Shouldn't Stay Long


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Scene Title Shouldn't Stay Long
Synopsis Richard and Des touch base.
Date January 3, 2019

Raytech Corporate Housing

It’s been a long day for Raytech’s CEO. A day of paperwork, phone calls, meetings, and uncertainty. There has to be some solace in returning home to his corporate apartment, where he’s finally away from the demands of his position. Both the one of his profession and the one of his own making in current events.

One thing becomes very apparent when Richard Ray enters the space and begins turning on lights: He is not alone.

There is a navy wool coat hanging from a hook near the door, where his own coat should be, an aubergine scarf draped loosely with it. And as his gaze crosses the floor, there’s tracks of dirt and slush left behind from someone’s boots. They lead through the entry and to the living space, where those boots are visible now, strapped to feet that are dangling over the side of one arm of a chair left facing the windows that overlook the rebuilding of New York.

Or would, if the curtains weren’t drawn.

There’s a moment’s tension as the coat is noticed, the scarf… but there’s only one person those can belong to. Relaxing, hand sliding away from his concealed pistol, he turns to kick off his own shoes beside the door.

“Des,” he greets, his tone warm but— very tired. He hasn’t been getting much sleep and it shows. The bed’s been unmade for days, the coffee machine has been running non-stop, and there’s a half-dozen empty energy drink cans on the coffee table.

And some Slusho! cups.

The boots swing around, disappearing behind the chair as the woman they belong to sits up properly, then pushes herself to her feet.

The trash suddenly disappears. (Or simply appears in the appropriate bins instead.) She meant to have that done before he got home.

Dressed in an oversized grey sweater with a charcoal wool skirt over running nylons, she steps out to greet him with an uneasy smile. “Richard.” It isn’t that she’s not glad to see him — she wouldn’t be here otherwise — but she’s clearly not come on a social visit. They both know she can’t afford those.

The suit jacket’s pulled off, and he tosses it onto the couch. “Be glad you weren’t on the roof-top with us,” Richard says with a slow shake of his head, moving towards that couch and dropping heavily onto it, slumped back, “It was a— fucking disaster. A complete disaster.”

“I saw,” Des admits in a soft voice. “I couldn’t… I couldn’t just sit around Staten Island and hope for the best.” Ultimately, she doesn’t know the details of how things fell apart, but she knows what smoke and fire means.

“While I was there, something happened.” She hesitates. “I could hear her thoughts. Odessa’s. At least, I think it had to be her. When I saw the light show starting on the rooftop, that’s when it began to happen. I could feel the change and so could she.”

She barely dares to hope, but she tells him, “I think I got the message through.”

“I hope so. Warren— Warren is convinced that this is still all going according to plan, so…” Richard’s lips twist in a grimace, “I’ve got to trust in him, and— in our father. I saw your mother, when she— switched out with the other her.”

He looks to her, brow knitting slightly, “Have you seen her since then?”

There’s a flash of something like anger or revulsion at the mention of Warren, but Des holds her tongue. Arguing that the man is insane at best isn’t going to instil hope, which is what they need right now in order to keep going.

“No. Once the portal closed, it was like I was cut off from her. But she saw her mother. Saving her was the last thought we seemed to share.” Which is why Des wants to believe they managed to break through and warn them. But without a vision to confirm, it’s hard to say.

“No, I— “ Richard shakes his head, “I meant have you seen Juliette since she poofed out of that hotel room we were in? She was there past when the portal closed, she might know for sure if— you know— “

They were alive.

“Oh, I…” Des looks down at her combat boots and runs her tongue over her teeth. “Not yet.” She’s sad about that, clearly. “But she saw— I don’t know. I don’t know.” Her recollection of Mara’s panicked ramblings in the aftermath of the string swap is jumbled. It all happened too fast.

“But that’s not the only reason I’m here. I need your help.”

“Easy, easy— “ Richard raises one hand, grimacing, “I know you’re worried, I was just— wondering if you’d found her yet. And of course. What can I do for you?”

