Armchair Detectives


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Scene Title Armchair Detectives
Synopsis A pair of armchair detectives take stock of the strange circumstances they find themselves in.
Date July 6, 2021

Red Hook

"The Stoop"

In the community room of The Stoop, Kara Prince sighs heavily as she sets down the carafe of coffee back on top of the element that keeps it warm, eyes closing. She curls her hand around the cup she's made for herself and does her best to summon an aura of patience and calm. She's been back from her 'interview' with the OEI agents for all of three minutes and she's struggling to settle back in to the veritable prison they all find themselves in.

She takes her coffee outside as a result, pushing aside the doorway to the garden with the intention of finding herself a seat as far as possible away from the building. She settles down into an outdoor chair and gives up a silent prayer that the coffee will help fend off the last of the headache she had after being near the site directly.

Kara takes a sip of the coffee— and finds her taste and reaction to black, sweetened drink in Cesar's tastebuds to be different than her own. She draws an entirely unimpressed face, lips smacking, and recoils back in her seat.

God damn it. It couldn't be that simple, could it.

The door opens a moment later to admit the body of Dirk Dickson to the rooftop garden… but the scowl on his face is a dead giveaway that it's Carver driving. He pauses for a brief moment at the sight of Kara-in-Cesar, though. "You look like I feel," he remarks. "I was going to ask how your interview with the Time Cops went, but… that good, huh?"

He steps forward, eyes marking the CCTV cameras the Feds have set up before looking back to Kara.

Kara's previous grimace turns more sympathetic on Carver's notation went, her eyes shooting to the door. She sighs and weighs just how honest she wants to be with her response, admitting that beat later, "We walked through the events of what happened, the other people that had been around, and so on…" Her head shakes once.

"I pitched them a theory on what might be happening, and they seem to be giving it some consideration." Kara rotates the cup in her hand like that will help the bitter, subpar cup of coffee (compared to the cafecito Cesar excels in making) taste any better. "So that's something, I suppose."

Something. It's something alright; Carver just isn't quite sure what. He scrutinizes Kara for a moment, trying to pick out Kara's mannerisms through the mask of Cesar's face.

"What's your take on them?" he asks with a frown.

After taking another, less dramatic sip of the coffee, Kara sets it down on her knee. "We couldn't find anyone on site who had a relevant ability. Nobody panicked and ran, proving accidental culprit by that way. And…" She looks toward Carver, brows beedling together momentarily. "The air when we were out there; I'd written it off at the time as though maybe a storm were brewing, but it wasn't, was it? And the air felt clear after we all were split from our bodies."

With a thoughtful dip of her head, Kara proposes quietly, "I'm not sure what happened was caused by a person, so much as a phenomena. Such as what happened back in Providence, actually, last fall." She leans back in her seat, wondering, "It's one of those cases where 'if I had a nickel for every time something like that happened'… we'd have two. But it seems to make more sense than anything else."

With a snort of a laugh, Kara wonders, "You think the Agent's right? Maybe that bad luck just follows us around?"

It's genuinely not a thought she's had til now, but now she'll be paranoid about it going forward, given her own introduction to this universe.

Carver listens to Kara's points, but when she ventures on bad luck, he snorts. "Bad luck? No." It's a quick and ready reaction, almost reflexive at this point… though Kara's point about the extremity of the coincidence does see his scowl deepen a bit as he considers it. "It did feel like a storm coming. I remember that. Felt it in my knees. But what kind of phenomenon does this? I've seen things, but this is a new one on me."

His scowl twists. "So was our autumn field trip, though," he admits.

Kara's usual taciturn expressions and mannerisms hit different when worn by a different face, much more The Thinker in this chiseled form than the no-nonsense woman she is. Especially when forced at rest as they have been here. Her eyes narrow and she admits reluctantly, "Maybe not bad luck, then, just…"

She lets out a quiet sigh. "A certain magnetism for the unusual."

She looks over to Carver thoughtfully. "From what I gather from the spooks," Kara says carefully, "The world's changing. The rules previously established for dealing with Expresives, the world we came to expect to be the way it is– all of that's been turned on its side." Her expression solemn, mouth hardening for a moment before she clarifies, "And it doesn't sound like it started in Detroit, either. Just…"

Detroit, where Kara previously had relayed she'd seen the sky open up into a yawning void, the likes of which no light escaped, and all of existence seemed like it could vanish into.

