WHO: JD & Zoe WHEN: June 12th WHERE: The Facility WHAT: Report WARNINGS: Talk of violence/flashbacks STATUS: Complete
Zoe sat there in her lab watching the guard make notes on for his report. Okay, it wasn’t her lab, but it was the area she was assigned to work by the government. So, in the same sense that an employee working for a corporation would be assigned an office they’d refer to as ‘their’ office, it was her lab. Though, in that moment she sort of wished it wasn’t.
She sat on a stool surrounded by a mess. Tools and spare parts littered the floor, at least one project lay in pieces while others were relatively unscathed. The computer monitor was cracked, one entire metal shelving unit was knocked over, parts scattered all over- so many loose screws she’d never find them all. Zoe clung to her tablet, thankfully unbroken. “And then he ran out and that’s when the other guards cornered and tazed him.” She said, having recounted the entire story in detail, while having to watch it play back in her memory. Her eyes cast to the wall where a large chunk of metal sat embedded. It had come inches from her head.
Looking back at the guard she took a small breath. “Will there be anything else? I have a bit of cleaning to do.” It wasn’t a funny joke, but it was her attempt to lighten the mood.
Oh, and she couldn’t help but wonder… why did the guard have to be so hot.
It started off as a typical day for JD, standing by himself outside some nondescript door like he was some mall cop security guard instead of the highly trained soldier that he was. It was times like this that he missed going out patrolling around the island with Marsh, at least the scenery was better. It was nearing the end of his shift when he got called back by his superiors, told to ‘go talk to the weird chick in the lab’ about some kind of property damage caused by someone who had gone crazy and had to be subdued.
With his notebook and pen tucked into a pocket he walked from the base over to the Facility, working his way through the corridors until he came to the office in question. He had seen war, had seen first hand the damage that any kind of explosives did to property and people, though this was nothing like those times in Afghanistan for a moment it sparked a memory, a bad one. But he took a deep breath, composed himself and listening to the lady as she talked, writing down pretty much everything that was said, he had learned early that any detail might be important.
“No ma’am. I think that just about covers everything. And if it doesn’t I can always come back to fill in the blanks.” JD pocketed his notebook and pen again, looking around the damage in the lab. “Do you need a hand? I don’t have long until my shift is over and saves me having to go back and listen to a bunch of testosterone filled morons.” He offered a small smile, knowing how often his mere presence intimidated others, especially residents.
“I can definitely do that… fill in the blanks.” Zoe said, not sure if it sounded like an innuendo or not. “I’ve got a good memory for such things.” Which he probably knew as a guard. They probably knew everyone’s powers. Or at least they could look them up.
The blonde hopped off the stool and looked around the room, not even sure where to start. It wasn’t the first time her- or any- of the labs had been trashed. Some people didn’t like help. “I guess putting the shelf back up would be a good start huh?” She sighed, not fully realizing that part of her thought process had been in her head, and part of it had been out. It was a bit of a problem when she got focused. “I won’t say no to help- thought I doubt it’s what they pay you for.” She glanced back at him, then back to the shelf quickly as she reminded herself that he was probably more than a decade older than her and saw her as a kid. That was probably the safest way to think about it. Didn’t make him any less hot.
The basic layout of the lab found a few tables lining the walls as project stations, a place where different projects can be worked on in isolation of each other. There was a locker on one wall that contained finish projects and where other sensitive items were locked up. One desk held her computer. The center of the room held a few metal shelves that contained parts, there was also a work station with a chair that sort of acted as an exam area where new mutants who needed help could sit. There was some basic scanning equipment near it on the table. It had been impeccably organized.
Zoe walked over to one of the fallen shelves and started to pull out the boxes and storage containers that stayed closed and set them aside before trying to move the open holders, most of whose contents were scattered across the floor. But, it would all have to be moved out of the way to easily lift the unit back up. “Do you think you could grab that box?” She asked, pointing at one that looked a bit heavy. “It’s on the bottom shelf for a reason- little impressed it moved to be honest.”
He didn’t really know every single resident, nor their abilities, he was just told of those who were considered more dangerous and who to keep an eye out for. But even the people he was supposed to ‘be on alert’ with JD treated just like everyone else, they were all human even though most other guards didn’t act like it.
“I don’t mind at all ma’am, it’ll save me a trip to the gym after I finish.” He said with a smile, walking to one of the shelves that had gotten knocked over and got it upright before moving to another that was in a similar state. He probably would still go to the gym afterwards but he wouldn’t have to do as long workout, maybe just some bag work to get out his frustration from working with idiots. Once the shelves were upright he started putting the boxes and storage containers back into places where they looked like they belonged, it was pretty obvious that smaller boxes fitted at the top where the shelves were spaced closer and the larger and heavier ones down the bottom, anyone with organizational skills could see that.
JD picked up the box that he was instructed to and she was right, it was a bit heavy, well for someone who wasn’t used to benching 200 plus pounds on a nearly daily basis. “You’d be surprised what moves when there’s some force behind it. I once saw a two by four going straight through a tree after a twister.” That was what he preferred to think about, not seeing what shrapnel did when it hit the human body, his legs were covered in scars from learning that the hardest way possible. “May I ask, what exactly do you do here? I’ve walked past so many of these offices but never really know what’s in them.”
