Your Ex-Lover Remains Dead


ff_gracie_icon.gif robyn7_icon.gif

Scene Title Your Ex-Lover Remains Dead
Synopsis So good when it ends, they'll never be friends.
Date June 29, 2021

Two If By Sea

The Pelago

Two If By Sea is certainly not normally the sort of place Robyn Quinn would choose to spend her time, given all that is going on around her. Once upon a time, maybe, it would be an indulgence she might partake in, usually while drunk and accompanied by any number of clearly uncomfortable friends.

It's not the greatest of memories, those vestigial remnants of a life long since buried in the past. Still, even after being spurned when she had come by looking for information just a few nights ago, it turned out another kind stranger she'd spoken to had been able to relate to her some information, and now it's time to provide them with a thank you.

And maybe have a few drinks, judging from how, upon not spying the woman she's here to see, Robyn groans and makes her way over towards the bar.

Is it weird to recognize a pair of legs before a person? The pair that nearly collide with Robyn’s shoulder as the woman who belongs to them vaults over the bar definitely move in a way that’s familiar.

Which is just a really absurd thing to say or think.

But here’s Rue Lancaster, spun round from the bar back and facing in toward the part of the bar she’s supposed to be in — the patron’s side. In this world, it doesn’t seem like she’s pouring the drinks. At least not at the moment, anyway.

“Oh, shit!” the redhead exclaims with a gasp, a hand up over her mouth. “Jesus! You weren’t there when I started to go—” She pauses midstream of her reply and scrutinizes the woman she nearly collided with. “Wait.”

The existence of this world's February Lancaster isn't news to Robyn, not after her appearance back in the Tavern after their arrival in the Pelago. But certain, Robyn would have preferred to not run into her ersatz former lover again, much less in a place like this. Not knowing what history she may have with Zee and certainly having never thought to ask, she is too lost in shock to realize that she is also staring, having narrowly avoided an unfortunate barside accident.

"Ah, um." Self consciously, a hand reaches up and a finger runs down her scar. "Sorry, I didn't mean to get about in your way! Are you, uh, the bartender here?" Her smile is weak and immediately wavering.

She can feel anxiety rising. It's a feeling not unlike when she saw Else on the ferry, and quickly she swivels her gaze back to the bar.

It’s like when two people who shouldn’t have an acquaintance meet out in the street and pretend that they don’t know each other, maintaining the illusion. Robyn doesn’t balk, precisely, and so Rue — Gracie — doesn’t either.

“Oh, no! You’re fine!” Gracie waves it off. “My bad anyway. Completely.” She slips down off the bar and right onto one of the tall seats at it in a single smooth motion. “And no, the only thing I sling around here is my shirt on occasion.”

Given that she’s wearing a black silk robe with a gold dragon embroidered on it, one of those occasions was probably tonight.

“Maybe my bra.” Gracie chuckles nervously. “I think Sassypants behind the bar has gone to bounce one of my admirers.” There were men arguing on the way in, but that’s just bars, isn’t it?

"You're a dancer here?" There's an incredulousness to Robyn’s voice she can't hide as she looks back at Gracie, though it lacks any sense of judgement. When she realizes the outburst she's just made, Robyn's gaze snaps back to the bar in front of her.

"God, I'm never going to get used to this," she mumbles softly, quick to follow with "Sorry. That was rude of me. I'm new in town, and I'm just… surprised." Not a lie, not the truth. A perfect grey middle ground. Looking up, she tries to spy the bartender, to no avail.

She falls silent for a long moment, before she looks back over at Gracie and smiles. "Must be a hell of a dancer to have admirers worth tossin' out of a place like this." Rue's always been a fantastic dancer, this… is just a change of venue, all things considered.

Gracie looks stunned to be called out for being a dancer. Or maybe for the venue? Or the style? Regardless, she’s offended.

No, not offended. Hurt.

“I know I’m a little scrawny and it looks like I forgot to wash my face, and I’m a bit tall for it, but—” The white picket gate of her teeth practically clacks shut as she stops herself from running off on a babbling tangent. She sighs and plants her elbow on the bartop. “Creeps are always going to creep. Doesn’t matter if I take my clothes off or not.”

Eyes widening, it takes a moment before Robyn can let out a soft laugh and turn away from Gracie. "You're the perfect dancer, of all sorts," she offers a low voice, before letting out another sigh. Swivelling she offers a hand to Gracie, even if she doesn't expect her to take it. "Quinn," she offers, and immediately a wave of deja vu sweeps over her.

In a different time, in a different place, she's been here before.

Pushing that thought out of mind, she turns to look around for the bartender again. "You're right though, creeps always going to creep. Friend of mine owns a place like this. I've been meaning to ask how she would handle the rabble."

