The Island Between Them


robyn5_icon.gif bf_rue_icon.gif

Scene Title The Island Between Them
Synopsis What's a favor between old friends?
Date December 5, 2019

To: February Lancaster
From: Nicole Varlane
Fri, December 5, 11:34

I need a favour.
Can I swing by later?
- Robyn
(Sorry, I had to borrow Colette's sister's phone. Mine is in a bush somewhere in Yamagato)

The Bastion

It wasn't often that Robyn Quinn willingly reached out to Rue, and of all times now feels like a particularly bad idea. And yet, here she is. Her text had been sent hours ago, but now here she was, standing at the door to Chez Lancaster. In one hand, she holds a bottle of wine; in the other a small bouquet of flowers. Nothing romantic, but rather a preemptive way of saying thank you for what she's hoping will be a successful favour asked. Granted, she also has no idea what colour they actually are. She'll have to trust her florist.

There's also the bag of food sitting in the ground, having grown cumbersome to hold with the others. Chinese, as is what seems to be tradition. With a sigh, she reaches up and tries to adjust the collar of the suit jacket she wears to work.

She really only succeeds at poking herself in the eye not covered by an eyepatch with the bloom of one of the flowers, eliciting a grumble from the SESA agent. She huffs out a breath, before finally reaching up and knocking.

The knock on the exterior door has the ginger’s head snapping up and to attention, like a predator hearing the first sign of prey nearby. She stops in mid-pace and beelines for the front door of the Bastion, pulling it open with a touch more force than is strictly necessary. There’s little done to disguise the plain look of worry on her face. Robyn doesn’t ask for favors. Or at least hasn’t for a very, very long time. And not without good reason.

Still, there’s a smile for a friend as Rue reaches out to relieve her of some of her burdens. Chiefly the wine, but the flowers as well, keeping the door propped open with one booted foot. “This must be serious,” she surmises, given the offerings presented. “Come on in. Tell me what’s going on. Common area okay? Otherwise, we can head to my room…”

There's a small sigh as the flowers and wine are taken without question, Robyn stepping quickly through the threshold. "The common area is fine," sounds more hesitant than it really is. "I'm not- too worried. It's not like what I need is going to stay secret long."

The wine is a French merlot because of course, but Robyn looks towards the flowers instead. "Its kind of a big thing I need and honestly? You're one of the only two people I could think to ask. You and Delilah, but…" She trails off, stepping in line with Rue. "I need you to watch Matthew for a few days." Rather than beat around the bush.

“This must be serious. You never even gave me flowers while we were dating,” Rue teases, leading the way to the common area, where she can uncork the wine, put the flowers in some water, and plate that food that smells so delicious.

The fact that Robyn says she could be asking either herself or Delilah causes a curious furrow of Rue’s brow as she sets everything out on the counter and drags plates out of the cupboard for them. She’s in the process of turning back toward her ex-lover when she gets straight to the point. The pivot seems to stutter, but nothing goes crashing to the floor.

Rue doesn’t even try to hide her shock. “You need me to watch your kid?” Setting the plates down, she braces her hands on the edge of the counter and leans against it in a stretch, like she has to work out what’s just been proposed. “I mean, yes, I’ll do it. But what’s going on?” She never really expected to be on the top of anyone’s list of babysitters.

There's a moment when Robyn's mouth opens and then closes, whatever she was going to say originally doesn't make it out. "I'm going out of town," she settles on, "for possibly an extended period of time." Knowing what question will come next, she again gets straight to the point, fidgeting as she does - it’s probably the most like a Quinn she may remember that Rue has seen her in some time.

"I'm going to Antarctica, to see where my mom worked. To see what we can find there." She lets out another sigh, looking off to the side. "Richard arranged it. With Director Zimmerman, somehow. My leave was already approved before I even put it in. But I can't just… leave Matty alone. And Dee already has Walter."

“Wow.” Exhaling a deep breath, Rue pushes herself back to an upright position before sliding her fingers into her curls and letting her nails dig at her scalp just a bit. “I didn’t think you were going to tell me.” Even though Robyn said it wouldn’t be a secret for long. “Okay…” Her head bobs up and down as she reconciles the ramifications of the impending journey.

