swap-august_icon.gif swap-carver_icon.gif swap-cesar_icon.gif swap-cooper_icon.gif swap-dirk_icon.gif swap-kara_icon.gifswap-liza_icon.gif

Also Featuring:

dale_icon.gif salem_icon.gif

Scene Title Chiasmus
Synopsis The victims of an anomaly return to the scene of the crime against natural order to find themselves again.
Date July 10, 2021


Hank the labrador puppy is the only one in the charter bus who’s happy.

The little creamy-yellow dog bounds up and down the aisle, bouncing up and off of everyone’s knees, managing to get his wet nose and warm tongue on a few faces as the vehicle makes its way through busy traffic toward Elmhurst. Unfortunately, Agent Reeves was not available to take them the “easy way.”

The mother in the toddler’s body has both chubby arms wrapped around the little boy who’d gone missing for two days. He’d finally been found in a neighbor’s doghouse, asleep, the night before. “What if this doesn’t work?” she laments in the three-year-old’s voice, for probably the thirtieth time since they left Red Hook. Both the woman, currently occupied by five-year-old Caleb, and the five-year-old, occupied by toddler Tatum, have red eyes and noses from crying. The woman draws her sleeve across her nose with a loud sniffle.

Agent Bright sits as far away from everyone as he possibly can, his glasses off, one hand rubbing his eyes. Today it’s Agent Toussaint who sits beside him. “I can freeze them for the rest of the bus ride,” he says under his breath.

Dirk draws Cooper’s human leg up onto the bus seat, leaving the mechanical one down.. perhaps hoping that a bit of a jolt will keep the dog away from him. “If it doesn’t work, I’m getting a haircut,” he replies unbidden. Watching out the window of the bus, he frowns a little bit. He came in the transport only to keep the duct tape out of his body’s hands and away from Cooper’s skin. Every time he turns his head, he can feel his own eyes on him and unlike when he’s switched with his roommate, this is unnerving and more than a little creepy.

Glancing over at August’s body, he frowns a little and quickly switches seats, much to the driver’s chagrin. “So Thomas, if this doesn’t work and we get stuck like this. I might have a way out for the two of us,” he says in a low voice, “or at least a way to get you back… long enough to talk to Marlowe.”

Kara is sitting near the rear of the pack of those changed, arms folded over her– Cesar's– chest while she looks out the window patiently. The worried mother's question draws her attention back away from the slow-moving view, long enough that she offers a small smile of reassurance. "If it doesn't work, there are other methods of getting us all back where we should be that we can investigate," she promises. Her hand turns out to pat the puppy on its head as it walks past, ruffling its ears in a friendly way.

“I’m still not talking to you, Dirk.” Cooper says quietly, back stiff and arms crossed, his attention is currently to the world passing outside the window. Unlike others, Cooper’s been trying to avoid the attention of the dog. “What part of, I’m not talking to you do you not understand?”

Yes, Dirk he’s still mad about it. “Bros don't date their bros’ girlfriends using their bros’ body.” It was so weird saying that out loud and made him mildly uncomfortable. “Besides, I already talked to her.” Thomas doesn't elaborate on it though, Dirk will just have to imagine how that conversation went.

“By the way, did you remember to take the anti-rejection shot this morning?” Cooper asks, drawing the conversation away from his dating life. “I’d rather not have to ask Cesar… uh…Clara to hold you down.” Though the idea of Cesar-in-Liza trying to hold down Dirk-in-Cooper does manage to get a twitch of amusement lifting his funk a little.

Carver sits silently, two seats behind Dirk, one hand dangling down into the aisle as he watches Dirk. Glowering. Sore as hell and not letting it show one bit — his own special present to the owner of the owner of this particular body, the result of days of morning calisthenics and workouts with Diaz.

Dirk's talk of having a way out for the two of them sees his lip curl a bit, but for now Carver says nothing. He's got supplies, and he's confident that his own training's good enough to outclass whatever counter-surveillance field training they give Fed desk jockeys, if they try and give the rest of them the slip. Still, might make for a good challenge if it comes to it — a good hunt to keep him sharp.

That thought almost brings a smile to his face; he absently turns his hand to pet the dog as it comes snuffling past.

