“So, Stan didn’t approve of your pitch I take it?”
Ford and Tommy walk down the steps behind the vending machine, heading towards the elevator. It’s… been a long day. Especially for Ford. Of course, de-aging rapidly, getting kidnapped by brain eating mutants, emotional conflict, and then rapidly re -aging will do it.
“No…” Tommy hangs his head, staring at the twenty bucks in his hand. “Said it was too expensive. Then, he gave me money for contacts--”
Ford raises an eyebrow. “Contacts? Why?”
“I dunno. Think he saw my eyes.”
He pulls down an eyelid, and Ford inspects them.
There’s a lopsided look on the old man’s face. “I don’t understand the need? They’re just that melanin-deficient amber they’ve always--” Wait. Ford facepalms.
Tommy’s eyes look yellow. Ford completely forgot he had the benefit of knowing for certain Tommy’s eyes are something genetic, and not supernatural. Ugh.
He sighs, dragging the hand down. All the more reason not to tell Stan about Bill's return, if this is how he’s going to react to a pair of amber eyes.
As the elevator dings to signal it’s at the destination, Tommy raises an eyebrow. Uh. This isn’t the lab. What is this place?
Ford knows floor this as the study. A lot of it's been stripped down. The tapestries and statuettes, but their outlines are still imprinted on the walls around huge old television screen. At least. It looks like a television screen to Tommy.
The old scientist rests both hands behind his back dutifully as he strides into the room. The blue of his jacket offsetting the mass amount of red and brass all around them. He gets about halfway in, before stopping, and gently tapping his foot on the carpet.
"Thomas, I felt it's time to let you know the nature of my relationship with Bill Cipher." He says, wrapping seriousness and stoicism up in every word. "You see--"
"You made a deal with him, an' it turns out he was just usin' you as a means to an end." Tommy says nonchalantly, pulling out the desk chair and propping his feet up on the workspace.
All seriousness dissipates in an instant. Ford is flabbergasted.
Tommy sniffs. "It was some Faustian Bargain type deal, right? You wanted somethin’ so bad, you made a deal with somethin’ that wanted your soul for it."
"Well, yes technically …" Shake it off, Ford. "But you shouldn't shrug this off like it's nothing! It's very hard for me to talk about considering the manipulation I went through!"
He pulls out some sheets of paper, pointing to them.
"I had a speech planned out! With scripted hand gestures, Thomas!"
Tommy chuckles. "Sorry Doc, I guess it was just sorta obvious."
"To you…" Ford grumbles, before dropping the argument, rolling the paper up into a tube and sticking it back inside his jacket. "Regardless. I felt it's time to tell you as I've… hit a roadblock in our progress, and I hoped the sparked conversation after the heart-to-heart would let us come up with a plan forward."
“Uh. The sparked conversation?” Tommy raises an eyebrow.
“Talking with you helps me think.” Ford says plainly, before proceeding to pace around. “My snag is the actual… defeat of Bill. Last time I had to plot out his demise, it was easy. Just make a gun that fires an energy blast so powerful it destabilizes him on the quantum level. Literally ripping his molecules apart and shooting them out over space and time. Constant agony, unable to reform into a solid being. Simple time-passer as I’m exploring the multiverse.”
“But now…” He planned this, dangit. He’s doing it. He pulls off a cloth, and reveals the Quantum Destabilizer dramatically.
“Now there’s no actual target to hit physically. Other than the statue in the woods. Yet he doesn't seem… connected to that anymore. For, if he was…” Ford’s glasses glare over. “He’d be using it to terrorize the town.”
Tommy’s feet swipe off the desk, land back on the floor. Well, his tip toes. That’s the only part that can touch the floor. “That statue’s alive?”
Ford holds his chin as his glasses return to normal, and then does an unsure hand waggle.
“Thanks for the overly specific answer, Doc.” Tommy snaps back tiredly.
“You’re welcome.” Ford chuckles. "But, as I was saying, the only real way I've been able to come up with is-- well, you."
Tommy points at himself and raises an eyebrow.
"Your uncanny vision into the mindscape. The ability to view him without him needing to pull you into a dreamlike state." Ford explains. "You can see him! I don't know how, but you can!"
"You mean how I see ghosts?"
"They aren't ghosts, but more-or-less." Ford shrugs. "The ability to see implies the ability to interact."
He pats the Quantum Destabilizer.
"And that implies the ability to shoot and kill."
Tommy holds his chin, seeing where this is going. “So, you wanna turn me into some sorta demon destroyin’ one-man army.”
"What? No." Ford squints. “I just want you to kill one demon. A single one. In an obviously weakened state.”
A frown plods its way on Tommy’s face. Oh.
“--Granted, we still need to find him. From the data we’ve already compiled, he seems to be purposely avoiding us.” Ford clicks a button on his watch, and a hologram map of the town and the woods pops up. There’s yellow dotted lines depicting a path that’s clearly keeping a 100 feet away from the Shack and the town as a whole. “While predicting his movements are impossible, due to his chaotic nature, it’s clear he’s staying very far away. Which is good for keeping his return secret, but also very bad in terms of putting a stop to him.”
“There is. Another thing.”
Ford sighs. “Your tendency to… catch electronics on fire.”
“Did Stan show you the toaster?”
“Stan showed me the toaster.” Ford nods. “It was brand new. How…?”
Tommy throws his hands in the air. “I dunno! I was just makin’ toast, when all of a sudden, FWOOM! It lights up like a bonfire!”
A stern grunt. “Well, it's a very real threat to this plan. Whatever force it is, be it latent technomancy, technology-focused pyrokinesis, or some sort of curse, it could cause irreversible damage to the Quantum Destabilizer."
Ford then pulls up a small animation on his watch of a simulated technical failure of the Quantum Destabilizer.
"Which will then explode due to the damage. Taking out half the planet."
There's a booming exploding noise as Tommy stares at the images tensely.
Ford rubs his cleft with a thoughtful finger. "Maybe more."
“An’ you want ME to fire it?” Tommy grimaces.
“Sort of.” The watch’s hologram clicks off. “I moreso want to understand the cause of these accidents, and then adjust the Destablizer so it doesn’t run into these complications. Then, it’s a simple matter of finding Bill, and you shooting him through the eye.”
That sounds… reasonable? So, maybe a physical, some nodes stuck to his face. X-rays. That one gun thing Doc has waved all around his body. Typical stuff. This isn’t the first disgraced scientist who’s had him as a test subject, you know. Though, Doc is the first one to ask for consent. And the first one to tell him how many enzymes he had in his body. That’s fun to say. Enzymes.
Tommy looks over the gun, nodding. “Y’know, an anti-demon gun woulda been great against my last ex.” He comments, staring at it for wistfully long time. Reminding himself of all the pain Junior put him through, the long hours at the recording studio, trying to get him to sell out, the outfits and the guilt. Almost has the quarter-demon on par with his mom--
“Pardon. Your what?” Ford asks, looking up from a book.
Tommy flushes red.
Crap. He said that out loud.
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