The Long Hello



Scene Title The Long Hello
Synopsis Raquelle Cambria's life changes forever.
Date April 29, 2019

Feast or famine, when used in the business world, is meant to describe the axiom of periods of economic prosperity and hardship.

In the New York City Safe Zone, it takes on such a more literal meaning.

A light, drizzling rain has accompanied a period of relative famine within the Safe Zone. Vehicle and foot traffic has been brought to a minimum across the harborside neighborhoods of Red Hook due to an influx of local construction blocking off streets and inclement weather both delaying the construction and driving foot traffic away. For the time being, the lights are still on within one streetside business, but it’s been nearly a week since the last client came in. Even longer than that if its owner wasn’t counting close friends.

Outside of the shop windows, the only traffic coming by aren’t in need of creature comforts. Six foot tall, bipedal humanoid robots clad in bright traffic-cone orange and lemon yellow garments carry steel beams, haul bags of concrete, and drag heavy paving equipment down the ruined street. These tetsujin developed by Yamagato Industries are an increasingly common site within the Safe Zone, and subtly worrisome for those who survived a war fought in part by machine that hunted people with abilities.

Staring out the window of his shop, Raquelle Cambria meets the unwavering blue diode eyes of one of the machines, which carries on its work without a second thought. Rain streaks the glass, wavering veins of rainwater forming forking paths.

Always in one direction, and never backwards.

Cambria Salon & Day Spa

Red Hook

April 29th

2:17 pm

A low and distant peal of thunder rumbles over the city, heralding stronger wind blowing down the street, driving the rain to hammer against the shop windows. The rain turns the construction site outside into a splotchy blur of primary colors, grayscale, and bright lights. At least the sound of the rain has muffled the distant noise of jackhammers down to a low din.

This is a day he could’ve stayed home. To be honest, business isn’t as good on these days however there is always the chance someone needs shelter or someone to lovingly scold them for being out in the rain. Simply clothing, fitted jeans, doc martins, long sleeved dark purple t-shirt and black leather vest, hair color of the week is a dark brown with a hint of auburn highlights.

Raquelle just watches, idly sipping from a glossy blue coffee mug as he watches through the window. A glossy/sparkly dark purple nail idly taps against the ceramic as he hums softly to himself. Another sip of coffee, and the hairdresser finally turns away from the window, shimmying slightly to the melody only he can hear.

The dark shape coming up the street lacks the glowing blue eyes of the labor robots, lacks the sensible umbrella that anyone in their right mind would be employing today too. It’s hard to tell who the lone pedestrian is with how hard the rain is hitting the glass, but their long-legged strides carries them straight up to the door of the Cambria Salon, and no further.

It’s an awkward pause, visible as an indistinct form through the frosted glass of the salon’s front door. It appears as though it’s just someone seeking shelter from the rain on the stoop, until they starts to walk away. Whoever they are, they only get a few steps away from the door before they walk all the way back again, and then finally open the door to the street, bringing in a gust of cool wind and rain.

As the man walks in, his shoulders are hunched and head bowed and rain rolling off his old leather jacket, he might as well be the walking dead. At first there’s no way to recognize him, time has muddied the memory of his face, but it’s his smile — tentative and small — that tells more stories than any name ever could.


Kita Ward, Kyoto


March 27th


Spring wind blows calm through the high branches of tall pine trees, create subtle ripples across the otherwise mirror-still surface of the nearby pond. From the floor of the Shari-den shrine, a large collection of tourists look out over the water and to the newly blossoming trees on the other side. Most of them are European or American, cameras held fast in hand. Children run around nearby with amused laughter, blissfully ignorant in their inability to appreciate the natural splendor all around them.

“You know, little man…”

One of the tourists is a child of seven years, leaning back into the arms of his father who crouches behind him. This young boy isn’t running like the others, instead staring through the lenses of a pair of binoculars nearly too heavy for him to hold up. He watches a pair of cranes fly in the distance, soaring just over the surface of the water, wind running through their feathers.

“…I really just want to show you the whole world.”

The boy’s father wraps his arms tighter around him, pressing his mouth to the top of his son’s head, breathing out in a warm breath as he kisses the child’s crown. He’s watching the cranes too, but from a much greater distance, from a much higher perspective. He wonders if his son sees things the same way.

“I wish I had the time to.”

He wonders if he ever will.

Present Day


Rainsoaked, Miguel Cambria stands in silence in the doorway. A pool of water grows around his feet, and as much as he wants to…

…he can’t quite look his son in the eyes.

