Liberty, Fraternity After Flammability


carolina_icon.gif doyle_icon.gif jericho_icon.gif kaylee_icon.gif

Scene Title Liberty, Fraternity After Flammability
Synopsis An innocent Ferryman errand for the kids leads to a disastrous clash between former Moab Federal Penitentiary inmates, and new acquaintances forged on apology.
Date October 3, 2009

Brooklyn — Bedford-Stuyvesant

Dingy ghetto.

The sign outside a run-down little building in Bed Stuy - or, as it's more appropriately called, Bedford-Stuyvesant - proclaims it to be the 'Bedford Hip-Hop Dance Studio'. Past the sign, one finds a realty sign tucked into soaped windows, recently overwritten with a sticker reading SOLD.

The unlocked doors (unwise of him, perhaps to leave them so) lead into a large room with a waxed, scuffed wooden floor and vaulted ceiling, dark in the midst of the day save for the faint light spilling through the soaped-up windows and the overhead lights directed upon the stage. The hand of Eric Doyle comes down and then up, a thick-bristled paintbrush in his hand as he paints the side of a wooden construction that straddles the stage - a rickety-looking (although actually quite sturdy) pair of wooden towers with a crosswalk between the two for the dangling of puppets, hidden from the floor by another wall. He's painting it a matte grey, presumably to seem like a castle tower. The portly puppeteer is dressed in denim coveralls and suspenders, stretching up on his toes to get a piece of wood properly in line with the other as he secures it. More pieces of wood and power tools litter the stage, and there's a fine layer of sawdust everywhere.

Fists on the door. Well, just the one, dropping three salutationary knocks against the planed surface of wood, jolting the jamb away from the frame in three inch-wide increments. Children's voices. Young adults, really, but they're in a different register, brighter, silvered over with the lacquer of— optimism? Energy? Something that isn't inherent to the dust shafts and enervated husks of derelict buildings inside and adjacent to the new theater.

"There's no fuckin' way anybody's selling toys here." This voice is male, unaccented, complaint ridging the syllables and distance fading it out from where he's standing, further back. Sort of a lookout. Also sort of bored. "And I mean: do they really need toys? Really? Shouldn't the little trolls just be grateful to be alive at this point?"

"Jerry." The girl's voice is higher-crust, New Yorkish. "Please don't say stuff like that. You can't just—"

"I was talking about abortion."

"Well I'm grateful. And the kids deserve to have something nice. Hello?" Her voice loudens from proximity, the intervening layer of door shifted, angled out of her way on a creak of hinges. A small hand hooks up over her eyes, shading Carolina's face from interchangeable darkness and weakly distributed lights. "Hi— sorry to bother you, we're not selling anything. Just collecting some toys for a— an, ah, charity— drive thing. For kids. Is anyone here?"

As there's a hammering at the door, the paintbrush pauses in its even vertical strokes, a momentary flicker of irritation crossing the puppeteer's features at being interrupted yet again while working on his project. Twice in two days! It's a heavy burden bourne upon the shoulders of the stout fellow, but someone has to bear it, apparently. A heavy sigh sinks those shoulders, and he bends slowly down to set the brush into the pan of paint, shifting to straighten and stepping along over towards the short stairs down from the stage's high edge.

There's something that removes the scowl on his way down, though, easing his expression into a faint and almost wistful smile - the bright, lively sound of young peoples' voices, reminiscent of the laughter of children that once his puppet shows produced. Near the stage still as the door creaks open, he's bathed in soft light from above as brows lift and his mouth opens in an easy grin, "Sorry, we're, ah, we're not actually open yet— if I had anything I'd give, honestly. Maybe come back in a few weeks or something?"

"Oh!" Carolina says, unhelpfully, though her features are written up all over with gratitude, possibly in greater proportion than the situation actually warrants. The weird little bald dude does not, after all, have any toys to offer. "That's too bad."

She's a pretty girl, if smaller, less mathematically porcelain regular of feature than Meredith or the other dolls that Doyle's played with in the past, her dress in scuffed secondhand casual: beaten jeans, a wiebeater underneath a suede jacket. Her dark eyes go quizzical, a flit of fingers through the air. "But that's really generous, thanks a lot. Most of the places we've checked have asked for money even with their surplus inventory. I don't know what it is with New York City if it's the economy these days, or something in the water, but when I was a kid I could swear people weren't like this. My name's Carolina."

She offers a handshake. The— tall— young man with her does not, fixing Doyle instead with two dark eyes darkened further by the pensive shadow of half-formed recognition, his brow furrowed, curly hair caught up in torsioned kinks and coils like a thundercloud threatening to break a monsoon over the puppet theater's wet paint and dander-dry interior. Tension knots his hands at his sides. Much to Carolina's disconcertment, he doesn't say a word.

"They don't care about toys, and puppets, and dolls anymore," Eric replies, his tone wistful, sullen… and just a sliver of anger buried deep in the set of his eyes, if one's insightful enough to catch it, "They just want kids to grow up and live in the 'real' world, as if that was really worth living in." He actually does the finger-quotes motion with his hands for 'real', his tone twisting with mild disgust.

