Doctor Gwen Stacy


bella_icon.gif magnes_icon.gif

Scene Title Doctor Gwen Stacy
Synopsis Magnes shows up for his first therapy session with Company psychiatrist, Dr. Isabella Sheridan.
Date July 6, 2009

Company Owned Studio Apartment

A studio apartment the Company has graciously provided for Bella and her clients.

One has to have some standards, and unfortunately the current central Company facility just isn't doing it for Dr. Sheridan. Her ostensible complaint involving the 'efficacy of psychiatric care in a non-conducive environment' works well enough to serve her more immediate ends: getting a place more fitting her education and stature. What's a clandestine organization good for, after all, if one doesn't get awesome perks? So she's in the very nice repurposed studio apartment that her benefactors have provided for the time being, complete with grandly armed leather chair and chez lounge. She perches at the edge of the chair, a copy of the American Journal of Psychiatry in hand, which she peruses, looking mostly bored. She occasionally glances up at the clock mounted on the wall, clearly waiting for the hands to swing into a more favorable position.

Dressed far different than normal, a white t-shirt, a dark grey suit jacket worn open with a pair of matching semi-casual pants, and some new expensive looking black sneakers. He's gotten a haircut too, and Magnes' face is, well, very defeated today as he enters the apartment, closing and locking the door. "Ma'am? Um, Doctor Sheridan?"

The transformation from slightly detached boredom to full engaged cheerfulness is instantaneous. Dr. Sheridan's eyes light right up. She gets to her feet, setting the journal aside and moving to the door, a hand extended to the young man. "That would be me. And you are Mr. Varlane, if I'm not mistaken." The look in her eyes suggests the question is rhetorical. She /knows/ she's not mistaken. I mean, who else would show up here at this precise time? Her outfit is professional, but casual, a grey skirt and a blue silk blouse, with matching blue earrings, her hair pulled up into a loose bun.

"Hey." Magnes says without his usual enthusiasm, or even his awkward stuttering, he just gives her a warm smile and gently shakes her hand. "Y'know, you'd look kinda like Gwen Stacy if you were blonde." he randomly points out, looking around for a place to sit.

Bella motions to the living section of the studio. Her grand ol' chair, the chez lounge (very Freudian chic), and another arm chair not /quite/ as authoritative as the doctor's. "Sitting up or reclining, your choice," she offers, then, after reclaiming her chair, tilts her head, "Gwen Stacy? Who's that? Someone famous I should know about?" One side of her mouth quirks in a smile, "Educate me."

Magnes lounges, because, well, he likes to lay down at any chance he can get these days. Training hurts! "Gwen Stacy, Peter Parker-that's Spider-Man, dated her. She was his second girlfriend. He's had a few girlfriends before Mary-Jane became the staple, but most people forget them, which is odd because Betty Brant was practically the Lois Lane of Spider-Man comics at the time. But uh," Catching himself on a tangent, he clears his throat and gets back on track. "Green Goblin figured out his secret identity, grabbed Gwen on his flying jet thing, then dropped her off the Brooklyn bridge. Spider-Man was still early in his career, he didn't really have the experience he does now, and when he caught her with his webbing, the force basically killed her. Gwen Stacy's mostly well known for dying, but it was a powerful story with many lessons. You should read Death of the Stacys."

The psychiatrist's brow arches, but her smile widens in time, and she seems some sort of tickled by what is, for her, the exhaustive explanation. Not a big comics gal, Bella. Rather than comment on the fame of mortality, she laces her fingers together and regards Magnes over them. "You enjoy comics, then?" she prompts, "Do you still have that particular interest?"

"I do, probably more than ever. I mean, I was in the -scene- of a comic, except it was a future predicting comic so I guess it doesn't totally count, but still, time traveling back to one of the most important issues of 9th Wonders." Magnes shakes his head, smiling at the thought. Happy thoughts right now are good! "But I've learned that being a superhero isn't all it's cracked up to be. I had my Superman vs. Doomsday in Tokyo, and well, now a whole country hates me."

This elicits another smile from Doctor Sheridan, who nods her agreement to… something that he said. "I'm afraid I only ever read the comic books that get called 'graphic novels' in all seriousness. Which means I'm mostly familiar with Watchmen," she lifts her finger, "Which I did read before the movie came out, I'll have you know!" She crosses her legs, "Mixed in with the political polemic, it was mostly about how heroics are motivated by traumas, that heros are usually only happy when they are being heros. Which brings us to why you're here, right? Is this your first time with a therapist?"