When that door swings open, Raquelle is smoothly setting his coffee mug down and pivoting around to face the door with a hint of a grin and a quirk of an eyebrow. A quiet tsking as he snatches up a couple of towels and makes his way towards the apparent stranger. “Welcome to Cambria Salon and Day Spa. Look at you being all considerate and pre-washing and soakin’ before a treatment.” He winks and flashes a grin.

Then the world slows down for him. The fluffy white towels in his arms suddenly feel like lead weights as he actually focuses on his visitor. His lips part as all the air leaves his lungs from the phantom fist of reality slamming into his gut. The towels are left behind, falling from his arms and hitting a freshly swept floor.

“Papa?” He asks, suddenly a small boy again being told that him and his mother are leaving without the man in front of him. Suddenly a boy again, heartbroken about another concert/performance being missed. Suddenly a scared teenager, terrified about bringing another life into this world. Suddenly a scared young father again, facing his life falling apart.

His natural gift, wrapping around the single word and and smothering it with disbelief and a shattering of a thin wall of glass around a heart that’s been stitched and patched up from years of heartbreak and hidden fears.

Raquelle crosses the room, closing the distance between the two without hesitation or a second thought, throwing himself at the man, and sobbing out the word again. “Papa.” As his hug is more of a cling, the tidal wave of emotion taking even him by surprise.

Taking his father by surprise too. It's been decades since Miguel Cambria has seen his son face to face, and he nearly topples over at the embrace. His arms are fast to find their way around Raquelle's shoulders, his face pressed down against the side of his little boy’s face. “God,” he murmurs, “just look at you, mi pequeno gigante.

My little giant.

“I'm so sorry,” is the first thing Miguel says once he's truly found his voice again, but even that is strangled by the steadfast grip of emotion around his throat. Miguel leans out of the embrace just enough that he can cup Raquelle’s cheeks in the palms of his hands, enough that he can look his son in the eye. There's hurt in Miguel’s expression, guilt, love — he is a complex canvas of emotions, painted in so many colors, all of them at the moment muted.

It's in that embrace that Raquelle sees something around his father’s right wrist. A flat, steel bracelet nearly mistaken for part of a handcuff. But there's no chain. Partly visible kanji is embossed on the outside, and an anglicized number 3. It doesn't look like jewelry.

“I'm so sorry,” Miguel says again, brows contorting and lips twisting as he fights back sobs of his own, tears welled up in his eyes once more. It's clear he's been crying for a while. Before he even got here.

The term of endearment draws a shaky chuckle that adds a bit of vibrato to Raquelle’s sobs and he sniffles, swallowing thickly and gasping for air. He doesn’t trust himself to speak at the moment. When his cheeks are cupped and his raises his eyes to meet Miguel’s they are watery but still vividly blue.

He shakes his head quickly, moving a hand to rest gently on one of the hands on his cheeks. “Don’t be sorry. You’re here. You’re here.” There is a quick questioning glance towards that bracelet, automatically drawn to accessories and shinies and he meets Miguel’s gaze again and just asks softly. “You’re here? Right?”

And with any other person, he’d be bitching about his eyeliner running and fanning his face. But here, in this moment, Raquelle just sniffles again and swallows. Leaning forward to hide his forehead against the top of Miguel’s left shoulder.

Miguel nods, putting one hand at the back of Raquelle’s head, the other against his back. “I'm here,” he whispers against the side of his son’s head. But what comes after that is a long silence, filled with the white noise of the rain hammering down outside and the muffled noise of construction equipment, the rhythmic beep of a truck backing up. Miguel squeezes Raquelle, gently, and then slowly disengages from the embrace, but keeps his hands on Raquelle’s shoulders.

Able to really see his father now, Raquelle notes the wisps of gray at the sides of his head, the creases on his brow and the laugh lines worn into his face. A boy’s memory of a father is betrayed by the passage of time. The kindness Raquelle had always known is still there, but it is diminished by the shadow of guilt hanging in dark eyes. Miguel is here, that much Raquelle can see.

But someone else isn't.

Another couple of sniffles and a rough chuckle as Raquelle blinks a few times, ignoring the sting of running eyeliner. He squints slightly as he looks over Miguel’s shoulder with a furrow of a brow. “Haha didn’t say you were coming.”

Mama - The Japanese term for his mother ‘Haha’, reflexive at the moment.

“Is it just you this time?” He studies Miguel’s features now for a moment. “Is she okay?”

His mouth is asking the questions that his brain is trying its best not to over analyze and his heart is trying not to conceive. There is a long pause as his jaw sets and he pulls back slightly. “Is she okay?”

