RP Do You Mind?


Breaker of Forums
Staff member
[div style="border-top: 4px #33ccff solid; border-bottom: 4px #33ccff solid; border-left: 4px #000000 solid; border-right: 4px #000000 solid;"][div style="border-right: 4px #33ccff solid; border-left: 4px #33ccff solid; border-bottom: 4px #000000 solid; border-top: 4px #000000 solid;padding:8px; background-color:white;color:black;font-family:'courier new';"]Date: No thanks, the age gap's too weird
Location: Fourteen!
Personnel: Cait and this other guy
Purpose: Shrinking, but not the fun way.

[font color="33ccff"]"Psychology department!"[/font]

This exclamation was accompanied by the sound of Alvis Holt's office door banging open. It had been closed before, but it hadn't been locked or hexed or booby-trapped or altered to lead to an oblique dimension filled entirely with thneeds, and that was basically an invitation as far as Caitlynn Corby was concerned.

Also, this was L-14 and she was officially supposed to be talking to people at L-14. She even had paperwork for it! Sure, she was really supposed to be talking to people about ACF-1003, but you never knew who was going to know what, so it was really just fine if she talked to anyone that she wanted to.

And she definitely wanted to talk to L-14's psychology department. It was like snooping around at the house where someone you knew had grown up. Or maybe it was not like that at all, but this was not likely to stop Cait, nor was anything else. People had tried. And tried. And tried. And then they'd given up and sent her off to L-9, and ever since then things had gone swimmingly.

The office was neat but not too neat, in a very manufactured way. It looked like someone had looked through several magazines for references and then spent several hours arranging the cushions down to the proper centimeter. The furniture was boring, the books were boring - not a single mind-altering title in sight - and the man behind the counter was probably trying his best to be boring, at least, if he wasn't trying his best to do whatever it was that people did when they were first offended with Cait.

[font color="33ccff"]"Hello, Dr. Holt!"[/font] His name had been on the office door. Really, that made it too easy, but not everything could be a challenge. [font color="33ccff"]"You don't have an appointment, but I have time to squeeze you in anyway. Yay for you, right?"[/font]
A Calm Friday

He was making a sweater today.

Doctor Hawthorne, one of the amnestetic specialists, was retiring soon- and, whilst she understood he would not be attending the party, he still felt a little bad about it. This parting gift really was the least he could do, so he thought he'd spend some time on it, to make sure it's perfect. He was about a third of the way through this sleeve, now--the main body having already been completed--and he seemed to be enjoying the process. There was a cup of tea on the coffee table. Chamomile, as usual. For the first time that week, he had allowed himself time to relax-

"Hello, Dr. Holt!"

He turned his head towards the now open door.

"You don't have an appointment, but I have time to squeeze you in anyway. Yay for you, right?"

His calm smile remained carved into his face, but he did blink a little harder than usual.

"I- hello."
He said,
"I don't take walk-ins for anything other than amnestetics, but-"

Something told him the usual spiel wouldn't help.

"Might I ask what you're in here for?"
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[div style="border-top: 4px #33ccff solid; border-bottom: 4px #33ccff solid; border-left: 4px #000000 solid; border-right: 4px #000000 solid;"][div style="border-right: 4px #33ccff solid; border-left: 4px #33ccff solid; border-bottom: 4px #000000 solid; border-top: 4px #000000 solid;padding:8px; background-color:white;color:black;font-family:'courier new';"][font color="33ccff"]"Ooooh, that really is right up in the brain space. It's kinda like talking to Ithy. You can pretend I didn't say that if it makes you feel better. "[/font] People got weird about Eldritch stuff, or at least people outside L-9 did. Cait wandered over to the coffee table and picked up the mug, which was filled with... tea.

Ick. Disappointing. She set it back down again, not on a coaster, then promptly sat down facing him. On the coffee table. [font color="33ccff"]"Does it make you feel better? Not that I'm trying to or anything, I'm just here to chat. So, you've been here a while, yeah? Any pro tips on 1003?"[/font] That was, after all, what Cait was supposed to be asking about here at L-14. It wasn't what she wanted to be asking about, but Cait was perfectly capable of starting out like she was supposed to and then ending up where she wanted to, whether or not anyone else actually wanted her to be there.

Usually they didn't, much like he didn't want her to be in his office, but if she'd learned anything from Strings it was - well, it was a very long and very worrisome list, but one of the things on it was that you could learn a lot from someone when you made them uncomfortable.
"Ith- right."
He sighed,
"Well, if it's uncomfortable, I could always try writing things down instead- or sign language, if you know that."

