There's Some Screwed Up People In This Place


brennan_icon.gif skyler_icon.gif

Scene Title There's Some Screwed Up People In This Place
Synopsis And Brennans of the opinion that it's both of them at the minimum.
Date November 5, 2010

Suresh Center

Skyler sits in her room, fidgeting. Indoors. Ugh. Just waiting for the snow to pile up and bury her again. Then, of course, there's the matter of someone bad finding her. This place seems nice enough, but … paranoia runs deep in her. What if they work for some gangland figure, or one of the other factions in the city? What if, what if, what if? And then, of course, there are all the computers, and they beg to be touched. Caressed. Told what to do. It's getting bad for Skyler. She knew it would, and she's toughing it out as best she can, but it'd be nice to sleep. It would. And other than sneaking out to the roof and napping in the sun, it hasn't been possible these last few days.

"The thing about teenagers" Brennan is standing at the door to the room that Skyler occupies, holding an older ipod in his palm, something from two thousand and two. "or well, kids about to become teenagers is that they have this tendency to break things." Not that his kid broke anything. No. But he'd dug this up from a box and had brought it in. The other hand, is a brown bag bearing the logo of Wendy's grease spots on it where fries rest against the brown paper. Outside food. Not that this place has bad food just that sometimes, greasy meal is the siren call of the day. "I brought lunch, care to join me? I promise the fries are up to the minute hot"

Brennan flashes the woman on the bed a grin, not negating her in the least. "Doctor Brennan, at your service"

Skyler looks at Brennan, at the busted iPod, and lunch. "I'll get my tools." she says. And she does. Shrugs into her web gear and clips it closed, then picks up her gym bag full of parts. "Somewhere outdoors, maybe?" she asks. "Walls are closing in on me a bit. I'm Skyler. Nice to meet you.

"It's not like you're a prisoner here" Brennan points out. "But I agree, sometimes, it's much more better outside four walls hmm? There's a park just north of here, if you don't mind lukewarm fries and this, is for you. I figure, if you can fix it, you can have it. Who knows, maybe sell it when you choose to leave here. If you trust me, I have a car that we can take, or we can go sit out in the garden. It's nto too cold, we can talk while we clog our arteries. Sound good Skylar? Please call be Brennan, or Harve, or Doc. Your choice. I'm pretty easy"

Skyler nods, listening to the good Doctor's words. "I was thinking the lawn, really. Fries are better hot." She smiles. If you've read her records, you know that she's also had seventeen fillings in the last week, including one root canal. The fact that she's smiling might suggest that her teeth aren't hurting so much. Or at least that after so much work, she feels like showing them off. "And thanks. There's probably some kid here who's going crazy from the quiet. You can give it to them when it's fixed." Sky shrugs at the mention of the car. "Doc, if I didn't trust the people here, I'd hardly be letting them work on my teeth, or give me that physical - to say nothing of the pelvic exam - or sleep here. I trust the people here. I wonder sometimes who's paying for all of it and that makes me edgy.

"Donors" He gestures to the door, inviting her to join him once she's got shoes and a jacket on. "Government subsidy, people who are sympathetic to the plight of the evolved and have the spare coin. There's volunteers. There's more than a few various ways that the place gets money. Don't be edgy, not good for the learning if you are. The aim of the place is to help you be a functioning member of society and to get a better hand on your ability so that it doesn't harm others. Now, my understanding, your's isn't that harmful, but that's not the only pre-requisite for getting help here"

Brennan offers up the ipod when she's ready, directing down the hall, bag in hand. "And I don't know many who would enjoy much dental work or even the pelvic. But on the upside, it's free and you seem to be in relatively good health" He offers his hand to her to shake. "Have you given a thought to what you might want to do when you choose to spring yourself from here? Something involving your ability?"

