bright_icon.gif squeaks_icon.gif gillian_icon.gif reeves_icon.gif

Scene Title Not SESA
Synopsis Agents of another variety ask the Childs family some curious questions.
Date September 21, 2020

Elmhurst, Childs Residence

It’s a rainy day as the two agents approach the brownstone belonging to Gillian Childs. A large black umbrella shields both from the rain. Before rapping on the door, the tall, silver-haired gentleman turns to look around, heavy brows dipping as he surveys the neighborhood.

“I had a friend who lived about a block from here. Tremendous broad. Had legs that went on for days and a rack like-”

“Unless you’re going to tell me about her dishwasher rack, I don’t want to hear about it,” the younger woman interrupts quickly, a hand held up to stop him before he goes too far. “Reel it in. You ready?” she asks, waiting for the affirmative from the man before stepping forward to knock on the door, then stepping back a little on the stoop.

“Right. I forgot we’re not allowed to say things like that anymore. I was retired, you know, for-”

“I know exactly how long you were retired. Maybe not to the second, but quite close,” the English woman says. “Now, sh. I hear someone.”

From inside the house there's a muffled voice, and it's safe to assume that someone is yelling that they're answering. What's unclear is to which side of the door they're actually speaking to.

And it's still a good minute before the pair outside are actually received. Mostly because there are two pairs of eyes that peek at them from a window — one pair blue beneath a mop of curly red hair and the other pair green set in a silver tabby face. Luckily for them it's the blue eyed redhead that answers the door and not the tabby.

The door is cracked open about six inches, far enough for a teenaged face to look at the woman first, and then the man. Jac’s brows knit with vague suspicion over the unfamiliar faces.


Reeves sets a hand on Bright’s arm and steps forward, polite smile turning her mouth upward as she offers a hand to the redhead answering the door.

“Hello! You’re Jac Childs, correct? My name is Agent Reeves and this lovely man is Agent Bright, and we’re just here to chat with you and your mum about how you’re doing, a bit of a wellness check, courtesy of the US Government. Is your mother here? Gillian Childs? We obviously will want her present with you for our questions, for your sake, of course,” the English woman says, words tumbling out quickly before the teenager slams the door in their faces.

Blue eyes flick to the hand that's extended toward her, then bounce right back up to resume scrutinizing each agent’s face. She doesn't accept the offer of a handshake. Nor does she immediately confirm who she is. She holds the door open, just far enough to fit her face in it, while she listens to the woman's words in silent judgement.

“You sound like a used car salesperson,” is how the teen chooses to respond. The government sending people to check on how they're doing seems strange. She watches the pair a moment longer, door swinging very slightly on its hinges as she debates further interaction.

Finally, the girl’s head turns, but her body stays to keep control over the door and entry. “Mom.” She doesn't exactly yell, but she calls probably louder than necessary inside the house. “It's government people with questions.”

Jac’s head swivels back to face the strangers, still not inviting them in. “Do you have ID?”

It doesn’t take long for Gillian to arrive from upstairs. Likely she had been on her way at the original knock, and sped up a little when Jac yelled. There’s no signs of the cats this time, they’ve taken to not harassing the guests as they might have used to. They’ve been a little on edge ever since the plane crash, perhaps because of the recent changes to the household and also because of the stress levels of two of the members of the family— or just because Chandra is still pissed they were gone for so long.

Gillian half things the ginger might need some time to get over that still.

“Government people? Not with SESA, I take it?” she asks, looking through the opening at them with a raised eyebrow before she nods. She doesn’t recognize any of them, but that doesn’t mean anything— the government is a big group, after all, with a lot of branches. And some she’d never even heard about until this year.

“Can we help you?”

“Of course we do,” Bright says helpfully — whether that’s that they sound like car salesmen or that they have ID isn’t clear, as he doesn’t reach for an identification card. Blue eyes alight on Gillian when he sees the adult of the household over Jac’s shoulder.

“Ms. Childs. A pleasure. I do enjoy your books so,” he says warmly, offering her a hand to shake. “Agent Bright. I believe you may have met our coworker, Agent Harris? We’re from the same department.”

