Wees Veilig


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Scene Title Wees Veilig
Synopsis In the middle of struggling to classify Kirk's presence and how he should be treated, Asi approaches him to demand he keep close and keep safe.
Date June 24, 2021

Phoenix Heights

When Asi pulls the helmet off her head after bringing the rented Mantis to a halt in front of Kirk's accommodations, it's with a bewildered expression and slightly widened eyes. It's not a hotel, so no chance to probe against a potentially falsified ID— assuming he even has it. But it's not a motel, either.

"学寮みたい… アホじゃないの1?" It's merely drizzling now, the air thick with humidity and smoke as night encroaches. She leaves the helmet hanging from the fingers of one hand as her gaze swings to the truck she recognizes from Kirk's visit to the Bastion parked beside her, then whips her head back in the direction of the building.

Something unnerves her about this entire arrangement, something she hasn't yet been able to pinpoint. Whatever it is, that feeling spikes when she sees the man himself leaving his truck behind. "Hey, hey, hey," she calls out to Kirk, beginning to cross the lot from the vehicles over to him. She sounds like one trying to advise someone else away from making a mistake, or a dangerous choice. "What do you think you're doing?"

Kirk turns, looking over his shoulder at Asi as she approaches. He glances back at the hostel, then tucks his keys into his pocket and fully turns around to approach her. “I’m getting out of the rain?” His voice is muffled by his respirator.

“Which, uh, honestly. You should do that too? Because I’m pretty sure we can still get cancer.” Kirk says with a flutter of nervous laughter behind his voice. “And this?” He points up at the rain. “Is just liquid cancer, I’m pretty sure.”

"No," Asi clarifies on stepping close enough, loud at first until that physical gap is cleared. More quietly, more insistently, she asks, "I mean why are you here? Why didn't you stay at Isaac's?"

With a stiff gesture of one hand to the hostel, she furrows her brow. "What do you think you're doing, staying someplace like this? Why not stay somewhere less public, somewhere we can look after you?" The tense, overprotective undertones aren't something she means to be conveying, but it comes across that way all the same.

“I’m not a puppy,” Kirk says with a grimace and a crooked smile. “Look, I made it all the way here from Europe on my own, and besides, these folks are really nice and I like the food.” He admits with a lazy shrug. “What’m I supposed to do, hide in somebody’s closet like E.T.? Put a flower dress over me and a bonnet so nobody suspects I’m some sort of death robot?”

Kirk spreads his hands helplessly. “Asi, I appreciate the concern, but I’m a real boy as much as anybody in that house is concerned.” His creator certainly saw fit to pump him full of useless pop-culture knowledge.

"But you're not," Asi snaps quietly, taking a half step closer to emphasise that point. While there's frustration in that, it doesn't feel… derogatory. Her brow knits with that same concern he's called her out on. "And what if they do find out? What if something happens and we're not there to help, meaning you're not there to help us when it matters, Kirk?"

"What the fuck do you know about looking after yourself?" she asks in exasperation. "In situations like that?" She doesn't break that stern look off of him, but her posture shifts like to chase his gaze should it start moving. "I'm not saying hide in a closet, but I am saying you should stay safe. Stay close. Stay with…"

Her eyelids flicker as she thinks quickly, but very carefully on her voice of word. "Friends."

Kirk’s look of exasperation slowly shifts to something more resigned. He sighs into his respirator and shrugs. “Well now if I had friends I’d stay with them.” He says, his expression hard to read behind the respirator mask. “I know all sorts of stuff about protecting myself, because apparently the people who bolted me together or whatever figured it was important. Like I said, I got my whole-ass self from the UK to here without a fuss. Had to take some back channels to, you know, get around the whole airport thing.”

Sighing sharply, Kirk steps up close to Asi so he can keep his voice down. “I might be newly minted, but I’m not dumb.” He says quietly. “And if something happened to me and I was with you, what’d you do? Unplug me and plug me back in again?” He laughs and shakes his head. “Come on, come in and have dinner. You can do a, whatever, situation check of my hosts. They’re fine. It’s fine.”

Not a puppy, Kirk had said of himself, and his awareness that other Pharos aren't automatically friends is frustrating proof of that. Asi looks off for a moment as she gathers what shreds of diplomacy in her she can muster before Kirk steps in again.

