I'm Not Me


jim_icon.gif kaylee_icon.gif luther_icon.gif lynette_icon.gif varlane_icon.gif

Scene Title I'm Not Me
Synopsis Kaylee brings a wounded Magnes Varlane to someone she believes can help.
Date October 19, 2018

The Benchmark Center

It's almost impossible to imagine this situation, and yet, somehow it all makes sense at the same time.

Behind a partly-closed door of a bedroom on the top floor of a the Benchmark Center, a dead man sits in ratty, stained clothes a half size too small for himself is. His hair has clearly grown in from a recently shaved head, full beard also indicating he's not had any time to groom in months. The butterfly bandages at his right temple are doing their job well enough, but he’ll need a doctor soon for his leg.

Magnes Varlane wasn't who Lynette expected Kaylee Sumter to show up on her doorstep with. A man seven years deceased, with an unusual caveat: He says he's a clone.

Out in the hall, Kaylee and Lynette have their first moment of privacy since this doppelgänger was brought in. There were enough questions here, enough variables, that they needed dozens of these moments of privacy. Maybe more.

Maybe there just can't ever be enough.

Lynette sighs when she looks away from the door, her hand sliding through her hair. Her other hand is in a sling along with her arm— it's an exchange with her husband: if she's not resting, she has to use the sling. "Where did you find him?" Lynette asks, because of all the questions she has in her mind, that's probably the easiest to answer. "He looks like he's been living in the sewers. Smells like it, too."

"Do we believe he's a clone? There's been a lot of new things to take in lately." Just so much.

“How do we not at least consider it? Magnes and Liz are not due back till Christmas.” Kaylee has seen the painting and Edward gave her brother a date. “The Institute use to take clones and turn them into other people.” A glance goes towards the room, “He could be a leftover Institute clone. We won’t know until we can get a peek in his head.” If they could get him to trust her enough.

The telepath sighs and presses a hand to her head, she looks tired. “As for where. He found me. Showed up while I was stuck in traffic.” Kaylee’s shoulders give a slow shrug. “He was running cause he stole food. He ran into traffic, got hit by a car, and out of reflex tossed it.” Sooo maybe not great that she brought him there, but… “I already let work know I’d be out and where I’d be. Just in case.”

Having received a message from Lou that Kaylee was over at the Benchmark, Luther is many minutes later. It would be reasonable to expect he’s come from the direction of the company office, stepping into the center dressed in business wear rather than the casual clothing he’d had to don during his own recovery period. The man’s own arm is still in a cast and sling combination. His own injury is months in healing, but he’s not leaving things to chance.

Luther’s an old hat visitor by now, but tonight he’s come not to check in with the other residents, but to find his employer and friend. That he happens to have headed up to the safehouse floor seems to be a habit and acting on suspicions and worries. Upon spotting Lynette and Kaylee discussing in quiet tones, he approaches the pair with curious interest. Dare he ask? He dares. “Ladies, what’s going on?”

"The future isn't set in stone," Lynette comments, lifting a shoulder, "could be he's back early. Or he's a clone. Or he never left. Or he was brought back from the dead. He certainly seems traumatized enough." She glances toward the room, then back at Kaylee. She's worried, she's just not sure if she should be worried for Magnes or about Magnes. "Might not be safe in his head. Maybe we should see if food and a bed get him more grounded and ask him what he remembers first." Before jumping in.

Lynette is a touch reluctant to throw Kaylee at any problem. Not without making sure she'll be okay first.

When she spots Luther entering the safehouse, she lets out a sigh. A relieved one. "We have a visitor," she says with a nod toward Varlane's room. "Seems like we might have an extra Magnes Varlane. Kaylee and I are working out… how to approach all this." Luther is used to how strange things get around here, so she doesn't see the need to hedge around the issue.

The arrival of Luther brings a mix of emotions the main one being annoyance; with bright red lips, pressed thin with it. Not that she minds that he is there, it’s the obvious reason why he showed up. “While I am glad to see you, Luther, I feel a bit like a daughter whose dad is suspicious of everything she does.” Eyes narrow a bit in thought, “You didn’t bring Bob with you right? The way he and Lou gossip…” Kaylee trails off and sighs, letting Lynette explain for the moment.

“I’d like to add, that I’d rather Richard not get word of him being here right now… especially, since Liz isn’t with him.” Kaylee’s attention goes to the door that is the barrier between them and the scraggly man. “He didn’t even recognize either of us. He mentioned a Doctor Allen, too.”

Attention turns to Lynette again and asks, “What I’d really like to see is him get looked at, know anyone that does home visits?” A guilt looks is angled at Luther out of the corner of her eye. “He asked for no hospitals, but he did get hit by a car before he found me.”

“They’re back at the office,” Luther answers the pursed-lipped expression of Kaylee’s with an arch of his brow back, speaking of the security chief’s own Hugin and Munin of sorts. The comment about the telepath feeling like a daughter with a hovering parent twists his own expression to a more wry note. She’s not wrong.

The man glances between the women as they go on to remark on the reason of the meeting. “Oh, yeah?” he says skeptically of the extra Magnes. Even the mention that the other man was struck by a car doesn’t immediately phase him, other than a twitch of his brow up an octave.