Reeves rolls her eyes ever so slightly behind Bright’s shoulder, then glances over at Jac as if to say old people, am I right? Still, she does pull from her blazer’s inner pocket a badge, holding it up for them to see. DOE and Beatrix Reeves are the easiest things to read from a distance, along with her photograph. Unlike the black-suited Reeves on their stoop, the Reeves in the photo looks a little younger and is wearing a mustard-yellow sweater.

“Not SESA,” Jac confirms. That she doesn't trust this pair is obvious in her tone. She shakes her head at Bright’s non-response, and Reeves gets a whole flat look at her attempt at camaraderie, as if to say they aren't friends like that.

The teen had refused to shake hands, but when the badge is produced, she reaches past the door to pull it closer for a more thorough examination. “They're here for a wellness check,” she explains with a small glance to Gillian.

“Ah, yes,” Gillian responds quietly, nodding at the sight of the bad. “And Gates as well,” she admits, because— well— she’s met two Agents who admitted they were from that division, though she knows better than to talk too much about it. They had given her a gift, really. Her daughter was not in prison for the rest of her life, Peter was given a second chance to live again.

It had been a gift.

“Come on in,” she says, despite Jac’s mistrust, moving to push the door further open and motion Jac backwards. “Let’s go to the library. It’s pretty comfortable there. It’ll be okay.” It isn’t really that she trusts the government, but she trusts it more than she probably would have if she hadn’t known they played a hand in Jac and Peter being allowed to still be where they were now.

The slim brunette holds onto the badge when Jac pulls it closer, but she allows her arm to move with it to give the teen a better look. Department of the Exterior, her name, and a holographic image in one corner that’s a little hard to make out in the dim gray afternoon light.

“And Gates. My, you are important,” Bright says warmly. “Thank you for agreeing to speak with us.”

Tucking the wallet back into her pocket, Reeves steps forward first so that Bright can close the umbrella and leave it on the stoop behind them. She’s careful to wipe her feet on the mat before entering.

“Before we begin with the questions we have, I’d like to say personally and on behalf of the Department, that we’re truly sympathetic to what you’ve gone through. I’m sure the accident and its aftermath have been quite trying. Some of the questions we’ll be asking are a little curious. We appreciate your honesty and patience,” she says in her crisp English accent.

Jac allows herself to be nudged away from the door, but only after she’s had a good look at that badge. She nearly protests when it’s taken away, not yet finished with her examination — those holograms are hard to see even in good light — but the effort is redirected into a resigned sigh. It’s fine, but she still doesn’t trust either of them.

“You have no idea,” she murmurs in response to part of what Reeves says. To say what she and Gillian and any of the others has gone through is trying would be an understatement, but the teen refrains from saying anything more on that subject. “It’s this way,” is a shift in gears in an indistinctly subdued tone. She motions toward the hallway, then takes her own direction to lead everyone to the library. Her arms fold around her middle as she walks deeper into the house.

Once actually in the library, Jac slinks to her familiar place in the room and seats herself criss-cross on a cushion on the floor.

“Thankfully we managed to go through it with only minor physical injuries,” Gillian admits, quietly, as they lead the way to the library, which is up a half flight of stairs. Every staircase in the house has handicap rails to make walking up them easier. They had nearly been removed over a year ago when Jolene had been healed, but now they were necessary again, for another reason all together. Even if Peter was just as stubborn about using them as Lene had been sometimes.

With a gesture to the extra chairs, she takes a seat on the couch in the library, while Jac takes up her place on the floor. She does not offer a drink, which might be seen as rude, or perhaps she just doesn’t want them to stay long, or wants an excuse to send Jac out of the room later if she needs to, perhaps—

Who knew. Usually when it was an agent that she knew, though, Jac would know she would offer drinks at least, water or something.

“So how can we help the Department of Exterior?”
“Indeed,” is Reeves’ agreeable reply to Jac’s comment, but she quiets until they get to the library. She moves to one of the seats first, leaving the other to Bright, who sits after she does.

Almost in unison, they each pull out their notetaking supplies — Reeves, a slim and sleek tablet with a stylus, Bright a notepad with a click-top pen.

