Advice Sought


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With Appearances by:

cooper_icon.gif animal-goober_icon.gif

Scene Title Advice Sought
Synopsis Roxie seeks out Corbin for advice on registering.
Date June 21, 2020

Fort Hero

“You can't bring that in here!!” Is half shrieked as the wild yapping of a canine starts up.

“Why the fuck not? You’ve a goddamn rat!” Is shouted back sounding rather insulted.

It was total chaos out in the bullpen of SESA, while voices were raised, it’s done to compete with the aggressive yapping of a dog and squealing of Al, Agent Cooper’s pet guinea pig.
Cooper was half on his desk holding Al’s travel cage over his head, glaring down at a smallish dog with front paws on the desk, while a tom-boyish young woman stood with arms crossed.

“It’s a guinea pig,” Cooper snaps, “thank you very much and he is well behaved compared to that scruffy mutt!” A finger is pointed dramatically at the ginger dog who tries to jump on the desk, but his back legs don’t quite make it.

“Goober ain't scruffy! He’s fluffy and and.. cute! Unlike you! You’re fucking scruffy and butt ugly, too!” Roxie snips right back at the agent, glaring at him.

“Ha! I roll to disbelieve!” The agent sends right back at her.

“What?” That throws Roxie for a loop. “What the fuck does that even fuckin….?” She sighs and rubs at her eyes. “Look! Just tell me where the fuck to find Agent Ayers and I’ll get out your goddamn hair!” While Roxie throws out her demand, Goober suddenly stops barking and looks back at Roxie.

With the life of his precious pet no longer in danger, Cooper points in the rough direction of Corbin. “He’s over there and you just so you know…you need some soap for that mouth, young lady.” That last added with a look of disapproval.

“Fuck you, old man!” Roxie offers blandly, as she leaves him to calm the nerves of the poor critter. Corbin was expecting her.

“She’s with me,” Corbin says as he appears in the bullpen, looking rather ruffled when a page came and got him to say his visitor had arrived with a— guest. Said guest gets a look and he can’t help but grin a little and shake his head. “It’s fine, Coop. I’ll take responsibility. You won’t do anything wrong, will you pal?” he asks the dog, giving him a grin before he gestures the girl in the direction of his office.

His office was bigger than it used to be, with his new promotion— though he didn’t feel as if he deserved it. He kept a row of bonsai trees up against the wall as a reminder of the case that he still needed to close out. The one that he hoped could be fixed somehow.

He’d had the lab set up the same lamp that had been in the young woman’s apartment to simulate the sun, and he kept them all watered, small labels sat next to them. Labels and pictures of young women. On some. Some had question marks. Of the thirteen trees, only six had pictures next to them.

The trees have replaced his stacks of novelty coffee mugs he’d once had, now he just has one sitting on his desk, one with a very round bird drawn on it and the word BORB. It’s a bird orb. Ha ha. “So what was it you wanted to talk about?” he asks, going around his desk to sit in his comfortable chair, waving a hand at the equally comfortable chair at the other side. That spins.

But the comfortable chair, the cheesy mug, and even most of the bonsai trees may not attract much attention. One of the trees, though— tickles on the back of Roxie’s neck. The tree third from the end. A tree with no picture. A tree with a question mark. A beautiful little tree with tiny red leaves. A tree that’s crying. Whining. Lonely.

“Sorry….” Roxie offers once the door has shut behind them, she manages to look a little guilty. “Goober saw a snack and he took off before I could even stop him. Then that…” she stops herself from calling that other guy something bad. Shrugging off her backpack and setting it on the ground, she doesn’t miss the mug. Brows furrow at the silliness of it, as she finishes offering her side of things… “Then he started yelling and I just fucking lost it.”

Goober busies himself exploring the office with very loud snuffling sounds, while his human settles into an available chair.

“Anyhow… Why the fuck am I here…” Roxie turns nervous as she shifts subjects, scooting back on the chair and linking her lips. “I need some fucking help… advice really.” Her eyes drift over all the trees, though the red one really seems to grab her attention. He might even catch her staring at it. “Ah… I want to register. My friend Joaquin did and it helped him get a nice fucking home.” By her standards anyhow. Dragging her attention back to Corbin, Roxie scratches the side of her nose as she reluctantly admits. “I haven’t had a real home since before that shitty war. So I want to do this… but there is a huge fucking problem… My….” She has every plan to explain, but… that whining is getting distracting, brows furrow as Roxie looks at the lineup of trees on desk again.

“Sorry… I just… Wow… you’re really fucking into Bonzai trees.” Roxie comments with a shake of her head, looking up at him. “Or this part of that case? The one that turned Emily into a fucking tree?”

