What's Yet To Come


abby_icon.gif colette_icon.gif elisabeth_icon.gif

Scene Title What's Yet to Come
Synopsis A seeming coincidence leads three people back together after eight years.
Date April 18, 2019

The roar of engines is only getting closer.

Anti-aircraft artillery fire traces up into the sky leaving streaks of gold against firelit clouds of billowing smoke rising from the burning remains of downtown Washington D.C. Small arms fire pops off in the distance, accompanied by the seemingly disembodied cries of panicked civilians. The engine roar grows louder, and overhead the burning silhouette of a military cargo plane soars toward the gleaming white spire of the Washington Monument.

“Don’t stop! Keep moving!” Lawrence Cole retired from the DCPC in 2006, right before the world changed forever. In the years since his retirement,he’d watched the world he knew become surrounded by concertina wire and threatened at gunpoint. He knew — feared — that one day everything would come crashing down. He never imagined it would be so literal.

Cole runs as fast as he can, lungs on fire from the exertion, sweaty hands gripped tightly around the stock of a carbine rifle. Behind him, a sobbing trail of civilians weave through the fire-blackened hulks of demolished cars stalled across what was once a freeway and is now a tomb. Flames leap up from the cars, silhouetting the skeletons of drivers within. The plane overhead, a C130 with two engines on fire, crashes into the Washington Monument in a thunderous explosion of stone and metal. Cole skids to a stop, landing on his side on the street, staring up across the freeway at the mall plaza where the plane’s wreckage cartwheels across grass and into the facade of the national museum of science.

Get up,” Cole whispers to himself, shaking from head to toe, “get up,” he hears himself hiss, but his legs refuse to work. One of the civilians he’d been trying to escort out of the combat zone comes up beside him, tugging on his shirt, trying to get him to stand. Cole looks up at the man, someone Cole rescued from a burning tenement building just two hours ago. He doesn’t hear the gunshot that kills him, just feels the explosion of blood on his face as the man whose life he’d just saved falls atop him. The other civilians start screaming.

Now he hears the gunfire.

Now he’ll remember it.

Seven Years Later

The Church of the Ascension



NYC Safe Zone

April 18th

7:47 pm

“I was pinned under him for… for— until the sun came up.”

Lawrence Cole is 73 years old now. He is whispery thin, but still possessed of a head full of gray hair. Seated in a folding chair in a circle with other Civil War survivors, Cole stares down into the paper cup of coffee between his hands that has long since gone cold. “The soldiers thought I was dead. I… I don’t know what happened to any of the people I was with. There were kids.”

“A lot of us have unanswered questions from our time in service.” That warm, consoling voice belongs to Martin Pines, the 92 year old organizer of a veteran’s circle that meets weekly in the basement of the Church of the Ascension in Elmhurst. Pines fought in World War II and the Korean War and somehow survived the Second American Civil War at the ripe age of 85. He looks thinner that Cole, more sunken in the cheeks, but he has his wits about him in a way that is knife-sharp for someone his age. He and Cole are the oldest people in the room, a room full of veterans that — many of whom — were children when the fighting broke out.

“The C130 crash was a prisoner transport.” Another voice speaks out, one of the child soldiers of the war most recently ended. Colette Demsky took considerable convincing to come here, let alone to talk. But now she’s a regular, sharing her own experiences with other war survivors and offering insights into how she’s managed her trauma. “That was… right before Christmas, 2012, right?” Cole nods once, still looking into his coffee. “I wasn’t on the ground yet, but… but I heard a lot of people actually made it out of DC.”

Colette looks down to her hands, to the tattoo of a pine forest on her left forearm, then back up to Cole. “A lot of people made it out of DC because of people like you…”

Not everyone in the meeting shares their experiences, nor is it required. But not everyone is here to. Elisabeth Harrison has haunted the periphery of the room for a while, as anonymous as she can be with ballcap and sunglasses, dressed down and doing her level best not to draw attention away from the others. But there’s a compelling point to coming to a place like this, to listening to the stories of what happened in the world while she was adrift in the stream of time: No matter what world you’re from, everyone needs someone to listen.

“Well, I know we’re getting close to closing time…” Pines says, lacing his fingers together and leaning forward in his seat. “I just want you all to know how brave you are for coming out here today. For talking about the things you’ve experienced… the places you’ve been… and accepting that you don’t have to shoulder all that burden alone.”

Looking around the room, Pines asks quietly, “Does anybody else feel like sharing today?”

Does she want to speak today? This is not the first veteran group she's been to… years ago, after 9/11 and again after Midtown, she participated in one or another. It had been one of these groups that first brought her into contact with Norton Trask and, ultimately, helped change the course of her life. Elisabeth struggles now with knowing that the war she fought isn't the one they're talking about. But it was still a war.

"The worst part is always wondering… why you're the one still standing in the end."

