RP Field Work


Staff member

In Transit

Alvis was rather fond of rail travel, if mostly from a societal point of view. A place with a good public transport system meant less people having to rely on cars to get around. Less cars meant less emissions, less money spent- and, most important for him, less time spent in the ever-worsening pit of road rage. Alvis could drive, of course--he had to, on certain excursions, to avoid interacting with anyone aside from those authorised to meet him--but he always preferred the alternative. Perhaps it was because he was lazy. It was nice to have someone else at the wheel besides him.

This train was particularly pleasant, actually- the 09:03 service through Copenhagen, their planned destination. The seats were plush, the pull-down table was large enough to hold his tea and his watercolor pad, and the windows were almost perfectly clean (he couldn't fault them for a few scratches, given how close some of those trees cut). Plus, it was air-conditioned, despite the chill outside. He receded into his jacket, sitting in the chair like a little grey pillbug, watching the world run past.

He realised soon, however, that silently staring out of a train window was no way to treat a companion.

Georg was a young man, relatively speaking, and healthy; sitting perfectly plain in the seat beside him, also lost in thought. Alvis had taken a liking to him as soon as he had joined. And, whilst he took a liking to most people who passed through L-14, it usually wasn't enough to plan a long vacation with them, backpacking through northern Europe. Alvis was surprised by this; everyone was. It was common knowledge that he habitually wasted his holiday allowance, spending it either in his office, or (when forced) in his seldom-used living quarter. He only ever left the facility to renew his license- and, even then, he wasted no time. Many had tried to coax him out, but Georg was the only one who had succeeded.

They had planned their trip fairly loosely in advance, though Alvis wanted to be more specific; landing in Amsterdam, hiking through the Netherlands up to northern Germany, then taking the train over into Denmark. Copenhagen was the last city on their list, and it was the one Alvis should've been the most excited about, considering it was the only one he had visited before, but... well, it's nothing. It's fine. Excitement is a hard expression to show, especially for someone as habitually stoic as him. The whole trip so far had been nothing but pleasant, so this? This would be no exception.

"How are your knees holding up, Doc- Georg?"

He repeated his words in sign language, the motions sharp and practised, to avoid any suspicion from onlookers.
Georg may have been asleep beside Alvis, for how still he was sitting and how relaxed his position was. As accustomed as he was to sleeping under the stars or in cramped hostels, the train was always a nice rest from the road. But he was not asleep, as seen when Alvis looked at him. His blue eyes were open, if focused past his companion at the passing fields and landscape beyond. However, he blinked once or twice as Alvis’s voice itched its way into his mind, then focused on his friend’s face.

For whatever reason, Dr. Holt had had trouble with Georg’s thoughts the first few times they’d met. There were a number of theories behind this, but Georg was fairly certain the one involving his first language of Dutch, his denktaal, was most likely accurate. He could understand Dr. Holt just fine, after all, but Dr. Holt did not know any Dutch when they met, and now that he seemed to be learning by proximity to Dr. Eisenberg, their conversations were somewhat easier.

However, it did mean that unlike some personnel, an oral (if accented) English response and visible ASL were more familiar to Georg than just speaking, or even just thinking. The oral response wasn’t even necessary, but with the deaf people Georg had worked with over the years, lip reading was as important as signing, and so both were habit before he and Dr. Holt were ever introduced.

“Sore, but intact.” He patted his leg with a smile.

He wore blue jeans and a long-sleeved black t-shirt under a faded yellow jacket with a red tulip patch on the shoulder. There had been all sorts of weather, but sun and rain alike were part of Georg’s love for the journey. Much better than being holed up in the office all day, even as volunteers. Not many people in the Foundation shared his love of the outdoors, but he still extended invitations anyway, even if they were still politely refused.

Imagine his surprise when Dr. Holt, who rarely even left his own office space, had agreed!

Of course, when that had reached management, Dr. Eisenberg had received a much less general briefing on Dr. Holt. Apparently management didn’t want to cause a stir over such a small thing as a vacation, and Dr. Holt had always been well-behaved, but Agent Vanhanen believed in ensuring his people were prepared for anything.

Georg hadn’t let what he’d learned change his opinion of Alvis. Who someone had been rarely had bearing on who they were now, especially when they were so vastly different, when they were trying to be different. He hadn’t told Alvis what he’d known, however, but as always he had trusted Alvis not to look far enough to see. Even if Alvis did look, he would not find Georg dwelling on it. This was a restful vacation. For both of them, he hoped.

Gesturing toward the window, Georg concluded, in Sign and English, “Are you happy to be home, my friend?”
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"Well, intact is good."