Then she frowns at him. "No, Kirk," she answers his sarcastic question of what would she do with the air of someone who had something less kind than his name in mind. "If you are like us, first aid works on you just fine. And there's safety in numbers, safety in being close by others like you." She flips her helmet around to pin it against her side with its opening down in the event the rain picks up again. "And of all of us, you may be the most valuable. You, with more knowledge of the place we come from, however little it is."

Her eyes shoot toward the door of the hostel in silence before she gives a small shake of her head. No, she's fine without partaking in family dinner, thanks. She's less and less personable by the hour. "If you're determined to stay here, the last thing you want is unusual attention being drawn to you," Asi mutters.

“Unusual attention like a weird conversation out in the hickory-smoked rain?” Kirk asks, putting his hands on his hips.

“Fine.” Kirk concedes, raising his hands in defeat. “Look, if you want to make a big deal out of this I’m not going to fight you. I don’t keep anything there, all my stuff’s in my truck, so if you want I can just turn around on my heels right now and wind up where you want me to be.” Slacking his shoulders a little, Kirk raises one brow. “Which is… where, exactly?”

Right. She's convinced him, then. Good. Right?

Asi's mouth flattens as she witnesses Kirk apparently give in to her concerns. She starts to answer, the first attempt lost in a shallow sigh. Her eyes go from him back to this place, and she seriously weighs the comforts of this place versus staying in off-the-grid Park Slope. "I was going to recommend Isaac's. Either where we were earlier, or with him at his new place on Roosevelt Island. Thatcher could host you, she's on Raytech's campus. There is safe, and she'd be able to vouch for you. Or…"

But she trails off, a hand suddenly lifting to smear down her face and rid it of dripping rain. "I don't know, kid. The thought of something happening to you just terrifies me. You're our only lead, the only one we've had in months, and the only one we've had like this ever," she mutters. "And you're…"

Try as she might, she can't find a way to phrase this that makes sense. "You're…" Asi tries one more time before her eyes go to her feet, tongue pressed against the back of a canine. "I don't know," she admits, rather than let the blanks be filled some other way.

“Look,” Kirk says, making his way back over to Asi. “You’re the one who’s worried about me, not the rest of them who were fine with me driving off into the night.” He raises one brow and looks around, watching the way the misting rain drifts like clouds through the glow of street lights.

“Where are you staying?” Kirk asks, tilting his head to the side as he does. “Because if I had to choose someone to keep an eye on my back in all of this, it’d be somebody who actually gives a rat’s ass about whether I come back or not. Otherwise,” he shrugs, “it’s no different than here.”

That brings her to let out a jaded sort of laugh. "I'm…" Asi trails off, though, as she puts thought to it. While she has lived primarily at the Bastion since last winter…

She looks off into the distance briefly as her thoughts wander, then glances back to Kirk when she returns to the moment. "I have a place nearby. It isn't much, but it's private. It's where I go whenever I'm working on something I don't want Wolfhound's eyes on." Her head shakes slightly. "Bastion is off-limits. There's a government observer who drops in. But there is safe enough, and free of charge."

"For you, anyway," she acknowledges with a mirthful chuckle and an otherwise even expression.

“Well, that’s good because I don’t have any money,” Kirk says with an all-too bright smile at his predicament. Turning on a heel, he glances at his hostel, then back to Asi. Putting his back to the hostel, Kirk closes the distance to her in the greasy rain.

“I’ll follow you,” Kirk says with a nod to her Mantis. “Because whatever else we have to say? It can probably be done out of the rain.”

She rolls her eyes good-naturedly at the news he's lacking money. Of course he is… Asi reaches up a hand to clap him on the shoulder as he gets nearer before turning away.

"Off we go. It's nearby." She roughs the helmet back over her head as she heads across the street to her bike.

Asi's Apartment

Also in Phoenix Heights

"I'll get a key made for you," Asi promises as she pushes open the faded white door in on an apartment that can hardly be called a place someone lives. An L-shaped couch hugs the far wall of the living room, facing a television set on a table made up of a cardboard box from some other past delivery. A modem is plugged into the cable jack rather than the television. A breakfast-bar counter splits the kitchen from the living room, a tall table with two stools inside the kitchen seemingly the only place to sit apart from the couch.

