Oregon's Nice


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Also Featuring:

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Scene Title Oregon's Nice
Synopsis The last stop before Yukon reunites the Ferry caravan with some familiar faces. Not all are welcome.
Date November 6, 2011

Somewhere outside Jade City, British Columbia, Canada

The old MECC games didn't prepare anyone for shit. No one's caught dysentery. Nobody's gotten lost while foraging for wild berries. They haven't shot 546 pounds of meat and only been able to carry 100 pounds of it back to camp. And not once have they had to caulk the Nissan and float it across the river. Worst Yukon Trail game ever.

The fact that the trip has been boring is quite the blessing, actually. Apart from having to watch out for deer (so many deer) and the errant moose (Edgar, don't play games with it, please), it's been rather dull. But after several long days, the end is practically in sight. The last stretch through the mountains was especially tedious - twelve hours to their destination: A cabin in the mountains in a place called Good Hope Lake.

When the vehicles pull in, a woman wrapped in a practical fur coat and a matching hat comes trudging around the side of the house, slipping between tanning racks. The shotgun in her arms is unthreatening. The smile that spreads across her features when she draws near even less so. She waves and beckons the parties out of their vehicles. "Well I'll be! You city slickers sure made good time, didn't you?" Hollis Fitzroy is, judging by her accent (and the intel Benjamin Ryans has on her), a transplant from the southern portion of the United States. "They sent word on the wireless at the last stop that you were comin', but I wasn't expectin' ya for at least another three hours! Welcome!"

Legs uncomfortable bent and posture slouched in his seat, Howard Phillips is both uncomfortable and characteristically unhappy when the car he shares with Benjamin fucking Ryans comes to a stop. Dressed too light for this cold weather, Howard is draped in his olive-drab jacket, frayed and tattered even more so than it was before. A pair of bullet holes in the back and dark blood stains in the fabric are a constant reminder of the fact that he should be — and was, most recently — dead. His blue eyes have been averted out the window for hours now, watching pine forests roll past along the decidedly sedate final leg of their journey. Raising one hand, Howard watches the muted reflection of his fingers in the window and the brighter reflection of electricity arcing between his fingertips. Glowing lines, very much resembling circuitry, glow up and down his forearm. He winces with every arc of electricity, brows furrowing and eyes growing glassy. He's done this off and on the entire trip.

"Piss," Howard mutters as he looks at the cabin, shouldering against the door and popping the latch as he climbs out and finally stretches his legs. The air here is so clean, even when compared to the area around Pollepel. A worried look crosses Howard's face, and he looks to the other cars nervously, to the one he know holds Adele, and then to Benjamin Ryans' car. He'd heard the rumors about Nicole, what they dredged out of the river.

Had anyone told him yet? The thought sickens him. How little did he know? How much should he even say?

Looking out through the front of the car as he pulls the lever into park, Benjamin Ryans, is quiet. In fact, he has been for the most part, quiet and brooding, as he drove. (And yes, he drove, dammit!) His hand hangs on that lever for a long moment, lips pressed into a line, thoughtful. He watches the woman for a moment, before the car is turned off, keys extracted and slipped into his pocket.

Putting on his best friendly, if fake smile, Ben pops open the door to the car and steps out of it. "Miss Fitzroy, I presume." He offers in a rather rare, and rather pleasant tone. He shifts to the side enough to shut the door, before stepping forward to greet their host. He has ditched his familiar long coat for this trip, choosing something a little more practical for the weather. He pulls the ball cap he's been wearing off his head, in a show of manners. "A pleasure to meet you, I'm Benjamin Ryans."

Spending so much time in an even smaller enclosed space hasn't done much for Huruma's senses; it's one thing to be around the same people all the time, but when you spend days on end sitting with them, one such as her becomes too intimated with their inner turmoils. And whatever else comes bubbling up. After a while of sitting shotgun and more or less sinking further and further into the seat, Huruma actually forces her sensory field inward, tugging it around her like a thousand thin folds of fabric. Miraculously, it serves also to lull her into a light sleep.

The car's arrival at its destination is what wakes her from it, a quiet jostle of mechanical parts and the popping of handles. Pale eyes peer out of the windshield from under a hat pulled to brow, faintly murderous at the existence of the brisk outside. She deals with it. There might be the tiniest trace of a hiss under her breath, but she deals with it.

Huruma's boots crunch at the dirt impatiently as she slides out of the vehicle and lingers there, watching.

The final truck pulls into the drive. A large blue beast with a camper on the back of it. The Brian car wheels in and pulls short of the other vehicles. The engine dying, there's the sound of a few claps of doors being closed. Before long three men, wearing high collars, scarves, and beanies load out of the camper. The driver, Brian Winters loads out of the driver side and gives a bright smile to the woman greeting them. He steps in next to Ryans as the three men behind him start to walk outside, past the cabin.

"Evening ma'am." He waves a finger to the men moving by the house. "Hope you don't mind if we take a quick loop around the place, check the perimeter and all that?" His smile is bright and pristine as he looks over to Ryans then back to Fitzroy.

During the last few hours of the road trip, Adel taught the many Brians and Lucille how to play a game from the future. The kids had spent years coming up with it, a way to waste time with nothing but their hands. Hints of sign language were involved, too, cause they didn't actually need to say anything outloud to score or win. The game could be played in complete silence— though not complete darkness.

