Mediocre Expectations


dirk_icon.gif kendall_icon.gif

Scene Title Mediocre Expectations
Synopsis An exceedingly nervous Kendall goes to apply to SESA, only to get the wrong idea about what goes on at a government agency thanks to Dirk.
Date April 1, 2021

Fort Jay

Fort Jay is a coastal star fort and former Army post located on Governors Island in New York Harbor. Fort Jay itself is the oldest defensive structure on the island, and was named for John Jay, a member of the Federalist Party, New York governor, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Secretary of State, and one of the "founding fathers" of the United States. It was built in 1794 to defend Upper New York Bay, but has served other purposes. From 1806 to 1904 it was named Fort Columbus, presumably for explorer Christopher Columbus. The National Park Service administered Fort Jay together with Castle Williams as the Governors Island National Monument until 2015, when it was repurposed to once again service official government operations in the wake of the civil war. Fort Jay is now the home of the New York branch of the SLC-Expressive Services Agency, or SESA.

After being told that most of the former Ferrymen ended up in either Wolfhound or SESA, it got Kendall to thinking about joining, himself. Additionally, he was assured that simply ‘knowing’ people was good enough to get his foot in the door, although he’s taking that with a grain of salt. All things considered, though, his resume is pretty sparse, so he’ll take all the help he can get. Wolfhound was out of the question, he never was one who enjoyed the fight, or the hunt, or anything uh… confrontational. Therefore, SESA it is.

The fact that SESA’s NY branch is located on an island with a ferry being the only way there stymied him for a bit, but he made it there without any major problems.

The one major problem he does have, however, is that he’s not even sure how to go about this ‘applying for a job’ thing. His only experience was showing up to a comic book store and asking for a job and getting it due to being understaffed, and having a friend of his legal(?) guardian hire him because Raquelle is awesome. But both of those were years ago, where being a teenager was extremely uncomplicated.

Dressed up, though perhaps not strictly business formal, his clothes do at least seem to be brand new if the creases are any indication, he enters the lobby of the building and looks around, looking pretty lost.

The reception area is large with a central desk occupied by a security guard watching monitors. Behind him is a thin man with a few folders in his hand, pointing to one of the screens and whatever he was about to say is cut off before it starts as his steely blue eyes lift. They sweep over Kendall, judging, and then the older man straightens and lifts his chin to look down his nose at the visitor. They’re not kindly, and the raise of his eyebrows is expectant.

“You look lost,” His tone is dry, bored, laced with an edge of snark. A quality that may never leave him, simply because of the way he carries himself. Confident. “Are you here to register, report an incident, or …. “

His free hair twirls through the air as though he’s expecting Kendall to fill in the rest by himself.

"I'm here to…. apply, actually." The mention of registering causes Kendall to grimace and shake his head. It held such a negative stigma for him growing up that he's 100% averse to it now.

"My name is Kendall Cunningham, and I was a Ferryman at the start of the war and… well, I'd like to do what I can to help people like…" wait why is he telling this guy this? Nerves, probably. "I came to try and join SESA since I heard a lot of the people I used to know ended up in here." Kendall fidgets in place, glancing over at the security guard before returning his attention back to Dirk.

"Is there someone specific I can talk to? A recruiting officer?" Hopeful look.

Dirk’s eyes glaze over the moment Kendall begins to recite his history. Ferryman, the war, yadda yadda yadda… nearly everyone on his floor has some sort of story that blends perfectly into that one. So, right after the name part is over, Dirk’s hand once again twirls slowly through the air, as though he’s urging a more rapid conclusion.

“There’s….” pause “…a process.”

After all, what would big government be without a process?

Dirk points toward the clipboard on the desk and waggles a finger at it. “You’re going to need to sign in and get a visitor’s pass. I hope you have ID, if you don’t… that’s another step we’re going to need to take.”

“Yes, I do.” and luckily for Kendall, it’s even legitimate, unlike *cough* others that he fortunately did not bring along with him. He pulls it out of his wallet and lifts it up to show Dirk, like he needs to be validated or something. He doesn’t offer it over, though, because Dirk just asked if he had it, not if he could see it.

