Bearers and SEP Fields

July 07, 2018:

Rami tells Simon about her genetic memory — he (briefly) becomes Somebody Else's Problem.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Rocket Raccoon

Plot:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

Hell's Kitchen is a wreck, and Simon is feeling half a wreck himself. Despite this, he has not simply gone home and collapsed. Instead, he took a quick shower to get off the worst of the soot and loosen some of the knots in his shoulders and sent a text to Rami Ghai.

Drink? Manchester?

That would be the Manchester Arms pub a couple of blocks from her apartment. Given that he hasn't spoken to her since they made it back to SHIELD HQ with Warhorse et al, it's a bit blunt and to-the-point, but hey, he's also bone-tired.

Simon's phone lights up about five minutes later. Yeah, alright. Think it has power? Meet you in the garage, yeah?

The ex-MI-6 agent meets Simon just a few minutes later than expected, having been turned around several times in the SHIELD HQ. Still not ready for field work, Rami has been working in the science department of HQ, going over samples and lab findings from what field agents have gathered. Warhorse and DuBois are the only to MI-6 agents still left in SHIELD care, the other three having been sent back home after investigations revealed that they had no knowledge that they were operating on a rogue mission.

She steps out of HQ in comfortable clothes — leggings and a loose, long-cut tunic, and comfortable flats, all worn beneath a light duster of maroon knit. Her hair is drawn into a loose ponytail. Her forehead and left eye socket are still bruised, yellowing at the edges, and the laceration is just a scabbed line on across her eyebrow. She's just as tired as Simon, despite not being in the field.

Across the park. Should. I'll be twenty to the garage.

When he pulls up, it's in a fire-engine-red Ford F-150. It's not a subtle vehicle, but it's a sturdy one. He drives up to the front of the garage, hopping out and leaving the behemoth idling as he comes around to actually open the door for Rami. "You look about how I feel. Sorry about the delay, I figured you'd be home already."

"Oh? And why aren't you not home already?" In her exhaustion, some of that Southall inflection sneaks in more readily to her otherwise cultured dialect. She glances over the truck, brows raised slightly — though her wounded brow does not arch quite as high as the still-intact twin. She then steps forward to let him help her up, pulling herself into the truck before settling into the comfortable passenger seat. She sinks into it, not realizing her own tiredness until she's fully inclined into the seat.

Simon chuckles a little as he hands Rami up into the cab and shuts the door behind her. He waits to answer her question until he's back around the beast's nose and inside again. "Because I got sent back by medical." Patting his chest, he clears his throat a moment, "Got a face full of ash working over a bomb scene." He leans over to touch her brow ever-so-lightly, "How are you feeling?" As he waits for her response, he pops on his seatbelt and puts the big truck in gear, "You want to hit the Manchester or somewhere closer? I don't want to bore you to sleep before we get there."

Rami's already belted in by the time he gets into his seat. She glances toward him at the news of being sent back by medical, and her brows arch. "Should you even be going to get a pint, then, or are you being deviant?" Then she leans her elbow into the edge of the window, bracing her tired head against her palm and fingers. "I'm tired… and tiredness never settles well with me. I drift…" She rubs a fingertip across her lip and then smiles back toward Simon with a tilt of her head against the headrest. "Manchester. I really don't want an excuse to go back again tonight."

Simon gives Rami a bit of a grinning side-eye at the question about his deviancy, then shakes his head, "No, I'm solid. Just, if I start coughing and can't stop… well, say something nice at my funeral." By his grin, he's joking. As he takes them out into traffic — which is a frustrating thing in a big truck. A lot of stopping and going in traffic, even this far after work time. "You still having trouble after the knock on the head, Rami? Drifting?"

The traffic distracts her, watching the lights. Rami smiles slightly toward him at his reassurances that he's okay, and she just shakes her head at his joke. When he asks after her concussion, her brow furrows a bit. For the last few days, Rami has came across more than a handful of very unusual agents in SHIELD's midst. Her mouth tightens a moment as she thinks through her thoughts, letting an uncomfortable silence pass between them. Instead of answering his question, she asks another instead. "What's your first memory?"