Apparently the Lighthouse Kids of the future had made it up.

"It's so much fun with so many people," she says as she steps out of the camper, a big smile on her face as she stretches her legs and arms over her head. Her mom hadn't allowed her to go to Alaska the first time, even to rescue her brother/WHATEVER-THEY-WERE. But now she would finally see what all the fuss was about. "Oh, we're not there yet?"

When the opportunity arose to not ride in the same car as her father the oldest fucking Ryans daughter gladly took it. Instead choosing her new pseudo partner in crime Mister Winters and new friend Adel to hunker down with. Learning the game from Adel was actually hard for the woman but very fun. The days on the road haven't been really hard for the woman though. Being on the run for as long as she did and having to be smuggled back into the country, Lucille Ryans feels like anything is better than a tight cramped shipping container.

As she hops down from the camper she stretches her legs and smiles up at Adel. "I feel like we'll never get there." Flexing her fingers in their fingerless gloves. Her blue-green eyes survey the area around them before sweeping over her father. Yea that fucking Ryans. There's a nibbling of her bottom lip as she studies her father but she rolls her eyes as she averts her gaze before he notices her staring.

The dark clothes that Lucille wears have become something of a uniform for her. Her boots crunch and she checks the knife that fits into her boot sheath. An uzi casually held in one hand. This is not how her mother or father wanted her to grow up. But.. in Lucille's words.. "Tough titty." She actually breathes the words out through her teeth while her eyes latch onto to Huruma.

"You presume correct." The shotgun is tipped skyward, resting in the crook of her elbow so the blonde woman can free up one hand to shake. "Please, y'all call me Hollis." She takes a look at the gathering group, silently counting heads. They'd told her it was a bigger group than she's used to hosting, but something about seeing them all together makes her realize exactly what that means. "Let me just…" Hurrying toward the house, she props her gun up against the porch. "That's better!"

When the men pile out of Brian's truck and start circling her property, she doesn't put up a fuss. Lucille, however, earns herself a wary look. "Be my guest," she tells Winters. "Me casa and all that." Her chin tucks against her shoulder as she calls back, "Mind your step if you wander out too far! I've got traps out." But they're for curious animals, not for people, so they aren't camouflaged all that much.

The smile falls from her face as she turns her attention back to Ryans, speaking to him in a hush. "You wanna tell Little Miss Badass over there to put her fuckin' uzi away before she shoots someone's damn foot off or worse? I don't know what y'all heard back at the ranch, but I've got a boarder right now and I don't need anyone getting spooked."

"M'gonna go with you," Howard mumbles as he approaches one of the Brians. "Probably hot as fuck in that cabin anyway," the young man notes with a furrow of his brows, hands tucked into the pockets of his jeans and shoulders hunched. The notion would seem absurd, but Howard isn't even wearing a shirt under his jacket, and doesn't seem affected by the cold autumn air at all.

It does not take much brain power to figure out which 'Little Miss Badass' that the woman is talking about. Huruma will feel a flash of parental embarrassment and anger. It takes a lot of willpower for Ryans to turn around, still with at smile on his face. Once his back is to her, the smile falls away. Eyes go flat as he turns that gaze to his daughter.

She knows the one. The don't fuck with daddy look, mixed with a little you are embarrassing me right now look.

There is no words spoken, just a sharp pointing at the uzi in her hands and a sweeping motion for her to 'put that back in the camper right this instant.' That done, eyes narrow a little at the edges in warning.

See. No words needed. Much like when he asks them to pass the peas at the dinner table.

It is a family thing.

Huruma's coat is heavy enough to give her frame a stiffness as she tests her weight on her toes, gaze shifting from their apparent hostess right onto Lucille's stare. Her arms are shoved deep into pockets and her eyes are still glittering in a tiny glower, but Huruma's lips twist in a slight curve of amusement. It balances, somewhat. As Ben turns to more or less address it in his own way, Huruma's smile tucks into hiding before he can spot it. No, it's not funny at all. Really. Honest.

Huruma edges forward, one elbow giving Ben a gentle tap on the side to lure him back to the task at hand— Hollis and the cabin.

The three Brians pause, waiting for Howard to catch up with them. Once he falls in line they continue on. Once they start to bend around the cabin, and out of sight of Fitzroy weapons are procured as they continue their little patrol. Winters glances to Fitzroy and then Ryans and his parenting moment. His smile fades but for the briefest of seconds before,

"Sorry. I asked her to move it out of the camper while I moved things around in there." He didn't. "It isn't loaded." It is. "Safety's on of course." Maybe??? Winters flashes a look to Lucille, a pleading look. Please go along with this. "Everything's moved around, you can take it back in now." Turning back to Fitzroy his bright smile is recalled easily enough.

"Anyway we don't want to overcrowd you. We have things to make a little fire out here. Portable fire pit thing, won't leave any mess for you. Just so we don't have to have everyone inside at once. Mind if we set up?" Assuming he's getting an affirmative he turns to look at Adel.

"Wanna help me get the fire stuff, Adel?"