The doll of a girl is given an absent sort of consideration, gaze running down her in appraisal of limbs and clothes and body— perhaps just long enough to be noticed, a little longer than a normal person would look— and then he looks back up, a tight smile curving tiredly to his lips, "Jason. Jason Tyminiski." A hesitance, then he adds with a gesture behind him, "Oh, and, ah, this is my theatre. And— " His high brow furrows, eyes narrowing in a squint of thought at the tall fellow, "…do I know you? I'm sorry, you— you look familiar?"

Recognition is met, weighed, clutched in the palpitating half of the young man's heart in nervous silence. He stares blankly at the older man, jolts a shake of his head through him when he hears his the girl clear her throat beside him. "Andrew," he says. "Andrew Hirsch. I don't think we've met." The emphasis is light but stands in sharp relief against the rest of his words. "I don't usually buy toys."

Carolina is all too brisk, hasty to take over where her compatriot's sentence dwindles off, sensing incipient ill manner where 'Andrew's habits are concerned. "I think it's nice. What you do. I work with a lot of kids and no one seems to appreciate how much childhood fantasies shape the kind of person you are when you grow up. People need something to hold onto. Are you planning to put in shelves, or..?" She gestures short fingers in at the vacuous space between doorway and the stage. Locking focus on the latter, her brows hike, surprised. She hadn't read exactly— what… Mr. Tyminiski was opening—?

The subtle lean forward of Eric's head, which in turn is tilted slightly to one side, eases back ever so slowly as his squinted gaze lingers upon the other man, one brow arched up in a querelous arch, lips pursed for just a moment before fading into a faint smile. He turns back towards Carolina, and back towards the stage, but his gaze lingers on 'Andrew's face for a few moments as if lagging with the movement.

"Oh, no— no, no," he exhales a throaty chuckle, shoulders shaking just a bit with good humor, his head shaking with a slight swaying of his jowls, "No, not shelves. Seats! Aside from the front, we'll probably need pads or mats or something for the kids…" Trailing off into thoughtful muttering, he recalls himself then with a throaty chuckle, "Puppets, my good girl, puppets. A dying art, but it's not gone yet."

"Ohhh." Carolina's mouth and eyes are round with wonderment, only slightly exaggerated for the sake of covering up the awkwardness residual to the situation. "That sounds like a cool project. I know a lot of kids who'd love to come. I feel like it's in a good part of town for it, too— if you know what I mean," she trips over words, her mouth in a hapless quirk, fingers uplifted. "I mean, it's kind of rough, but that's where kids need somewhere to go and get away awhile. My boyfriend probably could've used something like that. He'd never tell you, but I feel like this obsessively grim 'real life' thing is kind of… reactionary."

Long fingers shut on her shoulder, then, snapped closed like the incisors of a thylacine, yanking her back from the door. She goes back with a stutter of flat rubber shoe soles and a scissoring squawk of fingers in the air. "Bet you give yourself themed birthday parties too, don't you?

"Asshole." It's this scintillating gem of wit that's precursor to thumbed metal, flink, the lighter's cap and rowel peeling seizure-quick in Jericho's hand. Fire tongues out, butane-fuelled, no larger than a peanut shell and weakly orange under the sterility of the evening's lowering sunshine, but it doesn't stay that way for two seconds before the pyrokinetic's ripping the conflagration out to a sledgehammer's proportions. Ragged yellow edges whip out, arcing down vicious and bright into the cloth of the older man's modest shirt and hurling harsh light into his eyes.

"Exactly," Eric says with heartfelt warmth, "Exactly…" The compliments of the lovely doll ease the older man's guard, leaving him to relax just a bit as she speaks directly to his heart - on a level she probably doesn't even realize. A lack of realization that could eventually prove dangerous, if the puppeteer's mind isn't distracted by other things.

One of those could be, for instance, an eruption of flame that crashes into his chest as he turns sharply back towards an insult hurled at him.

Denim mercifully doesn't burn very easily, but the shirt beneath it isn't quite so fireproof, bursting into smoldering flames as he reels back with a startled, desperate cry, desperately slapping at himself to try and extinguish the heat, half-blinded by the flare of heat and fire in his eyes.

The mind of a paranoid is a strange place to be. Carolina is busy trying to untangle her limbs out from under her, hissing and wincing at the fragments of concrete bitten in through the knees of her jeans, pull herself upright with fingers scrabbling for purchase in the bricked wall outside, but even with that many tasks to multi, there's a considerable flood of vocabulary and bad temper donated toward eviscerating what the fuck is wrong with Jericho's brain, even before she notices that. Y'know.

He's setting the puppetmaster on fire.

"Jer!" It's a scream, tears the ceiling of her voice and leaves it a shredded mess of exposure. She grabs at his arm, only halfway onto her feet.

