The Butcher's Apprentice


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Scene Title The Butcher's Apprentice
Synopsis The destruction of the Institute left many broken souls behind. One of them comes to visit Richard Ray.
Date June 22, 2018

Raytech NYCSZ Branch Office

“This is Richard,” is the answer that the CEO of Raytech gives as he answers the internal phone, leaning back in his chair and playing with his kitten and a laser pointer. The tiny red dot pauses on the floor as he hears what the security guard on the other side has to say, and Richelieu pounces on the dot, pawing confusedly at the floor.

“Did he give a name…? I see.” He frowns, “Alright. Standard search for weapons or explosives, escort him in and bring him to Conference Room B on the first floor. I’ll meet you there shortly.”

The pointer’s clicked off, and he takes a moment to ruffle the kitten’s ears affectionately before leaving him behind to head for the door, brow creased in consternation as he heads to meet with the man in question.

Frank had a few scalpels and some pocket sized medical equipment taken away that could be misconstrued as 'dangerous', and now he sits at the table, wearing a black hoodie with a particularly large hood, over a buttoned up white shirt and black tie with a pair of blue jeans.

He's been dressing in a slightly more practical way since the 'freeing' of his mind, and he already has a stray ink pen that he's using to trace the lines of the nerves in his hands.

When he gave a name, it was Doctor Witchenstein.

“Doctor Witchenstein,” is Richard’s greeting as he steps into the room, waving the security guard back out the door before approaching the table, dressed in a nice grey suit today, the tie a slash of black down from his neck. He eases himself down to sit, leaning back in his chair and folding both hands, “I believe you wished to speak with me about something?”

He looks the other man over, gaze hooded thoughtfully as he takes in the man’s appearance. Nice clothes under a dark hoodie. Classical ‘laying low’ outfit, a rookie mistake, but an understandable one.

"I'm still having trouble figuring out what to say, how to talk. It all used to be simple, it made so much sense before." Frank hunches over, forehead in his hand. "I don't know how people handle it, having so many feelings… so many desires, wants, needs. But I didn't quite get fear, I don't think I did at least. Fear must be something more in the core of your instincts, something you have to learn."

"But I still don't care about death too much. It was actually exciting when Eve choked me, I don't know why." Then, finally acknowledging Richard, he looks up, saying, "I want to help Doctor Price."

“…ah.” Richard brings one hand up, fingers rubbing against his forehead for a moment, “You must be the… intern that she mentioned. We were going to bring you in before— well, before the government intervened when they discovered that she was here.”

He frowns, regarding the man for a long moment, “Did something out of the ordinary happen to you recently, then? Aside from Eve strangling you.” That’s fairly normal, Eve being psychotic, nothing unusual there.

"An African woman, she did something, I think. Now I feel everything, I've never felt this way in my entire life. It's like the volume on my walkman used to be really low, and now it's loud and I can hear every instrument clearly." Frank suddenly slams a fist down onto the table, breathing heavily. "I never realized it before, not before now, but normally I don't particularly feel one way or the other, except when I get to do experiments, or when I see Doctor Price."

"But now…" He points his ink pen at Richard, as if it were a scalpel. "You had an ability, some sort of shadow ability. I've studied tapes of you, I'm trying to chart the evolution of every ability to figure out what the very first one was."

Closing his eyes, he very obviously has no idea how to cope with what's going on with him. "I just need to see Doctor Price. She said we couldn't see each other, that she had to hide, and she didn't want to put me in danger. Who cares if I die! I just want…"

Standing up suddenly, he starts to pace, looking very irritable. "I hate this! I need to go back to normal! I feel… I think I'm angry! She left and didn't think about what I wanted! Why do I care so much, fuck! Yelling swear words isn't helping, why do people even do that?! Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck!!!"

Of course it was Huruma. That just figures. Richard brings one hand up, fingers pinching the bridge of his nose and eyes closing as the other man paces back and forth. Finally his hand drops down sharply, fingers splayed in a flat smack against the wood of the table.

