Mer Turbulente


elliot2_icon.gif ff_elliot_icon.gif ff_seren_icon.gif wf_squeaks_icon4.gif

Scene Title Mer Turbulente
Synopsis Elliot conscripts Squeaks in a mad gamble to convince Seren that he's the man they know.
Date July 7, 2021

Seren nods through the introductions as they come, and smiles in return to the ones given– their eyes turning in the end on Elliot, and that smile carries with it familiarity. "Thank you for looking after them until I got here. You're being looked for, though. You should head on to see him." They step aside from the doorway to let him leave as much as to give room for Nova to properly enter the room. In a quieter aside, they apologize fondly to Elliot, "Sorry about Baird. You know how he gets." That much said with an amused quirk of brow, they look after to Nova properly and wave her in. "Come in, come in…"

What the absolute fuck. Elliot's thoughts decouple and collide like airborne boxcars. His instinct at the moment is to suddenly be anywhere else on the planet, and he's grateful that the local Seren is making room for him to do so. He can't keep the only person they could possibly be talking about waiting. Not having much to say is an advantage in this situation. If he has to pretend to be a local version of himself to get out of this situation it shouldn't be a problem; he used to be just like him. He clears his throat and puts on the mask of the man he used to be. "On…" he false starts, swallows, resets, "on my way." He takes his leave as calmly as he can.

Mer Tranquille

New Chicago

July 7, 2021

Elliot pulls at Squeak’s attention frantically as soon as he steps from the lounge into the reception area. Nobody is waiting to escort him from Seren to the man upstairs, which is a good sign. Why the fuck didn’t Elliot tell me to stay away from here?

His hands begin cutting small instructions through the air. I need you to find Elliot as fast as possible, he signs. I can tell he’s southwest of here, do you have eyes on him?

Squeaks’ attention turns to Elliot’s tugging, the way an adolescent pup would turn to a familiar sound. She does it literally too, sharing her location — up high on an old fire escape against the side of a building a street or two over from where Elliot himself is. Seems she’s been just watching and listening since they’d separated.

She jumps back to his perspective, making a small and curious frown at the hand movements. She doesn’t know sign language herself, but…

“No?” Squeaks, speaking in almost a whisper, looks up then left for a solid whole second. “But I could probably find him.” She turns a small circle to get to the stairs that will take her to the street level. “Is it bad things?”

Elliot quickly maps Squeaks’s location in comparison to his own, then turns his head toward the source of the ringing in his ears. He shares his memory of his own walk down the street and into this building so she can add his map to her own, giving her a starting direction. Tell him I’m being taken to see Gideon, he signs, fingerspelling out the name. They think I’m him. I’ll stall as long as I can. He briefly considers running for the door, but it would make absolutely no sense after freely walking into the lounge. The bouncer they showed their black lacquered coins to would almost certainly think it odd.

A stranger leaves a restroom adjacent to the lounge, and Elliot takes the opportunity to stroll into the room with feigned disinterest. He latches the door and leans against the sink, looking at his reflection in a well-kept mirror. He passed for his local with Seren, but he hadn’t lingered. He begins to alter his posture, inventories the ticks he used to have but doesn’t anymore. Can almost feel a hat that could interrupt his eyeline if he was riding the bus and somebody was sitting next to him. Tell him Seren and Baird sent me to see him. I don’t even know where to go in this building. Or how well his other should.

As map making and explanations are passed to her, Squeaks’ feet thump down the stairs until she has to jump to get to the street. It takes a second jump, the first one landing her on a stack of old junk she probably used to climb up in the first place, and the second one lands her on the wet asphalt.

Rainwater and road grime splash in her footfalls as she jogs away from the fire escape and building, following the road in her mind as much as for reals. She’s listening, watching Elliot’s explanation as much as following the route in her mind. Turns and direction changes are already planned before she even gets to the point, so she makes those even before she fully, physically realizes and recognizes where she’s at.

It takes her a little bit, lots of minutes long, even with the combining maps and help through the link, but Squeaks does find herself in a less busy part of Chicago that resonates. It’s uncomfortable. Squeaks has to pause to cover her ears with her hands for a couple of seconds, not that it does much for the ringing sounds that aren’t actually happening in her ears.