A different place. A different time. “Gracie.” A different name. The hand is taken, accepted for the olive branch it seems to be offered as. “Rocky start, but… We’ll call that the rehearsal. Pleased to meet ya, Quinnie.”

The more things change…

There’s a soft and somehow hollow bang of a door from deeper in the space, a brief rush of cooler air, then the bartender returns, fixing his immaculate black sweep of hair. “Sorry about that,” he tells Gracie, who just waves off the apology with a chagrined smile. “I’ll get you started right away, honey.” A glance — a proper once over — is given in Robyn’s direction. After what appears to be the briefest of visual checks back to Gracie, he asks Robyn, “What about you?”

“You want the amber one,” Gracie confides in a low voice, having leaned in enough to speak it out the side of her mouth without having to raise her voice, even though she’s making eye contact with the bartender the whole time. “She wants the amber one!” she repeats, loudly enough for him to not have to infer her direction.

Once more, shock fills Robyn's face. She can't help but stare for a long moment. Never has there been a moment that felt like it better embodied the inherent similarities and contradictions across the timelines, short of having met herself. It feels like the sort of role reversal she never expected. Rue - Gracie - being the outgoing one telling her what she's having for drinks, with her being shy and reserved and wanting very much to be anywhere else all of a sudden.

And yet, Quinnie still has her heart in her throat. The more things change.

"Yeah. Yeah, the amber one," Robyn confirms as she tries to shake away the feelings tumbling over themselves in her head and heart. "Y'know, I had a friend once that called me Quinnie too," she relates as she watches the bartender and decidedly not Gracie. "Always been fond a'that even as much as I act like I'm not."

“They have names, Gracie,” the bartender counters, and suddenly Robyn is sure she knows exactly which bar this man works at on her side of the time and space divide.

“There’s always an amber one and a clear one.” Gracie lays this out by turning one hand out with the flourish of her wrist, then the other, so she looks like she’s weighing two choices. “Doesn’t matter what it’s called this week or what Dr. Isley hooked you up with for fruit. She wants the amber one.”

He makes a disgusted noise in the back of his throat at the disrespect being brought to his trade — as if the Flood hadn’t done enough of that on its own — and turns away to go mix up their drinks. Or maybe just pour them from whatever vat’s been pre-gamed in the back? Best not to ask too many questions around here about such things. Before he goes, however, he pauses and fixes his gaze on Robyn. “Watch out for this one. She’ll walk all over you if you let her.”

Gracie rolls her eyes and waves him off, and his warning. “Dooon’t listen to him. He loves me.” It’s only once he’s completely out of sight around the corner that she turns back to Robyn. “Someone else apparently just knows a good nickname opportunity when they hear one. Although, I admit that Quinnie is pretty low-hanging fruit, and I could probably do better. But I’ll need to get to know you, first.” She shrugs. “Still. Better to land on a liked one on the first go than not. There’s a girl up the docks that really doesn’t like the nickname I gave her. She’s real cute when she’s mad, though, so I haven’t tried to hit her with a better one.”

"I dunno," Robyn offers with a wink over towards the bartender. "He might be onto something." The banter brings a smile back to her face, gaze lingering on the door before looking back to Gracie. "Though personally, I like 'the amber one' more. Nice and descriptive, that."

Quirking an eyebrow, she turns to half face her. "Wait, Dr. Isley? Like…" She trails off, shaking her head. No, Robyn, not like the comic. The world is fantastical, but not that fantastical. Falling silent, she stares down at the bar for a moment, before shaking her head.

"Don't feel obligated to sit here and talk with me," she notes after a moment. "I know you don't, but I'll feel better if I say it myself. I was here looking for one of the other women who works here, and instead I found good conversation." A small snort laugh follows, and she leans forward with a hand over her face.

"What was that nickname? I'm deathly curious."

“Pamela,” Gracie confirms of Isley. “Yeah.” Behind the fashion magazine was always a comic book. Her brows lift in tandem with a playful smile. “Not that she’s agrokinetic, but she’s has a hell of a green thumb.” Hazel eyes scan upward a moment in thought. “I oughta pay her a visit, come to think.”

She waves off the thought and renews her smile. “Why wouldn’t I want to sit with someone who brightens a room just by being in it?” If she only knew what she was saying. There’s no conspiratorial air to it, however, just run of the mill flirtation. “Kind of you to say about me, of course. Thank you.”

