Siren's Song


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Scene Title Siren's Song
Synopsis Most people are there for the party, but everyone answers the call of the Siren's Song for different reasons.
Date June 20, 2021

The Pelago, Aboard the Siren's Song

A dark and stormy night might change the course of many a ship, but it’s not enough to deter the plans of the Siren’s Song. The music seems fitting as well, as old jazz standards crooned in sultry voices can be heard from the repurposed water taxi. True to its name, the music beckons many Pelago residents, and the pin-up-style mermaids painted on its hull do their part to lure in visitors.

The Song is a well-known visitor, welcome to some, in the Pelago, hailing from the northwest’s Palisades Sill. Many use it for transportation between the Sill and the Pelago, when they have business in the other port — and more who use it for pleasure, as the Song belongs to the madame of the Sill’s brothel on the Freedom of the Seas.

And there are those who just like the change of pace — to see some new faces, to hear some music, to drink with friends and strangers alike and pretend for one night that life isn’t hard on this waterlogged earth.

Toward the stern, two young men greet visitors, taking from them their cost of admission — alcohol, which will be then brought up to the bar for the benefit of all. Once in a while there is a taste test of the offering, and sometimes a conversation about how much the alcohol is worth — but it’s a rare thing that anyone gets turned away, so long as they’re not empty handed. On the Inside, strung across the ceiling, white fairy lights illuminate the interior with the help of candles here and there on tables and at the bar.

In the lounge area sits Valentine, if the word sit can truly describe the languid way she rests at the end of a burgundy velvet sofa; the color clashes with the truer scarlet of the silk dress she wears. Laughing at something the man across from her says, she takes from him a deck of cards — tarot cards — before she lays out a simple three-card spread from him. In a low voice, she murmurs to him of their meaning, pausing once in a while to take a sip of red wine. She has the same dark eyes, dark hair, and warm alto speaking voice as Peyton Whitney of a different world, but she has led a very different life.


By the bar, or rather at it, one of the Pelago's residents known simply as Asi sits comfortably within arm's reach of all the alcohol it has to offer. During other recent drinking sessions, she's gambled and won favors and credits which seat her on this boat— one which will take her at least temporarily from the travails the Travelers bring with them.

And what a happy occasion it will be, to escape that, even if it is just temporarily.

"My friend," Asi calls for the bartender, words already heavy and thick with the kind of lack of composure that would make any of her other selves cringe. "I could use another, please."


On the upper decks, Silas Mackenzie stands in the shadows, smoking a cigarette as he looks over the Pelago. Booze is popular everywhere; a bottle of booze from the other side of the world, had been enough to cover his entrance fee pretty handily. He'll duck back inside shortly to enjoy the party — odds are five to nine he'll end up chatting with Valentine at some point, but right now he needs a bit of air. Besides… lurking around people-watching is a lot easier than watching Asi line up drinks — she's going all-in tonight.

Not that he can blame her; he did the same pretty recently himself, as he recalls. Maybe he'll do the same again, later; the night's young yet.


Portside, meanwhile, is playing host to a whispered hush of a conversation between one of Valentine’s own and a portly man with a rosy tint to his pale face, who dresses like he seems to think money still means anything. Dead men printed on paper and pressed into metal are not a currency that anyone cares for anymore; except the odd collector here and there, it has no value. The vintage silver cigarette case he proffers, however, now that has value to the tall, leggy redhead he’s passed it to. Surreptitiously, the excited little shake she gives of the case held between her palms tells her that the contents she expects to find have indeed been passed to her.

Her prize is slipped into a battered suede pouch – an old dice bag, if the dingy unraveling purple stitching of a twenty-sided die is any indication. It hangs from a brown braided leather belt that’s worn loose so as not to cinch her waist and rumple her clothing, slouching against the hips resigned to hold it up instead. Her attire for the evening is a floor-length maxi dress of circular patterns of lacework in a soft powder blue shade. It’s worn over a white side-tie bikini and nothing else beyond a pair of espadrille heels. The neckline comes together in a V that reaches nearly to her waist.

In spite of what such a getup might suggest, she gives a quick clucking triplet of her tongue when she’s grasped around the waist with more familiarity than she feels is owed in this transaction. “Uh-uh. I am not working,” she corrects that assumption of his with a pleasant enough smile, her hands held up as if to say I’m not touching you, so you shouldn’t be touching me. “But your generosity is appreciated.

The man’s face flushes from rosé to merlot, but seems to acknowledge this was his mistake and he was outmatched by the woman. Removing his hands from their rebuffed advance and straightening his waistcoat, he turns on his heel and stomps away. Gracie leans back against the wall, watching him go. “See you again soon!” she calls to his back. Then she emits a quiet giggle that’s all hers, pleased with herself.


Kendall may have used up all the 'credit' he had accumulated over the last few months, but he did get his hands on a pretty standard bottle of alcohol, enough for his entry fee. Making his way into the interior of the ship, he takes a seat at the bar, not far from where Asi sits, and raises an eyebrow at the state she's in already, as early as it is in the evening. "Either you're ready for a wild night or someone broke up with you." A pause. "Or both." Of course, that is an assumption.

Then again, the last time he saw her she was in a similar condition, so maybe this is her natural state, who knows.


It’s been one hell of a visit to this timeline so far, and there aren’t any lights glimmering at the end of that tunnel– just more threats compounding upon one another until the journey feels like wading hip-deep through a sewer filled with deathtraps. Richard could use a distraction, and the last party he got invited to turned out to be nothing of the sort.

Just where he got the bottle of vodka from that he passed off at the entrance is probably best left unanswered, and he walks along into the lounge. Years-worn bomber jacket, t-shirt, blue jeans. He blends in decently here, at least.

The dark glasses he’s wearing hide the widening of his eyes as he look around the room lands upon Valentine - and after looking at her for a few long moments he grimaces to himself, glancing back over his shoulder. Maybe this was a bad idea.

