One of the resources he had now as a registered mutant was the ability to seek help in controlling his abilities. Ever since Caspian has removed his anxiety he didn’t know how to access it and he was starting to worry that he’d lost it all together. Maybe it was just best not to know the future.
His face still looked like garbage but at least the bruising had gone down by now. The tooth was sadly still missing but he knew he’d take care of it soon enough. All he could do now was wait, wait for approval to go see Logan, wait for the results of the autopsy and wait until he could figure out what other evidence was available.
When he came to the door a young girl, probably in her early twenties, opened it with a bright smile and a professional demeanor.
“Hi.” Come in.” She said with a small nod as she turned away and moved back into her ‘lab’. It wasn’t too big, but it was big enough for her to work. Of course with everything inside it did feel a little cramped. A table was set at two of the walls, each with paper, books and projects in process upon them. One did have a cleared out space for a computer. Two wire shelves set in the middle of the room parallel to each other filled with parts and bits, sort of creating a path to a third table, set out from the wall a bit. The table itself currently only held a tablet, there was a raised chair next to it and along the wall at the back of the room were a couple cabinets that could lock. Currently one was open and it held items that looked almost like medical equipment. “Have a seat, I’ll be right with you.” She said.
Zoe moved over to the desk with the computer and quickly finished the email she’d been working on. She then moved over to the table next to the chair and took up the tablet. “So, how can I help?”
He wasn’t even sure why he was here, maybe because the doctors at the hospital suggested he learn more about his abilities and how to control them. All he could think about was Logan rotting in a cell without any knowledge of what was going on in his defense.
He grabbed his ID card and held it up to show her. “I just got registered and they suggested I come here. I can see the future and I don’t know how to control it.” Not that he could ever control it before, now he just didn’t know where in his psyche it laid. Caspian’s work had done great things but now he wasn’t sure where it could come from.
Zoe took the card and swiped it in her tablet, it brought up the data she was allowed to see- really just some stuff that would help her with her job. “Okay.” She nodded, handing the ID back. “Ehren, I’m Zoe… and I’m going to try to help you.” She said with a polite smile. She was working on her ‘bedside manner’. She tapped on the tablet a bit, her mind mentally recording everything as well, before she placed it down and moved to the cabinet. “First, we’re just going to do a little scan of your brain. Just a non-invasive scan to get a baseline idea of your mind and see if we can find a good starting period. I’ll ask you some questions while the machine reads you.”
The machine was something she’d made, adapted really. Not having access to real MRI’s and stuff- or the radiation to use it. She managed to figure out a way to get similar scans (if a little inferere) by using a combination of electromagnets, radio waves and ultrasound- okay, it’s really complicated… but it works and that’s what matters. Also, no longer gives the subjects crippling migraines after use. Lifting the device out, she brought it to the table. It had a small display with controls and could hook into her tablet for immediate readouts. Then there were some electrodes she had to place on his head and finally a cap he had to wear with many sensors. “Okay, this may be a little cool.” She said as she applied the conductive gel to the electrode and placed it one on each temple, two near his collar bone and two on near his shoulder blades. Each then had a wire attached before she stepped in front of him. “Okay, I need to put some of this in your hair- kinda all over your hair. But don’t worry it washes out. And there’s a bathroom down the hall with a sink big enough so you don’t have to walk through town looking like a greaser.”
As upset as he had been the joke was something that momentarily took his mind off of Logan. A small laugh escaped his lips and he felt a little bit of his sadness dissipate. “What makes you think I don’t want to be a greaser?” He asked with a smirk, allowing her to do what she must to see what she was working with.
In truth, Ehren had a lot of fear of machines like these but in this quiet office setting with one girl who didn’t look like she would hurt him, it didn’t seem too frightening anymore. “Maybe I’m just too ashamed to admit I want to be one and that’s why I’m here. For the free greaser hairstyling.” Deflection came easy if it meant he didn’t have to suffer through the worry that he had. He could mope around all day but it wasn’t going to make Logan’s case get processed any quicker.
