Now And Forever


ff_else_icon.gif robyn7_icon.gif

Scene Title Now and Forever
Synopsis This is your life, there are no second chances / Grab all you can, don't look back, keep on marching / Come, come, we'll take life / Come, let's get some life
Date July 5, 2021

Finding Chess to apologise for her snap back had been number one priority as Robyn Quinn had slipped out from their secretive meeting - Chess hadn't deserved that, and she let her own trust and anxiety issues get the best of her far too quickly. By the time she had been able to detach herself from the power station, however, it was clear that Chess had retired for the night, and who could blame her? It just meant her apology would have to wait.

That hadn't been the only reason for slipping away, though. For all her talk and bluster of we'll figure it out, it's what we do and fuck fate, she is overwhelmed. It's far from the first time there's been an impending, horrific event that she, or others, have had to rise up to and stop. The biggest difference between this world and hers is a testament to that fact.

But never before had the impending end of the world loomed so close, felt so unavoidable. The knowledge that they made it back and it didn't matter, that they had died in a manner that left their exact fate entirely unknown - it makes what stands ahead of her, and the rest of the team, feel so helpless. It's oppressive, threatening to drag her down into despair. And if they can't figure something out, something that felt even more likely now even despite Else's prophecies…

Her brow stitches together as she trudges forward, looking up and around. Zee had taken her alcohol she had bartered for in Delphi, leaving her without the option of drowning away her worries for the night until she could manage to talk with the others about a number of things, or could at least calm her emotions. It leaves her wandering back to the convoy rather aimlessly.

At least, until she sees Else.

She stops for a moment, smiling as she diverts herself in the direction of her erstwhile friend.

Else is crouched down by the side of the road in the dark, picking up bullet casings from the grass. “For what it’s worth I did not desert you,” she whisper sings to herself, “there was little I could do.” She curls her fingers around the shell casings. “When the hatchet fell I was divided in two.” She blows on the shell casings, rolling them around in her cupped hands like a gambler with dice at a casino. “This is the disharmony you made for us.

It’s only because she can see in the dark that Robyn notices something unsettling. Else’s eyes are milky white. She throws the shell casings across the street, letting them bounce and rattle and fall, continuing to whisper-sing to herself. “For what it’s worth I did not mourn you,” she continues, returning to plucking shell casings from the grass, “Because I chose to be myself.” Again, blowing on them. For luck. “And when you turned your head to me in dis-guuuust…” She tumbles them across the asphalt. “I smiled in my personal triumph.

The sight brings Robyn's pace to a crawl, brow furrowed as she watches Else for a long moment as she takes in the scene before her. A deep frown quickly forms across her face, as she continues toward the other woman. She's never seen this before, not with Else. But she can wager a guess what's happening here. But..

“Not a writer these days,” Else says as she slips away from Robyn and moves to the ferry’s railing. “I don’t compose the melody or the lyrics anymore, I think I’m out of rhythm with the beat. Listened to a little too much radio back when I was workin’ the nine to five down at the Ark, and I think it burned out my ear.”

The wind plays with Else’s hair, blowing it across her face. She smiles, reaching up to brush strands of dirty blonde hair from her mouth, from across her eyes. “These days I’m just waitin’ t’see how it all shakes out. See if the record keeps spinnin’, or if we flip it over to the B-Side, or…” her dark brows rise, “just smash the bloody thing on the floor and call it a day.”

She finds her feet carrying her a bit faster to Else with that in mind, slipping around her before she can dip back down to collect more shells from the grass, watching as she continues with her… whatever she is fixated on. She know better than to mess with someone trapped in a vision, if that's what this is.

But that's also what worries her right now.

I do not care for your sympathies,” Else continues, gathering up the last of the shell casings, “I do not care for your mis-be-got-ten sense of self loathing,” blows on them, “I do not care for your empathy,” and rolls them across the street, “I will rip it straight out of your chest.

Else slowly rises to stand, then walks in a wavering sleep-walk path into the middle of the road. “Tear it out of you, like I did to you,” she whispers, “tear it out of me, like you did to me.” She lifts her chin up, looking at the dark night sky, “Claim it all for me, claim it all for me,” then spreads her hands and slowly spins in place, “I am not your reflection, I am your fate.

Then, standing still, Else exhales a slow sigh and Robyn can see her eyes darken back to their usual brown. “Oh, s’dark out.” She mumbles into a little laugh. “Whoops.”

