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He rode on a cherub, and flew; he came swiftly upon the wings of the wind.
Dramatis Personae

Flicker, Leo, Polaris, Wendy


"/The/ Flicker?" (In the Blackburn Prometheus lab.)


Blackburn Research Facility - Cafeteria

The sign by the door says "Refectory", though the "R" has at some point in the past been re-written with a permanent marker to a "D", and then been subject to a half-hearted attempt at cleaning. It's one of the larger rooms on this level, tiled with the same variegated pea-green linoleum throughout, its walls clean but bare of any decoration or relief for the eyes. The floor space is mostly taken up with long, rectangular tables with attached bench seating, a stainless steel counter at one end serving up bland, often overcooked, but reasonably nutritious food day in and day out. The acoustics are awful in here, rendering mealtimes loud and the occasional fights that break out here even louder.

The cafeteria is loud. It's always loud around mealtimes; even when its /occupants/ are fairly subdued it has a way of amplifying the smallest noises. A clatter of tray against table, a shuffle of feet on floors. Today there's actually a decent amount of conversation, clustered in little knots around the long tables. Not so much conversation where Leo is sitting, by himself in his plain tan scrubs, cross-legged on the end of a bench with a wide empty berth of space around him. He's picking his way slowly through an uninspiring plate of boiled potatoes, chicken, mixed veggies. Something goopy on the side that might be intended to resemble a peach crumble? It does not look promising.

Flicker has just gotten his tray, held carefully against his stomach with an attempt not to spill any onto his own pale green scrubs. He's eying the room with a bit of a wide-eyed first-day-of-school uncertainty. His gaze skips from one bundle of conversation to the next, deciding against attempting to insert himself into any of them. Eventually he spies Leo alone -- relaxes slightly -- makes his way towards the emptier table. "Hey." His voice is quiet, his smile small. "Do you mind if I sit?"

Leo looks up with a tilt of his head, a small widening of his eyes. There's a moment where he just stares at Flicker. Looks around the room -- then back at Flicker. "Oh," he replies, quiet as well, "right, yes. Of course." He nods to the empty space opposite him. His eyes fix on Flicker's empty sleeve for a bit, then return to the other man's scarred face. "Where did they transfer you from?" He pushes some carrots and peas around on his plate. Slowly takes a mouthful.

"Nowhere. I mean, I don't know. I was in Ohio, but only for like -- a day." Flicker takes the seat gratefully, giving Leo a relieved smile. "Thanks. Sometimes I swear this is like --" He shakes his head, biting down on his lip and looking down at the tray. His eye closes, head bowing over it and his mouth moving silently, briefly, before he opens his eyes again. "Have you been here -- um. Long?"

Leo watches Flicker's head bow with a small hitch of eyebrows. A small pursed 'o' of lips. "You still pray." The surprise in his voice is mild -- and a little bit wistful. "You're /new/-new." He takes a breath, digs into his chicken finally. He only pulls a /small/ face at the first unseasoned bite. "No. Just a couple years. Not long." He dabs gently at the corner of his mouth with a napkin. "I'm Leo. By the way. How'd they get you?"

"Isn't it more important to in here than ever?" There's a quiet earnestness in Flicker's voice, as he looks back up. His eyes go a little wider -- his face a little paler. "A couple years -- isn't long?" His teeth dig just a little harder at his cheek. His eyes drop back to his plate, his head shaking. "Right. No. I'm Flicker."

Leo's fork clatters down against his plastic plate. He sits up straighter, his hand pressing down to the tabletop and his voice abruptly louder. He stares at Flicker's scarring with a renewed incredulousness, a sudden urgency in his tone. "/You're/ Flicker?!"

Flicker leans /just/ slightly back at this reaction. The pink in his cheek darkens to a deeper red, his eyes wider. "I -- yes?" He sounds suddenly a little unsure! Maybe slightly apologetic. His brows pull inward. "I didn't. Mean to -- um. Be." His eyes skip briefly around the cafeteria and then back to Leo. He shifts in his seat, smoothes his hand down the front of his scrubs. Presses, dissatisfied, at a wrinkle.