“Don’t worry about it.” Assurance is delivered quickly. “I’ll take him. We’ve got a spare room here he can bunk in. Is he, uh, going to school? Do I need to take him to… practice or something?” What do people even do with kids? All Rue remembers is how jam packed her own schedule was as a teenager. Acting classes, ballet classes, photoshoots, commercial shoots, physical therapy. Oh, and homework and school. Where does Robyn even find the time?

"No," is a similarly quick answer from Robyn. "He should be on break by the time I leave, and…" She pauses, wrinkling her nose. "Well. Richard wants to be back for Christmas. Liz wants to do a party and such. But, realistically?" Feigning a smile, she slowly looks back to Rue. "You know how these things tend to go."

Her eyes drift to the wine, an implicit question of 'where are the glasses' asked with a shift of her eyes back to Rue. "Truth be told, I'm very nervous about this. I was so gung ho about it at first. But then I thought about…" A third sigh, the heaviest this far, escapes her lips as she sets the bag of Chinese on the closest surface. "I thought about leaving Matty alone. It's been most of a year and I still feel bad about doing it. I hope he isn't too upset when I tell him."

“Ah.” Rue’s mouth bunches up to one side, part thoughtful, part concerned. A heavy exhale through her nose and she turns back to the cupboards to pull down a pair of stemless wine glasses made of silicone. She sets them out on the counter in front of her after nudging the plates over to Robyn’s side of the island, then rummages in a drawer for the corkscrew.

“I want to say you shouldn’t worry.” Blue eyes focus on the task at hand. The sharp tip of the screw pierces the soft cork. “But we both know you should. Not just because parents are supposed to worry about leaving their children alone in the world, but because we don’t live the kinds of lives that we…” Rue trails off as she turns the screw in her hand, forcing it through the stopper.

“I know you want answers. I would too, if I were in your shoes.” She feels awkward trying to give life advice to the older woman. Rue always saw Quinn as someone so worldly, so experienced in the ways of things. Now… Their lives have been lived off the beaten path for some time now.


The cork is yanked free of the bottleneck. Rue twists the cork away from the metal spiral it’s skewered on and tosses it into a glass jar with others of its kind. “Look. I purposefully don’t make meaningful connections with others.” It’s surprisingly self-aware of her to say so. “I have my family here, and they all… We all get it. We all know that one day I’m going to do one more stupid thing, and it’ll turn out to be the last stupid thing I ever do.”

She doesn’t look up as she pours merlot into the first glass, then the second. “Your kid? He’s never going to understand that. He’s still struggling with the terrible choices his parents made. That’s his legacy. His dad chose the wrong side, and his mother wanted so badly to make sure her son didn’t make those same choices that she ruined his life.

Finally, Rue looks up again and makes sure Robyn’s met her eyes before continuing. “So, do it. Go to Antarctica and try to reconcile where you came from. Just make sure you do it knowing full well that it’s incredibly selfish. Because if you don’t come back, that’s another adult in that kid’s life that’s let him down and left him alone.” She shakes her head and holds out a glass of wine. “And make sure you see a fucking lawyer before you go. Get your affairs in order so that kid doesn’t get lost in the system.”

As Rue continues on, it's not hard to see how Robyn's expression grows more and more sour. At one point she even rolls her eyes. "Je vous remercie d'avoir donné votre grain de sel," rolls off her tongue, partially drowned out by the pop of the cork.

But it's when her eyes meet Rue's and she continues that the other woman can see an immediate change her demeanor. Shoulders square, eyes narrow, posture straightens, arms cross. "You sound like 'Lainey," she remarks with a scoff. "It's a week at most, Rue, not a lifetime. There's danger inherent in anything, but short of a plane crash I can't imagine why I wouldn't come back." Not yet at least.

She waves a hand back and forth dismissively. "Besides, if you think I didn't start getting just in case affairs in order the day I took in the boy, you think me more of an idiot than I am. I know how dangerous my job is. How unconventional my life is." It's not that she isn't listening to Rue - she clearly is. She doesn't even seem to be dismissing her out of hand. "How the fuck could I not? I'm going to Antarctica to solve the mystery of oh hey my fucking mother apparently worked for the people we considered the bad guys for years! It's like a bad fucking movie!"

