The Surreal World


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Also Featuring

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Scene Title The Surreal World
Synopsis Having to live with one's self takes on a whole new meaning for the bodyswap victims.
Date July 6, 2021

Red Hook

"The Stoop"

The rec room of “The Stoop” – the SESA-owned brownstone in Red Hook – smells a little damp and musty, but is well stocked with things to occupy idle hands. An entertainment center boasts a television and a couple of different video game consoles, a DVD player, and a few shelves’ worth of DVDs and video games. Against another wall, a large bookshelf contains books and board games. A pool table takes up one side of the room. Facing the television, a large U-shaped sectional in black leather gives ample seating for up to ten people. More seating can be found in ottomans and poufs around the room. The overall aesthetic is simple and clean – exposed brick walls, black wood, black leather, some cozy throws in creams and grays.

A refrigerator has been well stocked with soda, beers, and water bottles, but any food needs to be brought down from the four apartments that sit above, one on top of another in the brownstone.

August’s found a spot on the sofa to read a book he’s pulled from the shelf. He’s dressed Kara in one of the many sets of generic sweats and t-shirts that SESA has brought over, unless the victims of the body swap decide to go on excursions to get changes of clothing for however long they’ll be stuck like this. August hasn’t offered Cooper this opportunity, himself, and hasn’t asked Kara to do the same for his attire while he borrows her smaller form.

It still jars Kara every time she walks in a room to see herself already sitting in it. She, in Cesar's form, comes from the garden off the back of the brownstone with her phone in hand, having just gotten off of it. She opens her mouth to say something in greeting, but shakes her head and presses on into the room, heading for the fridge to pull herself something to drink.

Even that gives her pause, though. Does this body handle drink? Does it handle pop well? Her hand hovers over options, flickering back and forth. In the end, she does the same thing she has for the last while and grabs an unsatisfying bottle of water. Only then does she look around the rec room and wander, "Any news from SESA today?" She turns back, crackling the top off the water and jerking back slightly to not have any of what drips down the side of the bottle hit her jeans, regardless of the harmlessness of it. She frowns at herself, her hands not quite the shape she expects them to be not working well with the fragile and thin plastic.

Liza is grateful that Carver is in good shape for his age. As strange as it is to be in another body, she is appreciative of the new perspective, which includes being taller. As she navigates Carver’s body into the room, she catches the mention of SESA. “We’re working on it, I’ve heard of this sort of thing on a smaller scale before, but usually one of the people swapped was the one possessing the ability that initiated it. This is pretty strong and none of us seem to have initiated the switch.”

She takes a long swig from a refillable water bottle, having already settled into sweats just to be as comfortable as possible. “They don’t really want us to do field work or anything, which I entirely understand, but they’re letting us work this case which is good—I want to be fully informed of progress and I want the rest of us having that information too.”

Carver pads in, wearing a scowl that's probably going to leave frown marks in Dirk's face if he's not careful. Cesar (Kara) and… himself (Liza)… get nods. August gets a lesser nod and a moment's scrutiny before he turns his attention to the fridge, grabbing a water of his own. "Good," he says in response to Liza; he's all in favor of having that information, as well. He frowns as he sizes up the place — not for the first time — looking for the cameras. This isn't the worst prison he's been in, that much is certain… but being stuck here still grates on him.

He is also sore as hell from his own workout regimen, which really grates on him. Not that he's going to admit it.

Carver settles into one of the ottomans in a corner, giving him a clear view of the room. He twists the cap off of his water — the motion it takes is just enough different to annoy him — then takes a drink.

At the sound of Cesar’s voice and Kara’s question, August glances up from the book, and is about to answer when Carver’s voice speaks up, and he glances over in that direction, listening to Liza explain what’s going on – or not, which seems to be more of the case.

The extra look of scrutiny from Dirk’s face earns Carver a lofted eyebrow on Kara’s, before August looks back down at the book. Giving up on any reading for the time being, he closes it and tosses it on the coffee table. He drags a hand over his face and heaves a sigh.

“I was hoping it might wear off at twenty-four hours or something, but we’re past that,” he says, glancing at the cyan time display on the DVD player.

The clarity of the tiny letters draws a chuckle from him and he looks over at Kara with a knowing glance and a small smirk. “Let me know the name of your optometrist so I can avoid them, will you? I think your prescription’s a bit off.”