“He’s somewhere…” Squeaks says, half to herself. She wanders more in this new area, sharing her perspective as she looks at each person she passes until…

There. Across the way and walking.


Not-the-Elliot's attention snaps to Squeaks, annoyed. He opens his mouth, breathes in to correct her, shakes his head and shrugs. "What?" he asks in resignation. He can tell from her state of breathlessness that she came here at a run.

Don't say Gideon in the street, Elliot signs. He fingerspells the name again for her slowly. She saw them use the language earlier, the Elliot in front of her will understand even if her signing is clumsy. He finishes washing his hands and face in the sink, begins adapting the old behaviors with what the man he's seeing through Squeaks employs in the moment. He's a lot more relaxed than I would have guessed, he thinks, slowing his breath.

A knock comes at the bathroom door. Before there's room to fend the other person off by saying anything, a voice comes through it.


It's Seren, and they knock again, light so as not to be particularly disturbing, but definitely still trying to be heard. "They let me know you haven't head out yet. I'll walk over with you." As polite as it is, it's not a question.

Squeaks’ mouth opens and shuts with a huffed breath, her eyes staring up at Not-the-Elliot with plain old suspicion. Not fear, though, she isn’t afraid of the guy, she just doesn’t trust him.

Elliot is meeting Gideon. Her hands aren’t familiar at all with signing and finger-spelling, even while borrowing Elliot’s skill for it. She’s clumsy and awkward, but it doesn’t stop her or slow her down at saying what she has to say. Seren and Baird are taking him because they think he’s you. And… And? The teen’s face falls with a vaguely curious frown. Why are they going to the trouble of telling Not-the-Elliot all of this?

“He…’s lost.”

"Fuck," he replies.

Fuck, Elliot thinks. He opens the door immediately, hands and face still damp but cleaner than he'd had a chance to be in a while. "No time to," he posits to Seren in a joke that's hard to read in his tone if you don't know him, "draw a bath first I'm guessing?" His cadence is exactly as incorrect as he feels it should be.

His hands go into his pockets where he can't annoy them by fidgeting, snapping only once before they're gone from view. Safely tucked away, he makes a call on something he'd really rather not. He can't sign to Squeaks, and adding Wright to this conversation as a middle man will waste precious response time. He pulls her attention to his understanding of why he's always tapping his fingers, and it suddenly becomes clear that it was never just fidgeting. He types against his crossed hands in the center pocket of his hoodie.

REPEAT␠ALL␠TO␠HIM, he types, I␠WILL␠PARROT␠RESPONSE␄. On top of opening up the memories of how the code works, he shares a demonstration of his instructions via a memory. It’s a composite memory, remembered from both his and Wright’s perspectives simultaneously across the infinite divide of spacetime.

Richard pauses a moment, awkwardly uncertain before offering, “Uh. Hi, Liz?”

Wright repeats Richard’s words to Liz a world away before he’s finished speaking, though the sentence is short. “And he said it with kind of a baffled question mark at the end like he’s not sure how talking to people works?” She adds, uptalk of her own demonstrating in jest Richard’s tone. “So now it’s your turn!” Exciting times.

Dropping her head, Elisabeth can't help the laughter. "We truly have the weirdest life ever, Nerfherder." Elliot begins copying what Liz says a moment after she starts saying it, their words overlapping but as close to concurrent as he can manage. For his part, Elliot adds no embellishments. Liz’s chuckles brighten her features and her blue eyes with humor and some amount of relief. "Hi. The kids all say hello — I told them we had a special phone that I couldn't bring home so I promised I'd tell you that first thing. Things are about as normal here so far; how are you doing? Are you getting help from the locals?"

“I don’t know, I’m sure someone has a weirder life,” quips Richard, words shadowed after a by Wright to his wife in another world, “Maybe Eve?”

Assuming the answer to the question he asked Seren is no, he adopts a posture that communicates, ready when you are while thinking to himself, Jesus goddamn fucking shit.

Seren smiles sympathetically and apologetically to Elliot when he poses his joke. "Sorry," they say aloud delicately, with the air of someone who's not used to saying that word and truly meaning it. They shake their head once. "If you want, you can borrow my suite once you're done. I have a feeling this was all Baird's fault, after all."