Unaware of who the newcomer is, Valentine is hardly unaware of his presence in the lounge; she notes the comings and goings of everyone on the boat, as any good hostess does, and the fact she can do so by taking on the perspective of anyone present makes it all that much easier. She doesn’t look up at him, but pays attention to the guest seated by her, and the diversion before them.

She slides practiced fingers along the tarot cards spread out on the table to gather them back up into the palm of one hand. Her guest takes the other, lifting it to his lips to kiss the back of her hand, and she plays the coquette, dark lashes dropping as she looks down in feigned demureness. He moves away, and her gaze lifts again, finding the stranger, and tipping her head slightly. There’s no recognition in the gaze, only curiosity – a new face in a small world is always of interest.


“Another,” Elliot says, pushing a glass across the bar toward Asi even as his hand holds the bottle filling it. He rights the bottle, corking it. Finally, he thinks, a reason to wear this suit that doesn’t devolve into a surprise autopsy show-and-tell. Asi seems deep into her sorrows, so he’ll not bother her if she doesn’t recognize the discordance of him suddenly pouring for the regulars.

His eyes glance past Asi, scanning those gathered. He’s close enough to the exit to make a run for it if needed, but for now he feels that the colony’s communistic spirit might allow him to dispense the alcohol gathered rather than add to it on his own.

It is absolutely the least the Travelers could do— being of service to the Pelago— and Asi will take this bartending as such, thank you. Her nose wrinkles when Kendall makes his presumption, but she begins to smile anyway when her drink is topped off. "どうも," she acknowledges with cheeky glib. Yes, thank you, that's hers, she'll be taking it. She holds the glass up slightly to ensure no one snipes it— not that anyone would— before she offers Kendall a glance and an answer.

"Or I'm just preparing for the end of the world," she says with all the gravity of a particularly dense matter. She holds his look for a moment longer than that, a green gleam in her eye.

Then Asi snorts and looks at nothing, facing forward to drink. "Or I could just like drinking, チビ."

Elliot is barely glanced at, since he's a guy handing out drinks from behind a bar, which is normal enough to not get more than that regardless of whether he belongs there or not. Besides, Kendall isn't very familiar with the workers on this ship anyway. Employees might as well be invisible unless you need something, after all.

Instead, he's watching Asi grab her latest drink and rolls his eyes at her response. "You're about ten years too late for that, it happened already." He waves a hand in a random direction, which doesn't strictly matter since the ocean can be seen from any vantage point regardless.

He thinks it over for a minute. "Unless you're talking about a different world's end." He snorts a laugh at that, because that's just crazytalk. He frowns slightly at his own words, however, then looks up. "I'll have one of whatever she's having… if there's any left." The remark about liking to drink causes him to smirk. "About the only thing you can do, some days."


As those eyes fall upon him, Richard decides that his chance for retreat has come and gone– not that Valentine can know why his expression turns rueful, and perhaps even a bit wistful as he offers back to her a faint smile and a tip of his head right back. There’s a moment’s stillness as he considers walking on, then with a subtle shake of his head at his own thoughts he meanders through the lounge towards the host’s lounging.

“It’s been a long time since I’ve had my cards read,” he says affably enough, glancing down at the deck. It’s a pretense for conversation, at least.

The hostess smiles when Richard approaches her, and gestures to him to take the seat vacated by the man who had just left. “It’s a little old-fashioned, perhaps, when there are people who can see the future, but I think they are more about giving us insight into what we already know about ourselves but sometimes refuse to see. But,” Valentine’s lips turn upward slightly again, “if you want to believe they themselves are telling the future, I’m not one to tell you your belief is wrong.”

As she speaks, she plays with the cards in her hands, shuffling them, but then she reaches for his hand, placing the deck in his palm. “Shuffle them, and think about what you want to know,” she says, dark eyes watching his face.

“You aren’t local,” she murmurs – there’s no question mark on the statement, but there is a question implied in the words. While she waits for him to shuffle – or answer the non question – Valentine looks around, noting the man who doesn’t work for her tending the bar, but she raises a brow, smiling a little crookedly, before she looks back to Richard. Apparently she’s not too worried about the stranger taking over the bar, so long as no one gets poisoned.


Kendall’s request earns him an unimpressed quirk of the brow. Elliot isn’t here to pick fights, and he certainly doesn’t want to exacerbate one. This Asi isn’t the one he’s grown close to, and she doesn’t need his help to defend herself from snark. Everybody deals with the end of days in their own way. He settles for pouring Kendall a glass of something closer in flavor to isopropanol than ethyl alcohol.

Wright’s staying away for now, which lets him take the time to open and memorize the scents of the slowly amassing hoard of spirits. Interested in something in the flavor neighborhood of a very dry mead, he transfers a shot to a Boston cocktail shaker. He fortifies it with a touch of well-distilled moonshine, a prune, and chopped, dried chili pepper. After masserating the fruit and pepper, he upends ice from a glass into the metal cup and shakes.

The concoction is strained between the cup and glass, leaving pulp and ice behind. The glass fills with a nearly-clear concoction. Spearing a dried white violet petal like a flag on a thin steel pick, he garnishes the drink and slides it toward Asi in advance of a call for another.

Asi laughs, too, when Kendall laughs because of course it's crazy. Of course the world already ended. There surely isn't something terrible heading for them all that will do even worse than what's already been done. Ha. Hahah.

Of course not.

The second drink poured for her perks her interest, though, distracting her from her first. This one is much fancier, to be appreciated over time. And not that Elliot might know it, but garnished in such a way that's surely exceeding the worth of what she bartered her way aboard with. Delicately she releases her hold on the one glass to take the other, sipping at it to get an idea of the flavor.

"やるじゃん," she murmurs with undertones of approval down into the mixture, rather than at the person who mixed it. Then, sighing loudly, she lifts her head and announces plainly, "Oh, I can't wait 'til we get there." There were other things to enjoy yet to be spending her earnings on.

The difference in drinks served by this guy shows a pretty blatant bias, but it's not really something Kendall would be rude enough to complain about, given what his own entry fee was. He makes an effort to make eye contact with Elliot to ensure he acknowledges the disapproving frown he gives him, but Kendall will drink it anyway. It is still alcohol, after all. But… yuck.

