2007-09-15: Numbing

Starring:

Lee_icon.gif Cass_icon.gif Lachlan_icon.gif

NPCs:

Billy Jones

Summary:

Billy Jones works on his recovery - with alarming results. Betrayal cuts deep.

September 15th, 2007:

Numbing


Bat Country Labs

Lee's father has been slowly regaining his strength. He hasn't spoken much, even or perhaps especially when his kids are around, and he hasn't scampered yet. He got a basic rundown from Lee about the circumstances of his being here - and the fact that the police still want him. Cautious tests show nothing wrong with him that isn't the result of lying virtually motionless for several weeks. Lee is bringing him down a bag, perhaps in preparation for his father leaving the facility, though this is against medical advice and Lee's baffled expression has become increasingly strained, as if unsure what will happen once his father leaves. Dressed in semi-normal sweats, Billy Jones works a treadmill with deliberation and focus, the pads on his body registering the exertion he is not yet used to into the equipment in the adjacent lab.

With Billy Jones as he runs through his tests, Cass has borrowed some of the more expensive medical like equipment from Seville Medical to try and bring Mr. Jones back to muscle mass and such. It's not like a treadmill won't be helpful in testing some people's abilities. She may just ask Jaden if she can keep it. However, she's marking the results on a clipboard and making sure that Billy remains hydrated. Just because he's awake doesn't mean he's totally out of the woods yet.

He comes down from the treadmill and takes a drink of cool, but not cold, water, as recommended. He's a model patient, even if he's making unspoken preparations to leave. Lee, for his part, comes in with his bag. "Clothes and stuff." he says to Cass, pausing uncertainly.

Billy enters the lab, "So how does it look?" he asks Cass, giving his son a quick smile by way of greeting, that Lee returns wanly.

Even model patients can use some encouragement and direction. "Alright, slow down to a walk, Mr. Jones." As Lee enters, the store owner gives him a smile and pushes up the black framed glasses she has perched on her nose. They're a regular addition to her wardrobe while at Bat Country. "Cool." She gives him a reassuring smile and gestures for him to put them on one of the many counters should he feel the need. Then, she turns back to Mr. Jones. "You're definitely doing better, Mr. Jones. Of course, there's certainly still work that needs to be done, and some of your reaction times are running a little slow. But that's certainly something that should be built up with more exercise and physical therapy."

Billy says, "No need for me to stay /here/ for that, right?"

Lee says, "Dad, the police…"

Billy replies, "So long as nobody tells them where I am, I should be fine. It's not like I'm driving around with a taillight out or anything."

Lee says, "So are you…are you going to come home?"

Billy says, "Let's talk about that in a little bit. Just to be sure. Exercise. Physical therapy. Nothing I need to be laying in a hospital bed for? No long term effects? Brain scans clear?"

There's a frown that Cass' face betrays as she records a few more notes and numbers down on her clipboard, before letting the pages flip back to a blank page on the front. "I've got to agree with Lee, Mr. Jones. The police are after you, not to mention the fact that whoever took you and your wife may still be out there since we haven't been able to find her." Meaning they could be after him, too. "And, yes, you could do a lot of the physical therapy at home, but you went through /severe/ mental trauma, not to mention a two month long coma. I don't feel comfortable releasing you after just a week or so."

Billy says, "I'm a bit out of breath and sweaty, let me get cleaned up and into some fresh clothes and we'll talk about it some more, all right?" He claps Lee on the shoulder in a friendly way - Lee almost flinches - Billy goes into the bathroom without seeming to notice.

Lee says, to Cass, "Look, he's got to be coming home with me, he doesn't have any other place to go. I can bring him in. I really just…you know I never wanted him /trapped/ here." The 'but' is implied after that sentence. He sounds like he's at as low a point as Cass has ever heard him.

Cass nods, once, to let Billy know that she heard him and then steps out of the way so that he can head for the bathroom. Allowing a sigh to escape as soon as he leaves the room, the woman turns her full attention to Lee. "I really don't advise, this, Lee." But, she can tell that the other man looks pained, or at least unhappy. "I don't think you do, either. It's not just the medical concerns I have, but everything. I don't want him to be trapped here, either, but he's basically trying to check himself out despite the /severe/ misgivings of his doctor." Not that she's /actually/ a doctor, but she's doing her best here. "It'd be no different with any other patient coming out of what he just went through."
Lee says, "His doctor /and/ you?" He can't stop himself from the nasty comment, not in his state. "I trust you, Cass. But it's such a relief that he doesn't want to be here either. It's like I was right all along." So why does he sound so miserable about it?