Simon shifts in the big bucket seat at the silence, but her question forestalls any nervous words from him. Instead, he follows it with thoughtful silence for a long moment, "Sitting on my mom's lap, holding a box in my hand and asking her what the shiny star on the ribbon in the box was." He glances aside to her a moment, "It was my dad's Bronze Star." Looking back to the traffic ahead of him, he adds, "I must have been four or five."

Rami smiles at his offered memory. She wants to ask more about the memory, press for details, but the question was meant to open the opportunity to speak toward her realities. She would not have thought about it… if it weren't for her phone call from her grandmother just this morning. She looks back out at the traffic. "When I'm tired, I don't know which memory is my first… perhaps it is my first time on the train home from Scotland when I was three. Or perhaps it was hearing the sirens during the Blitz in 1940. Could have been being left to tend the goat herd for the first time because my mother was giving birth to my sister." She glances toward him. "This is so hard to explain… I have so many memories in my head that are not my own that fatigue can make those memories become muddled."

The train from Scotland is normal enough, but it's only Simon's extensive experience in undercover work that stops him from hitting the brakes hard at the mention of the Blitz. And then it even gets even stranger. His eyes widen slightly nonetheless, and he glances across to Rami, only looking back to his work of driving when the taxi behind him hits the horn. "Bite me!" Simon communicates loudly, flipping the taxi off and then doing his best to recover, driving a block or so before he manages words for his companion, "That's… pretty spectacular." There's a pause there, and then he adds, "So is it like… all the memories for everyone in your family going back… wow, how long?"

The interruption from typical New York City traffic draws Rami's brows high, and she glances toward the offender with a slight dance of amusement in her smile. Then she looks back away to the city while Simon finds his response. It isn't exactly what she expected, so she looks back to him with an open expression of wonder. "Yes… yes it is rather spectacular." Then she shakes her head. "No, not everyone. There is one Bearer for each generation, and that Bearer has the memories of all other Bearers. I contain the memories of the first Bearer from the 15th Century, and all bearers who came after him."

It's easier to understand another ability when you have one yourself. A little. Rami's description of her ability is still crazy on the face of it. Again, he's silent for a long couple of minutes, getting them several blocks closer to their destination. "That's… a lot of memories." And then he puts in, "The statue at the Met. Of the guru. Something sounded off… did one of your Bearers know him?" Pure spy-work there: if you don't understand something, get more information.

Parambir lets him have that silence uninterrupted. She smiles at his inference. "Yes. She did. He was a Buddha though, not a Guru." Her voice is kind and forgiving, and she looks back out the window at the city as it passes them by. "But that's why fatigue is difficult… and head trauma is worse. I lose myself easily within the sea of those memories, and our memories connect our identity." Then she looks back at him, a touch of accusation in her eyes as she does. "Overnight guests are quite difficult. I receive all the new memories from my father and grandmother when I wake-up. Having a man in my bed makes it hard to complete my routines so I don't think myself my Deedaa for a couple hours."

"Right. Sorry. Buddha, not a Guru." There's a little laugh to Simon's voice, perhaps a bit of adrenaline from the pure impossibility edging his words. There is, however, something to connect to in all that, the tie between memory and identity, and Simon clings to it — only to be knocked off again by the reference to him, "Wait. They don't share your memories too, do they?" That's perhaps even a little desperate, the spy's eyes widening sharply and a blush rising to his freckled cheeks. Because that's the important part, not her thinking she's her father.

That is the question Rami expected, and so she smiles coyly toward him. "Yes." Then she starts to laugh. "But it isn't quite as you imagine. They don't relive my day, just as I don't relive theirs. To access a memory, you have to have… prompts. Associations. If I perhaps cued my brain to think about what my father did yesterday, I will remember it." Then she starts to laugh, and it has a warmth to it. "He was at Porthcurno in Cornwall with my mum. She surprised him with his favorite dinner." Then she looks back out at the window, speaking softly. "Don't worry. You only really have to worry about my grandmother being nosy about what we're up to."

