Everyone is sad. They're so sad all the time, and Kerry hates it.
Kerry doesn't do sad. When she gets upset, she punches things until she feels better. She's punched a lot of things since yesterday and it helped, mostly. But everyone hanging around the lab and watching David and being sad makes her upset all over again.
Even Clark was sad when he visited, and after what he did yesterday, Kerry wasn't sure he was even capable of feeling sad about David. He didn't actually apologize or anything, but he asked if there was anything he could do to help, any resources Division 3 could give them to speed David's recovery along. Cary politely but firmly told him thank you, but no, they already have everything they need.
Kerry hopes he's right.
When David woke up late yesterday afternoon, she hoped that he would start getting better right away. But mostly he cried and talked to himself a little and cried some more, which made Syd and Cary cry, which made Kerry need to go away and punch things again.
Her fists are actually getting sore. She'll have to switch to kicking things if David doesn't get his butt moving and get better fast.
David's session with Ptonomy this morning was... confusing. He seemed better, but then he got so upset, the most upset she's ever seen him maybe, even worse than when he was trying to hurt himself. He talked about Syd trying to shoot him, which was news to Kerry. Nobody tells her anything, they just assume she knows stuff because they tell Cary everything. She didn't always, even when she was resting inside him, and now she's never inside him anymore so she definitely doesn't know all the things he hears.
She was glad she got to hear about what happened in the desert from David, even if he wasn't telling her about it directly. She's glad that his stupid plan actually ended up making sense. It was probably only any good because his alters helped him make it, because even though he's super powerful, David's always been kinda useless. They tried to save him when he was on the run from Clockworks but he hid from them, so they had to rescue him from Division 3, and then he kept messing up the memory walks and the MRI, and then they had to rescue him again, and then they had to rescue him again, and then he got snatched and only turned up after a whole year, and he couldn't remember anything.
So yeah, that whole desert plan was obviously the work of Green and Yellow — no, Divad and Dvd. Kerry's already decided they're the brains of David's system, the way Cary’s the brains of hers.
When Divad took David over, everyone in the lab gasped, even her. He apologized but he scared David as much as he scared everyone else. And then Syd and Cary were freaking out and David was freaking out more than everyone combined, pacing around like he was about to explode.
And then he fell down, and suddenly he was okay.
Well, not okay. He was talking to himself and angry and really upset, still. But he wasn't trying to climb the walls anymore. He sat down and talked to Ptonomy some more, and then Ptonomy gave him a notebook and a pen and told him to rest, and that if David was feeling up to it they would pick things up again after lunch.
Since then, all David's done is write in the notebook and argue with himself. Cary seems relieved about how things went but Syd looks like she’s going to fall down herself. Kerry hopes it's because she feels bad for trying to kill David. It’s bad enough that she wants to kill him because he's sick; now it turns out she already tried to shoot him because she thought he was evil.
David's not evil. That's stupid. He's too useless to be evil.
Divad and Dvd, though... They might still be evil, even if they are just parts of David. They're not useless, anyway. Divad was pretty rude, scaring David like that, taking over without warning him. And all they know for sure about Dvd is that he blew up the fake interview room in Division 3 and really enjoyed doing it. So neither of them are looking great right now. It's no wonder David's mad at them.
Kerry's mad at them, too. She'd march right down there and punch Divad in the face if it didn't also mean punching David in the face. And she's not going to punch David. He's already crying all the time. She's not going to give him something else to be sad about.
Which means she should probably stop avoiding him.
Before Ptonomy left, David asked Ptonomy where she was, and Ptonomy had to lie and say she was busy helping Cary with Melanie and Oliver. Even through the monitor Kerry saw him flinch and look sadder. She knows that David feels bad about Oliver, but she doesn't think it's only that.
Syd's known David the longest out of all of them. She knew David for a whole year in Clockworks. But Syd didn't know about any of this. David didn't even know about any of this, and this alter thing has been happening to him his whole life.
Even if Divad and Dvd are just other parts of David, they're still strangers. It creeps her out, thinking that they've been inside him all this time and no one knew. Even if they wanted David to know and Farouk stopped them, it's weird and creepy. No one seems to know what to do about them, and it's their fault that no one knows what to do about David.
Maybe Syd's right. Maybe he's never going to be the David they knew, not ever again. But if Kerry lets herself think about that, it hurts so much that even punching things doesn't help.
She's not gonna give up. She's not gonna be a coward.
"I'm gonna go to the cafeteria to get David lunch," Kerry announces, and rushes out before anyone can react.
When she's far enough away from the lab that no one will see her, she leans against a wall and works up her courage.
She has to stay with David so that David doesn't try to hurt himself again. She doesn't understand why he wants to hurt himself so much. There's no one making him, not even Farouk. The only thing everyone wants to do is help him, but he won't let them.
He'd better apologize when she sees him. She needs him to say he's sorry for hurting himself and trying to die. If he doesn't, she'll never forgive him. She'll leave and stay away and won't come back even if he misses her. Even if he cries.
