Through The Rabbit Hole


bf_cassandra_icon.gif robyn4_icon.gif saito_icon.gif squeaks_icon.gif

Scene Title Through the Rabbit Hole
Synopsis Agents Quinn and Saito along with Intern Childs seek out the assistance of Cassandra Baumann in solving her own murder.
Date May 29, 2019

The Safe Zone

This is a bad idea.

That's all Robyn Quinn can tell herself as she stares at the door in front of her. Her expression is neutral, looking back at her shoulder at the two she has brought with her this afternoon - Agent No-Longer-Trainee Kenji Saito and Intern Jac "Squeaks" Childs flank on either side, standing just a bit behind her. With an eyepatch over one eye, she looks between the two of them with uncertainty.

The ever-inquisitive look from Squeaks and expectant raised brow from Saito force a sigh from her lips as she turns back to the door, taking a moment to straighten her blue suit jacket. "Remember," she intones in a low voice to the two of them. "We are here to enlist Ms. Bau-" She stops, closing her eye and drawing in a long breath. "Ms. Cain's assistance in hopefully cracking this case."

Another glance back over her shoulder. "No questions about her situation. No inquiries about other… you know." Dimensions, timelines, strings, whatever you want to call them. "We treat her like anyone else, as strange as that may at times seem. She is not Cassandra Baumann."

A statement that runs counter to Robyn's own perception when it comes to extradimensional affairs and her internalized acknowledgement that she is all of her selves and they are her, but that's an argument she isn't here to have, and one that has been tired out in conversations with Magnes Varlane as it is.

"Are we clear about that? Questions? Concerns?" More a point covering her bases, the time for questions and concerns has long, long past. Deputy Director Voss had made that much clear, at least.

With that, she turns to the door and raps against it repeatedly, with hopefully enough force to be heard throughout the home on the other side.

It's obvious from the start — from not too long after anyone has met her really — that Squeaks is full of questions and insatiably curious. Right now that's all reserved to just her expression. The one-million-and-three questions she could probably ask in a single sitting are all tucked away. They'll come in handy later, maybe. So all Robyn’s repeating of the rules for this field trip gets is a single nod.

She's already met the travelers anyway. Most of them. She's actually seen all of them at one point or another while closed up in quarantine. The whole superstring traveling is not that much a mystery. She understands there's other Squeakses in other worlds that are her but not really. They can't actually be her because then she would be there instead of here. But they're close enough.

The intern twists to look down the hall one way then up at Saito while Robyn knocks. She leans slightly, Wright shifting onto the leg closer to the new agent. She presses a finger against his arm for a second. He's probably going to need the reassurance, she remembers the look he had when Director Voss gave them the assignment.

Chandra the cat makes the same face when he's got hair balls.

It's a quick gesture, but the meaning is the same. It's going to be okay. Squeaks straightens and hooks a hand to an arm behind her back. Intense interest is centered on the door, and the temptation to use her ability to see if anyone is actually home.

Cassandra Cain is not the sort that often gets visitors.

It’s early evening. While most people are settling down in the warm glow of their TV’s and finishing up dinner, just turning off her brain isn’t a thing that Cassandra really enjoys. Not that the TV shows are bad - it’s just watching I Love Ricky reruns or the X-files with Scully as the lab-tech instead of the lead just didn’t sit right. Nostalgia for the past is a difficult thing when the past that you’re looking back into isn’t the past you came from. The little things, the little quirks, that she notices in her day-to-day interactions are infuriating, but it’s the hand she’s been dealt so she needs to be a big girl and deal with it. Thankfully, Music is something that she can retreat into, along with books, so she’s curled on the corner of her couch with a book open across the arm of her couch. Every now and again she finishes a page, turning it before going back to petting Minou the cat who has claimed her lap. The only other noise in the apartment is the Safe Zone radio station playing quietly on an old radio nearby, which means sudden noises will definitely get her attention.