Tears, again. Miguel tries to smile, but his jaw tremors and the expression turns into a grimace as he shakes his head. Guilt bleeds into regret, and Raquelle can feel his father’s hands on his shoulders tighten as he shakes his head to the negative. “She's sick,” is a gut-twisting thing to be told, especially because it hadn't been so long since they'd talked.

“She's sick, and…” Miguel shakes his head and closes his eyes, jaw clenched and mouth tight. When he looks back up to Raquelle it's clear that he's barely holding himself together. “It's cancer.” The words that come after are muffled by the sound of blood rushing in Raquelle’s ears, half-recognized words like doctors and treatments spill out of Miguel’s mouth. All Raquelle can hear is that one word, echoing over and over again.

That shattered glass around his heart, just finishes its journey and just splinters and pierces his heart. Raquelle just takes a few steps backwards, hands moving to his mouth and he takes a deep breath. And then another.

It echoes through his mind. That singular word and he exhales shakily. Then like he’s done for years, he inhales sharply, using his sleeve to dab at his eyes. His breathing hitches and he shakes his head. Then the head shaking turns into a nod and a shake of his head. Alternating the head motions as he exhales once more.

And like he’s done for years, he redirects his own emotions to his father, approaching him with hands extended. “I-I’m so sorry Papa. I’m sorry.” He offers his own emotional support to another and locks his own feelings up, hiding behind the slight trembling of his hands and the pain that’s in his eyes. “It’ll be okay. Okay? We’ll get through it together.”

Miguel takes Raquelle’s hands in his, the skin rough compared to his son’s. “That’s what your mother wants too,” Miguel says after a moment of hesitation. “I’m… I’m sorry this is what it takes to bring us back together. After everything.” He looks away, briefly, then back to Raquelle. “There’s… there’s a lot more I need to say. Want to say. Is— there someplace we could sit down? Some place…”

Suddenly, Miguel grows silent. That look of guilt on his face is stronger than ever. He grips Raquelle’s hands firmly, dark eyes searching the salon before they finally meet his son’s gaze again. “If you even want to talk,” comes out quietly, but it’s as loud as Miguel dares speak it.

Raquelle doesn’t say it, but it flickers through his eyes. The uncertainty and the hint of wariness when dealing with his father. A guarded veil used to keep anger from festering. What his mother wants? The mother that was actually there for most of his life. He just offers another watery smile and swallows. “You know she’d say that sometimes it takes the rain for the sun to make a rainbow.”

He squeezes Miguel’s hands gently and then nods towards the couches in the sitting area. “G-go ahead and have a seat.” He swallows and clears his throat. “We’ll talk. Do you um.” He needs something to do, looking around. “Do you want s-oh god, you’re soaked. Let me. I can get some towels. I can get some coffee. I can get som-” He just has to do something.

At first making gestures to dissuade Raquelle from fussing, Miguel relents and reconsiders. As he walks over to the sitting area, eyeing the furniture, he can’t help but feel like a stray animal that was let in to a kind and loving home. The kind he should have raised his son in. Miguel takes off his leather jacket, draping it over the back of a chair, then settles down on the edge of the seat, as if afraid to ruin anything.

Raquelle,” is the first time Miguel has said his son’s name to his face in decades. “It’s alright. I’ll… I’m fine. Please, just… just sit. I’m afraid— afraid if I don’t say these words soon, I never will. It’ll just be another thing I regret for the rest of my life.” Miguel clasps his hands together, bows his head and stares down at the puddles of water on the floor.

Towels are fetched and draped over an arm, Raquelle bustles around as Miguel gets situated. He checks his pot of coffee, swearing under his breath at it being low. The click of turning the pot back on seems too loud and he flinches at the sound of his name.

He stands with his back to his father for a moment, trying to will away the worry, fear, and utter devastation he can feel gnawing at his insides and trying to break out of his chest like a fabulous emo version of an Alien. And so he turns, to face the man from whence his height and probably his smile comes from and he settles down next to him on the couch. The towels are held out like a peace offering, or maybe some type of sacrifice to the fates. He dabs again at his eyes with his sleeve, and huffs out a breath. “I swear to God Papa, if you tell me you’re sick too…”

Miguel nearly laughs at that, but he catches the sound in the back of his throat and it comes off as more of a quick gasp. For a moment all Miguel does it watch his son, now a grown man, with a sense of earnest pride and ragged emotion. “No,” he finally remembers to clarify, “that’s— not possible,” is an unusual addendum.