She reached down for his mug, sat down on his coffee table, and continued to talk to--or, rather, at--him for a while longer.

"You don't need to worry about offending me."

She wouldn't worry anyway.

"Ah, I'm afraid I don't know much about 1003- eldritch things aren't really my area of expertise. I know a few people in the department who might be able to help, if you'd like me to point you in the right direction."
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[div style="border-top: 4px #33ccff solid; border-bottom: 4px #33ccff solid; border-left: 4px #000000 solid; border-right: 4px #000000 solid;"][div style="border-right: 4px #33ccff solid; border-left: 4px #33ccff solid; border-bottom: 4px #000000 solid; border-top: 4px #000000 solid;padding:8px; background-color:white;color:black;font-family:'courier new';"][font color="33ccff"]"Oh, you don't need to write anything down. Being uncomfortable builds character! And I have got so much character. And sorry, I don't know sign. I know Cantonese? And several unpronounceable languages and a few I can't even speak of, but that's a whole thing, and as far as we can tell it's why none of the other languages will stick. But it's not your thing! So you don't have to worry about that, yeah?"[/font]

See, this was going well already. He was confused and off-guard and she'd been here less than two minutes. Strings would have been proud. At least, she hoped he would.

[font color="33ccff"]"And don't worry about if you don't know anything about 1003, I'm just contractually obligated to ask. Ugh. I hate it when Gail does the paperwork. Oh! You can call me Cait, by the way. And you're Dr. Alvis Holt, or at least that's the name you're using in this dimensional space and reality and, uh, office. Can I call you 'Al'? We can be like friends!"[/font] It was one of those phrases that people assumed meant we can be, like, friends in the valley-girl sense and not like friends, or friend-adjacent or something approximating but not actually friends.

He was a weird anomalous guy, after all, and Cait didn't need her mental faculties any weirder than they already were.
"Ah, of course. I know what it's like with paperwork around here, believe me- seems that, because we work with the impossible, they can expect it to be achieved."

He laughed silently- an odd motion without the sound to accompany it. Of course, Alvis had never been a problem regarding paperwork completion, but he echoed the sentiment he had heard countless times from his peers. Not everyone enjoyed being overworked, after all.

She remained, even after her question was answered; peppy and meandering, pointedly hollow, trying to dance around conclusions. It was hardly a grand revelation. There were plenty of others in the department who had documented experience with 1003, and Alvis was notably absent from that list- currently, at least.

"Call me whatever you like, Cait."
He smiled,
"Now, whilst I have the time- I assume there's something else I can help you with, yes?"
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[div style="border-top: 4px #33ccff solid; border-bottom: 4px #33ccff solid; border-left: 4px #000000 solid; border-right: 4px #000000 solid;"][div style="border-right: 4px #33ccff solid; border-left: 4px #33ccff solid; border-bottom: 4px #000000 solid; border-top: 4px #000000 solid;padding:8px; background-color:white;color:black;font-family:'courier new';"][font color="33ccff"]"Hmmmm..."[/font] Cait did not actually want to call him Al. Mostly she'd suggested it to see how he would react, and the answer seemed to be hardly at all. The silent laughter was almost interesting, but Cait had been to whole dimensions filled with silent laughter, so it wasn't good for much more than a data point. It didn't seem to be the sort of silent laughter that tried to get into your bones and nestle down in the marrow to craft little cells and send its amusement through little capillaries until it oozed out your pores and you were also silent and notably, not usually laughing.

They had one of those somewhere, but it was in a box.

Cait supposed that Dr. Holt - apparently she was thinking of him as Dr. Holt instead of Al, probably because he was ancient - anyway, he was also in a box. It was a nicer box, but it was still a box. Everything was in its place, carefully arranged. Kind of like a dollhouse, she thought, and he was a little paper doll, all thin and pale. Except someone had put a sweater on him, maybe to help him seem warm. He wasn't, though. He was flat and cool and stamped down.

She wondered if the room was an accessory for the researcher, or if it was the other way around. We have this nice office, what do? Oh stick Alvis in it, he won't mind. Apparently even though she thought of him as Dr. Holt, the people she thought of thinking of him thought of him as Alvis. Cait wondered if anyone had ever called him Al, before.

The smile was vague and nonthreatening, the question subtly encouraging, empathetic rather than sympathetic.

