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When My Fist Clenches, Crack It Open

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Clark has not enjoyed the past two weeks. Hell, he hasn't enjoyed the past year, or any of his work since he made the mistake of not pressing the button faster at that swimming pool. But he walks out of the infirmary feeling good, feeling very good about how well that went.

It's been a while since he got to really stretch his interrogation muscles, and this was a very successful interrogation. He'll have to use telepathy as a tool more often. And watching Past David start to doubt "Amahl"-- Clark's going to savor that for a while.

He savors it for the length of his walk back to the conference room. And then he steps inside.

It's like another bomb went off, but this time it left the furniture intact. Clark sobers and closes the door behind him. He puts down his tablet, takes his seat, and clears his throat. No one notices.

He surveys the wreckage. Divad and Dvd are back, they obviously-- Heard Past David's relayed thoughts and came down from Syd's room. The door opens and-- Ah, there's Amy. They must have teleported down and she followed. Android bodies can't go pale, but she looks like she'd go pale if she could. She looks at the Davids, at Ptonomy and Syd, and sits down heavily.

Ptonomy looks even worse than he did after going back to the lab. And Syd--

Clark has no regrets about getting the truth out of Past David. They needed to know what they're up against. Now they do. He's confident they'll get the rest of the story, too.

Clark gives them a few minutes. He reviews his notes, adds some items to the therapy tasks list. After being stuck on the outside of Ptonomy's therapy plan, it feels good to be taking charge again. But when he's done and everyone's still in a state of numb, horrified despair, Clark decides enough is enough.

"We need a plan," Clark tells them.

Gradually, everyone turns to him. They don't look capable of making any kind of plan right now, much less an effective one. But they have to start somewhere.

"We have an unstable mutant in our infirmary," Clark continues. "And unless we want to keep him prisoner for the rest of his life, or let him--" He decides to skip the shock tactic. They're all shocked enough. "We need to figure out what to do with him. And we need to figure out what to do about Farouk."

Ptonomy engages first, unsurprisingly. "We already have a plan."

"No, we had a plan," Clark says. "It was a good plan, but it wasn't good enough. We left an opening for Farouk and he took it. Syd, strategy is your department. Any ideas?"

Syd struggles to focus. That's fine. At least she's struggling. And then finally: "He'll know. Whatever we say or think-- He'll know."

"Yes," Clark admits. "Which means, unfortunately-- Deception is off the table."

"It's not 'off the table' for him," Syd says, angry now. Good.

"Everything he did to David, he did for a reason," Clark insists. "So what was the reason?"

"Control," Ptonomy says. He's starting to recover. "He had to let us help David, but he couldn't give up control. So he made-- His own version of-- What we were doing."

"He was jealous," Dvd declares. He's seething. "He couldn't stand that we were getting David back."

"He put himself between us," Divad says, pained. "He took away-- Everything David needed and--"

"Traumatic bonding," Ptonomy says. "He tortured David and made himself-- The only source of comfort. With-- Nightmares, medical and psychological torture-- He threw everything he could at David when-- He was already in a deeply traumatized state."

"To make David trust him," Syd says. "Not a mask. To make him trust Amahl Farouk."

Everyone looks at David. David looks back at them.

"So how does making-- Past David trust Farouk, make David trust Farouk?" Clark asks them.

"It doesn't," David musters.

"But he wants it to," Clark says. "He's obsessed with you. Even now that he has his body back, he refuses to let you go. And we know how angry it makes him that you don't need him back. So he made-- A you that needs him. That doesn't need-- Anyone here. Your system, your family, your friends. Just him."

"And me," Syd says. "Was that-- Me? Did he go into my dreams? Did he use me to--" She cuts off, looking ill.

"Do you remember anything from your dreams?" Ptonomy asks.

"Nothing like that," Syd says. "But if I didn't-- Wake up during the dream--"

"It's possible," Divad admits.