But, no hospitals is a bit of a challenge. “Could ask the nurse who looked at my arm. Jim,” notes Luther thoughtfully, “But how bad is he? If it’s real bad, there’s probably a vet we could go to…” He trails off with that suggestion as he looks towards the door, considering.

"A vet as in animals?" The question comes with a tone. Really, Luther? Lynette turns toward Kaylee, letting out a disbelieving sigh. "If it's the same Jim," which could be or could not, it's a common enough name, "he does make house calls. Might as well see how deep he'll let this whirlpool take him." The whirlpool meaning… their lives and the insanity therein. At least it's likely to be a steady stream of income. "I should see if he wants to be on the Benchmark payroll," she adds, wryly.

She doesn't mention that he looked at her arm, too. Perhaps she thinks it's obvious.

"I'll see if I can get a hold of him. Leave a message, at least."

As far as the extra Magnes, she can only give Luther a shrug of her shoulder. It is what it is, skeptic or not. But she does point a finger in his direction, adding, "You play nice. Don't scare him."

There is a nod to Lynette and a smile of appreciation. “Thank you. I’d rather not have to go search for someone. And again, thank you for letting me stash him here.”

“And yes, Luther. Another Magnes, says he’s a clone and not the real thing.” Kaylee almost says, seems a little less there, but… this one was still an awful lot like the one she remembered. “Lets see if we can get him cleaned up and fed.” Stepping passed Lynette, Kaylee opens the door, putting on a bright smile.

“Varlane?” Kaylee calls through the door with a light knock, voice with an equally light tone. She doesn’t wait long before she opens the door, “Hey, Lynette here” she motions to the woman in question, “…was just telling me that the kitchen has some amazing food in store for today. You feeling hungry?”

Lynette's tone is met with a blink. "What?" he questions back innocently enough, a shoulder shrugging. Like this is completely normal, and safe to consider. Maybe he's had that experience before… during times of war. But, Luther vouches for the aforementioned Jim with a supporting nod. "The man's resourceful. Helpful. If he makes house calls, that's even better." If, that is, people had working phone lines outside of a few boroughs.

He observes as one moves off to call Jim and the other moves off to handle the clone of Magnes Varlane. The point of Lynette's finger taken into account, Luther hangs back behind Kaylee enough to give the telepath some space while still appearing attached in the security sense. He tries not to be scary. Stern, maybe.

Sitting hunched over with his hands clasped together and seemingly ignoring the dark red stain at the knee of his dark pants — where he'd indicated he'd been struck by the car — Varlane belatedly answers with a confused, “Maybe?” Blinking repeatedly, he looks up to Kaylee, worry evident in his eyes and a quaver in his lip. “I uh, I can't… I can't remember the last time I ate?”

Varlane looks down to his hands, staring at his palms, and then back up to her. “Do you have any… is there any…” he squints, losing his train of thought. “What's the word the uh, the,” Varlane snaps his fingers. “You know,” he looks back up to the door, “the thing with the meat? And the— spaghetti!

Maybe he he’s concussed?

Watching the man struggle with the simple things like naming a food he wants, it touches something in Kaylee and her expression softens. Maybe it’s a mom thing, but she moves toward the bed and sits on the edge of it. “Well, I will certainly let Lynette know. If not, I will find some for you. If you haven’t eaten in sometime, maybe some Gatorade and a bit of broth to start while we wait, hmm?”

Turning to Luther, the telepath motions to him forward as she introduces the security chief to Magnes. “This is my very good friend, Luther. If you have any problem, you can trust him, just like Lynette. We are going to get you looked at, make sure that you didn’t get hurt worse than you appear.”

Studying Magnes, Kaylee asks curiously, “How long have you been living on the streets?”

Lingering in the door frame, Luther doesn’t get much closer than that. Perhaps because it allows him an opportunity to lean against the sturdy wall, allowing a moment of looking relaxed, even possibly harmless. He does have his own injury to aid that illusion. “Thing with the meat,” utters the man in a skeptical tone with an undercurrent of concern. He’ll let the telepath do the questioning, though, and simply nods to the introduction. Meanwhile, he’s looking over Varlane, evaluating the young man’s condition with his uneducated eye.

Varlane looks up to Luther, blankly, then back to Kaylee. “Yeah, yeah, I know him. He’s the one that drove in on the buggy and shot up all the robots when…” his eyes flick from side to side, wander the room, and then Varlane holds the side of his head and winces, looking uncomfortable. “N-no that’s… that’s a dream. Oh God, uh, I’m s-sorry. I’m sorry. Sometimes my head is all orangutans and I can’t put the words together.”

Looking up to Luther, Varlane manages a weary smile. He doesn’t look like he’s slept in a while. Then, slowly looking to Kaylee he seems lost again. “Uh… I’ve been— I was on the streets for… it’s been a while. Months?” He looks down to the floor, searching it with a wavering stare for answers. “My doctor flushed me out a drain, and I wound up down the coast. I… I walked back home. I mean I hitchhiked too, but there weren’t cars for a long time.”

Varlane’s brows furrow together and the hand at the side of his head knocks angrily against it once or twice. “Sorry, I’m sorry— I’m sorry I’m such a disappointment.” The bed rattles some, internal parts and screws holding it together jittering from an unseen presence. Kaylee can feel it in the floor too.

