//There’s a dancer from Argentina with raven hair.//
//I’ll bet you tonight she’s in a club somewhere.//
//With a passion for uptown and ballroom lights.//
//And I’ll hold her tonight in a dream that fades away.//
//Mover, I know all of your moves.//
//When you cross the floor, you’re in Argentina.//
//Mover come and talk to me. Mover, take a walk with me.//
/Sit down, show me your heart…//
The song is a jazzy number. Lots of odd scales and half tones. It’s accompanied by a saxophone that is, in this case, also Jericho operating a synth remotely. One can do wonderous things with music when one has a MIDI driver in one’s brain, apparently.
The place? Well it’s smokier than usual. And dimmer than usual. The kind of ambiance that a certain type of jazz likes and indeed the set has been mostly jazz tonight.
It had been a long day for Kaylee, working on, or with, Nano Steve among other things. It’s not like there’s enough to keep her busy, really. As such it had been a late dinner and where better than the club where Jericho is working.
She hadn’t been certain what to expect when he’d told her to ‘dress up’ a bit. But she had, pulling a dress out of mothballs and donning it. She’d even done her hair a bit.
Sitting at a table not far from the piano, Kaylee’s nursing a drink. It looks like it might be scotch.
//She deserted a wealthy family one stormy night.//
//And left Buenos Aires on an LA flight.//
//She’d deny it but she can’t hide it, it’s written in her eyes.//
//There’s a ghost in her past and it haunts her night and day.//
//Mover, I know all of your moves.//
//When you cross the floor, you’re in Argentina.//
//Mover come and talk to me. Mover, take a walk with me.//
/Sit down, show me your heart…//
Even Jericho is a bit dressed up tonight which means he’s not in his usual jeans and shirt but rather a more formal but still casual slacks and collared shirt with a sports jacket on the bench next to him. The song is the last of his set. It’s a slightly melancholy song but he does have another set coming up. Maybe he’ll end on an up note.
When it’s over the hacker comes down off the stage to sit next to Kaylee and get his dinner.
“Hey there. Good of you to come. Nice dress.”
“Nice song …” Kaylee murmurs. She’s not had her dinner yet, she’s waited, so when they bring out Jericho’s, they’ll bring out hers.
The dress is nice, not the usual though. Not what many are wearing these days. It might hark back to the war days, not the last one, the big one before that.
“You don’t scrub up so bad yourself, either. Not your usual to play, though.”
Jericho chuckles. “Thanks. I don’t wear stuff like this often. And I don’t play these venues often but they’re a good break. The clientele are a bit more particular about the music… so I charge a bit more.”
The hacker’s food arrives, so does Kaylee’s. It’s much nicer food than provided by the usual bars he works.
“Long day at work today?” Jericho has… probably not been working today other than this. There’s no signs that he’s been fighting and after all this time she knows what those signs are.
“No more… incidents at SHIELD?”
They usually only happen when he’s around.
“I can tell they’re more particular …” Kaylee answers, moving her glass so her plate can be placed. “It’s nice. I think you should do them more often. I don’t mind getting dressed up, for the most part.”
“It’s always a long day, Jericho, you know that.” the biochem does look tired though. “But yes. At least I got out tonigh and didn’t have any emergencies to deal with.” She’s already checked him over, visually – and no he doesn’t have seemed to have been fighting.
“No, thankfully. I’m not sleeping particularly easy though. Not knowing what caused it, leaves me unsettled.”
She quiets for a moment, as she cuts up her food “And you. How are you feeling after last night with Steve?”
“Has it ever happened… when I’m not around?” He’s seen this several times of course but Jericho is of course always around for what he sees.
“If I do another one I’ll be sure to invite you along. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who likes coming to my music so much. At least, not who doesn’t play with me.”
Gabrielle comes a fair bit but she also plays.
The question about steve has Jericho blowing out a sigh. “I’m… okay. The things he says, though…”
Kaylee looks down at her plate at the question before glancing back up. “Not … like that. I have the dreams, as I told you and sometimes when I wake, it’s like there’s someone in the room with me. A feeling more than anything that seems to pass quickly enough.”
“That last time though, it just really spooked me. Whatever that was, Jericho, it was real. I could have been hurt or … worse.”
There’s the softest of snorts at the next piece of commentary. “Maybe it’s not the music I come for …” It looks like she’s about to add more but she changes her mind, her cheeks colouring slightly.