A glance is given over Gracie’s shoulder to the rest of the bar, a check to see who else might be listening. It seems the answer is nobody, for the moment, so she turns back to Robyn with a quiet chuckle. “The first time we met, I called this girl cheerleader. I thought she was going to literally throw me off the docks.” The back of her hand rests just below her nose and she giggles into the side of her palm shamelessly. “I can’t help it. She came out here from California, right? Blonde hair, a body that even a Russian judge would give a nine-point-five to? Living up to the stereotype and got me wishing they all really could be California girls.”

Okay. So this version is aggressively lesbian.

“So I call her Long Beach instead. Boooy does she hate that, but only on a dirty look and swearing level.” Snorting, Gracie shakes her head at herself.

"Long Beach. Ha. That's good." It's a genuine if short laugh that Robyn gives at that. Yep, that sounds like one of Rue's nicknames. That one is particularly clever as well. The use of the phrase brighten the room isn't lost on Robyn though, even if the flirtation - to her surprise - makes her feel a bit uncomfortable. "Brighten up the room?" she remarks with a small smirk. "You don't know the half of it, Gracie.”

It's funny, in some ways Gracie is more like the Rue in her memories than the one back where she comes from…

"After that description, you'll have to send me in her direction," Robyn offers with a raised eyebrow. This time, her smirk doesn't falter. Slowly, she grows more comfortable - jury is out on if that's a good thing or a bad thing. "Not that I plan on leaving quite yet."

“I know, right?” Gracie wipes her hand over her mouth and takes some of that grin with it. It doesn’t leave her eyes, however. “She’s a stitcher. Doesn’t make new things, but repairs torn ones. Real handy when you need to reinforce a bag.” She chuckles once. “Or the seat of your pants.”

But back to the company at hand, Gracie leans in. “May not know the half of it, but I bet you’d like to show me, Quinnie.”

Robyn's brow furrows as she stares at Gracie for a moment - and then her eyes widen, likely comically. Oh. Oh. Oh this is something she was not at all prepared for. "Oh- ah, um." The whole range of oh no I've forgotten how to words sounds tumble out of her mouth before she turns back to the bar.

"You don't know who I am, do you. You have to, though." Glancing back back over at Gracie, a grin has become a weak smile. "One of the travellers, you know?" She laughs. When did she become so nervous? Why?

Probably because she hasn't said no to what she thinks Gracie is implying yet.

The incoming drink is either going to be an amazing idea or a terrible one.

And it arrives as if on cue. “I’ve decided to name it after you,” the bartender informs Gracie acerbically.

“A Ginger Bitch?” Gracie ventures. “A Redheaded Slut?” Her brows lift, chin dipping down. If she had glasses, she’d be looking over the top of them at the tall, dark-haired bartender. “Hanky Panky?” A gasp sees her light up. She’s got it this time! “No! Between the Sheets? Or is it a Sloe Screw Against a Cold, Hard Wall?”

Throughout the entire list of guesses, the bartender’s expression grows less and less impressed. “Amber Waves.” It’s spat dismissively, but he heaves a sigh and the tightness around his mouth and his eyes begins to soften. “You’re too quick to talk shit about yourself, Grace.”

One glass is set in front of Robyn and the other is nudged in the dancer’s direction. “Besides,” his tone changes for the haughty, “cranberries are out of season, so it couldn’t call it a Slut.”

There’s a shrug for the notion of how she talks about herself. “Oh, you know me. Always gotta start the party.” Gracie cracks a grin and lifts her drink. “Never change, Sassy.”

“You should consider it,” he retorts, glancing at Robyn one more time. “If you need something, shout. Or just tell her.” He jerks his head toward Gracie. “She’ll help herself to whatever anyway.” With one last look, he implores her, “Be good, Grace.” Then, he disappears into the back again.

One can’t help but think of Cat’s Cradle.

"I haven't had a redheaded slut in years," Robyn mumbles as she examines the drink that's been set down in front of her, leaning in to give it a bit of a smell test. Her question has gone unanswered, and to her that speaks more volumes than anything verbal possibly could.

"For what it's worth, I'm inclined to agree with him," she remarks with a thumb jabbed in the direction of the retreating bartender, though no effort is made to clarify which she agrees with. The single track of Gracie's suggestions also isn't lost on her, but it does remind of a more familiar, homely place. Even a bit of the Rock Cellar, a place where she spent far too many nights drunk at the bar.

Who let Robyn live above a bar anyway?

"Amber Waves works. Hell, sounds like a stage name. Marketing synergy at its finest." Why is she talking about marketing synergy?

Why is she talking?

Who let Rue live above a bar anyway?

Sometimes, people let others make bad decisions.

“Does a bit, doesn’t it?” Gracie muses. “No point in it here, though. Everyone knows everyone.” Her head tilts to one side, a red curl going astray as she does. “Like I know who you are.” She shrugs her shoulders. “I didn’t want to spook you. We didn’t really talk about it the first time I met travelers. It was safer that way.”

