Sharks

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bennet_icon.gif goodman_icon.gif

Scene Title Sharks
Synopsis Noah Bennet drops right in: surprise! Roger Goodman makes his erstwhile colleague the same offer he had given to Hana Gitelman. His erstwhile colleague is neither less skeptical nor less impatient, but he does have more questions — and gets more answers.
Date February 26, 2009

Biomere Headquarters


There's actually a shark in the tank in the lobby. A shark. Small one, mind you, spotted, tail shaped around a tender-looking white 'hook' notch at the end, probably fit into the new steamer that Sandra purchased just the other week, once its viscera was removed. That would flatten its torso out, give more surface area to expose to the moisture. Noah has never gutted a shark, but he knows enough about biology to remember the fundamental differences in lateral physiological organization. He could get through it, a thin knife, just off the anal fin and a J-shape swizz to the gills.

Biomere is built a lot like every other corporation he's ever infiltrated or otherwise ridden an elevator up. Phallic in nature, solid base, good location, ostentatious corporate statue set up on a polished plinth in front of the plateglass doors (admirable restraint in the lack of fountain), darker secrets in the basement, major officers located conveniently at the pinnacle of the construction, below only the maintenance areas.

He doesn't bother looking at the cameras that look at him. They are all looking at him.

Goodman's secretary is of a respectable age to cater to a respectable man. She wears Gucci's newest fragrance line underneath her jaw and inside her wrists, and keeps her hair in a cossetted bundle of unstained silver clips, the same surgical, brushed-metal brightness as the name clip pinned to her blouse. There's an English cast to her tone, neither an affectation nor indigenous to the Isle; the product of either expatriate parents or New England.

Like the shark, she is a fashionable accoutrement in an artificial environment away from home. Unlike the shark, that might well be meaningful. "Is Mr. Goodman expecting you, sir?"

"No," he answers, smiling in perfect geometric symmetry. "But he should see me. Would you do me a favor and buzz him, miss?"

"I'm sorry, Sir." The change in her tone of voice is aremarkably swift, shifting from honestly cordial to coldly feigning hospitality, "But Mister Goodman is in a meeting right now, if you leave your name I'm sure he'll get back to you as soon as he is able to." Her head tips forward, eyes lingering on the tall man for just a moment before going down to check one of the flashing lights on the phone seated nearby. Pressing the button beneath, she speaks far more warmly into her headset.

"Biomere Research, Roger Goodman's office." Her eyes flick up to Noan with one of those perennial you'll have to wait looks on her face, followed by a feigned smile. When the door to the office opens, however, she's given to pivot on her chair, looking over her shoulder as she murmurs into the headset, "H-Hold please.' Her hand quickly lashes out to tap the offending button again, eyes immediately focused to the tall, dark-skinned man standing in the half open doorway. "M-Mister Goodman, Sir, I thought— "

"It's alright Diana," Dark eyes rise from her to Noah, lingering in silence before continuing, "Mister Bennet here is a former co-worker, he's welcome in my office any time." Stiff with tension, Roger pushes the door to his office open slowly, watching Noah's broad-shouldered frame with anxious scrutiny. It's evident from the cracked mask of serenity on his face that he has been caught with his proverbial pants down around his ankles with this visit.

"Please, come in."

Scrutiny goes both ways between the men, but whatever anxiety hovers in the back of Noah's mind and behavior is conspicuously absent from visible cues. So, too, is any evidence of recent injury or physical stress, markedly unlike Biomere's principle. The man behind the horn-rimmed glasses is far too polite to stare at the faint but distinct poultry-wing lines that make the carriage of Roger's left arm too awkward to pass for health. "Thank you, Diana." He merely remembers it, stepping past the Public Relations director and into the space afforded by the man's office.

Former co-worker. Such language. Leaving Goodman to close the door at his own turned shoulder, Mr. Bennet takes a little bit of less than polite interest in the furnishings of the room, the desk, measuring the distance between stationery and computer console.

When he looks back again, the afternoon light filtered in through the windows hides the shape of his eyes in blocks of pale reflection. "Are you a father, Mr. Goodman?" Despite a certain arch intimation of bad temper associated undercurrent to his question, there is no tacit crass threat that Roger is going to be deprived of future opportunities.

There's a skew to Roger's head as he hears that question from Noah, brows raising and eyes diverting to the floor, like a teenager who knows he's about to get a lecture, but doesn't want to listen. It's a passing expression, "No, Mister Bennet, no I am not." It comes as little surprise, a man like Roger is one typically married to his work. But then again, were it not for that same extra-marital relationship with his former job, Noah wouldn't be one either.

