1963-09-02 - Notes From Coney Island
Summary: Dr. Steingate comes to visit David North after his outburst in the Coney Island facility.
Related: [http://marvel1963mush.wikidot.com/log:1963-08-31-bloody-satisfaction]
Theme Song: None
maverick natasha 

David North has been moved.

The cell in which the man has been relocated to is not so different from his previous accomodations. White ceiling, white floor, white walls, vibranium bars. What is different about it is that now, there is only the one small cell in the room.

No more company. David is alone.

He is also in visibly worse shape than we was the last time anyone saw him. He's sitting on the floor of his cell tucked back into the corner, curled up into a ball with his arms curled up over his head, as if shielding himself from something. Closer inspection would reveal that he's trembling.

Someone has not had a very pleasant time since their outburst.


creeeeee— eeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaak

The door - the outer door - slowly parts, pausing momentarily to let muffled voices leak into David's private wing.

"… of shit's a… know what he'll… pretty little…"

"I appreciate… and I know… if I need… don't think he's… position to…"

Shortly afterwards, Dr. Steingate is approaching David's cell with a rhythmic jangle, clipboard in hand and looking as good as new. The door slams shut behind her; a couple beats later, it locks.

"Mr. North?" she calls, tentative. Once she's close enough, she lays a hand against his bars briefly before drawing it back to fish around in her (new) coat's pocket for a moment. "Are you awake?"

First comes a syringe, which is passed over to the clipboard-clutching hand. Next, a single key which she inserts and turns; once she's in and the the cell's been locked behind her, she helps herself to the bed(there is a bed, right?), crosses one leg over the other, and gently clears her throat.

"I'm here for your assessment, Mr. North," she states while shifting the syringe over to be held knife-like in her empty hand.


The door creaking open is enough to get David pressing back into the corner more tightly, his head tilting to let one eye stare out into the room from between his arm and knees.

He doesn't relax, exactly, when he sees who it is… but he does let his arms drift down to curl around his knees, letting him lift his head to watch her approach. That answers one question: yes, he is awake.

As soon as David notices the syringe, he tenses, but he does not move. He just flicks his eyes between her and the syringe, swallowing hard before he manages to croak out a question: "What's that for?"


"Protection," says Gretchen. "You are a dangerous, mutant— well. Something. A criminal, maybe, but something else, too— something more, or less."

Balancing the clipboard on her knees, she plucks a pen from her breast pocket and sets tip to page. Just like last time, she's dressed conservatively - long, white coat over a muted blue blouse and black skirt, black flats, black stockings, red bun, glasses, badge - and her tone tends to hover between gentle and probing.

"Let's get the obvious out of the way: how are you feeling today? Can you describe what's happened to you between today and the last time we spoke?"


"Not a criminal," David croaks and, very slowly, he shifts in place. The motions he makes as he stretches his legs out along the floor in front of him are very cautious and slow, clearly made such to avoid giving her any reason to use the protection she's brought with her. All he has for attire is that same shapeless white smock worn by the Weapons and other prisoners.

"I… apologize for that. Not for attacking Stryker," David clarifies, his voice gaining some strength the more he exercises it. "He deserves worse. For catching you in it. I mean, you work with these people, so I probably don't like you," he admits. "But you haven't given me reason yet."

He runs a hand over his bearded face and lets out an exhausted laugh. "I can try, I suppose."


Gretchen's initial response to the apology is skrtch skrtch skrtch.

After looking up, she adds a quiet, "Interesting." followed by a more conversational, "By all means," and an inviting sweep of her non-syringe hand. "I'm alright, by the way. Thank you; that's very generous of you, considering why you're here."


"I'm here because I'm an idiot," David replies with another tired laugh, letting the back of his head lightly thump against the wall behind him. Either he's sufficiently exhausted that his lips have loosened or he simply no longer cares, because the next words out of his mouth are "Eight years I've worked for these people, and I never knew. Never even suspected."

One of his hands drifts up to lay flat against his own chest, right over his sternum, as David gathers his thoughts. "…the telepaths have been in here," he begins, gesturing to his temple with his other hand. "Nightmares. Hallucinations. I'm pretty sure those are from them," he murmurs, his brow creasing slightly as his eyes flick towards the wall.

His fingers flex slightly against his chest before David adds, "And they have a… a room. With restraints." His eyes drift back to the syringe and he looks a touch sick. All he says is: "Adrenaline."


David's employment history puts a questioning quirk in her brow, but the suggestion that the telepaths - the blonde twins - may have been employed to find a creative way to punish him despite his abilities brings full-on shock to Gretchen's features. She even recoils a little at the thought, and while she catches what comes afterwards, 'adrenaline' just spurs her to repeat the word back to him with a distracted curiosity.

