Staying Grounded


elliot_icon.gif megan3_icon.gif wright_icon.gif

Scene Title Staying Grounded
Synopsis When Megan visits the Bastion, she's greeted by two faces she hasn't seen since before the war.
Date September 25, 2020

The Bastion

Wolfhound's headquarters is not necessarily someplace Megan Young hangs out much. But she's a reasonably familiar face to the ones who've come from Rochester. There aren't that many of them, but the redhead made enough trips up to see Huruma (at first) and later the elder Harkness that to find her dropping off a duffel for Scott isn't exactly unusual.

Although she doesn't look much different from the days on Bannerman, the years have left their mark on her. What used to be a vibrant coppery-red mass of hair with a startling pure white swathe in the front is mellowing to a softer strawberry blonde on its way to turning the white she'll have in old age. But it's still bouncy in a ponytail. The beat-up jeans and soft yellow top are a bit different from the black cargo pants, black T-shirts, and combat boots she used to favor, but the purposeful stride and the way she carries herself sure haven't changed.

She heads into the main receiving area, checking around briefly. She forgot to text and have someone meet her, so she's paused by the door fumbling for her phone from her back pocket to do that, muttering a foul word beneath her breath.

“You looking for a way onto the good floors?” a silhouette says from the far side of the room. Seated in a chair in the mercenary company’s bar and lounge “reception” area, Elliot leans forward into the beam of sunlight he’d been reserving for the pages of a book. “Security here’s okay, but I can show you a trick for some of the doors. Asi made me promise not to break in again, but that’s a loophole in and of itself since I really didn’t break anything coming in the first time.”

A brow quirks upward at the voice. Not someone she knows off the top of her head when he's speaking from a darker corner. "Nah, it's good. I make a point of not letting myself in," Megan replies with a brief grin. "Last thing I need is to get lost in here. I'll never hear the end of that shit."

Lowering the duffel she's got slung over her shoulder, she asks easily, "You seen Huruma or Harkness the Elder today?" She definitely knows some folks well if the mild snark and amusement is any indicator. If he seems somehow familiar, she doesn't say anything — she's seen a lot of faces over the years. And after Bannerman, she and Huruma and Ben Ryans took off to do their own thing.

"I haven't, but I actually haven't been upstairs yet today. Saw the light and couldn't resist a dramatically positioned read." He tucks the book into the center pocket of a gray pullover hoodie as he stands.

"And," he says apologetically, "I don't think we had much non-catatonic interaction back in the day, but I'm Elliot. Wright is on her way over from the basketball court we have here for some reason. She's working out in full armor so don't panic."

There's another pause as he considers waiting for Wright to appear, but says, "I never really got a chance to thank you for getting me through Bannerman's. I don't think I could have woken up if you hadn't pulled Wright out of that spiral."

He walks forward, attempting to make his presence feel like less of an ambush. Standing here now he looks like a different man than the one who was brought into the castle in an institute jumpsuit covered in somebody else's blood.

Now that's a name Megan remembers. Why she remembers it has more to do with the impression the young soldier made on the nurse by sticking by Elliot's side and her unusual name than any particular thing about Elliot himself. And her eyes go a bit wider at the realization of who the young man is. Her smile is a ready one as she dismisses calmly, "Just doing my job."

It was maybe nothing more than that, but Megan's reputation was of both being tough as nails while being damn good at her job and of having genuine care for her patients. "I'm just really glad we all got out of there." The evacuation was a nightmare. Literally. And one she tries not to think too hard about.

Elliot accepts the dismissal without digging in further, but nods in somber agreement. His perspective of the evacuation is fragmentary chaos, only Wright had to endure the dread of the prolonged siege. His dread laid in a nightmare loop inside his mind, trying and failing to reach out or wake up as war raged around him. Most of that nightmare is gone now, remembered mostly as themes and emotions restructured by years of recollection.

“Would you like me to let you upstairs, or to call someone down for you?” He points over his shoulder to a french press on a table in the lounge, “Or pour you a coffee while you wait? It’s not the toxic sludge they drink upstairs.”

Wright emerges as he offers the drink. She stands tall in the full suit of AEGIS armor she’s been exercising in, though she did have the presence of mind to return her rifle to the armory. She smiles when she sees Megan, and waves so as not to interrupt her response to Elliot.