[font color="33ccff"]"Were you this boring when Councilman Strings was around?"[/font]
Some people found Alvis's demeanour relaxing. Other people found it exhausting. Some people found it both- and they usually couldn't tell the difference. Cait seemed to land firmly within the second category, which was fine by him. As much as he could withstand the company, he would really much rather get back to knitting, so the less time she spent with him, the better. Of course, if she proved particularly insistent, he could always knit whilst he spoke, but her propensity to fiddle didn't make that a particularly appealing option for him.

Her mention of Strings made everything clear. The false pretense, saying everything except what she wanted to get across, being over-personal, over-obtrusive- he gave the same smile to her as he gave to him; though it wasn't much different from his usual. A little firmer, perhaps. A little less warm. Disappointed, but not angry- as he was with everyone that man surrounded himself with.

"Oh, easily."

His tone remained much the same; light and conversational.

"Were you this interesting before him?"
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[div style="border-top: 4px #33ccff solid; border-bottom: 4px #33ccff solid; border-left: 4px #000000 solid; border-right: 4px #000000 solid;"][div style="border-right: 4px #33ccff solid; border-left: 4px #33ccff solid; border-bottom: 4px #000000 solid; border-top: 4px #000000 solid;padding:8px; background-color:white;color:black;font-family:'courier new';"]Cait took no offense to the answer or the question, flashing a quick smile instead. [font color="33ccff]"Oh, I was worse."[/font] This subject might have been debatable, but if nothing else it was at least generally agreed that Cait's tenure under Strings had kept her - if not in line, at least in Nine, where the things she did weren't quite so impossible as they would have been anywhere else. Strings had been a focus, if nothing else - something to help her channel her impulses and find the line between things that she would regret and things that only other people were likely to regret.

[font color="33ccff"]"So it's easy for you, then?"[/font] A question, but the question held the implication that being boring was something he was doing on purpose. It might fit, Cait thought, with the picture perfect office and the knit sweaters and the little cutout of a man. [font color="33ccff"]"Do you like it because it's easy, or do you wish you had more of a challenge?"[/font] Cait was a challenge, usually, although generally not the sort that anyone ever asked for, or wanted if they'd gotten her anyway. She didn't mind. Strings had helped her figure that out, too.

She wondered what he'd made of Alvis, or what he would have made if he'd wanted to.
He mused,
"Worse to yourself, or worse to others?"

He had made a decision- knitting it was, then. Alvis slowly settled back down in his chair and picked up the knitting needles, gesturing with them to the seat opposite him. It was an action that suggested he was keen to see her stay- though, quite whether that was true or not, he hadn't yet decided. He was relaxed, at least. Relaxed into conversation.

"You don't get many boring people over in L-9, do you?"

It was more an observation than a question- stating the obvious, perhaps. He punctuated it with another silent laugh.

"Not ones that stay boring- or, indeed, people."
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[div style="border-top: 4px #33ccff solid; border-bottom: 4px #33ccff solid; border-left: 4px #000000 solid; border-right: 4px #000000 solid;"][div style="border-right: 4px #33ccff solid; border-left: 4px #33ccff solid; border-bottom: 4px #000000 solid; border-top: 4px #000000 solid;padding:8px; background-color:white;color:black;font-family:'courier new';"]Worse to yourself, or worse to others? Dr. Holt gained another of those quick, capricious smiles, and the easy enough answer: [font color="33ccff"]"Yes."[/font] It could have meant one or the other, but in this case it meant both, and she wasn't trying to trick him into thinking that it didn't.

He'd gestured to a chair, and Cait wondered if that was because he wanted her to come closer or just because he wanted her to stop sitting on his coffee table. She rather liked the coffee table. If the invitation became more than a suggestion, maybe she'd move, or maybe she wouldn't. For now she stayed, picking up the mug once more and staring into its depths to see if the tea had changed into anything else in the last few minutes.

It hadn't. What an odd place this was.

She didn't bother answering the not-a-question, but the statement after the silent laughter got a sharper sort of look. Cait softened it, after a moment, because she'd ever really been one for sharpness. Better to be easygoing, and ask the question with a little smile. [font color="33ccff"]"You're not very open-minded about the definition of people, if that's what you think."[/font]
Yes- to both, he assumed. He couldn't help but wonder what she was like before. You had to be a particular sort to be allowed into the foundation; most people who witnessed anomalies were simply given amnestetics and sent on their way. It was only strange people that stayed. Strange either through anomaly or personality, you didn't stay boring or people for long.

That was what he was trying to say, but his unusual brevity had caused his point to fall flat. For the first time in their conversation, Cait's expression changed- and, in return, so did his. His smile softened a little, he leaned further back in the chair, and he let out a small sigh- the only sound he could reliably make.