There's a second sorry there that goes unspoken, and they make a gesture of offering him their elbow, gallant as they can be. In their other hand, they hold an umbrella for any rain that might fall, even if the weather is only brooding outside.

"I had just been hoping to get a read on all of them before heading in, I didn't think you'd get caught up in that," they go on to say, voice quiet and meant only for the two of them. A tilt of their head later, they concede, "And at any rate, Baird overreacted. Anyone intimidated already by the Group doesn't need any further help from him, now, do they?" Seren pops both brows and gives him a small, furtive smile.

Telling everything raises some red flags that Squeaks can't exactly explain even to herself. Maybe it's partly an echo of Elliot’s apprehension, and a good bit of her own for meeting Not-the-Elliot like this in public. Still, she takes a breath and nods once. It's sort of agreeing to the fuck word and also acknowledging the instructions.

“He's with Seren now,” she explains as she reaches to give Not-the-Elliot’s sleeve a quick tug — they need a less visible place to be talking — and then turns to wander to some sort of off the path still outside place.

Squeaks’ head tilts so she can look up at the local, brows raising to make sure he's following. “I have to tell you everything and there's no time to say how it works. It just does.” To prove her point she clips a play by play of what she sees of Seren’s side of the conversation with Elliot.

Elliot shows no reaction to being touched by Squeaks; touch aversion is long in his past. But he's seen his alternate's reactions to the proximity of others, noted more closely his being comfortable with Squeaks's proximity in direct contrast. She must be safe to him, which is heartbreaking in its familiarity. In its immediate relevance to why he's in this city.

He allows himself to be led, and listens intently with fingers snapping anxiously. "Was waiting until Wright got here," he explains, feeling a deep guilt over her absence that won't stop him from doing what needs to be done.

Elliot chuckles, sliding his hand from his hoodie to take Seren's offered arm. He doesn't test their safety, instead relying on the relevant fact that another Seren is safe. He lets the worry bend against his mind and fall away. "Bath would be lovely," he admits, wondering exactly how well his alternate knows this Seren.

This conversation isn't entirely for the other Elliot yet, so he supplements what the other man is saying with an excuse for being in the lounge. "Was hoping to meet back up with Wright before," he says, clearing his throat the way he once would to pretend the problem isn't putting words in order, "getting to this part. She's the talker." He shrugs with the arm woven through Seren's.

"You know how she is," he says sympathetically, parroting their earlier apology for Baird. "Convoy seems like an interesting crowd, though. They break anything?"

"My patience, nearly," Seren answers offhandedly, an edge still somehow to it. They lead the way to the doorway, and when it's opened for them, they step out first to open the umbrella and lift it for them both. "Perhaps I've gotten complacent. I'm used to people within our borders behaving civilly when the d'Sarthe Group extends them invitations and makes offers which would benefit them. It's not as though we take without giving back, unless you've sincerely fucked up."

They walk for several paces before they turn to Elliot at their side, studying his posture, his everything. He looks to them as though he's lived a lifetime between when they last spoke. Their brow creases.

"An initial report doesn't need to be a full one, just the highlights. You were gone months. We can take our time in getting the full story, a report on success or failure is owed first and regardless." They exhale out tiredly, shoulders dipping further down in height from his own as they walk with the edge of them brushing his bicep. "Everything you both have to say about what you saw becomes incredibly relevant for getting a second read on this Archipelago and its surrounding settlements, as well."

"Where is Wright anyway?" comes from them with more caution, eyes darting back to him at their side. The question is delicate because the situation is delicate.

“Did she get lost?” Squeaks can't keep herself from asking the question, it just sort of tumbles out as an addition to her real task. That, the repeating of everything word for word with only the most necessary descriptions — with the most perplexed expressions for some — happens right on the heels of her questions. Practically on the same breath.

Elliot grimaces, running the numbers on what he should say in this bizarre situation. All he knows is that the interloper is likewise heartbroken. He decides to trust. "We took different paths to the city," he says.