Liza sits as comfortably as she can in someone else’s body, glancing around at the others. While the pep is still mostly there, it’s muted a bit simply because she’s listening to the conversation. Conversation she’s not sure she likes. “No one is going to get stuck like this,” she insists, rolling her eyes at the fact that anyone is already making plans for the worst.

Instead of letting others continue to sour her mood, she focuses back on the dog. At least there’s something pleasant on the bus.

"Hey man, don't discount this body. Liza's got power. And I've been taking good care of her," Cesar says in response to Cooper's comment, fisted hand thumping against shoulder, nodding in Liza-in-Carver's and Carver-in-Dirk's directions respectively to indicate just how. He's graduated through oversize t-shirts and sweatpants too. No sweaters, but a loose, flowy blouse and cropped pants appropriate for the weather. Sneakers, though. Sorry Liza, he hadn't gotten around to heels.

"It'll work," Cesar chimes in to the umpteenth worrywarting of the mother further up the seats, casting a glance over the swapped kids in their bodies. "We'll have to go out for froyo or something after we're all back to normal, yeah? And maybe get Hank some training so he doesn’t run off again.” Distractions spoken, he too turns his attention towards the lively pup.

Kara’s head jostles against the window August is leaning against as the bus makes a turn. He’s been quiet the entire ride, not trying to make conversation with the others as he watches one street turn into another, all too slowly for his liking. But this is the last turn, and he suddenly straightens, glancing at the others, as the bus pulls up to the curb.

“All right. Please, everyone keep together, especially the small children and the animal, and follow directions,” Toussaint says, and gesturing for everyone to disembark the bus, following Bright who heads out first. Outside, the street has been barricaded to keep people from cutting through, and uniformed guards stand at each end to make sure no one breaches the area.

The two guards move one of the barricades so the group can pass. As soon as they step outside, they can feel something – almost like the tug of G-force on an amusement park ride, but internally, drawing them toward the exact spot the cheese stall had been earlier that week. In that spot, some thirty meters away, Salem, Dale, and Beatrice await, the pop-up and tables set up, along with the product, situated in the trays of ice.

“Whoa, boy,” murmurs Bright, squinting in the afternoon sun. “I really hope this doesn’t kick us in the keister,” he adds quietly to Toussaint. “If I swap…”

“I already told you, I was looking out for you.” Dirk gripes, getting up from the seat and moving to the door of the bus. “She saw me on the street and I didn’t want her to get mad at you… so I was trying to do damage control. Nothing happened except waffles and a conversation. As wonderful as she is for you, she’s just not my type.” Not that anyone really knows his type, he’s never brought anyone home so to speak.

As he steps out of the door, a startled noise comes out of him and he looks at the old agent with a bit of panic. “What is that? Are you sucking us into a black hole?! I’m too young to die! I haven’t done everything I wanted!! I don’t even have a filing system named after me!!”

Dirk’s defense just has Cooper hunting down further in his seat with lips pressed as tight as they could get and eyes glued to the world outside. So he’s only half listening to Dirk when they pull up to the spot and the Agent sees the booth.

As he sits up straight, ready to follow others out of the bus, Dirk’s panicked shrieks start. Cooper never realized his body had the potential to sound so womanly. But it also means Dirk is in trouble. “Oh no…” horrified that something might be happening to his body, Cooper’s jumps to his feet and jostles his way out of the bus.

But his rescue mission is aborted as soon as his feet hit the ground, Cooper gasps as his senses are overwhelmed by a mysterious force. “Holy cheese balls, what is that?” But at least with that falling sensation comes that first flicker of hope that this could work.

For Gods' sake, Kara thinks to herself as she steps to the ground after Cooper and Dirk. "Just stay calm," she issues in Cesar's commanding tenor. "Yes, the site feels odd, and in ways it didn't when we were here last. It's going to feel more odd the closer we get to the epicenter; you may start feeling like you don't belong in the body you're in." There's more stress on those key bits of information than she normally likes to have in her words, but she wants to lay it out plain.

"Going to go out on a limb here," she says with a turn behind her to help anyone off the bus who might need it. Manners. "–that that's a good thing. We all want to end up back in the bodies we belong in, here. We have to move forward to it."

"Like the nice agents said, we're going to try and recreate what happened to begin with, as much as possible, to see if we can make this all…" Her eyes go toward the stand that's set up, where Dale and the others wait. "Work in reverse."