“The things he says though, Jericho, are those of a machine. A machine that was programmed in a particular way. It’s really no different to how the genome was discussed in Scientific circles when we first discovered it. Sometimes it still is. Yes, mutants are people but he wasn’t programmed to see that – that he has is a minor miracle.”
“A machine that is programmed to kill the people that I’ve spent a lifetime protecting.” They’re //people//. They’re the future. And yes Jericho has sacrificed blood and sanity to safeguard and rescue as many as possible. So it’s probably no wonder he takes things like that a bit personally.
“Whatever he is, or whomever he is, whatever he has become we can’t forget where he came from. Not while we’re not sure he can be trusted.”
It’s occured to Jericho that this might be a very long kind of con. He hopes he’s wrong but this is all rather… convenient.
He’ll come back to dreams in a moment.
Kaylee still as Jericho speaks, folding her hands on the table in front of her. He’s worked up about this, she knows that. “You and others, Jericho and it’s not something that I forget. I have Jemma’s memories, remember? I *know* what the aftermath of the War was. I know the fear that was created.”
Taking a deep breath, the biochem closes her eyes a moment, centreing herself before continuing. “I haven’t forgotten what he is, Jericho. We’ve taken precautions and short of destroying him, there’s not a lot more I can do, is there?”
And yes, it might be a long con but they can suspect and become no better than the creators of the Sentinels and the Master Mold or they can preserve their … humanity.
“Short of sealing him inside his bucket, no I suppose not and I doubt he’d be very cooperative then.” And… they kind of need him to be. Jericho knows that. But Nano-Steve is the antithesis of everything the hacker has devoted his life to. And Jericho knows THAT too.
“Do you know if anything useful came off of the East Asia desk?” Madripoor would be closest to SHIELD stations in Korea and Australia and if anyone would be keeping an eye on it, it would be them. Likely they have some resources devoted to it, though really that part of the world keeps a wary eye on China. There were a couple billion people there. And they didn’t all die. But the government has gone silent and know one quite knows what’s going on.
“Do you think we could seal Steve in a bucket?” Kaylee asks, still watching Jericho. She knows he has strong feelings and has trouble controlling them. She hasn’t forgotten what Dora had said when she ‘looked’ at him. “I would rather not try, to be honest. He’s cooperating and as long as we verify the information he’s giving us, we’ll be as prepared as we can be.”
“Agent Carter was investigating that but I’ve asked for reports in general.” She answers the next question. “We’ve Agents on the ground there. Ones out of Australia and our people are expecting a report in the next week or so. As soon they get that, they’ll ask the questions.” It’s not ideal, but undercover agents can’t be contacted willy nilly.
“So we’ll know at some point in the near future.” Jericho could probably pay a visit. Or Gabrielle. They’re not known associates of SHIELD outside of Chicago. But there’s no point at this stage. There are other people in play more familiar with the place.
The hacker’s eyes flash dangerously though and he calms slightly. “I know, Kaylee. But I don’t have to like it.” And he probably won’t ever trust the machine-Steve. It is, after all, a sentinel of sorts.
“Tell me about the dreams though. Are you having them again lately? Or feeling… watched?”
Kaylee should be afraid of Jericho. She is, really but it’s tempered by the knowledge that it’s Jericho. He’ll hurt though, if he ever snaps – and she never forgets that.
“Yes, we will. Sooner if our Agents report in earlier.” Jericho or Gabrielle could go, that’s true, and they might need to but not in the next day or so.
Holding her breath as Jericho’s eyes flash, the biochem touches his arm again, running her fingers down it. She’s not sure, but it seems to help. “If it helps, you don’t have to be there when he’s around.”
Then he asks about the dreams. Kaylee lets out her breath “I … wake up with vague memories of being somewhere else. They’re not as bad as the time you saw, but it’s often enough. And watched? Several times over the past months. But I’ve heard people say that happens after experiences of extreme of stress.”
“Somewhere else?” Jericho settles a little and starts tucking into his food. “As in somewhere else on another planet or just… not where you were when you went to sleep?”
Displacement is a common theme in dreams. Jericho knows that much though he’s not a psychologist.
“Have you had any indication that you actually ARE being watched?”
“No, not another planet…” Kaylee smiles faintly at that. “I would have said if it was that. Different places in the world. Places I haven’t been, I think. Middle east, parts of Europe. I recognise the feel of them, based on Jemma’s memories. It’s rather confusing when I wake up.”