"Oooo someone's in trouble," Adel whistles under her breath in a joking manner. This is the first time she's actually spent any time with most of these people, but the famous Ryans-patriach making that face made her snicker at her new friend. She can't help it. "Oh— yeah, of course!" she responds to Brian's request with a small salute as she moves to gather up all the things that she needs to. When she pops out of the trailer again, she's floating inside a weird glow sphere thing— and all the stuff she retrieved — the wood mostly — is floating with her.

Why carry something when you can make it float in the gravityless sphere.

Did he just? Point?

Little Miss Badass stiffens as her father gives her that look. And usually like when they are at said dinner table that look sends Lu and her sister into quick obedience. Alas, we are not at said table or in said house having said family dinner. While her eyes widen for a fraction of a second they quickly regain their steel quality and the stare this Lioness gives her Lion of a father could probably freeze any man in his tracks. An eyebrow quirks and she drops her mouth in mock surprise. Who me? No couldn't be. The anger rolling off of Lucille might assault Huruma's senses if the other woman didn't have her guard up.

Lu is just so angry. Angry her sister is trapped in some government fiasco. Angry that she has to come to fucking Alaska because she just cannot trust her father to not get killed. And as all the reasons that she is angry flash across her mind Brian's eyes seek hers and she catches herself, nodding slowly. Grateful for the replicators help in diffusing the situation (covering her ass). Adel's snickers help to bring her back down to earth as well. Though the floaty girl gets a brief hard look as if to say uh uhhh. She's not there yet totally at all when it comes to putting emotions last. If it was a race her father would be winning in that regard. She nudges the camper door open and ducks inside to carefully place the uzi in a safe place. Her hands tighten into a fist as she leaves the camper again.

Her boots smack on the ground as she exits and she levels her father with a wide grin showing all her teeth. The only problem is her eyes are totally dead. She would have mockingly bowed if it wouldn't look so childish. Instead before her father can turn around to face the matter at hand she flicks the edge of her tongue out with a roll of her eyes. Because that is much more mature Lucille.

Hollis Fitzroy can smell bullshit from ten miles away, but she doesn't question the story Brian feeds her. As long as the weapon isn't carried around like it's a Louis Vuitton - a fashion accessory - they aren't going to have any problems. But tucked away in the camper is where she prefers it until she has a better read on her guests. Right now, Lucille is setting off her internal alarm bells.

"We shouldn't be too bad. Top floor," she tells Brian, jerks her thumb back toward the house, "is set up bunk style. Space for everyone." She narrows her eyes, does a quick count again, this time bobbing her gloved index finger in the air as she does so, four motions toward the house where the perimeter is being established. "Yeah!" she proclaims, all sunshine. "We're in good shape!"

When Adel reappears with the gear for the fire pit, the setup earns an approving nod. "You thought of everything, didn't ya?" The ability on blatent display is a little surprising, but only because she's not used to seeing it flown so proudly. Most of the people that pass through her safehouse are timid, hiding who and what they are.

Like the boarder inside.

"Like I said before," Hollis begins apologetically, "you're a little early. Let me just pop in and give warning before y'all come tromping in." Her boots fall purposefully heavy on the wooden steps leading to the door, giving whoever's inside plenty of warning that it's about to open up. Hollis keeps hold on the inside handle, feet firmly planted on the welcome mat as she leans in to shout into the spacious cabin. "Company's here! You decent?" There's a short pause as she listens for the reply, which doesn't carry beyond the threshold. "All right, sug'. I won't sent 'em upstairs just yet." Stepping aside now, the blonde gestures into the cabin. "Come on in and make yourselves at home! The fireplace is nice and warm and I can get some coffee goin' in a jiffy."

Blue eyes closes briefly, as if asking some higher power to give him patience with his oldest daughter. With a sigh, to release the tension is in his chest, Ryans turns to face the safehouse operator again. He has really been having a few days and it is getting harder to keep all that pushed down into the dark depths of his mind.

"Coffee would be nice," He admits and after a tick, "Or whiskey." Is it too early? Does he really f-cking care?

The ballcap is turned in his hand and then brought up to settle back on his head. He sends another warning glance Lucille's way. A signal for her to behave herself, before following Hollis up the stairs. They had already had the fight about her coming with them, until he was overruled by the council. If he had his way, she would be on her way back to the states.

Huruma refrains from giving Lucille any sort of reaffirming look— just barely. She seems impatient to follow into the cabin, to boot. "Your hospitality is appreciated." Their hostess earns a sparing, grateful look as Huruma tails up the stairs to the door. "As well as your patience."

Glancing from Ryans and back to Lucille, a light 'heh' is given. 'These people, am I right?' But the conspiratorial look has no target. Howard has gone off, Adel is floating with things, Lucille and Ryans are who they are. And Huruma. His eyes fall on the last for a moment, offering an uneasy smile.

"You got it Adel?" He calls out as she starts setting up their fire, he gives a light nod. She has it all in hand.

The former agent looks about the place trying to find something to busy himself with and not be in the middle of all this. But there's nothing to do. All his other bodies are already taking care of it. So Winters falls in line with Ryans up the stairs behind the operator.

"Oh come on. You think I'm gonna torch the place?" Lu says to herself with a grumble and then she's walking forward to join the others inside. As she nears Huruma she places a light hand on her mentor's arm. She doesn't have the heart to say it to her father right now but, "Sorry, didn't mean to seem like I was all able Femme Nikita on crack." Lucille whispers to Huruma. She looks up at the taller woman with a sheepish expression.