"What did you do before, Mr. North?" she quietly wonders while reaching into her left-side pocket for smokes and a lighter. "Military? Intelligence? Lawyer?"

She strikes, she lights, and then she tosses the pack to him along with, "Take one, then hands up; stay still." Assuming that he complies/accepts, she'll set her clipboard on the bunk and lean in juuuust close enough to light for him before drawing away.

If he doesn't, well, more cancer for her!


The fact that Gretchen looks visibly shocked by this gives David pause, his brow furrowing in confusion. Whatever reactions he had been expecting from her, that was evidently not one of them.

"Mercenary," David replies with a weak smile, inclining his head slightly towards her. "…resistance fighter before that. A lot of time around the military, but not actually in it."

The fact that he's able to catch the pack without difficulty seems to surprise him as much as the fact that they were offered at all. With a wary frown, David eyes the cigarette she's chosen for herself before he obediently draws one out for himself, tucks it between his lips, then raises his hands. He loosely holds the pack up between his fingers to offer it back to her.

"I do not suppose I can ask who you work for," David murmurs, a hint of resigned amusement in his voice.


Gretchen tosses off a reflexive, "Classified," as she takes the pack back to her seat. "A mercenary?" She flips through her clipboard. "And you had the same employer for eight years? Who were— no. Who did you think they were?"

She pauses long enough to take a deep drag rather than being content with the idle puff or two she's managed thus far. As she fills the cell with smoke, she approaches David once again, board clutched and briskly turned so that he can get a brisk sampling of her notes:


"And how is it that the Program came to your attention? What convinced you that it was your personal responsibility to investigate it?"


"I may have misspoke. I was a mercenary prior to being recruited by these people," David clarifies, lightly tapping the ground with a pair of fingers. "But they kept me away from all of… this. I'm…" He pauses, hesitating, then just exhales through his nose, sending out a heavy sigh of smoke. "I was born in Berlin. They knew how I would feel about what they do here. So it was hidden."

He rakes his hands back over his hair, his eyes following Gretchen as she moves in the small cell. His eyes fall upon the board and he seems to… pause. Just for a moment. His gaze drifts back up towards her face, uncertain.

"I… to end up in this cell?" David asks. "I wasn't investigating the Program. I was investigating kidnappings. Human trafficking."


"For the Program?" Gretchen asks, allowing just a hint of disbelief to crack her otherwise impartial tone. "For your employers?"

There isn't much room in the cell, but Gretchen paces to whatever limited extent she can for a few seconds while puffing away and flipping through her clipboard some more. Upon finally returning to her seat, she does some rapid-fire scribbling while saying, "There isn't much money in investigating that kind of thing, generally— it's an unusual choice for a mercenary, certainly."


"No, no. On my own. I was in town for…" David can't help but laugh, though there's no humor in it. "…recruitment. I was sent to the city to recruit someone. Stumbled across a kidnapping at a protest and started looking into it."

He takes the cigarette from his lips and holds it between his fingers instead, his other hand coming up to scratch lightly at his beard. "Money is nice. But so is being able to sleep at night. I saw something happen and couldn't let it go," David explains, shrugging his shoulders.


"I see; sheer altruism, then. So: would you make that choice again, knowing what you know now? Sacrifice your freedom, maybe even your life for the sake of keeping your conscience at bay?"

Gretchen leaves the bunk again and the syringe stays behind. She steps into kneeling near enough to reach for David's face with intentions on gently easing one of his lids down for a better look into his eye. If this doesn't get her bitten, or grabbed, or zzakted, she will withdraw, scribble, and repeat with the other eye.

"Are you like Mr. Akihiro, punishing yourself to atone for what must have been a colorful past career?" she quietly wonders.

Incidentally: her clipboard now happens to be sitting at an angle that would allow David to read, 'I AM GOING TO WRITE AN EXPOSE. THESE PEOPLE ARE MONSTERS. I LOST MY SISTER TO PEOPLE WHO THINK LIKE THEY DO,' upside-down.


When Gretchen rises to approach, David tenses, but he does not move. The fact that she's left the syringe behind helps; there's only a slight, reflexive flinch when she reaches for his face, but he forces himself to stay still. The contact and inspection are permitted, though she might get the feeling that he's inspecting her right back.

There is no hesitation when he answers the first question. "Absolutely. I would still be in the dark otherwise," David mutters, his eyes flicking to the clipboard. His mouth draws back into a thin line, eyes narrowing slightly as he reads. Suspicion. Skepticism. Unhidden.

It's the second question that seems to give him pause. David blinks a little and looks up at her again, thoroughly distracted by the clipboard, his jaw working silently. "…yes," he says quietly, sounding surprised by the admission. "I suppose I am."


