Yeats, Like the Poet


swap-august_icon.gif swap-carver_icon.gif

Scene Title Yeats, Like the Poet
Synopsis Carver asks about what could be a coincidence.
Date July 7, 2021

Red Hook

The Stoop

The mid-morning sun casts a warm glow over the cozy garden. It’s early enough that it’s still pleasant and not too humid, though the higher the sun climbs in the hazy sky, the less pleasant it gets. Even so, for those getting a bit of cabin fever (especially those not allowed to leave without babysitters), the garden provides a reprieve from feeling quite-so locked up.

It’s a pleasant and simple space – a cluster of benches surround a fire pit on one end, and an apple tree provides shade for a redwood picnic table occupying the other side. It’s at the picnic table that August sits, in Kara’s body, with a book in hand and a large mug of coffee in front of him. It’s a different book than yesterday’s, which he’s already finished, and this one already has a good half–inch dent made into its pages.

Carver is an early bird; beating the sun is something he's long ago gotten used to. A lot of the work he used to do was in areas of the world where the heat was a daily menace. Also this is arguably the weak point of this particular gilded cage; if he were to attempt an escape, this would be the cornerstone.

He had not been expecting to run into August up here, though, which puts a damper on his plans to further case the place for a potential escape. "New book?" he asks as he walks by, debating trying some chin ups on the apple tree.

“Only to me,” is a small attempt at levity, as the book is yellowed and dogeared, but August looks up, Kara’s eyes finding Dirk’s face as Carver addresses him.

“Not my preferred sort of reading, but it beats the boredom of daytime television,” he adds, the book lifted so the other man can see the title – it’s nothing that looks like it’ll win any awards, some sci-fi thriller of sorts, a beach read for someone who doesn’t read romance.

The walls around the little garden are tall, but not un-scaleable, leading to the ground level sidewalk on one side, or the neighbor’s yards on the other walls. The problem of course is the security cameras angled at every wall. August glances up at them, then his fellow prisoner, but only smirks a little.

“If you want some yard time without me present, I can go back in,” he offers. “I’ve never been to prison, but I sort of imagine it feels like this.”

"It's nice for a prison, but it's still a prison if you can't leave," Carver says, facing the tree while his eyes move from side to side, studying the cameras. They've got the expected vectors covered, at least, which means they're probably competent enough to put their pants on and get them on the right way at least three quarters of the time; bully for them. It just means he'll have to get creative. Sneaking out a bathroom window and pulling himself up from the outside, adjusting the camera alignment from the back to force a blind spot might work in a pinch.

"Anyway, don't mind me. Just getting some fresh air. Trying to keep myself from ziptying the french fry to a chair," he says, knees bending a bit as he jumps, snagging a low hanging-branch; it seems solid enough, so he starts doing chin ups. "You from around here?"

“‘A goodly one; in which there are many confines, wards and dungeons.’” August quotes, reaching for the mug and bringing it to his lips for a sip of coffee.

He chuckles at Carver’s words, a glance toward the window. “By french fry, you mean the one whose body you’re in, but he’s in the body of the one that has my body?” His head shakes his head, and laughs lightly. “And that is a sentence I just said aloud.”

Setting down his mug, August looks out toward the street side, though the garden wall of course keeps him from seeing much of anything. “Lived here most of my life, yeah. I’d joke that no one’s actually from here, but I know plenty who are. Not sure why I came back after the war, though, to be honest. Nowhere else to go, I suppose.”

Both hands wrap around the mug. He can’t help but notice how Kara’s smaller hands barely fit around the whole cup, whereas his own would easily. “You?”

"Ohio," Carver says with a grimace, continuing to pull chin ups. "Where I was born, anyway. Army's where I lived. Everywhere and nowhere. Army medic. Later, got my doctorate," he says, dropping back to the ground and fixing his gaze on August. "You in the doctoring business too?"

The grimace draws a faint smile from August as he takes another sip of coffee. “I was born in Virginia, but left when I was five, so I don’t really remember it.”

He nods at the answer of ‘everywhere and nowhere’ – something about that feels true for him, too, even if he’s done most of his living in New York. Just no one spot long enough to really call truly home. The question of whether he’s a doctor draws his eyes away, back to the wall that borders the street. He can’t see much over it, but the sound of traffic and noise washes over.

“Ish,” he says, regarding ‘doctoring.’ “I was in med school when the war hit, so I was a medic in the war. Not army though.” He doesn’t offer another armed force in its place, conspicuously. “I still ‘medic’ a little. For people not in the system.”