Cesar, rather than stew in the Stoop, had chosen to work the day after the Freaky Friday incident. But being relegated to desk duty at Fort Jay had not been a satisfactory enough distraction, and in the end he returns to the group's temporary habitat looking still indescribably restless. Liza's smooth face might be in danger of a permanent furrowed brow at the rate of his expression in it, appearing once the door leading to the hall swings open and admits him.

His mutterings fade away to a sigh once he sees the company, several assumptions of their swapped states remaining made with a flicker of his eyes around. "Guys," Cesar announces without fanfare, aimed at male consciousnesses within, "We need to give the women more fucking credit." Moving further in, it's obvious how uncomfortable Cesar had been in what he figured was going to be appropriate dress for Liza Messer to wear to work in a grey cowl neck top, dark blazer jacket, jeans, dark boots. He reaches up to almost release the blonde hair put up into a messy bun that has since surrendered several stray wisps, but stops short of doing so. He's not sure he'd be able to get it back into the configuration it's in now - out of his face.

"Don't know how the hell you deal with this shit all damn day," says Cesar, shoulders rolling in clear indication of physical discomfort, stuck in between whether or not he wants a drink or an escape from the confines of his current clothing. He eventually decides the latter, moving for the closet in the corner of the room. "They've got sweats in here, right?" he doesn't ask of anyone in particular.

Kara glances sidelong over at— Kara with a knowing look that isn't entirely out of place on Cesar's visage. She lets out a short laugh, trying to play it off as, "Well, they operate out of Providence, so…" Afterward, she's taking a sip from the water she picked up with all the delicacy of it being hot tea. The owner of the body she's currently confined to coming in and complaining about the travails of being in a different body bring her to try and fail to repress a small smirk.

Not necessarily at Cesar's expense, more just at the general… situation he's speaking to.

"If you're looking to cool down," she offers up to him with wry sympathy. "Not sure sweats are the play."

Dirk wasn’t pleased about moving into temporary housing, though he didn’t completely mind having the original owner of his current body as a roommate. It offered more than ample opportunity for both of them to get up to what they usually did at the office, which is pranks. So far there’s already been oreos stuffed with toothpaste, ‘orange juice’ made with macaroni powder, and a bouillon cube in the shower head. All in good taste, until Dirk tried walking outside and was followed by every stray under the sun.

After getting home from work, he showered, trimmed his beard a little, styled it even more, and got dressed up in his own clothing. “Don’t wait up, Kids~,” he sings to the crowd from the entranceway. Stopping to touch the tip of his tongue to the index and pinky finger of one hand, then in one smoooooooth motion, tame his eyebrows. “Papa’s got a hot date tonight~.”

The word Providence draws a confused look from August, Kara’s face frowning back at her. “Like… Jersey?” he asks, as only a true New Yorker would (he’s a transplant, but three decades makes him as true as any).

The complaints of Cesar trying to deal with dressing like a woman in his new body draws a chuckle from the man, who opts not to make any complaints about being a woman with the owner of his body nearby and sort of intimidating anyway, let alone in a body that could beat him up.

When Dirk declares he’s got a date, August frowns anew. “Does what’s his name know? The one in my body?” he asks, looking at the other agents who all know each other. “This is like a bad Disney movie come to life.”

Kara would be mid-chide of yes, that Providence to August if not for what Dirk's gone and said. Her head swivels his direction with an arch of her brows. "I thought the whole point of this–" being here, that is, "was not to go ruining each others' lives." Her disapproval in her tone is subtext, but the way Cesar's body turns to face Cooper's with that stern slant of brows is a much clearer indication of what she thinks of this. She sets the water aside, staring Dirk down.

Something about Dirk's choice of preening further engages proverbial hackles. She imagines August (not that he would) similarly treating her body like an avenue to score with. What chaos it could cause between her and her partner. Kara makes a suggestion that ends in a show of fang for its emphasis on, "We're supposed to stay in."

It's not really just a suggestion.

"I just…" Liza's voice can be heard grumbling over the rustling of a drawer sliding open and shut, "Need some room." Cesar plucks out a set of sweatpants and a probably oversized SESA T-shirt to match with August-Kara's fashion choice. Turning, he clutches the outfit to his chest gingerly and starts to head for the rec room door as well, intent to head to a restroom to change. He's stopped by the appearance of Cooper, well the body of the man anyway, in the way. "Oh hell nah," groans Cesar at the sight of galling fashion appearance, with his own questionable choices of long sleeves in the height of summer being duly ignored. "Dirk, you better cancel that date or you're going to get cancelled." That's not a threat from him. But it might be from Kara, within his body.

