Description: Cody receives a visit from an old friend.
Metro City Municipal Corrections Facility, also known as The Joint or No Man's Land or Hotel California, depending on who you ask, stands apart from the rest of the city, away from the decent public who don't want to be reminded of the results a life of crime will bring you. It's stood like a fortress in the city since the 70's, weathering all kinds of things, including demonic invasion. It has housed everyone from petty criminals to hardcore murderers and sex offenders; mobsters and wannabes, predators and punks. Barbed Wire fences are their picket fences; prison guards with batons and stun guns their friendly neighbors.
It is also Cody's home.
Ever since his conviction years ago, after the fall of Mad Gear's original iteration, prison life has transformed him. Righteous indignation gave way to reluctance and doubt, then resignation, and finally fatalism. It is not just a prison; to Cody, it's where he belongs, where people like him with no future and no hope ought to be.
True, he often leaves whenever he wants. The first few times caused quite an uproar among the staff. But this eventually gave way to a reluctant acceptance since A) No one can stop him and B) he always came back. What originally was a dangerous scandal simply became part of the norm. A quirk of the place, if you will. The warden even considered making it a tourist thing - come see the world's strongest convict. But nothing panned out.
Today would be like any other day, staring at the walls or working out, playing basketball or menial labor. But then the guards came to him. "Got a visitor today, Cody," they said. The former hero makes his way to the visitation area, wondering who it could be...and dreading a little.
There were reasons Haggar didn't frequently visit Cody in prison.
A major one is that Cody usually just kind of walked out on his own, and he could see him then under the pretense of trying to chase him down. Somehow, Haggar never quite managed to be the one to pin Cody down, though. Funny, that.
Another is that the Mad Gear population in the prison seemed to sense his proximity. Rumors would spread like wildfire. The closer the mayor was, the closer the prison would come to a riot. It's just how it was.
So for the Mayor himself to be at one end of one of the tables, a wide berth spread around him, the cheap plastic chair muttering under his weight... there must be a reason.
Haggar looks up when Cody enters, punching off his phone and tucking it and his stylus (the screen hasn't been made that Haggar's fingers could manage) into his chest pocket. He is dressed as normal (plus a shirt). "Afternoon, Cody," he says. The mayor uses his foot to bump the other chair out for his old friend.
Cody walks into the room, pausing to stare at Haggar. Cody's hair is unkempty and he boasts some stubble. Even his uniform seems to look shabby. There are some bags under his eyes. His expression remains flat even when he's greeted. "Yo," he returns, finally taking a seat in the chair. He leans with one arm dangling over the back, propping both feet up on the table - prison issue white sneakers. They look pretty dirty. "Never thought you'd be comin' 'round here, Mr. Mayor," he says.
Haggar, in contrast, is the kind of well-kept you get when you see someone every couple of days to make sure you look well-kept. It's not something he's ever been entirely comfortable with, but in his position, image is important. No lotion can entirely hide the bags under his own eyes. The reasons are different, but sometimes his nights are just as sleepless.
He unclasps his hands for a moment in a 'whaddaya gonna do' sort of gesture. "Well, y'know. I always figured, hey, comin' in here and getting my name on all the paperwork makes things look official, an' I didn't want to do that unless I had somethin' official for you. You get me? I didn't wanna..."
Haggar pauses, thumbing at his mustache as he looks at the nearby CO, who may have not entirely realized the futility of trying to protect either of these men from pretty much anything, themselves or otherwise. The beat stretches. The guard suddenly thinks of something he clearly has to do with a start and wanders away some distance.
"...I didn't wanna see you here unless I had a chance of working toward gettin' you outta here."
Cody doesn't move at all when Haggar finally reveals his intentions. His sleepy expression doesn't even make so much as a twitch. "Oh." That's it, just 'Oh'. There's not even any exclamation to it. Just that one syllable uttered, Cody sitting there staring at Haggar. "That right? You got some kinda plan to spring me?"
Haggar shifts forward. His energy is a little odd. He should be a little more pumped about it, a little grinnier, but instead he's just intense.
"I've had people buildin' up a case against Edi E.. Hell, against as many of the corrupt punks in the MCPD as we've been able to spot, but him especially. Really zeroin' in, tryin' to get evidence before they can wreck it. Keepin' tabs on bodycam feeds. I think if we can get this thing together... we can make an argument about gettin' your conviction thrown out. Makin' it clear you were framed an' all that."
Haggar has never once even bothered to ask Cody if he was framed. He'd always just... assumed. At least back in those days, the kind of beating they pinned on him... that wasn't how they operated. His trust has always been hard to shake.
Cody stares down at the table as Haggar explains his plan. He knew Haggar never had any doubt that Cody was innocent. Yet, despite this...Cody looks up at Haggar again. "So you're sayin'-" he stops when the noise from the cafeteria nearby starts to trickle through the walls - convicts chattering about this and that, particularly about Haggar's visit, or who's trading what today or who got in a fight or the usual every day life occurences behind bars.
Cody turns his head. "YO, SHUT THE HELL UP!" he yells.
The cafeteria immediately goes quiet.