"Get where? Oh, are you going on the trip to…" Kendall pauses. He's not really sure how much is known info now, he just knows stuff from his conversations with Not Roux. "Is it a secret or something, because…."

"Trip?" Asi asks, then immediately regrets it. She takes a long drink from the less-nice of her two drinks to try and forget she has.


“I suppose it depends on if you believe in free will, or if you think that some greater hand is moving us like pawns on a chessboard…” Richard settles into the offered seat across from Valentine’s lounging, a smile crooked on his lips as he reaches out to pick up the cards, shuffling them dextrously between both hands, “…if we make our own fate, maybe the cards can help us decide on how to proceed. If not, maybe they help us make peace with what’s coming. Foreshadowing.”

The cards are set down between them, and he taps a finger on the top. “Yes and no. My… mother worked on the Ark,” he says, truthfully enough, before offering his name. “Richard Cardinal.”

Valentine offers her hand when he offers his name. “Valentine,” she says, and it’s been her name so long that it doesn’t come off her lips as false. “I hope she survived? I was far away from all that,” she says quietly, reaching for the cards again and laying out three.

The cards are easily recognizable, chance or his shuffling giving him all Major Arcana cards: The Wheel of Fortune, The High Priestess, and Strength. She reaches out to touch each, long fingernails perfectly manicured in red. “What can be changed, what can’t be changed, and what you might not know.”

She looks back up, brows lifting. “Shall I tell you more? I’ll grant you free will in this, at least.”


Elliot nods in greeting to the event’s actual bartender, returning with a milk crate of various freshly-washed supplies. “Vodka, lightly floral gin, dry vermouth, something like a very dry honey wine,” he says, pointing at specific bottles of locally-distilled spirits. “Or close enough for some classic cocktails. I don’t want to call this one a whiskey, but it’s probably an unoaked corn liquor.” The Bartender follows Elliot’s finger with his eyes and nods before transferring the new bottles to the barback.

“What does the lady of the house prefer as far as cocktails?” Elliot asks, pairing flavors in his head. “Thought I’d send her an apology in place of my not having paid the cover charge.”

“Whatever suits her mood,” the older man responds. “She’s drinking red wine now but nothing comes to mind that she’d turn down.”

“Excellent,” Elliot says, rinsing out the cocktail shaker, nodding across the lounge where they sit together. “I’ll send her and my boss something to forestall any worry about quality.” Or poison, though he’ll leave that as an assumption.

“Wait. You’re not even the bartender?” Oh hell naw. “Hey, man, I don’t know what you’re trying to pull, but leave your jealous boyfriend nonsense at the door!” NOW Kendall is going to complain about the blatantly preferential treatment given by this rando. Figuring now he doesn’t have to drink this sorry excuse for alcohol, Kendall sets it on the bar and turns his attention to the REAL bartender. “I think he was trying to poison me!” he adds, pointing at Elliot. He is absolutely going to try and get him in trouble now. “Can I get a real drink, and not rust remover?” he glares at the fake bartender at that.

With a droll sigh, Asi rolls her eyes in Kendall's direction. "What do you think I was drinking before this last one?" she balks at him openly before shaking her head. The angle of her head shifts just slightly to find Elliot.

"Jealous boyfriend," she scoffs in a laugh that sounds liable to end ungracefully. Like it's the funniest thing she's heard in an age, maybe longer. Then she sighs not at Elliot, "Oh, shrimp, how wrong you are," and sips from her preferentially-made drink.


"She did," Richard replies at the lounge with a smile for her concern, and as the hand's offered he reaches out to take it - not to shake, but more gallantly, inclining his head towards her and her hand before releasing it. Her hand released to let her take the cards, and he leans forward to watch, arms folding upon his knees.

"The names alone tell me a lot, but…" He glances up, dark eyes peeking over the top of his sunglasses, "Go for it."

Valentine smiles at the gallant bow, then lifts one shoulder. “They can be deceiving. Appearances and names often are, red bird.”

She touches the first card, the Wheel of Fortune, reversed. “This is quite the card to have in this position,” she says wryly. “The reversed Wheel of Fortune suggests you may have had bad luck and that you are resistant to change, that you cling to control and the need to exert your will on things.” She tips her head up to meet his eyes, “Human nature, but maybe more for you than others, darlin’. And having it here, in this position, it tells me that you can change that aspect of yourself. If you can accept that things are not always in your control, that acceptance might be what you need to push the wheel into another turn, another season.”

Her fingers reach to lightly trace the length of the middle card. “A better reader might know which of many meanings suits you best, but I’m only a hobbyist,” she admits. “But the priestess here can mean a couple of different things. She is the embodiment of the divine feminine, representing creativity, spirituality, intuition, empathy. She can mean that you have embraced these aspects in yourself, or that you have someone in your life who represents these for you, a guru of sorts?” Her dark eyes study his lighter ones, perhaps to see if something clicks. “She also represents the subconscious mind, and can be seen as something or someone that allows you to cross the threshold between your consciousness and your subconsciousness. Whichever she is, you have met her, or have embraced those parts of yourself already.”

Valentine’s eyes sparkle a little. “I’m not so vain as to think it’s me, though it’s a pretty thought.”


Elliot can’t help but blink in alarm at Kendall’s outburst before laughing through his nose with a look to Asi. “My apologies,” he tells Kendall, deciding not to address the man by name even though he recently discovered through Wright’s presence on Governors Island that the home Kendall is a SESA agent. “You finish that one and I’ll think up something good for your next.” Quotations good, not italics good, but he doesn’t let that distinction enter his tone before turning back to the bottles lining the bar.

As for his current project, he starts with a surprisingly pleasant and complex whiskey. He opens the bottle to take in the scent, suspending it in his mind. Hints of round, mellow butterscotch, the faint, sweet tang of nectarine, and warm, earthy tones of baking spices. There’s also a surprising touch of oak to it; this bottle may have begun its life with a printed label and price tag. This would be grand on its own, and a fine foundation for a unique drink.

