The Long Fix


corbin2_icon.gif deckard_icon.gif

Scene Title The Long Fix
Synopsis Nothing is quick or easy about Corbin's attempts to fix Deckard.
Date May 1, 2010

Fort Hero

On its furthest edges, the Montauk Air Force Station — also known as Camp Hero — is surrounded by fifteen-foot high razorwire fences, with each gated entrance clearly marked as government property, and that authorization of lethal force is permitted on trespassers. Long ago, Camp Hero may have been a thriving military installation, now its appearance is that of something long since cast into abandonment and disuse. The roads that wind through the parklands that comprise the military installation are overgrown with weeds and wild undergrowth. Trees and hedges have been left to grow wild, and creeping vines have scaled the eastern face of the old concrete building at the compound's heart.

The central facility is a four-story concrete slab building, upon which rests an enormous AN/FPS-35 long range radar surrounded by smaller radar and satellite communications arrays. The entire eastern face of the building is consumed by overgrowth, and many of the ground floor windows have been boarded up after vandals shattered the glass in them. A paper notice pasted to the entrances notifies that the building is condemned, yet power substations nearby still hum with activity, and lights on the satellite arrays indicate there is still power going to the building.

Every Christmas Eve there is one asshole father who waits until the last second to go to the pet store. There is only one puppy left. It is mangy and flea ridden, fur cropped too close or matted long, legs bowed and ribs poking. It has nervous disorders and pees frequently.

That is probably a little bit like the way it feels to have acquired Deckard as a co-worker for those who know the full story, or even most of it. Where the Company usually has the luxury of pick of the litter, here it's been strapped with a shivery, retarded mutt with snaggled teeth and glassy eyes.

Deckard is shirtless and wearing his underwear on his head like a tightie whitie biker bandana. Presumably he hasn't already worn them anywhere else.

Tattoos stand out in dull black and blue; crude eyes at the clavicles, a serpent looped thick around a cross at his right shoulder, obscuring tenuous evidence of the original swastika. There are a few more on his back. 666 at a shoulderblade, Genesis 4:14 marked into the scruff of his neck forever and ever.

His physique has improved marginally in two weeks. Better food, exercise and no drinking. His ribs don't slat out like gills when he breathes and the ripcord wiring across his chest and shoulders has softened back in the direction of middle-aged normalcy for all that he may never actually get there.

The room is nearly as white as his pants, the furniture is bolted down, and he is standing with his nose nearly to the wall watching people work on the other side.

The nervous mutt is about to get a visitor, and this one actually knocks, after the first locks already announce him. When the door opens, a younger man stands, looking cleaner and healthier, but tired and haunted in his own right. There's always something troubling him, especially lately, since his best friend died while he held her. Corbin's like the good puppy you'd want to bring home— that's been kicked and lost someone close to him.

And somehow he's decided to adopt the guy who helped take away what he was close to. "I brought you some different clothes— some clean underwear, too," he says, tossing a across at him. "If you want to change, we'll be going for a walk," he adds, looking around at the bolted down furnature. How much have they managed to do so far? How well will this work?

And is it what Hokuto would want?

Yesterday's paper planes are gone. Retrieved and recycled by maintenance while he was out having his brain molested by good intentions. There's a kind of sloppy origami fortune teller made out blank paper on the bed, but beyond that and his creative application of what sparse clothing he has, it's pretty clear he's spent most of his free time today watching the way goldfish or hamsters do when devoid of other distractions.

Underpants on head (viva la resistance), scrubby chest bare, he turns enough to look Corbin over in time to catch fresh clothes against his shoulder with a muffled whump. Recognition is too immediate and authentic for there to be a tell-tale ~ding~ of a light bulb turning on behind his eyes. He knows who Corbin is. It's the delayed doubletake once he's shaken out fresh jeans and shirt that's weird, automatic acceptance questioned after the fashion of deja vu.

Evidently they've done enough that he is inclined to follow basic instructions, because after an uneasy silence he reaches up to draw his old underwear off his head, leaving grizzled hair bristled into coarse disorder after the elastic band. He hasn't shaved or been made to shave (or allowed near a razor) and he looks kind of homeless standing there staring in just pants and a scruffy beard despite improvements elsewhere. "Do you usually watch me take my pants off?"

The double take is met with something more serious than there should be, a little less friendly than he might have to other people. Despite his requests, it's hard to look at him as he wants. Corbin's trying to make sure not to mess this up— and it doesn't help he has darker things from the past to haunt his mind. Like what the woman he'd been in love with for years had done to her as a child. By her own father.

"I try not to," he says, finally managing a half grin, at the possible crudness to the comment. Turning away, he looks at the door he just entered, allowing for some privacy, but also trusting, in a way. Even turned around, he quips softly right back, "Do you always wear underwear on your head?"