"I just was worried. What if we got dropped on and then no gun?" She has her ability, but still. It's ironic that Lucille thought hefting a uzi around would make her father think she was capable. Fuck my life.

With all of that settled, Hollis retrieves her shotgun and follows the last one into the house. The door is shut up behind her, and she fully expects the stragglers will let themselves in when they're ready.

The Fitzroy cabin was clearly constructed with the idea of entertaining and housing large numbers of guests. It's no mansion by any means, but almost the entire ground floor is open, save for a bathroom off from the kitchen and a mudroom that leads to a backdoor. There's a fireplace along the wall opposite the kitchen, a small beverage cart set out crystal decanters of clear and amber liquid with low ball glasses, and ample seating. Some will have to sit on the floor, but there's pillows stacked neatly in one corner to make that a more comfortable endeavor. The door at the bottom of the stairwell is shut, so they'll have to take her word about the sleeping arrangements for now. There's a quiet sound of squeaking floors over their heads, slow movement from Fitzroy's lodger.

The shotgun settled into some bracket mounted under the kitchen counter so Hollis can set about her hospitality. From one cupboard she procures the can of grounds - sorry, as far out as they are, she doesn't have the luxury of fresh ground beans - and gets the brew going. She gestures with an elbow toward the other side of the room, "Help yourselves if you need a stronger warm up."

Only once she's got the ball rolling on refreshments does she shrug out of her coat finally, hanging it up on a hook by the door. She gestures dismissively to indicate that the rest of them are free to put their belongings anywhere they please for now. "I understand y'all are headed to Yukon. I don't know what y'all are up to - it's strictly need to know, and I do not need to know - but they've called off limits on the Destruction Bay stop. Word on th' wireless says it's got a pretty stockpile of medicine waiting for ya."

The door to the cabin swings open, followed by a crackle-snap of sparks as Howard storms in from outside and swings the door shut like an angry teenager. "I didn't want to be on your stupid patrol anyway," he mutters, brows knit together and eyes downcast to the floor. It's only then that he realizes that he's not alone, and that everyone is still downstairs.

Howard stares for a moment, cheeks flushing in uncharacteristic embarrassment. "Hey," Howard mumbles, quickly slipping away from the door and trying to find anywhere to go than where he is now. He looks for Adele, helplessly, then stammers and seems even more embarrassed that he can't find a familiar face to hide behind.

Gloves are slowly removed and stashed in his jacket pocket, while Ryans surveys the room, savoring the warmth and the fact he isn't stuck in a car with others. The rather… dramatic entrance of Howard, gets a level look, though nothing like what Lucille received. Possibly, it reminds him of someone else in his past, from those times he would visit a certain co-worker.

Something stronger was definitely needed, Benjamin follows the direction of Hollis' gesture. "Thank you." He offers in a soft rumble of appreciation, moving in the direction of the cart.

He doesn't really respond to her question right away, preferring to keep his attention on what he is doing. Pouring a damn drink. The amber liquid is swirled in the glass, once poured. "It is probably better you not know," he confirms and offers with a small attempt at a smile. "Fewer chances for… leaks."

Huruma turns her head to regard Lucille with a sliver of a smile. She pats the bottom of her stiff coat, leaning in with a hush. "Then keep a smaller gun." And notably, don't go wagging it around. Responsible ownership, dear. "Relax." The tall woman's hand moves out to Lucille's shoulder to lazily usher her into the warmth of the cabin. And boy, it's right up Huruma's alley. A tension between her shoulders edges away, replaced by a curious tilt of her head at the distant shift of floorboards at the ceiling, pupils large in the subdued light of the cabin.

Huruma tries not to linger near the door for long, stepping away before Howard comes blustering his way in. She makes herself at home, more or less— tossing her coat on a hook and divesting herself of gloves and hat before making her way to the cart rather than the coffee. It was a long trip, alright.

Moments before Howard enters, Brian's face starts to contort to a somewhat indignant grimace. Winters turns to the door before Howard even opens the door. "All I did was tell you to watch your step. I thought there was a pile o'poo." Comes Brian's protest to Howard's entrance. As Howard looks around Brian motions to the door with his head. "Adel's still outside." Turning back to Hollis Brian manages another friendly smile.

"You get much traffic out here?" His eyes flit to the stairs for just a moment. "Were you yelling to someone else staying here or do you have a partner?" Tucking one thumb into his belt his feet lead him leisurely about the ground floor.

"Yep. Medicine." He confirms. Not really sure if anyone had ever said anything about medicine but…

"You ever heard of the Stikine? I did a kayaking trip on it when I was younger. Couple weeks. Went from a small town called Telegraph, cross the Yukon, and into Wrangell, Alaska."

"Ok. Relax." She repeats the words of her Aunt/Sensei as she follows the tall woman inside the cabin. The warmth makes Lucille sigh in happiness and she looks over at Huruma with a smile. The shuffling overheard causes Lu to tilt her head along with her aunt. "Maybe it's a ghost." She whispers. Her father just receives a once over. She knows they have to bury the hatchet before the raid starts. But as her mother. Lucille can be stubborn (oh wait that's both her parents) and so she quickly looks aways as the angriest thunder bolt that could storms in. "Stupid patrols are stupid." Lucille is near to Howard so she nods at him with a comforting smile. She was just the one embarrassed a few minutes ago, she gets it.