Kendall snorts and looks to the side, frowning when they both laugh at him. "Well, I mean." he points at his drink, then at Asi's. "Certainly looked like preferential treatment." He shrugs at that though, gaze dropping to the offending drink. Oh well. With a faint grimace, he tosses it back.

"So if you're not a bartender, what are you doing back there, anyway? Just messing around and experimenting with a bunch of expensive alcohol?" Speaking of which, Elliot seems to be doing just that again. "Still better than water to drink, but don't tell Nadira I said that." Kendall suddenly grins at that.

"I'm tending bar," Elliot says. "And it is preferential treatment. We've met—" he gestures between himself and Asi, "—and you were rude."

Asi snorts again, this time bringing the back of her wrist to her mouth to keep from spilling precious alcohol out in an accidental spray of amusement. The side of her neck twinges as she swallows, eyes shutting for a moment before she slits them open again, arm dropping back to the barside as she regards Kendall more seriously. "It's better that you don't like him. Not one for you to make friends with, this one…" Almost bleary in eye, she looks past Kendall further around the surrounding area. "These ones."

Because where there was one, there was sure to be more of them. Surely. Even if it was just one.

"The Travelers have their own fucking agenda," Asi warns Kendall with little regard given to how incredibly vague that is.

"Oh, you mean he's one of them?" If Kendall was annoyed before, now he's downright hostile. "Yeah, I know. I met a doppelganger spouting nonsense. Wearing my friend's face but saying things she never would. And now my little sister wants to leave with you guys to where you came from. So yes, I'm aware." He nods in agreement with Asi. "The sooner you get back where you came from, the better." He hesitates though, like he wanted to say something else, but that ship has sailed, as it were.

“So that’s a no on the good drink then,” Elliot states, looking bored at best.


As Silas steps down from the stairs to the upper deck and back into the party proper, he spots a few faces in the press that surprise him. Kendall, of all people, is lurking at the bar with Asi… but the really surprising bit is that Easy Mac seems to have taken over Valentine's bar. Ballsy, he thinks… though maybe not as ballsy as Richard, who's chatting up Valentine in the lounge.

He looks to the bar for a moment longer, considering — he's a little curious to see how well Easy Mac is doing with the mixology — but he'd be rude if he stopped in without saying hello to the hostess… so it's that way he goes.

"Fancy meeting you here, Richard," he exclaims as he draws close to the other man, offering a toothy grin… which softens a bit as his gaze moves onto Valentine. "And in such good company. Hello, Valentine."

“Oh, now you’re just calling me out,” Richard is letting out a bark of laughter at the cards’ interpretation, leaning back a bit and spreading his hands to either side. He’s about to say something else, a hint of greater warmth to his smile as he meets the fortune-teller’s bright gaze - and then the floor of the lounge is crossed by another familiar face.

“Silas,” he greets, that sliver of openness sliding shut for his usually amiable mask, “Tell the lady that I’m not someone who– how did you call it?— clings to a need to exert my will on things. You know, lie to her.”

Valentine arches a brow at Richard’s owning the card reading, then looks up and smiles at Silas when he greets them. She offers him a hand, and gestures to a seat just catty corner to hers. “Join us. You two know each other?” she asks, glancing from one man to the next, and makes a tsking sound. “Silas would never lie to me – unless it was to flatter me, in which case he is absolutely excused.”

She takes a moment to consider the last card. “This card represents what you don’t know.” She lifts a brow. “That probably isn’t a lot, something tells me, but I’ll see what I can do.” She winks at Silas, then turns back to Richard.

“This card is Strength,” she says, tracing the outline of the figures on it with her lacquered fingernail. “In it, you see a calm, regal woman taming a wild, ferocious lion. It’s telling you to approach whatever problem you face from a place of love, forgiveness, and compassion, rather than from a place of rage, anger, or other more basic instincts. A lion cannot tame another lion, after all.”

She smiles, gathering up the cards to shuffle again. “But you probably knew that. The cards fall where they may, though.”


Back at the bar, Kendall's vitriol rouses Asi from her own drunken rudeness, only partly-absolutely meant than absolutely-absolutely meant. Her expression shifts, regret flickering in her gaze. She doesn't give herself long to think about it, as what's said's been said. She's not wrong, after all, and she drowns the unpleasantness of her own rudeness with another long sip.

Maybe it's time to vacate her seat and wander, after all, if she can even still stand. But she only needed to stay upright long enough to land somewhere comfortable for the evening, so…

"—'s different," Asi mutters anyway with some quiet affront, because her body and her mind are not on the same page, not reading the same lines. Her arms shift against the bartop, forearms pushing back. The belligerence has bled over and settled for merely blurring her words together now. "To not like someone 'n it is t'be rude to them. They're hauling their own weight, aren' they?"

"Are they, though." Kendall hesitates as he belatedly realizes that actions have consequences, his gaze flickering over at Asi and then back at Elliot, then back at Asi again. "Well geez, pot calling the kettle black, there." Kendall shrugs at Asi since it's pretty obvious she's drunk and at the point where she's spouting nonsense, then shifts his attention back to Elliot.

Realizing the conversation has gone irreparably sideways, though, Kendall shrugs at him. "Guess it really depends on if you are supposed to be back there or not. Paying customers, and all that." Glancing up from the bar, he catches sight of Silas. He considers going to go say hi, but since the man seems to be engaging someone else in conversation at the moment, Kendall decides against fleeing this awkward situation just yet.

Elliot’s attention crosses the bar toward Kendall only long enough to decide to ignore his question. There’s obviously nothing he can do to reassure an asshole that he’s supposed to be here, as he is in fact not supposed to be.

Instead, he thinks about what few flavors he was able to wrangle from across the Pelago’s various markets. He starts by pulling up a small stoppered bottle of simple syrup he was able to make from found sugar packets. The next is a jar of raspberry preserves, partially empty. He then places a small bottle of balsamic vinegar, mostly empty and easily the most expensive thing by pound that he’s gotten a hold of here to date. To add a touch of sourness, lemon juice should round this off nicely.

