Rachel stepped out into the cold Canadian air and breathed deeply. She was home.
Or, the closest thing she ever had to one.
Following the fall of Neolution she had left the country. Some would say she fled.
After a few months travelling across Europe her final destination was Cambridge, her place of birth. She strolled through the autumn streets, desperately trying to attribute some memories or nostalgia to her surroundings. But this place had never really stayed in her heart after the apparent death of her parents.
Despite being born here and raised by English parents, Rachel felt out of place. Her accent allowed her to fit in with the locals, but they could tell she wasn't local. The occasional reference to a 'sidewalk' or the 'trunk' of a car was met with wary looks and chuckles.
Rachel had no family here. No graves to visit. No places of interest that might hold meaning to her.
So she packed up, and returned to the only place that she could possibly call home.
The snow swept streets filled her with a familial relief. She knew the streets. How to get to her fancy hotel. Her favourite restaurant. To the now abandoned DYAD institute.
To Siobhan Sadler's house.
She immediately pushed the thought out of her mind and headed to her hotel.
Rachel had grown tedious of her new routine. She lacked purpose. Lacked focus.
Wake up to her shrill alarm at 7am.
Breakfast at 8:30.
Eggs Benedict with Earl Grey tea.
Sit in her room, browsing the internet. Consider applying for a job. Kill time until dinner.
Dinner at the hotel restaurant.
Something Portuguese tonight, Rachel was feeling adventurous.
Drinks at the bar. Gloria was working tonight. She makes a wonderful martini. Heavy on the vodka.
Return to her room.
Browse the internet until sleep takes her.
Rachel sat at the bar, nursing her martini. Gloria wasn't working this evening so she had to settle for Stanley's subpar effort. Her eyes scanned the crowded restaurant.
Wealthy business men. Affluent couples. The occasional foreign dignitary here on a diplomatic visit.
A tall, blonde French woman and her dreadlocked girlfriend.
That familiar face.
Rachel span back to face the bar, quickly dispatching of her martini and ordering another. There were over a thousand restaurants in this city.
She realised she had zoned out, allowing her mind to wonder and race through a myriad of possible encounters that might happen tonight when a familiar voice began talking to the bartender a few feet away from her.
"A bottle of Laurie-Pierre champagne please. Two glasses." The thick, French accent ordered assuredly. Exquisite taste as expected.
Rachel risked a quick look over in her direction, but lingered too long as Delphine glanced around the bar area. Eyes locking and widening on Rachel's.
"Good evening, Delphine."
"What are you doing here, Rachel?" Delphine accused.
"... I live here." she sardonically sipped her martini as Delphine chewed her lip. "Also, I'm waiting for someone. Although he appears to be running quite late." Rachel wasn't sure what possessed her to lie to Delphine. Perhaps she wanted to avoid any pity the woman might have for her. "What are you doing here? I thought you were travelling the world. Doing great deeds."
"We made our way through South America and most of Europe, but it was becoming a bit overwhelming so we hired a group of people to cover more ground. Get the cure out quicker. We needed a break from all the travel."
"A smart plan indeed. So what brings you to this fine restaurant tonight? This isn't exactly a place one just stumbles upon." Rachel tried to sound casual, sensing that Delphine wished this conversation was already over.
"Actually, we are celebrating." Delphine held out her left hand. Rachel's eye drifted to a beautiful ring with a spiral design, delicately patterned with sapphires that seemed to glisten with every subtle movement. She could see Delphine smile despite herself. The joy was contagious as Rachel couldn't stop a small smile crawl across her own lips.
"Well, congratulations are in order." she caught the bartender's attention as he returned with the champagne bottle.
"Yes, Ms. Duncan?"
"Stanley, I'd like to pay for that bottle. And whatever else they may order tonight."
"Really, you don't have to." Delphine protested.
"Well, I understand that it's very unlikely I'll be receiving an invitation, so consider this my present. To you both."
"Thank you. For everything Rachel. I know it is not my place to forgive you for what you put your sisters through, but know that one day, I hope they do forgive you."
"Don't order too much caviar, Delphine." Rachel hastily finished her drink and headed for the hotel elevators.