Tempora Firma


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Scene Title Tempora Firma
Synopsis Walter visits Jolene at the WSZR building.
Date April 15, 2021


"Hellooooooo…" A small voice comes filtering through the front doors of the WSZR building. "Anybody hooome?" The drawn out tiny crowing comes from a fiery-headed boy shouldering in and away from the outside air.

Walter makes his way across to a set of metal stairs, briefly squinting up the angle of them before ascending and shedding both his jacket and backpack into oblivion onto the floor against the wall, fussing with the patterned gaiter on his neck.

"Mum said I could come wait here 'til she finishes at work!" One more crowing, loud enough for a kid to assume that every adult in the vicinity can hear it. The next bit Walter just mumbles to himself, something about doing homework if people aren't here. He would rather not, if possible. The radio station is a good time, and he's even been learning how to work the equipment now that he can reach most of it no problemo.

Lance said maybe he could even do a show someday. But first, navigating.

WSZR Building
Jackson Heights

April 15th

Walter hears a clomping of footsteps coming from the recording booth and shortly thereafter sees Jolene poke her head around the corner with a bright smile growing as she does. “Hey Walter!” She exclaims, closing the distance between them with a skip in her step and a scuff of her heels on the hardwood floor.

“Surprised to see you here all by yourself,” she remarks with a smile large enough that Walter can hear it in her voice. “You’re growing up faster than I can keep up with.” She says with a slow, thoughtful shake of her head and a gentle laugh. “You wanna come help me pick out the songs we’ll play in the overnight loop?”

"Yesss!" is rather immediate, Walter's brows raise and fall in silent processing. "Matt had a report he hadn't finished. And I'm totally responsible. And I'm street smart anyway." Said like a wee man.

"But. Uh. I guess she did think someone would be here." There is only a small wince. Responsible enough to find his own babysitter. Truth be told, Deliah probably just knows Lene's routine. He doesn't consider this, clearly.

“Next thing you know you’ll be getting lost in t—” Lene catches herself, smile turning into an inscrutable, puffy-cheeked grimace, “ta—talking about girls!

Good save.

Anyway!” Lene shouts as she storms off for the broadcast booth. “Let’s uh—okay, I have a huge stack of records I haven’t even gone through yet. Robyn picked up a bunch from Mr. Logan’s place a few weeks ago and dumped them off here.” She motions to a stack of milk crates full of old records in no particular order.

“Pull up a stool and help me find something good.” Lene says as she sits down on her own, letting Walter take the lead, just like she always did.

The squint Jolene gets at her 'save' is familiar. She gets it a lot. Some days more than others. Walter shrugs to himself when she scuttles away, a shake of his head as he follows at less of a rush.

"Ooh." Walter gravitates to a stool immediately, tugging it over. He brushes hair from his forehead before pulling a crate to his feet and perching on the stool. Both hands slide a small stack out, the smell of dust and old wax paper wafting about. "Oh my god look at this guy's moustache what the heck- -" It's a very, very 70s 'stache.

"We have this one at home." Stacheman set aside, Walter slides another up and spins it in his hands to show Jolene. Joni Mitchell's Blue.

“Wow,” is all Lene can whisper. “That’s… really weird. You used to—” Catching herself, Lene closes her eyes and looks away, fidgeting with something on the desk before turning around with a bright smile to take the record. “Let’s get that one playing!” She says with enough cheer to hide her sadness.

At the pair of turntables, Lene sets the Jonie Mitchell album down, then sets the arm at the start of the record. Her attention turns to the signal switchboard, and she toggles a few switches to change the broadcast from a WRAY Repeater to the live station. Lene then takes the desk microphone and slides it over to herself while settling down in her seat.

“Good evening, Safe Zone.” Lene says in a smooth, quiet voice. “Thank you for tuning in as we wrap up our repeater hours for WRAY out in Manhattan, Kansas. Tonight your live with…” she hesitates, smiling, then glances over at Walter. “Lene and the Fox.”

“C’mon over to the mic, Fox,” Lene says, waving Walter over, “say hi to the listeners.”

Sensitivity to the shifts in others has always been something he's had; Jolene doesn't escape a small pause of study, in that vein. Oh well. Whatever it was is gone anyway. She finds her settings while Walter pulls up close as he can without being in her space, watching the process intently.

Jolene summons him to speak and for a spell he freezes- - what do foxes even say? The redheaded boy blinks the odd thought away before leaning in.