Ah, he thinks, noting Silas’s appearance. Maybe he can stave off a wave of culinary grudge complaints while he’s at this.

He fills the cleaned cocktail shaker with ice, pouring a generous helping of whiskey over it, followed by a heaping spoonful of preserves from the bottom of the jar. Juice of a lemon and a half follows, then nine counted drops of vinegar and a shot of simple syrup. The lot is once again capped with a glass and vigorously shaken. Lastly he grabs three short tumblers, setting them beside the shaker and filling each with fresh ice.


Huh. So he's the sort of person who can be open one-on-one, but guard's up when it's two plus, huh? Silas muses to himself. Tracks, though.

"Flattery with you would be gilding the lily," Silas says, giving Valentine a grin that mixes warmth and amusement in equal measure. "Though for what it's worth… exerting your will on things isn't necessarily a flaw, so long as you're trying to make things better," he says, glancing back to Richard. "And you are."

He tilts his head at Valentine's summary of the last card. "Huh. So try usin' the soft touch somewhere you ordinarily wouldn't?" Silas asks, frowning as he glances back and forth between the two.

“I’m not exactly known for my soft touch,” admits Richard at Silas’s translation, looking down at his hand for some reason, flexing and unflexing his fingers slowly. There’s a black mark - a tattoo? - over the skin in places, as if someone gripped his hand and left a black stain behind in the shape of their own hand. “I’m trying to learn, though. Certain leashes I can’t afford to let go of before the lion’s tamed.” Whatever that means.

He leans back a bit with a chuckle, “In any case, thanks for the cards, Pe… Valentine, right?” He slipped, just a little. Maybe she didn’t notice.

“Well, don’t you have the silver tongue,” Valentine says, lashes lowering as she beams at Silas, before she looks back at Richard for his reply.

No longer does she have the perpetual sleepiness of the days when the former Vanguard members ran the Sill, and despite the languid poses and molasses-coated voice, there’s a sharpness that lurks behind her dark eyes. A brow ticks up at that swallowed syllable, and her head cants very slightly as she regards Richard with a new curiosity.

“Soft doesn’t mean weak, Mr. Cardinal. Perhaps there’s a way to hold on to the leashes you haven’t thought of; one that takes less brawn and more creativity. Have you considered hiring a dog walker?” she asks, lips tipping up at just one corner. “Would you like your cards read, Silas, darling?”

Richard's slip sees Silas's eyes shift to regard him out of the corner of his eye — he knows what Richard had been about to say. He's met Peyton Whitney, after all, if only briefly.

Valentine's joke about hiring a dog-walker, though, sees Silas hard-pressed to swallow a laugh. He opens his mouth, starts to turn down her offer of a reading… then he hesitates. "You know what. Why not?" Silas asks, regarding Valentine with a grin.

Stepping into the lounge, the redhead in the dress of ice blue lace swans in from her portside vigil. “Hello, Val!” she greets with a cheer that comes from the pleasure of good company. And good drink, if the glass of green liquid in her hand is any indication. “What a swell party this is!” Coming around the back of the sofa, she leans over to drop a peck on the madame’s cheek before rocking back up and surveying the clientele partygoers.

A perfectly pleasant smile is offered to Silas, along with a little wave of just her index finger lifted from her glass. The woman’s attention, however, settles on Richard. “You’re new,” the woman they both know as Rue Lancaster declares with a broader smile, rounding the side of the couch to make her approach. One eager hand snaps out between them for a handshake. “I’m Gracie.” Blue eyes quickly sweep up and down Richard’s form. “And who are you?

Richard’s nose wrinkles up a little in response to Silas’s glance, and he brings one shoulder up in a shrug - looking away. Something about the woman, it seems, has him off his game.

In stark contrast, Silas can practically see all of Richard’s defenses go up at Gracie’s approach through the lounge. The corporate-executive positioning of his shoulders as he shifts into a straighter posture, the smile warm but practiced. “Richard,” he replies affably, reaching out to clasp the offered hand, “And yeah, I suppose I am. And I’m not. But close enough. It’s confusing.”


Asi's potential descent from the bar to god knows where else is distracted by Elliot's return to form, fixing drinks. Her easily-stolen gaze falls to the glasses after being juggled around by his collecting of various tools for his cocktail, counting them to be sure she's certain.

One, two, three. There's three, made for who knows even, suddenly created because … she has to think back now.

Her brow furrows at the odd numbering in the drinks. Valentine, he was talking about making an order for, she recalls. Then her head begins to turn, ears tuning in that direction while her eyes follow at their own leisure. There's Silas, she notes, standing. Richard, too, across from Valentine. Gracie's appearance is a salve on her mood, but her head's already decided to turn back down to her drink so she can grumble into it rather than admire the shape of the sheer dress against the redhead.

"あなたたち…この辺も中々友達を作っているんかな1," Asi notes more than questions. She peers at Elliot with slightly narrowed eyes. "なにをつもりかい2?" There it is. The wary questioning after all. After all, the way the Siren's Song and the Freedom of the Seas operate suit her just fine. In the wave of change sure to come with the Travelers' touches, she likewise surely hopes certain boats aren't rocked by them.


Over at the lounge, after lightly shuffling the cards in nimble fingers, Valentine hands Silas the deck, and gestures, reaching for her glass of wine. “Shuffle and think about what you’d like to know about, darling,” she tells the man, before reaching up to clasp Gracie’s hand when it rests on her shoulder.

“Gracie, you absolute vision in blue,” she says, releasing the other woman as she introduces herself. “I wish I could wear such delicate colors, but I would look absolutely sallow in that, and we can’t have that.” Since taking the name of Valentine, her signature colors lie in the colors associated with the holiday, so long as they’re saturated hues – deep pinks, crimsons, violets, accentuated with golds.

