Just Fooling Yourself


curtis_icon.gif elisabeth2_icon.gif kaylee3_icon.gif

Scene Title Just Fooling Yourself
Synopsis Curtis turns to Kaylee for help with the Ash situation.
Date July 22, 2019

"Sorry it took so long," Elisabeth tells him as they head up the hall to Kaylee's place. "I got ridiculously busy and … well, shitty friend that I am, I forgot that I had told her about it. I'm really glad that you called today — it triggered the memory and she's easy to get hold of nowadays." Being as Kaylee works with her. And lives down the hall. She grins at Curtis as she leads the way to the door and knocks. "She's really about the only person I would trust with something like this."

There's a shake of the head from Curtis at Liz's apology. "No need to be sorry Liz. It's just the way of things. People get busy. Especially people like us." Curtis's steps are steady and even, matching Liz's pace as he walks along at her side. "I've been… losing time again. More this time. Before it wasn't so bad. Could excuse it away. But this is more. More than I can explain away. A day here, a day there. But often enough that it's worrying me." And from the waver in his voice, it's worrying him a lot more than he lets on. "I haven't seen Kaylee in a long long time. Ohhh 10 years now? But honestly right now I'd be happy with anyone willing to at least try to help me." His shoulders shrug slightly, a half hearted gesture.

The place they were going was on Raytech’s campus, the apartment door was at the end of a long hall. While Kaylee didn’t work for the company, she was still an owner and was in no hurry to move away from her siblings. So the telepath kept occupying the family unit normally reserved for upper executives.

Upbeat music bleeds through the walls, something that would make anyone tap their feet and dance. Something new and modern probably. Half way down the hall, the music seemly cuts out. And before Liz can even knock on the door, it opens to the familiar visage of Kaylee Sumter.

“Hey guys,” Kaylee offers cheerfully and steps back, opening the door further for them.

Kaylee’s Apartment - Raytech Housing

“As— Curtis,” is offered specifically to the hulk of a man, Kaylee stumbling over the man’s name. Liz has told her of his name change, but it was hard to really wrap her mind around. “You haven’t changed.” A hand motions to the couch. “Have a seat. Can I get you guys some tea? Water?”

It worries her that he's losing still more time. Elisabeth never knew Curtis as Ash, but she's been around Niki and seen the havoc that multiple personalities can wreak.

As the door whips open, she grins a bit at the telepath and seems at home in the apartment. Of course, she does live just over ——> there.

"Nah, I'm good," is Liz's reply to the offer of drinks and such. "Were you doing dishes with the music cranked again?" The query is a good-natured one, as if that's a normal state of affairs around here.

Curtis steps up to the door but lets Liz knock. Or not. Curtis blinks just once in surprise as the door opens. Then looks amused by his own surprise. Telepath. He takes a moment though, at the doorway to look at Kaylee. Really look at her. Then snorts at the comment she makes. "Scars are gone." The scars he earned in Pinehearst with Adam's crew. "But most of my change is… up here." He reaches a hand up to tap the side of his head.

It is true though, despite ten years Curtis hasn't visibly aged all that much. Maybe his power comes with an extended lifespan as well? "You have." He responds back, stepping inside. "And either is fine. If Ash makes you more comfortable. He's in here too." He pauses inside the doorway though. "You look happier. A lot happier." He looks at the directed furniture and moves over to it, sinking down gingerly, careful. He's a big guy. Furniture and him don't always get along.

“Not dishes, no. Privacy. You learn tricks as a telepath to block things out,” Kaylee responds to Liz, after closing the door. “Rodgers below me is quite the Don Juan and I really don’t need to hear any of that.” Kaylee’s tone is flat as she delivers that tidbit, giving Liz a matter of fact look.

“This one’s name is Tiffany.”

While the apartments are mostly sound proof, they are not telepath proof.

The mention of her being happier, Kaylee’s smile turns rather amused, attention on pouring him an iced tea. “I guess I am. Great job, great family, great friends… what is there to complain about?” Of course, Liz knows the truth of it. “Beats being used or hunted.” Like the old days. “I had heard you were with Wolfhound, I’m sorry I never tried to find you when I was up there.” The cold glass is offered to the man.

