What She'd Have Wanted


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Scene Title What She'd Have Wanted
Synopsis As the Company's ex-newspaper boy, Corbin visits the newest conscripted recruit, Dr. Darren Stevens, to talk about whether they both made the right decision.
Date April 15, 2010

Fort Hero: Infirmary - Isolation Room

Isolation clean rooms are not the most welcoming of places. Lots of white and sterile looking things. People aren't allowed in, generally, so the man has had his privacy, listening to the air filters and buzzing lights. Quiet, lonely— and a little boring. Which is why when the door opens with a hissing sound, and someone appears in dark brown clothes and normal shoes… it's a change of pace.

And Corbin definitely stands out among all the white. In his hands, there's a rolled up newspaper that he carries, which he sets down on a nearby table. "I brought you a newspaper, but it's pretty much the same. Lots of snow, bad things happening— But there's a nice story in the middle about an old lady who set up a quilting group to make and donate quilts to people in shelters."

Hokuto would have liked that one, or at least it's one of the ones he would have cut out and handed to her.

"You doing okay?"

Seated on the edge of his bed, shoulders slouched and the top button of his dress shirt undone, Darren Stevens looks far more at peace than he did when the Institute had come looking for him. "Thanks," the Brooklyn native drawls, eyes flicking to the newspaper and then up to Corbin. "Your doctors here've been pretty helpful makin' sure that I'm comfortable, got to talk to a psychiatrist the other day too; pretty, kind've strange. Doctor… Salonga?" One of Darren's brows lift up slowly, his hands laced together in his lap, which is where his wandering eyes eventually settle.

"M'not really sure I deserve all've this help from your people. It's not… like those murders were accidents, I knew exactly what was going to happen with them," Darren's brows furrow, the guilt in his voice still evident, especially so on the topic of his ability. "That paper'll be the first thing I've gotten to read about the outside world since I got locked up here…" he grimaces, "not that I mind, it's just— " those tired eyes of his settle back on Corbin's. "You know."

"Pretty and strange is a good way to describe her," Corbin admits with a tease of a smile, moving toward the wall to find a place to lean, so that he can face the lighter haired man, and cross his arms. They're about the same height, and both with blue eyes, but many differences even then. And he's not keeping his distance out of worry, but because sitting on a bed with another guy would be weird.

"Well, this isn't an easy way out, I can tell you that. It's just possibly better than the alternative. If only cause I at least know part of what you'll go through here." When— he knows nothing about what will happen to anyone who gets carried off in those coffins. If he'd known they only had one conscription to burn, would he have still made the same choice?

"You'll have to live with what happened, but at least this way you'll probably get to help some people, and learn how to control what it is that you do. Maybe there's a way to— heal people— or whatever it is you do— without killing someone else. You'd be surprised how many abilities start out one way, and evolve into something slightly different."

"Yeah…" Darren admits in a hushed tone of voice, "maybe." Looking up from his lap, Doctor Stevens' eyes seem a touch haunted still, by the past he's putting behind him and the dark road of the future that lays ahead. "Did— " his eyes divert to the newspaper for a moment, then angle back to Corbin uncertainly. "Did you just come all the way down here to deliver me a newspaper?" There's the faintest hint of a smile at one corner of Darren's lips at that notion. "Are you like— the ah," the name still seems a bit foreign to him, "the Company's newspaper boy?"

There's truth somewhere in that joking commentary, for the longest time that is exactly what Corbin Ayers was to the Company. Now a days, it's much harder to define his role, perhaps because he's made himself more difficult to define in the wake of Hokuto's death. Would Corbin have made the same decision, knowing how limited the conscription numbers are if presented with the choice again? That much isn't easy to say, but Corbin Ayers is relatively certain that no matter how many times Hokuto Ichihara would've been presented with that problem, she would have err'd on the side of second chances every time.

"I still have a subscription for the rest of the year, and I already read it," Corbin says with a shrug, even if he's smiling at the commentary. The truth in it, and now the gray area somewhere in between where he's not even sure what he's doing in the Company anymore. Informing people to get out of safehouses before the government descends? Pulling conscription out of thin air (or specifically a form on Martin's desk) as the way out of losing a man who was strong enough to turn himself in…

Also nevermind that the newspaper he laid down doesn't look like it's been unfolded, much less read. He must have picked up another one.