A tall, pale-skinned young woman with deep shadows under her hazel eyes and an unruly mop of green hair was drifting by with her own tray and freezes in her tracks at Leo's words. "Whoa /what/ now?" She veers toward where Flicker and Leo sit, settling her tray down and leaning forward slightly. "Flicker of The Raiders? Flicker the Swift? Flicker the /One-Man motherfucking Cavalry/?" Her eyes have gone huge and hardly blink at all, though they skip aside to the other man at the table briefly. "'Sup, Leo." Then back to Flicker again, their intensity unabated by the interruption. "/The/ Flicker?"

A shorter woman with a tray of her own has been trailing along a bit behind, staring intently at Flicker as they approach. She circles in one direction, then the other, eventually setting the tray down on Flicker's other side and stepping lightly up onto the bench to perch herself on the table beside his own food. Her brows are scrunched deeply as she examines him. Then looks over at Polaris. "I thought he'd be bigger."

Leo is still wide-eyed. His fingers press harder against the table as the women approach, his breathing speeding up just a little bit. "/The/ Flicker," he echoes, a little bit breathlessly. "How did you -- how did they --" His eyes dart rapidly aside to the corners of the room -- the cameras up along the ceiling, the guards looking bored near the doorways. He leans in, whispering low. "How did they get /you/? Did you bring your sword? Are you here to get us out?"

Flicker's mouth opens. His head bows, face still flushed a deep crimson. '... sword...' is kind of mouthed, silent, to himself. He does pick up his fork before he looks up again, fingers curling hard around it. His lips press together, breaths forced hard through a small pursed o as he looks between the others. "I -- don't know about all of /that/," he answers slowly, "but I guess -- I am -- from that team. Or I -- was?" He bites at the inside of his cheek. Squeezes harder at the fork. "I'm really sorry. I got caught, that's all. I'm not here with -- not here to -- I was trying to get someone out and I just. Got caught."

Polaris doesn't seem to have any interest in sitting, or in her food, now. It looks as though she has to hold onto the edge of the table just to stop herself pacing. "Fuckers," she growls, looking from Flicker's empty sleeve to his scarred face. "There's some real pieces of work here. But if it's just /you/..." She frowns and, taking Leo's cue, drops her voice low and soft. "...the rest of your team can't be far behind, right?"

Wendy's lips compress. She folds her hands against her thighs, her eyes dropping to regard her interlaced fingers. "But you've gotten out of dozens of labs." She sounds very matter of fact about all this, as she does about: "Polaris, you should eat." She's sliding down from the table to sit on the bench, herself, picking up her spoon and fork to start in on her food. Steadily, but unenthusiastically. "We can tell you about this one."

Leo's shoulders droop, but only for a moment. He perks back up again at the comments from the others. "They'll come, won't they?" He's tucking back into his food with a hungry will that suggests he's forgotten entirely about its complete lack of flavor. He unfolds one of his legs, resting it back on the floor. "In the stories," he says this a little bit uncertainly, looking at Flicker's hand where it clenches around the fork, "your arm could shoot lasers."

This actually startles a laugh out of Flicker. He bows his head, rubbing his knuckles against his eye. "My arm can shoot lasers," he admits with a fleeting lopsided smile, the redness in his cheeks not fading. "But they took it when I came in." He bites harder at his lip, looks up from Leo -- to Polaris -- to Wendy. Back down at his food. "If they knew where I was, I'm sure they'd come, but -- I don't think --" He breathes deep. Takes a very small bite of his vegetables. "Why don't you tell me about this one?"

Polaris still does not sit, but neither does she argue with Wendy. She just picks up her plate and starts aggressively shoveling food into her mouth, heedless of its taste or texture, watching the others intently as they speak. She has barely choked down her last bite when she emits a muffled cry of amazement, setting the remainder of her food down hastily. "Wait seriously, of all the wild shit we've been hearing, /that's/ true? I definitely thought the sword was more likely." She winces and tosses back a huge gulp of water to flush down inadequately chewed food. "/This/ is where they send all the reject scientists. The incompetent ones, the obnoxious ones, the the ones so fucking sadistic they make the /other/ sadistic fucks uncomfortable?" She stretches her arms wide, indicating--the whole vaguely depressing cafeteria. "Blackburn's got it all."