He shifts on the couch to face her more, trying to sit up and be more normal. The mask is ill-fitting but he tries to get it on. It’s hard, with her, when he’s tried to be so open with her in the past.

“It’s okay,” Des is quick to assure with a shake of her head. Letting her own frustration get the better of her doesn’t serve either of them. Least of all him. She has faith that Mara won’t stray too far for too long. Or at the very least, that when she needs her, she’ll be there.

The matter at hand, however, is sobering. Des sinks back down into the chair she previously occupied. “I was attacked by a Hunter robot on Staten Island. It wasn’t like the kind we used in the war.”

We. Des doesn’t flinch immediately, but her gaze shifts away when she realizes how easily that rolled off her tongue. There’s a reason she’s in the position she’s in.

“You were— “ The we isn’t noticed, because Richard is suddenly quite alarmed indeed as he straightens up. “Another one? I… shit. Shit,” he mutters, a hand coming up to rub at his face, “One came through the Looking Glass, it had wasteland markings on it. It was only the one, though, which means… when that one got through… fuck!”

The last shouted, as he glares at the ceiling. “Fuck.”

Des looks startled at the outburst. She shrinks into herself at the shouting, mouth open in a soft o of surprise. “Yeah, that was about my reaction, too.” She couldn’t see what fell from the rooftop of the Deveaux Building that day. To know that it was one of those things is a shock. “It damn near killed Alister Black. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to— We got away from it. But holy shit, Richard. It ate someone.”

“Fuck. Eileen may have been right after all,” Richard exhales a sigh, punching himself in the thigh a few times, “If— there are more robots out there, that means they tracked our signal and somehow opened portals here. The one on the roof had—- it looked like a Looking Glass variant installed in its face.” That might explain why they were red hot - passage between worlds.

He grimaces then, looking over, “Yeah. They process— organic material as fuel.”

“Great,” Des says flatly. A fun new twist on the mechanical horrors. “Fantastic.” Swallowing dryly, she watches her partner — former partner — sort of literally beat himself up. “So, I was hoping you might have some kind of… trick to bringing them down. Some ordinance or something. I’m not afraid to fuck it up, but I need tools.

“Lynette had a pretty easy time when she lightning bolted the fucker,” admits Richard with a slow shake of his head, slumping back, “I’ll have someone start working on electrical weapons, maybe we can get some sort of lightning gun figured out.”

A grimace, “Until then— it’s a machine. Explosives work.”

“Do I look like I’m stockpiling explosives?” Des lifts a brow. This is all just another normal conversation that they’re having. Lips pull into a frown, she waves it off. “Don’t answer that.” Surely Alister will sanction her to requisition some of his arsenal. Knowing it can be overloaded is helpful.

Her expression softens, head tilting to one side slightly. “We’re going to figure it out, you know. I know this isn’t over. We’ll find her. We’ll bring her back to you.”

The two most encouraging voices in Richard’s life right now are a war criminal and a madman, which probably says something about him. The fact that these people are his lover and brother respectively just makes things worse, really. Still, he smiles weakly, “I hope so. I really do. I…”

He draws in a slow breath, “I made a deal. The original Looking Glass may still be out there, and there’s someone who thinks they can make it work..”

Des’ face lights up at the news, “That’s great!” Then clouds with confusion. “But… who the hell did you find?” As far as she knows, there’s no one left alive who worked with the original Looking Glass who isn’t also a war criminal.

Richard’s face is not lit up. He draws in a slow breath, closing his eyes.

“Samson Gray.”

The color drains from Odessa’s face at that name. “You’re kidding,” she says flatly. Sort of begging. Please, let this be a really ill-conceived joke.

“A long time ago, when he was working for Arthur, the ‘Kill Squad’ was based out of somewhere… it’s where Arthur brought the Looking Glass,” Richard grimaces, “And they tested it. He said that he can show us. I…” He shakes his head, “I’m not going to follow through with it. I’m going to stab the sonuvabitch in the back.”

