Will All The Water In The Ocean


nicole_icon.gif ryans3_icon.gif

Also Featuring:


Scene Title Will All the Water in the Ocean
Synopsis …wash this blood from my hands.
Date August 30, 2019

It’s strange how the undesirable suddenly becomes something other. The soft clink of dishes, the murmuration of gentle voices under the soft hiss of running water. The laughter of a child.

Something familiar.


Thirty-Seven Years Earlier

Upper Manhattan

June 17


past-ryans_icon.gif past-september_icon.gif

It’s been quiet, has been for several days now. The clink of dishes in the kitchen feel like doors slamming in anger. Sitting in the dining room, watching traffic go by out a gauzy, curtained window, Benjamin Ryans can’t feel the warmth of the sunlight on his face, can’t smell the sweetness in the July air as it plucks at the curtains. All he can hear is the water running in the kitchen and the sound of dishware clattering together.

A dish breaks, followed by the sound of a strangled sob. It’s enough to have Ben boosting up out of his chair, roused from his distant thoughts. Crossing the dining room with long-legged strides, he makes it into the kitchen where the tired frame of a loved one sits with her back to the sink. The water is still running, a soap-bubbled dinner plate lays shattered in several large pieces on the tile floor. The way September Russo holds her head in her hands looks desperate, fingers wound into auburn hair, sobbing uncontrollably.

Ben is frozen in the doorway, hands trembling. Slowly, he makes his way over to September’s side and kneels down beside her, scooping her up into his thick arms, burying her face against his chest. She cries there, long and suffering, against the warmth of his body and the smell of his cologne. Ryans is silent, save for murmurations in the top of her head and brushes of his lips against her hair. He wants to cry, knows he should be, but he hasn’t yet. He’s afraid he never will.

The summer sun tracks its way across the floor, spotlighting the broken plate, until it passes by it entirely. All the while the white noise of the sink running helps mask the sounds of September’s grief. Until a new sound comes to stir a house of mourning. Four soft knocks on the front door. “I’ll get th—” Ben starts to say, but September pushes up and away from him, scraping tears away with her fingernails, trying to maintain the masquerade of normalcy that she thought applying mascara in the morning may’ve aided.

“I’ve got it,” September says breathlessly. Anything to distract her from the pain. But Ben slowly pushes himself to his feet as well, following her through the kitchen to the dining room, then through the foyer and to the front door of their brownstone. As she opens the door, a familiar face stands awkwardly on the front stoop, his suit is black because of business. The funeral isn’t for a couple more days. September has no words, just a tightening of her throat. As Ben comes into view, he looks over her shoulder to the guest, who holds a small bundle of flowers to his chest.

“I’m… so sorry,” he says in a hushed tone of voice, “I just got back from London. I came as soon as I could.” September steps forward through the doorway and throws her arms around the well-wisher, nodding and pressing her brow into his shoulder. Awkwardly he returns the embrace, brushing the flowers against her hair as he looks past her to Ryans.

“It’s good to see you,” Ben rumbles. He could use a friend right now.


Thirty-Seven Years Later

The New Jersey Pine Barrens

August 30th


It was a late lunch, but it was a family lunch. Sitting in the dining room, Benjamin Ryans stares out the curtained windows to the slate gray skies visible over the dark treetops of dense pine forest. The smell of coffee still lingers in the air, the cup cradled in his hand warm and comforting. A damp, warm summer breeze flows in through the open windows and the gentle sound of pattering rain on the roof reminds him he needs to fix the leak in the upstairs bedroom.

In the kitchen, Pippa is helping Nicole with the dishes, and the sound of plates softly clinking together and water running elicits a sense of uncertainty and tension in Ryans. Ever since he’d touched that penny he found buried in the Safe Zone, things have been coming back to him. Slowly and piecemeal, like something that was taken has been found again. Without the late Cassandra Bauman’s aid, either. Whatever happened when Ryans touched that penny either restored or unlocked something once lost, and moments like today remind him of a parallel lifetime hidden behind the curtain of a shattered relationship. One he can’t really be sure ever truly ended.

It’s the not knowing that is the worst of it.

Coupled with a sense of betrayal by an organization that Ryans was fiercely loyal too, run by people he once thought of as friends. Fought beside, mourned over, cried with, and even loved in some cases. It was the bitterest of pills to swallow.