Shot up the…?
Flushed out a drain?

Head slowly turning towards Luther, Kaylee wonders if he is getting all this as well. Things he is saying send up red flags for he telepath, it has the thing lingering in the back of her mind shifting… noticing. How interesting. The comments the man makes nag at the back of her brain, especially being flushed out a drain.

He had been a captive clearly. When he starts beating at himself, that only cements the idea in her head.

Reaching up, Kaylee moves to capture his hand and hold it between her own to stop him from beating at it. Very aware of the rattling and shaking, she moves quickly to try and sooth the man. “Hey. Hey… Shhh. Your head might be hurt, you don’t want to make it worse.” There is a gentleness to the words. A tone she uses with her own kids, calm and soft. “You are not disappointing anyone here. You are among friends here.” There seems to almost be power behind her words, once she realizes he is open to her. He feels none of the tweaks she makes to calm him and make him relax.

“We’re going to get you fixed up. Get you a bath,” because yeah, even Kaylee has noticed the smell, “You have a soft bed here… and we will get a good meal into you, cause you are looking far too skinny.” The hand is released only when she believes he won’t beat himself again. “Only then, when you are ready we will talk about this escape and the people that did this to you.”

Looking to Luther, Kaylee adds, “Can you have Lou tell Sera to reschedule my appointments for a few days?” This was going to take time and she wanted answers.

Luther stares right back at the young man, brows lifting with the claim that they know each other at all. Robots? Buggy? What? The questions turn over, but Luther remains ever his taciturn, observational self. But he's definitely studying Varlane, listening to every word, absorbing the verbal spillage.

His face turns down in a frown when there's a mention of flushed out a drain. Of doctors. Luther straightens considerably as Varlane takes to knocking his head, ready to step in for physical restraint purposes despite being in no real condition himself to do so, not with his healing arm. The wobbling bedframe earns the younger man a renewed investigative short stare. Which, after a few beats, Luther realizes he's probably staring intimidatingly and breaks off the look.

"You're not a disappointment," he notes, managing to keep his tone at plain neutral, a statement of firm opinion. "You're in need of some help, and you're in a good place to get it." With a glance spared in the direction Lynette went off in to make her call, Luther turns back to Kaylee when addressed. He nods once to her request, which she'll know she can consider it done. However. "What do you want to tell Richard?" The question is weighty in implications. There's a lot here, packaged up in a mind-boggled man.

Varlane doesn't say much about offers of amenities of things like food and baths. Instead he wraps his arms around himself and curls up on the bed, his bad leg staining the sheets with tacky blood that's soaked through the fabric. Quietly, he starts talking to himself. “//It's not fair, I just wanted to be normal.” He jaw trembles, eyes wrenched shut. “I just wanted to live a happy life, I wanted to meet Gillian, to get married, to finally get a girlfriend and stuff.” His face presses into the pillow. “I wanted to learn how to fly, to show my father that he was wrong…”

It's eminently clear that he's suffering, the source of it isn't immediately obvious to Kaylee or Luther, but it feels like desperation and confusion. Though he looks like an adult, he talks more like a young teenager; arrested development. Though he's relaxed, though Kaylee has settled him, there's still so many frayed edges.

Moving so the man can lay down on the bed, Kaylee’s concern is edged in her brow. “Why can’t you show him he’s wrong?” There is a touch of defiance there. “Clone or not, you can absolutely be normal.”

The voice at the back of her mind whispers impatiently, Kaylee seems to fidget from it. There is a puzzle here and she is only seeing a piece of it. This poor man was clearly in pain, abused… and in need of help, but she wasn’t sure how. Oh, you know how. There is a small sound at the back of Kaylee’s throat.

A glance back to Luther out of the corner of her eye, the telepath adds, “Lets get you fixed up and I’ll see if I can help you with some of that. Hmm?” She doesn’t offer up Gillian, but she might ask her friend, if she’s willing. Resting a hand on Varlane’s arm, she adds, “Being a clone doesn’t mean you can’t have a real life. You are still a real boy, just like Pinocchio in the stories I’ve read to my children.”

Oh right… Richard. Kaylee leave Magnes to lay there, while she steps back over to Luther, her voice lowering to a whisper. “I’d rather my brother not know for now.” For now. “But I don’t know how long I can wait, cause I think we need Alia to scan him for trackers. I don’t know any other technopaths, without going to Wolfhound.” Teeth catch her lower lip and she glances back over her shoulder in thought. “The Institute is the only group I know that used clones… if that is what he is.”

There is something in the look she turns back to Luther, “I need to go in and see what there.” Though Kaylee’s hesitation to do so should be noted.

Luther sucks in a breath through wide nostrils, his frown and furrowed brow not having smoothed in the slightest. Grey eyes blink, bouncing focus between Varlane and Kaylee, coming to rest on the young man whose mannerisms poke at something deeper in him on the words 'to show my father'.

There are far too many clones in this world for his reality's comfort. Luther scratches at the back of his neck with his good hand as Kaylee comes over, head slanting to her whisper. The man's furrowed brow finally arches; he hadn't thought about trackers. "I don't know any besides Alia, too. Though maybe SESA's got someone." Yes, he's suggesting the Feds. He's thinking about some security ramifications as much as legal. And where their responsibilities lie.