And the red in Simon's cheeks doubles, and he gives a little groan, starting to drop his head toward the wheel. The light turns green ahead of him, and he has to straighten up again, driving through the intersection and starting to look for parking with some small portion of his brain as he tries to recover from his embarrassment and listen to the explanation with the rest. "Thank God," he starts, and then stops and groans aloud at the mention of her grandmother. "Is that worse or even more worse than a nosy father?" Yes, both options are -worse-. There is no better.

"My grandmother is getting older, and so she's getting a bit dotty. She will be kind though, because she knows I like you." Rami smiles gently toward him, and she reaches out to touch his leg in a comforting gesture. "You should be thankful though that it is only my grandmother who is nosy." Then she points toward where she spots another larger vehicle is sliding out of its parking spot. She turns her head back toward him now. "But… that is why I drift when I'm tired."

Simon follows Rami's direction toward the just-opening spot, "So you like me then." Yes, that's what he took from all that. In fact, he took a lot more from her words, but that buys him some time. "That's… that's still an awful lot of pressure. But a fascinating…" he stalls out there for a moment, trying to decide between, "power? Ability? It doesn't sound like mutation…" Parking is quickly and easily accomplished, and he shuts off the truck, "So if I don't want to find myself talking to a Ghai from the seventeenth century, I should treat this as a ride home with good company, not really going out for a drink?"

His conclusion just has Rami rolling her eyes slightly before she shakes her head. "I don't know what it is." She turns more toward him now that the truck is off, unhooking her seatbelt. "A blessing." Then she hesitates at his question, looking a bit abashed. "It might be quite interesting to talk to a Ghai from the seventeenth century, but perhaps…" She looks away slightly, rubbing at her shoulder as she looks up toward where her apartment building is tucked away just a block or so up. "Would you like to come up for a drink? Make it a nice compromise?"

"Blessing," Simon accepts with a nod. "And it might be plenty interesting, but you're the one I like talking to. I don't know any of them." A chuckle turns into a cough which turns into another cough, the first into his hand, the second into the inside of his elbow. Recovering and wiping his palm a little surreptitiously on his thigh, he nods, "I'm also a little worn out for conversations with people from different centuries." There's a pause, and he shakes his head, "Man… that just sounds weird to say out loud." He offers up a smile then, nodding, "I like compromises. I'll walk you home." And he unbuckles and descends from the truck's cab, coming around to hold open her door and offer her a hand out — if he makes it around in time.

"Mmm, it's weirder when its your own head." Then she leans back in her seat while he goes to get the door. She lets him, watching him with a turn of her head. Then she's leaning out, taking his hand, and stepping onto the curb of the sidewalk. She tucks a bit of loose forelock behind her ear, and then nods up at him with a small smile. "I have some tea that might help with that cough. Come on." She gives his hand a squeeze before she releases him to lead the way back up the block to her apartment building.

Simon chuckles, a little huskily after his coughing, "I bet." He's silent for a thoughtful moment as he returns the little squeeze and locks his truck with a quiet chirp. "I was breaching a door with a sentient raccoon with a big gun a couple weeks ago." The SHIELD agent shrugs a little helplessly, "So all in all, 'I remember my ancestors' lives' is pretty far down there on the weird scale." The urge to share his own secret wars with years of training and need to keep it quiet. Later, he tells himself. We're in public.

"A… sentient raccoon with a gun? That's a story that needs to be told…" Blessed by more than just ancestral memories, her attention to detail catches that flickering urge across his eyes, but she lets the spy keep his own secrets without prodding. She leads along toward the exterior door of her apartment building, tapping the dongle against the security pad before stepping back to open the door. She hands it back to Simon, and then walks steadily through the hallway of mailboxes toward the elevator. She smiles to a familiar neighbor who is stepping out of the elevator, and steps in herself.

"There's… not much more to it than that, actually," Simon admits. He catches the door and holds it open for her, instinctively ducking his head a little to glance at a mailbox as he passes it, shading his face from the neighbor. He steps into the elevator and again comes up against the changes wrought in what relationship the two had by the revelations of their true professions. So instead of pressing in for a passionate kiss, he instead settles in next to Rami, his right hand rising up to rub gently at her lower back. As the door closes, he starts in again, "Could work an electronic lock too and seemed to love his explosives. Talked up a storm, but seemed good at what he did."