Valentine’s dark eyes grow darker for a moment – a sign she’s not looking at those gathered, but somewhere else. Whatever she sees seems to amuse her, and she chuckles as the brown irises grow wider once again. Still, she doesn’t seem to miss anything in the conversation before her, as she adds, “Yes and no, new and not new. Our guest Richard Cardinal is a confusing but pleasant mix of things, and very welcome.”

Silas definitely notices Richard's immediate shift to red alert; he looks slightly puzzled for a moment, but doesn't dwell on it. Richard apparently has some history with Rue Gracie, in that other world, though what, Silas can't imagine. Then again… Silas knows as well as anyone that sometimes alternate timeline versions of people can be very different. Besides, he's got more immediate things to worry about — Valentine's handing him some cards. So he nods and takes them.

He doesn't start to shuffle right away, though; instead, he opts to take a moment to get a feel for them. They're well worn, these cards — still plenty of years left in them, but they've been shuffled enough to grow flexible. So Silas starts to put them through their paces, his hands handling the work while his mind and his eyes drift off in the distance, thinking on his question. Thinking on the future, of course — on the doom hanging over all their heads. On the trip to Alaska, and the hope that supposedly lays there… and on what lies in store for this world, even should Richard's world be saved. Is there hope for us?

His hands move automatically, with the ease of muscle memory and long practice — it's been awhile since he's shuffled, but some things stay with you. First, the overhand shuffle — simple, quick. Then the riffle, done a little slower, then the bridge… and finally, he cuts the deck and offers it back to Valentine.


Gaze going to Asi when she starts speaking Japanese, though fortunately not to him, has Kendall looking back over to Elliot, pausing to watch the man make another drink. What, this guy knows Japanese too? "Considered taking Japanese once I got to college but that never happened." he comments, though by the way he's now looking down at his drink, he knows he's not exactly contributing to the conversation. But at least he stopped being rude. Lifting the glass up, he finishes it off with a grimace, setting it on the counter.

“You know better than anyone that I’m terrible at making friends.” Elliot tells Asi with a chuckle as he rinses the barware. “I honestly just came for an excuse to use this suit. Apparently Eve thought it would be hilarious to make us think we were going to a party, which didn’t happen.”

“As for planning,” he continues, “there is no professional agenda. I didn’t talk to him before deciding to show up here technically uninvited.” He tilts his head back toward Richard as he upends the cleaned cocktail shaker.

He turns to Kendall, wondering if he’s ever noted a more awkward whiplash of confused outrage in a public setting before. As a peace offering he clears the man’s glass away, replacing it with a short pour of a better whiskey. “I wish I learned Japanese too,” he laments, clearly aware of the contradiction of having responded to its use. “Unfortunately I never went to college or finished high school.”

“Aw, Val! You’re too sweet!” Gracie’s nose wrinkles when she giggles, all sunshine. “Someone has to wear your blues, because you have to wear my pinks, so I never have to hear another drunk Xennial call me his Little Mermaid!” In the lounge the redhead (who will not wear pink) swivels her attention back to Richard. Her hand stays clasped with his for just a bit longer than expected for this customary greeting. Her smile renews, releasing without incident.

“You, however, can call me whatever. you. like.” With the last three words, she reaches out toward the center of his chest, her index and middle fingers skipping a path up the length of his breastbone. It’s her invitation to get familiar, rather than assuming an invitation to invade beyond what she’s already done. Then, her head tilts to one side, peering at him quizzically. Blue eyes narrow a touch before she glances in Valentine and Silas’ direction, taking in both her assessment and the company he apparently keeps.

Gaze cast down a moment, shielded from view by her dark and heavily mascara-laden lashes as she scans back and forth through the ephemera of thought, she hums ponderously. Finally, she lifts her head. “Say, do you ever shake a person’s hand and get this sense as though you two are very old friends? Like maybe in a past life or something? Ooh! Or maybe through the looking glass, to quoth Mr. Carroll.”

At the comment about the Little Mermaid, Richard can't help but chuckle; closing his eyes behind his shades, shaking his head at whatever thoughts it might have stirred for a moment.

"I can only imagine how uncomfortable a shell bra would be," he quips, drawing back his hand when hers does - and then he lets out another brief chuff of humor at her flirtation, not drawing away as her fingertips brush up his chest. He starts to say something, pauses when she does, and then he offers her a slight, wry smile.

"I get that feeling a lot, actually," he says to her, and there's more truth to the words than playfulness. A glance back to Valentine— back to Gracie— and then suddenly he's moving to step away from the conversation, "But— well, good meeting you Valentine, Gracie, but I've got some business to attend to, I'm afraid."

He didn't have business ten seconds ago and this isn't the place to come if you have business elsewhere coming up, but that's what he says anyway.

Valentine takes the cards from Silas, then looks up as Richard rises, dark eyes studying his face a little curiously – that canny look comes into her eyes, though she smiles and dips her head.

“Your business is very lucky to have your attention, then, and we’ll miss your company, red bird,” she says in her warm, rich alto. “Do come see us sometime at the Sill if you’re so inclined. We’ll leave in a few days, and you’re welcome to travel with us.”

As she speaks, she sets out the cards for Silas, one, two, three. “What you can’t change,” she says, touching the six of swords – the imagery on the card is striking, evocative enough – a boat pierced by six swords, being ferried by a man with a woman and a child as passengers. It’s a card that fits the flooded world they live in.

“This card symbolizes transition,” Valentine says, looking up to meet Silas’ eyes. “A journey that could be either quite literally a move from one place to another or more symbolic. There may be obstacles, but it’s also a chance to become stronger, more evolved. The swords might be seen as baggage – the extra weights and burdens you carry with you. You can choose to keep it or jettison it as you move forward in your travels.”

One corner of her mouth tips up, and she lifts a shoulder. “This one seems a little easy, really, but I think perhaps there’s still good advice there. Do you agree?” She glances from Silas to Gracie, to include the spectator in the conversation.