"Hello, Safe Zone!" Walter knows better than to shout into it, so at least he's ahead of that curve. "I've never been live before. So… Hey! am I doing this right?"

Jolene flutters with laughter and nods, though at the same time she swallows back a knot of emotion and diverts her attention to the record player. “Tell them what they’re going to be listening to,” she says quietly, standing at the ready to start playing.

“And say something that’ll make them feel… happy.” Lene adds with a wrinkle of her nose. “Something from here.” She says, tapping two fingers at the center of her chest.

"You make this look real easy, you know." Walter mock-scolds Jolene as he adjusts his seat, one leg tucked under himself and the other shoe tapping against floor. Feel happy? Hm.

"We have a whole case of music we haven't even gone through yet, but I picked this one out just for you." His voice is tinted with boyish laughter as he leans up onto the console, eyebrows arching up to hide under his hair. "Think spring, right? I can't wait either. This is Joni Mitchell, with Little Green. So, uh, chill out and stay primal, Safe Zone?"

He's pretty on the dot until his last words end in the cant of a question rather than an exclamation. Is that good? Was that alright? Praise now, please.

Jolene’s smile is as wide as it is bright, her eyes tinged with a hint of tears.

"And you're sure this is what you want to do?"

Leaning against the wall, Lene crosses her arms defensively, looking away when the discussion goes toward all the reasons not to go back into the past. At the candid question, she takes a breath, then nods.

"We can't really make it any worse, do you think?" she says, uncharacteristically solemnly, calmly. "We can try to stop people from doing the things that get us to this point. We're armed with knowledge they don't have, and we have ways to show them what things are like now. It has to work."

Quinn watches Jolene for a few silent moments, a quiet look of assessment sitting across her face, arms still crossed as she watches the young girl. It takes a moment, but her smile returns in a more full manner, and her arms uncross as she starts over Jolene, soft footfalls resuming their echoing down the long corridor. She remains quiet until she reaches Jolene, again moving to place a hand on her adopted daughter's shoulder.

"You're a grown woman now, Jolene," might sound like the beginning of something from a Very Special Episode of some rubbish 90s television show, but that doesn't deter Quinn. "I know what Ygraine told you." Taking a deep breath, she exhales slowly., eyes closing again. "Whatever you do, I want you to know that I love and support you. But whatever it is you do, I want you to make sure it's what you think is for the best. Alright?"

Green eyes drop as they fill with tears, and Lene nods, just two small bobs of her head to show she heard. She swallows audibly, then looks up again. "Thank you," is whispered, before she pushes from the wall to wrap lanky arms around the shorter woman. "I won't tell her you told me that, if you won't," she adds, a little conspiratorially, small smile curving her lips upward.

Knocking her forehead against Quinn's, she then straightens. "If the council approves the idea, I'm going to go… I love you guys to death, and I appreciate everything you've ever done for me, but I can't stay here if they go, even if it means…”

“…even if it's hard."

Lene swallows audibly, wiping a thumb at the corner of one of her eyes when Walter isn’t looking. “You’ve got a future in radio, kid.” She says with a tightness to her voice. “So, ah… what else do you wanna’ do while you’re here?” She asks, trying to push memories of the future-come-past to the back of her mind.

None the wiser, Walter perches back on his foot on the seat, watching the vinyl spin as the needle drops, smiling thin to himself and looking up to Jolene past his shoulder. The music plays tinnily in the pads of headphones that Walter's hung on his neck. Her question earns a small delay, the boy seemingly considering his options.

"Could look through some more albums I guess?" He chooses tentatively, though something else does seem to cross his mind.

"…..I'll tell you a secret if you have a snack." Blue eyes narrow in the way only a child can manage. 100% a mischief face. Let's make a deal.
Lene’s tentative smile mirrors Walter’s mischief, tempered by uncertainty as to what might constitute a secret to him. Stepping away from the console, Lene glances at Walter, then curls one finger and steps out of the recording room.

“Lance installed a mini-fridge,” Lene explains as she steps out of the room, “you can have some of his snacks, because Lance is generous like that.” Maybe, but also she just wants to prank him a little bit.

“Is this secret dependent on the quality of the snacks?” Lene asks over her shoulder.

