Unmerciful Disaster


chris_icon.gif corbin_icon.gif

Scene Title Unmerciful Disaster
Synopsis It's not the long lost Lenore who comes calling, but a face from Corbin's past to join his present.
Date February 19, 2020

Corbin Ayers' House

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,

Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore —

Streetlights are a luxury generally not afforded to the quaint neighborhoods of the New York City Safe Zone. If they were then such a sight that would be revealed.

In the latest part of the night, the earliest time of the morning, a horse and rider have found their way through the maze of streets. Without the sickly glow of yellow lamplight, features are hidden within the deepest of shadows, creating an indistinguishable figure. The two appear as some otherworldly creature, a two-headed and four-legged monster. Perhaps the Jabberwock has found new hunting grounds?

For some time the beast stands idle, the swish of a tail and the jangle of tack giving small signs of life. Minutes pass like hours or years until one form separates from the other. The rider finally loops reins over the pommel and swings out of the saddle. Feet touch the ground lightly, carry the night-cloaked figure from the horse’s side and to the door where a fist raps against it.


While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,

As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.

Corbin Ayers’ House

NYC Safe Zone, New York

February 19, 2020

2:57 am

“’Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door —

“Only this and nothing more.”

A minute passes, and then another. Then more urgently


Chris Ayers has the address memorized since the day he'd reunited with his uncle. It's possible he'd gotten the wrong house, not going to lie, but highly unlikely. Even in the dark, even without proper lighting, he's sure he's at the right door. One foot slides back and to the side, he finds the silhouette of his horse still waiting, ears back in tired annoyance.

Jester is as fed up with Chris as he is with himself. The young man makes a sound in his throat, faces the door again



It might be surprising how much of a House that this home actually was. It wasn’t a brownstone, or a traditional townhouse. It looked more or less like a house. It had a small front yard, where he could tie up his horse, a decent distance between the sides and the neighbors, and a white cat with black markings that look like eyebrows staring out the window at Chris. The cat jumps down when he knocks and a few moments later the door opens. Not the cat opening it, of course.

Corbin looks more ruffled than he had in the previous visit. His clothing is more casual, a light sweater and he looks surprised as he opens the door. Maybe he had been surprised when he looked out. He’d half given up on the young man stopping by, and had intended to go and see him again once the case was finally settled, but there was so much paperwork. The lawyers were giving him a run around.

“Chris,” he sys in surprise, turning on the brighter porch light that illuminates part of the yard. “What are— did you ride your horse here?”

That white cat peeks out from behind Corbin’s leg, yellow eyes looking past into the darkness.

It would be something else if it was the cat opening the door. And, given that's who — what — he'd seen peeking at him through the window, it set up Chris’ expectation as to who was answering the door. His face mirrors his uncle's in surprise; can Corbin shapeshift or some other weird sh— no, there's the cat peeking at him again.

“What?” The question catches him off guard. How else would he get from Providence to the Safe Zone. Chris looks over his shoulder to where Jester stands passively waiting. Head swiveling back around, he gives his uncle such a perplexed look.

“I don't have a vehicle. Look…” He shifts his feet, like he's reconsidering his showing up out of the blue. No pun intended. “Um… Something’s… wrong.” But not in the way of normal wrongness. Chris shakes his head slightly, brows pinching. “It's not illegal or… I'm not in trouble.” But clearly he needs to air out something.

Corbin keeps looking past at the horse and then the open street. He’s not sure he trusts everyone ever, cause of course he doesn’t. There was a person who kidnapped people and turned them into trees probably still running around even though the likely mastermind was in custody. Then he looks back at the young man who still looks so much like his father and nods slowly, not jumping to any immediate conclusions. Wrong but not illegal. But still in trouble.

Well those people he’d been staying with could be trouble, he’s sure. He just didn’t want to say anything bad about them until they did something worse— than they already had.

“Ok. Why don’t you move your horse around to the back so he’s out of sight at least.” He glances toward the garage. He had been lucky to have a covered garage. He could move his car and let the horse stay in there if the boy ended up needing to stay the night.

