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Making A Difference
Dramatis Personae

Clont, Flicker


'This...wasn't what I expected.' (Set in the Blackburn Prometheus facility.)


<PRO> Wreck Room - Blackburn Research Facility

The sign by the door says "Rec Room", but someone with a permanent marker bookended the first word with "W" and "k" at some point, and the subsequent effort to undo the vandalism was lackluster. Inside it is not usually that much of a wreck, though it might be more interesting if it were. One corner is dedicated to the reasonably sized flatscreen television mounted on the wall, with several rows of folding chairs arrayed before it. Another is centered around a set of tacky vinyl sofas bracketed by two bookshelves largely stocked with supermarket checkout paperbacks (about half James Patterson by volume, with Danielle Steel heavily represented, and there are at least six copies of Fifty Shades of Gray at any given time). The rest of the space is more modular, but usually plays host to several card tables ringed with folding chairs, supplied by a shelf of games, from playing cards to chess (with a couple of improvised pieces) to three different flavors of Monopoly.

It's quite early yet on a Sunday morning, and while the rec room is technically open it is fairly quiet while most labrats are still either at morning ablutions or breakfast. Clint is sweeping diligently and occasionally stopping the straighten items on shelves or to glance over at the television, which is, for some reason, playing the History Channel's "Ancient Aliens" (with the captions on, as they have often been in the morning these last two weeks). He looks as unmemorable as ever, moving with a certain graceful efficiency as he cleans and taking up little space with his movements.

At some point on Saturday, the Book of Mormon had vanished from the bookshelf where it so recently appeared. It's hardly much mystery where it went, and very little surprise, most likely, when Flicker walks into the room with it beneath his arm. As ever he's carefully groomed, hair neatly brushed, freshly shaved; this does little for his general pallor, or the dark bags beneath his eyes.

Still, he seems alert enough as he looks over toward Clint. He'd been aiming toward the couch, but reroutes, nudging a chair out at a table by where the custodian sweeps. He sets the book down on the adjacent card table, his fingers resting on it briefly before he waves toward Clint. Signs. 'Do you pay attention to everyone?'

Clint diverts his attention from sweeping when Flicker moves into his path, and stops to wave back when the man greets him. 'Try to,' he replies in sign, matter of fact, 'but some more than others.' He indicates the book, 'Not enough, but--I thought it might help, to hear from your father.'

"More than I can say." Flicker's signed reply comes more uncertainly, with a nod: 'Big help. Thank you. It's not easy in here.' He hesitates again, looking back down to the book before looking at Clint again. 'Some more? Why me?' he asks first, but second, 'who else?'

'It was nothing,' Clint's reply looks dismissive, but it comes with a thin smile. 'Sometimes because I think they're interesting, or might be dangerous...' He leans lightly on his broom, his smile going slightly crooked. 'Sometimes because they're nice to me and know how to sign.' His gaze flicks to the guard by the door, who's absorbed in a magazine. 'I watch the guards.'

'It was a lot. It can be easy to stop feeling like people. Not many of you remember that we are.' Flicker's teeth press down against his lip, his shoulder tensing slightly. Briefly. He doesn't follow Clint's look toward the guard. 'How did you end up here?'

'I'm sorry.' Clint bows his head slightly. 'But I am glad that it helped. I want to do more, if I can.' At the question he gives a small shrug. 'An old boss referred me. This...wasn't what I expected.' He licks his lips. 'What I expected, that was bad enough.'

Flicker looks at the book a long moment, his fingers tracing against the gold lettering on its cover. His expression is thoughtful when he looks back up. 'Are you planning to stay here? Jobs -- not easy to find.'

Clint frowns, and does not immediately answer. He moves one of the other chairs away from the table so he can sweep under it. When he puts the chair back, he frees both hands to reply. 'I can find other work. No one should work here, but...' He looks at the book on the table between them. 'If I can make a difference. I want to do that. Before I quit.'

'You could make a difference.' Flicker reaches for the book, pulling it into his lap. 'How far do you live from here? I don't even really know where we are. Maine, people say. But what part, how far from a town, no idea.'

Clint nods thoughtfully. 'I would do--a lot.' He spells the last word for emphasis. 'I live outside Northeast Carry--about twelve miles south of here. Half the people there work here, and we carpool in.' He frowns. 'The nearest real town is almost three hours away.'

'Three hours.' Flicker's eyes open momentarily wider, his shoulder sagging. 'How many people drive in on weekends?' He chews at the inside of his cheek, taking a slow breath. 'Are you here every weekend?'

'Mostly forests and lakes out here,' Clint confirms. He chews on the inside of his cheek, eyes narrowing. 'Weekends, two custodians, four kitchen staff, six guards--each shift.' Then, with a sheepish chuckle. 'Usually, yes. They pay us extra.'

'Probably not so many vehicles. With carpooling.' Flicker runs his fingers through his hair, looking up at the ceiling. 'Too much to hope you drive a bus.' It's not really a question; it's just wry and vaguely amused. Vaguely. He's paler than he was at the start of this conversation, his hand a little less steady in its signing. 'I'm sorry. I'm keeping you from your work.' He opens his book, but only to its first inscribed page. 'Thank you.'

'Three cars, usually.' Clint bows his head slightly. 'More on weekdays, obviously, but...more people on weekdays. Sorry.' He picks up his broom and hesitates, considering Flicker. Frees one hand again to say, 'I don't drive a bus. But if you're willing to take that chance on me?' He'd used a purely English construction, but his eyebrows raise up in proper ASL fashion. 'Tell me when. I will get you transport.'

Flicker freezes, gripping hard at the edge of the book. There's a short twitch of second where he doesn't breathe -- then remembers to exhale, slow, deliberate. 'That's a big offer.' The brightness in his eyes is brief, quickly blinked away. 'I don't know when yet. A lot to think through.' He studies Clint intently -- nods, small, to himself. Finishes only with, 'Thank you.'