Each freshly remembered memory fueled the storm of emotions growing in the pit of the former agent’s stomach.

Fingers tighten around the cup briefly, trembling from the effort, before he lets out a heavy calming sigh and relaxes his grip completely. Filled with a sense of deja-vu, Ryans climbs to his feet, carrying the cup into the kitchen to be washed with the rest of the dishes.

“Well, look at you being all helpful.”

Cup set by the sink, he ruffles blond curls affectionately, squashing memories of doing the same to a young Bradley helping September with dishes. Instead, he turns his attention to the girl’s mother. “Thank you for the lunch invite.”

It was days like this that made Ben forget they were in Providence for a purpose. He liked the simple life where he worked with his hands and protected his family.

Standing atop an outdated book about medications and their various drug interactions that’s thick enough to help her reach the sink, Pippa tips her head up and smiles brightly at her father. This is the only kind of life she’s ever known, her parents living separate lives from one another, but still forming a cohesive family unit in their own way.

That smile is mirrored, albeit without quite as much sunshine, on her mother’s face. “Of course,” Nicole murmurs, fondness readily apparent in the warmth of her tone. This may not have been what she wanted for any of them, but she can’t help but admit it’s been nice.

Pippa turns her studious attention to the plate in her hand, being very careful to ensure there are no icky bits of food stuck to its surface, then rinsing all the suds away. Because nobody likes soapy mashed potatoes for dinner, and because suds make for slippery hands when she tries to set dishes in the drying rack. While she’s occupied, Nicole lets her cheer fade and plainly wears a look of questioning concern for him to see.

She heard that sigh. She knows well what it means, if not what inspired it.

There is the barest shake of Ben’s head at the unspoken question. It was nothing. He was a private man for the most part, rarely discussing his own issues. These memories were his to deal with. Besides, he didn't want to darken a good moment.

His hand brushes over blond hair, deflecting attention to their daughter, allowing his voice to brighten for her.

“I heard there is going to be a corn maze around Halloween,” Ryans mentions off handedly. “Maybe we should go check it out, huh? Pick some pumpkins to carve?” The holidays were not the same as when his other girls were young. Pippa didn't really know the true joy of being a kid during the holiday season.

Speaking of his other daughters…

“And what do you think about me asking your sisters and brother to come out here for Thanksgiving? Maybe even Benji, hmm?” It was something he had been thinking about lately, the last big family dinner they had. “Make it a family affair and you can show Ingrid and Sophie your pony, finally.”

Dark hair spills over one shoulder as Nicole tips her head to the side, brows lifted to give Ben a skeptical look, still silent in her worry. But she dismisses it with a brief shuttering of her eyes and a nod. She can and often does respect his privacy. While he may play most of his cards close to his vest, he’s always made sure that she knows when something important is going on.

If she really knew the half of it, she couldn’t even begin to blame him for keeping mum.

A delighted gasp from the little girl at her elbow brings the sun out to clear the storminess from Nicole’s expression. “Everyone?” Pippa asks excitedly. “Can we all get dressed up for Halloween too?” Carefully, she sets down a bowl in the rack with a quiet clatter, wiping her hands off on the front of her too-large apron.

“Only if I get to be a witch this year.”

Nicole’s assertion causes Pippa’s face to wrinkle up with her vehement disagreement. “You’re way too pretty to be a witch!”

There's a sudden flash. Not one of passing headlights, but a startlingly bright flash that floods the entire house. It's enough to make Pippa shriek one surprise and send a dish falling to the floor, shattering into multiple pieces. But the sound of the dish shattering is drowned out but a tremendous noise, louder and longer than thunder. Benjamin Ryans knows an explosion when he hears one, and this shakes him to his core. Nicole feels the shockwave in her bones, that sonorous vibration like an air strike at danger-close range.

Suddenly it's the Civil War again. For a split second.

But it isn't a hallucination, it isn't a flashback. There was just an explosion and the shockwave leaves everyone's ears ringing. Pippa is screaming but no one can hear her over the tinnitus whine. She's clutching her head, cowering. Outside there is such a glow. Whatever it was it was far enough away to not kill everyone in the building instantly.

But close enough.

Fear for his family is what drive Ryans to action, grabbing both and pull them to the ground. Wouldn’t be the first time, Nicole had found herself protected by Ben’s larger frame, waiting for the next explosion.

