Should I Stay Or Should I Go?


finn_icon.gif bf_kara_icon.gif

Scene Title Should I Stay Or Should I Go
Synopsis Finn and Kara share an earnest moment when she comes to return something of his.
Date February 1, 2020


Music is blaring on a borrowed boombox in Kara Prince's half-cleared room in the Sunken Factory, the way some people do when engaging on Saturday cleaning sprees. But the munitions chaplain(?) is not doing any such cleaning, for all her pacing around the space and accompanying noisy shifts of objects, for all that this might be appropriate given she had previously been making plans to move out of the Factory space.

Should I stay or should I go?
If you say that you are mine
I'll be here 'til the end of time
So you got to let me know
Should I stay or should I go?

For the third time this morning, Kara is unpacking books she'd slung forcefully into cardboard boxes, this time not even bothering to put them back on the shelves that Yi-Min had purchased so they'd not just be stacked (neatly) against the wall while sitting on her desk. No, this time she slams the stack down in a haphazard pile, rattling the bottle of alcohol that's resting on the other end of it. The shifting liquid in it catches her eye, and she aggressively snatches the bottle by its neck, unscrewing the cap on it.

It's always tease, tease, tease
You're happy when I'm on my knees
One day it's fine and next it's black
So if you want me off your back
Well, come on and let me know
Should I stay or should I go?

What had she been thinking??? That the universe would magically unfuck itself and that she'd be able to be happy? That she could just slip back into how things had been, how she had been before the series of life-altering events that took place last summer? After she'd disappeared for five months, presumed dead all that time?

Just who had she been kidding?

"Yourself," Kara answers her internal monologue in a growl. "That's who." She tilts the bottle back enough only to take a single, embittered swig before placing it back on the table. It was too early to be drinking much, and the quality of alcohol nearly impossible to scavenge and too expensive to be drinking in vast quantities.

But she leaves it uncapped, just in case, as she begins her next round of pacing around her quarters. The process of wrestling with herself in deciding if she'd continue moving her things out from the Factory or not is one that's emotionally taxing on more than one level, so maybe she'd need another shot of courage to get her through the decision-making process.

Courage, or something to numb her.

Should I stay or should I go now?
If I go, there will be trouble
And if I stay it will be double
So come on and let me know

This indecision's bugging me—

Kara slams her hand down on the top of the deck, pausing it. "Fuck this," she decides in the void of silence, her voice a whisper. She roughly grabs the boombox off the top of the desk, including the borrowed cassettes and discs that accompany it. It's too much to easily wield by her hands alone, so with frustration, she dumps the contents of her single half-packed box over her made bed and stows the boombox and accompanying music in it instead.

Stay or go, it'd be good to return Finn his boombox.

20 minutes later

This indecision's bugging me
If you don't want me, set me free
Exactly whom I'm supposed to be

The forest-green station wagon rumbles as it heads down the pockmarked road leading to Finn Shephard's abode, reminding Kara to take it slower instead of rushing the last of the way there. She was already heading there faster and warmer since she opted to drive rather than ride over. It was cold and wet, and she'd not wanted to deal with keeping the box steady on horseback under those circumstances.

Just a little more patience and…

Don't you know which clothes even fit me?
Come on and let me know
Should I cool it or should I blow?

The music cuts when Kara kills the engine, the disc ejected and stored back in the box before she hauls it out with her. The bottle of whiskey she'd shoved into the box sloshes as she comes to her feet, hipchecking the door of the vehicle closed before she approaches the porch.

"Shepherd!" she calls out loudly, affirming just who's here in case the unfamiliar vehicle threw him off. "I've got something of yours."

The yard to the little cottage Finn’s staked out for himself has his usual motley vehicles parked beneath a roughly-built shelter — it isn’t much but but it keeps some of the elements off the truck, Kawasaki Mule, and motorcycle Finn’s collected for his use. The boy likes his toys. The horse at least stables with other Providence horses so he’s not cold and wet this morning. But stowed behind the motorcycle is an unfamiliar cart that’s never been there before — well, not at least until the last couple of days.