There's worry in Robyn's eyes as she stares into Else's. It's a long, lingering moment as she works on committing the song she's just heard to memory while at the same time attempting to read Else. It's an effort that's proven so much harder than she expected since reuniting - sort of - with her friend. Maybe she didn't know Else as well as she thought she did, or perhaps it was just time and distance between them, and how much her mind was elsewhere every time she spoke to her. Either way, it renders her nigh unreadable to her.

Hands rise, settling on Else's shoulders as Robyn slides back in front of her. "Else. What are you doing?" It would be a testing question, if it wasn't for the concern thickly layered in her voice. "Are you okay?"

Else pats herself down, then gives an enthusiastic thumbs-up. “Yep!” She exclaims, smiling broadly. “Must’ve gone and tip-toed off through the tulips a little too far. Sometimes when I nod off I sleepwalk a little. Been that way since I was down in Bikini Bottom.” She grimaces, then looks at each of Robyn’s hands individually, though it isn’t clear that she can really see them.

“D’you got a flashlight by any chance?” Else asks. “S’fuckin’ dark out here. I think these people forgot t’pay their electricity bill.”

Great. Robyn doesn't move her hands from Else's shoulders, still staring into Else's eyes as she grits her teeth and focuses for a moment. Light begins to glow from her fingertips, drifting out for a moment, before it seems to curl back and begin to surround both her forearms, as if coating her arms as far as her rolled up sleeves will allow in a dull light, just bright enough to allow them both of them to see while hopefully not blinding Else - and letting the former musician see the sincere disquiet in her gaze.

"I am a flashlight," she reminds Else, though she assumes that was the joke Else was going for. Her hands don't slide away, not yet. "Else… that wasn't sleepwalking. Not unless you do… quite a few things while sleeping." Jaw clenches, lips quirking side to side. "Are you still having visions?" she asks in a whisper, cutting straight to the point of her worry, she knows at the risk of alienating Else in the moment.

“Nah,” Else says with a little squint, “ain’t been able to play for a while now. We talked ‘bout this. Just ain’t got the rhythm and the motion anymore. I’ve tried,” she says, putting her hands on top of Robyn’s, “but the beat just don’t come da-na-dum-da-num-dum.” She says with a shake of her head. “Sat for hours and tried t’do it like I always did, but pages were blank.” She gives Robyn’s hands a squeeze.

“M’fine, really. Sometimes I just wake up in weird places.” Else says with a carefree smile. “Could be worse, could still be gettin’ all Clockwork Orange’d at the Ark.” She admits with an overly enthusiastic flutter of laughter. “That was a bad time.”

Because she's not writing it anymore, her ability has gone… curly. There's still a tenseness to the way Robyn looks at her, clearly torn over something. She doesn't want to believe that Else is lying, but the signs are there. The hazed over eyes, the lost time, the ending up in strange places, the distinct tenor and content of her lyrics she had been singing. She's either lying, genuinely unaware of what's happening, or…

…or maybe Robyn just is so set on it because of where her head is at. She's never seen one of Else's prophetic fits, after all. She never wrote while they knew each other before the war, she's never saw it happen in what she saw and gleaned of the Bright timeline, and she is supposedly too late to have ever seen it here. It could have been a trick of the light, an irony not lost on her.

Deep down, she knows how unlikely that is, though. "Right, we did. Sorry. Lot going on today," she replies quietly, deciding not to press the questioning further, at least not immediately. One hand withdraws, still glowing as she points at Else and musters the slightest smile. "We don't talk about the Ark, okay? I've already heard some horror stories from Zee."

Her eyes are still searching Else's for something, before she closes them and sighs. "What're you doing now, Else?" is asked as she returns her hand to the other woman's shoulder.

“Was hopin’ t’catch a nap,” Else says with a glance in the direction of the overpass. “But the bus has some bad vibes, y’know? Was hoping to catch a few Z’s in the big girl with the beds.” She means the Wildcat, presumably, “but I must’ve gotten my back confused with my front. Or…” Else glances down at the street, nudging a shell casing with her sneakered toe. “Maybe I did and just walked off half-cocked?” She smiles, anxiously.

“What’re you doing?” Else saks, jabbing Robyn in the shoulder with one pointy finger. “Skulking? Up to no good?” Her worried expression shifts to a smile.

When Else pokes a finger into her shoulder, Robyn tilts her head down, a sad smile on her face as she leans forward, dropping her hands from Else's shoulder and leaning her forehead against Else's shoulder. She doesn't answer immediately, eyes opening long enough for her to take a deep breath.

"Putting my cards on the table," she breathes out, feeling less certain about that after what she saw earlier. Still, she wraps her arms Else is a hug partially lit by her still glowing arms, trying to ignore the pain in her joints and the small cuts on her arms as she turns moves to-

- kiss Else, because that's a decision she's made in a split second.