He smiled his usual smile; inviting and absent. They had been walking for quite some time, over quite some distance, in quite some conditions. Eisenberg was a little like Holt, in his manner; polite to a fault, unlikely to complain about small things like sore knees, the type to swallow his tongue if it meant keeping up rapport. Alvis made a point to take breaks whenever he felt like Georg would need them, either lying about his own exhaustion, or insisting that he stop to paint the landscape. And, whilst the first excuse seldom seemed to work, the latter had resulted in almost an entire book's worth of watercolours.

It was nice to try new hobbies. That was what he always advised; taking up some form of creative pastime could provide many benefits to a restless mind. It could be relaxing, cathartic, expressive, distracting- all manner of things that he would deny that he, himself, needed. Sometimes, it was nice to just capture his surroundings as he saw them. Memory-in-perspective.

He sighed lightly at Georg's question, not quite knowing how to answer.

"Yes. Well, it's nice to be able to understand people without- well, without having to look."


His hands said the latter, whilst his mind admitted the former. Not that he had been looking, mind--Georg's translations had been more than enough to get him by--but... well, it was what he was used to. Thoughts were often non-verbal- he knew that, even without observation. He could understand an idea, even without understanding the language. Granted, there were often some gaps, but he could fill those himself- and, when he couldn't, he could always just...

"I didn't visit Copenhagen that much."

He returned his gaze to the window.

"I think I ought to have- it's a beautiful city, I just.."
He laughed silently,
"Well, you know what I'm like. Once I've settled into a place, it's very hard to get me out. I suppose it never really occurred to me to make the journey more than a couple of times..."
Georg smiled when other people, even other Foundation personnel, might be perturbed. He had gotten his Class-C in determining similarities and differences in anomalous thinking versus standard human thought patterns, assuming a neurotypical baseline subject. Alvis was good at behaving humanly, but Georg out of anyone knew that he did not have the moral issues most would share in intrusive thinking. As it was his primary method of communication, Dr. Eisenberg couldn’t fault him for it, and did his best to remain neutral or even amenable to it.

“Ah, yes. It will be my turn to ask you for translation, yeah?” That wasn’t true, really. Even if he didn’t speak the language, Danish schools tended to teach English, German, or French, in all of which Georg had a degree of fluency. But he made the statement for its humor, not its accuracy. And, well, Alvis didn’t necessarily need to ask Georg for translation either, but it was almost a game at this point.

He listened while Alvis didn’t talk about his past here. There was white space in every conversation, another Doctor at 14 told him, and he was right, even if he was a little mad. White space was important. The things not said, or thought, had as much meaning as what was. Georg just smiled a little, and nodded to his companion. “Well, we will visit now, and we will enjoy it. We have a few days more than I expected, if you wanted to linger. The weather has been kind to us.”
"Yes, I suppose you will."

Though he didn't make the offer, Alvis could allow Georg to convincingly feign fluency; inserting new thoughts that conveyed the meaning of a sentence as it was being said, and translating any responses at the point of thought, so he could speak them fluently. A sort of translation-via-intuition, almost. He wondered, for a moment, about the long-term efficacy of such a method. Would the thoughts be retained? How much would it assist him, should he try to learn the language traditionally later down the line?

His mind drifted, again, to how he learned to speak English. That method must've been reversible, mustn't it? Georg seemed to have a decent memory- it would likely only take a few sessions...

"Ah, it has been nice, hasn't it?"

No need. Despite his peculiarities, Georg's patience and acceptance would've stopped far before that point. It was impressive enough that he was so receptive to Holt's voice- he wondered what sort of briefing the man had received. Perhaps it was similar to his own- relax, don't try anything strange, and don't ask questions you don't want to know the answers to.

"I'd love to stay, actually."
He nodded,
"It would be nice to see what's changed, since I've been gone- and what has stayed the same. Though, ah..."

He smiled sheepishly.

"I'm afraid I'm not much of a tour guide- not for the city. I know a few coffee shops, a few local forest walks, but that's about it. Perhaps we should pick up a map at the station."
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Ah. Georg may have set the bar too high when he showed Alvis those places where he had roamed on every trip or break he could since his college days. There were always new trails, but there were always roads that reached out like familiar friends, and Georg enjoyed sharing those with new friends as well. Alvis, as far as he could tell, had enjoyed them as well, but it seemed Alvis thought he had expectations of his familiarity with Copenhagen. He knew that Dr. Holt was from a small town farther north – what was left of one now, anyway.

Rather than tell Alvis these things, Georg only smiled back.

“Exploring is part of the adventure,” he said and signed, followed by a gesture of his hands that indicated there was no problem. “With a few days at our disposal, we can mine the city for her secrets long before we are required to go home. I am excited by the prospect.”