odessa6_icon.gif vf_ruiz_icon.gif

Scene Title Metronome
Synopsis As Christmas approaches, Des remembers happier times of a life cut short.
Date December 19, 2018

Staten Island Trade Commission

It's quiet around the Trade Commission as Desdemona Desjardins makes her way through the building toward her room after having had a snack. Her life is in upheaval again, but perhaps this will be the good sort. Her journey is halted as something catches her attention. Pausing for a moment, as she passes the piano Alister Black has graciously provided, she tilts her head to one side and listens.

“Tick tock, tick tock…”

Sitting down at the bench, she bobs her head along to the rhythm she's established.

The words fade, replaced with a clicking of the brunette’s tongue, then the tapping of her nails on the wood of the old piano.

One, two, three, four.

Smaller hands press down on the keys hesitantly, a false start. A nod in time with the tapping encourages the girl who takes in a slow breath, then begins to play.

D, B, A, G, D. D D D, B, A, G, E.

The musical notes are handwritten in places where dirt smudged them out. But it’s even enough, legible and simple enough for a little learner.

”Very good.”

E, C, B, A, F#.

“Laughing all the way,” Desdemona whispers to herself as her fingers dance over the keys of the extravagant piano. A far more complicated version of the song the little girl next to her is playing.

Except there isn’t any little girl there, is there?

“Ho, ho, ho!” Seated on the floor, one of the children crows, filling the space of the whole note. The girl fumbles a moment, but picks up playing again in time with her instructor’s tapping on the piano top.

“Go on then!” The woman encourages. “Sing along!”

“What fun it is to ride and sing a sleighing song tonight!” The chorus of children sing off-key, but there’s no denying their enthusiasm. “Oh, jingle bells! Jingle bells! Jingle all the way!”

”O’ what fun it is to ride in a one horse open sleigh,” a new, older voice suddenly joins in. And it’s one that’s very familiar. From where he stands at the entrance, Mateo Ruiz looks serious and tired, as he often does, but also younger somehow. Dressed in something close to a janitor’s outfit, he moves closer, stopping to pat a kid on the head as he moves by. He always had a soft spot for children.

”Getting ready for Christmas already?” he has to ask, a teasing laugh in his voice. “It’s not even Thanksgiving yet.” It was easier to laugh about certain things, and the kids certainly did laugh. “Need some help? I could teach them Ríu Ríu Chíu. I remember teaching you that one.”

He had never taught her that one.

“I know it's a month away, but memorization takes time!” Miss Knutson states matter of factly. “Mala, I want you to keep practicing, okay? I’m just going to talk to Mister Ruiz for a minute.” She gives the children a conspiratorial wink as she stands from the piano. “We’re going to talk about what music you’ll all learn next!”

Once she’s made her way a conversational distance from the children, and the sounds of the piano can help muffle her hushed voice, Odessa offers a broad smile to her brother. “I’m glad you came to join us.”

As the kids slowly filter out of the room, ‘Mr. Ruiz’ follows them with his eyes, giving them a smile, a smile that seems to lighten the tension on his face. “It’s good to see them happy.” It sounds like that’s one of the rare joys in life right now. Because in many ways it might well be. Children keep people calm and content, they see the simplest of things, the best and the worst all at once.

After a few moments, he moves to sit down, sliding onto the piano seat that she’d just left, so that he could run his fingers over the keys. She could almost hear him say how good a find it had been, because she remembered him having said it many a time before. It was almost a surprise when he didn’t echo himself there. “I’m glad too. There’s a lot going on. We don’t often get to just sit and talk. They always have something for me to do.” It sounded like a joke the way he said it, but the longer the children were gone, the more that soft smile faded from his expression.

With a tap of his finger, he plays a single, solitary note, almost mournful sounding after the joyful music of before.

Odessa circles around back to the piano slowly, her good cheer fading slightly as the children leave. Those children have given her a purpose. She longed for that for what felt like ages. She thought she’d found it with the Vanguard.

Des winces and a tear rolls down her cheek. Some purpose indeed.