Normally Finn might shout something back, make a joke out of it. Today, he hurries to the door, spilling a little bit of coffee on his bare foot and wincing. “Goddamn it,” he hisses, before opening the door and grimacing at Kara. He glances over his shoulder, canting his head to listen, then turns back to her with an overly cheery smile.

“Hi!” he says, voice softer than usual, like he’s trying not to wake someone, and closes the door behind himself gently. He’s dressed in tartan pj bottoms and a Foo Fighters t-shirt that’s definitely seen better days and was probably made for a leaner torso than his. He peers at the box and reaches for it, peering into its contents.

“Are you breaking up with me? Did we have a bad romance that I’ve forgotten entirely?” He then sings in sotto voce, “Rah-rah-ah-ah-ah.”

Finn's swiveling head draws a lift in Kara's brows. Oh. He's got company, then. Then her expression flattens and she lets out a muted sigh, shoulders falling an inch. Of course he does.

Normally Finn might receive some kind of long-suffering side eye if not a return pitch for his lighthearted fish for information, but Kara's not on her best today either. They've hardly crossed paths since she emerged from the fog on Christmas Eve, very clearly not dead, owing to the fact that Kara's kept her own company as much as it is that Finn's been in and out of town. "Too cold not to be wearing shoes…" is all she initially has in return.

That drip of coffee on his foot, though, that merits him a more attentive look. "You got a negator hiding in there or something?" she asks, harkening for just a moment back to their usual banter. She'd smile, but she's still not in the mood for it. She comes to the porch and in lieu of a full explanation, simply sets the opened packing box down on the porch. "These are yours. I borrowed them a few weeks ago when I was…" For some reason it takes her a moment to finish that statement, her brow furrowing as she works through the effort of it. "Working on moving out."

Finn drops his reaching hands, then peers down at the reddened, damp blotch on his foot and shrugs. “I think sometimes when that happens, it’s because it would be worse if something else happens to avoid it, you know? Like maybe it’s the least of all possible outcomes.” He shrugs. His ability is a mystery to many, including himself at times. “I should let them study me or something. For science.”

The rest is harder to explain and harder to respond to, but he settles on the last bit of information first. “Moving out?” he asks, settling on the part that’s about her. “You want coffee? I can go grab you a cup. Just… the kid’s still asleep, so gotta keep down the yelling, if you’re at all mad at me.” He smiles brightly, like this couldn’t possibly be the case, and like he didn’t just casually slide in the fact he has a kid in the house as if it were perfectly normal.

“I’ll put slippers on if it means you won’t nag me, even,” he adds, hand on the doorknob.

Just as he latches on to the parts of the conversation that are about her, Kara does the return when he slips in that little nugget of information. Eyes going to the windows and then back to Finn quickly, Kara has the good sense to keep her voice down even as she leans into a bewildered, "Kid?" Her eyes have gone wide and she stands upright, looking to the door as if she's got half a mind to only believe it if she sees it.

At the last moment she shakes her head, probably at herself. "Yeah, I could use a pick-me-up," Kara admits offhandedly. "I got into the bottle some on the way over." She'll be patient enough with the rest of her story, it seems, though whether or not she'll nag him is still up for debate.

“Yeah… surprise offspring. Fifteen.” Finn shakes his head in wonder before holding up a finger for her to wait, then sets down his mug on the porch rail. It’s an Area 52 mug with a purple alien on it, and a tentacle for a handle. It either came with the house or Finn nicked it from somewhere.

He steps back into the house, leaving it slightly ajar as he goes to get another mug of coffee, fixing it the way he thinks Kara takes it. He grabs a box of Pop Tarts and a blanket on his way out, before handing her a hot mug of coffee. Hers proclaims “I got married at A Little White Chapel, Las Vegas” with an image of a bride and groom getting married by Elvis. No doubt it’s a knock-off.

