|nightingalenora (nightingalenora) wrote in repose,|
@ 2016-01-07 19:23:00
|Entry tags:||*log, nora johanson, zach briar|
Who:Zach and Nora
When: The day after the winter plot
Where: Zach's lab in Area 52
Warnings: Medical experimentation that results in high levels of pain
She kept replaying the night over in her head and mostly what she kept coming up with was how stupid she was for even going. It was straight up moronic for her to be in such a situation, let alone put herself there. She by no means underestimated the luck she had experienced on the train, replaying the near-misses she encountered all night after she returned to the facility and well into the next day.
Even as she sat on the examination table in the middle of Zach’s lab, arms covered in the long sleeves of her hoodie and hands encased in her leather gloves, was she able to dismiss the foreboding sense the previous evening had left in her. Wrapping her cloaked arms around her middle, she took in a deep breath and exhaled.
If only she’d not seen Zach’s invitation. Curiosity killed the cat and could have easily killed her. What a stupid, naive thing to do. But maybe, just maybe, the thrill of leaving the facility was worth the fear.
“Quite the heavy sigh,” Zach commented from where he was seated behind his computer, going over the data from the last test he’d run on her. He typed a few more things, then got up and reached for the box of latex gloves, pulling out a pair. “Do you want to share or are you just sighing for the sake of making noise? I can turn on the music if the silence bothers you.”
She leveled him with A Look, rolling her eyes up but hiding it behind quickly closing eyelids. “What, I can’t sigh now?” She asked, tone defensive but less-so with him than anyone else. “If you turn on music, you’re going to have to sync my mp3 player again, you know that.”
She opened her eyes at the snapping of latex gloves, glancing over at him and feeling her back straighten out of reflex. She love-hated them because they meant he was taking precautions to not touch her skin on skin, which meant she was safe...ish. They also meant that he had something else in mind, which never failed to scare her. Her brain racked for conversation, anything to keep her from focusing on those gloves. “What did you do last night?”
“You can sigh,” he said reaching for the syringe and tubes to take a blood sample. “I thought you didn’t like my music.” He grabbed a small table on wheels, the same cold stainless steel like she was sitting on and reached for her arm. “I took part in a town tradition apparently. Though I can’t say I saw it playing out differently than it did.”
She hated those stupid tables with their damn squeaky wheels and their stupid stainless steel chill. She hated the table she sat on more but these little tables were a close second. “Why’s that, because the power crapped out?” She didn’t even realize she’d said it, she was just letting her brain work overtime to keep conversation going so that she wouldn’t have to focus on the pinch of the needle of the draining of blood from her veins. It seriously never got better, no matter how frequently these tests were run.
He was wiping at the spot on her bare arm, amazed slightly at how he’d become so practiced at drawing blood. When he started at the facility he’d had someone else do that for him, but now it was an easy task he could take care of on his own, at least he was amazed until she spoke. He stopped what he was doing, looking at her seriously. “How do you know about that?”
Shit. Retracing her words, she realized what she’d said and closed her eyes again, taking in another practiced breath to try and calm her heart rate. Way to piss off the guy with a needle in his hands, Nora… “Uhm…” It wasn’t like she could make up a lie about how she knew this. “...I’m psychic too?” She said, though the words came out like a question. “Sheesh, what kind of doctor are you if you didn’t know I was also psychic…”
“Not a doctor,” he reminded her. Again. She knew that. He set the syringe down and crossed his arms, not saying anything, just looking at her, waiting for her to spill her guts. She always did.
She steeled her gaze and stared him down, biting the inside of her cheek to try and keep herself quiet. He didn’t need to know this. It wasn’t so much about getting in trouble, but there was a weird sense of not wanting Zach to be disappointed in her that passed over her and made her consider silence was better. So she waited.
And waited. And finally, she couldn’t take the silence anymore. This place was so sterile and so silent and she hated it. “...You’re not the only one who went. And maybe you shouldn’t keep your personal invitations out on a lab table if you don’t want someone to see them.”
“Maybe you shouldn’t read my mail.” He gave her a dark look then went back for the rolling stool by his computer, sliding it towards her. “Tell me about your evening.” At least he’d get some of the experiment out of it.
She didn’t glower at his look, just looked back at him with a similar sternness. “I wouldn’t have to look at your mail if there was literally anything else to do in this place…” He hadn’t asked about her experience on the train, though, so maybe that meant he didn’t know that she’d gone. “Why don’t you give it a guess?”
“I can find you other reading materials if you’d prefer.” He sat up a touch straighter, fixing his glasses and gave her a similar look back. “I know you were on the train. Tell me about your experience.”
Dammit. Sighing, she slumped again and drew her pajama-covered legs up under herself, lifting her hands to pull the hood on her hoodie up. “My experience on the train…” She murmured, thinking through it. “Well, mostly I was just terrified.” Then, something clicked before she elaborated. “Wait, you’re not mad I broke out?”