Instinctively, she lays her hands on the keys and begins to play the next few notes of a melody begun by just one press of a key. It feels like a game they used to play. Sort of like Name That Tune. “We both like to keep busy.” The last key remains pressed down, the note ringing out in the space and slowly decaying around them.

And the way it goes is different than actually naming the tune, instead Ruiz takes up the dying note and continues the song, gently tapping the keys along until it reaches a natural stopping point. Yes, he knew those cords and he could continue the song.

”We do,” he agrees, knowing that they both had a lot of guilt they wanted to make up for. They had both been in the group that had destroyed this world. He hadn’t known about the virus solution until it was too late, and he might not have left how he did if it hadn’t been for her. He might have gotten himself killed. Because destroying the world wasn’t what he had wanted, ever. It had always been structured as a rebuilding. He hadn’t thought to think that in order to rebuild one would need to destroy. Part of him had already seen the world as broken.

On that, he takes his turn, tapping out the notes of a song, expecting her to take it up as well.

Lowering herself down to sit on the bench and scoot in toward the middle, she runs her fingers over the keys to play the next few bars of the song. She never knew what to make of the world. When she was told that it was sick and she could heal it, she believed. She didn’t have the understanding of what she was going to unleash on the world. Couldn’t comprehend the scope of devastation.

Odessa looks over, watching Mateo’s face. “Edward wants to see me when I’m done here.”

The mention of Edward leads to a simple nod. Ruiz shifts on the seat and starts to play next to her hand, a soft melody to blend with the song she’s playing without actually starting a new one. It sounded right, if nothing. A duet, made from a solo composition. There was a feeling of it being off, because he was making that part up, but it worked. “Ray knows we’re useful.” And he trusted the man cause he knew what they had been and hadn’t thrown them out or set them up to be destroyed, because everyone here had lost someone and many would have given anything to have someone to blame for it.

The only other person he’d told was the woman he fell in love with. Two knowing was almost too many. They all had a lot to make up for.

”What’s he wanting you to do this time?” He casts a glance toward the watch, almost as if to see if it’s moving slow or fast. But he wasn’t sure he could tell anyway. “I hope you’re not skipping the shots, still.” The injection scar in his neck was noticeable. He only went off his when it was required to do something the incinerators couldn’t handle. But then he had grown to like the silence.

He wasn’t sure she ever would.

The watch is off, of course, but only by seconds. With its age, it’s easily explained away. Odessa’s been diligent about keeping it set to the correct time. It would be easier to stop wearing the watch entirely, but some things she just won’t do, regardless of the risk.

She smiles wide for a moment, then it fades as though she’s had to remind herself to temper her optimism. “I’ve got a really promising lead on some vaccine research.” Her fingers pick up the melody where he’s left off, continuing to improvise the tune. “This could be it, Tete.” If she can develop a vaccine for the virus, the people of the Hub can band together and finally fight back against the Vanguard. Their exile and nightmare could be over.

From his nod, it’s clear Ruiz understands what she means. “There has to be one you can make. His plan didn’t make sense otherwise,” he had to admit, even if he didn’t think it made good sense even then. “He had to be able to pick and choose who would survive since it targets both.” If it had only targeted Evolved he could understand based on what they knew of his ideals, but no, it went after both. So it only made sense there was a way to make those he chose immune.

”If anyone can find it, it’s you.” He believed in her that much. She had helped develop it, after all. She perhaps just needed the right things, the right tools, the right…

And if Edward Ray was helping point her in that direction… “Just be careful, okay?”

Odessa leans over and drops a kiss on her brother’s cheek. “Don’t look so down. I’ll be back before you now I’m gone.” She raises one hand, thumb and third fingers together. “Just like—”


Mateo’s sister disappears from where she was sitting next to him, presumably to prepare for her excursion beyond the walls of the Hub.

Just like that.

Des' shoulders sag as the vision fades and she returns to herself and her surroundings. There are no children here. No brother. Only the memory of a life snuffed out by one man's hubris. Lifting her fingers from the keys, she slides off the bench and heads to her room to pack for the Safe Zone.

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