“Leaving so soon? But you’ve only just got here.” She’ll probably say that to just about anyone at literally any time during this party, no matter how long they’ve actually been in attendance. Gracie pouts at Richard. “I thought we were getting to know each other.” The pout is melted by a warmer, more inviting little smirk. “I was just about to tell you—”


The masculine sing-song comes from outside the lounge, but still too close for comfort if the woman’s reaction is any indication. Gracie freezes immediately, pupils dilating in that brief moment when fight or flight kicks in. “Ohhhh no.” She rests her palm on Richard’s chest and begs of him, “You’re gonna save my life, okay? Stay here. Stay right here.” The next smile she flashes is a nervous one. “Just– Forty-five seconds. Tops. If a man comes through here looking for me, you tell him I went any direction but the one I’m about to bolt off in, got it?”

She does not wait for Richard to express his willingness to go along with her plan before she presses a kiss to his cheek. “Thank you!” As she scurries out the door, almost so fast that it could kick up a cartoon dust cloud, she downs her little green drink and sets the glass aside on the nearest reasonably flat surface. Then she slips around the corner and she’s gone.

In her wake, a young man who’s bordering on having had just too much to drink pokes his head into the room. “Ariel? Hey. S’anyone seen the Little Mermaid around here?”

Elliot performs an inventory of his gathered barware, then nods. He cracks the glass from the metal cup beneath it, then carefully pours a cherry-brown drink between the three glasses. Hopefully he can use this to buy himself some culinary leniency from Second Star’s captain.

He lifts the tray, leaving the bar without waiting for a response from Asi or Kendall, though clearly he has less interest in the latter. He weaves around the event’s true bar tender, tray perched on his splayed fingertips. Carefully dodging around other clientele, his eyes remain mostly focused on not spilling this surprisingly expensive gift.

Arriving at the table he lowers the tray, keeping it clear of the table and its priceless tarot cards. “Madame,” he says with a nod of respect before turning to the intended recipients of the other drinks. “Richard, Captain. A concoction of my own devising.” He doesn’t reach to place glasses closer to anyone, calculatedly downplaying the idea that a specific glass has a specific recipient. Hopefully Richard won’t die when he drinks his, and Peyton—Valentine— will feel comfortable enough to accept a drink from a stranger.


As the peace offering is laid on the bar, Kendall hesitates, then nods at Elliot, deciding not to push it further. In hindsight, it wasn’t fair to blame Elliot when everything was actually Robyn's fault; it was misdirected anger just because Elliot was from the same place. Time. Dimension, whatever.

"Him?" Kendall glances over to the lounge, but since it's just Silas and that other guy, Elliot must mean that other guy. Which means he's also a Traveler. Kendall files that information for later, since he does still need to talk to one of them and he kinda blew it with Elliot. Once he finishes this drink though, he's going to leave, probably to complain about his night.


Silas's eyes cut to Gracie when she makes mention of the Looking Glass… but Richard doesn't seem interested in sticking around.

Valentine's parting words to Richard make the corners of Silas's lips twitch upwards — as ever, she's the very image of a lady of grace and taste. Silas's expression shifts towards something more thoughtful, though, as he muses on the differences — and the similarities — between Valentine and the version of her he'd met so briefly on the other side of the Looking Glass. Peyton had seemed more harried, perhaps… but she had been a queen bee of sorts, too.

But Valentine's laying out the cards now, and so Silas returns his attention to them with interest… though as she turns the card, as she starts to explain its meaning, his expression takes on a hint of melancholy.

What she says makes sense, though. "Easy doesn't necessarily mean it's off the mark, though," Silas says. "Sometimes it's easy to overlook the obvious. And sometimes—"

Whatever Silas had been about to say is interrupted as Gracie's Prince Smarming makes his auditory debut. Silas pauses, looking in the direction the call had come from with a raised eyebrow… then back at Gracie as she makes her exit in a distinctly unGracieful manner. Silas's expression shifts into a blandly nonplussed mask… only to shift to blank surprise as Easy Mac steps onto Silas's radar, bearing a tray of drinks.

Silas frowns slightly as Easy Mac says his piece, taking the time to scrutinize him and try to divine his intention. Then, after a moment, he nods slightly. "Appreciated. Thanks," he says mildly. Silas isn't too sure about something called a concoction… but if nothing else, Easy Mac has also flagged down Richard, giving Silas a chance to impart some information. He reaches for the two drinks, stepping towards Richard to hand one off to him… and taking the moment to speak quietly to him.

"If you wanna send Gracie's number none admirer off on a snipe hunt, I'll cover your exit — if you want," Silas says, sotto voce. "But you might want to talk to her; she was on the Ark," he adds, shrugging lightly at the end.

With that said, he steps back and turns his attention back to Valentine, giving her his best smile. "But to answer your question… yeah, I think there's some good advice to be found there," he says. "I guess it's just a matter of how much that baggage is worth," he admits, not without a flicker of quiet pain.

“She went that way,” Valentine supplies, pointing in the opposite direction of Gracie’s departure, because she certainly doesn’t want her employees forced to spend time with people they don’t enjoy. But the arrival of drinks and of the bestower of drinks draws Valentine’s eyes upward, and she smiles at Elliot.

“How unexpected! Thank you! I was just about in need of a refill,” she says reaching for one of the glasses – if she’s worried, it doesn’t show. She offers her hand to Elliot, and there’s no comment from the madame on feeling like she knows him already in some other life. “A pleasure to meet you. They call me Valentine. And you are?”

Her attention turns back to the cards, and she taps the next. “What can be changed – and very fitting in this spot, as it’s all about your perspective and the energy to bring to a situation,” she tells Silas. The card is the Star, turned upside down. “Upright, it suggests optimism and hope, but upside down, as it is, it can mean that you feel despair. It can be a test of faith. Here, I feel it’s a reminder that you’re stronger than you believe. That giving up isn’t an option. That you have a power within you to choose how you see the world or the troubles before you.” Valentine looks up down at the card, fingers tracing its perimeter. “That our perspective can be a power, because it impacts everything – our choices, our relationships, our understanding of ourselves and one another.”

