Be Careful What You Wish For


linderman_icon.gif zoe_icon.gif

Scene Title Be Careful What You Wish For
Synopsis You just might get it.
Date March 25, 2009

Central Park — Tavern On the Green

Tavern On The Green in Central Park is by no means a cheap restaurant. Zoe had contacted Daniel, eager to gain some of his time, perhaps with a sense of proactivity that may have surprised the man. Being a connoisseur of fine cuisine, and wanting to touch place someplace that wasn't an office, this was the presented alternative, and Zoe accepted. They arrive together, her arm in his, and are promptly shown to one of the best tables.

Linderman adopts a seat, unfolds the pristine white napkin sitting pyramid-like on the table's clothed surface, and smoothes it across his lap. It isn't that he's concerned about spilling food or drink on his business slacks — he spends enough time in his own kitchen, sometimes without an apron, to bee overly worried about that — but is instead preoccupied by propriety, a modest habit he picked up at some point over the years as a direct result the career path his co-conspirators at the Company helped open for him. He offers Zoe a warm smile that isn't quite as jovial as it's been in the past, though his cheeks are as rosy and full of vitality as ever. "I have to say," he begins, "this is a side of you I'd enjoy seeing more often."

"What's that?" She too, is on her best behavior, napkin placed on her lap, aware of which glass is which and knowing to start from the inside as far as her silverware is concerned. She smiles at him faintly, but she too has something on her mind. But surely he knew that from the moment she asked him to schedule some time for her. "I'm sorry that I could only acquire two of the series for you so far, but I'll keep looking." They are momentarily interrupted by a server presenting the menus and specials, and it only takes a few moments for Zoe to make her choice. Sadly, there's no pot pie here, so the crusted mahi mahi will have to do.

For once, Linderman isn't as decisive as his goddaughter. He respectfully asks the server for a few more minutes, his attention divided between the menu and Zoe, cool blue eyes moving easily between the two. "Look all you like. My personal optimism has been on the decline as of late, I'll admit — if someone has smuggled the others out of the city, I doubt we'll ever see them again. No matter. It's only art." Only art. As soon as the words have left his mouth, his lips settle into a bitter expression. Mild, but bitter. "In any case, you performed exceedingly well. Neither Mr. Zarek nor Mr. Ford gave you any trouble, I hope?"

"The only trouble Kain gives me these days is his annoying insistence on that blasted nickname." she says, somewhat sullenly. At the mention of Mr. Ford, well - there's an abrupt blush of color along her cheeks. "Eliot was exceedingly helpful." she murmurs, her eyes darting to the side. It's true, he was - but Zoe'd be horrible in a poker game.

The blush does not go unnoticed by Linderman. He raises both his bushy white eyebrows at Zoe and lays his menu flat on the table, his perusal put temporarily on hold. This is an interesting development, isn't it? "Was he?"

Oh, dear. "He has a knack for convincing people to see his point of view." she says, trying not to squirm in her seat. She's an adult, dammit, not some fourteen year old girl. Taking a breath and managing to pull some of the color from her cheeks, she meets Linderman's eyes squarely and says, "The relative cost of the purchases would have been quite higher without him on at least one of the paintings, and possibly the second as well." See? Totally innocent working relationship.

Linderman isn't convinced, but he lets the subject rest, perhaps out of respect for Zoe's privacy, or perhaps for some other reason that's a little more difficult — if not impossible — to guess at. "In that case," he says, "I'll be sure that he receives a bonus for his efforts at the end of the year. How would you feel if I told you I was thinking about raising his salary?"

"It wouldn't be any of my business." Zoe says honestly. "How you reward those who work for you is your own decision…but if you're talking about ways of spending the Linderman Group's money…there are other projects we might wish to consider."

"I was inquiring as to whether or not you felt he was deserving," Linderman corrects Zoe, tone gentle, without even the slightest hint of reproach, "but if you think our resources would be put to better use elsewhere, please — elaborate."

"Your board should not be dithering on how to respond to the Thirty Five." she says, with possibly surprising bluntness. "We shouldn't be waiting for government spin. It's government spin that's perverted the intent of the Linderman Act and that's what drove those poor children to do what they did in the first place. I know how compassionate you are, you can't possibly not want to take action in the wake of such tragedy." Her tone is kept at proper restaurant volume, because Zoe was raised well, but her tenacity might be a bit of a surprise.

The expression on Linderman's face darkens, growing dour. "The government spin," he repeats, as if he could test these words for truth by trying them out on his own tongue. "Mm. Showing compassion toward others, especially those who are suffering, is a laudable action to take, but I'm afraid it isn't particularly intelligent. Sometimes it pays to be prudent, Zoe. We can afford to be patient for a little while longer."

"Don't you think the more we sit on our hands, the more the public's going to notice?" Zoe counters. "It's your name on the legislation, and if we aren't going to do anything for those families, we should at least be considering developing a project that will prevent something like this happening in the future."

"Something like what?" Linderman asks sharply. "Mass suicide, or mass murder? You're a remarkably clever woman, clever enough that I hope you realize the government isn't the only entity attempting to put a spin on things. Think with your head. Not your heart. Wait."

Zoe frowns, but leans back, conceding some. Daniel may be thinking of having been careful of what he wished for, as far as Zoe's new spine is concerned. "There's still action we can take." she insists stubbornly. "Things we can get started, quietly. And when the time was right, bring it out to the media, and could serve us regardless of the outcome what people are led to believe about those children."

Linderman blows out a slow breath through his nostrils. This stubborn streak of hers is going to take some getting used to. "Very well," he concedes. "If this is important to you, and I don't doubt that it is, I'll allow you to take the lead. Quietly." He really can't emphasize that word enough without raising his voice, and raising his voice isn't something he takes pleasure in doing. Neither is having this conversation, really. "How much are you aiming to allocate to the project?"

Zoe smiles faintly. "You know I'm not as business savvy as you." she says. "Maybe hear what it is, first?" She doesn't wait for him, just plows on through. "I was thinking a foundation, that in itself could generate some kind of national program for Evolved teens to be able to come together, form support groups - safely, with qualified adult counselors who can help them, reassure them. Maybe even some kind of center here in New York as a sort of prototype for developing the program. If it really caught on, I could talk to Angela Petrelli, and she could talk to Nathan, and he might even be willing to give it some national funding…"

Linderman listens to Zoe speak, turning over her ideas in his head, ruminating. As she explains, the server returns with two glasses that glisten iridescent with beads of moisture, filled to the rim with ice water. It isn't exactly the luncheon that he had in mind when she told him she wanted to meet, but he can't complain. He's been chiding her over her hermitage for years - now that she's free of her self-imposed exile, he has one fewer worry on his mind, though it's unclear how long this is going to last. Growing a spine may create more concerns than it alleviates.

Time will tell.

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