Skyler takes the ipod, and lets her gift touch it. She's not wearing her sunglasses - yet - so a bit of amber static flickers over her eyes, and she's quiet a moment. "I don't know what will be possible yet. Last real job I had was with a dairy farm in Iowa, mucking out the milking barn. This was before the bomb. I was thinking fixing stuff. Maybe… cash machines or car electronics or something. Or I mean I could try to take over the world too, I suppose." She says it deadpan, not so much as a smirk. She might be serious… maybe.

"Well brain, that sounds like a good idea" Brennan smiles, divested of the machinery, they're heading for stairs instead of elevators, and eventually out to the front doors. "Always geek aquad. Or even your own repair shop for computers and small electronics. Probably be good for people to see someone with an ability using it for good and not the few who run about the street using it for ill" His palm hits the handle on the door and pushes it open for SKyler, letting her go through first.

"I'm sure there's grants out there to help first time business owners start up a business."

Skyler heads through the door and looks around for a dry place on the lawn, thinking about it. "Zort." she says, and chuckles. "I started watching that show when I was 13. Time I was sixteen I could watch it right off the cable box without turning on the tv. And you wonder why I'm a little weird around the edges." Sky finds a place to sit down, and draws her legs up under her in half-lotus. "Your iPod's got a bad battery and a loose connection to the control wheel." she says, matter-of-factly as she gets out a spudder and starts prying it open carefully. "As for grants, are there really? And are they in the habit of giving them to civilization's newest them?

"There are grants for those who are possessing of the SLC expressive gene. Theress other grants for just plain old first time business's that don't give a hoot whether the test turns blue or red, just that you have a sound business plan. Think of it this way, you had people bring you their things, in the park, and you could tell them right away what was wrong. What you did, just now, would have taken a lot longer for just a straight up individual lacking your particular skillset that's been given to you by your genetics. Doe sit help you fix it faster?"

Skyler says, "My skillset isn't just about genetics. I have degrees in this stuff too. But yeah, it saves me a shit-ton of time and diagnostic tools, and those are usually the most expensive." She thinks about the running-a-business idea some more while she extracts the guts of the iPod with deft fingers and practice.

"It means I can feel when the repair is right too. I never had a problem with that aspect of it. It's the fact that I can read your digital watch without asking you to roll up your sleeves, go through your cell phone's phone book and call list while it's in your pocket and use it to call out to other computers. Stuff like that. It's so … easy. If I didn't think I could get caught, it wouldn't bother me either. It's like. I dunno. Like sex. Have you ever noticed that people are a lot more sexy online, a lot more casual with screwing around? Granted, that's partly because a lot more of the women are really guys, but even then. The reason is it's fun, and there aren't any consequences. So on the one hand, messing with your phone and your life like that seems like it should be like virtual sex. But on the other hand, it's more like the real thing, because if I get caught, I might wish I'd just contracted an incurable disease or gotten knocked up. I don't know what all is out there under the surface."

"I wouldn't know, I never was much of one for the internet and chat rooms. Too busy being a doctor, too busy oversea's and getting shot at for trying to save people who others thought shouldn't be saved. That and-" He holds up his hand with his wedding ring. "Not tempted. BUt you are tempted. What made you come here?" There's a covered bench, a shelter from the weather and they're soon sitting down in there, him laying out the food while she works.

"Do you think, that you would be able to exist, to live, without giving into that temptation? Do you think that you can carve a real home, and a life, a job nine ot five or whatever hours you would set, and not give in to the temptation to mess with say my phone, or hack into computers or whatever else that you might discover you can do?"

Skyler lights up her butane powered soldering iron and gets a syringe out of her web gear. "I have. Given in to temptation." She notes the wedding ring. Tries not to look disappointed. All these days of eating well and sleeping relatively comfortably have started making space in her life for other ideas to percolate up. Ugh. "I've stolen. I've cheated. I've hacked just to see if I could get into a machine."

She gets the soldering wick and desolders the loose connection, then applies some flux, then solder paste with one after the other genuine found-in-the-park used syringes and touches the connections with the soldering iron just so. After that, she begins rummaging in her pack, fishing out a ziplock bag full of batteries, each carefully taped to keep the contacts from shorting with something else (and setting the battery on fire.)