Gracie takes a sip of her drink and seems to relax. “If people knew, they’d freak. So, I pretend not to know. Except with the ones who know.”

There it is. Robyn watches Gracie for a long moment, taking another sip of the drink that's been laid down for her. It is… interesting. Not bad, but she's also not desperate enough to ask what's in it. Maybe a little scared to, even.

"I figured you might," she offers in a soft reply. "Nothing about that is why I'm here tonight." Turning to look ahead, she stares across the bar for a long moment. "I haven't exactly been keeping it a secret, don't really see much point in it." A small shrug, and she leans back in her seat. "Enough people know the me here that keeping it a secret wouldn't have mattered anyway."

"Knew what? About us?" Robyn lets out a sarcastic laugh, a small smile on her face as she looks down at the drink in front of her. "I think that's ship sailed," she mutters. "Hopefully we won't be here too much longer, but… who knows."

“You overestimate how many people are aware of exactly where you all came from.” Gracie shakes her head. “Word travels fast around here, but it’s all one big game of Telephone. They still have that game where you came from, right?”

That’s not a serious question. Her mouth curves in a small smile. “Look. You may think it’s not worth keeping the secret, but believe me, it is. People don’t need to know that there’s even a possibility of a world that’s not as fucked as ours is. The grief would be immense. Trust me.”

She’d know.

Robyn is quiet, looking down at the still untouched drink that's been brought to her. After a long moment, a small smile forms on her face, and she nods. "Yeah. I guess I'm the weird one, wondering if it might be better to stay here. Grass is always greener, and all that." She sighs, letting her shoulders sink a bit. "Never a serious consideration, at least. My son would be beside himself if I did."

That's not to mention the possibility of Jolene finding her.

"If you think it's better, you actually live here, so I'll heed your advice," she offers with a small shrug of her shoulders. "I'd been led to believe otherwise, but I suppose when you're going around asking where the woman you look like is? People will nod and believe anything."

Gracie’s brows jump and she blinks several times. The point of interest is left to herself for a time, long enough for Robyn to finish her thoughts. Her own are succinct, if tinged with incredulity.

“You have a son?”

Robyn's brow knits together, staring ahead quietly. Fingers curl into a fist next to her glass of alcohol, before abrupt rising and thumping her fist back down on the bar counter - she doesn't seem angry, but the motion certainly carries a degree of force behind it.

"Everyone says that!" There's clear frustration in her voice, before she turns to face Gracie. "Is it something about me? Something about her? Even people here question it! Do I just- not seem like the type for it? Fit for it?"

About that point, she realises the outburst she's having at someone who wouldn't know and doesn't deserve it, shirking back and pulling her drink closer. "Sorry. It's just been… bothering me. I'll, uh. I'll be more careful about what I tell people. I've been leaning on a story of being her sister, and that's not… wrong, I guess?"

“It’s not like that!” Gracie’s quick to counter, suddenly defensive. “I just mean that she doesn’t, so I just—” She looks down at the bar, shoulders huddled in a little while she assures, “It says more about her.”

But that reaction says more about Quinn.

Taking a deep breath, the tension begins to wind its way out of the redhead again, and she lets out a soft sigh. “What it must be like for you,” she says quietly, “to be just about as far away from home as you can possibly get and not even feeling like you get to be yourself.” She shakes her head, sympathy for Robyn’s circumstance in her hazel eyes. “It must be awful.”

It's a heavy sigh Gracie gets in return, Robyn finally pulling her drink closer and taking a sip of it. "I'm sorry," she repeats quietly, staring down at the table. "I'm not going to sit here and pretend I have it worse than anyone here in the Pelago. It is what it is. I haven't felt like I get to be myself in a decade, that much I'm used to."

Picking up the drink, she throws it back without a second thought - like someone who has a lot of practice with drinking, and doing so quickly. Between the conversation with Nadira earlier and the turn this is taking, she needs it. A hand runs over her mouth, and she shakes her head. "What do I owe for the drinks? Gotta make sure I have something to trade." Drinks, she is clearly planning on having more.

Looking over at Gracie, she gives her a soft, if sad, smile. "I didn't mean to make a scene. I just… I have some pent up frustration I guess, and none of the ways to work it out I've grown comfortable with."

“A decade, huh?” Gracie hums a note of commiseration, rather than condescension. “Must be rough.” To the question of how Quinn’s going to pay, she just shakes her head, her hand waving back and forth horizontally over the bar between them. Don’t worry about it.

“Things are tough all over, cupcake. It rains on the just and unjust alike…” The dancer murmurs before following the other woman’s lead and knocking back her own drink like a practiced professional. “Except in California,” she finishes, non sequitur without the context.

