1965-09-05 - Turtleneck Doug?
Summary: Jay gathers Kaleb, Jeb and Elmo to talk about clues he found in Doug's journal as to what's happening to him. Doug reappears to confirm Jay's fears and deliver some foreboding omens.
Related: None
Theme Song: None
douglas jebediah jay elmo kaleb 


Who /doesn't/ love secret cubbies?

I'll tell you who: The significant others of the people who have secret cubbies.

After some time upstairs with his hoard of stolen treasures, Jay meanders back down the stairs in a rushed patterning of bare feet against the treads quick enough to nearly sound like someone is falling down them. Sure, the club is open, but it's early, and things don't really get 'open' looking until later in the evening.

Jay appears near the bar with his wings slightly mantled out around his shoulders and bereft of his smile, a book tightly gripped under his arm. Quickly scanning for Kaleb and Jeb as the two fellahs he sent downstairs earlier, checking to see if anyone else has honestly drifted in since before he opens his mouth.

Jeb is behind the bar, showing Kaleb his updated books on employees and making sure that he has spelled everything correctly, allowing Kaleb to give him advice as far as running a business goes. Luckily, though, Jeb has done this before, just with Sam at his back but he is certain that he'll be fine. He has to be, for Doug and Jay's sake. When he sees his brother hop back down the stairs, he smiles. "Hey, Jay. You found somethin' you think has some of the answers?" He asks, nodding to the book beneath Jay's arm. No one seems to have drifted in just yet, while Jeb sets a glass of some kind of fruity drink before Kaleb. "Try that. Tell me what you think, Cabbage."

Kaleb looked around and after correcting one spelling error and two commas paused and hesitated. Kaleb might be a pride elemental in another life but right now? He hesitated, "I… don't… actually know how businesses work? I sort of tell people what to do and let them work out the minutiae." He wasn't keen on admitting that truth, but hey there it was. He was about to say something else when there was a sound: Stairs shaped, each feather rounding out the static that was Jay's plumage and- ah. Jay. He took the fruity drink, and while sipping make with the grabby hand already. Gimme it requested.

Elmo comes on in, strolling into the club without a single solitary clue that there's an issue. He's nattily dressed in that wine-colored suit, an unusually dark color for him that nonetheless looks fantastic. The gang is here; he flashes them a grin and comes over to the bar. "Hey, guys." Jay's looking a little ruffled, though, and he glances at him with a curious 'you okay?' look. Those eyebrows speak volumes.

The place looks clear initially so Jay finishes his quick stride to the bar with jeb's prompting and Kaleb's impatient grabby-handing gestures. "Yeah, Ah think so. Ah mean, yeah." He reaffirms with a sigh and shakes his head, frowning at the book as he sets it gingerly down on the bartop. "Yeah. Ah did." Opening his mouth to continue, Elmo comes strolling in with his new look and Jay takes pause. His eyes sort of skim over Elmo at first, coming back to do a double-take as his distraction gets the better of him.

Cheeks flush with color when his eyes still on Elmo. This has the possibility of getting awkward. "Hey, El." Fingers drumming on the spine of the book he's holding onto with both hands on the bartop. His lips press together into a thin line in response to that curious look. Something's up.

Green eyes break away and run all over the club, then back to Jeb and Kaleb. He pulls the book off the bartop and jerks his head toward the back. "Y'all wanna come back t'the office fer a second?" Suddenly very aware that just anyone could've walked in just then, but he seems to be including Elmo in that invitation.

Jeb quickly fixes Jay a drink as well, a rum and a coke with a little more rum than was called for before he looks over at Elmo as his eyes linger a little too long, taking in the dark suit, mouth slightly open and Elmo will find himself making two Guthries blush in southern. He quickly looks away though, eyes grateful for Jay as a distraction as he picks up the glass. He nods, following Jay towards the office.

"Here, Jay, your feathers are gonna fall right out." Jeb says, more than a little concern in his tone as he sets the drink down in front of Jay on the desk and then combs his fingers through one of Jay's wings, working a loose feather from it.

