matt_icon.gif melissa3_icon.gif

Scene Title Bargaining
Synopsis Melissa pays a visit to DHS Headquarters, voluntarily, in order to give Matt Parkman something he wants, for something she wants.
Date October 18, 2010

Department of Homeland Security: Conference Room

Perhaps unbeknownst to the public at large, the leaders they have either placed in office via the electoral process or have trusted such elected officials to appoint rarely, if ever, do their jobs completely autonomously. For instance, if it weren't for people like Miriam, Matt Parkman would probably have suffered a massive coronary after his first few weeks in Washington. But with her uncanny ability to manage his schedule by prioritizing appointments and making sure he's were he needs to be when he needs to be there dressed the way he's supposed to be dressed and aware of the people he needs to be aware of, Miriam is as essential to the Department of Homeland Security's Secretary as his sidearm.

It's Miriam who spoke to Melissa Pierce on the phone and determined that her interview with Parkman should fall just before lunch on Monday. It's Miriam who ordered Chinese and sent an intern to pick it up. It's Miriam who directed that the food be left in one of the conference rooms on the low-tech level of the Battery Park City office that Parkman has set up shop in and where he is currently working to come up with a theoretical way of eliminating Rebel (theoretical due to the lack of tech for testing) on top of tracking down the names on the list found in Rupert Carmichael's home. That's without even touching on the much more subtle handling of the aftermath of recent escape.

So it wouldn't be accurate to say he's welcoming of the early lunch. The morning has been a relatively productive one, and stopping that flow to eat isn't something Parkman would do if it weren't for Miriam. But even as he settles himself in the conference room to eat, his 11:30 appointment walks through the doors, held open by his administrative assistant.

"Melissa?" he says, quickly grabbing a napkin to keep himself from embarrassing himself as he nearly chokes on a piece of sesame chicken. He stands, eyes narrowed at her for a moment before he looks at the hand on the door, undoubtedly sending a not-so-kind message straight to Miriam's brain, and in the process, crossing a line he marked for himself.

Melissa waves a hand as he stands. "No need to get up. We can talk while you eat." She looks back at Miriam, arching a brow, then looks back to Matt. "Assuming that we can speak at least semi-privately here? I've got a proposal for you, one that can benefit this both. And since I'm here to help us both, I think we can probably be polite and not use our abilities on each other? You wouldn't like being in my head right now anyway. Migraine."

"A proposal?" Parkman sits again, but not before he gestures for Melissa to join him and pushes a takeout box toward her. There's plenty here - Parkman had thought Miriam was planning on eating some, but the woman has disappeared to no doubt do her magic elsewhere. "If you want it to hold up, it's got to be on the record." There's no other way to play it - not at this stage in the game.

"Let me guess. This has something to do with your friend who tried to kill Secretary Praeger."

"Let's talk about it off the record first. And if it's agreeable, then I not only want it on the record, I want it in writing," Melissa says as she sits down. "I don't want there to be any funny business when I hold up my end. I'm here to help my friends, not hurt them." She tugs the box closer, not shy about digging in.

"It's partially about Edgar, yes. And the smoke evolved also mentioned. And…" She glances up at him, staring straight at him, gaze intense. "And it's about Rupert Carmichael and how I'm going to get him for you."

His mouth once again working at a piece of chicken, Parkman lifts his eyebrows. He swallows as quickly as he can, then sets down the chopsticks once again in order to lace his fingers together and lean a bit more on the table. "And how exactly do you plan to do that?" he asks, his tone clearly lacking confidence in Melissa's ability to deliver him the professor turned terrorist.

Melissa smiles. "Do you care, so long as you have him, one way or another?" she asks, shrugging and picking more at the food. "You remember those 'incongruities' you guys found in my head? Three of them?" Although DHS never told her the number, that was Kaylee's doing. "Those were from Carmichael. I have no idea what they were. What they made me do, or what memories they took or overwrote. But I know that he's done the same to others I know." Others she cares about. "Would you say that people who have been mindfucked are responsible for the actions forced upon them?"

Parkman's eyes narrow slightly at the explanation. It's not one he hasn't heard before, but that doesn't make hearing it again any easier. "I would say that presenting evidence that someone has been mindfucked in court is the real challenge." He sighs, then lifts the chopsticks again, but he pokes at the food rather than indulge in it. "Things in people's heads…they have like…tastes. Textures, almost. And while people like me - telepaths - can see, or feel, or taste these differences, the chances of getting an all-telepath jury, or even one that's all pro-Evolved, are slim to none.

"So whether or not I agree with you," and Parkman opens one hand, chopsticks held between two fingers and fanning out slightly with the movement, "doesn't matter. Now, if you, by some incredible stroke of luck, manage to bring in Carmichael? And we get him to confess to all this shit we've theorized? Then yeah. There's a good chance we can acquit your friends." At least, the ones Carmichael had his mental way with, as it were.

Leaning back, Melissa shakes her head. "That, unfortunately, isn't the deal. The deal is…If I bring Carmichael to you, along with information, that you give Edgar and the smoke evolved a pardon. Edgar didn't actually kill anyone, and the other person was there to warn, not to kill, though I don't expect you to believe that." Of course, she never said Carmichael would be alive when she brought him in.

"Believe me," Parkman says with a slight incline of his head as he reaches for a glass filled with some sort of clear, sparkling beverage. "I want to believe you, Melissa. But I need evidence, and that evidence is inside Carmichael's head. You get him here so we can get that evidence out," preferably from the horse's mouth, as it were, "And you won't have to worry about any sort of deal. We won't pursue the people that were effected by his ability. Bottom line."