"Maaaybe." Walter answers, sliding off of the captain's chair to scuffle after Jolene. Lance usually has good taste. Joe just eats tubs of peanut butter, by comparison. "Ah, I know he won't mind, it's Lance." Good call, now where's the goods?

“You’re good at this whole bargaining thing,” Lene says with a crooked smile, “no secrets before you get The Goods.” She laughs softly, continuing out of the recording booth and across the spacious warehouse floor over to a makeshift kitchen.

“Lance has had Joe out here installing counter space, hooking up the sink, getting this place a little more homey than Pines used to have it.” She says with a fond, if somewhat bittersweet smile. But that’s when she comes up to a rather nondescript black mini fridge. Pulling it open, Lene says, “You get one snack. Or your mom’ll kill me.”

Inside, there’s a closed box of donuts from Rings of Juniper.

"I miss him." Is all that Walter adds to Jolene's somewhat sad mention of Pines. Instead of dwelling, however, he is introduced to the box of donuts- - and mischief crosses his face. "One? Come on," Still, the boy crouches down to take the box out and set it atop the fridge before opening it. They are as lovely as he was hoping. Juniper always has the best stuff.

Swiping a donut, his first course of action is to hop out of the way with it, leaving the box for Lene if she wants one; he already has his teeth in it, of course.

And yet, somehow he has one in each hand when she looks up again. Both have bites out. No take backs.

Lene narrows her eyes, then points at Walter and a nimbus of violet light swirls around her hand and fingers while the same colored light briefly dances in her pupils. “Stay put,” she says with a crooked smile. It’s strange, but whatever motion it is that Lene did makes Walter feel heavier, as if a pair of hands were resting on his shoulders.

“Now, spill your secrets,” she says, sauntering over to the box of donuts to take a pink-frosted donut for herself, “or I’m gonna make you do your homework or something.” Her tone implies a hint of uncertainty; Homework is still a thing, right?

Mouth full of bread and frosting, Walter's eyes just pop open when Jolene points at him- - with purple magic.

Which just means that it's purple, not that it has a classification. His brows crease deeply in echo of both parents, with their intense furrows and knits; the weight on him feels… odd, but somehow he doesn't feel… unsafe? That's an equally odd sensation, and not knowing why is even more.

Stay put sticks where it should, and Walter Trafford remains in place, chewing his way through a possible mistake and swallowing the evidence. It takes a little while. Because he's obviously stalling and hoping it makes him look not worried at all.

"Joke's on you, I do my homework anyway." Walter. "So, uh, like, I've kinda got. A power. Too. Now." The temptation to fill his mouth again is clear on his face and the slow rise of donut- - no, no, it's just Jolene, it's just a secret. She'll keep a secret.

"Mum has a guy teaching me how to get from place to place. I'm getting really fast at the small ones…" Hence, stealing an extra, quite a piece of… cake… donut. "I can get a puck in a goal past him now. Cool, right?"

Please say yes.

Please don't tell Mum.

Jolene’s eyes turn glassy as she brings a hand to her mouth. Blinking away the tears, she looks down to the box of donuts, trying to find words but only hoarse squeaks come out. She fans a hand at her face, followed by a bout of nearly hysterical laughter broken up into fits and starts.

“Oh, Gosh,” Jolene finally manages to say, “an—an ability?” She titters, cupping her cheek with one hand and forgetting about the donuts entirely. “You—so you—you manifested?” She asks, but then suddenly a far more pressing question comes to mind.

Who is teaching you?” Lene asks with a quaver in her voice.

He knows there's something wrong about this, but what? There's a turn in his stomach at seeing Jolene clearly torn, but …Walter knows it wasn't him, and whatever it is, he suddenly feels the need to put a defense between the two and keep Jolene from worrying.

"I uh… yeah. Yeah." The boy is noticeably less smug about this answer, this time. "I mean it wasn't like, all of a sudden…" Perhaps a little bit of guilt; maybe he shouldn't have said anything after all. Maybe it was better when his Mom did the telling.

But he just… really, really wanted her to- -

"Hn?" To whatever plane his mind had wandered to, Walter's focus comes hopping back to the now. "Oh, his name's Amanvir. He had a teleporting power once so he helps me learn. Mostly we just practice with games and things." There is a pause, a bit heavier, and as if sensing a shift, Walter wets his lips and adds, "Mum hired him, but I think he just likes us now."

So Jolene knows it isn't just him doing this. Delilah wields the oversight there.