The nasty comment brings a dark expression to Cass' face. "Okay, you know what, Lee? I like you and I love Nima, and I'm sorry you've been having a shit time lately, but I am really sick of your attitude." Slipping her pen into the slot between the board and the clip, she presses it against her chest and crosses her arms. "I just watched over your father for two months and tried to make sure he wasn't pinched by the police. I wasn't exactly expecting a thank you because I was glad to do it, but I was hoping you weren't going to be a dick to me." She doesn't mean to snap back, but there's only so much the woman can take after two months of Lee making like she's part of the problem. "Fine, you're right. Your father still needs intensive physical therapy and I wouldn't mind taking another scan or two of his brain just to make sure whatever that Carter guy did to him didn't leave permanent brain damage."

Lee is so willing to fight, he would rather fight than say anything else: "Being right is not an attitude, Cass, I don't know if you've noticed but around here it's a fucking event, you should circle this day on the calendar in red. Someone was here who was right." he says. "My father is back and I'm grateful for that, and I know you want him well and I'm grateful for that too. I…"

Billy emerges from the bathroom, clothed. He's on a disposable cellphone. "Okay." he says into it, and lifts a gun at Cass. When it fires it makes a 'pfft' sound, which is also, coincidentally, the sound of Lee's moment of rightness being blown into smithereens by one little dart being fired from an air pistol.

"Yeah, because you're just so obsessed with being right!" Okay, Cass was trying to hold back the punches, but when Lee starts to fight back, well, she will too. She's not just some punching bag who'll let him talk to her like that. "You have no idea what is actually going /on/ here! You make some big hoopla, but I don't even think you /want/ to be right! You don't /want/ the truth!" When the door opens, the brunette opens her mouth to say something else angrily, but there's a puzzled moment when she realizes that Billy is on the phone. And aiming a gun at her. Doing the stupid thing, she freezes in both surprise and horror. Luckily for her (or perhaps still unluckily) it's only a dart gun. She doesn't have enough time to get out of the way, making sure that the dart hits true. Quickly clapping a hand by her collar bone, she scrambles to pull the dart out, swaying as she does so. "Wh-what…"

Lee says, "Dad, what…"

Billy turns and fires again. Pfft. It doesn't hit where he intended, but anywhere is good enough. It takes a half second longer than Cass, but the spreading numbness and loose muscles means Lee collapses to the floor just as surely.

"'Dad, what…?'" mocks Billy mercilessly, nailing Lee's voice right down to the panicked hitch in his breath. He steps over the two fallen bodies quickly, towards the computer. He has a flash drive. He puts it in. "It's just a mild paralytic. Breathe normally and it won't even hurt." Lips slackened, shallow breaths, no ability to scream, maybe to groan, to croak. A few keystrokes and he starts copying. Since Cass was logged in, that gives him access - perhaps not to full patient records, but at least to the last week or two of lab results, before they get synced up and backed up.

"You know what you should do, Leto? Do what you did before. Just go back to California. You might as well go back and study whatever dead French people made you so happy. You're not needed or wanted here." A progress bar appears and begins to fill up. Billy checks the door. It's locked. He flips the switch that indicates a test in progress, do not disturb.

Slumping to the floor, all Cass can do is glare, /glare/, at Billy Jones as he goes through her files. Everything in her computer system is coded, but it's hard to hide test results and the like. Most of them, ironically, are Billy Jones' own results. His brain scans and blood work ups. Another file is a strange drug compound that has been brought up more than a few times. She doesn't try to speak, but she sure as hell tries to move and stop him. Those are /her/ files. /Her/ friends that he's invading the privacy of. She has no idea how far back he can go. She's never been really good at the computer thing and this betrayal stings deeply. However, that paralyzing dart is as good as it was designed to be. The most she can do is kind of flop a little - getting nowhere. A very angry noise is made in the back of her throat, but that's all she can give.

Lee croaks too, choking out the word as if his life depends on him saying it: "W…w…why?" His eyes flashing around the lab as if to encompass all that Billy is doing or has done. "….w….why…" he finishes, his lips drooling onto the floor a little. "…l-l-l-leave?"

