Unwanted Goods


joaquin_icon.gif rhys_icon.gif

Scene Title Unwanted Goods
Synopsis After a meeting about Squeaks' disappearance, Rhys and Joaquin canvas a neighborhood and learn about their shared history.
Date June 25, 2019

Red Hook

“Bicycles were the best way to get around in the post-apocalypse. Don’t need any fuel but yourself, works any time of the day or night. And makes you a moving target.”

Yes, Joaquin has mentioned post-apocalypse casually as if he were trying to talk about the weather at the start of summer. It’s mainly to distract somewhat from the task at hand, which if one thinks too hard on it is likely to result in a much bleaker outlook for a young girl - not much younger than Joaquin - Jacelyn “Squeaks” Childs. But it’s also to distract from the sight of the young man he’s accompanying, Rhys Bluthner. Sorry, Agent Rhys Bluthner, of SESA. But as much as he wants to fill in the space with talk like another certain talkative Lighthouse Kid they had all been giving the hard side-eye to with the talk about strike teams, Joaquin isn’t quite up to the same word quota nor speed and momentum of diction.

Casting a glance over at Rhys, he worries lightly at the inside of his lower lip. “Sorry you got stuck with me for this. Probably would be easier to do with someone else who’s more… More powerful.”

Rhys arches a brow, looking over at the young man in his passenger seat. “In spite of what Mayor Short and Commissioner Donovan might think, everything isn't better with abilities. And I say that having one.” With a flick of his hand Rhys signals changing lanes and then starts moving toward the curb to park. Even in the middle of the day there's hardly any cars on the street or parked on the roadside.

“I've seen people like you,” Rhys says with a jabbed thumb at Joaquin, “same age as you, do incredible things without an ability. Sometimes not having a power is the edge needed to make it all matter.” Rhys puts the car in park and only then gives Joaquin a more full look. “Don't let the way the world is tell you that you're more special because of your genetics.”

The mostly eaten roast beef sandwich in his lap bears the brunt of Joaquin's awkward sounding laugh, like what Rhys' claim about everything not being better with an ability doesn't quite strike the nail on the head to drive the point home. But it does get the nail in part of the way. His downcast gaze swings up and over, catching the look and managing to hold it long enough for the agent to speak his mind.

Joaquin's mouth presses into a thin, tight line for a long moment, though in reality less than half a minute. "Says you," he counters after the beat, tearing off another bite of sandwich. "But I'm really not incredible at anything. Hell, I can't even drive."

That being said, he knows he's being a little cheeky. Joaquin ducks his head, turning his eyes out to the line of buildings awaiting their canvas. "So, how's this work? Same like in the TV shows?"

Rhys angles a look at Joaquin, choosing to disregard the comment about television as he opens the door and exits the car, motioning with his chin for his ostensible partner to do the same. “I could teach you to drive,” he admits. “I didn’t learn until two years ago, so…” Rhys spreads his hands helplessly, then circles around the front of the car to join Joachim on the sidewalk.

“You were triage during the war, right?” Rhys has no business knowing that, but as he closes the distance to Joaquin he lobs the rhetorical question at him nonetheless. “Health courses at Brooklyn College, business too. I’m not saying you need to think about a career with SESA but…” he spreads his hands, “you’re smart. You know a lot of people, and interpersonal connections might as well be money these days. I don’t think you realize just how important you could be.”

As he talks, Rhys is motioning for Joaquin to follow him down the street at a leisurely pace toward a row of brownstones.

"You would? Really? That'd be awesome!" Joaquin, caught off-guard by the offer, quirks a smile that fully believes the offer to be genuine. The bolstered posture straightens him, confidence starting to well. Until, that is, Rhys continues on. "How did you…" The surprise evident in his tone gives way to a softened, shier clearing of his throat.