Jericho's snarling, trying to throw her off, throw her back, his indifference to her protests rooted neatly in an egotistical perception of her summary ignorance on the true issue and moral quandary at hand. "He's the one! He's the fucking traitor of Moab Fed Pen— he bought into their fascist bullshit and sold us out for pats on his bald fuckin' bean. The shit he did—!" Jericho's snap back with a panted gasp of mingled rage and fatigue, sudden sweat sucking down the caving hollows of his mouth, only a quaver-beat in time.

It hurts. It's been awhile since Eric knew this kind of pain, the torment he's most often used to being psychological; the weight of threats of death if he didn't behave, the lazy hum of engines that kept him just nauseous enough not to use his ability for years on end, thick walls denying him freedom. This, oh, this is a different sort of pain, the sting and blistering of heat spreading across his shirt, so much sharper and keener though the blade doesn't cut quite so deep. The worst of the flames are batted out, though his hands will blister, some still smoldering on his chest and flicking at his arm as he stumbles back, thumping hard into the stage.

Those words, though, accusations bear knives sharper still than Jericho's fire, and the blood they draw boils up from his belly into a bellow of pure rage.

"Do you think I had any choice?!"
His hand lifts sharply, fingers curling into a fist as the strings of his mind plunge unseen into Jericho's own, coiling about the part that controls the subtle reflex of his power's activation - and seizes it tight, paralysing it. Fingers splay— jerking muscle reflex, to pull arms and legs outwards into an X shape.

Smoldering, the pain almost a distant memory though it's still licking at his skin through his clothes where he failed to put it out, his cheeks and pate flushed red and jaw tightened into a rictus grimace. "You think I was just going to sit in my cage and die like the rest of you?"

Cruciform locks Jericho in place and shoves nauseating terror down his throat. Oh fuck, oh God; his hands aren't supposed to be up there, or his feet set like that, nor his quarry lurched up and at him again, beating back physical pain. He probably should have known, really. Psychics tend to have that edge. Ones who've suffered enough, particularly. Still, the wiry boy puts on his boldest face: a rictus of feverish hate, lips writhed back from even teeth, tendons standing out stiff and white through the skin of his hands, long-boned limbs, tensed. Prepared.

Jericho sneers, "Listen to the arrogance of this shitbag. And you wanted to let him near kids."

Boy and girl are like the cover of some ridiculous romance novel, her half-sprawled on his leg, except that she's wearing too much clothes and he's been trapped into the posture of a archetypical victim instead of a presiding hero with chest pumped. Carolina's fingers tighten on his pant legs. "Just put him out, Jerry! He didn't attack us, we can just go. Please, let's just go. Mr. Puppeteer— Tymin— Tyminski, he didn't mean it—" Like Hell he didn't.

There was another Eric, an older Eric, that probably could have wielded the pyrokinetic talents of the young man like a scalpel even as he held him there— but this one, the younger, doesn't have that grand a skill with wielding the abilities of others as easily as he wields their limbs.

Jericho's left there dangling on the puppeteer's strings as he jerks his hand back up to undo his suspenders, denim straps slapping to his legs and fingers clawing at his smoldering shirt to drag it off, revealing skin reddened and burnt in a few places, some threads of fabric actually tearing away stuck to the burns. A half-naked Doyle is probably not the first pleasant vision on anyone's top ten list, especially not as he breathes hard, one hand coming up to shake a pointed finger through the air as he bites out through gritted teeth, "You would've— you would've done the same. How dare you come here, to my theatre, and— attack me!"

Accusation against accusation. Pride rankles, catalyzes an already incendiary reaction. Jericho's eyes bulge in the pits of his skull, ringed white under the exaggerated shadow cast by his rumpled hair. "Fuck you!" he yells, the masculinity of his choice of words undiminished by the coarse octave his scream lurches in through, sharp with the clawed greed with which he fastens onto the tiny chinks in Doyle's armor. Defending yourself implies there's something to defend. "Fuck you.

"I didn't. And you know it, you fat old perv; that's what makes the difference between you and me. That's why you're crazy, and alone except for your stupid fuckin' dolls." He rounds of with an acerbic click of teeth, breath snaked in through their grit. He screws up his face in grimace, features going momentarily ugly with concentration, ignoring Carolina's bark of alarm with every inch of willpower that remains.

There's a catching spark, a flare of flame from the rumpled strew of Doyle's clothes, heat and power multiplying like some virulent disease eating air out of the stale autumn's atmosphere, but instead of crashing into the puppeteer, this time, it swerves around the corner of the door and slams full-bodied into the pyrokinetic, instead. Knocks him hard off the flat of the concrete, with a tendriling spit and churn of smoke, flaring heat, light and ragged-edged incineration missing Carolina's kittenish terror-fluff of hair by inches.

It's a desperate, unlikely, bizarre bid to break the puppeteer's hold, but as good as he's got.

The flaming mass crashes like a meteor past the puppeteer, causing him to stumble to one side, clearly expecting it to be aimed for him— wisps of charnel-scented smoke still rising from the burns across his chest and upper arms— but then it's past, crashing into the pyrokinetic and sending his stiff-limbed form toppling to the floor.

