The Hierphant or The Emperor


edgar_icon.gif lydia_icon.gif

Scene Title The Hierphant or The Emperor
Synopsis There are some things a pretty lady should never have to deal with, this is but one of them.
Date September 28, 2010

The Angry Pelican

A stone's throw away from the little makeshift harbor on the foreshore of the Arthur Kill river is this little even more makeshift bar. Little more than a shack, the interior barely fits more than its own stock of alcohol and kitchenware, and the seating spaces are outdoors under a rickety wooden cover decorated with fishing paraphernalia and nets. The chairs and tables are broken down cheap things that look like they've been scavenged from all over the place, mismatched but comfortable with some cushions or blankets thrown over them. The ground is sandy and dirty, as if the beach extends right under your feet, and despite being outdoors, the place is cluttered. Simple alcohol is provided - whiskeys, rums, and beers - without a chance of food, and you'll mostly find yourself in the company of thieves, considering the kinds of boats that dock here.

Rap Rap Rap

She shouldn’t be here. In a lot of ways, she doesn’t belong here. But here she is. There’s a small rap on the door of the Little Green House on Staten Island. The red halter and brown ruffled skirt are undeniably Lydia, attractors she’d become accustomed to in her life in the carnival. She does one thing to blend a little more — her favourite shawl in its red and orange ties tightly around her shoulders, concealing the ink and her form underneath it.

Rap Rap Rap

She raps at the door again. Thanks to her own growing discontent, her skin is paled and her eyes are encircled by dark lines. She didn’t sleep well last night. And with the headache she has this morning, there’s a slight narrowing of her eyes, tired, yet under moderate duress.
A vague glance is give over her shoulder to the street. It’s not safe for her here. Nothing about her appears fierce, especially in this rather discontented state. In fact, she seems unusually vulnerable; far more than usual. One last time her fist rises to the door to rap upon it in three quick successive knocks.

Rap Rap Rap

Edgar was up foraging for food. Melissa had been keeping the cupboards fairly stocked but with the addition of a teenage boy, there might not be enough food for both men of the house. He hasn’t seen hide nor hair of the other two that are supposed to be living there. When the knock on thee door rouses him from his stupor of thought, he simply glances toward the door. At the second series, he’s already zipped there and is peeking through one of the windows.


Without tossing a coat on, he opens the door and lets himself out to greet her. It’s not exactly polite the way he doesn’t invite her in, but it’s not his house. “Lydia, wha’ are you doin’ ‘ere? It’s too dangerous for you to be on Sta’en Island.” He places a hand on the small of her back and guides her down the walkway, “Le’s walk some’ere a bi’ more.. uhm…” He’d say pleasant, but there really isn’t a good place except for the Pelican, it’s doubtful that it’s open right now.

When the door is opened, Lydia shoots him a tight-lipped smile that eases the longer it crosses her features. “Hi,” it’s a single whispered word, uttered quietly in a near croak at the back of her throat. Too many hours thinking and not enough actually sleeping.

She’s easy enough to guide, amicable in his direction on the small of her back, even if her expression reads considerably different in comparison. “I — “ whether she’s meaning to explain herself, the situation, or something else, she struggles to get it out while her eyes droop downwards slightly. “I need to talk to you,” the statement hangs heavily in the air. One of those blunt to-the-point statements people drop when searching for the right words to speak. Her cheeks flush a pale pink at the statement before she’s shaking her head, nearly retracting the heaviness of the words. “…maybe…” she tacks on a little warily to the end. Like somehow her need isn’t quite understood even within her own mind.

“Wha’s wrong Lydia?” There’s a worried quality to Edgar’s voice as he trudges alongside her gliding walk. She’s so much more graceful than he is at normal speeds. He gives her a sidelong glance as they walk together, his hand never straying from the small of her back. “Wha’e’er i’tis, you can tell me. You know tha’. I’ll never betray your trust.”