There's a soft groan at the news that Rodgers has a new woman. "Swear to God," Elisabeth murmurs, "I'm pretty damn sure he goes looking for rocks to turn over to find dates. I'll let security know." The man is good at his job, she supposes, but damn living near him is tough for telepaths and audiokinetics.

Shaking her head, Liz plops down in one of the chairs so that she's out of the way but still present in case either of them need anything while Kaylee's working. It's not her place to fill the telepath in on Curtis's missing time — she leaves it to him.

Curtis grimaces at the talk of the man downstairs. "That's got to be tough. I get enough of people's business just being at the bunker. People dont'… realize how well I hear. It's a physical characteristic." So for him it's perfect. He makes a face though and lets out a short laugh, then looks up and shakes his head at Kaylee's comment. "You… had no real reason to. Ash didn't keep contact with you after Adam. Truth be told he wasn't sure how. He got… lost. Very lost."

Curtis lets out a slow breath and then he reaches out to take the offered glass with a softly spoken thank you. He takes a sip and then cradles it in his hands. "I'm glad you're happier. And happier doesn't mean there aren't troubles and woes." He smiles a bit and takes another sip from the tea. He doesn't broach the subject of why they're there either. He's nervous, and that much would be clear to at least Liz who has a much more recent acquaintance to the man. A couple versions of him in fact.

The telepath is amused as she settles into a chair as well, leaning back she considers Curtis, “Well, where Ash got lost, I was found, by the Ferrymen and my family. So I guess we sorta traded places then.” Kaylee looks between the two of them, waiting to see if an explanation is coming, when it doesn’t right away she looks at Curtis again.

“So.” Kaylee quips, her head tilting to the side ever so slightly. “You didn’t come here to socialize, that much Liz told me.” The smile she offers the man is gentle and understanding of the nerves he is displaying. “How can I help you, Curtis? Tell me what’s going on and why you need a telepath.”

Given his nerves, Elisabeth does offer quietly, "He mentioned to me weeks ago that he's losing time. Given that he does still have the programming in his brain somewhere, I kinda thought you were the only person who might be able to help if something's gone haywire with all that stuff. I saw what happened when Niki and Jessica were fighting for control, and I'm worried. You're the only person I'd trust, Kaylee."

Curtis doesn't even know where to begin. That much is clear. His fingers fidget with the iced tea glass in his hands, turning it around in them slowly. And it's not until Kaylee asks him why he's here that he looks up with a forced chuckle. "Well." He takes in a deep breath, holding it for a few moments, then lets it out again. "I had hoped Richard filled you in when I went to him for help. But uhh." He straightens up in his seat, back going stiff as he bucks the hell up and quits stalling. Liz speaking up maaaay have helped with that. It broke the ice on the problem. His voice falls into a neutral tone as he begins to speak.

"I was an Lt. in the Marine Corps. Spec ops. General Autumn was my grandfather. I was supposed to be one of the starting lineup for Frontline, but an undercover mission went wrong. Ash. As far as I know, my consciousness was removed from my body, or… suppressed somehow. I'm not entirely sure. And Ash's was put in here. Then sent into Moab to gather information. Convoluted but there were reasons for it. Well when Moab was blown up… my mission went off the rails. The Institute finally recovered me the night Rupert sent New York to hell. When they put me back in my body or reawakened me, again not sure exactly what was done, they left Ash in here."

Curtis takes a moment, gathering his thoughts, his eyes on the middle distance before his focus snaps back to the here and now. "It was tenable for awhile. Then the war hit. And it wasn't. We… traded off. And by traded off I mean I let him fight most of the battles and he quit struggling with me for control. But after the war it started to get bad. I wasn't letting him out as much and he didn't like it. I… started losing time. Just a bit here and there. I figured he took over while I was sleeping. But not like he could get much done in a few hours at night. But it's gotten… worse. A lot worse."