“Pop Tart? Blanket?” he asks. He did not put on slippers but plops down on one of the adirondack chairs and props his feet up on a small table, so they’re at least off the ground. “Tell me what’s up. I can be understanding.” Finn glances at the bottle in the box. “You can keep it. I’d say I might need it more than you, but maybe not.”

Fifteen, Finn says. "Mazel tov," Kara supplies while he turns off, waiting patiently for him to get back. To her credit, she doesn't even get back into the bottle of whiskey during that interlude. Though she might regret it as soon as she sees the mug she gets, if her expression at its content is any judge. She more clearly fit the alien theme, in her head.

"Pop tart," she says to speak her acceptance before she fishes a silvery package from the box. "Why not." Then she's inviting herself up onto the porch to sink down into a chair next to him.

Where to even begin with this? "Back when I was gone, Yi-Min made certain decisions about her life, and about her future with Praxis…" Kara starts to explain, mug set aside while she splits the crinkling package open. "And when I got back, she didn't have the heart to tell me. I wasn't sure what kind of place I had here anymore, so she encouraged me to make one if I couldn't find one. We found an empty house, started working on it together… cleared and burned a lot of junk and we were getting ready to move." She breaks off good corner chunk off the Pop-Tart idly while she talks. "Only then did she think to tell me she was leaving Providence."

The breakfast treat is tossed into her mouth, brow furrowed. "God, I can't remember the last time I had one of these," she segues abruptly, looking off into the yard.

Finn busies his hands with breaking apart his own Pop Tart package, revealing the frosted blueberry breakfast pastry within. He frowns as she speaks, breaking off a much larger chunk to pop into his mouth and chew on. And chew on. They’re very dry when not warm.

Eventually he takes a swallow of his coffee to help wash it down. “Shit,” he says, and doesn’t say more for a few moments. He stares out as well, to the road and beyond it.The winter morning is a gray one, casting everything in a sort of bleak filter.

“That’s a long time to … hang out and not tell someone,” he says at last. “I’d think maybe the procrastination means she has mixed feelings. That at least a part of her wants to stay, or at least a part of her wants to stay with you.” His green eyes find her face, and for once he’s not cracking a joke or a smile. “Is she… maybe she feels she has no choice?”

Kara is silent even after she takes a swig from the coffee prepared enough to her tastes that she doesn't pass comment on it. She finally takes a breath in, like a statue coming to life again. "I don't know." she mutters.

"She left…" and she has to pause in the struggle to remember just how long it's been. It feels like forever. "Two? days ago, now?" With a shake of her head, she sets her coffee aside again momentarily. "If I can believe her, what she did, part of it she did for me— it all kind of goes over my head, but Praxis had her working on something that could have hurt anyone non-Evolved. So she stopped. Delivered uncompleted work, passing it off as finished, and she left so if they come to find her…"

All she can do is shrug her shoulders in a gesture of frustration. She doesn't agree with it, clearly. She breaks off another small piece of the crust of the tart, crumbling it in her fingers and letting it fall back into the tray the packaging creates. "Wouldn't let me tear off into the sunset with her. 'Providence needs you,' she said. 'Eileen needs you.'" It's not a laughing matter, but she laughs anyway, shaking her head at it. It sounds ludicrous to her in ways it wouldn't have a year ago.

"I just…" The rest of the thought is washed away with a sigh, and Kara breaks off another chunk of the breakfast treat, popping it in her mouth. Her hand falls back to her lap and she sinks back into the chair. "I don't know."

Finn’s eyes widen at the revelation of what Yi-Min was doing, and he shakes his head. “The fuck? Again? When will we ever fucking learn to not destroy one another? Jesus Christ.” It’s a dark and brutally realistic statement coming from the happy-go-lucky Shepherd.