Kaleb easily retorted to Jeb, "I told em he should number em like FOghorn Leghorn." flap. Flap-flap. Impatient hand was impatient and did not forget he wanted to see what was in the pages. Elmo came in in teh dark colour suit, shade of wine… nice. Where as everyone else seemed to appreciate Elmo cutting a striking figure Kaleb predictably went right to things to assess craftsmanship, quality, fabric, cut, movement. He asked curiously, "You go see my guy like I told you do?" That he asked was perhaps his iteration of the compliment. Too-blue eyes went back to Jay lke azure lazers. Drink in free hand, no book-yet in flappy hand, and yet he moved sipping his fruity drink.

Elmo is suddenly getting eyed by everyone and it surprises him some, making him color. "This one's from V's guy," he says to Kaleb, as the most emotionally neutral option in the room. Ironic. "Sure, Jayl." He follows along, hands in his pockets, eyebrows up in concern.

Elmo walks in and everyone stops for a half a beat. Once they all start moving again, Jay leads the way back to the tiny 'office'. Seriously, it's tiny. It's cramped full of a shitty little desk and file cabinets and it must have been a janitor's closet or something at one point, but now it's Douglas' 'office'. Jeb's office? It's the office.

Jay shuffles his way around the desk to try to make room for everyone, giving Jeb a wasting look when he starts fussing over the man's feathers. He remarks softly, trying to sound grateful, "Thanks, Jeb. Ah'm okay. Ah jus' need a direction t'go. Ah jus' need a direction." Putting the precious book down on the desk on top of another ledger, rather than in Kaleb's flapping hand. "/This/ is gonna give a direction. Ah hope."

Glancing back and forth between Jebediah and Kaleb, Jay picks up his glass and gestures toward the prissy prat in Prada. "You wanna give El the quick an' dirty of what's gone on?" As the most emotionally removed from the situation, Jay entrusts Kaleb with that task and drinks deep from his prepared drink, slurping it down by half before he needs to take a breath.

"You ain't okay, Jay. You're my brother. Ah been an expert in you since Ah was old enough to walk." Jeb chides, quieter than before, more meant for Jay's ears than Kaleb or Elmo. Those trained fingers in his feathers are more to soothe than to pick at and fix Jay. Like a hug but better and more acceptable when Jay was trying to keep his shit together in front of his friends. "It will give us direction. Bet Cabbage here can figure out whether its north or east." Jeb doesn't even know the whole of it, himself. He looks to Kaleb for that version of the story because Kaleb is good at no nonsense-ing.

Flap. That hand was, sigh that hand was denied. Unfortunately for Jeb Kaleb heard everything. More unfortunate for Kaleb he could assure you. Turning to Elmo Kaleb paused and put things in order before holding up a finger (the nice one) and sipped his drink before continuing. "Doug's lost his goddamned mind in the broad sense of the word. Short story is he started reading some… books and it's affected sleep and he stopped sleeping and apparently had himself an Epiphany. Now he's sounding not like himself and walked away from all the things he's traditionally cared about to basically… well." He paused and shrugged, "Now he sounds like me. The problem is he doesn't sound like a Doug. Jay thinks his brain broke in some fantastic way so we're going back to the beginning and now going to try to trace and see where Doug's gone off to cause… frankly? I get his anger and it's preeeetty fucking justified at almost the entirety of the globe but he can use help in any regard and whatever his choices he shouldn't have to make them alone" He paused and shook his head like this was hate afterthought part, "Oh yeah he might be possessed or something. Short story? We dunno for certain until we find out more." He paused and tacked on, "And I promised Jay I wouldn't try to recruit him for the Mutant New World Order."

Elmo listens, frowning more and more as Kaleb goes on, and when the story wraps up, kinda blinks at him. He mutters a curse under his breath in Yiddish. "Doug's gone ferkackt?" Looks at Jay, eyebrows going tilted up in worry. Hands still in his pockets, because he just doesn't know how to cope with this, and it seems safest. There's concern and love in his eyes. "Jayl, what can I do? Just say the word."

A pale hand reaches out to curl on Jeb's shoulder in silent gratitute, leaning a little bit of weight upon that limb. He appreciates it, sure. Of course he does. He's just trying to stay focused and stopping to acknowledge that things are worthy right now of comforting might make a whole 'nother problem crop up. Jay smiles wanly at his younger brother, giving that shoulder a squeeze as he sets the drink down. "Drink's good. You took t'those lessons good." Compliment for all the effort.