Liza-in-Carver beams brightly, looking strange on her as per usual. "Thanks!" She offers Cesar at the mention of how he's been taking good care of her body in the meanwhile. She never had a doubt. "Froyo would be amazing after this. I'd love to eat in a way that feels familiar again," she says as she follows the others off the bus. She doesn't audibly react to the tug, but she covers her mouth for a moment as if it's a roller coaster and she'd just eaten too much funnel cake. A second later she composes herself.

"Okay, we've got this. Are we standing where… we were standing or where our current bodies were standing?" The latter of the two options will be like herding cats, getting everyone to figure out just how someone else was positioned in the middle of this.

"Froyo," Carver repeats blankly. "Sure," he agrees, mostly because it's probably not worth the effort to ask what froyo even is; he'll find out soon enough, probably. Hopefully.

He feels that nauseating sense of a pull at the same time the others do; the french fry's shrieking draws a brief look of alarm before Carver figures out that it's the pull that's causing Dirk to shriek. He regards Dirk for a moment longer, assessing whether there's actually any cause for concern or if it's just overblown hysterics; his eyes narrow and he shakes his head as he assesses that it's probably the latter… though the question of how overblown said hysterics are draws a squint to his eye.

Still, as weird as this place feels now, and as much as that feeling sets off all kinds of alarm bells in his head… for now, they might as well give it a shot, and keep the Dickson's roommate option on the back burner as a potential reserve option. Carver nods at Liza's question. "My money'd be on where our current bodies were standing," he offers.

Filing out after the others, Cesar reserves commentary of the vertigo to a sharp suck of breath between clenching teeth. He schools his grimace immediately, glancing around first in the direction of Dirk's freak out, then at the uncannily accurate set up of the cheese stand along with vendors and pet goat.

"Get a grip on yourself, Dirk," Cesar hisses to Dirk, far less venomous than it would be were he in his actual self. He even pauses with a moment to consider which self he means at present. Cesar shakes his head roughly, blonde hair swishing. Nodding in agreement with the Plan, Cesar steps forward boldly for the cheese stand, brow furrowing in concentration as he seeks that potentially stronger out-of-body feeling in the area.

“Frozen yogurt,” August says, picking up on that blank look from Carver. “If you haven’t had it, I guarantee you that you’ll hate it.” He hasn’t spent a lot of time with the older man (in a woman’s body) but he figures the entire premise will somehow be offensive to someone like Carver. “Artificial flavoring and no substance, but you try to convince yourself it’s as good as ice cream by putting a bunch of Oreo crumbs on top.”

The Staten medic doesn’t react verbally to the strange feeling that seems to tug them onward, but Kara’s face furrows with unease. “Hopefully,” he concurs with Kara’s words – that it’s a good thing, that their inner selves are trying to reunite with the proper outer selves once more.

The cheesemonger’s stall, being the only one present, looks out of place on the street without the rest of the merchants and their wares. Salem leans against the table, arms crossed and looking unhappy to be here altogether, but Dale waves enthusiastically for last week’s mixed-up shoppers. He gestures to several paper bags set out on a side table. “I made everyone a little sampler of the different cheeses. I really hope you don’t think I had anything to do with this!” he says, earnestly, and Beatrice adds a bleat as if to agree with him.

“You’re good,” August assures him. “Thanks. That was nice of you.”

As they draw closer, the feeling of being misplaced grows stronger; the wrongness of their bodies intensifies. The small family moves to where they had stood a few days before, looking back up the sidewalk toward the others, waiting with their tearful eyes for any instructions from the agents. Hank strains at the leash, ready to run at the goat who chews on a piece of alfalfa, both animals completely unaware of the angst surrounding them.

“Do we-” Maria begins in the toddler’s voice, looking down at Hank, then at the leash in the woman’s hand.

“For us?” Cooper-in-August looks thrilled at the prospect for free cheese, though he does notice something in the cheese man’s words. For all the brightness, Dale was clearly worried and it was understandable. This was his livelihood. “Hey, Man… I mean, this is great, thank you, but… why would we blame you for an accident?” He motions at himself as he talks to Dale, trying his best to assure him even as his head is feeling super weird. “This? This is nothing compared to some stuff I’ve seen working for SESA or NYPD or the other acronyms I worked for. So if it was you, it’s oh-kay, cause at least you are not a living human bomb.”

