Cutting Through Red Tape


sw_dirk_icon.gif emily_icon.gifrasheed_icon.gif

Scene Title Cutting Through Red Tape
Synopsis While rocking a new bod, Dirk works the system.
Date March 4, 2019


Through many many floors of the same building.

Dirk has spent the better part of the early morning trying on outfits, modeling in front of a mirror, trying to apply makeup, failing, scrubbing his face clean, and then going to a salon. Fresh as a daisy, he walks into the SESA offices, keeping well away from most of the agents he knows and makes a beeline straight for one that he’s sure can help him in the way that he wants.

“Joanna King, you will have no idea what hit you,” the man, in a woman’s body, murmurs to himself as he tries to exude confidence in heels. There have been a few wobbles and ankle turns in the past hour but now he thinks he has this down. Even with a bit of a swagger. He’s dressed in black leggings, a dark blue wool overcoat layered over a thin grey hoodie, and sunglasses for disguise. On the off chance his new body’s owner is on the premises, she will never recognize him.

“Hi,” the pitch in his womanly voice is set to super friendly and he sits down at the chair on the other side of Rasheed’s desk. “I’m wondering if you can help me?” Sunglasses taken off, eyelashes batting, charm turned up to 110%.

Rasheed tilts his head, wearing an unbuttoned blazer over a black and white striped shirt, not known for keeping it totally professional with his attire. But that's because he's hip to the fact that you can't just find another time reversing agent with FBI training. "Agent Mustang." he introduces, offering his head. "What can I help you with?"

“I’m looking for someone that can help me get my paperwork finished?” Reaching into his (her) oversized purse, Dirk pulls out a fairly official looking folder. It’s thick with forms that look like they’ve been filled out to exacting standard, maybe in triplicate —who knows. Regardless, it’s a heavy thunk when the redhead plops it on the desk. At least an inch worth.

“I have the 31B, the 48A, the 17C, the abeedeebee and the heebeegeebee and all of that, like, the stuff that the lady at the window told me to fill out.” Heaving a sigh, she leans forward a little to flip through the dizzying amount of paperwork and relevant documentation. “Everything is here, I just need a stamp or something? Do you do stamps?”

Rasheed stares at the stack of paperwork, looks up at the woman, then back at the paperwork. "Sure, I could handle this." he decides, reaching into a drawer to pull out a stamp. "I'm not the biggest fan of paperwork, but I'll make an exception just to help you out."

Exactly what Dirk was counting on. He could never bring anything like this to Corbin, the man’s love for all things bureaucratic is almost legendary. Isis smiles her absolutely brightest smile. “Thanks!!” Her squeal and bounce would make Cooper double take, because that’s what he’s into. If Dirk knows anything, it’s the profiles of nearly every agent in the building.

“Okay, so I know I don’t have previous ID but the lady at the window said that it wouldn’t be a problem because practically everyone lost everything in the war. So… my name is right here, Tiffany Taylor, and I used to live in Brooklyn but I ran to, like, Maine when the war started.” Dirk rambles, a very well practiced ramble. Rehearsed every moment he was alone and sometimes even when he wasn’t. “I have all the paperwork… uhm…” Rifling past a bunch that he just lumps near the stamp, he pulls out three forms and lays them out. “…here… for a new social, but it needs another stamp.”

"Hey, listen, I got you." Rasheed starts stamping and filling things out where they need to be filled out. He doesn't like paperwork, but he knows how to get it over with as quickly as possible. "I didn't really fight in the war in a big way, I mostly tried to keep my family safe. But it was rough on everyone, and the transition is tough."

Dirk Isis’ eyes light up as he witnesses the stamp working double time through all of the files. As they’re finished, the redhead takes them and carefully places them back into the file, organizing them by department that they need to go to. “I just want to get it done,” he says, the soft and grateful sounding voice nothing like his normal snide. “I’ve lived in fear long enough, you know?” More papers, more signatures, more stamps, each one placed back immediately after they receive Rasheed’s approval.