Aaaand then Kaleb starts on his explanation, making Jay only slightly regret his decision with the occasional wince here and there to accompany Kaleb's story telling. "You ain't buildin' an army yet, Kaleb, so let's jus' put a pin in that one, huh?" Jay heaves a breath straight out of his chest and turns to look at Elmo, apologetically. "It's…been goin' on a while. Kinda why Ah mighta been a little dodgy. Ah'm sorry. But they got a lot worse a couple days ago an—well, yeah." Jay's jaw tightens and he looks down at the book he's been toting around, five fingers splayed out on the cover.

Fingering a specific page toward the middle-end, Jay flops the thing open and starts flipping a couple more pages. They're all hand-written pages. Different languages, patterns, ciphers, sketches of symbols. "He mentions somethin' in here an' Ah wanted t'get y'all in here because y'all got lots of different people from all walks of life, so you might've heard more than me."

"Nothing, Elmo." Doug says, from the doorway, "You can do absolutely *nothing*." He's dressed in black slacks and a turtleneck, and black glasses. He checks his nails. "I came to get some things out of my safe." He gestures to the group, willing them to part as if they were the red sea.

"Been reading my journal?" he says to Jay. "Figures."

He walks inside, to open his safe, not bothering to hide it from the others. "He's going to bring up the one thing I found in all the reading I did that could change me back to the person I was. And you're gonna go trying to find it. And no magician, sorcerer, whatever, who has ANY regard for any of your safety is going to help you find it." He laughs, rolling his head back. "Go ahead, Jay. Say the magic words."

Jeb startles a little when Doug just happens into the room as if he owned the place or something. They were all in here having this meeting about how he's turned into a crazy jackass and they gotta fix him and here he is. Jeb slips his shoulder from out from under Jay's hand and purposely puts himself between Jay and Doug, defensively. He doesn't completely understand what's happened, other than that reading is completely evil and here's the proof. He also doesn't know if anyone is in danger of anything beyond Doug flinging words but he keeps that defensive stance between his brother and the person that is supposed to be Doug but isn't.

"Magic words?" Jeb asks Jay and tries to look at the book to see what they might be. "We could always try putting his head through a wall, that's usually good for resetting the mind. You know if all else fails." He gives Doug-but-not-Doug a wary look.

Kaleb arched an eyebrow and let this play out. What was Kaleb Miller's take away? One, excellent slacks. Two? "You can't be the person you were. That would involve time travel. We are always the people we are regardless of fluid and evolutionary change." He wasn't even speaking to anyone in particular, but that would never stop him from arguing a point. An eyebrow arched and he replied something, this time to Doug, and it was… Tibetan «"Finally. A good look on you. Afternoon."» He glanced back to Jay wondering what the hell Doug was talking about. On the other side of things subtly letting his hearing tune in on Jay's heart-rate, conditions of the room. If being at the damn mansion taught him anything it was surroundings matter. The real question he was listening for was simple: was Doug alone? Was Jay okay? Anything else between could be sorted out.

Elmo startles hard with a strangled yelp and a hiss of static electricity. He whips around, hands up. If Doug wanted to scare him, he succeeded. Breathing hard, adrenaline spiked, he eyes Doug, taking in his most unDouglike attitude. Lowering his hands, he says to him, wry, "Looking sharp, buddy," and then switches to Yiddish. «It's not my place to tell you what to do. But don't do this to Jay. He loves you.»

Jay visibly starts when Doug speaks up from the doorway. His head whips upward and he straightens up, wings shivering with the effort it takes to not pop up in the cramped space. Surprise and relief comes off him in a loud wave all at once, though he stands still on his side of the desk, not trying to shove past his brother to stop Doug. Yet. Doesn't even seem to matter that Doug's attitude points at him pretty sharply. Rather than shrinking back, however, the young man rises to the accusation. "You didn't really give me a whole lotta choice, now did ya? Ah'm not sorry."

Yes he is.