Maybe it's something in the water down at Primatech.

"I am however, surprised to see you come up all this way to talk about your daughter." Well manicured fingers brush over the smooth, spotless glass surface of Roger's desk. As he makes his way to his chair he adjusts the corner of a file folder to set flish against the table's edge where it had once been skew. Not quite coming to sit, Roger merely rests hid good hand on the back of his chair, eyes moving from the desktop to Noah, "How is she anyway, Claire?" His brows come together as he says her name, head tilting subtly to one side at the rhetoric.

Characteristically, Noah prefers to remain standing. His tall frame remains straight inside the lines of his suit, as if they had been measured off the spine of a knife: a field agent's casual stance, at attention even when at-rest. Goodman's answer doesn't surprise him, and his ability to catch that train of thought seems befitting of a man with a keyboard as ergonomically comfortable as the one peeking out from under the glass there. "She's in perfect health, thank you," Noah replies, simply and without irony.

"I'm sorry that you aren't. Don't be coy, Roger." Never one to shy away from imperative terms, he adopts them now without raising his voice or sharpening his tone past fair diction and accent from no region in particular. It's nothing in the water, but you don't earn access to certain water coolers or salient conversations without specific inclinations. "We both know that time is of the essence when Hiro Nakamura is back in play. What do you want with my daughter?"

There's a measured smile on Roger's lips at Noah's words, just enough to reveal that he's pleased with the cut to the chase, but not nearly enough to show just how pleased. Fighting a verbal battle with Noah Bennet is fighting a losing war of attrition. "It's not quite as simple as just Nakamura, or just your daughter, but you're on the right track." Pushing his chair out, Roger finally finds the comfort to sit, stiff in his descent down to the chair, forsaking the use of his left arm to do anything other than rest comfortable on his desk. "I'm actually glad you came here, I've been looking for you." As if he needs to be told that, "You're a very difficult man to find."

Glancing down to his desk, Roger picks up that folder he had straightened earlier, hefting the thickness of it as if in appreciation, then tosses it to the far end o fhis desk where Noah stands. The folder lands with a heavy slap of paper on glass, "You have a track record that long outlived your tenure with the Company, Mister Bennet. People still talk about you as if you could walk on the Hudson and turn water to wine." His smile turns into a bit of a smirk, "But I know how to differentiate between hero worship and honest admiration, and you're clearly someone put into the latter category."

Reclining into his chair, Roger leans back and relaxes, taking a good, long look at the man standing in front of him. "I'll be straight up with you, Noah," dark eyes divert to the man's folder, his whole history with the Company in one neatly pressed manilla rectancle. "I spoke to Hana Gitelman just a couple of days ago, and assisted in her escape from the Level-5 facility in the Bronx." Now his gaze has turned more assessing, see how Bennet reacts to this. "I'd like to talk to you about the same thing I talked to her about."

Of all the flattering metaphors that Roger could have employed, he picks the one with blood and death all over it. Water into wine. The necessary creative flourish to conclude the otherwise painfully mundane — if beautifully phrased, very corporately concise — review of basic facts that Noah Bennet happens to know about himself. It would take too much effort to look impressed by the other man's rhetoric. The twitch the former Company agent's brow signals some measure of irritation: that the quick cut to chase wasn't.

It doesn't exactly surprise Noah that there was more to Hana's experience in Company custody than she informed him about since resurfacing electronically. They aren't on the friendliest of terms lately, ever since her violently gymnastic reaction to learning about the origina and development of the Shanti virus, and 'friendly' aside, going to ground was only prudent. Professional. Unfortunately, any way he slices it, showing up as part of a disunited front isn't.

"You expect me to believe your renewed interest in me has absolutely nothing to do with your hunt for Claire?" he inquires steadily, reaching over to place his fingertips on his file. He pulls the manila across the desk, sliding it toward himself. You can hide almost anything underneath enough commonplace props and gruff father-fear. Even complete and utter ignorance!

"Not directly, no. But if you feel like introducing her to me I'd be most pleased." It's a teasing tone, one between colleagues who never truly met face to face before, but were both aware of noe another's track records. "I told Hana what I'm going to tell you now, and I expect she kept it under her hat for much the same reason you might." Reaching inside of his coat, Roger withdraws a slim piece of cardstock with a blue-green logo printed on the front, resembling a DNA double-helix. He presses it to the desk, then slides it across, halfway to Noah.

"I asked Hana to come back to the Company, to help me take it down from the inside. I… have my greivances with the organization, and have been working on my own for the past year and a half to subvert the Company's aurhority. That I was called in to assist in managing the New York branch was— " he smirks, "a gift of good fortune."