His jaw clenches for a moment and his eyes narrow at… well nothing. A blank spot on the wall. "Everyone just thinks of it like a split personality or something but it's… not. I'm aware of him, his memories, hopes, dreams, desires and everything else. And vice versa…." Curtis pauses a moment, looking up to meet Kaylee's eyes, a wry smile pulling at the man's features. "I imagine you're one of the few people who might know what that feels like. Complete contact with another person's mind like that." He looks over to Liz as if looking for a bit of reassurance, then back to Kaylee again, eyes drifting from her, down to the floor in front of him and then to the iced tea in his hands.

“More than you know.”

The words from Kaylee thoughtful and curious, and vaguely disturbed. “I’ve shared my head with something for as long as I could remember. But I just thought I was becoming like my brother Warren.” Why not? They shared blood, after all. “Ended up being something else. What, I’m not totally sure. So I kinda get it.”

Pushing to her feet, Kaylee moves closer to the man. Instead of joining him on the couch, the telepath perches on the edge of the coffee table after moving a children’s book aside. Taking a deep breath she studies Curtis. “This is going to be dangerous.” Angling a look over her shoulder at Liz, Kaylee gives her a significant look. “I need you to be a spotter.”

"That's what I'm here for," Elisabeth assures her. "Given all the shit that has gone sideways when it comes to this kinda stuff, I figure it's better to have at least three of us present when you're doing it."

She settles back into her seat to be ready for anything. This is definitely not Elisabeth's first rodeo.

The talk of it being dangerous brings a rather concerned look to Curtis's features. "For me or for you? I'm perfectly willing to risk my well being. But I don't want to risk your own. I am quite sure I have myself committed and have Ash contained that way rather than put you at risk. He agrees. Not with the whole me having us committed but with not wanting you to risk yourself. He also asks if you're sure you weren't pregnant." There's a sly sort of smirk that is all Ash and not at all Curtis at that statement. Referencing a conversation Kaylee had with Ash a decade ago. Him getting confused and thinking his friend and drinking buddy was pregnant. The question comes with a gesture at the children's book that was moved aside. Curtis looks to the side at Liz, the bit of Ash fading from his features, concern written back across them, looking to Liz for support or reassurance.

The comment from Ash gets a bit of a smirk from Kaylee. “That time, I’m pretty sure.” A glance goes to the book on the table next to her hip. “Since then…. well, that is a different story.” Attention shifting back to Curtis she says, “His name is Carl and he just turned seven last month.” Offering up the name without being asked. “I also have an adopted daughter named Emily and a step-daughter, Hannah.”

Before their absence can be noted, Kaylee adds, “All living with their father right now.”

Risk isn’t even commented on, the telepath only holds out her hand for the tea, because, “I’d rather not spill it on the couch, if something happens.” Though by Kaylee’s tone she doesn’t see a problem, just being overly cautious with her stuff.

Smothering a laugh at the query of pregnancy back then, Elisabeth withholds any comment on the situation. She's just here as backup, folks!

Curtis opens his mouth to ask the very question that Kaylee answers ahead of time. His lips press closed and he tilts his head a little smile in place. "At least some of us came out the other side more or less intact. Though I'll admit I'm rather curious about the comment you made earlier about having something in your head all this time." He tilts his head, and takes another sip of the tea before handing it over.

Curtis’ head turns to the side to regard Liz with a small smirk in place. "I'll have to tell you the story sometime. Not that it's much of a story. Just… embarrassing is all." He breathes in deep and holds it as he turns back to Kaylee, tilting his head to her. She's not commenting on the risk and well… he's not really one to chide someone for taking unnecessary risk himself. So he just breathes in, and out and then looks up to Ash's old friend. "So how does this… work? Vulcan style? Lock eyes? Hold hands?"

“That thing in my head doesn’t matter anymore,” Kaylee offers with a shake of her head, “It’s gone now.” And honestly, for her that was all that mattered.

“As for what to do, nothing right now, just relax. If I need you… you’ll know.” The telepath leans forward enough that she can press the cool fingertips of one hand to his temple. Her own eyes slide shut as she starts to work her way into his mind. Everyone has natural defenses.


