Out Of Their Minds


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Scene Title Out of their Minds
Synopsis A holiday visit to a street fair turns into an out-of-body experience.
Date July 5, 2021

The humidity and heat of a New York summer are a little more bearable at the corner of 41st Avenue and 80th Street. The quaint tree-lined neighborhood already offers some respite from the heat, but today, a few dozen pop-up canopies create more shade, and deflect some of the afternoon sun away from the shoppers. Red, white, and blue abounds in flags and other patriotic nods to the Monday holiday, but even the nonpatriotic sorts have come out for the event, lured in by the sweet scent of kettle corn or the promise of market-fresh vegetables or the whim to hunt out an artisan trinket or pre-loved garment.

There’s no rain on the forecast, and the sky, overcast earlier, has only a few clouds dotting its otherwise pale-blue canvas. Still, now and then, there’s something in the air, a tickle of the nerves on the skin, that feels an awful lot like a storm brewing.

“Sample?” offers a rangy youth with black hair that ends in a shock of turquoise across his forehead. He stands in front of a stand selling homemade cheeses, and has a platter full of little cubes with toothpicks speared in. Behind the plastic tables lined with plastic gingham table cloths, his opposite helps a customer with a purchase, wrapping everything in brown paper with raffia. Short, stout, and middle aged, Dale Ephron wears a patriotic button that reads, Real Americans fought against the US gov in 2012, and has a wicker basket full of the same, in addition to all the cheese. Goat cheese, specifically – a little pygmy goat bleats now and then from where she’s tied up on a lead. She has a dog Igloo with her name, Beatrice, painted in pink, along with a pink bowl full of water.

Not interested in goat cheese, August Yeats is at the next stall over, brows furrowed in thought as he looks at the offerings from one of the jewelry vendors. It’s all very artsy, silver coiled around a gemstone or roughly hewn celtic shapes. Whatever he’s looking for, he doesn’t seem to find it, and he turns away – his face might look very familiar to some who knew a man with a face just like it in Providence. There’s something about his posture, his mannerisms that jar with the memory of Byron Wolf’s.

Clara Kent has made her way down from Jackson Heights for this little market event partly out of a bit of homesickness, and partly to see if there's aught she can find here that might be of interest to Yi-Min. The air here is vaguely midwestern with the unique, sweet scent carrying on it, and she finds herself navigating more toward anything foodlike as a result. She rustles the handful of kettle corn that's still left in her paper bag, resigning herself to taking the time to just… breathe in the moment for what it is. Things people generally don't know continue to weigh at the back of her mind, as they always do, but she tries to see the forest in front of her for what it is rather than worry about things elsewhere at the moment.

Standing off to the side of traffic, she lets herself look over the crowd, trying to take the temperature here. The fires that threatened to sweep the Safe Zone off the map weren't but a week ago, and yet here all these folks were. There's a momentary pang for how different things played out in Providence, where–

Maybe it's her thoughts straying back to the settlement that makes her see something familiar in the crowd. She blinks behind the thick black rims of the glasses she wears, stilling her jaw as she stops breathing. Someone lost to her seems to be in the crowd. A double-blink later to refocus herself, and she finds herself not sure. It couldn't be … could it? Uncertain, she tries not to stare, but keeps him in her periphery, going back to pretending to be occupied with the last of her snack.

With an almost bare food cupboard at home, Cooper was making a trip of desperation. Other food items already weigh down the cloth shopping bag hanging from his fingers.

“Can I pet the goat?” A hopeful Cooper asks of the cheesemonger, while waiting for his cheese to get wrapped. “I mean is she friendly? Does she even like to be petted?”

That goat was the whole reason why Thomas was forking over money to this vendor for something he doesn't normally eat. He was lured in like a sucker by the cuteness and the vendor hooked him in by striking up a friendly conversation.

It was a very slick business move indeed. Cooper could only hope Ellen doesn't turn her nose up at it all.

The colors are what catch Liza's eye. There's something about the vibrancy in colors that she relates to, so the booths, canopies, and flags already put her in a pleasant mood. The excursion, she decided, was good for her. How was it she had no hobbies? How was it she put all her time into work? When had she become that person? She'd spent a lot of time thinking about that recently and more time trying to act on it. Outings like this had become her norm whenever she could. While alone, it doesn't seem to bother her at all as she strolls along at a leisurely pace, looking from booth to booth. Nothing seems to catch her attention until she spots a booth with pottery. Ceramic mugs, bowls, vibrant glazes making them different and unique. She stops to look, not because she's interested in purchasing them as much as she's looking for something else.

She's searching for a hobby.

At the very same cheesemonger, Dirk has just finished receiving a package of his favorite pomegranate and pepper chevre. It’s charcuterie night tonight at Chez Dirkson and he’s going all out. “Just don’t touch the horns, buddy,” he calls out to his favorite workmate. It’s no secret, Cooper is very much his favorite.