“Amanvir,” Lene says quietly. “Amanvir,” she repeats. She shuts her eyes, takes a calming breath, and then exhales an emotional flutter of laughter and wipes at her eyes. When she looks back at Walter, Jolene’s expression shifts into a bittersweet thing tinged with emotion.

“M’sorry,” Lene murmurs, “I just—get really emotional thinking about stuff sometimes. The past.” She says with as honest a smile as she can. “Your mum,” she says with a wrinkle of her nose, “I think she knew what kind of power you were going to manifest. A few of us had a suspicion.” She says, carefully choosing her words.

“I had a friend, a long time ago, who had the same power as you.” Lene says with a quaver in her voice. “He was like a brother. Like family.” She swallows down a lump in her throat. “Like you are.”

Though part of him isn't feeling so peckish anymore, Walter still nibbles nervously on the donut in his hand, brows met on his forehead as he considers the expression Jolene is giving him. He's not sure what to think just yet, quiet as she talks, one sneaker worrying at the floor.

"Oh." Despite not knowing what to do, Walter knows what the past tense means in such a context. Had. Was. Jolene's efforts to keep her emotions back unwittingly cause a shift in the boy's own. As if he might start down that road too. Somehow. The freckled face mirrors her discomforts briefly.

"Yeah, Mum knew I'd had accidents before… but I thought it was dreams. Then one day I passed out at school and- -" It's a little hazy from there, and he frowns silently, unfinished. The words are suddenly way too heavy for his mouth, and barely make it out.

"Sorry about your friend…" Why does it feel so uncomfortable in here all of a sudden? A small wince moves over Walter's face, eyes squinted as if facing a sudden light. Even in anyone else, it's a fair enough signifier that a headache is brewing, or has taken up. "Um. I think- - I think I need to sit down, Chicken."


Jolene’s throat tightens at the nickname. For a moment an ache hammers in the center of her chest and sets her stomach upside down. “Eve’s uh, nicknames sure do get around, huh?” Is her shaky, not-quite-hollow response.

Lene looks around and grabs the back of a nearby folding chair, dragging it over beside Walter. “Here, yeah uh, sit down. You mom would box my ears in if I let you fall on your head or something—how about another donut!” Suddenly, Lene is backpedaling through the conversation, worried about what Delilah has and hasn’t told him.

“H-how uh,” Jolene takes a donut out of the box, holding it out to Walter, “how much exactly does your mum know?”

He hasn't finished the second, but as he sits he robotically takes the one Jolene gives him. Getting spoiled for a headache, as far as he's concerned.

"What about Ms. Eve?" Walter's focus wavers a little from Jolene, catching up on the inside before the out; he sinks some into the folding chair, expression apologetic for his apparent wooziness. He didn't want to worry anyone, much less Lene. He definitely doesn't want to hit his head on something, for that matter. Again.

"What do you mean? She knows a lot of stuff." Walter squints. "I know she doesn't tell me stuff but…" A torn expression moves over him. On one hand, yes, probably good to have secrets. On the other, she doesn't trust him? Is that what that means? No, but he's a sprout.

“Nevermind,” Lene says with a mild grimace and a subtle dismissive wave of one hand. “It’s—I’m just being silly. It’ll all be fine, really.” Forcing a smile, Lene settles up against the wall beside Walter.

Silence hangs for a moment between them, and Lene looks back in the direction of the recording room. “You want to build a playlist for what comes after that last song you played?” She asks, trying to change the subject.

One hand moves up to rub his head through his hair, as if the massage of fingers might dispel the pinging of headache. Walter looks to Jolene for an answer that doesn't come, to a question he can't place.

"Uh, sure, yeah. That'd be nice. We can look through more of those albums?" Maybe he can make her excited instead of nervous? Walter takes a moment to gauge himself before standing up, one hand on the chair. "I think I'm okay… it's like when you stand on a really tall building and you go awoooouuuh." Walter mimes what could pass as vertigo with his free hand. "And I guess sometimes it feels like jumping off too."

Lene’s smile falters, just a touch, before she erupts with nervous laughter. “Yeah, well…” she starts to say, biting down on her lower lip as she starts to walk backwards, leading Walter toward the recording room, “maybe don’t do that just for now?” She says with an awkward smile. “Maybe, just for the time being…”

Lene laughs, again. Her stomach turns.

“…keep both your feet firmly planted on the ground.”

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