When Kaylee gets that look in her eyes, Luther's back to furrowed brow and a longer stare. Obviously, he doesn't like it. And obviously, he's acknowledging the idea as a possibility. Luther glances back out of the door, torn between the other possibility that they could just… not. His main instinct to leave well enough alone muddles with the want to help. "We ought to wait for him to get patched up first. Kid's hungry, hurting," rumbles the man, "and doesn't look like he's gotten much rest."

He turns back to Kaylee. "And if there is something up… Lynette should be aware of it." Brows lift at the telepath. They're not just in a random safehouse but in their friend's safehouse.

Having tracked Jim down, Lynette now shows him up to the safehouse level at the top of her facility, apparently not worried about him finding out it exists— but then it's hard to hide a whole floor of a building.

"He's this way," she says as the pair step out of the elevator, "he's not in good shape. Physically, mentally, emotionally… so he might not be— I don't know, he might not be totally present." When they reach the room Varlane is in, she stops at the door and knocks on the frame. To let the other know she's back before just storming in with a relative stranger on her heels.

“Hm.” Jim has been relatively quiet on the way, except for the usual questions about what had happened. Or at least, the condition of the patient. Might be best not to ask too much about exactly what had happened, especially when you’re getting called out at all hours of the night to do a rather clandestine house call. But clearly he was available, and at least he seems alert and awake, so that’s something!

“He might be in shock,” he says eventually when they arrive, though it’s only half to Lynette. The other half just sounds like he’s musing over possibilities. He has his bag in his hand, and he waits for them to be admitted, though once they are he doesn’t waste too much time with pleasantries besides a nod of recognition to Luther, instead looking for the patient to begin the examination.

The man in question is in his thirties, short and dark hair looking like it had grown in from a scalp-short buzzcut. His beard is likewise overgrown and he smells as though he hasn't showered in a few days. A musky stink of the Safe Zone’s alleys clings to his dirty, ill-fitting clothes. Shoes are worn nearly treadbare, stains mar his hoodie and shirt, and most notably is the enormous dark red stain at his right knee that is still tacky and wet.

Sitting up as Jim is led in, Varlane looks at him with momentarily wide eyes, then Kaylee, then down to the floor as he smooths his hands over his head, lacing fingers at the back of his neck. The way he moves, it's clear his leg is injured, but possibly not broken.

“There's dandelions in her hair,” Varlane mumbles to himself, scraping fingernails against his scalp. “Uh, because she's a princess.” He looks up to Kaylee, and then Jim. “Are you a scientist? Are you… are you here to take my brain?”


The comments from Luther earns him a flat look, “Give me some credit here, Mr. Bellamy.” Kaylee tends to fall to calling him that in formal settings and when he irritates her.

Luckily, this is when Lynette returns with the nurse. Kaylee looks grateful to see them.

No introductions are needed at the moment, Kaylee is happy to step aside for the nurse. “No,” the telepath offers to Varlane, gently. “He’s only here to help tend to your wounds.” There is a small smile that tugs her lips to one side a little. “We’ll protect you from anyone who wants to take your brain.”

While letting Jim do his thing, Kaylee turns to Lynette; her ability listening to the injured man, to make sure that she is ready for another fit. Last thing they all needed was for him to bring the place down. “Any way that the kitchen has the makings for spaghetti?” There is amusement at the request.

The smile slides away quickly though, as Kaylee continues, “I don’t know where they held him, but he’s… he’s acting like a hurt animal.” There is worry at the idea that his captors did something to him.

The most physical roadblock into the room being Luther, he turns and steps aside, giving way to Lynette and Jim when the pair returns. A short, silent nod goes to Jim in greeting. Probably not the finest way to spend a day, he recognizes.

Kaylee's tone has the tall security chief ducking his head. "'Course," he responds evenly, then focuses on watching Jim's examination of Varlane. Spaghetti, though. His brow arches, attention diverted momentarily.

"Jim, this is Kaylee, Luther, and Magnes. Everyone, this is Jim. He's a nurse, he's going to be able to help." Lynette throws that in to back up Kaylee's reassurances. No brain stealing here. She steps off to the side, too, letting Jim have the floor, as it were.

She looks over at Kaylee at her request, a hint of a crooked smile at the corner of her lip. "Something like it, probably." Pasta's pasta, right?

"We start with basics. Warm bed, medical attention, clean clothes. That tends to help people feel more settled when they first get here. Shower. Food. Sleep. I take it you have an extra step in mind?" That question is to Kaylee. Because she has a skill that the Benchmark does not.

If Jim minds the smell, he doesn’t give any indication of it. He nodes a little distractedly when introductions are made, but is mostly focused on Varlane. If there’s any shock at the question, he doesn’t give any indication of it, still exuding the sort of calm that is unlikely to be ruffled much by such small things as horrifying suggestions. “Nope,” he says, echoing those who’ve spoken before him — maybe he figures that confirmation from the horse’s mouth, so to speak. “Like these folks say, just here to check you out, make sure everything is good.” It’s clearly not good, but hey!

