2007-02-17: Caring Is Scaring


Niki_icon.gif Anders_icon.gif Benjamin_icon.gif Cass_icon.gif

Guest Starring: Dr. Aldric

Summary: Sometimes, a person's best intentions are more unsettling than comforting - Anders and Dr. Aldric learn this lesson today.

Date It Happened: February 17th, 2007

Caring is Scaring

A small, private hospital near New York City

It's a bright and cheery afternoon … outside of this little, private hospital outside of the city. Inside, you can't exactly tell. It could be worse - it's not a particularly dreary setting, as far as hospital goes. There are plants. And art. If you're allowed in the waiting room, there's even a fountain to see. Unfortunately for the newest guests, the fountain is off-limits - there's a whole wing, albeit a small one, dedicated to those transferred from Hartsdale after the unfortunate fiery destruction. Hospital security (so it would seem) guards the doors. It's in this wing that Dr. Aldric has his office, surprise of surprises, and he's currently sitting down beside one Benjamin Winters on a handsome couch, pointing at test results and going on about brainwaves. More than likely, he sounds like he's speaking Arabic to the CPA.

Just around the corner and a few doors down is the room of Niki Sanders, which has its very own guards. They don't have much to do lately, though, save for stand around and try not to doze off. The woman inside isn't very exciting when she's asleep. Her head turned ever-so-slightly to the side on the slate grey pillow of her hospital bed, she almost looks peaceful. Almost. There's a faint crease to her brow even in dreams.

Aldric could very well be speaking in a foreign language to Benjamin. There's not a darn thing being said that he comprehends. The man is frustrated in general. He's been poked, prodded, had tests run on him, and basically made to feel like some kind of experimental test subject. There's also the little issue of being tagged like some animal from the wild. It's been quite dehumanizing actually. As Aldric explains things, Benjamin just stares at the results, clearly not following along, judging from the blank expression on his face. "I'm sorry Dr. Aldric, I still don't know what all this means. My degrees are in accounting, not medical.. That squiggly line there? It just looks like a squiggly line, I don't get how it tells you anything about what I can do, or what I'm capable of doing."

Walking down the hallway with an unlit cigarette in his mouth, Anders is not a happy camper. He pauses outside Niki's room, mostly to harangue a guard about his half asleep state, peering through the window at the actually sleeping woman, "She is to be watched at all times, understand me. Page me the second she wakes up." the man concludes to the guard, before heading down to Dr. Aldric's room and knocking loudly on the door.

It's been a very weird couple of weeks for Cass and whenever she feels like she's getting in way over her head, that's when she decides it's time to go visit her dad to help make things right again. Logical thinking and all that. Heading over to the hospital where he keeps his office hours, she's decided to surprise him. She gives the guards at the doors a more thorough looking over, never knowing them to be quite so attentive. When they insist on escorting her, she frowns and puts a hand on her hips. "What is this, a police ward? I'm just going to visit my father." However, they don't seem dissuaded from their task. "Wow. You guys must really love your job." She reaches the door about the same time that Anders does. She gives him a curious once over, assuming he's a patient.

Dr. Aldric points at the sheet he holds on a clipboard, tapping the readout with the tip of his pen. It's one of those pens that looks like it cost far more than a writing utensil should ever cost. He doesn't go on to explain what /this/ squiggly line means, however; with a sigh, he accepts Benjamin's lack of understanding and sits back against the couch. "I know it's a lot to take in… I would like you to be informed, that's all. To understand how you're unique. If you're feeling ready," he begins to say - as if Benjamin actually has a choice in the matter, "I'd like to arrange some true tests of your abilities—" It's then that the *KNOCK, KNOCK, KNOCK* sounds on the door. "Yes?"

Anders is about to receive a page, it would seem, because no sooner does he turn the corner, walk down the hall, and try to get Dr. Aldric's attention does the Sanders woman begin to stir. It's gentle at first, a slight push of her cheek into the pillow; her head soon turns the other way and her eyes start to open. It's a gradual task: her eyelids are heavy. Everything feels heavy, truth be told. She's been sleeping for some time now, due in no small part to the drugs she's been given. Sleep, treatment, sleep, treatment, sleep, sleep, sleep. If she's sleeping for most of the days here, her status of "potential threat" is moot. But she can't sleep forever.