Emotions are hard.

"My betrothed stepped out for cigarettes," Hollis responds to Brian's question about a partner jovially. "About thirty years ago. Should be back any time now." She shakes her head, dismissing the joke. To his question about geography, she shrugs. "Seen it on a map. I don't get out of my territory much." And it is out of her territory.

"We don't see too much action. I move more supplies than I do people, but every now and then you get someone who just wants to head out where it's too damn cold for anyone to come try to find them. I'm just a stop along their way." She doesn't mask it when she looks toward the closed door. "This is one of those. Steve's a good kid, but real scared of something. Real angry, too." Makes her think of a couple other people in this very room and the corner of her mouth ticks up in a faint smirk. She won't single Lucille and Howard out by glancing at them this time. "If y'all have the space, Steve is trying to get to Whitehorse. I've already said that's as far as the line goes for now, and that seems to be amenable. I'd be much obliged if you could help the kid out."

There's a look Howard levels at Lucille that is partly softened by something that looks like sadness. He can't quite look Lucille in the eyes, then focuses down on the floor as he crosses his arms over his chest and steps away, pacing around the cabin floor a little. Looking up to Brian, Howard clearly looks a mixture of embarrassed and frustrated, but it isn't directed outward to Winters, rather inwardly. This much Huruma can feel prickling off of him like a static charge, along with an undercurrent of chronic pain that's been there since the moment they met.

"D'you have anything to eat?" Howard finally asks, not directly to Fitzroy, but passively to the room. He'd gone through all of the protein bars Lene stashed in his pockets before they left, and now he can't help but feel the twist of hunger in the pit of his stomach.

But Howard's question isn't directly answered, at least not right away. There's a gust of wind outside, a huff and puff that blows against the cabin but doesn't bring it down by a long stretch. A moment later, without the sound of an arriving car to signal her arrival, a red-haired woman barely twenty years old steps into the cabin, bundled up for the cold. The last planned arrival. Ryans recognizes her on sight from her file that crossed his desk when Director was his title. Mary-Anne Stack, fugitive and former bank-robber kept in the protective care of the Ferrymen. Ryans hadn't seen or heard from her since the middle of last summer when the Company took her brother, right before the collapse. But here she is, rosy-cheeked and redder of hair than her file photo once showed.

Mary-Anne offers a mild wave with one gloved hand, pulling down the front of her plaid scarf to reveal her face more clearly. "Hey folks," is her small-voiced greeting. There's an apologetic look tossed to Ryans, but one of familiarity offered to Fitzroy. "Sorry I'm late, delivery went long." Then, as she surveys the others. "You must be the new packages," Mary-Anne opines with a thread of one red lock of hair behind an ear. "I'm Mary-Anne Stack," she introduces, though forsakes anything as formal as a handshake. "I work with Hollis doing shepherding." A Ferry colloquialism for moving Evolved, specifically children. "Whoever's your Intelligence head, I'm going to need an hour or two with them once you're settled in," she notes, tugging off her gloves. "Need to work on logistics of wherever it is we're all going, coordinates and the like. I can't do long range stuff, so I'm going to be at the mercy of you kind folks and your more mundane transportation until we get closer to our destination." And seeing how many people it is, she offers a grimace. "Which — might take a couple of trips," is added under her breath.

Mary-Anne sidles past Howard, one hand ghosting his shoulder as she does, and brings a courier bag over to Hollis, setting it down on a chair nearby. "Batteries, four new walkies, carton of Morley Lights, and that DVD you asked for," she lists quietly to Hollis, then straightens and unzips her jacket, trying to stick to the back of the room and its conversation.

As Huruma joins him at the cart, Ryans hands her the glass he had just poured, without looking at her. Without a word. Clearly, he understands without having any kind of empathy to assist him. Maybe, it is the fact that they both shared the same car with Howard.

The arrival of another has the former agent pausing in mid pour, glancing over his shoulder to check. Probably a good thing he did. The crystal decanter set down with a thump, not too heavy to break it, as he turns further to get a better look. Huruma gets to feel a hint of surprise from him, while others don't really see a change in that flat expression.

A meeting of eyes will get a slow nod of recognition from the man, maybe even approval of what her arrival means. Things were looking up suddenly, as he turned back to pouring his drink. Then he remembers there was another question, "I'm not sure we are the best transportation for this… Steve?" He glances Hollis' way again.

Huruma's senses are open now, and the little knot of stormcloud that is Howard tickles at them as he goes about his inner back-and-forth. A boy's feelings. A torn boy, moreso. Her chin tips up as the wind picks at the door, and her brow knits some as Mary-Anne arrives. That's a lot of talk, and Huruma only has one glass— which she has accepted when offered it by Ryans. Her smile for him is a little more genuine than the mischief of Lucille or the rest.

"Perhaps some space in the camper…" Huruma offers as an aside, taking a sip from the glass in her fingers.