"I mean, it's a slippery slope. Using my ability to snipe on Ebay? Legal. Moral. Not a problem. Using it to break into Paypal? That's a problem. And the ones that really throw me are the grey areas. Like, what happens if I go to Vegas, and I can feel which slot machines are about to hit?"

"So you can hack" He grabs one of the burgers, unwrapping it and watching her intently. "So, you can set up a business that can both give into temptation but at the same time, help others" He points towards the ipod she's working on. "People all the time try to hack companies. With the increase of those who use unconventional means like you, you could instead of repairing items provide your services to point out weaknesses and flaws within their systems, set up impenetrable firewalls and protections. Can make plenty of money to do that. Hacking for a living!"

Skyler turns off the soldering iron and puts the cap on it so it doesn't burn the snot out of her side, then puts it back in the web gear. Then puts the iPod together again. Cleans the screen, and powers it up. It flickers through the photos directory too fast to really see and she blushes. "Might want to wipe this thing before you give it to anyone." she says, and hands it back.

"White hat hacking. Mm. Interesting. Assuming for the moment that I can get past the whole indoors thing and go into cubeville wtihout losing my mind … which is why we're here … where would I start with that kind of gig, do you think? I mean… cut out the middle man and go to the FBI or the CIA or the NSA maybe? " She takes a burger and digs in. "Oh wow these are better when they haven't been in the dumpster a while.

"Don't need to be cubeville. I wasn't much one for a cubicle farm either. There's not hard and fast rule that states that if you want to be a white hat hacker you need a button down shirt and to part your ass in a rolling chair and stare at grey felt walls all day. Freelance, work from your home, work from… wherever you have access. You don't need to touch my watch it know it's there and how it's functioning. All you'd need probably is… what, a wifi connection? right?"

He glances down to her burger then gives a laugh. "If you ever want a fresh one, or even a night away from this place, you can always let me know. I can always pick some up, or you can come get a taste of four walls and meet some kids, if you don't mind kids."

Skyler cocks her head. "You're offering to take me home to meet your family?" The strangeness of the idea … the amount of time it's been since Sky was in a family setting overwhelms her a moment. "Wifi. Um. Wifi's not a really good choice for heavy work. And it's pretty insecure." She looks down into her burger and takes another bite. "Your um. Your wife-slash-husband doesn't mind if you bring home strays now and then?"

"Wife slash husband" Brennan lets out a laugh at that. "Mish, Michelle, nah, she doesn't. She's brought home her fair share of strays. We both worked for Doctors Without Borders. We're far too used to bringing home strays. Helps sometimes too, to see a functioning family with evolveds, I find. I'm a power negator. Michelle, Michelle can manipulate the weather and temperature. It's really good for the electricity bill. We have three kids too, another one on the way."

Another bite of his own, followed by some fries. "So, dedicated line then. So you could still do it out of your own place. Unless you want to give a crack at your own cubicle. Bet you microsoft or apple would hire you in a jiffy. Even maybe the FBI, CIA, NSA… could even try the department of evolved affairs. If there's an organization that will hire you, them right there. Won't know until you try"

Skyler finishes her burger and digs into the fries, washing it down with some of her Frosty. Which she has to eat with a spoon, as usual. But it accomplishes the same thing. She smiles at this little slice of domestic bliss as she thinks about it. "I think I would like to meet your family, actually. Some time when it's convenient." She mulls over the rest of what Brennan said. "And if I work for the department of evolved affairs or the FBI or the NSA… am I betraying my own kind?"

