Everyday Heroes


matt_icon.gif elisabeth_icon.gif

Scene Title Everyday Heroes
Synopsis You see them in the world… firefighters, paramedics, soldiers, nurses, cops, and many others.
Date February 14, 2009

Police Precinct, and Somewhere in Soho

Valentine's is a hell of a day to be on duty, or to break some potentially problematic news to a significant other. So it is either because he's decided not to worry about any 'round the shop' rumors, or because he wants Kaydence to be plenty buttered up when he has that rather important conversation with her, that Matt Parkman strides into his fiance's precinct with a bouquet of roses. It's nothing overly dramatic, just a slim half dozen, but the half-open blooms are a rich red color.

When Parkman doesn't find Kaydence at her desk, he slowly sets the flowers down on top of a pile of paperwork. He then begins to nose about, albeit subtly, poking here and there amongst her things.

As if Valentine's Day doesn't suck enough all the way around this year — probably for damn near everyone — Elisabeth walks in to find Agent Parkman in the room nosing about. Just perfect. With a sigh, she heads for her desk and comments dryly, "I'm thinkin' you better keep your hands off her shit or you'll draw back bloody stumps from the top of the thing due to booby traps." Dropping a file folder on her desk, and glancing around to be sure that the room is empty — which is the normal state of affairs. "I don't suppose you remember Abigail Beauchamp?" she asks, somewhat apropos of nothing.

In actuality, Matt can't take a shower without thinking of Abby, the Phoenix healer. He ignores the comment about booby traps, glancing amongst the pictures of Kaydence's family - that being herself, Cole, and Spencer, before he looks up at the SCOUT officer. "Yeah, I remember her. If anybody should have gotten a medal, it should've been her." Is there some bitterness between the FBI and DHS - more than usual, that is? Maybe, maybe not. But that's not to say that there might not be some between Parkman and the Russian himself.

Tilting her head, Liz studies him. And she asks quietly, "I don't suppose anyone you know picked her up off the street the other day and took her off to do something for you?" Yeah, it's a huge long shot. But hell… never hurts to ask. At least if the answer's yes, she can close this case. "She was heading home to Louisiana and never made it to the plane," she explains.

Well, that's one way to grab Parkman's attention. His eyes refocus on Elisabeth, and he narrows them with concentrated worry. "No, I didn't know that. I mean, I knew she was headed home, but…" Parkman starts to reach for his cell phone, but hesitates. He glances around, double-checking to make sure the room actually is empty, apart from the pair of them.

"You sure she didn't go running off with your little group of friends?" he asks in a quieter tone. "Maybe someone got shot."

Now the silence bubble snaps into place, ensuring that they can converse verbally without being overheard. "Yes, I'm sure she didn't go off with any of my group of friends." She picks up the very slim file in her hands. "The uniforms aren't treating it as a missing persons because she was already planning to leave town, they're assuming that for lack of any other evidence, she merely changed her plans." Pushing her hand through her hair, she nibbles the edge of her lip. "A contact has told me was picked up in a 'periwinkle' van. And well, I'm running that through the system, but frankly…. you know as well as I do that it's a needle in one hell of a large haystack. And Abby tends to be a magnet for kidnappings." She looks at him with concern. "If you don't mind checking to see if DHS or someone did borrow her…. if they *did*, at least I know I'm not wasting my time here?" She grimaces.

"Yeah, I can check." Abby isn't like Phoenix - only a sort of pawn used by them and so many others because she's too damned nice to say no. But if she were any different, Parkman may have died. His nod is curt, but there, obviously worried almost to the point of speechlessness. "Don't be stupid, Elisabeth," he says after a moment of silence, curling a hand into a fist to rap his knuckles on Kay's desk. "SCOUT needs you, and you'd better figure out quick where your priorities are."

"Excuse me?" Liz asks, startled into near-speechlessness herself. "What the hell is *that* supposed to mean?"

"That means if you have to pick, Harrison." Despite the bubble, Parkman's words are a whispered hiss. "You can be an officer of the law, or you can act in opposition to it. You can't play both sides."

Crossing her arms and looking at him, Elisabeth bites back her immediate reaction, because in all honesty… perhaps he deserves better. "I have to choose? I choose the people of this city, Parkman. I have done absolutely nothing that is in opposition to my chosen profession. What I *have* done is used intel they've provided to keep *every* bridge into this city from exploding, and used intel they provided to stop a viral attack that would have killed something like 95 percent of the city's — and probably the world's — population. The only thing I can reasonably be taken to task for is *not* telling Harvard about the plan of attack beforehand, and in truth…. that was a tough call. The intel provided, however, indicated that the probabilities of the entire operation going south with the involvement of the political bureaucracy that comes with the NYPD were pretty damn high. That we might not be ABLE to stop it if it became an NYPD operation. It was a tightrope act…. and I made the best choice I could under the circumstances." She pauses and asks, "But it does bring up a question that I've had for a while. If you honestly think that what Phoenix does out there is counter to the greater good…. why haven't you turned us all in? Or does the DHS raid on the library trace back to your own info?"