Zoe started to clean up the screws and other bits into one bin- she’d organize them later when things weren’t all over the place. “I make stuff… help people.” She informed him, matter of factly. Not everyone appreciated what she did- like the person who had destroyed her office. So, she didn’t like to talk about it a lot with those who didn’t get sent to her for help. “Like, if someone is having trouble controlling their powers I may be able to help create something to focus them or even limit them while they learn. I’ve also helped make things to help with training in general.” It was times like that moment that she wished she had a more active power, like telekinesis. Then she’d be able to just move all the items back to where they went.
She eventually gathered the small items- pretty sure she’d be finding nuts and bolts for weeks hiding places. She placed the bin on one of the desks and started to check the other desks, setting things back upright that had been knocked over and doing a rough look at the items to sus the damage. Thankfully her gifts made that part pretty quick- especially for something she’d built herself.
Getting things back into some resemblance of normal was the important thing at the moment, the small bits and pieces could be fixed later and if he put something in the wrong place she could put them back in their rightful place after he left. “It’s a noble thing you do, helping others.” That was one of the reasons why he took this job, he wanted to help the people on the island and yes he was aware that as a guard he was supposed to have some level of control over the residents but that didn’t mean he was actually superior to them in any way, if anything they were superior to him. “I spent some time in the V.A, it was amazing the things that they had created to help assist injured service people, but nothing like what you’re creating though.”
With everything back in some kind of order JD looked around to see if there was anything else he could do to assist but he couldn’t see any. “Lookin’ better already.” He smiled, it hadn’t taken that long and things looked a lot better than when he had entered.
“Better, y-” She nodded, looking at the metal piece in the wall. Zoe would probably have to just saw it down, it didn’t look like it was coming out. Or maybe she could call upon one of the stronger residents to see if they could dislodge it. Before her, overlayed on the moment she was experiencing she saw the metal clipboard fly past her, she remembered the rush of air as it flew past. Closing her eyes- which really didn’t stop anything- she clenched her fist and exhaled, focusing on the moment and letting the memory go back into storage. “Yea.” Zoe gave a barely noticeable shake of her head as she looked back to JD. “Thank you for your help.” She smiled, trying to act like nothing had happened. The last thing she needed was a guard- not just a hot guard but anu guard- thinking she was crazy.
“And, I’ve never created things like in the VA- limbs or things like that. Most of my work deals with energy consolidation or neural suppressors. One poor man, a few years older than me, was having small seizures and we found that was making his empathy hard to control. So, I worked with the doctors to create a device that could re-regulate the electrical impulses in his brain, and he stopped being overwhelmed by his power. Learned to use it at a rate he was comfortable with.” Zoe tucked a blonde lock of hair behind her ear. “Not everyone thought it was a good thing. When I shared it on the Island Network, some people accused me of cutting the man off from his powers. That I limited him and that I was part of the problem.” The fact the man was suffering, they’d chosen to ignore. “So… Maybe working at the VA would be better actually.”
Sometimes JD wished that there was some way to get rid of his bad memories forever, it would stop the nightmares that he had, the flashbacks that hit at the most random moments during his sleep and often made him feel like he was back in Afghanistan fighting all over again, seeing others getting injured and unable to help them because he too was getting held down by the same gunfire. “Like I said, a lot better than having to listen to the other guards having their daily pissing contest.” The less time he had to listen to them the better, he had heard too much of it with his time in the Army, he didn’t need it now. “And I got a bit more exercise.” Not that he really needed it.
Listening to what kinds of things that she had created sounded quite interesting, especially the neural suppressors, something like that might come in handy for amputees and their phantom limb pains. “The VA isn’t that much better, they have an agenda too and so many people who need help slip through the gaps because of insurance or because the military doesn’t want to do their paperwork.” While they had helped both him and Ian they were far from perfect, nothing in life was. “Unless they’re the one suffering no one should tell someone else what is good or bad for them, you just created the device, it was up to him if he wanted to use it or not.”
“Thanks.” Zoe brushed her hand through her blonde waves with a shy smile. It was nice to see someone understand why she did the job she did. And it was better than changing light bulbs and unclogging toilets. “So, you served?” She asked a bit meekly. “Is that how you ended up here? Just another assignment?”
She was really bad at the social thing. She either was too shy or awkward to say anything, or she talked way too much. Why was she even trying to be social with the hot guard? He was just a guard. He’d likely forget about her once he left. She was just another freak on the island after all. It was probably a good thing too. After all, people tended to have issues when guards remembered them. That lead to harassment, being watched closer- not that Zoe was actually doing anything wrong. She just didn’t know how she felt about being under someone’s magnifying glass anymore than she already was. “Sorry, you don’t have to answer that. I should probably get home- I can finish tomorrow.” And she could work on her special project when she got home- help unwind from the days events.