It's a plan that's half-effective, as the puppeteer's startled enough by this self-immolation to release the other's limbs for a moment, but the other half… well, that doesn't work quite so well. Eric's fingers fold flat, and press down against the air, closing off the involuntary and reflection brain reactions that most humans don't have. Or, in more visceral terms, pulling upon the string that controls the man's powers until he can't use them anymore.

Let's just hope he doesn't have a gun or something to pull before Eric's managed to get over the pain and confusion of the last few moments to gain complete control, won't we? Or hope he does - depending on whose side one's on.

"Did you really— did you really think," Eric laughs, and it's a mirthless laugh as hollow as the abyss, "That you could just walk in here and kill me? Me! ERIC DOYLE!" The last a snarl, lip curling up, "I never did anything to you. Anything! Why can't you people just leave me alone!"

Eric Doyle. Carolina doesn't even recognize that name, and perhaps Jericho's life would be easier if she had. At the very least, his case would stand stronger.

As it is, all she's heard is a lot of accusations, defense, oblique admissions hard to bear in light of her stint at Moab Fed Pen but nothing worth all of this insanity. She's staggering up onto her feet for the second time, wiping soot and blinded tears off her cheek, exasperation beating down her fear to near manageable levels. "Jerry, you raging prick!" she yells, her voice echoing and bouncing off the dust-flattened windows of abandoned and squatters' dens above and around them, "if you don't stop right this moment—"

He doesn't stop right this instant, naturally. The deprivation of his ability seems the worser insult by far than having his hands taken from him. He yanks the .45 out of his pants, brusquely quick, adrenalized by the certainty that Eric Doyle, in block-lettered capitalization and all of his grand notoriety, is going to come after him with still greater vengeance the instant he has his feet and his ability back underneath him. The hammer knocks metal on metal, and the weapon's muzzle swerves up, points haphazardly into the shape of half-denuded madman poking grime-black and corpulent, sweat-greased pink out of the slack, dusty jaws of the puppet theater. He pulls the trigger, and the weapon fires.

Hits brick. There's an acute-angle ricochet, a roostertail spit of red stone chips. The wall projected out in front of him hangs in mid-air, framed in a portal of uncertain air and wavering, bent light. From Doyle's perspective, there's a twisted mess of clear, liquid energy. And one more bullet puncture scarring the face of the building at his shoulder.

"YOU ARE SUCH A FUCKING IDIOT!" Subterfuge and deep cover are cast to the wind. Carolina's hands are knotted in the air, flung up above her head like she's trying to give herself a hug and tear her scalp naked in the same mad flush of movement. "Leave him alone! It doesn't matter anymore! We're all the same! That's what McRae's always trying to tell you so get over it!"

The appearance of the weapon's barrel comes a split-second too fast for Eric to react — out of practice in any rate, after so much time spent struggling to claim that 'normal' life that he's always claimed to want but never seemed able to reach. Those eyes widen suddenly, pupils dilating as the bullet erupts from the barrel to cut through the air nearly faster than the speed of sound with a crack that echoes through the excellent acoustics of the hall.

He flinches, pulls back, half-raising one hand… but there's no impact, just that second sharp whine of protest and impact as the bullet goes ricocheting off away from him. He's breathing hard, chest rising and falling, glistening with sweat where it isn't reddened with burns or blackened with soot, his meaty torso and pecs trembling faintly with the shiver of death's breath upon the back of his neck. Just his breath, though, as the scythe has passed him by thanks to the angry doll ranting to the heavens before them.

One eye opens first, noticing that shimmering mass of energy, then sliding to Carolina. Then Jericho, both eyes opening as he straightens a little, jaw grinding a bit, though he doesn't lash out with powers or otherwise just yet. "Who the hell are you two?"

"We're just— we're like you," the girl sighs, her fingers bracing briefly around her scalp like she is trying to squeeze something into or out of it. She closes her eyes. Opens them again. Hesitantly, she takes a step sideways, trying to angle a peek through the disrupted portal she'd flung up into the air in front of Doyle to see how Jericho's doing behind it. "We're from Moab. I'm really sorry, we didn't— I didn't mean to cause any trouble, I was really just hoping to pick up some toys for the kids who… who don't have anything else.

"Everyone's really on edge right now. I'm sorry." She hazards a spooked jackrabbit glance over her shoulder, up the street. The sidewalks look deserted, not a shadowed sliver of a face pried up against the window curtains or the plateglass of gap-toothed shop fronts. The dead faces of buildings vaulting up every side. "I'm really sorry— oh God, you're burned. I could bring you medical supplies." The squawk of objection from the pyrokinetic on the other side of the gatewayed wall goes tensely ignored.

The puppeteer's grasp eases, and is released as the rotund older man drops back a step or two and thumps himself down to sit on the steps leading up onto the stage. "Give me one— just one good reason I shouldn't just kill both of you," replies Eric, almost petulently, spreading his hands a bit as he looks down at his burnt chest and arms with a pained grimace. It's not that bad, fortunately, but he'll be in pain and discomfort for awhile, and without a little medical help there could always be complications.

