Nile looks at Merrick’s body for one last moment and then gets into the car.
She is too stunned to process what her decision means for all of them at the moment. She watches the city pass by through the window, until suddenly all she can see is the road and fields.
“Where are we going?”, she asks, breaking the silence that there has been between them since they left Merrick’s lab.
“To a safehouse of ours, three hours from here”, Andy answers simply.
< Andy shouldn’t be the one driving > is Nile’s first thought now that she can focus. Andy is mortal and she has a gun wound in her stomach. Andy is the one who is still hurting and still bleeding. She shouldn’t be driving, she should be in a companion place, relaxing to take care of her wound.
“You should get some sleep”, Nicky suggests.
“What?”, she asks, confused.
“When we die like you did, we need food and sleep to recover our energies”, Andy explains to her.
Nile wants to protest. She wants to yell because she is immortal and Andy is not, but still the other is the one driving. She wants to fight, but she doesn’t have the energy to do it. So, Nile closes her eyes just for a moment and without even realising it she falls asleep. Guess she was more tired than she had thought.
When Nile wakes up it is because Nicky is shaking her arm, indicating to her that they are finally at the safe house.
They all get out of the car, but they stay just there, standing still. Nile doesn’t understand why they are not going into the safehouse, but she waits patiently.
“I’m going to check that everything is okay”, Andy tells them.
So, they were waiting for that. It seems like Andy is the one doing the checking out, because of course she is. < Andy is their protective leader > Nile thinks as she remembers the “I always go first” comment the old woman has said to her outside Merrick’s penthouse.
Her attention is back to the present when she sees Andy isn’t moving, she’s just holding onto one side of the car like she would fall if she isn’t supported by it.
“You’re not doing the checking, we are”, Nicky says, stopping Andy from moving.
“But…”, Andy starts protesting.
“Please Andy, you are hurt”, Joe requests. “We got this”, he assures her.
“Okay”, Andy finally accepts, after looking at Joe's and Nicky’s eyes for a long moment.
“Did you tell anyone about this safehouse? Or about any of our safehouses?”, Joe questions Booker, becoming very serious.
“No, just about the one in Goussainville”, Booker answers.
“Like we can trust you”, Joe says, sounding ironic and angry.
“Yusuf”, Andy calls him by his original name which makes him relax immediately. “Please”, she begs.
And just like that, with one word from Andy, Nile can see how Joe and Nicky relax. That word from her is enough for them. They really trust her that much and Nile finds it fascinating.
“Nile, can you stay with Andy?”, Nicky asks her, even though it sounds more like an order.
“Yes”, she agrees, because she can and wants to do what they need to feel safer.
So if they need her to stay with Andy because they don’t want her to be alone with Booker, she will stay. Even if she doesn’t think Booker is a threat to any of them, at least not anymore.
Joe and Nicky give her an approving smile and then go to check the safehouse and its surroundings.
Nile stays with Andy and Booker. They are silent for a while, until Nile needs to say something. It’s not like the silence is uncomfortable with them, but she is anxious and has a lot on her mind.
“Are you okay?”, she asks Andy.
“Yes, it just hurts”, Andy answers, just like she had in the penthouse. “And yes, I know, tomorrow it’s going to be worse”, she adds with an amused smile, letting her know that she remembers their conversation pretty well.
They share a laugh at that. It's nice to share that kind of understanding with someone. And Nile is starting to think that Andy is a very easy person to get along with, though when she first met her she thought the opposite. Well she had her reasons, right? Andy kidnapped her, shot her, took her to another country and scared her with her capacity to kill people.
“I’m okay Book”, Andy tells Booker, sensing his distress.
That gets Nile focusing her attention on Booker. He seems really sad and has a defeated vibe all around him. She hasn’t noticed it before, but it seems like Andy did.
“No thanks to me”, Is what Booker finally says, looking at himself in a disapproving way.
“My mortality is not on you”, Andy states, like it is an absolute truth.
“Andy, I’m sor…”, Booker starts.
“Now is not the time for it”, Andy interrupts but not in an abrupt way, she just sounds tired. “We’ll talk later, okay?”, she negotiates.
“Okay”, He agrees, taking a deep breath.