Shrugging, one of the guards triggers Anders's pager.

By now, Benjamin's gathered that he doesn't have a choice in the matter, but keeps any ill meaning retort to himself. His brow furrows as he continues frowning at the paper, then looks up at Aldric. "I want to learn control of my abilities. That's what I was going to come here for, not to be.. nevermind. You're trying to help me." Sure Ben, keep telling yourself that. The knock on the door startles the already jumpy man. It hasn't been a vacation in this place.

Anders could very well be a patient, frankly, in his tatty jeans and Led Zepp. t-shirt and leather jacket, but nevertheless he smiles at the young woman as his pager goes off, "Visitor. Personal." he says through the door, before turning on his heel and heading back up to Niki's room. Once there, he checks the pistol in his shoulder holster and steps through the door, "Good morning, Miss Sanders, pleasant dreams?"

Cass smiles politely back at Anders as he heads off to take care of his personal pager. Then, when her father responds, she pushes open the door and sticks her head in with a warmer smile on her face. She doesn't notice Benjamin on the couch, yet. Her eyes are only for her father. "Got a moment, Dad?" It's only then that she looks over to see Ben sitting there. Wait a second. Wasn't he a customer? The guy having a midlife crisis? "Hey…I know you," she greets to Benjamin, both inquisitive and friendly.

Between the time it takes for the knocking on his door to actually lead to the door opening, Dr. Aldric lowers his voice and tells Benjamin, "That's why you're here, Mr. Winters. We have to learn how your ability works in order to teach you how to control it." The doctor's serious expression changes suddenly when the door opens, looking with obvious surprise at the woman who stands there. When the surprise fades, his face slowly starts to light up. "Cassandra. I wasn't expecting to see you today!" He looks from Cass to Benjamin, quirking a brow at the recognition. "Ah - excuse me, Mr. Winters. We can finish this later today."

Niki did not, in fact, have pleasant dreams, but she doesn't give up this information to Anders. She regards the man through half-mast lids, simply staring foggily for a few moments as if trying to focus on him. Slowly, she pushes herself up to half-sit against her pillows. Once her wakefulness truly starts to settle in, she still says nothing to the man, but her eyes have a distinct 'what do you want?' question lingering in them.

Benjamin glances to the door, instinctively preparing a frown for Anders as his voice is heard. The CPA does NOT like that man. Getting hit upside the head tends to not leave fuzzy feelings. When Cass is the one who enters, Benjamin looks up to stare at the woman. Then, his gaze shifts between Cass and Dr. Aldric, as if questioning the whole 'dad' thing. "Dad? THIS is your dad? I mean.. yes.. I was in your shop. I didn't get a chance to fully read either book, though." About to turn to respond to Aldric's previous statement, his mouth opens then closes, and he settles for giving a nod in understanding. He gets up from the couch and offers a small smile in passing at Cass, "It was nice to see you again," then he leaves the office, door closing behind him.

Grinning, Anders steps over to beside Niki's bed, "I have a few questions regarding the incident with the.. fire," he begins, pulling a notepad and pen from his jacket pocket, "If you have remembered anything prudent, I can probably arrange some sort of compensation in return. Are they feeding you well?" he asks the woman, after a brief pause to scribble down the date and subject on the pad, "I hate hospital food, instant mashed potatoes. Bleh."

Cass looks between Benjamin and her father. The surprise is mutual, but less profound on Cass' side. Her father has a lot of patients, so it's not a big surprise that she may know some of them. "Yeah," she gives a lopsided smile at Benjamin when he doesn't seem to grasp the concept. "That's alright. There's a lot to cover in both of them. Remember, you said you'd stop by the store when you finished to let me know what you think of them." Seeing that their time is just about over with, she steps fully into her father's office, but keeps the door open for Benjamin. "It was nice to see you, too. Good luck with your meditating." Then, she turns her attention back to her father once he's left the office. "That's so strange that he's your patient. I just met him a week or so ago. Poor guy was really stressed out."