Young man. Not boy, he quietly reminded himself. “Come on. You can talk on the way.” He nudges the white cat with distinct back markings aside with his foot and stepped outside, grabbing keys from a place next to the door and closes it behind him.

The idea of hiding his horse, or needing to hide it, is not one that ever crossed Chris’ mind. He looks over his shoulder to give Jester a questioning look before he turns to collect the beast. There's no argument from either rider or animal, which is possibly the least strange thing to happen this evening. Or morning. What even is time anymore anyway?

With a hand on the halter, reins still wrapped to the saddle, the younger man starts after his uncle. He doesn't say anything at first, despite being invited to talk. It seems the movement stalls everything he could possibly say. Or the need to put the horse around back and out of sight struck with some sort of sense. Whichever it is, he's silent up until they're away from the street and it's lack of lights and windows that could be hiding anyone.

“The test was wrong.” Skipping over any preamble or niceties, Chris cuts right to the reason he's actually come to Corbin, with Jester, in the middle of the night. Instead of, like he has since December, watched from afar. “It was blue. It was blue when Dad had me take it years ago. Unless someone’s fucking with me…” which is possible, let's not be fools, it's not feasible. Not with everything else pointing at him as the… poor soul. “I don't know how they would or could but… it shouldn't be possible.”

At least Corbin is fairly certain that the horse is both well trained and used to standing around in a stable all day and that the young man cleans up after him all the time and he’ll make sure not to leave a big mess behind for him. The SESA agent also stays quiet until the young man does speak, then he turns and looks curiously at him. Yes, he knows what blue means. “False negatives are more common than one might think, especially if he used an over the counter test.” And those had been what was most readily available.

But it had also been the most flawed. “False positives are unlikely, but negatives…” Sometimes it just didn’t work. But usually if it showed red, it meant red.

That wouldn’t help the young man, though. “So you… believe you’ve manifested?”

He’d come to the right place then. Dealing with SLC-E issues was literally Corbin’s job. And had been for a very long time. “Are you okay?”

“Yeah, six months ago.” Chris, it would seem, only just now got the memo about it. “August, last year.” If anyone can believe that. He's still in denial even though it's pretty much been proven beyond doubt that whatever he'd believed for so long was definitely wrong. And the news about false negatives, well that's just the icing on the cake.

He looks past Jester’s head to Corbin. Obviously he's okay in the physical sense. Mostly. He'd spent most of the evening drinking, and there was a good bit of yelling. At least the long ride to the Safe Zone sorted out most of the inebriated state. So he's only a little out of sorts.

The young man, psychologically, is reeling from the discovery. He's trying to contain it, though. Yelling and carrying on isn't changing anything, and the only drink he brought with is water.

“That explosion, in the Pine Barrens? That's when it happened.” Chris interrupts himself to lead the horse into the back yard, and takes a moment longer to drape the lead over the saddle. A hand drags lightly over Jester’s shoulder, scratching dust from his hide. “Fucking evo-hunting robots. We see them out there sometimes, someone's done… fucking horrible experiments to see how well they can sense anyone with the gene. There's one that showed up while we're patrolling, then that explosion and… I just figured it was dumb luck, the depth of the hole we fell into, for why we didn't get anything worse than bruised and scraped.”

“Yeah, I read about that,” Corbin professes quietly, looking at his nephew with concern. Had he been closely involved in that incident? He had to have been involved in some of it, he supposed, to have manifested when it happened. With the horse settled, he motions toward the back door— and it would seem the white cat with black markings had followed them around to the back windows, where he looks quizzically out at them. Or at least it looked quizzical with the way those not eyebrows made him look.

“I recently found out that my mother— your grandmother— had had an ability. Hers was teleportation.” He’d accepted it pretty quickly, but he had so many questions that would probably never get answered unless he found that grandpa again. “Since you rode a horse all the way here I’m guessing you got something different. Sometimes similar abilities do run in the family, though.”