The rapid knock catches her attention, Cassandra sitting up, nudging Minou out of her lap with a scooping motion of her palm beneath the puddle of kitten, depositing her on the warm spot on the couch and then making her way to the door. With her extensive time at Raytech and her fragmented life that’s held together by the thinnest of threads, connections with others who would just drop by unannounced are limited to a grand total of two people. This means the people knocking are either neighbors or somehow managed to make their way past the locking vestibule, through the elevator, and up to the floor that she shared with a grand total of three other apartments There is a third, less likely scenario that does poke it’s head up - the thing that she was most nervous about when she helped Lucille and Wolfhound with their penny collection. The chances of that happening are miniscule, though.

There’s the sound of movement behind the door with a flicker of light from the peephole. It doesn’t take Squeaks’ ability or even a stretch of the imagination to guess that someone was looking through and studying the trio, making a decision. The sound of chains and deadbolts being undone is heard.

The heavy wooden door swings open, and illuminated in the light from the overhead fixture stands the spitting image of Cassandra Baumann. The dark-haired woman pauses, studying Robyn and the blue suit-jacketed Saito for a second before looking to Squeaks - the one familiar face in the trio that Cassandra recognizes from their time in quarantine. “Good evening.” she says politely before pausing, her attention swiveling to the intern of all people, standing in the back, holding it for a few seconds.

“Hey, Squeaks.” she says, the door swinging open a bit wider. “How’re you?” Robyn and her eyepatch get another look from head to toe, but Cassandra eventually addresses the trio on her doorstep. . ““I'm guessing this isn't a social call?” She pauses for a moment to see if it actually is a social call, a little snort escaping when she decides that is almost certainly isn't. She swings the door open wide. “Come on in out of the hall, you three. You're letting the air conditioning out.”. God, she sounds like her grandmother!

Cassandra’s apartment is sparse, with a loveseat and a sofa facing a fireplace that's been modified to hold a potted plant, a kitchen, a hallway leading back to a bedroom or two and a bathroom. Bookshelves with glass fronts are everywhere, ordered and precise. Lawyer’s bookshelves, she was told. There are no overhead lights on - just lamps and the aforementioned radio - giving the place a calming, comforting feeling that is slightly tempered by the presence of the pump-action shotgun hung muzzle-down on the coat rack by the front door.

A girl’s got to be ready for anything, after all.

Because Saito sure isn’t.

Agent Saito practically slouches his way into the apartment, brows knit together and hands shoved into the pockets of his slacks. He practically exudes awkward formality, from the SESA badge clipped to the pocket of his suit jacket to the way in which he never really looks Cassandra in the eye as he comes in. Instead, he sweeps a look around the young woman’s home, lips pursed and breath held as if he’s afraid the moment he opens his mouth he’ll be asking her about parallel dimensions. Because he’s curious. Because who wouldn’t be?

Instead, Saito is Robyn’s shadow, lurking behind her and following her lead with the same uncertain trajectory of his entire life. When he finally does make eye contact with Cassandra, he smiles awkwardly but smartly keeps his mouth shut.

On the other hand, Robyn can't keep her eye off Cassandra once the other woman is emerges into view. A million thoughts and questions race through the back of her mind, all happening in the space of a breath and all unvoiced. All about topics she just warned the others against bringing up, but that she desperately wants to.

Sometimes, having to work in official capacities leaves her wanting.

As Cassandra offers an almost unsettlingly nonchalant greeting, Robyn is quick to unclip her badge and formally present it. "Ms.- Cain." She catches herself from tripping up, "it's a pleasure to meet you. Agent Robyn Quinn, SLC-Expressive Services Agency. This is Agent Kenji Saito and Jac Childs, though you two seem to already be familiar." She motions to them both, offering Squeaks a small smile.

