Gym Rat Rat Fink

June 19, 2014: Paul Orman runs into an old friend and a new stalker

New York City - Chelsea District, Manhattan

IRN - a hole-in-the-wall gym hiding in the basement of a converted garment factory, this is a free-weights-only gym. No machines. Benches, bars, dumbbells, kettle bells, and lots of big discs of iron, and chains. Near the front, there's ropes, big thick ones almost too big to grab in hand. Where the walls aren't covered by mirrors they're covered by inspirational exhortations and photos. There is a locker room, a front desk, an office, and (testament to what this place is about) a small posing room with mirrors and adjustable lights.



  • Paul Orman - Fabulous, built, a muscle mary with problems. Hydra problems.

Note - Deadzone/Nancy O'Neal did emits.

Mood Music:
Diana Ross - Muscles

One does not get a body like Paul's without a lot of work. A lot of work. If he's not at work, he's usually at the gym, eying the hard bodies there and letting other hard bodies eye him. Today is no different then any other day in that regard. He works with the free weights, watching himself in the mirror. Making sure he's getting his form correct. Really!


Ange has just arrived and changed into workout gear - post-clinic hours, and he's got a world of frustration to burn off thanks to the way that the PolyGlobal people have been not-delivering meds and supplies that they contracted to deliver, and he's kind of thinking there might be something up, given that Mr. Michael Tovar was kind of caught out earlier in the month by a very clever doctor… too clever for his own good, apparently.

He spots Paul, and shakes his head. Man, he's gotten huge in the past few years. But wait, wasn't there… Right. Crazy street bathrobe lady.

Angelo walks up behind the fabulousness and coughs.

"Ahem. Cough. Cough."


A tall, vaguely middle eastern man steps into the gym. He's not in traditional workout clothes. Well, he kind of his. Workout pants of the running variety and a long sleeved shirt. He's got a glove on his right hand and those miiiiiight be bandages peeking out from under the sleeve of his shirt. Maybe. Casting his gaze around his eyes light on Paul and he moves in with a careful step, not wanting to seem too out of place until he's close.


Paul is used to men approaching him when he's working out. He starts to smile and looks in the mirror at the man behind him. Oh my. Someone as buff as he is. Then he looks up at the face.

"Oh my god!" he says, initially being his fabulous self. Then he remembers that Angelo doesn't know his fabulous persona he's been using for the last three years. Awkward! He turns around, openly appreciating Angelo. His voice changes back to what Angelo might remember.

"Long time no see, stranger? How have you been?"


"Getting my Doctor of Medicine, actually. Opened a clinic on Avenue C with some friends, not raking in the money but it's filling a need. You're looking freaking huge."

Ange wakes the channel to the Light enough that he can see how badly Paul's juicing, and more importantly, whether he's blatantly untruthful, because he's about to ask…

"So, do you know a girl named Nancy O'Neal? I ran into her mother in the street last week. The woman was in her bathrobes, and she was looking for her daughter."


Jericho's getting closer now. He didn't risk bringing a gun into this place. He does have a polycarbonate combat knife tucked away in the small of his back but… he's not really sure he'll need it. He's been reading up on things, you see. Knowledge is power and in games like this, sharper than any blade.

Oh that's interesting. Jeri pulls up short for a moment and then moves a bit closer, close enough that he can break in… after he hears Paul's answer to this question.


Paul chuckles softly when Ange mentions how big he is. Sure, he could ask more about Ange, but he'd much rather talk about himself. His ego was never something that lacked for size. Oddly enough, as Angelo looks into Paul's being, he sees that he's not juicing. Protein shakes, plenty of wheatgrass juice, but nothing unnatural. For Paul, it's all about the work out, the rush of it all.

When asked about Nancy, he looks away for a mere moment, a touch of a frown on his lips. Well great. Seems his double life has caught up with him.

"Of course I know her. Sweet kid. Work with her over in Harlem at a body mod shop. She just vanished one day. Hasn't answered her phone or come to work. Why? Do you know where I can find her?"


"No, I was hoping you knew where she went, is all. Not good for her Mom to be wandering. Also, her Mom's … not well. She seems to be on psych meds, and the balance is not a good one. I gave her a referral card to the clinic - we do low-cost or free for limited incomes."

Angelo gives Paul an appraising look, and nods approvingly. It's been nearly four years since the last time they trained together, and Paul had just begun growing.

"You stayed clean, I see. Good going. Checking out the old training pit, huh?"


"I think I can help with that." Jericho says quietly but firmly as he steps over.

"She left to get away from your employers, Paul. They were getting a bit too insistent. And she found some help to stay gotten away." He pauses. "Now I'm a friend of hers and I really disapprove of this kind of thing. Ordinarily that'd make me inclined to ask you to come with me out back but…"

Jericho steps closer and lowers his voice. "I've been reading up on the incentives program, Paul. So I want to know one thing from you before we go any further: Were you really her friend or was it all just work?""


Paul frowns. That was not the answer he wanted.