He hated when she put the hood up, but didn’t force her to put it back down again. He was at a fine angle to see her face. “I’ll talk to security about your escape. For now, tell me about the rest.”
“Don’t talk to security,” She said, groan in her voice as she looked back over at him. “I only did it because I’m bored as hell in here and I don’t appreciate words like ‘escape’ or ‘break out’ because it makes me sound like I’m a prisoner.” Even though one of those phrases had been hers to begin with.
She picked at the fingertips of her gloves, wishing they fit her better, wishing they molded to her fingers instead of bunched up with weird tips at the top. “Well, I had to find something nice to wear so I also had to raid an office here. Took my other gloves and a trench coat, but I put the coat back when I got back here. And...it still wasn’t enough to make me feel like I was safe.”
“You used the term break out,” he reminded her, but was still talking to security about how locked down her hall was. Especially if she was breaking into offices. “Why didn’t you feel safe?”
“Because I had no idea who was there or what injuries they had or if I would trip or bump into someone and absorb them or some crap,” She said, words flowing together as she finally let them slip from the gate of her lips. “I just want to go out and be around normal people doing normal things and I can’t. I physically can’t. And it sucks hardcore.”
“Physically you’re very healthy, capable of plenty of things.” Zach stood up again, rolling the stool away and going back to taking her blood. “You were clothed, which should make it easier provided you’re not taking off clothing around others.”
“You don’t get it,” She said, tone dejected and on the end of a sigh as she looked away. Why did she ever think he would understand? He wasn’t her friend. He was her doctor...keeper...whatever the fuck he was. Frustrated, she looked away from Zach, away from what he was doing to her arm, and chewed absently at the inside of her cheek again.
“Explain it to me then,” Zach said, tapping her vein easily, watching the warm red liquid fill the vial. He’d heard her complain before, but not after being out in the world.
“I’m trying, but you’re not listening! You’re just taking blood and making notes and looking at me like I’m just some numbers in your reports.” She kept her eyes shut during the blood part of the experiment. She always did, because it definitely always sucked.
“You’re not,” Zach said patiently, used to her attitude. “You said something that isn’t true then told me I didn’t understand. You’ve not actually explained yourself.” He replaced the vial with another when it was full, setting it in the little stand he’d brought with him.
Still chewing on the inside of her cheek, Nora took another practiced deep inhale and slow exhale, bunching her fingers into a fist. She wanted to scream at him that this was enough blood, that they had liters of her blood probably around here and they didn’t need anymore, but she didn’t. She just breathed, in and out, in and out, before speaking again.
“You won’t ever understand how terrifying it is to be close to someone and know that even if you’re covered up, you could still die from them just brushing up against you. Your jacket could slip, your gloves might have a hole in them, they might reach for you without you being prepared for it and then what? You’re screwed. You take whatever crappy bullshit injury they have on them and now you’re just stuck with it until you heal. What if they have cancer, huh? I could absorb cancer through fucking osmosis with these people all because I couldn’t be bothered to find a turtleneck onesie.”
“I feel you’d heal, even from cancer,” Zach said, though he hadn’t tested that yet. Maybe with the next round. He’d introduced plenty of diseases to her cells, all of which they’d recovered from. He finished taking blood, then pulled the needle out, covering the wound with a cotton ball, then a bandage and held her arm up so it would stop bleeding.
“...That’s it? I am losing my mind in here and that’s seriously all you have to say to me right now?” She asked, shooting him a look with wide, angry eyes. She ripped her arm from his hold, using it to push herself off the examination table and walk away from him, as far away from him as she could get. She’d actually tried hard to explain what she was feeling and he still gave her that shit as an answer? Fuck that.
“Your mind is intact,” Zach said, marking the vials and ignoring her temper tantrum. He was used to those as well. He took the marked vials over to his desk, then looked back at her. “You’re concerned about what could happen, but you shouldn’t be so concerned. One, you won’t be leaving here and two, you heal quickly, almost rapidly in some cases.”
Nora let her head fall into the wall, eyes shut as she exhaled all of her breath. Maybe she should just end it. She could still die. Maybe she should just go get one of those needles or a scalpel or something and just end this crap. At least, she thought she could still die. “You are the worst. Seriously, the worst. Who says something like that? I don’t want to stay here for the rest of my life, Zach.”
“When we’re comfortable with your progress, you can go. For now, you’re here. And safe.” Zach didn’t take offense to her tone or even felt concerned with the fact that she was unhappy there. It wasn’t really his call where she would go, but once his research was done, she’d be transferred away from him.
