What Are Best Friends For


lucille4_icon.gif yi-min_icon.gif

Scene Title What Are Best Friends For
Synopsis Yi-Min and Lucille have friends with similar problems… okay the exact same problem.
Date April 20, 2019

Staten Island

The dreary bar on Staten Island was semi packed after the most recent fight down at the Crucible. A few of the fighters were present, all without their masks. These men didn't care to hide their true faces.

Lucille Ryans isn't like them.

She keeps her head bowed as she nurses on some shitty tequila. She wishes for a cigarette and kicks herself mentally for wanting it. Bad habits, fighting was a better one. There are bruises that adorn her long limbs, arms visible from out from under her black asymmetrical blazer. Though Lucille had won her fight there was clearly something on her mind. There has been since the assignment at Sunstone.

A little silhouette of a figure slides into the empty seat beside Lucille, her lack of stature in comparison to the other woman the first thing that is conspicuous in the shadowy contrast of this moodily lit bar. The better condition that she is in, as well. As finer details of her features become apparent in the lighting, it is clear that this is not a fellow fighter, but a fan of sorts— perhaps one that Lucille has witnessed among the audience if she has bothered to take note of occasionally recurring faces there.

Staten Island just so happens to be a somewhat locationally convenient stop between Providence and the Safe Zone (enough to justify the extra trip, at any rate), and Yi-Min has, in recent days, been more intrigued than put off by what she has heard of the White Rose.

Taking a pull from her own glass of cheap gin, it is this Yi-Min focuses on as she offers a voice of comfort: cognizant of her status as a stranger, but commiserating all the same. Who among this crowd hasn't drunk out their troubles at a bar? "…What's troubling you?"

"Just your typical friend drama." My best friend has an entity that takes over her body and makes her kill people. Signaling the bartender for another drink and pointing towards the woman next to her, "Her drinks are on me." It pays being in Wolfhound, especially with their latest operation. It also pays to be a winning fighter in the Crucible.

Mostly winning.

"He who knows no hardships will know no hardihood." Draining the last of her drink with a soft smile. Finally Lucille slides her gaze over to Yi-Min and she does recognize her from somewhere… "You watch the fights." It's not a question but a statement. She would recognize that face, she sure of it. "Most people who come to watch aren't as friendly as you are…?" Your name.

Yi-Min casts her eyes downwards in sympathy, even as her mouth winds into the shred of an obliged smile at the covering of her drinks. Lovely, that. "Typical or not," she says, taking the two comments together, "Friend drama is never a nice thing to deal with."

But then, introductions are called for. Yi-Min cups a meditative hand around her glass, returning the gaze placidly. "The name is Yi-Min. ‘White Rose, yes?’ You and your ability are impressive to watch in the ring." No empty praise here; she is not one to embellish for the sake of small talk, and as though to seal this, she again sips at the top of her gin in a matter-of-fact way.

Unlike Kara, Yi-Min seems to have fewer qualms about the nature of 'fair fighting.'

That smile doesn't falter as Yi-Min says her stage name, it's not that hard to pick out if you really think about it. "Lucille is the name I usually go by outside of the ring." A nod to the bartender as she takes a drink from her glass of tequila. Turning her gaze back to the woman she grins, "Thank you. I appreciate it." Praise from another woman is always good, sistas gotta stick together right?

"What about you? Never fancied a round down there? Makes you feel…" how to not sound cliche? "Alive." With a roll of her eyes at herself. Lucille's expression turns to something more serious. "Makes you forget things. Like that persistent friend drama." There it goes again. Why she's sitting her drinking alone instead of back at The Bunker. Lucille's hand goes to partly cover her notebook that lays open in front of her glass.

The words: Black, Project Hydra, Conduits. Can be seen but the rest of the notes aren't as clear.

“A pretty enough name behind a pretty title.”

Fighting has crossed Yi-Min's mind, actually, though less as a matter of serious practical consideration and more just a vague, stirred-up feeling of missing the clean flow of martial combat versus another body. The physicality of it. There are many more reasons why she would never choose the Crucible as an arena for this, but it had been a nice temptation to poke at anyways. "These days, I prefer to watch the artistry of others," is her simple reply on this front, which is true.

