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Nightshift 46: Disciplinary Therapy Room 2 [M-U for The Scarecrow of Oz]
damned_doctors wrote in damned
One didn't always have to believe they had a brain for it to be true. This was especially fortunate for tonight's patient, given the fact that if he truly didn't have a mass of neural tissue inside that skull of his, he'd not be alive and breathing even now. The fact that this was a recent state of affairs was what most interested the doctor in charge of this particular experiment tonight, however: what exactly must it be like, for someone who only a week past had possesed but a bundle of straw and a diploma, to now truly be able to think?

Well. After tonight that capacity would be altered somewhat, naturally, but it was all in the name of science and satisfying the doctor's own professional curiosity. The former scarecrow had been laid out on the operating table and prepped for surgery, the restraints tightened with even more caution than usual, and his head clamped precisely into place, lest he move and spoil everything. From where he lay the only thing visible would be one of the lights direction above his head, the only thing audible the soft click of the doctor's heels against the tile floor as she moved about the room.

The stage was set, the equipment ready: now all she needed was the final actor to make his entrance. Figuratively speaking, of course, but it just wouldn't do to start when he wasn't aware to enjoy the process.

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Sleep was a curious thing to someone who, despite having been human for a week, was relatively inexperienced in the matter. As far as the Scarecrow could tell, people did it naturally somehow by sitting quietly with their eyes closed for long periods of time- the sleep he'd experienced at the Institute was some sort of enchantment in the same vein as the poppy field, since folks didn't normally just fall asleep at the drop of a hat while talking and exploring.

His mind trailed as he tried to remember what he'd been doing before he fell asleep this time. Usually, he could remember his nightly travels, but his last recollection was definitely being in his room, talking with Depth Charge about his plans for the evening. Let's see: he remembered thinking the meal wasn't as good as pizza, Depth Charge had said something about trying to find those items again, he'd said he- oh! There had been a knock on the door- that was unusual- and a nurse had come inside. After that, everything was a admittedly hazy.

Wait, what was that noise? He opened his eyes, expecting to see the ceiling of his room, and was instead nearly blinded by bright light. Moving his hand to block it proved useless- his hands were stuck in place, restrained somehow. His head and feet were similarly stuck.

The clicking continued. "Is somebody there?" the Scarecrow asked tentatively, a knot forming in his throat.

"It's a rather ridiculous question to ask, really, given that the fact that you can hear someone else in the room would logically indicate that someone is, indeed, there." From the sound of the voice and the footsteps, she was approaching the table now, her tone brisk and businesslike and faintly derisive. "And yet it's often one of the most common questions, for whatever reason; there's something about the human psyche that prompts the most obvious questions in situations like this."

Her footsteps came to a halt at the edge of the table, and for a moment was silent. In the quiet came the soft sound of tearing paper, then a gurgle of liquid, then something cold and wet splashed against a spot of the man's scalp that had been shaven bare while he slept. "At least you're not the type to make even more ridiculous demands or threats," she continued, as she carefully wiped down the skin with a cotton pad soaked in antiseptic. "But then, it's usually only those who think themselves particularly intelligent who try that."

The Scarecrow winced once at the response to his question, feeling undoubtably naive, and again at the feeling of whatever this woman was applying to his head. It was a surprising sensation, a little like putting his bare foot to the floor in the morning.

"Well, I'm not the sort for threats or demands," he said plainly, quietly wondering why the nurse had brought him here. He couldn't see what all she was doing, but there was something unsettling about her tone. "Besides, I probably wouldn't have the brains for it if I were."

He pulled against the hand restraints again- wow, were they tight! "What am I doing here?" he asked, attempting to move his head to get a better look around the room. It seemed he wouldn't be going anywhere anytime soon.

"Hm, would you not." There was no further comment beyond that, though the doctor's tone was somewhat amused as she spoke the words. She finished wiping down the patch of skin, then turned away briefly to discard the pad; after another moment of metal clinking on metal, as she sort through the instruments on her tray, she came back with a scalpel.

"You're here," she replied calmly, even as she leaned in and made a careful incision, "because I'm curious about something. And you are going to answer a question for me." It took but a moment for the neat cuts she needed, and then she folded back the flap of skin to expose the bone of his skull, before dropping the scalpel back onto the tray with another metallic clunk.