Cooper-in-August spreads his hands, while slowly backing away from the stall, as if to say ‘see it could be worse.’ He points at the goat and adds, “And don’t worry, Beatrice. I’ll get you a carrot whether this works or not.”

Dirk’s panic stops the moment he hears the words sampler of cheeses. “Oh good,” he intones with no lack of enthusiasm, “I need something to go with my whine.” At least he’ll get something out of this. He doesn’t count waffles and Thomas being angry at him as anything good coming out of this. Though, he would admit that Marlowe would be a delightful friend. Things that will have to wait until later.

“I can’t wait to get home,” he gripes, “I miss everything about my life. I miss my bed, I miss not having to see myself glaring at me. God am I going to be glad to never have to see some of you ever again.” He knows that the vice verse of that is probably true too.

Froyo doesn't sound particularly enticing, given that description; Carver nods absent thanks to August for the forewarning. Another nod is given to the cheese vendor in thanks, but Carver's gaze moves back to Dirk when the other man starts talking about how happy he'll be when all of this is over. "It's mutual," Carver says, lip curling in distaste. "I'll be thankful to be back in a body that can handle a few pushups." He regards Dirk for a moment longer, then shakes his head; the sense of disapproval from him is obvious, but there's a hint of something else under it — bewilderment, perhaps.

Then his gaze moves to the cheese vendor, scrutinizing him for a moment… or, more likely, looking through him. Considering. "I — this body — was standing… here," Carver says, moving — carefully, because this body had not been accustomed to the rigor of his daily exercise routines, and he feels it — to his best recollection of where Dirk had been before everything had gone squirrelly.

Following at a pace behind the others, Kara seems content to take her time. It's when Carver begins to angle himself trying to remember where he was that she narrows her eyes in thought. Where… had Cesar been standing…

She remembers, suddenly, and glances sidelong at Dirk as she steps up closer to him— to Cooper, remembering she'd been closer to the center of the action than she'd thought at the time. "'scuse me," she intones in a quiet mutter.

"I'm willing to give Doc's idea a shot first," she announces, looking to the others.

Cesar winces more out of a secondhand embarrassment off of Dirk's pun and complaints than the whole awkwardness of the situation. "Maybe after all this is done, we'll just have a good laugh about it over cheese," he tells Dale, shrugging noncommittally to the promise unlike the one earlier about froyo.

Shaking his blonde-haired head, Cesar steps around searchingly as others begin to maneuver themselves to an approximated position. "Messer, you were around here?" He recalls something similar as Kara moves his body. Cesar turns his gaze to Beatrice the goat, then Hank the exuberant puppy, as if to triangulate a position. He settles near Kara, again taking a side post to her. They had been trying to catch the puppy before the tent toppling. "Anybody else getting butterflies? Maybe it's just the worry that this isn't—" He stops himself before he completes the anxious statement.

“It mutual,” August murmurs under his breath in Kara’s voice, at the same moment as Carver does in Dirk’s, but he doesn’t notice, as he turns around, trying to remember exactly where Kara had been standing.

Toussaint helpfully holds out his tablet – on it, there’s a map that has been made from their recollections, a small thumbnail of each of their faces placed where the original body owners had been standing at the time. August glances at it, nods, and moves a few feet over.

As everyone steps into the right position, it seems the dog doesn’t need to come barreling down the sidewalk to set things in motion. The feeling of being tugged grows stronger; the dysmorphia is overwhelming. For Carver, August, and Cesar, their skeletons begin to feel far too small, suffocatingly so, claustrophobia welling up in them as their bones seem to crush them. For Kara, Dirk, Liza, and Cooper, their skins feel far too loose, eerily so, like they might just shed them altogether and be nothing but organs beneath.

It’s not a pleasant feeling.

The woman begins to cry, a childlike boo-hoo-hoo that sounds strange in an adult voice. The larger child, occupied by the toddler, joins in, and the toddler clings to both of their hands, murmuring reassurances.

“Fuck,” August murmurs, his voice shifting midword from Kara’s to something deeper, more gravelly, and he finds himself blinking from the position Carver had been standing in. A glance down at his hands shows them to be more wrinkled than his own, still strong but aged.

