Who: Daryn & Ezra What: Walking and talking When: October 8, 2019 Where: Along the hiking path near the woods Rating: Low Status: Complete
Out of breath, Daryn lowered herself to sit on a downed log near the beginning of the hiking path. The plan had been to get out, go for a walk, get some air, it would do her good. Her health certainly wasn’t going to improve if she stayed by herself locked up in her apartment. But she’d barely made it from her place to the trail before she felt too worn out to go much further.
Frowning at herself, she was disappointed. She used to run the perimeter of the island every morning. Sure, she wasn’t in good shape anymore, but Daryn didn’t think she was this bad off. If she couldn’t go for a walk, how was she supposed to do… well, anything? Taking a deep breath, she stared at the ground as she debated on pushing herself further, or going back home.
Ezra was taking small steps towards conquering his fear. Today he was making his way along the parameter of the Barracks and the tree line. Last month’s death of a resident was still in the back of his mind. Soon he stopped and was leaning against a tree when he saw Daryn approach.
Propping the cane she had left for him against his left leg, Ezra concentrated on an area of humid air between his hands and brought down the temperature
Typically, it was hard to surprise the telepath, especially since she could hear every thought of every living thing on the island. It was loud in her head. But at rare times like this, when she slipped and let her own dark thoughts and memories and fears overwhelm her, it was almost as if she’d lost her ability completely. The change in temperature was what caught her attention, and when she lifted her eyes from the ground she didn’t expect to see anyone there.
She flinched slightly as the familiar person startled her. But she quickly recovered, offering a faint awkward smile to the man. “Hello.”
It had been a while since Ezra had used his ability on purpose and outside of self-defense. A bit of cold usually cooled him off and he thought he help Daryn out.
But he flinched as she did and grabbed his cane. “...Sorry. Hi. I didn’t mean to startle you.”
She shook her head with a small smile and straightened a bit, trying to hide her fatigue. “It’s alright. Sometimes I sort of miss feeling surprised. No harm done. How are you?”
She’d thought about him since their last meeting, but other than leaving the cane for him she hadn’t made an attempt to locate him or talk with him again. Socializing was still a struggle at times. She stood slowly, glancing around to see if he had a walking partner.
“Okay,” he nodded with a soft smile. “I’m okay. Thank you for the cane,” Ezra added and gestured to walking aid. “How far did you run?”
He was still trying to get out a bit further, but his fear was still getting to him.
Feeling a bit ashamed, Daryn looked down before answering his question. “I didn’t. I just walked here from the apartments.” She hadn’t been this winded during the walk they’d taken last time they’d talked, but she knew her strength had dwindled since then.
Changing the topic, she looked to the cane and then smiled. “You’re welcome. I hope it didn’t offend you, I just thought you ought to have something nicer than a broomstick.”
“Oh.” Ezra spoke, his cheek flushing with color. He thought of Daryn as a bit athletic. But he could always been wrong.
“No...no, it doesn’t offend me at all. Yeah, the broomstick could look too much like a weapon.” He replied. “I like this. It’s sturdy. Sorry if my cooling the air knocked you off guard.”
Once she has been athletic, it seemed like a lifetime away now. These days she felt like her health got worse as each day passed, sometimes it almost felt like… she wouldn’t allow herself to follow her morbid thought any further. She focused instead on his blush, and then the words.
“You could always use that as a weapon, if necessary. But it looks like you wouldn’t need it. You’ve got good control of your ability, it’s impressive.”
Ezra used to run, jump. But he hadn’t gotten back to either of those or dancing. Many activities weren’t ones he had taken back up again. Since coming to the island and reconnecting with Kyrie and Fitz, he had been slowly starting to regain bits of his old life. But it would take time if the rest of his memories would return.
“Maybe,” he replied and shook his head. “I can only do so much.” It was a bit of an understatement, but a lot of his more powerful parts of his abilities were emotionally linked.
“For now. It’s something you can always learn, if you want to.” Daryn didn’t assume Ezra’s feelings about his ability. When her own first emerged, she was convinced she was going insane. It took a long time to acknowledge and embrace her abilities before she even got to the point of trying to control them.
“How are you feeling otherwise?” She hadn’t forgotten about the state he was in when they last departed.
