You're You


asi4_icon.gif faulkner_icon.gif nova_icon.gif

Scene Title You're You
Synopsis After the truth about the Sundered's existence is disseminated, Asi pulls Nova aside to to discuss who she is, what she would have been, and— owing to a thought exercise from Isaac— what they might become in the future.
Date June 24, 2021

Isaac's Apartment, Park Slope

"Nova," Asi murmurs, lifting her hand to gesture to the young woman. Her head tips toward the kitchen of the residence. "Could I talk to you for a moment?"

She feels slightly off-kilter herself, filled with energy if not exactly a directed one. The thoughts and truths shared minutes ago in the living room will take time to process and take time to craft a plan to address— possibly less time for the latter rather than the former. Certainly what she has to share will just add to the pile, but… maybe it will become a point by which to sort out certain feelings in regards to the news.

That's the hope anyway. That's the hope.

The once-technopath slips into the kitchen and walks to the window, arms folding over her chest as she peers out it, biding a few moments before she looks back to the doorway.

The younger woman looks up from where she’s leaning against a sofa’s arm, wide eyes blinking as she looks for the owner of the voice. Finding Asi, Nova nods, murmuring an excuse me to those still seated nearby, and she makes her way to the kitchen, careful not to step on any of the feet of the many assembled in the small space.

The door closes softly behind her and she looks at Asi with both brows lifted. “That probably could have gone better. Sorry if I made anything worse,” Nova says, making a face. “I mean, I don’t know if anything could actually be worse. I guess maybe if there was no chance of fixing any of it, maybe that would be worse, but it’s pretty bad as it stands now.”

Too many words tumble out at once, and she shakes her head slightly in embarrassment. “Anyway. What’s up?”

Asi shakes her head once, trying to make the action as soft as possible. "No," she reassures quietly. "No, we said everything that needed to be said. And the confirmation about what we are, the specifics of it… we have to hope that it helps us take a step closer to securing our existence, as well as saving the others."

"Which," she acknowledges with a gentle tip of her head to the side, "brings me to what I wanted to talk to you about."

The fold of her arm shifts, hands slipping free and lying down by her sides. The way her eyes shift away and back gives away the thought she's giving to her words before she meets Nova's gaze again. "Your existence in particular— The way your memories and your reality don't line up."

Asi's brow lifts. "I came across unexpected proof you're real— that you're not… not like Kirk."

“My reality,” murmurs Nova, the echoed words colored by a cynicism and irony that don’t sound like her; the tone would be more at home in Gabriella’s voice, or Daphne’s.

She shakes her head slightly, and glances down, her arms crossing even as Asi’s uncross. She leans against the counter, scuffing a toe across a crack in the tile. “I didn’t have the courage — or the wifi, to be honest, out here in Park Slope — to look up the Van Dalens,” she says quietly. “I was scared of what I’d find.”

A small laugh escapes her lips, and she adds, “When I first had my doubts, I looked for another Nova Leverett online, and came up with nothing besides the facades created by whoever’s doing this. The closest I got was some boat named Stella Nova being delivered somewhere — leveret apparently means delivered in Danish.”

She looks up, brows lifting. “I’d personally have given my androids more common names, if I wanted them to blend in more, if I were running things.”

The expression of compassion that Asi attempts is little more than a sympathetic narrowing of her eyes while she waits for a break in Nova's thoughts to try and work hers together again. "Right?" she edges in only then with a short chuckle.

"Do you remember— last fall when we got together to talk over our situation and how it wasn't going anywhere? How we looked at who might have been pulled, and why, and we realized that Isa and Shaw aren't… from here?" Preface given, she leans against the wall on her end of the kitchen, the hazy light from the window framing the side of her. It leaves the rest of her in shadow where she weaves her truths together. "Long story short, a friend of mine— he came from one of those else-places. A place where the world was flooded catastrophically, where the Vanguard wasn't stopped from detonating Antarctica."

One hand lifts as she explains, "You're there. There is a you there. Her name is Nova Van Dalen. And she's not just there— but another reality as well. She's Expressive in all those places— able to see her other selves across all the strings of reality." She swallows, wondering how to compact this in such a way it's easier to process. "What I found out is the same as what you know— that to your knowledge, you've never manifested here."

Her expression mellows, shoulders settling, hand falling back to her side. "But you are out there, Nova. I don't know why things are different here, but I wanted you to know you're as real as I am. Or as real as we both were, before…"

You know. Before they were turned into this.

Nova’s brow furrows at the set-up, about Isa and Shaw and the flooded world, before the pieces click together and her brows lift, smoothing out the worry into curiosity. Wonder. She looks ten years younger in an instant, and almost excited…

…but then it fades.