Carver regards August for a moment, then nods slowly. "I wasn't Army either. Not for that," he says, his gaze off in the distance. "I'd already retired."

He leaves it at that, hopping back up to start chinning himself again. The burn of exertion is an old friend, a familiar pain that's far more pleasant to focus on than the taste of bile at the back of his throat at the thought of what his country had done to its own people during that war.

"You got family around here?" he asks.

August watches the smaller man that Carver currently resides in do his pull-ups; the body he’s in probably also does some regime to keep in the shape Kara is in. But maybe because he’s not in his own body, he resists the nagging idea that he should keep up and do some push-ups or sit-ups. May as well take a vacation from looking after his own body.

Kara can take a week off, too.

The question draws a shake of the head from August. “Moved up here when I was five or so to be looked after by my aunt. She didn’t seem to take the job very seriously, so I grew up in the system,” he says. There’s no self pity in his voice – he simply relays the information like a series of facts. “Group home, mostly, though a couple short stints in fosters.”

August’s fingers, however, tap a nervous tattoo against the curve of his mug, belying that calm way he speaks. He has a New York accent on most words, but there’s a slow, sleepy manner to it that’s reminiscent of the south, somehow. “You? Got kids or grandkids running around somewhere?”

"Maybe," Carver says. "I was never married. Never really had time. Everywhere and nowhere," Carver says, and for a moment he pauses, peering over the tree branch at August. "Married to the job, I guess. Which isn't to say I didn't have my share of good times. But I never made any bones about anything long term being in the cards." He resumes his chin ups. "If I've got any kids out there… I've never met em."

Something in the sentiment makes August smirk a little, but whatever it is, it’s not enough for him to explain. “I traveled a little, helping where I could during and after the war before I made it back here,” he says, instead. “Probably not quite ‘everywhere,’ because I never left the east coast. But definitely got the nowhere down, even today, living out on Staten.”

He glances at his phone when it lights up with some notification, and a softer smile than his smirk alights on Kara’s face. Whatever the message is, he leaves that be, too. “No kids, no marriages. No bones made either literally or metaphorically. Not sure I’d want to pass on my luck or this world to anyone, if I’m honest.”

Carver actually laughs at that, though it's a bitter sound. "Yeah," he says, looking off into the middle distance for a moment.

Then his expression firms. "Alright, enough," he growls under his breath. He drops from his tree, regarding August with his usual scowl. "Maybe I should just let this go, but that's never been a strong point of mine. I knew an August Yeats, once. Yeats, like the poet." He pauses. "Or knew of him, I should say. You related to a Diane Yeats?"

The growled aside, not quite caught by August’s – well, Kara’s – ears, makes August glance back at Carver with a raised brow – what follows draws the other up in a look of uncertain surprise.

“I’m named after my grandfather, but he died when I was a baby,” he says, a little slowly, not sure what the other man is getting at. His fingers tap that nervous rhythm against the ceramic mug’s surface again, though his voice – Kara’s voice – stays steady.

“Diane was my mother. She died when I was five. If you knew her, my condolences. Been a long time, but not if you’re just hearing about it I guess.” The quiet remark seems sincere, if a little stilted. It’s strange to offer a stranger sympathy for an event that happened thirty years in the past.

The impact that has on Carver is obvious, if one looks closely enough. It's not a change — it's the lack of a change. The lack of movement. The stillness of one who's just taken a hit hard enough they don't even realize how bad it is yet.

Then he exhales, his eyes tightening a bit. "We… knew each other," he confirms. "Worked together for a bit. Had to do trauma rotations in major hospitals — part of the job. Hit it off. Never saw her again."

He nods slowly, looks down, then back up. "She was good people," he says, nodding. "How'd she die?"

Kara’s eyes drop, brow creasing as August sees that look – or lack of expression – come over Dirk’s emotive face, followed by the tightening of eyes that suggests Carver feels some form of loss. Grief. Grief is something that August knows well, can recognize its different guises and forms from living so closely with it for so long – much like pain.

“She was,” August murmurs, his gaze rising again and finding something to look on that isn’t Carver – he settles on a bird that alights upon the garden wall. A little sparrow that cocks its head as if listening in, before darting down to the ground to peck at something on the ground, then flies away again.

“She rode her bike to work. Got hit by a car. Asshole didn’t even stop.” He sighs. “I didn’t know that then, but looked it up later on, in college.”

