Friend In Need


aman_icon.gif faulkner_icon.gif

Scene Title Friend In Need
Synopsis Faulkner shows up at Aman's house under strange circumstances that only get stranger when properly explained.
Date August 5, 2020

Aman's Townhome, Northern Roosevelt Island

Isaac Faulkner's world is darkness.

That has been true for a long time; the world hasn't really changed that much. Only his station in it.

Once, he had been the Lord of the Night; he had exalted in the coming of the dark, in his own power. Now… now he has no power, no kingdom, no strength. He has only the kindness of strangers to help him through this dark, claustrophobically small world.

He sits in silence, riding in the passenger seat of a car driven by one of Lisbeth's friends — Violet, if he recalls — staring aimlessly ahead and watching as the vague shadows drift by. Sometimes he thinks he sees something he can almost make out, but never anything for very long, just… darkness. Movement. Darkness.

That's all his eyes give him. He has no idea what Lisbeth's friend looks like, or what manner of car she's driving, or even if she's actually taking him where he'd asked. But… she seems kind. That much he's gathered by how hesitant she's been to speak, after he'd told her their destination.

He feels the car's deceleration, somehow more gentle than the previous ones, and guesses that they're nearing their destination; his guess is proven right when he hears the sound of a gearshift sliding, hears the engine fall silent. "We're here," she announces. There's a moment's hesitation. "Do I need to stay?" she asks, that same mix of unease and concern he'd heard from Lisbeth in Violet's voice.

"No," Faulkner answers. "If you could walk me to the railing, that will be more than enough."

"Right," Violet says. Faulkner hears the sound of a door handle, and reaches over to open his own; his fingertips glide over the surface of the door, recognizing when he's found the handle by the texture — smooth metal instead of textured plastic. Gingerly, he pops the door open — he isn't sure where Violet is and doesn't want to open it into her — then carefully unfolds himself out of the seat, levering himself upright.

He waits, holding onto the door. Violet is there quickly enough; he feels a cool, slender hand wrap around his, and an arm around his shoulders, guiding him gently. He goes along, shuffling carefully in the directions she's guiding him, until he feels her transfer his hand onto something else — cool, smooth, hard. The railing.

The arm around his back withdraws, but she doesn't — he hears no footsteps drawing away. "Are you sure you'll be alright?"

He manages a smile, turning in the direction of her voice so she can see it. "Well enough. I think I'll be alright from here," he lies.

There's a moment's hesitation, but he can hear the relief hidden at the back of her voice when she answers. "Well, alright. I'll… leave you to it, then." Now he hears the sound of footsteps retreating — a bit hurriedly, maybe. He keeps his smile up, listening as he hears the car door open and shut, followed by the purr of the engine. He keeps smiling, offers a wave… and after a moment he hears the car drive away.

Now he lets his smile fade. Carefully, he turns his back to the road; with his hand on the railing, he gingerly shuffles up the steps — there are three, he remembers — and after a moment's hesitation, he raises his hand and knocks lightly on Aman's door.

When the door opens, it brings with it a fountain of light over the stone of the stoop.

Amanvir blocks it by nature of standing in its path, a bit befuddled as to what he's looking at. "Isaac?" he wonders, and Faulkner can hear the furrow of his brow in his confusion. "What's going on, man?" He shifts his weight, the fabric of athletic shorts whispering along with the movement of his legs. Seems like he's dressed down for the night already.

A beat later and Aman's hastily shaking his head, the creak of the weatherproofing strip around the door sounding as he pulls the door better open. "Come on in," he tells him, waving a hand— not that it can be seen, and not that Aman knows it can't be. "What's up?"

It must be important, if he came all this way after dark, without first calling.

"Hello Aman," Isaac answers when he hears Aman call out to him; there's a hint of relief in his voice. Luckily Aman invites him in before he has to explain all the shit that happened there on the doorstep; carefully, he steps forward, free hand reaching out to find the doorjamb to guide himself in. He doesn't bother to close the door behind him — Aman, being able to see, will have an easier time with it.

"I fell off a building and went blind," Isaac explains. "Didn't want to try to get back to Park Slope and get eaten by escaped zoo animals or stuck in a tree or something." He hesitates for a moment — having to ask favors is something he hates doing — but sooner started is sooner done. "You have a chair I could sleep in for tonight or something?"