Invited in, she steps in to the room, eye locked on Cassandra still. "No. I'm afraid this isn't a social call." For as informal as Robyn normally is, for as… flippant as her attitude has been the last few months, she seems to take this seriously at least. "The opposite, actually. We're here to call in a favour." The shotgun on the wall is given a mental note before her eye drifts back to Cassandra

In contrast to Saito, Squeaks’ polite noseyness of the apartment isn't awkward. Her eyeballing of everything begins as soon as the door is opened and she can see past Cassandra. She's very bold about it too, and not concerned about appearing intrusive. Her looking around doesn't manifest into wandering and looking — and there's definitely no touching of things.

She actually stays pretty close to the two agents. Robyn's shadow has a shadow.

“Hi,” only happens after Robyn has made introductions. Except for a flicker of a look when the postcog first started staring, Squeaks kept quietly to herself. Even now, with the senior agent leading the conversation, she doesn't really show familiarity to Cassandra. Just the vaguely suspicious stares are missing.

The door closes behind the trio of agents once they're inside, Cassandra busying herself with the locks and deadbolts. Coming from a fairly secure world to one that exists in the aftermath of a war, safety and security move a few notches higher on her personal Hierarchy of Needs. That explains the shotgun.

Once Cassandra finishes the locks, she reaches over to flip the switch next to the front door, the overhead lights in the living room coming on and driving away the shadows. She turns, resting her back against the door in the entry hall, attention moving from one agent to another to the other and back again. Barefoot and dressed in loose-fitting clothing to allow comfort and ease of movement, she pulls her light half kimono over a little tighter over her shoulders at the introductions and the mention of a a favor being called. “I would have kept Baumann if I could, you know”. She says, catching Robyn’s hesitation with the name. “It is my name, after all. Hell, I still catch myself nearly using it in emails and letters. But it's not allowed.” Cassandra frowns. “The people in charge felt that having two people with the same name would cause issues. Never thought they would let me live in her backyard, if it matters anymore. So. Just Cassandra is fine. Or Cassie.” Her nickname seems to be the same across dimensions, so that's good. “And there's nothing cool from other dimensions here, Squeaks….wait, Jac?” She's referred to Squeaks so long as Squeaks, that hearing the woman’s name spoken out loud is a little odd. Saito’s woodenness, on the other hand, gets Cassandra to wink at the man, after his awkward smile. “I'm sure you all have questions about my travels and experiences, and, as much as I'd love to share them, I'm just a gal from Louisiana as explained in the dossier you've more than likely been given on me.” That is, unless they have a few clearances that Cassandra didn't even know were a thing until she was told about them.

“Anyway… you're here to call in a favor.” She grumbles, pushing away from the door, her heels thudding on the carpeted hall floor as she brushes past to take her spot on the corner of the couch again, unceremoniously lifting Minou up and plopping the kitten back into her lap, the little tabby yawning, kneading Cassie's thigh for a second before sinking into gentle purrs. The contracts she signed and the things she had to promise to get her freedom is starting to come due and, for a second she considers refusing. Which would more than likely trigger a formal order or something else more convincing. Finally, she nods. “Okay, you've got me.” She extends her hands, crossed at the wrists in a mock surrender. “What do you need? Information on crimes off of evidence? What’s gone on? Kidnapping? Drugs? Weapons deal gone bad? Missing person? I guess you know what I'm capable of.”

She's supposed to be laying low, but she's being tapped by Raytech and Wolfhound, already, and now SESA is jumping on, too? No rest for the weary.

Agent Saito makes a noise in the back of his throat and runs one hand through his hair, looking for a moment at Robyn and then back to Cassandra as he anxiously moves about her apartment. “Uh,” he decides without really thinking to speak up. “Well— SESA informed you with your placement that you would have classification as an off-board asset, effectively a private resource that SESA may ask — not order — for help under extreme circumstances.”

Smiling, albeit awkwardly so, Saito glances nervously over to Robyn and then back to Cassandra. “This… we’re working on a case that's gone cold, and higher-ups have requested we approach you for help. It's— complicated?” He can't bring himself to explain the details, so he throws Robyn under the bus. “Agent Quinn’s got the full details.”