“That’s… just. Wow. They really are evil overlords. Jesus.” It takes Finn a moment to get over the gist of Yi-Min’s project before he reaches out a hand to her, letting it flop palm up on her arm rest for her to take if she likes.

“She loves you. I know it. I’ve seen it. So I know for a goddamn fact that her leaving is gutting her as much as it’s gutting you. Maybe more, because she knows it hurt you, that she hurt you,” he says, voice quiet but insistent. “And… it’s true, P-town does need you. Eileen needs you. But…”

Finn tips his head to make sure he can see her eyes. “If there’s a time it’s less dangerous for you two to be together, if it can’t be here?” he shrugs. “Don’t let here keep you.”

Him reaching out how he does comes as a surprise, but one that Kara accepts. She takes hold of his hand for only a moment, a firm squeeze given to acknowledge and appreciate his gesture of support, and then she lets go. His follow-up is met with a glance out of the corner of her eye, a softening of her expression serving as an initial answer.

"Between you and me, Finn, I've struggled. I'm… struggling." Leaning an elbow on the armrest of the chair, she rubs at her brow for just a moment before letting her arm lie flat again. "I don't know what I'm doing with myself in this world anymore. She made me feel like I could figure it out. With how much things have changed here, I thought as long as she was still here… it'd all be fine in the end."

She sighs, looking over to him. Her mouth hardens before she speaks again. "It took me so long to come back here because I didn't plan on coming back at all," isn't something she's so much as hinted at before. "I thought everyone was dead. I thought she was dead, after Chen happened, and Thornton shot her. I thought if you, and her, and Eileen, and Lang were all dead this wasn't a place worth coming back to. What I was going to do was drive as far west as I could go, all the way back to Sedro. Somewhere I could forget about the rest of the world and it could forget about me."

Kara lets out another humorless laugh under her breath, her voice quiet as she looks forward again. "But I kept thinking 'what if', and one night, I couldn't take it anymore, so I came to find out for myself."

And here she was.

She takes a sip from her coffee, uncertain what to follow that with. What she's shared doesn't look like anything she's proud of. "In this whole process, feels like I've ended up somewhere behind square one, somehow," Kara mutters.

He’s quiet again for a long moment, processing her words. This isn’t a role he normally plays. He reaches for his coffee again and takes a slow sip, before setting it and the Pop Tart packet aside. That he’s included in the list of who she felt was worth returning for draws a sad smile to his otherwise somber face.

“I’m sorry. I wish I’d known and I wish I’d tried to — I don’t know. Tried to find you. I mean… I did, but…” he shrugs, trailing off, looking around, beyond his property at the area beyond. “I still don’t understand what happened. And after a certain amount of time…”

After a bit of time, people give up hope.

When he looks back at her, his eyes are wet, the green in them made vibrant from the wash of salt water .”I’m sorry you were out there alone. Wherever there was. You deserved more than that. And I know I’ve been a shitty friend, not being around a lot, being in the city or Rochester. I’m sorry for that, too. I didn’t expect that to be anything.” But it did, goes unspoken.

He jerks his head in the direction of the house. “I’m gonna try to be a better person. Because of June. But I wish I’d been a better person earlier, for you.”

Clearing his throat, Finn reaches for the mug again. “You better have returned the Duran Duran tape that was in there,” he says, hiding half his face behind the mug.

Kara only shakes her head when Finn says he wishes he'd been better. It's hard to know what to say to that on, but she gives it an earnest go. "You had no way to know I was still out there. I don't even know what happened to me, not fully. All I know is I woke up over a month later in a cabin in the woods in the middle of Connecticut, and whoever had nursed me back to health…"

Was a mystery to her, judging by the way she trails off. She looks back to Finn after, relenting with a small nod to the sentiment he shared and even cracking a small smile when he tries to dodge the subject entirely. At least he'd cracked first in that regard instead of her.