The Company had done a lot of research on it. As far as he knew the boy’s father wasn’t, and Corbin’s sister had died in the bomb same as his mother— had she been?

Another thing he will never know.

“I’m glad you didn’t get hurt worse. That… explosion was… troubling.” For so many reasons.

“Grandma?” Scepticism laces with surprise. Chris’ expression possibly mirrors the cat’s to some extent. He stares at the feline for all of a minute, then angles that same look to his uncle. “Dad tested blue. I tested blue. You…” he doesn't know for sure, but he's assuming it's the same. Except now there's two aberrations.

“It's… like a shield or some shit.” He shakes his head and immediately looks like he regrets the motion. He's sober now, but spending the afternoon and evening drinking was not one of his better ideas.

Chris takes a breath, pinches the space between his eyes between a thumb and forefinger. “That explosion decimated everything. I had no idea, I didn't even remember until today. I'm still not sure how much of that’s me remembering and how much is just…” his hand lowers, like reaching for the word he wants. He doesn't find it. “I don't even know what to do. How do I even handle this?”

“I told you, false negatives are possible. They’re not terribly common, but they do happen. Unless you take it multiple times, a blue isn’t always a blue.” Corbin never really considered how strange that would be for someone, because his had always been blue too. Always. More than once. He even tested recently in the last few years just to make sure nothing had changed since he happened to become a host to a dreamwalker. That hadn’t affected him, though, it would seem. Still Non-SLC-E, and he didn’t really find that to be a terrible thing. “I’m still a non, but I’ve been tested far more often than you.”

It put him in a position to help those who did test positive for the linkage complex. A rather unique one, in many ways.

“A shield. That’s— good.” It hadn’t caused the explosion, it hadn’t hurt anyone. It protected him. He probably could have died without it, had he been close to the epicenter like he’s implying. “Right now, we’re going to go inside, sit down and have some coffee. Is your horse going to be okay out here?” He looks back at the creature, not concerned about his bushes, thankfully. They were already mostly dead as it was, cause of the winter. If he trimmed the overgrowth a little it would save him some lawn work later in the year.

“Come on. Just don’t mind the cat.” Gabriel was in his elder years now, as a cat was concerned, but twelve or thirteen still wasn’t that old for a cat who spent all his time in doors. It had slowed him down, but otherwise, he still remained the same cat that Hokuto had taken into her store over a decade ago.

Blue is blue, how could it be anything else? How could it supposed to have been red? The question pulls the younger man from the depths of those thoughts, the same that’ve haunted him for the better part of the day. He blinks at Corbin, then looks back at the horse and flaps a dismissive hand at him. “He might look in your windows… probably get friendly with your cat.”

He's unconcerned by either possibility, knowing Jester might cause mischief but not any real trouble.

Chris drags a hand through his hair as he follows his uncle into the house. Coffee sounds like the best idea. He's always hated the stuff, but something hot, strong, and bitter is preferable to the bees inside his head. “Sorry. For just showing up.” It wasn't something he'd planned. “Especially in the middle of the night.”

“Gabriel was actually around horses a few years ago for a while, so he might like him,” Corbin admits as he leads the way inside through the back door. The kitchen is predictably bachelor-like, with an air fryer and a microwave probably handling way more of the “cooking” than the stove, which seems to be the home of said air fryer. The coffee maker is already on, readying a new cup, and there’s a whole lot of paperwork spread out over the table and in boxes. He takes a detour to start packing it up a little, but then decides not to bother when he notices the cat deciding it needs to rub up against the newcomer's legs and smell his shoes.

“We’ve got a couple cases wrapping up right now, so I wasn’t going to bed for a while anyway. Trying to get some paperwork sorted through.”

A mosaic serial killer’s run had been stopped, with unfortunate losses, but it was the case of the trees that had much of his attention. Among the paperwork was pictures of trees that stood out.