"If only I had the time," Richard replied with a smile to Valentine at her invitation, "In another life, maybe…"

Only he probably gets the full depths of that joke, and it's a bitter, painful one, the words of it like broken glass in his throat. Not that he lets it show.

Turning, his attempt to escape is - for a moment - delayed by the appearance of Prince Eric on the scene, which is enough to leave him a bit nonplussed. He really had thought the Little Mermaid crack was a joke, but no, here comes the man with a Disney fetish big enough to relaunch the Rule 34 industry post-Flood.

"I— " No, then Gracie's gone, and he looks after her for a moment, the practiced smile fading to reveal a more weary, strained expression beneath. Stepping over to accept one of the drinks from Silas, he offers Elliot an affable nod in thanks for it - then his gaze drifts back after Gracie. "The Ark? Of course she was. God damn it…"

Shaking his head, he brings that smile back up, stepping over to the drunk man looking for Gracie, "Yeah, she went this way, I'll show you."

The way Valentine posted, away from Gracie’s own escape route.

“I’m Elliot,” he introduces himself, holding the drink tray aside to take the offered hand in greeting. “Pleasure to serve.” He smiles and withdraws, Silas’s reading seeming too ominous to delay. My condolences.


Back at the bar, Asi's indecision on walking with a drink in her hand has lead her to– for better or for worse– down the last of what's been offered to her. It has required a moment to set her jaw and close her eyes against her questionable decision, and she sighs once her resignation to her new reality has settled in a bit. "Ugh, まいた," she mutters ruefully, hands pressing down into the bar to haul herself to her feet with a slow blink open of her eyes.

"—ってきます," the well-soaked drunk mutters her farewell and potential promise to return to either the people remaining at the bar, or the bar itself, and swivels on a heel to stumble into the party of the floating crowd once more.


Silas' attention is fully on Valentine, his expression unreadable as she gives her explanation… then he chuckles quietly. "Despair, huh," he echoes. "Funny thing to be feelin', don't you think? Especially here," he says, giving Valentine a grin that's just a bit crooked… a bit sad, perhaps.

"But I guess you're right. How you see things can make all the difference," he says thoughtfully. I remember… at Sunspot, I decided I wasn't gonna just lay down and die. Have I been backsliding? he muses… and after a moment, he decides that maybe he had been, just a bit. Time to knock that shit off, Silas decides… then his gaze comes back to Valentine and he grins. "The cards, it seems, have an interpreter as wise as she is lovely," he says, flashing Valentine a more honest grin, eyes gleaming; he picks up a drink, but doesn't drink any just yet. "So what have we got in store for card number three?"

“Enjoy the party. Travel safely,” murmurs Valentine to those departing, taking a sip of the concoction Elliot has bestowed upon her. She tips her head as she relishes the flavors, then dips her head in a demure thanks to Silas’ praise.

“Flattery will get you everywhere, Silas,” she says, before she turns the final card. “What you may not know,” she says, revealing the Judgment card.

The madame studies its face for a moment, the blond, winged angel blowing a trumpet above the world. “You are at an important stage in your journey, and are ready to move on to the next chapter of your life.”

Valentine looks up at him, her mouth turning upward a little at one corner – given what he had just said a little morosely about the environment they all find themselves in.

“And,” she continues, “you may find solace and understanding with others who have suffered similarly – to work together toward a common goal, and rise together in this next part of the journey. To do so successfully, you have to let go of the past. Judgment reminds us that our actions, no matter how small they may seem, have lasting repercussions. At some point, you can’t look back. You just have to move forward.”

The cards are then gathered up again, and she picks up a silk scarf to wrap them in. Valentine’s brows draw together, and she smiles a little sadly. “Perhaps I should say travel safely to you as well – again?”

Silas inclines his head in turn, eyes gleaming with amusement, but as Valentine begins reading the final card, he again frowns, looking thoughtful.

"Don't look back," Silas echoes, eyes on the card. "Hard, sometimes. But… maybe good advice," he admits, letting out a heavy breath. When Valentine gathers up the cards, it finally provides Silas with an excuse to pull his eyes away; he looks back to Valentine with a grin when she wishes him safe travels. "I appreciate that."

He considers for a moment, raising one hand to his chin. "You know… I think a lot of people might be going off on a bit of a journey, soon," Silas says. "There's a captain from Alaska who just came in, talkin' about a settlement they've got going there around Anchorage. Seems like it could be quite an opportunity," Silas says, raising an eyebrow. He takes a sip of his drink, pausing to consider; it's not the Forthright's Christmas Punch, but it's not bad. Pretty good, in fact.

Valentine’s lips curve into a fuller smile. “I’m full of good advice I never actually take,” she says, lifting her chin slightly as if she’s proud of that fact, before taking another sip of the unexpected cocktail.

Her eyes turn toward the windows that look out toward the west. The evening has grown too late for there to be even a remnant glow of the sleeping sun. “So I’ve heard. I’m not certain such civilization is the right fit for me these days, if ever it was. But if you go, do come say goodbye first, Captain.”

Silas arches an eyebrow at that, that grin returning with a hint of impishness. "Well, I'd be a Fool not to take you up on such a gracious invite… and I don't recall seeing that one in tonight's spread," he says, stopping himself from cackling at his own pun only by virtue of immediately taking a long sip of his drink.

When he looks back, his grin remains, but it's more serious. "In any case — I thank you for the party, and I thank you for the reading, and I'll be certain to pay a visit before I launch any more ventures off to parts unknown," he promises, finishing his drink. He looks to the bar, planning to return his glass… and notes that Asi appears to have vanished while he wasn't looking. A frown creases his lips for a moment… then he looks back to Valentine, offering one last smile. "And I bid you… good night," he finishes, sketching a brief bow before he turns to take his leave.

Valentine watches as the last of her small audience retreats, but like the ocean that surrounds them, there is an ebb and flow to guests and parties, and as one wave recedes, another will come to replace it. She turns to bestow her smile and attention on the next guest who approaches her, gesturing for them to sit and share in the drink and merriment.

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