Nile thinks that she shouldn’t be hearing this conversation, like she is intruding in some way. But surprisingly they don’t make her feel like that. Instead they make her feel like it is a natural thing to have an intimate conversation in front of her, and she’s not sure how to be about that.
Joe and Nicky are back after a few more minutes, reporting that everything about the safehouse is okay.
“I’m going to get some food”, Booker says, and instead of getting into the safehouse he return to the car.
It seems they are all okay with his decision, because no one stops him, they just make their way to the safehouse.
Nile follows them inside. Joe helps Andy walk and gets her to sit down on the couch. And suddenly, everything and everyone is silent. Nile doesn’t understand what they are doing or what they are waiting for. Is this normal for them? This nothingness?
“So, what now?”, she encourages herself to ask the others.
“Go take a shower”, Andy answers.
“What?”, she asks confused, because she is not sure what she has been expecting, but definitely not this.
“You came back for us and you made a big jump, I think you deserve the first turn in the shower”, Andy explains the reasons for her suggestion.
“But you are mortal and you are hurt”, she protests, because in her mind what would make sense is Andy wanting the first turn to shower.
“And I already told you it doesn’t change anything”, Andy says with determination. “Besides, the guys should clean my wound and probably stitch it again”, she justifies, trying to convince her.
“Okay”, Nile finally agrees.
And Nile does, she really agrees. She is tired and feels very dirty with her bloody clothes, so she is not going to complain about getting to shower first.
Nile goes to the bathroom and turns on the shower. As she waits for the water to get warm, Nicky brings her clean clothes and a towel, and takes with him the first aid kit.
For a moment she debates with herself whether she should wash her hair. She doesn’t have any good products and is probably going to get all messy the next day, but she decides to wash it. There is blood all over her head and in her braids, it would be hard to wash it complet with them on. But if she doesn’t wash it she is not going to feel clean enough.
Nile undo her braids and gets into the shower. She closes her eyes and lets the water relax her.
As she washes her body she thinks of everything that has happened, in what it meant for her to come back for these immortal people. Is this her choice? To stay with them and accept that she is now another member of the team?
Nile thinks about her mom and her brother, about how she was planning to go back to them. And she still wants to do that, because she still has time with them, their time… She doesn’t want to live without them and she can’t imagine how she is going to keep living with the pain that they are not in her life anymore. She is not ready for that. She never will be.
To avoid panicking about losing her family, she tries to hang on to the fact that coming back for the immortal team -after she realised Booker’s betrayal- was the right thing to do.
Nile leaves the shower, puts on the clean clothes and goes to join the others. She finds them in the living room, but she stays frozen in place. They are having what it seems like an intimate moment and she is not sure if she should interrupt it.
Andy is on the couch, Joe is sitting on the floor with his head sunken in her and he is crying. Nicky is next to Andy, one of his hands is holding one of Andy’s, the other is caressing Joe’s head.
“I can’t lose you Andy, I’m not ready for it yet”, Joe says in between sobs.
“You are not going to lose me Joe, I’m here”, Andy reassures him.
“But your mortality…”, Joe protests.
“Is not going to kill me, at least not right now. I still have time”, Andy cuts him off.
“I know it is not fair to ask you to keep living when it is not like we can control it, but you are our constant Andy, we always had you”, Joe tries expressing what he is feeling.
“Don’t start mourning when I’m still here Yusuf, please”, Andy begs him, drying some of his tears with her fingers.
“Andy is right habibi”, Nicky tells him, although he is crying too. “She’s still here with us”, he reminds him and himself.
They start talking in a language Nile can’t even recognize, but for their tone it seems the words they are saying are soft and full of love. Suddenly, Andy realises of Nile’s presence. Nile feels a little bad about it, because she didn't want to ruin their moment or appear like she has been spying on them.
“Go take a shower”, Andy bosses Joe, palming his shoulder. “And take your husband with you”, she adds, looking smug about it.
“No, you should take the shower first”, Joe argues and stands up from the floor.
“Why? Because I’m mortal now?” She asks, in a challenging way.
“Because you are wounded from a gunshot”, Joe reminds her as he offers his hands to his husband to help him stand up from the coach.
“And you both have been tortured, don’t even try to deny it when I saw enough of that lab and Doctor Kozak”, Andy tells them very seriously. “And Nicky was shot on the inside of his throat”, that comment makes the two men flinch.