He is most focused on the leg, of course, and he crouches down, opening his bag. “Let’s get a look at this first, yeah?” he asks, and proceeds to do all that awesome nurse stuff that he totally knows how to do and no one better suggest otherwise, because it’s 100% accurate, how dare you. Probably looking at it, that’s the first thing.

Common sense says Varlane should've skittish around inspections. He has all of the earmarks of an abuse victim, as someone exposed to physical and emotional trauma, and that expresses in unexpected ways when Jim goes to inspect his leg. Varlane goes still, like a rabbit hiding from a fox, and then from that freeze goes remarkably limp. Not to the point of collapse, but to a point Lynette can recognize from her years of running Benchmark: he's disassociated.

Varlane simple isn't present anymore, his thoughts are somewhere else, and Kaylee’s temptation to eavesdrop intensifies as Varlane remains in this state through the inspection. The results of which aren't as bad as they could be.

His leg isn't broken, in fact it's just a deep cut at the side of the knee probably inflicted by the sharp edge of a license plate. There's a large bruise, and it'll probably be sore for a week or two, but he's remarkably fortunate as far as the leg is concerned. Some stitches and a proper cleaning, maybe antibiotic if Benchmark has any on hand, and he should be fine in time.

Physically. Physically fine.

There is a slow nod to Kaylee’s head, “Yeah, he’s… I might stick close until I know he isn’t going to take apart the building he’s so scared.” There is a momentary darkness to the look in her eye as she adds softly, “Then, when he’s ready I want to see if I can figure out who did this to him.” After that… well…

Unfortunately, the woman’s resolve not to look is only so good and with everything that’s happened lately, temptation has a stronger voice then it has had in the past. The reactions of the man has reminds her of Colette when they had first freed her and others from the clutches of Bella and the Company. Her brother might not understand Kaylee dislike for the woman, much like she doesn’t understand her husband’s ability to forgive Bella.

Watching him, Kaylee feels that flutter of a protective streak for this poor unfortunate soul. And like that she finds her hold on the blocks between her on Varlane loosening. Allowing herself to listen to the possibly terrified thoughts of the man.

Even though she could glean the information from Jim herself, Kaylee finally speaks up, “So… what’s the prognosis?” There is no demand there, just simple concerned curiosity.

Luther stands sentinel to the room, keeping watch as any unobtrusive guard should. Varlane gets the majority of the RayTech security chief’s focus and study, until he turns to listening to the ladies’ discussion. Towards the tail end of Jim’s ministrations, Luther speaks up, “You want me to get Bob to post up downstairs?” The question is for Kaylee to answer, but there’s considerations made for Lynette as well. It’s her building. Her home. Another glance sent in Varlane’s direction leads to Luther scrubbing his good hand along his jaw in thought. Turns out that he’s not entirely comfortable with the situation, or how the other man is acting. Like Luther has seen that state of mind before too.

"I'd rather you didn't," Lynette says to Luther, "we have security here. And Vincent has some agents on watch. Any more would be too disruptive." The people in this building are a delicate bunch and continuity is very important to their comfort.

Her gaze flicks back over to Varlane, and her expression drops. Stepping closer, she moves to snap her fingers in front of his face. "Magnes," she says, to get his attention back on the now. "I need you to tell me where we are. Where are you sitting? What color is the carpet?" She's not a therapist herself, but she knows from her own experience that it's important to ground him in reality. She keeps her voice calm, but firm, and hopefully not making his trauma worse.

Well, Jim certainly seems a little happier — or something like that, anyway — when he’s finished with his examination. He sits back on his heels, looking up at Varlane. “Looks like you’re gonna live,” he says with a nod, before reaching into his bag to get the stuff to clean the wound. He looks over his shoulder to Kaylee then, and continues, “Nothing a good wash and a couple stitches won’t cure.” He begins to do just that then — or at least, the first part. The stitches he’ll at least give the guy some more warning than that.

When Lynette addresses Magnes while he's distantly unfocused, his responses come in mumbling and slurred responses. There's evident expression of trauma and repression, and also psychological conditioning. “Sunstone.” His eyes are welling up with tears.

“Doctor Allen is… looking at my leg.” Jim is most assuredly not Doctor Allen, whoever that is. Magnes continues to murmur an answer. “I don't want them to replace me. If I make dad mad, he’ll replace me. I don't want to go. I want to be the good one.”

“I agree with Lynette. I don’t want to draw attention to him being here,” Kaylee comments quietly to the pair. “He said this Doctor Allen pushing him out a drain. So…” She takes a deep breath and lets it out slowly, “..people will probably be looking for him. Just wish I knew who.” Lips press thoughtfully together, resisting the urge to dig to find out who they would be up against if they protect this broken soul.

Just listening to him hurts her heart. It hits that part of her that that drew her to the Ferrymen years ago.

Fingers rub at her temple, as she turns away for a moment. “What I also wouldn’t do to still have some of the Ferry’s safehouses, ” she murmurs with a glance goes to Lynette. “I can try to find him another place if you want. I don’t like putting your place at risk, if this is the Institute or anything.”

When Jim looks her way, Kaylee gives him a relieved smile and her full attention. “That is a relief. He told me he was hit by a car.” Before he flipped it, but he doesn’t need to know that.