One that never comes.

Once the old man realizes this, Ben pulls back to where he can check them over, barely holding back the panic driven by memories of holding a broken little boys body in his arms. He knows he couldn’t handle losing another child. Seeing nothing apparent, Ryans hugs the pair fiercely for just a brief moment.

Were they hurt? He tries to ask it out loud as he lets them go, but he realizes that he can’t even hear himself. Instead, Ryans gives Nicole a significant look, she knows what to do. Pippa feels her father’s comforting hand on the top of her head. It would all be okay.

Then Ben is on his feet and rushing to the window. There was no squashing the fear that churned in his stomach as he pushes aside the curtain to look outside towards the source of the glow. Ben's first thoughts were of a militia retaliation.

As Ryans’ body curls around Nicole, so does hers curl around Pippa. Blood roars in her ears, warring with the ringing that follows the blast. Heart hammering in her chest, she holds tight to her child until she’s sure there’s no second explosion to follow. When Ben stands, so does she. One hand stays resting on Pippa’s slim shoulder. She can’t hear her wailing, but she knows. Wailing, however, is not injury, which means soothing the girl is secondary to assessing the situation. What is the threat?

Nicole’s eyes lock on Ben’s and she reaches out to squeeze his arm. She’s okay. They’re okay. There’s a plan in place for moments like this. Gathering up their child in her arms without a thought, Nicole nods once. “Don’t leave without me,” would sound more serious as a command if either of them could hear her voice. Cradling one hand against the back of Pippa’s head, coaxing the girl’s face against her shoulder, Nicole moves swiftly out the back door of the house.

Once outside, she rounds the corner of the building, long strides carrying her to the doors to the cellar. Balancing her daughter against her hip, she reaches down and wrenches open one of the doors, then the other, and carries the crying child down the steps. She lights a lamp, sets her baby girl on a cot and kneels down in front of her, waiting until their eyes meet again.

There’s no words of assurance, just a kiss pressed hard to a forehead wrinkled with worry. Hands run down the child’s shoulders, arms, to her hands and finally to the cot. Stay. They’ve practiced this. It’s not a fun game this time.

The tinnitus whine in her ears has started to ebb finally by the time Nicole is back up the stairs and returning to the house to find her partner.

Nicole couldn’t see what Ryans does, not with the house occluding her view of the blast site. But out the front windows of this home there is a sight beyond sights, a nightmare given shape and form that Ryans has not even conceived of in dreams and yet it is here, grasping toward the heavens in the shape of the unimaginable.

It’s a hand.

Over the treetops stripped of some leaves by the shockwave rises a black plume of smoke ringed with gray ashes that resembles not a mushroom cloud or a plume of fire. It is not a thermonuclear explosion but something otherworldly and unreal. A five fingered hand of smoke and ash and flames grasping up toward the sky with fingers curling inward toward its palm. By the time Nicole is coming up behind Ryans to see what he sees, it is already too late. The hand has closed into a fist and the black cloud looks like little more than a mushroom cloud from a tremendous explosion. It makes Ryans wonder if his eyes were playing tricks on him, if—

—the second shockwave was less expected.

A smaller blast, like an aftershock, rattles the house but comes with not a blinding flash but a scintillating green glow. Behind the clouds that have shrouded the sky a shimmering pattern of green-blue light forms in a spiraling pattern, twisting and turning in the heavens, visible only where the clouds have parted from the upward release of air from the explosion. The very same auroral spiral once seen over Midtown at Christmas.

The sound of a panicked knock on the door is even more startling than the explosion was. More immediate. They don’t have neighbors, not ones that could get here so fast.

When the giant hand appears in front of him, Ryans can only stare. Where his eyes fooling him? For a moment, he feels like the little boy in sunday school, picturing what the ‘Hand of God’ must look like when mentioned in the bible. Reaching out to take Adam’s rib and create the first woman.

His hand rests on the wall next to the broken window as he leans to look out as it stretches upward.

When Nicole comes up behind him, the sound startles him out of the moment. Blinking a few times, he finally forces air into his lungs - when did he stop breathing? Swallowing against a sting of fear from the unknown nature of what just happened, Ryans looks over his shoulder at the woman. There she can see plainly, his shock, worry and confusion. Such a blatant show of emotions was unusual for him and a sign of just how shook he is.