Tucking the small package into a cloth bag, he wanders toward the samples and plucks up a toothpick of cheese. He twirls the end slowly, examining the morsel but ultimately ends up popping it into his mouth. “Wow, that packs a punch,” he exclaims with a grin, “I haven’t had cheese this good since…” His voice drifts off and he ends it with a shrug.

It's a bright and sunshiny day in July, but if the ache in Carver's knees is anything to go by, that's going to change soon; Weather with a capital W is coming, and Carver would rather be back home before it arrives.

But supplies aren't going to buy themselves, and even if business isn't booming these days, no clinic Carver runs is going to be short on supplies if he has anything to say about it, impending storms or not.

Goat cheese is not one of the things he's planning to purchase, but he finds himself slowing in front of the cheesemonger's stall anyway as that button catches his eye. Real Americans fought against the US gov in 2012, it reads… and the sight of it sees Carver's eyes narrow and his scowl deepen. Seeing a button like that being worn around hurts… not least because it's true. "No," Carver rasps at the offer of a sample, shaking his head. He's already got a few purchases in his backpack, but there are a few more basic things he needs to get before he meets up with his ride…

…but as Carver makes ready to move on, the glimpse of someone familiar at the next stall sees him pause for a moment instead. "Actually. Yeah, I'll take a sample," he rasps, looking back to the vendor.

"Since your last stand-up, Dirkson?" Cesar's voice cuts in from behind Dirk. The man has stopped behind his coworkers at the cheese booth, having recognized Cooper and Dirk and angled his path to intersect. Dressed for a run in tank top and shorts, Cesar adjusts the lay of his iPod earbuds dangling over his neck. Yes, even in the heat of summer, Cesar is diligent in the upkeep of his physique. Revels in it, even. He leans a little closer to examine the cheese cubes offered, but refrains from a sample, not wanting to risk an upset to the delicate balance of his insides yet.

At the cheese stand, Salem nods solemnly in approval at Cesar’s choice not to take a sample. He’s not the best person to do this job, but Dale doesn’t seem to mind. He’s loud and jovial enough for both of them, and the kid needed a job.

“Absolutely! Just be careful. She will eat just about anything, so watch your, well, everything!” he crows as he sets down Cooper’s purchase and waving the man through a small gap between the two tables full of product. “Beatrice, be polite, now,” he tells the black and white goat, who bleats in reply.

Salem looks over at Dirk. “You’re supposed to sample before you buy,” he points out, but then shrugs. It’s not his circus and these aren’t his monkeys.

At the next stand, August’s gray eyes survey the stalls, deciding where to go next – the cheese stand doesn’t seem to really hold his interest, and his gaze passes over both “Clara” and Carver without any sign of recognition.

Running down the sidewalk, an exuberant labrador puppy has escaped his owners. It’s spotted the goat – and the cheese! – and is rushing in that direction, a harried-looking woman and two small children rushing after the pup.

“Hank! Stop! Sit! Stay!” one of the two little boys yells.

“Dude, you just made my day,” Cooper says brightly, shimmying through the small gap, his bag held high enough not to knock anything over as he passes. When he is passed the table, he stands there for a minute taking in what he is about to do. “Oh! I know! Something for her time.” Pawing through earlier purchases, he pulls out a carrot and crouches with it. There is a soft whirl and click of his robotic knee as he does.

“Hi Beatrice,” Cooper says in that higher pitched voice only pet owners and parents understand. He offers the carrot in one hand and the other reaches out to scratch between little nubby horns. “Aren't you just the cutest.” He leans forward a little and whispers, “Don’t tell Al though. He’s a bit sensitive about his looks.”

Letting the goat munch on the carrot, Cooper fishes out his phone and shifts to where he can take a selfie with it. He gives a bright goofy smile and a snap of a picture that will soon be on its way to Marlowe with a warning she might have some competition.

Lowering the phone he spots Caesar on the other side of the booth. “Hey, man, put those things away.” Those arms and… all of him really. “Putting the rest of us to shame,” Thomas jokes in greeting, while he goes back to giving Beatrice all the scratches a cute goat deserves.

Dale looks delighted at the sudden interest in his cheeses and in Beatrice – it’s been a slow day so far, from the looks of the amount of product he still has out, and he beams with pride when Cooper praises and selfies with his prize goat. She won blue ribbon at the state fair, dontcha know!

When August's look moves right along, Clara wonders if her glasses are really putting in work. Her gaze seeks Carver in a silent bid to confirm if he's seen what she has. Her tongue rolls against her cheek, and not paying attention to what else may be happening, steps out from the stand she'd been lingering by and moves to intercept.

"Wolf?" she asks as she approaches him directly. Kara even takes off her glasses as she nears, all the better to give him a clear look at her. She's dressed in yellow plaid and jeans, hair pulled up into a ponytail– not very different at all from any usual Providence looks she'd bear.

