December 11th. Evening. As is often the case, it's late by the time Halisi gets home from work. Another busy day at the clinic, albeit one abuzz with the news of the day - The Collectors, defeated. A threat that has loomed over many in the Terminus for long. A name that many knew, as a ghost story, as something that had happened to others. A threat that few had seen for themselves. Defeated by Cerberus. A name that means nothing to
#Halisi'sApartment – March 20, 2019
most people. Some might know of it vaguely, from hearing the name on the news. Neither of these things are true for Halisi. A multitude of thoughts are distracting her mind as she steps through the apartment door, removing her coat and leaning down to undo her boots.
Ilyna is sat in the couch watching the news at a low volume, catching up what she's missed while watching something more appropriate with Li while she was awake. She's absorbing every little detail presented to her even if she's heard it all before now. The same pieces of footage, mentions of Cerberus, criticism of the Alliance, and interviews of colonists that bring no new information to the table aside
from another terrible experience. She's wearing a modest blue silk nightdress that covers her from her neck to her ankles. It takes Ilyna a few seconds to notice that Halisi is back, which causes her to looks over her shoulder. She can still feel the whiplash from the mission when doing so, but it's too faint to really bother her. "Hey," she says in a half-whisper.
Halisi can't help the small smile that crosses her lips when she spots Ilyna, still busy removing her boots. A soft "Hey..." of her own follows after she finishes and steps further into the apartment, moving up behind the couch. Her hands come to rest on the back of the couch as she stops behind Ilyna, looking at the news coverage on the screen. "I still can't believe it..." she muses with a small shake of her head.
Ilyna turns her attention back to the screen and a long sigh escapes her. "You and me both," she says, keeping her voice low. "I'm waiting for someone to come out and say it's all lies and falsified evidence. What exactly has Cerberus to lose by doing that? They don't have a good reputation to begin with."
Halisi lets out a quiet snort, her face contorting in something like a sneer briefly. "I know what you mean..." she says with a sigh. "And yet... everything seems to point to it being real. I-... that footage... that was a Collector construct..." Her gaze lingers on the screen for a moment longer, expression contemplative, before starting to round the couch.
Ilyna nods. "I can't believe a team of specialists destroyed that," she says, "but..." She looks down, taking her eyes off the screen. "I want it to be real," she says. "I really do. That me and Li can finally lead a normal life. We would have done that in spite of them, but... to not have to worry about when they'll come for us again? That... that sounds perfect. Too good to be true after all we went
Halisi slips into the seat next to Ilyna, reaching over to grasp her hand on both of her own. "I know..." she says, smile starting to return. "...it's... hard to let yourself believe... I was-... I was trying to process everything whenever I had a moment to myself today, but-..." a faint, tired laugh. She opens her mouth to speak again, but trails off, gaze falling away from Ilyna and back to the screen, letting the quiet news
Ilyna doesn't show an outward reaction to her hand being taken, nor does she retract it. "I know," she says. "It looks like everyone else has accepted it though, but then again... these people haven't seen what we saw, or fought what we fought." She looks up at Halisi, her expression tired more than anything else, but she doesn't say anything.
Halisi 's gaze lingers on the screen as she ponders Ilyna's words, going silent for a time. "I... I had no idea what was happening when I first-..." She swallows, shifting a little in her seat. "In the mine. When... people started getting sick and-... it was like nothing I had ever seen. I thought I was dead. I thought we all were. We would have been, if... if Redrock hadn't-..."
Ilyna closes her eyes and looks away as Halisi finishes speaking, a bit of shame in her expression. "I wasn't there," she says. "I was home on Thessia, thinking... I could leave all this behind me." She squeezes the hand grasping hers and frowns, still not looking at her. "I wish I was there, maybe... more people could have celebrated today's news."
Halisi isn't look at the screen anymore. She's looking through it. The squeeze brings her back a little, blinking away the wetness that has started to form in her eyes. She draws in a slightly unsteady breath, an almost embarrassed smile flashing across her lips. "I just want it to be over. To really be over." she admits, her voice cracking along with her usually well-maintained facade of control. There's a desperation in her eyes
Ilyna inches closer. "Maybe it just... hasn't sunk in yet," she says, trying to convince herself almost more than Halisi. "Experts have tried to tear the evidence apart, but... so far they've come up empty." She lets out another long sigh. "I was... excited earlier today when I just heard about it," she says. "The thought of this nightmare coming to an end..., it felt good."
Halisi nods a couple of times to herself, letting go of Ilyna's hand and reaching up to brush her hair back as her gaze wanders again. "This is ridiculous..." she says in a half-mutter. "You're right. I should be relieved. I just need to... to let it sink in, I think. It still feels... unreal." A small shake of her head and a deep breath as she collects herself. "How are you-... how is Li doing...? Does she know? Has she said
Ilyna casts a glance towards the bedroom door. "I... went to her right after answering you," she says. "I don't know, to be honest. She wasn't as excited as I was to hear the news, but... I think she understands." She sits up straight. "It has only been... eight days? Since we came back, but... all in all I think she's doing well," she says, and a faint smile shows up. "She and Va'ynna were building a snow
castle today, and... I don't think she even noticed I had stepped out until I came back with lunch."