Almost as soon as Curtis feels the pressure of her intrusion, the silkiness of her mind brushing over his. It’s gone in an instant. Kaylee’s hand jerks off his temple and eyes open wide to stare at him. More surprise, but a little fear mixed in.

Fingers curl as she turns to look at Liz as well, “I can’t.” There is a jerky shake of Kaylee’s head. “He’s a ticking time bomb.” She looks back at Curtis apologetically. “You still have an active trigger.” Was it old or new? Who could know. “It feels just like every other Rupert suggestion I’ve ever found. If I push too hard, I could set off the trigger.” Which could be bad for everyone.

Fuck. Elisabeth looks alarmed as Kaylee pulls back like that, and her blue eyes shift between the two of them. "You gotta be shitting me. After all this time??"

Pausing, she studies Curtis and frowns. "Curt… you said 'missing time' and days of it." Looking between them, Elisabeth asks hesitantly, "Is it… like an Ash trigger?"

Well, wasn’t that anticlimactic? Curtis watches Kaylee as she lifts her hands to rest fingers at his temples, and he feels the brush of mind against mind and then… it’s gone. His head cants to the side a little bit, the look is… not really a Curtis sort of thing. That head tilt was very much an Ash expression. Then she uses the magic words. The magic fucking words. “Rupert fucking Carmichael?” His tone is tired, defeated sounding. “Fuck. That. Guy.” He lifts a hand up and pinches the bridge of his nose, tightly. Tight enough that the area around his fingers goes pale from pinched off blood supply. His hand drops to his lap after a few moments with a lengthy sigh.

“How… how can there be a trigger there from before… I got back in the body and… wait what?” Curtis is bewildered, his features scrunching up in pure confusion. “Rupert never had access to me. Only to Ash. How could he have implanted a suggestion to Ash that would superceded another person in the same body and… what?” Curtis’ brows furrow, frustration clear on his features. Frustration and perhaps a little bit of hopelessness. “Yes. Missing time. There have been a couple of times where a day is gone. Usually it’s just a few hours or so. Sometimes a bit more. But… more recently… yeah days. Not all at a time. Just one here, one there and one there.” He looks to Liz, then back to Kaylee. “Is… what if I was restrained? I’m sure there;s stuff at Raytech that could restrain me. Could… could you help then?”

There’s a pleading note in Curtis’ voice that is almost desperate sounding. He was so close to maybe fixing his broken mind and then… it’s gone. That bit of hope smashed by Rupert Fucking Carmichael.

The apologetic look she offers Curtis is his answer; Kaylee can’t help him.

“If I push that trigger, not only will it trigger endangering us all, it’s boobytraped.” Kaylee’s words are equally apologetic. Her attention shifts between the two, because they both need to know the danger in it. “Meaning, I’ll end up with that trigger, too.” It was the worst news she could give really.

“I’m really worried about the fact that this trigger hasn’t tripped. Over time it degrades, but in this case that isn’t a good thing. It’s fragile, but it will hold as long as no one tries to touch it. Luckily, Rupert’s triggers are usually a one time use thing.” Meaning, he would be free after it tripped - a small silver lining - but… what was the trigger?

"There's no way to … I don't know. Isolate the trigger? Build a set of shields around it so it can't be triggered or anything?" Elisabeth is reaching — she isn't sure such a thing is possible, but given what happened to her and others with Charles Deveaux burying people's lives, it seems like it should be possible. Maybe?

Her blue eyes meet Kaylee's and something passes between the two women. Elisabeth's expression goes blank, carefully neutral as she seems to consider whatever is being said. Then she slips her hand into Curtis's and holds it tightly. "Tell him," she says softly to Kaylee. "He needs to know… and we'll help him through it." Her tone is a little bit grim and her hold on the man is firm. She's not going to let him retreat, she's going to back him every step of the way.