"You can review the video log later if you're worried you'll miss something," flatly reassured, Flint watches Corbin turn his back a little too intently before he sets to the process of shucking his pants off. He glares at the camera bubble as he does it, osprey eyes and hooded brows smudging pixels into dislike. But soon enough he has better underwear and better pants on. A better shirt to cover the scarring at his middle — a fair portion of it still fresh, angry red at his lower back where Teo put him on the ground and forced him to start over, but the ridge near his sternum Francois left has had plenty of time to pale. Closer inspection makes him out to be more of a recycled pit bull than a lanky, malnourished terrier mix, for all that he may bear more superficial resemblance to the latter.

"I don't think so," is the answer to the underwear question. Half the answer, actually. "They're scratchy," is the second half, left to Ayers for him to think about as much as he does or does not please. There's some rustling, a quiet zip, then: "How much have they told you?"

"You probably don't, though maybe you did in high school for a panty raid or two," Corbin says, though it's hard to picture the man ever being that young, or needing to go on panty raids. The file didn't say how early he developed his ability, and some people theorize that abilities form due to necessity. Maybe he needed to see girl's underwear?

"They told that— that things went wrong. Some bad things happened, and that they were going to fix it," he says, voice whispered and awkward, almost testing tones. That's what they want him to believe— "I don't know everything that happened to you," he says, turning around after the zip tells him the important parts are done, and the man is fully dressed.

"But they're going to help you. And at least you're getting a better room. A real bed, your own shower and bathroom. So it means you're doing better. Do you— do you feel better?"

"Kind of hard to 'fix' murder." Matter-of-fact, no whispering, Flint finishes buttoning too low on his collar, then pops the cuffs open as well. The line of his mouth pulls thin and flat, sidelong at his own expense while he shakes his wrist out and glances one (hopefully final) time over the eggshell sterility of his current quarters.

Eventually, he nods an affirmative to the question of how he feels, less convincing than he could be in averted eyes and brittle silence. "Better than before," makes it more honest, in a way. "I can think."

Old clothing discarded in a haphazard pile on the slabbed cot, he reaches to retrieve his latest origami masterpiece before winding closer, careful about looking at or through Corbin only when Corbin is looking at something else. "Will I be able to see them again?"

"Some things can't be fixed… but they can be made up for, I guess," Corbin says softly, letting the taller man get outside, before he nods at someone in the hall, who moves out of the way and lets them move. Of the things that the archivist is known for, being a physically competent agent isn't one of them. Doesn't mean he can't fight if he has to, but he's one people wouldn't trust with a potentially rabid dog.

That's what the cameras are for, and the silent man in the hall.

"Depends on who you mean…" he says, allowing the eye contact to be avoided for even longer, as he moves down the hall, sticking close to beside him, rather than in front or behind him. Not leading, yet not following, though some gestures guide them on their trip down the hallways and toward the elevator. The better rooms are higher up. "You can probably see them, if you mean who I think you do."

A gravel-shot "Maybe," is more than what Deckard would have allowed a month ago.

He's comfortable keeping pace at Corbin's side, too. Doesn't shy from the guard or bristle, likely because he's been out here before. His overlarge feet stamp cool ghosts of themselves across polished flooring — smudged impressions that fade away as breath does from a cool window. If he was given socks, he declined to put them on, and he's been in enough prison cells to know that people sometimes try to hang themselves with shoe laces. …Possibly without knowing that he's spent time in any prison cells.

"I think they know," is finally quiet enough to sound legitimately confessional, as if he expects the surveillance out here to somehow be less intrusive than it is in the room they've left behind or the elevator ahead.

The elevator opens with a ding, almost as soon as he pushes the button. The numbering system indicates the sublevel basements. Much of this may not be added into his memory, cause it wouldn't have been where they had themselves before, anyway— they've moved since the days he was supposed to have gone incognito. Stepping in first, Corbin picks a higher level, still underground, and then leans against the wall, watching the taller man with similar blue eyes. Though he lacks any kind of special ability to go with those eyes.

"You think they know what?" The tone is conversational, curious, but there's still something cautious in his voice. As if he's not sure exactly what to say.

As suspected, there is a camera in the corner, blinking light visible. But most likely just video, with no audio to go with it.

That Deckard knows and observes elevator spacing etiquette is either a testament to the work that's been done on him so far or evidence of the parallel evolution of human instinct and elevators. He stands the right amount of distance away and doesn't fidget or stare at anything other than the ceiling and the cables drawing long beyond that.

His dull reflection in metal plating is in need of a haircut. Or a comb. He doesn't look the type to be overly interested in either. Elaboration is a long time in coming. At least two floors.

"I think they know what I did to people."

