Something's Off


elaine2_icon.gif magnes_icon.gif

Scene Title Something's Off
Synopsis Elaine meets with Magnes to discuss some concerns she has about some things being a bit off.
Date June 3rd, 2019

Outside of Yamagato Park

Elaine had suggested they meet outside of Yamagato Park. Normally, she might have asked Magnes to meet her at her apartment or even her favorite noodle restaurant, but there was the teensiest bit of paranoia creeping up on her. Maybe it was what Richard had said? Or maybe Robyn’s actual mention of paranoia had done a number on her. Either way it was what brought her to the hole-in-the-wall cafe she’s currently inhabiting.

She ordered a large mocha and tucked herself into the corner of the place, as far away from other patrons as possible. That part wasn’t out of paranoia—it was because she was slightly irritable and she didn’t want anyone nosing in on her conversation. Especially when it would get weird, which she was certain it would.

Sipping from her mocha slowly, she stares out the window, waiting.

When Magnes shows up, it's not casual dress. Elaine called him, so he wears his full coat, his weird seamless boots from Bright, and just walks over to sit across from her.

Then immediately starts unbuttoning his coat to take it off, revealing a purple paisley shirt under it. "Oh man… okay, okay."

He unbuttons the shirt too, until he's only in a white short-sleeved t-shirt.

"I know what this looks like, which is something slightly dumb. But I wanted to look cool so I wore layers. And now I realize how hot it is when I'm not flying around…" It's weird, but the way he immediately makes excuses for the dumb thing he did, it's as if it comes naturally to him with her.

“You don’t have to look cool to be cool, Magnes,” Elaine laughs, leaning forward against the table. “I forgot how weird you are sometimes. Not in a bad way, just in a different way.” She looks at her mocha for a minute. “So how are you? I know I said I wanted to meet you to talk but… I dunno, it feels like I should at least see how you are before I blather on about world jumping and conspiracy theories and that sort of thing.”

She clears her throat a bit and takes a sip from her mocha.

"Well, I met my father again, in jail. Adel helped capture him, I wasn't there since this happened earlier in the year. I learned some pretty unfortunate things, and some weird things. But, well, I guess the good news is that I'm the alpha clone and most of my memories are real? So I'm actually not a teenager and I really am in my thirties." Magnes explains this as apparently the least outrageous thing of all the things.

"Uh… I'm meeting with Kimiko soon. I'll ask her for a security job, I decided against contributing anymore to science for, well, a lot of reasons. Then maybe we can hang out and spar or something. Maybe drink tea and talk about Hiro and stuff." he continues, talking about Kimiko as if she's just an old friend to catch up with and bum a favor off of.

“Yeah, about that…” Elaine rubs the back of her neck, trying to compose her thoughts. “How well do you know Ms. Nakamura? I mean, I’ve only met her a few times in the past, all work-related functions and I didn’t really talk to her much. But I know you mentioned being more familiar with her. You sound as if you’re friends, really.”

She pokes at the mocha with one finger. “Tell me, what’s she like? Is she a warm person? A cold person? Does she speak with flowery language or is she more straightforward with her words? I know this is a weird line of questioning but I swear I have a reason for it. I promise I’ll explain.”

"Oh, well…" Magnes looks up for a moment, crossing his arms as he leans back a little unnaturally far in his chair. "Kimiko is pretty strict. She's who taught me how to fight, Hiro wanted her to teach me to survive, and to have discipline. So I lived with her for a little while. She was pretty brutal, she wanted to teach me to take a beating and fight back even if I was in pain."

He sits up straight again, his chair a bit loud when the front legs hit the floor again. He looks around, hunching slightly as if to see if anyone's looking at them. He's a little more himself, a little more prone to his awkwardness despite his growth. But he finally returns to explaining, looking over at her. "Sometimes she can be very cryptic, because she wants you to figure out how to learn a lesson for yourself. She can be warm, in her own way. She'll be very subtle about it, those small mercies when she thinks you did a good job. But she's less a 'You did a good job!' person, she's more a pour you a cup of tea and say 'You can rest tomorrow' type."