"June, huh?" she says, easing into a more upright position in her chair. "Fifteen-year old girl comes out of the woodworks… I could not even imagine. You sure you don't need the whiskey more than I do?" Again that smile flashes at the corner of her mouth. "What's she like? She look like you?"

He shrugs. “In that case, I scoured the earth for you, just not in the one place you were,” he says with a grin. “Ask anyone.” He holds up two fingers in a Scout salute. Then changes it to three, then back to two, then crosses them.

“That’s weird as fuck, though. I’m glad someone was looking out for you, at least,” he adds, before her question draws his gaze to the door.

“Nooooo,” is his answer to whether she looks like him. “I mean, she’s kinda got that Charlie Brown round-headed thing going on like I did, but she’s like four feet tall or something. I could carry her with my pinky, I think.”

That’s probably an exaggeration.

“Her mother went back to Vietnam and she came to find me. I never knew about her at all. I swear I’m not a dead-beat dad,” he says earnestly. “She’s smart and funny, though, so she takes after Bian. Turns things into obsidian, I guess? Crazy cool.”

After another sip of coffee, Finn adds, “Gonna take her into the city. She’s never been. I might… I don’t know. She’s only lived in Virginia and now she’s here… Maybe a kid needs better.”

Kara's not got a clue who Bian is, but the cliffnotes she gets from Finn's small ramble about both her and June fill in the gaps well enough. She nods once to it all, grinding another crumble of tart between two fingers while she drinks from that Vegas-themed mug again. She's careful in turning over what she wants to say, making sure she means it.

"You're thinking about leaving?" she asks, trying to make it as casual as possible. Because if he wasn't thinking about it before, he likely will be now. "I mean…" He's probably right, that it'd be easier to raise a kid in a town. A proper town.

His forehead furrows as he looks down, then back over his shoulder at the door. He shakes his head. “I don’t know. Not… not entirely? I could still split my time, go back and forth, maybe.” There’s a “but” about to come.

Finn runs his hands over his face, then leans back again, interlacing fingers at the back of his head. “But I haven’t really tried civilization since before the war,” he says. “And that’s fine for me, but not sure it’s great for her. Sounds like she was somewhere similar, but maybe a little less, uh. Horsemanesque.

As soon as he seems comfortable in that position, he unlaces his fingers again, stretching to scratch at the knee of his tartan pajama bottoms. “And there’s Luce,” he says, softly, cheeks flushing a little. He knows Kara doesn’t like the woman. “She’s going through a bad time. Had a bad loss. She’s had a lot of loss in her life, so she’s pretty wrecked.”

His green eyes find her face again, a little shyly. “She’s nicer than she seems. I swear.”

"I'm still not convinced she's not just using you. On some kind of power trip." Kara lets her head loll to the side as she looks over at him, meaningful with that glance. "But if she's not humiliated you and kicked you to the curb by now…"

Well, then maybe she really does pine for him. Maybe what they have is worthwhile. Maybe it stands a chance of lasting.

"Don't know if she told you, but I went into town with one of the vets here a few weeks ago. Went to a support meeting. She was there; had some good advice." Kara breaks off another chunk of pop tart, mellowing. "So maybe you're right— maybe she's nicer than she seems. Either way, it's sorry that she's going through a loss." She frowns.

"I'm surprised we didn't get more people up and leaving here when the business with the robots and militia first kicked off. If I'd had a kid, I'd not be anywhere near all that with them. I'm trying to say I'd not blame you at all, if you … did go on, Finn." She looks back again, gesturing vaguely with what's left of pop tart. "Though I'll have you know, I'll worry about you regardless. You've got too big a heart, and the world's too cruel."

He raises a brow and shakes his head at the first sentiment — someone less laid back might be offended or hurt but Finn shrugs it off. “Nah, she didn’t mention it. But she’s been a bit distracted. Do you know who she is? When she’s not making men throw up their lunch in a cage fight?” he asks.