“We’re here to see how you are doing — physically, mentally, emotionally. We know you’ve had extensive labs done, but we’re looking at things through a slightly different lens than SESA, perhaps,” Reeves says, crossing her ankles neatly to one side and leaning forward a little toward the two Childs women. “Neither of us are scientists so we’re not looking at bloodwork or heart rate or anything like that.”

Bright clicks his pen button twice, off, then back on, and writes something at the top of his pad of paper. “Can you tell us if you’ve had any physical sensations that seem strange — maybe not enough to bother with, but things that, you know, you would just think are a little weird. Like pain for no reason at all or a ringing in your ears, smelling something that isn’t there?”

Jac squints slightly at the near-identical movements between the agents. It’s strange, who does that? She braces her elbows on her knees, props her chin up in her hands. Blue eyes go from studying both Reeves and Bright as a single unit, to each individually as they speak. A different lens than SESA? What does the Department of Exterior actually do? A question among many others that she’d love to ask, if she ever got the opportunity. Maybe she will. For now, the girl huffs the smallest of annoyed huffs ever at Bright’s clicking pen, gaze darting from the writing tool to the man holding it and back again.

A glance, once the questions actually begin, goes to Gillian. The opener seems innocent and earnest enough, but her subtle reluctance to trust the two agents stalls a quick answer. Sighing, Jac pulls her eyes back to the pair again and she shrugs oh so helpfully. “If it isn’t enough to bother, then how would we know it’s weird?”

“Things have actually been easier for me lately, to be honest,” Gillian has to admit, though it’s not as easy to do so. Some people had abilities that made them feel like they could see and feel more, and even she could, really, but she always had that thing that she had to hold together or else she risked possibly causing problems like she used to when she first manifested. She had seen what letting it run rampant had done. She always had to pay attention to that. “So that’s peculiar, but not in a bad way. It’s almost calmer, really. Quieter. No ear ringing, or anything, though. Not even any headaches.”

Which was a relief. She would sometimes get headaches when she overtaxed her ability, and not getting them for those reasons was nice. Now she just got headaches when she stayed up too late, or didn’t drink enough water— the usual things. “I feel like I can concentrate more, I think I even go to sleep more easily now.”

Gillian’s admission draws a slow nod from Bright as he scribbles a few notes, pen audibly scratching against paper in contrast to the silent glide of stylus against glass as Reeves does the same.

“That’s a nice perk,” Bright says with a smile. “It’s nice that someone has a good… shall we say side effect, I suppose, amongst all the stress and pain the incident’s caused.”

His younger partner fields the question from Squeaks.

“You’ve never had those little strange things happen, but they aren’t very common so you just brush them off? Things like deja vu, or seeing things out of the corner of your eyes, maybe hearing music playing where there shouldn’t be, but if you go to suss out where it’s coming from, you can never find it? Little things like that, where you’d normally just shrug it off… those sorts of things happen quite rarely for me, maybe once a year, maybe less,” Reeves explains, her brown eyes studying Jac thoughtfully. “Have you noticed anything like that, either just in general or due to it being a bit more frequent?”

As her mom answers without hesitation, Jac slides a look to her. She might consider that weird, along with the easy invitation into the house, the lack of offering even water — things she'd disregarded because her whole life is one tangled web of weird. It won’t happen again.

When Reeves speaks up again though, all she does to respond is turn an openly observant look back to the agents and shrug. Her curiosity is renowned, and the shift from suspicion shouldn't be remarkable. They're practically the same thing coming from her. “Like you said,” the teen allows, supposing she actually has to try to answer the questions. She makes herself sit up a little straighter, hands folding in her lap as a sign she'll cooperate. “If it's small I probably ignored it or whatever.” But she'll do it without actually answering the questions.

“It’s been stressful, but after the war I learned a lot of different coping mechanisms. That’s helped a lot,” Gillian says, not really brushing off the trauma so much as— she’s had ways of dealing with it that she learned from after the war, which she had been directly involved in. It might have even been in her file somewhere that she’d had a breakdown during one of the missions she had been on with the resistance that had put her in a form of shell-shock for a few days that had needed to take her off the front lines permanently. Thankfully, it had been near the end.