"It came out into the open, then," she surmises, adjusting the angle of the coffee set down on her knee. "To tell you the truth, I've– um–" Kara looks off to the side with a self-conscious smile and a huff at her own expense. "Gotten interested in it lately. Feels like the kind of thing you either help people wrap their head around and do something about, or…"

Or they'd all end up in predicaments like Kara and Carver found themselves in now. Or worse.

Probably worse.

Carver's eyes don't move, but there's a certain distracted quality to his gaze; Kara hadn't misunderstood his question at all, it seems, she'd just wanted to lay her reasoning out clearly. Probably for the best, because there are two wolves in Carver, and both of them have a lot to say right now.

Carver's faith in his country has been battered, bloodied, and maimed over the years; he'd spent his life doing messy, often bloody work in the hopes of making the world a better place in the service of his country, only for the government he'd served to commit unspeakable atrocities against the very people it was meant to serve — the Cambridge Massacre, the nuclear strikes on American soil.

But for all that — for all the pain that festers in that, even now — Kara's talk of helping people, of doing something, still speaks to him. Even now.

Carver lets out a slow breath, his lips drawn tight until Dirk's mouth is a thin, bloodless slash on his face. "So you think they're trustworthy, then?" he asks, his gaze serious.

A beat passes. Then another.

"I trust Agent Bright, Agent Reeves," Kara answers slowly, the words given their due weight in consideration. "And I trust that the group they serve… is seeking to make sense out of all this that there's little sense to, and to push back against what's dangerous in it." She looks across the small yard of the garden space. "Those two in there believe in helping others. I can't answer for the people farther up the chain. I have trouble trusting any organization fully after…"

A pause representative of years of experiences, some of them shared in some way, elapses before she summarises, "After all that's happened."

She turns her head back toward Dirk, speaking to Carver in Cesar's quiet dulcet. "But I believe I've had enough of letting things like this," one hand is lifted to loosely draw a circle around their current predicament, "happen unseen. Maybe it goes unspoken, still, once it's all done. But in the end, I think people like Bright and Reeves help more than harm. They've got…" Her serious humor breaks for something more lighthearted as she acknowledges, "They've certainly got more tools on their side than we do, in figuring this out. And it seems like half of SESA NY got caught up in this with us, so–"

She breaks off with a laugh, one that acknowledges just how wild this all is to begin with, much less that on top of it.

Carver nods slowly, his gaze coming back from the middle distance to regard Kara at her assessment of having trouble trusting organizations. He most definitely respects that sentiment.

Her talk of being tired of letting things happen, though… there's a thread in that that draws Carver's eye, sees him squint thoughtfully. "So what are you going to do?" he asks.

For some reason, Kara's expression draws inward. She doesn't have an immediate answer, at least not one in a shape that's pleasant.

She lifts the paper cup to draw deep from it, any discomfort from lingering heat preferable to the discomfort it distracts her from. Swallowing, she points out, "I've not been in Providence much since the fires." A beat later, she elaborates, "Part of that's been Yi-Min. But part of it's…"

"I don't know how to put it," she admits to Carver, because it's him, and she's at least trying to. She looks back to him, brows arching. "I guess– trying to get in with the people with more tools than people like you and me do out in the middle of nowhere?" Her attempt at honesty brings her forehead to immediately furrow along with her brows as they come back down. "They're also the ones trying to look into what happened to Minni and the other folks who were kidnapped the same time she was."

Carver nods slowly, his suspicions confirmed. For a long moment afterward, he's silent. "Well," he finally ventures. "Seems like you're doing better than trying, if they're asking you for theories," he observes.

He's silent for a moment longer, his tongue running over the inside of his teeth as he thinks… before he finally looks back at Kara. "What do you know about this outfit of theirs?" Carver doesn't trust the government, not anymore… but he does trust Kara Prince.