Lifting her right hand, she draws a circle in the air by her head. “’Nother round!” Then she’s boosting herself up to climb up and over the bar.

Watching Gracie climb over the bar with the cheer of more drinks earns an earnest chuckle from Robyn. "Another round," she echoes in a more subdued fashion, raising up her glass. She resists the urge to make some comment drawing attention back to… well, anything having to do with herself. No it is what it is or self-depreciating comments.

She just wants to move on.

"Never actually been to California," she notes, pointing a finger at Gracie. "Hear it's real warm there. Not for me, really." She gives a strained, toothy smile. "What about you, 'cupcake'," she remarks, offering what she hopes was a term of endearment back at Gracie. "What brought you here, just or unjust?" After the Ark goes unspoken.

“Did Malibu a couple times,” Gracie replies while she grabs their glasses to refill. “Don’t remember much about it.” She glances up from her mixology with a rueful expression. “Don’t know if that’s because my girl and I got too fucked up, or if it’s from the head injury.” She shrugs. “Six of one?”

Setting Robyn’s drink back in front of her, Gracie leans on the bar across from her, rather than come back around to her seat. Her robe gaps open, but she either doesn’t seem to notice, or doesn’t give a shit. And anyway, it’s not the full goods on display.

She smiles, a disingenuous thing that people wear when they’re hiding some amount of pain. “Ah, you know, same old shit. I fucked off to the mainland for a while. Guess I was looking to find myself.” Gracie stares down into her glass a moment before actually drinking deep from it. “Found a lot of dandelion salads. Self… entitled assholes.” Her lip curls. “I think I had some light dysentery.”

With a grumble and roll of her eyes, she declares, “The Oregon Trail is absolute horseshit.” She slumps even lower. “So, I’m back here. Because it sucked.

"Half dozen of the other." Robyn finishes the phrase with a thin chuckle that turns into something almost resembles an actual laugh. "Some things never change, I guess," she murmurs, voice brimming with quiet amusement.

Picking up her drink, she tries her best not to stare - it's not like she needs to, and here's not her place to. But, you know, these things happen. "Find yourself. Heard that one before," she remarks with a sardonic tone and gait to match. "Sorry. Didn't mean to stir anything up. I get it, though. Been… adjacent to that myself."

Her shoulders rise and fall in a shallow shrug, and she takes her own deep drink from her glass. "Well, for what little it's worth, I'm glad you're here. What else would I do tonight, sit alone in my room?" Ostensibly, this is meant to be a light hearted comment, Robyn offering an awkward smirk to Gracie; it's only afterwards that she realises how shitty it could sound, and her grin fades as she turns back to her drink.

If she’s taken any offense, it doesn’t show. Gracie tips her glass in Robyn’s direction. “That’s why I hang out in places like these. I mean, even when I’m not getting paid for it.” One way or another. “What’s the fun in sitting alone?” But it’s spoken like maybe she doesn’t find a lot of fun being among people, either.

“I don’t talk about myself much, honestly,” the redhead admits with a shrug. “But you’re easy to talk to.” She smirks at her own expense. “That’s supposed to be my gig. I don’t want you horning in on my territory now.” The teasing is a familiar feeling thing. Like she could be talking to the Rue she knows. When the baggage they share doesn’t get in the way, anyway.

“So… What’d you do before you came here?” Because Gracie knows Robyn won’t tell her what brought her here. It seems she’s got enough sense to see that it’s big. It was the last time too, after all.

"So, the funny thing is," Robyn starts, still staring ahead past Gracie, "I don't really like talking about myself, either," she notes with a bemused, if distant expression on her face. She takes another sip of her drink before giving a small shrug. "And yet, here we are. But I know exactly why it's easy for me to talk to you." Words thick with implication, but nothing Robyn seems immediately willing to elaborate on. "At any rate, it's not like I'll be here for long. One way or another, soon it'll be time to - what's the phrase. Shove off?"

A longer sip of her drink, and she looks back to Gracie. "Trust me, my life story is the last one you want. I'd like to remain seeming like a decent person in someone's eyes." A quiet moment of consideration passes, and Robyn leans forward, elbows against the counter. "But if you want to know, I work for the government where I come from. A department that's- kinda like FBI, but for crimes that involve people with abilities. Something like, from what I understand, the DoEA y'all used to have." Those words roll bitterly off her tongue, knowing what the DoEA was in her world. "Revolutionary and smuggler before that, musician before that, layabout all the while."

That earns another long sip of her drink, as if trying to fight back some memory that's bubbled up with a healthy dose of booze.