It’s only a few short blocks to the harbor and in some ways the carnie wishes he’d picked her up and carried her the whole way. It just feels good to walk with her out in the cool fall air. When they get outside the Pelican, he tests the door before opening it up for her and waiting as she goes through. “Y’can pick any place teh sit you want. I’ll ge’ us some… I dunno if they’ve go’ tea, you want anythin’ else?”

It’s not in Lydia’s nature to be direct about anything, not at first, anyways. She relaxes with each step, her gait matching his as they fall into step together. There’s a softness to her voice when she nods at his assurances, “I know. That’s why I came to you.” Her smile warms considerably. In general, she has such little trust for people, but Edgar isn’t just anyone; she’ s known him for half her life and trusted him just as long.

She slips inside, shooting him a softer smile. There’s an irony in the question, but maybe only Lydia sees it. If she were the type of person who drank frequently, she’d be reaching for the booze, and today, tea doesn’t seem nearly strong enough, regardless of whether they carry it. “Something… stronger?” there’s an upturn of her eyebrows. The request isn’t a usual one for her, and alcohol has never really been her style, but the request is made just the same. A vague glance is given around the establishment before she spots a table near the back, as far from eyes, and more importantly, ears, as possible. She slides into her seat, her gaze turning upwards, already searching for how on earth such a topic is to be brought up.

When Edgar comes to claim his seat across from the painted lady, he has two mugs of coffee in his hand. The request is quite unusual coming from Lydia, which is why he opted for coffee and cream, Irish cream. “I’s no’ real strong, I don’ think you’ll like yerself too much in the mornin’ if you’re ‘ungover. You’re too far… removed… from this sort’a life Lydia. You’re a lady, you shouldn’ ever be feelin’ like you need teh turn to the bott’le.”

The concerned countenance that passes over him is only amplified to her when he takes her hand, knowing full well that she’ll be able to know exactly how he’s feeling at the moment. His greatest desire? The one on the surface is to make everything better for her. “Tell me, Lydia… I’ll listen an’ I won’ think ill of anythin’ you might’a done.” He’s afraid that she’s about to tell him that she’s got more children or something along those lines, maybe a secret husband when they’d been apart.

“It’s not that simple,” Lydia replies with narrowed eyes. The mug is held between her hands on the table as she hunches over it, thoughtful in her form and attitude. She brings the coffee to her lips and takes a sip, it’s far more palatable than she’d expected. Her dark eyes stares at him seriously before she poses a question; questions are easier than truths. “Do you remember the last time we spoke to Joseph? In his trailer? He said… something about Samuel. Something like he was uncontrollable or… something…” she frowns only to press her lips together in a sad attempt to neutralize them.

She shifts in her seat before craning her neck and scanning the bar carefully. Even the walls have ears. She opens her mouth to speak again, only to hesitate and relegate her lips to her mug. After another swallow of the booze-laden coffee she asks, “Do you think there’s any chance he was right? I mean, do you think Samuel is… or… was(?)” the word was is less than convinced, “trustworthy?” There’s another pause, a silent consideration of the events of the last few months, as she reaches out to take his hand.
“Course I remember, Lydia, there’s no’ a momen’ we’ve spent together tha’ I’ve forgo’.” Edgar says softly, reaching over once again to take her hand. This time he doesn’t let go to allow her the solace of hugging the mug. He’s here and the simple physical act reassures him at the very least, if not her.

“Lydia, enough wi’ the questions an’ the cryptics. It’s me ‘ere wi’ you. Tell me wha’s botherin’ you. I can’ ‘elp if I dunno wha’s goin’ on.” As far as Edgar knows, Samuel’s gone, probably dead. he’d been shot multiple times before his capture and he didn’t see Arnold taking Samuel away, he saw him taking Joseph. “Jus’ tell me … Y’don’ ‘ave teh justify anythin’ tha’ you migh’ be feeling.”