"What about Melanie?" Amy asks. "Does this mean-- He has her soul?"

"We should assume he does," Ptonomy sighs. "On the plus side, that means Melanie isn't lost on the astral plane. It means-- She's been here with us the whole time, trapped inside Farouk."

"He likely used her the same way he used Lenny and Oliver," Clark says. "Wore her as a mask, or controlled her to make her think and act how he wanted."

"Melanie Farouk," Divad says. "And Sydney Farouk. He made a family." He looks at David. "Because that's what you want most."

David takes a deep breath, lets it out. He looks at Syd, she looks back.

"How far did this go?" Ptonomy asks. "He got David to accept him as his father. How?"

"Me," Amy says, unhappily. "He used me, somehow. He couldn't have actually reached my dreams, but-- He made a mask of me before. He made the-- Fake me turn on David, reject him."

"Farouk removed David's system and then replaced it," Ptonomy decides. "And then he did the same for his family. That's a hell of a lot of trust."

"So we break it," Clark decides. "We tell him the truth. Turn him against Farouk."

"That's not going to be easy," Divad warns. "He thinks we're the monster. He thinks Amy hates him. He won't listen to us."

"Syd will tell him," Clark counters. "He trusts her. He'll believe her."

"No," David says, certain.

"Why?" Clark challenges.

"Because if we do that-- We're telling him he's crazy," David says. "We can't tell him he's crazy. He-- I lived that year. It happened. It was real. Just like-- The twenty years of my life I can't remember are real." He rubs at his face. "Using Syd-- All that will do is make him not trust her. And he's already starting to do that. Whatever-- Relationship I had with Syd in that place-- It wasn't like the one I have with her now. It's not strong enough."

"Maybe he couldn't use the real you," Amy says to Syd. "Wouldn't your powers have-- Protected you? They did before."

"The fake Clockworks," Syd realizes. "Farouk tried to change me, but-- He couldn't." She looks at Ptonomy and-- Then at the Davids. Hoping.

"Amy’s right," Divad decides. "Your powers-- Preserve your sense of self. If Farouk pulled you into David's dreams-- He wouldn't have been able to control you. That means-- That Syd--" He looks at David. "Had to be a mask. I'm sorry."

David closes his eyes, visibly struggling. Syd is massively relieved, then sees David's reaction and sobers.

"He really-- Wants me for himself," David says, voice shaky. He gets a needing look that's disturbingly similar to Past David's. Clark's starting to realize it's his "please help me I'm being tortured" look. It's the same look that got its hooks into Clark's heart the first time they met, when Clark was the one torturing David. Though compared to all this--

"We need to talk about David's treatment," Clark says.

Everyone's confused for a moment, and then-- They look at David, too.

"The crown's off," Dvd defends.

"By necessity," Clark says. "Not because David has robust mental health."

"You're right," Ptonomy sighs, and turns to David. "The point of all this is to get you and your system healthy and strong so Farouk can't break you. Farouk made a hell of a play but that has to stay our primary goal."

"We have to help me," David insists. "Past David. We have to help Past David."

"We will," Ptonomy promises. "We are. But if helping him hurts you, that's going to put you right into Farouk's hands. And we can't make that mistake again."

"How am I supposed to think about anything else when he's in my head?" David asks, upset.

"Let's ask your system," Clark says. "Divad? Dvd?"

"It's not easy," Divad admits. "Being forced to hear David's-- Suicidal thoughts--"

"Yeah," Dvd agrees, quietly.

"Lenny's keeping him calm," Ptonomy points out. "Does that help?"

"Yes," David says, easing. "I still feel-- How he feels, but-- It's better."

"The relay only gives us his thoughts," Ptonomy says. "How does he feel?"

"Awful," David admits. "Confused, hurt, scared. Like-- Everything he loved and trusted was taken away from him. Because Amahl left. Farouk. Because Farouk left."

Clark frowns, and exchanged a concerned look with Ptonomy. "Do we have to worry about-- Mental contamination?"