Curtis dips his head forwards, acknowledging Kaylee’s silent statement. She can’t help him. And if her words are anything to go by. No Telepath can. Not without significant danger to themselves and others. He pulls in a slow breath, holding it, and his eyes close, holding that way for a few moments. His eyes snap open surprise in them when he feels Liz’s hand settle into his. His hand closes instinctively, giving her hand a squeeze back. “Is there any way to identify what the trigger is? Or would that potentially set it off? Should I… “ He trails off, thinking for a few moments. “I won’t ask if I’m a danger. I know I am. Should I… find a way to be locked away? Until it degrades or … something?”

Curtis’ shoulders have slumped a little. Which is a significant change from his normal ramrod straight posture. He’s a man defeated. He sits there staring into the middle distance for a time, only realising a few moments after what Liz said. “Tell me… what?” He asks slowly, looking between both women carefully, curiously and cautiously.

There is a slow shake of Kaylee’s head to what each of them says. “It doesn’t work that way, but like I said. It’ll hold. But it won’t if I try to get a better look.” Meaning she can’t even identify it. “Someone with Rupert’s ability type and experience, might be more help.” But by her tone she isn’t sure; it’s only a guess.

On the heels of that, though, Kaylee sends a look of uncertainty Elizabeth’s way. There was something else. After a moment, the telepath’s head bobs at Liz’ prompting. Whatever she needs to tell him… it must be pretty big. Blue eyes lifting to meet the man’s own. “I can't fix this for you, Curtis.” Kaylee admits apologetically, her brows tipped up I'm concern. “This is a fight you have to take on. All we can do is stand by you.” Taking a deep breath, Kaylee composes her thoughts, finally….

“You say that Ash is completely separate from you, but…” Kaylee speaks in a soft, yet matter of fact tone. “There is no separation between you and him. Ash is you. When he speaks, it’s you I hear.”

It was a pretty big truth and Kaylee hopes he understands.

“Every thought he has, it is you thinking it. Somehow, you are blinding yourself to that fact,” Kaylee glances at Elisabeth to help her explain it, as the telepath struggles to find the right words. “Ash… Ash is just a puppet for your own darkness. Every word and every deed… Curtis… that’s all you.”

Elisabeth's grip on Curt's hand tightens a bit further, a silent reassurance that she has him. "It really is essentially a multiple personality problem, Curt," she tells him gently. "You're keeping him at arm's length because he's done things you… don't want to own." Not that she blames him a bit. "They didn't make a whole new person… they just took away the limits you impose on yourself with your own innate goodness, your own conscience and morals. They took away those controls so you could and would do the tasks they put in front of you without remorse." No one wants to believe they are capable of horrors… they had this conversation not very long ago.

Her heart aches for what he now has to face.

"And pretty much anyone I can think of that might even remotely have that kind of knowledge or expertise is… dead or in prison. Or whereabouts unknown. That's… lovely. Damn you Rupert." Curtis lifts a hand upwards, rubbing it across his features slowly, processing that knowledge. That he likely can't get help with whatever is implanted in his head.

Confusion once again creases his features as they scrunch a little bit when Kaylee starts to speak again, telling him there's something he'll have to fight himself. His brow furrows though as Kaylee tells him that he and Ash are one and the same. "That's not possible." The former marine shakes his head in denial of her statement. "When I was just Ash I didn't have my memories. And before Ash I didn't have his memories. I remember Ash's entire life like it was my own. I remember him taking a gun in his hand and killing his own father to save his mother. I remember his time coming up in the underground fights in New York. And I remember my life too. I remember playing baseball with my Dad. I remember my mother's home made cookies. And… when they sent me undercover as Ash I didn't have those memories. The Curtis ones. Mine."

Curtis rises to his feet, letting Liz's hand go as he does so, looking between both women. There's an… animal look to his eyes in that moment. A beast in a cage. The monster lurking waiting to kill it's creators in the sci fi horror films. He walks a few paces away, then turns back, pausing a second or two before giving his head a shake. "No. I can distinctly hear him in my head. His… hopes, dreams and desires. All of it." His head is shaking steadily back and forth. "Thank you. For telling me about the trigger. I… just wish there was some way to deal with it that didn't endanger other people." Curtis is seemingly making ready to leave. “Thank you for trying Kaylee. And thank you for facilitating Liz.” He has no idea what to do with the knowledge about the trigger. And he clearly isn’t processing what Kaylee and Liz are trying to tell him about Ash.