An overlay crossed her vision again, ducking after being narrowly hit. Then a force that hit the shelves and sent all the metal bits flying. She winced as she recalled the sound of everything hitting the floor, the crash that had alerted the guards to something wrong. Hands had grabbed her arms as he shoved her, hard, out of the way. She’d stumbled back and hit the wall. Her fingers brushed along the small scratch she’d gotten from hitting the desk. It hadn’t even really bled- more like a small scrape. He’d been so angry. Then the scene rewound. She felt the flash of air from the metal clipboard come the other way, back into her hands. Heard the man protesting any tests. But she’d pushed. She’d be doing her job, but he’d been so angry. Why had he been sent to her so soon- why not give him time to acclimate first? Did they want an excuse to put him in lock up?
Zoe blinked having been completely lost in her memory. “Sorry, I’m sorry. You had said…” Zoe tried to go back to the previous moment when he’d spoken to her- recall what it was, but she couldn’t pull the memory up. It was like the previous was stuck in the media player.
“No, it’s okay.” JD didn’t mind telling others about his service history, it was something he was very proud of and it was rare on the island for anyone else to show any kind of interest. “I did serve. Army. Staff Sergeant JD Stevenson. Signed up before 9/11 so didn’t really know what shit was going to go down. Did Ranger training and several long tours until about ten years ago, my squad got hit while we were out on an op and we were all lucky to get out alive. My sergeant was the worst injured, lost his leg. I caught a lot of shrapnel in my legs and decided to call it quits after that. Worked with the Wounded Warriors program for many years helping other vets build up their confidence and bodies again in several VA gyms until about two years ago when I came here. Not really another assignment but a lot safer than a warzone though I always watch my six… I mean back.” Hopefully he hadn’t rambled on too much.
He saw the look in her eyes, that distant stare that JD knew way too well- a flashback. If it was Ian he’d put a gentle hand on his friend’s shoulder and talk to him, tell him when and where they were and that everything was safe, repeating the mantra until Ian snapped back to the present, but he didn’t even know this young lady that well and knew what most residents here were like around the guards, they’d flinch away from any touch and rightly so with most of them. All he could do was hope that she snapped out of it soon.
When she blinked and returned to the present he let out a breath. “No, it’s okay. Flashbacks are a bitch.” He tried to offer a small smile, put her at ease as he stepped closer to her before adding in a whisper. “I know most of us guards get a bad wrap but unlike those assholes I’m actually on your side, you’re not freaks or someone to laugh at and ridicule, we’re still all human, you’re all just a bit more evolved than the rest of us. I think that’s what freaks them out.” While JD doubted there were cameras and microphones here one could never be too careful. “Though there are a few who are just complete assholes anyway.” Getting another resident to not be afraid of him was always a bonus in his books.
She’s missed a bit of his story, but once she could call up the replay she’d be able to hear it again. “Um- yea, sort of.” She rubbed her arm a bit. Hearing that he didn’t think she was a freak was cool. She added the note to her mental file on him- she kept one on everyone she met or heard about or read about. It was the way her brain worked. Like a computer adding information to a database. “I remember things. I mean I was smart when I was born, but not like when… my mutation triggered- for lack of better phrasing. Now, I remember everything. It’s not a flashback as much as actually reliving a moment. Like I know it’s a replay, but it feels as real as this moment. All the senses, feelings, all of it plays back.” She moved over to one of the desks and grabbed her jacket and bag as she explained with a small sigh. “I mean, sometimes I can push it to the back, like having a TV on in the background. You can still hear it and know what’s going on, but you’re focus is on something else. But sometimes it just takes over.” Especially moments of high emotion. She didn’t have a lot- having lived a pretty safe life. But when emotions, locations, or a myriad of other triggers lined up… fully screen replay.
He understood entirely, it was a very similar feeling he got when suffering a particularly vivid flashback, like part of his brain knew that this was just a memory but the rest of it was reliving every little detail - from the smell of gunpowder to the sound of explosions. Though he couldn’t imagine what it was like to remember every little detail about every little thing. “Photographic memory. Some call it a blessing, others say it’s a curse but I’m not the one living with it.” At least she was able to ‘push it to the back’ and treat it as background noise. JD also noticed that she grabbed her jacket and bag, glancing down at his watch he saw that by the time he got back to the base it would be time to sign out. “Is there somewhere I can escort you to? I’m just about off shift.”
“I’m just headed home.” She said with a shrug. Did she want company? She wasn’t used to it. Could she even say no to the hot guard? She’d probably kick herself later if she did. Zoe reminded herself that he was serving in the military before 9/11, he was so much older than her. “But if you’re headed out of the facility, we’ll probably end up walking the same way for a while anyhow- would be silly not to walk together.” Zoe laughed a little. Why did it feel so awkward? “But, if you’re… I wouldn’t want to make you do anything…”
“Well I can walk you to the entrance of the building at least.” They’d go their separate ways from there, JD back to work and Zoe off home. Really she was young enough to be his niece, except none of his siblings had children. “And don’t forget if you remember anything else just give the base a ring and ask for Stevenson.”