“Do you mind if I ask how long you’ve been doing this? You seem so young.” Which was probably a rude question but her professionalism surprised Ehren.
“This job, about two years.” She said as moved behind him and stepped up on a small stool to help as she started to apply the gel. Zoe wasn’t short short, but at five and a half feet, reaching the top of someone’s head did prove difficult sometimes. “I worked maintenance before.” She said sounding very matter of fact. “But don’t worry, I’ve read a lot of books, and pick up things very quickly.” She didn’t realize that might not sound entirely comforting.
After she finished with the gel, she slid the electrode filled cap upon his head and moved around to the machine as she wiped her hands off on a rag that was shoved in her back pocket. “Your head might feel a little warm, and it may tingle a little, but that’s all normal.” She said as she started to turn things on. “Any questions before we start?”
His eyes slid closed for a minute as he thought about what this might mean and he opened them with a breath. “Not that I can think of.” He managed to say. He wasn’t sure how this was all going to work but the young girl seemed confident enough to ease his mind.
Did she mention maintenance? If she’d done it on the island she might know Logan, might be able to help him find more evidence of his innocence. But this wasn’t the time, not with electrodes strapped everywhere.
He felt the warm and tingle in his scalp which meant it must have been doing what it was meant to do. “Fire away.” He added with a small, albeit nervous smile.
“Okay.” Zoe tapped on her tablet a bit and the controls on the device before moving around the table so he could look at her while she asked the questions. “Let’s start with some simple things to get a baseline.” She paused between each question to allow him to answer, not always looking at him as she monitored his activity much as one would do a lie detector test. “What is your name? Where were you born? Do you have any siblings? How old are you? What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?”
Once those were done, she got a bit more in depth. “Okay, now let’s talk powers. First, when did you first start to develop them? How did it occur?”
The questions came like rapid fire but it didn’t take long for him to conjure up answers. “Ehren Clemens. Washington, near Spokane but not sure exactly where. I was adopted. No siblings. I’m 34. I like mint chocolate chip.” The questions were seemingly random but if helped her get the information she needed than he’d answer her.
“I had my first vision when I was eight. Some kids were bullying me on the playground and knocked me out. I saw my mother dying in a hospital.” And the same vision would haunt him for the next six years.
Zoe frowned and looked up at him. “I’m sorry.” She said. It wasn’t abnormal for her questions to provoke sad answers. With powers tended to come pain. “How frequently have your visions come? And can you describe them? Like are they just images you see? Is it like watching a movie? Do you black out? Any details can help. I know it can be hard to describe sometimes- I have trouble with my own too- but do the best you can.”
Working, focusing on something else helped her not focus on the things she couldn’t fix. Like Logan being arrested. The Logan she knew never could have done something like that. But, she was at a loss for how to start proving his innocence. Maybe she should have read more forensics books or watched crime shows on TV instead of historical and science shows.
This was the tricky part. Ehren couldn’t tell her what Caspian did to his mind because he promised to keep it a secret, so he had to skirt around that part. “I get them usually two to three times a month but it’s rarely ever consistent. It’s like my whole world goes white and then things from another time fall into place. It is a lot like watching a movie, except when I’m involved. When I’m involved it’s like being in a movie where you don’t have control over what you’re saying. “
“I used to get panic attacks and it would come on after that. Like it was attached to my fear. I’m usually unresponsive while it happens and if I’m gone for more than an hour I usually end up getting anemic.” It was odd, he’d never really described his abilities to anyone before, not like this.