It's just clear she doesn't enjoy hearing what she doesn't want to.

Another comment or two die on her tongue, and Rue can see it, but whatever was almost voiced doesn't pierce through the sudden shield Robyn has put up. "Look. I know. Like I said… I do it with a heavy heart and an ocean of worry. But don't pull this selfish bullshit on me. It wasn't even my idea, it was Richard Ray's."

Never mind that she would've asked for it if he hadn't suggested it.

“Don’t you French at me,” Rue warns with a frown and a narrowed gaze, although not sternly. She’ll accept a lot of sass, but prefers it to be in a language she can understand. With the wine handed off, she slings one arm across her midsection, resting her elbow against the opposite wrist, her own drink held in her hand as she lets Robyn get her ire out of her system.

One good eye roll deserves another. “Don’t give me that bullshit.” Rue’s lip curls as though Robyn’s excuse is distasteful. “You are perfectly capable of telling Richard Ray to go stuff it. You tell loads of people to go fuck themselves all the time. You’re doing this because you want to. And I get that, I said. I’d want to know what the fuck too.”

The secrets in the Lancaster family were Adrianne’s, and Rue’s best line on those stories runs Wolfhound these days. She’s aware that she’s spoiled when it comes to being able to reclaim family history. “If I found out my mom was literally anything more than she is, I’d be chomping at the bit to uncover every clue I could about it. That’s fine that you want to find out what even the fuck.” Rue shakes her head and sighs a little helplessly. “I don’t want to fight with you.”

And comparing her to the woman she was jealous of for years feels like an exceptionally low blow.

“I’m busting your chops because I give a fucking shit about you. You can be mad at me all the fuck you want for that, but… You’re asking me a fucking favor, you have to take the goddamn advice. That’s the price of doing business.”

Eyes narrow, Robyn's posture stiffening even, rigid as she looks up at Rue, if only because in that moment she can't look down at her. Nostrils flare, fingers curling around her glass of Merlot, and-

She lowers her head, shoulders slumping as she huffs out a sigh. "I-I'm sorry," she says quietly, before finally taking a sip of the wine. She stares into her glass for a moment, before setting it aside. Maybe, for once, Robyn doesn't feel like a drink. "I have a lot on my mind. I didn't… mean to be mean."

A hand raises up, runs over her face. "I really appreciate this," Is spoken so quietly she might almost be ashamed of it. "I feel like… there's fewer people in the world I can trust lately than I thought. Richard's keeping secrets from me, 'Laine- Elaine," she corrects pointedly, "wants me to be stuck in the past, and now even Director Zimmerman seems in on things I should know far more about than I do."

Her eyes slide over to the glass she set down, and she snatches it back up, taking a long sip. She's clearly changed her mind. "It's overwhelming. Everything these past two years has just been so overwhelming. I need to figure out something for once "

There’s a patience as Rue watches Robyn work out her emotion and decide whether or not to lash out again. It would probably help if her posture didn’t shift slightly, her head tipping to one side and one brow arching as if to dare her friend to try it.

But when Robyn deflates, Rue’s defensive stance also slackens. “I’m not sure I believe that.” That she doesn’t mean to be mean. “You’ve been mean a long time now. Far be it from me to throw stones,” the war changed them both, “but maybe… That’s something you want to meditate on.”

Taking a sip from her wine, she sighs softly. “Look, Ray’s always going to know more shit than he has any right to. It’s like a constant of the universe and it’s not even worth getting upset about anymore. Director Zimmerman didn’t get to where she is by not knowing things way above our pay grade. These are just the kinds of things you have to learn to live with.”

The subject of Elaine, however… Rue isn’t sure she wants to touch it. It makes her uncomfortable in ways she doesn’t want to admit. She made peace a long time ago with not having Robyn’s heart. She even supported the relationship between her ex and her new love. But to further defend her…

Rue’s eyes close heavily. She runs her tongue over the front of her teeth. Begrudgingly, she says, “Elaine probably wants you to confront your past and sort it out. So you can move forward together. She doesn’t strike me as naive enough to think… I don’t know. Whatever she’s thinking, she doesn’t want you to live in the past. She’s your girlfriend. Or fiancée or whatever you two are these days. She wants what’s best for you.”