Being blind affords Isaac the ability to not see the way Aman blanches at this piece of cavalierly-delivered news, though he can surely imagine. "Wait— are you fucking with me?" he asks, going for humor first, because this is one of those if I don't laugh, I'll cry situations potentially.

"Tell me you're joking." Now he's quickly moved onto the bargaining stage.

"You can't deliver packages if you're fucking blind, Isaac!" There's indignation in there, possibly a touch of denial. Like maybe if he yells that it's not true, it won't be. But oh no, he can see the way that Faulkner's moving that something is off, at the very least. Frowning, Aman closes and deadbolts the door locked while he tries to figure out what to do.

"Do you have any idea how much of a bitch it's going to be to deliver everything tomorrow just me and Tibby?" is his next logical jump. He sighs, long-suffering.

But he taps onto Faulkner's bicep to let him know he's close when he prepares to overtake him, walking incredibly slow so as to help guide his path, trusting that he really is blind. "I've got a couch…" Aman offers up, unsure if his coworker and friend is about to reveal he's got a wild case of sleep apnea requiring he absolutely must sleep upright or something. But belatedly, he's circling back to what was said, realizing something doesn't quite add up.

"Wait, you fell off a building and…?"

Yeah, blindness isn't the expected injury there.

"I know. Especially with Shaw out. You and Tibby might want to call in sick tomorrow," he says, still with that cavalier demeanor… a demeanor which absolutely does not match his shuffling gait as he plods along in the directions Aman indicates.

"A couch would be fine. I appreciate it," he says more soberly.

Then, at Aman's question about his blindness, he slips back into that cavalier demeanor; dry humor has always been a go-to for him when it comes to deflecting worries. Come to think of it, that might be why he and Aman get along so well. "Yes. I fell off a building, rattled my brain in the fall. Concussion, apparently. Some nice lady treated me in a back alley in exchange for a kidney or my firstborn or something, I was kinda fuzzy on the details from the concussion," he says. Then he pauses, tapping his chin for a moment. "She did say blindness was a possible side effect. After she did it. She might also have mentioned something about seizures, halitosis, sleep-murdering, projectile vomiting, spontaneous male pattern baldness, spontaneous combustion, and spontaneously singing It's a Small World After All on loop?" he says, shrugging.

Then he sighs, and any attempt at humor slips away. "Supposedly this was a temporary side effect," he says. "They said it'd probably go away within an hour or so." He exhales slowly, and for just a moment, he lets some of the fear he's feeling show. "If it's still the same in the morning, I might need you to take me to the hospital, man."

"Nah," Aman counters easily. "I might need to call a coroner, because I'm pretty sure I'll murder you first."

He sighs vehemently, stopping when he reaches the couch and kicking the wooden leg of it to indicate they've reached their intended destination. "Make yourself comfortable," he invites Isaac like he'd not just threatened to harm him over leaving him alone on his upcoming shifts. Once free, he begins to pace, running a hand back through his hair while he thinks on the list of prescribed possible side effects, sorting out which are more likely to be truths over jokes. Blindness, obviously, made that list.

"Jesus Christ, man. This is why you don't trust back alley doctors, back alley healers, or back alley scam artists." But then one side of his mouth pulls back. "Was she at least cute? Tell me something about this awful experience that made this worth it." Aggressive search for silver linings meant Aman might be back on the upswing.

The sound of his footsteps heading over wooden floor for the kitchen also indicate as much. "You want a beer?" he hollers back. "I figure— we don't have to worry about you drinking yourself blind, so what's the harm?"

"That would be a fitting end for this day," Isaac says, in response to the death threat. He's only half joking there.

"She was kinda cute," he admits. "Though I don't think she'd be interested. She mentioned a wife." He frowns, trying to think of silver linings for this day… there aren't a lot. "Something good, huh? Well… her friend who drove me home sounded cute. And… I don't actually have a concussion anymore. That's a pretty big upshot."

He's hard pressed to find much else good about today… until Aman offers a beer. That is a silver lining. "Dear God, yes. Beer me."