Dr. Aldric watches as Benjamin leaves, a small frown in his face lingering after the man disappears. "It's a small world, Cassandra. Even in New York." Pause. "Meditating?" Why yes, that would be skeptisicm and maybe even a dash of disapproval. "Well. What brings you by today out of the blue? Everything going fine?"

Niki sits up a bit further and, without taking her eyes of Anders, pulls her pale hair from her face into a ponytail. She swipes an elastic from the bedside table to cinch it with. "Compensation?" she asks skeptically. Food? The woman just shrugs. "I've had worse. What kind of questions do you have? It was pretty… straightforward. Girl comes in, sets things on fire, everyone runs. It's amazing that we got out in time."

Benjamin looks back over his shoulder at Aldric's office door before moving on down the hallway. He makes his way back to his room and passes Niki's along the way. From the corner of his eye he notices the woman's awake through the window. His steps slow to a halt and he smiles a little at her, hand raised in a wave. Anders's presence isn't missed and Benji, in a fit unbecoming of a man his age, makes a rather immature face. Out of frustration, or is that an attempt to make Niki laugh? Once he has Niki's attention.. he starts to do an exaggerated impression of Anders scowling.

Nodding, Anders scribbles that down, "Compensation, creature comforts, hospital rooms can be so very boring. Perhaps you would like some music?" the man continues, "If you remember anything else, just have me paged and we can talk about the incident." Theres a brief pause here, while the man looks around (not at the door though, Benjamin goes unnoticed), "I would like to apologise for my unprofessional actions in your retrieval, Alvarez should have been the one in the bathroom with you."

Cass smiles at her father and shuts the door once Benjamin is safely out into the hallway and then moves over to give him a kiss on the cheek. "I know. That's just what I was telling him when I met him." The woman notices the hint of disapproval in his tone. "Yes, meditating. He was stressed out and meditating is proven to help with that. Studies even show that it can help lower blood pressure. So, don't make that face at me." Moving back to couch, she drops onto it in a familiar manner. "It's just been so weird in the city. I just wanted to stop by and see you. Especially since I read about that explosion happening in Hartsdale. No one we knew was in it, right?"

Dr. Aldric gives Cass's elbow a brisk squeeze of affection, albeit a vague one, before she sits down. "Mmh." That's his reply on meditation. He knows all about the studies. Sighing, he turns his clipboard facedown on the couch beside him and regards Cass. "That was… quite an accident. Do you recall Dr. Byrd - we had him over for dinner a few times when you were in med school. I think he had his eye on you. Nice man. Good head on his shoulders. Too bad. He was a cardiologist? I guess he must have been visiting someone in the building…"

"I'm fine." Niki looks down, where her hands clasp together loosely atop the bedsheets. When she sees movement in the window, she glances up briefly — then again once she realizes that she recognizes the person in the hallway. She starts to smile vaguely, simple acknowledgement, but when Benjamin starts making faces at Anders… she's forced to look down again as her smile tries to grow. What was poised to be a bout of stoic listening to - or ignoring of? - Anders is thus softened, as she looks at the man and gives a little nod of her head. Maybe it's not acceptance, but it's something. "Were you hurt?"

Benjamin continues with the mocking impersonation from there in the hallway… and it abruptly comes to an end when a guard looks sharply in his direction. He rolls his neck a little, a poor 'cover' for the impromptu show. Don't mind him. Just.. stretching his legs a little, enjoying being able to roam the hallway just a little.

Anders notices the smile, but misinterprets it as some sort of concern, "No, not badly," he admits, slightly confused, "Your fingers were not frostburnt, I hope?" Civility, from Anders? Thats a new one. "I have another appointment, but please have one of the operatives page me should you need anything," he says, putting the notepad away, "We will get you out of here and back on the internet as soon as we can." a little parting shot as he turns for the door.