The look on Dirk's face is all Carver; it's what ten seconds until nuclear detonation might look like if it were a facial expression. Thankfully Kara and Diaz speak up before he can find his drill sergeant voice; Carver takes a deep breath, then nods agreement to Diaz's threat; he'll be happy to assist Kara in that cancellation, given the opportunity. "Damn straight we're supposed to be staying in. I've got appointments I'm having to miss,'' Carver snaps.

Not that Providence's people aren't capable of fending for themselves, but it's the principle of the thing — trust in a medical (and veterinary) practitioner is something that's hard earned and easily lost.

“Yes, staying in would be best,” Liza says in Carver’s voice. “Not like I have any hot dates or anything, but I don’t think we should ruin each others’ relationships or lives at all. Certainly, we can explain it to the people we care about but we don’t need to complicate things even more than it already is. Right? Right.” She says with a pleasant tone and small nod. It looks absolutely strange coming from Carver’s body.

“Same,” says August in Kara’s voice when Carver says he’s missing appointments. “And also a date, that I canceled, because I’m obviously not going to show up like this.”

He glances over at Kara in Cesar’s body, brows drawing together in a deeper scowl. “No offense, Clara. You’re very pretty and I’m sure many people would be thrilled to date you,” he says, flustered, Kara’s cheeks growing rosy with embarrassment. “What I mean-”

Whatever August is going to say next is interrupted, thankfully for anyone with secondhand embarrassment, as a British woman’s voice can be heard in the small hallway leading to the rec room. “I think they’re probably down here.”

When it appears, Agent Bright’s face clearly shows that no one had to point him in the direction of the agents, because he can feel them from a football field’s length away. Behind his glasses, his eyes are narrowed, and his jaw is set with the look of someone trying not to yell out in pain. Reeves appears behind him with a stack of pizza boxes and a cheerful expression, his antithesis in almost every way.

“Yes, here they are. How are you,” Bright clears his throat, glancing around at the assortment before him, “oh, Jesus Christ, you again? Are you anomaly magnets?” he murmurs, catching sight of some familiar faces. It’s Clara’s he hones in on for a moment. “Cla-”

But when Kara’s blank face, lacking recognition, stares back at him, Bright looks around, blinking owlishly. “Will the, ah, the real Clara Kent please join me?”

“It really stinks that none of you can trust each other the way Thomas and I do. I’m really sad for all of you, and I mean that.” The expression on the face of Cooper says it all and the hand he places on his heart? Dirk genuinely pities everyone else in the house. Back in the mirror, he finishes smoothing the hair down on both sides of the head he’s currently in possession of. He is certain that when Cooper gets back to it, he’s going to be so happy.

He straightens his suit jacket by the lapels and imparts an award winning smile to Agent Bright, “I don’t even know what you’re talking about. I’m not a magnet for anything… except the ladies.” And he attempts to flit by the taller man, only to come face to pizza box with the smiling agent behind him. “Allow me,” Dirk croons in Cooper’s voice, snapping his fingers to one of the others in the room. “Someone help this lovely lady with these boxes of cheesy death… and remind whoever is in my body to take some lactaid or they’re in for a really uncomfortable evening. Better yet, don’t let me eat any… or you’re all in for it.”

Carver's eyes shoot to August when he says same, Dirk's lips twisting into a frown… but it's gone in a split-second, because watching August dig himself into a hole is the least important thing he could be doing right now.

The man in Kara’s body catches that frown, and August scowls again, reaching for his book once more, but he turns at the arrival of the agents, looking increasingly more unhappy with yet more governmental agents.

The arrival of the ever-familiar Agent Orville Reddenbocker sees Carver's expression shift. He considers for the barest fraction of a second — his body's already in the room. Might as well meet whatever this is head on. But first thing's first — his eyes move to Dirk-in-Cooper, lips curling into a sneer. "Tell you what, french fry. Go ahead and go on your date. I won't be here when you get back." Carver says that, and then his gaze moves on, settling on Bright.

"In the meantime, I can't help but notice that you keep turning up when I'm having really bad days. Who are you?" he asks bluntly, but not rudely. His brow furrows. "And where's your other partner?"

Kara at least feels relieved when basically every other person present in this situation backs up her point of view. They've all put plenty more words to it than she was able to in the spur of the moment, and she's thankful for that.