"Oh, Cait, that's not what I meant at all."
He said,
"What I was trying to get at... well, dealing with anomalies of that type tends to change people. A person like me would become unrecognisable, if put through such things; no longer boring if they survive, or no longer human if they don't."

He began to knit, finally looking away from Cait to briefly focus on the task at hand.

"Though, you bring up an interesting point. How would you define 'people'?"
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[div style="border-top: 4px #33ccff solid; border-bottom: 4px #33ccff solid; border-left: 4px #000000 solid; border-right: 4px #000000 solid;"][div style="border-right: 4px #33ccff solid; border-left: 4px #33ccff solid; border-bottom: 4px #000000 solid; border-top: 4px #000000 solid;padding:8px; background-color:white;color:black;font-family:'courier new';"]He was actually knitting.

Cait had tried knitting once. Or perhaps she had tried knitting several times, depending on how you counted the running off to do other things. She got the idea of it, she just didn't get the point. There were just so many other things that she would rather be doing. She had worked up a spell to knit bones - Joshua had taken one look at it and declared it 'an abomination of medical thaumaturgy'. Cait wasn't sure what he'd done with her little knitted bird. She suspected he still had it, if only for preservation purposes.

She had a feeling that Dr. Holt would either disapprove or pretend to disapprove while being really interested, but she was pretty sure that finding out would cross the line of what she was allowed to do at L-14. She was already skirting it pretty seriously with this conversation.

[font color="33ccff"]"I'd define people as anything sentient enough to attempt to enact its will on others,"[/font] Cait answered. Being from L-9, it was probably no surprise that she had this answer ready to go without having to stop and think about it. [font color="33ccff"]"Because it requires a sense of self, a sense of other, a sense of the will of others being different from one's own, and a desire for change."

[font color="33ccff"]"How would you define it?"[/font]
"That's a very open definition, Cait- perhaps too open for this department."

He didn't look up from his knitting- impolite, certainly.

"A housecat, meowing for its dinner, knowing that its actions will cause its owner to do what it wants- is that a person? Should it be treated as such- given the same rights, the same opportunities, the same- ah, my apologies, I am going on a bit here, aren't I?"

There was no point in being annoying, was there? Poor Cait had probably heard enough pointless semantic arguments back at L-9, she didn't need any more from him, of all people. Although, if she was willing to talk him in circles...

"Do you think personhood can be lost, then?"
Alvis said,
"I can give you many examples of people who have lost their sense of self, or their sense of other, or their desire for change- I'd like to think they're still people, even if they might not have the capacity to agree."

He finally looked up, casting off a stitch.

"Though, I suppose that's just the anomaly-psychologist in me speaking, isn't it?"
Cait giggled at the disagreement, shaking her head. "Oh, come on, Dr. Holt! There are tons of people who will swear their cats are people." It seemed to go along with cat ownership. Also, tons of people was not necessarily that many people, was it? It implied a greater number, to be fair, but by strict measurement...

...Well, Cait wasn't strict about anything, so maybe it didn't matter.

"And maybe it's too open for you over here at L-14, but I don't come from the boring place, so there you go." L-9's definitions could be whatever they wanted them to be - and often a less strict interpretation was beneficial.

The other question had been pretty interesting, but that didn't take much thinking either, since that was at the forefront of Cait's mind anyway. "And yes, personhood can be lost. That's just an Annie. Met one a couple weeks ago." Technically the preferred term was Husk, but according to the Lore of Ira, it was what you got when you cut a person into little bits and then reassembled it and it wasn't a person any more. Just a template. Brian had described it as a bit of code without all the parts that make it unique taken out, but that was Brian. You never knew with him.

"And what about you, Dr. Holt? What would you be if you weren't an anomaly-psychologist? What sort of conversation would we be having then? What sort of person would-or-wouldn't you be?"
"An... 'Annie'?"
He said,
"I've never heard that term before..."

It must've been something local to L-9, then. A lot of terms were- a lot of terms had to be, given what they dealt with. If you can't refer to something by name, out of fear that name will summon it, you have to find creative ways around the topic. Creative enough, usually, that Alvis needed a little supplementary observation to understand what they were talking about- when he could decipher their thoughts, of course. He much preferred things as they were in L-14: boring. No verbal paranoia, no strange code-words, no cute nicknames for incomprehensible human misery. Things were said as they were- and, if not, they could be fixed until they were.

Cait's second question made him turn back to his knitting.