“How do you know?” Nicky asks, a little defensive.
“From the angle of the dry blood you have in the back of your head”, Andy answers with confidence, like she knows she is right. “Thousand of years of experience, you know”, she kind of jokes.
Nile does not get where the humor is, but Joe and Nicky laugh. So it worked.
“Go shower”, Andy insists. “Nile will take care of me”, she says, pointing to the young woman to make her point valid.
“Yes boss”, Joe and Nicky say at the same time, sounding like a chorus.
Nile watches as they disappear, walking hand in hand. She is not sure what she is supposed to do and she knows Andy has been kidding about ‘the taking care of her’ part, but she worries. Andy is the person of the team she knows best till this moment, and somehow she feels connected to.
She sits down next to Andy and looks at her. Nile has only known her for a few days, but she is also not ready to lose her. Before she can’t get lost in her thoughts, Andy pulls her back to the present.
“Do you want me to braid your hair?” Andy offers, realising she had undone her braids to wash her hair.
“Do you know how to braid hair?” Nile asks, really surprised.
“Of course I know, it’s something I had to learn in my six thousand years of living”, Andy says, with humor present in her voice.
Nile almost falls down from the couch because of that comment. Six thousand years? Is she being serious? How can a person live for so long?
“Six thousand years?” she asks, still in shock.
“I think at this point I’m closest to seven, but it is not like I kept the count accurate”, Andy simply answers. “What? You are the one who wanted to know my age”, she reminds Nile, realising she is too shocked to react.
“You are right”, she nods, remembering how frustrating she felt when all she could get from Andy about her age was the ‘too old’ comment.
“So, braids”, Andy says, getting back to the topic she wanted to talk about. “When I was born there was no shampoo, no cream rinse and we didn’t have the possibility to wash our hair like people do now, so we braided it a lot. So, yes, I can braid hair and I can braid yours if you want to”, she explains calmly.
Nile takes a moment to think about it and finally decides to accept the offer. What does she have to lose anyway? She sits down on the floor, between Andy’s legs and lets herself relax as the older woman starts working on her hair.
She gets lost in the pleasing sensation of someone taking care of her hair so softly and calms down completely. When she comes back to focus on the present, Joe, Nicky and Booker are back, and they are talking about dinner.
“Come on. I’m hungry, we should eat something”, Andy says, patting on her shoulder to get her to stand up.
Nile stands up and goes to the closest mirror so she can take a look at herself. She doesn’t know the type of braids Andy’s made in her hair, but they look pretty and very complicated.
“Woow, I’ve never seen this type of braids”, she says, thinking out loud.
“I’m sorry, I should have asked you what kind of braids you wanted”, Andy apologizes, looking thoughtfully at her.
“I do like them, they just look complicated”, she ressures the other woman.
“They are actually quite simple, they were Quynh’s favorite when we were in the time of the Byzentine Empire”, Andy tells her, like those historical facts were not a big deal to her.
“You look beautiful”, Joe compliments her as he passes them by. “Come on, let’s eat”, he says.
Nile follows Andy and Joe, joining the others at the table. Booker had bought thai food. They flatter her about the braids and she feels thankful.
They exchange the boxes of food, taking what they want and then they start eating. As they eat they are mostly quiet, and Nile can tell they all have a lot of things on their minds. She tries to focus on her food. Andy was right when she told her that the deaths of this day would make her feel tired and hungry, because that’s all she feels.
“So, what are we gonna do?” Joe asks, interrupting everyone's thoughts.
“Well first we should take care of Doctor Kozak”, Andy is the one who answers, and they all groan at her for bringing that topic to the table.
“What?” Nile asks, a little shocked about it. Maybe she shouldn’t be surprised at this point, not after everything she saw Andy being capable of.
“I know you don’t like what I’m implying here, Nile”, Andy tells her like she could read her mind. “But we know what she is capable of. She knows our secret and she tortured Joe and Nicky. She is a danger to us and I’m sure she is not going to stop looking for us”, she explains her reasoning.
It still feels wrong, but Andy has a fair point in what she is saying. Actually it’s more than that, is as Nile thinks she is probably right. Doctor Kozak will keep looking for them until she catches them, unless they stop her first. Nonetheless she feels wrong about the idea of killing people.
