A Few Fries Short of a Happy Meal

Cast: date: '22nd October, 2012'
place: 'Watch HQ, Breakroom'
participants: 'Cedric, Jack, Levi, Mattie'
synopsis: 'Sunday afternoon breakroom chatter'
log: "Sunday afternoon. Just about nobody is in the office at this time of day, and the place is pretty quiet. Well, usually it's quieter than this. Anyone actually coming into the office to work will find that the network is down, and that the door at the back of the break room is open wide, the lights on in the room beyond. There's a low baritone voice, rough around the edges, coming from that direction as well. Cedric's got a good half-dozen cables looped over his right arm, his iPad on the floor next to the racks, and he's muttering something decidedly uncomplimentary as he re-strings cables between the metal frame and the cabinet. He seems to be managing well enough with one hand at this task, although it's slow going, and any number of velcro ties hang open as he works his way through the process.\n\nUnfortunately, Mattie is in the office today, having hoped to get some work done and finding it impossible. Carrying an empty coffee cup for a refill, she notices the door open and the cable-bedecked Cedric. \"Who broke it this time?\" she calls from where she pours herself a refill. \"Should I just go work from home, or is there a light at the end of the tech tunnel today?\" \n\nSugar and cream are stirred into her plastic to-go cup, and she takes a long swallow before pulling out her cell phone. \"At least my 4G works,\" she adds to herself.\n\nHeading for the breakroom, Jack has some paperwork under one arm and a cake in the other. It's in one of those cardboard boxes with the transparent lids and looks to be entirely untouched; scrawled across the top in bright blue are the words 'Happy Birthday'. Taking the journey through the desks, the paperwork gets dropped in Sunshine's inbox and then he heads toward the break area with the box. He doesn't look especially happy, or sad, just neutral. Also faintly surprised to see people loitering and talking, \"Awright, darlin'.\" to Mattie, peering over her shoulder to give Cedric a nod of greeting. The box gets slung onto the counter. Cake free for all.\nHaving been in the breakroom once today already, Levi realized too late that he forgot his smotheringly sweet Southern iced tea! And there it is, still on its coaster on the table… though the ice has long melted and diluted the beverage. Even so, Levi appears not long after Jack, sans his normal coat, and in just a tight white v-neck tee, jeans, and his coyote-embroidered cowboy boots. \"Aha—Oh hey howdy, people.\" The Texan looks surprised about halfway into reaching for his drink, because, whoa, people.\n\n\"Oi. Give me twenty minutes.\" Cedric, with his back to the break room, doesn't even look back as he begins fastening the cables to a panel on the rack, one by one, glancing down at the iPad after each one or two. When that's done, he pulls the entire lot over to the cabinet, leaving them hooked to the door while he fastens ties. He appears to be a bit of a neatnik about this task, and not especially inclined to hurry, more focused than anything else. \n\nWhen Jack and Levi show up as well, he does glance back at that, and snorts laughter. \"Now I know what to do if I want to find you lot,\" he jokes, about halfway to deadpan. \"Take the network down.\" That done, he turns back to his task, fastening the group of cables together with another tie before pulling the entire bundle through a hole in the top of the cabinet. \n\nMattie's hands wrap around the mug in her hands as she nods to the two men who've followed her in, brow quirking at the cake that Jack brings to the table. \n\n\"I was in the middle of writing a report, but I didn't expect you to be here. Figured I'd come get a cup of coffee and see if it resurrected on its own before I started kicking the machine.\" There's a ghost in the machine joke there to be made, but she's not the one to make it. \n\n\"Whose birthday?\" is asked of Jack, before she takes another swallow of liquid energy — it looks like she needs it; as always, she looks like she's not getting enough rest.\n\n\"What's this network shit do again?\" Jack clearly has no understanding of computers; he barely even uses them unless he has to. Which is a shame, because his handwriting is attrocious. While here, he may has well get coffee. All the cool kids are doing it. \"Wotcha, Uncle Sam.\" he offers up in greeting to Levi with a jovial little grin.\n\n\"One of my old regulars brings me one every year. I ain't much of a cake-eater though, truth be told.\" That seems to indicate that it's Jack's birthday. Or has been recently, even if he doesn't own up to it. The cake looks untouched. \"Eat away, else it'll go to waste, in't it?\"\n\"What? I just wanted my goddamn tea. It's not like I needed t'get work done or nothin',\" says Levi, tossing that right back at Cedric with a grin that's all Texas sunshine. Before downing half of what's left of his watered-down tea, of course. He makes a face. Apparently, that may not have been worth it. Recovering, he claps Jack on the shoulder before taking a seat, swivelling it around so he can rest his arms against the backrest. \"Well, happy doggone birthday, boy-o.\" He downs the rest. Makes another face, and then sets the cup aside. \"How're all you folks doin'?\"\n\n\"Sorry.