“Ah, registration is always good,” Corbin doesn’t question why she chose not to go to one of the more local branches, because, well, she chose to call him instead. She had his number, and at least she’s planning to register. “I’ll have someone print up the paperwork. It’s pretty easy to do. No tests required, you just have to declare. But it’s beneficial not to lie about it. False registration has steep penalties if you’re caught.” Which usually only happens if laws were broken, really.

But before they get into the actual paperwork, he looks toward the trees. “Oh— yes, it’s— evidence,” A few months ago, Corbin hadn’t talked about the case outside of the team, because it had been an active investigation. It still was, but this girl had been a witness of sorts and they had started to release some information in the last few months, since Ali had left the Safe Zone and since they needed clues on where she might choose to go. “They seem to be some kind of trophy. Each of the victims seems to have a correlating bonsai tree, except Emily. But the suspect fled after Emily, so it’s possible she didn’t have time to make a trophy.”

Serial killers were known for trophies, even if this wasn’t, technically, a murder. It followed the pattern anyway and it might as well have been.

Each of the trees smell different. They still smelled like trees, halfway— but there was also the smell of an animal in each of them. Most of them native animals that live in the area. Wild rabbits. Squirrels. Chipmunks. Pigeon. Crow. Duck. Some are pets. A cat. A tortoise. A ferret.

And then there’s a dog. A single, lonely, scared dog.

Goober is, in fact, very interested in those trees. All of them. The weird smell of them seems to be exciting as he pushes his nose against them and breaths deep, making snorting noises as he does. Food. Not Food. The mingling smells confuse the poor mutts nose. Under?

That’s enough to get the young woman on her feet with a “Goob! No!” The dog is quickly scooped up before he can paw at the soil one is planted in. The dog is confused and so is she and so is the tree.

“What the fuck?”

Shifting Goober into one arm, Roxie slowly reaches for the red leafed tree and touches it. Her head explodes with the crying of a dog. Lonely and scared. Corbin can see eyes widen in surprise and then further in terror, as her face pales. “Oh shit… that’s… that’s a dog, Agent Ayers and she’s very fucking scared,” she whispers almost not believing what she’s hearing and crouches down closer. Goober is set on the ground so that she can draw the bonsai closer and touch it with two hands. Somehow it helps her hear better.

“She doesn’t know what is going on. She’s so fucking alone,” Roxie reports, dropping to kneel on the floor and drag it closer, unable to take her eyes off it. Almost entranced by the canine mind inside the tree.

Goober snuffled at the tree and sneezes, whining with confusion. I smell Dog? Not Dog? Dog?

“Yeah Goob, it’s a fucking dog.” Roxie wasn’t one for crying, but sitting there with the bonsai tree, she cries. A poor victim that couldn’t defend itself. Who had trusted someone and paid the price for it. People suck, especially that one. “She wants to know if she was bad. Why did that bitch put her in the dark place? She’s begging to fucking be let out… She’ll be good,” Roxie chokes out with a sob. “She promises.” The mental cries make Roxie want to wrap her arms around it protectively, but she can’t. She scrubs at the tears with her arm, while a confused Goober tries to lick at her chin. He doesn’t fully understand what’s going on.

Of all the. “Fuck.” Corbin doesn’t usually curse, but this time, well, he’s going to curse. The bonsai trees he had sitting in his office since a few weeks after they found them to remind him of what they needed to do were living animals, just like the trees that were living young women. But of course they were. This woman, this monster of a woman had followed some serial killer profiles, even if she wasn’t killing her victims. Animals, people, specific targets, it all fit.

“I’m sorry, Roxy I— “ he looks at the bonsai tree that was a dog, one of the ones they had not identified yet. Too many they still didn’t have the human victims that they connected to. And he had forgotten to think that the smaller trees themselves might be victims too.

Reaching into his desk, he pulls out some tissues, moving it kneel on the floor beside the teenager and holding out that box to her. “Is that what you do? Talk to dogs?” It was on the topic that she had visited about, and in a way one could even consider this part of the registration paperwork— it could even be considered a COM test if she wanted it to be. But for the moment, he just wanted to talk to her. “We can’t fix it yet. We’re hoping to bring back the person who did this alive and make them fix it. If they can fix Emily, they can fix this dog too,” he adds.

But he did say. If. Unfortunately. Cause it was always an if.

There is an angry look at the tissues, but Roxie doesn’t yell at him for it, just reluctantly takes them… because there are tears and her nose might be threatening to run. She gives a small affirmative nod at the question about her ability. “I used to think I had funny dreams about being a dog and being abandoned by my family… but eventually… I realized I could fucking hear him and see his thoughts,” she says miserably.