“Raquelle,” Miguel says, taking one of the towels and smiling apologetically, trying to dry his face and hair with it. “I… “ he lowers the towel from his face, looking down into it. “Your mother… she’s sick because of me.” When Miguel’s dark eyes alight back to his son, that look of guilt makes so much more sense now, but also none.

“When your mother got sick, when we found out it was cancer, it triggered a lot of additional tests.” Miguel looks down to the metal band around his wrist, “Japan’s… a lot different from America. I found out a while ago that— that I’m like you.” He looks up to Raquelle, wearily trying to smile. “Or, I guess, that you’re like me. Special.”

Looking away again, unable to bear his son’s eyes — so similar to Azami’s — for too long. “I tested positive for the genetic marker that indicates that we’re… different. But I never manifested. Or— I thought I didn’t.” Miguel’s eyes scan the floor, searching for something that he never finds. “The doctors found out I… I emit a low-level radioactive field. Probably for years.” He jolts, raising one hand. “I’m on medication now— suppressing it. I just…”




There are a few things that Raquelle never really discusses much with his parents. He came out twice, once with his sexuality which was never a surprise and much later when his family was in danger because of his state of being ‘special’. Tear rimmed and occasionally still watery eyes, just focus on the older man. His eyeliner has pretty much been wiped away at this point but the intensity of his eyes is still present in his stare. There’s much about what he says that does not make sense.

His own eyes look down at that bracelet looking thing and then back up to stare at Miguel and he’s forgotten to blink for a few moments. There’s too much to unpack here. His father knew about the genes. His father knew. His own girls have tested for the marker, but never manifested. But his father knew.

There’s a disconnect as he tries to reconcile the ‘knowing’ with the ‘radiation’ and the ‘years’ and the cap of it all ‘sick because of me’. Emotions are fickle and complex and there’s anger, disbelief, sadness, disappointment, and just weariness.

Fuck fashion and style for a moment, he runs his fingers through his hair and looks up towards the ceiling. Looking anywhere but his father and his jaw sets, sniffling in his inhale and coughing softly in his exhale. “Well. Fuck.” Because what the hell do you say to that. “Does…she know?” He offers a hand back to his father, still trembling yet to him, he’s still holding it together as well as he can.

Miguel wrings his hands together, head bobbing in a slow series of nods. “Once the doctors figured out what I could do, they informed her. She was offered swift termination of our marriage, if she wanted. Because of this… because of…” Miguel looks down at his hands, then up to his son. “They— took me away. Class 3,” he holds out his wrist with the bracelet on it, that number 3 making all the more sense now. It’s only then that Raquelle can read the kanji on it.


“I spent two months in a detention settlement,” Miguel says quietly, his story a reminder that a war was only fought and won within the United States. “I… I agreed to take contract work for the Japanese Government in exchange for being reduced to a Class 2, so I could be with your mother again. She— ” Miguel’s voice cracks. “She doesn’t blame me. We couldn’t have known.”

It takes a sharp breath for him to really center himself. “Your mother needs a bone marrow transplant,” comes out of almost nowhere when Miguel finally builds up the courage to say it. “I can’t, legally or otherwise because of…” he looks at the bracelet again, then shakes his head. “I was assigned a work contract with Yamagato Industries, so I could get here. So I could find you. So that when I have to go back to Japan…”

Raquelle can go too, is what Miguel can’t bring himself to ask.

Raquelle glances back down to the bracelet, narrowing his eyes at the Kanji and the number as he continues to listen, running his fingers through his hair every now and then to ground himself. “Haha would’ve cussed them out at the very idea of termination…of the marriage.” He finally drawls softly. “She loved, loves and will keep on loving you even though your teeth are abnormally perfect.”

A hint of humor in a bleak conversation, a coping mechanism that he’s holding scrabbling for as he glances over to his father again as the story just gets better (read: worse).

“You really think they’re going to let a gaijin looking person like me back into Japan? With two daughters who are both SLC expressive and a fiancé who used to work in law enforcement?” He hesitates. “Would they let me help her if I could go back?”

The hard truth is that Miguel isn't sure. It shows in his posture, his reluctant silence, in the thousand yard stare. “You're not dangerous,” is how he frames the answer. “But in order to go you’d have to join the Japanese registry. They can do that at the Japanese embassy in Yamagato Park, I checked out that part…” But that's where things become uncertain for Miguel.

“If you have a criminal record here in America,” Miguel begins, trying to walk the careful line of caution and accusation. “I know things were hard here. Are hard. Nobody would blame you.” Miguel looks down at his hands, at his wedding band. “I wouldn't blame you for doing whatever was necessary to protect— ”

His girls.