Kendall’s gaze follows the pointed finger to the clipboard, and he moves right over to sign in. Makes sense. Once he finishes with that, he looks back over at Dirk. “So where’s a pass…?” what, a sticker with ‘Hi! My name is…’ or an actual physical tag he has to wear?

It's the guard that reaches for the ID when Kendall presents it. While he is filling in his name and details on the clipboard, the ID is scanned, the picture on it printed and stuck to a white keycard on a clip. By the time Kendall is finished and the clipboard taken, the badge is presented with a strict instruction "wear this at all times, return the badge when you leave to get your ID back."

Through the entire process, Dirk waits patiently, examining the fingernails on one hand for dirt or whatever. Studying the sky through the window to determine the weather. Has it changed since he got here this morning? Whatever it is that Dirk does while he's waiting.

There are no magazines.

"Right then, let's get this show on the road," he chirps when Kendall has the badge in hand. "First things first, registration. From the look on your face when I asked, I'm just going to assume that you're not. We'll get you a pager and then head up to floor 6." With a flick of his wrist, he points to the bank of elevators behind the security desk. "Follow me!"

Oh. Not facing in Dirk’s direction, unless he’s watching he’ll miss the flash of fear crossing Kendall’s face at the mention of having to register. But Kendall represses it with irritation, people aren’t rounded up and shot in the streets anymore, those days are long gone. He accepts the visitor pass, looking from the security guard to examine it, and shrugs as he clips it on, glancing back at the ID he was not handed back, and nods at the instructions. Got it.

With a faint huff of breath, he turns away and follows uneasily behind Dirk. Well, the world is probably not going to end, either on a personal or literal basis, if Kendall did end up registering. “Yeah, all right.” play it cool…

Dirk pushes the ^ button and then softly whistles the theme song to 'I Dream of Genie' as the pair wait for the elevator.






"It's your lucky day, Kid," the exclamation comes paired with an extended arm, inviting the young man to enter the lift first. "I think Irene is at lunch, so you'll have Gladys and she's always the better one to have when you're getting your card."

After he steps in, he reaches over and pushes the number two. He barely gets to open his mouth before there is a ding and the doors open again. "After you," he smiles, showing Kendall the open area outside their small shuttle. There are two lines of arrows on the floor, one in blue and one in red.

"Are you SLC-E or no?" Dirk pauses, ticking a single eyebrow upward.

Kendall fidgets in the elevator, staring at the numbers changing, and steps out after Dirk. And there it is, the moment of truth. “A-ah, I’m… SLC…-E.” really, if Kendall stammered any more they might think he was NERVOUS or something. The marks on the floor are stared at, the different colors a stark reminder that he only belongs to one. “Sorry.” he mutters, knowing full well that he has absolutely no reason to freak out now. What is he, a child?

He glances over at Dirk again, then moves to the red line. That’s it, right? “Do I have to… prove it? One of the… kits?” Kendall’s actually faked the results for people in the past, but never had to actually take the test himself.

Dirk's head rears back and he gives Kendall a look. "You have been living under a rock since the war, haven't you?" His tone (surprisingly) isn't condescending, more like he's holding back a laugh. "No, you answer a few questions to let us know who you are and what you can do, so it can be classified correctly."

The room is fairly empty. Dirk crosses lines, turning all this government order into chaos, as he leads Kendall to one of the wickets. He gives the woman behind it his sweetest smile as she turns to him, confused. "Gladysssss," he drawls, extending her name until his breath runs out. "This kid is applying to be one of our new agents and I'm being a great mentor and walking him through the process so he doesn't get frustrated with red tape and run away." She opens her mouth, about to say something when Dirk interrupts her. "I can give him the questionnaire."

With that, he grabs the clipboard and motions Kendall to one of the small privacy rooms dotting the wall.

“May as well have been, I was in Arizona when the EMP went off and all shit went to hell, and I was in the DZ for about 5 years." And some of that may have involved literally living under a rock or two, who knows.

With a raised eyebrow as Dirk forges his way through the room with little disregard of actually following the rules of the almighty lines, Kendall shrugs and follows after, nodding a polite greeting to Gladys without saying anything. When Dirk cuts her off, he shrugs again, this time in a sort of apology to her, and follows the man to the indicated room.