Kara’s jaw tenses, but August looks back at Carver. “You work in Richmond with her?” he asks. “She was only in the ER for a couple years, I think. When I was born she moved to the orthopedic floor for easier hours.”

Carver shakes his head at the news of her death, one corner of his lip curling in a sneer that's directed at everything and nothing. He has no words that are suitable for polite company, a subject that joins several others like the Mitchell administration, the Cambridge massacre, and the Second Civil War.

August's question is easier. "Yeah. Briefly. Our trauma rotations didn't last very long. This was… before Panama. 86? 87? Somewhere around there. They sent us to a hospital with a major trauma center to keep our skills polished for the field."

The timeline for when Carver knew his mother earns him a nod from August. “That tracks. I was born in 1987, so.”

For a moment, it seems like that might be all he has to say about the time or his mother, but after he taps the mug a couple more times with those fidgety fingers, August looks back to Carver.

“What was she like?” he asks suddenly. “I mean, I knew her as a kid, but I barely remember her. I didn’t get to have real conversations with her that weren’t about, I don’t know, Thomas the Tank Engine or whether dinosaur chicken nuggets taste better than regular ones.” He laughs, a soft and sort of embarrassed thing. “My aunt… she just resented having to take care of me, for the few months she did, so I didn’t really hear what she was like from an adult perspective.”

"She was beautiful," Carver says, recalling, his eyes off in the distance. "Took care of herself. Loved to dance."

His eyes tighten a bit, and almost against his will, that perpetual scowl of his softens just a bit, into something that's almost a smile. "Loved life. Loved people, which I never could understand." He shakes his head. "And she —"

His eyes snap back to the present, to August in Kara, and he very hurriedly reformulates the end of that statement; your mom was a tiger in the sack is something he would say to start a fistfight with someone, and as much as the french fry getting his nose busted would amuse Carver, it's not what he's going for here. "She had… a lot of energy. And she didn't suffer fools gladly. Your aunt ditching you would've had her rolling in her grave."

A furrow appears in Kara’s brow at Carver’s words – when it’s clear to August that Diane Yeats was not a mere coworker but a friend, or more to the man. It’s not a frown of anger, but thought, and that thought is tucked away somewhere for the time being.

“Thank you,” August says softly – but it has an odd emphasis to it that carries with it the weight of sincerity rather than when the phrase is spoken as a perfunctory pleasantry. “That’s what I remember, too. Her laugh was golden.”

He looks down into his coffee cup, then lifts it to drown what’s rest, the way he might if it were whiskey or something harder, in an attempt to numb the ache that comes with the memories. It doesn’t do the trick, unfortunately. “I wonder sometime what life would’ve been like if I had stayed back in Virginia. If she’d been around. I went to medical school because of her and…”

The mug comes back down with a soft thud on the redwood table. It could be the sound of a piece falling into place. “She said my dad was a doctor. Trauma doctor, I didn’t know what that meant, then.”

Carver nods at the thanks, and there is a sincerity there, too, that marks it as something more than a perfunctory gesture. When August mentions her laugh, again there is that ghost of a smile.

The subject of might have beens sees that fade away, but there's a tiredness in his eyes; the bit about the trauma doctor sees him hesitate, then nod again, but it's a moment before he speaks. "No way of knowing what might have been," he pronounces at last. "But I can tell you this. She'd have been proud of you. Doctor or medic or whatever, you're helping people, and that was something she cared about."

He nods once more at the end of that, his steely gaze peering out from behind Dirk's eyes… then he looks to the door. "Think I'm gonna head in. See if I can goad Diaz into losing at pushups."

At the kind words about his mother being proud of him, August shakes his head slightly, his smile turning sad as he reaches for the phone to answer that missed text.

“Don’t think she’d be that proud of me for never going back to finish, Doc, but it’s nice of you to say so, anyway,” he says lightly. That little nagging feeling he has is still there, but he doesn’t chase it… sometimes an itch is best left unscratched, as both men know from their medical practices.

“It’s nice to meet someone who knew and loved her pilgrim soul,” he says, rising and shoving the phone into his pocket, then picking up the book and the mug to take with him as he heads into the house ahead of Carver, turning to take the stairwell up to the apartment he shares with Kara.

August's doubts see Carver's frown return… but he holds his peace. Quite a lot has been said up here this morning, after all…

…and maybe it's not just his mother he takes after.

"See you around, unless I break out," he calls after August in what sounds like a joke but… isn't, entirely. But that's for later. First: pushups. Inside.

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