“How long do you think it’ll be before I can actually get through the lottery for a real apartment? I mean, there’s Settler’s Park but it’s not really that safe and I don’t even know if I’m allowed to carry protection.” He pauses a moment before he turns wide and innocent eyes in Rasheed’s direction. “Can I carry one of those little electric thingies that zap people?”

"It's hard to say, there's a lot of people out there. You just have to hang in there. I'm sure we can try to set you up with something temporary." Rasheed continues with his writing and stamping, smiling at the woman's eagerness. "I'll talk to a few people and see what I can do about getting you some protection."

“Oh, I don’t want to be a bother…” Dirk says, tightening one hand around the strap of his purse. “I mean, if I can carry protection with me. I used to take care of myself pretty good in the war.” He did, in a way, he sold himself out to the side that was winning wherever he was. Unfortunately it was usually backwards anti-evos without a clue.

As the tall pile shrinks in size, the redhead seems ever more grateful to the man hurrying through. “My name is Tiffany, by the way,” he says, knowing that if that piece of paper ever crossed Cooper’s desk the roar of laughter would be enough to alert the whole floor. “Tiffany Taylor. How much family do you have here, anyway?”

"Most of my family lives in Pennsylvania, I don't have much in New York. But I wanted to be in the FBI since I was a kid, you know? There's a lot of agents who don't have as much hard law enforcement experience as I do, but a lot of them proved themselves in the war, picked up a lot of skills." The experience probably shows in how efficient Rasheed is with the paperwork, despite his stated dislike of it. "Agent Mustang. You can call me Rasheed."

“Lucky lucky me that you chose SESA instead of the FBI,” Dirk smiles, batting his eyelashes and winding the string of his shirt around the left index finger. His face freezes into the smile as he mentally chastises himself for that choice. Damnit, it should have been the hair… not the freaking sting. DIRK YOU KNOW BETTER!!! “Ooo look, you’re almost done all of the signing and the stamping!!” the squeal of delight, he’s //sure is right on. He’s doing his best impression of Cooper’s ex. Daisy.

Before Rasheed has the chance to go over any of the documents a second time, Dirk scoops them up and blows the man a kiss. “You have my cell number, call me and we’ll grab a coffee.. No no… a drink!” He nearly twists his ankle as he spins out of the chair, stuffing the last of the papers into their respective folders and delivering a little finger wave before he’s off to find his next victim… a wicket pleb.

3 Hours Later

There's only one thing worse than being someone stuck in a bureaucratic nightmare chain, either as a cog in the machine or an (un)willing participant — being an observer of it.

Emily's up to her eyeballs in observing, to the point she's not sure she'll stay awake much longer.

She's sat with some departments whereas she's only been introduced to some others, and this one is mundane enough she was assigned several hours of observation. It's to the point she wishes she hadn't been. The older woman she was sitting with, Agnes, turns to her with a kindly smile. Emily notes how the curls in her hair have not shifted once in the entire time she's been sitting next to the woman — it's like they're cemented in place. "I'm going to excuse myself for just a moment—" Agnes apologizes. "Will you be fine here on your own for minute?"

Brow popping up before she speaks, doing everything she can to give the impression she's still engaged in the mind-numbing paper-shifting processes she's already memorized, Emily nods amicably. "Of course," she insists politely. "I'll be fine."

When Agnes stands with her empty mug and leaves Emily by herself behind the ticketing window, she closes her eyes, leaning back in her office chair with a slowly exhaled sigh. She prays with all her might this isn't where she gets shuttled away to once she starts her internship. Simple clerical work like this might kill her with boredom. She glances up to the window she can see out of the corner of her eye, phone sliding from the pocket of her skirt. The screen winks on, and the teen immediately seeks out the nearest mind-numbing, dopamine-inducing application her thumbs can fly to.

It's only when it's too late does she realize Agnes forgot to put up the 'Next Window, Please' sign on the desk.