Billy strides over and leans over Lee. "You and your sister are /disappointments./ Useless. Genetic. Detritus." he says, each word a dagger. Then more gently, introspectively, looking down. Progress: 40%. "Mary and I…we wanted the best for you, we did, and you…you just never had it in you, you and Nima never made the cut. You never did, no matter what…" He stops himself. It's a painful memory. Then William Jones turns his back on his son. "At least Ms. Aldric here seems to recognize what's coming and spends her short remaining time trying to comprehend it, maybe the only admirable enterprise left for we last of a nearly extinct race." Isn't that nice, Cass? He thinks you and he are of a similar mind on this.

But Billy continues: "The worst thing is, Lee, is you are actually /arrogant/ about the fact that nothing you ever do will ever amount to anything, that nobody will ever care about anything you do or say or think, like your obscurity makes you better than everyone else, when in reality it makes you worse than any other member of our pathetic and dying species - a blind, burrowing worm chewing on the ancient, rotten shit of other worms. At least Ghanima /tried/ to do something good with that stupid store, even if she completely missed the point of it." Progress 80%.

He taps on a key to try to make it go faster. It doesn't. He stashes the dart gun in the zippered pouch at the back of the bag - hidden but accessible should anyone accost him on his way out.

This is all wrong. The very fact that Billy seems to think they have anything in common is just as upsetting to her, too. There's nothing she can do for the moment. She can't force her body get up and tackle Mr. Jones as much as she wants to. She can't even spit out an angry speech of her /own/. How demoralizing. While she was expecting someone to break into Bat Country and try to steal her files, she was expecting it to be someone Company. Unless Billy is actually Company. Now that's a horrid thought. Though it would give Lee and Cass something in common - parents part of a secret organization. "C-comp-any?" It's hard for her to speak, too. It sounds mostly like she has her tongue accidentally attached to a frozen pole, but it should be discernible. The glare still hasn't left her eyes - as much as it can with a paralyzed face. And to think, she was worried about Benjamin.

Lee is stunned into silence. He can't even cry properly.

"Company? You are way behind, Ms. Aldric. The very existence of freelancers should tip you off that there is more than one employer in the market. Yes, maybe the Company might want this, and I could sure as hell use their help since Carter used my body to get me in trouble with the police, so they're certainly on my list of potential customers." He looks down at her. "There's nothing you can do about this kind of thing. You might as well get used to it. If not me, someone else will be along, maybe someone who doesn't need a dart gun. Wouldn't that be cool? Being able to knock someone out with your mind? Someone out there can do that, and eventually market forces will bring them here." Progress 100%. "To get this." He takes the flash drive and waggles it at her before he tucks it away, then makes a quick pass at deleting his own records. It's a fairly useless gesture since there's nothing there, but it's more of an instinct for him than anything else.

"D-dad." chokes Lee.

"Shut up." says his father. "Nobody wants to hear it from you and nobody ever did."

That glare is not going away any time soon. Cass is left with little else she can do in the face of this disaster. Customers? Ugh. This is all /her/ hard work that she fought for. And now he's going to sell it to the highest bidder. She already knows someone who can knock her out with his mind. As well as someone who could toss her across a room, as well as someone who could tear that flash drive right out of his hand without moving if only he was here. Unfortunately, she can't tell him all of those things - not that she would anyway. It's not that she wasn't expecting an attack at some point. But coming from a friend's father? Who she was nursing to health again? Well, that definitely stings.

The sign says Do Not Disturb, and Lachlan's a well-trained dog: he knows when that sign is on, he's not to go in. So he doesn't! He sits out in the lobby, waiting for the light to go off so he can go in and bring Cass the Indian takeout he brought. Which is really just an attempt to entice her home sometime tonight. He has things to talk to her about. So the man is amusing himself by picking up on the signals of dogs in the immediate area outside.

Billy goes to the door. "You'll be back to normal in about half an hour, for what it's worth. Go back to California, Lee. You might as well. Ms. Aldric, thank you for your help. I truly am sorry for all the trouble and heartache my son and Mr. Carter have caused you." See, Cass is on Billy's side, solving problems, and Lee is on the serial killer's side, causing them.

Billy unlatches the door, presses the lock, and leaves without another word. He passes Lachlan in the hall, headed outwards towards the street. He nods to Lachlan with a weak but warm smile, like he's just received good news, and is going home after many years away.

Arg! He's just making it worse! Cass doesn't /want/ to be seen as being on Billy's side. That's not what this whole clinic is supposed to be about, either. Once again, though, she's left in the awkward position of not being able to tell him just where he can shove his thanks and apologies. So, she just remains lying on the floor, still trying to make her numbed limbs move, all of it unsuccessful.