She shakes her head, glancing down, rubber-soled toe scuffing the crack again. “Whether the ‘donor’ version of me did or not, I never manifested and never will,” she reminds Asi. At least she didn’t say she’s not real — Isaac’s at least broken her of that belief.

Nova’s gaze goes to the window. “I’ve always felt extremely lonely, since the crash. And after the stroke, I have these weird visions of different versions of me. I drew them in a sketchbook. Different hair, different outfits. I guess when they ported a personality into me, they missed something, somehow. Remnants of her memories.”

A soft laugh slips and cracks. “So not even my fake memory is whole. Everything is just… I don’t know. Patchwork and lies.”

"Patchwork and lies," Isaac Faulkner echoes from the doorway, choosing that moment to make his entrance. "Sounds like my Black Sabbath cover band," he observes mildly, making his way towards the kitchen. There's no power here, of course, so there's nothing cold onhand, but the icebox has bottles of water, and warm water is better than nothing.

He raises the lid on the icebox and pulls out a bottle. "Water?"

Asi shakes her head from where she stands, glancing Faulkner's way. If there were anyone to wander in, at least it's only him. He was aware of Nova's previous concerns, and besides that, this was his place. She pulls her arms into a fold again, doubling down on her position by the window.

"Is it, though?" she wonders. "Wrong?" With a touch of a frown, she supposes, "Perhaps your other selves wasn't aware of you— your donor, rather— but perhaps she and you were somewhat aware of the others. Not enough to communicate, but perhaps enough to feel less… alone."

Like Nova did now, cut off from her latent ability.

"I'm sorry," Asi feels the need to say. "It turns out this news is less reassuring than I'd hoped."

The joke from Isaac draws a startled glance at the doorway, and then a soft laugh. Nova shakes her head, the dark hair tumbling around her face as she studies the ground once more. When Asi apologizes though, she grimaces, and looks back up; her own expression is one full of apology.

“My memory — whether it’s partly hers or just all fake — was basically that I was so excited to know what my ability was going to be. I was proud of being expressive. It was just… all this potential, you know? Unrealized. And then that was lost.”

Her top teeth tug at her lower lip and she glances from Asi to Isaac, then back to Asi. “I forgot for a second, just now. When you told me the real Nova has a power, I was excited, like I was going to have that power once we fix everything.”

She shakes her head, and looks down again, a tear slipping down her cheek. “But I’m not. And that’s not your fault.” Nova offers a small smile to Asi. “Thank you for letting me know. I don’t know if it’s reassuring or not, but the truth and answers are something we haven’t had a lot of, so it’s still good.”

Isaac's gaze slips off somewhere into the middle distance, a frown creasing his face. as the others talk. He nods at Asi's point, but Nova's counterpoint is equally valid — whatever she might have been with regards to that, she isn't now.

"That's true," he admits quietly, at last, and now he looks at Nova — though he affects not to see that tear running down her cheek. "Whatever we once were, we're not that anymore. Even if we free our — you know what, I'm not going to call them donors, because fuck that. We didn't agree to donate anything. But even if we free our originals… it's not going to bring back what we remember having. The night won't ever walk with me again."

For just a moment, the impact of admitting that shows. It can be heard in the moment of silence that follows that statement; it can be seen in the tightening of his mouth, and the tiny lines at the corners of his eyes.

But then he takes a breath and presses on. "But you heard what Kirk said. There are other options." His gaze moves from Asi to Nova. "Kirk mentioned that there are limiters that can be removed, fairly easily, with the possibility of additional modifications beyond that — with sufficient resources, at least. Have you given that thought yet?" he asks, looking curiously from one to the other.


Faulkner pauses for a moment as something strikes him… because he knows someone already who's had more than a few modifications, doesn't he? Someone whose circumstances had, admittedly, been a little less… involuntary… but someone who had lost their ability, but gained some interesting upgrades in exchange. It occurs to Faulkner that, in light of this, it might be a good idea to see if he can have a chat with Tibby later. But that's neither here nor there.

"Because it seems to me that there might be a lot of things we can do, now. As you said," Isaac says, looking to Asi with a hint of a roguish grin, "If we're stuck as we are, we may as well start making it worth our while." Faulkner considers for a moment, then turns his gaze back to Nova. "So, with that in mind. If you could upgrade yourself — sky's the limit, this is just a thought experiment — but if you could… what would you do? Super strength? Faster speed? Or… something else, perhaps?"

The previous offer for a drink and the declining of it is keenly felt when Nova recognizes her reality and its loss of hope. It's paired with the wish that the cup were filled with alcohol. Asi forces her hand in the hollow of her elbow, brow knitting together like she's reacting to a physical ill. Her jaw tightens. It's not just Nova's loss she's talking about.