"What was I supposed to do," he says tightly, lifting those sad doe's eyes up to the doll of a woman, "All I was doing was— was keeping Brooke in line. She was a fucking monster anyway. I didn't do anything to you, or your boyfriend over there."

The girl's defensive objection is instant and rather predictable: "He isn't my boyfriend." Jericho seconds this, the other way around. He's threatening to kill them, but that's different when you're sitting down and not actively trying to kill somebody than actively trying to kill somebody. Even to Carolina, whose tactical and violent experiences are dwarfed by her peers. Hesitantly, she lifts a hand to dismiss the gateway suspended before it, leaving the single semi-auto round to smoke in its socket, embedded into the bricking.

Jericho winks back into view once the portal has collapsed in on itself. Clothes smoking, skin peculiarly unmarred. Gun down, oddly enough, though Doyle didn't hear him click safety off; means it's probably still on. Carolina's turning her back to her cohort now, though, moving quickly into the doorway and toward the older man and his ungainly sprawl on the floor.

"I can get you a first aid kit, and… and somebody who knows how to do it. I don't know what you were supposed to do." There's a flinching glance up at his soot-smudged face, even as she comes down on her knees, the toe of her scabby sneaker scrunched into carpet. "I don't think I can judge you for that. Sometimes we have to do things we don't want to. It's called compromising. Little boys like to talk about the real world but they don't get that"

Doyle's hand lifts, fingers rubbing against his temples to push away a headache as he turns a sullen look in the direction of the pyrokinetic that's already twice tried to kill him tonight— that hand dropping, flicking in a sharp motion to one side as his power reaches out to force Jericho's own hand to do the same, to hurl the gun away and across the room. No further control is enforced, however, the man left to his own devices for now.

"Put that thing away," he mutters, grimacing as the movement pulls at freshly burned skin, the pain beginning to grow worse as adrenaline's beat fades from his veins. A sharp hiss, and then he looks at Carolina, a stir of uncertainty, perhaps worry in his eyes, "…I… alright. I can't exactly say no because it's not like I can go to the hospital…"

There's a wince of sympathy at that observation: Carolina understands, of course. You wouldn't have been on the run from people like the cops, Humanis First!, your average panicky civilian without it being made painfully clear to you, like splinters shoved in for keepsies underneath the translucent first layer of epidermis, that things like hospitals and other resources everybody else is permitted to take for granted are completely inaccessible.

Or worse, dangerous. "I'm sorry," she says, anxiously. "Look— uhm. It might not be safe here for a couple days anyway, until like the winos and whoever live around here kind of… booze through the memories of what happened outside. Maybe… maybe you should come with us!" she suggests, brightening, dark eyes large on her face. "We're staying with some people and this is exactly what they do. This is exactly what they do, we just got a new girl recently."

"Are you fucking out of your mind!" Jericho's stormed in, now, after an instant's hesitation and a quick grab to safety his gun and stow it back under his shirt. He caught that. He heard that, and he would have been no less surprised to be directly addressed by God almighty himself. "Carolina, you can't do that. That's the puppetmaster— the guys in the yard saw him, you should've heard what they said. He's one of—"

"Us!" she answers, raising her voice enough that it cracks on the middle note. "Look, White would've killed you by now, and you let him strut around with his troupe of psychotic army because McRae says so, and you know what? You're the one who nearly set me on fire just now, not him! We should go to Staten and help Mr. Doyle out. It'll be safe," she hastens to reassure. Much to the Arab boy's displeasure, she's reassuring Doyle. "I'll make another portal. Jericho can go through first, and I'll be right behind you. The Ferrymen will help."

Until now, Eric wasn't really worried about anyone assaulting him here, in his little theatre in the bad part of town. He assumed that he had some nebulous protection, that at some level perhaps the man that paid for the building had taken some effort to ensure he wasn't vulnerable here. Of course, he was wrong. Whatever imagined sanctuary he had here is gone in an instant of flames, and his expression is sullen at the realization of it, almost sulky.

A hand slaps against the side of the stage, and he hauls himself to his feet with a grunt, reaching down to drag the suspenders up at least. No shirt, suspenders, his corpulent flesh stained with sweat and soot, he must look like some red-neck farmer coming in from the field. Bubba-Joe Doyle. The denim rasps over burnt skin, and he hisses, teeth bared briefly as they grit together. "…fine. Fine, fine, just do it, alright?"

If Carolina insisted on magnanimity in her dealings with other male Evolved, she probably wouldn't be friends with the snarling flamethrower behind her now. She has no way of knowing about Adam, or about how the rumor-riddled regenerator coincidentally constitutes one rather frightening point of intersection between the puppeteer and one of the young women waiting on the other side of the portal.