Even though Dirk knows exactly what Daisy would do, he’s trying to keep the most annoying qualities to a minimum. He’s on a mission and gum snapping in a room full of sneezing and coughing people just isn’t his style. His buns ache from the hard chairs, he’s pretty sure he’s lost about ten to twenty IQ points, and the lady sitting next to him is the worst sudoku player in the history of the game. “That one should be a six, not a five,” Isis’ sweet voice drips like honey as Dirk supplies the answer to yet another square. At this point he’s fairly cer—


“Now serving, number 178.”

It takes him three looks on his ticket, unable to believe that it’s finally his turn. Gathering his belongings, he carefully pulls the numerous files from his shoulder bag and makes his way to the wicket. “Hi! Tiffany Taylor,” he smiles his best smile to the stranger behind the window. Emily is someone he’s completely unfamiliar with but he instantly spies the ‘Intern’ stamp on her ID badge — which makes his day.


Sweeping his eyes over Emily, he makes a few quick judgement calls. Assigned to Agnes, which means little to no conversation about anything that doesn’t involve crochet or pillows stuffed with cat fur. Pretty, young, and blonde, which means she’s probably got a healthy social life that isn’t being stimulated by the presence of an old woman that smells like a combination of polyester and outdated floral perfume. And she looks extremely bored. Perfect.

“I was just upstairs and had these…” the one inch thick pile of files and papers is plunked on the counter between them “… signed off by Agent Mustang. He told me that if you file… uhhh….” He begins flipping and reflipping through the papers, pretending not to know which is which until he finally pulls out the one he wants. “He said I need to file this one to get my registration card.”

Hearing someone greet the general direction Emily is sitting in doesn't immediately pull her gaze up, eyes fixated on the swiping, line-busting game on her phone's screen. The woman doesn't leave, though, and slowly Emily does lift her head to take one look at 'Tiffany Taylor', biting back what her usual commentary would be upon hearing a name like that.

Instead, she remembers one of the things Agnes had perkily droned about throughout the course of the day. Being vigilant for fraudulent applications. 'Now, it's sometimes hard with the state of records and things these days, but just trust your gut and usually…'

Emily slowly looks down the line of other tellers, knowing that she herself is not the listed Agnes-of-the-nameplate, nor is specifically trained to be doling out stamps on anything.

She's picked up more than a training class could cover in the few hours she's been sitting here, though.

"Do you have a piece of mail addressed to that name, or a form of ID you can produce as documentation so they can get that filed, then?" she asks slowly at first, pace reaching more conversational as she sits up. She leans forward on the desk, arms folding while she peers up at 'Tiffany Taylor'. Her look is polite, but her gaze is downright judgmental.

"I don't have an address," Dirk replies, smile waning just a little. It's obvious that he's trying to keep the courage up at this point. "I was…" Drawing his eyebrows together, he pulls the story he's heard far too many times from the down and out. The kind that 'Joanna King' or 'Isis' could possibly even be victim to. "..I lost everything in the war and I've been living off grid in Maine." This is the truth.

Clearing his throat, he lifts his chin a little to maintain the bit of dignity that Tiffany Taylor would have. She's a fighter, goddamnit. He pulls out more forms from the pile, the ones that were meant to be filed on another floor at a different wicket. He pushes them toward the young blonde with stiff fingers and arches a single brow in question. "I'm hoping to get a place in Settler's, for now I’m staying on couches."

"So you need registered," Emily ventures aloud, dubious but also accepting. It's less common, with the war having been over for several years, but 'Tiffany' wasn't the first person she'd seen today with the same sort of issue. "Okay, well, I can only handle the temp registration card here. You'll need to go—" Where, Emily? "wherever they told you to go for filing the Settler's request."

For all she knew, the woman could end up right back here, but she sounds so confident that 'Tiffany' needs to take that portion of her paperwork elsewhere, how could she be wrong?