“Fair enough,” Luther answers Lynette with a short nod, “But if you do need anybody else.” He leaves off the rest, since the woman will know what to do. And, given that she’s working on getting Magnes grounded, the man goes quiet. Listening in, Luther checks down at the carpet to see just what color it is too since it’s one of those things he hadn’t thought to consider. But the young man’s latter words are concerning. Luther cuts a glance to Kaylee at the telepath’s offer of further sanctuary options. “He ought to stay here,” counters the security chief, “besides, it’s got eyes on it from DHS. If he’s here you can at least spin it that he’s here for rehab. And it’s not some kind of kidnapping.” Oh yeah, Jim’s here listening too. Sorry Jim.

"No one's going to replace you," Lynette is quick to say, her hand moving to his shoulder. "You're safe here. You're at the Benchmark Center in New York. I'm Lynette and I'm in charge of protecting you."

She looks over at Kaylee, shaking her head. "He's better off here than anywhere else. I don't know who is coming to look for him, but they won't get to him." She states that as a simple fact. Confidence that comes from experience. "He obviously has a lot of psychological trauma. We actually can help him, too. Rehab doesn't have to just be a cover."

Lynette's attention turns back to Varlane, her hand giving his shoulder a squeeze. "Magnes, do you understand? We're going to help you."

Jim looks up from his cleaning of the wound when he’s addressed as ‘Doctor Allen,’ though again, his expression doesn’t really change, nor does he attempt to disabuse Varlane overly of the mistaken notion. Possibly because he’s busy right now, and leaving the psychological stuff to Lynette seems to be working quite well. Instead he finishes cleaning the wound, and then reaches into the bag for the stitching kit.

“Must’ve got lucky,” he replies a little bit absently to Kaylee as he threads the needle, before looking up at Varlane again. “I’m gonna close this up, okay?” he says. “It’ll hurt, but I’ll be quick, and then you’ll be good to go. Try to hold still.” He glances to Lynette then, and then from her to Luther, making a somewhat surreptitious motion that may indicate they should be ready to hold the man in case it’s needed so that he can finish.

Varlane remains markedly stationary, though as Lynette metaphorically reaches out to him, his attention pivots to her with a mechanical fluidity. “I'm not Magnes,” is said with a broken, pleading tone, and his expression begins to scrunch up into a broken visage of someone who is only partially aware of themselves, someone who is too scared to peel back the curtain.

As Jim begins to clean the wound on Varlane’s leg, everything seems fine. Though he notices something unusual as he touches the cut with an alcohol swab, revealing the bloody and wounded tissue below. The cut seems smaller than when he last looked at it, but there's also something f hard just beneath the surface of his skin, maybe a piece of debris. It all registers blank in Jim's mind as reflexive denial: he did not see that. But after a blink, Jim notices something else just inside the flesh of the cut. When he presses on the wound, gently, the hard bit is briefly visible. Then, it falls out onto the floor with a click…

“I'm not me,” Varlane whines.

…it's a tooth.

“It’s not….!” Kaylee’s back straightens and she bristles at what sounds like an accusation. Maybe it’s the exhaustion speaking, since she hasn’t been sleeping very well as of late. “Did you just…” Turning to look at her Security Chief, he can see the snap of anger in those blue-eyes. “I will have you know he asked for help.” She hisses at him in an angry whisper.

Curbing that little flash of anger, Kaylee explains to Lynette. “He wants to be called Varlane.” Forcing herself to relax, she adds. “I don’t think he wants to be compared to Magnes, since he is his own person.” A rueful smile tugs up at one corner.

At least until a tooth(?!?) hits the floor. This gets started at for a long moment. Finally, she can’t help but ask, “Is that….??” She can’t get herself to ask it.

Curiosity flashes across the telepath’s features as she looks back at Varlane, arms fold tight against herself as if holding herself back. What others don’t hear is the hissing whisper telling her that she just needs to take a peek. Her ability furls out, like living tendrils, reaching for the injured man. She needs to know. The tendrils of her ability curls around Varlane’s mind, like a snake curling around its unaware prey. It listens, patient.

Her mind reasons that she is doing it to protect her friends, but in truth, Kaylee wants answers and to know who did this to the man.

Luther holds up a placating hand at Kaylee, but he doesn’t retreat from his stand. “I’m saying, in the case we have to explain it,” he hypothesizes, “here he’s at least taken care of in the better sense of the phrase.” And, he doesn’t add verbally, if there are people after him they won’t connect the dots to RayTech. Anymore than there are already.

He turns his attentions to Jim’s stitch up job and narrows his eyes down to focus on the tooth that clicks to the floor. Luther bends to pick up the fragment, turning it this way and that in his fingers in examination. Then he remembers it comes from not the man’s mouth. “Teeth,” confirms the security chief grimly. It’s not a happy revelation. He stares hard back at Varlane, trying to reason out how that possibly got there.

“Luther, you sound paranoid,” Lynette offers, looking between him and Kaylee for a moment. Not now is the message.