"But no, I didn't come here just to deliever a newspaper. I wanted to see how you were doing, if they'd figured anything out about your ability yet. At Abigail Beauchamp's, you mentioned that one of the group, Ryans, looked blurry. Did that ever happen before?"

"Once," Darren notes in a hushed tone of voice, "I— didn't know what to make of it, I— I'd been drinking pretty heavily so, I thought it was just my eyes. There was a man I healed, Peter Petrelli, the President's brother?" Darren lifts a hand to rub over his mouth, looking at the newspaper idly and then back up to Corbin. "He— he was all blurry before I healed him. Like— " Darren's brows crease together, eyes drifting around the room in futile search for an example before finding Corbin again. "It was like lookin' up at someone from underwater. They were all— distorted."

Suddenly the analogy springs something to mind, and Darren snaps his fingers, excitedly getting up off of the bed with a click of his heels on the floor. "That blonde fellow you were with, the young kid with the," he holds his hands out in front of himself demonstratively, "the shield thing he did? It was like lookin' through that, all watery and bent. I honestly thought it was just because I'd been drinking, but— " shaking his head, Darren looks towards the room's window viewing the hall, then back to Corbin. "When I saw Ryans, I knew it wasn't just booze."

"Ryans was recently— healed, I guess you could say. I don't know much more than what was put into the report, but he's supposed to be in his late fifties, and— as you saw he definitely didn't look to be closing in on sixty," Corbin crosses his arms over his chest, not too worried about revealing this piece of information, even if some of it may not be at the man's current clearance level. Abby had mentioned it in front of him, and—

"Maybe the power that did it is related to what you can do. I'll see if they can send the files to you for comparison. At least in whatever training you're doing. But the President's brother… I'm not sure how that might tie in." That's a file he may need to take a peek at someday, but— he has a feeling based on who his mother is— that won't be an easy file to get a peek at.

"Did you ever notice anything about other people you healed? Afterwards? I'm not sure how many you did heal, we only heard of three." Or at least, three bodies. Killed so that someone else could be healed.

"Four if you count Tom's rat." Darren notes off-handedly, brows furrowed and a crooked smile playing on his lips at that comment. Time has given him a small comfort despite his situation, and it shows in his more affable nature. Surprisingly, he may actually have had good bedside manner as a surgeon. "I've never noticed much about them, other'n that they're healed. I mean— I've brought back people from the dead before. Petrelli? He was dead for thirty minutes before Tom came an' got me."

Tilting his head to the side, Darren lifts a hand up to scrub at the back of his neck. "I've never heard of a healer that can do that, bring the dead back, I mean— outside of the bible. Thirty minutes is a really long time to be dead, he didn't even have so much as the slightest bit of brain damage. It— it really was a miracle. The girl with cancer, right into remission. I don't know how it works, mister Ayers," so formal, "all I know is that it's got a price I don't want to ever have to pay again."

"You— brought someone back from the dead," Corbin repeats quietly, eyebrows lowering and eyes needing to glance away. "I've never heard of an ability that could do that…" Not a price he ever wants to pay again… but would someone else? The kid had wanted enough money to bring his mother back… Would he kill to get Hokuto back? It's been a lot longer than thirty minutes, it probably wouldn't even work—

Blue eyes slide shut and he settles down onto the floor of the clean isolation room. Probably not where they want people to be sitting, but sliding down the wall seemed the best option. "You can just call me Corbin," he says, settling on the trivial response for the moment, as he scratches at his beard.

It takes a few moments, before his head leans back against the wall and he looks up again. "Probably better not to mention that too much. I think a lot of people would consider some lives to be… less important than others, and try to make the decision for you…" Like he's tempted to.

Nodding his head once, Darren turns slowly and closes his eyes, slouching down to sit atop the bed again. "Yeah… that's what ah, mister Crowley?" There's a squint when Darren looks at Corbin for confirmation, "What mister Crowley said when I explained what I'd done. He ah, he said there's specialists out west, in Seattle, that I'm going to see someone named Balfour who knows a lot about different powers an' stuff. He said it's less dangerous out there, in Washington. Not— not like here."