“Fuck!” he says more sharply.

“I think I’m going to be sick,” Cooper groans after that sensation. A hand pressed to his stomach, he doubles over but doesn't throw up. Managing to hold on to his dignity. Just barely. A small hand comes up in a stop motion, “But no one mention cheese, cause I might hurl.”

The fact that he is suddenly closer to the ground occurs to Cooper. “What the…” he doesn't complete that thought as he looks up, a hand to his throat. “Is that my voice?” And then he notices. “You all got bigger.”

He looks down at his small body and gives a startled, high pitched shout. Cooper-in-Callum looks panicked, hands to the sides of his head. “Oh no! Not this again! Am I in a dream?” He looks to the adult closest to him. “Am I dreaming? Last time I looked like a kid I was dreaming about arcades and beautiful angel chicks.”

Cooper holds up an arm, “Pinch me before something tries to kill me!”

Cooper, or the man that was in Cooper, does get sick. Just before the transfer. All that lovely cheese he’d just eaten gets wasted as it’s tossed like a scrap bucket to the pigs. At least he’s near the goat, he’s pretty sure they’ll eat anything and his faux pas won’t even be noticed… until Cooper gets back there, or.. whomever?

Suddenly finding himself next to the boy screaming for someone to pinch him, Dirk reaches out and “…Okay,” does just that. It was like a compulsion, and after the week he’s had… he just won’t stop himself. Whoever it was on the receiving end, got it good and the satisfied smirk of a three year old pointed up at him.

The hands are small, but they’re not old and withered, nor are they womanly. Not that Dirk minds being a woman, he’s at least had that experience, it’s just also been his experience that they get all possessive of their bits and pieces. Like you’re not supposed to shower or something.

With terrible impatience, Kara stares off into the middle distance. She stands between the two squabbling children, now playing the role of mother, with all the impatience of one. With a look down at them both and far less composure than she had previously, she snaps, both hands held up by her sides, "We're awake!" with a look between them both to get themselves together. She's good at glaring, no matter the body, it'd seem.

"Did anybody end up where you were supposed to? Or do we try this again from a different angle?"

She has far less patience for this body than the other one she was inhabiting, it'd seem.

Carver's lips curl back into a snarl as the dysphoria grows nauseating, crushing, suffocating… and then he's somewhere else. Again. But still not the right place — all it takes is one look down to confirm that. "Fuck!" he growls, in time with someone else saying the same thing with his own voice. Seeing his own body, again being piloted by somebody else, makes this even worse; his fingers curl halfway towards fists before he manages to force them to uncurl again.

"No," Liza Messer's voice growls in response to the mother's question, with a sourness completely alien to her usual nature, a sneer of frustration on Liza's lips. Carver takes a breath, his gaze raking over the assembled. "Who's where? Sound off!" Messer's voice snaps, sounding for all the world like a drill sergeant. "Carver, Harrison!"

Cesar's grimacing makes Liza Messer's face somehow look ugly. The sensation of nauseating claustrophobia is most certainly, distinctly unpleasant. He squints his eyes to near closed, for all the world looking a little green in the same shade Cooper might be sharing in that moment. When he absolutely can't seem to bear it anymore, he does close his eyes. A silent prayer. Something doesn't quite snap in all the weird, physiological and psychological bending. But when he opens his eyes and finds, one, that his viewpoint is much more suited to what he's used to, he almost sighs out in relief.

Almost, but not quite.

Cesar looks down at himself in August's clothing and skintone, realizing belatedly after cries of dismay and questions and swears rise up that he too isn't where he's supposed to be. "Okay… Alright. Nobody panic. Where're the boys?" he says at a slightly raised volume, the better to hide the surprise at hearing Carver's harsh mannerism come from Liza's direction and voice. He turns towards his body, staring a bit intensely at himself. "Tatum? Callum?" he tests the names, seeking to draw attention and reaction.

The internal pull each of them feels cuts more sharply, making itself even harder to ignore. The feelings of wrongness also intensify; even for those who find themselves in a body closer to their own shape and size, the disquieting sense of being in the wrong skin, the wrong skeleton is harder and harder to ignore.

“Everyone keep calm,” Toussaint says, flicking through something on his tablet screen, then considering the area thoughtfully.