“Did you see th- ?” he starts to ask, only to be interrupted by the frantic knocking at the door.

It serves to bring Ryans fully back to the moment and all that emotion is pushed back into the back of his mind in favor of protecting his family. “Get ready to open the door,” Ben request softly, before grabbing the shotgun propped against the wall near the door and getting ready to shoot whoever is on the other side, the barrel resting on stump of his arm and pointed at about head height.

He wasn’t taking chances.

“Identify yourself,” Ryans calls out loud enough to be heard over the knocking. No reply.

She didn’t see. Not like he did. But it’s impossible to miss the display of green lights in the sky. The breath leaves Nicole’s lungs in a soft whoosh of astonishment and fear. Whatever’s happened out there is beyond them. An old mine or previously undetonated bomb doesn’t explain that.

The knock at the door brings the dark-haired agent out of her reverie. Gently resting her hand on Ryans’ arm for a moment, she nods. They’ve taken up this post before. Usually it’s just Epstein on the other side of the door, but this isn’t the war and there’s no telling who might be out there.

But the pounding of her own heart seems to match the knocking at the door, and Nicole wants to assume it’s someone who was simply out and about, minding their own business, and now seeking shelter from the terror beyond the walls of her home.

Wishing can’t make it so, however. Nicole positions herself at the door, standing off to the side so as to be out of Ben’s direct line of fire. A hand on the knob, she locks eyes with her partner and mouths: Three.



When the door flings open a blood-covered man in a navy blue business suit comes staggering in. Ryans sees him crumple to the floor holding his entrails with one hand and the rest dragging behind him like someone who bought too much sausage at the butcher’s and struggled to carry it all home. In that instant Ryans feels he’s on a footing of strength, and Nicole is impressed with the understanding that she’s about to watch someone die in front of her. But the stranger, who is only a stranger for a moment, spits up a mouthful of blood onto the floor that—

— slithers —

— back toward him.


Blue eyes look up at Ryans, entrails continue winding themselves back into an eviscerated abdomen.


Hi Ben,” is Adam Monroe’s casual greeting through bloody teeth.


Ben returns the greeting calmly despite the fact his old colleague and friend was there disemboweled in front of him. Keeping his composure as Adam looks at him, the barrel of the shotgun stays pointed at the immortal. Fingers tighten, but Ryans doesn’t pull the trigger; it was useless anyhow…. only really useful if they need some time to run. “Why am I not surprised that you are somehow involved with whatever just happened?” .

Blue eyes narrow with suspicion, even as his real memories of the man tickle at the back of Ryans’ mind, tangling with his false memories. “What is going on out there?”

Nicole had been ready for the gun to go off, having flattened herself against the wall after throwing open the door. She had then been ready to watch the man bleed out on her entryway floor. She was not prepared to watch him metaphorically stitch himself back together.

“What the fuck.” Wide blue eyes stay fixed on Adam’s form, not trusting enough to look away even as confusion settles in. Not at the state of him - that much is rapidly making sense, given context of who it is she’s looking at - but at the nonchalant exchange between Monroe and Ryans.

They wanted to find out more about what Adam was up to, and she supposes they’re about to get their wish now, to at least some limited extent. A spark leaps between her first and third fingers, and the air smells faintly of ozone, giving away just how on edge she is.

Given the massive explosion that just occurred, Varlane is willing to cut herself some slack this time.

There’s an exasperated breath of relief from Adam at Ryans’ reactions. That there’s familiarity in his eyes rather than ignorance. Rather than contempt. As he turns those blue eyes over to Nicole, Adam looks momentarily surprised. He glances down at her hands, knowingly, then back up with a blood-pinked smile as the last bit of his entrails slurps up into his closing abdomen. “I think I know you,” he says wearily, distractedly, then looks back to Ryans.

“Not a lot of time to talk, four horsemen of the bloody apocalypse have been unleashed. Sky unrolled like a scroll, all that biblical nonsense.” Slowly coming to stand, Adam looks down at the ragged slash across his midsection that seals shut, leaving only his clothes in somewhat blackened tatters. “I just died in that,” he points toward the explosion, “literally died, Ben. You must know about,” and he gestures up and down himself, “all this. SESA must.”