It's Asi's own, too. All of theirs.

She manages to shake her head when Nova says thank you, not slipping away entirely. But the loss of hope, of self that Nova had referenced creeps up on her and threatens to pull her under this time— despite the monumentous task ahead, incomplete and need of fierce driving.

It's the harshness in Isaac's tone that draws her back to the moment again, an abrupt pair of blinks giving away that she'd gone away at all. Asi lifts her head up again, a shallow breath taken in as she listens again. She meets the look Isaac gives her with a deadpan one of her own, no humor in it.

His question's a good one. One she doesn't have an entire answer for presently.

"I'd settle for being able to crush skulls. But that's almost certainly a given." She remembers her bloodied knuckles after nearly punching the window of her ACT out. That strength went beyond a normal human's, even if she wasn't sure how to set it off again. "Why not something inventive, like invisibility?" She quirks an eyebrow before admitting with a hint of mirth, "That'd be a cause worth going bald for."

Seeing both of them affected by that very real, almost palpable realization that they’ll never have the same abilities they remember having, Nova bites her lower lip, resisting the urge to apologize for making them feel worse. Her hands come up and she rubs her eyes, like she could keep any new tears from forming.

She shakes a head at Isaac for his question, then drops her hands again, this time shoving them into the pockets of her jeans, shoulders hunching up a little. “Crushing skulls sounds good at the moment, but not sure that’s my particular aesthetic,” Nova quips, smiling over at Asi.

But she doesn’t offer another answer, but instead bestows on Isaac a small, thankful smile for the distraction. “Not sure. What about you? Something to help your wall climbing, Peter Parkour?”

Isaac makes an exaggerated grimace at Asi's answer. "Chameleon skin? Maybe," he admits, "but that's a sacrifice I'd have a hard time making." Then the grimace falls away, replaced by a sardonic smirk as he runs a hand through his hair, arching an eyebrow. "My hair is fabulous."

But Nova's question draws him back into a more serious frame of mind; he shakes his head slightly. "I think I'd want to think faster," he says softly. "I'm pretty quick already; you've seen how I move. But if I could think fast enough…" He shakes his head, smiling faintly. "Whatever happened… I'd always be a step ahead," he grins.

He pauses for a moment. "Plus. You know. Bullet time'd be pretty cool, too."

Asi manages a thin smile for Nova's acknowledgement. Truthfully, super strength was out of her usual wheelhouse as well— but it's conversation. It's engagement. It's not focusing on what they've lost, rather than what they might be able to have. "I wouldn't say it's my aesthetic either, but one of my former teammates is possessed of incredible strength. The ability to go toe to toe with him in a spar, to see his surprise just the once, might be worth it alone." She lets out a ghost of a chuckle. "The look on his face if I could catch one of his punches… it'd be priceless."

Isaac's humor helps bring her further aloft, the fold of her arms shifting so she can try to stifle a laugh. "Your hair needs a cut," she teases him. "It'll be a wonder if you can see past it, soon." But that being said, she gives his other idea due consideration, nodding approvingly. "If they could increase our reaction times… that'd be a worthwhile edge in any fight."

"Not that fighting's the only application there," she's sure to acknowledge.

Both Asi’s and Isaac’s replies make Nova smile, but it’s a dim one in comparison to her usual offerings, like she’s weary — because she is. It’s been a long twenty-four hours, and her head hurts from the emotional drain.

Still, after a moment, Nova pulls both hands out of her pocket, uncurling just index fingers and thumbs from her loose fists — a hand points at each of them.

“Finger guns, obviously.

Faulkner grins along with Asi's ghost of a chuckle, envisioning that… but then she takes a shot at his hair. He frowns at Asi, opens his mouth to frame some witty retort… but closes it instead, that frown taking on pensive element for a moment before shifting into a lopsided, faintly rueful smile. "I probably am about due for a cut," he admits. "Just… priorities," he sighs.

Nova's suggestion draws a smirk. "Finger guns?" Faulkner echoes, looking amused. "You'd definitely have deadly hands then," he smirks. "Just… be careful where you're pointing those things," he says, grinning teasingly.

"Genius," Asi sighs, like she's mad she didn't think of it first. Maybe that's even the case. "It's the most unassuming of weapons. Nobody expects the fingergun inquisition." She lifts one hand to rub at the side of her forehead, a lopsided grin forming despite herself.

If you don't laugh, what can you do in these kind of existential scenarios. She knows, and she'd rather not succumb to any of it again if she can help it.

She purses her lips together when the last of her silent laugh fades, eyes refocusing on the metaphorical road before them. "I should go soon, but—" Her voice lowers and she takes a step away from the window closer to the other two. "What do we do about Kirk in the meantime?" She sounds slightly uncomfortable, unable to reconcile that he's a grown adult and also only several months old at the same time… but in a far different sense than they are. "Is he even safe to leave to his own devices, you think?"