There’s a flicker of a smile at the held hand. With a deep breath she clears her head, squeezing his hand tightly. “I’m…” her eyes narrow. There’s something steadying about the contact, but even then, the story is unbelievable to her and she’s living it. With her free hand, the mug is brought to her lips, sipped in quiet succession, searching for the words to explain. “The question. It’s everything. You don’t… you don’t understand…”

Her cheeks flush a bright pink as the mug is set down on the table. She clears her throat and stares at their hands rather than directly at Edgar. “Samuel found me. Two months ago. The how is… “ she takes a long breath. “… he’s… Arnold…“ her eyebrows furrow rather involuntarily. “You can’t tell anyone. I wasn’t supposed to… but you’re not just anyone… you’re… you’re my person.” Her cheeks flush brighter.

“S-Samuel… Samuel Sullivan, ‘e found you? An’ Arnold? I…” Edgar’s stunned, more than stunned, actually. Lydia can feel the confusion and the hint of betrayal in the touch, his desires waging war against themselves. He was happy for the first time in years, finally finding the painted lady and then managing to gather himself a family. Though she’s something on the outside now he doesn’t foresee her being that way for long. As far as he’s concerned, they’re a package.

Looking from his untouched coffee and into her eyes, he cants his head a little bit to the side and just stares at her. “Tell me more,” he says simply, “Tell me why you’re no’ supposed teh tell no one, no’ even fam’ly.” He squeezes her hand reassuringly, trying to pass on that sense of well being to her.

“It’s not that I’m not allowed to tell you specifically… just no one in general…” her eyes narrow slightly as her head tilts in line with his. Lydia chews her lip absently, “I didn’t tell him I found you — haven’t told him I found you. But I did tell him I was looking… asked for help… went to Flor — that doesn’t matter… but I did ask for help.” Her eyebrows knit together tightly again. Without her riddles and crypts, the direct truth is even more unbelievable. “I’m sorry. This is making no sense. I’m making no sense.” She’s always been an internal processor, living more in her head than out. This notion of telling the direct truth is difficult.

“When Samuel found me, I wasn’t… trusting. Joseph always understood people better than I did. I know that; I’ll never have the wisdom he did, and so diverting to his ideas… I just wasn’t,” her lips purse slightly while her dark eyes seek his. “He said we’d change everything. Go back in time and change everything… and bring the family together.” Her tone turns wistful, “That’s all I wanted. Our family. All of them. Especially you.”

“You’re makin’ perfec’ sense, Lydia. You were keepin’ the trust of a member of your fam’ly. You didn’ tell ‘im abou’ me ‘cause you’re suspicious of ‘is motives. I unnerstan’,” There’s another light squeeze of the knife thrower’s hand as he gives her a little bit of a smile. If anything, he believes himself to be somewhat reassuring, at least that’s what his hopes are. “When I’s alone, an’ searchin’ all I wanted was to find you an’ our fam’ly, reunite us all. I found another fam’ly an’ new friends, ones tha’ I’ve go’ alo’ in common with.”

He releases the coffee mug with his other hand and pushes it away from himself. It’s so unlike him to waste anything, yet there he is, refusing the touch of liquor in a hot cup of coffee. With his hand now free, he takes Lydia’s in both of his and kisses her knuckles lightly. “I ain’ sayin’ I don’ want our fam’ly, the one we came from back together. I do. I jus’ dunno if I belong there as much as I do ‘ere. Melissa an’ the res’… they need me. You need me. An’ you’re all the mos’ importan’ things in my life. Tell me why you’re suspicious of Samuel… wha’s wrong wi’ changin’ the past?”

“I know you have,” Lydia replies quietly, that tightness returning to her smile. “I admire that, actually. Three years and I’m only starting to settle. Thanks to the store. And even then… employees come and go; some disappearing for long periods of time.” Her eyes gaze downward again. “And with Roosevelt Island nearly closed, I don’t know how long practically…” She sighs heavily. “This world, out of the carnival, I don’t belong here. But…”

She swallows hard, “I… Samuel… he’s building a new family. I thought… the old family. Changing the past; changing the future…” Her eyes flicker up towards Edgar. “And beyond that… “ she lowers her voice considerably. “I didn’t know what he was doing in the past. What any of them were doing, I just find the faces. I just… find the faces. But that makes me an accomplice doesn’t it? Now that I know.”