A lone thought about her words barely had time to make itself known before his mind and body were thrown a new sort of sensation. The touch of the metal on his head sent a brief shudder through him- it was much more favorable than when she pressed it into his skin. He couldn't see what she was doing, but the feeling caused his body to react in a futile attempt twist from the restraints. He could only grit his teeth, trying desperately not to think of what she could possibly be doing to him.

She finished her work for the moment, and what he decided was definitely pain subsided briefly as he felt his heart starting to pound in his chest. It was beyond description for the moment. His immediate concern was what she was doing and what she had yet to do.

"Wha... " He felt his voice dampen as he took a breath. He swallowed and tried again: "What are you doing? That smarts!"

His only response to that for the moment was a quiet chuckle. The doctor busily sorted through her equipment, with a clink of glass and rattle of metal against the metal of the tray beside her, murmuring inaudibly to herself as she went over her mental list of the procedure. She finally picked up the drill, pressing the trigger for a moment to test it, then turned back toward her subject.

"Does it? That's terrible," she observed, sounding far more amused than sympathetic. "And I've only just started."

And with that, she set the blade to the exposed bone and pulled the trigger, drilling into the skull. Delicate work, this; she had to get just far enough in that she could access the brain, but not so far that she damaged it. But she'd had practice, and watched intently as she worked.

There was no thinking time over her reply, no time to mull over her increasingly unnerving tone or the true purpose of this exercise- whatever she was doing now was even worse than before, seemingly rattling his head from the inside out. He reacted unthinkingly, automatically trying to escape the restraints, pulling against them wildly in an uncoordinated dance. They had no give, offered no hint of release as they held him in place.

The buzzing of the tool ran from his head to his chest and to every inch of his body, clawing through him to the ends of his fingers and toes and back again. He shut his eyes, trying to shut out the noise and sensation that reverberated through his insides, but there was no relief. He could hear nothing else, not even his own thoughts, over the clatter occurring within his own skin.

There was a moment where the tone of the drill's buzzing changed, a very subtle sort of thing that you had to be listening carefully to hear. The doctor was, indeed, listening as carefully as she possibly could, and just at the right second, there! The pitch altered just a fraction and instantly she released the trigger with a self-satisfied smile.

"There we go!" she announced in an oddly cheerful tone, as she set the drill to one side. With a soft click, the light above him abruptly switched off, and at the same time a video monitor next to the light switched on. The only thing currently visible was unidentifiable silvery metal, but as she picked up the small fiber-optic camera, the view swooped and blurred dizzyingly. "And now the real fun begins."

Even with the rattling gone, the former strawman could still hear the noise ringing through him, punctuated a pounding heartbeat from within his head. His heart had probably crawled up there to see what the racket was. He wasn't entirely sure hearts could do that, but it sounded like the most logical explanation for the moment. His thoughts were muddy, blurred together by the single, overarching thought of I have got to get out of here!

This was one of those times he'd have been grateful to have been made of straw and burlap. The human body was a marvel, but he had to admit that the sensation of pain made it less that appealing at times, especially when there was a strange woman doing something unimaginable to his head.

With the light gone, something else came into his line of sight- like a picture, but it moved as a living thing. He blinked a couple of times, thinking it might be a trick of his vision, which was admittedly blurry after all the rattling- no, it was definitely a moving picture.

"What is that?" he asked quietly, his voice unsure and unsteady.

"Oh, this?" She fell silent for a moment, fussing with the camera and her equipment, then paused with the camera pointed at his head. The shaved patch was now visible, the bare skull with a neat hole bored through it. "This is going to show you something ever so fascinating."

And now the camera moved in closer, into the hole, displaying the contents within. "It's your very own brain," the doctor observed, her tone one of mock surprise. "Would you look at that. But," she continued, ever so carefully sliding a needle into that brain, her eyes fixed solidly on a monitor of her own, "I'm going to make a few...adjustments, to it."

The ringing in his head suddenly became less of a problem as the situation became clearer than the Scarecrow liked. He stared at the moving picture, transfixed as the realization that what he was seeing was himself, here, now! Through some sort of magic, she was showing him what she was doing as she was doing it! It was surprising and disturbing to see himself as if he were apart from his body, but the feelings were overrun quickly as the picture focused on something inside his head.

"I- I've got a brain!" He smiled weakly, despite the grim situation he was in- he had a real brain! Knowing that all along he'd had the one thing keeping him from thinking straight (boy, this situation sure sounded familiar) brought him a moment of relief.