The words escape her before she realizes she's actually going to say anything. Slipping her glasses from her nose, Elisabeth toys with them between her fingers. She can feel eyes turn toward her and it makes her anxious, makes her wish she hadn't spoken. And she can't stop the words anyway. "Sometimes … I wonder if surviving is a punishment all its own," she muses in a husky tone. "Even when you know there aren't any good decisions and there sure as hell aren't any right decisions, so you make the best of the worst choices… and you save some people. But you were never going to be able to save them all…"

She trails off and finally risks looking up, uncertain if her face will be known — at least generally. There will be one who knows her. She trained Colette some after Conrad died, though it fell by the wayside in all that came later and then she was presumed dead. But her eyes, for now, rest on the group's organizer. "Being the last one standing always seems… to bring with it the obligation to not forget the ones you lost on the way. The ones you failed or… worse, the ones who were killed as a direct result of your own action or inaction. It makes it really hard sometimes to focus on the ones you saved. It feels selfish… to move ahead and enjoy a life you bought with so much blood. I never feel like I really earned it. It's more like… I stole it somehow."

Abigail was late. Terribly late. So late that she half thought about not showing up and just going home and relieving the babysitter. Trauma in the E.R. cares no two shits that you had somewhere to be and neither does the bus systems. But midway through Elisabeth’s verbal offering, the door quietly opens and in her nurses scrubs and jacket to ward off the spring cool, because coming for the last ten or fifteen minutes was her still keeping a promise to show up. Abigail is doing her best to slip in quietly, Unseen. Unlikely to happen. But she slips in none the less and takes up a post at the side of the door, against the wall.

Elisabeth Harrison’s voice is distinctive. Part of that is the nature of her ability, it commands attention subconsciously, hangs in the air and sticks in the mind. That's only more true now that her natural speaking voice has subtly changed over the course of eight years marooned in other times. There's more gravity behind it, more certainty, the necessary tones of survival. That voice diverts attention from Abby’s arrival, allows her the comfort of being — even if momentarily — anonymous, while at the same time putting Elisabeth in the spotlight.

Colette is, unsurprisingly, the first to recognize Elisabeth. She sits up straight in her seat, eyes wide and lips parted for words that have no way of being spoken when her tightened throat won't cooperate. One by one some of the others in the circle seem to have varying degrees of recognition, all of which end on the spectrum of surprise. Pines is the only enigma in them, his smile just as patient and welcoming as it was before she spoke, his old eyes betraying no secrets.

“Thinking that you have to earn a human right is where a lot of us go wrong.” Pines finds no difficulty in using his voice, unlike Colette. “People who've fought tend to think in the dichotomy of service to reward, because that's how we’re incentivized to sign up in the first place. For those of us who didn't get pulled into a conflict by inertia.”

Placing his palms flat on his knees, Pines sits back in his chair with a creak of the metal. “I think that's actually a good lesson to close tonight on,” he opines, “that happiness is an inalienable human right. That we all, each and every one of us,” he says as he looks around the room, “deserve happiness in our lives, and that isn't contingent on any perceived value in our actions.” His sentiment resonates with the others in the circle, draws Colette’s blind eyes to him.

“Thank you for speaking up on your first time,” Pines says of Elisabeth, his smile broad and earnest.

Elisabeth offers a hint of a smile despite the fact that the recognition from the occupants of the room clearly makes her self-conscious. An uneasy shrug accompanies the quirked lips and she toys with the sunglasses in her hands still. "Thank you." The reply is quiet but sincere — knowing you're not alone in the emotions is often not enough. Getting them out into the world is something like lancing a wound, allowing the feelings of guilt into the sun to be cleansed in acknowledgement. Or something like it.

She clears her throat, blue eyes flickering from one face to the next. A hesitant nod to Colette is given as she waits for the group to break up into the expected coffee and chatter. A bit of surprise but also a kind of relief appears when she realizes who the newcomer is, as well. Abigail has always had a way of making Elisabeth's world more stable, as crazy as that might seem to some.

Abigail could have some comments re: happiness and the right of some people to have it. But she doesn’t say anything. Just listens when Elisabeth finishes, and Pine closes out the meeting, guilt on her face for having come so late. When the audiokinetic spots her, there’s a jut of her chin in greeting to her old friend and a smile, but she still hangs out to the side of the door, shuffling even more to the side for those who want to depart so she’s not standing in their way, hands in her jacket pockets, tucked away.

As the veterans’ circle begins to break up, Colette is the last to stand, carefully folding up her chair as she does. Pines is mindful to speak to each of the veterans that had come, talking to them individually before they leave and reminding them when they group will meet again.

On the periphery of that, Colette is collecting the chairs two-by-two and hanging them up on a rack against the wall. She is taller than either Abby or Elisabeth remember her, and gone is the softness of youth from her features. There is a harder edge to her, brows to cheekbones to jawline. It's very reminiscent of Hana Gitelman’s countenance. Though not reinforced by anything so clean as genetics.