Adam swallows, the only moment of pause he gives before launching into something unexpected. “We need to leave, yesterday ideally, but I’m not sure anyone with that ability is still kicking around. So we’ll have to settle for now. There’s a dropship a mile away in the woods, and I promise I’ll explain everything, but right now we need to get out of here before it finds us. I’m sorry it took so long for me to reach out to you, I had to wait until you were awake.

But for all of the familiarity that there is for the man, Benjamin holds his ground and the shotgun never stops being pointed at Adam’s skull. His family’s life was at stake in his mine. However, even though Ben tries to be unreadable, the emotions seep through anyhow. The confusion, the conflicting emotions for the man in front of him.

“Awake?” The word stuns the old man, the shotgun suddenly dips for the first time. There were so many questions, but a glance at Nicole brings him back to the moment.

No matter what he is feeling. No matter how much he wants answers…. The thing that tried to tear Adam apart was still out there. Benjamin pales noticeably. “What did you bring to my family’s doorstep, Monroe?”

And then the anger floods in, his little girl was down in the cellar, scared. The shotgun clatters to the ground so that he can grab Adam, ignoring how the cooling blood feels sticky as he twists the fabric in his fist and pulls him close. Blue eyes flick between the blue orbs of the other as Ryans growls out, “And what do you mean by we? You are the one it tried to butcher. Why shouldn’t I just throw you out the door and let it have you?” His voice is edged with his worry for Pippa’s safety.

This close, Adam can see that war of emotions.

Nicole’s brows furrow at the mention that he thinks he knows her, but she doesn’t make comment on it. This isn’t the time or the place. If they can get him into custody and into an interrogation room, there will be plenty of time for questions then.

According to Adam, there’s no time for anything else now.

Glowing blue eyes dart toward the back door, mentally tracing the path from there to the root cellar and where her daughter likely - hopefully - still sits. First and foremost, Nicole is a mother. Her duties to SESA and to her country come second. “Ben,” she murmurs, urgency in her tone. Whatever’s going on, they need to make a decision soon. She’s perfectly willing to taze the everloving snot out of Monroe and kick him out their door, but only if he gives the word.

“I didn’t bring anything,” Adam says with a hush of breath, looking around the small home with the attentive eyes of a prey animal, “it came looking for Ruskin and it found her. She’s likely dead, everyone I tried to warn is dead. It is coming for all of us, Ben. It remembers you. It remembers what we did to it on the roof of the Deveaux Building.”

Desperate to get his point across but also keeping his information close to his chest, Adam finally stands up entirely straight. “If you have a bag,” he notices Ryans’ missing hand, pausing momentarily but not remarking on it, “grab it and follow me. I owe you a wealth of explanations,” then a quick look to Nicole before his attention goes back to Ryans, “and you alone.”

He remembers.

Ben has to close his eyes against the sudden flood of memories of that night, smash to the forefront of his mind threatening to drown him. The intensity He almost doesn’t hear Nicole’s unspoken question, but it serves to ground him and keep him from being swallowed by the past.

Ben giving a shake of his head to clear it and refocus on what was happening, the hand on Adam’s shirt loosening. Through those memories, Adam’s words slowly sink in and take hold.

“It’s back.”

It’s not a question, his trust in Adam quietly solidifies which means he believes him. The same level of trust he gave the man when he was a boy on a battlefield. “We need to go,” Ben agrees reluctantly. He needed answers. Needed to know what happened while he was ‘asleep.’ To uncover his real past.

“Nicole,” Ryans rumbles out her name, letting Adam go completely, looking at the blood on his hand as if it was an omen that his past was finally coming to light. When he looks at he, he almost seems like he wants to say more. He doesn’t offer any assurances or promises to explain, just simply asks her, “Protect her and watch after them?”

The eruption of Nicole’s anger is immediate and as intense as the explosion that rocked the foundations of her home. “What?!” The trust that he places in Adam is not unlike the trust she’s always placed in Ben, but trust only goes so far. Especially when the man she knew — the man she loves — isn’t behaving like she’s come to expect.

No,” is firm and barely restrained. The intensity of her fury burns in the electric blue of her eyes. “You are not leaving us. You are not leaving her.” Nicole’s arm sweeps out toward the door, to whatever it is that’s coming for the two men in her house. “If whatever that is is looking for you, for some kind of revenge? What makes you think our daughter is safe?”