How about a whole shaker to go with that grain of salt you didn’t ask for earlier, Robyn?

"No," Robyn states with a flat simplicity. "She isn't." This time she's the one locking eyes with Rue, taking a long, long drink of her glass. "We have come to an understanding that neither is what the other actually wanted. So, this time is the last time."

Her glass is finished off and set aside. She doesn't request a refill, instead leaving it up to Rue. "I'm not here to talk about her," she continues. "So let's let that be the end of it. Please?" She quirks an eyebrow at Rue, again folding her arms across her chest

"I'm thinking about retiring after I finally solve this mystery." Sucking in a deep breath, she shuts her eyes. "From SESA. From- all of it. Run the studio full time, out of the spotlight." It's a quiet admittance, one that rings of thought and marked with uncertainty.

It doesn’t take long for Rue to realize what Robyn means, even before she states it in no uncertain terms. She doesn’t hide the surprise on her face, even if all suddenly makes perfect sense. No wonder she’s the one being asked to look after Matthew and not Elaine. It was her assumption, mistakenly, that Elaine would be traveling to Antarctica as well.

Rather than pick at that wound, Rue simply nods to acknowledge it, setting her glass aside so she can refill Robyn’s. She’s sure she needs it. (“Needs.”) Instead, she focuses on the last comment. “You? Out of the spotlight? We both know you’ll never be happy with that. That said… I’m all for you getting back into music full time. That’s where your heart really lies.”

Rue shrugs and passes the refilled glass across the island again. “It was a good run, but the war is over. You can rest now. You have your family.” If Robyn were feeling particularly spiteful, that door’s been left wide open for her. “I hope you find what you need.”

There's a scoff that Robyn can't quite keep back, and once it slips from her lips, she runs with it. "What family?" Another long sip of her wine. "My mother is dead, my father basically doesn't talk to me anymore, my love life is a joke, and the boy I've taken in barely seems to even consider me a guardian much less a mother."

She stops there, shaking her head. "Ah, no. That's not fair to him, scratch that." To her credit she even seems a bit ashamed to have said it. "No, I'm glad to have Matty. I hope he feels the same, even if he doesn't yet."

She falls silent for a moment, staring into the distance past Rue."What I need is for people to stop saying that." She notes, before leaning heavily against the island. "You might be right, about the spotlight. But at this point I'd rather die alone and in peace than dealing with someone else's problems." In case you thought she was having a moment of self awareness, no, she's still selfishly drinking her wine.

Fortunately for Robyn, she comes around on her comment about Matthew Parkman, Junior being part of her family before she needs to set her straight about it. Rue’s flat look fades into something more sympathetic. “You’re all that kid has,” she says in a way that’s agreeing rather than reproachful. “You’ve got something really special there.”

But what might have been a breakthrough moment… sort of falls flat. Rue covers her disappointment with another sip from her wine. “I used to think,” she begins, gaze shifting away from Robyn to something in the middle distance just over her shoulder, “that the easier thing to do was to walk away. Back before the war started and you’d drawn me in with the Ferry and shit started to get real bad. I thought about how it would be simple to say that your problems weren’t my problems. How I could have just packed my bags at any time and went home to Mom and Dad and lived a quiet life.”

Rue sighs softly and shakes her head. “I’ve found that the opposite is true. I told myself that leaving would be easier. It made me feel stronger for staying. Now? Christ, I haven’t visited my parents in years. I snuck out on them in the middle of the night to go fight in the war. I left a note. I couldn’t live a normal life if the world fucking depended on it.” Thank goodness it doesn’t.

“If you can do what I can’t? If you can walk away from the bullshit and just focus on building a good life for you and that kid? Fucking bravo.

Robyn's lips purse as she angles her gaze down at the island rather than at Rue. "Do you remember," she starts quietly, "when we left the island for the last time?" You know, the time they almost drowned and Avi and her threatened to use a grenade to blow their way out, and then she left her fiancée in the dust among other things?