“Huh. Okay, okay, I think that makes sense.” Elaine moves to take a sip of her mocha, a little foam resting on her upper lip before she wipes it away as she sets the cup down. “Alright, so she’s either trying to tell me something or she’s just…” She isn’t sure she should go down that line of reasoning.

She taps a finger lightly on the tabletop in thought. “I mean, that’s the impression I got from her. She wasn’t cold but she wasn’t outwardly warm either. Except… when I spoke to her last she was very complimentary. At first it was like a test, so I went with it, and then she was very… I mean, it was poetic. Lofty. The more I’ve thought on it the more it feels weird.”

"That is pretty weird. But I'll meet her soon anyway, so if anything is really off, I'm sure I'll notice." Magnes rubs his chin, considering the possibilities here. "Kimiko doesn't seem like the type to be so… casually jokey, if she heard we dated or something. I doubt she'd treat you any differently. If she were anyone else I'd go with that."

Of course he can only go so long, his gaze lingering a little too long on her eyes in that way where she knows he's thinking about her beyond the context of the discussion. "You're ridiculously beautiful today. So probably just like yesterday, even though I didn't see you. But you're…"

He shakes his head. "Sorry, habits, seven years and such, you know?"

“I know, it must still be hard. I’m sorry if I’m making it worse… I just felt like you were someone who could understand everything that’s going on and just… be there,” Elaine sounds kind of wistful for a moment, but she shakes it off and clears her throat again. “Right. Uh, when you see her just… please don’t act like I said anything. Just act normal? Our conversation never happened.”

Except it did, which she’s sure will make it hard for Magnes to keep a poker face. “She, uh, gave me something that led me down a rabbit hole I wasn’t expecting. Do you want the long version or the short version?”

"Well, I don't have anywhere to be. I did spend seven years trying to come back here to spend time with you." Magnes holds up a finger, standing up to go get himself a coffee.

When he comes back, it's quite light in color, which he quickly takes a sip of. "I went too long without sugar, still nice to have sugar. But anyway… lay it all on me. No one will hurt you with me."

He won't let someone hurt another Elaine.

“So Kimiko gave me a promotion. I’m Head Curator for the Yamagato Fellowship which means I’m in charge of pretty much the entire museum, minus the paperwork and administrative stuff which is covered by someone else. That’s cool, but before she left she gave me an address book which she said was her father’s from his days in the Company in the 1980s. She told me to see Richard Ray when I was ready to understand what it means.”

The mug is twisted in her hands for a moment. “It was mostly full of names in Japanese but there were three names, in English, with the kanji for mystery or secret next to them. They were D. Trafford, J. Harrison, and R. Darrow. Ms. Nakamura told me that our paths were more entwined than either of us thought. So I ended up taking it to Richard, who told me about the machine, the one I think you used with all the world jumping. He said in the 80s there were times when people were swapped with their dopplegangers from some kind of anomaly.”

“He said,” Elaine continues. “… that it happened with my mom. Which means my mom wasn’t actually from here. Needless to say that’s a really weird thing to find out… but I mean if I can understand Adel being here, I can understand my mom being switched over from somewhere else. That part, I understand. Now here’s the part I don’t get.”

She inhales deeply before continuing. “Kimiko Nakamura just happened to be reading her father’s old address book and happened to see a last name that matched mine and somehow came to the conclusion that this must, indeed, be my mother and off of that one shred of evidence she brought me this information? I’m no conspiracy theorist but why on earth would she do that? She had to know this information and maybe more, because she said Richard Ray could explain it better than she could. Which means she knew.”

"Wait… D. Trafford? Oh fuck…" Magnes listens to her, but that piece of information stands out just as much as her own reveal, taking a deep breath. "Wait, this means you'd be from the flood world, which explains why you weren't there at all. I just… assumed you must have died or something. And that D. Trafford can't be a coincidence… that has to be related to Delilah. Delilah is another person I didn't see in the flood world."