"I understand," sort of? No he doesn't, not really. He can somewhat empathize, when he feels like it. Afterall some of his closest friends are people who lived in fear of registration, but he will never really understand.

Taking a seat, he points to the other one across the table. In darker times, this small, creamy yellow room could be used for more nefarious purposes. Now, there is no shatterproof glass, no metal loops bolted to the table, there's even a print of a bouquet of flowers hanging on the wall. See? Comfy.

"Okay, I'm assuming you have a social security number? From before?" He glances up from the clipboard to look the young man in the eye. "If you remember it, you can fill it out when we're done with the rest of the questions. If you don't, we'll have to either look it up or get you one. Can't have a job unless you pay taxes and all that."

"Taxes?" Cue deer in headlights look. "I, uh…. think I've been listed as dead since I was seventeen…." Kendall doesn't actually know for certain what the legality of his existence is. Does he owe like, ten years of taxes?

"I do know my number, but again, might be an issue there. Do they, uh… reassign those when people die? I also don't, uh… have an address. I have a place where I'm staying?" All this adulting is hard.

"Write down the number you know, it'll get reactivated when you start using it again." Dirk shrugs, filling out a few of the boxes without even asking questions, in that special Dirk fashion. "I'm just going to let you fill out this top part on your own. The rest of these are… uhhh… I'm not going to say invasive but they're a little more personal."

Tapping the pencil rapidly against the clipboard, he stops with a hard whack and eyes Kendall closely. "So, the part that seems to make you the most nervous. Yes you are evolved… were you registered before the war? Do you know what your ability is and can you describe what you can do? You don't have to demonstrate, just a basic rundown is fine."

So far, there's been no blood test.

“I was not. Not with watching people I knew getting killed over it.” a flat response from Kendall, and he shakes his head. “Plus, my parents kicked me out when I was sixteen in the middle of that killer winter without a coat because I caught evo flu. I almost died.” which is different from when he actually died, he said something about seventeen, not sixteen. “Let’s just say they made it very difficult to be willing to do so back then unless forced.”

At the questions regarding his ability, Kendall shrugs his shoulders. “Yes, I know what it is, um…” he hesitates. Telling someone what he can do is surprisingly hard. But he can’t move forward, and it’s already too late now. “I can… make illusions. Make something look like something else, create things out of thin air. Nothing is real, though.” He was told a demonstration wasn’t needed, so there’s nothing beyond his words.

"Illusions, okay that's easy enough to classify, mental and classssss bee" Dirk says, happy that it's not anything super hard like whatever Robyn has going on… or Isis. The thought makes him shudder momentarily, but he deflects with a sudden "is it a little nippy in here?"

Waving his hand, the diminutive blonde man goes on. "Whatever, moving along… so mental.. yadda yadda yadda I'm assuming these illusions aren't something that just you can see, other people can see them?" He chuckles and rests the clipboard on the table. Along the top, there are a few doodles that probably aren't supposed to be there and every i is dotted with a daisy. "Oh yeah, I almost forgot! If you want to get hired here you'll be expected to get an endorsement. This means you will need training in your ability and a written and then a practical exam. Of course, if you're hired, all costs will be covered, blah blah blah… you get the idea, right?"

Without waiting for an answer, Dirk checks off a final few boxes and slides the clipboard across the table. "Initial there, there, there, there, there, there, there, there, annnnnnd there… and sign on the bottom, please."

"Training? Would fighting in the war and then spending six years surviving in the PDZ count as training?" Personally, Kendall doesn't think anyone else could help him learn more about his ability, but sure. It's a little unsettling hearing himself classified like that, like he's some sort of statistic now. But better than being called Tier 2 or Tier 3. He knew a few of those. And that Tier 3 existed.

"Affects anyone in sight. All five senses." he adds after a moment. "A stale piece of bread is easier to eat when it tastes like chocolate."

When the clipboard is slid across the table, he makes sure to read over everything he's signing before he starts doing so. "By endorsement you mean… people who could back me? Because I know a lot of people who would put in a good word if you'd like a list."