"The only thing I've done remotely related to your little friends is talk to Abby about what happened on the bridge. That's it." Parkman's teeth grit as he speaks, and it's obvious he's doing his best to control both his volume and temper in the little bubble created by the SCOUT officer. Of course, his superiors already know to keep their most vital and confidential information in hardcopy only, as per their own and the Company's intel on Gitelman.

Parkman growls lowly, deep in his throat, then pushes off the desk to walk around it, threatening the confines of Elisabeth's little bubble. "I think that the world'd be a better place if fewer people thought they could be heroes. Hell, you want to do something for the greater good? Work in a soup kitchen. Volunteer at a retirement home, or… or put on a fucking badge or a suit every day and actually make the world safer, because you know how, not because you have an ability. We're not special, Harrison. We're not tasked to do something great. We're just like everyone else."

She doesn't seem upset by his anger. In fact, it actually somewhat relieves her. And she believes him. As he paces, Elisabeth listens, her hip resting on her own desk and her arms still crossed. She actually grins slightly at him. "Yeah… well, as you can see, I do exactly that. And in case you haven't noticed? I don't particularly think I'm much of a hero. I knew something, I thought I could help… I *did* help. And if I had it to do over, I'd do it again. I didn't do anything more with the bombs than anyone else did — brought in the bomb team. Now… yeah, the bomb team we used actually TELEPORTED the damn things to a remote location to be disarmed. Far safer than the norm, thank goodness." She sighs. "Look, Parkman. I don't think I'm a hero. I don't even think Phoenix is a bunch of heroes. They're just a bunch of idealistic people who sometimes to good things. Sometimes they do what they do in the interests of individual people's justice… sometimes they do it because, well, they're not terribly trusting of those of us in uniform. Can't *possibly* imagine why that would be," she adds facetiously. "But mostly? They're just like everyone else too. We're all just trying to get along, trying to figure out who and what we are, what we believe in and stand for, and what we can do to make our own little corner of the damn place better." A faint quirk twists her lips. "Just like you."

Parkman just shakes his head as he listens to Harrison, and finally sneers at her. "You're nothing like me," he grunts before he starts back toward the door, rolling his shoulders before he shoves his hands into the pockets of his coat.

"Nothing at all."

Elisabeth mms softly. "Keep telling yourself that, Parkman. Cuz you're so much better than every other cop out there." She sighs and turns to pick up the ringing phone. "Harrison," she says into it. After listening for a brief moment, she replies, "Yeah. I'm on my way." She puts the phone down, grabs her gun out of her desk drawer, and heads toward the door right behind the telepath in a hurry. "Excuse me," she tells him as she brushes past him with his less-urgent pace. She's already running through potential scenarios in her head — and by the time she hits the hall, she's practically jogging. And then she stops, turning to look toward him. Her expression is more than a little torn about what she's about to do, but you know… "If you're not in the middle of something, Parkman, your talents might be useful."

"It's got nothing to do with being a good co-" Parkman turns on his heel to rebut but is cut off by the phone call and the subsequent storm in Harrison's head. He steels himself, and is already following her when she starts out. "Shut up and let's go," he mutters.

Without bothering with additional conversation, Elisabeth heads out. The stream of scenarios that can play out change with his agreement — the first ones she had all involved talking the kid down and what can go wrong. Because it's gone wrong before — and those are rather haunting failures. Parkman's telepathy changes the possibilities and the outcomes. As they drive over, Elisabeth tries to weigh how it might help or hinder getting the kid down.

A lot of that depends on how much news this particular kid watches. Then again, Parkman's face hasn't been on the television for quite some time - and it would seem only those closely associated with various vigilante groups are keen on remembering his initial testimonial regarding his own abilities.

Once at the scene, Parkman is as confident, cool, and careful as one could ever expect any officer of the law, be it local or federal, to be. He doesn't even ask what the youth's name is before he starts up into the building to get to the roof. It's easy enough to pluck from their heads.

Andrew. The poor kid's name is Andrew.

It'd be easy enough to barge through the door onto the roof, but who knows how much that might scare the kid after seeing the car pull up. "Andrew?" Parkman calls instead. "My name is Matt. I'm here with Elisabeth, and we want to talk to you. That okay?"

