Unlikely Allies


gillian_icon.gif squeaks5_icon.gif zachery_icon.gif

Scene Title Unlikely Allies
Synopsis Through death and theft, a new alliance takes shape.
Date August 1, 2020


The Home of Gillian Childs

"So, there's a couple of options on the table, if you will."

Zachery Miller sits on a couch in the living room of one Gillian Childs, someone who he assumes would have likely shut the door on him had he not recently and inadvertently made himself a familiar face through getting married to a friend of hers.

He is not here for Gillian, however, but rather for an impromptu visit to her adopted daughter. He's seated across from Jac with an elbow squished up and into the backrest of the couch, broken leg kicked out ahead of him in its rigid boot. The white dress shirt she's come to expect on him has been exchanged for a slightly wrinkled, light blue t-shirt that states in no uncertain terms, '2008 Harlem Soup Kitchen Helper Extraordinaire', and the acrylic eye in his left eye socket looks almost like a real one.

"So I sat around and sulked into my work for about a month," he continues, "collecting information on the side with the samples provided, and…" A pause sees him lifting an arm to glance at a watch that isn't on his wrist at the moment before breathing out a quick sigh in exasperation and gesturing to the pages he's left on the table ahead of him. His movements are abrupt, his words crisp. "Well, I won't keep you past dinnertime, promise, but I wanted to ask you a few questions. One in particular."

His jaw sets, face lifting and voice lowering. "You suggested we work together, off the record. But this— elevated white blood cell levels?" The pages confirm what his nose is wrinkled at in scrutiny, the blood cell count values elevated beyond the for all of four tests taken throughout the last month. "It's not getting us any closer to the truth. We're going to have to step up. Approach hospitals."

Which will put them on a record, inevitably.

"Or, well." His head cants, and he sinks back in his seat while studying Jac's face. "I will. What you do is up to you."

Without waiting for Zachery to finish speaking, Jac is already nodding. She picks her head up from her hands, which have been propped up by her elbows in her knees while the old man explained his reason for visiting — after seemingly falling off the face of the earth. She had said they should work together, since there was significant doubt that the government would find anything. She even suggested it be off record, because at the time that seemed like the most reasonable path.

She also understands plans sometimes have to change, that if you stick too rigidly to them then bad things can happen. Her nodding slows, but it becomes more thoughtful. Not reluctant or withdrawn.

“I will too,” she says as she leans forward. The papers are gathered so she can look at them. Most of the medical jargon and coding she doesn't recognize. There's no reason that she would, but it doesn't stop her from looking at it anyway. Her face is a study of puzzlement and sober commitment to the task. There's going to be risks involved, but it can't be harder than anything she's done before.

“I mean. My mom still has to say it's okay.” But given the reasons, she hopes Gillian will agree. If not… “If you want to stay for supper, I can explain to her then.” Plead their case is what she really means. At least this isn't like Praxia, and hopefully with the doctor actually here and asking, it will all work out.

Jac slides the papers back onto the table and looks up to meet Zachery’s eyes. “When do we start?”

Zachery watches Jac's face closely, surprise lifting his eyebrows before tension entering his expression as he listens. Not for displeasure as much as something closer to concern.

There is reluctance in how he hesitates before leaning forward again, lending a glance toward a page Jac hasn't seen yet. "I really don't want to talk to a mother about putting her child through technically unnecessary medical procedures." He smirks, a pained expression more than anything else. "But they are relatively low risk and I will if I have to, but…" when words fail him for a moment, he gestures toward the pages again, as if they'll do the talking. Specifically, toward information on biopsies.

Bone marrow, spinal, brain.

The costs, the risks, the recovery times, explanations on all of it is outlined in a way someone without medical expertise might more easily understand. He put in the work.

"But I want to be clear," Zachery continues in a steady, lower voice, running a hand up the side of his neck before dropping it back into his lap and fixing Jac with an unblinking stare. "This is your choice. I'm not going to be making you do anything, and you won't play the victim. You go how far you go, and we'll see where that lands us. Is your answer still the same?"

“It's my choice,” Jac affirms even before she gives a glance to the pages on the table. “It's only unnecessary if there isn't anything wrong and obviously there is or we wouldn't be having this conversation.”

That said, she takes the papers, flips through them until she comes to the page Zachery points out. She can only guess how any of the procedures listed would be done or even help, but

“Did you know that… Adam told my mom he wanted to Gemini me?” It's not common knowledge, Jac only told a few people that she'd gone through the process and it seems not likely in her mind that any of them would've told. “The only thing I'm a victim of is…”

The girl sets the papers on the table with a frown and a slow shake of her head. A victim of her own stupidity then, but she won't be this time. This time there's no deceptions or liars. “Nothing’s worse than anything he did to me. I'm in. You should still be there, when I explain to my mom what we're doing.”

Though Zachery does not answer Jac's question outright, she has all of his focus. He shifts his weight, sitting taller as though some of her determination finds its way to his side of the room as well.

This is as much her problem as it is his own, and uncertainty will do neither of them any good.

"Alright. I can do that much." He answers calmly, face lifting. "Provided I don't meet my untimely demise by the wrath of a mother — we start today."