The crisp snap of an opening can serves as Aman's reply, at least at first. Footfalls bring him back into the living room, and he sets the can down on the table in front of the couch before thinking better of it, lifting it back up. "Actually— here." He holds it before Isaac instead, waiting for him to take hold of it.

"Okay, knowing you're healed makes me feel a little less bad for grilling you…" he reports gamely, head tilting while he continues to stand on the other side of the coffee table. "But what the hell happened, man? How exactly did you get hurt? You sure the blindness didn't actually happen before the cute medic girl patched you up?"

There's no easy answer to that, so Isaac takes a moment to lay hands on his beer can and take a drink, savoring the feel of the cold. "No. It was after."

"I was running," he says quietly. His eyes close; it doesn't make any difference to what he sees, but it's a habit. He chuckles, briefly, at the futility of it, then takes another drink of his beer. "After I learned the basics… once I got good at dodging and weaving and rolling, all that… we started running over higher ground. Rocks and rooftops."

He lets out a slow breath. "I figured… intermediate level would be a good place to pick back up." Isaac swallows. "I've lost more steps than I'd thought. Slipped. Thought I could still make it. I couldn't." It's an explanation that's getting old already, but there it is.

"Free-running," Aman confirms back. He's sort of familiar, or at least he knows the words to describe it. He takes a drink from his can before letting it swing by his side while he paces absently. "That blows, though. Glad you, uh— aren't worse? Like, you could have …" He winces to himself. "I don't know, landed on something other than your face? Landed on your face worse?"

"Jesus," he sighs, free hand hanging off the side of his neck. "Like…"

For a moment, there's only silence, but Isaac swears he can feel Aman's refocus onto his being. A stare, naggingly felt. The anticipatory silence before the line of questioning he's been trying to avoid, but is impossible to avoid now that there's not an easy way to deflect.

"Have you— are you okay, actually? Like— you've been acting weird ever since you came back from that time off you took." Hesitation enters his voice, but Aman asks the question anyway. "Did… is everything okay?"

"No," Isaac answers simply, without any particular affect. "Not remotely."

"I'm…" he starts, then sighs and drowns the rest of that sentence in beer. "Remember how I told you I got kidnapped, back in January?" he asks. "It fucking happened again. I went to bed in my house and woke up in a fucking airplane crash. In fucking Canada!" he exclaims, his facade of detachment finally breaking. He'd probably throw something if something convenient were on hand, but all he has is beer. Precious beer.

"Fuck," he adds for good measure, before taking another drink of beer.

"What the fuck, dude." Aman comes to sit at the armchair by the couch almost instantly, bewildered. "Is there some fucking cosmic kick-me sign taped to your fucking back?" After letting out a scoff of a breath, he takes a moment to reflect on that.

"Fuck," he echoes Faulkner on the end of a sigh, and tops his off with a drink for good measure, too.

"Okay, it totally makes sense why you've been off your game, then— why you're not feeling yourself." For a lack of knowing what else to say, though, Aman scrubs his hand across his mouth, surrounding stubble noisy against his palm. "That… that's the actual fucking worst."

"Ha. Ha ha ha. Ha," Faulkner laughs, a ghastly noise devoid of any trace of actual humor. "I wish. But no." He fumbles for his wallet for a moment, fishes it out and opens it up… then swears under his breath when he realizes, oh yes, he needs to be able to fucking see to find the card he's looking for. His lip curling in disgust, he tosses the wallet onto what he hopes is the direction of Aman's coffee table. "I got registered. Check out the card."

With a confused tic up of an eyebrow as Aman wonders if this is just a touch of irony on top of the shitcake that Isaac's been served. After all, he keeps getting kidnapped, so might as well register so the good guys as well as the bad guys know his status?

Setting aside his beer, he thumbs through the wallet til he finds the thick plastic of the registration card, pulling it out. He glances over it for just a moment. He's seen these before, and he mislikes having one in his hand, worried like by touching it alone it'll somehow infect him too into turning his information over to a system that, not too long ago, betrayed them all. "Fucking terrible picture of you," he comments firstly, because not only is that the first thing that pops out to him, it may be the most important. But he doesn't realize at first what he's seeing. "What, did you give them some kind of joke ability or…"

It says SLC-N.