"Hm," grunts Gretchen as she pageflips, then note-takes. She has, in fact, taking down what'd more than likely look like honest to God notes about these conversations, at least sometimes; she doesn't bother to hide them from David. Not even the 'MARTYR COMPLEX???' she's presently underlining for the third time, because come on.

"Fair enough," she says. "That's very noble of you," she adds, flatly analytical more than sincere. "And the 'orders' that Mr. Akihiro mentioned? I never did get an answer on whether they did him any real good, what with the… excitement, the other day; maybe you can shed some light? Obviously, you're carrying out your penance just by having committed yourself to investigating this place, so I'm less interested in whether they help you feel as if you're on your way towards some kind of redemption than I am the opposite. If that makes sense." She takes a beat to adjust her glasses, then allows, "Assuming that you get them too. Which seems like a reasonable assumption given their eight year investment in you, but— I'm only a doctor," while standing and stepping back from David.


David doesn't miss seeing the note being underlined. It actually makes him laugh, his empty hand coming up to rub at his face as he drops his head back against the wall again.

"I don't know what they've been doing with him," David replies tiredly, dropping his hand from his face. "Not in terms of any orders or anything like that." A crease begins to form between his brows as he falls silent, thinking. "I don't… I don't remember receiving any orders myself, since I was caught," he says slowly, looking down towards the cigarette between his fingers. He swallows hard. "But that doesn't mean I haven't received them."


"The twins," Gretchen murmurs. She didn't laugh or smile when he did, but her eyebrows went up in brief surprise.

"What have they been doing with you since you've arrived, then, if not utilizing you? That you know of. Have you actually found yourself missing any time?" She taps the end of her pen on the clipboard a couple thoughtful times. "Experiencing vivid dreams? Hallucinations?" she appends with little pen-gestures. "This, this mutant telepath nonsense," she rather loudly grouses, "is an an absolute nightmare— modern psychology is going to be a sideshow thanks to you people, I swear." A hard drag is followed by a sharp sigh and a dismissive gesture.

"Anyway," she smokily exhales while rising to return to the bunk, "Back to your days. Had Mr. Akihiro been your only cellmate? Did you spend much time with the twins - or their minder - as far as you know?"


'The twins' gets a silent nod from David, whose eyes remain transfixed on the cigarette. At least, until Gretchen's questioning takes on that brief bit of actual vehemence. That gets him to look up at her again, his expression difficult to read.

"I… it's hard to say if I'm missing any time. This," David explains, waving at the cell, "is really all the stimulation I've had, aside from cellmates and interrogations. Dreams and hallucinations, yes, but they were…" He averts his eyes. "Mmh. Nothing like missions."

David purses his lips, quiet for a moment. "Not my only cellmate, but she's… I don't know where she is. I haven't seen her since before your last visit. The only time I've spent with the twins has been when they've had a job to do." He smiles tightly.


"And the other girl?" Gretchen presses. "The little bald one, with the regenerative ability. Have you spent any time with her?"

After a little bit of scribbling, she adds, "Is she another telepath? Have you considered at all what they might be doing with her, given their handling of the other difficult to kill prisoner— or do you already know?"

After another puff, she reaches back to stub her cigarette out, then takes the syringe back in hand. "Speaking of theories: do you have any on where your other cellmate may have gone? Do you miss her, at all?"

Pageflip; board-flash.


"And Akihiro? Do you miss him any, now that you're down here? It must be lonely, being down to interrogation."


Time with the little bald girl? "Some," David replies slowly, his eyes once again fixed on the syringe. "Not a telepath. She doesn't talk much."

He manages to pry his eyes away from the syringe and looks down at the floor of the cell instead, flipping his cigarette over and lazily dragging it along the floor as he speaks. "I worry about what they may have done to her, yes," David replies quietly. "She's a good kid. She doesn't deserve any of this. Neither does Akihiro, but he can take care of himself."

He gives the spent butt off to the side. Written on the floor of his cell in ash is, presumably, a response to the note on the clipboard:


David's eyes slide back to Gretchen and her syringe.


Squint. Read.

Brow-arch. Scribble.

Gretchen meets his gaze and holds it after the pen goes down, bemused.

"I think that Akihiro would disagree," she notes while flicking her butt his way. There's not a ton of ash left, but there's a bit. Enough, maybe.

'WHAT, THEN?' she flashes before flipping pages to take down something about David caring about his fellow inmates. "I would ask where this all leaves you in the hierarchy of people who deserve their present circumstances, but. That would be redundant, I think. Right? So: if all of the doors between you and the outside were to swing open right now, what do you think you'd do first?"