Howard just gets a nod as Brian is moving to the side of the room to take up as least space as possible. Watching Mary-Anne enter his smile shines back on giving her a brief wave as she goes over her name and title. "Stack." He repeats, eyes lilting down, studying her before his odd expression evaporates. "I'm Winters. I ran the Lighthouse in New York. Hoping.. Well we're hoping to get it back up. Somewhere else. Maybe we'll be able to work with each other in the future." Leaning against a wall his features range from puzzled to intrigued to— distracted.

Glancing back at Ryans his lips purse, shoving off the wall to approach the older man. He bobs his head in affirmation to Huruma's words. "I could take him Ryans. We have room. I don't have to have as many in there. It wouldn't be an issue. I would be there to make sure it didn't interfere with the rest of the trip."

Lu catches that look of utter sadness in his eyes and her eyebrows raise as he fails to meet her gaze head on. She takes a light step forward and gives him a small smile. "We must seem like ticking time bombs to everyone." She says quietly to the blonde young man. Reaching into her pocket for a candy bar she breaks it in half and tosses one towards Howard popping her half in her mouth as she listens to the adults of the room speak. "Guess I can sympathize.." she says with a soft look towards her father. There's that crack in her wall. If dad is paying attention he would notice. He talks about leaving the boy behind though and she's not sure why but something tells her that they should take him. As her father speaks the words 'this' and 'Steve' Lu can help but roll her eyes but there's a lightness to it, playful even. "How bad could it be Dad? Sounds Steve needs… company." She grins as Brian and Huruma express similar sentiments as she.

When the teleporter wanders in Lucille's eyes widen and she absently nods her head at the girl. What a wicked sounding power. It takes all of her willpower to not further embarrass her father by uttering the word cooooolllll.

With the carafe filled, Hollis starts pouring mugs of coffee, setting them out on the counter one after the other until it's empty, then she starts another one going. There's no tension at the sudden noise outside or Mary-Anne's equally sudden entrance. They're familiar by now. The announcement of the haul is met first with a broad smile, then suddenly with guarded suspicion, but there's too much mirth around Hollis' eyes and the corners of her mouth to sell it as authentic. "I swear, if you are pulling my leg and got me that Atlas movie, you are sleepin' in the woodshed."

There's a delighted gasp after she peeks in the bag to confirm its contents. "My elephants movie! Never doubted you a second." The younger woman gets a clap on the shoulder and a cup of coffee pushed into her hands once they're empty. "You are a peach, Em." She looks so happy she could kiss her cheeks right now. But the moment calls for a bit more seriousness, and so Hollis clears her throat and saves the giddiness for later. When she's alone and watching her new DVD, apparently about elephants. She walks over to the closed stairwell and shouts through the door. "Steve, honey, Mary-Anne brought your things!"

Hollis has keen ears, and Brian's words cause her to grin widely again. She's declaring the matter settled now. She will shame them into honoring the half-promise Winters made if she has to. "Your ride's here! Come on down here and meet the caravan!" The footsteps begin again overhead and stop at where the stairs begin overhead, hesitant. After a long pause, the stairs begin to creak as the lodger slowly comes down from the sanctuary of the bunk room.

Mary-Anne shrinks into the praise with a modest smile, nursing her coffee as she brings it up under her nose. The young teleporter is keen to slip away from the spotlight, warming cold hands on the hot mug's surface. She makes her way over to Brian, giving the blonde man an uncertain look. She's been coy about his conversation-starter for a bit, but warms up to it with the coffee. "You look familiar," is something Brian gets a lot. "Ah, yeah. Lighthouse? I think I heard about that place after I went into protective custody. It's… really nice out here, Brian. Better for kids. New York's…" she looks down to the floor, blowing across the top of her mug.

Howard paces like a caged tiger across the room from Brian and Mary-Anne's conversation, hands tucked into his pockets. The frenetic energy on the young man sparks like electricity without all the glitz and glamor. He winds up near the front door, leaning to look out a window beside it, watching the cold landscape beyond. His brows furrow, head comes to rest gently against the glass, and eyes close. It isn't fatigue that's breaking him right now, but guilt. Huruma can feel it bubbling up in Howard when he has time to think. It consumed him in the car, and the only thing he used to help himself with it was self-inflicted pain, which seems to come from both a constant, chronic source and the use of his ability. He says more in silence, to her, than he ever could with words.

"Takes a heck of a person to take care of kids in a place like New York," Mary-Anne notes, rocking from side to side where she stands by Brian. "It's… kindness." She looks up, smiling faintly. "Kindness is a special kind of bravery. It's easy to be… angry, vindictive, hateful." Finally, she takes a sip of her coffee. "But being kind? That's wild brave. In this world."

There is silence from the co-head of Special Activities, he is listening to the… opinions… of the others, as he finishes pouring that drink. He doesn't stop them, even though he wants to remind them what they are doing and the risks involved with taking yet another person alone.

Irritation will color his emotions, annoyance flashes through when Hollis' shout backs him fully in that corner. Amber liquid disappears, quickly. Eyes pinching in a grimace. There is a heavy sigh from Ryans, fingers moving to press against the bridge of his nose. A headache may be forming, he considers pouring another drink. "Look…" He starts, but trails off at the sound of movement on the stairs, but instead he decides to have a look at this new tag-a-long. Fingers drop away from his face, giving Huruma a pained look before turning toward the stairs. Maybe it won't be as bad as he thinks.