Goading him into saying whatever he's found, Jay hesitates, his attention glued on Turtleneck-Doug while he mentions out loud to the other three men crammed into the space. "He talks a whole lot about computer theory in there. Virus theory. Where someone writes somethin' an' it changes the whole program, an' how he thought it was happenin' to him an' his brain, but whatever it was was /stoppin'/ him from doin' anything t'help himself." His heart is beating a mile a minute, for Kaleb's benefit. Voice taut like a guitar string, but does not waver. Yeah, he's freaking out. But that's not so hard to tell.

"You know, like tellin' someone over an' over that yer fine an' they worry too much, an' makin' 'em think they're crazy when you start actin' nuts."

Green eyes flick toward Kaleb, and then Elmo when they each start on the other languages to Doug. Frowning at the pair, brows twitching together. He shoves past the knee jerk feeling of betrayal and paranoia for no good reason and tightens his jaw a bit. He spins the book around on the desk, this time to face Elmo and Kaleb right side up. The very end of Doug's scrawled lines are two words, underlined.

Siege Perilous

Doug raises an eyebrow, and he says, "Does he? Did he love me when he told me I didn't express how I felt about him enough? Even though I cared enough to put this place together *for him*. Did he give a shit how I felt when he decided he wanted a second lover, really? Because I wasn't giving him enough?"

Doug opens up the safe, and takes out several rolls of bills. "I love Jay, but it's really always all about him. Like when his girlfriend died down in Kentucky, and he tried to kill himself. See… he could've thought about living, for her, getting justice, for her, but all he could think of was dying… for himself." Then he says, "I AM Doug. A Doug from the future. A future. Limbo doesn't follow the same laws of time and space as Earth. I came… from a future where I decided to make a better world… and it got thrown back in my face. Eventually, what was left of me was a sort of… memetic virus consigned to Limbo."

"N'astirh knew if he exposed… me, to myself, I'd reprogram my own mind. All memories and personality are are data, really, and data can be transferred and overridden… and so I did. You don't know what a computer virus is," Doug pulls out a pistol, "But eventually you will, and then you'll get it."

He turns to look Jay in the eye, and then puts the pistol to his own temple, and pulls the trigger.


He raises an eyebrow at Jay.

|ROLL| Kaleb +rolls 1d20 for: 11

Jeb moves away from Jay then, still in between Doug and Jay but he moves towards Doug while he spits vile words at his brother, words that Jeb know he doesn't mean, or will regret later because this isn't the Doug that they know. He knows that he shouldn't let it rile him up, should let him make him want to punch all of Doug's fucking teeth up into his brain to see if that sets him straight but he can't keep from saying anything. "Shut up! Shut the /fuck/ up. You know he loved you. You know he loved you all the time. He showed you always, you're just a stubborn asshole and you hear what you wanna fuckin' hear, despite the fact that you can read body language and know what the birds are sayin' outside when they sing and know every language ever, you still got selective hearin'." Jeb growls at Doug, not willing to stand here and listen to him tear down his brother like this. "You shut the hell up and leave him the fuck out of this. Jay /did not/ do this to you. What he did before you came along has nothin' to fuckin' do with you and you ain't right, you ain't goddamn right to be bringin' his past up. Don't you say another fuckin' word to Jay until you are you again. You ain't you, Ah ain't give a fuckin' possum's ass what you say you is, but you ain't the Doug that Jay loves, that Ah love. Shut your fuckin' mouth."

Jebediah is /shaking/ with rage, with indignation and really, no one in this room can tell you that Jebediah Guthrie loves anything more than his brother, this one in particular as his eyes spark dangerously and he is practically smoking with rage. When Doug pulls out a pistol, Jeb's eyes widen and he tries to move quick, tries to stop him before he can pull that trigger, despite hurling curses at Doug just seconds before. When the gun does nothing though, Jeb lunges for Doug and if he can connect at all, he's going to pull back his fist and /try/ to apply blunt force trauma to recorrect Doug's head himself.

Kaleb could not be calmer or perhaps at least presenting unconcerned. The truth was he wasn't scared he was very curious if not just fascinated by this. Then again he's been accused of many of psycopathy as well so one might split that 50/50 on Kaleb's investment here. It could go either way.

'I'm testing a theory here' went the faint disembodied voice of Echoset to Jay's ear for him to hear.