She stands in the cafeteria and stares at the river of food, all the dishes carried along on their little boats. She doesn't know what David likes to eat besides waffles. She's trying really hard with all this body stuff but it's creepy and weird. She has to chew things and then let them go into her throat, and then they just sit for hours and hours, turning into mush. She can feel them inside her, heavy and unnatural, and all she wants to do is get them out of herself, but that's the grossest part of the whole thing.
But she's outside of Cary now. She can't get everything she needs from him anymore.
Because of Farouk.
Maybe she does understand why David tries to hurt himself even though no one's making him. Farouk is forcing David to live just like he's forcing Kerry to do body stuff. Maybe it's just as awful for him to live as it is for her to eat.
But she has to eat stuff. And he has to live. So if they're both stuck dealing with things they don't want to do, maybe the only thing they can do is deal with them together. That's how it's always been for her and Cary. She wouldn't make Cary deal with anything alone.
She chooses two plates of the beef teriyaki because she likes the cheerful vegetables. Maybe if David eats some smiles he'll smile again. That's probably not how food works but it makes more sense than mashing up a bunch of plants and animals and dissolving them in a pouch.
When she reaches David's cell, she pauses outside of it, listening through the little window. David's still talking to himself, to Divad and Dvd. She wishes she could hear what they're saying back to him. Maybe it wouldn't be so weird and creepy if she could.
When there's a pause in the conversation, she opens the door. She finds David holding up his middle fingers and smiling. The moment he sees her, he hides his hands and ducks his head, embarrassed.
Kerry decides not to ask. ”You hungry?" she asks, and brings in the tray.
"Ah, yeah, sure," David says. He watches her as she sits on the bed and uncovers the tray. There's a notebook on the bed, the one he's been writing in. She's been curious about it. She thought maybe he wrote something about how he's feeling, about what's happened to him. Maybe something about Divad and Dvd.
Instead it's his name, written over and over. Just 'David,' over and over, for pages.
She has no idea where to even start with that, so she ignores it. When she looks up, David's staring down at his knees.
"So, um," Kerry says, trying to find some way back to how they were before everything went wrong yesterday. "Ptonomy says you're feeling better."
"You don't have to pretend you haven't seen everything," David says, miserably.
Kerry sighs. There's no point in lying about it. "Yeah, everyone's watching from the lab."
"Great," David says, even more miserably.
This isn't going very well so far. Maybe she made a mistake, coming back now. Maybe David doesn't want her here. Maybe he needs more time.
"I wasn't sure you'd come back," David admits.
Kerry startles, and then she's kinda mad. Did he really think she was just gonna abandon him? "Of course I was gonna come back. You still have to apologize to me. For being stupid." He's so stupid, how does he even breathe?
David finally looks her in the eyes. "I'm sorry for being stupid," he says, and means it.
“Good,” Kerry says, satisfied that he knows it, at least. And she got her apology so she can forgive him now. “So you’re feeling better?” she asks, and hands him his plate.
They eat, neither of them with any enthusiasm. Somehow that makes Kerry feel better about having to put more stuff into her throat. Ugh.
“Yeah, um. Divad, um, Green? His thing is helping me with—“ David waves his fork at his head. “Avoiding dangerous thoughts, helping me manage my emotions so I don’t get, um, like before.”
“Wow,” Kerry says, genuinely impressed. “He can just do that?” It's like he has a whole new mutant power. Mutant emotional regulation.
“Apparently,” David says. “I guess... If my mind was working the way it was supposed to, I’d be able to do it myself. But, you know.” He waves his fork at his head again, then frowns, then goes back to reluctantly eating.
Kerry reluctantly eats, too.
“I know, I know,” David sighs, suddenly. “Sorry, Divad’s—“ He points his fork to her left.
Kerry stares where he’s pointing, but there's nothing beside her. Does that mean Divad is sitting beside her? Maybe she can punch him after all. But then she thinks that maybe she shouldn't punch him, if he's David's mutant emotional regulation. Wait, that means— She frowns and turns back to David. “Does that mean you were having a dangerous thought just now?”
David shrugs. “Most of my thoughts aren’t exactly safe,” he admits, and musters a brittle smile. “That’s why I’m here. A danger to myself and others.”
Okay, that settles it. She can't punch Divad, at least not until David is better. “You’re here so you can get better,” Kerry reminds him. He seems to need a lot of reminding about that.
But the reminder only makes David grumpier. “I’m here until they can figure out what to do with me. Or until the shit beetle gets bored and decides to play a new game.”
Kerry snorts. “The what?”
“The shit beetle. That’s Dvd’s nickname for Farouk. Like a— Like a scarab? Because he’s from Egypt. He’s been using it for a while, it’s starting to stick.”
Shit beetle. It's the funniest thing Kerry's heard in ages. Even Cary hasn't made any jokes in days, and he always has something to make her laugh, even if it's just an endless rainbow scarf tucked into his shirt pocket. “Can I meet him?”
“No, stupid. Dvd. I wanna meet him.” Not that she has to or anything. But if he's funny maybe he's not awful either. Maybe they're both okay, these secret David strangers. “I mean, he can’t be all bad if he says stuff like that.”
