Do I Dare Disturb The Universe


august_icon.gif carver_icon.gif

Scene Title Do I Dare Disturb the Universe?
Synopsis August and Carver say their goodbyes at the Stoop, circling closer to the elephant in the room but not calling it by its name.
Date July 10, 2021

Red Hook

The Stoop

When the bus pulls up at The Stoop, August rises immediately, eager to get his few belongings and then the hell out of the Safe Zone – though he’ll have to head over to Yamagato Park first in order to retrieve his dog before making the trek across the water to Staten Island.

He murmurs a quiet “thanks” to the driver of the bus before bending his head and turning sideways to exit the door that’s too narrow and low for his tall height and broad shoulders. The “prison,” as he and Carver dubbed it, looks quaint from this angle; the brownstone has a lot of curb appeal, and the entire building is quite charming, so long as one doesn’t have to stay there in the wrong body, August supposes.

Carver offers a nod to the driver as he disembarks, likewise ducking and squeezing through the door… and likewise regarding the building with a critical eye for a moment. "Wouldn't have been a bad place to stay for awhile, other than the circumstances," he opines.

The younger man turns, gray eyes taking in the older man in his proper form. The disconnect between Carver’s words and mannerisms is no longer there. But also, there’s something searching in August’s gaze now that he can look at Carver himself, like he seeks something in the features of the lines of the man’s face that he couldn’t look for in Dirk’s.

“Better than my place, for sure. Solar panels help but DIY plumbing is not where I like to spend my attention,” he says a little wryly. “Starting to think maybe I should move over here into civilization, but then…”

August glances over his shoulder at the bus and the agents, to indicate in that sweeping glance everything they’ve been through. “Shit like this happens.”

Carver grunts noncommittally. "Upsides and downsides. Everything's packed closer, good and bad alike. Easier to throw a rock and find a plumber; easier for some jackass to throw a rock and hit you, too," he says, looking sidelong at August for a moment. He shakes his head. "I'd rather have a nice big yard and deal with DIY plumbing."

Now he turns and looks at August, studying him with a gaze not-dissimilar from the one August had regarded him with. "You said you lived out in Staten?"

There’s a low chuckle from August at the rock joke, and when he’s asked if he’s out on Staten, his head turns in the direction of the water, as if he could see his home from where they stand. Looking back at Carver, his hands find their way into his pockets.

“Yeah. I have a place there, used to be a doctor’s office but it’s in an old house. It doesn’t have a yard, so much, but I was never one for yard work anyway,” he says lightly. “You’re out in Providence, you said? I wasn’t sure there were still people that way after the fires. They’re lucky to have someone like you – so many people outside of the bigger safe zones don’t have good access to medicine.”

He glances over his shoulder, then back to Carver. “I, uh, do some chemistry work. If you need something for prescriptions. I don’t know if you’re still licensed or…?” His brows lift. “If you need something made that isn’t using anything too specialized, I can help you out, if you need it.”

Carver nods, his eyes going distant for a moment. "Providence, yeah. It got dicey for awhile, but we were able to save the place." At a cost, of course — there's always a cost, but for it the people of Providence — including the Whitesbog survivors — had been able to keep their lives, their livelihoods, their homes. He nods again. "Forests burned… but they'll come back. Should still be enough of a growing season before winter."

The offer of chemistry prompts a slight frown, Carver's eyes narrowing as he considers August… then, a slow nod. "I might take you up on that. We had a chemist on site, but she's… been having some health problems of late. Our clinic out there is pretty good; I'm confident it can punch pretty far above its weight class in terms of providing treatment, but that's a lot easier when I've got what I need to do it."

Something about that narrowed-eyed gaze makes August’s own gaze drop, and he examines the palms of his hands, the grooves where his fingers curl loosely, before he looks back up. One corner of his mouth tips up on the side, a little sheepish, and he lifts his shoulder.

“If you can get it the legal route, obviously that’s better for you and your patients. I don’t need the business, as such, but the reason I do what I do out where I do it is to help people who aren’t able to go the legal route.” The words fall neatly in place, carefully, but there’s something a little defensive not quite hidden as well as August would like.