"I almost left then," she admits. She almost never talks about that night, much less her conversation with Colette. "I almost just… wandered off into the woods, went and found Royce, and booked it. Paris or Quebec, I'd decided. Somewhere that wasn't here." She blinks, fingers tightening around her glass. "God, Royce. I haven't spoken to him in years."

She falls silent for a moment, raising her glass to her lips but never bringing her eyes back up. "I've never been convinced it was the right thing to do. I mean, of course it was, but…" A heavy sigh escapes her lips. "I always say it was Colette that convinced me to stay. It wasn't really. It was that girl. LeRoux." She takes a long moment to finish her glass again, setting it down between her and Rue. "So funny now that a kid's why I wanna leave."

The shift in Rue’s thoughts is evident on her face when their exodus from Pollepel Island is brought up. Her own fingers curl tighter around the slightly malleable glass in her hand. If this conversation where happening with anyone else, the placid mask the intelligence officer wears would be firmly in place. But there’s no point in hiding from Robyn how the escape from Bannerman’s Castle affected her. They both know.

“I tried to leave after that,” she admits, still not able to look at her friend. “I went back to Chicago and… Tried to ignore the war.” She just finished explaining how that went.

Rue’s guts twist at the mention of LeRoux. She could tell her that little girl they worried about in the back of their minds for years turned out just fine. Although that’s an oversimplification of the situation and possibly up for debate. The fate of Nathalie LeRoux is not Rue’s to reveal, ultimately. Guilt gnaws, but she doesn’t give up her cohort’s confidence.

“I hope you manage to stick to it. I think it’s the bigger act of bravery to walk away from something bigger than you.” Rue sets her glass down, her gaze fixed on the shallow garnet pool in the bottom.

Robyn scoffs again. "Well, that's something new to hear. Usually I just get called out on my apparent cowardice and selfishness when I talk about wanting to leave." An eyebrow quirks, propping her elbow against the table. "It's been a long time coming though." Looking back up to Rue, she watches her in silence for a moment. "Hopefully you get your chance too."

Another long moment, and she chuckles. "This all assuming everything pans out the way I want it to, and in short order." Her smirk takes a more… Cheshire quality at that, head tilting slightly. "And when was the last time that ever happened for any of us?" A finger taps expectantly on her wine glass, even though despite her high alcohol tolerance she seems to be showing a bit more evidence that she's not a sober as she lets on.

The hand not wrapped around her glass reaches out across the island, towards Rue's. "Thank you," she says quietly. "For this, and that, and everything else. Sometimes I don't know why you're still my friend, but I appreciate it." A beat. "When you're not trying to make me feel guilty for something." Her smile makes it hard to tell if she's joking or not on that one.

There’s a kind of resignation that creeps into Rue’s posture. Like she’d really like to pick up that ball and run with it, really speak her mind. Ultimately, what good does it do to pick at her friend? What purpose does it even serve? Maybe it makes her feel a little superior for a while, but that feeling always fades, and leaves her feeling like a heel after. Instead, she just looks down at where their hands are joined. She doesn’t offer a squeeze of reassurance, but nor does she pull away.

“You’re welcome.” For whatever that’s worth to either of them. She lets her actions speak more than her words by refilling Robyn’s glass. It’s her wine, after all. She may as well drink it. Far be it from her to judge someone else’s coping mechanisms. “You’re one of the only people who gets it,” Rue admits in a soft voice. “‘Course we’re still friends.”

There's a hollowness in her eyes as she stares down at their hands. A belaboured sound slips through her lips. A part of her wants to push the boundaries; for once the rational part of her wins out. "I wasn't sure, when I came out to Rochester, if that was the case. Couldn't have blamed you if so."

She leans back, taking hold of the glass. "So I dunno what it is," she admits, tipping back her glass against her lips, "but I'm glad that you think that." She falls silent, staring down at the island between them.

"Thank you," she repeats. "For listening. For helping out. For hanging out. I think I needed it." And she falls silent. There's no turn around comment, no sudden backtrack. This one seems to stick.

Whatever else Rue might like to say, it’s pushed down and traded in for a wry smile. “Yeah. No problem.”

Today is just about a favor for a friend.

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