As Curtis rises from the couch, Kaylee quietly casts a concerned look Elisabeth’s way; but she doesn’t move to stop him or draw his attention to what was said. He needed time to process. It wasn’t a small thing she laid out before him.

Instead, Kaylee looks up at Curtis and offers him an understanding smile, dipping her head in acknowledgement to his thanks. “You’re welcome, Curtis. I…” The telepath sighs, expression turning apologetic. “I just wish I was able to do more for you. Just don’t give up hope on it, yet, there may yet be someone out there that can help.” She just didn’t know who.

Elisabeth's blue eyes are steady on Curtis. "Think about it," she tells him quietly. "How truly different are those hopes and dreams from your own? We all want things in the deepest parts of ourselves that we aren't proud of, Curt. When we're mad or feeling put upon. We don't act on them because we can regulate ourselves and rationalize. They gave you different life memories to encourage that side of you, to break down your control of your own darkest wants." Her tone is gentle, laced with subsonics to help keep him from losing it. "It doesn't change who you are. You're a good man."

She isn't flinching from him, she meets his agitation with simple acceptance hoping that if nothing else and he bolts, when he thinks back on this moment, he knows he has someone to turn to.

Not a small thing? Curtis has spent years convincing himself he’s not crazy. He’s not insane. And that there’s two people in his head. Because if there’s not then that means he is crazy. To a great degree. His thoughts are a roiling mess. Him arguing with Ash. Well with himself. But that’s not how he sees it. In his mind it literally is two people yelling at each other. Both insisting they’re real and not one person. Accusing each other of being the fake, an old argument, and just generally increasing his anxiety levels. “Like I said. Only people I can think of that might be remotely helpful are dead or locked up or presumed dead.” There’s a faint smirk from him, along with a stray thought if Kaylee is still listening. ‘Help me Obi Wan Kenobi. You’re my only hope.’ Given that Adam’s labeling of his gang as Star Wars characters. Kaylee was Obi Wan. Hooms was Chewie. Ash was Han. His head shakes though, banishing the thought and the smirk. “I do mean it though. Thank you for looking and trying.”

Curtis turns his eyes on Liz, a sad sort of smile gracing his lips. “I’ve heard of telepaths being able to replace key memories. Single ones here and there. But create an entire life from nothing? That… sounds beyond any telepath I’ve heard of. Which doesn’t mean they can’t exist but…” Broad shoulders shrug, though not strongly. It’s a weak half hearted expression. “Thank you though Liz. Also for being willing to help. I… don’t actually have that many people in my corner these days. Done a lot of driving people away in my past. Ash’s and mine.” He looks around a bit, again looking like an animal in a cage looking for a way out. This time though it’s less feral and angry and a lot more frightened. “I’m… gonna head off. Need to get back.” There’s another tight smile, hesitant offered to the two women before he ducks his head and moves for the door. His footfalls are heavy, which is odd. Even for a big guy he usually walks light.

Kaylee is still perched on the edge of the coffee table as she heads for the door. Still she doesn’t stop him or try to reason with him. Instead, she says softly. “Let him go, sis.” Her attention goes to Liz. “He needs time to process what he’s being told. He’ll just dig his heels in if you keep poking at it.”

A little louder Kaylee calls after Curtis, “Be careful out there. You know where to find me if you need me.” Glancing up at Elisabeth and adds, “Need us.”

With a soft sigh, Elisabeth just nods slightly. If or when he wants to talk, she'll tell him about the whole life built in her head, her father's head, and others. For now, though, it's too much for Curtis and she understands why. Her blue eyes follow the man to the door and she says simply, "We're here." There's nothing else she can offer.

Curtis pauses at the door on the way out, looking back and tilting his head to them. He doesn’t force a smile or anything like that, just the nod of his head before he slips out into the hallway, steps carrying him away at a steady pace.

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