She pulls open the fridge and freezer doors respectively, finding them empty saved for a bottle of vodka stashed in the back of the freezer. "I'll have to go to the store. There's a bed in the bedroom," she indicates with a nod to the hall on the other side of the kitchen wall bearing the table. "Some toiletries in the shower. Make a list, and I'll add things to the grocery run." Closing the fridge, she wipes the lower half of her face with her hand, ignoring how it stinks of rubber and soot for the mental alleviation it provides her in this moment.

"That's… it, I think," Asi murmurs into her palm before it swings back down to her side. "Good enough for now. Gets you off the street." She sounds tired, and glances up to peer across the apartment to Kirk with that arms-distance look once more, still trying to decide what to make of him in her own mind.

He wasn't a robot waiting to receive orders. And as he kindly pointed out, even though he's the youngest of all of them, he wasn't "born yesterday," so to speak. So what was he? And how should she regard him, aside from a source of information?

She doesn't know yet.

"If the fires decide to continue to ignore the rain, we may have to evacuate," Asi acknowledges. "Wait for me if that happens. I'll come for you."

“That suggestion’ll hold water until I can see the fire out the window, then I’ll take my chances outside.” Kirk admits, glancing at Asi even as he peeks out her windows down to the street. “I’m glad this is just your safehouse,” he says, turning to cast a spurious look around the space, “because it does not say good things about your mental health if it was your primary residence.”

Kirk flashes a quick, grimacing smile before meandering back in Asi’s direction, hands on his hips. “All said, the fire’s probably a blessing in disguise. You go missing for a few days or a few weeks, whatever it takes to hit the ARM facility, nobody’s going to bat an eyelash. Tons of people are getting out while the getting is good.”

Wandering in the direction of Asi’s kitchen, Kirk stops and turns around. “I drove up through Pittsburgh,” he says with a harrowed look in his eye. “Whole fucking city just… reduced to ashes. Cars tossed around like toys, buildings crumbled. I couldn’t tell how much of it was damage from the war, damage from the years it sat uninhabited after, or what the fire did to it. Most of the city was still on fire. I had to abandon my original vehicle and walk the coast to get through.”

Kirk’s shoulders slack, eyes cast to the side. “It’s not fair for you to have to deal with everything I dumped on you, and all this at the same time.”

"The world is rarely kind enough to only bring one trouble on us at a time," Asi informs him with serenity granted by acceptance of that disgruntling truth. She takes a moment of silence after that to reflect on what he saw in Pittsburgh, deciding that picture doesn't bode well for the Safe Zone. Everything built here was still surrounded by so much of what she imagines there must have looked like.

"To wit, the people here don't deserve what's coming for them after they've just clawed their way out of the last ashes, either. At least with the current crisis, the 進化人 volunteers ensure there's a better chance of things not going up in smoke." Her head quirks slightly, eyebrows lifting as she mutters, "Who knows if the bigots will give a shit or appreciate it, but nonetheless…"

Her eyes cut a sharp glance back to Kirk as she notes, "And thank you for your kind words regarding my state of living. You have what you have when you're living life on the run, you know." But the edges of her eyes soften in amusement of a kind, for all the deadpan severity of her teasing.

It's a subtle mark erased in short order as she closes her eyes with a shake of her head. "I should get going for now. There's… projects I still owe updates and research on, even in the midst of all this other chaos." Now the deadpan in her voice noticeably trends sarcastic. "After all, the end of the world does not stop hurtling at us simply because we're having a few personal crises." With a wistful tsk, she notes, "It would be nice if it did."

“Yeah.” Kirk agrees with everything all at once, still peering out the window at the horizon, as if expecting the fire to be there at any moment. When he realizes he’s obsessing, Kirk pulls himself from the window and turns to look back at Asi, not realizing how intensely he’s frowning.

Wees veilig, oké?” Kirk says, then with a fluttering blink touches his lips and bubbles with laughter. “Okay, not sure what that was. Uh.” He grimaces. “Be safe, okay?” He repeats, this time in English.

The unexpected tongue brings Asi to arch an eyebrow right as Kirk realizes his mistake. She doesn't know what brought that on either, but at least he was aware he did it. She gives him the beginning of a small smile.

"I will," she promises, her thoughts already partly elsewhere, onto the next thing. "You, too."

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