"Oliver was fine," David insists.

"Oliver is extremely not fine," Clark counters. "He needs a hell of a lot more help than he's been getting. But he isn't Farouk's target, you are. Right now this entire organization has one goal: to protect you from Amahl Farouk. That's not just our priority, that's the world's priority. Because if he gets you, the world is fucked."

David stares, startled.

"You're a god, David," Clark says, trying to impress this truth on him. "You're more powerful than any mutant that’s ever existed. You're more powerful than entire armies. And power is the only thing Farouk cares about. Not you. He does not care about you. He wants to own you, that's all."

"I know that," David insists.

"Do you?" Clark challenges. "Because the David in the infirmary doesn't. And now his thoughts are in your head. We need to consider the possibility that-- Letting Past David live--"

"No," Dvd says, firmly. "Absolutely not."

Clark stares at him, and Dvd stares right back. "Okay," Clark says, backing down.

"Never," Dvd warns, absolute. "Never even think that again."

Clark holds up his hands in surrender.

"Let's all take a breath," Ptonomy says. "We've had a hell of a shock, a lot of shocks, and there's gonna be more. Farouk's favorite weapon, remember? And we counter that by working together. By not letting ourselves be scared into making choices that we'll regret. Is that clear?" He gives Clark a pointed look.

"Crystal," Clark accepts.

"Good," Ptonomy says. "Okay. David, your mental health is our first priority. But Past David's thoughts are in your head and we have no way to shield you from them. That means his mental health is also our first priority."

"Yes," David agrees. Divad and Dvd both nod.

"Have you ever felt this way about anyone else?" Ptonomy asks. "That their thoughts were yours?"

"I didn't even know about my powers for most of my life," David admits. "I just-- Thought I was crazy."

"And since you found out your powers are real?" Ptonomy asks.

David considers the question. "I hear people's thoughts. But I know they're not mine. Even Dvd and Divad, and-- Their thoughts are pretty loud."

"Dvd, Divad," Ptonomy says, turning to them. "We assumed that David's thoughts were overwhelming for you because you didn't hear anyone else's. Is it possible that-- It's something unique to David's powers?"

They consider the question. "I don't-- Think so," Divad says. "Now that we're all sharing-- It doesn't feel like David's mind is stronger than Dvd's."

"Or Divad's," Dvd adds.

"He is me," David says. "I know I keep saying that, I know-- He literally was me, but-- He feels-- It's not the same as with Dvd and Divad. Which seems crazy, I mean-- We share a soul."

There's a thoughtful pause.

"What if," Clark starts. "What if he is you?"

"What do you mean?" David asks.

"We'll confer with Doctor Orwell," Clark says. "But-- We know Farouk can directly manipulate souls. What he did to the Loudermilks. You feel-- Drawn to Past David? Connected?"

David nods.

"So you think," Divad starts, "that Farouk somehow-- stretched David's part of our soul so-- He's in two bodies at once? With two sets of memories?"

"That would explain why Syd can touch him," Ptonomy says. "And it might explain-- The connection David feels. David, how does Past David feel about you?"

"I don't know," David says. "He's avoiding thinking about me, but-- I think-- He wants to."

"He feels the pull," Divad realizes.

David puts a hand over his chest. "But when--"

"Maybe this morning?" Ptonomy offers. "Obviously with the shocks and-- Your injury-- There's been a lot of trauma. But things are calmer now. Do you feel any different?"

David closes his eyes and concentrates. "I don't know."

"Cary and Kerry's pull got stronger with time," Amy points out.

"So what does that mean?" David asks. "Is Past David me, or-- Is he another identity?"

"Both?" Divad tries. "Neither?"

"Cary and Kerry had to reunite," Ptonomy points out. "If that's what we're dealing with--"

"That's a lot of 'if's," Syd cautions. "What if-- Past David does have Farouk's soul? What if Farouk somehow-- Made a mask so real, he-- Convinced himself he's David Haller?"