Leaning back once more into his seat with the soft creak of supple leather, Roger's eyes lazily drift up and down Noah, "She declined my initial offer, but I persuaded her to take my card," one dark hand motions to it on the table. "I report to a man there, a very important man, one who has asked me to keep my eye on you and a certain organization of very industrious young men and women who have a disparaging habit of putting themselves in grave danger for little to no benefit."

There's a subtle shift of tone, something more respectful, "I know your concerns about Claire, and I understand your reservations you may have about me, but despite whatever differences you and I have, I ensure you that my employer has no interest in harming your daughter." There's a tilt of his head to one side, "He would never harm family." Roger's eyes meet Noah's, expectant and waiting.

Noah's eyes meet Roger's, disappointed, impatient, gone nearly dead with it. He's committed a number of what he might term as atrocities to keep his child away from the Company. The first joke doesn't go over well. 'Grievances' tells him nothing; a certain lack of visible weaknesses to the Company's infrstructure says little of Roger Goodman's supposed project so far, and the invocation of the Petrelli dynasty promises trouble before most things, particularly after the names Catherine had pulled out of Jonathan Carmichael's head.

"I remember the idea of having a common enemy landed Phoenix in captivity. Roger, you don't know anything about my concerns about Claire, and if you understood my reservations about you, you'd just tell me what hoops you honestly expect me to jump through to get any information worth knowing out of this conversation." Despite this admittedly curt and dramatically blunt progression of observations and requests, he allows his gaze to fall on the business card that is given to him.

He has little doubt that Hana is looking for her answers elsewhere. From a longer distance, but equally if not more direct in her approach. Neither he nor the Jewish woman could or should bother pretending that trust would come practically, never mind with ease or grace; the whole thing looks as farcical now as it did two minutes ago.

"Take the card," Roger motions to it on the desk, "But I will be clear on one point, Noah. Claire is important to what is happening, for reasons you were never made aware of, and for reasons the Company would never admit to. But when I find her," his bald head inclines slowly, fingers folding together, "and I will, it won't be with a dart gun and a net that she gets brought in. I do not abide the Company's policies, and Pinehearst…" His eyes close partway, lidding in some half-waking expression, "Is different."

"You can choose to go back to your iron-clad foxhole, or you can attempt to pull your head out of the sand." Roger's eyes don't divert from his faint reflection in Noah's glasses, "I've been keeping the hounds away from your foxes for as long as I can, Noah, but there will come a time when they need to decide who's side they're on, and if it isn't mine…" He leans back, slowly, into the chair to accompany his gentler emphasis, "I won't be able to protect them any longer… There comes a time when everyone had to get off the fence," he gestures to the card again. "Go see for yourself if it's the side you want to land on."

The eyes behind Noah's glasses narrow fractionally, not a glare, but an expression of close and silent study. It lasts a few seconds, before he takes up the card allotted to him and puts it into the right pocket of his gray suit jacket, refraining from taking insult at the implication that the man who could walk on the Hudson and turn it red can't remember its contents after one glance through. The next moment, there's a faint shift, a quizzical expression flitting through the brows above his glasses' frames.

"I know I don't have a secretary named Diana to sort through flyers and phone numbers, but I expected more from a meeting in person, Roger. I understand what it's like to have superiors to answer to and a structure for these kinds of proceedings. I sympathize." The Captain of the Ferry waves his feathered hat; the view is different from up here. "But that goes two ways. Unlike your superiors, you've had my training.

"And you know from where I'm standing, it's obvious you've been upholding the policies you can't abide. We both know the Company isn't above deception, corporate fronts, or unlisted Directors with impressive pedigrees. So tell me something I need to believe."

Indulge me, in so many syllables. Friendly as you like, buddy ol' pal: "What happened to you one and a half years ago?"

"I was approached by one of the twelve founders of the Company," Roger admits in a quiet tone of voice, head tilted to one side in the relucent acquiescence to Noah's request, "Maury Parkman." The name comes as something of a confounding surprise, given the position of prominence his son has risen to. "He shared with me a great deal of information about myself, about who I am, and what I am." There's a sharpness to the emphasized word, chosen carefully enough to cut into the conversation, take purchase in the tone and direct it towards something more bitter.

"I discovered, like many who have gone to Pinehearst, that the Company was researching methods to create synthetic Evolved for roughly twenty years out of mundane children. To a point they had succeeded, until — as far as I am aware — there was a falling out among the heirarchy, a schism between the leadership, and in this information regarding the secrets of this formula were…" Goodman reluctantly inclines his head, "lost."

