2007-07-05: Ethical Confusion


Benjamin_icon.gif Max_icon.gif

Summary: Benji and Max, try this again, starting and ending on better terms than before.

Date It Happened: July 5th, 2007

Log Title Ethical Confusion

Primatech - Hartsdale Facility

On a day to day basis, things tend to remain static in a cell. Same surroundings, same furniture. Today one thing is different. Instead of Company issue pajamas, Max is wearing a black pin-striped suit, crisp white shirt, and stylish shoes. He's seated at his desk, working on a crossword with the stub of a heavily sharpened pencil.

For a change, Benjamin is dressed down.. and in this case, a nice pair of blue jeans that probably hasn't seen the light of day in some time and a tasteful polo in pale blue. The shirt of course is worn tucked in and his ID badge is worn clipped to his belt. As he makes his way towards Max's cell, he's not alone. Another employee who has been assisting with the training process is accompanying him. There's an uncomfortable silence between the two as they stop at the cell. Benjamin is not empty handed again this time. He's brought something of a peace offering in case there are any hard feelings. It's a book. 'American Gods' by Neil Gaiman. There's a click as he presses the intercom button, ".. Hi Mr. Swan..?"

Max's ears perk at the sound of a voice behind him. He slides his chair away from his desk, stands, and turns to face the windows. Having finally managed to get a few hours' sleep, he is in much better shape than he's been the past couple of days, though there are bloodshot and dark-circled. Still, his beard has been neatly trimmed and the stitches have finally been pulled from the gash in his cheek. "Hello, Mr. Winters," he replies mildly, clasping both hands behind his back in a loose, unconscious imitation of the military at-ease position. "I wish I could say that I was pleased to see you again."

Benjamin blanches.. and mostly ignores the man with him, who is busily taking notes. "I'm sorry.. I didn't know they were going to make me practice on you." Of course, what an agent he's shaping up to be if he's apologizing away like this. Clearing his throat, he holds the book up, cover to the glass. "Anyway.. I wanted to bring you something for real this time, but it looks like you're getting let out.. but if you still want the book, you're welcome to it. A friend loaned me a copy my first week while I was in the hospital here. I thought it was a nice tradition or something to start."

Max shifts his body slightly until his able to make eye contact with Benji around the book's cover. He wets his lips with the tip of his tongue, then nods once. "I appreciate the gesture. Don't trouble yourself over our last encounter. Your tearful apologies were very convincing, and I bear no grudge toward you." This seems like an honest statement. If anything, the curious twinkle in his eye and the small smile tugging at the corners of his mouth would indicate that he's intrigued.

Benjamin can't help but feel a little wary that Max would readily punch his face in if he walked into the cell. So he doesn't go in, not just yet. He lowers the book, "I wasn't /tearful/," he insists, no matter how bad he felt, he certainly wasn't crying into his pillow. But anyway. "I'm glad to hear that," he admits before being let into the cell. The book is held out for Max to take, "I didn't think I'd be in this position. The same woman who gave me this book helped to bring me in, and we had a short lived relationship.. Never saw /that/ coming.. Anyway.. it was an interesting read. Not something I would have picked up on my own."

Max accepts the book gratefully. He scans the cover briefly, then sets it down on the desk with the rest of his acquired reading material. "Then it's a doubly thoughtful gift." He studies Benjamin's face thoroughly, especially his eyes. There's something clinical and detached about his expression, despite the intimacy of his staring. "You have a fascinating gift, Mr. Winters. Perhaps you'd like to discuss it with me?"

Benjamin is taken aback by the shift and Max's interest in his ability. With a gesture of slight discomfort, he raises his hand to rub at the mark on his neck. "Sure.. I can do that.. I think you have a right to ask and know. When I was forced into the hospital a few months ago, I was told it was called.. narcokinesis. The basics were explained, but it was and still is, way over my head." He looks over his shoulder at the guy still there on the other side before turning his attention back onto Max. "I'm learning more about it now."

"Narcokinesis…" Max repeats thoughtfully, elongating the word slightly in the process. "Yes, that's very apt. So you are able to put people to sleep, wake them up, and keep them awake, yes?" The rhetorical question is clipped and precise. Not friendly, but not exactly warm either. He knows the answer, he's been subjected to each of those facets of Benjamin's ability. His next query is more direct. "Could you make someone sleep so deeply that they would never wake up? Theoretically, of course."

"That's the theory anyway, from all the tests that I've been put through," Benjamin admits as he leans his back against the wall. He slips his hands into the pockets of his pants as he looks away from Max. "That's what I'm told.. I haven't tried.. I'm barely able to keep up with what I'm capable of right now. That's why they have me practicing so much."