The look that Robyn gives Cassandra is a flat - though she's the last person who should be annoyed or even judging someone for wanting to help, Cassandra's display seems to dredge up a little bit of ire.

It only shows on her face for a moment, though, before a smirk forms. "It's funny," she remarks in a tone that communicates anything but; a kind of tone that's only funny because of the sarcasm behind it. "You're much like her, you know. More than one might think." She motions to the way Cassandra holds out her hands. "She'd do that when I asked her to fetch files for me or for insight into the harenkinetic I was looking into when she got hired." A beat. "At SESA."

Just in case Cassandra wasn't aware of what her Prime self had been up to.

Eye looks back up and into Cassandra's, her head tilting to the side slightly. "We have a murder case that we need solving, and your assistance will potentially help us accomplish that. It's a death I think you will take special interest in," Robyn notes. "Because it's you." Not her, but her - she makes little distinction as she drops that particular fact, believing that's the best way to make it not sound complicated and get straight to the point, Robyn figures.

Plus it had to get said at some point.

Now that they're at the whole purpose for the visit, Squeaks settles her full attention on the conversation. She mostly watches Robyn, with some side-eyeing at Cassandra and Saito. Only it's their asset who's getting suspicious looks still and not the agent. It also makes her wonder — not for the first time either — why they'd be calling in someone from one of the other superstrings to help solve a murder. But it's a question she keeps to herself, not really important enough to ask until another time later.

A Robert Frost poem came to mind, specifically the ending - “Two roads diverged in a wood and I took the one less travelled by, and that has made all the difference.” Not that she had a choice in the road she travelled. The Cassandra sitting here is exactly like Prime Cassandra because, aside from a few twists and turns, she had many of the same experiences up until the original timeline shift. And she was ready with a barbed comment when the request comes out, ready to tease and torment a bit more before acquiescing to SESA’s request. But it’s not something you expect to ever be faced with - the murder of yourself. And it did have to be said.

The words take a second to sink in, Cassandra sitting back on the couch, letting her arms fall from their crossed position to her lap. She’s quiet, gazing off into the middle distance for a few moments before she focuses on Robyn again. “I was aware that Cassie…the one from here, was murdered. I wasn’t given many details on her life. Just that she was a researcher. I wasn’t given any details on what happened - I just thought she was caught in the wrong place at the wrong time or something. Bad luck adding up to a negative sum just before I got here. The universe keeping itself in balance since having one equal two does not exactly work as far as math or the universe works.” It’s not exactly how dimensional travel works, but hey, a diet of science fiction has trained her brain to look at that sort of thing.

Cassandra knew that the self that lived in this reality before she arrived was murdered, and knew she did some sort of job researching, using her ability, but she never knew that Prime Cassandra worked for SESA. It positively killed her to not look into things, as she was the curious sort, but she was instructed to not make any contacts with anyone related to her former existence as Cassandra Baumann. It was difficult, considering the way that Prime Cassandra helped out around the safe zone, and it took a while for her to figure out the best way to respond to people coming up to her and thanking her for all she did for their family or for them.

“W…what do you need me to do?” Just like that, Cassandra accepts the offer.

“Well,” Saito side-eyes Robyn, then looks back to Cassandra, “we have a location where we found her remains, but we don't know if that just where she was… uh,” he looks away, “left?”

It's clear that Saito is having difficulties explaining the details of Cassandra Baumann’s death to her doppelgänger. “We— the case ran cold. No leads, no witnesses, nothing. Even the— the method of death was beyond unusual. There's so much we don't know.” So much more than Saito even realizes.

"That's what I thought," Robyn replies with a smirk of her own, ignoring Saito's side eye. She seems to have no issue talking to this Cassandra, but then, her experience trumps Saito's, as has been pointed out far too many times by a potentially overconfident agent. "Saito has the right of it, though. We know next to nothing. Lab results on every conceivable avenue have come back negative, there's been nothing we can leverage from around the scene itself, and trying to take account of possible Evolved, registered or otherwise, whose ability profiles potential line up with what we know has proven fruitless."

