Atlas Pondered


matt_icon.gif rickham_icon.gif

Scene Title Atlas Ponderd
Synopsis Matt Parkman and Allen Rickham share a moment of down-time; a calm before the storm to come.
Date January 6, 2009

Rickham Estate, Concord New Hampshire

God love Marie and Vincent Rickham.

Sure, they are the family of a politician who have survived the horrible vetting process conducted by the American media, but Marie should be deciding what sort of decor she wants in the residential White House, not entertaining Homeland Security on top of the Secret Service in her New Hampshire home.

The road to Inauguration Day seems longer by the hour, and it is only made worse by the threat of a second assassination attempt. Not that the first is openly discussed, especially around such sensitive persons as Marie and Vincent Rickham, but the reality remains the same. The added threat that the Vanguard poses to the population of the world at large makes Matt Parkman drink a more coffee, get less sleep, and ignore additional gray hairs.

Who knows what it is doing to the President-Elect.

Moments away from it all are hard to come by, even here in New Hampshire. Still, they are things to be treasured and reveled in, even if it is only enough time to sink into an armchair, sigh, and let one's eyes close for longer than the span of a blink.
Witnessing one of these moments is the aforementioned Matt Parkman, who, with the President-Elect, is tucked away in the womb-like warmth of the house's office. It is a masculine room by all accounts, trimmed with the sort of classic finery one would expect from a senator turned future President of the United States. Dressed in the suit of his own office, Matt stands dutifully at a sideboard pouring a glass of Bourbon from a cut crystal decanter. The rooms outside of this one buzz with radio chatter from agent to agent, and rooms further away are bustling with frantic office staff, agents, and officers as they coordinate, plan, and investigate.

But this room is graced with peaceful silence.

"It's hard…" Allen leans back in the chair behind his desk, the motion accompanied by a creak of aging leather. "Keeping all of this together, everyone's hope." Tired eyes close to the sound of the bourbon being poured, and the President-Elect folds his hands over his midsection, drawing in a slow and tired breath. "I keep hearing things on the television — " There's a wry smile there, " — I promise myself I won't watch, but I do. The things I hear, people saying how I'm going to be responsible for bringing back prosperity and hope to an ailing country. That I'm going to just wave a magic wand," His eyes open slowly, focusing on Parkman, "That I'm just going to wave it around and make everything all better. I wish it was going to be that easy."

No matter how hard he's tried lately, there's something the President-Elect cannot shake, that sense of burden and duty that intertwines to something more, something nedy and hungry in the back of his mind; so much unfinished business. "Every time I lie down at night," His voice grows a bit more quiet, "I think about those kids." Phoenix. "I think of just how much they represent the best and worst of us, what it's come to. I shouldn't have left them behind."

"What makes you think they've be left behind, sir?" Matt's nigh-rhetorical answer comes as he tilts the decanter upward again, slowing and then stopping the pour of the rich liquid. He settles the stopper back in, crystal clinking against crystal for a moment. In a matter of heartbeats, Matt has the drink neatly on the desk in front of the politician. "The department is using many different resources in order to address our current situation." There is a wryness in Matt's voice which matches the conspiratorial smile he allows his lips to curl into. It's strained, sure, but it is there. That's what counts in many respects.

Eyeing the glass, then eyeing the man delivering it, Rickham manages a crooked smile as he reachs for the glass, picking it up to cradle in one hand. "They haven't been left behind, but I left them behind." His head tilts to the side, imperceptibly, "It's a personal difference. I could have…" There's a bit of a strained sigh, and Allen brings the glass up to his lips, silencing his words with a sip of liquor.

"It's hard to think about them, about kids doing what we should be doing. I mean, in some way… It's not legal, but at the same time, it's right." The notion is accompanied by a snorted laugh, "The press would have a field-day if they got that sound byte out of me. I'd be the next Nixon."

Matt keeps his steady gaze on Rickham as he moves around the desk to sit in a chair before it, letting himself become only momentarily distracted by the comforting embrace it offers. It feels good to sit down and actually relax to some degree. "They've been through a lot, sir," he offers with a furrowing of his brows. After a moment, he shifts in his seat and sighs with thought. "There is a young woman who was a PARIAH operative named Claire Bennet. She was in high school when the bomb-" Went off? Exploded? How do you describe an Exploding Man? "…happened. But she's not a kid." Not anymore, poor girl.

Matt shakes his head, settling back in the chair and filling it like a bear in a burrow. "I wouldn't worry about them, sir. They're smart, and they're quick. In the end, we're going to need them more than they're going to need us."

Settling his head against one hand, Allen rolls his glass around, yes transfixed on the swirling amber within, "That's what I keep thinking about." His eyes drift from the contents of the glass to Parkman, "We need them, and… I guess it's a part of the nervousness I'm feeling. People expect me to change the world, Day 1." He grimaces, after the long and drawn out campaign, the last thing he wants to hear anymore is the term from day one again. Mitchell's slogan of readiness and preparedness.

"I want to. I want to make the world a better place, but those kids, for my own kid." There's a nervous sound there, knowing, anxious. What if he's like me, Matt? What if he's keeping it a secret, because he's afraid? What kind of father am I to let that happen?