The tall man addressed as Wolf glances at Kara, his brows drawing together and he shakes his head. “No, sorry,” he murmurs, his gray eyes flicking one way, then the other, and he veers in the direction of the stand and toward Carver, giving the other Providence resident a direct look at him in the process. It’s not a passing resemblance – if he’s not Byron, he’s his identical twin, or doppelganger, or clone.

Liza's attention is drawn away from the pottery for the sake of someone yelling for a 'Hank'. She looks up and the sight of the dog running towards the goat catches her attention. She moves to put herself between the dog and the goat in an attempt to intercept. After all, if she can be as entertaining as a goat, perhaps she can distract the dog. She squats down in an attempt to get lower.

"Hello Hank! Aren't you a good boy? Come here. Come over riiiiight here! I've got the best pets you've ever had. Come on over!"

The puppy is all bouncing paws as it runs, evading the hands of those farther down the sidewalk who try to catch it. It barrels on, its attention split between the goat now and Liza, because she seems super nice, but the goat looks super fun to chase.

"Oh no sir, you're not doin' that without some extra photo evidence," Cesar remarks with a mischievous smile and, extracting his phone, snaps a few photos of Cooper's selfie face with Beatrice the goat. What will become of those depends on the future climate back at Fort Jay. He 'answers' Cooper's request with a glance down to himself, then a shrug and a slip of his phone back into his pocket. The muscles will have to be left out, alas. Carver's presence moving near him has Cesar stepping off to a side to allow the older man access. Though about to continue conversations with his off-duty coworkers, he overhears the calling of a young boy to his dog, and spots Liza on the intercept route. Unbidden, Cesar repositions at another angle to aid in the attempt of corralling the runaway canine.

Cesar’s physique and Cooper’s remarks find Dale glancing down at his own short, stout stature, but when he looks up, he grins. “It’s all right,” he tells Cooper as if he’s consoling him. “Everybody can’t all be gods like me and Adonis over there. He lifts an arm and makes a fist to flex his bicep. Hamming it up, he flinches as if the little bit of muscle exertion physically hurts him. “Ow.”

“Pardonnay mwah,” Dirk drawls at Cesar, in horrendous non-French, placing his hand to his chest. “I do not perform standup, and if I did, it would be wonderful.” When Salem chastises him for sampling after buying, he snatches one more and pops it in his mouth before anyone can say anything. “Fine, I’ll take… uh.. Whatever other flavor you have.”

Unlike all the other happy helpers, the petite blond man squeals and runs a few steps in the opposite direction of the puppy. “Get away! No touchy! Go home!” He waves his hand at the dog, making a disgusted face at it. “Get your disgusting slobber mouth and butt licking tongue away from me.” His disgusted expression only gets worse as people he knows actually touch the thing. “Ugh… where are its parents or whatever dog people call themselves.”

Salem’s blue eyes widen. “What is wrong with you,” he murmurs. It’s not really a question. “It’s a //puppy.

Carver catches Kara's gaze and holds it for just a moment before letting his gaze flicker back to 'Byron' for a moment. Yes, he's noticed.

Then his gaze is back on the cheese tray. Carver offers an off-handed nod of thanks to the man in the tanktop as he steps aside, allowing him to move up to the stall. He picks up a cheese sample, seemingly studying it for a moment, although the bulk of his attention is on his peripheral vision — he's still watching 'Byron' out of the corner of his eye.

Kara's on that, though, looks like, so he pops the sample in his mouth; the flavor of the cheese itself is decent enough, but the abominable assault on French from one of the other customers makes his mouth twist. French isn't one of his languages, but he knows how it sounds when it's spoken correctly and that isn't it.

"Not bad," Carver rasps, his gaze on the cheesemongers. "I'd like a half pound."

Salem shrugs; he doesn’t care if the samplers buy or not, but he glances over to see if Dale got the two orders from Carver and Dirk.

Dale does not in fact get that order, because many things happen at once. The puppy at the last second veers not toward Cesar, nor Liza, but under the tables toward Cooper and Beatrice. Boisterous and clumsy, his big puppy feet hit the table leg at just the right angle to send the table tumbling, throwing the product on the ground – including the trays of ice that the cheese rounds were sitting atop to keep them cool in the humid day.

The children and mother come skidding along the ice and cheese on the ground; everyone bumps into one another, including those standing around the cheese stall. Dale, finding himself off balance, reaches for security – unfortunately it’s in the form of the pop-up canopy’s crossbar, and that comes tumbling down too.

There’s a crackle of electricity in the air, that storm brewing making itself felt in the frayed nerves and joints, in the way hair stands on end, in a friction felt against bare skin when nothing is touching it.

Once the dust settles, Hank happily eats a piece of cheese, having forgotten Beatrice. “Is everyone all right?” Dale asks, voice muffled from where he’s pulling the canopy off of himself. The short answer is no.