Gracie’s eyebrows shoot up at the seeming like a decent person comment. “I know the feeling,” she murmurs, apparently more than willing to gloss over the implication behind Robyn knowing why she has an easy time talking with her. Her lip also curls at the mention of the DoEA. “I suppose I can’t shit on them too hard. They did build the Ark I was fortunate enough to secure passage on, at least.”

She’s quiet for a while after that, sipping on her drink. Her eyes half-lid, maybe finding some old memory herself. She lets out a quiet sigh. “What kind of music did you do? You look a little punk rock.” She’s probably teasing.

"These days? I don't." Robyn huffs out a breath, leaning a bit forward against the counter. "At least, not back home. Here… it's a necessity, entertainment is how I'm paying my way right now." She picks up the glass and stares into it for a moment, before deciding to set it back down and sigh.

"Pop rock, mostly. Indie. There was a weird… synthwave period back in the mid 2000s." She waves a hand back and forth, staring back down at her drink. "I released an album in 2011, was the hottest thing in New York for a most of the year. Worked at a radio station as a personality and taste maker, ended up owning it a few months later after a series of unfortunate events." She huffs out a breath, teeth clenched for a moment. "And then the war happened, and all of that went away."

There's no small amount of bitterness between those words, giving voice to something she seems reluctant to say out loud. With a moment of hesitation, she picks the drink up and knocks the rest of it back before lowering her focus back to Rue. A small shrug is given. "And here I am again, playing music. Everything goes full circle, I guess."

“I think all music is technically indie music these days,” Gracie quips with a lopsided grin, trying to lighten the mood after Robyn’s introspection turns sour. “You know, I wanted to be a dancer from the time I was little,” she provides an admission of her own, lifting Robyn’s empty and giving it a little wiggle to silently ask if she wants another.

The redhead tilts her head, considering, “I mean, I wanted to be a model-actress, too, but I had a real passion for dance. I wanted to be a ballerina.” All of this is information Robyn already had about the woman in front of her. Or about the other version of her, anyway. There’s consistency in this. “Always told I was too tall for it or that I didn’t have the same poise as the other girls. Whatever reason they had at a given time.”

She picks up her own glass and takes a drink. “I kept up on it, but I gave up the notion of going professional.” Gracie’s grin takes a turn for the sardonic. “Communications degree doesn’t do me a whole lot of good here, so I guess when the circle completed, I got the last laugh on all of them.” She breathes out a chuckle. “Even if I’ll never dance with the Russian ballet.”

Even the coldness of the castle's brick construction couldn't prevent Quinn from leaning there in the entry arch to the dining hall, watching silently as her ex-girlfriend dances. Even with the past rejections and talks following them, there's a lot of good memories that swell up upon seeing Rue dance as she does across the cold, stone floor. Enough to bring just a slight, fond smile to Quinn's lips, dulled only by knowing - or at least believing she knows - how the former model feels about her now. And by what she knows she's eventually going to have to tell the other woman.

Arms cross as she watches Rue, bundled up tight in her hoodie and eyes half lidded as the ballerina climbs up onto the chair. She has no intention of interrupting the "performance"; she wouldn't no matter who it is, but particularly since it's Rue. Still, as the dance culminates and begins to end, she can't help but clap softly, still smiling as she watches her move, all while hoping it doesn't startle her too much.

"You always look wonderful when you dance, you know that, right?"

The memory bubbles up from nowhere in particular, spurred by the turn in the topic of conversation. It leaves just barest hint of a smile on Robyn's face, one she risks losing herself to the moment of if she doesn't reengage with Rue quickly.

"Yeah," she says quickly, a bit at a loss for a better response until she leans back a bit in her chair. Two drinks in, and she feels it more than she'd admit, resulting in that thin pressed smile becoming a bit more genuine as she looks up at Rue. "I've seen- uh. The you from where I come from, I've seen her dance," she admits cautiously. "No matter what world, it's a crime that you don't get to dance professionally," she offers, looking down at the counter.

"Universal consistency, I guess. I always seem to play music, you always seem to dance. Funny how that works, isn't it?" She pushes the glass towards Rue, implicitly answering the question of if she wants another.

The recognition washes over Gracie without attempt to hide it. “Universal constants,” she agrees, taking the glass up to pour another refill from the batch keg. She taps her nail on the side of it as the process goes. Then she’s sliding it back across the counter and taking up her lean again.

“Can I ask you about one of the people you’re traveling with?” she asks with a furrow of her brow, clearly uncertain if she should ask.

There's a moment of hesitation before Robyn picks up the glass and takes another measured sip. She doesn't set the glass back down, keeping it close as her lips quirk back and forth. "You can, but… I can't promise I'll give many satisfying answers." Looking up at Gracie, she shrugs. "Some things probably aren't my business to talk about, and to be honest, I don't know most of my team very well." The use of the word team itself speaks volumes.