"Worried sick about that girl," he says. He reaches out with a hand, letting it glide up the musculature of Angelo's arm. "But, you know, if you want to talk more about this, we could… "

His attempt at flirtation is interrupted by the middle eastern stranger. There is a brief moment of 'Oh hell!' on his features. His hand on the free weight tightens, getting ready to use it as a weapon. But then Jericho says the magic word. Incentives program. He looks over to Angelo.

"Could you excuse us a moment, handsome? I'll be right back to finish this." He nods his head over towards an area of the gym that is a little quieter today, putting his weights down as he heads over there.

"Listen, she's a good kid, really. I mean that. But if I don't do this, someone dies. They aren't going to hurt her. They just want to talk to her."

Okay, the look on his face says that even he doesn't believe they just want to talk to her.


"Who the … fuck did that to you?" Angelo says, looking at the intruder, eyes almost glowing for a moment. Wait. This is getting too complicated. Incentives? This interloper guy is really badly burned, but he's ignoring the pain, he's got some kind of machine helping him block the pain. How is he MOVING with that muscle damage anyway? Never mind, this is a little too public, really. WAY too public. Too many meat-heads LOOKING now.

"Guys, this isn't the place for this kind of thing. WAY too open. Let's move it into a room."

Ange tells one of the personal trainers, "Joey, I need ta use the posing room, K?" He doesn't wait for a reply, instead putting a hand on Paul's back and the other on Jericho's, gently but very insistently pushing them. He won't hesitate to use the stun-jolt on either one, if they struggle.


Jericho doesn't seem to object to moving to a more private venue. It's probably for the best anyway. As they move, he continues talking in a low voice. "People who don't like me very much."

"We both know they'll do a whole lot more than talk to her. I know better than most, since I've been dealing with more or less the same people for longer. I won't tell you where she is."

He doesn't actually know for certain, though he could make a fair guess as to coordinates, if not a street address, of the location she's been texting from. Telephony metadata is so useful sometimes. No wonder the NSA likes it so much.

"But I am willing to help you Paul. I know they've got something on you. I'll help you make that a non issue. All I ask in return is that once I do, you give me anything you can that'll help me keep them off her for good. I read Adison's texts to you. I know that's going to be quite a trick, but there's got to be a way."


Paul is more then happy to move into the private room. He puts an arm on Angelo's shoulder. He knows what sort of a reputation he has in this place. It's warranted. And if he can use it to his advantage? Why not? Once the door closes, Paul lets out a sigh, looking to Jericho.

"If you know who my real employers are, then you know I can't talk. They'll kill my incentive and then they'll kill me. I'm sorry if you're a friend of Nyan's. She deserves a real friend. But I can't. I just can't." He then looks over to Angelo. "Listen, I'm sorry. This is not how I wanted to meet you again."


"Yeah, yeah. Just don't keep doing stupid shit, Paulie," Ange says. "All right. Both of you. Explain what's going on. I consider Anabel O'Neal to be a patient of mine, so there's some interest here."

He frowns for a second. "And what do you mean 'kill the incentive' - is this Mob shit, or … no. This is worse. This is connected, isn't it. My life doesn't have coincidences in it. The big guy doesn't allow it. Who do you work for, Paul?"


"He works for the Polyglobal Corporation. Which is connected to… another organization. A very ruthless one. I'm not sure really how much more I should say." He eyes Angelo for a moment. "I'm Jericho, by the way."

The soldier turned hacker turns back to Paul.

"Paul, please, let me help you. I've taken these people on before and I'm still alive which is no small victory. I'm willing to take the risk. I'll get him back and I know people who can help you disappear. They've helped me before. If I can do that for you, will you talk to me?"


Paul is looking really uncomfortable. Seeing Angelo asking about his subject was bad enough, but then another guy asking about her too? This is just not his day.

"Trust me, Ange. I ended up in a whole wack of stupid since you and I were a thing. Enough to keep me hip deep in stupid for the rest of my life." He leans against a wall and groans, balling his hands into fists.

"No offense, Jericho is it? But I don't know you for Adam. Why should I trust you? How do I know that helping you isn't gonna just be more shit but a different pile?"


"Doctor Angelo diLucci," Ange says to Jericho. Yah. No coincidences. He puts together a few more connections. He smiles at Paul and puts a hand on his shoulder, *ZOT* and the light-bolt should knock the guy out for a minute or two, before he comes to feeling wonderful. Ange looks at Jericho, then.

"So, he works for that sneaky rat Tovar? What's the Hydra connection then? Because Tovar AND O'Mally were both involved in the attempted swap-job on Alderisi, and O'Mally was the one who cracked first."


Jericho is about to answer when Angelo just tases Paul into unconsciousness.

"I really wish you hadn't done that Doc… wait, Doctor diLucci?" He recognizes that name. where was it… where was it…

"The Gala. You were at the Gala. I remember… er, seeing your name in the papers." I remember texting your phone with a fake bomb threat. Yeah, not the best move there.

"Hydra runs Polyglobal. It's a front for one of their R and D cells. One of many, I might add. The organization is so decentralized that the left hand not knowing what the right is doing is just a way of life for them."