The agent makes her way over to the closest place she can sit, and makes herself comfortable. Still wearing that self important smirk, she points at Cassandra. "That's where you come in. Postcognative, correct?" Robyn knows this isn't a question she should be so brazenly asking, but she also is pretty confident in this Cassandra being like the one she knew - and thus, that she won't hesitate to answer regardless.

"You should already know what we need, if so."

Taking a sideways step puts Squeaks a little closer to Saito. “Is postcognitive like precognitive only in reverse?” she whispers at him, even leaning a little bit so she doesn't have to whisper very loudly. It isn't an ability she's ever heard of before, so it deserves a question. After asking, she sticks close but stops leaning. And most of her attention returns to watching Robyn and Cassandra.

Blowing a breath out through her nose, Cassandra bobs her head in the affirmative, tapping the middle of her chest as a declaration of responsibility. “Postcognitive. Yes.” She says to Robyn. “It sounds like you knew her. Me, I mean. The me from here, that is.” Superstrings and declarative pronouns can get confusing if you’re not careful. She sits back, regarding the one-eyed woman quietly with the only sound in the apartment coming from the footfalls of the kitten when she pads over to sniff at Robyn’s boots. “You know, I can tell you’re clever. You wouldn’t have made the trip over here if you didn’t think there was a better than average chance I’d accept.” The impish smirk Robyn is giving off is proof enough for that.

Cassandra reaches down to tap at the base of the kitten’s tail, getting a playful attack in response before she sits up and nods. “Yes, I know what you need or, at least, have a good idea of what you need me to do. I’ll need…time. I guess. And access. I need to have something I, no…she was holding or wearing when she was found and.” Cassandra realizes something sobering. “And if she wasn’t found with anything on her,” She says, swallowing, her mouth dry. “I’ll need access to the location she was found. Both, for best results, so we can get alternate viewpoints.” With Cassandra’s ability, objects usually show a limited viewpoint, but locations let her get all the camera angles and allow for a more immersive, exact experience, as horrible as that may be.

Cassandra glances to Squeaks as she whispers something to Saito, leaving attention on her and the newly-minted Agent for a moment, guessing what the whisper was about. “A postcognitive looks into the past instead of the future. I just have the advantage of being able to broadcast what happened it to anyone in about a ten foot radius live and in living color. It’s pretty cool, sometimes.”

Other times - like this one - won’t be very cool at all.

Saito’s brows rise and a smile crosses his face when Cassandra catches them with a little good old fashioned sleuthing. He motions with his to her, directing Squeaks’ attention that way. “We have the clothing she was wearing in evidence, and we can get you access to the site.” Saito doesn’t go into the status of her remains, given how much time has passed that should be clear by now.

“I can call ahead to Fort Jay and start the process of getting the evidence cleared for review. Given the uh, the— sensitive nature of your arrangement with the government, we won’t be able to do the viewing at Fort Jay. But I can have the items brought to the site we found her body in,maybe kill two— ”


With one stone.

That’s the saying, but after having remembered how Cassandra’s body was found, Saito clips the sentence off in his mouth. Awkwardy. “It might take a couple weeks to get everything together, I can give you a call in Agent Quinn’s stead to smooth out any details ahead of the meeting.” Saito, gladly, plays the role of an assistant in this endeavor.

"Ah, Nous sommes parvenus à un accord,!" Robyn claps her hands together once, shifting her weight as she sits up straighter. "Thank you, Cassandra." The SESA agent's voice takes a more sincere turn, hands folding into her lap. "I know this will be difficult. Those of us in SESA are still processing all of it ourselves."

She sweeps a hand out dramatically in front of her, before moving to her feet. "Your help is appreciated. It will be a great help in cracking this puzzle, and hopefully putting all of it behind us." And back on to cases she can actually solve, if she's lucky.

At least all of this would be a good showcase for the newbie and the intern. And besides, regardless of what's unknown, they can't stop this path they're on now.

They're going head first through the rabbit hole.

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