David leans forward to retrieve the butt with an odd smile, briefly lifting it towards his temple in a salute before he looks to the floor again. First, he swipes his palm over his first message to smudge it into a plain smear — no sense leaving it. Then, he uses the second butt to write a new one.


"If the doors were open? I'd be tearing this place apart," David says tiredly, turning his head back to Gretchen. "It can't be allowed to continue to operate. These people are goddamned monsters."


"'You people'," Gretchen helpfully corrects while writing and shaking her head.


"'You people are goddamned monsters'. Don't forget." She flashes an ambiguous smile his way before turning her head away. "This place operates on the principle that the country at large isn't ready for people like Mr. Akihiro to be walking freely among them; would you say that you disagree with that concept? Do you think that he would?"



"Pretty sure I'm no longer on the company payroll, Miss Steingate," David replies with an odd smile that actually does reach his eyes. Even though he does not hesitate to add, "But your point is well-taken."

He eyes the messages on the clipboard and absently reaches over to smudge his second one as he did with the first. "I don't know the kid well enough to speak for him," David admits, glancing to the ash gathered on his fingertips with a thoughtful frown. "Generally, though, if nobody's broken any laws, there's no reason to lock them up. He said he'd killed some people," he murmurs, frowning. "So maybe he should be. Just not here."

He eyes his fingers a moment longer before he elects to simply look up at Gretchen again. She, at least, has an easier method to write with. "Who was it you said you worked for, again?"


"Not exactly what I meant," Gretchen says while drawing the the cell key from her blouse long enough for David to get a look at it. "But, yes, I suppose there's something to that, too, isn't there."

At the question, she clucks her tongue, then takes and lights a fresh cigarette. "Classified," she repeats before taking a deep drag and exhaling a great, white cloud. "I know that you weren't military"

skrtch skrtch skrtch skrtch

"but you must know what that word means. Right?"


"I'm here on behalf" *skrtch skrtch* "of people with an interest in you" *skrtch skrtch* "and your present status."


"That's all that you need to know, Mr. North."



David's eyes follow the key with the same rapt attention that he's paid to the syringe. He swallows and nods once, his brow already knitting together as he shifts his gaze to the clipboard. Does he know what classified means? "Yes ma'am. Just had to ask," he says with a wry smile.

Somehow, David gets the feeling that the verbal explanation she's giving him now is more accurate than the one being written. He runs his clean hand over his beard in a slightly unsteady motion, his eyes flicking between the clipboard, her face, and the cell door. Slowly, he draws his ashen fingertips along the floor. It's faint, but readable.




"Much like Mr. Akihiro, you suffer from guilt stemming from a life of violence— violence that you were paid to inflict, no less," Gretchen says while briskly rifling through and occasionally unclipping papers. Little wisps escape from her mouth as she speaks, the cigarette held between her lips and teeth while she works. "You're quite good at doing it - either that, or incredibly lucky - and I doubt that that helps your conscience any. Not when you come from where you do, knowing full and well the depths of cruelty that humans are capable of. If it hadn't been the trafficking, would you have eventually found another cause to suffer for? Die, perhaps?"

Once she finishes unclipping, she moves on to folding— and she does it fast, turning loose notes into squares and triangles small enough to be stuffed into her blouse, her shoes, even the back of her skirt— wherever they'll fit without being found when/if she's searched upon leaving.

"Was that the first time you put yourself on the line for the sake of your morals, or do you think that your ex-employers had an inkling of who they were getting with you?"

When she's down to just one sheet, she takes a moment to write one last message before folding it up and turning away to tuck it beneath a bra strap. When it's all said and done, the clipboard doesn't look much different than it did when she arrived - though David, of course, could probably spot that it's a bit thinner. Cradling to her chest with one arm, she rolls her other hand along the bed a few times before standing and offering him a brisk, perfunctorily polite headbow.

"Thank you for your time, Mr. North," she says while heading for the door. "I'm sure I'll be seeing you again soon. Try to stay out of trouble, alright? For your sake."


Save for the clipboard and the key, she is empty handed.


That first note has David looking genuinely puzzled, at least for a moment. Then his mouth draws back into a thin line as understanding flickers over his face.

"I think they knew," David replies, managing not to sound distracted as he watches her deal with the notes. He can't hide the bit of appreciation for the speed and precision on display that comes to his face.

Despite the somewhat comical presence of his manners screaming at him to stand when a woman is preparing to depart, David remains seated in the corner, watching her. "Don't you worry, Miss Steingate. I won't be trying that again anytime soon," he says with a laugh, his eyes scanning the note. When they return to her face, there's a warmth to his smile that had not been present before.

Rather than writing anything in return, his hands come up and fluidly gesture. American sign language.


As he signs, what David says aloud is even simpler:

"Be seeing you."

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