Colette finds Pines after she's finished with the chairs, sharing a quick word with him and palming a check into his hand to which he repays her in a smile and a clap of one hand to her shoulder. Only Elisabeth can hear what he's saying to her in that confidence. “That one wants to talk to you,” Pines motions to Abby when he says it. It's only then that Colette recognizes her for who she is. Eight years has changed her too.

As Colette steps away from Pines she tucks her hands into the pockets of her dark jeans, shoulders hunched and brows furrowed. White eyes flick from Abby to Elisabeth and back again, accompanied by the corner of her mouth coming up. “So which one'a you's Christmas Past and which one’s Christmas Future?”

She doesn't wait for an answer, instead she just comes at Liz, arms spread. For a hug.

As the group shuffles about, Elisabeth steps to the side to stand next to where Abigail hovers. She offers a grin. "Hey stranger." Her blue eyes are watchful on the group. She's not sure what to say to Martin Pines — her therapist recommended the group and this being her first time, she's a little ill at ease yet. Colette's approach, however, brings an easing of her body language and a genuine, if small, reduction in her tension.

"Hmmmm." A glance at Abby, a pursing of her lips in thought for a moment, and then Elisabeth admits to Colette, "I don't think I want to be either of those." Neither is exactly a positive mental image! She takes in the changes in Colette's features, the things that simple age have done and the wages of living war years. Everyone deals with it differently, but the physical signs exist in the faces of all, so far as she's seen. The eyes are definitely getting a bit of scrutiny, but questions about some of that will come much later.

She's surprised by the hug, though she doesn't dodge the movement. Elisabeth catches Colette's slender form and hugs the younger woman tightly. "Hey, kiddo," she greets in a husky tone pinched just a bit by tightness in her throat. It's strange and yet somehow gratifying to have apparently been missed by so many people, though it really surprises her. "You doin' okay? I hear I'm gonna be seeing a lot of you soon," she murmurs.

“Hey Liz.” Abby offer, doing her best not to catch the eye of others there, not up to be fangirled over, though there’s respectful dips of her head to those who do look her way. “Probably the past if I had to be honest. Don’t rightly know about the future.” She offers to Colette. “I’m looking for Lisa Bradley” This is aimed at Colette, when she’s done embracing Elisabeth. “Mister Pines said the note that was left on the bus was your writing and you might know her. Blonde hair, looks frazzled and high strung, glasses. Really a big fan of my good touch.” Colette’s eyes are -not- an unknown thing to Abby. Then, she remembers her manners. “Hello Colette. I see you didn’t squander it.”

It's with marked difficulty that Colette engages the conversation. She's tense, visible in the cursed muscles in tattooed forearms — pine forest and scattered birds, a city skyline and a date — memorials. After a moment of internal reconciliation, she looks back and forth between Abby and Elisabeth and takes a deep breath, taking calloused fingers through dark hair. “I uh…” Her blind eyes track to Elisabeth. “I just got the voicemail from ops. I… I thought it was a different Liz Harrison. I'm still— grappling with the fact that you're— that you're alive.

She blinks a look away from Liz to Abby, brows raised and confused. “I… I don't know anybody by that name. Do you— can I see the note?” As she asks this she fires an accusatory look at Pines, who is tying up the trash bags filled with empty paper coffee cups and wooden stirrers. Pines nods once, in confirmation, then goes back to his cleaning up. “Are you both here for— ” Colette looks confused, assuming incorrectly that this can't be coincidence.

Such things often aren't.

Oh dear. Elisabeth grimaces just a little bit — After all, despite the fact that it's 'top secret' about where she came from, she actually thought word would have already been trickling through Wolfhound. Then again… it's not like Felix is a gossip, and he and Curtis are really the only ones in the know. Maybe Hana? "Oh geez," she says quietly. "Colette, I'm so sorry. Finding out like that must be a real shock and a half."

Abby's information being offered brings a frown to Elisabeth's features, her brows pulling in tightly. "I'm … not here for anything but the group," is the reply she offers. "My therapist said it was a good one, and given the givens…" She shrugs, a rueful half-smile shot to Colette. 'Blind' eyes aside, the other woman seems to 'see' just fine, which Liz finds intriguing. She just isn't rude enough to bring it up. But she's curious about a note that is in Colette's handwriting that Colette apparently knows nothing about.

It's not really her business, though because she's standing there when it gets raised, she doesn't feel like she has to excuse herself necessarily.

She has it. Abigails dipping a hand into her bag and bringing out the folded piece of paper so she can offer it up to Colette, unfolded. The blue ink on the paper as she offers it over, a look to Liz and a shake of her head. “I’m not here for…” There’s a look between the two. “Sorry, no, I was on the bus going home one night, a woman got on, blonde, frazzled, she got off and this note was on the seat. She had mentioned that she was a groundskeeper here. I thought it might be important so I brought it over. Only, this Lisa Bradley isn’t someone anyone recognizes but your handwriting was.” There’s more looks between the two, Abigails twang still just as strong. “So Mister Pines suggested I come, knowing you’d be here at the meeting.”