The question is considered, with a small frown, but she shakes her head after a moment, “Not that I can recall, really. At least not recently. Certainly not since the plane crash. Everything I can think of that I would even consider odd— well— it’s what most people would consider normal that’s odd to me these days.” A quiet night at home with the family? That was almost the oddest thing ever, really.

“So not enough to notice, if anything,” Reeves summarizes, stylus moving against glass, then opening her mouth to ask the next question, but Bright interrupts.

“I think we’re in the same boat there, Ms. Childs,” he says, smile kindly, eyes crinkling at the corner thanks to so many years of crow’s feet etched in his skin. “These days, what even is normal? Even those who don’t live extraordinary lives, as you two do,” he includes Jac in his nod, “have been touched by extraordinary events. More so every day.”

He turns back to Gillian. “What are your coping mechanisms? Asking for a friend,” he quips, but then lets his face fall into a less playful expression. “But seriously, which would you say you’ve leaned on most since the incident? And you, Miss Childs?”

Again, Jac shrugs, unsure of her answer or unwilling to share it. Probably both. There are plenty of things she's turned to, maybe not with the expressed intention of coping; her digging into the unknown is typically due to an insatiable curiosity and innate need to understand. And she would argue that it's her approach to the world in general, that any relation of what she's researched to their current problem is just coincidence.

“I don't think I've really…” the teen starts slowly, seeming to think about anything she might have done that's leaned on. For a second she considers discussing vices such as toddy time, but only a second. That's some trouble she doesn't need to tempt, and it's enough that she's playing chicken with the agents’ questions anyway.

“I guess I just don't think about it very much.” Most waking hours most days isn't that much, is it? Never mind the books she's read or reading on various oddities with their conditions, or the pages and pages of notes she's made. Nope, Jac hasn't obsessed over finding answers. “Hardly ever. You and… the government are doing what you can, right?”

“Mostly, I write. I keep detailed journals,” Gillian explains with a small smile, though that may not be a surprising answer coming from someone who has written a novel really, and someone who dedicated much of her time in the safe zone to opening up the libraries again. Writing had been her biggest escape, in many ways, and her method of dealing. She’d even tried to keep detailed journals in Praxia, but most of what she’d kept had been the fiction novel she had written in that time, instead. It was different, but similar.

But she had them again, as she’d had them since they came back. They helped. “Some meditation, too. But mostly just writing down what’s on my mind, gathering my thoughts, rereading and dealing with my emotions that way. It’s a good way to get out what I’m feeling and deal with it in a constructive way. When I first started they would have me write down my problems and burn them, or tear them up, but I usually don’t need to do that anymore. I acknowledge them and move on, as much as I can.”

It was difficult sometimes, but— unlike so many others, she didn’t feel lesser for no longer having her ability. “I’m sure they are, Jac,” she says with a glance, before looking back at the two Agents. While she has accepted it, she knows that Jac and everyone else has not. “But this sort of thing has never happened before, has it?” If it had— she’s sure they would have heard about it at some point before now.

One eyebrow tics up when Jac says she doesn’t think much about it, but she doesn’t push the teen on it; she simply keeps taking notes on the tablet, before answering the question posed by the girl.

“Several agencies are working on it, I assure you. That can be frustrating, I know, because you have to answer our questions and then another agency wants to ask the same — sadly, just like with other matters, we’re not all very good at sharing, it seems,” she says lightly, but holds up a hand to correct herself.

“I don’t mean we don’t share, but it’s more that we tend to want to get the information ourselves straight from the horse’s mouth, as they say, rather than what someone in another agency said the horse said, if that makes sense. It’s a rubbish analogy, but the same phenomena exists between the police and FBI for instance, from what I’ve seen,” she chatters on.

While Reeves talks, Bright pulls off his glasses and then the pocket square out of his jacket, taking a moment to clean the lenses, then rubbing his temples for a few moments until his partner stops speaking. He picks up where she left to smile at Gillian and answer her question. Without his glasses, his eyes seem a little out of focus, before he slides them back on.