Oh look, there's … a person. It takes Lachlan a moment to recognize Billy, simply because he's, well, only really seen the guy with a tube down his throat. The Scot pauses in the hall after the other man has passed and turns back toward him. "Oh hey, yer, uh, walkin'," he notes. "She sendin' ye home?" That would only make sense, right? Where are Nima and Lee? Shouldn't they be here to help him home? Someone? Anyone? Maybe they're busy.

"I'm discharged." Billy says simply, with that same warm smile, he walks backwards for a step, giving Lachlan a wave, and then he is out on the street, turning right, and gone.

"Take care o' yerself, then," the dog trainer states, because it seemed like the thing to say. Then, he takes his bag of takeout and heads into the other room … only to freeze dead when he spots Lee and Cass disabled. He's moving to check on the latter immediately, the bag of Indian food dropped and forgotten near the door. "Shit. Cassie?"

Lee makes a 'hlk' sound, he can't barely move. That's about as well as Lachlan's name is going to be pronounced in Lee's state.

That works the same for Cass. Half an hour, Jones said? Gah! She needs him to go after Billy /now/. He's got that flashdrive. There's not much she can say to him. By now everything she tries just comes out garbled and unintelligible. What she wouldn't give for having Telepathy now. Lachlan can try talking all he wants, but she can't really answer him.

After ensuring that first Cass and then Lee are still breathing — they're conscious, even, which is utterly bizarre to him — Lachlan rises to his feet again and lets out a low snarling curse. "'Ll be back." And with that, he's dashing out the door and heading for the street, scanning and urging any dogs in the area to start searching for Billy. Of course, he doesn't have the man's scent memorized himself, so all he can really send is signals to look for the man who smells like Bat Country. There are three strays within his range, and he's got an excellent read on all of them. Times like this, he wishes he brought Bonnie with him everywhere.

His scent is easy to find, and easy to follow - he's gone half a block down, next to the jackhammering, clanging construction site. There. He's getting into a cab. He says something to the driver. Dogs have exceptional hearing. But that can only go so far. A moment later the cab doubles back, then turns again down a different street. He's watching for tails, expecting them.

Unable to reply to Lachlan, Cass remains on the floor, continually attempting to make her limbs move through the paralyzing drug. She make fingers and such wiggle, but that's the most she can manage. Frustrating.

By the time Lachlan gets out and starts running on toward the place Billy is, he's just in time to see the cab carrying the man disappear into the city traffic. It's a good thing there's lots of noisy construction going on. It covers up the shouted, breathless curses the Scot hurls at the taxi's bumper. After taking a moment to glower, he turns and runs back down to the lab, where he'll help to get Cass and Lee into more comfortable positions to recover from the drug — and then promptly collapse and die from lack of oxygen. Someone needs to stop smoking. While they recover from their paralysis, the Scot wheezes as he gulps in air.

Lee recovers first, having a higher body mass for the drug to disperse in. He slowly gets up, painedly. "Lachlan…" he says. "You…you didn't catch him…" His voice is blank of emotion, stunned, he's not even being mean or judgmental, though at this point the distinction might be lost.

It takes Cass longer to shake the drug out of her system. While she just kind of flops on the chair Lachlan placed her in, she very slowly starts to gain motor control again. "Lee." Her voice is as numb as her limbs just were. It's impossible to tell if she's apologetic or warning. She's not sure herself. She's still trying to process what happened.

Wheezewheezewheeze. Lachlan's already pissed and snappish for having just run the equivalent of a block after having a shot of adrenaline from finding his fiance and her friend paralyzed on the floor. Unfortunately, this means he takes Lee's statement of the obvious rather badly. "Yeah, well … ye dinna … do so bloody … well yerself," he growls between gasps.

Lee says, "No, I meant…I…I was asking…" he trails off. He waves a hand spastically, forces himself to his feet. "N…never mind." And like his father, he turns to go. Like he had nothing to say about what just happened to them.

Nobody here is all that happy with just happened. "Lee." Bit by bit she's getting more control, able to speak more and start to push herself up to a more comfortable position. "He wasn't right." The whole thing is wrong and off. It's like trying to shake off pins and needles all over her body, it's uncomfortable and a little painful. Wincing, she shifts again. "He's not right."

Lachlan lapses into silence, save for the quiet wheezing of his lungs. It's not as bad as it was before, but he's still struggling. It's like trying to breathe through a coffee straw.

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