Present Tense


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Scene Title Present Tense
Synopsis Helena and Boxer welcome an out-of-sorts Alexander back to the future, which is actually the present. He just doesn't remember.
Date March 1, 2009

Moab Federal Penitentiary

It's been a good long while since Al has been seen in the yard. Has been seen anywhere in the prison, at all, ever since he got dragged away from Knox. But there he is, released into the general population, finally. He looks like he's been ill - eyes are sunken and hollow, skin is paler than ever. But he's steady enough on his feet as he steps out into the watery winter sunlight, taking in the bowl of red mountains that surround them with a wondering expression. Like it's all entirely new. He doesn't greet any of the other prisoners. Doesn't acknowledge them, and instead looks for a relatively secluded corner of the yard to sit down in, heedless of the dust. Still just watching.

Boxer has been seen in the yard with a very precise kind of regularity. He is part of the system. One more orange pixel that dutifully goes where he is supposed to go to complete the picture that is Moab. 99% of the time, anyway.

The heavy, scuffing drag of his approach fits the sunken slack of his face well. Dust and rocky sand ground down from the surrounding mountains stirs red at prison-issue soles some time after Alexander has taken a seat. He stops when he's still out of arm's reach, some four or five feet away, hands tucked deep down into the pockets of his coveralls. "You don't look so good, Ginger Boy."

Al shows none of the squirrelly nervousness that previously characterized his presence in the yard. Nor is he cuddled up to Helena through the wire, as per usual. "I don't feel so good," he says, mildly. "It's cold," he adds, as if this were a novel observation, and not another bit of inanity. His accent has also altered - softer, slower, with none of a New Yorker's clipped impatience.

"It was colder before. Not so bad now." Cold enough that Boxer is a few shades paler than usual and has his hands tucked away, but not so cold that he seems outwardly uncomfortable. Then again, to make him appear outwardly uncomfortable might require something more along the lines of a hammer to the face or a railroad spike through the foot.

For all that there is some obvious change in Al's demeanor, and for all that he seems curious accordingly, he doesn't actually comment on it. Just kicks at the dirt a little to scuff more dust up into the air his way.

So. Al has not been seen anywhere since the security goons dragged him off of Knox. Not for some days, though the grapevine asserted he'd been in the infirmary, unconscious. But at the moment, as the women are let out into the yard, he's sitting a little ways from one of the corners of the yard, huddled as best he can in the lee of the building, talking to Boxer. He's pale and hollow-eyed, but seems aware enough, if a little vague. "Yeah?" he asks Boxer, with polite interest.

Helena disengages herself from Madison's attentions, explaining that she has to go see her friend. At long last, she spots the redhead, her relief evident when she spots him and comes jogging up to the chain link fence. "Alex!" she calls out, curling her fingers around the metal. "Alex, are you alright?"

"Yes," says Boxer with a fair measure of certainty in return. He misses any forced interest behind the question. "It was definitely colder before. Yesterday and the day before that — very windy. Three days ago, less so but no cloud cover, so colder for that." Enthralling conversation, really. Then: Helena! Boxer's brows lift gently upward, almost pleased to see her. "Maaaybe you should man up, Raggedy Andy. Your crazy girlfriend is coming."

Alexander pushes himself up off the ground. He looks questioningly back at Boxer, before heading over to the fence. "I'm okay," he says, quietly, once he's come to an easy speaking distance. He looks….haunted, really. Uncertain. But Helena gets offered a hopeful smile…..which doesn't cover up the fact that something vital is missing from his face: recognition.

"Did Verse do something to you?" she asks, peering into his face. He doesn't look right, he looks off. Her eyes dart to Boxer and she frowns, and then she peers back at Alex, her smile dying a little. "Did he torture you? They've laid off on me a little bit - was it because they were focusing on you?"

The desert air is crystalline, cold. No mist to obscure anything. So Al's searching, vague look is directed at something purely internal. "I don't know," he says, with the air of one making a confession.

Helena's smile dies completely. "What's the last thing you remember?" she asks, her tone gentle. He seems to know who he is, but it's like someone wiped him like a slate, otherwise.

And now his expression is wholly lost - weirdly open and vulnerable. "I remember the IED. I remember Jenkins and Hall, burning." He links fingers desperately in the chain of the fence, clinging like a monkey. "I don't even know who you are," he admits.

A little ways back, not having moved too much from his original position, Boxer tips his head slightly aside while he listens. There is nothing for darting eyes to catch about him that might vanish from one second to the next. His interest seems slow moving. Perhaps a little dull, as if he's not sure everything is translating correctly though there is no reason why it should not be.

Helena grips the fence tight. "It's early 2009." she says, as gently as she can. "March, in fact. The first. You haven't been in Iraq for a long time." Then, "My name's Helena." She went through this with Peter, but there's no magic key that will suddenly make Alex remember her.

"That's like, five years," Al will be reduced to stating the obvious like a toddler for a little while, apparently. He steps back from the fence, in shock. "What the hell is this place? What are we doing here? How did I know you?" He looks back to Boxer, apparently including him in the barrage of questions. "Who're you? How do I know you?" Hey, the Russian seemed to know him, right?