Sooner or later the conversation was sure to slip into the unheard and thereby completely confidential confines of the mind. Matt's lips tighten as they near the borders of a frown, and he squints in both thought and concentration. You need to tell them. Mentally, Matt's tone is as firm and definite as it would be if he had given the words verbal articulation. They aren't the press. They aren't the nation - or at least the rest // of it. They're your family, and they're the ones who can give you the most strength.//

"Don't listen to those people," Matt adds after a moment, shaking his head again. "If they really expect results that fast, they're idiots. It doesn't work that way. They're only letting themselves down."

Turning his face into the hand that cradles his head, Allen seems to have forgotten about his drink, sav that he still cradles it carefully in his othr hand. I've kept this from them for years, Matt. Marie, how do I tell her this? How do I tell her I've been lying to her for this long? The words in Allen's mind bare no resemblance to the ones he speaks, save for that his spoken words have long and awkward pauses which are filled by the unspoken things, things that cannot be said. "The country doesn't know what it wants, and now I have all eyes on me. The media is hounding my press core about the explosion. No one knows about the assassination attempt yet, but if that got out — Between that, and the scandal with my secretary of the interior, it feels like…" He sighs into his palm.

It feels like everything is coming apart at the seams.

"There was some senator we had to guard, back in the early days of the campaign." Matt glances to his lap as he begins his anecdote, scratching at a possible stain on his pant leg. "Anyway, he said something when we were in route. To an aid, I guess. But we all heard it. He said, 'It's only lying if they've asked you about it specifically. Withholding doesn't count.'" It's one thing to withhold information from the press, but Marie isn't going to leave you for being open. Matt's right hand comes up to rub at the fingers of his left, his eyes on the various accouterments that adorn the desk before him.

"Telling my wife I had an ability was tough," he admits, and the transition seems odd without the context of the silent topics of conversation. "But if I hadn't - if I'd kept it a secret - she'd have left me a lot sooner than she did." In retrospect, mentioning his failed marriage probably wasn't the best move for Matt to make, and he frowns, kicking himself mentally for a moment.

There's a crook to Allen's lips as he hears that little bit from Matt slip out at the end. Somehow it makes him more human, the fault — divorce — it makes him someone that seems less like a figurehead, or an authority, and more like a human being. "You're not alone in that boat." One flaw for another. "My first wife, Deborah, she was a piece of work." These memories prompt Allen to bring up his glass, lifting it to his lips to take a long, slow drink from it. "Never really came up during the campaign, no one wanted to take the relationship angle. I'm surprised Petrelli didn't, what with his perfect little nuclear family."

"No one's perfect, I guess. But Deb, she…" There's a ragged sounding laugh, something almost bear-like coming from the man. "She was a piece of work. We married out of highschool, divorced two years later. It was some of the worst times of my life…" His eyes settle on the glass in his hand again, regarding it appreciatively. "It's why I cherish Marie so much. I can't do the bachelor thing again, I'm too old, I'm too set in my ways. I'm…" There's another laugh, equally as rough as the last, "The invincible man of iron is afraid of being alone."

You're not the only one, is Matt's immediate reaction, a thought that slips through the barrier between his own musings and active projection. Outwardly, he only sighs, letting the room remain silent for a moment more.

"But that's even more reason to tell her. And Vincent. You wouldn't believe the people we would get in the offices. It takes nerve to tell people, even those who're the closest to you. Some people are helped with the simple fact that they know there are others. It wasn't always like that - it wasn't that easy." Matt chuckles, lifting a hand to rub at his forehead. All professionalism has long since been lost - Matt Parkman is no longer a DHS agent, but an Evolved individual, just like the one across the desk.

"Imagine being one of those people who had to tell your wife or your kids you could do something so…crazy - like a superhero - back when no one knew it was possible?" Matt lifts his eyes to Rickham, and they're wide with some strange mirth. You're //lucky, sir. And if you need to? You can hide and say you only found out recently.//

"Hide…" The word tastes bitter in his mouth. "No. No I can't hide." Peering down into the amber liqour in his glass, Rickham breathes in a slow breath and sits forward, resting his forearms on his desk as his chair creaks through the motion; old springs and leather yawning in unison. "I'm not a hider, and I'm not a runner. If there's something I should do, I'm going to go straight at it, and not stop until there's nothing left of me." There's a bit of a wryness to the smile that delivers those words.

"Tomorrow, in the morning, I'm going to tell her everything." Allen pushes the glass to the side with the back of his hand, looking to Parkman with an expression not only of professional, but personal respect. Earning the ear, and the heart of the President, it's no small feat to do honestly, without the use of powers. "You've — "

"Tell me what?" The sound of a gunshot may have been less startling than the noise of Marie's voice as the double-doors to the office are cracked open. Standing there in a nightgown, brown hair in a wavy mess down to her shoulders, the matriarch of the Rickham family leans against the door frame, giving a somewhat doe-eyed look to Matt, then to Allen.

Allen stares at her, wide-eyed, and pushes that glass just a little bit further away. He smiles, even if it's a bit tense, "Come… on in." His gaze flicks back to Matt, "Matt was just leaving… you've got perfect timing."

January 6th: Conversations over Takeout
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