“Which is basically never, right Zach? I’m never going to leave here. That’s what you just said to me. I’m basically going to wither away and turn to dust here in this fucking facility not ever having lived an actual life.” She felt like punching this wall. She wanted to turn around and punch Zach.
“I didn’t say never. I try not to speak in absolutes.” Zach sat back in his stool, turning towards her. “You will not wither away here. You haven’t even been here that long.”
“Well why don’t you just put me in a medically-induced coma so you don’t have to deal with me anymore then, huh, Zach? It’d serve the same purpose of as me being here and then you wouldn’t have to worry about not speaking in absolutes…” Picking her head back up, she pulled her gloves off and shoved them in her hoodie pocket, airing out her now clammy palms. “Are we done here? I might as well go back to my cell.”
“It’s not a cell,” he corrected but waved her back to the table. “Sit. We’re not quite done. I want to try something else.” Something not fun, but that didn’t bother him. He got up and rolled a machine over, sliding it next to her. “I want to see how your body reacts and I need you awake for it.”
Nora stood her ground, actually taking a step back and crossing her arms over her chest. “No,” she said simply. He wasn’t going to order her around, especially after making her spill her guts and then effectively flushing all her feelings down the toilet. “No, I’m not sitting down.”
He tilted his head, not sure about the attitude change. “Would you rather do this later? Because we still are going to do it.” If she needed to stomp around she could do so in her room.
She didn’t like the looks of this machine or the fact that Zach was effectively treating her like a child right now. She was having a crisis and he didn’t care. Why did she want him to care? Logically she knew he didn’t, but she still craved it. She needed just a little humanity from him, but of course it wasn’t in the cards for her.
And he was right. They were still going to do whatever the hell this machine needed to do whether she liked it or not. The realization beat all fight out of her. “I’ve been here for long enough. Longer than you think,” She told Zach as she started toward the machine and sat back down on the table. “Just fucking do it.”
“I have read your file,” he reminded her. She hadn’t been with him the entire time, only transferred over when she was ready to be tested on, but he’d been thorough in his preparations.
“You’re upset because of the lack of contact,” he told her, pushing her sleeve on the other arm up and rubbing an alcohol swab over the area just under her elbow. “You crave a different sort of humanity, but I can tell you that not everyone does. It’s not all it’s cracked up to be if you will.” He pulled a set of patches from the box next to the machine, removing the backing and sticking them to her skin where he’d cleaned it. Then he grabbed the sensors he used to monitor her vitals, placing one at her temple, then motioning for her to unzip her sweatshirt so he could place one on her chest.
“But I’m not concerning myself with whether someone else wants that same sort of humanity or not. I want that humanity. It’s important to me.” She emphasized, hating this process even more than the blood being taken. Blood was quick to give and only a small pinch in comparison to whatever the hell he was going to do next.
She wanted to curl up and just hide. She wanted to run, she wanted to do anything but be on this damn table right now, trying to explain why she was upset to someone who obviously didn’t care. “What are you doing now?” She asked, wanting some explanation of the pain she was about to experience, but even as she asked she unzipped her sweatshirt so he could connect the sensors to her skin there.
He placed the next sensor, then tapped the tablet he used to make sure they were reading before hooking wires up to the patch on her arm. “I’ve found that humanity tends to be terrible.” He’d seen that in his youth and was not ready to deal with it again.
After she was hooked up he got his stool again, and looked at the machine. “This is similar to the type of machine they use on those with chronic pain. It creates a small electric pulse which is supposed to be good for the muscles. I want to see how yours react.”
That stopped Nora in her tracks, looking back over at the machine and the wires connected to it. “So...wait...it’s not gonna hurt me?” When had they run an experiment that hadn’t hurt her? She couldn’t remember. “Just like...a little shock like I have too much static in my hair or something?”
“It won’t hurt at first,” he told her, sitting back to look at the settings on the machine. “Don’t chew on your cheek when I turn this on,” he warned then flicked on the machine. The electric pulse level was low to start, enough to move the muscles, but not hurt her.
Great. Exhaling what started as a sigh but ended as a practiced exhale, she set her gaze away from the machine, away from Zach, and on the barren wall. As she felt a slow pulse start to course through her, her muscles reacted normally, if maybe even a little faster than the pulse should have invoked. To try and keep her mind off of this damn machine or how much she really wanted to chew her cheek, she took a deep inhale and spoke. “You need some shit on your walls, Zach. Like...paints or a calendar of a hot chick or something. Something to look at.”
“I’ve no use for a calendar of a hot chick,” Zach said, making notes on the tablet as her muscles reacted, focused on that and not her, though he was listening. He made another note that said she was still full of her usual wit, which was another sign of her reactions. Leaning forward, he adjusted the setting and turned it up. Still, not enough to be painful, but the higher current would feel differently. “This is a place of work.”