“Not quite like this, no, as far as I’m aware, but it’s possible it might have. Other countries are not as open about their information as ours is, you know, so is it possible it’s happened somewhere else? If it’s possible to happen at all, it may have happened before,” he says. “Can you tell me the last time you dreamed, and what it was about? If it’s something, you know, a little scandalous, you can leave out the details of course.”

Reeves clears her throat. “General topics, broadstrokes would be fine,” she adds, giving Gillian a please excuse him sort of look.

Scandalous. Jac is torn between being utterly confused and downright mortified. She's read about those kinds of dreams once in a journal she found a million years ago. That journal has since been returned to its proper owner. But the memory of its contents remains. She shakes her head then draws a sidelong look to Gillian. Which she immediately regrets.

No one wants to think of anyone having scandalous dreams, especially not their mom.

The girl tucks her chin, presses the heels of her hands, and sighs. “Can I…” be excused? Start over? Pass? “Just…” Jac lifts her head so she's looking over her hands, huffing a single breath. Her skepticism of the agents is obvious. Her unwillingness to talk about dreams, general or otherwise, couldn't be more plain. “Would you explain why these questions? What are you… I mean we just assumed it's because of what happened to us but… what are you looking for?”

Of all the—

For a moment, Gillian is almost too surprised to even laugh. Or be offended. It’s just— surprisingly, really. “I honestly don’t remember my dreams very often unless I take the mind to write them down soon after I wake up, or tell someone about them— so sadly I have no stories, salacious or otherwise.” Which is said with a joke, and an apologetic look at Jac, because if they had been she would have edited that for her obviously. Even if they had a man living with them these days, he had his own room and, well—

Ahem. If she really wanted scandalous things she could just read her book anyway, right?

It had plenty of those scenes. “So sorry, I really don’t remember much of anything involving dreams that stand out lately, I’d have to go check my journal to see for sure, but at least none that stood out beyond normal stuff like… I guess there was one dream not too long ago where I was trying to find a specific book but none of the books I looked at were the right one, but I have a feeling that was just me worrying about something involving the library.”

The woman besides Bright clears her throat again, an indicator to Bright to perhaps stop talking. “Pardon the personal nature of the question. We do not have an interest in anything that would be considered salacious, I assure you,” she says, shooting the man at her side another askance look.

There might be the tiniest smirk hiding in the corner of her mouth.

“The reason for the questions, Miss Childs, is because of what happened to you, of course. They are a little curious, but so is what happened to you. We’ve reasons behind them. Partly to make sure that you are doing fine without strange phenomena lingering to you, aside from those that lab tests have already determined, and aside from the, well, expected repercussions of the trauma of the event and the loss of your abilities,” she continues.

Bright, meanwhile, has delegated himself the scribe while Reeves talks, scribbling a few things with his pen, the sound scratching the paper lightly. His brow furrows and he rubs at the space just in front and above his earlobe, then glances back at Reeves. When she looks over, he tips his notebook slightly so she can read whatever he’s scrawled on its pages. Her brown eyes dart there, but her face an impassive mask, and she merely looks back to the two women.

“People who have been through strange events like this — not this exactly,” her gaze returns to Gillian, since she’d already answered that this is a unique case, “have sometimes reported strange symptoms. If we can find something in common, well.”

She turns to Jac, her voice softening. “I promise we’re not trying to learn all your secrets just for the lols.”

The answer, for as much of what Reeves said could qualify as an answer, raises more red flags and questions than it eases. Jac wears her doubt openly. Likely the only thing that's kept her from leaving the room is that Gillian is still playing along. Her mom’s continued willingness to answer questions without losing any of her own just refuses to sit right. Even when it was agents they knew there was still a fair trade of asking and answering happening.

“Well that's comforting,” Jac says with vague sarcasm. She'd like to pry into who's said what, after all it's a game of fair trades when gathering information. But those questions are pinned for later.

She chooses to not answer further, not because she has anything to hide — scandalous dreams or otherwise — but because she feels they're dancing around answers. Just like she is.