Kaleb listened very closely and while he might be moved to anger there was also something Doug said that just hit that fear response in him. He remained silent and watched and very much did the sonic listen. One eyebrow arched when Doug dredged up Jay's late ex and the shitory of suicide. It was by a lifelong discipline did he not jsut lash out and tried to remember: This was an abnormality> We cannot treat this as the baseline. He changed the code… treating his brain like a computer.

Kaleb's head tilted and as Echo does, copied that signal and implemented in Doug's audioinput jut under normal wavelengths, Too far. Targeting the ex? Weak. Debases statement. Remove from future argument. Retract statement. Gain ground for future argument. Doug taught Kaleb all about computers over the last nine months. He was familiar enough withthe base language and the awful beeping to try similar hort commands using subliminal finesse.

On the surface Kaleb gave him a look and said, "Really? We're going to go there on that basis. Poor relationship communication is one thing, but c'mon."

Elmo dares to take his eyes off Doug long enough to read the phrase at a glance. "'s from King Arthur," he mutters. Then Doug is talking. And such talk! Elmo flinches from that matter-of-fact, awful speech. He draws in a shaky breath. Without really trying, almost without mentioning him, Doug's wounded him to the quick. For a while, he's been daring to think that he's doing okay, sailing the tricky waters of multiple relationships. He should have known better. That all comes across as clear to Doug as a stroke of lightning.

And yet he shoves it away almost as fast when Doug pulls out that pistol. None of that matters. Protecting Jay matters. He steps between Jay and Doug now, shoulder to shoulder with Jeb. Jeb lunges and Elmo goes tense, not sparking - not yet - but the hiss of static ramps up again as he gets ready to back Jeb's play. His hands are spread wide, tendons straining."The Doug I know wouldn't do such ugly shit to the man he loves," he says, lip curled, daring, just DARING, Doug to strike back. "You ain't him. We're gonna fix you whether you like it or not." He's taken in all that information not-Doug has provided, storing it away in the vast memory banks of his own computerlike brain. Memetic virus. Rewriting data. Siege Perilous. That name: N'astirh.

The small voice in his ear treated similarly to a buzzing fly; Jay turns his head in a faintly birdlike motion. Hearing it, but clearly distracted elsewise while Doug is doing the most evil thing that all evil people do:


Jay's mouth drops open slightly over Doug's claims pointed directly at him. His eyes slowly widening with that sharp perspective, along with a flicker of confusion over the disparity between what Doug says and what he remembers. Slowly he shakes his head, shocked into silence. Right up until Doug brings Julia up. Anger swells up in that gentle soul of his and Jay steps forward to where Jebediah previously stood. He would've probably said something more, but Jebediah says plenty in that moment. Cussin' up a storm and what have you. "Jebediah—"

Holy shit that's a gun. Jay's heart lurches in his chest and stomach drops when he sees that weapon appear. Yeah. This is a bad room for a weapon to exist in. His best friend, his little brother, his lover and his Douglas in a weird turtleneck. Nothing good about any of this. In a rather discombobulated mess of limbs, Jeb's lunging forward and Jay is lunging forward as well to damn well trip right over and around Elmo in the cramped space when Doug points it to his own temple and Jay shouts, his voice splitting with the strain of the moment as it shakes him down to his soul, "DOUGLAS!"

Sorry, Kaleb.

Jay's hands shaking when Jeb tries to haul off and slug Doug right in his smirking face. He, instead, tries unraveling himself from whatever triphazard mess he has with Elmo and goes for the gun with intent to try to pry it out of the guy's hand. Jay does not give a /fuck/ about computers right now. Leave that to the other two.

|ROLL| Kaleb +rolls 1d20 for: 5

Doug turns, just as everyone dogpiles on him, moving out of the way — the clips are in the safe, still, now that he's moved out of the way. And then Jeb punches him in the mouth, and Doug looks up, and wipes the blood off of the corner of his mouth with the back of a hand. "Nice hit." He says. "You know, Jeb… where I come from, Sam said almost the exact same thing to me?" He frowns, and looks away. "Life is full of doing things you regret, kid."

Then he hauls off and aims a kick at Jeb's solar plexus, while Jay still has hold of his arm.