She nodded. “Okay, this next question may be a little difficult. So just try your best.” Zoe looked at him. “I want you to think about a recent vision you had- don’t worry I don’t need to know the details of what you saw. But if you can try to walk me through it, step by step.” Sometimes, especially when powers didn’t have a specific trigger, memory could help determine causation. As the brain remembered an event, pathways that had been active during the memory are followed again many times. “Let’s start with what you were doing before. How did you feel? What were you doing? What did the world smell like? Anything you can remember to put your mind back into that place, no matter how stupid it may seem.” She smiled softly. “Close your eyes if it helps.” Zoe guided him as he went along, prompting him to recall how it felt when the vision started, and never asked about what he saw but asked how he was feeling emotionally, physically, etc. All the time monitoring the data.
This was risky, because she was a government employee and if he knew what they had done then they would keep him under serious radar. He closed his eyes as he thought about the one before that. “I was in my apartment, I had this…” He said holding up the ID card.”...but at the time I didn’t have it. I walk into my living room and I see this girl. We had only been on two dates but in the future we were pregnant and I was weak. She saw that I had lied to her about having abilities. Then it ended.”
If he’d tried to recount this before Caspian’s intervention, then he would have felt deep sadness and regret. But now, now it paled in comparison to seeing Logan locked up. “It all smelled and seemed familiar, because it was my apartment and I was still here. I felt like a complete emotional mess, more than I was at the time, like my whole sense of self relied on her opinion of me. I can’t really describe what it’s like to see yourself in the future. It’s like you’re in there and you think like you’re actually there and then the world just goes away.” He didn’t like seeing himself in the future because things didn’t usually end well for him.
Zoe watched the pathways light up, marked things. “Thank you. Let’s try another.” To get a good read she had him recount a handful of times his powers had been used, probing him along the way, helping to guide him through the memories (she’d read about cognitive memory reconstruction once)- always focusing less on the vision itself and more his experience during it. Each time it gave her more data to go off of. She hummed and nodded as the results came in.
Once there was enough data she put the tablet down and moved to unhook him. “Thank you. I know it can be a bit overwhelming to talk about this stuff, but the readings will help us start to find out more about how your powers work and how we can help you.” She said as she carefully pulled the cap off and set it on the table, followed by the contacts.
He allowed her to take the cap off and looked at her. “You said you were in maintenance. Do you know a man named Logan?” He asked her, since it was lurking in the back of his mind. If she could provide another character witness then it would make Logan’s case stronger.
But he couldn’t know that unless she told him, and Ehren was grasping for anything to help free Logan. “He was detained recently and I’m trying to help build a case for his innocence.” Maybe he was revealing too much but if she could help it would make things look better in their favor.
Zoe felt her heartbeat speed up at his question. “Yea, we’ve worked together.” She said, cleaning up. “He’s a good guy. I don’t think he could have- would have done what he’s being accused of.” At least not without good cause. Logan struck her as someone who would come to someone’s defense, but wouldn’t just attack someone with no reason.
“Hard to prove his innocence when… there’s no access to the evidence.” If there was any.
She did know him, thank goodness. He had another ally. “They are doing an autopsy but it might not be enough to clear his name. Do you think you could provide a character witness for him?” He didn’t even know what sort of evidence they could find but the wolf wasn’t the only animal on Destruction Island.
Even someone like Fitz could be a suspect, if anyone knew how to find him. “I was with him during the day the attack was supposed to have taken place but I wasn’t with him all night.” And now he wished he would have stayed, played with Daisy a little and now he was behind bars.
“Oh, yes. I could.” Zoe nodded. “He doesn’t deserve... “ She nodded again. “He’s a nice guy.” Who she just so happened to be attracted to. Could that be making her biased? She didn’t know a lot about him, he tended to keep to himself a lot. Logically, if it was an animal attack, he would be one of the top suspects. How many others could make it look like that? Zoe found herself running through the people with powers she knew as she put the device back in the cabinet.