Joaquin's stride picks up to match with Rhys after the stutter step. For a few beats, he lags back, but soon enough he catches up and walks beside the agent. "My family helped move people, before the war," he says with a slide of his hands into his pockets. "During the war… we ran. Up to Canada. Lance, Joe, the others, they got good at being the broninjas and liked the survival stuff. Mostly, I made sure beds and water tanks were clean. Helped the adults who needed an extra pair of hands." Much as he's doing now, so to speak, being an extra set of eyes and ears.

When they approach the brownstones, Joaquin reflects a look at Rhys, nodding once and bracing. Ready when he is. And trying very hard to look confident in light of the seriousness of their mission.

Reaching into his jacket pocket, Rhys produces his wallet and slides a thin plastic card out, then pauses on the sidewalk and shows it to Joaquin. It’s his Chesterfield Act registration card. Rhys taps his index finger on one of the lines beside his — much younger looking — photograph.

Registered Evolved (Class A Mental)

“When I was a young boy,” Rhys begins, tucking his ID card away, “the one thing I wanted to know more than anything in the world is who my parents were. I was raised in an orphanage, much like Lance and the others. But it was a mundane one, in a seemingly mundane world. Before everything came to light.” Slowly, Rhys starts walking again. “Then one day, I started to… understand things about people. I’d see these things out of the corner of my eye,” he motions ahead with one hand, “shadows. Like, silhouettes of people. I thought they were monsters, and I said as much to the adults in my life. They didn’t believe me.”

Tucking his hands into his pockets, Rhys hunches his shoulders as he walks beside Joaquin toward the brownstones past the row of bodegas. “Eventually I learned to understand and control what I can do, and that — with concentration — I can see a person’s history of interpersonal connections laid out around them. The closer shadows are easier to interpret, the most recent connections. Older ones are further away… blurry and indistinct. Abilities don’t hold up in court, so I can’t use it as evidence in my job, but…” Rhys angles his head to the side, “it can be a way to get a lead. That’s how I know Joe wasn’t blowing smoke up my ass when he mentioned that Triad guy, Zhao.”

Rhys furrows his brows and slowly shakes his head. “You kids, I swear t’god, you get in the biggest shit.”

Joaquin leans in to get a closer look at the ID card, taking it in, doubly eyeing the younger Rhys pictured there. The look he gives the slightly more aged agent comes across shy, if even a bit uncomfortable. He starts walking again when Rhys does. "I'm sorry to hear that you didn't have a chance to know your parents," he offers sympathetically. "Did you ever try it on yourself? I mean, do the shadows ever become clear for you?"

He pulls a face at the latter comment, faintly frowning. "We're not kids any more than you are, Agent Bluthner. You're what, 23? And I didn't even know about all this shit going down until Eve brought it up to us that there's some Evo-supremacist, old-but-not, neo-Nazis trying to take over the world…" Joaquin rakes his fingers through his hair, blowing out a heavy sigh. "If it's not one end of the spectrum, it's another. And in the end someone's getting hurt, killed, or kidnapped." (Nobody tell him about the human experimentation.)

Joaquin's frown deepens. "How are you going to, er, how are we going to figure out what happened to Jac?" He nods to the row of brownstones, then turns back to Rhys. "We're just going to go around knocking and asking if they've seen her? Or is there something you're going to do with your power?" He tilts his head, eyeing the SESA agent curiously in hopes of further revelation to the plan.

Rhys eyes Joqauin for a second, a smile replacing a briefly sullen look. “See? You’re smart,” Rhys says of Joaquin’s guess on his ability as they come up the steps to the first brownstone. But before Rhys gets to the door he pauses, head down, and turns to look over at Joaquin.

“I know who my parents are,” Rhys says quietly; softly. “That’s just… not why I don’t know them.” He tries to smile away the notion, turning back to the door. “Sometimes, you never truly know someone. Not unless they let you. Or want you.”

Reaching up to the door, Rhys knocks with a little less strength than he had a moment ago.

“First rule of door-knocking and— I guess life.” Rhys says to Joaquin in that interstitial moment between the knock and the response.

“Prepare for disappointment.”

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