The fact that Cody always came back to prison wasn't the only thing making the staff tolerate his wanderings. There was also the fact Cody was the single strongest being in these walls. "...so you're sayin', if we nail Edi E., we can get me outta here," he says. He nods slowly. "Okay."
Then he places the question. "What makes you think I wanna leave?"
Inwardly, Haggar wonders, 'was that necessary?' Only a little bit, though. God help us all, he understands what a show of power can accomplish. No flinching. No chastising. Hell, if he were in Cody's position, it's probably the kind of thing he'd do.
Haggar nods along with Cody. "Yeah. When it's clear to the courts they can't trust his convictions, they'll-"
Cody overrides him before he can get his momentum. Haggar stops dead mid-sentence, mouth still open. His heavy jaw clicks closed. One eye squints as he thinks it through. He reaches up and scrubs a hand back through his hair, in the process dislodging his stubborn forelock.
He only gets one question out successfully. "Wwwhat do ya mean?" Haggar then gestures around, as if to say: It's prison, Cody.
"What do I mean?" Cody removes his feet from the table and then sits forward, hands clasped on the table. He inhales deeply, then breathes slowly out of his nostrils. "Look, Haggar...I know you never gave up on me. I can understand why you didn't visit here much. Hell, I tried to avoid seeing you when I was out and about. But how long have I been here? Long enough for me to think a lot. About me, about how I got here, what I..what I am."
He pauses, running a hand through his own hair. "What I figured out was, I deserve to be in here."
Haggar's brow immediately furrows into a complex cave network. His chair groans as he shifts back in surprise, loud enough to make the guard sharply glance over.
He then leans forward. His hands flatten on the table. Cody can feel it tilt under his weight. Tension causes a muscle in Haggar's neck to jump as he brings his face closer to the other man's.
"What in the hell are you talkin' about, Cody?"
His phone makes a cash register sound as his SwearJar app drops ten dollars in a random charity.
Cody hears this, and can immediately guess what the app might be. Of course, good ol' Haggar. He meets the big man's gaze with his own tired eyes. "I didn't do what they were claimin' I did, true. I get that. But I could have, Haggar. Sooner or later, I woulda been dragged right in here on something similar. I'm not like you, Haggar. I don't go a nice job or a family of my own to take care or any of that. I'm just some dude who grew up white trash who fought his way through life. I fought Mad Gear. I fought anyone that looked at me funny. When I got to prison, you better believe I started beating the shit out of people. Because that's what I am, Haggar. That's all I am. I'm..." he pauses. "...I'm better off in here than I am out there. At least in here the world makes sense."
Haggar's initial surprise manages to fade as Cody keeps going, replaced with anger. Not the anger at getting cut off in traffic. Certainly not the anger of having to grab a purse snatcher by the scruff of his neck. This is rarer anger. Patrician anger.
The Mayor - no, Mike, this is Mike, sticks a finger straight in Cody's face, an inch away from his nose, a finger as large as a fist at this distance. "That's a load of hot bunk and you god damn well know it." <cha-ching> "You had reasons for alla that! We all fought Mad Gear fer my sake. You get roped into here and had everyone gunnin' fer ya!"
His nostrils flare as he puffs out a breath. "And what do you mean you ain't got a family to take care of? You got /Jessica/ waiting for you, don't ya?"
Cody takes the anger in stride. He's experienced it from Haggar before - even back in the early days when he got talks for staying out with Jessica too late, or getting a life lesson on learning restraint in a fight. Certainly a lot more than his old man ever gave him. This bluster is met with his usual cool indifference.
Until Jessica is mentioned.
Cody's sleepy expression sharpens. He glowers at Haggar, jaw clenched, the cords in his own neck starting to tighten. "Waiting for me? WAITING FOR ME?!" He slams the table, almost hard enough to dent it, with his palm. "SHE'S GONE!" he yells, causing guards and inmates nearby to turn their heads, then look away. "You get it now, old man? We're through! We been through a while now! She don't want me! She don't want what I've BECOME, can't you see that?!"
He sits there fuming, breathing hard through his nose as a lump starts to form in his throat. "I got nobody. My parents, Jessica...haven't seen Guy since I got in. Guess he's too busy doing ninja shit to care about me, huh?" His voice gets thick, heavy. "I'm garbage. I got no real skills, no future...all I'm good at is fightin'. I can't even enjoy that anymore."
Haggar pulls up short. He and Jessica haven't grown distant, not really, but she's in college now. It doesn't make for the most communicative environment. His hand starts to drop away.
But he rallies. It's less insistent, but it's still there. "Well," he says, "she still keeps yer photo in her wallet." Behind a couple cards, sure, but he doesn't mention that part. "Maybe she's just tryin' to give you a kick in the ass. Christ knows you need it." <cha-ching!>
The Mayor double-takes toward his pocket but continues on. "An' Guy? Who do you think I mean when I say I got people lookin' in? He's kickin' through windows whenever he can spare the time. What about all the people you've helped? Joe in the deli, he asks about you! The kids in Haggar Arms still play Cody and Gears with those foam pipes they been sellin'. Hell," <cha-ching!> "I'm here right now, ain't I?"