“Enough,” he says firmly, “Shut up and sit down, because right now you’re not being any good to Odessa, or to anyone. You’re going to make a mistake and end up kicking on the end of a hanging post in this mood. You have emotions. Suck it up and learn how to deal with them, or get yourself killed and never accomplish any of your goals. It’s up to you, Witchenstein.”

Frank goes to sit down, then stares at Richard, his expression still very blank. He's not particularly good at facial expressions, even with his emotions going insane. "I don't know what most of what I'm feeling means, and I'm afraid to tell Erica. Wait, I am afraid… It's because I think she'll think I'm not useful anymore."

“I’m aware that you were working for Doctor Kravid…” Richard leans forward, forearms resting on the table and hands clasping loosely, “…but she’s a very long way away, Doctor Witchenstein. What exactly has she had you doing all the way out here?”

A brow lifts slightly, “Aside from keeping an eye on Odessa, of course.”

"I'm waiting for things to settle so that I can go back to work, so I started a freelance surgery business while I work on linking Evolved abilities and continuing to study Doctor Chandra Suresh's research." Frank answers, starting to calm down a bit.

He stares at the table, perhaps thinking about what it is that he's feeling. "I don't feel as angry anymore. The feelings aren't so bad when I'm not angry, or I think sad. I like the positive feelings, like when Eve licked my chin, and we ate chili dogs."

Richard has to suppress a chuckle at the mention of Eve licking his chin. He breathes out a sigh, then, shaking his head, “Odessa was a lot like you in some ways, when I met her. She was lost, suspicious— she’d never had her own path to walk. Someone’d always chosen it for her.” A faint, sad smile of memory.

“I’m trying to make it so she can come back, Frank,” he says seriously, “So hopefully we can manage that soon. I may need some help from you, though. How is it that you contact Doctor Kravid?”

"I call a number and then I meet with the girl who's a phone." Frank explains, then starts to frown… frowning seems appropriate. "I don't want Erica to get hurt, but I want to save Doctor Price. I feel like I have to sacrifice one thing for the other, but Erica is always protecting me."

“The girl who’s a…” Richard stops mid-sentence, his brow furrowing slightly, “You mean Kyla Renautas. Of course, that makes… a lot of sense.”

His brows raise slightly, “She’s nowhere near here, so I don’t see how I can hurt her in any case. I would very much like to speak with Kyla, though, without Erica involved if possible. I’m not going to hurt her, or anything— I just want to talk to her.”

He brings a hand up, knuckles rubbing against the side of his jaw, “Did you ever meet the lead Director of the Institute, Witchenstein?”

"No. They were always very busy with things. I never actually met Doctor Price, but I would see her walking around, and talking the way she does…" Frank reaches up to place a hand against his chest, obviously trying to calm himself down again. "And I remember Peyton Whitney. I recently saw her a few months ago, she didn't like me. But I'd never spoken to her during my time with the Institute."

"I'm not sure if I can get a meeting with her, I've only spoken to her in the context of being a phone." He then pauses for a moment, and adds, "I don't have friends, except Erica."

“Mnm.” Richard’s lips purse briefly, “Did you mention Peyton to Erica, by any chance, or did that slip your mind…?”

A slight shrug, then, “And maybe so, but you know how to get in touch with the phone, yes? You should be able to talk to her like a person, too, after all.”

"I suppose." Frank considers, as if he isn't entirely sure. "She has a perfect face. I always thought it was inappropriate to talk to her, Erica never gave me permission."

But, at the previous question, he shakes his head. "I didn't. I didn't see a point. Peyton doesn't seem like she'd be particularly important for Erica to know about. I don't really report to her, I call her if I need help. That's why she knows about Doctor Price, I wanted a way to help. Eve Mas wants to talk to Erica too, but she wants me to tell her weird things. And Doctor Price wants to talk to her."

He's frowning again. "A lot of people want to talk to her, but I don't think it's good."