His words likely fall on deaf ears, because as soon as the group adjusts to the new forms – or don’t adjust, as the case may be – anyone about to answer the questions posed by Kara or Cesar finds themselves looking once again at the world from a different perspective. Once again, they’ve swapped.

Once again, it’s wrong.

For August, the change feels almost like falling, as his sightline drops by a few inches. He finds himself looking out of Liza’s eyes, and they narrow to look around, trying to figure out just who is where anymore.

“Maybe if we follow that pulling feeling? Is anyone else getting that?” he says aloud in Liza’s voice.

The whiplash that Cooper feels when he flips bodies is dizzying, since now he finds himself at a much higher height. “Oh! Whoa!” The sudden mental motion throws him a little off balance, his knees buckling, forcing him to grab at the edge of one of the tables. He gives a shake of his head and almost gets thrown off balance again as the world still feels a bit spinny. “Holy Tilt-a-whirl, Batman.”

It isn’t until he reaches up to clutch at his head that he realizes he’s still not in the right body. For one, the color of his hand was off. His skin tone was normally worthy of the beacons of Gondor, not that of a Cuban God. “Hey, Cesar!” Thomas calls out to the man’s own voice, which is a bit shaky with nausea. “Got your killer abs, dude.”

One moment Dirk’s ready to pinch again and the next he’s watching the 3 year old that he once was with hand out, action ready. Looking down, he knows whose body he’s in and he emits a squeak, “Okay, still not the right one…” At least he’s an adult again but he does not want to stay in this body, the geriatric olympiad would be preferable. At least he doesn’t have young children… or a dog. He hopes.

“You mean follow as in.. Walk toward it?” His voice sounds tired, like only a mother of toddlers could be. Looking toward Toussaint, Dirk presses his current set of lips together in an unhappy mom frown. “Do you think that would help?”

Carver grits someone else's teeth; seems like this time he's in August. "Changed again," he growls, this time in August's voice. "Carver here," he states. "Feels like we're getting dragged anyway. I'm willing to give it a shot. If you end up in the right body, maybe just… try to open up some distance in case whatever this is wants to keep going," he says. He glances to the cheesemonger. "I'll make arrangements later for that sampler," he adds, giving a brief nod of belated thanks.

Kara wipes her mouth with the back of her hand, nose filled with Dirk's bad decisions and aftermaths made in Cooper's body. She takes a moment to look down, her awareness of the foreign leg hitting her with extra dysmorphia. Okay. Progress. They weren't stuck in forms for days at a time, at least.

"I thought I'd been doing that," she voices in Cooper's tones, sounding more confused than perplexed. "Just going with the flow."

Both hands held up, she encourages, "If everybody would just relax, maybe that'd help." And after that, she makes a point to close her eyes and take in a deep breath.

It tastes terrible.

Cesar's barely got a bead on his own body when the next swap snaps him away to another. The strange vertigo accompanying a total wrong-body experience has him completely thrown. In one of the bodies of the children, Cesar looks a little more pale, a little nauseated. His nigh cherubic face turns as he hears his name called, his own voice. "Don't you even, Cooper," he shoots back in quick mental elimination of possible swapees.

Cesar sways like a drunken sailor as he walks, stumbling along on too-short legs and the feeling of being too close to the ground. For those who might understand him muttering, he swears like a drunken sailor as well, the foulest of words to have ever spilled from the five year old's mouth stream steadily.

"Anything to help, Agent Toussaint? Bright?" Cesar squeaks desperately in a break of stride. He hunches, little hands on his thighs, bending over and breathing as slowly as he can in determination to not get sick. "Yeah… definitely not going for froyo after this," he says with much regret.

Liza hasn't spoken up much in the middle of this, mostly because it's all incredibly disorienting. When she feels herself suddenly much shorter than before, the toddler shakes her head. "No, this is too short." It comes out sounding like a temper tantrum before she regains some semblance of senses. "Messer way down here, please figure this out quickly, as I am pretty sure this kid does not have the constitution to hold in being sick and dizzy." Froyo is now a far distant thought. Even Liza's chipper attitude has been tarnished by the chaos.

“This is new to us too,” Toussaint’s low voice says, as he tries to track the changes, looking down at his tablet, and the area, clearly at a loss of what to do – or why the SLC-Es are seemingly safe from the chaos. Bright has nothing useful to add – unless what he’s currently heaving into the gutter nearby counts as useful.