“Andy you are mortal and wounded, you are not in any condition to go to end her”, Nicky reminds her.
“Fine”, Andy agrees, sounding a little annoyed. “Then maybe you two should take care of it, if you think you can handle it”, she says to Joe and Nicky.
“You know we can handle it”, Joe assures her.
“I know you can, if not I wouldn’t ask for it. Doesn’t mean I have to like it though”, Andy says in a defensive way, that just proves how protective she is of them.
“What about him?” Joe asks, throwing a piece of food at Booker.
“Hey”, Booker complains.
“What?” Andy asks, playing dumb.
“What are we going to do about his betrayal?” Joe questions her.
“We are not deciding this tonight. We are hurt and tired, and that almost always leads to bad decisions. We need time to process”, Andy expresses in a strict way, making it sound more like an order than an opinion.
“Fine”, Joe agrees with a snort.
Nicky joins his hand with Joe’s and says something in italian that Nile doesn’t get, and Joe relaxes. She finds it cute, that they have that effect on each other. It must be nice to have a love like the one they share.
When it is time to finally get some sleep, Nile finds out that there is only one room with three beds. Nicky and Joe take the one behind the window, Andy takes the one behind the door. So she guess she should take the one that is in the middle, because Booker said he was going to stay up all night keeping watch.
“Sleep with me”, Andy tells her, before she can collapse on the middle bed.
“Why?” She asks, confused and surprised about the request.
“If Booker comes to sleep at some point and finds all beds taken, he won’t sleep. He knows I won’t care if he joins with me, but he still feels too guilty. And the couch is not comfortable, no one should sleep there after the day we had”, Andy explains to her in a quiet tone, to not disturb Joe and Nicky who are already asleep.
“What about your wound?” She finds herself asking, because she is worried that she could hurt her while they sleep.
“Is okay, don’t worry about it”, Andy assures her.
And who is she to fight about this with a six hundred years old woman? If she says it is okay, Nile has to trust that it is. She lays down on the bed feeling a little awkward, because Andy is just sitting and looks like she is not planning to sleep at all. It seems like Andy can feel her anxiety because suddenly she is caressing her braids and that calms her instantly, and before she can realise she falls in a deep sleep.
When Nile wakes up she finds that Andy is still sitting and all she can think is that she is a very stubborn woman. Then she sees Booker in the bed she was going to sleep in and feels glad Andy was right, and she guesses that the older woman probably only let herself sleep once the frechman fell asleep.
They stay in this safehouse For the next two weeks. In that time Joe and Nicky take care of Doctor Kozak and they arrange to have a meeting with Copley in the near future. Nile is glad about it, she thinks they all deserve to see his research, that it will make them feel good and give them some kind of peace with what they have been doing for their long lives.
Nile starts learning a lot of things about them as they live together in the same space. She learns they are not just an army of four, although she is realizing that the ‘four’ comment included Quynh even if she is not here with them. They are a family. The way they love each other is deep and dazzling. They can read each other flawlessly and they are too comfortable with each other, in ways that Nile didn’t know that it was possible to ever be.
They show their love in different ways.
Joe is all about words, he expresses his love with free passion and always knows how to make you smile.
Nicky is all about making the comfort food he thinks they need, he is patient and kindly listens when someone needs to talk.
Andy is all about actions and she is very touchy. She would always patt others hands, backs, arms or heads, give warm hugs, rest her feet in others laps, and just be a constant near presence.
Booker is all about emotion. Nile still can’t figure him out, because he is keeping to himself. He reads and watches a lot of football. She can sense how much he likes to join the others in their activities, in the way he always tries to be there; but now he is stopping himself from doing that, wanting to give them space and feeling guilty.
Nile can also feel the pain they are all in because of Booker’s betrayal, but still she can see the love they have for him too. How it hurts them when Booker does not join them in whatever thing they are doing and how he keeps drinking, even if Andy has been trying to convince him to stop. It surprises her because Nile has seen Andy drinking just as much, but it seems she wants to do better for both of them.
And Nile may be the new one, but she can feel the acceptance from the others and how ready they are to love her. They include her in everything, making her feel welcome. They give her time and space to figure out her place. Most of the time she finds it overwhelming and scary. She had just lost her family and her life as she knew it, but she is starting to realise she is gaining a new one. Although she is not sure if this is exactly what she wants.