“Yes. I do want to learn. I think it would be useful. I’ve taught myself how to move clouds - it helped with photography. Ezra thought he was imagining things when he first started to consciously use his ability. Control was relative to him.
“I’m doing okay. Good days, not great ones. And how are you?”
Daryn nodded a little but didn’t ask any further questions, not wanting to pry. Moving to sit again carefully. Taking a deep breath, she considered the question before responding. “I’ve been better. But I’ve also been worse, so I can’t complain. Am I interrupting your walk?”
Watching Daryn sit, Ezra moved over to the empty section of the log and slowly sat down. “No, not at all. It’s a leisurely thing. Well...I think you’re doing better. If you’d like to walk with me, you’re welcome to.”
Daryn wasn’t sure she was up for walking much further, but she couldn’t turn down the invitation. She wanted the chance to talk with him, she liked spending time with Ezra even though she still worried she’d say or do something wrong. “Really? You wouldn’t mind?”
Ezra was sure he needed to branch out, making more friends. Part of it was to not be mindlessly walking about and also to distract himself from the conundrum of wanting to remember everything from his life before the explosion. And Daryn was kind, but also dark which he understood. “I don’t mind. We don’t have to talk while we walk. We can just encourage each other to keep going.”
She smiled faintly and nodded. “Okay. That would be nice. I don’t spend as much time around people as I should. It’s good to be out and around others, whether we talk or not.” She would let him take the lead on their walk, but for now she remained seated to reserve her strength.
He nodded gently, knowing how it was to not spend a lot of time around people. During his recovery and physical therapy, Ezra didn’t always want to be around people. But his physical therapists were the ones that prodded him to be around more people. “I am happy to help. Just don’t let me push too hard.”
“Maybe that’s what I need.” While she had had a few people check in on her, she’d had more contact consistently with Ezra than she had with anyone else. It had been weeks now since she’d heard from Ehren or Ian or Fitz and she couldn’t help but wonder if they kept their distance for a reason. Trying not to focus on that, she looked to the path then back to him. “Where did you want to go?”
“Maybe.” He wanted more of his old life, but knew you couldn’t go back in time or even pick up where you left off. “I’d like to see more of the trees. Is that a good way?”
At this point, Daryn just wanted any life, whether it was her old one or a new start. She felt stuck in limbo and wasn’t sure how to get out of it. “That is the best way to get a nice walk through the forest without getting into too much rocky terrain.”
“Sounds good. And I can use this,” Ezra nodded as he gestured to his cane, “To look out for any dips in the ground.” He was trying so hard to conquer the phobia and get past the PTSD he had. The island’s government surely didn’t have mines or I.E.D.s in the ground.
Daryn nodded with a faint smile. While she heard the thought, she didn’t comment on it. Besides, after what had happened to her on this island she would put nothing past the powers that be. But it was more important to try to support Ezra in his recovery than make him paranoid about this place. She could be paranoid enough for them both on the walk.
Standing slowly, she looked ahead to the path. “I think you’ll like the scenery out there. It’s peaceful.”
Ezra wasn’t thinking of Daryn hearing his thoughts. It wasn’t something he had kept on his list to be aware of. There was still so much he didn’t know about the powers that be on the island let alone about himself aside from what he could remember and what he had written down.
Once she stood, he rose to stand as well. “Good,” he smiled. “Perhaps we can both find some peace and leisure there.”
She nodded a bit but remained silent. She couldn’t remember what peace really felt like, but maybe a little wishful thinking couldn’t hurt. She motioned for him to go on to lead and she fell into step beside him. She looked ahead as they started off, keeping an eye out for any changes in the ground ahead of them.
He followed her motioning, leading. Ezra looked over at her as she walked beside him. His pace was slow, cautious. But looking over at the trees and at times Daryn calmed him a bit. The veteran used the cane deliberately, feeling out the ground.
Daryn stayed quiet for a bit, unsure of what to say or do. She was curious about him, and wanted to know more, but she didn’t want to make him uncomfortable. Taking a deep breath, she pushed her hair behind her ear. “Are you adjusting to things here any better lately?”
Ezra watched her push the hair behind her ear. It seemed Daryn was doing better with the walking. “Hmm? I guess so. Not venturing too far on my own, checking in on Kyrie, keeping up appearances.” He shrugged. It wasn’t a life. The newness, the imprisonment novelty hadn’t worn off yet to a point of being comfortable.