That relief was short-lived, though. "Adjustments?" Despite watching her insert something into his brain, he didn't feel much of anything. Maybe the rattling had dulled his senses temporarily. "Isn't just having one good enough?"

The doctor frowned at her monitor, sliding the needle in just a fraction more, then again, until she was finally satisfied with its placement. Only then did she finally deign to admit that her subject was speaking to her. "Good enough?" She gave a sharp, derisive laugh, and shook her head. "For you, perhaps."

Another pause, as she concentrated on her work; on the camera, a thin thread of clear liquid ran down the needle and pooled at the base, unheeded. "Fortunately, though, it's not your decision to make," she continued, sounding a little distracted. "What good would it do to leave things unexplored?"

Judging from her tone and that chuckle she'd had, the Scarecrow got the feeling he wasn't going to like where this whole situation was headed. Even though he was desperate to get away from her, he tried to stay as still as possible. She was messing with his brain, and he'd rather not have it damaged by some fault of his own, and all that twisting and jerking he'd been doing couldn't have helped her aim in the slightest.

He tore his eyes from the picture briefly, trying to find an exit in the darkness. If he couldn't get away, surely someone would come looking for him. Oh, he hoped it'd be Depth Charge. The man was not only the most likely candidate to come looking for him being his roommate, but he was fully capable of showing this witch a thing or two.

"It'd leave my newly-found brain intact, to start with," he replied sharply, his eyes returning to the picture. "That's a delicate instrument! I've been without one before, and I'd rather not be like that again!"

All that was visible in the room was the area immediately surrounding the table on which the Scarecrow lay - outside of that circle of light was only darkness. The room could be tiny or vast, there could even be other people present, in the shadows silently watching. It was impossible to say.

"I assure you that I have far more experience with this "delicate instrument" than you could ever dream," the doctor replied, turning away briefly to flick a switch on a box beside her. The click of the switch was followed by a soft buzzing hum, and after a moment the tang of ozone became apparent.

"I've no plan to remove any part of it, mind. Quite the opposite, in fact." A long, thin needle came into view on the camera, the tip poised just above the surface of his brain. "You see, I've just added -- well, the explanation would be too much to follow, I'm certain, even for someone who knows so much about thinking." One didn't need to see her face to know she was rolling her eyes at that. "Suffice it to say, it's a clever little thing, with a particularly interesting effect, which I will be demonstrating...now."

The new needle dipped to press against the first with a fleeting spark, sending a current down to the so-called "clever thing" that had already been implanted in just the right spot in his brain. Normally it would only be triggered under certain conditions, but before she declared herself finished this night, she had to make certain that it was functional at all.

If there was one thing that really rubbed him the wrong way (well, aside from being kidnapped and having the brain he wasn't aware he had until moments before put through some sort of twisted experiment), it was being blatantly patronized. While he understood he was more naive at times than he liked to admit, he didn't enjoy having that fact rubbed in his face.

"Now see here, you," he started as she continued her work, unable to waggle an accusing finger at her due to the restraints on his hands, "You've got some nerve to..." He trailed off, listening. The ringing between his ears had abruptly disappeared. So had the pain from his head and the tightness of the restraints. He thought for a moment that this had all been some conjured illusion that was suddenly disappearing, but found he was still tied down as he tried to move.

He listened again, trying to put the pieces together. He could still hear her in the room, and his own uneven breathing, but-

He was breathing, wasn't he? He was, he knew he was- that was something humans had to do to live, after all. His body would tell him if he wasn't doing it, and he could hear his breath quickening as confused panic set in, but he couldn't-

I can't feel it! He heard himself gasp as he realized the magic the clever little thing had worked on his body. The lack of feeling, of sensation- he couldn't even smell the room anymore- was all too familiar. Nothing looked changed on the moving picture- his brain was still there, so surely he was still human, but...

"W- what did you do!?" he asked, unsure if he really wanted to know the answer.

No matter how much research, experimentation, and testing might be done in the laboratory, it was only when you tried it for real on an actual human subject that you would know for certain that you had succeeded. And judging from his reaction, and the readings on her equipment -- she had indeed.

The doctor gave a triumphant laugh and lifted the needle again, cutting off the electrical current. "Excellent. Absolutely perfect." She flicked the switch to turn the equipment back off again, creating a noisy clatter on the metal tray for a moment before returning to him.