There's another pause, but no one jumps in to answer that.

"The Admiral will run all these scenarios," Ptonomy says. "And more. We'll see what's likely."

"Did the Admiral see this coming?" Syd challenges.

"Actually-- Yes," Ptonomy admits. "Not all the details, but-- We knew there was a chance that Farouk would-- Return David's missing memories in-- An embodied form. It wasn't the most likely scenario, but it was a possibility."

"What was the most likely scenario?" Syd asks.

"Honestly?" Ptonomy says. "That someone would get impatient and blow us all up. And that almost happened. Farouk stopped it."

"Very generous of him," Clark says, dryly. "So what's our plan?"

"Right now?" Ptonomy says. "We take it slow, let the shocks wear off. Lenny has work to do with Past David, and while he's resting I think it would be good for the Davids to have a session with me. David, we still have a lot of work to do on your Farouk trauma. Once we have more answers, we'll figure out the next step."

"More therapy, wonderful," Clark sighs. Sometimes he longs for the days when he could just walk up to a mutant and shoot it in the head. Good times.

David turns and gives him an astonished look. Then he turns away, shaking his head.

Clark reminds himself to watch his thoughts again. He let down his guard while David had the crown and the mainframe had all of David's thoughts. All those advantages have swung back the other way. It's not just Farouk that they can't use deception against.

Now that they're going to be working together again, Clark thinks-- Maybe it's time for a peace offering.

"I'm sorry," Clark says to David. "For my thought just now. It was-- Inappropriate."

David gives him a skeptical look. So do Dvd and Divad. It's a lot of mistrust, and Clark knows he's earned it.

"No shit he's earned it," Dvd mutters.

"Clark?" Ptonomy prompts, concerned.

"Clark misses being able to shoot mutants in the head, apparently," Divad says, crisply.

Syd looks vaguely horrified, and-- Clark realizes that was a poor choice of words on top of being inappropriate.

"I know," Clark sighs, warding off a lecture.

"Do you?" David challenges. "Because you spend a lot of time regretting not killing me and it's getting old. I have enough to deal with. Do you have any idea how many people in this building want me dead? You know what? I'm glad I never signed some contract. When this is over, we're done. We get Cary back? I'll help him. But fuck you."

He gets up and storms out. Dvd and Divad glare at Clark, then go after David. And then so do Syd and Amy.

That just leaves Ptonomy. Ptonomy does not look pleased.

"He's right," Ptonomy says. "I get it. You have to look at those burns every day and remember what we did to you, what me and Kerry and Syd and Rudy did to you to save David's life. But I know what the Divisions want, and they're not gonna get it if they don't change. That includes you."

Clark bites back a retort. "We need him," he admits.

"Then be what he needs," Ptonomy says. "He won't stay if it's not reciprocal. He can go anywhere, do anything, with just a thought. You want that on your side? Be on his side. Or he'll find someone else."

"And you'll go with him?" Clark asks.

"Honestly?" Ptonomy says. "Yes. For the same reason you want him to stay."

Clark doesn't know what to say. But Ptonomy does.

"I wasn't kidding about you getting therapy," Ptonomy says. "I read your file. As soon as you could, you went right back to work. No desk duty, no therapy. You're as bad as Oliver. There's trauma specialists right here in this building, waiting to help. I suggest you talk to one before Farouk decides you're worth using."

"I was trying to avoid that," Clark says.

"That interrogation you just did?" Ptonomy says. "You got in some good hits. Don't wait for Farouk to hit back."

"Damn it," Clark sighs. "Fine. I'm going." He grabs his cane and stands up. "But I'll hate it."

"You'll hate it less than the alternative," Ptonomy reminds him. "And if you actually do the work, David will see it. Then-- Maybe he'll stay. You'll get your mutant god."

Clark makes a sarcastic sign of the cross and heads out to meet his fate.