… She's not so much thankful for the intervention of the OEI agents walking through the door with pizza. Everybody loves pizza, sure.

Not everybody loves visits from the Department of the Exterior. The mere appearance of the two agents does an excellent job of defusing her laser focus on Dirk, at least. Cesar's throat moves up and down as Kara swallows, his shoulders losing their tension as she settles her posture and centers herself.

She's raising one tanned hand and indicates, "Over here, Agent," in a polite enough voice, looking between Reeves and Bright to step over closer, no questions asked about it here. She, through Cesar's eyes, definitely shoots a warning glare at Dirk in Cooper's on her way over though. Carver's commentary leads her to turn away at the last moment so she can ask with a well-meaning rib in it, "What, do they always have to have the same buddies, doc?"

Cesar can't help the eyeroll that comes from Dirk-slash-Cooper's absolute confidence in contrast to August's flustered fumble. A quiet plea to the good God above ends once Bright and Reeves appear at the doorway he had hoped to make a short exit towards. The prayer quickly turns into a swear.

"If you're taking her somewhere, you better be taking me with," says Cesar, sounding less hostile than Carver given his current host, but nevertheless trying to make sure he is heard and taken seriously. Still, he steps forward to help Agent Reeves with the pizza boxes. Not because Dirk snapped his fingers at them, if the sharp glare aimed in Not-Cooper's direction is indication. Hefting the folded sweats and t-shirt on to the top most box, Cesar relieves Reeves of half the woman's load.

It belatedly occurs to Cesar that he hasn't eaten anything since the late morning, too. Fort Jay's coffee has yet to truly wear off, but the smell of the pizza is quite enticing. "Thanks for bringing dinner, anyway," he speaks politely, and looks curiously over the pair of new arrivals.

“Agents Bright and Reeves, and we’re not, you know, married to our colleagues. We are allowed to work with different coworkers from time to time,” Bright says with a gritted-teeth smile, pulling out a badge to identify himself. “Department of the Exterior. Looking into the situation, along with SESA, of course.”

Reeves’ smile is sunnier, as Cesar helps her with the pizza boxes, but she makes a face at Dirk-in-Cooper’s TMI sharing of what a bit of dairy will do to his sensitive system. “I suppose I should have brought a salad, too,” she says, apologetically.

“There are veggies only on a couple, cheese only on a couple, and the rest of them are a mix of meats and other toppings, so hopefully there’s something everyone can eat. Apologies if not. I can pop out and get anyone with dietary restrictions something else if you like?” she offers, looking a little worriedly around the motley group of victims.

Bright tucks his badge away, pulling out instead a butterscotch disc to unwrap and pop into his mouth. “We’re doing interviews separately, miss. I, ah, didn’t catch your name?” he asks Cesar-in-Liza, offering his hand.

Kara takes a moment to look between Cesar in Liza's form– and then back to Bright again. "That's Cesar Diaz," she explains sympathetically. She turns over a hand as her attention returns to the former. "I absolutely promise I'm not about to pull a Dirk on you, here. Whatever this is, it's fine, I'm sure. I'll be back in a minute?"

It's then she shoots a look over the top of the boxes being exchanged to hone in on Cooper's body again, eyes narrowing. She's not forgotten about you, trouble.

Liza raises her hand. "He's borrowing my body for the time being," she says using Carver's voice. "Agent Liza Messer from SESA here in this lovely gentleman. Anyway, I appreciate the food, though it's going to be incredibly weird trying to figure out if taste is actually tied to body or to mind. I mean, are your taste buds the things determining if you like something or is your…" She trails off, instead just going to examine the pizza.

Lovely gentleman sees Carver stare at Liza, unsettled for a moment at the idea of anyone characterizing him that way. But only for a moment; his gaze swings back to the agents almost immediately. "Harrison Carver," he says, eyes narrow as he studies them. "Currently of Providence. That is my body," he gestures to Liza.

Then his gaze slips back to Dirk-in-Cooper. Watching.

“Right. Mister Carver. Agent Diaz. My apologies,” Agent Bright says, as one hand beckons for Kara to follow. We’ll be back in a jiffy.”

For those who haven’t seen Reeves at work before, they’ll find the ‘jiffy’ description is very apt. As Reeves, Bright, and Kara (in Cesar’s body) step out of the rec room’s doorway, they simply disappear, rather than showing up on the hallway beyond.

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