Over on Staten Island, it's a pleasant early evening. Saturday means that even the Ferry operatives who hold normal nine-to-five jobs have the day off, to listen to McRae's curious sermonizing, or to discuss the variety of religious and Biblical texts available in the small, musty library. Cookie sheets in the afternoon, tea as the hours darkened, Jurassic Park on DVD after supper, a small herd of children running underfoot, though this early in Kaylee's acquaintance with the old white man behind the curtain it's probably difficult to tell why he and the other Moab Federal Penitentiary convicts— who made no bones about who they were— would be trusted around such consituency.

Fuckin' hippies.

She probably isn't expecting it at all, when the air to her right begins to warp, ripple, and abruptly rips right open into the armpit of Brooklyn, a raw-boned, half-naked Arab boy scowling on the other side, his limbs hanging out of the scorched remains of his clothes.

Staten Island — A Safehouse

The next man to step through the portal is probably even less expected, one lumbering stride carrying Eric Doyle through the rippling gateway and into the safehouse that stands on the other side of that warp in space. There's fresh, reddened burns streaked across the thick, naked flesh of his upper body, and he's dressed in denim, paint splattered overalls and no shirt— it's not exactly a flattering look, pecs jiggling lightly with every step, every shift of his shoulders pulling on the burns and eliciting a new grimace of pain. "Nice trick," he mutters, turning to look around as he raises his voice back to a normal level, "Look, can I get some help here? This really hurts."

The one thing about her being there, they keep her busy and out of trouble….. Yay! She left one group that was determined to keep her out of trouble, to another who just had a lot to do. Not that Kaylee would complain about doing dishes or helping with keeping kids busy, even though she tires quickly. She's still just as pale and as sick as before as far as she knows. But at least, she's safe for the time, so who is she to really complain about more work, it's not exactly a vacation.

So she's busy finally relaxing in a chair, having just down some of her medication, when the air ripples not far from her. The young woman stares at the the opening portal, her mouth actually opens a bit in her astonishment. Though the appearance of the puppet man shakes her out of it. "Jason?" She sounds surprised, though when she sees his condition she's quick to climb to her feet and shuffle behind the chair, motioning to him to sit where she was. "What the hell happened?" There is no hiding her concern for the guy, she looks past him to the portal and she has to stop herself. "Is that…?!? Is it… ?!?"

It isn't ?!?, whatever it is. Jericho gives her a Look, scornful and irritated, like he just noticed several mongoloid characteristics in her face, which is making the rest of her behavior suddenly fall right into place. He rips his shirt off, also, which is— somewhat gratuitous and unnecessary, but he's feeling rather emasculated at the moment so that's what the room is privvy to: a grasshopper-limbed ex-con storming about, shirtless, sooty, sweaty, and scowling with the incinerating ferocity of the sun.

"I thought his name was Doyle!" Carolina says, tripping in over the lip of the portal with a puppyish untangling of sneaker-shod feet, arms windmilling briefly before she snares her balance, or enough of it to stand with. The tesseract shuts behind her with a wiggle of her fingers, and it's only then that she stops, blinking, her hair stuck sweaty to her forehead and blushing momentarily. "Er. Or I wasn't suppo… uhhh. Or Jason. Tzisinski— this way, this way," she adds, herding Doyle toward the bathroom area with slight fingers splayed, gently nudging him along. "Feel free to come with.

"Felicity!" Loud, suddenly, a foghorn going off over Doyle's shoulder, sending her voice clashing up the staircase. "Felicity, Jer— somebody's got burns! Please help!"

There's a flicker of apron cloth, a dark-skinned face craned around the corner and a sudden whiff of cookies. Though she only comes up to Kaylee's nose, Felicity carries enough physical presence with her that it's palpable moving through the room, even as she strips the gloves off her hands. "Who—?" The difference in experience between the African woman and Carolina is illustrated fairly plainly with the celerity with which she dismisses this line of questioning. There's a click of her tongue, instead, chastisement for the Mexican girl, the telepath underfoot, the puppeteer. "Honey, we're going to have a talk. Sir, please sit down. Right there."

The nail on her forefinger is about two times longer than it should be and painted purple. It makes the directive extremely clear.

There's a shout of his name - or at least what's supposed to be his name - and Eric's head jerks around in the direction of the shout, his mouth opening just before Carolina opens her own and dispels all doubt, blowing his cover with everyone in the general vicinity. Oh well, hopefully he's not that famous. Or infamous. Whatever the puppetmaster is.

In no particular mood to ignore being directed around, given that there's been a promise of some medical care, he takes a deep breath, and exhales it in a sigh. "Yeah, fine, sure, I know the way," he smiles, a wan flicker of his lips, turning to slowly shuffle over and drop down into the directed spot. A look up to the telepath, gaze hooded, "Hi, blondie. How's tricks?"

The shirt ripping gets a mild look of amusement, but not much more. Her eyes widen a bit in that 'Yeah…. okay' kind of way as she looks away. The telepath instead turns her attention to Caroline and comments helpfully with a touch of firmness to her voice. "He prefers Jason," before following along, when Doyle is seated, she gives him a once over. "Tricks? Hell with me. You look like shit, what the hell happened?" And then as if it's not important. "Good to see someone I know though." All the while she's trying to stay out of the way.

