2007-06-26: The Power Of A Will

Starring:

Max_icon.gif

Guest Starring: Dr. Eames

Summary: "I assess the power of a will by how much pain, resistance, and torture it can turn to its advantage."

Date It Happened: June 26th, 2007

Log Title The Power Of A Will


Location Hartsdale, NY - Primatech - Cells

The bruises and cuts Max aquired during his beating at the hands of the guards are starting to heal nicely. His beard is getting long and he carries a distinctly stale odor from several days of captivity. Despite all of this, he seems calm and composed. As he has been for much of his stay, he's perched on the edge of his cot, palm resting on his thighs and eyes loosely lidded. He pulls in a deep breath, holds it for several seconds, then expels it slowly.

The sound of footsteps carry down the corridor, making slow and steady progress toward Max's cell. Heavy and confident, they are not the steps of any of the female Company agents Max has been acquainted with (not even the broad strides of Nova), nor are they the steps of Dr. Suresh or any of the other doctors who have seen to him in the last few days. A flash of dark colours can be glimpsed in the narrow window before the visitor stops outside of the door. A few murmured words are shared with the guards.

They're being put on alert. Not everyone responds well to visits from the Company shrink.

Only then does Dr. Eames knock, a courtesy. Three succinct, important raps. "Mr. Swan? Good evening. My name is Dr. Eames. I'm here to pay you a visit."

A long moment passes before Max's eyes open. For him, a visit from another doctor is hardly surprising. He takes a final breath, then stands and replies, "You may enter, Doctor Eames." Now his hands are held at waist level, arms spread wide and palms open to show he isn't concealing weapons or ill-intent.

When Max is ready - again, a courtesy - his visitor for the evening enters; the guard closes it behind him. A tall and physically imposing man in most lights, the less-than-ideal light of the cell should be no different, however unflattering… but the point of view, of course, is up to Max. The mostly bald-headed black man is dressed in a gunmetal gray suit with a Mandarin collar. His glasses are small, round, and wire-framed; they lend a distinct academic quality to his presence. His hands are clasped in front of him, hanging. He carries no files, no medical tools. "Please, have a seat." A flicker of a smile. "There will be no physical tests today. All I would like to do is have a little chat."

Max nods once, then retakes his perch as indicated. As always, he's clad in the simple, standard white shirt, slacks, and slippers offered to Company 'guests.' From his glasses to what are doubtlessly a stylish set of shoes, Max studies the doctor intently. "Nice suit," he murmurs. There's an upward tugging at the corners of his mouth that could be a smile of his own. The normally stylish sociopath notices things like this. "What can I do for you today, Doctor?"

As for himself, Dr. Eames takes one of the chairs. Surprising that it's not bolted down to the floor. He picks up and places it a few feet opposite Max, rather than dragging it across the floor. An unfortunate sound. He keeps the peace. "Just to share a few words," comes his answer. He folds his hands on one knee. And his shoes are indeed handsome, black leather, but he's not here to talk about fashion. "I was sorry to hear about your incident with the guards the other day. They should have known better. It's possible, though, that they saw it as a form of revenge. A settling of scores, it you will; an attempt to balance out the scales. Don't get me wrong, I don't condone what they did. By any means. My point is, it's no secret, in these walls, the things you have done." The man's voice is calm, neutral. No judgment.

Max clasps his scarred, work-worn hands in his lap. His smile stretches out until it's more noticeable, but there's a smug, almost catlike quality to it. For a man trapped in a small, sterile box, he seems quite pleased with himself. "I provoked them," he admits candidly. "I had no intent to kill the guard I assaulted, but they could hardly know that given my history. I hope that no one has be disciplined too harshly over what I consider to be a simple misunderstanding." Trust Swan to refer to a near-death experience as a misunderstanding.

And trust the Company to treat it as such, however much they may pretend like it doesn't happen on a regular basis. "They were doing their job… overzealously. You were merely being yourself. You seem logical man, Mr. Swan. Are you always so easily provoked?"

"Prior to last night, I had little reason to remain civil," Max answers. He meets Dr. Eames' eyes squarely. He's not defiant, but self-aware and content. "The man called me a freak. I find bigotry a most undesirable quality. In the future, I believe he will mind his words more closely." His smile grows wider, now verging on a grin.

The psychiatrist's dark and unerringly perceptive eyes narrow behind the lenses of his spectacles, but otherwise, his expression remains the same. Stoic. "I believe he will as well," he agrees - to a point. "His superiors will make that certain." Key words: his superiors, not Max. "And you bring up an interesting subject - your change in civility," Dr. Eames holds up a finger in a classical 'wait' gesture. "But we'll approach that in a minute. Now: bigotry is something this company intends to evade. Is it something you've faced in the past?"

"At times," Max concedes. "But never here, save for the one incident. Outside?" Already, he's using prisoner terminology for the portion of the world that's uncontained by his cell. "Outside I find discretion to be the better part of valor. I find that human beings are like cattle. If you leave them undisturbed, they will serve their purpose well enough." Smirk. "And you, Doctor Eames? Are you more than you appear? Or are you a leather jacket and a side of ribs?"

Surprisingly, there's no malice in Max's query. No condescending tone. Only curiosity.

Suffice to say, Max's responses are giving the psychiatrist rich mental avenues to look down. Dr. Eames simply takes it in, unruffled even at the patient's question. "Everyone is more than they appear to be, Mr. Swan. It comes with being human… as we all are. We are, by nature, multi-faceted. And prone to… secrets. You, though…" He taps a finger at the blank air in front of him and leans back in the none-too-comfortable chair. "Your extensive background suggests you're an open book. Would you say so? An honest man?"

