one to shout, not one to raise his voice, not one to express his anger. Everything is internalized, and the caricature of him that he saw in that nightmare a moment ago is everything he never wanted to be when he was that age.

“We need to call the cops,” is Miguel’s first response, his hands shaking. “The SESA people, or the FBI. Someone came into your home and— ” and he can’t explain a moment beyond that. Miguel isn’t even sure what he saw — anything of it — even happened. That Bolivar and Raquelle experienced it is the only thing keeping him stable.

But the police aren’t even a fully-formed reality yet. Not for a few more weeks. The military police might respond to the call, but they’ll just pass it off to SESA, who will take one look at the situation with Miguel and his radioactivity and the situation could rapidly deteriorate. He’s here on a work visa for Yamagato Industries, and any suspicion aimed at him could jeopardize getting Azami to the States.

Miguel doesn’t have the frame of mind for half of that. Not in so much detail, but the broad strokes twist his stomach with guilt. “I’m sorry,” he says, but he isn’t even sure why.

That crack of the phone hitting the wall snaps Raquelle out of the mental spiral of uncertainty and dismay and jerks him back into reality.

"Oh not a liar. If what we saw was real, you were a little rebel punk microwave that could with bad fashion taste and my future father in law was…was…" Raquelle returns and passes by Bolivar, pausing for a moment to lean against the other man. One hand wrapped around the neck of a bottle of something alcoholic, the other holding a pot of coffee. He just murmurs under his breath to the other man. "I love you."

Then he continues his journey back to the table.. "We cannot call the police, there is no fucking evidence and we will sound insane, and Bolivar works with Sesa…wait no, Cooper works with Sesa, but…just. No, not right now. Gotta get stories straight. And yes, people have a habit of breaking into my goddamn home and fucking with my family." He snaps, without meaning to. His gift an empathic whip of fear laden exasperation, adding a sting to his words before he closes his eyes and bows his head. "Sorry."

He takes a deep breath, and then another. "Papa…I know you didn't know because I know you love Haha. Let's focus on getting her here."

He turns to look to Bolivar. "You were a cop, and became what you are today. it possible that um, maybe he did something else before…"

He is pouring himself a cup of coffee with a shaking hand. "If that was real that means our families have been connected far before I was tempted to attack you with lucky charms, mi amor." He just looks helpless for a moment. "But why would anyone show us this." Coffee is spilled and he just swears in Japanese.

"It's possible," Bolivar concedes, in the tone of a man who wishes it were not possible. The last shit he needs is that his father were involved in the Company's dubious regulation (technically persecution) of the SLC-Expressive long before he learned to hate them, and that's. not something he wants to believe. It's even harder for him to edge open his small black heart and allow for the observation that Aaron Smith hadn't exactly been brutal and violent in his handling of Miguel; that he'd been pushed off the case, apparently, before he could properly intervene.

It's a lot easier to label people asshole and leave it at that. His eyes shift toward Miguel as his fiancee speaks, and maybe Bolivar is about to follow up on his accusations of deceit, but if anyone can get him to stop that shit, it'll be Raquelle.

Maybe it doesn't matter, is what he wants to say. But Bolivar respects Raquelle too much for that, too. "I don't know." He grudgingly stumps across the room to pick up the broken pieces of his cellphone so that the dogs don't get on them, and on second thought, he orders both Sorcha and Soot to go to the girls. They'll need comforting. "But the Albany Trials made it clear, the Company was willing to sacrifice a lot of people to meet its goals. I don't want our family caught up in the fallout of a ten-year radius. Do you trust Cooper or Ray to ask questions and keep it low-key?"

Miguel might as well be another semi-real phantom in the room, for all that he is silent and unobtrusive. It takes him a while to remove his hand from his mouth, catching sight of that metal bangle around his wrist with his Japanese registry classification stamped into the steel. He looks over to Raquelle, wordless appreciation in his glassy and reddened eyes as he watches his son talk with Bolivar. He had never experienced anything like this, and echoes as much in a shaky voice. “I don’t… I don’t understand what we just saw. Why would— why would someone— ” Miguel’s eyes close as he scrubs a hand down his face, fingers trembling, adrenaline decline leading to tremors.

“Can Mr. Ray help Azami?” Miguel asks, trying to focus on something other than the situation of apparitions of the forgotten past. “You’ve mentioned him before, he… I…” Miguel is at a loss. He clutches his hands together, staring down at his feet. For a moment, he seems small and vulnerable, in a way society says men are not expected to be. But Raquelle is an anchor of strength, and in his son’s presence Miguel finds his own strength.

Reaching into his pocket, Miguel retrieves a cell phone, shakily keying in a message. “I’m… going to see if I can extend my work Visa,” is as shakily said as his hand holding the phone. “I can’t go back at the end of the month. I can’t.”