“For you,” She scoffed, feeling her hands contract into fists automatically when he turned the level up higher. That was scary, that reflex. She hadn’t even made a conscious decision to do that. Taking another deep breath in, she cleared her throat. “For me it’s a torture chamber and I would like to see some puppies or hot people on the walls.” Her arms were shaking, her body was shaking, though she was fighting against the machine the best she could to try and gain control again.
“I’ll look into puppies.” Zach made another few notes, taking in the shakes even as she tried to hide them. Once he was sure he had the information he needed he changed the setting again. This would be hard enough to hurt, but given the way her body reacted to stressors, it wouldn’t act like a taser would and knock her out. She’d probably stay functioning through a taser as well, but his goal was to see how much she could take.
Nora bit her cheek. She couldn’t help it. But the biting of her cheek made her taste blood, which wasn’t something she usually tasted when she did this. She couldn’t think clearly to realize that biting soft tissue in reaction to electrical pulses would probably lead her to bite too hard and thus draw blood. She couldn’t even think about anything other than these damn shocks racking her body, shaking harder tremors through her. She was still upright, though. Not collapsed on the table yet, though she was trying to grip the edge of it...and failing. Clenching her eyes shut, Nora let out a muffled sound, trying to hold back the need to open her mouth and scream. She’d felt worse.
He was always impressed by what she could take. Half of her ability was sheer force of will, but her body was reacting well in addition. He made more notes, taking the way she shook and that she’d stopped speaking. He saw her bite her cheek, tsking softly and making another note before getting up for a tongue depressor, slipping that between her lips. “Bite this instead,” he suggested, then turned it up another notch. Next time he’d get her a mouth guard.
And that was it. She didn’t feel the tongue depressor, she didn’t hear him tsk her, she heard nothing but the rattling in her brain. It felt like her eyes, her hair, her nails were on vibrate and everything hurt. Her body slumped and she fell backward onto the table, body convulsing under the sheer amount and frequency of the shocks.
He watched the changes, but she didn’t pass out yet. Impressive. He made a note then turned the machine off, sitting on his stool, intently watching the way her vitals changed after the stimulus was gone. It would all be recorded, but with his memory, it would help to keep an eye on it and catalog the changes in his head.
Nora couldn’t breathe. She felt like her whole body was on fire and when she realized that the shocks had produced unwanted tears in her eyes, she hated herself even more. When she was able to, she spit out the tongue depressor, and some blood along with it, and took a shaky breath in. Right now would be a pretty good time for a boyfriend, or someone with some humanity in her life. Just thinking that made her tears worse and she turned her head away from Zach, toward the door of the room. She wanted to lift her arms up and rip the sensors off but she couldn’t really move, since everything still felt like flaming gelatin.
Zach made his notes, watching her scans, then looked up at her. “Very impressive. More than I would have expected and you still regained consciousness,” he shared, though he wasn’t sure she cared about the outcome of the test.
He set the tablet aside and got up, reaching for her arm to take the electric node off, revealing two neat circle burn marks. After putting it away he grabbed ointment and gauze out of a cabinet, wiping some on the burns and placing the bandage over them. They would heal quickly, but he’d learned that it was best to treat injuries endured during testing if he wanted his subjects to last longer.
He'd be right. She didn't give a flying fuck about the results of his stupid fucking test. Dejected, Nora didn't fight him on removing the wires. Even if she felt better she wouldn't have fought him on removing the wires. She also didn't move to help him at all and just exhaled a shaky breath and inhaled another, still shaky one. It wasn't like she could really move anyway.
She felt like a rat. Like a lab rat or a lab mouse or whatever they ran stupid endurance tests on. And she felt trapped, which was something she wasn't sure a mouse wound understand but she couldn't be sure. "Are we done now?" She asked weakly, wit and sass and sarcasm all wiped from her.
Zach took off the last of the sensors then moved to help her sit up on the table. "We're done," he affirmed. "Do you need an escort back to your room?" At least in the state she was in she wouldn't try and run away.
She didn’t want his help, but that wasn't really the point right now because she did need it. Sitting up, she pulled her hoodie sleeves down as quickly as her shaky arms would let her, tugged her hood back up, and zipped her hoodie all the way up to her neck. “No,” She said, slipping off the table with only her resolve pushing her to not crumple at his feet immediately.
Walking toward the door, Nora grabbed the wall as soon as she got to it, feeling like her legs would give out at any moment but not wanting to show it. It would take her a half an hour just to walk back to her room at this rate, but it was better than leaning on him right now. “...Get me a pet lab rat,” She said, quietly and over her shoulder at him as she paused by the door. “If I’m never getting out of here, get me a pet.”
"I don't speak in absolutes," he reminded her, not going to her aid even if he could tell she needed it. She was a determined woman and did as she chose. He'd look into something to keep her amused though. Distractions could be healthy.