Another thing Chris might recall from his youth sits on a display cabinet near the door. Toy cars and motorcycles, some on actual stands as if they were a trophy. His uncle had collected them all the way back when they’d last seen each other. It seems he still kept up with that.

For all his efforts to catch Chris’ attention, Gabriel is politely ignored. The young man nods to the explanation; he hadn't actually woken Corbin up, so there's that at least.

“It's been pretty quiet in Providence,” he responds, conversationally. Sure there's been some weird visitors, “I mean… that asshole Noah Bennet and some kid that wasn't his showed up last week.” He's not sure what the hell that had to do with anything or why, but again he's trying to be conversational. “You still have these?”

He's found the collection of toys. Chris doesn't go so far as to open the cabinet for a better look but he does rest a hand on the casement as he leans in. “That was one of the coolest things about your apartment when I was a kid. You and Dad off talking about… fuck I don't know, I didn't listen.” He was a little kid.

An eyebrow gets raised in curiosity at the mention of Noah Bennet and a kid not his own, but Corbin doesn’t immediately pry on that. He does know Noah, and knows he’s working with SESA as a consultant. And since Chris didn’t say that it was the girl who had come with him last time, he knows it wasn’t Emily he had taken in tow. Who else would Noah have possibly had with him. He might have to ask later at the office. But for now, he lets that go. Especially since his collection gets some attention.

He laughs a little, stepping closer. One of the items looks really old in style, but far too new looking to have been from the 1940s. He wasn’t about to say that he got it as a souvenir from a young woman he was dating who went back in time. But it had been.

“Yeah, it’s one of the things I managed to get into storage before the Company fell. I had a little bit of warning, though.” He had packed up almost all of his stuff a month before it happened. He hadn’t known when or how, but he had known it would probably go down that way.

It was also why him and Sabra had been able to save so much of the archives and had so much available when the Tribunals happened.

“I’ve even added to it. Yamagato cars, mostly.” He taps a shelf that has small sleek black replicas of the Yamagato Predator and Civis. “Maybe one day I’ll get enough saved to actually buy one of them.” But no, not yet.

For a few minutes, Chris doesn't respond. He looks thoroughly engrossed in the cars, but his eyes have angles to watch Corbin’s reflection in the glass. He doesn't look as nostalgic now, nor exactly angry, but something his uncle says casts doubts on the way he remembers things.

Careful to move without upsetting the cabinet, the young man straightens and turns away from nostalgia the way someone might turn from an eerie wooded road. Memory Lane isn't a place he'd intended on traveling. He stares into the space between himself and Corbin in an effort to reconcile thoughts and reasons — why had he come here, in the middle of the night?

“Look, um…” Chris rubs the side of his jaw, allows his eyes to focus on his uncle. “I'm… I think I need a vacation from all the…” His hand goes from the side of his neck to waving westward. “Time to figure out what I want to do about… you know.” Everything.

“I understand,” Corbin says with a nod, looking a little relieved, actually. He hadn’t said so, but he had been concerned about the young man living out there as it was— now that he was revealed as an expressive even more so, really. There was so much that could go wrong, and he could end up on the wrong side of just about anything. He could become a human experiment. He could become a target. He could get used for his ability— there was just so much that could happen.

He’d seen it. He’d helped do it for too long. Now he tried his best to keep it from happening.

“I have a few extra rooms I’m not doing anything with. Some are filled with boxes and it will take some work to turn them into a liveable space, but— you can have the whole second floor for a while.”

Possibly a long while. He worked a lot, and often didn’t even make it upstairs anymore. His office and bedroom and almost everything he needed was on the ground floor. He looked toward the window in the back and made a small concerned face, though. “We’ll have to find stable space for your friend, though. I don’t think my yard will suit his needs.”

But they would find a place. Later. For tonight, the yard would have to do. The neighbors might complain, but— Corbin would deal with that in the morning. “You should get cleaned up and get some sleep. It sounds like you’ve had a long couple of days.”

Or weeks. Or life.

But now he had somewhere to stay, at least.

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