Berlin Beckitt

Both conduits?


Rochester NY

The note is as Abby picked it up and she looks to Colette, hoping for recognition, or an answer. “Did you give this to someone? Leave it laying around somewhere maybe? I mean she was… fangirling. She asked me to sign a copy of the Wolves of Valhalla.” Groupie. Maybe.

Fuck,” Colette whispers, snatching the note up and crumpling it into her pocket. “Sorry, fuck, fuck. Yeah that was mine, I— it must've fallen out somewhere I was… goddamnit. I'm trying to help a friend with a thing. It's— personal.” Colette closes her eyes and scrubs the heel of one hand at her brow. “God, and some weird ass stalker got a hold of it. Awesome. Fantastic.”

Exhaling a sigh, Colette opens her eyes as her expression softens. “Thanks for— I mean, for tracking me down and bringing it back. I don't know who the hell she is, but that could've been a massive problem if she started stalking my friend.” Flicking a blind stare over to Elisabeth, Colette grimaces.

“Oh uh, and— you're good. I mean, Nicole told me you and Magnes were alive. We…” She shakes her head. “I just didn't expect we'd actually be on the force together. I guess in my head when I picture you, I’m still a kid. Not a grown-ass adult.” She looks down at the floor with a grimace. “Who apparently has holes in her pockets?”

Without trying to be too nosy about it, Elisabeth peeks at the note as Abby passes it across. And then blinks. Conduits? What the fuck…? Sharp blue eyes rest on Colette and she debates pushing the conversation. Maybe not … here? A quick look toward Martin Pines notes his location. And sure, she could encase them in a bubble. But …

Finally, she sighs. It's not in her to leave it be. "Look, uhm… did that say what I think it said? Someone with both conduits?" Liz glances at Abby, troubled. "That's… is that even possible? And please God, tell me someone is keeping whoever this is away from Ei—" Elisabeth breaks off and sighs, pinching the bridge of her nose. This is going to be way longer a conversation than she wants to have here.

Clearing her throat, she drops her hand and then says, "Right. So… yes, I've been asked to take on the Lieutenant position by Donovan. Which I'm planning on doing because I'm a stupid ass who literally can't seem to be happy just being home. And I'm sure we'll have a few moments here and there where the dynamic will be a little off. But … we'll figure it out. Is this…" she gestures to the note, "something that's about to be a massive, ugly mess?"

“I’m pretty sure she wasn’t a stalker…” Abigails still looking between the two, her own brows furrowed in confusion. “She was pretty surprised to see me. Stalkers would tend to get on at the same stop and then probably get off at the same.” She defends the mysterious blonde. But she’s clueless, this seems to be somewhat of a common state of being for Abigail. Whereas Elisabeth and Colette seem to be very much in the know. “Listen, I thought it might be important, I just wanted to return it to her. But if it actually belongs to you Colette, then that’s fine.” A hand tightens on the strap of her bag. “And unless you need a flaming Baptist, I guess I should probably get hoofing it home and let the babysitter off early.” She scratches with her free hand at her brow.

One of Colette’s brows rise, and she regards Elisabeth with a moment of scrutiny and then silence. “It's just a thing I wrote, it’s nothing.” It isn't a usual evasive sentiment, it's something else, something guarded. “It's fine, it's not— it's nothing, really.”

It's Abby that provides a distraction for Colette from Elisabeth’s questions, and she takes a step over toward her with a tip of her chin up in the air. “Hey,” her eyes narrow for a moment, assessing. “You still doing the medic thing? I haven't seen you in… since before the war. You working at Elmhurst? Because— I know medical professionals are in high demand. Wolfhound’s got Sasha fucking Koszlow on retainer if that helps you know how desperate they are.” They, not we. Not anymore at least. She's finally coming around to that.

“I don't see you,” Colette looks from Abby to Liz, “either of you in like a fucking decade, and then you're both here? Out of the blue, separately?” She looks back to Abby, not really answering her own question but letting it hang there. Pines has finished tidying up and is just inobtrusively sweeping while trying not to intrude on the conversation.

“Two months away from taking my finals for my masters in nursing science. I’ve been working at Elmhurst since they bribed me to come north.” That confirms that yes, she’s still doing at least a medical thing. “I went with Kasha to Canada. That’s why you haven’t seen me. I came back for the trials and then returned to Butte.” Abigail had taken a few steps away, making to depart but Colette’s dragged her back in and Abby’s too polite to depart.

Another scratch to her temple and a glance to Liz. “I uhh.. I remitted my name for scout. I haven’t heard back yet. I got a couple months left on my degree and finals. I’m thinking of sending Kasha back to Butte with my dah while I do.” If Liz hasn’t seen her name yet, it might be just because it was the other day. “Will have to take leave from Elmhurst if I’m accepted I haven’t told them yet.”