Huruma's attention refocuses easily, the field around her ebbing back and forth with a steady flow. Her eyes settle on Howard as he paces and presses to glass, searching for some sort of relief. The pinch and tang of his emotions were bearable in the car. But here? The empath downs the rest of her drink before slipping across towards Howard. She makes certain her steps are at least audible to him as she nears, turning and leaning up against the wall next to his Brooding Window.

A look to the young man comes with a questioning gesture in the form of an open palm, an open offer. She is not invested in making him take her up on it, given that her gaze wanders to the stair, eyes half lidded.

"Terrible." Winters finishes Mary-Anne's sentence for her. "Believe me. I know. We recently got out." His features go dark, his eyes going downcast. Lingering on the ground for a moment he finally looks back up to her. "We're relocating the kids. Moving west. Trying to find a place we can breathe."

"Any suggestions on where we should settle?"

At the compliments his eyes flit over her quickly. "Well.. None of us could do it alone right? My fiancee is a big help. My sister. We all embolden each other to be able to fight for.." He shakes his head. "It's not even kindness. I mean I guess so. But." He bites down on his lower lip. "I don't know. It's something else."

Looking to Ryans over Mary-Anne's shoulder he starts to say something before Ryans cuts himself off.

"It's she, by the way," Hollis corrects in a low voice, "Name's Stephanie, but she's called Steve." Stepping hurriedly away from the stairs, she wants to make sure her charge doesn't feel crowded. And to ensure she doesn't get hit with the door when it swings open.

And it does swing open to reveal a pale woman with a mop of cropped brown hair, rubbing a hand over her face, which is contorted in a yawn. She must be of Howard's mind about the temperature, because she's dressed in a thin tank top of heather grey and a pair of matching yoga pants, her feet bare. "All right, Hollie," the voice is husky from sleep.


The voice is familiar.

The woman's hand retreats enough so she can rub one eye and crack the other open. It's blue. And it's glowing. She stops dead cold.

It's Nicole.


"Oh, fuck."

And she's noticeably pregnant.

A spark of electricity caused by psychological shock jolts from Howard's extended hand to Huruma's. It's an entirely unintentional effect, one that interrupts his acceptance of her offer. Instead, Huruma can feel fear and confusion blossoming behind his eyes. He looks at Ryans almost immediately, then to Nicole and her visibly pregnant appearance with a look of abject cognitive dissonance.

"What — the fuck." It isn't a question, Howard practically exhales the words. He steps away from Huruma, looking at Nicole Nichols like she's a ghost. Eyes batting shut, Howard looks to Ryans one more time, then covers his mouth with his hand and hastily opens the door to the cabin and hurries out wit a slam behind himself.

Mary-Anne looks wide-eyed to Nicole, then to where Howard was, then takes a noisy slurp of her coffee and glances over at Brian. "Oregon's nice."

On a typical day — not today mind you — Ryans is often a rather calm and composed man. BUT… But, As soon as he hears her voice, he goes perfectly still. The rest of her comes down the stairs and he is nothing more than a statue. He. Is. Barely. Managing. To. Hold. On. There is a fine tremble that seems to slowly come over his whole body. There is such a loud flash of so many emotions that seems to roll off the old man, for Huruma to feel. Most importantly… surprise. He had no idea.


That single word is growled out. A simple fact with a flair of finality. Even though the word is spoken softly, the bass carries it.


The glass in Ryans' hand breaks, when his fingers suddenly tighten around it. "Absolutely, not," comes out sharper and is actually laced with feeling. Glass tumbles to the ground with a mixture of amber liquid, tinted with red. Anger is rather visible in the blue-eyes of the former Company agent, as they look at the rest of the people he is traveling with.

"She is not coming with us."

Huruma's hand is tantalizing until that little spark jumps between them; while it travels up her arm and has her giving a tiny breath of a hiss through her teeth in surprise. She is not the one to chase him away, however, her eyes tracking back to his face and shifting a smaller wash of calm towards Howard. She still gives ''some'', even if his acceptance wasn't physical and her help is not as strong as she could make it. Her arms cross loosely over her middle.

Fortunately for Howard's quick exit, there are other things to be concerned about, like the woman who pops out of the stairwell. And what comes after, of course. Dark face half lit by the window, Huruma's eyes fall calmly on Nicole just before Ben goes sideways. Surprising an empath physically… Difficult. Emotionally?— There is a tiny, hard flinch of lip and teeth as Ryans' first feelings come punching out. Only after glass breaks do pale eyes flick back to Ryans and the shards at his boots. Mm.

Much of the shock of the moment is lost on Winters. While the woman seems familiar he cannot claim a decent amount of familiarity. Despite his age, with all the lives he lives concurrently he's probably met more faces than the rest of them put together. The woman gets a squint of his brow. Though the loud slurping of the coffee brings him out of his attempt to engage in past memories.

"You know, I was thinking Oregon myself." Is spoken quietly to Mary-Anne, before the room gets a bit louder.

Brian watches Ryans quietly, tapping his finger to his lips. "Mary-Anne. I'm a replicator. I have three of me just outside. One of me will go over the logistics with you. Sorry. We never answered that for you." His smile is once again ever present and friendly.