“Hey”, Andy calls for her from the door of the room. “Can I come in?” she asks.
“Yes, of course”, she answers.
It has been a long day. Andy had her stitches removed and had informed them that it was time to decide what they were going next. She suggested they should have that debate in a neutral place. Joe and Nicky had chosen a beer house, and they all agreed. Tomorrow they will be deciding what to do with Booker and with their purpose as a team.
“This is yours”, Andy tells her, giving her cell phone back.
“I can have it? Really?” she questions, as the older woman sits next to her.
“Like I said, it’s yours”, Andy answers calmly. “I’m very glad and thankful you came back for us, but I know you wanted to go back to your family before. So, if you want to do that you still can, is your choice”, she explains what had brought her to do this.
“I don’t know what to say”, she says honestly, because she hasn’t been expecting this, to still have a choice.
“You don’t need to say anything”, Andy reassures her.
“What if I don’t know what to do?” She tries to express her fear and indecision.
“You can take all the time you need to decide, it doesn’t have to be now nor tomorrow”, Andy offers her, trying to calm her in some way.
“What if I go but some years later I want to come back?” She asks.
“You can come and go all the times you want, as long as we are safe to do it. We are a team, but we are not always together, we spend time apart too. And we don’t do all the missions, we choose which ones we want to be part of and which ones we don’t”, Andy explains their dynamic.
“Okay”, she accepts, because she doesn’t know what else to do with all this.
Andy caresses her shoulder in a supportive way for a moment, and then she stands up and leaves the room.
Nile is not sure what to do. She can’t stop thinking about her family and all the ways she could put them in danger if she returns. What if someone discovers her immortality and uses her family as a way to hurt and trap her? She is not sure she could ever forgive herself if something bad happened to her mom or brother because of her.
She also thinks about what Booker said to her in the mine, about his family not accepting him and just resenting his immortality. Would her family be like that? She likes to think they wouldn’t because she doesn’t know how she would handle the pain at their rejection, but in reality she doesn’t know.
She falls asleep as she watches the pics she has in her phone of her mom and brother. Feeling so homesick that it aches in every part of her body, making her more tired than she should be.
On the next day they pack their things in a new car and drive to the beer house.
Booker apologizes and explains that his betrayal has been because he wanted an out of their immortal life, not because he wanted to hurt them. He is regretful and he doesn’t know how to manage his depression. Then he is out, letting them talk and decide his punishment without interfering in.
“What do you think Nile?” Andy asks her.
Nile is surprised to be asked. The other three have been talking about exiling Booker for some time. She didn’t think she had a voice or a vote in this matter, but she does. They want to know her opinion.
“I think it is enough with the apology”, she answers.
Her point of view is valid to them, even if they don’t agree with it. Booker had betrayed their trust, had hurt them in the worst way. They are family, they love him and will forgive him one day. They probably already do. But his actions need a consequence, because they are the only people in the world they trust in and if they lose that, then what? Who would they have to rely on?
“One hundred years”, Andy says, sounding final.
“What? That’s too much”, Nile says feeling a deep sorrow at that idea.
“It’s not that much”, Andy denies.
“It’s like half of his life”, She argues.
“I’m almost seven thousand years old Nile”, Andy reminds her, sounding tired.
They all stay silent for some long minutes and Nile doesn’t know how to feel about the situation.
“Andy”, Nicky calls her softly, to get her attention. “One hundred years means you won’t get to see him again.”
“I know”, Andy nods. “It’s okay, this is a punishment for me too. I’m the leader, I should have realised that he was feeling so bad it made him lose himself and betray us”, she expresses her feelings on the matter.
“It is not your fault”, Joe assures her. “None of us realised because he didn’t show it. He hid his pain from us, acted as if everything was okay and never asked for help”, he displays his opinion.
“Still, I should have realized it to avoid all of you from getting hurt”, Andy insists, feeling guilty about Booker’s depression and Joe and Nicky getting tortured, even if it was not her fault. “Did I ever tell you about my first death?” She asks, surprising everyone with that.
Nile feels overwhelmed. Is Andy really going to tell this story infront of her? Joe and Nicky have known her for nine hundred years, but it is evident that they don’t know about this, that Andy’s first death is an unknown topic. If Andy is choosing to talk about this with she being there, that means she trusts her. Nile doesn’t know what to do with that trust. It feels too big for her at this moment, but she stays silent and listens to whatever Andy wants to say.