Attracted by the motion of Lucille's hand, Yi-Min's eyes ride the lateral movement towards the notebook sitting beneath the haze of her glass. Even just in that flicker, she distinguishes the outlines of words that are— suspiciously familiar. 'Clink' goes her glass on the countertop, prematurely, and she seems to grow more still.

The weight of such words does not belong in this dump of a bar, in this ruin of a borough.

"What you have written," she expresses calmly as though this is only the start of something more she wants to say. But she stops, unwilling to look away from the now-covered sight.

The book is closed with a gentle but firm hand and Lucille gets up from her stool, nodding to the bartender who nods in return. She paid in advance, more than enough. Until next time, the book is tucked under her arm and she knocks the rest of her drink back before placing it on the bar gently.

Reaching a hand out to touch the small of Yi-Min's back the tall woman leans in close to her ear, "Outside." Her whisper hot against the woman's ear before Lucille is walking softly towards the exit ignoring the fighters that loudly recount their fights to a crowd of fans. Out the door she walks the door closing with her disappearing from view but not before her body angles in the direction that is the side of the building.

The command is marked with a small narrowing of her eyes, though Yi-Min doesn't get up to follow Lucille. Not right away, anyhow. Leaning one forearm heavily into the bar, she tips her head back, draining what is left of the clear liquid in her glass first— it might well taste like piss and already have been covered besides, but she isn’t about to let her drink go to waste in the face of the uncertainty of the chat about to take place.

After one further pause, she sets the emptied glass down on the stained countertop carelessly, drawing herself together and silently treading the steps of the same path the other woman had taken. Her demeanor has slowed as well, taken on the intent deliberation of an exploring cat.

What awaits her is only her guess. She’ll be damned if she doesn’t find out.

A leg swings out from the darkness trying to catch Yi-Min in the stomach. Lucille's pale face follows suit as a hand darts out to grab at the smaller woman by the throat, eyes that were previously light blue now blaze that golden color that Yi-Min is familiar with. The Wolfhound Operative knows that Yi-Min has watched her probably enough to know her fighting style.

The kick was just a hello.

"What about," Face cold in case this turns out ugly, in case this other woman is some sort of spy. The Institute? It wouldn't be the first time someone was dumb enough to harass one of the Hounds. "What I've written?" Lucille growls through her teeth as her hair flies from the movements.

Instead of allowing her thoughts to run wild Lucille doubles down on her training, breathing evenly. Not allowing her emotions surrounding the conduits to cloud her though she may have already tipped the scales by striking out at a stranger who dared ask. You just couldn't be too careful these days.

But Yi-Min had been primed and ready for something to happen, her every nerve taut with alertness with every conservative step she had taken behind Lucille. It had only been her hope that it wouldn't immediately descend into physical confrontation like this. Now that it has though, it is an alternative that she is equally willing to face.

Lucille's leg connects with only air, the heavy swish of the overcoat she is wearing marking where the Taiwanese woman had stood only moments earlier. Similarly, her hand closes around nothing as well, though this is a much more narrow miss— Lucille feels the whoosh of momentum and the briefest brush of Yi-Min's black hair through her fingers as the lighter woman drops away in a half-dodge-half-roll, moving quickly afterwards to increase the distance between them as much as she can within those precious few seconds.

A long, gracefully tapered knife has appeared in Yi-Min's hand, thumb wedged against the spine of the blade in a well-practiced grip. She holds this before her now, the height at which it is held delineating the difference between warning and threatening. It is meant to be the first.

"I could ask you the same question. But stop. I want to talk.”

The maneuver is well noted by Lucille as she steps forward lightly as Yi-Min rolls, taking her time. Quick as lightning her eyes flare a hot amber gold as she severs Yi-Min's connection to her sight. Blind. Eyeing the knife Lucille slips closer but stays out of arm's reach. "Easy, knife away and you can talk." She assumes that Yi-Min knows how to do away with it without her sight. "So you should be in the ring after all." An afterthought.