"We are all prone to our devious moments, Doctor." At this point, it becomes clear that Dr. Eames doesn't spook easily. This is something Max approves of. A weak heart ill-befits a man of science. He inclines his head briefly, and his next statement offers a measure of respect in tone, if not in words. "But I like to think of myself as an uncomplicated man with little need for deception. I find the skillful application of truth can cause far more pain than any amount of lies. Pain is logical, and as you say, I am nothing if not logical."

Dr. Eames lowers his head in a slow nod. He's silent for a moment, regarding Max. Then: "Do you like hurting others once you're provoked, Mr. Swan?" A bold question, spoken calmly - not to be mistaken for conversationally. No, this is a particularly sober matter. "If, by that logic, you are pain, then — with truth, with your hands, with your unique ability, do you enjoy it?"

Max clucks his tounge disapprovingly. "I'm disappointed that you think so little of me, Doctor. My motivations are purely scientific. I require no provocation to enjoy my work. 'I assess the power of a will by how much resistance, pain, and torture it endures and knows how to turn to its advantage,'" he quotes. "Nietzsche. A most insightful man."

Dr. Eames allows a hint of a smile to show, but even so, he's calculating behind the lenses of his glasses. He opts for simple, even though his dark eyes glitter with intelligence that is anything but simple. "Mm. Then another question. Your visit, last night, with the agent who brought you here — would you like to talk about your conversation?"

Now there's a flash of genuine emotion visible in Max's features. Confusion? Frustration? Disappointment? It's gone so fast that it's hard to be sure. "I was… somewhat vexed to find I had spent a large portion of my life fleeing an offer of employment." Somewhat vexed. That's putting it lightly. "But also pleased," he continues. "The Company's apparently limitless funds and distinct lack of moral encumberence intrigues me. The arrangement should prove to be mutually beneficial."

"We'd like for you to be … comfortably rehabilitated before a serious offer like that becomes reality. Although it's true, some people view the Company's methods as amoral - and… their intentions misinterpreted, as in your case, Mr. Swan - it's based on values. Strong values. Helping the unique people such as yourself with their unique problems. Do you feel you could attune to such values? I don't want you to feel like…" A freak on a leash? Yes. Those ignorant words don't cross the mine of Dr. Eames, however. "…a soldier without a purpose. Working with us because the only other option is containment. You should want this for what it means."

"There seems little point in exploring that at this juncture, Doctor. After all, when the alternative is…" Max pauses to gesture, indicating the cramped confines of his cell. "… this, how are you to know that my motivations are genuine? Trust will come with time." He frowns, still considering Eames' question. "I cannot deny that we share a common goal. We both wish to see uniquely gifted humans reach their full potential, yes?" In this case, 'we' refers to Max and The Company as a whole. "I have no qualms with your organization's appropriately vague mission statement, or with the methods it employs, so long as I'm not the one in the proverbial crosshairs."

"Ah," Dr. Eames tips his rather heavy head upward as he regards Max, and another of those barely there smiles briefly lights up his otherwise solemn face. "You do make a good point. 'A casual stroll through the lunatic asylum shows that faith does not prove anything.' Nietzsche." He steeples his fingers loosely on his knee. "Some would be fairly quick to label you a hypocrite, Mr. Swan. I think it's more complicated than that and likely more fluid. It's my job to determine if you'd do well as an agent, if that is your full potential. Being that you're an honest man, I know I can tell you that up front; you won't manipulate me." The man raises one brow as if waiting for Max to challenge that statement. "And I won't manipulate you. But I do wish to guide you. Are you suffering from withdrawal from painkillers?"

"Do not mistake me for an idealist, Doctor. I have no interest in Bishop's desperate need to quietly prove something to the world." The only indication of any personal feelings Max may have about the Company's figurehead is a slight tightening of his clasped hands. "My interest lies in the Evolved themselves. But I am a professional, I see no reason why a trivial difference of opinion should hinder my working relationship with the Company." Now he's reached the point where he's unable to dodge the one issue that leaves him completely vulnerable. His addiction. "My pain regimen was self-prescribed and carefully maintained. It's only natural that I should experience some discomfort upon its termination." It's a guarded admission at best. The heavy, faded scar at the corner of his mouth twitches. What he really wants to say is 'OH GOD YES GIVE ME SOME DAMN PILLS.'

Dr. Eames is silent as he listens, and is silent, too, for a few moments after Max stops talking. He seems to choose not to comment on the first subject, carrying on with the latter. The most sensitive. "It's my understanding that you have chronic pain? How long have you been self-prescribing?"

Max frowns, pushing his thick brows together and crinkling his forehead ponderously. This isn't something he likes to dwell on. "Nearly fifteen years. Ever since my ability manifested. I suffer from a variety of symptoms. Some have abated now that I am unable to use my gift, but the pain remains."

"I'll advise the medical doctors to give you some medication to help with your pain," Dr. Eames says. Don't do your happy dance so fast, Max. "A less potent drug and at a lower dose. For now, until we get a clear picture of what we need to help you, Maxwell." As he says the patient's first name for the first time since entering, he slowly stands. "We have a standing appointment. Twice a week." Dr. Eames moves toward the door; one hand on the handle, he regards the man in the cell. ''If there is something to pardon in everything, there is also something to condemn.'"

"'It is impossible to suffer without making someone pay for it; every complaint contains revenge.'" Is Max's riposte. He stands respectfully as Eames exits. "I can find no complaint with you, Doctor. I look forward to our next encounter."

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