"Hey now," Megan retorts on a laugh, "Army guys can't drink the shit unless the spoon stands up in it by itself, you know." She grins at Elliot and her eyes shift immediately to shoot Wright a grin of recognition as well. "I'm convinced Scott brews engine degreaser in that pot." She waves off the offer of going upstairs. "I can just leave it here, if one of you doesn't mind dropping it at Scott's quarters." She doesn't bother to explain that he left a few things at her place that she put through the laundry before dropping them back off. No point in wasting water that's already running, right?

"Been a long time," she greets Wright with a quick once-over. "I see nothing can keep you guys out of trouble for long." There's no snark in her tone, just simple acceptance. "You doing okay around here?" Because she knows they can't have been here too long. She'd have caught their names in passing from Lu or Hooms if they had been.

Elliot nods at the suggestion of taking the bag, but lets Wright talk. “This may come as a surprise to you but we have gotten into very little trouble in the past 5 years,” she says. “The majority of the energy we would have once devoted to full-time trouble-making had to be redirected to chasing the baby Ames around the house as she imperilled herself.” Elliot snickers but withholds comment.

“With Ames now being of school age, and Marthe—who was assisting with triage when we all got to Canada, I’m not sure if you’d remember her but we are married now—where was I, Marthe is also working as a school nurse so we have defaulted to our resting state of making trouble only very recently. But yes, thank you, so far they have welcomed us back very warmly.”

“Except for Avi,” Elliot adds.

“Yes,” Wright nods to him, “Thank you. Except for Avi, the monolith of hyper-masculine indifference.”

Meg nods along as they fill her in on their past five years. She'd heard some of their exploits in the war through the grapevine, but that's about it. That they've settled and there's a baby involved… well, hell! That lights up her features into a broad smile. "Congrats!" Marthe… Marthe… "I do remember her, a little," the redhead admits, "but I confess that shit was so damn stressful all the time, it's hard to put a face to the name."

She glances between them as Avi is mentioned and she looks more somber. "Don't take it as indifference," Megan advises quietly. "He's been through hell this year." Losing his daughter and dealing with all that Wolfhound has faced with losing Hana and various other things… to Megan, the surprise isn't that the man keeps his emotions behind indifference, it's that he hasn't imploded from caging them all up so hard. "I'm sure he's glad to have familiar faces that he knows he can trust."

They have the decency to look embarrassed. “That’s,” Elliot begins, rubbing his hand over the back of his neck, “Fair. Compensating for the boss’s stony-faced implacability with our own humor is a hard habit to break.”

Wright reaches toward Elliot with a give it to me motion. Elliot fishes his cellphone from his left pants pocket and spins it, with a curl of his fingers, across his palm to orient it toward her. Wright taps through his security and begins searching. Elliot says, “The company has certainly been through it this year. We do intend to live up to that trust.” The company of troops, not the business.

Wright now presents the phone to Megan, revealing a photograph of her and Marthe leaning over Ames’s shoulders. A wave of blonde and ginger hair. “My better half and our strange child,” she says.

Satisfied that they don't honestly believe that Epstein doesn't give a crap, Megan offers a sympathetic look at Elliot. "Yeah. The whole group of them could do with some serious therapy and R&R." She rolls her eyes and then watches the interchange with the phone. That easy grin shows back up at the sight of Wright, Marthe, and Ames. Now she remembers Marthe! "She's cute as a button," she says of Ames and then points. "That's Marthe, yeah? Shit, I think I might have seen her at the hospital and not even realized who I was looking at." Rubbing the back of her neck, she looks rather abashed. "Gonna have to buy the lady a cup of coffee — I heard her smacking down an idiot and wanted to applaud. But it always gets me in trouble when I do that shit," she grins.

“Yeah,” Wright beams, scrunching up her shoulders. “She traded me her field trauma know-how for my tussling skills and now she’s indestructible. I’m sure she’d appreciate the cup of coffee, fortunately for you she’s not as picky with coffee as we are.”

“It’s amazing how fast you get spoiled by the good stuff now that it’s back on the market,” Elliot adds. “I haven’t had to drink stale, oatmeal-thick dark roast campfire tube-sock coffee in an age.” Wright recoils.

“How’ve you been?” She pivots to Megan, “You’re at Elmhurst?”

Megan's laughing at the antics — and the coffee descriptors. "It won't matter how much good coffee is around. Scott will never drink frou-frou coffee," she chuckles. "I admit to being quite spoiled by Eleanor's place down in Red Hook. That woman has the inside track on coffee beans and chocolate powder — I don't know how she gets it and I don't want to know, she's my hero."