\" Cedric still doesn't look over as he goes around to the back of the cabinet and disappears from view, the bundle of cables appearing to shorten from the front. \"Maybe you could go catch a nap while I'm doing this.\" His tone is absent, at least half-distracted, as if he's only half-listening to the conversation around him. Abruptly, there's a metallic bang and a rattle from the back, out of view, and a baritone curse. \"/Fuck./\" The bundle of cable that was shortening stops, then resumes, the curse more one of annoyance than a serious problem.\n\n\"Happy birthday,\" Mattie echoes Levi, with a glance at Jack before looking back over to Cedric; she raises a brow but ignores the suggestion to take a nap. \n\nShe lifts one shoulder in a half shrug at the half-American. \"Same ol', same ol', too much to do, not enough time in the day, and burnt coffee sucks,\" she says, though she takes another sip of the brew anyway. Caffeine is caffeine, right? \"Writing a report you'll want to look at when I'm done,\" she tells the new senior operative, before nodding over at Jack. \"You too. Weird guy who keeps popping up. Calling him Blackbeard for the sake of brevity, because 'creepy Other who keeps popping up all over the place with a black beard' is too long to fit on the file tab.\"\n\n\"Cheers.\" Jack shrugs off the happiness of the birthday part, not seeming all that bothered. There's cake. It's a benefit for other people. Normal people, who like eating cake. Who doesn't like cake? Pouring in hot water, his coffee is black and sweet. Moving away, he settles down into a chair, balancing back on two legs to listen to the conversation.\n\n\"Not much new with me. Same shit, different toilet, mate.\" Weird guys, that's interesting. A brow raises just slightly, \"An Other with a beard? That's different. Didn't have no clue they were into that kind of fashion statement.\"\nLevi immediately perks. The cake can wait. \"Like, pirate Blackbeard? Actually looks human Blackbeard? Something I can shoot Blackbeard?\" The man's smile is all white teeth, and he makes a gun-finger at the coffeepot. Bang. But, fashion statements aside. \"Well, good t'hear y'all are doin' well enough. I've been sortin' through some new personnel files and brainstorming some security enhancements. Also, psych evals for everyone.\" He waits for the resounding applause. \"I bet she'll have candy. Does that help?\"\n\n\"You mean the bloke from the train tunnels?\" Cedric's voice floats over from the other side of the cabinet where he's working, although it's muffled by the noise of the various machines in there and possibly difficult to understand.\n\nThe phrase 'psych evals' earns Levi one of Mattie's withering looks. Apparently she's not a fan. \n\n\"Not a pirate. And yes, that guy. At a glance, he seems human — though I think any Touched will know he's not — and seems like the same guy has been showing up here and there at various bad happenings as far back as the 1920s. It seems like — as was the case with the Notting Hill carnival,\" this, she says with a grimace, \"he has a trick of having it look like another Other is the cause of the hijinks when it might be in fact his doing. Or he's using decoys, or something, maybe.\" \n\nShe moves to the table to investigate the cake. \"Read the research, see if you can make any sense of it. He's obviously dangerous, but I don't advise trying to tackle him single handedly. I think we need a plan and a group. If you see him, maybe try to find out where he's living without letting him know he's being followed, then get back here. Don't try to take him on yourself.\" That repeated, she tips her head in Jack's direction again. \"What kind?\" She means the cake of course.\n\nJack is also not so excited abot psych evals. He's also likely not all that sure what they even involve. The cockney's psyche is a mystery, even to himself. Best not poke at some places. Not having been present at the station, he takes a slow sip of his hot coffee while thinking, \"Where'd he bugger off to when you saw him in the train tunnels? Not still down there is he?\" A nose wrinkle, accessing memories of briefly read reports, \"Didn't you set that whole bloody place on fire?\"\n\n\"Naw, now don't give me that look,\" says Levi, returning Mattie's sweet, sweet glance with wry grin that's almost cheshire. \"Shrink's name is Nadya, an' she's been consultin' with the Watch for awhile. Met her some years back, an' I'm strongly encouragin' everyone t'go an' have a chat with her. She's good at what she does, canny even, good at helpin' folks.\" He gestures vaguely downstairs. \"Had her file cross my desk since she's back in town. I might be inclined t'get us a new coffee maker if everyone plays ball.\" Bribery works, right? But that said, he nods at the Blackbeard talk, scratching at the day's stubble growth on his cheek. \"Yeah, yeah. No rushin' off bein' a hero.\"\n\nThere's a spectacularly obvious silence from the other side of the racks. A momentary pause, then the sound of cables being pulled resumes.\n\n\"Most of us passed shrink evals when we joined Watch,\" says Mattie as she turns to the cupboards and drawers to find a knife, a fork and a plate. \"I'll go when Sunshine deems it necessary.