“Cooper is basically a member of this family, so he won’t do anything to endanger it. I know he’d keep it low key.” Raquelle replies softly as he fills 3 cups with coffee. “Ray…”

He trails off and just stares at the table for a moment, taking a deep breath as he considers both Bolivar and Miguel’s questions about Ray. He just gives a small nod. “Ray can keep things so low key he’d make a baritone a substitute for a fuckin’ vibrator.” He takes a slow sip of bitter, black coffee. “And he could help get Azami here.”

He just turns to look at Bolivar, studying the other man, seeking to meet his eyes with his own and offering a small, shaky smile of reassurance. “I’m thinking at this point we’re gonna have to elope…to keep ghosts from trying to crash the wedding.” He drawls wryly.

Then the hairdresser looks thoughtful for a moment and takes a deep breath. “Alright. I’ll call Cooper, tell him what happened here. I’ll call Ray, tell him to expedite this getting my mother here. And Papa…you get your visa extended because..this is a family thing and if your unknown or forgotten sins are going to be revisited upon me or my girls? I want you close by to give me my guilt presents in person. I am /still/ waiting for the pony I asked for when I was 3.” He tries to add some levity to a tense situation.

"Maybe we can leverage this to help your mother get here," Bolivar says, slowly, thoughtfully. He had not in fact recognized Deveaux, but the gravity, the weight of import around the man had been unmistakable. And that had been an expensive suit. People like that have reputations to protect, and probably assets set aside for liability. It might be the kind of power that translates to special dispensations, which Azami desperately needs.

It's good that Raquelle is joking around, refocusing the conversation on pragmatics. It takes the edge of Bolivar's tendency to snap and blame. This is the best version of himself, and he is still very blame-y. This time, when he looks at Miguel, he's sizing him up for something other than ANGRY ACCUSATIONS OF DECEIT. "You're pretty tall," he says. Like your son. "I think you should take BJ's bed, she can sleep with Diana tonight. Tomorrow, I can borrow an aerobed from Miss Marcie and we can find a place for it. Por favor no discutas1."

Bolivar's Spanish isn't great, but there's a recognizable nod at Latin American family culture here. Common ground, grudgingly conceded. Bolivar and Raquelle are both only halfie, but that's enough to know how things should be, and that family stays with family. (And BJ, honestly, might benefit from being with her sister tonight.)

“I don't…” Miguel begins to protest, but something in Raquelle’s tone of voice gives him pause, and it's Bolivar’s reluctant insistence that settles his plans for the evening. He won't be going back to Yamagato Park so soon. Swallowing audibly, he nods and looks back to the dining room table he had been so eager to sit at before this all happened.

Esto es Loco,” Miguel mumbles to himself, his eyes drawn to his own wrist and the Registry bracelet. He slides his tongue across his teeth, turning his back on the dining room and steps over to sweep both arms around Raquelle, drawing his son into a reassuring embrace. More reassuring for Miguel than anything at the moment. “I'm sorry,” he knows he doesn't need to say anymore, and yet he still does. The guilt is so powerful, the fear and shame just as much. This was already an incredibly hard and long overdue trip and now…

…now it's taken on a life of its own.


Five Hundred and Twenty Miles Away…


Keys are thrown with considerable anger down into a ceramic bowl by the front door which is slammed shut with almost the same motion. Muttered curses slips forth from Aaron Smith’s lips as he steps inside his home, tugging frustratedly at his striped necktie, draping his jacket over the back of a chair, and setting his laptop bag down beside it.

“Fucking waste my time,” Aaron curses, fingers fumbling at his top button as he tries to unfasten it as if his life depended on it. “Fucking sixteen years of bullshit.” He can't quite get it to come undone, but he continues to fight it on his way through the dining room and into the kitchen, giving up only once he's at the refrigerator.

Aaron pulls the door open and leans down inside, the creases and wrinkles of age emphasized by the stark illumination. “Fucking filed the fucking motion late. Fuck you.” He continues to swear into the refrigerator, grabbing a bottle of beer by the neck and tugging it out of its cardboard sleeve. “Fucking asshole idiots.”

As Aaron stands up straight he grips the top of the bottle with one hand, about to reach for the magnetic bottle cap opener fastened to the freezer door. But when he shuts the refrigerator door, he realizes he’s not alone in the apartment. There's someone standing right there behind where the door was hiding. “Fuck!” Aaron shouts, dropping the closed bottle with a heavy think against the tile.

Walter Renautas stares at Aaron Smith with a level, expectant stare, lifting one hand in a kindly gesture of greeting.

“I do apologize for this.”

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