“Just don't lie to her,” is the only and best advice that Jac can offer for avoiding her mom’s wrath. She gathers up the pages of information before she stands to lead the way deeper into the house, to the kitchen with its dinner table and good smells just starting to make themselves known. “And you can earn brownie points by helping set the table.”

A little bit later…

“So you can see this isn't going to be like last time,” Jac explains as she returns to the table. Supper has been finished for a while now, the pages showing the inconclusive test results and next battery of procedures and biopsies have been given over to Gillian for reading. The teen and the doctor who'd brought the plan to light had spent the closure of the meal ping-ponging the details — with Jac laying out the groundwork for what they're planning and Zachery filling in all the points she'd missed along the way.

Now she's clearing dishes from the table, since that's on her to do. Plates have already been removed, and this trip is spent collecting silverware and glasses and used napkins.

“Pretty much everything is… it's not like Gemini.” The girl pauses in picking up her own place setting to cast a quick look at Gillian. Recovery from that was a long, brutal process, and there were a few times early on that she wasn't sure she'd make it. “A day or two for most things. I mean… I have my school work anyway, and research I can do to help Zachery.”

Giving her words a chance to marinade for a minute, Jac finishes clearing the table.

“It's just… this is something I can do,” she finalizes once she returns. The girl’s hands rest on the back of her chair as she states her case. “We know there's not much help from anyone else. They've… it's like they wrote us off because the answers aren't obvious. And you know I can find things, even things that are buried deep. And Zachery is a doctor. Plus Raytech can help if things start to go bad.”

Looking over the paperwork, Gillian stays silent for a while as she listens and reads, paying close attention to everything that she sees and what she’s being told. And yes, it isn’t like Gemini. There’s something new to this. A transparency. Even then, she still looks concerned, but less— angry? Than she had been in Praxia. She had been very angry at Adam. This is different.

“I think it’s a good idea,” she finally says after a long pause, looking toward the husband of a friend. She hadn’t properly gotten to meet him, except in brief moments, but she knew enough that she trusted him a little. She knew Nicole trusted him. She knew he was a doctor of sorts. And now she knew he was working for Raytech. “Back when Jolene had lost her ability she was going to try going to Raytech for some therapies that they did to try to restore abilities. Once things settled down, I was going to recommend you try the same thing she was trying. It’s a different situation, but…”

Who knew. It had worked on some things. Maybe it could work on this. Gillian wasn’t in a hurry to get her ability back, though. Not having to concentrate on a knot in the back of her head all the time was a strange kind of freedom, really. It was like she could finally relax a little when she hadn’t been able to before. But she knew it wasn’t the same for others— especially Jac. “I’ll support you if this is what you want. But I do want to know what you plan to do— and if you need anything for it.”

Zachery inhales sharply at his end of the table, where he's been on his best behaviour, even if a little quiet. The less said, the less said wrong. He's only just settled his elbows back on the table as the conversation is steered back toward something he's a little more comfortable talking about, his monocular gaze fixed on Gillian's face, posture perfect. "I've helped administer the SOD treatment, and I don't think… any of us at this table would benefit from it."

A wince pulls a corner of his mouth outward. "Unpleasantness of the treatment aside, we're operating under the assumption that there is nothing within us, currently, for it to fix. Currently, this is purely a… diagnostics situation. So in theory…"

His voice is steady when he looks from Jac, then back to Gillian again. "All we'd need for her is to show up. There will be costs involved, but- if necessary, I can help cover them." Even if he's not sure how just yet, his voice doesn't let onto this fact.

When Gillian agrees it's like a weight comes off Jac’s shoulders. Unlike when they were faced with the prospect of Adam’s dangerous and mysterious plans. She steps around her chair so she can sit in it again, expression shifting to one of curiosity. A treatment to restore lost abilities?

“It might not hurt to ask,” the teen says, contrary to Zachery’s opinion and shrugging. It's not like they were trying to be slice. They already were slice. It's just someone, or several, made it so they seemed like they weren't. “At least keep it as something we can explore later, right?”

Her eyes flick between Zachery and Gillian, but when the topic shifts to the cost of things Jac has little if anything to offer. Any help she'd be there is as nonexistent as her abilities. She settles a look at the opening where her plate had been sitting through supper, picking out the small crumbs still needing to be cleaned up.

“We honestly don’t know anything anymore. It’s a difficult situation,” Gillian agrees, looking sad as she looks down at the paperwork. Jac was almost at the age where she would not have even had to have signed anything to agree to these tests— but she’s glad that she asked, glad that she was being asked. Glad that she could offer that bit of support. “If you ever change your mind, Jac, don’t be afraid to say something, but I know you probably won’t.”

The girl hadn’t changed her mind when it had been the painful experiments in Praxia. She hadn’t shrugged at all that she had needed to do—

Gillian knew it would take more than pain or hurt to make her change her mind. Especially if Jac thought it would help the others involved, too. “Just be careful, Miller. Even if she doesn’t know when to tell you to stop, I’ll trust that you’ll have some idea when you should.”

With the spotlight of trust suddenly very clearly on him, Zachery's focus stays on Gillian, and his answer comes delayed. Many people in his life would not afford him this opportunity. The fact that she does not know him as well as they do presents him with a choice.

He nods, slowly but resolutely. "I'll take that responsibility."

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