The pull intensifies; whether or not they follow it deliberately by moving in the direction of its magnetic draw, they all end up doing so one way or another. Those who follow it find themselves moving toward where their original selves had stood that day, rather than the bodies they had inhabited. The others find themselves snapped there as if by some invisible force, teleported into the spot they had stood before everything had gone wrong.

What feels like a static shock throughout their entire body is a harbinger for instant relief from the utter wrongness they’ve felt for the last several minutes – and the more mild version of it they’ve felt all week.

august_icon.gif carver_icon.gif cesar_icon.gif cooper6_icon.gif dirk_icon.gif bf_kara_icon.gifliza_icon.gif

Kara gasps as the sensation of slipping into her own skin comes as a zap throughout her, one that sends her hair on end for the crackle she feels going up and down her being. She holds her hands up and out from her sides, turning them over and back again to look at them. Her relief isn't even spared so much a laugh of wonder as everything all worked out in the end– she's immediately stepping back from the site of the invisible anomaly that's caused this for all of them in the first place.

"Let's clear the area, those of us who are where we should be," she calls out, looking over the others for signs of confusion and frustration– or its happy opposite in relief. "Who else is left now?"

Carver lets out a sharp breath, grimacing; he knows the body he's in is his as soon as he's back into it again. He doesn't linger, instead taking a few big steps away from the epicenter of the… whatever this was. He nods to Kara, but for the agents' benefit — the one that isn't emptying his stomach, anyway — he calls out anyway. "Carver. Back where I should be." His body feels the same as ever; Messer did a good job keeping it up.

“What?!? I’d nev—” That is all that Cooper manages before he feels the oncoming tide of change. This time he doesn’t have the energy to fight what is coming and really he doesn’t want to fight it. He just wants his body. He feels the tug and just lets go…

….and instantly regrets it. As soon as Cooper lands, there is a foul, disgusting taste in his mouth and it makes him nauseous almost immediately. “Oh gawd…. What?!? Hurk.” He slaps a hand over his mouth as his body tries to react, his whole body flinching as stomach muscles twitch. “Oh… boy… Ooooh… man. Maybe we should continue this another time? I don’t think I can take it anymore.” It’s clear he hasn’t realized just yet.

But Thomas does very shortly when he realizes he feels a familiar dull ache that came from the explosion in both his legs and the pull of scar tissue in other places. A knock of his knuckle against his cybernetic leg confirms it and he lets out a whoop of joy.

August’s eyes close with the relief that comes from the feeling of his own long limbs and lofty perspective, then opens them to examine his hands, then drags both of them down his face, feeling the familiar topography of his own features.

“Yeah, let’s get the fuck out of here before it gets any other ideas,” he mutters, looking around to see if everyone’s landed back where they should.

It’s clear the two boys and their mother are back where they belong, as Maria sinks down to catch both of them in her arms. Hank yips excitedly, his tail wagging before he turns to chase it and runs his leash around the three of them.

Bright, wiping his mouth with his plaid pocket square, looks around, squinting, and he shakes his head. “I think it’s closed,” he tells Toussaint. “We’ll have to keep it closed off for some more tests through the weekend, just, you know, in case, but…”

Toussaint nods, and lifts a hand to gesture to those gathered. “Is anyone not in the right body? Otherwise, let’s return to the bus, or if you live close enough and don’t need anything at the Stoop, you can head home from here, if you prefer.”

August doesn’t have to be told twice – he will take advantage of the free ride back to Red Hook, as it’s closer to where he ultimately wants to go. His hands find his pockets as he begins to move toward the bus at the end of the street.

For the longest while, Dirk just doesn’t say or do anything, perhaps it’s merely to keep whatever depression era swill the old man has been feeding him down. He does eye the bus through narrowed eyes and just turns on his heel to walk away. Unlike August, he will not be spending any extra time with the Big Brother crew, even if it is just for convenience sake.

“I’m not sure what the it you’re referring to is, but yes, I’m going to skeedaddle before the Old Man gets any other ideas of what to put my body through.” Carver can be sure that his time in Dirk’s body will be the last time it sees early morning calisthenics, or even early morning. Decent, city dwelling people don’t get up before 7am.

