"Curt…" he started, cautiously, "I'm not sure I understand. This whole… time… travel… thing."
"I explained it."
"I know, love, but I'm not sure I…" he trailed off. I'm not sure I believe you , yes, Owen, no doubt, the best thing to say at that exact moment to a clearly unstable individual. Great job, Owen.
The stranger raised his brow, seemingly unaffected: "I did say I could prove it. Didn't I?"
Owen regained his composure: "So you did."
"During one of the loops…" Curt murmured, "I asked you to tell me a secret. Something you'd never told me. Something you also hadn't and haven't told me in any other loop."
"You told me the first crime you ever committed was stealing a spinning top." Curt chuckled, almost tenderly. Owen sucked in a sharp breath.
"A red one," he continued, "with little yellow and brown triangles. And you loved it. It broke like a month later, but that was your first crime."
"That…" Owen whispered, "Is… true. How did you kn-"
"Because you told me!!" Curt's tone turned back to frantic in a split second, "You told me!! And then we were killed. Boom. Or… hiss. They gassed us that time- but that's not the point!"
"You don't believe me."
"You don't believe me and I just sound like a madman, God, what am I doi-"
Curt went quiet. Owen took the opportunity to take his shaking hand in his: "Curt. Calm down. I didn't say that."
"Count to ten, Curt. Then we can talk."
Curt sighed: "Two… three… four…"
His breathing began to even out.
"Five… six… seven…"
He gave Owen a shy smile: "Eight… nine… ten."
He squeezed Owen's hand and Owen squeezed it back.
"Does this mean you believe me?"
"I'll do my best to believe everything you say. But first…"
There was a noise from the next room.
"Right." Curt rubbed the bridge of his nose, "I forgot about him."
"What was your plan there?"
"Interrogation, mostly. Gotta make it look good, ya know? And getting him out of Chimera."
"They can't exactly blame him for being kidnapped, can they?" Curt winked.
The stranger was gone.
"What the fuck do you want now?"
To say that Henri sounded pissed would be an understatement. To say he sounded panicked would be the greatest overstatement of the century, though. Really, he mostly sounded annoyed. Like they were bothering him while he was trying to listen to his favourite radio show or something.
It was disturbing.
And sort of made Owen wonder what kind of training he had to be that calm. Then again, if Curt was correct in his assumptions…
"I just wanna chat." shrugged Curt, dragging a chair to sit in front of their captive, "Ya know. Between friends."
"You are just about the farthest thing from a friend I have."
"Too bad, we're friends now."
"That's not how it-"
"So, Henry!!" started Curt, completely ignoring both of them when they tried to correct him, "What's up?"
" What's up is I'm tied to a chair with a maniac trying to start a friendly conversation."
"Harsh, Harry. Harsh."
"That's not my n-"
" So , you're a nurse?" said Curt, and the rising tone in his voice indicated a question.
"I- yes, you know that." he replied, looking rather confused, "What are trying to get at?"
"I'll get there, I'll get there." Curt sighed, "I just needed to ask if you're actually a nurse, like… only that? You seem to have a different kind of training."
Henri didn't answer.
"You know, I'm not into quiet types much." sighed Curt, "You wanna try that again?"
"Smart boy. Hey, how come you look less scared than some trained spies I've seen in your predicament?"
"You know the right to remain silent doesn't apply in this situation, right?" Curt raised his brow, "I'd like some answers. Maybe I'm asking the wrong questions? What's your surname?"
Curt groaned: "Oh, you're impossible. Come on dude, I don't wanna hit a kid. I thought Chimera had a no secrets policy. What happened to that?"
"That only applies within the workplace."
"Oh, he speaks!" Curt clapped his hands twice, more enthusiastically than he probably felt, "And what a lovely voice he has! Wanna tell us anything else?"
Henri laughed bitterly: "Does fuck off count?"
"You know what? Sure. It tells me enough." Curt shrugged, and they both watched the confusion in Henri's eyes become concern.
"What do you mean?" he asked.
Curt leaned back in his chair with a sigh.
"Imma be honest here, kid." he grinned, "I don't really need your surname."
"Hush, hush. What I do need is a confirmation of what I already know."
Curt jabbed a finger into his chest: "You," he started, then waved both his hands around the room, "and most likely everyone at Chimera, are being blackmailed. I suspect everyone's different. But you, oh man. You should not have gone there with your best friends, buddy."
Henri averted his eyes.
"Look," he said, "if you're just here to tell me what I can tell myself just fine, this is gonna be a very short meeting."
"I'm not." Curt leaned forward, "I'm here because we have something in common."
"Yes." Curt nodded, "I can see my assumptions were indeed correct, so I think I can assume you're not very fond of Chimera."
"You don't say?"
"Shush. I should tell you that I hate it. Like… really hate it. Like, destroy them kind of hate it."
"Yes. See, you got some brains under the blond."
Henri just sighed.
"See, me and Owen have a bit of a plan."
That was a lie. They hadn't discussed any plans. But Owen would allow the lie for the time being. Because Curt obviously did have a plan, and plans can be discussed and perfected.
"We want to take down Chimera." Curt explained, "For good. Like, bye bye. Gone. Adiós."
"I think I got that."
"Clever kid. So obviously, the plan would involve taking down Chimera…" he sighed, "...but before that, we wanna make sure all the hostages they're keeping are safe."
Henri's hand twitched. Good sign.
"...which, to be completely honest with you, would involve a whole lot of kidnapping, but hey, it's like… kidnapping with good intentions. Morally sound kidnapping. So, is there anything we should know about that?"
A moment of silence.
"Yes." Henri murmured, "Some agents have trackers in them. I'm pretty sure I don't, but I know Damon does. So does Hope."
"Speaking of her…" Owen intervened, feeling his spine twitch at the mention, "How come she looks so… genuinely loyal?"
Henri gave a bitter smile: "That's because she's not the one being blackmailed. Her girlfriend is. And she has no idea."
"Why hasn't anyone told her?" Curt quirked his brow, "You'd think a hostage would know they're a hostage."
"That's because Camille is a killing machine." Henri sighed, "She's never pissed off the higher-ups. And the one time I- someone tried to subtly hint to Hope that she should get out while she still could, well. She ignored it and they paid for it. There's a reason love is free in Chimera. It's not really free. They can and will use it."
His voice had dropped to little more than a whisper as he went on. By the end, he was picking at a splinter in the wooden chair, completely avoiding both his and Curt's gaze.
Curt wasn't too phased: "Look out for trackers, got it. Any idea where they are?"
Henri flinched a little and his eyes went glassy for a second, and Owen felt a twinge of sympathy. Minor flashback. Nasty.
"The arm." he said, "Either arm. Generally in the forearm. You can feel it under the skin if you pass your hand over it."
"Thank you." Curt clapped his hands as he stood from the chair. His expression turned sympathetic for a moment: "Well… obviously, I can't let you go or it'll look bad, but… you can tell me if the rope's too tight."
"It is." Henri deadpanned.
"Liar liar. I'm not a nurse, but even I can see you've got no rope burn and your circulation is fine." Curt chuckled, before leaning towards him with a more serious tone: "I wouldn't try to get out if I were you. It would just get us both in trouble. Got it?"
The boy nodded slowly.
Curt turned to Owen with a wide grin.
"Alright, sugar." he said, "Let's take down Chimera."