Halisi gains a faint smile as she listens, glancing off towards the bedroom. "It's... strange..." she says as her smile fades. "...to hear these news so soon after everything. I never would have thought..." A small chuckle of relief as the reality of the situation seems to hit her a little. "...I didn't think it would be over so soon, after everything that's happened. Have you heard from-..." her expression falters a little as her
Ilyna nods, but she doesn't comment on it. She has already stated her disblief and doubt, and Halisi's cut off question makes her leave it be for now. She tilts her head, looking more than a little confused. "From who?"
Halisi pulls her hand back to her lap, joining her left. "I spoke to Linda earlier. Her and Jason are celebrating." she says, a small smile crossing her lips once more despite the tension there.
Ilyna looks away at first, but a small smile does show up. "Jason is sorry he couldn't be here to celebrate with me," she says. "He said he's bringing back a bottle of Thessian wine, though. I don't think he should have, but... I'm not going to complain."
Halisi 's smile widens, and she leans back a little in the couch, letting herself relax a little. Her gaze goes back to the news. Another expert interview, restating the apparent validity of the footage, the eye-witness reports trickling in from Omega to the few news agencies with contacts in such a tumultous region. "It's worth celebrating, isn't it? Not having to lose any more friends to those... things."
Ilyna sighs. "Yeah," she says. "It certainly is." She's quiet for a moment as she looks back up at the screen. "When I was back on Thessia, before I was... pulled back into this," she begins. "I argued with my friend Illeya about the merits of my modest... 'style'. They knew the old boundaries were being redrawn, and... I couldn't have worse friends." Ilyna lets out a small chuckle. "Except Enila, though,
she's... supportive. She's often angry at every injusitve in this galaxy, but she-..." She trails off. "The point is, that was the caliber of problems i had," she says. "I long for a time where such trivial things matter again, and with what happeend today... that doesn't sound so unlikely anymore."
Halisi chuckles slightly at Ilyna's point, nodding. "I hope so..." she agrees, seeming a little energized by the acknowledgement that it's alright to be excited about the news of the day. "The Collectors have been a cloud over everyone's heads ever since I got here... even before we knew they were behind this. They're... the very reason I'm here." Her energy drains a little as her mind inevitably circles right back to Ogofau. It
seems try as she might she can't help but end up back there. "I... haven't really spoken to any of the others in... quite a while. Maybe with this it's... it might be time to." A small, sad smile. "I imagine everyone is celebrating."
Ilyna nods. "You should," she encourages. "The... replacement window for my apartment is ready, they're just waiting for clear weather to install it." She shifts a bit closer, and looks at Halisi. "Also, it might be good to see people when you're not going to be the one telling thm they're stuck in the hospital for a month." There's a hint of lightheartedness in the tired asari's voice.
Halisi 's attention quickly turns back to Ilyna. "Oh. I-" The words that follow cause a small snicker, and a faint nod of acknowledgement. "Yes, I... suppose so. I have been told I work too much." she admits with a small smirk that makes it clear that she's well aware that this is something plainly obvious to everyone. Her gaze once again drifts to the screen, a chuckle following. "They're actually gone..." she says quietly, shaking
her head to herself. She draws in a deep breath, letting it out in a sigh, shoulders dropping, and then turns to wrap her arms around Ilyna, hugging her tightly as a nother laugh slips out.
Ilyna gasps at the unexpected hug and barely manages to remain upright. She wraps her arms around Halisi in turn and chuckles. "Gone forever," she says. Ilyna tightens her hold around her, enjoying the closeness for as long as she can. "Thank you," she whispers.
Halisi keeps the hug for a time, her cheek pressing against Ilyna's neck as she shifts her head, eyes closing for a moment and drawing in a breath. Eventually she pulls back with an exhale. There's a slightly flushed smile on her face as she studies the asari, hands shifting to grasp hers. "We-... well, we have to celebrate, don't we? When everyone else is back... we need to do something." she sugests, smile widening.
Ilyna looks slightly disappointed when Halisi finally breaks the hug, but she mostly looks distant as she meets her gaze. "Y-Yeah," she agrees after a few seconds of silence. "We do. A good dinner, maybe. Some pastries. Just... it doesn't need to be big."
Halisi snickers quietly, nodding in agreement. There's a moment's hesitation where it seems, briefly, like she's going to say or do something else, but instead she nods once more and withdraws her hands. "I'm going to do some reading before heading to bed, I think. I have been so busy at the clinic that... well, I would like to catch up on all the details..." she says, attention turned to the TV, hands resting in her own lap.