"But why would Kimiko… Wait. So she specifically looked up something to do with your history, said your paths were entwined, and was acting weird?" He stares at his coffee, something clearly in the back of his mind. "Have you ever heard of a consciousness being transferred into someone's mind? Usually under extreme circumstances, but it happens."

“Yeah, I think it’s Dee’s dad. Richard said it was, but I was thinking I might chat with Dee and see if she had any idea this was a thing.” Elaine nods a little as he connects the dots, listening to his thought process before she continues.

“Kimiko said she was looking through who she really had working for her and my name popped up. She had some idea of my history, the Ferry, what I did during the war, so she didn’t just happen across it, she got the info somehow. Unless she’s got some kind of detailed dossier on all her employees… which isn’t beyond Yamagato to do, but a little costly. I don’t really hide stuff, but a cursory glance over wouldn’t have my mother’s name. Hell, I don’t even think Robyn would remember it if I asked her.”

She takes a swallow of her mocha. “I’ve heard of it. In a way it felt like some kind of message to decode. Because the thing that really bothers me is that she didn’t speak in Japanese. I’m used to that being the default with most of the Japanese employees of Yamagato. She spoke in English and even quoted something that I think was Japanese into English. But she knows my gift for languages, she even talked about it in conversation. Do you think there’s something someone’s trying to tell me? Kimiko or someone else?”

"I never really described what happened to Elaine." Magnes says her name in a context that he knows she'll understand.

The other Elaine.

"That… Entity. What it did to her, it wasn't like she just turned into dust or something, she turned into streaks of light or something, it wasn't normal, it was like what happened to the other people who came back, but it seemed like the light was different." But after he says this, he just shakes his head. "Sorry, this is just… ridiculous. It's far more likely, what you said, that it was kind of a weird coincidence or something."

He sips his coffee, his gaze saying that it's very difficult to let this go. "If it was Elaine, she'd be the one who would know how to give you a subtle language clue… She'd know that you'd probably end up telling me this. She also knew that I'd end up meeting Kimiko eventually…"

He can't let it go.

“I don’t know why she wouldn’t be more obvious in her clues if she was, y’know, floating around somewhere and influencing things,” Elaine points out, looking between her mug and his face. “It’s plausible though. I don’t want you to get your hopes up, but we’re dealing with a lot of information, a lot of possibilities. I can’t deny that it was odd she chose English. I keep trying to puzzle through what she said to me to see if any of it might seem familiar.”

She glances at him. “Magnes, just… don’t get your heart set on her coming back. I know you want to find her again but I don’t want you getting hurt over it. Can you promise me you’ll be careful, at least? For me? For her?”

"I will, I just… I'm better, but I miss her, it's hard not to latch onto things. I look at you and I just want to hold you and I can't help it, but I respect Robyn, I wouldn't betray her by putting you in that position." Magnes closes his eyes, inhaling his coffee to try and find some sense of peace in something so simple. "If it's her, I'll know when I meet Kimiko."

“Okay, let me know if you need me. If there’s some way I can help you find her, I will. I can offer you that much,” Elaine says, finishing the last of her mocha. “You know, we’re still friends, we can hug, if that would make you feel better. I know when I lost my parents that hugging became a big thing. If I could hug someone and shut my eyes I could pretend it was them, just for a moment.”

Magnes stands up, walking around the table to reach down and wrap his arms around her. Even with this Elaine, there's no discomfort on his part, he rather effortlessly lifts her from the chain and embraces her. Somehow both gentle and firm, as if no one could tear her from him if they tried. It's quite clear, in that subtle way that very few people would know except for someone like her, that even his gravity centers on her.

"It's funny, you're identical, but also obviously different. It's hard to imagine her in powerful business makeup." He says as he leans back and looks down at her. "Then again, I can't imagine you in powerful business makeup."

Pulled into the hug, Elaine sinks into it and hugs him back. “I made it to the top of the food chain, it’s hard to get a job much better than mine doing what I love to do and what I’m good at. I’m so very lucky. So very busy, but so very lucky.” If only the rest of her life were in the same state as her career. “I’m glad you listened. I tried to talk to Robyn but she’s… she’s got a lot on her plate and… she’s really different sometimes. It’s not how it used to be. I wish I could just make her better.”