He finally rocks back. Haggar flips a hand toward a hypothetical horizon. "So you're mixed up. We get you out, you go on a road trip, a real one, I don't know. Go visit Europe for a bit. Get some fresh sights. Think about a... a trade, or flip the whole script and apply for the police academy. You think the MCPD ain't gonna need people with some steel in their guts after I'm through with 'em?"
Cody wants to protest, but when Haggar gets rolling it's hard to cut in. So he just lets the man go, rubbing his temples with his eyes closed while he tries to mentally unwind the knot in his stomach, trying not to completely lose it here in the prison. But the compassion Haggar is showing makes it hard.
"I dunno man, I don't...know. I just...I don't feel like I deserve it. At least here I got shit figured out."
Haggar grunts. He doesn't like that response. "You sure you ain't just saying that 'cause it's the easy answer? You see that sometimes. People who get out an' immediately do some dumb shit to get back in 'cause they learned the rules. 'cause they can't handle the freedom anymore, can't handle havin' consequences, havin' to make all their own decisions."
The big man shifts, putting his elbow up on the table, looking hard at Cody. "Didn't figure you for a coward, man."
There it is. The C word. Cody knows Haggar is just trying to push his buttons. He tries to seem indifferent, folding his arms and looking away. But.
"...I ain't no coward," he counters.
"Prove it," says Haggar. He stands up. The visitation room has a wide (barred) window along one wall. The original architect thought it might help keep prisoners relaxed during visitation and give them a good reason to not want to lose this privilege - it's the only good view of the city available to convicts. Sure, not that big of a deal for Cody, but hey. It's the symbolism.
Haggar walks toward the window, his hands locked together behind his back. "I'm movin' forward with this no matter what you say. Stuff's been screwed up for too long. I was too confident after all that Mad Gear business like the corruption would just go away when I looked at it funny. It just went deeper."
He shakes his head, looking down for a moment. "So think of it this way. The city's still sick. I still need help. It ain't as obvious as before, but everything's a mess. You say you ain't got anyone?" The Mayor looks over his shoulder at Cody and hooks a thumb toward the window.
"You love Metro City just as much as I do, don't ya?"
Cody groans, pressing his palms to his scalp and mussing his hair further. He can FEEL the headache coming on. "Christ almighty, you really won't let this go..." he replies. "Always gotta play the big hero, huh?" He does love this city, but he doesn't feel ready to just admit it flat out. Too much hurt remains. Instead, he just answers a question with a question: "So...you want my help, is what I'm gettin'. Will I get to bust some heads?"
Haggar grins out the window. He can't help grandstanding. Once CWA, always CWA. "Maybe, maybe not." He's flying a little blind. His plan only goes so far. The important thing to him, the really important thing now, is apparently having to convince Cody he deserves whatever the world has to offer him.
"There's always heads out there, Cody, and the world's been crazy since all this... weirder stuff started happenin', you know? I seem t'recall someone else not mindin' their parade. People clappin' for the guys that made all their lives a little safer. Metro doesn't have /enough/ heroes, you ask me."
"Last time I tried bein' a hero, I ended up here. You tellin' me things'll be different this time?" Cody asks.
The COs have been lenient up to now, but even the Mayor can only get so much headway from the prison. One of them catches Haggar's gaze from the corner of his eyes and holds up his wrist, tapping at it. Just about time to go. Haggar makes a small "tch" sound and thumbs at his mustache again, smoothing it down.
He turns around, headed back to the table, crouching down and reaching under it. "I think," he says, "you gotta give yourself a chance to learn whatever lessons you think you came in here for." Haggar's feeling around the bottom of the metal, pressing his hand on the underside of the dent Cody made.
He pushes it back into place, smoothing out the top with his other hand, forcing the metal back into coherence.
"Lemme tell ya something I learned when my daughter was born: it ain't up to /you/ to decide yer own worth. That's reflected in the people around you, the people you help. Hell, Two.P's some kinda private detective now. He's got that paparazzi shot'a you breaking his nose framed in his office, says thinkin' of you changed his whole life around." I mean, it was because of the fear of God, but don't worry about that.
Haggar turns around. "I'll be seein' you soon."
Cody is silent; though he may not look like it, he's still absorbing Haggar's words. As much as he wants to look like he doesn't care, that he's too jaded for hope, there is still a bit of him holding on to the Mayor's speech, a part of him that still holds on from the days when he was a hot blooded youth looking to enact justice on dangerous criminals. He stares at his shoes, slowly lifting his head to see Haggar off. "...yeah. Be seein' you, old man," he says, and smirks slightly.
A guard approaches. "Better get lunch while it's still hot, Cody," he says. Most of the guards here call him by his first name. Not 'Travers' or 'convict'. Slowly Cody stands, and stretches. "Hope it ain't meatloaf again." He glances back as Haggar leaves, then stretches his arms over his head and yawns as he leaves.
Log created on 20:28:54 01/02/2019 by Cody, and last modified on 23:50:09 01/02/2019.