David looks to her other side like there's someone there. Is Dvd on the bed, too? Weird and creepy.
“I’m not sure that’s—“ David begins.
“Aw, c’mon,” Kerry pleads. “I wanna meet both of them.” She has to meet them, if they're going to be hanging around her like this.
“No,” David says, firmly. “No, this— I’m— I’m not comfortable with—“ He stops, listening, then he puts his face in his hands. “I am extremely not comfortable with this."
It seems like Divad and Dvd want to meet her, too. Kerry crosses her arms in solidarity. “How am I supposed to decide if I like them or not if I can’t look them in the eye when I interrogate them?”
David continues listening to whatever his alters are saying, and then he visibly relents. He takes a deep breath, holds it, lets it out slowly. "I don't want to— I don't want to go away," he says, quietly.
Kerry waits. She can tell he's not talking to her. If this is something David's going to be doing for the rest of his life, she has to get used to it.
"That's not going away?" David asks, even more quietly. He looks wary, stares at the space where he said Divad was sitting. After more listening, he comes to a decision and puts his plate on the floor. "Okay. Okay, what do I do?" He frowns. "But you're not real."
And then David closes his eyes. And then—
And then David opens his eyes, and he grins. Kerry wanted David to smile, but this is definitely not David smiling.
"Hi," says not-David.
Kerry silently panics. What did Ptonomy do when Divad showed up? The cards. Where are the cards? "Uh. Please, uh, hold the card with your name on it," she tells not-David.
Not-David smirks and looks around, finds the cards. He holds one up between two fingers.
"Dvd," she reads.
She can tell a lot about a person just by looking at them. Dvd might be a part of David, but he's definitely not David. He meets her eyes directly, challenging her, so confident in himself that he comes off as arrogant. All the grief and guilt and sadness are gone. She didn't think she would miss them, but she does.
"Hi," she says back, holding out her hand. "I'm Kerry Loudermilk."
"Oh, I know," Dvd says, taking her hand. He squeezes it hard when he shakes, then lets go and leans back, judging her. "We've been watching all of you for a while now."
Kerry wasn't sure what she expected, but it wasn't this. If Dvd is going to be aggressive, she can be aggressive right back. "And you've been hiding for a while now."
Dvd narrows his eyes, annoyed. That's one hit for her. "We weren't hiding," he defends. "We were waiting for the right time."
"You were being sneaky," she shoots back. "You were spying on us."
"Yeah? Well you've been spying on David," Dvd accuses. "He doesn't like that, you know. You're upsetting him, putting him on display like he's some kind of zoo animal."
And that's one hit for Dvd. "I don't like it either," she admits.
"Then do something about it."
"I can't," Kerry says. "It's not up to me."
"Weak," Dvd sneers. "Here I thought you were some kinda super strong badass."
Ugh, two hits. "And here I thought you were," she shoots back.
Two for two. Divad bares his teeth at her and launches himself to his feet, walks around the cell. He swings his arms, claps his hands together. He doesn't even move like David, though if she squints it does look kinda like what he does when he's really upset. There's a lot of energy in both, but Dvd's is tense, focused, and David's is loose and chaotic.
He really is a different person. Holy shit, there really are two other people inside of David. "Holy shit," she says aloud, unable to stop herself.
Dvd looks at her like she's the weird one.
"So you wanna interrogate me, huh?" Dvd challenges. "Ask away, I've got nothing to hide."
"Oh yeah?" Kerry challenges back. She stands up and faces him. "Okay. Okay. So, um—" Damn it, she's the one who punches people. Clark's the one who asks probing questions. How does she need Clark right now? What is happening? "Why are you so angry?"
"Why do you think?" Dvd sneers. "Next?"
Ugh! Three-two. "Are you gonna hurt David?"
That makes him falter, but not enough. "Don't be stupid," he says. "I'm the one who keeps him safe when no one else can. I do a hell of a better job than any of you people." Then he rounds on nothing. "No, shut up! I finally have the chance to give these useless idiots a piece of my mind and I'm gonna do it." He turns back to Kerry. "You think you're helping him, putting him through this? You're doing exactly what that shit beetle wants. You're torturing him!" He turns back to the air. It must be Divad. Or maybe David? Both? "Shut up! Get away from me!"
Dvd struggles against nothing, and Kerry doesn't know what to do.
"Sanctimonious moralizing asshole!" Dvd yells, and pushes whoever it is away. Then he grabs at the crown. "Do you have any idea how much this thing hurts? God, how does David put up with you people? You know what? I'm done. I'm getting this off right now, and getting him away from all of you!"
Dvd starts clawing at the crown, trying to pull it off. He screams against the pain but he doesn't stop. He doesn't stop and it doesn't matter what he says, he's hurting David right now.
Kerry rushes up to Dvd and punches him square across the jaw. He goes down hard and falls to the floor, out cold.
Shit. David! Oh god, she just—
There's a rush of footsteps as everyone arrives at once: Cary, Syd, Clark, Ptonomy. But it's too late. The damage is already done.
Three-three with a knockout punch. But Kerry knows that everyone's the loser in this fight.