She’s quiet again, eating a bit and thinking.
“Any indications? Like what? I don’t think there’s anything been moved and the surveillance that I set up hasn’t been accessed.” Has she reviewed to see if there’s any footage?
“Hmmmm…” Jericho takes another couple of bites from his food and seems to consider. “Take it from someone who has to think about security regularly. Just because something feels a bit paranoid doesn’t mean you’re not being watched. If you have survielance, check it. And maybe adjust it. See if you can catch someone who thinks he’s learned your patterns out.”
The hacker gives it a little more thought as he eats. “Do those parts of the world have any significance to you? Or Jemma?”
“Check my surveillance? Maybe you could look at it and tell me what might need adjusting? I … could ask one of the techs from SHIELD but I don’t want to be flagged …” There’s enough on Kaylee’s file at the moment that paranoic delusion might be a problem. “You don’t think I’m imagining it, do you?”
Jericho probably still has the access to the surveillance system from when they were trying to work out what her LMD chassis was doing.
“Middle East and Europe? Not to me, no. Not even to Jemma, really. She did some missions over there, but those areas don’t look familiar. I was wondering if I might be still getting something from Mosqueda? I know you said they fade quickly enought …”
But it’s been months now. Surely they should be gone?
“You might be, but in my experience it’s never good to assume that you are.” Jericho shrugs a single shoulder to indicate that he doesn’t think she’s being delusional.
“If it’s nothing, it’s nothing and you’re safe. If it’s not nothing, though, then it’s best we know about it now and treat it like the problem that it is. I can’t think of many people who would be spying on you for good reasons. Unless it’s a Fitz and… even then that’s probably a little creepy.” He smirks.
“Mmmm. Memories from Sylvia? That’s possible. They’ve never lasted that long that I know of but it’s still possible. That should be testable right? Brain waves and all?”
“If it’s a Fitz they are in so much trouble….” Kaylee blinks at Jericho. That’s actually very creepy and Kaylee wonders a bit about Cullen. Jericho’s got her thinking on that. “But at least that’s something explainable, I suppose.”
Still eating she’s thoughtful and watches the Hacker “It might be, but I wonder if that only happens when I’m dreaming. I can test it though and see what I find. I might need to do a sleep test as well.”
Which means she might need to spend some nights in SHIELD medical.
Letting the silence draw for a moment longer, the biochem finally looks at the Hacker “How do you feel your control of your temper, your emotions, is going? Is it getting easier? Harder? About the same?”
Jericho pushes his place away slightly. He’s pretty much finished his swordfish and it was really quite good. It had a white peppercorn sauce that he’s rather fond of. And the asparagus was cooked just so. Not to hard, not too mushy.
“Me?” He sighs a little and takes a drink of a light beer.
“Probably harder. I… it’s hard to say. But I’ve been noticing and that must mean it’s bad enough for me to notice.”
He’s been working the telepaths at the Institute, a couple of whom have degrees in counseling but being around him is as hard on them as it is on him so… progress has been limited.
Kaylee watches as Jericho pushes his plate away. She’s no telepath and she’s not sure if she caused that. She frowns.
“Maybe you’ve been noticing more because you’re aware of it.” She says simply, thinking a bit. “Noticing isn’t a bad thing and it can help you address it when it happens.” But she thinks he might be right, it is getting worse.
“I know you’ve been with the Institute. I’ve not checked in on you, I wouldn’t without your permission but I know how hard it is on the Telepaths. I can only imagine how difficult it is for you. I don’t know if I can do anything to help, but maybe we could try something … chemical….”
It’s not her preferred option, at all.
“Chemical such as what?” There are ways to chemically regulate neuro-receptors to prevent people from… feeling certain things. In a physiological sense. But Jericho understands those rather deaden people and he’s not sure he likes the idea much himself.
But she’s more of an expert on this and he’s willing to hear her out. She may have some options he’s not aware of. Medicine has advanced a lot in the last fifty years after all.
Kaylee probably doesn’t. The human brain and human physiology is still somewhat of a mystery but they know a bit more than Jemma did.
“I’m not sure but I’ve been thinking about it. I experience dreams and encounters, you with emotions. I wonder how tied that is to your traces. Your medical records are silent on any conjecture but they’ve noted your emotional control a few times after you got your traces. So maybe I could test that connection, the problem is that anything I *can* do is experimental and will be specific to you.”