It finally hits Miguel; his son is an adult with children all his own. Emotions overcome him, and he pinches fingertips at his eyes, clenches them shut, tries to let it pass. He can't even think of his grandchildren, of the time lost with them. “We have to try,” is the best Miguel can muster.

The older man’s body language just makes Raquelle rubs a hand over his face as he murmurs an explicative under his breath as he leans forward, resting elbows on his knees and bowing his head.

Not dangerous? The hairdresser has always taken advantage of the fact that people don’t really understand how his ability works and he just wrinkles his nose but nods slightly. All he has though he is silent, shoulders tensing at the comment about a criminal record.

“I just have the stupid shit I did as a teenager, Papa.” He huffs softly before shaking his head slowly. “I was born in Japan. My girls were born here. My fiance - would we have to be officially married for him to come as well?”

Too many questions, not enough time, he just finally asks the question he doesn’t want to ask. “How long does she have?”

“I don't know,” is the hardest thing for Miguel to admit, and he does so with a strangled voice. “Longer with the transplant,” he clarifies with some effort. “She's still undergoing tests, we only found out last month. It's… it's been an ordeal.”

But Miguel is forced to reconcile the other questions Raquelle asked, the harder ones, the painful ones. “It's not safe,” he finally says in a hushed voice. “For your girls, for your husband. Japan… it's getting better, but it's still very bigoted in too many ways. If your girls— if they haven't manifested they won't even be allowed to enter the country.”

“I don't even know if they're going to let me back,” Miguel finally admits, the hardest of all. “I'm scared, and I… I'm sorry for laying this all on you. I'm sorry this is our reunion. I'm— ” Miguel hides his face in his hands, weakly slurring, “I'm sorry for so much.”

Hands claps and unclasp, knee bobs as he listens to each answer with a hint of a flinch as each point is driven home and various fears are proven true. Raquelle’s eyes aren’t quite dry but he’s not sobbing anymore, the occasional clenching of his teeth causing his jaw to pulse. He nods in understanding about the ordeal. “I should’ve headed to Tennessee with the girls and gotten a place with her so she never returned to Japan before the war.” He finally murmurs after a moment, but there’s no accusation there. Just a quiet resignation created by self-guilt.

And then there’s the clencher as he looks up towards the ceiling as if looking for divine inspiration or intervention, he’d take either at this moment. His mother, or his girls and the future he thought he was building with Bolivar. He just silently scoots over and down a bit to rest his head against Miguel’s shoulder. “Shhh, Papa…” Always the comforter. “D-don’t be sorry. You didn’t know you were nukin’ Haha like a bowl of instant ramen, okay?” That wry and inappropriate humor creeping, in an effort to cover his own heartbreak. But his sob catches in his throat, muddied what was going to be a weak chuckle.

“We’ll figure it out.” And then he’s quiet for a few moments and asks carefully. “Can we bring mom here?”

It takes a while for Miguel to say anything, do anything, other than wrap his arms awkwardly around Raquelle. There’s small motions, turns of his head, curls of his fingers against soft fabric, the slow rise and fall of his shoulders in heavy breathing. There’s the fringes of a panic attack happening in there, but Raquelle’s proximity mitigates it, makes it easier to endure. By the time Miguel has cleared his head, his eyes are puffy and red again from crying.

“Maybe,” is Miguel’s hopeful opinion about her coming here, to the US. “If the doctors think its safe to transport her, if we can find a hospital that can take care of her…” The latter is going to be the hardest, from Raquelle’s perspective. Elmhurst is the best hospital in the region, and it’s ill-suited to take care of a cancer patient. Yamagato Park has a cutting edge hospital, but it’s small and reserved for corporate employees. It isn’t to say that it’s impossible, but it would require that special something.

That Raquelle magic, as Bolivar might call it.

“I’m here until the end of May,” Miguel says, suddenly putting a timer on everything. “That’s when my work visa expires. After that either— either Japan will let me back in, or I’ll be stuck here and— and I’ll have to file for asylum or…” He shakes his head, looking lost. Looking fragile.

It’s a lot to take in, a lot to consider, and even more to plan for. But if the Second American Civil War taught Raquelle anything, it’s that he’s a survivor. If the war taught him anything, it’s that only when people work together can great things be accomplished. Thankfully, over all these years, there is one commodity that Raquelle Cambria has accumulated more than any other:


And looking into his father’s sorrow-filled eyes, Raquelle knows he’s going to need them all.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License