\" \n\nThe cake is cut into and a small piece slid onto the plate before she retreats to her corner against the counter, her preferred leaning spot. \"He disappeared, into the Gloom, presumably. We could check it out, I suppose, and to make sure whatever was down there didn't regrow since we blasted it. I'm not sure that we'll find him there — he seems to be pretty eclectic for an Other, which is … well, disturbing in itself.\"\n\nThere's just a blank look from Jack to Levi, \"S'all very American, this whole shrink lark.\" he states, accusatory. Mattie remains being not the only one adverse to mental poking. The question from earlier does finally sink through while he's ruminating, \"I uh. Good question. No idea, darl'. Cake?\" Bit late now, really. Given that she's already cut it open and can likely see for herself.\n\n\"Next thing you know, they're going to be opening up chippies on Oxford street an' sellin' horsecock to tourists.\" It /starts/ with being eclectic and having a neck beard. it's all down hill from there.\n\"Yeah?\" Levi returns to Mattie, still chipper. \"An' when was that? We gotta have annual psych evals in the MET. Don't see why the Watch should be any different. If anythin', it'd be /more/ important, 'cause no one 'round here ever wants t'talk about nothin'. Like the problem's just gonna 'poof!' if we don't fart it out. Ever had bad gas?\" The man waves a hand. \"Bah, whatevs. I'll bring it up to Ms. Sonnenschein if I gotta.\" It appears here's willing to drop the subject for now, and without calling anyone a pansy, either. It's apparently a good day! In fact, he's suddenly downright quiet. Perhaps considering Mr. Blackbeard.\n\n\"Maybe because we all know we're fucked up in the head and don't need anyone to tell it to us. Do I know I'm a few fries short of a Happy Meal? You bet. Talking about it isn't going to help me, and if I do decide it will, it's not going to be just because it's someone's job description to listen,\" Mattie says sharply. \"No one's been trained in a university to deal with the trauma our lot's been through or goes through daily, so a psych degree doesn't impress me much. No offense to her. I'm sure she's fine.\" \n\nThe plate of cake is raised. \"Cheers,\" Mattie says, using the British 'thanks' perhaps deliberately for Jack's sake, since Americans seem to be on his shit list at the moment. \"I'll come back later to file my report. Gonna go do some field work instead. I could use some fresh air.\" She doesn't wait for the men to say goodbye but slips off into the hallway.\n\n\"Aye. So long.\" A little wave of fingers as Mattie heads out with cake. More coffee fills the momentary silence as Levi considers blackbeard and he considers the arguments for and against psych evals. \"So what's new with you, Sam? 'sides from this mental health gubbins what you're trying to promote? Any excitin' an' dangerous assignments to send us lesser mortals on?\" A brow raises in query. Clearly it's been too long (a whole week) since the mechanic got to kill an Other. Tick tock, tick tock.\n\nLevi seems hardly convinced by Mattie's arguments, but as the woman is departing, it would be bad form to shout his disagreements, so he doesn't. \"Eh? I've been dealin' with newbies an' rookies all week, half of which fully need some serious therapy. That's what got me thinkin' on it. Though I've been gettin' some serious backbitin' from folks goin' 'no, no, I know I'm bonkers' like that makes it okay.\" The big Texan grumps, and then, again, sets it aside. \"I'm lookin' into something down in Islington on Cedric's behalf, here. An' I got my eyes open for other oddities. Believe me, I'm ready for a bit of unnecessary violence. But nothin' just yet. I'll let you know, though.\"\n\n\"I'd be more concerned if there was people what went into the Gloom an' came out sane, to be honest with you there, mate.\" Jack points out the obvious, lifting his cup to drain the last of it afterwards. His nose wrinkles again, although this time he's clearly amused; at least he's on the same page as Levi in some ways, \"Not sure I'd consider any of our violence unnecessary, neither.\" He looks over toward the window, quieting for a time. \"Speaking of, I should check on Henry sometime soon. Poor bastard's lucky he didn't get gutted with what was hidin' out in the cemetary.\"\n\nLevi lifts a finger, indicating Jack's got a point. \"Well, when I empty half a cliff into an icorporeal spirit-Other-thing just 'cause it makes me feel better, /that/ might be slightly unnecessary. But better that and it payin' attention to me than snackin' on some innocents brainmeats, yeah?\" Then, his brightness dims a bit, and he nods almost solemnly. \"Yeah, heard about that. Send my regards.\"\n\nFinally, more sound from the back of the rack. \"There.\" A moment later, Cedric emerges from the back of the cabinet, and the door bangs shut and locks. He surveys the front briefly, then closes the front of the cabinet as well. \"What's this about something in the cemetery?\" he asks curiously of Jack, having finished just in tiem to hear that part. Levi gets a nod, but a brief one/\n\n\"Bunch of Others, muckin' up tombstones in the cemetary. Gaggle of flyin' ones an' a massive big honkin' beast what were knockin' over tombstones and breaking things.\" A brief pause before he adds, \"Dead now. They caused quite a ruckus though. His dog went missin' too, not sure if he's found it or not.\" Clearly, Jack takes Others killing old men's dogs as serious business. Especially Henry's.\n"
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