He tips his head toward the door. “My wallet and phone and shit’s all in my room, but I have some cards on me, if you want one. If not, no hard feelings, Doc. I’ll be down in a few.” He moves for the stairs, brows furrowing a little as he goes.

"Right," Carver says, nodding once. August's implication that his chemistry business wasn't exactly on the up-and-up is noted… but Carver hadn't missed that reflexive-seeming defensiveness on August's part, either. Pressing doesn't seem wise, under the circumstances.

That's fine. This isn't the first time Carver's met someone with a skeleton or two in their closet, and when it comes down to it, medicine is medicine, as far as someone in need is concerned. In the meantime, he could head in and grab his own things… but no. Fifteen minutes isn't going to kill him; he'll wait, and head back in to grab his bag after his business with August is concluded.

It doesn’t take long – he doesn’t have much that belongs to him here, but August also tidies a few things in the loaner apartment while he’s up there. It’s just under ten minutes when he comes back out the door, dressed again in the clothes he’d worn on Monday. In one hand, he holds his phone, and the other one of the business cards he’d promised Carver.

As he approaches the older man again, he holds the card out – there’s not much on it – a name, a number on plain white cardstock. “I don’t know if you get much in the way of reception out there, but I guess you must come up this way for supplies now and then or something?” The statement is more of an inquiry, the way it lilts up at the end. “Anyway, text me at that number if you need something and how much. Depending on what it is I can do it pro bono or at cost.”

August’s mouth tips into a weary half smile. “You probably don’t want to know how I subsidize that.”

When August returns, Carver is leaning against the front of the building, watching the street; as August approaches, though, Carver's eyes move back to him. He accepts the card, studying it briefly before lowering his hand. "Once in awhile," Carver rasps. "We've got most of the basics covered, but some things you can only get in the city." For a moment, there's a hint of a smile on Carver's face. "Like Guinness."

The mention of texting sees a brief flicker of a grimace, but it's quickly suppressed; a cell phone probably isn't that expensive, even if he won't get much use out of it in Providence. "Probably not," he agrees tersely with August's assertion about not wanting to know how he planned to subsidize it.

"But it's appreciated regardless. If you ever happen to be out Providence way… maybe swing by," he says. "I try to keep Guinness onhand, and the fishing's pretty good. You fish?"

The grimace doesn’t go unnoticed, and August doesn’t quite suppress his smile; a man Carver’s age who lives in Providence wasn’t likely to have a cell phone, he figures. “You can call it, too, if you are in town,” he says. “I probably won’t answer, but you can give me a number and I’ll get back to you.”

The talk of Guinness and fishing draws up his eyebrows – that certainly wasn’t what he was expecting to come out of the older man’s mouth. He can’t help but chuckle this time and he shakes his head.

“Not even a little bit,” he says amiably. “I grew up here in the city. Wouldn’t eat anything that came out of these waters, even before all the radiation.”

It seems like he might leave it at that, but he glances down again, thumb pad of his right hand dragging across the calluses of his right palm before he looks up. “I’m not averse to learning, I guess.” There’s more lingering there yet, but he doesn’t voice it, whatever it is.

Carver nods. "Good skill to have. Fishing, I mean," Carver rasps thoughtfully. "I wouldn't eat anything that'd come out of the river here in town, either — I heard the whole damn river caught on fire awhile back — but out in Providence it's a different game. Nothing quite like eating something and knowing you're the one that caught it." He nods. "You ever get some time and happen to swing out that way, I'd not be averse to teaching," he says, weathered lips curving into a small smile.

August nods, quiet for a moment, before looking up again at Carver’s offer to teach him. There is a lot going unsaid.

It’s not Yeats but Eliot’s words that come to his mind: Do I dare disturb the universe?

But August has never pretended to be courageous. He nudges aside that tickle, for the time being. In those few seconds, he studies Carver’s face, maybe for a hint of something familiar.

“I don’t know that I’d ‘happen’ out that way by accident,” he says with a chuckle. “But if you needed some supplies, I could bring them your way, maybe. Brotherhood of the medics and all.”