The West Coast Company is a different feel than the east coast, even if Corbin can only tell that by the difference in their paperwork. As much as climate dictates it seems to dictate the manners of Company administration too, and while he's not met Alfred Balfour personally, he had to file the death certificate for one of the Company founders that resided in Balfour's region of influence. For a man that, according to his dossier, started as a theater actor, he seems to be a man of much practical business.

"S'not oging to be more'n a few more weeks before I get shippedoff I think. They're waiting for some tests to come back from the lab, and then I'm off…" Darren seems, understandably, nervous about that much. "Do— Do you think I really made the right choice?"

"Between us and the unknown guys in the black vans? I'd say yes," Corbin says with a shrug, trying to recover from his emotional dilemna long enough to focus on something else. "Alfred Balfour seems like a nice guy from the reports I've read, but I've never met him personally. It's probably better than jail, or…" Department of Evolved Affairs has a little smokeman who showed up and whispered in his ears. Told him of a girl who might get dragged off somewhere— And Crowley mentioned the Institute…

"I wouldn't have suggested it if I didn't think it was the better alternative, especially after Abigail Beauchamp was telling you that we were good guys— that we'd help you. I only met the girl once and she's hard to let down that badly."

That wasn't the only reason, but— it was one of them. It was a trust they couldn't keep. Unless they did things their own way.

Pushing his hand against the wall, he gets back to his feet. "There's a couple people who were transfered from the West Coast. I'll tell them to talk to you about it, if they have the time before you leave. Let you know what you might be dealing with."

Darren still finds it odd to smile, bitterly so, like he shouldn't be allowed to after everything he's done. "I'd appreciate that," conveys some of the surprise and earnest appreciation that the doctor's felt for how the Company has treated him. "You don't have t'go through all this trouble for me, but— I mean…" Reaching up to rub one hand over his mouth, Darren laughs into his palm and shakes his head. "I don't even know what I mean, I guess. I just— I'm not used to having someone offer help and not expect something in return." Not yet, at least.

"You're alright, Corbin." Darren opines with a more honest smile than before. "For the first time since all've this started, I— actually feel like I might be able to have a normal life again… eventually."

"Normal probably isn't the right word for it," Corbin corrects with a grin, even if he's getting an honest smile at him. "And working for the Company does come with certain commitments, though most of that will just be your normal surgeon skills." Or so, he hopes. Doctors have always been prize commodities for the Company, surely. He knows they work Agent Lash double time as it is, and it would be easier on her if she had more assistants to help out.

Someone who didn't expect something in return… "I do have a question, about your ability. I know you said you never wanted to use it again, but— if someone did want you to bring someone back… would there be any way you would consider doing it? I know someone would have to die, but…" He trails off, looking away and touching something under his shirt.

"What if the person who asked it offered themself in return? Would that make a difference?"

"I…" Darren's brows furrow, head tilting down and eyes set on the floor. "I don't think I could do that, Corbin. I swore an oath to do no harm when I became a doctor, and three times I've broken that because— because…" Doctor Stevens can't quite find the appropriate answer to that, "I'm sorry…" and the apology Darren gives is a personally directed one, because despite the hypotheticals of it, he can tell when someone is grieving; be a doctor long enough and grief becomes as easy to recognize as a smile.

"For what it's worth…" Darren has something heartening to say to Corbin, assuredly. The only problem is Corbin can't hear him, because reflected in the glass of the window behind Doctor Stevens, Hokuto Ichihara is staring back at the Company agent, reaching up to wrap her arms around him from behind, but the moment he turns to actually see if she's there, she's gone. "…matters most, you know?"

Whatever Darren said, it was probably heart felt.

Between surprised blinks and the white noise that seemed to fill his ears for a few moments, Corbin keeps his eyes cast over his shoulder long enough to be sure that— it really wasn't there. When he looks back, he's shaking his head, still blinking against some moisture threatening to form.

"You're right," he says, though he's not sure what all the man even said. The little bit seemed… like it was something that would be right. "She'd probably spend the rest of her life hating me if you'd said yes anyway," he mutters, turning away to avoid catching her reflection again.

Hand dropping from his shirt, he reaches to open the door out, adding as he gets it open with a hiss again, "In case I don't see you again before you go, good luck in Washington. I really hope this works out for you, and that you get to use this second chance to… to do good. And keep your oath, no matter what."

With that, he leaves the bright white of the room, and lets the door seal shut again behind him.

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