"It is." is Magnes' simple answer, staring at the ceiling. Something about her words seems to bring him back to reality, his face and tone returning to their defeated look. "I think that comic has a point. Everything's great until I have to come back and face reality."

Dr. Sheridan inclines her head in a small nod. "And there's a lot to be said for getting out of reality for a while. But something about the transition must be bothering you, or else you wouldn't be here," she pauses, eyes moving to the door as if making sure it was locked, making sure they have privacy, "One key question, though, Magnes. You don't mind if I call you Magnes, I hope. One question: did you come here because you wanted to, or because you were told you must?"

"I was told to, but Abby's been suggesting I get therapy for a while, so I guess it's long overdue. Let's start with listing my problems, I guess? At least the ones immediately bothering me." Magnes holds up a hand, suddenly simply counting them off. "Let's see, I sometimes feel my ribs are broken, because I was kidnapped and had to battle in an Evolved cage fight, the girl who said she wouldn't date for a long time, is suddenly dating. It doesn't bug me so much because I can't date her, it's the crushing rejection that bugs me. I have a girlfriend now, Elle, she's really nice, so the rejection doesn't bother me as much anymore. I've had a lot of rejection, I'm trying to learn how to just ignore it." he explains, already counting on his other hand now.

"I'm working for a secret government organization that doesn't really let me go out and see my friends because I'm on a harsh training schedule, my friend's father was killed by Adam Monroe, and I'm pretty sure I could have done something, I don't know what, but I could have. I could have probably done something for Isabelle too, but I wasn't around, and now she's gone, I'll never see or speak to her again, she was the first person who ever really believed I could be something other than a loser…" he shakes his head, suddenly wiping his eyes on his sleeve.

Burgeoning tears are an eventuality that Bella is prepared for. She leans over to the table where her journal, pad and paper are set, and picks up the tissue box that rests there. She offers it to Magnes. "I'd think being able to hold up at all under all that strain disqualifies you from being a loser. I hope we can get you to agree with me on that point. And that's a lot of why I'm here… to get you to see things in a different light. There's only so much anyone can actually change in their life, but the angle at which you view your life, the perspective you take on it… thats all yours."

Magnes takes the box, keeping his head turned away as he pulls tissues out to dry his eyes. "I don't know, I guess not. Being a loser or not, it doesn't really matter anymore, I just want Isabelle back, I want everything to be normal again, but I know it won't be. I've got a new life, I've gotta get stronger, I need to protect what I have left, before they're gone too…"

Doctor Sheridan leans back as Magnes takes the box. She listens to his resolve, taking mental notes as the young man speaks. "I understand the topic is sensitive, but it seems that the loss of Isabelle is what's hanging over your head most of all. Would you be willing to tell me a little bit about it? Your experience of it, and your thoughts looking back."

"I was sitting in the tent me and Carrie sleep in, recovering from my former mentor, Minea, beating the crap out of me. Did I tell you that? My former mentor, she defected, didn't tell me anything, and she beat me up yesterday." Magnes shakes his head, finally looking at her again as he sits his tissues on the side of the bed. "But anyway, it just came on while I was watching TV, they found her body. How could someone just dump her? What is wrong with them? Who could do that, why…"

Bella's brow furrows. "So you found out from the news? That's awful. It is awful no matter what, but to hear about it from a source we're used to having distance from…" she nods, "It sounds like a lot of what you took to be stable is proving unsound, at least in current experience. Your sense of security is under attack. But that can't be new. How did you deal with anxiety before?"

"I was either at home or with some special private tutor for most of my childhood. I guess my anxiety back then was mostly school type stress, being over worked." Magnes lays an arm over his forehead, letting out another exhausted sigh. "I skated for anxiety, I skated, jumped across the city, went up into the clouds. I know the city in a way that most people don't, it feels nice…"

"Thanks to your gift, right," Bella says, nodding again, "Do you not get that release anymore? Are you kept housebound by your employers?"

Magnes nods, eyes turning to her from the ceiling. "They say I can't use my ability because of my cover, so I have to walk or be in cars. I feel like I'm in a cage, or stuck in the house even when I'm outside."