Elliot slows their walk to a gradual stop as he processes the information he's listening to. It hurts, but that's okay; he can see it hurts his alternate just as deeply. Feels Wright hurt for him, furious. "She's having," he says quietly, "second thoughts about what to do with our payout for this job." He wonders if it would change the local Wright's mind if she knew he'd kill his own Wright's father if he got the chance. In every timeline, Gregory Tracy has earned himself a bullet in the back in a dark living room.

He sniffles, cuts away a tear while looking away from the person the other arm entwines through. "But he killed my little brother," he says, "so it doesn't matter." What would it have been like to have more than just a few horrible months with Bastian?

He clears his throat. "She'll come around," he assures them. "And either way I'm ready to report."

Seren lets out a hum that's sympathetic, mourning. The shadow cast as they walk past hanging lights begins to ripple. "Baird says you deserve your justice, no matter how ugly it looks in the end," they murmur secretively to him. "Not everything can be pretty to be what it needs to be."

They squeeze his arm ever so gently and reassuringly, then lift their head and square their posture. With his word that he's ready to go, they lead the both of them on with swift steps toward the Administrative Building looming scant blocks away.

"Are they safe?" Squeaks asks abruptly but quietly, like asking herself and with a subtly different weight placed on the last word. Her eyes squint a little at the things she's seeing that are someplace else, then flicker up at Not-the-Elliot as she plows on without waiting for any answers.

"What's going to happen when he gives your report? Who's that… will it just be the Gideon guy or more? And what happens after? How hard is it to get where he's going?" So many words all on one breath, and it's clear that Squeaks is already thinking of more.

Elliot honestly isn’t certain; he never understood exactly what made somebody safe the way Squeaks clearly means it. It’s been years since it was even a problem for him; since they made everybody safe with two bullets. All he knows for sure is that Seren raised Baird to be what he is. He thinks that the space between them isn’t a pact of nonviolence, just a wait until Seren doesn’t trust him anymore.

“We need to move quickly,” he says in answer, making for the door. “There’s a bathroom off reception with a window to the alley.”

Elliot isn’t thrilled about pulling a second bathroom delay gambit minutes after the first, but he knows that the local should be the one to do this. He stares into Seren’s shadow as though he knows where Baird’s eyes are, slowly nodding in solemn agreement. He clears his throat, gesturing the way forward.

The silence gives Seren the moment they need to be sure they really mean what they mean to say, and with enough time before the d'Sarthe Group's holdings grow ears of their own they'd rather not test. "If I'd had what you were looking for when you first came asking… were it up to me, I'd wanted to have given it then. What d'Sarthe wants is just as important, just as personal, but there's something…"

Tongue glues to cheek and Seren can only shake their head. It seems unlike them to be without precision to their words. "I don't know," they finally mutter as they round the final corner, adjusting their grip around the umbrella's sturdy handle with a flex of fingers. Their shadow softens, somehow, as it swings around them both as though light were being cast predominantly from behind them before it swoops back to where it ought to be.

"If I'd had the information in hand at the time, I'd have given it to you for free," they restate, and squeeze his arm gently, diamond-glittering eyes glancing up at him without lifting their head. "I can tell you I was motivated in getting it chased down while you were out of town. I'd tell you to take all the time you need here before moving on, but…" They know better. They know the time sensitivity. Seren smiles briefly and allows, "Well, maybe the two of you will come back and we can catch up better then."

Hard-soled steps click up a short staircase, and they unwind their arm from Elliot's to close their umbrella on the doorstep to the Administrative Building. They follow as much as direct him in through the revolving from door and both look a little more at home and a little more distant than before when they enter the lobby. This is home, but it's also their place of work, at least in the public spaces.

Elliot reads Seren's little behaviors as their words proceed haltingly. Sees vulnerability in the unpreparedness, the rush to get the words out before their shared destination. That it was important to them that Elliot got what he needed.

With little time to wait for the local self's permission to proceed, he acts to the best of his ability. Elliot would look away to hide how grateful he was to learn it, so he does. But he'd quickly realize that hiding it doesn't help him get what he wants, and a small smile would flicker into being at the corners of his mouth. That comes next, exactly where it's needed. His posture relaxes to show them how comfortable he is with seeing them again when the job is done. As their arms are disentangled, he allows it to take a fraction of a second longer than what would be most efficient.