"Mister Ryans." The tone is a tad bit gentler, though there is an underlying steel. Stepping forward the other former Company agent stands easily before his elder. "Think we can have a word outside, please?"

"Mary-Anne!" It's a cry to readiness, because while she can't do long distances, a short distance will do if they need to get the pregnant woman out of here. Hollis is crossing back to the kitchen quickly, retreating behind the counter. What in the hell is going on here?

Nicole should be reassuring everyone that it's okay, but… It quite clearly is not. The emotion comes rolling off of her in waves. Fear. Sorrow. Anger. "They have Colette!" the woman pleads, eyes bright with more than just the reserve of electricity she's carrying within her. "My sister." The only thing in her life that matters to her more than her own survival. When Brian — whose face she only vaguely recognizes as one of Sissy's friends — invites the other man outside, Nicole shakes her head firmly. "No," she says. "You stay. I'll go." Making a break for the door is a bold move, given the amount of distance between her and it, but if there's one thing she knows how to do, it's stride across a room with purpose and a presence that can make people stay the fuck out of her way.

The blue electric arcs coming off her might also a strong deterrent.

Somewhere in that chaos, Mary-Anne Stack disappeared from Brian's side with a rush of air displacing where she was. Her appearance next to Hollis is just as quick, and the look she gives Ryans is a measured and tense one. Where Hollis is welcoming, Mary-Anne has a very not in my house look on her face. One hand rests on Hollis' shoulder, and only then does she look to Brian — the levelest head in the room that isn't Huruma — and gives him a pointed look.

"This is a safehouse, not a flop house. Take your quarrel outside, or stuff it down your boots." Mary-Anne looks between the others, then to Hollis again before leveling a disappointed look at Ryans.

The full weight of Benjamin's anger is levels down at Brian, when the replicant steps in front of him, pulling his attention from Nicole. He looks ready to say something to Brian, when Mary-Anne's voice and Hollis' alarm throws stops that. A grimace pulls at his mouth, as he finally feels the first sharp pain from the cuts on his hand. He hazards a look at it, a little calmer then when that first shock hit him. However, there is still a small edge to his voice as he says softly and calmly to Brian. "There is nothing to talk about. We are not taking my fiancée into that."

There is a very real challenge in his blue eyes, when he finally lifts them from the blood oozing from his cuts. "I would appreciate it, if you would get out of my way, Mr. Winters." There is a slight pause as he adds, "And your replicants, too, if you would please." He would have words with Nicole.

Huruma's arms drop to her sides, and she moves forward, senses flooded with the maelstrom that forms out of Nicole's head and heart. It is a lot to unpack, when you do not know someone well enough; pasting together and understanding of Ryans comes much more readily. The electric aura buzzing around Nicole definitely serves as a deterrent, and as Hollis and Mary-Anne duck to where it's safer, Huruma lifts a look across the cabin to them. At least they have the right idea. Stay out of the way and scold.

For a few long moments, Huruma is at what feels like attention, watching the interaction between Winters and Ryans, jaw tightening briefly below her cheekbones. "There is nothing to gain from being unwise." Her words are sober, despite the earlier drink— a fair warning to him— think this confrontation through. Perhaps take five first.


Oh, woah.

Brian looks over his shoulder to Nicole then back to Ryans. "Really? Huh." But this is quickly ridden over as Winters redoubles his efforts. Giving a nod to Mary-Anne. "Ben." Is said in a more solid authoritative voice to the older man. "This isn't our place and we're upsetting our hosts." His hands go up, palms out towards Ryans in a conciliatory motion.

"I don't want to get in the middle of anybody's drama. But. Again. We lose nothing by going outside and giving a few minutes to vent." As Nicole insists she'll go one hand raises up to her. "Please, you were here first. We can deal with all this.. later." Brian looks to Huruma's words and nods firmly. "She's right. Let's all take it easy from the shock, put our hosts at ease. Then you can go right back to the grumpies, eh?" Winters gives a rueful smile, going to dare to put a hand on his shoulder and trying to gently guide him towards the door. Where another Brian is now standing outside, holding the door open.

Over his shoulder, "Miss Stack. I would love to continue our conversation. It would be great to get your help on something else if possible." Then his attention is back on Ryans. "Just a little break."

"All right!" Hollis shouts, less cheerful and suddenly authoritative. "Everyone who's not part of this quarrel, upstairs and claim your beds." A finger is pointed at Ryans, "You listen to your friend. Go outside and cool yer damn heels, cowboy." Then that finger is pointed at Nicole, who stops dead in her tracks and shrinks back. The electricity fizzles out around her like someone flipped her circuit off. "You go sit by the fire and practice your meditation."

Nicole's chest rises up and down heavily twice. Three times. She deflates entirely then, resigned. "Yes, Hollie." She knows better than to spurn her gracious hostess.

"Good," Hollis declares, smile returning to her face, though the tension remains around her eyes as she watches to make sure everyone's listening to her. She repeats, "Good."

Once they start filing out, Hollis Fitzroy turns to Mary-Anne, finally uncoiling her fingers from their vice grip around the shotgun under the counter. "I think that went pretty well, don't you?"

Previously in this storyline…

Next in this storyline…

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