“I assure you…” Richard shakes his head tightly, “I have no interest at this juncture in talking with Kravid. That’s a conversation that’s still a way’s out, I think…”

The faintest of smiles, then, “Well. The name on my birth certificate says Richard Cardinal, which, the last time I checked, was the name of the Director of the Commonwealth Institute. Given that we also have the same social security number, parents, and DNA, I’d say that puts me in a position to give you permission to speak with Ms. Renautas.”

“Which I am now giving you.”

Frank thinks about that for a moment, then nods. "That makes sense, if there's no reasonable distinction between you and the director. Flesh is flesh. I'll find the phone… I mean, Kyra."

Then he stands, sighing. "I'll get Eve Mas and Doctor Price in contact with Erica while I'm doing this. But I need you to promise me something." He leans in, placing his hands against the table. "If Erica disowns me, I still want to be able to do experiments. I have to get out my impulses, I need to interact with flesh. I need the intimacy of surgery, or to be surrounded by death. That's what I had growing up, so that's what Erica gives me."

“I can try.” Richard regards the other man steadily, “You may need to make a deal, however, so they don’t put a rope around your neck. What’s more important to you? The ability to do your work, and stay in a position where you can help Odessa… or your loyalty to Erica Kravid?”

“Because that’s the choice you’re asking to make. You’ve already met a member of Wolfhound, you just don’t know it. Sooner or later they’ll take you, with or without a deal.”

"Erica cares about me, I don't know what to do without her. She supports my research, and is like having a mother who talks to me." Frank frowns, he's gotten used to frowning already, running his fingers through his hair. "But I can't live without my work, and I need to help Doctor Price. I don't really care if I die, life doesn't really mean anything when it's your own. Do you understand what I mean?"

It may be difficult to understand much of Frank's perspective, but he keeps talking anyway. "These feelings that I have are confusing, but that hasn't changed. I want to protect Doctor Price, which means I have to sacrifice Erica's…" He sighs, and just lays his head down on the table, pulling his hood over his head.

He's having another emotional moment.

A sigh whispers past Richard’s lips, and he pushes himself up to his feet, stepping around the table to lay a hand on the other man’s shoulder awkwardly. There, there. There, there.

“None of our lives are our own,” he says quietly, “They belong to the people we’ve touched and those who’ve touched us. There’s no meaning in isolation. Trust me. I’ve tried to live like that before, and… I never understood what I was missing.”

“You don’t have to make any decisions now. Just get me in touch with Kyla, and… we’ll figure out the rest, Witchenstein.”

Frank sits up, then nods. "I can do that." he says as an emotional switch seems to trigger, and his tone suddenly sounds as if he feels better.

His feelings might be 'on', but they're definitely still 'off' in a way.

“Okay.” Richard offers the man a rueful smile, “You can do this. Let me give you… uh, right, phones don’t work too well. Well, if you get into an area that does have signal, I can give you my number. Otherwise, come by when you’ve got a meeting set up, or if you need something.”

"Alright. I have a lot to do." Frank slowly stands up again, then just kind of gives Richard a dead-eyed stare. "I don't care about what everyone wants, or if they want to save the world, or take it over, or anything like that. I care about Doctor Price, and doing experiments. I don't really care what happens."

He stares down at the table for a brief moment, then looks back up, adding, "I just don't want you to appeal to my morality or decency or anything like that. I have all of these emotions now, but I still don't really care. If I can get what I want, I'll do what you want."

“You want something, I want something,” says Richard with a wry tone, looking back at him, “Maybe you’ll learn to care about something eventually. Until then— I’m probably your best bet for getting what you want, Witchenstein. So let’s work together and see what we can do.”

"I can do that. And Eve Mas knows things, you should talk to her." Frank turns around to start walking, sliding his hands into his pockets. "I like this hood, I feel like the grim reaper. Maybe I'll find out what it means to be me."

"Perhaps I'll become a butcher's apprentice." is the last ominous thing he leaves Richard with, heading out with his oversized hood pulled up.

“There’re worst occupations,” Richard says as the security guard outside the door politely escorts Frank out. The CEO drops back into his chair, staring at the ceiling for a moment, “I think I need to call Ruby.”

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