The Benefit Of Doubt


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Scene Title The Benefit of Doubt
Synopsis A moment's respite brings questions and clarity of trust.
Date February 27, 2020

Somewhere en route to Michigan

For the first half-hour since the attack ended, Gillian stayed her distance, resting her eyes and settling her own nerves. She felt like her body would never quite settle down from the immediate terror, but at least it had ended and they hadn’t come under attack again yet. She knew Niki was at the guns, watching out for them, and she also knew she might have enough energy to throw at the young woman who saved all of their lives if she needed to. She had regained enough she thought she could do it again.

But every so often she would look over to where Jac had gone to sit, and finally, she unstraps herself and moves over to drop down into the seat next to her. Just in case, she straps back in again.

With the way this trip had gone, they didn’t know what was going to happen still.

For a moment she lets the silence between them linger before she looks over and offers a hand to the young woman. “Are you doing okay?”

She just was in her first real fight with these abilities. And her father, one of him, had died. Just flesh he had said, but— flesh was flesh. And there was one less of him now.

Since claiming her seat, Jac hasn't moved or said a word. Her attention has been kept on the world outside the window, although it's still almost too dark to make out anything more than just globulous shadows. Mountains and hills all look pretty much the same, just a different shade of dark than the sky. And for all her withdrawn posture, it's probably just a facade for those who don't really know her.

Blue eyes likely appear distant and aloof, not unlike years ago when she was an orphan surviving on the streets. But Gillian might recognize the weight of worry, loss, and anticipation.

Another moment passes after Gillian speaks before Jac looks up at her. Physically, the girl is fine. No cuts or bruises externally or in. But she leans over, instead of taking the proffered hand, and lays her head on her mom’s shoulder.

“We could only stop two.” She takes full responsibility for the third making it to the aircraft they're in; for putting her mom and sister in danger, for losing her dad — one of him anyway, and just because there are more copies she doesn't believe they're expendable. Jac’s arms tighten around her middle and draw the sword more protectively against her. “I'm sorry I didn't stop the third one.”

“We managed,” Gillian responds with a micro-shake of her head, before leaning it against the girl’s hair. They had— mostly. Adam not so much, but with Ivy and her they had managed to make sure that was the only casualty. “You did what you thought you needed to do.” That was what mattered it would seem, at least to her. She wasn’t angry at her really— she had vented her anger at Adam because he was at fault for not planning for that eventuality. “You shouldn’t have had to fight them, but you did good.”

The hand touches the girl’s leg as it falls, and stays there. She really wasn’t mad. “They all managed to bail out, and that’s a good thing.” That they probably survived. That they only destroyed property, not people.

It was something. But this was also what she had been afraid of, really. “This much shouldn’t have been put on your shoulders.”

They shouldn't have had to manage. They should have been safe. They would have, if Jac had managed to go after the third jet. Or if she had even thought an attack like that were a possibility, then she might have argued that Gillian and Jolene… not go? As much as she wants them fighting alongside her, the teen holds a deep fear — half realized now — that having them with her might be a costly distraction.

None of these thoughts are spoken on. The girl keeps them to herself, because airing her fears now definitely won't be good for anyone. “I can handle it.” It is a lot, but Adam never lied to her that it wouldn't be. Her dad was also telling the truth when he'd called her a survivor.

“If it's not on me, then who?” That seems a fair question as Jac gives it words, one that's honestly seeking an answer. The others, in her interactions with them over the months and their reactions today when things took an unexpected turn, give her doubts that any of them would have stepped up. And now the teen isn't even sure she can trust them when the real battle begins.

“The ships have weapons. We should have relied on them first, rather than sending you out into a battle you weren’t even trained for.” Gillian responds easily, because she understands the planes had to be taken down, she knows that. “And Adam should have warned us we were flying close to American Airspace and we could have been prepared for the retaliation before it happened. His secrecy almost got us killed.” It wasn’t Jac missing out of the third plane to GIllian, it was Adam’s fault. He supposedly had a plan, but his only plan for taking down a defensive measure from the US Government was to send his woman and his youngest daughter out to fight?

That is what she was pissed off about.

“He acts like he has everything under control, but it’s obvious that he doesn’t. He threw you into a fight you shouldn’t have needed to be a part of.”

