Emotionally Compromised


bennet_icon.gif hana_icon.gif

Scene Title Emotionally Compromised
Synopsis It's Bennet's turn to ask Hana for a significant favor — and it doesn't go over very well.
Date December 28, 2010

Pollepel Island: Bannerman's Castle

While it may look abandoned on the exterior, the inside of Bannerman Castle is anything but. The small community of some seventy individuals living in the cramped confines of the castle designed to hold half that number leads to doubling up on bunks, close quarters in the mess hall, and typically someone wandering the grounds out of sight during daytime hours.

For people who value their privacy, this forced intimacy with what amounts to strangers most of the time can be off-putting, but for individuals who need to ensure that there's always a pair of eyes keeping look-out for someone to deliver a message, it's practically like free labor. Noah Bennet had capitalized on the number of eyes and ears in Bannerman Castle, appointing some of the Lighthouse children — who know no better — to be on the lookout for Hana Gitelman.

It was that very young courier in Lance Gerkin that informed Hana that Noah Bennet was looking for her, and what ultimately led to her arrival in the storage cellar in Bannerman's basement. Not a storage cellar for foodstuffs or other day-to-day provisions, but the storage facility where the firearms and ammunition are kept. Where things that needn't be seen daily are left in safe keeping.

In these dimly lit and vaulted chambers, Noah awaits Hana's arrival, hunched over a long wooden crate set up on a table, withdrawing rolled up canvases from within, the spoils from Noah's journey to Russia some months ago. Apparently they're related to whatever it is he feels the need to talk about, otherwise he wouldn't be down in a musty cellar.

Then again, it is quiet down here.

Hana appreciates quiet.

The stale atmosphere of the cellar doesn't get even a grimace from the woman who walks through the door. She glances over the room's contents, the crates, bins, and boxes hiding equipment familiar to her experience. Starts the scan with Noah Bennet himself, of course, the sole other human occupant — and ends it there as well, hands resting casually on the angles of her hips.

In silence, she watches him set out the canvas rolls, eyes hooded and lips thinned into an ungracious line. In days past, Hana would have officially opened this meeting with an acerbic, confrontational remark, for any of a number of fundamentally personal reasons. She still could; she doesn't, granting Noah that much grace. Instead, after a few moments more, Hana lets her hands fall and walks forward, pausing on the opposite side of the table from Bennet.

"What're you planning, Bennet?"

"I'm not sure…" is a tired answer. He's lost nearly ten pounds in the last month, his cheeks more shallow and face thinner than she typically remembers him as. The loss of his horn-rimmed glasses have taken away that sharp edge his eyes once had, framed darkly as they were. The new wire-rimmed glasses do little to prevent the appearance of a tired old man from starting to set in. "I… had some things I wanted to discuss with you, and I wasn't sure if you'd actually ever seen any of these before."

Unrolling the first painting, Noah reveals a colorful, if not stylized, depiction of a streak of fire in space as viewed through a circular window. It's evocative to Hana in what it implicates: Drucker's demise.

"Catherine was extremely tight-lipped about them, I only found out that Simms brought them up here yesterday. I'd thought we'd lost them with Harkness…" Noah's eyes divert down to the painting's surface, brows furrowing worriedly.

Dark gaze dropping to the displayed image, the expression around them flat and inscrutable. To the man who knows Hana best, the set of her features is better translated as revealing no weakness — which itself speaks of injury in the first place.

Her breathing remains unruffled as Hana splays her hands on an uncluttered stretch of tabletop edge, carefully not leaning too much weight against the piece of furniture. There's no need to have it move just now. "And prophecies already fulfilled are relevant because…?" She can't quite keep the edge out of the words; on the other hand, that's just plain normal.

No appreciation for theatrics, Noah cuts straight to the heart of the matter next. The second painting is unveiled right beside the first, clearly done by a different artist but with arguably similar content— loss. Noah Bennet is the star of this piece, or more precicely his corpse. He is sprawled out on his back, glasses as crooked as his head, a bullet hole blown clear through one lens of the horn-rimmed glasses. Blood pools on the ground beneath him, and a shadowed figure is embracing a young blonde girl in a high school cheerleader uniform in the background. It looks decidedly like Claire, when she wears her hair light. The mysterious man, however, is unidentifiable.

"I'm fairly certain that not all of them have come to pass." Notably, there is a numbering sequence painted on the bottom of that canvas, 8/8. "There's more, the whole set and then some. Our mutual aquaintance Ivan Spektor entrusted me with them shortly before he died…" Noah's brows furrow at that, and his eyes flit down to the picture again, lips downturned into a frown.

"I'd like to know what your aims are for the near future. I need to know that I might be able to count on you for something…" Looking back up to Hana, the unstated notion of like you asked of me is plain as day to Hana in Noah's features.

The mask doesn't waver as Hana looks down upon the second revealed image. After a moment, she breaks from her lean against the table, walking around it to view the painting in its proper orientation. "Doesn't work that way, Bennet," she remarks, voice quiet but not soft: if she was going to tell him her aims, it probably would've happened already. It also implies her aims might not be to Noah's approval… "Cut to the chase: what do you want from me?"

Hana has no appreciation for theatrics at all.