There, finally, he looks sideways (and down) over at Corbin to get a read on him. To really get a read, intent, animal fear of finding judgment and repulsion and dislike there cut hard into the hood of his brow and the bristly hollow of his jaw. His eyes are very, very blue, his shoulders are deceptively broad and suddenly the elevator seems a little smaller than it did when the doors closed a few seconds ago.

It was one thing to be in love with a woman who turned into a murderer when her mind broke into pieces, and something else all together to barely know the man who murdered her. Corbin keeps his eyes forward for a time, as if knowing he's being looked at, focused on the partially reflective surface in front of him, before he finally looks over. "It wasn't your fault. Something broke inside you and… it— it wasn't your fault."

There's something wrong with his glance, a tension under the surface. The words are not for the man standing next to him, but the woman he occassionally spots in fleeting glances in the corner of his eyes. The woman who had fractured herself, brought such pain to the city and the world. Brought so many people to fall to their deaths. Even if she fought it killed so many… So many more than this man. But he can't talk to her, anymore.

And he could still look at her with affection. But it's hard to fake a friendship that never was, even with soft friendly eyes. There's sadness, guilt and anger, but not fear, even as he looks away again, and the very close shiny doors.

A ding interupts anything else he might have said, and the doors slide open.

Doubt tilts Deckard's brows up into an insecure peak, openly questioning Corbin's stomach for unpleasant truths and his own mens rea in one, but he doesn't actually go so far as to argue. It's all there in his face anyway, hard-hewn brow and the long slope of his jaw sick with the weight of it when he nods once. Preoccupied, slightly distrustful acceptance.

Hopefully he rememebers he has a pretty good poker face soon.

Granted, Corbin's isn't great either. A sideways glance after the initial stare has pried away is enough to fill in pockets of absent data with speculation. Fortunately affection isn't something he was hoping to find. Also, the doors open.

Restless and uneasy, he steps out first, heedless of security measures or extant procedures that dictate he should do otherwise.

The hall itself seems to be mostly empty, but a camera faces the elevator, catching those who come in and out, and the florescent lights flicker a bit above them. They still have power, even out in this obscure area many miles from New York, but that doesn't mean everything is tiptop shape. In some ways it's nicer than the old building they had, though.

"Your room is down here. It— it's not your old one, but I made sure it had the important stuff. No personal belongings, but— you never really seemed much for that sort of thing," Corbin explains, as he leads down the hallway. A twist and a turn, they only see one other person, dressed up in a buisness suit looking like a lawyer, or perhaps more secret servicey, but that person just looks for a moment, nods to Corbin, and moves on.

"Things have changed a lot the last year or so. You'll be briefed on everything once you're cleared." Everything they clear to brief him with— he wouldn't be surprised if his security access is low, when this is all over… "At least you won't have to pretend to sell paper, though," he says with a grin, as he pulls out a card key and swipes the door to a fairly decent sized apartment. One full room, with a bed, a bookshelf, a desk, and a descent sized bathroom, and no visible cameras— under the surface, though, they are there, sparcely. Security measures, most likely.

Evidently the thing about personal belongings checks out. What few important ones he has can fit in a shoebox — and do. Not here, though.

"Thanks." Scruffy head tipped first to the unfamiliar suit and then in vague acknowledgement of habits previously made difficult to measure by his never really having lived anywhere for more than a few months at a time over the last two years, Flint sizes up the hallway camera with a sideways cut of his eyes. It's a gesture that probably isn't all that promising to whoever's sitting there on the other end, but there's no sudden snap of teeth or lash of movement once the door is open. He winds into the apartment at Corbin's heels like a good boy.

…It may be one of the nicest places he's ever lived in.

Decent sized. Bed, furniture, bathroom. No roommates.

It doesn't take him long to pick out the cameras, servos twitching and fidgeting like cockroaches to focus and adjust on target. He looks right at one and moves on to nose around the bathroom, nonplussed or otherwise too keenly aware of his own history and the boon this upgrade represents to complain. "Do you live here too?"

There's a papery scuff when he brushes at the shower curtain, brows knit and coarse voice amplified by (remarkably clean) tiling.

It could also be similar to a hotel room, if it didn't have the bookshelf that actually has books. Corbin has a surplus of books right now, already bought and paid for, and they aren't doing much to pay for anything when the bookstore they belonged in happens to be closed. "I do have a room, the one right next to you, actually. But I don't live there. It's pretty much a 'need only' thing, for when I'm stuck out here on business. I live in the city, which is probably where you're going to want to live later. We can talk about that when you're ready," he says, glancing around and turning the cardkey in his hand.