"Mmmm," the sociopath murmurs neutrally. Max flips over the crossword he'd been working on and scribbles a few brief notes on it. His blue eyes sparkle with lively curiosity as he continues. "Have you ever attempted to use your ability on yourself? If so, what were the results?"

Benjamin blinks and looks over as Max takes notes. Well.. this is an unusual sort of guy. "Well no.. because from all the testing, it appears I can only affect other people… are you a doctor or something?" He looks curious about the fellow who is so snazzily dressed today. "I didn't even know I had an ability until a few days before the Company came knocking on my door and .. upside the head. So.. I was just affecting other people, didn't realize it, I mean I did, but I thought I was just going crazy." Cautiously, he approaches Max to see what the man's writing down.

"Most intriguing." Max jots down several more sentences. The scratch of pencil on paper is loudly audible in the confines of his tiny cell. When Benji's interest becomes apparent, he slides the paper over slightly so the other man can more easily read it. BENJAMIN WINTERS - NARCOKINESIS is written across the top in block letters, followed by a brief description of Max's experiences during the training session. The words POTENTIALLY FATAL? are written to the side in similarly bold print, as well having been underlined and circled. "I do not have formal training," he replies. "But I do consider myself a man of science. I am passionately interested in biology and genetics, in no small part due to my own abilities."

Benjamin frowns a little.. He's had enough notes taken on him to last a lifetime and a half. Now someone else is adding more? "Hey! No! You've got that…" He swallows back further protest about the potentially fatal notation. Death is a side effect of what he can do, and it's not something he's forgotten, nor will forget. So he chooses to move on, "Are they letting you out of this cell and putting you to work in the hospital or something?" When he speaks again, his tone is somewhat subdued.

Max taps the eraser of his pencil against his pursed lips thoughtfully. "Perhaps. I've been offered a position working for the Company, but I'm unsure what my responsibilities will be. In any event, I very much hope they will give me access to the lab. The research facilities must be impressive if they were able to tempt Dr. Suresh into collaborating with Bob Bishop." He notices Benjamin's discomfort and puts both pencil and paper aside. He's got enough information stored away for now.

Morbid fascination kicks in as Benjamin looks at Max, "You.. You're actually thinking seriously.. about working for this place? How are they forcing the job at you? I'm starting to wonder if this is just par for the course. Kidnap people, threaten or coerce them into working.." Pardon the man as he gets worked up again, complete with throwing his arms up in the air. The tactics still stick in his craw, even as he becomes resigned to his situation. "I suppose the research must be," he admits as he tries to calm back down, running his fingers through his short hair. "I know the hospital and doctors are impressive on their own."

"Relax, Mr. Winters." Though Max is still polite and cordial, there is a note of quiet command in his voice. "Even the best of men occasionally fall victim to circumstances beyond their control. We bide our time and do what we must. If I must work for the Company to get out of this cell, then work I shall." He takes in a deep breath and sighs it out slowly. "Threats and coercion are heavy-handed tactics, but effective nonetheless. We are where we are, Mr. Winters. We may as well make the best of things."

"So I keep getting told," Benjamin mutters more to himself than in response to Max. Nevertheless, he does calm down.. Whether or not it's from the quiet tone of command, or Max's rationale, it's not evident. "Sorry.. you're right.. I need to quit moping, suck it up, and look on the brighter side of the situation. It's just.. difficult.. this goes against how I've been my whole life… but that's a topic for Dr. Eames.. not you."

Max smiles, but it's an odd, tight-lipped expression. "I find that a certain level of moral flexibility can make a man's life much less complicated," he advises. "Burdening yourself with guilt and ethical confusion will only interfere with your work and your sleeping habits." Once again, he clasps his hands behind his back.

"I guess it's easier said than done for some people." Benjamin says to Max. For the former accountant, only time's going to help with the 'moral flexibility'. "I should go find someone else to .. guinea pig on.. or rather, Attila the Researcher out there. I'm glad you're getting out and that there aren't any hard feelings." He extends his hand to Max to shake before leaving.

"I look forward to working with you in the future, Mr. Winters." Max reaches out to take Benjamin's hand. Unlike the first time they shook, this time there's no sly, intimidating smile. No bone-crushing squeeze. Just a firm grip and a manly shake. "Perhaps when I'm no longer confined we'll be able to test your ability more. I'm sure you'd feel more comfortable if you had a willing subject."

"I look forward to working with you as well.. in a more consent based situation." Benjamin admits as he shakes Max's hand. "I think.. that'd be okay.." Because if the other party is willing, that does make it easier to handle. "I have a feeling they'll be working with me for some time to come. Practice makes perfect, right?" A smile is forced Max's way before he leaves the cell, and on to whatever's next for the day.

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