“You know that’s basically impossible, right?” Des settles an uncertain look on Richard. She wants to believe that someone can finally get the drop on Gray, but she’s seen that it takes an act of absolute improbability.

She shakes her head. “I’m in.” He hasn’t asked her to join him on this expedition, but he doesn’t need to. “Whatever you need, I’ll do it. Whatever it takes to bring them here.” The Travelers lost in another timeline.

“He’s sick,” says Richard with a slight shake of his head, “He’s desperate, and he needs a healer; Adam’s protected himself from clairvoyance somehow, and he’s the only regenerator powerful enough to fix what’s wrong with him. So, I promised him a healer.”

He smiles ever so faintly, “Most healers can’t heal themselves. He knows that. So he’ll need to be treated. He’ll need to get within arm’s reach of the White conduit-holder…”

“…who’s also holding its twin.”

Des stares in disbelief. Until now, she had no idea either conduit existed, outside of the one Eileen holds - which isn’t from their world. “Jesus,” she whispers, shaking her head. “You suppose it’ll work?” It isn’t so much that she has her doubts, but that she doesn’t dare to hope. Even she, with all her power, can’t best the monster that created her.
“It’s our best shot,” admits Richard with a shake of his head, “I had to say yes, but I— he’s killed too many of our friends. Your father. Others. I can’t have more of that blood on my hands.” Lips twist in a grimace, “So we throw the dice, but we load them first. Best we can.”

Des leans forward in her seat, elbows resting on her knees. Slowly, she bobs her head up and down in agreement. “Yeah… Okay. That sounds like a plan.” What other choice do they really have? “I know firsthand his desperation. I… I wouldn’t even give him Adam.

One hand comes up unconsciously to brush over her forehead and the scar hidden under her hair. Once again, doing the right thing nearly cost her everything.

Richard shakes his head, “Adam’s the only one I’d give him.” The confession with a tired look over, “I’d rather a predator still out there just acting its nature to this— whatever it is that Adam’s doing these days.”

“The devil you know…” Des smiles wryly and drops her hand back into her lap. “Whatever you need me to do,” she repeats evenly. “I meant it. Just tell me when we leave and I’ll be ready.”

“I know,” Richard starts to reach out, stops, and pulls his hand back to rake back through his hair, lips twisting into a grimace. “I know what Liz would say right now. I’m being like Edward. Going too far just to get to my family. Maybe I am.”

“Edward had some good ideas,” maybe isn’t what he expected to hear from her, considering the psychotic break she experienced when confronted with a photograph of the man who killed her alternate self. “All we can do is what seems best in the moment. We won’t know until it’s over if it was a good call or a mistake. That’s just… how it is.”

She’s the one that crosses the line she drew previously by reaching out to rest a hand on his knee. “Liz is doing everything she can do to get back. I think she’ll be a little more forgiving.”

As her hand rests there, Richard’s falls to cover it, squeezing lightly. “She once made me promise not to bring her back from the dead,” he observes wryly, “If she ever died.” He pauses, and then admits, “I was lying when I agreed, though.”

There’s a breath of laughter that follows that. “It’s not all it’s cracked up to be,” she murmurs. There were a lot of strings attached to her first resurrection, after all. The second has its own challenges. Still, Odessa prefers to be alive. “Fortunately for us, she’s a survivor.”

“She is. And you’re resourceful as fuck,” Richard says, thumb brushing over the back of her hand as he looks to her warmly, if wearily, “Every version of you. If you got through, I know it saved them.”

Des smiles and looks down to where their hands are joined. “I shouldn’t be here,” she laments quietly. “Don’t want to invite more trouble to your doorstep.” While it isn’t as though she has nowhere else to go, it’s close to it. Still, it’s as he said, she’s resourceful.

“It’ll be over soon,” says Richard softly but seriously, looking back up to her, “It won’t be easy, but it’ll be over. You will get your life back, Des, I promise you.”

“I know.” Her smile takes a turn for the sad, but she squeezes his knee like he’s the one who needs reassuring. “One way or another.”

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