There’s a pause before she says, “But because you threw yourself into it, those men were able to eject. They might not have been able to if Niki had shot them all down. Or whoever would be manning the guns on the other ships. So I’m proud of you for that.”

Instead of arguing or pressing for answers that probably don't exist, the teen nods. There's a reserved acceptance in the motion. She did what she did, because it had to be done. Because no one else was doing anything. She understood the desire and need for secrecy, that not all plans could be thought up and made ready for all situations. And Jac also understood why her mom was upset about it all, about her disappearing and putting herself into potentially dangerous situations when there might not have been a need.

“Can you promise me something?” Since she's refusing to argue about what she should and shouldn't have to do, the girl changes the subject. She lifts her head from her mom’s shoulder, looks at her for a long minute before continuing.

“Can you keep yourself and Jolene safe? Don't… don't put yourself at more risk?” Jac’s eyebrows knit slightly. “And help Adam and Joy? Trust them?” Less concerned with her own safety, albeit not to the point of abject recklessness with her abilities, she needs to know her family will be safe.

“Both me and Jolene have fought in wars before, Jac. We won’t take any unnecessary risks. We want to stop this thing too,” Gillian might have doubts about Adam’s plans and methods, but she knew that the Entity was a real thing that had done horrible things and might do more. It was a foe to fight as much as Arthur had ever been, possibly even more. That man had been powerful— and this fight would also be rough. She hoped that her and Lene could give the girl an edge to stop it.

Because she knew multiple abilities and special swords were not necessarily going to do the job.

“Joy saved my life,” she adds truthfully. If the woman hadn’t been there in the Ark, she wasn’t sure she would still be here. Nathalie might have done the deed, but it may not have happened without Joy there.


“I still am not sure I trust Adam. Men in power don’t always have the best intentions in their hearts.” And she had seen parents betray their children too often. “And I don’t trust secrets.” And that is what the man seemed to be all about. “But I will do what we’re supposed to. I’m just concerned about what else he might be doing besides taking down this creature.”

And she won’t stop being concerned about it, either.

“I know you have.” Jac has heard stories from a lot of others, seen the effects it’d had on her sister, spent time wondering how it was affecting her mom. She'd read the books and transcripts from the trials, even lived herself as a scavenger during the years of civil war. “But still. I just…”

Sighing, the teen leaves whatever else unsaid. She looks aside as Gillian airs her own worries and concerns. She knows they're not without merit, but she's also seen first hand the cost of even wrongly perceived betrayal. But she hadn't let it rattle her loyalty.

“Secrets only work when just two people know,” she says quietly. Jac closes her eyes, opens them, then angles a look at her mom. “I trust him. I don't know half of what he has planned, but I trust him. I believe him.”

“I know you do,” Gillian says with a sigh, looking down at the girl and looking— well— sad. Because that was something she couldn’t promise. It was hard to trust people when they hadn’t given her any reason to trust them. He made her feel like she was constantly under watch in the Ziggurat to the point she didn’t dare have certain conversations there. She also knew that he was willing to weaponize a young lady— if Squeaks hadn’t come to him, would she have been kidnapped? She didn’t know. But she still didn’t trust it.

“Secrets also get people killed.” She knows. She’s seen it. Back in the safe zone, though she had offered her services as an augmentor for payment, she always required disclosure on what they were attempting to do. It didn’t always work out well. She’d been used for her ability so many times. It had led to many people dying, and she had borne the blame for all of it for too long.

“But,” she says after a moment, before she rests a hand on the girl’s hair. “I’ll try to give him the benefit of the doubt.”

He could not be planning anything horrible. But she had someone else she trusted far too much telling her that he did.

For a long moment, Jac studies Gillian's face, searches her mom's eyes. The reluctance to trust isn't foreign, but she'd hoped to bridge the gap, at least somewhat. It's hard to tell how successful it's been; nearly impossible with her friends in the Safe Zone — they mean well, but they didn't seem to want to listen. Here and now with her mom there's a thread-thin hope that, just maybe, she's found an ally.

With a heavy sigh, the teen looks away. Her eyes fall briefly onto the Kensei sword, drawn by the dull gleam of the helix design. She blinks slowly, eyes raising next to watch the unending darkness outside. The weight of the world shifts, and her body adjusts with it. She doesn't completely relax but tension eases somewhat. Her head returns to Gillian's shoulder.

"Just try," Jac affirms. Trying is all she can ask for.

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