“Y’may’ve been ‘elpin’ ‘im, bu’ you’re far from an accomplice unless you knew exac’ly what ‘e’s doin’.” Edgar says quietly, passing an easy smile toward her. “Wha’ is it tha’ you know? I can’ exactly help if I don’ know wha’s goin’ on.” His thumb runs a gentle course over her knuckles as he studies her face.

His head tilts as he tries to look into her mug. Figuring that she might need it just a little more than he does, he uses his free hand to slide his own coffee toward her. She doesn’t drink, but everyone has their moments. At least she’s not taking up smoking. “‘Ow’s ‘e changin’ the past and the future, Lydia? ‘As ‘e been successful in any of ‘is little dealin’s?”

“But now I do know. And…” Lydia’s eyebrows furrow tighter together as her teeth graze her bottom lip. Her mug of coffee is nearly empty, prompting her to shoot him a thankful smile at the second cup. It’s brought to her lips again as she settles underneath his touch, the thumb along her knuckles working its magic at grounding her. “And… I don’t think I should stop.” Not yet. “Unless… “ there’s a distinct pause while she formulates her thoughts again, even in her silence, Lydia manages to find some semblance of mystery. While others’ silence is empty, hers is heavy, about what she doesn’t say as much as what she does. The thought is never finished.

“Arnold and Samuel, they’re in the past at different times. I’m the canvas, the proverbial compass to find whatever they need. It’s a role I play well. No questions. Just names. Dates. Places.” She swallows audibly before remembering the coffee again. That second cup is raised to her lips once more. “I… I was okay with my role. But.” Her fingers lace with Edgar’s now as her eyes seek his, “Samuel is sending someone back in time to kill someone.” And there it is, plain and simple. “I’m not a killer, even if I want DHS to suffer for what they did to us… And maybe I’m being too sensitive, but who am I to judge which lives are more valuable than others? Who is Samuel to judge?” She frowns. “And then… what if everything does change? What if none of this ever happens? What if I never find you? What if I never lose you and — “ she breaks her sentence, letting the end of it get lost among her thoughts.

“Tha’s the danger of goin’ inteh the past Lydia, you change one thing an’…” Edgar withdraws his hand and flicks all of his fingers into the air as he makes the sound effect for an explosion. “Could be tha’ ‘e’s killin’ the man or woman tha’ introduced me mum an’ pappy. I’d ne’er be born. ‘E could be doin’ i’ to sum’one else. You got teh make your choice abou’ ‘im, you either trust ‘im or you don’. If yeh don’ an’ you’re still ‘elpin’ ‘im kill people… then you’re an accomplice… unwilling. If you trust ‘im an’ you ‘elp ‘im… you’re willin’.”

He lets out a soft sigh and takes her hand again in both of his, tilting his head to catch her eye and gaze deeply into them. “I ain’ no part ‘a this. All I can do is listen an’ try teh ‘elp you sort i’ out. If you need me t’come in, then you need teh tell Samuel tha’ you found me. I’ll come if ‘e calls an’ I’ll ‘elp you as best I can.”

The worst is, she’s not incapable of figuring out the truth with little more than a touch and Lydia knows that. “Have you… have you ever wanted to not know the truth? Like somewhere in between and not knowing is easier?” She swallows hard around the lump in her throat before shaking her head, she’s not looking for an answer. “I’ll make my choice.” She blinks, “Someone once told me my faith had to be in one Sullivan or the other. The Hierphant or the Emperor.” Her lips tighten into a weary smile.

“Thank you. For everything. Always.” With a heavy sigh, there’s only one thing Lydia’s certain of: even when tampering with the past, life isn’t simple.

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