Nicole is terrified that whatever it is that’s out there is something she can’t protect her child from. Their goal was to bring Monroe in, not join him. But if her choices are the devil she knows or the devil she doesn’t…

The words our daughter make Adam slowly swivel his head in the direction of Nicole like an owl without quite the range of motion. His eyes are just as wide though. Brows creased together, Adam looks back up at Nicole, lips parted. “Daniel’s assistant,” he says more for himself than Nicole, remembering things he pieced together after escaping the Bronx facility several years back. Adam’s blue eyes track from side to side, then start sweeping the room looking for any sign of a child. Finding none, he looks back to Ben.

“Take them if they’ll come, otherwise, figure it out.” Adam’s tone of voice is sharp and panicked as he moves back toward the front door, stopping in the threshold as he looks outside to the rising plume of smoke. There’s shouts of panic and concern coming from near off homesteads and Adam doesn’t turn back as he addresses them both. “We don’t have time to deliberate this.”

Benjamin ignores Adam and gives Nicole his full attention. “Because, the further I am, the safer you all will be,” is the only real explanation he has. It felt right, even if he lacked all the information. Though he expects his reason for leaving was also purely selfish.

Bending down to pick up the shotgun, Ben offers it out to Nicole. That act alone offering trust to her, just as he asks her to “Trust me?” His tone acknowledges how tough that is at the moment. He can see it himself.

“I love you both, Nicole; but I won’t take you or Pippa with me. Lucille and Delia… even Russo, Benji and Ingrid will make sure you are both safe and will stay safe.” He has faith in his family to care for their own. Even without a hand, he rests the arm on her shoulder, looking down at the woman with more emotion than she’s ever seen in him. He doesn’t want to leave, but he knows he needs to do this.

There is no hug like he might want too, they were not together; but she still holds a place in his family. Instead, his features take on a serious expression, turning to business .

“I need you here to tell SESA what you saw and what happened.” Even if it means damning him for leaving with the enemy and abandoning his post. “But the answers I… we need are with him… so I’m going.” Ryans steps back then as emphasis. “You’ll be fine.”

He leaves her there, with the shotgun in her hands; not that she’ll have a clear bead on Adam, as Benjamin moves to follow him out the door, blocking a shot. “Let’s go. We have a stop to make,” cause his bag wasn’t there… this wasn’t truly his home.

Daniel’s assistant feels like a lifetime ago. Nicole fixes her stare on Adam for a beat before nodding confirmation. It shouldn’t surprise her to hear him use Linderman’s given name with such familiarity. It isn’t as though his Company affiliations were unknown to her. The fact that he knows her for that reason, however, causes her to curl her fingers into fists slowly, letting her nails bite into her palms as though she could rend apart her own uncertainty.

That uncertainty only grows as Ryans implores her to trust him. Her expression turns stony when she takes the shotgun, jaw tight as she wars with herself not to lash out either physically or verbally. For a moment, she considers unleashing her power on both of them and hauling them both back to SESA. But she’s one woman, with a frightened child hiding beneath the floor at her feet.

“If you hurt him, Monroe,” Nicole warns, expression stormy and speaking of the very real threat she represents, “I will find you.” It’s not a threat she needs to allow to sink in. She doesn’t need to watch their retreating forms. They’ve given her their backs and she’ll return the courtesy when she makes her own retreat deeper into the house to head out the back door again. She still needs to retrieve her daughter, get in that pickup truck and drive as far from this shithole as she must in order to get a sat signal. She has reports to make.

Adam turns to look at Ryans, silent and thoughtful for the single moment he can spare amid the chaos, then settles a look back to Nicole. “I can't promise that,” he says with an uncertainty that she believes. But then, as Adam glances out the still open front door to gauge the time they still have left, Nicole can feel there's something else going unsaid. Adam takes a step forward, looks from Nicole to Ryans, and back again.

“I can keep you safe,” Adam says with no amount of uncertainty in his voice this time. “You and your child, but you have to be willing to leave now, and you have to know you may never wind up coming back here again.” There is the serpent, descending from the branches of the tree of knowledge in the garden of old. Blue eyes, forked tongue, promising answers if only you'll take the first step. Kaylee Sumter saw serpents in visions, but it was never clear if Adam was the snake…

“Leave with us.”

…or the apple.

She has choices to make.