"Well, if I wasn't an anomaly-psychologist, I'd just be a psychologist, wouldn't I? My field has mundane applications as well, as hard as that is to believe down here. I don't think I'd have to change much if the Foundation was taken out of the picture."

He started another row, pausing to take a sip of his tea- cold, now, but that didn't seem to matter.

"And yourself?"

He had to ask- Cait did say she was worse before the Foundation, after all.
"Oh, I'd be dead," Cait stated confidently, without losing her cheerfulness for a single instant. "I was already thinking about it."

This was the sort of statement that psychologists - anomalous or not - tended to hone in on, but Cait wasn't bothered. She was good with where she was now - good enough, even, that she didn't hesitate or try to hide what would probably have happened, had she not ended up with the Foundation.

She shrugged, both unafraid and unconcerned. You didn't confront eldritch horrors every week without having to confront yourself a few times along the way. It wasn't that Cait wasn't who she'd been, it was more that she wasn't who she hadn't been, which was one of those statements that would confuse quite a lot of people.

And then there would be people who'd know exactly what she'd meant by it, and that was always interesting, too. Not that Cait was really into the psychology aspect as much - Strings had that one locked down, after all, which left her free to pursue her own interests, whatever they happened to be at the time - with the understanding that the time in question could occasionally be measured in the seconds.

"Do you like it here? Would you have wanted to follow Strings to L-9, if you'd had the opportunity?"
Ah, there he was again- the reason behind her visit, working its hooks in yet another thread of conversation. He wondered whether to entertain it, but saw no value in such a thing- if she wanted information, then attempting to wear it out of him was exactly the wrong way of going about it, especially given that "talk someone in circles until they give up and tell you what you want" was page one of Note's playbook. Alvis was too stubborn, anyway- like a tea-stain, or a concrete post, or a particularly small parasite.

"Oh, no."
He smiled,
"I've been at L-14 the entire time I've worked here. I'm far too boring for the sort of thing you do, as you've said before- and I always have been, as I've said before"

Question, non-answer, question, non-answer. The mug was empty now, he noticed. He stood up, keeping the unfinished sweater in his hand so as not to lose his place, and walked over to the kettle.

"Oh- can I get you anything whilst we talk? Tea, coffee..."

He looked back at Cait. Maybe coffee was a bad idea.

"I apologise for seeming so disinterested- I am listening to what you're asking, I'm just a little pre-occupied at the moment."
He said,
"You know how it is with hobbies like this, don't you- it's easy to get completely consumed, especially when there's a clear outcome you have in mind."

He gestured vaguely with the wool.

"I've always been interested in how other people spend their downtime. What do you do?"
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There was too much said before in the first part of that conversation. It was the sort that meant I'm referencing the previous conversation because I don't want to have this one, Cait thought. It wasn't like she didn't remember, it was just that sometimes if you asked something a slightly different way, you got a very different answer, and that could be fun.

"Oh, no thanks. Strings would have my [expletive] about accepting food or drink from an unknown entity in it's domain. And this is your domain, isn't it?" Oh, yeah, Cait was pretty sure this qualified as a domain. Maybe Alvis Holt was listed as a known entity, but Strings would have had her [expletive] about accepting that statement without checking it out on her own, as well. She gave the little man a cheeky little smile, just because.

His gesture was as vague as the rest of him. Cait wondered if he did that deliberately. And apparently they were talking about hobbies now, which was an interesting redirect. "Me? I do magic tricks."
"Ah, of course. Can't be too careful."

Alvis turned back to the kettle with a bemused look on his face, and took the box of chamomile tea out from the cupboard- one bag, just for himself.

"Although- are you sure I can't get you something?"
He asked,
"I just assumed that, since you've already invited yourself into my- ah, my 'domain', that you weren't concerned with precautions like that. It's alright if you don't feel comfortable, though. I can only promise I'm not going to do anything."

Whatever 'anything' could be, that is. Perhaps a pettier man would've taken this as an opportunity to- ah, what was the word young people used? 'Flex'? But that wouldn't suit him at all. Cait had made a simple mistake- one she had likely forgotten about- one that wasn't even relevant, given the circumstance. He took a clean mug down and set it on the counter.

"Magic, hm?"

Perhaps a more naive man would've taken this as an opportunity to ask for a demonstration. Alvis knew what L-9 was, and what team Cait belonged to, so he decided he most certainly would not.

"That sounds like a lot of fun."

Spoken like a grandma talking to a granddaughter- amused, slightly hollow and desperately out of touch (although, didn't that describe everything he said? ...Ever?). Whatever made her happy, he supposed. The knitting needles didn't help his image, here.
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