"No, fighting in the war doesn't count." Dirk says, that sneer in his voice becoming a little more pronounced as his eyebrows dip together. "You'll be taught how to think and act instead of react for survival. The endorsement is from a certified trainer, stating that you will be using your ability in a law enforcement capacity and will not be a danger to others." Bringing a hand up, the small man pinches the bridge of his nose before taking a deep calming breath and letting it go with a cordial smile.

"SLC-E are still feared by some of the public. There are still a lot of bad guys out there and even though there's an SLC-E president in office and things are changing for the best, optics are important. Training is important. And a good public face is important." He shrugs as he stands straight, taking the clipboard, and motioning Kendall to follow him out of the room. "We'll give these papers to Gladys and get your picture taken. Then we'll head up to floor 14 to start on your application paperwork, okay?"

Well that's disappointing. Apparently he doesn't have all the right credentials after all. So much for knowing people. Oh well. "Good public face, huh." And just like that, Kendall's whole appearance changes to look like said president, though granted the expression on his face doesn't really fit. "Does this count?" even the voice is different. How's that for a demonstration? He only holds it for a few seconds, enough to show it, then he's back to normal. "Not that I'd want to do that with someone that, er… prominent. Probably illegal, too." Impersonating a government official or something.

He follows Dirk out of the room with a faint smile. Guess that helped him get over some of his jitters. "And trust me, I know. There's plenty of people out there who can be called 'bad guys'." Air quotes for emphasis. "The worst ones are those who think they're doing the right thing."

"See, what you just did there is what could be considered dangerous and not a good public image." Dirk's matter of fact statement is quickly followed by an elbow nudge to the younger man as he passes the clipboard to the woman behind the counter. "But it would make a fantastic practical joke in the office."

Speaking of which….

Dirk waits behind the line for Kendall to get his picture taken. Arms folded over his chest, more due to the office AC than hostile posture. He usually wears a sweater down on this floor, but he wasn't expecting this to turn into a lucky day.

"How do you feel about donuts?"

"Well for one thing, it doesn't work with cameras so it's not like I can go on TV or…" can you even 'go on TV' anymore where it matters? At the mention of practical jokes though, he suppresses a smile. "Nothing that would get me kicked out." Well he didn't say no. "And donuts as in, stereotypical police fare, or for delicious rings of fat and sugar?"

Kendall moves to the spot to get his picture taken, and like always, resists the urge to make a goofy face. Mature. Adult. Good thing he got a haircut from Raquelle first, why are ID pictures always the worst? It's like the people who take them have no regard for taking a good shot of people. They just wait for you to blink, or about to sneeze, or never mention the giant booger sticking out of your nose, or your hair sticking up in the back. Criminal. He doesn't smile for the pic, opting for a more neutral look.

"The latter," Dirk grins as he motions Kendall to follow. "We're going to make a quick side trip, nothing official… I just want to see how you'll fit in."

On the way down in the elevator, Dirk's explanation gets a little more lengthy. "You see, we're always playing little jokes on each other. At least the fun people at the office, there's always fun sucks no matter how hard we try to include them." He stops and laughs, obviously his brain is further along than his mouth because he stops and sucks in a breath. "Sorry, just thinking about this one time… I was making some stuff at home and my roommate decided to steal one. Chocolate caramel onions instead of apples. It was freakin' great."

He leads Kendall through the office space on the upper floor. They wind their way past cubicles and desks, some occupied with people that Kendall knows, others he's not familiar with. Most of the agents seem to ignore the pair. Still, Dirk is leading Kendall in a fairly weird pattern all the way to the back breakroom. As they reach the door, Dirk flattens against the wall and ducks his head around the corner briefly to glance inside.

"Okay, coast is clear," he whispers, flicking two fingers toward the door. Then, he skirts inside.

It's empty.

There is a box of pastries on the table.