He looks around the administration building's entryway as though it's interrupted him, mostly to hide the way his eyes lose focus for a moment as he sees the local Elliot rush to his current location through Squeaks's eyes while she's hot on his heels.

He offers Seren a smile polite enough for a place where things are better left professional. "Thank you for the directions," he says, perhaps chagrined that he'd needed an escort. "Is there a good time… you wanted a follow-up when I'm done checking in, should I come find you?" It establishes that he knows his way from here, even though that isn't true. But mostly it's a reminder that they offered their suite for a bath after the fact, which he'll never see but he's certain the local Elliot will appreciate.

"My door is proverbially open," Seren assures him. "At worst, you can follow me up to make your report, and we could proceed from there." Their tone implies they'd somewhat expected it, but they see he's paused here. Perhaps for all his earnestness, he does want to take a moment at the threshold to gather himself.

"… But if you need a moment," they supply for him so he doesn't have to find the words himself. "You know where to find me after." Seren twists their umbrella to shake it loose of any mist over the front rug before they wrap it closed, button snapping to keep its leaves of waterproof fabric lashed tightly to it.

Elliot smiles with slight embarrassment, as though they read him correctly despite not knowing exactly why he's stalling. "I'll see you," he says gratefully, snapping his fingers, "after, then."

Elliot checks his pulse as he scans the alleyway beside the admin building, his heart pounding from the hustle to get here in time. He looks down to Squeaks with a nod to indicate she should keep an eye out, then looks to the frosted window to the lobby bathroom. It'll be an uncomfortable fit, and he shrugs off his jacket. He pulls his book from the pocket, carefully tucking it under his arm before extending the long coat to Squeaks.

"It will be," he tells her, "weird if my coat changes before the meeting. Give him this when…" His mouth works to say more, but he seems to give up because the rest is obvious.

Squeaks stares at the jacket for half a second, trying to sort its place in everything else she’s been witness to. Somehow, in spite of her deepest nature and inherent nosiness, she doesn’t bombard Not-the-Elliot with the questions that are beginning to simmer. She lets the pause stand for what it could be, what half of it was definitely, in watching for Elliot and Seren’s progress while she and Not-the-Elliot made their way to the hopeful meetup and swapsies point.

The jacket is grabbed before the whole second ticks over, and the teen nods to agree. Better to keep up the ruse and probably no one will know. Nobody’s going to know. Attention and focus sharpen in her own eyes, which flick to the window and then the door as she positions herself nearby and small enough to escape notice while she waits.

Elliot boosts himself up as soon as the window opens, disappearing through the narrow window gracelessly. “Well this is not how,” he tells the other Elliot in the room, “how I saw my day going.”

Elliot already has his own jacket and hoodie off, draped over the sink. He could say well if you told me not to run into management we wouldn't be here right now but manages to keep it to himself. “They're expecting you to find them after the meeting,” he says instead.

The two look at each other's clothing, grumble, and Elliot closes the link to Squeaks before the two begin undressing in a hurry. “If d’Sarthe wants intel on my group, just say you didn't hang out long. If he wants inroads for the Pelago, Queen Marlowe is your best bet.” He puts only enough emphasis on Queen to illustrate his thoughts on the crime monarchy.

“She's here?” the local Elliot asks in surprise.

“You know who she is?” the foreign Elliot asks in surprised return. He gets a smirk in response, which is not an answer but exactly like him. Giving up on expecting an explanation, he adds, “Yeah she came with.”

“Huh,” the local says. He kicks off his boots and pants, trades them for the other's. They fit, surprising neither of them in the moment. “I'll find you later to trade,” is all he says as the two of them dress.

The local kicks his foot into a boot as he pulls his shirt over his head. The foreigner knows then that they'd never have been able to pull a long con under closer inspection; the local is leaner, rougher, and across his shoulders sits a large tattoo of a snake tied in a figure-eight knot with a head at both ends.

“What the fuck?” Wright asks.

Elliot throws the man his own shirt and puts on the one offered as he tries to think of a way to ask. He pockets his pill case in the other man's pants, now technically his. The local Elliot is already tugging on the hoodie and pushing past him toward the door.

“You'll know where to find me,” is all Elliot can say.

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