To Wright, she nods and then waffles her hand back and forth. "Yes and no, now. Huruma finally convinced me to partially retire, so I'm only part-time now. I've been manning the ER there since…" She stops to think. "Hell, I don't know. The end of the war." Funnily enough, Marthe has probably had a couple of tales to tell that in retrospect pretty much fit the old grapevine about this woman — tough as nails with a sailor's mouth, but one of the best nurses around. "Seemed like coming back was the thing to do. Besides… kept me close enough to Huruma to keep an eye on her." She smiles. Her roommate is her best friend, and in the years since Bannerman it's grown stronger.

Elliot and Wright share a conspiratorial glare in good humor. "Yes," Elliot says, "She knows too much. We also keep an eye on her." Wright chuckles.

"And honestly," she says, "Retirement was amazing. I can't wait to get back to it someday. After I've saved up enough to buy a Ventus." Elliot chuckles.

"You could almost certainly lease one," he says, "You have excellent credit. You're welcome."

Wright swats away his help. To Megan she says, "I'm glad you're getting away from the grind."

"I feel a bit like a quitter admitting it, but… it's not bad." Megan shrugs slightly. She shifts, crossing her arms in an unconsciously defensive fashion. "I wish I thought it would last," she finally admits. "There are too many things that I'm seeing starting up again to make me very comfortable. Might want to keep your ear to the ground around here. Fucking Pure Earth isn't anything but Humanis First with a new name." And truth to tell, the very fact that they exist scares Megan Young in a way that it never did back in the day.

Wright nods. “We had been thinking about getting back into it for a while. Despite the new sense of normalcy as utilities solidify around the Zone, it feels like I’m always listening for the high-atmosphere reentry whistle of the next shoe drop.”

“But here we are,” Elliot says, gesturing about the Bastion. “Easier to respond to hypothetical Pure Earth horseshit with military credentials.”

“And training,” Wright delivers the critique with a hard poke in Elliot’s arm. “You should be exercising with me.”

“But I get to experience the torture you put yourself through from the safety of a soft chair,” Elliot responds, gesturing toward the dramatically illuminated reading nook he’s abandoned, “In this soft hoodie. While drinking Eleanor’s suspiciously excellent coffee. You know I do my best learning in the background while I focus on something unrelated.”

Megan's smirk holds amusement. She clearly doesn't believe Elliot's prattle. Troubled blue eyes shift back toward Wright and she has to nod at the way the other woman feels. It's kind of how she's been feeling this year, and the activities of longtime friends like Benjamin Ryans have made it clear, at least to her, that they'll need to keep a weather eye on the sky.

It's almost funny, except that she gets a horrified look on her face when it happens — Megan's uneasiness translates very suddenly to her arms flying out to her sides as if she's trying to balance. And then it becomes clear as to why as her body pitches forward in rotation. "Oh shit," she groans.

Both Elliot and Rue lurch forward a bit as Megan begins to tip over, trying to figure out whether or not she’s actually falling. “Ahhh are you okay?” Wright asks, “Do you require assistance?” Neither reach out to grab her unless they’re sure she’s falling over, which they are not. They do offer their hands for her to take to steady herself.

“Perhaps some ballast?” Elliot asks.

No, she's not faking… she proceeds to float. "Fuck." The epithet is succinct and very annoyed. She latches onto the proffered hands — tightly enough to betray and she's kind of terrified, and swallows hard. Megan is one of the people who never loses her cool…. except when she does. So she looks calm even though she's not.

"Just… just don't let go," the redhead instructs through teeth clenched to stave off vertigo. "I think I can get back down, but it might take a moment. And I'd really fucking like not to be found bobbing along the ceiling like Uncle Albert again." If they aren't familiar with the Mary Poppins reference, they didn't spend enough time around small children. Some of the oldest movies seem to be the ones that survived the war the best. Maybe because they're pure heartwarming fantasy.

“Is that a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory reference?” Elliot asks. His face is serious but Wright’s snickering implies otherwise. “Or is it that Christmas movie where the outcast elf gives magic reindeer dust to John Lithgow so he can mass-produce lollipops that make people float?” They hold their positions unflinchingly, allowing Megan to reposition herself with their leverage.

Rolling her eyes at them both, Megan's chuckle is a little strained. But she pulls in a breath and lets it out slowly. Yoga is good for a lot of things, including visualizing yourself grounded. It takes a minute or so, which seems like forever to her in this state, but her feet finally drop to the floor again.

Only when she's sure she's firmly rooted there does she loosen her grip on the two soldiers. "Dammit. I was doing so good, too," she mutters in annoyance. "I went two whole days without doing that!" Now Megan's going to worry about flying away all the way home again. Shit.