"I've having a hard time picturing that," Rami admits as she settles in comfortably beside Simon. She can feel the small hint of tension between them despite the light touch to her back. She looks up at the passing numbers as the elevator climbs toward the fifth floor. She spares him, just smiling lightly up at him. "But, I assume that if he's a SHIELD asset, I'll meet the woodland creature at some point." Then the elevator dings, and Rami presses forward so she can exit. She starts to fish her keys out of the light jacket she's wearing as she approaches her door.

"Imagine like… I don't know, something out of The Fifth Element." Simon is clearly struggling a bit for a good way to explain Rocket, "Except like, not CGI or practical effects. Like, I wanted to see if his fur was as soft as it looked, but I was pretty sure I'd pull back a stub of an arm." Chuckling lightly, he shrugs again, another trickle of curiosity touching the spy's memories of Rami's apartment as they near the front door. As they drift to a stop before the door, he steps up close behind the Sikh woman, close enough that he is nearly touching her back, and his left hand comes up to her left shoulder, rubbing gently. "I don't know how often he works with us. It was my first time seeing him in four years."

"Mmm, probably best not to touch a sentient being without permission." Then she unlocks the door. His closeness draws a faint smile to her lips, and she glances slightly over her shoulder toward the spy. The attention to her shoulder relaxes her a bit — both because Simon seeks that physical touch and because it loosens the tightness in her muscles. She turns the knob, fully inviting him in after stepping in herself. Once he's in, she shuts the door and secures it with the locks and chain.

Nothing has really changed in her apartment: still tidy and purposeful, and the door to the Bastion is still the same. Though now Simon could easily recognize Rami's blocky small-caps on the sign hanging on the door to the second bedroom. She places her keys and small wallet on the table by the door, and gestures for Simon to make himself comfortable. "I'll get us some tea."

Simon steps into the apartment and immediately looks to the Bastion's shut door, chuckling, "So do I get to meet your roommate yet, Rami?" The teasing is heavy in his words, and his grin flashes broad across his lips. He leans against the wall in the entryway, pulling off his board shoes, and then pads into the kitchen, finding an out-of-the-way place to lean so that he can stay in the same room, "So…" it takes effort to get past his natural reticence, "…I've got a gift too." He bites his tongue before he can say something entertainingly juvenile, instead adding, "I call it a SEP-field. Somebody Else's Problem."

Rami snorts at his teasing. "If you're a very good boy, I will introduce you to my roommate." Then she is in the kitchen, starting to prepare tea. Her method is very, very British: a old tea tin is taken out of the cupboard, and she starts water going in an electric kettle. She scoops out loose leaves into steel steeping balls. She frowns slightly as he begins to share his own secret, tilting her head a bit. "I'm sorry, but… what does that mean? Somebody Else's Problem? A field? So something that comes from you?"

Sometimes, explanation just doesn't suit. Simon's brow furrows for a moment, and he just sort of fades. He's still standing in the kitchen, still within a long arm's reach of her, but the fact that he is just… isn't important anymore. Letting out a little breath, he lets the effect unravel, and there he is again, "It's a reference to an old book that they turned into a movie. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. I don't know if it's a field really, it's not something that can be measured. When I'm thinking about it, I'm just… somebody else's problem."

There's a moment where Rami is focused on Simon to hear his explanation, and then she's not. He's there, she realizes, but she has other things to attend to. She sees to the tea, though becomes a bit confused — if only for a passing heartbeat — as to why she's making two cups. Then clarity returns, and she blinks in surprise when he speaks, almost jumping out of her skin. "Fuck!" She gasps the word, steeping spoon rattling against the counter as she sets it down. She blinks several times at Simon, brain finally catching up on his words. "Wait… you named your gift after Douglas Adams?" Then she shakes her head, starting to brush away the mess of tea leaves.