Bella extends an arm, hand hovering over the table next to her chair. "This is where I pick up my pad, alright?" she says, "Usually people think of this as the part where I start to pick you apart in my mind, pathologize you and all that. I want you to know, that's not what I'm going to do. I'm picking up the pad right now because I'm going to start writing down the things that bug you, and what we can start trying to do to fix them. So… here I go." She smiles, takes the pad and stylus into her hand, and then sets it on her thigh. She twiddles the pencil between right thumb and forefinger, "Cages seem like wonderful contraptions for everyone on the outside. But you know better. Our first job is finding some way for you to get that release without, pardon my French, pissing off our bosses," she tips a wink, half conspiratorial, "Sound like a start?"

"I don't mind you using the pad, I figured it's your job, I'm not gonna get defensive or anything." Magnes assures, offering a brief smile. "I just, I don't know, I wish they'd slap on a radar and let me go fly around or something, y'know?"

"You're an open minded guy," Bella says, looking appreciative, "Not everyone comes into therapy with such a level headed attitude, least of all those who are /told/ they ought to come in," she jots something down on the pad, "So. I will talk to our mutual friends about getting the moratorium on your recreational power use lifted. Chances of success? Impossible to say at this point, but I /will/ tell them it's a crucial source of stress relief for you. Maybe we can find somewhere private, somewhere that won't cause them to wig out about you blowing your cover. Now…" she grins, "New girlfriend, huh? Tell me about her."

Seemingly quick to change topics from, well, the depressing parts of his life, Magnes immediately jumps into answering her question, smiling widely. "Elle," probably every Company therapist's worst nightmare, Elle Bishop. "She's, well, she's nice, she has this really innocent personality, she seems open minded, but possibly fragile. She makes me happy, she doesn't make me feel like some loser weirdo, she talks to me as if I were a normal guy. The electric kisses kinda hurt sometimes, but I like it, makes me feel alive."
Eve has arrived.
Eve has left.

"Electric kisses? Yow. Watch out for that…" Bella says, a touch slyly. "Who /does/ make you feel like a loser weirdo?" she asks, wrinkling her nose with distaste at the thought of such people.

"I don't know, nearly everyone. Delilah thinks I might turn into a psycho stalker just because I've never had sex before, Abby thinks I'm immature and treats me like a kid, and almost everyone else is always using the word 'liability' or 'impulsive', people who barely even know me and people who know me at least a little, they just write me off." Magnes shrugs, sitting up with a grown, adjusting himself in the seat before laying down again. "Carrie and Elle are probably the two best things that've happened to me in a long time. I'd say Minea, but well, a Company betrayal and a twisted testicle later…"

Bella gives a sympathetic wince, "Throwing around words like 'liability' is never helpful. I can only imagine how unfair it must seem, judged before you're even given a chance. And even heroics don't get you were you want to be, from what you've told me. What happened in Tokyo, Magnes? From your perspective, that is."

"Well, Kimiko was kidnapped, that's Hiro Nakamura's sister. I was searching for her, then I took a rest and this guy Jake, who works for Adam Monroe, walked up to me. He started talking, and the next thing I know he's threatening to kidnap me." Magnes offers the tissues back after taking a few from the box, laying his other arm at his side. "I couldn't let him get away, and I couldn't let him capture me, I needed to know where they took Kimiko. It escalated, I thought I could easily end it, but he had an ability that was kinda like mine. Abby yelled at me, like it was all my fault. I couldn't have known he would have that kind of ability, I genuinely thought it'd end when I hit him with the pole. It turned into a fight, and then I had to try not to get anyone killed and beat him at the same time. I put everything I had into a kick, and I guess I hit some kind of limit I never reached before and lost control of my ability. After that, he knocked me out, and I woke up on a bench, completely healed. That's when I found out Kimiko was safe, and she made me go back to America for my own safety."

Bella forgoes taking extensive notes on this saga. She listens dutifully, pencil resting in her hand, nodding to indicate her attention. "A certain amount of being-yelled-at is to be expected in our line of work. The future of humanity, such as it is, is something people take pretty seriously," she smile wryly, "For whatever reason. You may be forced to maintain two sets of expectations: work and life. Work expectations have to be high for you to do your best, but your life expectations have to be geared towards your happiness, which may demand you reserve your work criticism for work. Failure isn't inevitable, but it's sure as hell likely. Like you said, you /can't/ know. Especially doing what we do. Well," she shrugs, "What /you/ do."