"No kitchen, but there is a phone, internal only if you need assistance, anything brought, food. There's some clothes that should be your size in the closet, but you can request more, too, or send them back if they don't fit." In many ways from a prison room to a good sized hotel room. Minus the television that most of them have. But still a prison, because that card key disappears into Corbin's pocket, rather than being handed over, and it's likely the lock was adjusted. To lock from the outside as well.

"I'll probably be out here most days, to talk and if you need anything while they're… finishing up," with the mind-meddling. "The weather is still colder than hell out there. It's not fun to drive in."

Some kind of sixth sense for prison guard shenanigans has Deckard's crooked mug back out of the bathroom in time for him to note the disappearance of Corbin's access card, but again — there's no resistance. No complaint. He looks Ayers dead in the eye long enough to measure and vanishes again, attention forcibly refocused and bony thumb pried under the edge of the medicine cabinet so that he can frown at shelves he already knows are empty.

Old panic without a conscious source turns over in his chest like a sea slug, viscous and cold. But past his exaggerated intensity about the process of bumping open and closed various towel cabinets and vacant drawers it's impossible to detect. Particularly from behind. It's just a room.

"I need a shave," is a weak means to change the subject once it's certain he's not likely to find a razor anywhere in this place, right hand roughed up over the side of his bristly cheek once his eyes have dimmed enough for him to squint too hard at his own reflection. "Does Bella stay here?" is better. Also better than asking Did we talk much? like he doesn't know the answer.

No pills, no razors. True, now they're trusting him with good sheets he can wrap around his neck like a noose if he really wanted to. For himself, or for others. That may be why the security cameras remain behind— safety. Suicide watch. But they did give small tubes of toothpaste, the sample sizes, and shampoo, and small bars of soap. Rolls of toilet paper. And the necessary toothbrush and comb.

"You can probably ask one of them when they give you your— treatments, but…" Not yet.

"I think Dr. Sheridan has her own place, but I'm sure she'll pay you another visit," he says, hesitating a bit as he looks away. Dr. Sheridan isn't someone he probably wants to see, anymore than he wants to get pulled aside by the other resident psychologists. What would they make of him seeing Hokuto in the corner of his vision at times? Or— what he's doing now, for that matter.

Blunt nails scratch sandpapery at the the patches of silver thickening in on either side of his chin. He turns his face, pushes dimly at the lines set in around the hollows of his eyes and the fuzzier ones around his mouth. Forty-three.

The medicine cabinet can be heard bumping open and closed again in the bathroom. Once. Twice. Thrice. Leaving Corbin to himself in the rest of the apartment.

Deckard doesn't talk much.

Having made the effort anyway and run out of steam in the face of undefined distractions burning like metal wires in the back of his sinuses and thick in his gut he finally emerges again to glance over his shoulder after Corbin on his way to the bed, calf hitching stiffly into a gimp for a couple of steps along the way.

In some ways the silence is deafening, as the saying goes. Corbin can hear every thunk of the cabinet, and the sound of lights buzzing in the ceiling, the dragging of feet outside in the hallway. No windows, but he should know by now he's underground. The air vent keeps the oxygen moving, and the room heated. The heaters all over run in overtime, but the underground is already warmer than the upstairs.

That awkward silence has to end eventually, and when the man glances over at him, he's staring off into space, at the bookshelves, which house mostly used books. All worn and labeled for sale a few times over. They probably would have been donated eventually— Hokuto liked that. Now they're…


"I should get going," he finally does break the silence, shifting in his stance toward the door, and away from the bed. "I know things are going to be… different." In more ways than one. "But it— could be a lot worse."

It's roughly impossible for Deckard to have missed the existence of so many books all lined out and labeled. That he's made no move at all to investigate may have something to do with the fact that they're the only furnishing he's actually interested in, contrary to logic. Granted, he hasn't checked the closet and the clothes said to be therein either. Not with Corbin still here.

Bedsprings creak under the weight of him while he settles on the edge and eventually stretches prone alone the mattress's middle after a subdued bounce.

As far as responses to thoughtfulness and reassurance go, lying around like a dead animal isn't ideal. He's less animate in here than he was out there too, immediate, claustrophobic tension gradually given way to something drearier and more reclusive in the luxury of something as simple as space.

"I know."

"If you need anything…" Corbin gestures awkwardly at the phone, assuming the man will understand how to use it. It's not terribly complicated, and there's a note next to it telling him which buttons to push. Only one. One person to handle all his problems, or to bug the person who would. Pretty much the same as paging someone on a speaker phone, or yelling through the door.

It just seems nicer. Just like his shrink recommended.

"I'll see you in a few days," he adds, pulling out that card key again and sticking it into the mechanism to unlock it, before he steps outside. "Take care of yourself. I don't want to come back and see underwear on your head again," he can't help but tease with a half grin. It's not as genuine as he might like, but the door covers up the faltering of it when he closes the door.

This is going to be harder than he thought.

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