Glancing to him, she watched him thoughtfully. “It gets a little bit easier each day. I won’t lie, it’s never going to feel ‘normal’ or like home, but it’ll be okay. As long as you keep your head down and stay out of trouble.” She smirked a little at herself and looked ahead again. “Basically do the complete opposite of everything I’ve ever done.”
“Well, I hope things get better for you,” Ezra nodded. “Maybe I’ll find some happiness here. But it’s hard when there’s so much missing that I need to find.” It was a vague statement, but she didn’t want to burden any more people with his problems.
“I think this is a good as it gets.” She was out of her house, talking to someone. That was more than she could have hoped for lately. Anything more was too much to ask for. “Why do you need to find it?” She didn’t ask what, she’d leave that to him to share if he wanted to.
“Mmm. I guess I need to find a job to continue the “keeping my head down” sort of thing,” he spoke. Then he slowed his walking. “To feel whole or as close to it as I can.” Ezra shrugged. It was frustrating and confusing to have thought for six years that he was someone, began to dream of memories, and then learn you were really someone else.
“And finding whatever you’re looking for will do that?” The tone of her question was gentle as she slowed to turn and look at him. She wasn’t sure that finding a missing piece would make everything okay again, especially not here. But that was his journey to make. She hoped it would be that easy for him. “Is there something I can do to help?”
Ezra didn’t answer for a minute as he looked ahead towards the trees. Then he breathed and sighed, “I hope so.” There had already been pain involved with what memories he regained and his reunion with Kyrie and Fitz. But he still wanted to remember. “No, I think I may have to do this on my own. I hope I can do it.” There was a momentary frown, but a smile began to return. No need to make Daryn feel bad.
“I hope so too, you deserve peace and happiness.” Her words were genuine. Ezra had done nothing wrong to make her think that he deserved anything but a good life. “Maybe your friends and family can help.”
“You deserve peace and happiness too.” Ezra nodded. From what he knew of Daryn, she seemed like someone who needed both. “Maybe.” He resumed his cautious pace and looked over at the trees.
“Do I?” The question was an honest one, and she didn’t look at him when she asked it. Taking a deep breath, she looked ahead, glad for the leisurely pace as she tried to ignore a vague wave of dizziness. “I met a young man at the Marketplace the other day. He’s a chef. He was thinking of having dinner parties, for people to get together and socialize. Maybe you’d like going to something like that? I told him I would spread the word, although I don’t think I’d go myself.”
“Yes,” Ezra breathed as he kept his gaze ahead but looked over at her out of the corner of his eye. Then he did look over at Daryn again properly. “Uhm, perhaps I could. Why not go?”
She hesitated before answering, her eyes dropping to the ground ahead of them again. “I can’t eat. It’s getting worse. It would be rude to show and not be able to enjoy the food. He seems like a nice guy with good intentions, there’s no need for me to go and ruin that. I’ve ruined enough as it is.”
He stopped and sighed softly, frowning. Yes, he didn’t know Daryn well. But it was still sad and troublesome that she felt so down and was not eating. “I doubt you’ve ruined even close to that.” Ezra wished his ability could help her, but it could not.
Daryn stopped with him once again. She tilted her head to the side as she studied him and then offered a faint smile. “I wish that was true. But I’ve done a lot of thinking lately, about what my life has become and why. In the end, I only have myself to blame. I can’t blame this place, or the people who keep us here. Not anymore.”
“Why blame and punish yourself when you can possibly help others?” Ezra offered honestly as he turned to face her and draped the cane’s handle over his wrist.
She looked away with a sigh, but kept her frustration to herself. Ezra didn't know her history or her pain and sacrifice. Daryn took a moment before answering quietly, her eyes staring at the ground. “I spent years, working every moment of every day to help others. What good did it do? Does it even really matter? Everyone has moved on, they don’t need me or my useless help anymore. How can I help anyone now when I can barely keep myself alive?”
Ezra breathed and as Daryn’s questions mounted, he reached out to gently touch her hands. “I doubt everyone has moved on. And don’t you want to leave this place?” He spoke softly.