"Richard and I are old frenemies turned close friends, and Eve is… it's complicated. But the rest of them, Elliot, Chess, Castle, Nova? I don't… really know them well at all. So forgive me if I can't offer much insight." Another sip of the drink, still cradled close. "But hit me. I'll do what I can to give you something satisfying."

The corners of Gracie’s mouth turn downward in a frown as Robyn outlines who she can or cannot speak about. She nods slowly, indicating her understanding before asking her question anyway. “I was wondering about Elliot Hitchens,” she admits softly. “He came looking for me a few days ago and I’m… just kind of wondering what his deal is?”

"Oh, him? He's total bad news." Spoken with a momentarily straight face, a genuine grin creeping across Robyn's lips. She can only hold it for a moment before she laughs and shakes her head. "I didn't meet him until we were prepping for this trip," she admits, head tilting slightly. "So there's…" She thinks for a moment, and then frowns. "There's not really much I can tell you about him."

Well, that's a lie, but she's made a point of not telling people about their other selves, even as much as that has been slipping away in this conversation.

"But I can tell he's a good hearted guy. If he wanted to talk to you, specifically, I'm sure there's a good reason." Oh there is, but Robyn isn't about to say it. Not if what she's heard is right. "So much for giving something satisfying, I guess." She musters a small smile, shrugging. "I tried."

Gracie shrugs her shoulders with a smile. “Ah, well. Worth a shot, right?” She chuckles. “If you do find anything out that’s less than good, will you give me a heads up? Not that I think it’s going to be an issue, but.” She lays a hand on Robyn’s arm and leans in a little closer. “Girls gotta stick together, right?” It’s the grand conspiracy.

At the touch to her arm Robyn stiffens just the slightest bit, before looking down at the drink she holds close. This would have to be her last one, before she risks getting herself into trouble. Different as this woman may be, she's still Rue.

Letting her shoulders slack a bit, she leans into Gracie and offers a conspiratorial wink. "Wouldn't have it any other way." She's quick to lean back though, taking a long sip of her drink. "All jokes aside, he's fine. A little milquetoast if you ask me, but I also don't know him well. I know he works at the paramilitary outfit I used to liaison with, and that's about it." She shrugs. That's something. Gracie will have to live with that little bit of information.

Rather than recoil like she touched a hot stove, Gracie gives it a moment to see what the ultimate reaction will be, politely darting her glance to the side, as if it gives Robyn the privacy to work through the thought. When she eases back in, those hazel eyes come back to her face, practically sparkling.

Gracie folds her arms together on the bartop. “Milquetoast, huh? That’s a flattering assessment.” She’s amused. “He was respectful enough — more than enough — so I’m not worried. Easy on the eyes, too, which is a lot more than I can say for most of the men that come looking for me.”

Speaking of.

The bell jangles as the door to the bar swings open. Footsteps follow, then pause. “Ariel.” A disheveled looking man who may have come from some other bar first grins wide, arms spreading out to his sides.

I’m gonna kill myself.” Gracie mutters under her breath, giving Robyn a look that conveys here we go before she turns to regard the man with a neutral expression. “Keith. I thought you were out on a salvage run.”

“I can’t stay away from you, my beautiful little mermaid.”

I haven’t had enough of these.” Gracie lifts her glass and takes another drink. “Lucky me.” Robyn can see her fingers tightening their grasp.

Keith makes his way toward the bar in a way he must think is sauntering, or maybe a swagger, but it’s more like weaving. “How about a dance? Just the two of us.”

Gracie glances to Robyn, an apology brewing in the golden hazel depths of her eyes. “Sorry, Keith.” She turns and leans in toward her conversation partner, lifting her free hand to cup her cheek and trace her mouth with her thumb. “I’m working.”

The man frowns, but isn’t deterred. “What’s she paying you? I guarantee I have a better offer.”

For a moment, all Robyn can do is stare; she clearly hadn't expected the suddenly intimate touch. It's the sort that paralyses her just long enough for her breath to hitch. It's only after a beat and an audible swallow that Robyn returns Gracie's apologetic look - though maybe a different sort of apologetic - before looking up at Keith.

She studies him for a moment, before looking back down at her glass. In a split second, she makes a decision that surprises even her, a thought punctuated with a heavy sigh and a finishing of her glass. She intentionally sets it back on the counter as hard as she can without cracking or breaking it, the sound of glass on wood reverberating for a moment.