"I was informed that I was one of three triplets born in a selective breeding experiment to attempt to recreate a stabalized version of this formula. My two brothers perished in the experiment, and I was considered a potential success, and left unaware of my genetic heritage until my ability manifested in the heat of battle during my tenure in the armed forces." A point of background information Noah is particularly salient of, a teleportation that turned a man inside-out and got Roger Goodman on the Company's radar.

"The Company refuses to admit they partook in these experiments. This was my induction into the laundry list of atrocities done in the name of the organization I came to trust."

Stare cold and firm, Goodman looks up at Noah intently, "They experimented on her as well." Dark eyes narrow slowly, "To what extent I am unaware, but it is why you were given her, why the Company was so protective of her. Why Mister Petrelli desperately wishes to meet her… he too, has had his share of daggers planted in his back my members of the Company."

It's personal, then. If nothing else, a very well put-together story, but so sentimental, so intimate and thick with hate that it rings true. Despite the theoretically discrete categories like romantic, idealist, patriot, really, in Noah Bennet's considerable experience, useful motivation comes down to discomfort. Anger is most commonplace, which may be a little sad to think about, weighed against the relative infrequency of redeeming guilt or honest desire. That works.

"I'm sorry, Roger," and he is, even if that's hinged on the unspoken precondition — if it's true. "I can only imagine."

He confronts the notion of synthetic Evolved with the kind of surprise that's reluctantly prepared to admit to ignorance, though he's even more comfortably quick to question the veracity of Goodman's claim regarding Claire. That would've been the proper hook to throw out, wouldn't it? Moreover, that's subtly but distinctly in contradiction to the verbal assignment Kaito Nakamura had given him, once.

He doesn't hike a skeptical eyebrow, however; keeps those recollections and calculations quiet and quick behind a look cooled by wary attention and pensive thought. Then, "You say that as if Nathan has ever shown Claire the smallest morsel of interest or investment before." The judgment might not be fair but it isn't relevant, either. Isn't the point. He's waiting for the name. The impossible one, around which the other man has been treading so gently, coyly for the entirety of the conversation.

Goodman laughs, leaning back into his chair with a surprised look settling on his face. It's a dance these two are performing, despite a desire to cut to the chase, that cutting has apparently become one step of a routine. "Nathan is in the Company's pocket, I think we know which harpy has lured him in with her song." Looking down to his desk, staring at his own muted reflection in the dark glass, Roger considers the weight of giving this information to Noah. He had presumed Bennet was responsible for Carmichael's foggy memory, for why there was a bullet lodged in his floor, discharged from the agent's own gun.

"Arthur Petrelli, is the man you'll find at Pinehearst. But not by name, you'll ask for me there, and they'll send you to him." Roger's eyes level on Noah with a certain level of scrutiny and uncertainty. "If the people who helped put one of Arthur's feet in the grave were to find out he survived the attempt on his life, there would be dire consequences for all of us, Noah. A reckoning that I am not prepared to stand against."

"If the Company were to find out about Arthur, if even the hint that he was still alive found its way out there, more lives than just mine would be lost." One more time, he motions to the card, "He can explain everythinig to you, in crystal clarity. He wants your help, Noah. He wants your expertise, and Hana's, to help bring the Company down once and for all." Dark brows press together in a crease, "Consider it."

One or several of the Phoenix children or their want-to-be ronin companion screwed up. That doesn't warrant much surprise, despite that Noah remembers Catherine's reassurances to the contrary with crystal clarity. It's fortunate, he decides, that he got here before the little birds — fox cubs, whatever the apt metaphor is — cowboyed in.

Synthetic Evolved. Arthur Petrelli. He lets his forehead crease slightly, rounding out his eyes with shock that isn't entirely disingenuous. It doesn't concern him a lot whether Goodman walks away thinking his bald white companion bumped into something or whether there are other, equally competent, and larger-than-aquarium-sized sharks circling in the water. There are few distractions that Noah couldn't exploit. Security breaches are some of them.

"I will," he replies, politely as dignity at this point warrants. "You should probably do a little thinking, yourself. If I figured it out, I'm pretty sure those zealous children are more than able to tell the difference between sitting on a fence and sitting in a cage." He lets it the curiously casual arm's length at which he holds Phoenix show right there on his suit sleeve, in lieu of wearing his heart there.

His dress shoe bends silently into the carpet, starting him back toward the door with the noncommitally expectant air of onen who's used to the way these cordial affairs ought to be completed. Somebody else is going to open that for him. "Good afternoon."


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February 26th: Poor Thing
Previously in this storyline…
A Storm Is Coming

Next in this storyline…
In The Shadow Of Angels

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February 26th: In Tongues
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