Else closes her eyes, lifting a hand up to Robyn’s cheek in surprise. One finger curls in a lock of dark hair, and she is lit in the warm glow of those dimly luminescent arms. The kiss only lasts a moment, and Robyn feels Else’s shoulders momentarily tremble before—

“Hey! Robyn, that you?” A flashlight sweeps over Else and Robyn at the precisely wrong moment. There, at the end of the long beam, is Cat. Her eyes are wide as saucers, lips parted in what might have been a greeting but quickly turn into a fumbled sputtering of nonsense noises concluding with a, “Sorry! Sorry!” And the beam quickly moves away, followed by the sound of scuffing feet.

SO SORRY!” Cat yowls into the darkness.

Well, that certainly brings Robyn out of whatever moment she'd forced herself into. "Shit," she whispers, eyes wide as she leans back, when it registers to her the voice that had called her name. "Shit," she repeats with extra vehemence. "That-"

That's panic. Oh yeah, that's a bit of panic rising up in her, and she's not entirely sure why.

A nervous laugh, and she looks up at Else an uneven, uncertain smile. "S-Sorry, I just-" She swallows, her mind going about six thousand different places all of a sudden. "I know that was sudden," she says quietly. "I just… I'm coming to terms with the idea there may not be any second chances this time, a-and I'm trying to… make good on some things, I guess."

Yet again, she looks past Else, and hiss out another "shit". Much more tense now, the light fades from her arms as she slinks back. "I'm probably going to have to- apologise to her before the night is out." Eyes flick back up to Else, though, and that small smile from earlier comes back for just a moment.

“S’okay glitterkitten,” Else says with a wink and a gently pat of Robyn’s cheek. She only roughly glances in the direction Cat fled in, then turns her attention back to Robyn. “It’s like that song goes, right?” Without hesitation she reaches out and takes one of Robyn’s hands in hers, lacing their fingers together.

All the lives always tempted to trade,” Else starts to sing, but this time her eyes are brown, not milky white. “Will they hate me for all the choices I made?” She raises her brows, nodding along to the beat. “Will they stop when they see me again? I can't stop now I know who I am.” She looks back at Robyn, as if expecting her to recognize the song.

The song - hearing Else sing at all - should put her at ease. Instead, the panic building in Robyn only mounts further when she sees the look in Else's eyes, that look of expectation. Eyes wide, she looks like a deer in headlights. There's just too much in her head right now, too much jumbled around to bring up the memory in the moment.

She offers a big, toothy, uncertain grin to Else, trying her best not to scream internally. This wasn't a mistake, she tells herself. This needed to happen. That thought, at least for the moment, eases her anxiety a bit as she stares Else, hands shaking.

Maybe this was why she had stopped doing things like this, though. One of many reasons.

"I'm sorry," she replies apologetically, looking down at the ground. "I'm, uh, actually really bad at this, you know?"

“We all are,” Else says, letting Robyn’s hand go slowly. “But sometimes, if we’re lucky, we get a second chance.” She says with a distant smile, stepping to the edge of the dim light Robyn casts. Turning her attention past Robyn, to the brick building she’d come out of, Else takes a moment to consider something.

“It’s late.” Else says softly, nodding in the direction of firelight visible beyond the collapsed overpass. “We should get back to the others, else we get lost out here like little rabbits.”

When Else releases her hand, Robyn looks back up at her with a furrowed brow and a frown. This was supposed to help her feel better, take her mind off everything. Somehow, just the opposite has occurred, and she finds herself lost in a moment of trying to figure out how that happened.

"I, uh…" There's a slight colour to her cheeks, light brimming just beneath the surface that gives her the slightest glow in the night - in this case, literally. She swallows, still trying to process the sudden swerve in her emotions and what had just happened.

"Yeah," she says quietly. "I guess- so." She won't. Once Else is taken care of, she'll wander back out a bit, and stare up at all the stars she can see without the pollution of existence around them. And just- try and detangle her thoughts while trying to remember the song Else was singing earlier.

That'll be then, though.

"What if we don't, though," she offers after a moment. "Get a second chance. I mean, I'm already on mine," she notes in a low voice.

Else’s expression flattens. Her dark eyes avert to the ground for a moment, then angle up to the sky. She’s silent for a moment, then, exhaling a sigh takes a step back toward the overpass. “Then we better make this one count.”

Else says nothing more as she turns for the ruined overpass. Sneakers crunching broken asphalt underfoot. As She and Robyn move into the night, neither of them see what had become of the shell casings in the street, or how precisely they had fallen.

Into a circle.

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