Once they reach the scene, Elisabeth starts to ask the requisite questions and then just shakes her head and follows him up the stairs. "Do you always pluck the information you need out of people's heads? Much as I hate to admit it, it's handy in a situation like this," she murmurs before they get to the door.

Andrew — never Andy, he hates that diminutive — stands on the far side of the rooftop, close enough to hear the shouting from the door but looking over the edge of the building to the ground below. In his mind, there is fear — of the fall, whether landing will hurt, whether he'll feel anything before his head hits the ground. There is also fear of what his parents will do when they find out he's one of 'them', how will they accept him?, how will his girlfriend feel knowing she actually slept with a freak? Being a teenager is so ridiculously hard already, and now this. He wonders if he's actually going to *die* when he does this, or if there's some kind of freaky Evolved come-back-from-the-dead-free card and he'll be doomed to actually face it. "GO AWAY!" he shouts back to Parkman. "Don't come out here, I'm warning you!"

Don't let anyone come out here. Hurry up and *do* it! Jump! C'mon! No one's ever gonna like you again anyway!

I don't want to do this. God, I'm so scared. My mom… this will break her heart. A freak for a son, and suicide's a sin! She'll cry forever and think I went to hell. There's got to be another way out of this. Some Evolved are okay, right? They can't all be terrorists and stuff. Are they? Does it change who *I* am? I don't know what to do.

JUMP. C'mon, you're a lame ass. A weakling. A coward. Ginny only slept with you because she was sorry for you.

Elisabeth says softly, "How close to going over the edge is he?" She looks up at Parkman. "I'm going to need at least 20 seconds to talk him off the ledge, even if he's susceptible to suggestion… if he's actually set on doing it, nothing I do will change his mind."

"Okay, Andrew," Parkman calls back. "We'll stay here. But I still wanna talk to you." Parkman turns his head and shakes it to Elisabeth. "He's not standing on it yet," he tells her. "Just lookin'."

Parkman squints then, focusing in further on the teenager. It would be foolish to inject a thought into his already troubled head, but listening will help him say just what he needs to say to help this kid. "I know you've got a lot goin' through your head right now, Andrew. But I gotta tell you, takin' that fall isn't going to make anything better for anyone, especially you. You've got people who love you. Your mom? Ginny? And thing about people like that is…well, they don't care what you can or can't do. They love you anyway."

Although talking people down is usually her job, Liz leans against the wall to listen in this case. Parkman, so far, is saying all the right things. He's clearly done this before a time or two. She takes mental notes of the names he's calling to the kid so she can use them if she needs to, as well.

Don't listen to him. *NO ONE* loves you. You were a freak before you were an Evo freak. Your mom doesn't know what to do with you cuz you hide on your stupid computer all day long. Ginny doesn't *love* you. But you've sure got her attention now. Now she thinks you're a complete loser.

//But… she said she loved me. She didn't even mind when things went too fast…. //

Ha! She just said that because what else are you going to say to a guy who shoots his wad as soon as he gets in the door??

No! That's not… and my mom. God, I'm gonna go to hell for this, and my mom'll be here all alone. Who's gonna take care of her when I'm gone?

"Don't come out here!" Andrew calls back, though he sounds far less certain now. "People already… think I'm a freak. If I hurt a cop, someone's just gonna shoot me for it, and … I wanna jump if I gotta die!"

"You wouldn't hurt me, Andrew. I'm a nice guy, and I sure don't want to hurt you." But what can the kid do? "What do you do that's so bad anyway, huh? I bet it's nothing. You only hear about the bad ones on television, because they're the ones who want the spotlight. There's tons of people who've got abilities, and you'd never know. They're just normal people. They love their families. They go to work, pay their taxes. They're good people."

There's a frown on Elisabeth's face as she touches Matt's arm. "He doesn't sound right." She's been listening to the kid's voice, and blessing Conrad silently for lesson upon lesson about using her powers to hear things that other people can't. She's been fine-tuning for weeks, and though she doesn't need any power at all to hear stress in the kid's voice, the uncertainty is what's giving her pause. "What's he thinking right now? He doesn't sound….. he almost sounds like someone's *convinced* him that this is what he should do. Not that he's doing it by choice, or even because *he* feels like it's the only way out." And she doesn't want to lend her voice to this when Matt's got the kid actually talking — that would undermine the rapport he's trying to build.

Almost as soon as Matt asks the question, the kid shies closer to the edge. A mental image forms in his head, the moment Andrew realized what he was doing… he's a fledgling pyrokinetic. And he accidently burned down a tenement back in January. "I'm not normal people, man. I've hurt people," Andrew replies miserably. Too low for Parkman to hear, but Liz relays his words.

Parkman wishes for all the world that he didn't hear the crime, but…only his own ethics will get in the way of him not reporting it if they're able to pull Andrew away from himself and the danger he's posing. Parkman glances to Elisabeth, then chews on his bottom lip for a moment.