"Well, it looks like we're about done for the evening, then," she observed, sounding far more cheerful and somewhat less malicious than before, and began carefully sliding the long needle back out of his brain. "Once I tidy up, of course, but still. That wasn't so bad, was it?"

"Wasn't so bad?" he asked incredulously, squirming against his restraints irritably, trying to see if they were still there. "That's easy for you to say! Let's switch places, and we'll see how you like it!"

His beloved human senses had only been absent for a few moments, but he was already starved for them. He was almost regretting disliking pain- even if it was unpleasant, at least he could feel it. He'd never known what he was missing until his arrival at the Institute, granting him something he'd never imagined he'd have: a human form and all the amenities that came with it.

The doctor would no more switch places with him than she would a lab rat in a cage: the idea was completely, entirely, and utterly baffling. Therefore her only response was a derisive, "Why would I do that?" and then the comment was forgotten in favor of work that needed to be done.

The camera was removed and set back on the tray again, offering a view of unidentifiable metal objects and a scrap of blood-stained gauze. And then she set back to work closing up the injury she'd caused, humming idly to herself as she carefully set the flap of skin back into place and began stitching it closed.

Just as he was mentally kicking himself for having taken the wonders of touch and taste and smell for granted, he could feel them: breaths coming in and out of him, the feeling of the surface beneath his fingers, the tight restraints on his hands and head, the- oh, what was she doing to his head now? The sensations were dull, but present. Oh joy, they were present!

A few long moments, and they seemed to be back in full strength: the interesting smell of the room, the feeling of his head against the- ow, what was she doing? He grimaced, trying not to think of the feeling as unpleasant. He was thankful to have it at all.

But wait, why had she even bothered to put him through all this if his senses were just going to come back after a short- ah! She'd said she was adding something, and he couldn't help but wonder what it could be, especially if it could cause him to lose his human sensation. He frowned widely, figuring that asking her would get him no answers, only more irritatingly vague statements that made him feel more ignorant than- ow!

As she worked each stitch was painstakingly placed, a neat and careful row ensuring that the incision would heal with minimal scarring. Really, in a week or so the only sign should be the shorter patch of hair, and even that had been carefully arranged so it would be mostly hidden by the rest of his hair. The doctor inwardly congratulated herself on how thoughtful she was to her subjects; it was like giving the dog a kind pat before injecting it with the latest experimental drug. Those little touches were ever so important.

"There," she declared, as she snipped the thread on the last of the sutures. "All finished." She dropped the instruments onto the tray with a clatter, apparently unconcerned about the noise, and began removing her gloves. "Do try to keep the wound as clean as possible, and in a little while you'll hardly notice it's there at all. You might have some dizziness...headaches, perhaps...but nothing serious, not at all."

"I'll try. Really, I will," the Scarecrow answered, puzzled by her nonchalant professionalism at what he hoped was the end of an eye-opening experiment. He closed his eyes tightly, trying to ignore that persistent thumping in his head that had come back with his senses. While it wasn't nearly as painful as when the doctor was rattling his head open, it was certainly enough to disrupt any immediate thinking he wanted to do.

He couldn't tell how long he'd been on the table- the time was deceivingly long, especially considering he'd been kidnapped, restrained, had his head opened without his permission, and had something unexplained inserted into the brain he hadn't known he'd had. His complaining head was only making matters worse- he was sure he could figure out most of the answers if it wasn't aching! "Are you sure headaches aren't serious?"

"Oh, no, not really." The gloves came off with a snap, and the doctor discarded them onto the tray with the rest of the debris. She was still feeling inordinately smug, and certainly looking forward to the results of this little experiment. "I'd be surprised if you didn't have one, really."

At least until the device activated again, of course. But, well, that wasn't something she wanted to tell him about.

She started to push her equipment off into the darkness, then suddenly paused. "Oh! Dear me, I almost forgot." Her steps approached the table once more, and she quickly loosened the bindings on his wrists, just enough that he'd be able to free himself after a little work. "There. Ta-ta!"

And with a rattle and clatter, the doctor and cart left the circle of light and disappeared; even the sound of her movement fading away unnaturally quickly. But a moment later the silence was once more broken by the sharp click of the door unlocking itself.