Slowly Lucille swats away loose strands of her hair, using her ability to make sure nobody else is around to surprise her. Giving Yi-Min a few second relief of the total darkness she inflicts on her after Radar is complete her influence slips back over.

"Who you are and what you know about what's in my notebook." Her tone clear to the shorter woman, Lucille flexes her wrist ready to move, a leopard poised. "You understand why I'm so caution."

Yi-Min is in the process of cautiously circling, step upon step, when—

complete blackness closes over her vision like a vise. The instinctive reaction is confusion, visceral, and she reaches to touch at her eyelids with a halting upwards movement of her free hand. Nevertheless, it does not take her long to figure out what must have happened, given that those curious, golden eyes had been the last thing she had been narrowly watching before her sight had been stolen.

The end of her knife does indeed dip downwards towards the street. But at the same time, Yi-Min exhales a short, rapidly forming mist of some invisible but pungent gas towards the general location she knows Lucille to be at.

Lucille's throat and chest both constrict with a burst of coughing: her nose begins running freely, and a twin flood of drowsiness and nausea swells through her senses.

"Give me back my sight, and promise to answer my questions, " Yi-Min proclaims, as serenely as she can under the circumstances, even as she herself stumbles slightly. "And I'll tell you."

As Yi-Min blows and Lucille fills that dual effect she snaps out with a hard twist of Agony to the other woman's nerve endings. Amber eyes widen as she realizes this woman is more dangerous than she appears, she was just telling Finn about that. That was as she hears her speak. The woman's words are heard and Lucille rolls back further. Out of range of whatever the fuck that gas was but also pulling her own influence away from Yi-Min. Eyes stay golden as Lu moves to channel her energy towards Alleviate. Slowly she cracks her neck from side to side and spreads her hands out at her sides.

If it's a test then Yi-Min's passed.

"You first." Lucille's voice slowly remorphs to a softer tone but the edge of that growl is persistent and she doesn't try to clear her throat. The notebook tucked into her asymmetrical blazer's inner pocket isn't felt for, but the information inside those pages bears on Lucille. Her ramblings mostly, every lead a dead end. She needed to go further back she realized but she had no idea how. The frustration of it all, of having to potentially deal with someone on the wrong side of this. It's what Luce's first thought is but she takes her breathing into account.

"What do you know about what's in my notebook?"

A ragged gasp jerks out of Yi-Min as though she had been robbed of air, and her fingers coil more viciously into the ribbed handle of her knife. Somewhere in the back of her brain, a sly thought enters, unbidden: how glad she is that she had never been one of this woman's competitors in the ring.

Luckily, it seems Lucille is also having other thoughts of her own. As Yi-Min's vision returns, clears, the contaminants she had been emanating into the atmosphere are allowed to instantly disperse from her breath. Blinking through the gradually restored haze of colors, she lets her blade stay aimed carefully downwards, but makes no move to put it away just yet. She also maintains the distance they had both cultivated in turn, her gaze cold and vigilant across the level of asphalt that separates them.

"I know that somebody who is very dear to me has suffered," Yi-Min says, punctuating this with a clear and humorless laugh, "as a result of its influence. "So what I know about it is, in fact, far too little. Sorry to disappoint."

In fact she looks many things at the moment, but sorry is not one of them.

Her body doesn't relax as Lucille takes to watching Yi-Min's movements clocking them, her expression hardened and gold eyes searching. In front of her and beyond. Absently rubbing at her chest she takes a moment to consider the woman opposite of her's words. Somebody dear to her. Influence. Eyebrows raise a fraction as a lone strand of hair falls into Lucille's eyes. "Eileen." She breathes softly and nods her head venturing a guess. "She's my niece's other Aunt." Family. What Lucille knows about Eileen currently is little, what she understands about her gaining the Black Conduit is even less. What Wild theories she has are kept to herself, she doesn't even rant at Berlin about it.