"I'm leaving," makes it sound non-negotiable, "New York, maybe further; Soon." Turning from the table, Bennet reaches out to take his cane from where it leans against the edge and braces his weight against it. "I'm getting my daughter out of the city too, whether she likes it or not. Probably within a month, possibly two. Which means that the Council is going to have a vacancy, and while I can't ask you to fill that role, I can ask if you'd do what I can't do. I'm not getting any younger, Hana… and you're just as qualified to lead these people as I am. If not more."

Swallowing audibly, Bennet looks askance to the painting on the table. "There's an old Primatech facility in Odessa, not the operations headquarters but a storage warehouse. I'm thinking of heading up Ferrymen activity there, work on setting up relations with the factions south of the border who are willing to take on refugees."

He picked an awful time to want to retire.

The Israeli's head cants over to one side as if that might right some mental picture gone askew.

She stays silent for three rather measurable breaths after Noah finishes speaking — although his entire last subject pretty much flies past Hana's notice. Heard, but not regarded.

"Bennet," Hana finally replies, "have you lost your fucking mind?"

She pushes away from the table, jarring it sideways in the principle of equal-and-opposite reaction. "I'm not fucking qualified to lead any damned thing except an assault team, or have you forgotten? Confused me with someone else?" By this time, the woman has paced all the way to the door, but he knows it isn't her intent to leave; that just happens to be the longest clear path down which she can stretch her legs.

"Remember what you recruited me for?" Way back when, back when they were both far younger and the world was a different place. "You want someone shot dead, you want a file lifted, you want a goddamn walking Blackberry — past or future, anyway — I can deliver. Lead this — this —"

Words fail Hana, substituted for by the slap of both hands down against the table.

"This is exactly what you're qualified to do," Bennet retorts, and while his body has been battered by the events of November 8th his spirit remains at least partially intact, as long as it doesn't involve confronting his own personal faults. "You aren't the angry young girl that I recruited into the Company, Hana. You aren't a child any more, and for as little credit as you give yourself when you put your mind towards it you're a better leader than I'll ever be, because when the cards are down you will make the necessary sacrifices that I have gotten too soft to make."

Noah points down to the paintings with two fingers. "I am emotionally compromised, and the Ferrymen do not need someone like that leading them, not not— probably not ever. If you'd been acting in a higher administrative capacity before the riots we might even be in a better shape than we are now."

Breathing in deeply through his nose, Noah looks away from the paintings and back to the former technopath. "If you can't step up I'll find someone else who can, but you're my first choice. You're the only person I'm certain has what it takes in this new world we're operating in."

"Emotionally compromised," Hana echoes, a ghost of humorless laughter beneath the words as she turns away. "Emotionally fucking compromised." Turns back, one hand jabbing at the air beside her head. "You think I'm not?" she flings back, voice climbing in volume and intensity.

Slender fingers snatch at the second painting, the image of Noah shot dead, yank it roughly aside to once more reveal the fiery streak of a satellite plummeting to its inevitable end. "They're dead," Hana snaps, brusque ferocity throwing the words in Bennet's face. They has never referred to Rebel alone, coming from her lips, and doesn't now. "I fucking killed him, as good as with my own bare hands! And now you—!"

Canvas snaps sideways, caught in the force of her pivot right up until Hana lets it go to flutter into a dejected pile of limp fabric. She strides away again, shoulders rigidly stiff, because not even now — not even after the trust she placed with him before — can the woman finish that sentence. Not with the sentiment that's actually behind it.

You're going to leave me.

Noah's throat tightens, slowly, in his rod-straight posture. His brows begin to settle down into a furrow when he finally rediscovers his voice. "Emotional, and compromised can be mutually exclusive…" is quietly explained. "You never once let what happened between you and Drucker get between you and your work for the Ferry. You did do what you had to do to protect them. Had the same choice been presented to me, with my family?"

Bennet's head slowly shakes in the negative. "I know I couldn't have done it. Not anymore." Therein is the implication of what kind of leadership the Ferrymen need following the November 8th riots, why he was so clear about his support of appointing Jensen Raith to the special activities department.

"You could always come with me," is his concession, meager as it is. "Starting up in Texas by myself isn't outside of my capabilities, but if you can't do what I need you to do here… I would feel better with you at my back there." His brows pinch together, then relax as he averts his stare down to the floor.

For all that she hears his words, listens to them, Hana doesn't turn back. "You can keep Texas, Bennet," the woman growls, not willing to accept his consolation prize; but then, that's Hana through and through. All, or nothing. Together, or nowhere close.

With his gaze turned towards the floor, it's left to Noah's ears to inform him she's left the storeroom, boots taking the stairs a noisy two steps per stride.

It isn't the first time that Hana has stormed off on him, and for all the times it's happened Bennet is left wondering if he has one daughter or two half of the time. Lifting up one hand to his forehead, his fingers massage across his brow and head sinks into the palm of his hand. Exhaling a tired sigh, he turns to look back at the haphazardly arranged pictures, flung in such contempt as they were by Hana.

When he turns to look back in the direction she left in, the lanterns reflect a glare off the lenses of his wire-rimmed glasses, hiding his eyes as brows raise into a worried expression. There's two ways Hana could possibly take something like this, and one of them isn't an acceptable outcome in Bennet's eyes.

Fortunately, that's what Benjamin Ryans is for.

Hopefully it won't come to that.

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