"Like hitting me. Don't ever. Take a swing. At me. AGAIN. Or I will lay down a beating like a little redneck bastard's *never had in his life*—" He curls his lip, and then politely jerks his arm free from Jay's, and he collects the money and walks out. "You know, where I came from, Sam said almost exactly what all of you were saying. I didn't want to kill him — he didn't give me any choice. He died a hypocrite, though. Good thing your Sam ran off again…" He grimaces, "At least if HE stays out of my way he won't die spewing high-handed drivel he doesn't believe."

Then he's putting his glasses back on after Jeb knocked them off his face, and collecting the money to walk out. "Nobody will help any of you find the Siege Perilous, and once you understand what it does, none of you will dare risk using it, so… I'm pretty much set to do what I need to do."

"I'll build you all a better world… and not a one of you will thank me. Oh well. I'm USED to it!" And then he's striidng right back out of the bar, though he snags a bottle of something to take with him.

Jeb drops when he's kicked and the fall manages to knock the wind out of him but for the record, none of Not-Doug's threats seem to up Jeb's heart rate at all, not in a fear way at least. As if Jeb's never been threatened to be pummelled before. It's when Not-Doug starts talking about /killing/ Sam that Jeb's heart rate climbs dangerously fast in a matter of seconds, blood boiling now, you could fry an egg on him. "What.. the.. fuck… you.. mean…" He holds his chest, trying to catch his breath to say more swears probably but before he can, Not-Doug is already making his way out of the bar, too far away for Jeb to punch again.

Well damn. Kaleb has no way of knowing if that worked at all. Also, let's hope Doug isn't wrong about Kaleb because five months ago he'd have said give me the butto? Humans gone, mutants remain? I'm all in and here's where we can mount the damn thing in case we need to aim twice. However… this is not five months ago, they are not in the MET, and yet, ~AAAAAH!

Jay's voice split and Kaleb's train of thought went well out the window in a gasp. His hands came up to his ears taking the moment to recalibrate, move waves like a natural buffer and… really? Really!? Fucking tinnitus. Man Josh and Vitale were going to start to charge him double…or at all. He didn't trust himself right now not to either bloe Jay's eardrum out or be less than discrete. He sighed and muttered, "This aboutteh Mutant Liberation Front and finally…" Fuck that pitch was sharp and not in a space he could sut it out. Ugh. "toppling the regime of our human oppressors or this going back to Kree tech or… damn Jay." Breathe Miller. THere you go. Kaleb was, for his own edification, genuinly curious here. Also it was useful intel for many purposes.

Elmo gets tripped over, Jay plunging past him with all his panicked strength, and hits the floor with a yelp. Lightning arcs into the office light—*POW!* It shatters even as Elmo's frantically grabbing the arc, trying to contain it. Electricity kisses everyone, passing out little love-shocks that hurt like hell, grounding through anything metal they have on them: zippers, coins, key. Elmo, wind knocked out of him, flings a hand and the lightning dissipates, sinking into the ground. Then he can only lay there trying to wheeze his breath back in.

Well, that's all a mess. Jeb gets kicked across the tiny room, the lights get knocked out, electricity tries to kill them to death in the most annoying way possible, Doug yanks himself free and talks about killing the /elder/ brother, and Kaleb's ears get squelched. Sure, Jay winces as electricity tries to ground itself out on him, feathers get fuzzy and fluffed from it, but once again… …how the fuck is he the one standing when Doug neatly walks out? And how the hell does Doug just yank himself free like that?

Dark as hell in the tiny room, Jay goes for Kaleb after a muttering of apology all around. Clutching a hand on the sound mote's shoulder by way of mute apology. And also apology for just now as he speaks again, trying to at least clasp one hand around one of Kaleb's ears if he can't get both like an old nun trying to save some child's virtue. Directed at Doug again while he walks around down the hall to the bar.

"Ah told you that Ah'd find you." This…doesn't sound like a threat. His anger washed off in the chaos. "Ah will. You don't need to believe me. But Ah'm gonna do raght by you, Dougie. Wherever you think you came from, whoever you think you knew. Ah will. Ah'm gonna do raght by you. Fer you." He promises, vigilent and quiet by the end while all the tempers and crazy and /electricity/ calms down.

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