"Sorry," Simon apologizes for inspiring the cursing. The question that follows causes him to shrug a little helplessly, "Yeah, but it wasn't me. One of my fellow agents named it. I had to read the book afterwards to get the reference — it wasn't bad. Funny, but… not," he glances at the paraphernalia on the counter, "my cup of tea." He seems abruptly awkward, glancing down to where he suddenly doesn't know what to do with his hands, "I don't… I don't use it that often. Some of the other folks in SHIELD don't even know about it. And I don't get to pick who it effects, it effects everyone around me."

The awkwardness softens her expression. Simon, who is otherwise so confident and full of bravado, reveals his own discomfort is a new side of him. She reaches out to touch his forearm gently before she resumes making their cups of tea. She reaches for the kettle once it switches off, and pours the water in both cups. "Sugar, cream?" She is assuming he will take it black, but fetches a carton of cream from the fridge for herself. She nods slightly at his information. "Even your fellow agents. I can see why you would want to use it carefully." She sets the cups on a tray, snaring a foil-wrapped cylinder of biscuits, and starts back toward the couch in the main room. "Must be nice though… to sometimes just disappear into the world."

"Sugar, please." The touch to Simon's arm grounds him a little, and he ends up resting his hands on the counter he's leaning against. "Yeah, I guess." As soon as he's found a comfortable place for his hands, he's pushing off with them to follow after her, "I've never really used it outside of work. Suppose I could've used it to get out of bad dates, but…" he shrugs a little helplessly, "If I want to get away, I take some vacation time and go into the — " and then he stops, a thought suddenly coming to him, "Holy shit… I was teasing you about the Kama Sutra, hell, you've probably got a whole history of it in your head."

Parambir sets the tray down on the coffee table, kneeling before it rather than sitting on the couch. She gives the steeping spoons several good stirs, ensuring that it is well infused. Then she sets them down on the tray beside the cups. They are not typical tea cups with the fine handle, but instead heavy cast iron cups that insists that the bearer holds it right at the brim or delicately under the thicker base. She adds a bit of sugar to his and cream to hers, and then glances up at his sudden derailed comment. She starts to laugh. "That's where you brain goes? Sex?" She shakes her head ruefully, smiling. "Men." Then she starts to unwrap two biscuits — nice, crunchy cookies with chocolate bottoms. She offers him one once he sits.

Simon lowers himself down alongside the table as well, off to Rami's left hand, sitting cross-legged with only a little groan. A lot of debate and discussion happens cross-legged in many of the areas he's worked, after all. He starts to reach over for one of the heavy teacups, then stops, his brows lifting like a kid caught with his hand in the cookie jar, "Well… yeah. I mean, besides knowing how to fight with all sorts of weapons, half of which aren't in use anymore…" Drawing the cup a little closer to him, he takes the cooking and shrugs a little helplessly, "I'm just hearing about this, I go to the easy ways to use it first."

The Bearer just shakes her head at his rationalizing, and then she starts to laugh once more. Her smile is soft and thoughtful as she takes up her own cup, carefully — and expertly — holding it just at the rim. She sips the tea, looking content at the mix of black leaves and milk. She glances aside to him once more, settling back on her heels. "But yes… my knowledge is well-diverse, and sex," she says it a bit ruefully again, "does fall under one of the categories I'm familiar with." She sets down the cup after another sip, and bites into a biscuit. The whole ritual seems to relax her, her shoulders softening and her torso sagging back into her heels. "The blessing is all about knowledge… we are the vessels of knowledge. What we lack is muscle memory… my body does not remember how to perfectly wield a pesh-kabz, but the practical knowledge and memories are there."

Starting in on the cookies to let the tea cool a little, Simon considers, "Then again, I don't know that I'd want to remember my great, great, great grandfather having sex." He turns his head to give another coughing laugh into the curve of his elbow, then takes a sip of the tea, setting the cup down and rolling up to his knees as she relaxes. Knee-walking around behind her, he rests his hands on her shoulders, "That makes sense. So you could recognize someone's style, but you couldn't necessarily defend against them, because by the time you knew what they were doing, they'd have hit you." Slowly, he begins to massage her shoulders, working at the knots that gather from sitting in front of a computer, "But that knowledge, that'd be real good for a handler."