Good of the girl. In the meantime, the two Ferrywomen bustle around the room— well, mostly Felicity doing the bustling, chasing Carolina out of the way. Antiseptic out, hands sterilized and nails scrubbed practically to the quick, and quckly, before she's settling in with gloves snapped on and a careful eye studying the man's burns.

She murmurs diagnosis— first- and second-degree burns— under her breath, mindful that conversation's happening around her— and that conversation is best keeping their guest's mind off the pain, at least until Carolina's done digging out those pain pills. Gauze unsticks, snap-strip, is smoothed down with a chilly daub of alcohol into one soupy, reddening sore on the man's chest with only the briefest of monosyllabic warnings.

"I fell down some stairs," Eric replies blithely and earnestly to Kaylee, before with a roll of his eyes and an irritable flick of his hand after Jericho he states in more of a growl, "…Mister 'Happy Flames' over there decided to try to kill m— ow! Shit, be careful with, nnh…" The growl fades to more a plaintive sort of complaining, face screwing up in a grimace as he's daubed with alcohol and gauze, teeth gritting in a sharp, sustained hiss of breath inwards.

"Well… shit. What did you do to deserve that?" Cause obviously, he had to have done it. Kaylee grimaces with sympathy, looking away, as his burns are cared for. A glance goes to the direction Jericho would be, before she turns her attention back to the big guy. "Funny though… you ending up here." There is a bit of a smirk as she moves to lean against something out of the way, it's always hard to stand for too much time at the moment.

He tripped on a toy train? Carolina's features grow increasingly awkward and apologetic the more time she spends in the same room as this combination of people. Doyle's associations with her are… fire. And— burns. Lousy boyfriend. Smoke-stink. Kaylee's associations are now… fire. Smoke-stink. Possibly lousy boyfriend. Felicity no doubt thinks her a threat to security. She sort of shrinks within herself, but continues to assist where necessary, wincing when Felicity pauses to snip away a small patch of cloth that had melted into the back of Doyle's shoulder.

So much the mouse, she serves the puppeteer up a small plastic cup of pills. "Unless you're allergic to anything special," she adds, blankly. "Antibiotics and— you know, some pretty— standard… stuff for the pain."

A grimace twists across Doyle's lips at the question's phrasing, one hand curling into a fist by his side—and she just might feel her own hand doing the same for a single heartbeat before the snip of cloth from skin forces him to swallow a shout of pain, his hand pounding into his thigh briefly to ignore that sting. Maybe he didn't even realize he was doing it.

The little cup of pills is taken in hand, balanced between three fingertips as he stares at it with a tired, heavy-lidded gaze. "Oh, gee," he quips with dark humor known only to himself, "It feels just like home, now."

Eyes narrow some when she feels her own hand close on it's own accord, Kaylee glances at it before it's released again. Lifting it she give it a slow shake, like one does if it falls asleep. Another wince for the puppetman, and she reaches out mentally, her voice hollow and tinny as always. She doesn't use the other part of her ability on him, even though that temptation is always there, «Calm, Eric.» Using his real name where other can't hear it. «I'm sorry. I shouldn't have said it. They seem like good people. The fact I'm alive must say something.» A corner of her mouth quirks with amusement, as she knows how much she can grate on peoples nerves. "Oh.. just take it.. I'm on some of it too at least till we know if this being away from Adam is working."

The pills are stared at for a long time by Eric, and despite that tired, dry little quip there's some nervousness beneath the surface, some worry or paranoia nagging at him that's a fair rival to the pain of his burned skin. "I'll… I'll take them when it gets bad," he finally mutters, setting the little cup to one side, turning his face away from both Felicia and Kaylee. Not again. Can't take the chance of it being suppressant. Can't— won't be helpless again, not again.

The pills are stared at for a long time by Eric, and despite that tired, dry little quip there's some nervousness beneath the surface, some worry or paranoia nagging at him that's a fair rival to the pain of his burned skin. "I'll… I'll take them when it gets bad," he finally mutters, setting the little cup to one side, turning his face away from both Felicia and Kaylee.

Not again. Can't take the chance of it being suppressant. Can't— won't be helpless again, not again.

Kaylee gives a slight, slow nod as she watches him. She can truly understand that, she's only had hers suppressed the once for a short time and she hated it. Glancing around at the others, Kaylee doesn't move from her spot, but she slumps a bit, shoulders hunching forward some. "Men… gotta be all macho," She teases him lightly, even though she conveys her understanding through mental ways. "My grandfather was like that."

The Ferrywomen notice that he doesn't take his drugs, of course. They'd both be acquainted, through medical practice and friendship with a pyromaniac, respectively, that inch for inch, burn wounds hurt more than any other kind. They exchange a glance, momentarily breaking short the logistical feud to acknowledge mutual concern. He isn't the only ex-Moabite to come back skittish around syringes. At least this one hasn't overcome it only to succumb to worse weakness: Doyle doesn't have a hand groping around the cookie jar in search of a sterile-capped stash of Refrain. Felicity's hands grow gentler.