Daryn blinked, her eyes watery for a moment. It was the first time in nearly two years that someone had touched her and she didn’t flinch in response. But she was still afraid to look up and show her eyes. “It feels like everyone has. And… I can’t leave. Even if everything suddenly changed and we could all go back home. I can’t leave without her.” The last two words were a whisper and she glanced warily up and down the path. She knew no one else was around, she would have heard their thoughts. But that didn’t mean someone wasn’t still listening somehow. Or the paranoia was just getting the best of her in her moment of weakness.
He momentarily touched her and let his hands hover over hers in case he had overstepped. Then he flinched as he heard that last sentence. Then he lightly tapped her hand, hoping she would look at him. If she did, Ezra raised a hand to gently tap his right temple. And he mouthed, “Tell me?”
Looking to him, she hesitated before responding telepathically. He’d asked her to, so hopefully her being inside his mind would not upset him as much as it had the first time around. ”I had a daughter. Have one. They told me she died, but now there may be proof that she is alive, somewhere. Fitz said he would help me find her.” She knew it was only safe to say the name mentally, not wanting to give away her friend’s secret. But it had been over a month since she first asked him for help, and had heard nothing from him since then. Maybe he’d forgotten, or maybe there was just nothing to tell.
Ezra had steeled himself, visualizing just a front sitting room in order to signal just a conversation. ”I could talk to Fitz. See what he’s come up with so the powers that be don’t immediately connect it?” He thought.
Daryn frowned slowly and shook her head, still speaking into his mind without going any further to respect his privacy. ”No. I can’t let you get involved and risk getting into trouble. I shouldn’t have even told Fitz, but I didn’t know who else would still help me.” In the Faction, anyway, but there was no need to open that can of worms.
”But...maybe he could help. I want to help.” Ezra breathed, frowning. He couldn’t do much, but if he could, he would. Manipulating weather was useless in gathering information.
Furrowing her brow, she scanned his face before speaking aloud once again. “Why? Why would you want to help me? You have enough on your plate right now.”
He hesitated for a moment and then answered as he kept his hands clasped in front of him. “You care for her,” Ezra whispered. “Kyrie and my mother didn’t really.” It was a simple, but all be it childish reason. “You deserve happiness.”
”She is the only reason I have to stay alive. Even if she is gone and it’s all some cruel joke, I need to know the truth before I give up completely.” It was a confession she wouldn’t have made to anyone else, she wasn’t sure why she told him here and now. But she didn’t regret it.
Daryn studied Ezra in silence for a moment before turning back to the path. “We should keep walking.”
Sadness reached Ezra’s eyes as he listened to Daryn confess in his mind. He hoped Daryn’s child was alive and hoped they would be reunited.
“Yes,” he breathed and turned to look at the path before beginning to walk - taking his cane in hand.
Wiping away a single tear, Daryn took a deep breath and began walking with him once again. She didn’t know what to say, or how to change the topic, so she remained silent for now.
“We’ll find her,” Ezra whispered softly as he kept walking. He slowly offered her his free hand.
Looking to him, she hesitated for a moment before taking his hand. “Thank you. I hope you’re right.”
“You’re welcome,” he nodded. Gently Ezra curled his fingers around Daryn’s, but loose enough in case she wanted to let go.
It felt nice to hold his hand, and so she didn’t let go. She walked with him slowly, focusing on the ground again to make sure that the ground stayed even, or as even as possible. After a few moments of silence, she spoke up softly. “You mentioned finding a job earlier. What did you have in mind? I don’t get out much, but maybe I know someone who could help you.”
His walking pace slowed, anxiety building slightly at the unevenness of the ground. Ezra gently probed the ground with the cane as he held Daryn’s hand. “Hmm?” He hummed and looked over at her. “Yes. I was thinking the diner. It seems like a nice place, a lot of people go there. I like to cook and listen.”
Her hand tightened just slightly around his in a way to offer support as the terrain changed. She slowed her pace with him but stayed focused on the conversation. “It is a nice place, and since Kyrie works there it might be good to spend more time with her?” It seemed as though they were close, so working in the same place could be good for him.
She vaguely recalled Fitz offering to ask Kyrie to get Daryn a job at the diner. Nothing had come of it and maybe it was for the best, Daryn knew she’d be a disaster there. Or anywhere. Getting a job after losing her position at the hospital felt so far out of her reach, but it was nice to hear Ezra taking them step.