“And if I flunk out, well, at least I tried. Better I tried than not.” Abby looks between the two of them, rocking on her heels. “Truth be told, Butte didn’t fit right. Elmhurst… isn’t fitting right. A lot’s not fitting right. Nothing is fitting right and so I gotta… try a few things on till something does because I can’t keep waking up and feeding a monkey while crying at five in the morning and then… yeah, okay, so I’m blabbering at the mouth. Something never change right?” There’s a glance to Pines and then back to Liz and Colette. Hands plunge back into pockets.

Sasha fucking Kozlow? Elisabeth definitely hadn't heard that. She drags a hand down her face. It's enough to distract her, at least, for the time being — she'll corner Colette for answers on the conduit and her 'friend' before too long. But Abby brings her thought processes to a screeching halt.

"You—" Shock flits across Elisabeth's expression before it smooths out. Abby; the police force; crying at 5 am while feeding a … what?

What the hell kind of Twilight Zone has she walked into?

There is a long moment where the blonde seems at an utter loss for what to say or how to say it.

There are no coincidences. Its something any cop will tell you. But damned if she can see the mechanism behind this one. Elisabeth finally pulls herself together enough to look at Abigail and say, "I'll look for the application. If you're sure you want to try it, you should have the opportunity," she tells the medic calmly. She's not sure whether she agrees with the choice, but hell — who is she to naysay other people's choices?? And here seems like neither the time nor place to ask about this 5am crying thing.

Blue eyes flickering to Colette, Liz finally observes, "Well… if there's a conspiracy at work on this, I've no idea to what end. So maybe this one we'll just roll with for a bit to see what happens? …. cuz it's really good to see you both. And it's certainly not going to hurt my feelings to have some of the band back together." Though it does worry her a little that it's happening more and more.

“It’s good t’see you too,” Colette says with a hand at Elisabeth’s arm, looking over to Abby for a moment as silence between them hangs in the air. She has a hard time remembering why there was ever animosity between them. Not that she doesn’t remember the instances, but that in retrospect it all seems so… pointless. “S’good t’see you too, Beauchamp.” But it’s been a while, some things eluded her.

“Look, I don’t know what you’ve got waiting for you at Elmhurst,” Colette says with a raise of one brow, “but fuck, I’d really like t’have people I know and trust working with me on the force. SCOUT’s gonna be a hell of a thing, and I know they’ve got accelerated training programs at the academy. Kaylee’s on those. Day and night. They really need talent.” Colette glances up to Liz, then looks back to Abby. “We need talent. An’ I know for damn sure you gave literally everything you had for us back in the day. Most’f us wouldn’t even be alive if it wasn’t for you…”

Colette smiles, a little bittersweetly, and tucks her hands into her pockets as she shrugs. “Fuck, if you want… the Nite Owl’s open, we could go grab a coffee. Catch up? I— would offer to drive, but I’ve just got my bike. One’f you’re welcome t’ride on the back, though.” She cracks a smile, fondly.

“It’s Caliban actually. Not Beauchamp. Abigail Caliban. Like shakespear” Something something, heal my adopted father the detective, if you don’t you’re wasting your gift, something something. Abigail remembers why. Less animosity, more rubbing elbows. “Yeah well, the days of saving lives was when I have god’s touch. Not so much when I turn into living fire or at least parts of me into it. That’s probably a little more harder to incorporate into things. Maybe if they want me to smoke em out.”

The Nite Owl. Abby blinks. “Wait, seriously, it’s still open?” Her first job in the city was the Nite Owl. It was, in fact, how she met most of everyone. “I uh, live not far from here and I have a car. I don’t use it much except to drive down to Butte or if i woke up real late. Was my Ma’s. But we can pile in if Liz doesn’t have one.” It’ll fit em all and the gas would probably be worth it. “I have the babysitter for another hour.”

Elisabeth doesn't remember what the particulars between Abby and Colette were — just that there used to be tension. Not her circus, not her monkeys. Unless it impacts her team. We'll see. It looks like not, so that's good.

She, too, blinks. "The Nite Owl still stands?" That's a blast from the past. "I… would love to do that." Liz's blue eyes flicker from Colette to Abby and she smiles softly. "Coming full circle, aren't we?" she murmurs. She'll ponder on it later and wonder if that's good or bad… or just fate tugging on the strands again.

Clearing her throat, for now she says, "If you can drive, Abby, that'd be wonderful. I'm totally flexible on timetable; Richard's got Aurora." So no babysitter needed. "As for academy shite …" She rolls her eyes. "I'm actually running through the refresher myself. Spent a rather long time with no rules and the laws here are a little different now too."