“More importantly, is Beatrice okay,” says Cooper. He is currently looking at Kara and…


What?! Cooper’s head tilts to one side looking confused at Kara, his brows slowly lowering. Something seems wrong. “Where is Beatrice?” He turns enough to look over his shoulder, spotting the downed tent. Eyes narrowing, he points at the tent, because he remembers it coming down on top of him and him trying to protect the goat from the puppy. Then he slowly turns where that finger is pointing at Kara.

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Cooper is very confused right now.

Then something occurs to him and he looks down at his hands. “I….” Those are not his hands. He twists one where he can look at the webbing between his thumb and forefinger. The scar he got on the shooting range in his early police years is gone. “What the f—!!!” Gray eyes widen and he bends down to yank up a pant leg, only to find a flesh and blood leg.

Cooper shouts in surprise, releasing the pant leg like it’s burning him, and stumbles back into the neighboring stall. “THE HELL IS GOING ON!?!

One moment, Dirk is eating a piece of cheese and being chastised by a child about the horrors that some people call dogs… the next he’s Oh God…

Cooper scrambles away from the goat, dropping his phone, and hurriedly brushing his hands over his clothing to get any animal hair off him. Then… “I can’t feel my leg…” Dirk’s voice is not his own, it’s not the familiar voice of his roommate… no but it is pitched high in panic. “I can’t feel my leg!!” Although he’s not exactly new at this sort of thing, there are aspects he’s never experienced before. “My leg is missing!!” He stumbles, not quite used to the prosthetic, and specifically not sure how he’s supposed to control it. He stumbles, then falls over. The leg itself causes the blonde man to spin around in a circle on the floor as it bends and straightens, bends and straightens, at a pace that (if it was cooperating with the rest of his body) would be running.

Liza's first clue that something's wrong is not that other people are freaking out. Her first clue is that she's not in the same spot she was before, she looks back and forth, a little confused and then she sees… herself. Wait, her body's over there and she's…

"Oh, okay, this is pretty weird," Liza says, letting out a soft sigh of tiredness. The energy and pep she had a moment ago seem to have faded and now she's just not quite the same. Her voice doesn't sound the same either and she braces herself on her feet because she feels tall for once in her life. "Oh, yeah, definitely weird. Is this what it's like to be tall? Holy shit."


Kara's suddenly no longer looking off at Byron— she's suddenly standing by Carver. Unlike the others, she doesn't panic over her displacement. Her eyes simply begin to gloss over with the distance they take on. What was happening here? She was dealing with it in the only way she knows how— trying to contain her fears about it.

The sudden howling coming from Looks-Like-Byron, and then Cooper bring her back to the present, though. It's the comments from Carver standing next to her though that perplexes her, and she turns to look down— //down?— at him, blinking once. Then twice.

Oh, it's like this, then.

When Kara reaches out to place a hand on Carver's shoulder, it's then she notes she's definitely not in her own body, the tone of muscle and skin far different from her own. "I know what you mean," she roughs out to whoever is in Carver's body, speaking with Cesar's voice. "But now— tell me who you are so we can start sorting who's who in this mess." With her other hand, she goes rifling into the shorts she's wearing to probe the pockets for a wallet, all too calm about this in contrast to the shouting taking place feet from her feet in either direction. Then she turns and raises her voice, not at all disliking the way this body feels.

"Carver?" she calls with a stern tenor. "Where've you gone to?"

Cesar had stood semi-crouched in a defensive tackle-like stance to potentially catch young Hank the Hound. But when the pup veers away out of reach, the man had spun, only to cry out in short surprise as the whole cheese stand came down around the gathered.

"Coño carajo, este pinche perro," he swears after a beat or two, reaching to check and see if his iPod and earbuds survived the scrambling impact. The first thing he notices is the distinct brush of hair against neck and shoulders rather than thin cabling wire. Then, his hand, far paler than expected. Then, himself, standing nearby, tank top and shorts and muscles and… "What the fuck!?" squeaks Cesar. The much higher, much more sweet voice of Liza's surprises him into brief speechlessness. Cesar scrambles up to 'his' feet, claps a hand to 'his' throat, and stares up at his much taller frame speaking to Carver.

Then, he's staring hard at all those in nearest proximity. Brown, doe-like eyes narrow in suspicion. "Dirkson? Cooper? …Messer?" he calls out tentatively, an awkward pause between names of his fellow agents. Cesar steps forward and approaches himself when he sees the stranger in his body moving, and unabashedly swats a hand at the one fishing through his shorts pockets. "'Scuse you?"

Kara flinches away from the swat, eyes widened. "Hey– hey," she warns, turning her body so her hips face away from those waving hands. She's heard about what it's like to accidentally get hit on or near the groin in a body like this, and she's not keen to find out.