"Well, that's the thing, I didn't work for anyone. The entire Tokyo thing is what lead to me working for the Company. Abby isn't an agent or anything, she's my friend, and she was treating me like a kid again, just assuming I was being an impulsive idiot and didn't have any reasons for doing what I did." Magnes sits up, staring at the floor with his hands folded. "She just writes me off, she says she's my friend, and I believe her, but she still writes me off. But, that's alright, I know it's not her fault. Recently, well, I've sorta realized, I wasn't meant for a normal life. I'm not meant for normal girls like Abby, I'm not meant to just go and hang out with friends all the time. I have this ability because I'm meant to do something more, and in the end, that's the reason people like Abby don't understand or give me a chance, it's a sign. Sure, I'll drop in and see my friends sometimes, but that's not who I'm supposed to be. I'm just glad Carrie and Elle understand me, Veronica is there for me too."

Bella's smile is fond. "You're the sort of man who finds it easier to spend time around girls, it sounds like," she says, "That's good. Despite what anyone may say, it's the sign of maturity, emotional aptitude. But yes, joining the Company was a step in the right direction. To taking the place in world where you'll be fulfilled," she lifts her pencil, tapping the side of her nose, "Mind you, I didn't say comfortable. This isn't a recipe for an easy life. But that's all the more reason for you to have room to de-stress after a long day of saving the world. The rub is getting the Company to see that, so they'll give you the freedom you need to unwind. And I think more sessions with me will help demonstrate that."

"You sure you're not saying I'm gay or something?" Magnes asks with an eyebrow raised in suspicion, briefly eyeing the notepad. Alright, so a little curiousity about what she's writing may have creeped in. "Lately Elle really helps with my stress too, I mean, I'd rather be flying, but Elle's whole attitude just makes me feel at ease."

Bella giggles at this, a somewhat unprofessional sound, but certainly pretty, "It's a little early for me to judge, but no, I'm not getting that sense. Gender androgyny is correlated with creativity and productive romantic relationships; it's quite a good quality, as a matter of fact." She shifts forward in her chair, "I can do group sessions, by the way, if you ever wanted Elle to come in with you. That's entirely your prerogative, of course. I'm not going to rush you into anything this early in our working relationship!"

"I'll uh, ask her, I'll try to bring it up lightly." Magnes agrees, apparently not against it. He certainly wouldn't mind learning a little about Elle. "And I'm glad I'm not gay, I mean, I'm not the kind've guy who goes around, well, touching, but I like women. Most of my male influences either shoot or beat me up, but Hiro is a really good friend. He's probably my closest male friend, he's a time traveller y'know. They say he's a terrorist now and that he blew up Midtown, but I was there, he took me back, so I know better."

"Well, that's a relief. Time travel is about the most frightening power I can imagine," Bella says, earnestly, "You needn't push anything with Elle. Not everyone is as accepting about therapy as you seem to be, and you have every right to keep this entirely confidential," she marks something down on her pad, "Can I schedule another appointment with you? Hopefully by the time we next meet, I'll have good news about your being able to properly skate again…"

"Well, I want to schedule, but you have to talk to Carrie, she handles that stuff." Magnes offers, smiling, seeming to at least have slightly higher spirits now. "Next time I wanna talk about my rib thing."

Bella laughs at this, and leans forward, offering her hand. "I'd be more than happy to discuss your ribs, or anything else that's been giving you trouble. I'm here to help; it's pretty much my job. It's been a pleasure meeting you, Magnes. I have high hopes for you; you're in the right place, with the Company. I'm certain, when all is said and done, you'll agree. You deserve a chance to realize your full potential," her smile is lopsided, "Even if others have a hard time seeing it in you."

"It feels a little better, just talking to someone who's probably heard everything." Magnes takes her hand, cheeks slightly red. A little emo leaves, and a bit of awkwardness returns. "I'll bring my copy of Death of the Stacys for you. Thanks for listening."

Bella's shake is firm, her smile warm, maternal, "Thanks for talking. And please do! I promise to read it like a story, rather than some sort of psychological 'exhibit A'."

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