"I'll take that bet," she offers, not looking over at "Keith". She slides the glass back across the bar to Gracie. Another, it implies as she turns to face the man, an elbow propped against the counter as she makes a point of tilting her head to show off the scar on her face. "Not fair t'undercut someone already deep in their business, mate," she offers, laying her Irish accent on thick. She's definitely starting to feel the effects of that alcohol, for better or worse. Worse, probably, given how bold she abruptly feels.

She reaches up, pressing a hand to Gracie's, feigning a possessive implication. "Come on then, don't be such a langer. What've y'got?"

The young man’s expression sours, his eyes narrowing. It’s clear that he’s not used to being spoken to that way, but he’s more confused by it than angry.

“Quinnie…” Gracie whispers, a quiet warning.

“No, no.” Keith shakes his head. “It’s fine.” He reaches into the pocket of his coat and holds something small in his hand. “I’m confident that this is a bid I’ll win.” He’s watched with uncertainty by the woman he means to woo as he unfurls his fingers. Laid out on his palm is a 9 volt battery. The reveal sees Gracie’s eyes get wide. She breaks away from Robyn and moves further down the bar. He boasts, “Fresh from Delphi.” Where the electric power must be in better supply than in the Pelago.

Keith plucks his offering up between two fingers and holds it out toward Gracie, who makes to reach for it. “Ah ah ah,” he chides, drawing it away again. Look, but don’t touch.

Gracies fingers curl into a loose fist which she slowly lowers. Robyn knows Rue Lancaster so well that she can see the imperceptible way her features begin to harden in response, a subtle defiance in her eyes. It’s the look her Rue would get when she was steeling herself for something she didn’t want to do, but gathered her determination for anyway.

Keeping eye contact with her client, the dancer leans forward slowly until she’s almost laying on the bar, her toes barely staying on the floor, robe gaping. She opens her mouth and sticks out her tongue.

He smiles with satisfaction, even as she’s clearly demeaning herself. Slowly, he brings the battery in to touch the contact against the offered testing strip.

Gracie jolts briefly when the circuit completes, proving that there is, in fact, life in that battery. It’s quickly withdrawn, the test now passed. “How many more?” she asks with what sounds to Robyn like a quiet desperation. She’s an addict who needs a fix. When holds up four fingers, her expression shifts.


“You’re right,” she says quietly, voice even. “You have the better offer.” She starts to straighten up, turning to pass another apologetic look the other woman’s way. “Sorry, pretty.”

"Wait, what?" Maybe it's a bit of long dormant arrogance that she can't believe she 'lost' bubbling back up into reality, as Robyn's eyes widen and she looks over to Gracie, incredulous disbelief in her voice. "Really?" She stares at Keith for a long moment, and then scoffs, "Well, no sense arguin', I suppose." That accent doesn't just slip away now that she's done putting on an act, for whatever reason.

Closing her eyes for a moment, she turns to face forward across the bar against, pushing her glass a bit further away - she's done now, which is fine by her either way. She doesn't immediately make to leave, she doesn't want Gracie to feel like shit on top of having to deal with someone she clearly doesn't want to. At the same time, she can't decide if it's her place to argue, to insist.

Either way, she absolutely shouldn't be doing this while three drinks deep, but here we are.

"If you change your mind, hon, I'll be here." For at least a little bit longer. If nothing else, it sucks to lose the conversation, since that's likely all it was going to be.

Gracie gives a shaky nod, still clearly tense to Robyn’s eyes. If Keith realizes it, he likely long ago stopped giving a shit.

She hoists herself back up on the bar the way she had done when she nearly collided with Robyn to begin with, spinning around to face the patron’s side. Keith grabs her thighs and pulls her to the edge, which brings a fluttering smile to her face. “Who’s an eager beaver?” she asks with a sly smile. The regret shows in her posture immediately. “Guess we’ll find out, huh?” she asks before he can respond.

Grabbing the hem of her robe to keep it just this side of decent when he she’s pulled the rest of the way forward, Gracie touches her feet back down on the floor easily and loops her arm with her client’s. She flashes a sad smile over her shoulder to Robyn. “I’ll see you around, Quinnie. Just tell Sassy it’s on my tab.”

"Yeah." Robyn chooses not to watch as Gracie gets dragged off by someone she clearly doesn't want to be spending time with, the word spoken with an amount of quiet bitterness that surprises even her. It pains her to see her in this situation, because at the end of the day, she's still a Rue Lancaster, and Robyn made a promise to herself to treat Rue better.

But this isn't her fault, it's not her mistreating Rue. So why does she feel so angry about it?

All that's left to do is wait for the barkeep - Sassy? - to reemerge and she'll be on her way. Something about this place suddenly feels much less inviting to her, through no fault of Gracie's. But then, maybe that's one of the harsh realities of living in the flood she still hasn't brought herself to accept yet.

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