Colette smirks, nodding once but then rolling her shoulders. “Same franchise, different location. The old Nite Owl’s inside the exclusion zone, I don’t think they’ve got operating hours in there. New one’s across town in Bay Ridge, I’ll co-pilot.” She says, reaching for where her leather jacket hangs on the wall by the door. “Which is to say,” she eyes Elisabeth,


I-278, leaving Elmhurst

NYC Safe Zone

8:23 pm

It’s easiest to see how much the world has changed while behind the wheel of an automobile.

Traffic on the I-278 used to be gridlocked at this hour, but now there’s hardly a vehicle in sight. The elevated highway that follows the west coast of the Safe Zone provides a harrowing view of the concrete wall surrounding the island of Manhattan, of the destroyed spans of the Williamsburg, Manhattan, and Brooklyn bridges. Watching the city blur by outside of the passenger window, Colette’s attention seems ever-drawn to that broken Manhattan skyline in the west, how dark it looks without city lights, how so much of all of their history took place on that strip of land.

Shifting in her seat, Colette looks over at Abby as she drives, then over her shoulder at Elisabeth in the back seat. “So what the fuck can’t anybody tell me?” Is the first thing outside of small talk about families and houses to be said inside of Abby’s car. “I go over to Nicole’s on Christmas, and when she puts my niece t’bed, she tells me you and Magnes are alive like I should fucking know that.” There isn’t anger in her voice, just the brusque tones of someone who’se picked up the profanity-as-a-comma mouth of ex-soldiers.

“The sky turned fucking green,” Colette says with a wave to the windshield, “I could feel it in my teeth. Half of Manhattan lit up like the Fourth of July on Christmas day, and I’m seeing shit that never happened. I remember the Flash.” No one in this car could forget the visions that preceded the 2010 riots. “This wasn’t like that, but all I’ve heard from any official channel is static.”

Colette shifts against the strap of her seatbelt, looking over at Abby, then back to Liz. “Spill it,” has no concern for secrecy or government mandates. And being in this car, around these people, maybe it feels just a little bit like the old days again.

Now they know where she lives. She was right, she didn’t live too far and the slightly loved Civic in a navy blue shade that was pulled out of the garage with half a tank of gas, actual plates and stuck out a bit like a sore thumb because not many people have cars anymore, started up fine and soon they were on their way. Dead husbands, even ones executed, still are able to leave money and Abby, between the car and the brownstone that she was in, seemed to be stable.

She concentrates on driving, glances over her shoulder to check lanes, ensuring everyone had seatbelts on and the radio turned low to that local station. There was a look to Colette then to Eiizatbeth in her rear-view mirror with it’s cross dangling off it’s supports and a little air freshener that sways back and forth. One imagines Abby takes meticulous care of her car.

“I don’t know nothing.” She offers to Colette. “Nothing happens in Butte.” Nothing.

The drive — and the view — has Elisabeth quiet in the back seat. A great many things that she's seen have been similar to this view. She hates it.

Turning her attention to the two women in the car, the blonde sighs. "A bunch of classified bullshit and NDAs that had to be signed," she tells Colette. "But … well… you remember what Helena and some of those folks did back in 2009 when Moab blew? It's kinda like that only no time component. The green and fireworks were … basically how we landed. The overlays were of places we'd been, from what I can tell. Your own lives in those places." Elisabeth goes quiet. "I experienced a couple myself," she admits. Even more quietly she confesses, "And I'm pretty sure it's just the start of more bullshit coming our way."

Colette remembers the stories of Moab, the tales too tall to tell, she remembers Ghost more than anything out of it. Another person she hadn’t seen hide nor hair of in too many years. Exhaling an exhausted sigh, she nods. “Nicole mentioned something about… you surviving the black hole. Christ.” Her voice cracks at that, brows furrowed. She nearly says something, but stops herself and leans back against the seat, overwhelmed for a moment by the reality that the visions she saw were real.

While Colette grapples with the fact of Elisabeth’s life for the last seven years, Interstate 278 takes a slow turn southeast, bringing into view the illuminated pedestal and lower fifth of what was once the Statue of Liberty. Now it, too, is surrounded by a concrete wall wrapped in concertina wire and lit by floodlights. A sign of freedom destroyed during the war, turned into a high-security prison for the people who ruined this country. In many ways, Elisabeth was never able to find her way home. Because the world she left no longer exists.

“So… so you went sideways in time. Like how Adel came back from her future… to…” Colette talks herself through the revelation, frames it in ways even more relevant to herself. In ways relevant to Abby as well, what with her child being who she is. But then, something doesn’t sit right with Colette, something from earlier, before they left the church.

Leaning around to look back at Elisabeth, Colette asks, “Who’s Aurora?

“Elisabeth’s daughter.” Abigail supplies, listening to them talk.

"Pretty much," Elisabeth's replies to Colette's query. "Think of it as alternate dimensions, and you'll be close enough. Richard has fancy names for it — temporal superstrings. But basically… yeah. It was sideways, time running concurrently," she agrees.