His brows lift, and he heads to a safer question, away from that universe-disturbing one he’s avoided. “What do you see most out there? I’ve got a lot of knife lacerations and gunshot wounds, myself.” Life on the lawless side of Staten.

Carver nods, pleased; August's question prompts a frown as he thinks it over. "Aside from smoke inhalation and the like from the wildfire… sprains. A break once in awhile if someone's been unlucky with a fall. Colds, ear infections. Stuff more severe than that is rare." The typhus outbreak doesn't count; it was decidedly not local.

"It's a good place." So long as another group like the assholes that razed Whitesbog don't pop up, anyway.

The younger of the two chuckles. “That sounds a bit calmer. Aside from the fire, of course. I once got kidnapped by some people in need of a medic. Told them all they had to do was ask, but not everyone out on Staten is used to asking nicely,” he says a bit wryly. “Or with people trusting them enough to help them if they do.”

One hand reaches up to idly scratch the back of his neck, and August glances to the street, then back to Carver. “I know the general area,” he says, “but from what I hear about the place, I can’t just go rolling up to the front steps of town hall on my own without maybe someone vouching for me. Do I just say I’m there for you and they’ll point me to you?”

His chuckle is low, a little self conscious. “Well, that’s if I can even find the place in the middle of the woods. I’m pretty sure they’ve made literal horror movies about the place, and that was before it became the capital city of renegades and outlaws.” His tone is playful – Carver, for all his growling at ‘the French fry,’ seems like a very civilized human being, after all.

Carver's gaze sharpens for a moment when kidnapping is mentioned; he nods slowly, but doesn't offer anything on that subject; Whitesbog is still a sore spot for him.

August's joke about Providence just sees Carver nod matter-of-factly. "Renegadges, outlaws, and the Amish," Carver adds. "Lotta Amish." He frowns for a moment, scrutinizing August, then nods again; that resemblance to one Byron Wolf might work in his favor. "I don't think you'd have any problems, though. Just let em know you've got a package for Carver. They should be able to point you in the right direction."

"Assuming you can find the place, anyway," Carver adds, something very like a smirk on his face; one would not ordinarily suggest playfulness of Carver, but that's certainly what that smirk seems like — something between playfulness and a light-hearted challenge.

The smirk draws a chuckle from the younger man. “Before the war, not a chance,” August admits. “I could get around the neighborhoods here easy enough, had the bus and subway routes by memory, but put me somewhere there’s no asphalt or signs and every tree looks exactly the same, and no chance in hell.”

He looks out to the street again, but his gaze is far longer than what’s in front of him – to somewhere – sometime several years in the past.

“Had to get around the countryside for a bit. Helped where I could.” August’s gaze drops. He couldn’t help as much as his skill would allow, but this goes unsaid. That is a conversation for another day. Or never.

With a low chuckle, he looks back up, his own smirk mirroring Carver’s, but looking an awful lot like Diane’s playful grin. “I’ll look for the creepy stick figures and then I’ll know I’m close.” Blair Witch was not filmed in the Barrens, but to a city boy, it may as well have been.

There's a story in that dropped gaze; it's a story; anyone who's fought knows something of, though the specifics aren't always the same. He doesn't press.

He does snort at the creepy stick figures bit, though. "They're the Amish, not the Innsmouth cult," he snorts… then he frowns, considering. "If you start seeing people dressed like it's the 1600s, though… maybe turn around."

There’s a smirk that suggests the younger man caught the Lovecraft reference, coupled with something of impressed surprise. Carver’s a man of many layers, it seems.

But then the warning draws August’s brows up, and he tips his head curiously.

“Now that sounds like an interesting story,” he says. But now isn’t the time – he has a dog to pick up and clients to see to – and his Staten Island’s customer base isn’t exactly known for understanding delays as it is. You don’t want to keep a criminal waiting for their fix, as a general rule.

“I’m going to hold you to telling me that one the next time we meet.” August’s hand comes out to shake the other man’s, looking Carver in the eyes. There’s understanding and recognition in his gaze. Some things don’t need to be spoken. At least not yet.

Carver rasps a dry chuckle; with only a moment's hesitation, he takes the offered hand and shakes. "Until then," he says, giving a single nod.

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