He sighs. "My friend was a test subject of theirs, via her mother. Long story. They want to collect on their investment. Which *is* her. They get her and we may not find her again, which is… just not happening while I have a say in it. Paul was their way to keep tabs on her. They've got leverage on him. I'm trying to convince him to let me get their leverage back and tell me what he knows."


Paul smiles at Angelo. There is history there. He's about to say something when boom boom, out go the lights! Well, not so much boom as zap. He collapses onto the floor like a sack of potatoes. Well… a couple sacks of potatoes.


"In the papers? Really?" Ange smiles a bit. "I don't see any benefit in them finding her either, but her Mom needs some care. And they're probably watching her too. I got a good look at her, and yes, as you might've noticed, I'm a meta. I can sense disease, injury, illness, burns. That's easy. I got a few minutes to study Anabeth. She's psychotic, they messed with her, couldn't tell if it was genetics, epigenetic, or viral insert, but it wasn't natural. What they did was also heritable, and Nancy most likely has it. So, yeah, they would want her."

He pauses a moment. "Paul stopped training with me kind of suddenly. Word was he'd gotten a new boyfriend who was doing the isolate-from-friends thing, but I was in med-school at the time. The boyfriend wasn't in the picture when I started my residency."


"His boyfriend is the leverage. They've got him. I have a few guesses where but I was hoping they've been sending him proof of life… e-mail… something that would help me narrow it down. As for Anabeth it's worse than you know. Part of the reason I'm keeping an eye on her is because I'm concerned they'll try to add her to the 'incentives program' soon herself. I may have to get her to safety and… my options there are limited. I was hoping Paul could tell me how much time I had."

Jericho sighs and crosses his arms, winces and uncrosses them quickly.

"Ow, damnit."


Paul starts to groan. Not that 'Ow my head hurts' sorta groan, but the 'Wow! Where did you learn that, baby?!' sort of groan. He turns over onto his back and is smiling ear from ear as he looks over at Angelo.

"You still have it, Ange. Wait… with him too?"

He glances at Jericho with an arch of his brow and a look of confusion. Jericho is so not his type.


"Hold still," Ange says, and puts a hand on the most injured shoulder, just enough to touch. There's a moment of brilliant light, then FLASH, pause, FLASH, pause, FLASH, pause, FLASH, pause, FLASH. Five times. With the first flash, the pain stops. The second, there's an intense but transient sense of pins-and-needles across the burned area. Third, a warm tightness, then a cooling sensation on the fourth, and a relaxing sensation on the fifth. Although the cyber is untouched, and in fact, probably works a little better than before, the damaged muscle, bone, and flesh has been completely repaired, replaced, regrown. And since there was a bit of extra, any OTHER minor nagging pains are gone.

"I'll send you a bill," Ange says, as Paul wakes up. He reaches over to Paul and taps him on the nose.

"No, Paulie. You just had a stress time-out there. It's OK. You can trust Jericho. I do."


Jericho blinks and then flinches at first from the light until the lizard part of his brain realizes it's not a flash bang or muzzle flash.

"I… wow Doc, that's something else. Yeah, go ahead and send me that bill."

He looks pensive. Angelo is a doctor… maybe… mmm… maybe later. One fight at a time. Turning, he reaches down to help Paul up.

"I really can help you Paul. And I really do want to. No one deserves to be victimized by these guys. I just really want to help my friend. She deserves to not have to worry about this. To the extent possible, anyway. There are very, very few lines I won't cross to do that. So helping you out of your predicament? That's a no brainer on my end."


Paul lets the two men help him up, standing closer to Angelo and using him for support.

"Listen, this might end up killing me, but if you really can get Mark out of wherever the hell they have him, I'll help you. She's a grumpy bitch, but she's like that meme cat. You just wanna cuddle her to bits."

He smiles to Angelo. "You'd love her. She's like a little grumpy mascot."

He frowns over at Jericho. "But I'm not helping till Mark and I are safe. We don't even have to be togther. It was five years ago. I doubt he'd want to start again, but I'm not going to have his blood on my hands."


"I got nothing on that one," Ange says to Paul.

"Jericho, if you can find this guy, see where they've got him? I'll help how I can when it's time."

He doesn't seem to be burdened much by the other guy; must come from hefting patients around. Or huge amounts of weight. Whichever. He looks at Jeri again.

"Let me know what's going on with that research when you can. I'm at my clinic office from nine to four tomorrow and Saturday, and I'm at the Chelsea Clean Needle Project clinic overnight Saturday, unless an emergency comes up."


"I will. It'd help if you can send me any pictures, video, phone calls, any proof of life at all. That'll help me narrow down the areas I have to search." Cause right now all he has is educated guesses. He thinks they're good ones, but who knows. Certainty is needed for this.

"After I have you both set up with new ID's and plane tickets, then you can tell me what you know, sound fair?"

Jeri considers Angelo for a long moment.

"Yeah, I'll do that. I've got a few things you may be able to help with. First things first though. I'm going to take steps with Anabeth and run down Mark. Then extract him." He offers Paul a card. "Send me anything you can to that e-mail address. I'll be in touch, okay?"

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