Aman's eyes shoot back up to Isaac, not that he can see it, or hear the whip of his head. He sits like that for a moment before letting out a bark of laughter to mask his shock. It sounds desperate, like his own hope is fading. If people found Isaac consistently like this, who's to say who else unregistered they might go for next?

But no, he's got to be joking, right?

In a fit of near-panic, he reaches out, placing a hand on Isaac's shoulder. Without even asking, he lets his ability claw forward and hook into the one that should be coating his friend's genetics, and yet…

Aman lets out a startled breath and lets go as though he's been shocked, eyes wide and his stomach churning with dread and fear for the implications of Isaac's condition. Before he can even say anything about it, his phone begins to noisily ring in the kitchen. "Who the fuck can even do that?" Something like hysteria hides at the end of the question. "Even when I— fuck. Fuck." The phone continues to ring, but he lets it.

Isaac sits and listens; he can't see, but he can hear well enough. He lets out a single faint chuckle at Aman's commentary on his picture — everyone has a shitty picture when the government's taking it, and after dealing with SESA all day he hadn't had the energy to even try to be photogenic. But he doesn't say anything — only continues to listen.

Until Aman sees what it was Isaac was wanting to show him. He knows the exact moment Aman sees it; the horrified no gives it away. Faulkner lets out a faint grunt when Aman puts the kung-fu grip on his shoulder, but still he says nothing.

It's only when Aman's mildly hysteric speech trails off that Isaac speaks up. "Wish I knew," he says quietly. "I've been trying to figure that out for awhile." In contrast to the cavalier tone he'd taken earlier, now his voice is eerily calm — almost serene.

"Your phone's ringing," he adds, helpfully.

"Yeah—" The distant shock of Aman's voice shifts to something that tries and fails to actually be irritation. "Yeah, I hear it."

Isaac's wallet and the card drop to the coffee table with a thump and a slap respectively as he walks nearly-blindly to the kitchen, relying on muscle memory alone. The dread is becoming numb already as he works through competing emotions not his own while he makes his way to where he's left his phone charging. Expression blank, he thumbs accept on the call.

"I'm f—"

Whoever it is on the other line, Aman's immediately overpowered. He paces from the kitchen back to the living room. «"Amanvir, what the fuck? Talk to me. You gotta calm down, okay?"» With a distracted, nearly distraught sigh, he leans hard into: "No, you gotta calm down, too, or there's no way I'm gonna be able t—"

«"You aren't fucking fine."»

"It's— it's fine. I'm fine, okay? Nobody broke in and has a gun to my head, I fucking promise, so just give me like… fifteen minutes, okay? I'll call you back. I'm just talking with a friend who's going through some shit." There's way more explaining, more honesty there than he'd even give to his own mother, and certainly more force behind it.

«"Jesus Christ—"»

"All right?" He waits for a moment, and his shoulders sag in silence at whatever he hears in the reply. "All right," he answers, then pulls the phone away from his ear.

«"Fine. Fine. But you better call me back, or I'm going to come find you."» the voice on the phone had told him.

Aman rolls his lip, biting the inside of it as he looks down at his phone. "Shit," he breathes to himself, the sound of it still plainly audible despite being over half a room away.

Isaac sits, and listens, and sips beer; it's not like there's much else he can do, aside from stare at the vague motions of shadows in darkness — the only thing his eyes see, at the moment. Hm… what was that song? Blue on Black. Good song.

He sips his beer; then, after a moment, he sets it down. Carefully, he reaches out towards where he'd heard the thump and slap come from, fingers lightly spidering over the surface of the table until he finds first his wallet, then his card. Carefully, he slips the card back into the wallet and the wallet back into his pocket, then, again, reaches out, picking up his beer.

"You alright there?" Isaac asks, his tone still one of dissonant serenity.

"Yeah— yeah, I just… set off an alarm, apparently, for a friend of mine who can't turn off their ability to be… keyed into the mentalstate of others?"

Rather than focus on that, Aman turns back to Isaac. "And holy shit did mine take a nosedive between looking at your fucking card, and run into the brick fucking wall of trying to take your ability from you." With a twist of his brow, he sighs and comes back to take his beer back from the table.

"Explains even more than before why you lost your fucking nerve out there running. Why you slipped." It's not a happy observation at all. "Jesus…" Aman sighs, then tips his beer back to gulp from it.