"My best friend, sister. She suffers the same." If she's right that Yi-Min speaks of Eileen then there is common ground to be reached and Lucille goes for another step on that proverbial path of collaboration though she doesn't know yet. "Since she was a child."

"I've found little. Books on Kazimir Volken, rumors on how ancient and old these beings are. First hand experience at its counterpart's potential but nothing on how to," her jaw shifts as she searches for the right word before settling for, "Exorcise." Help Berlin free herself of the influence of those… life forces. An internal debate takes place for Lucille, two leads. Three if she's being meticulous (she was). Trusting a stranger from a bar with secrets like this could get more than the Wolfhound Operative hurt. "…And something else. Possibly related or linked."

There is a tense moment where Yi-Min goes stock still, the wind blowing a thin tress of trim hair in front of her dark, disbelieving eyes. Her reaction speaks for itself in how motionless she has gone at hearing the word Eileen, which she had not spoken. Everything else as well: niece's other aunt; the articulations of Lucille's intentions. There are a few quick internal calculations, connecting the strands of the web inside her mind.

Finally, she slowly moves to sheathe her knife into its home at the back of her belt, a very strange but more seeking look now being given to the other woman. "Ti gong tianh gong lang," she whispers into the next breeze with her face towards the sun, yet another more skeptical, quieter half-laugh directed at herself. Then louder, for Lucille's ears. "…You are one of the Ryans. How strange it is that we should meet each other on this path." The way it is phrased, it is not a question.

She cocks her head, looking directly through the now rapidly dissipating gaseous haze that lingers between them both. Even now, only the lightest of obscurities beneath the waning shafts of sunlight indicates that something might still be there, and not for much longer.

"That information will not be easy to find," she notes, allowing a freer, more conversational note into her voice. And is that— bitterness? Despite it all, she remains wary. "Books. Rumors. Even the benefit of firsthand observation means almost nothing. This is something I am coming to understand only all too well."

The declaration of her name has Lucille's eyes narrowing a fraction, they were both well informed, trained the taller woman could see. Her posture mostly relaxes now as they shift to speaking on what obviously keeps them both preoccupied. Saving a friend. "It's all.. nothing tangible." Lifeforce. The essence of people, it made sense but felt more like magic than science.

"I know someone who has personal experience with it, it's counterpart at least." The White Conduit. "Two.. actually." Thoughts straying from Francois to her former boss Abby. Lucille hadn't approached either because both seemed too close to home. To be drawing back to this, maybe she was afraid word would get back to Berlin. It wasn't that she didn't trust her friend but it was clearly easier to find information without someone who had so much trauma… being the one affected by all of this. "Francois Allegre."

Uttering the name feels like a release and it's like an invisible hand is reaching out from Lucille to Yi-Min, an offer for a handshake. A partnership in the endeavor of saving friends. "We can talk to him." We. Lucille wastes no time. "Otherwise… dead ends. All of them." She doesn't even bring up using telepaths that just felt so.. invasive.

So. Francois Allegre. By the Victors had alluded to his probable dispatchment by an assassin in decades past, but it surprises her exactly none to hear that he is in fact alive. After all, had this not been the approximate state of things for several others she had known now, including the very story she had concocted for herself?

The impression of the Black Conduit being more akin to magic than anything touchable by science is precisely what has had Yi-Min frustrated so, and the reason why she reaches for the metaphorical handshake offered by Lucille with the smoothly mindful resolve that she does. Aside from this, she recognizes the possible kinship when she sees it, both in unexpected familial ties and perhaps otherwise.

Fortune works in mysterious ways.

"I would be only too glad to pursue this matter with you. Let us do this, then. Two are stronger than one." It is a promise that is as firm and genuine as any Yi-Min has ever made. Her stance has similarly relaxed, tension mostly gone from her slim shoulders, and she regards the American woman with her arms newly folded.

"First, though," she adds to this, giving Lucille a canny look over the top of an easier smile. The cool strength behind her gaze seems only to have intensified due to what they are discussing, but it seems to have other brought other sensibilities riding along in its wake. The openness of an invitation, incidentally, happens to be one of them. "I believe we were having a drink."

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