"I am Boxer." This guy did not seem retarded crazy before. Now he does. Maybe it is time for an experiment. "Your uncle." Your big scruffy twice as old as you Russian uncle. The fact that he says it with the same low and flat effect that he uses for most of his dialogue makes it almost impossible to tell if he is lying. The fact that his eyes skip greenly back to Helena — possibly more telling.

Helena Spockbrows at Boxer, but otherwise, attends Alex. "This is a prison Evolved criminals. You've known me for the last two years, we were both part of an organization fighting back against the government and anti-Evolved who were going to hurt people. Phoenix. You don't remember any of it?"

"No, you're not. I remember that much," Al says, with equal flatness, shaking his head at Boxer. And then he reorients on Helena, rather desperately. "No. I….I was a terrorist?" he wonders. Someone's been talking to him while he was in the infirmary. "I wanted to be a -cop-."

Boxer's mouth and brow both flatten a little further at Al's denial of their kinship. Fun trampled, he's left to go back to listening again. An overlarge and too-orange shadow. "Cops are boring. Terrorists blow up buildings."

"You were a cop, for a few years, until you cooperated with the Linderman Act and registered your telekinetic ability. And then you lost your job." Now she scowls at Boxer. "We weren't terrorists. We never did anything to any innocent civilians. But there were those out there with large plans to do major damage, and we stopped them - but we got caught after succeeding, and that's why you and I are here." Helena's tone is patient, if tense.

That's some worry off his mind, clearly. "Huh," Al says, eloquently. "Well, shit. At least I got that. What're they gonna do with us?" he asks, again glancing between them. "And what're you in for, Uncle Vanya?"

"Hold us here the rest of our lives. Or do inhumane experiments on us until we fall apart." Helena shrugs. "I'm not sure. I think someone tried to go digging in your head to get information on other members of our group. They either wiped you clean or you did this yourself. The mind's capable of a lot." She looks over at Boxer, speculative.

"I did not stop all the way at a sign." Also killing a guy. Conveniently Boxer looks like the type likely to do both. He has no answer for the question of what is going to be done with him, or her, or any of them, but Helena's answer seems comprehensive enough. He tips his head in acknowledgement of it's increasingly probable correctness, unless these two are somehow pulling his leg.

Alexander lifts his hands in a classic 'I don't know' gesture. "Well. Any advice?" he says, quietly, before something occurs to him, and his face darkens. "Anyone else in here know I'm a cop?"

"Were a cop." Helena corrects. "And no, I don't think so. I'm sure some of the prison administration do, they know our histories." She lets out a sigh. This is pretty bad, but things could be a lot worse. "If something happens - you're going to have to trust me."

"Stop saying that you are a cop. Boss." That is Boxer's advice, delivered with emphasis on the title that might qualify as sarcasm when he turns his head after the nearest prison guard some ways down the fence. "Also maybe do not trust her. She is always talking about strange things."

Alexander glances between them again, hopefully. And eventually settles on Helena, like a compass needle coming to rest. HE merely nods, solemnly.

"I haven't lied to him." Helena points out to the large Russian before looking back at Alexander. "When we first got here, I was so afraid, and you looked at me and said, 'Courage'." she smiles gently, though there's a weariness to her. "I'll get you through this. You've protected me for a very long time, and I'll protect you as best I can."

"At least I am old enough to drive." However irresponsibly. Still eyeing the guard, who is now eyeing him back, Boxer smiles. Hello uniformed man. Nothing strange going on over here.

Alexander just snorts. But he finally relinquishes his grip on the fence, and steps away. "Thank you," he says, simply.

Helena can't help it, she smiles a little. "That's really the best you can do?" she asks of the Russkie. But she too steps back, yawns a little. "Verse will either leave me alone because he's got what he needs, or he'll step up his game." she says. "I need to make sure I'm ready."

"I could have said something about extra time for raping you but I thought maybe that would be in poor taste, you know?" A so-so gesture indicates Boxer's acknowledgement of the probably socially inappropriate nature of this suggestion in the event that he had actually said it. Which he did. Given that he isn't looking at them, though, it isn't entirely clear whether or not he's realized as much.

Alexander says, wryly, "I suppose I'm flattered, but you don't look like my type."

Helena just starts snickering. "You're really not." she says to the Russian. "Last I knew," she notes to Alex as a side, "You were messing about with some Italian bird."

The so-so hand lifted the rest of the way up to scratch at his head, Boxer is quiet for too long before his attention swings back around to the pair of them. "Sorry, who is flattered?"

Alexander waves a hand off. "Don't mind me," he says, quietly. "I get confused."

"You'll be alright." Helena counsels. "Just…be careful, who you talk to. If you remember things, keep it to yourself. You may even want to keep it from me, if you're feeling uncertain. Take it easy." She looks back at Boxer, mouth quirking a little bit, and doesn't clarify Alex's statement.

Alexander is confused. So is Boxer, now. He is also slightly suspicious, but rather than risk asking something that might result in an even more baffling answer, he glances one last time between the pair of him and moves off to bother somebody else.

March 1st: Rich Bitch Brunch

Previously in this storyline…
Two Fists

Next in this storyline…
Is This The Real Life

March 1st: Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice
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