So for a long few seconds, the girl is silent. Blue eyes tick between the agents, occasionally angle to Gillian, just observing and weighing her next query. Like,

“Can I see what you're writing about us?” That's about as fair a question as Jac’s ever asked. Even doctors tend to have a hard time declining such a request from her.

“I haven’t noticed anything I would consider unusual other than no longer having my ability and the tests that they have run to try and figure out why,” Gillian says simply, looking at the British woman directly rather than the older man doing the writing. She has no interest in the notes, cause as far as she’s concerned they are likely just scribbles of what they are saying in shorthand most likely. “I’ve experienced things I would think others would see as strange before— related to trauma and abilities and— other things. Not this time, though.”

When she had her ability swapped, there had been strange side effects of course. When she had done drugs, when she had experienced major trauma after the war, when she had time travelled— she has memories of those events, memories of how they had affected her… But this…

“I’d say this event has been pretty dull, in terms of what I have experienced before, honestly. At least so far. I can inform you if I start having panic attacks or night terrors or seeing things that aren’t there. But things haven’t been that bad lately, if that’s what you’re asking about. Jac— as far as I can tell— has also been relatively okay. She wants her ability back, of course, and we all want to know what happened to us and prevent such a thing from happening to anyone else, but otherwise, I think we’re handling it as well as can be expected.”

Bright’s blue eyes peer over the the rim of his glasses when Squeaks asks to see what he’s writing, and he shrugs. “It’s just your answers, Miss Childs, but even those will likely make no sense to you,” he says, turning the notepad around so she can see a page of scribbles, lines, and loops written in shorthand.

“We thank you for your candor and willingness to speak with us,” Reeves says, and if there’s any sarcasm in those words, it’s well hidden as she rises and reaches a hand out to Gillian to shake.

“I really don’t have any more questions at this point, unless there’s anything you have experienced to which you can compare your current feelings, any sort of parallels you might feel, even in an oblique way that perhaps doesn’t quite make sense?” This question is directed to Gillian rather than Jac, perhaps because the agent knows just how many strange experiences the woman has gone through in her life.

Bright stands as well, flipping closed the notepad and sliding it into his pocket.

“Can I — ” Jac leans slightly to the side to retrieve her phone, all intent on taking a picture of the notes. She might not make sense of it now, but ever the problem solver she might decipher it later. She looks up, after getting the camera app open, in time to see Bright closing his notepad and putting it away.

The teen sighs, long suffering and full of annoyance. Stupid mystery people and their mystery agency coming up in her house and not even having the decency to be completely open and honest. And it's just as ballsy to thank them for their //candor. Don't think she didn't miss that.

Indignance sets in her mouth and she closes the app in exchange for another. They're not the only ones who can play at secrecy. While Reeves poses another question in the form of intending to leave, Jac quietly taps away on her phone — taking her own brand of notes.

Gillian gets to her feet, taking the offered hand and shaking it politely and firmly, and giving a small smile that might even hold a bit of an apology. She had been trying to be candid with the situation, because, well, compared to some of the things she’s seen— this really wasn’t that bad. It wasn’t the first time she’d nearly died in a strange incident. It wasn’t the first time she’d had her ability fucked with. It wasn’t even the first time she’d been kidnapped and possibly experimented on.

It also wasn’t the first time her daughter had been taken from her, experimented on and ability messed with, even if she’d only had that daughter for less than two years.

But the situation was still— different. “Is there anywhere we can reach you if we have something to add in the future?”

“If you think of something,” Bright says mildly, pulling out his ID wallet to pull out a simple business card and resting it on the table nearby. There isn’t much information on it other than his name and a phone number. “Otherwise, we may stop by again, to check in and see that all is still well.”

Well is subjective, of course.

After shaking hands and being shown once more to the front door, the two step outside. Bright picks up the umbrella from where he had left it on the stoop and holds it aloft over both of their heads.

Scandalous, Davis, really? Are you quite mad?” Reeves says, with a roll of her eyes as they step away. A little more gently, she peers up at him as they step around a puddle and make their way toward their sedan parked down the street. “How’s your head?”

Davis pulls off ihs glasses, rubbing the bridge of his nose.

“On a scale of one to Castle, about a three.”

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