“I was a warrior, it was the only choice back then, fight or die. I became a very good warrior at a very young age, I just wanted to make my mom proud. And I guess I did for a while, until one day I overcame all my big sisters and that scared her. She started seeing me as a threat, as someone who could steal her power”, Andy tells her story, losing herself in her own memories. “One day, in one battle, all the warriors of my tribe came for me as my mother’s request. I wasn’t expecting that betrayal, they killed me. I was stabbed with ten or maybe eleven spears, I’m not sure,” she says, and the way she does it is so sad that it hurts, because Nile can feel it in every part of herself.
“So, is there any point to this story?” Joe asks, teasing Andy a little to make her relax and it works because she gives him a little smile in return.
“When it comes to people I love, I trust too much, and I can only see their betrayals when they are thrown in my face”, Andy answers, sounding a little bitter.
“You are being too hard on yourself Andromache”, Nicky disagrees with her.
“If it is like you say and there is a destiny, don’t you think it would be ironic that my first death was because of the betrayal of someone I loved and Booker’s betrayal could have been my last death because of my mortality?” Andy asks him.
Andy’s question hurts, is like a punch in all of their faces. Nile doesn’t know how to feel, but she gets the point Andy is trying to prove. Destiny, or wherever is out there, can be an ironic bitch.
“But you didn’t die Andy, you still have time”, Nicky says, trying to hang on to that fact so they can all feel relieved about it.
“And that’s why it has to be one hundred years”, Andy says, as she just proved everyone she is right in her decision.
Nile can’t take this anymore, so she just stands up and leaves the table. She doesn’t want to be part of this final decision. It feels too suffocating. To have the power to decide about something like that is too heavy. And the worst part is that she thinks there is no wrong or right choice in this matter. Because she understands Booker, she empathizes with his depression. But she understands how hurt everyone is, she suffers for the way Joe and Nicky still hurt about their torture, and she feels how the betrayal affected Andy and how it weight her as the protective leader she is.
She goes out of the beer house and goes to talk with Booker. They talk about her family, about how she has decided that the best for them is to think she is dead and how Copley is gonna help her arrange that.
After some moments the team is out of the beer house too. They give a moment to Andy and Booker, so they can talk and say their goodbyes in private. Nile sees the way they hug each other, the displays of affection between them, and it hurts. That hurts it has to be this way, but they have to go on.
They go to Copley’s house and he shows them the research he had done about all of them. They take a long time to examine everything in silence. She can feel their emotions all over the place as they confirm what they have been doing actually works, that it has a positive effect.
“Maybe this is the ‘why’ Andy”, She says kindly to the woman she is starting to see as her leader.
Andy makes Copley their helper, and they all have her back. They are a team, they are stronger together and they support each other. Having Copley help them in finding them works and erasing their traces is a good decision.
It's nice to see Andy this way, with all her confidence and hope back. Nile thinks she is starting to understand her more. She is really old and no one can blame her for losing hope, not when she has seen the worst of humanity over and over again. But she kept fighting, and Nile admires that. And now, with her hope back in the goodness they offer to the world, she is even more magnificent. Nile feels glad that she could help Andy get her spirit back and loves how she has come back to her warrior self in full strength and determination.
They leave Copley’s house and get back into the car. Andy is the one driving. Joe sits in the the other front seat, while Nicky and Nile occupy the back seats. After an hour of driving through the city, they are back on a road that Nile has no idea where it is going to take them. She can only see the countryside passing by.
“Where are we going?” She asks curiously.
“You’ll see it when we get there”, Andy answers, without taking her eyes off the road.
“Really?” She complains. “You don’t need to always act like you are some kind of mystery, you know”, she teases her, making Joe and Nicky laugh.
“Welcome to the family”, Nicky tells her warmly, colliding his arm with hers.
She smiles at that. So this is something familiar to them, Andy not telling where she is taking them because she likes to be a mystery. And as she links her arm with Nicky, she thinks that he is right. She is part of their family now, or at least she is starting to feel like it and embracing it instead of fighting it.
Nile might have lost one family, but she is gaining a new one. And she is glad they are the ones taking that spot, because she feels like she already loves them.