The last question and Abby's answer bring a grin to Elisabeth's face. Aurora is the thing that lights up her world — any world. "Yeeeeaaaaah. Nicole was apparently not the only one who shouldn't have been in Alaska," she laughs. "She'll be seven in June. Richard's head over heels and fascinated with the intricacies of what pops out of her mouth."

Talk about a crazy childhood! But it's a much better topic than the fact that you really can't come home again in so many ways.

Seven?” The implications of how that child was raised and the conditions hit Colette like a wall. She sucks in a breath, turns around in her seat and stares out the front window. “Seven fucking years old… Jesus. Yeah I— Pippa’s the same age. She's a little fucking beanpole, it's…”

Colette trails off, briefly turning to look at her muted reflection in the passenger side window, then looks over at Abby. “Am I the only one out of all of us who doesn't have a kid?” Her brows crease together incredulously, and she covers up something almost sounding like disappointment with a scoff. “I mean— not that I need anymore shit in my life. I just…”

Sighing, Colette deflates in the seat and slouches down a little. “It's wild. Y’know? Seven years ago… I didn't even think I'd live t’see the next day. Every fucking minute was… was running from the feds, or blowing something up, or…” Colette closes her eyes and shakes her head. “It feels weird to live a life.”

“In this car, probably.” Abby murmurs. “Even Magnes supposedly has a kid. But then I’m sure there’s plenty others who survived and were Ferry who don’t have kids. They’re just not here and left and in the end-” She’s shifting lanes, left pinky shifting to push the lever up to indicate the lane. “Babies happen. Especially during times of war. People want to make sure if something happens, a little part of them remains. Even if it’s just their nose or their cheeks and chin.” Abby drives probably like every cop wishes people drove. At the speed limit, using blinkers, and courtesy to other drivers. No matter how few there are.

"Well, I didn't exactly plan on it, Colette," Elisabeth snorts in response, amused. "Believe me, jumping worlds with a very small child in tow is not simple." A flash of regret shafts through her chest as she looks out the window. "And we had a couple of them." Evie and Aurora had been a primary concern for all the travelers. "But yeah… it does feel weird. I'm still fighting to get my feet under me. Hoping going to work will help that feeling of being unmoored from anything resembling life. Being on the run for so long makes it hard to feel like you belong anywhere."

Mention that Magnes has a kid earns Abby a side-eye from Colette, lips pursed in momentary confusion, but she leaves it at that. “That that exit,” Colette says, pointing to the next off ramp from the highway down into the city proper. She turns to look over her shoulder to Liz as the car’s turning.

“Honestly, I don’t think there’s really any getting our feet under us, not since the war ended. I mean… I have a fucking house and it still feels unreal. I’ve got this little— ” Colette cuts herself off and laughs softly, “I basically have a little safehouse up the street from our place. A tiny garage with blocked up windows and a cot. I just… I still don’t feel safe sometimes. I wake up in the middle of the night and check all the locks, watch for people parked outside. The only time I felt normal was when I was on assignment with Wolfhound but…”

Colette trails off, shaking her head. “It wasn’t healthy. What felt normal for me was whack-a-fucking-doodle nonsense. Normal shouldn’t be getting shot at.” She looks over to Abby, then down to her lap and folds her hands. “Joining SCOUT was the happy medium from wearing a hole in my living room floor and grinding myself to the bone on military ops.”

The offramp is taken, instructions followed by the younger blonde, a look in the rearview to Elisabeth as Colette talks about wearing down a hole in her livingroom. This was a conversation that they’d had.

“I miss running into building burnings too Colette. You’re not alone. I don’t think any of us were made for a sedentary life. I’ve been doing it since I was eighteen. What you got now, I had in Canada, only I had a toddler to wear me down before I could do something stupid.” Like come back and help fight. “I told Peter once, it always drags you back, whether you want to or not.”

Elisabeth meets Abby's eyes in the mirror briefly, and there is a wealth of understanding between the women. Flickering her gaze back to Colette, she finally says quietly, "From 2009 onward to when I left here, we were all actively attempting not to be captured as traitors and terrorists. The seven years since I last saw you guys? I didn't live the war you lived… but of the places I landed, three of them were Wasteland-level bad, where the Vanguard won in some form or another." She pauses for a long moment, thinking about those three worlds, then amends, "Perhaps not won exactly… because all the people you'd expect to have still been fighting were. But it was not good. I had one place I stayed put for five years… and while it was nice on the surface — that world where Pinehearst ruled — I was also still a fugitive from the government the entire time."

Her hands rub her thighs absently. "I had a great therapist there… she told me once that I could reprogram myself and get away from the paranoia. It was a matter of retraining my cognitive processes. But sometimes the physical hardwiring does change under the level of adrenaline I was living with… and continued to live with for years after that — and changing it back is a hell of a lot harder than simply learning the cognitive parts of dealing with the adrenaline dump." She shrugs a bit. "I still haven't managed the rewiring. Not to mention, it's not really paranoia when they're really out to get you. So the best I can do is the reprogramming." A smile shoots to both of her companions though they may not be able to see them from the back seat. "But hey… it feels good to not be the odd man out. Everybody around here is still on the crazy-train."