“Or if you need a haircut, someone could upgrade to Edward Scissorhands. Not me. I can’t even do my own hair. I tried to cut my own bangs a bit back and had to wear a hat until they grew out,” Nova says, unfolding her middle fingers to join the others and tapping two fingers together on each hand like she’s attempting to cut with them.

But Asi’s question makes her tip her head thoughtfully. “I mean, we can probably ask him what he wants to do. If we’re sentient people worthy of living and existing… he is, too. Maybe Nicole can set him up with some paperwork. I hope he wants to help us with all of this, but if he feels he’s done his part, I don’t blame him. If he wants to lay low, we can help him do that, too, right?”

She looks at Isaac for his take on the matter, but then her brows draw together as another thought occurs to her. “I kinda want to lay low, too, for that matter. Someone’s paying my tuition and pretending to be my parents or Tim Horton High School secretary.” Nova smirks a little wryly at that. “I’m not sure how I feel about that. But maybe I should keep acting like nothing’s wrong, so we don’t tip our hand.”

Isaac's smirk widens at Nova and Asi's banter; it feels good, now and again, to focus on something a little less grimdark than the whole Blade Runner scenario they've found themselves in. But there are yet questions to be answered, work to be done, et cetera, et cetera, and as Asi and Nova turn to them, his expression shifts back towards the contemplative. Asi's question in particular draws a thoughtful frown… but at Nova's answer, he nods. "Agreed. One way or another, he's here now. And I'll point out he did manage to find us, coming all the way from… wherever he came from. So I'd say he's probably pretty capable at surviving."

After a moment, he shrugs. "As far as I'm concerned he can lurk here as long as he wants. So long as I can still come over to hide from my ex, anyway," he says sardonically. Exactly how much of that is a joke, even he isn't sure, but it's not something he lingers on either way; Nova's next point draws another nod.

"I think that is a very good idea," he agrees. "And, for my part… maybe I'll go have a word with Nicole, too. She might be able to dig up something about the Van Dalens?" he suggests, eyes moving between Asi and Nova.

Asi looks slightly uneasy at the prospect of asking Kirk what he wants to do. Despite having completed his goal of reaching out to them discreetly, her uncertainty lingers as to how to treat him. At best, maybe an asset requiring protection either with or against his will, and at worst, a child who needs their best interests looked out for regardless of what they say. She shifts her weight while she considers the thought of seeing what he might like to do, but doesn't bother holding back from saying, "He needs to lay low. He doesn't seem the type to be able to lie particularly well, and the last thing we want is someone finding out what he is— government or otherwise."

She lets out a thin sigh through her teeth. "Here isn't a bad place for him to be, but neither is it exactly… secured. I don't presently have an alternative to offer up, though," she admits.

Mention of reaching out to Nicole sets a softening to the hard lines of her face, and Asi nods. "If you can bring the Millers up to speed, yes, that'd be great. If Nicole is able to look up anything discreetly… that'd be ideal. Fingers crossed, I guess."

Pursing her lips together, Asi looks between the two. "Anything else for now?" she wonders.

Nova makes a sympathetic grimace at the mention of Isaac’s ex-girlfriend, and then just a grimace in general at the mention of the Van Dalens. She lifts her shoulders in a noncommittal response. They aren’t her parents, after all. Just strangers mixed up in this strange scheme.

“For now, then, yes, but eventually he gets to decide what’s best for himself, the same as any of the rest of us do,” she says to Asi. “If I have to sit through Peter Parkour here’s pep talks about my innate and inalienable rights to freely exist,” she smirks over at Isaac, then turns back to Asi, “then I’m going to insist on JT’s to do the same.” Nova has decided the PHARO inside the house has a nickname, it seems. Captain isn’t going to cut it.

Isaac gives a mild shrug at Asi's commentary on his place; she's not wrong, but it's the best he's got. Nova's teasing provokes a much more exaggerated shrug, accompanied by a smirk. "What can I say, I'm very opinionated when it comes to my right to freely exist," he points out. "And in this case, you're all stuck aboard the Ship of Theseus with me," he says with a sardonic grin.

Asi manages another small smile of her own. "Nothing better than a captive audience, is there," she comments off-handedly. Then she's leaning for the fridge to take one of the offered waters after all. Surely it'll see use on the return trip back out of the overgrowth of Park Slope.

"Keep in touch," Asi asks as she heads for the door. "The only way forward where we succeed is if we do this together. I'll do the same on my end, let you know if I have any burning questions or new information to share." The dig at her own expense is made with a passing amount of mirth before she heads out. "Take care," she says over her shoulder.

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