Emily glances sidelong again at the other tellers, all into what they're currently doing and not noticing the lack of Agnes. She leans forward to pull the registration form to herself, looking over the filing for any simple errors needing correction. There aren't — Dirk could fill these out in his sleep, probably. "Here," she says hastily, the paperwork already in hand. "Let me see what I can do."

Where had she seen that particular stamp… The blue 'waived' one. Her eyes are searching the well-organized desk shelving as quick as she can.

Top left desk drawer. Dirk wants to say but he keeps his mouth shut and simply gives the intern his best wide and innocent eyes, there’s no way ‘Tiffany’ would know. ‘Tiffany’ would be as vacant as the Raytech lot on Saturday night. “Temporary card, yes, that’s what Agent Mustang said… and then to floor three to file the… uhhh… 17C?” She sounds uncertain and her wide doe eyes are staring at Emily like a rabbit in headlights, the same stare Dirk received when he handed Robyn her pink slip so many years ago.

The papers that the young woman isn’t responsible for are gathered up and put back into their respective folders. All neat, all orderly, nice and tidy. “I think it's floor three, there's so many lines and windows and people to see.” Taking a deep breath, Dirk let's it out — all shaky — and mentally prepares for just one more meeting, as long as this one goes smoothly.

As long as Agnes doesn't flip her 'do. Dirk is pretty sure she won't. It's work and she's on a break for a reason.

"Mustang. Huh." Emily vocalizes absently, trying to pretend to be engaged, searching with her eyes rather than opening the drawers. When she opens one finally, it's the right one, and she tries not to look awkward as she manipulates the stamp, quickly printing a ghost-light 'waived' stamp over the identification column. "Yeah, you'll need to take it there."

Don't come back yet. she pleads silently to the powers that be as she replaces the stamp, as close to the exact angle she remembers. Agnes seems like too organized a person to not notice something out of place like that. The woman didn't have so much as a hair out of place, after all.

Brow furrowing, Emily suddenly reaches for the 'Next Window' sign and slaps it up on the top of the desk to deter anyone else coming by after 'Tiffany', then looks back down at the paperwork.

From there, the highlighting and stamping that remains is easy. She lifts away the top, formal layer of the papers and rips the form away gently, sliding it in Agnes's competed stack while returning the yellow-shaded receipt to the woman across the desk. It receives a second red stamp of approval before it's lifted up for 'Tiffany' to take.

"Okay, so they'll get the formal card filed and it'll go to the address you listed on your paperwork in a few weeks' time — up to a month from now — and you'll take this here down to the end of the row where they have the camera set up." Emily is back to sounding like she knows what she's doing, even if it's the first time she's said the words out loud herself. She's not winging it, after all, she's seen Agnes do this a ton of times today — so her confidence comes easy. She gestures with a wave of her hand down the direction processing is. "They'll take your photo and get you a temp card before you leave."

"Good luck," she adds, something in her voice changing. Is that sincerity that's suddenly bleeding from her? "Hope you get everything sorted and are able to get that new start."

“Thank you for all of your help,” in response to the sincerity from Emily, she receives it in kind. For Dirk, it’s almost as unusual as it is for the young intern behind the wicket. She receives a smile of appreciation while the administrative assistant makes mental note of the name and face, filing it away in his memory for the future. Then he turns in the direction that she pointed and makes his way… in the wrong direction. He doesn’t catch the mistake, as oblivious as ‘Tiffany’ would be and it isn’t until he’s two hours into another long line does he silently curse at himself for not catching it. Emily receives no ill regard for her part in the misinformation. She’s only human, after all, and she did manage to get him what he wanted — Help with this dumpster fire of a body he’s currently living in.

It’s nearly closing time, the entire day spent in his workplace (without pay) but when Dirk finally emerges from the building, it’s with a temporary card and more pamphlets about daily living than he could ever want or need. ‘Joanna/Isis’ whatever this woman’s name will, though, and he feels a little warmer in the chest for helping out.

It’s not a feeling that he’s used to, so making sure it’s not a heart attack or something similar… he cops a feel.

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