And for the rest of it, he glances down, cheeks rosy from the compliment, and shakes his head again. “I’m not that good, Kare Bear. You know what I did in the war? I flew people where they needed to go — but only if they could pay. Or if they were able to, you know. Use me, humiliate me, and kick me to the curb after they got where they needed. I tell myself I did what I had to, to survive, you know, but…”

He shrugs again. “I could’ve done better. Maybe I still can. But for what it’s worth,” he leans over to punch her lightly in the arm, “if either of us leave here, I’m not letting it be the end of this friendship. You got that, missy?”

Kara lets out a short laugh at that. "I better find a new name just in case, then. That way in case we get separated, you're not asking after a dead woman." She shuffles the remaining pieces of pop tart around in the packaging, preparing to hoist it. In a mutter she asides, "Dead astronaut, actually. Can you believe that? Astronaut." Tipping what's left of the breakfast back into her mouth, she speaks around it, albeit muffled. "What kind of fork in the road do you think had to happen to lead to that?"

It's a weird experience, owning the state of her reality, but maybe it's what she needs to do to move forward. Dealing with disposing of the dry remnants of the breakfast see her chewing and chewing and chewing, despite a swig of coffee to help. She coughs lightly and shakes her head at it all.

"We all did things in the war we wish we would have done differently, Shepherd," Kara reminds him, holding him in the corner of her eye again. "Either we make peace with that and hold onto the good we were able to do, or we'll drown in everything else." After a beat, her voice lifts. "And like you said, there's always the opportunity to start doing something different now." She's still jaded enough to not hope that it'll be better, but different is a nice first step.

Turning out to look over the morning and the world in general, Kara lets out a short sigh. This was a nice reprieve from beating herself up, but who knew if it'd take. Hopefully heading back to the Factory and observing the state of her quarters wouldn't start the cycle all over again. "Wonder if that cot's still in the armory," she murmurs to herself.

“I always knew you were the smartest of us all,” says Finn with a grin. “The atmosphere’s as high as I ever dreamt of going. Sky’s my limit but I do love flying.”

He nods in agreement to the rest of her philosophical waxing. “I don’t have that many regrets about it. I was a dick, but who knows where I’d be now if I hadn’t followed the path I did. Maybe dead.” A morose thought, maybe, but he says it more with a sort of wonder. “The past is what it is — for most of us anyway. Sorry yours is as confusing as it is.”

After another glance to the door, Finn looks back to Kara. “I’d let you crash here but I’m already on the sofa, if you’re trying to avoid your place. But we’ll probably be gone a few days to New York and you can definitely house sit then, get a real bed beneath you instead of the cot. I’ll even bring you back a souvenir.” Maybe that’s why he has such weird mugs.

The offer is tempting enough to take. Even if just for the souvenir.

"I'll keep hooligans off your porch for you, that shouldn't be a problem." Kara pushes herself to her feet, leaving coffee and packaging on the small table between them. "Just let me know when you're heading out of town." Then she starts to see herself off, not wanting to make herself at home too early.

She steps off the porch and turns back to say her farewell, but catches sight of the bottle in the box again. A blink passes while she considers taking it, then leaving it, then taking it. It's with that same lack of pride she'd displayed earlier that she loops her fingers around the neck of the bottle and hoists it toward her. Kara sighs at herself. "Let June know I'm looking forward to meeting her. Telling her all kinds of stories about her dad."

Finn’s expression reveals he hadn’t considered that possibility — one of the perks of not being a parent is not having your own stupid antics thrown in your face by your offspring when you’re trying to be an adult.

So much for that.

He has the grace to take a long swallow of his coffee while looking out at the land beyond his property while she plays will-they-won’t-they with the bottle.

“Sounds good. We’ll find you when we’re on our way out of town. I’ll make sure to poison the well to tell her you’re a pathological liar and she can’t believe a word you say about me,” he says with a grin.

Kara only arches an eyebrow, an amused grin playing at her lips. "Really?" she asks, equal parts touched and offended.

"You're gonna waste that card on me?"

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