Her attention turns back to their clone, and she gives him a nod. “Varlane. Of course.” His situation is beyond her, so she defaults back to a comforting pat to his arm and steps back. She ends up at Luther’s side when he picks up the tooth. She looks at it, then up at Luther. “Could have been in a fight.” In the war, when they saw things like this— bits of one person in another— grenades were usually the reason, but that seems unlikely just now. But a brawl that got out of hand, maybe.


“Could be leftover from the cloning process,” she murmurs, just to Luther for the moment.

Jim is focused enough on his work that it takes him a couple seconds to figure out what exactly is going on. Eventually he does, though, and then he frowns, peering at the rapidly — or at least more rapidly than usual — closing wound. Oh, and then there’s a tooth falling on the floor. That’s fun.

His eyes widen as he shifts backward almost involuntarily. Not a lot, but certainly enough to notice. “What the hell…” he murmurs, glancing up at Varlane, and then looking back over his shoulder to the others in turn. He doesn’t ask any further questions — or any questions at all, since that wasn’t really one — but it’s clear he’s paying attention to what’s being said behind him as he finishes his work.

It takes this long for Kaylee to really, truly, push past Varlane’s inobtrusive surface thoughts regarding observations of the room around himself. A moment or two later and she finds herself deeper in his subconscious, where a jumble of thoughts are so much chaotic static in the back of his mind. He's a broken china cabinet full of destroyed plates, none of which are glued together properly. Varlane’s thoughts are so broken and so disconnected that it's a marvel he's even as coherent as he is now, but the strain of remaining as much must be significant.

All Kaylee finds in his mind is a jumble of temporally opaque moments. Children's toys against invasive medical procedures, comic book panels superimposed over a severe middle-aged woman’s face. There's a scent memory of turkey dinner and gravy conjoined with the recollection of a melted piece of Tupperware. Nothing makes sense and little is of immediate use. Maybe if she got him to focus on a topic and delve into the subconscious reflections, but that's more involved.

Jim is more successful in his suturing of the knee wound closed, though he discovers an uncomfortable truth by the time he's done; the sutures are being pushed out of Varlane’s skin which appears to have sealed completely closed in the time it took to tie the last suture shut. There's a scar there, but there's no wound. Just a clean spot where the blood and grime was wiped away, and now glistening sutures clinging to leg hairs around a thin, pale line.

Varlane stares ahead, mouth open as if he were to say something. He doesn't, though. Perhaps he's nothing left to say, or perhaps he lacks the words to say it.

After a long moment of silence from Kaylee, she lets out a soft sigh. It needs to be said though, so in her way she admits to the intrusion. “He’s practically a vegetable,” She says quietly. Looking first to Luther and then Lynette, she shakes her head. “He’s completely mentally fractured. With time, I might be able to piece.. something together, but I would like to sit down with him, once he’s rested and well fed.” In mom fashion she complains that, “He needs to gain some weight.”

Kaylee is quiet for a moment as she thinks on the issue at hand. “I think I know how to get to the information we need, without using guerilla tactics. He doesn’t need that, not after everything that happened to him.” A hand rubs at her jaw, them moves to hook at the back of her on neck. “I can’t shake the feeling this might be Institute. They are the only ones I know who would do this.” There is hint of guilt with this. If it wasn’t for her father’s obsession to keep them alive….

This was just another piece of straw to lay on her back.

“If it’s okay, Lynette, I’ll stick around. Help watch after him. From what I’ve seen his ability is linked to his emotions.” Which were apparently volatile. Kaylee shrugs a bit and offers her friend a smile. “I’ll ask Joseph to keep up with the kids. At least until we know he is comfortable.”

"I'm not," Luther counters Lynette's remark on his paranoia, but he gets her message and coupled with the looks from Kaylee, slips off that trail for another time. The security chief twists the tooth in his hand, then pockets it for now so that he can focus on the present. Jim's startled shift lands him a worried look from Luther. 'Yeah, sorry about that', seems to be his message to the other man.

Once Kaylee's come out of examining Varlane's mind and given something of a report, Luther doesn't look too happy about the mention of the Institute. He can think of some choice words, but stays silent on them. Despite his mild protesting commentary earlier, Luther nods to the telepath to acknowledge her wishes. "I'll head back to the office, make sure they're aware that you'll be out awhile," he adds, looking back to Jim and Lynette, the latter receiving a long look. He'll owe her another one for handling this.

"You need a ride back?" he asks Jim, his tone with an implied check-in.

"Of course," Lynette says to Kaylee, "I'll set up the room next door for you. Stay as long as you like." She watches Varlane, concern and sympathy settling into a frown on her face.

"I would not be surprised if it was them. Whatever science they wanted to pursue, they weren't kind about it." She remembers well. Stepping over to Varlane, she puts a hand on his shoulder. "Varlane," she says, to get his attention, "if you want to lie down, you're welcome to get some rest here. We'll make sure there's food ready when you wake up." She glances back to the others, giving Luther a quick shake of her head. No one owes her anything for helping out.

"Jim, thank you for coming. I'm sorry this building is always so strange," she says, a genuine apology met with a touch of humor. Just a touch, though. Him, they do owe.

Jim watches the stitches close more or less in front of his eyes, and it does get raised eyebrows — but considering that it’s not even the weirdest thing he’s seen tonight, let alone ever, it doesn’t score much more of a reaction than that. Maybe that’s coming later.