“Now, it’s getting pretty damn clear,” Roxie looks at the dog who’s turned back to the trees snuffling at the leaves of one, with a woofed growl. “Like… I know he knows that one is a cat. He fucking calls them evil ones.” That last bit done with a bit of a huffed laugh. “He says it smells like it and not at the same time.”

Looking up at Corbin, with reddened eyes, Roxie looks less than pleased about having an ability. “If my parents were alive they would have killed me without a thought. My father was Senator Ricardo Santos. Y’all probably have a huge fucking file on him and me.” She looks back to the tree, fingers gently rubbing the red leaves. “That’s the problem I have with registering… I fucking refuse to be Roxie Santos anymore. I want to fucking change my name, but I don’t know how.”

Oh yes.

Corbin Ayers has heard of Richardo Santos. It was difficult to forget someone like that when they had been a Senator and the epitome of the very thing that they had fought a war to stop. “Well changing your name will take some extra paperwork, but I think we can help you out there. You’re over eighteen and you have a very good reason and I think our entire legal department would back you on that.” And if not, well, he could personally vouch for it until they did.

Might as well use his new position for something every so often.

“Good boy. Don’t worry, the evil cat tree won’t be hurting anyone. But hopefully we’ll find a way to get them changed back. The same as Emily.” This actually gave them a small cushion of testing, really, cause if the person responsible had never actually changed something back before, they could attempt on the bonsai trees a few times before trying it on a person— he felt guilty for thinking it, but animal test subjects were better than people.

He’d just make sure it wasn’t the dog first. In the meantime, he decides keeping her talking will be the best idea, so he asks, “Can he tell what the rest of them are?”
Maybe it’s the emotions pouring off the poor trapped dog… but the look she angles up at Corbin when he says that he can make it happen… It’s watery, but also grateful. For the first time, the perpetual knot in the pit of her stomach loosens a little. Only a little, cause it hasn’t happened yet.

Swallowing back the emotions, she gives a nod at the question about Goober. “Only one is really fucking confusing him. He says it’s like the grouchy biters and the butt sprayers. But…” Roxie shifts the dog tree back to it’s spot and scoots over where Goober is snuffling the cat tree, crossing her legs.

“Goob.” The dog's head pops up and looks at her, tail wagging slowly curious of what Roxie wants. Still she has his focus. Grabbing his face she concentrates with eyes narrowed seriously, only to get interrupted by a full tongue lick to the face. “Ugh. Right up my fucking nose! Shoulda fucking known better.” She scrubs an arm across her face.

When Roxie is done, she sighs at the dog who’s in her lap now. “Look. Agent Ayers needs our damn help, buddy. I need you to think what fucking animal you smell…” she pulls on the trees closer and points at it. “Smell it and tell me what the fuck you smell.” It’s tough, but she slowly forms the idea of what she wants in his head, it’s clear she’s still new to her ability, as the dog tilts his head one side and then the other. Listening even though at the moment she’s not speaking.

With a sneeze, Goober snuffles at the tree trunk and into the leaves. It’s Roxie’s turn to tilt her head and listening, eyes unfocused. “I…. Holy shit I think it’s a damn turtle. Dogs see things differently than we do. But… there is definitely a shell and.. Yep. it’s a mother fucking turtle!” Both girl and dog get excited as they successfully identify the small tree.

Scrubbing nails through his fur, Roxie looked up at Corbin with a bright grin. “I fucking think we can do this for you.” This might be the first time she’s ever felt good about what she is.

“If you wanted, we could even consider this a COM test so you can actually use your ability for hire if you wanted to,” Corbin says, listening to what she says as she explains what the dog is sensing and writing down the details. It was a good test of her ability and her control, and it would actually allow him to get the beginnings of a designation to put on her registration when she finishes jumping through all the hoops to change her name and get her ID set up and everything.

It would help her if she could market it as a skill, after all. That was something that people could use, for various reasons. Who wouldn’t want a dog walker/sitter who could actually talk to their dog? Or something else similar. It would be marketable, and that would help give her cash for a place to stay and food and everything else that she would need.

It was a step in the right direction, it was what these laws were made to do.

And it was the kind of things anti-Expressives hated, those with abilities using their “skills” to their advantage.

As she describes each animal, he writes them down, taking notes. “Thank you. Both of you.” Yes, he thanks the dog too. Even if he can’t talk to the dog, he seems to think the dog can understand anyway. Or that the message will get passed on. “We’re going to try to fix this. I promise.”

The same as fixing Emily. Now they had a row of bonsai trees to turn back. Even if most of them would probably end up either in an animal shelter or afterwards. It was better than being stuck on a shelf for ever. “A turtle, huh? I always wanted a desk turtle.”

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