Ezra appreciated the support. After six years, he had hoped to be better about this particular phobia. “I think it would be good. I could work later shifts so she can take care of anything she needs to.” They were close. He had missed her so much.
“I have a somewhat random question and you don’t have to answer it if you don’t want. Uhm, what is your favorite hobby?” Ezra looked over at her. He wanted her to find something she liked to help her continue until any news about her daughter arrived.
“That’s very thoughtful of you, I bet she’d appreciate it. I have to confess I don’t know her as well as others, but she strikes me as someone who always wants to help others but may not always make time for herself.” Daryn was the same way.
At the question, she smiled a bit but hesitated before answering. “I’d gotten so used to working so much, and then…. being away… that I haven’t thought about hobbies in a long time. When I was younger I used to read a lot, and paint or draw, and play the violin. But all of my things were destroyed when I was detained. I never bothered to get any new personal items.” Even her clothing was limited to things people had donated to her upon her release.
“She is. I love her so much.” Ezra smiled.
Listening he nodded and grinned at Daryn’s smile. “I’ve heard there’s a place on the island where you could paint, draw, play an instrument. Maybe you could try again?”
“Were you two always so close?” She glanced to him curiously, but if he didn’t want to talk about it she wouldn’t push. It was nice to hear about someone else’s family despite missing her own so much.
She watched him a moment and then just looked ahead with a little shrug. “The arts center? I… I don’t know if I would be welcome there.” She knew that Dani would encourage her to visit, but it wasn’t the young woman she was trying to avoid.
“Mostly,” Ezra answered without elaborating. He still felt so guilty for being absent from Kyrie’s life. But he was here now.
“Yes, I think that is place. I think you would be. I believe it is better to create than destroy. And the arts is creating.” He offered as he looked over at her.
She watched him a moment before responding. “I have a sister. An identical twin. We were very close as children, but we drifted apart as we got older. Different lives and experiences and all that. We were trying to reconnect before I came here.”
She nodded slightly to his words. He was right, but there was so much he didn’t know, and she didn’t want to ruin the hopefulness he was trying to give her. “I know the owner, she’s very nice. But… maybe I should try some hobbies at home first, just to be safe. I don’t want to make people uncomfortable.”
“Really? Maybe…when we leave this island, you could reconnect with her again.” Ezra spoke. He always tried to be hopeful when he was around others. It was better than slipping down into the sadness he struggled with.
“Good, good. Mmm,” he frowned. There was something she was telling him. But all in time. “Start at home first, yes. Start small.” Ezra gave her a small smile.
“Maybe. I would like that.” She’d been gone over five years now. She could only imagine all of the things that had changed back in Seattle since her departure. She knew she was a different person now, she only hoped her family could accept this version of herself.
Reluctantly, she dropped his hand. She didn’t want to let go, but she forced herself not to get too attached even though that was what she needed and wanted most. She couldn’t explain everything, but she wanted to at least tell him part of where her hesitation came from. “A lot of people don’t want to be around me, because of all the trouble I was in. They’re afraid that if I am around, and the government is watching me, that they will get caught up in things too. At first, I understood their fear, but now…” Trailing off, she shrugged.
Ezra grinned and nodded. It seemed, perhaps, Daryn could when they left the island. He hoped the best for her in everything - including finding the truth about her daughter.
He still as she dropped his hand. “‘But now’...you’re believing it?”
Sighing, she nodded. “Now I’m believing everything they told me when I was away. That I’m crazy, and dangerous, and unstable. That no one cares, that I can’t trust anyone. That I should just…” She shook her head and looked at him warily before looking away. “And that’s why no one wants to be around me. Not because I was in trouble, but because I am trouble. And I don’t blame them anymore. At first I had a lot of anger and resentment. Now… I understand. I accept it.”
“I don’t believe you are trouble. I think whatever you did...you believed you were right. I don’t see anyone crazy or dangerous.” Ezra spoke softly.
Daryn looked up to him, whispering again. “I thought I was helping people, I thought I was making a difference. I thought I was making a new kind of family here. But instead I just alienated everyone and almost got myself killed.” She looked around warily, but she was sure that no one could be listening to them this far into the wooded path. Even the guards rarely patrolled out here.