Though it's only another second, two, before she's done. "You rest here. Maybe take a nap. I'd appreciate it, brother," she raises one sculpted black brow high on her forehead, lowers her chin to pin Doyle's eye with a meaningful glance, "if you'd avoid wandering out of the house or making a lot of effort trying to figure where we are, you don't mind me sayin'. We got food, water, medical supplies, a cot for you until you're better and figure out what you want to do.

"In the meantime: me, Miss Boys-A-Lot here," 'Boys-A-Lot' here, what that even means, Carolina doesn't know, but she freezes up and her eyes go doe-wide when the woman seizes her elbow, "and Jericho are gonna have some words outside. Kaylee, if you feel like you have some vouchin' you want to do for your friend, you can find McRae and do it soon as you have some cookie sand put some meat on those bones, a'right?"

Inevitably, Doyle'll take the pills. He'll have to, not used to pain as he is, but for the moment that irrational fear that screams and thrashes in the back of his mind that he's being shuffled off into another prison holds out against his need for alleviation. "Where would I go," he asks Felicia, sad-eyed, and then leans back with a faint hiss of pain as he relaxes back again, hands clasping over his stomach, "Maybe if somebody can find me a shirt? I think I could use one of those."

A hand lifts to give Felicity a sloppy salute in acknowledgment. "Yes, Ma'am." Though she inwardly grimaces at the idea of eating something sweet like that. Odd maybe, unless your always nauseous and some things just don't come back up very well. "I'll do that. Though if it's okay I'd like to stay with him a few and talk to him and make sure he's comfortable." And maybe ask, what the fuck is going on without people hovering. She shakes a finger at Doyle and adds. "If you be good, I'll even make sure to snag you some of the cookies. Cause they are good." What few she's actually eaten. She moves over to Doyles side and asks curiously, with a touch of worry, "The theater?"

"Be good to let the antiseptic dry a few minutes, but I'll bring you a shirt, no problem sugar." The black matron pats Doyle's arm gently, careful not to set any pressure at all on the injured parts of his skin. She gives him a smile, flicks it sidelong at Kaylee, genially considering, before abruptly soldiering Carolina out on a flustered skitter of sneakers. Despite that they aren't dug in or anything, the ostentatious nails on Felicity's hand are quite the wincing taloned grasp to behold.

"Still standing," Doyle replies with a grunt of breath, his chin low and gaze mostly down to the floor, "For what it's worth." Slowly, carefully a hand comes up to rub at his brow, "They're not going to let me go, are they?"

There is actual relief, in the telepath's face, "Oh good.. I was worried since fire and old building don't exactly mix." She glances off after the trio and can only shrug. "I… don't know?" Glancing back down at the puppet man, she gives him an apologetic smile. She leans down a bit, eyes studying him as she asks softly. "Why were they there and why did they bring you here in the first place? If I'm suppose to vouch for you, it would be good to know what's going on. Your one of the last people I expected to see here."

The hand drops down from his brow, easing slowly to rest on his thigh before Doyle very carefully leans himself back in the seat he was escorted into, moving as slowly as possible to keep his burnt skin from pulling too much— the gauze's pressure against it pain enough for him to deal with. He draws in a slow breath, then exhales it out, a faint chuckle shuddering up from his belly.

"I guess he remembered me from prison," he admits quietly, eyes closing, "He blamed me for working with the guards. I did. No argument there. I didn't— didn't have much choice, though."

"Oh.. well that explains it." Kaylee watches him and shakes her head. "Can't say I blame either of you, then." Of course, doesn't mean either was right. She glances at the doorway, and rests a hand on the back of her neck and rubs it slowly. "I'll vouch for you… just don't stab me in the back." She glances at him, her expression serious. "I mean it. I need these people… and by the sound of it, it's not going to be easy to convince them of it, if they already see you as a traitor." The hand on the back of her neck pauses and slowly slides away to fall at her side again.

"Oh, sure, because it's perfectly reasonable for him to walk into my own home and start trying to fry me like a chicken strip," replies Doyle in sarcastic tones, bringing one hand up fingers together and thumb pressed to middle as he looks towards it, "That sounds right, doesn't it?" The sockless puppet-hand moves its 'mouth' as he replies squeakily, "Of course it does, Eric!"

Hand falls back to his side again, and he closes his eyes, muttering, "Don't do me any favors, blondie."

"I didn't say I agree with him trying to roast you, i just said I understand why he wanted too. Besides, you want out of here or not?" Her brows lift a bit as she asks the question, hunches over to rest hands on her thighs to take some of the pressure off her back, which is feeling all this standing. "Course, you stay here, it gets you out from under Adam.. and there are kids here for you to wow them with your art." Kaylee is trying to be helpful. "A lot of these kids need an escape from reality right now ."

Eyes narrow some as she peers at him, a wicked little smile on her lips. "Come on, Master of Puppets. Tell me that doesn't appeal a little bit."

"We'll see," replies Doyle in tired, sullen tones, "We'll see."

"I've been around this circle too many times not to see where it leads anymore."

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