[From here]

Depth Charge wasn't entirely sure what he'd been expecting to see when he walked in- he'd known they weren't going to offline his roommate, that would have been crazy, but--

-- but it was always a possibility. Standing in the doorway, staring at the man strapped prone to the surgical table, he let the relief kick in with a rush of blood to the head. For a moment, anyway. Then he was off again, hissing out a, "Slag it!" before he was at the table and scrabbling impatiently at the restraints. "What the Pit did they do?! ST, help me with these..."

O.K., he definitely needed to find out where they kept the bandages if he was going to stick with this gig. The smell of blood and disinfectant were galloping neck and neck up his olfactory nerve. S.T. stopped for long enough to shake his head and grimace. Cotton batting, surgical tape, and an aromatherapy kit. That was what he needed. Then he could stop being useless every time he stuck his head voluntarily into one of these rooms.

Shame stretched temporal perception into an eternity that he stood frozen in the doorway. In reality, it was about thirty seconds. He tucked the pipe under his chin like a phone, set down the kit, and started on the other side. He hadn't pointed the flashlight in the poor dude's face. Instead, he whispered, mostly to D.C., though the way Exhibit A here was squirming, the knockout finale was optional. "Name?"

Oh rapture, a rescue party! Boy, was the Scarecrow relieved when the door opened and Depth Charge came storming in. He was doubly grateful for the removal of the restraints around his hands and head, taking the opportunity to sit up the second they were removed. He immediately grabbed the sides of the table, attempting to steady himself as the room seemingly spun for a few seconds.

Rubbing his eyes with one hand, he turned to his roommate. "I had a feeling you'd come looking for me," he said with a pained smile. He took a quick look over his shoulder- the woman who'd been working on him just moments earlier had disappeared entirely. It was probably for the best. Judging from the look in Depth Charge's eyes, the man probably would have torn her limb from limb, and she'd be a lot harder to put back together than someone made of straw.

Speaking of being put back together, the Scarecrow was wondering how his head looked. He put a hand to the wound, immediately retracting it and regretting the idea as he winced. Okay, touching it was out of the question. Judging from the pain and the throbbing coming from inside his head, it probably didn't look any better than it felt.

Oh, he'd forgotten his manners! "Thank you, Depth Charge. And... It's Sangamon, right?" he said with a snap of his fingers. "I can't thank you two enough!"

Even with the adrenalin rush and the flutter of his heartbeat in his ears (it all felt so painfully organic, so incongruous) to deal with, and even if it was just out of the corner of his eye, Depth Charge could see S.T. hesitating in the doorway. Now that was weird. He couldn't help but frown a little as he tugged at the bonds, vaguely wondering whether the guy had always been squeamish (really? Since when?). Or maybe it was a reflex- he'd been the one tied to the table only a week before, and Depth Charge knew only too well what a bad memory could do to your head.

Back to the now, and the Scarecrow was sitting upright and talking. The tension in his chest eased just a little. If he could talk and if he could thank them, he couldn't be too hurt. Thank Primus. "Don't mention it- and don't move so fast, either. Not so soon." Especially not when they still weren't sure what had happened. But that was what S.T. was for- he was one with all the medical knowledge. Easy, when your partner was an alien robot. "S.T., the Scarecrow. Scarecrow, S.T. Sorry, introductions were never my thing." His eyes flickered back to the Scarecrow almost straight away. "You've met before? Good."

That wasn't important, though. Not at all. In between the small talk something had occurred to him, and now? Now he was just on autopilot while his processor was busy working out something bigger, something more important: just where the doctor who'd done this had gone. They hadn't passed them in the hallway, so- so where could they have vanished to? Depth Charge broke away from the table, prowling the length of the room like a Tigatron in a cage. No doors, no windows, nothing. He turned, slowly, to the table. "Where did they go?" His tone was low and even and deceptively calm.

"Yeah, we've met. Sorry, man, didn't think you wanted a light pointed in your face right now." He squinted into the gloom. What the hell had they done to the guy? There was something sacrilegious about this guy being the one strapped down; Judy Garland and her magic bucket in fucking Technicolor. Not blood and dirt and were those stitches. Sangamon told the part of his brain that was pointing out the irony to take a sabatical. There was being an asshole and there was being an asshole.