"You said you can fool all five senses, right?" Dirk grabs the only donut with pink icing and sprinkles and takes a big bite from it before placing it on a napkin and moving to the fridge. "Can you make.. uhh… hmm…. What does Cooper hate the most…"

Kendall is a little perplexed at the circuitous route through the cubicle farm, but practical jokes, well, he's familiar. "I made a skeleton grab someone once." A little more elaborate than a switched food item, but Kendall cheats. "Is this some sort of, uh, reverse hazing?" he isn't sure who this 'Cooper' is, but maybe this is an unofficial test? Part of the interview process? As he sees familiar faces he brightens but resists to urge to call out to them. Hopefully there'll be plenty of opportunities later to socialize.

As they finally get to the break room, and Dirk does the whole sneaking in, Kendall follows, now starting to really get amused. This guy.

"Well, why put any kind of limiter on it? It doesn't have to taste like a food item. It's not like it would make anyone physically ill to eat something that tastes like, oh…" the younger man grins. "Cat litter? Granted, I've never eaten it for obvious reasons, but I could make it taste the way it smells. Or maybe something like rubber. Smell and taste are linked after all."

He waits until Dirk takes a bite, and tilts his head. "People would eat that? Something someone already took a bite out of? Or that one guy you mentioned, I guess?" Kendall knows bait when he sees it. "Sounds like a fun place."

Plucking a small container out of the fridge, Dirk opens it, takes a small sniff, and nods. Luckily, this one does have his name written on it in black permanent marker.

"Perfect," he says with a grin, opening the lid all the way to reveal two hard boiled eggs. "Okay, April Fool's is a big deal around here. Those donuts right there, with the pink icing and sprinkles are Coop's favorites. Can you make one of these look and feel like that donut… but not taste?"

Leaning a little to the side, he takes a look out the door. "Gotta be quick, he's on the way!" He dumps the two eggs into the donut box and doesn't quite close it. "What do you take in your coffee?"

"Bit dicey since they're a different size, but I think I can manage." And with just a thought, the two eggs are now some rather normal, but delicious looking donuts just like the one Dirk just took a bite out of.

"Coffee? Usually black but I wouldn't object to some sugar in it if there's some available." Kendall moves slightly to the side, more out of sight. What, are they going to hide now? Who is this guy they're going to trick, anyway? Hopefully not someone who has a say on Kendall's application. Which begs the question, though: why is he even up here?

"Niiiiiice," Dirk utters as the donuts appear. Very carefully, he places fingerprints into the edges of the icing of two others, then hides the rest away in one of the cupboards that contains the boring things… placemats. Cooper would never go in there unless told to, the secretary is fairly certain of that.

Handing a cup of black coffee to Kendall, Dirk grins conspiratorially then places too much cream and sugar into his own cup. “Okay so there’s a few people you don’t want to prank, I call them the Fun Police. Robyn, Veronica, Emily, those ones for sure. Don’t prank them. Bad idea. Nicole doesn’t prank normally but she’s been caught in the crossfire once or twice. Don’t do it right now though, there’s stuff going on. Everyone else is pretty good about it, though, just watch out for the backlash.” He glances out to the office area to see their victim paused at a desk. Probably talking about a guinea pig or something silly. “This one? Total retaliation for Tuesday night.”

He stops and lets out an involuntary little laugh…

“Man it was heinous, I’m surprised I’m still walking.”

"Um, so…" Kendall tilts his head slightly as he accepts the cup of coffee, more than a little confused by the current situation. "Does that mean I'm hired?" Because Dirk is telling him what not to do in regards to various people who work here, that implies Kendall's going to be interacting with them? Is this how people get hired?

When Robyn's name is mentioned, though, Kendall coughs a little. "Ah… I know Robyn. Well, knew… haven't talked with her since before the war started. But uh… yeah, playing tricks on her is…" sounds like an embarrassing experience to judge by his sudden blush. Or, at the very least, didn't turn out well for him.

"But anyway. Not sure how long they'll stay donuts but I've found out I don't have to be present for them to stay that way." Kendall shrugs at Dirk and takes a tentative sip. Is it at least good coffee?

“Hired? Nah… I’m just giving you a quick run through of what to expect when you do.” Dirk smiles before taking a sip from his mug. Shrugging, he moves toward the door and waves for the younger man to follow. “Come on, we need to head to 4 to get your shiny new registration.”

A beat..

“Then I’ll take you to HR to speak with the lovely Mister Kirk Patrick.”

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