Cass frowns and sits up on the couch. "I remember Dr. Byrd. He was in the fire? That's horrible. And he did not have his eye on me. You think every doctor within a ten mile radius has an eye on me." Perching her head in her hands, she looks genuinely sorrowful about the whole event. "He was so nice." Thinking something over, she frowns and looks down at the floor as opposed to her father. She knows what his thoughts are on the paranormal and her own store, but she needs her dad's opinion. It seems like a nonsequitur, but she wants to ask it anyway. "Hey, dad. Remember that book you sent me? The one called Activating Evolution? What did you think of it?"

For Dr. Aldric, his daughter's question is not nonsequitor at all, but it does give him pause. "I think it's an interesting read. I think Dr. Suresh posed some cutting edge theories. I've met his son, and he has a good head on his shoulders too. I also think it's dangerous to the wrong minds. You read it?" It's as if the thought surprises him slightly, or… is he impressed? "What were /your/ thoughts, Cassandra?"

"They're better now," Niki says by way of answering the question of apparent… concern? By the time Anders makes it to the door, the woman is already giving him a somewhat strange, chary look; his parting words just cinch it for her. She just barely suppresses a full-on roll of her eyes, but says nothing. He was apologetic, after all.

Benjamin hears the tail end of the conversation, and starts to head for his room. Internet? Like on those blog sites? Is that what Anders is referring to? Huh. He'll have to ask Niki about that later. He's not going to ask Anders, the less Ben has to talk to the man, the better.

Sadly for Benjamin, Anders appears to also be headed to his room, "Mr. Winters, do you have time to talk?" he asks the man before Ben even makes it through his door, "I have an offer for you."

Cass keeps her head perched in her hands, pursing her lips slightly. "Dangerous?" That sounds eerily like what Ramon had told her earlier when he advised her to stop selling the book. "Of course I read it. It was interesting theories. I don't know enough about DNA science or genes for the medical jargon to make much sense, but the idea of evolving humans was engaging. After all, it makes sense that we should evolve if Darwin's theories are correct. Hearing people's thoughts, healing yourself…it seems kind of far-fetched." The frown deepens a bit. "But, I don't know. I've seen a lot of strange things lately." Finally, she looks up at him and gives him a questioning look. "Why do you say the book is dangerous?"

Dr. Aldric sighs, long and thoughtful. Pushing his hands onto his knees, he stands up, walking around to the side of his desk. "In the wrong minds… people might not be able to handle the /theory/ of … of evolution going this far. Reading minds? Regenerating, 'healing themselves'? People might start thinking they're invincible." He returns the questioning look. "What kind of strange things, Cassandra? Activating Evolutoin caused Dr. Suresh ridicule because of the theories he presented in it, but it's the kind of cutting edge research you could have been involved on if you'd stuck on your path."

Benjamin was just about to slip into his room when Anders addresses him. A groan is suppressed as he turns to answer, "Let me check my daily planner, I might have something coming up. Oh wait, I don't, because I have to stay here. Lucky me." He sighs audibly then goes into his room, "What kind of offer?"

Anders heads into the room behind Benjamin and closes the door with a very audible click, he smiles at the other man, "I want you to tell me anything you remember about the incident with the fire and I will see if I can get you a treat." he says, "Scratch my back, Mr. Winters, and I'll scratch yours."

Cass shrugs, then releases her chin to readjust some of the clips that are keeping up her hair. She's doing it more to have something to do than anything else. "Yeah, but you're saying that like it's all possible. That people would believe they could fly or something. I mean, I'm the only bookstore that carries the book, I think. And look where it is - put somewhere between aliens and time travel. Who would believe that?" The frown deepens when her dropping out of medical school is brought up. Again. She decides to ignore it for now. "It's just strange that you said that. Because after I read the book, I thought it would be a great book for the store in our alternative medicine section. And apparently it is, because it's been selling like crazy lately. But I met someone who…warned me about some people. And then books started showing up in my store when they weren't supposed to be there. And then that same man thought I shouldn't sell the book any more. He thought it would bring me trouble. It's just starting to worry me."