Kara only dips her head in a nod to acquiesce she's doing better than trying to interact with the Agents of the DoE. She gestures vaguely with the drink over to the concept she's trying to explain. "Like every other agency, they've got their head in KC. Unlike SESA, they don't really do satellite offices, that I can gather. They've roosted a cluster of agents somewhat out of SESA's offices here as a result, with the focus on the cases in the area. Or near it."

That last bit comes wry, with flakes of humor at something for something unspoken, likely secret. Her expression changes away from that mood with a slight shake of their head. "They travel. They occupy themselves with the less-understandable, less… human things caused by Expression or other anomalies, compared to SESA." She seems satisfied enough with that summary, even if she doesn't seem wholly convinced that's all. "There's probably plenty more I don't know about."

"Huh," Carver grunts. "Weird shit," he says, one corner of his mouth twitching towards a brief hint of a smile as he echoes his diagnosis of their unexpected Swedish excursion in the woods of New Jersey.

It's all too brief, though. "There's always been weird shit in the world… if they've got an agency dedicated to it, maybe there really is more of it than there used to be," he says, giving Kara a nod. "Well. I'll keep things in Providence going while you're away, best I can. Keep the shooting range going. If a portal to the colonial era opens up again, I'll give you a call," he says, and again there's that faint flicker of a smile, though there's a hint of regret to it.

Kara has to consider that for only a moment, what she hears there, before she slants a look back in Carver's direction. "To be perfectly honest," she states plainly, "It'd be nice to have someone I know with me. Someone who has the ability to hold a line, but has the empathy to know when it should bend." Her eyes narrow for a moment before she refocuses on him. "Someone who's seen some of the same shit I have."

A smile cracks in return to him before she points out, "And you've seen Bright. I think you know they don't discriminate on age."

Carver isn't someone easily caught off-guard, but that manages to do it. The shifts in facial expression might be less obvious if he were wearing his usual face, but on Dirk's face it's easier to read — incredulity, appraisal, and scrutiny in varying degrees, ending with a narrow frown and a considering look. "I'll admit — I wasn't expecting them to have Orville Redenbacher in the field," he says slowly.

There are a dozen — more — objections he could make. What about Providence? What about the people, what about his practice?

But he knows damn well that the good people of Providence had gotten along fine without him — had gotten along fine without Miller, even, who had come before him. They know how to make the sick comfortable and set broken bones and treat the everyday injuries, and how to get to town for things more serious than that — and the rest of his objections are more of the same. Really, it comes down to one thing — does he want to do this?

Carver is silent for a moment, then two, as he thinks. "I'm not going to make any promises one way or the other," he says finally. "Not until all of this is wrapped up and I've got things sorted at the clinic at the very least. But assuming I decide to do this — where do I go to apply for the Spookshow?"

A tension Kara didn't know she'd held in her as she waited out his reaction begins to ease. She offers a small, warm smile again.

"I can put in a good word for you," she offers up as a back-up plan. "But I'd say to catch one of them and pull them aside when you get the chance, here." The cup in her hand is tilted his way as she advises, "And maybe don't call him that to his face," before she hides the expansion of her grin behind one last, deep drink to finish off the coffee– or at least as much of it as she's willing to suffer through. The last dregs might actually be dregs, rather than just drink.

"For what it's worth, and you've already heard me say it– I think it's valuable work. The kind the right people need to be continued to be employed for." Levering herself up from her seat, she proposes, "Better people like us than some other rampallian taking that place."

Carver raises an eyebrow. "Rampallian," he repeats dryly… then pauses. "You know, if we both get government jobs, I'll probably have to stop making crayon jokes," he says with a frown.

Kara, in Cesar's guise, makes a face of sympathy that's part pout and part steadfast, coy belief. "You're cunning. You'll find other fonts of humor to draw from, I'm sure." A grin begins to work its way forward from her. "Even if it's humor only you and I might appreciate."

Carver lets out a dry chuckle. "Inside jokes are the best kind," he says. Then, more seriously, he nods. "I'll think about it." It's not a yes… but it's a hell of a lot closer to it than it would've been before this conversation. "I won't leave you twisting in the wind on it too long," he promises.

Kara ducks her head, trying to not think about how strange it is not to feel the shift of her hair with that motion, and lifts what remains of her cup in cheers. "I'll look forward to it," she promises in return, then heads back to the glass door to return indoors.

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