He finishes up, though, as much as he can considering the circumstances, and stands up, turning to Luther at the question. “I’d appreciate it,” he confirms with a grateful nod, the corner of his mouth pulling up a little bit. “Thanks.” His gaze shifts to Lynette then, and he waves a hand, dismissing the bit about strangeness. “It’s all good,” he says. “Good to see you all. Maybe next time it won’t even be with the kit.” He reaches to lift up said kit, turning to Varlane with a little bit more of a considering look, but it’s brief, and all he says is, “Be well.” Not super possible under the circumstances, but hey, maybe one day! “Nice to meet you,” he directs to Kaylee, before waiting to follow Luther out.

Still somewhat dazed looking and vacant, Varlane seems to hear and see Lynette enough to latch on to some of the things she says. “You're nice like Shahid,” comes with a nervous smile and a twitch of one of Varlane’s brows. “M-make sure to lock my door,” he adds, “I float sometimes.” At that, Varlane affords a somewhat more earnest smile as he slouches back against the wall, looking down at his once-injures leg.

In the back of Jim’s mind he can still see the tooth on the floor, the way the wound closed behind the sutures. It keeps replaying in the back of his thoughts, a walking teratoma with broken memories and dissociative tendencies. It's enough to haunt a person for days. On second thought, it might well do just that.

“Miss Lynette,” Varlane suddenly speaks up at Jim’s back in a moment of salient awareness. “I'm sorry about everything. Your kids. Just… everything. But I have to get Addie back.” His lips quaver from their smile in an emotional tremble. “We’ll figure it out. I swear.”

“It was a pleasure, I wish it was under better circumstances,” Kaylee offers with a bright appreciative smile. “And please, send your bill to Raytech. I’ll pay for today.” In her mind the man on the bed is her responsibility and Lynette has enough to pay for.

The telepath starts for the door when Varlane speaks up. Kaylee stops in her tracks, back straightening with realization, and slowly she turns back to look at the grungy man. Her head tilts ever so slightly as she considers him, before she gives a soft hiss of sound.

“Oh my god…” Kaylee blurts out, suddenly, hand covering her mouth, with an apologetic to everyone there. Lowering the hand, she looks between Lynette and Luther. “He’s connected. To Magnes.” There is a few steps taken towards Varlane and she turns to look back at the others. It is hard to keep her voice down with her excitement at the realization. “He’s seeing another timeline. I guarantee it. I don’t know if it is our Magnes, but I think Varlane is remembering things the other is seeing…. Just like Odessa is connected.”

She might sound rather crazy to Jim. Sorry, man.

Kaylee’s attention turns fully to Lynette, stepping closer to her friend and lowering her voice. There is a difference in her that Luther might notice. She is far too eager… “We should go in,” she whispers to the other blonde.

Well he was going to head back to the office and drop Jim off. But. Luther pauses near the doorway of the room at the mention of Lynette's kids, and frowns back at the telepath. "Kaylee," he rumbles aloud at her like he can tell. Almost like he's a paranoid security chief expecting trouble. The eagerness on her part is worrisome. Luther cuts a glance to Lynette, then Jim, then Varlane and finally back to Lynette. Pleading in his gray eyes. They can slow this interdimensional timeline thought train down, right… right?

“I’ll take you back,” he repeats to Jim, voice firm in the task. “Should stop by Joseph’s office, and give the kid a chance to clean up,” adds the man. But it’s hitched onto a look at Kaylee, and an arch of his brows up.

"My…" Lynette straightens up as if Varlane's words pushed her there. "What happened to my kids?" It's a question for him, but she also swings a look to Kaylee. For a moment, it's a desperate plea, but she schools herself back to something more calm.

Once upon a time, she promised herself she wouldn't ask something like this of Kaylee. Something that would get her hurt.

Looking to Luther, she lets out a gentle sigh, torn between being grateful for his intervention and upset by it. "He does need to rest. And so do you, Kaylee. We'll see if he's clearer in the morning." She doesn't seem to mind sounding crazy in front of Jim, either, because she just folds her arms and turns to Kaylee again. "If we go in there, Mateo needs to be involved. If they're my kids, they're his kids." She doesn't need to be able to see through timelines to know that.

There’s a little shake of Jim’s head and shoulders, then his back, as though he’s shaking some water off or something like that. But considering it’s obviously not that, it’s probably some feeling or other, even though he doesn’t share it. Likely he doesn’t have to, though, all things considered, even with those who couldn’t tell through supernatural means. Kaylee’s words don’t really seem to make register — there’s enough going on right now that he can’t quite grasp, better not to focus on something else that he’s even less likely to grasp.

Instead, he notes Luther’s pause, and he lifts a hand, waving the offer away. “You know what, don’t worry about it,” he says with a little smile, genuine if small. “I can get home. Thanks, though.” Another turn to Lynette with another wave, this one in farewell. “Let me know if you end up needing anything else,” he says. Does anyone sound crazy to Jim? You wouldn’t know it to look at him! He seems about as even-keeled as he had throughout, with just a few notable — if again, small — exceptions. “Night,” he says, before he slips out.

“He's nice,” Varlane explains with an uneven smile, entirely unaware of the chaos his presence has caused.

And will continue to cause.

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