In the immediate aftermath of the collision, the sudden lurch, the mouthful of cheese he suddenly has, Carver finds himself staring at


There is a nightmare wrongness to that that supersedes everything else about this bizarre situation, and if the rest of the world seems fundamentally altered, it's lost in Carver's sudden tunnel vision. His eyes widen ever-so-slightly, face hardening; one foot slides a half-inch back, fingers curling in on themselves, and then —

— then the other speaks, and whatever spell had befallen him breaks. Carver swallows, eyes flickering about as he tries to take in what happened. Everything's higher now, taller now; his heart's beating faster than it should be, too, feels like. He tenses his arm muscles slightly, trying to test his strength, and finds himself unimpressed.

When the runner calls out to him, his eyes flicker to him. "Here," he says, the voice of Dirk Dickson sounding flatter than it ever has. "Clara?"

The girl swatting at Kara's hand sees Carver's eyes pivot towards her. Kara's already issued a warning; Carver takes a step towards Kara, closing ranks, his eyes flickering around, marking those present.

The sudden shift in perspective finds August – in Kara’s body – stumbling as the world goes topsy-turvy. He turns to look in one direction, then the other, and finds himself staring at himself as Cooper examines his, August’s leg. His instinct is to check the vial of pills he’d shoved in his pocket on the way here, having popped a couple of them to deal with the crowds. His hands slip into Kara’s pocket, pulling out whatever’s there instead, and staring at it baffled.

He turns to look at his own body, and realizes whatever he was carrying is now over there.

The scowl on Kara’s face doesn’t look too out of place, though there’s something that’s not quite the same. More brow-forward, maybe. “The fuck…” is all he manages to get out, but he glances from one face to the next, noticing who reacts how. They’re all swapped…?

Even the mom and the two kids – the littlest boy is now yelling at the mother: “Sit down and do not move from that spot, Tatum! You too, Caleb!” with all the authority of a parent – in a three year old.

But not all. Salem has somehow managed not to drop any of the cheese as his wide eyes also track everyone like he’s watching a tennis match. “Did… did you still want the cheese?” he asks, glancing at Dirk and Cooper, then over to Dale who’s emerged from the tent. He’s more concerned with the product that’s on the ground, and steps over the table to start collecting it.

“Come on, kid, earn your salary, will ya? This cheese isn’t going to pick itself up,” he says, picking up the puppy’s leash to press into the mother’s hand and shaking his head. Some people.

August finds in Kara's pocket much what she'd been hoping to find in Cesar's– a wallet. The worn leather of it has something newer and stiffer– black plastic– clipped in its center. There are also a set of car keys, along with a smartphone in her back pocket.

For her part, she continues to shy away slightly from Cesar-in-Liza and feels relieved when someone calls out the name she's going by now. "Over here," she confirms for the true Carver. "We gotta find who's responsible for this, uh…"

How to even delicately put it.

“Yeah?” Hearing his name called by Liza, Cooper turns, with that wide-eyed panic in his eyes, only to catch his own body panicking over there. God, he feels faint. “What the heck is happening,” he asks, finally edging towards Liza and… him… himself? “That's me,” he points to the place he should be, “But not me? Who am I? What is going on?!?”

Cooper moves to stop his panicked body, fearing whoever was in there would hurt the multi-millon dollar leg or worse the body. He was fond of it and hoped to get it back. Trying to grab hold of himself, in a literal sense, was really, really surreal. “Stop thinking about the fact it isn’t there! You’re thinking too much about it. The leg is wired into your… m-m-my brain.”

This is not fun. “Swear to god, Thomas,” the inflection of Cooper’s voice comes out enough like Dirk’s own voice that it’s easy to for him to tell who exactly is inhabiting his body. “Next time you offer your USB port to charge my phone, I’m going to smack you.” Eventually, Dirk calms enough that the leg stops moving on its own, giving him time to actually stand up again, graciously accepting the body owner’s help.

He glares at Cooper for the inconvenience and pokes a finger into his chest, “Did you start this with all your goat touching? Is this your fault?”

Liza-in-Carver raises a hand. “Okay, so I’m Liza Messer,” she points over at her original body. “Uh, I go there. Some of us here are SESA agents so I’m sure we can get this sorted soon. Um, who is this tall nice gentleman I’m currently borrowing? I promise I’m taking good care of you.”

Making a face at the sound of ‘his’ own voice, Liza-in-Carver does her best to try and not look uncomfortable and worried. This would be so much easier in her own body, but she manages a friendly(?) smile at everyone. It lands somewhere between comforting and resting bitch face.

"Harrison Carver," Carver-in-Dirk says flatly. "That's my body you're in, Ms. Messer; I'd appreciate it if you'd take care of it. If you'd like, later, I can run you through my calisthenics regimen; muscle mass is hard to get at my age, and diligence is the key to maintaining it." He concludes with a nod; while his eyes are sharp and his mouth is twisted into a tight, bloodless rictus, the difference between his tone and expression suggests that it's probably mostly just a case of resting bitch face.