Nicole hesitates in mid-turn toward the kitchen. It was easier when it was Ben asking her to trust him. It was easier when he was telling her she was once again meant to be on the outside. Made separate from the world of shadows and secret wars. Like Colette always did. Like Daniel did.

Hubris, she knows, tells her that she could use this opportunity to gather information and ferret it back. Realism paints a different picture. Fear tells her she needs to do whatever she can to keep her baby safe.

Her chest tightens and she realizes she’s been staring too intensely for more than a moment too long. Duty tells her she must refuse. Must gather her daughter. Must return to her bosses. Must… Must…

Blue eyes flicker to Ryans, studying his face with uncertainty plain on her own before she makes her decision:

“I’ll go get Pippa.”

The look Benjamin sends Adam is a withering one, jaw tensing against the surge of anger. This was not what he wanted for his family. As much as he trusts the immortal… he doesn’t like the idea of their life in the other man’s hands. Not yet, anyway.

“Nicole,” Ben starts sharply, intent on denying her the protection offered… The words are on the tip of his tongue; but then he seems to deflate with a sigh, hand scrubbing over his mouth. He didn’t like this at all… His hands (haha) were tied. “Fine,” he growls out. He was a reluctant party on this one.

“Let’s go get Pippa,” Ben turns that glare at Adam again, before turning to take the shotgun again to help her retrieve their daughter. “I’m sure she’d scared, I’ll keep watch.”

Behind the house there is a riot of noise in the treeline that wasn't there before. Adam warily turns an eye up to the skies as he watches birds flying in flocks away from the blast site in the distance. But it's the sound of animals crashing through the treeline that truly worries him. Panicked deer bound out of the woods, scramble across muddy grass and leap out of sight around the house. As Nicole opens the door to the basement bulkhead, the first few flakes of snow begin to fall.

No, it's August. It's too hot for—

A flake lands on Ryans’ brow, swept away by his one hand to leave a streak of ash across his face. He looks at his hand, looks at Adam whose sunken expression offers no true promises to their safety. He trusted once, trusted the Company, trusted Charles, trusted Arthur, trusted the system to protect everyone he cared about.

Screeching tires. A loud scream. Blaring horns. September screaming. A look of horror flashes over Charles and Nia’s faces as they look to the source of the disturbance, and as Ben turns he watches his son Bradley struck by a station wagon, thrown under the wheels and dragged until the car skids to a stop.

Ryans turns from Adam, and his old friend recognizes the change in Ryans’ expression as he does. In the dark basement, Nicole moves toward Pippa’s whimpering silhouette in the darkness. Ryans’ shadow looks large at the top of the basement stairs, the sky raining ash around him.

Ben is running before anyone can say or do anything, running to his son’s side. Nia hustles down the steps with Charles, who sweeps up Simone in his arms and buried her face against his chest. “Shhh,” Charles whispers against her screaming, and Nia hurried over to the car and raises one hand, lifting the back end off the ground with a thought. The terrified driver screams inside the car, white-knuckle grip on the steering wheel.

Benjamin Ryans brought his family into his private world once, and it cost his son his life. As Nicole turns to see Ryans at the top of the stairs, he prevents that future from coming to pass. She can feel it in her heart a second before the metal bulkhead door slams shut. Her protesting cries echoing up from within the basement, the pleading cries of Pippa for her father. They won't understand now. But if he's right, they may live long enough to forgive him.

Ben drops to his knees beside Bradley’s broken, bloody body. September can't stop screaming, both hands over her mouth and eyes fixed on the body of her son. “Bradley! Bradley! Bradley!”

Snapping the lock around the bulkhead door, Ryans turns toward a shocked looking Adam. “I'll send someone to…” he starts to try and reassure Ryans, but it doesn't matter. He's made up his mind. Someone will come for them, Nicole will find a way out eventually. There will be no argument, no negotiation, not with Adam and not with Nicole. He'd made up his mind from the moment his fingers touched that penny and the memories of a life lost came filtering back like nightmares. Except these ones are real.

Ben kneels there, hands shaking, eyes wide and tears welled up in his eyes. “D-Daniel—” He splutters. “Someone call Daniel!” It's all he can think about. Daniel Linderman, a miracle-worker, they can fix this.

Ryans turns to Adam, an anger in him that burns brighter and hotter than any since. “Let’s go.

They couldn't.

There would be no fixing this.


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