Melissa smiles and shakes her head. "I want to believe you, Parkman. But the smoke person? Wasn't messed with, just wanted to warn Mayes. You wouldn't get that information out of Rupert's head. And you've likely already taken a trip inside Edgar's, if his stay here was as pleasant as mine was. But the point remains. I want it on record that if I bring him in they're cleared, free to live normal lives. Or I'll go to someone else who will give me that deal."

She shrugs, stretching her legs out. "You did me a good turn last time I was here, even if I'm still pissed you went messing around in my mind without permission. I figure the least I can do is try to help you be the one to bring down the head of Messiah," she says casually.

"You should be thanking me for that, by the way," Parkman says in a lower voice, squinting at Melissa in a sort of stern, parental glare even as he points the chopsticks at her. "And if all Smokey was doing was warning Mayes, all they have to do is come in and tell their side of the story. Hiding out isn't going to help them. As a matter of fact? Hiding out is the worst thing they can do.

"So really, honestly, the best I can give you is to say that all your little terrorist buddies who know they were messed with are more than welcome to come in and tell us what happened. I'm not interested in a body count, or in filling up cells. I'm interested in the bigger picture, and getting who's responsible to face the music."

But that still doesn't excuse those who acted willingly, and without any unnatural or unsolicited compulsion or suggestion. People like Edgar. People like Hiro. "If we can corroborate their stories with a confession from Carmichael, I can seal it up and toss it in the archives, and everyone goes home happy." Well - everyone but Carmichael and his mastermind.

"Right now I'm not worried about anyone except for my friends and family," Melissa says bluntly. "I don't agree with a lot of what's going on, on either side, but right now? Fuck the bigger picture. But my friends aren't the ones responsible, and I can't trust that you'll just let them go. After all, I was forced to move, pay money, spend time in jail and deal with a probation officer all because I didn't register." From her side, it does have it's logic.

"I don't think you know what you're getting into with Carmichael either, Parkman. He won't confess. You could mindfuck him like he has to everyone else, but you run the risk of everyone else here getting mindfucked too. In fact, as I hear it, you likely have the suggestions that were meant for me floating around in your mind. Which is a pretty terrifying thought given the power that you wield."

There's no easy response to that, and so all Parkman meets Melissa with is a cold, blank stare. After a moment of silence, his eyes narrow slightly. "Don't you ever think I'd do that sort of shit to someone," he says in a voice that is quiet but intense enough to carry across the table. "You want to bring me Carmichael to get your friends off the hook? I won't stop you. People say he's evolved, but we won't know for sure until we can run a SLC test." Given, that can be done on a dead body just as easily as a live one.

"I'm not going to stop you Melissa. I can't. Not without locking you up and hiding you where no teleporter can find you. But I know the DoEA folks are on your ass, and so are my people. You want to know why?"

"You wouldn't mindfuck someone like Rupert to save the lives of thousands of people?" Melissa asks softly. "I would. In a heartbeat if I had to, though I'd feel sick as hell about it." Which brings to mind the memory of getting sick, literally, in a little airport bathroom after killing for the first time. "And he is evolved, though he claims to have lost his ability. The woman found in his house? He fucked with her mind to get her in the condition she's in."

She straightens then, hands sliding through her hair. "No, why? Why does DoEA give a shit about me? Why does DHS?" she asks, sounding suddenly tired.

"You're on probation, Melissa. Did you forget?"

Parkman stabs his chopsticks into a box of rice and sighs, his lips held tightly for a moment as he glowers at the spread of now unappetizing food before him. "You're connected with these people - we can't not be. Not with the information we have." He's tempted to add to that, in his usual 'off the record' manner, but he doesn't in order to prove a point.

"And I wouldn't. I wouldn't because it wouldn't help anyone in the long run. It would just get covered up and forgotten about in some file someplace. And then? When I need it the least, it'd come back to bite me in the ass. I can't play it like you and your friends can, Melissa. I have ethics and professional standards to follow. Rules to play by. I can't break them easily." Bend, but not break.

He sighs again, then leans back in his chair, resting his fingers on the table. "Do me a favor though, and if you do decide to be all vigilante and shit? Don't be an idiot about it?"

Melissa shakes her head. "I know you probably won't believe me, Parkman, and honestly, it doesn't matter. But I'm sick of all of this. I'm sick of so much. The violence and politics and secret games played from all sides. I'm sick of being used by a madman for god only knows what purpose, because it sure as hell isn't to scare the government into giving the Evolved more freedom."

A bottle of pills is pulled from her pocket, a couple shook out into her hand then dry swallowed before she slips the bottle away. "I will be getting Carmichael, Parkman. And I will be careful. He's gotten in my mind three times. He won't do it a fourth time. But if it comes down to him or me…" She shakes her head. "I won't die so that bastard can wreck the country and make this fight a new civil war. And he's already so close. You might wanna check the vice-president's mind, by the way. Check for incongruities. I hear they're close."

She smiles faintly and shrugs. "But do we have a deal? I bring you Carmichael, one way or another, and Edgar and the smoke person go free? And I won't be charged for anything? Won't ask to get out of my probation. I hate being told where I have to live, but it's five months. I can live with five months."

Parkman snorts at Melissa's suggestion, and just shakes his head. "I told you," he says once she's asked her questions for the umpteenth time.

"You don't need to make a deal with me."

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