"Watch where you're puttin' the hands, chico," the diminutive Cesar-in-Liza scolds of his body-snatched self. Sternness isn't quite as intimidating in the softer faced woman's voice, but Cesar seems to default to it when he's freaked out. Still, it takes a moment to regain the composure needed, a calming breath, before he too contributes to an identifying process. "Messer, over here. It's Diaz," he calls in Liza's own voice and a raised hand. "Agent Cesar Diaz," added for Kara-in-Cesar's benefit. Or bane.

Then he's pinning a suspicious look towards the upturned booth, the cheesemonger's lack of concern, and the now affected family of puppy Hank in an even wilder mixup. "At least none of us seem to have wound up in the dog." Cesar exhales in relief.

The cheesemonger looks up at everyone introducing themselves – and the names don’t seem to match the bodies. He and Salem stare at the SESA agents and the citizens, then look down at their own bodies – but Salem’s “Oh, thank God I’m still me,” answers that question.

“Me, too,” Dale says, looking down at his hands. “Yippee,” he adds a little flatly. “I’d rather be him,” he adds, with a nod to Cesar’s body, currently occupied by Kara. “That’s Salem Mayhew. I’m Dale Perry. We’re still ourselves, but we didn’t do this. You didn’t do this, right? We didn’t do this.”

Salem shakes his head, holding the cheese tray still, not having budged from the same spot he’d been the whole time. “I’m an empath. I can’t do this. Trust me, if I could? I wouldn’t be doing it for free. I could make bank doing this. Rich people pay for weird ass shit.”

The small child has teary eyes, but she’s managed to get both the other little boy and the thirty-something woman to sit down on the ground. The woman plays with an ice cube, then brings it to her mouth. The other child slaps her hand down.

“Maria, and that’s Caleb and Tatum,” the small child says. It’s slightly unnerving.

Kara’s suspicious gaze darts from person to person with August behind it, but finally he juts his chin in the direction of his own body, occupied by Cooper. “I’m supposed to be there,” he says in Kara’s voice. “You all know each other?” he asks, looking at the agents in the wrong bodies as they do their roll call.

Realizing a moment later he hadn’t given his name, he adds, in a perfunctory tone, “August Yeats.”

Kara-in-Cesar only narrows her eyes at Cesar-in-Liza, keeping the diminutive woman's form in her periphery. A faint retort comes unbidden, the shape of which Carver can make out as Mandarin-based balking. "I was looking for identification to find you by," she offers out tersely. "But it seems it's not needed. We're all…" Her look turns thoughtful. "We're all more or less arm's length of each other."

Her head turns, and she feels belated guilt for not having stepped forward to try and help Dale with the tent-falling fiasco– but in her defense she was having a moment, however brief it ended up being. "So… if this is anything like the last time this happened to me…" Her eyes wander past the two bystanders who are fine to the other group who aren't.

"Uh, ma'am?" Kara asks, and clears her throat as she looks down to the small boy trying to keep her other two children together somehow in all of this. There's a curve of southern friendliness behind the speech coming from Cesar's mouth in all Kara's attempts to make this sound as least rude as possible. "Are you…? Or are one of your kids…?"

The small boy shakes his head, glancing at the woman playing with the ice and the older brother, who is still very small. His lips starting to wibble a little as he stares at the woman – likely the littlest brother is in the older brother’s body, and the smallest child is in the mother’s. “None of us are ev- I mean, SLC-E. They’ve been tested,” he says, his baby voice sounding strange with the grown up words.

After Dirk is properly up and balanced, he finally looks over ‘Thomas’ and his face falls in utter disappointment and despair. “How come you get to be so young and handsome and I’m stuck with… hippie hair and a weird beard?” He runs his fingers through the thick brown mop, tucking a few strands behind his ear. He’ll make the best/most of it, just not right now.

Slowly, he turns toward the three year old with a bit of a smile, it’s friendly and not at all what most people are used to. But for all of his nicety to the humans, he’s still eyeing the dog like it’s responsible the whole mess “My roommate sort of does things like this, but not on such a grand scale,” he says to the woman inhabiting her son, “if you need help corralling your kids and getting them home, we’d be happy to assist. I’m Agent Thomas Cooper.” As proof, he digs Cooper’s wallet from his back pocket and flashes the badge. “When I’m myself, I’m in HR… still SESA.. but HR.” He’s not ignoring Kara-in-Cesar, exactly, as a bit of an afterthought, he claps the large man on the shoulder, still smiling at the ‘boy’. “This Cesar Diaz,” probably not, but Dirk’s running with it.

Carver-in-Dirk's eyes falls on Agent Diaz with the kind of narrow-eyed gaze that's most often accompanied by the sound of a rattlesnake's tail twitching in warning. No, Carver is not impressed with Agent Diaz. He can make out enough of Kara-in-Cesar's Mandarin to get the impression that she isn't very impressed, either.

He's following along, marking faces and names… right up until August's introduction. As soon as he introduces himself, Carver-in-Dirk's head turns slightly to regard August out of the corner of his eye. "Yeats. Like the poet?" he asks.