“Adios!” He calls, back already turned to the rest of the group. “I hope to never see most of you again!”

Cesar is slow to react if only for fear of any sudden action might cause yet another switch. He stands still as a statue, hesitant to echo Cooper's whooping, although his heart silently soars with joyful relief. He only dares to speak once the other OEI agents deem things at the moment, stable. "Think that's enough of riding the consciousness carousel for awhile," Cesar says, slowly clenching and unclenching his hands, looking down at the rest of himself. He glances back to Kara, nodding to the woman in belated appreciation. "Hey, Clara? Thanks for taking care of me." It's accompanied with a reach into his pocket and extracting any personal belongings that actually are Kara's items. As Dirk starts to walk off instead of joining the others at the bus, Cesar calls after the other man. "Dirk, wait, at least check your pockets."

"Don't forget your cheese sampler," Carver calls after Dirk, his voice atypically mild — being back where he belongs is enough to smooth out even his rough edges, for awhile at least. With that said, he turns his gaze toward the bus — he has some business yet to finish before they wrap things up here. Some parting words for August… and a few words, too, for the Spookshow.

“Fucking mutual,” August mutters to Dirk’s parting back, but Cesar’s words to the departing man are heard and listened to – by August at least. The tall man pats himself down for anything that Cooper might need back. Kara will find herself free and clear, the only things on her body the garments she wears, all SESA-provided sweats, t-shirt, socks, with whatever shoes she’d worn the day they jumped bodies.

He doesn’t go as far as to thank Cooper for taking care of his body, but offers him a small smile, apologetic for the mini withdrawals the other man had to endure.

Maria gets back to her feet, and nods to Toussaint. “We live just a block away. We’re good,” she tells him. “Thank you for your hospitality,” she adds to the SESA agents, before the little family moves toward the bus, then turns the corner.

As the small family departs, taking Hank the exuberant pup with them, Cesar musters a wave to Maria and her sons. Once they're out of earshot, he turns to the OEI agenets with a roll of his shoulders. "Here's hoping the paperwork isn't too cumbersome," says Cesar wryly, his glance to Toussaint both understanding of the burden and grateful that he isn't the one who is going to shoulder it. "But hey, if we get a chance to see the report, I'm curious to know what the hell this was all about." He gestures to their surroundings, to the scene tape cordoning off the area. "In due time, that is. And I've got a few things at the Stoop to pick up, too, so, plus one to the ride back."

The reminder of the cheese sampler doesn’t go unnoted, either. Cesar, finding himself rather famished, isn’t going to turn down a free snack this time.

August gets a salute from Cooper but nothing is said to the other man. There is a part of him that feels that this isn’t the last time he’ll see the other man.

“I’m trying to decide if there is anything at the Stoop worth my time, since Dirk decided I needed a makeover,” Thomas adjusts the shirt he’s in and undoes a button and scratches fingers through his hair, which feels noticeably different. “I’ll probably ride along anyhow.” He tries not to think too hard about what’s been done, as he hears Beatrice bleat and turns towards Dale.

“Dale! My man,” Cooper offers jovially, motioning to the merchant, in an attempt to alleviate any nerves he has about what happened. “Thank you for the cheese sampler. I will be enjoying that after I thoroughly sanitize my mouth. I’ll be back later on in the week to see how you’re doing and bring Beatrice a carrot and some love.” He offers a wave to the man before taking his sampler bag and moving towards the bus.

When Cesar offers her her things back, Kara can't help but think they've come a long way from where they started, rummaging in each other's pockets for each other's things. "Thanks," she's sure to say as she reaches for them, then begins the tango of juggling her phone and wallet while returning August his own.

She catches Carver's angling to not leave just yet out of the corner of her eye and a small smile comes to her. She nods firmly in encouragement at him, then looks up over affairs to try and catch Bright's eye as he gets his bearings, to make sure he catches the tilt of her head that says Carver would like a word.

She knows. And a part of her is relieved for it.

"Unlike some of our surlier members of the party… hope to see you again sometime under better circumstances," Kara tells both August and Cesar.

Toussaint offers Cesar a weary smile. He has no answers for the man. The report is going to generate more questions than it answers, which is part of the problem with this job. But it could be worse: he could be Bright.

He looks over to his fellow agent who shakes his head. "I'm getting an Uber."

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