Jericho blows out a breath. Not an annoyed breath really just a tired one. He’s thinking. “So it’s more a question about the general effects of the traces. Which seem to have mental effects on both of us but the effects are different.”
That seems tricky to him. “The trouble is that having a computer in my brain, balancing out my neurochemicals can be a bit tricky. You actually have sort of the same problem. You have implants designed to boost your cognitive abilities. I’m not sure what happens if we tank your dopamine levels.”
There’s probably literature on that but it is ALSO probably somewhat experimental.
“We’re a small statistical group and I’d like to speak to Gabrielle as well but it seems that way yes. Given they all manifest differently for us too, that we’re experiencing different mental and emotional issues, seems to track. I’m guessing, but it’s a fairly educated guess.”
“Exactly and that’s part of my concern. I *also* don’t know what effects the Promethium will have on anything I do. We know it behaves … erratically. I was wondering if whatever I do might interact more directly with that. But it *is* experimental, Jericho and there’s no guarantee that what we do won’t make it worse.”
“That’s actually a good idea. Gabby hasn’t ever mentioned to me anything like what we’re experiencing but she might mention something relevant if we focus on it. And if she’s not experieincing anything like that then we’ll have a… control…”
The hacker pauses and looks over at Kaylee as she explains. “Is there a way to get… simulational data? I don’t particularly want to find that I suddenly can’t use my traces.”
Actually there might be. They can simulate the effects of the drug in a framework. Trick the brain into thinking that it’s inhibited and see what it does.
Hopefully nothing horribly painful.
“Of course that’s a good idea, I had it…” Kaylee tries to waggle her brows and … fails … terribly. “Either way it will give more support to my supposition or a control, as you say. And we can look at the differences between our traces and hers.”
“I don’t know. A framework might do it. We can feed the data we have for you into it and then how we think the drug will work. It won’t be foolproof but you’ll get an idea of it.”
It won’t be painful, perse, well physically anyway…
“I’ll set it up for you. You’ll have to forward me your data so I can get the simulation working. There will be… some risk. Making frameworks feedback accurately into the body means that the simulation can hurt the person inside so…. have a defibrilator on hand.”
He doesn’t seem worried though. Kaylee can handle all that right?
“Where’d you get that dress by the way? Looks like something Agent Carter might wear.”
“That would be good and I’ll send Gabrielle a message that I would like to talk to her.” Kaylee finally finishes her meal, it’s cool now but it had been delicious. “And I will. I won’t let anything happen to you, Jericho…”
She blushes at the mention of the dress. If anything, Kaylee prefers to dress in understated sort of way, so this is a real departure from the norm. “I found a shop that sells them. It had some lovely designs and I couldn’t resist it. I didn’t know if I’d ever get to wear it but …” she shrugs “… I thought maybe one day someone would ask me out to dance …”
And yes, she’s blushing. Terribly.
Jericho chuckles a bit. “I appreciate that, Kaylee…”
He pauses for a moment and then smiles. “Ask you out to dance? I mean I’m sure someone would. There’s a whole room of Fitz’s that would jump at the chance I’m sure if they thought you’d say yes. But I presume you mean someone else.”
He glances back behind him. “You know they do dancing here sometimes too.” When he’s not playing, presumably. The thing about Jericho is he’s often playing the music and not doing the dancing but tonight he’s also not the only act so… there might be. If she wanted it.
“Not Fitz’s. They all got two left feet.” Kaylee says airly. Jericho knows why she won’t encourage any of the Fitz’s more than she has. “And it was more rhetorical but you know, someone … might. One day.” It’s possibly the first time this Simmons has shown an interest in much more than work and sleeping.
“I do, I checked up on them on their website. And you’ve got another set starting soon, don’t you. I don’t mind nursing a drink and listening … but dancing might be … nice. Do you think someone here might ask me? Or say yes if I was to ask them?”
She scans the room, dimly lit as it is “Like the man at that table over there?” Is she teasing?
Jericho leans back and looks at the man she’d indicated. He does a facial recognition scan by reflex to pull up his internet footprint, social media history, work history and so on. He probably doesn’t even realize at this point that he does it, it’s become so normal for him.
“Yeah, maybe him. Or the barkeep in back, if you flutter your eye lashes real nicely.” He knows she’s teasing. Or. Well, he thinks she’s teasing.