Again, the Bearer laughs softly while she shakes her head. She tilts her head up to him, smiling up through the dense fall of her brown hair. "It's different… you're thinking that these memories are foreign to me, like they don't belong in my head, but they do… when I remember something from another bearer, it feels like my own memory." She smiles as she takes a sip of her tea, finally nodding agreeably to his more pragmatic view of her blessing. "Yes. It has served me well… situational awareness plus hundreds of generations of knowledge… quite an advantage for a handler." She takes another sip of her tea before curling her hands around her cup.

Simon shifts both hands to one of her shoulders, thumbs and fingers working into her neck and shoulder. "Well, I have to admit that I've never had anyone else's memories in my head, so I guess you're the expert, aren't you?" There's a little bit of teasing in the words, and he gives a little nudge at the back of her shoulder with the heel of one hand before trailing his fingers over to the other side. "So Yashminder managed to hook up two spies, who each have a gift… out of all of New York."

The pressure behind his fingers relaxes her a bit more, and she leans back into his hands. Then keeps leaning until she completely impairs his attempts to work the muscles of her shoulders and neck loose. Instead, she settles back into him, head resting alongside his. "Since Yashminder is my maternal cousin, he doesn't even know about my gift." She smiles coyly toward him. "It was total chance."

As Rami leans back into him, Simon extricates his left arm from behind her, his right slipping forward to rest his hand on her collarbone as his knees spread to accept the lean. "You know I can't keep working on your shoulders when you do that." It's not a complaint. A smile spreads onto his lips as she looks back to him, "I'd say just my luck, but… my luck isn't usually that good, Rami."

The ex-MI-6 agent starts to laugh, tilting her head against his. Then she gives one of his knees a squeeze before she starts to sit back up again, but only so she can turn just enough to make eye contact with the redhead. She catches the back of her neck with her hand, brushing her fingers along her thick mane of hair. "You still think it lucky, then, that we were matched by Yashminder? Have you ever dated another spy before?"

Simon's smile curls higher as Rami laughs, starting to turn his head into hers, until she starts to sit up again. His hand slips from her collarbone, trailing down her arm as his eyes flicker past to where her fingers tangle in her hair, "Yeah. Once. Another agent. It went… okay." He bites his tongue then, and flashes a grin again, "Let's just say… personality differences. How about you? Have you ever tried it?"

Parambir passes her hand off her neck, around her jaw and then presses into her cheek. Her smile warms, and her almost relaxed expression breaks into outright laughter as she looks away, shaking her head. "No. I think there was an analyst back in London who would have fancied more than a few dates, but… I always had excuses to keep me from a real long-term relationship, save for my boyfriend at university." She then looks back at him, sitting on the floor between his knees with their tea promptly forgotten.

"Just one? I think your radar might be off." Simon's laugh is warm and easy, even if not as full as hers. It trails to quiet as she does as well, one hand covering hers at her cheek and the other going to her opposite cheek itself. "Hmmm. And here is where I would make a pretty strong move if you hadn't started the night tired already." The words are quiet, husky, and despite them, he leans forward, aiming to draw her up closer against him and into a slow, even gentle kiss.

"Is it?" Rami asks, brows arched high at the comment of her radar, but then he's gathering up her cheeks and her smile softens. His comment on her tiredness draws up a brow, and she manages to whisper her response before his lips distract hers with the kiss. "You're just as tired as I am." Then she presses up closer to him as he kisses her. She closes her eyes as she melts down into the kiss, her lips moving gently with his. It isn't the desperate kiss shared in the armory — but a soft and gentle one.

After a luxurious eternity, Simon settles back onto his heels from the kiss, nodding slightly, “Yeah. I probably am.” There’s a moment’s hesitation, and then his fingers start to slip from Rami’s cheeks, “Which means I should get home before I crash.” He blinks, “asleep, I mean. Not my car.” Reaching past her, he lifts up the teacup by the rim, takes a brief sip, and flashes a weary smile as he sets the cup down again, “Thanks for the tea, Rami.” His hands touch hers, fingers squeezing for a heartbeat, and then he starts to straighten up, “Don’t want to throw off your morning again. Sleep well.”

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