Kara-in-August turns and nods. “Misspelled and mispronounced all the time, but yeah. Like the poet,” he says quietly, before he moves to start righting the fallen canopy for Dale.

“Pleasure to meet you all,” Liza-in-Carver says cheerfully. It sounds a bit strange coming from him, but it’s definitely Liza in there. She glances towards Dirk’s body to address Carver. “Sorry this isn’t under better circumstances, you do seem to have a good regimen. Ever tried yoga?”

This, of course, sounds bizarre coming from Carver’s body and directed towards Dirk’s body.

Liza-in-Carver looks in her body’s direction. “Oh, good, Agent Diaz, nice to know who’s keeping me safe for the time being.” She looks about, eyes scanning each of those who have swapped consciousnesses before taking a glance at Salem and Dale, followed by the trio. “Alright, so we need to figure out who’s ability activated so we can fix it and I’m sure this will be no problem.” Carver’s voice still sounds too chipper and almost… sweet?

Cooper-in-August holds up his hands at Dirks accusations. “Hey, if it was the goat… I’m with Dale, I’d rather be in that one,” he jokes jerking a thumb at Cesar's body. “I mean who wouldn't?”

He looks down at himself and looks mildly distressed and a bit hangdog. “But, I’m going to have to cancel with Marlowe. At least, till I know what is going on.”

Looking over at the other swapped agents, or who had identified as such, Cooper holds out a hand to Dirk in his body. “Better call this in. Phone, pretty please?”

"We'll get to the bottom of it," Cesar says, nodding in agreement with the eldest-he-has-ever-seen-Liza. With the initial feelings of distress and confusion settling, Cesar turns his attention to the gathered swappees mingling around the cheesemonger's. August-as-Kara gets an acknowledging, sympathetic nod while there's a miss of the suspicious look Dirk-but-Carver sends him. It's the number of chimes of those who would have cared to have swapped into his body that has Cesar starting to cross his arms in thought, only to find the gesture distinctly different for a couple of reasons. He clears his throat.

"And among us," he manages to sound less severe than before as 'Dirk' and 'Cesar' handle the family, "are any of you registered with SESA? Mr. Perry and Mr. Mayhew, yourselves?" Cesar asks Carver, Kara, and August in their respective current selves, and he moves over to stand beside Liza. "We'll also need to exchange some info, and see if the agency's got temporary accomodations in situations like these."

“Registered SLC-N,” August says in Kara’s voice as he gets the pop-up back into place. Dale nods in appreciation, and offers him a small package of cheese, before he looks over to where Cesar stands in Liza’s body.

“Registered SLC-E. This isn’t my flavor, though. Mine’s a little hard to explain but it’s, uh, shapeshifting empathy? I’m basically a boggart. I’m sure I’m in your files for a weird incident or two. I promise this wasn’t me, though. I’m taking zodytrin.”

While his employer chats openly about his ability, Salem sets down the cheese tray, and sits down on the edge of one of the tables. He knows better, at least, to take off running, but he doesn’t look very happy to be there. “Not registered. But I’m an empath. Ferry and Lighthouse know me,” he says, eyes seeking Liza’s, before he remembers that’s not Liza, and he looks around, a little unsure which one she landed in. He shrugs.

“I admit I’m a bit of an asshole sometimes with my ability, but I didn’t do this. If I did, I wouldn’t be right in the middle of it all looking like a suspect. I’m a prick, but I’m not dumb.” He glances toward the children, realizing his language might not be appropriate for the small ones – or the grown woman within a small body – and smirks. “Sorry.” He’s not.

Cesar's calm and inquiring face shifts when it's revealed no one nearby can take credit fo-r the daisychain of body swaps, indicative of Kara's slow shift toward anxiety toward this condition possibly lasting more than the few awkward moments it has. She looks askance at Dirk-in-Cooper and then plaintively back in Carver-in-Dirk's direction.

"I can't– like this," she tries to protest the reality of it. Explaining this situation to Yi-Min would not go well. She lets out a disgruntled tone at the thought of that and several other things.

"If we're stuck like this for any appreciable time," Kara-in-Cesar says, turning to herself and lifting a hand. "I'll want my phone and wallet back. No offense." After a beat, she gestures to the frames pinned to the lapel of her physical body. "And– the glasses, you'll need them. You'll– I'll–"

Oh, how every new thought is less pleasant than the last when considering that this situation may be long-term.

Like the poet, August had agreed, and that agreement sees Carver-in-Dirk's mouth twist into even more of a bloodless slash.

"Like the poet," a voice laughs warmly, from somewhere in the distant past.

But hearing someone in his own body ask him about yoga distracts him from drifting down Memory Lane. "I do some stretches before I get started; some of em are yoga-derived. Good stretching is key to maintaining range of motion. Good way not to pull any muscles, too," he nods to Liza-in-Carver, a measure of respect there.