"Oh," Faulkner says. Then, "Oh! The one who broke into my place that time when you were…" he trails off, letting his eyes go unfocused and his features go slack, doing a pretty good impression of Zombie Aman from the Granny Goodness incident.

His momentary flicker of animation drains away almost as soon as it had happened. "Yeah. 'Surprise, you're non-Expressive now' is… not something I took very well. And I probably shouldn't have dumped it on you like I did," he sighs, raising a hand to rub at his forehead. "Sorry."

"My particular problem, though, wasn't losing my nerve. It was the opposite. My… my ability… it's something I've gotten used to. I can — I could," he corrects himself, the pain audible in his voice and visible on his face, "I could use it to… to reach out and grab. To change trajectories. To do all kinds of things that I… I can't, now. But my instincts! They, they haven't gotten used to it yet. So when I slipped, there at the edge… my instincts, my muscle memory, all told me you can still make this," he explains.

The next words are hard ones; it takes him a moment to muster the strength to face them. "But I couldn't," he finishes quietly, taking another drink of his beer.

Oh fuck, that's right, Isaac knew exactly who Odessa was. Aman remembers that with a blanking of his expression that tapers into a wince at his friend's exceedingly good impression of what he must have been like when he was under the influence of those rosegold-colored-lenses.

He aches for that wonderful peace again, come to think of it.

"Funny, how our brains lie to us," he says in response to Isaac's admission. He sobers as well, and aims to solve that problem by taking another sip of his beer in sympathy for the (temporarily?) blind man's plight. "They always seem to under or oversell us on what we can do. Rarely do they seem to hit it right on the mark."

With an aching sigh, Aman comes to sit down roughly in the armchair next to the couch. "We have to find whatever fucking bad luck charm you have sitting around your apartment and cleanse the place or something, man. You don't deserve this shit."

"What one deserves and what one gets only occasionally come into alignment. Personally, I take comfort in this," Isaac says, his voice again dull; his earlier burst of emotion seems to have taken most of the wind out of his flagging sails. "If we got exactly what we deserved, I'd know that I'd actually earned shit like this happening to me," he says, a hint of wry humor creeping into his voice.

The talk of his apartment draws a sigh, though. "Yeah. Once I can see again I'll… I don't know. Honestly I don't know how much longer I'm gonna go on living there. I've never really had a reason to be afraid of things roaming around the Slope at night before, but now…" he trails off into a sigh. "Yeah."

"Maybe I'll get lucky and win one of the lottery slots or something, now that I'm registered. Get a place with electricity and running water. And less chance of wolves." Isaac sighs and closes his eyes, and sees exactly the same thing he saw with them open.

"If you want a running-water place to crash for a bit…" Aman offers up, brows lifting. "I mean, this place has a second bedroom I'm not using. I'd planned on getting a guest bed, so there's nothing in there at the moment, but…" His tongue smirches off the roof of his mouth as he looks back to Isaac.

Right. He can't see the faces he's making. Right.

"The point I'm getting at is you could stay here instead of your place or that shithole out at Settler's Creek while waiting for your new place."

Isaac doesn't react to that right away; he mulls it over in silence. "I might take you up on that," he says slowly. Living in Yamagato Park might not be a bad thing, after all. "But. That sounds like the kind of discussion better had when we're both sober and I'm maybe a little less brain damaged," he says, finishing off his beer.

He considers for a moment. "And… sorry again for dumping all of this in your lap."

"Better tonight than you calling in tomorrow," Aman replies to dismiss the need for an apology. "Better tonight than turning up dead tomorrow, for that matter." He tips his beer back to take another long drink of it, then sets the nearly-finished thing down with a clatter on the table.

"In the meantime, you're gonna get a crash course in my terrible picks for television. I might find something with audio captioning just to be nice." The grin he wears can be heard on his voice as he picks up the remote on the table, turning the television on to a steaming service.

Isaac laughs softly, curling up on the couch. "It's been awhile since I've watched much television," he says softly. It'll be awhile longer, too, but he's not feeling bitter enough to point that out at the moment. He chuckles again. "Let's hear what you've got."

Aman grins to himself, leans back in his seat, and begins scrolling. "You got it, man."

Anything for a friend in need.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License