"I've noticed how she is, with the changes. I wish I could do something, but she probably needs someone like Kaylee. There's something clearly wrong, but it's difficult to get her to listen. I'm not sure if I could get her to go or not." Magnes reaches up to gently touch her cheek, a few tears welling up in his eyes. "Seeing these eyes every morning, it made me able to do impossible things. I connected with, felt the multiverse in such a way that it changed me in a spiritual way, all because I just wanted you to be happy, wanted you to see our daughter again."

"Seeing these eyes, just…" He tries to take a deep breath again. "I know you're not her, I love you too and always have, but never think that I want you to be her, even if I need to look at you and see her sometimes…"

“She’s more cynical, if that’s possible. She’s harsher, like the world is out to get her and there’s nothing good in it anymore. I see her normal but when she gets caught up in it, it’s like I don’t know her anymore. Like I’m not sure if I matter. It’s harder and harder to deal with and I’m honestly not sure what to do about it,” Elaine explains, the slightest hint of emotion in her tone. “I can try to see if I could get Kaylee to drop by and see her, maybe…”

She looks up at Magnes. “I’m really glad you found her. I’m glad it worked well for the two of you. I know I’m different but in some ways she’s the same as I am. We shared the same origins and just at some point we drifted our separate ways. I’m alright if you need to think of her sometimes, if that gets you through the day. Just remember that you’ve got her daughter to think about.” There’s a pause. “Am I… I mean, she… is she a good mother?”

"She's a great mother." Magnes answers without hesitation, sitting back down, but this time he tries to gently usher her into his lap, apparently not particularly caring about anyone around them. "When I met her, she was literally taking care of the last children on Earth, teaching kids. With Addie, she just knew what to do, and I was mostly kind of dumb until she taught me what to do. If anything, I was the bad parent. All I knew how to do was spoil at first, but I started to learn more and more, like how to do her hair and wash her properly, and I told her stories and things like that. She told me how you're supposed to talk to young kids, kids younger than the ones at the Lighthouse."

He leans his head against her chest, closing his eyes as he just inhales. "Circumstances just made her know a lot about kids, she was basically the last teacher on Earth where we saved her from."
Elaine doesn’t protest the tugging, regardless of how weird it might look, because for a moment she just needs to be there. For him and for herself. “I’m so glad that there’s a me that got to be like that. I really look forward to meeting your daughter at some point. I’d like to see how she’s turning out.” She lets out a slow breath of air. “I guess I’m the Elaine that does the career thing. It’s fun but it’d be so much less stressful if I didn’t have to worry about conspiracy theories and Robyn not being Robyn.”

"I always felt a little guilty, that we were in a seemingly perfect world but I still wanted to go to my world. She always supported me finding home, but in the end that perfect world wasn't so perfect anyway. If anything, it was one of the most terrifying worlds up until the robots and the Terminator stuff. I still can't believe I actually saw where Adel came from, and that she survived all of that… It's literally like when you see the future in those Terminator movies." Magnes sits up slightly, just so he can look her in the eye again.

"I've been lonely, and I guess kind of weak, living with Delilah and all…" He makes a pretty clear implication as he looks at her with eyes clearly searching for some sort of understanding or forgiveness. "I feel guilty, and yet, Delilah was always someone who was there for me when I needed her. I just… needed to not feel awful, I needed that closeness with someone I trust and care about. And I have to confess it to you, I need you to know, because if no one else, I have to be able to be honest with you about my life."

"I don't want to feel like I'm betraying her, and now that I feel like she might have come back, I feel extra guilty…" His confession clearly has the tone of someone searching for the right answer, and the way he looks at her suggests that he thinks she has the definitive one.

“I mean, you and Dee are consenting adults,” Elaine points out. “As long as you aren’t leading each other on, that sort of thing is… that sort of thing. It’s not like I haven’t done the same in the past.” She’s not one to judge. “No one can fault you for that. If you’re looking for her forgiveness, I can’t grant that, but I can tell you how I feel and that might be somewhat in the same ballpark. I want you to be happy, whatever form that comes in. I know that’s what she wants too.”