Dr. Aldric leans against the edge of his desk, crossing his arms, but he uncrosses them as soon as Cass starts to talk about getting warnings. Instead, he takes a step toward her again. "Have people been threatening you?" The man's brows crease considerably upon that notion. "While I think Dr. Suresh deserves more than a spot in a store like yours for his work, I'm not saying his book is all /truth/… it is /theoretical/ genetics."

Benjamin's eyes narrow to give Anders an incredulous expression, "What? What do you think I am? Four?" He stops halfway to his bed, just, staring at Anders, even throwing in a wild gesture with his arms. "You people are incredible. I get told I can get help to control my abilities, but I'm treated part patient, part inmate, part lab rat." He points at the mark on his neck and says, sounding agitated and just a little upset, "And I'm tagged like I'm part of some wildlife foundation count.." Yes, he's gotten an answer as to that. Not thrilled about it either. Oh no. "and you're going to come in here and offer me a 'treat' for telling you something? This is great. This is just great. If I thought I could sue you people I would, and I'm not a litigious sort of person. Assault, kidnapping, unlawful detention! But I know there's no way any of this is legal." He throws his hands up in the air, bringing his mini-rant to an end, "Unbelievable, just.. I only want to learn how to control this so I can go back home to my sad, pathetic life." Oh wait, Anders asked about the fire? Sorry, that doesn't get a direct answer at the moment. The man's just about had it. Clearly.

Letting Benjamin get his little rant out, Anders just looks at him "Please calm down, Mr. Winters, it was a compassionate offer," he begins, "We will help you control your ability in due time, I was merely offering you a way to get some creature comforts in return for salient information about the fire. I can see you are not interested." The big man turns towards the door, before clicking his fingers and turning back, "Perhaps I could bring you a book or something to kill the time, though?"

Cass shakes her head slowly. "No, not really. Well, not me personally. Or, well, not people who know me personally." She's had a gun or two in her face lately, so she can't leave that out. But, then again, that's not what he means. "I was just told to look out for some people who may come around. Some black guy and a girl named Angie…they might try to ask me questions or something. They sounded…dangerous. I didn't really understand it. I don't, still. I don't know who they are or why they'd come to the store." While she heard the little dig about his book deserving more than her store, once again she ignores it.

Benjamin takes a few calming breaths as he continues to give Anders a dirty look. "I don't appreciate your methods. I'm not some kid, or test animal," he states flatly. "I don't think you want to be treated the way you're treating me. And like I'm going to have anything different to tell you than anyone else in the hospital wing that night. I'm restricted to a small area, so what do I know?" With that, he drops himself onto the bed, and flips on the TV.

"Fuck you too, Mr. Winters," Anders mutters, under his breath and barely audible as he steps through the doorway into the hall, "You're spitting in his food, correct? Good man." he asks the guard once the door closes. Anders then grabs himself a seat in the hallway, tapping his feet and generally idling.

A dark expression crosses Dr. Aldric's face at the exact moment Cass mentions the name 'Angie' and also the vague 'black man'. "I can't imagine /you/ would be in danger simply because you stock a book," he says. "…hmm…" Lost in thought much? Curious. "Cassandra… I'm going to give you something, and I'd appreciate it very much if you just took it at my word." He walks around the desk, sliding a drawer open.

Inside her room, Niki doesn't feel much like sleeping. It might as well be a physical impossibility at this point until a doctor comes in to change that fact for awhile. Benjamin's room is only a few doors down, and she can hear the man's frustrated voice from here. She may not know him well - barely at all, in fact - but she can peg his character enough to know that tone of voice goes beyond the realm of "normal". Gently tossing her sheets back, she slips out of the bed and pads to her door, peeking around the guards. Without testing their limits too far. Blue eyes fall upon Anders after catching his harsh words. "You don't have to be so rude to him," she points out. "He's just trying to understand what's happening to him."