The question of whodunnit takes priority, though. "SLC-N," Carver-in-Dirk says flatly. "And the same thing he said goes for me," he points out, gesturing to Salem. "Even if I could do something like this, and had a sudden urge to swipe a new body… you can tell it's not me because if it was, it wouldn't be a nine way clusterf — trainwreck — in the middle of a f — bloody — market. And I'd probably have that one," he says, gesturing to Cesar. "And not this one."

Carver lets out a slow breath. "This smells like an accident," he says; his gaze slips to the woman and children, lingering for a moment before moving on to the man with the artificial leg… whose ID matches the name they've given. Who is, therefore, lying. And lying badly, to boot, since his proclaimed identity contradicts his own words from earlier. But it seems Carver himself has landed in the body that has the evidence to prove that; something to investigate later, maybe.

"Your roommate," he says abruptly, recalling what Dirk-in-Cooper had said earlier. "Could he undo this?"

Dirk-in-Cooper looks sharply at Carver-in-Dirk, well as sharply as he can right now. One, the insult to his person has not been overlooked. “Hey,” he barks, “I will have you know that that body is just fine. Thank you very much. At least it’s presentable.” He pauses for a moment and then follow’s Kara-in-August’s lead, “In fact, give me my wallet… and my phone. And, as a matter of fact, give me the address where you’ll be staying because you are not going to be staying at my place and putting my roommate through the sort of hell I’m thinking you’re getting ready to ask for because no, I don’t think she can undo this, not without a whole lot of pain and agony… and guess what? I’m not going to put her through that unless it’s an absolute last resort.”

He stops talking and takes a deep breath, filling his lungs after the diatribe left him with only a small wheeze of air.

“Anyway. Wallet, cell phone, and keys please,” he retates, holding his hand out.

Liza-in-Carver smiles broadly, which is likely going to take some getting used to for those observing her. There is, at least, a very good indication that it’s Liza who is in there. “In any case, we should take a blood test from everyone, see if there are any surprise manifestations no one expected, or maybe a clash of abilities. I’ve seen some rather interesting things happen when things trigger off of each other.”

She shrugs a shoulder. “We should try and be safe, don’t worry, no one’s in trouble, this is just a situation really in need of sorting out.” She glances to Cesar, or rather her own body with him in it. “Cellphone, wallet, and keys as well. Thankfully we can still text from our phones without confusion.”

"The affected are in the majority SLC-N," Cesar observes after taking stock. His sigh of aimed frustration at the heavens comes off more pouty by the softness of his current face. "Dios mio," he mumbles and carefully digs into the Liza's pockets to surrender possessions to their rightful owner. And for now, he doesn't make any sudden moves towards Kara-in-his-body to reassure her.

"Dirk, don't be rude before you see all the paperwork." Cesar can't help the little passing attempt at levity. He's trying. "At least let's all exchange numbers. That'll be a start. We," he starts to indicate of the SESA agents but pauses in realization that the situation is more complicated, "those of us who would like to go to the branch office and secure some temp housing while we work this out, can. Mr. Mayhew and Mr. Perry, if you would remain contactable, someone from the office might ask for your statements later. Anyway, sound like a plan?"

One might consider that he’s already utilizing Liza’s appearance to his advantage when he aims her large, brown eyes and softer features at the gathered.

“Yes’m. I mean, yes, man. Sir? Why is there not a gender neutral honorific?” says Dale a little awkwardly, before he continues to pick up cheese.

Salem rolls his eyes and lifts a shoulder. “Agent,” he tells his employer, then nods. “Whatever, sure.,” he says, before he too begins to pack up items – the faster it’s picked up, maybe the faster he can leave.

“Hey!” Cooper-in-August snaps finger in front of his own… er… Dirk-in-Cooper’s face. Boy that was going to take some getting used too. “Dude. Gimme my cellphone so I can call this in?” His tone says he may go for the item himself if Dirk doesn't hurry. It is Cooper’s body after all.

Speaking of which, Cooper was going to have to give Dirk his regimen for leg upkeep. Otherwise Marlowe would skin them both.

August-in-Kara has returned to standing a bit away from the rest, but when Kara-in-Cesar asks for her things, he reaches into the pockets to find them again,handing them to her with a nod. The glasses are patted, and then slipped onto his face – her face.

“Is he always like this?” he asks of Dirk-in-Cooper, then glances over where Dirk’s body stands, occupied by Carver, then nods, once, as if to say that tracks.

“Do we, uh. Do we have to?” August asks, when talk of temporary housing, testing, and paperwork ensues. He glances back at Kara-in-Cesar, then over at his own body, occupied by Cooper, and sighs. “I guess it’s easiest, so we don’t, you know. Lose track of one another.”

He gestures to Cooper for his own phone, wallet, and pill bottle that’s stowed in his own pocket, clearly not pleased with the prospect of heading into the branch with the SESA agents, where they all face the daunting task of paperwork and trying to get everyone into their right bodies again.

This is one for the books.

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