She sighs. “I don’t see it as a betrayal. I think if she knew she wasn’t coming back she would wish you to move on, to find happiness. And even if she thought she could come back, wouldn’t she still want the same thing? That’s what you do in love… you want the best for someone else even if you aren’t always what they need or there for them at the time.”

"I'm jealous now." Magnes says with a smile, laying his head back into her chest. "Life is a really complicated thing, it's difficult to know what's right and wrong sometimes. But, aside from complicated adult stuff, I've never really understood love very well, I don't think. I feel it for multiple people, very strongly. Obviously the way that I love her, Elaine, is very different, but…"

He reaches for her hand, but doesn't look up this time. "I know that I love you, the fact that I love you is something I always talked to her about. It's a feeling I could never make go away. It was an important part of building our relationship, to be open about our feelings and what they mean." His tone is starting to sound conflicted as he continues, trying to find the right words. "I love Delilah in a particular way, but not in the same ways. It's strange, it's not a more or less situation, it's a different situation. And I've just… never understood how my feelings worked in that way."

He finally looks up at her again, and asks, "How can I love three people? Hell, when I look at Rob—- oh," He says this as if something just hit him, then shakes his head. "Nevermind I don't know where I was going with that."

“I’ve loved more than one person at the same time. People are different, so you love people differently. It’s not like there’s a law that says you can only love one person at a time. You love parents separately but they’re still your parents. You could have more than one sibling and love them differently but it’s still sibling love. Why does it have to get incredibly complicated when it comes to other forms of love?”

Elaine’s got a lot of experience in that area. Gun Hill was… an interesting time. “So don’t worry about loving more than one person in that sense, it’s—” But then the gears are turning. “Whoa, hold the phone. Robyn?”

"I mean… I was just thinking about all the times I outright told her I loved her, how badly I wanted to return to this world to see both you and her. How I asked to stay at her place just to be near her. How much it hurt when another Robyn didn't know me, how much it tore me apart when versions of her died…" Magnes sits up much straighter now, reaching out to cup her cheeks. "I've lost my fucking mind, you have to slap me. Do you know how often I think about her? This is fucking nuts."

“I’m not going to slap you. But I am going to tell you that you really are out of your damn mind. You can feel strongly about friends, Magnes. Don’t confuse that for romantic love and do not, under any circumstances, tell Robyn that you have romantic feelings for her because that will not go well for either of you.” Elaine looks him square in the eye. “You feel strongly for her as a friend because she is someone you appreciate and are fond of. Don’t you dare get confused otherwise, got it?”

"I wouldn't tell her… god even I don't believe that one. Okay, I'll listen." Magnes lowers his hands down to her waist again, sighing. "I mean, it's not like I want to do anything, not anymore than I guess the normal healthy level of thinking. I think maybe I just hit an existential wall and got confused, or something. I don't know."

He tries to center himself a bit, just staring again. "I realize that I can't be here like this forever. But do you need me for anything? Do you need someone around?"

Elaine gets up to her feet. “I’m alright now, just a lot of things going through my head. I should get back to my work, I’m finding it’s a nice distraction from other stress. Funny, usually it’s the other way around. But thank you, it means a lot that you’d hear me out and that you’re still there for me. Just be careful and I’ll do the same, especially in regards to Kimiko. In case there is actually something wrong.”

"Whatever is wrong, if anything, we'll figure it out. I know what I can survive, and I know what you can survive. We'll be okay." Magnes stands up, stretching before he goes to get his pile of jacket and shirt. "If you need anything, call me, and I'll be right over."

He knows their respective limits. Something about that is comforting—knowing that someone knows what you can handle and is there for you if you can’t. Elaine offers him a smile as she gets up to leave herself. “Thanks again Magnes. Don’t be afraid to call if you just need to talk. We’re still friends, after all.”

And with that, she’s back off to drown herself in the never ending pile of work.

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