"See, that's what I'm trying to figure out." Cass replies, frustrated. The whole situation feels like a puzzle with missing pieces. "I mean, I get a lot of crazy people wandering into my store and warning me about apocalypses and stuff, but this guy wasn't one of those. At least I didn't think so." The confusion only deepens when she watches her father's expression and his enigmatic response. "Okay…" she came to her father for stability and logic and now he's acting just as strange as everyone else she's met lately is. "I'll try."

"You're talking now?" is Anders' response to Niki, "I am trying to be "nice" and treat you both "humanely", but you make it so very difficult." the man says, bunny ear hand gestures and all. "I apologise that I am not the kindest of men, but, by God, I am just trying to help," Anders continues, standing up and walking towards Niki and the door, "Without our help, he would be boring people to sleep literally and you.. or rather, one of you, would be murdering people still."

Cass's father looks down for a spell, into the drawer he opened, without producing anything from it. Maybe he's having second thoughts. In the end, however, he takes a small, slim object from the drawer and slides it shut. "If anyone comes into your store and you think they have the intent to harm you, if they /do/ threaten you personally…" Dr. Aldric walks toward Cass, reaching out for her hand with his empty one in order to turn it palm-side up. "/If/." He palms the object into hers, folding her fingers over it and holding her hand for a moment.

"I just want to wait out my treatment in peace," Niki explains. Her words are considerably gentle despite the slight tinge of defensiveness that sneaks in toward Anders. "I know why I'm here. And I'm thankful." With a pointed look down the hall, she frowns. "But it's not the same for everyone. Everyone deals differently."

Benjamin shuts the TV off, even though it was on briefly, it's not working as a distraction or to cover the sounds from the hallway. Besides, the blinds are open and he can see right out through them. He turns his back to them and goes to the slim window looking outside. His hands brace against the windowframe and he stares out.

"Everyone" should suck it up and realise he is here for the duration," Anders offers in reply, "Some of us had to and now we are a lot better off." This is apparently the end of the caring and sharing though, the man shaking his head, "As I said, page me if you need anything."

Cass's father's behavior is starting to worry her. When he takes her hand, she doesn't resist, but it's kind of like dead weight. She allows him to manipulate her fingers so that she's gripping whatever it is that he took out of his desk. Holding her father's hand, as soon as she pulls her hands away, she unfurls her fingers just enough to see what she's been given. Confusion is written all over her face. "I…dad." It's hard for her to not question him. Impossible, even. "What am I supposed to do with this?"

"Use it, if you have to." Dr. Aldric steps back, giving his daughter a stern look; like he's made up his mind about something and will not be swayed. "Like I said… take me at my word, Cassandra. Is it a crime for a father to be concerned about his daughter when she said herself that strange people are walking into her store?"

Between the two guards, the blonde frowns at Anders; she has no response for him, save for: "…Okay." Niki disappears back into her room, shutting the door behind her.

Cass gives her father her own version of a stubborn look. "Fine, fine. Don't answer my question." Taking the object and stuffing it into her purse, she stands up. "No, it's not a crime. I'm just…I don't understand any of this." Being in her father's presence again makes her feel like an unruly teenager. "I know I'm worried about people coming into the store, but I expected you to just tell me that I'm being crazy, like usual, and then give me a kiss on the forehead and go back to work." She runs a hand through the front section of her hair, the part that's down, in a frustrated manner. She shakes her head. "Look, just give mom my love, alright?" Distracted, she moves forward to give him another kiss and then to leave. "It was good seeing you, dad."

"More than likely, you are being crazy," Dr. Aldric says straight-faced - but a small smile forms, however vague. He gives Cass a kiss on the forehead, "I will. Just take care, Cassandra." He opens the door of his office for her. "Sometimes I worry about you, that's all."

Cass finally gives her father a hint of a smile. At least he's not being so strange now. "I will. You take care, too. Tell your patient….Mr. Winters? it was good seeing him and all that." She pauses before walking out the door. "I know, dad. But, really, you don't have to. I'm fine. Really. I'll call you later." Then, she steps out and heads out back past the strange guards.

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