“I might ask you but I wouldn’t… wouldn’t want to…”
Jericho falters and shakes his head a little bit. There’s a high pitched buzz in his ears that seems to be coming from his traces. A couple seconds later, Kaylee can hear it from her own. No one else seems to heaer it. And it’s getting abit painful.
“The barkeep? The cute one?” Kaylee grins and looks in the direction of the bar, enjoying the banter. “Bit young for me don’t you think?” His next words have the blush getting a little brighter but the smile she’d been sporting is soon swapped out for a frown.
“Jericho? What is tha—” She shakes her head and looks around. That’s not her implant this time, that’s ther traces. “What’s happening?”
“I don’t know.” Jericho says leaning forward and putting his head in his hands. This hurts now. He does not at all like it.
//Do you see them?// A deep, somewhat raspy voice says.
//Yes. She’s with him. They’re… in a place. A smokey room. Like a singer.// That’s Kaylee. Well, it’s KK, it sounds like.
//Focus. Can you feel the resonance?//
//Yes. It goes right to their souls…//
//Good. Do you think you can duplicate this?//
//With some time and work yes. I’ll get started on it, my Lord…//
The high pitched whine fades and Jericho shakes his head. “What the hell?”
It does hurt and Kaylee’s eyes water a little as she shifts trying to alleviate the discomfit.
“KK?” she manages to grit out, her head canting as she listens. All too quickly and not quickly enough, it fades.
“She’s made a connection to our traces … or he has.” She whispers, horrified. Jericho had postulated they might be able to but this, this was proof. “Did you hear what she said about our souls?”
Kaylee sometimes wonders if she has a soul. This body is a clone after all.
“I did.” Jericho says, shaking his head. “Ugh. That felt awful.”
The pain clears. He shakes himself again and looks at Kaylee. “I don’t know that we were necessarily meant to hear that. Wherever they were doing it from, I don’t think it was close by.”
The entire context of that is disturbing. Soul or no soul, whatever they did is tapping into things attached to their brains and vital organs. Even if all it does is track them it’s suddenly become a very big problem.
Kaylee actually feels ill after that. Jericho might note that her colour has drained.
“Neither do I. I don’t think they even know how the connection works but was that … N’astirh? And what does he want KK to replicate and why?” She’s nearly babbling again, as her mind starts to crank up.
“They … can find us anywhere, can’t they?”
“Hey! Kaylee!” Jericho quietly snaps to get her attention. He reaches over and grabs her hand and squeezes it hard enough to hurt just a little just to get her attention and make her focus on him.
“Hey. We don’t know what they can do yet and we don’t know what they’re trying to replicate. We did just get a clue that they were up to something that they probably didn’t mean to give us. So…” That’s not a bad thing right?
“Don’t panic now. That’s not going to help.”
Kaylee blinks as Jericho squeezes her hand. “What?” She settles. “I’m not panicking … not really. Just working through possibilities.”
Suurrrre she was.
“It is a clue but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. That *hurt* and until we can work out if they can’t be stopped tracing us, it’s a problem. I’m not going to forget that, Jericho.”
She’s not babbling now though and she’s calmed. “What are we going to do?”
“Well I am going to start looking for KK and we’re going to try to pin her down and get some answers. She’s been slippery in the past though I think it’s possibly a good idea for us to consider ways to contain her. Maybe…”
The hacker makes a face. “Maybe Nano-Steve. He’s familiar on some level with promethium. Perhaps he’ll have some kind of suggestion. They did have to fight a prometium infestation. Though it seems to have ended in fire…”
He’s got another set coming up. “Don’t think about it too hard right now. Just get another drink and hang out here. We can come back to it.”
“We need to see Fitz and get that scan done. With that information we might be able to manufacture a ‘kill switch’ for her chassis.” All LMDs must have one but with the corruption the chassis had experienced, Kaylee doesn’t believe the feature would work.
“It’s a shame Anastasia isn’t around …” Kaylee rolls her eyes at that. She really isn’t comfortable with the blonde, at all. “She might be able to help us test. I just know, you’re going to tell me this is magic …” but Nano-Steve is a good choice, she thinks.
“And I think you’ve promised me a dance …” Yes, she’ll get a drink and just … chill.
“It is.” Jericho says standing up. “But then, so is my piano, as you are about to see.”
Drink and just chill yes. Those things will make for, hopefully, a better evening than she’s had thus far.