Meanwhile, Depth Charge had discovered physics. "It's like a one-way mirror, except those make sense. Don't think about it too hard, you'll sprain something. Right now we've got to get him someplace warm and safe. Relatively, of course." Shock was the biggest issue, provided that the wannabe neuroscientist had the same schizophrenic balance of competence and lack thereof that he'd showed with S.T. Which seemed likely.

And if he hadn't, there was fuck-all Sangamon Taylor could do about it. Dissection was one thing. Putting it back together was another.

He popped the latches on the toolkit. A handful of bottles rattled around in the bottom. S.T. fished them out, peered at a couple, and then tossed all the others back in.

"How much," he began. Stupid question. Or was it? After brain surgery without any painkillers, even Mr. Rogers would be bitching his head off. Or in shock. Or maybe his head really was filled with dead air.

All right, back to plan A. "How much pain are you in?" The drugs knocking him out wouldn't be a big deal. He and D.C. weren't exercise junkies, but they could haul half a skinny guy.

"I'm... not really sure," the Scarecrow answered both men truthfully, fighting the urge to touch that pounding spot on his head again. Part of him was desperate for a mirror or any other reflective surface, curious to see the damage; another part of him couldn't fathom what had happened, and wanted this night (aside from the brain-discovery moment) to be over.

The room still seemed to be moving, even though he was sure he wasn't, and... well, he wasn't entirely sure how to describe all those other things he was feeling right at that moment, from the tingly sensation of his skin to that crawling sensation in his stomach. He was absolutely sure none of them were good, though.

"I think I feel sick," he said finally, making a judgment call.

"... tch." Depth Charge cast one last penetrating look around the room- as though, somehow, his target would suddenly appear if he willed them to hard enough- before returning to the table, clenching out his irritation into his fists and his flashlight instead.

Right. The Scarecrow was alive, for one thing, and starting up another crusade right now wasn’t going to help anyone. He had to focus. Warm and safe- that could have covered any place in the universe except for the Institute, but whatever.

“Depends how far you want to walk,” he said after a moment in a much more controlled voice, watching S.T. rifle around in his toolkit. “I think the rooms might be safe, but that could pretty far from here for the Scarecrow.” Never mind that it would be him and S.T. doing the walking, the guy looked woozy enough to pass out any second. But so long as Depth Charge told himself that was probably the meds they’d sedated with him doing the swaying rather than what they’d done afterwards, he could keep his temper. Just. "You think you can stay with us, Scarecrow?"

They'd loaded him up well enough, if nausea was the top of the list. No use adding to the metabolic load. S.T. swung the flashlight around the room, but everything looked pristine. Nothing to add to his inbox today.

The man in the chair was alive, and talking. That had to be their victory for today. He tucked his pipe into the back of his pants. Looked ridiculous, like an ass-mounted bike flag, but he needed a hand. And the arm and shoulder attached to it. All of which he offered to the Scarecrow.

"C'mon. Let's blow this joint." We're off to see the wizard.

The Scarecrow nodded with an unsure smile, his stomach still feeling like it had a mind of its own. "I think I'm okay," he assured himself more than his rescuers. That said, he swung his legs over the side of the table cautiously- the floor looked a lot farther away than it should have been. He sure hoped these sorts of bizarre sensations weren't permanent additions to his human body.

He took S.T.'s offered shoulder lightly with his hand and slid off the table, completely unprepared for his legs to collapse under him like a falling circus tent. He gripped S.T.'s arm and the edge of the table, managing to steady himself before he hit the floor. "Whoops," he uttered apologetically, planting his feet firmly on the floor and trying again.

He managed to stay on his feet on the second try, though he wasn't sure how long that'd last. Despite being on solid ground, he felt like it was still shifting beneath him somehow. Maybe it was his body telling him it wasn't ready for walking, but he was determined to get out of that room. He kept his hand on S.T.'s shoulder for support. "I'm ready anytime."

Watching the Scarecrow's legs give out almost straight after they touched the floor was less than reassuring, even if he was sure he could make the journey. Automatically Depth Charge darted around to the man's other side to catch him, but he seemed to do a fair job of catching himself. "Easy. Leave the work to us." There might not have been more than a few inches between the two of them, height-wise, but with the guy in the state he was in he had to stoop to wedge his shoulder under the Scarecrow's arm.

It killed him a little that he was the one apologising.

But staying positive was key here. Depth Charge squeezed his uncertainty into his jaw (since there was no room to tighten his fists anymore) and nodded without another word before moving towards the exit.

[To here]

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