He breathed in sharply through his nose. “From what I’ve observed in my short time here so far, things are not going right for us...people like us. Perhaps if there were others to help you help people, the next time would be better?” Ezra offered in a whisper. He wasn’t one to start a revolution or the like. But he was supportive to a degree.
Daryn stopped walking abruptly and turned to stare at Ezra. He didn’t know, she didn’t need to read his mind to know that he was naive about the Faction. And she wanted to keep it that way, she wanted to protect him from the danger of it.
She spoke softly, even though she knew it wasn’t wise to say things like this out loud. She’d rather respect his privacy and only use telepathy with his permission. “There were others. There still are. But things are different now, it’s not the same. They won’t help me any more, they’re not supposed to. I’m blacklisted. I don’t know if there will be a ‘next time.’ But if there is, you can’t be a part of it. It’s not safe, you need to stay safe.” Her words were intentionally vague, she just hoped he’d get the larger message: stay out of it for his own protection.
Ezra was naive about a lot of things. But he would step up to fight in the defense of others. Well, that was what led him to losing a leg, temporarily most of his memories, years of life protecting his sister, and Fitz. He shook his head.
He breathed deeply as he listened. Ezra got the larger message and frowned. “Let’s head back before the guards start searching.” He spoke. Perhaps it was better this way.
Taking his hand again, she squeezed it lightly, her eyes searching his face with urgency. “Promise me you’ll stay safe. Please.” She would head back with him, but she needed the reassurance first.
Ezra looked down at her hand holding and squeezing his and looked into her eyes. “I promise. The worst has already happened to me.” Gently he squeezed her hand in return. There was telling what the future held for him.
She frowned slightly and looked to their hands. “I thought the same thing about myself. But they are always finding new ways to break us down. Don’t underestimate them.” Reluctantly, she took his answer for truth and turned back as he requested. She waited for him to walk once more, staying at his side.
“I won’t underestimate them,” Ezra nodded. Then he turned and began to walk back towards the path and society proper.
Walking silently with him, Daryn was silent, focusing intently to see if she could ‘hear’ if anyone had been listening to their conversation. It felt like they’d been alone, but you could never be too sure. Hesitantly, she spoke up again softly. “I’m sorry your walk didn’t go according to plan.”
“It’s okay…” Ezra whispered. “I hope it brought you some peace.” It was a small expression. But he truly wished happiness for Daryn.
Sighing, she nodded a little, glancing to him. “I’ll have some peace if I know you stay safe.” Daryn meant what she said, Ezra was one of the few people she could really talk to, and she thought he was a good person. She wasn’t sure if she could help him or be any benefit to him, but she would try if given the chance.
“I will stay safe,” he echoed. Ezra had a feeling Daryn didn’t talk to many people anymore. So he was glad she was talking to him. Since people thought he had a powerful ability, he would use to protect those he cared about.
“Thank you.” She looked ahead of them but saw no one there. “I don’t really have many people that I can call friends, ones that I can really talk to. I’d like it if I could consider you one of those people. And.. it doesn’t have to be one-sided. I can be a good listener. And I’m always willing to help, if you need anything.”
There were truly no guarantees when it came to safety. But he would try. “You’re welcome. And thank you,” Ezra bowed his head to her a little. “I appreciate it. And thank you again for the cane and this walk. It was good.”
Daryn nodded with a small smile. “You’re welcome. And yes, it was nice. I’ll probably be exhausted later, but it’s definitely worth it.” She started to say something else but stopped herself, looking ahead once more.
“The fresh air does wonders,” He spoke and smiled softly. “Take care of yourself.” He wanted her to with the bit of hope that perhaps there were people who would find the truth about her daughter.
Daryn was sad to see their time together end, but she’d appreciate it nonetheless. She nodded to his words. “I will try. You’ll do the same?” Once they reached the portion of the path where they’d met, she stopped to let him go off on his way.
Ezra smiled. “Good. I will.” He gently nodded towards buildings and paved roads. “Talk to you again.”
Nodding, Daryn offered a little wave in departure. “Have a good night.” Looking down, she headed off in the direction of her apartment, reviewing their conversation in her mind.
“You too,” Ezra nodded. He then began towards the diner to see if his sister was there.