“So, it’s going to take a bit to get through the data and figure out a way to help you gain control better. There might be some trial and error too, but I’m going to take what you told me and the scans and work on the problem.” She said with a smile. “I’ll let you know how things are going, but it may be a couple weeks before I’ll need to see you again.” Zoe held up a hand as a thought crossed her mind. “But, if you find yourself having a vision, reach out to me right away. I’d love to try to get a scan soon after a vision actually happens- might help us fine tune things.” Again, she didn’t push to ask him to tell her what the vision was like. For Zoe, it didn’t matter. The what didn’t matter to her as much as the how and why.
If Ehren could read thoughts he’d feel bad. It was hard not to like Logan. He was quiet, reserved, handsome and kind. It was a killer combination that probably drew a lot of people to him. Ehren felt like the prom king’s nerdy girlfriend, not like they were dating per se. Thankfully, he couldn’t and so he breathed a sigh of relief when she agreed. “Thank you so much, he needs all the help he can get. I assume you know Roman Skye? You’re going to want to talk to him.”
He was actually surprised that the faction hadn’t reached out to him, the whole point of it was to better the lives for the people on the island and Logan was one of those people, wasn’t he? His attention came back to her when she talked about the results. “Ok, I can do that. I’m working on this case right now but I’ll try to set up some time if I do have another vision.” He offered, a pleasant smile on his face. This wasn’t as scary as he thought it would be.
“Of him, yea.” She nodded. “I’ll reach out.” Zoe didn’t normally reach out to many people outside of those she worked with- and most recently Kyrie. Whether her being young and deemed immature as an assumption, or her intelligence being too much for people to deal with, or her lack of ability to socialize without coming off as annoying, quirky or just plain weird. Or, so, her past experiences had been. All of it was the reason that Zoe didn’t put herself out there a lot.
“Did you have any questions for me? About working together- Not Logan.” She asked. Most people had a few, of not about the process itself they had questions about her.
Ehren liked Zooey’s quirkiness, she seemed like a really smart young girl and he was actually glad to be working with her than another government bureaucrat. “I had something done to me, mentally recently. I can’t explain to you any of the details but where my ability used to come from was panic attacks. It was somehow related to my clinical anxiety. Do you think it’s possible that I’ve lost it?”
Which would be ironic considering the fact that he was just registered. Leave it to Ehren to be a mutant when the government didn’t know and then a non-mutant once they knew of his abilities.
“Lost ‘it’? You mean your abilities?” She furrowed her brow. “I’ve never heard of a thing, though I’m no expert. I don’t really get access to any of the medical studies that cause the mutations, but if I were to hazard a guess I would say that it’s a genetic mutation triggered or caused by radiation. And if that’s the case I don’t see it being something you could just ‘lose’.” Zoe got a look in her eyes as she started really thinking.
Her mind computer pulled up something akin to a word program or white board. It started to list theories. “Tell me, you said this… thing… was done to help with anxiety? Were you often anxious before you had visions?” She asked, adding. “Or, were they something that happened after? And was it with every vision?”
It seemed her questions for him weren’t over and now Ehren regretted saying anything at all. The more he said about it the more he put Caspian in danger. He’d be as honest with her as he could be but he’d remain quiet if anything came back to Caspian. “It would come on when I started having a panic attack. Every single time.” He replied, leaning back in the chair a bit.
It was a relief to know it wasn’t gone and he hoped against all odds that Zoe could help him figure out how to access it, and maybe even be able to control how long they lasted and who they were about. He spent so much time in his visions frightened that he felt like he may be able to garner more information without that crippling fear.
“And only when you had a panic attack?” She asked, already mentally noting a number of subjects she was going to need to find books on. Zoe would have to reach out to Finn. “Or did you have them other times without the attack?”
He shook his head at her. “Only during a panic attack. I think over time it sort of just attached itself to my anxiety because it was such a big part of my brain.” He replied, he didn’t want to say anymore, didn’t want to think about what he used to be like and how it felt to experience his visions.
“I guess it’s gone somewhere else now.” He said with a shrug.
Zoe smirked slightly. “Then we’ll just have to find out where.”