"IT's my opinion, and it's just mine, that there's no them and us. Our kind, is the human kind. Is someone who's born with downs syndrome any different than you? Am I different than my oldest daughter who doesn't carry the SLC gene?" he offers up to Skyler while he eats. "I think that, you, doing what you want to do, to make a living, legitimately, isn't a betrayal to anyone, unless it compromises your own personal ethics or morals. Then… then it's a betrayal of the self"

Skyler thinks about that. "Mm." She gestures with a fry. "Interesting that even with two evolved parents, it doesn't always breed true. You'd expect it to. And where you draw the line between what's human and what's not gets complicated pretty fast. I mean… in comic books it's always pretty clear that the mutants stick together but they do the right thing because they want to be accepted by the human community."

Skyler thinks about it. "I think it comes down to your own sense of identity. Do you identify yourself as an evolved and different from humans, and want to be part of a separate evolved community, or do you identify yourself as a human plus this thing I do? Do we have a separate community, and should we even try to make one? I mean… integration kind of means giving up on exclusive communities like that.

Skyler adds, "'Course the whole mutants thing in comic books was a way to deal with race. I mean, look when X-men came out?" Her eyes flicker amber a moment. "X-men #1 was September, 1963. the Watts riots were in '65."

"But that's comic books" His coke is picked up, straw sucked on while he thinks. 'Though, I guess the line between comic books and reality is blurred a lot more these days now that people actually confess what they can do" He raises his shoulder with a smile. "But I think it does pretty much come down to the individual. What do you think Skyler? What do you identify with. Human, evolved, neither?"

Skyler digs into her frosty some more and thinks about it. "I've been homeless for five years. I'm not sure I identify with anyone at this point. I want to. I mean, I came here because the place in Prospect Park I was at is a cholera epidemic waiting to happen, and it's getting cold. But my dreams until I got here were to buy one of those dogloo dog houses they have in the hardware store, and some insulation to make it warm for winter. Now I'm thinking… apartment… work… credit cards…" her brow begins to wrinkle as she says all this. "…Dating probably. It's all so much."

"Apartments are expensive" He points out. "And dogloo's are crap against the winter. It was a smart idea. You're right though, it's some sort of epidemic waiting to happen. "I'd suggest first, that maybe, see to getting a job first, and then, when you have that in your grasp, you can look for a room to rent from someone. I'm suspecting you don't have much in the way of personal belongings. then, once you have an idea of what your monthly income will be, and the room isn't big enough, maybe… then look for a small place"

Skyler nods slowly. "No, not much. I can carry it all without stealing a shopping cart." Her brow unwads a bit as she thinks about it. So. A job. And a room. And then see. That all seems much more manageable. "You've done this before. Help someone starting from zero." she says.

"I've seen people in this world who would look at all your belongings and think you were wealthy. But, I've helped people in this city. You're not the first, you won't be the last. I think that you should live, how you want your children to live, which means sharing good fortune. I had the fortune to be born to an understanding and wealthy family. I had it easy, and I still have it easy."

"Tell you what. You find a job, I have a basement. Has it's own door leading out the front. It's just my office and some spare room down there. We can figure out what rent would be. The string being, that you gotta get a job, keep your nose clean, pay your rent on time. YOu dont' have to say yes, not till you meet my horde, but, I can put the offer there, lay it out on the table. Means you won't have to deal with the dogoloo for winter"

Skyler cocks her head and thinks about it. "I'll tell you what. Why don't you talk to your wife about this and make sure she's cool with the idea, and I'll work on getting my head straightened out enough to work and we'll go from there? I mean… it's super-generous of you, but there's a long way between bringing home strays and inviting stray women to live in the basement next to your office."

"Now that, sounds like the sound reasoning of a woman, who's getting there to getting her head straightened out" Brennan nods to her suggestion. "Sounds like a deal though" Brennan gestures to the rest of the food. "Finish up, then we can go inside. I'm about to start this evenings support group. You're welcome to join in if you like. Gets you out of the room, talking with others"

Skyler nods. "Yeah, I've been to a couple of the other groups." She gathers up the remaining food and smirks over her shoulder at the good doctor. "There are some screwed up people in this place."

"And we're both one of them" Brennan retorts as He picks up his trash with a smile.

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