"You know, I don't know who fucked up the world and handed out new powers, but I think it was a really bad idea! Nobody, of course, asked me."

“Okay,” Wright says, “That is new. I missed the ability lottery again, apparently.” As Megan gains confidence in her footing the two step back but remain alert.

“The whole ‘free abilities’ thing was,” Elliot says, “Disconcerting. Though flight is a classic. Are you working with anyone to learn the ropes? I can probably wrangle up a grappling hook from the armory if you’re worried about open spaces.”

"Smart asses," Megan grumbles as she settles to her feet. "You'll fit right in."

She grimaces and nods. "Huruma hooked me up with a gravity manipulator who is helping. Mostly it seems … to be a matter of remembering to feel my feet on the ground. If I get annoyed at something or want to be someplace, I just kind of lift off. Also sometimes when I'm sleeping." She rolls her eyes. "I'm too old for this shit," she opines. "I should be able to make it home." She'll just have to text Huruma and have her bring dinner home! That thought perks her up. "Since you guys are dropping that by Scott's place, it's all I really needed to do outside today."

She may be nervous enough that she doesn't want to take chances — straight home! "It's… really nice to see both of you again," she adds with a thoughtful look. A lot of people sure seem to be turning back up in town and in roles that… well, she's going to just leave that thought alone for now.

"That's exactly what Asi said when we showed up for picture day!" Elliot says, glowing. "I feel like people really get us here. You want me to walk you to your car just in case?" he asks. "Wright can take the bag upstairs, she's not allowed outside in the tusslin' duds."

"Nah," Wright taps him on the back, "You can do both, I believe in you." Elliot looks wounded. To Megan she smiles and says, "It's good to see you too! Wait, did you drive here? Do you need a ride home?”

"I drove," Megan acknowledges. She broke down and bought a small vehicle when she started making the run back and forth to Rochester a bit more frequently a year or so ago. "Company out to the car is appreciated, though. I've managed so far when I've slipped up to not go hurtling away or anything but…" Mostly, she just doesn't go out without a companion.

Her smile has eased completely again as they banter and she shakes her head. Elliot, she's sure, will find himself doing both. "I'm sure I'll be running into you both here and there, and I look forward to getting reacquainted with Marthe and meeting Ames." Megan waits to put her hand on Elliot's arm until they're done with farewells.

But she definitely holds on.

“I’ll see what I can arrange!” Wright gives a final wave before returning to her exercise, though she does lift the duffle and place it around a corner, out of sight.

Elliot pulls up his hood and gestures to Megan that he will accompany her to her vehicle. He stuffs his hands into the center pocket of his hoodie, but leaves his elbow to the side to serve as a handhold. As they leave he allows her to set the pace, used to accidentally outpacing most people he walks with. After they exit the building, Elliot looks around. “Where are we headed?”

"Not far," Megan replies easily. She doesn't have a hard grip on him, just enough to reassure herself that she won't float off. "I parked just at the end of the block." She tips her head and looks at him. "You seem glad to be back here."

“I am," he answers. "Honestly I've been waiting for the call for a while now. Seeing a lot of patterns about to repeat and I want to nip them in the bud."

As Megan leads him to the car he pauses before adding, "Also Avi dropped by my house and showed me a document that's fucking worrisome. From the Praxis hack." There's another pause as he considers. "It directly references the shit I went through in the Ark, before my post-escape catatonia. I thought all the research was destroyed in the raid, but apparently they got a hold of it. Or at least knew about it well enough to compare it to a failed project of their own."

"If they try to black bag me they're going to have to pry me out of Wolfhound to do it. I've kept a low profile and didn't testify in the hearings. Maybe they think I'm dead. So much chaos back then." If he looks worried it’s the subtle, slow-burn feeling of sustained dread.

Actually, for him to come back to Wolfhound seems a very smart move. Megan nods slightly. "All any of us can do is keep our eyes and ears open, same as always." In some ways, the redhead is grateful to hear someone else voice the same low level of apprehension that herself feels.

"If anything comes up, they've got your back," she assures Elliot. She has a faith in the people running Wolfhound right now built on bedrock — there is no shaking it. "And if you need me, well…" she grins. "My medical skills are still in use, so you know where to find off the books help if you need it."

She pats his arm as they arrive at her vehicle and as she goes to get in, she pauses in the open door. "I hope you never do."

Elliot barks out a laugh as he keeps an eye on traffic. “Yeah, me too. Take care of yourself,” he says with a light slap on the roof of the car as she settles in, “Stay grounded.”

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