Colette smiles faintly, happily, with the continued affirmations that she isn't alone in her personal struggles. “I started seeing a therapist last year, after…” she closes her eyes. “I should basically be in prison. Epstein got bagged for killing a federal agent — guy turned out to be crooked, but — as soon as they arrested Avi it was like something snapped in me. I picked up some stashed supplies from the war, dropped off the grid, and didn't resurface until I'd busted him out of prison. It was a fucking five alarm clusterfuck…”

Closing her eyes, Colette pinches the bridge of her nose with one hand. “Vincent’s the only reason I'm not behind bars. Or smashed under Hana’s boot? But, we all agreed I… I needed help. It's really made a difference for me.”

Opening her blind eyes, Colette smiles and looks at Abby. “I'd like to see Kasha sometime. I dunno what happened to — to the other her. I see Adel a lot, I know Gillian’s kid still lives with her. Noa’s up with her mom. It's— weird. We got rid of the world they came from and they're all still here… living the lives they never got to.”

Colette snorts softly. “I guess we’re all kinda’ like that.” She looks over to a neon sign coming up. “That's it right there, the diner on the right. There's parking out back.” After the interjection Colette angles a look over to Abby. “We’d be lucky to have you running into fires with us. It's be nice to… to get the chance to actually know you that I was too stubborn to take when I was a kid.”

“You gave me H E double hockey sticks because I wouldn’t force Detective Demsky to let me heal him.” Abby waits at a light before heading for the parking lot in question behind the diner. “I’m glad to see, though, that you took what I told you and ran with it. Pretty sure you might still have my umbrella though.”

And then they’re parking, the engine turned off and looking between the two. “I’ve applied. Doesn’t mean they’ll give me more than a look. They’re not going to need nurses. I have healed half these people probably before and the other half likely only know me as one of the ferrymen. So.” She turns and looks at Liz. “And that doesn’t mean that you go to the floor to get me in. You understand. If I don’t cut it, I don’t cut it. My own merits. Because I’m not gonna be the one that gets the rest of everyone killed just because a long time ago, I kept everyone alive and they think they need to do me a favor. If I’m not cut out to do it, then I’m not cut out to do it.”

She looks to Colette. “Same for you. Or you don’t get to come for dinner and meet Kasha.”

Colette did what? Elisabeth wishes she could say she's shocked…but not much shocks her these days. "I'm really glad to hear you're talking to someone. Now if you can help me order Felix to do that, we'll be in excellent shape. I'm liking the roster that's forming in my head here." Felix, Colette, Abby… there will be others she knows, she's sure. But then Abby's making herself known.

Elisabeth puts both hands in the air, assuring her friend, "I won't get you in. All I'm going to do is make sure that your application is there and that it's seen. It's not up to me to decide — that's Wilson's job. I promise you, if you get in, it's on your own merits, Abby. I wouldn't do that to you. It's demeaning." She has genuine faith in the idea that Abby can do the job if she puts her mind to it, but she won't put other officers at risk just for a favor like that. Abby's right to insist. "If you get into the academy, I'll happily be a study buddy if you want. But I promise, no string pulling."

Swallowing awkwardly, Colette swipes a thumb under one of her eyes and clears her throat. She’s quiet when the car stops, quiet when she opens the passenger side door and steps out into the mostly dirt parking lot, looking back at the neon red glow of the Nite Owl sign looming over the chrome-trimmed building. As Elisabeth and Abby get out of the car she smiles, then nods once and softly shuts her door. Coming around the back of the car to wait for the others, Colette rests one hand down at her hip, then turns her attention to the diner where a handful of patrons are visible in the well-lit interior through large windows.

“No string pulling,” Colette echoes, teeth pressed down gently to her lower lip for but a moment. Then, forcing a smile because the time for being unhappy is far, far in the rear view mirror she starts to lead the way across the broken parking lot toward the front of the diner.

“Did I ever tell either of you the story about the time Joseph and I painted a part of the Grand Central mural?” As Colette talks, Elisabeth notices a glint on her belt reflecting the neon light of the diner sign. An old NYPD detective’s badge — certainly not hers, she hasn’t even graduated from the academy yet — but yet there’s a name on it, etched into the metal and inlaid black.


“So, this is also admittedly the story about how I ruined a brand new pair of Joseph’s shoes…” Colette continues, opening the door to the diner and holding it for the others. “I would’ve ruined mine too but you can’t ruin what’s already trash…”

The world outside has changed. The skyline of New York isn’t familiar. But the people in it, the lives they’ve lived, the stories they tell, and the tragedies they carry with them resonate into the future.

Elisabeth may never feel like she’s back in the world she left, but everyone that was there waited for her and made the journey forward together. Because that’s how anyone can endure what’s come, and what’s yet to come.


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