"Hey Andrew," he calls again. "I gotta tell you something. "A lot of people who can do what you can do…they'd get so full of themselves, they'd go off and do something stupid. But you're so afraid of that, look what you're doing instead? You've already proven you don't want to hurt people. So you got what it takes to get control. We can help you with that. But you've got to let us come out there so we can help you, okay?"

Stupid little bastard. Now you've gone and done it! You think you can be saved from all this? You're never gonna get control. You almost killed that little girl!

But it wasn't my fault! It was so *cold*! I didn't even know what I could do…

The boy on the roof weeps quietly as he looks over the edge. The cop's words do make him hesitate, and he looks toward the door. "I don't want to hurt anyone!" he calls back miserably. "I swear to God, man…. I didn't mean for anyone to get hurt." The tacit allowance for the cops to come onto the roof is in his mind, easily picked out by the telepath.

Elisabeth, listening to it, nods to Parkman when the boy gives in, and when he opens the door she steps out onto the rooftop. "Hi, Andrew," she offers quietly, lacing her voice with calm and gentleness for him.

The boy still has the gawky lankiness that hasn't yet filled out. Perhaps 5'10" tall, blond, brown-eyed, and he's clearly terrified. Both of the ledge and the jump awaiting him, and of the officers who step out onto the roof. He sidles a step closer to the edge. "Don't get close to me," he begs. "When I get…scared or … upset… or anything, it just… goes. Wherever it wants."

Images in his head…. New Year's was so damn cold, he'd been cold for weeks. Everyone was complaining about the cold, but Andrew couldn't seem to get warm no matter how many clothes he wore. The tenement building was a roach hotel, but it was at least a roof over their heads. His mother could barely find enough work to feed them the past couple of years… and then he'd ruined it all. His powers erupted and burned the place down. And poor Nina… poor Nina almost died!

Poor Nina indeed. And poor Ginny too, who was so nice to you and you almost burned her too, didn't you?

NO! I didn't! I didn't mean for her to …. it wasn't my fault!

Yes, it was! You scared her to death and hurt her feelings by running off, and then when she tried to tell you it was okay, you lost it! You burned up her curtains!

Her dad stopped it! She's fine!

No thanks to you, you little bastard. Now JUMP! There *is* no forgiveness for boys who start fires!

Andrew looks at Matt and Elisabeth, and he holds out his hands. "Just…. stay back. I *have* to do this. My mom… Ginny… they'll be better off without me. I've heard what happens to Evolved people out there. They disappear off the streets and never come back." He's crying openly now. "I don't wanna disappear. It's better if I die."

Rather than ask who belongs to that other voice that is similar, but not Andrew's own, Parkman goes digging. "You're not going to be one of them, Andrew," he assures him even as he delves into his mind to try and find the name of whoever it was that convinced him this was the only thing to do. He steps away from the door, but he doesn't get too near the teenager. "You're going to get control. Learn how to use it. Then maybe, maybe even help people with it. Like a job. You could get a nice house for your mom, and Nina… someplace where Ginny could visit you."

There's a questioning look toward Parkman. Elisabeth can see he's… doing something. His focus on Andrew is so intense, it's nearly a tangible thing. So Liz takes up the reassurance now, letting Matt do what he's doing. "Andrew… you're Andrew West, right?" She draws the boy's attention, and when he looks at her, she smiles gently. The hypnotic qualities she's layering into her voice hopefully will keep him calmer. "~Nina's name tipped me off… I remember her. She was rescued from the building, and she kept asking if you were okay. You know… no matter what's happened, it's never as bad as it seems. Not if you didn't deliberately do it. There *is* help out there. And your mom… she loves you. No matter what you do. It's what moms do, Andrew, they love their kids unconditionally. She wouldn't want you to think that just because you made a mistake, you deserve to die. That's a pretty harsh punishment for a mistake. Take a deep breath for me, okay? It really will be all right.~"

She's lying to you! Nina cried for days after you left, she had nightmares. She was in a fire that nearly killed her, and then she had to stay in the hospital. Evolved firestarters can't do GOOD.

She's a sweet kid. Maybe she really did forgive me…

Do you think all the other people who lost everything in that fire will forgive you? Do you *know* how many people almost died in that firetrap? How many people from there are *still* living on the streets while your mom managed to get an actual apartment in this stinking town?

Leave my mom out of this. Sadie is nice, and she wanted to help my mom. Andrew sounds mentally exhausted. Like the harangue is taking its toll on him, has been taking a toll for a long while now. She just wanted to help get us off the streets. If I jump… maybe my mom'll be able to stay there?

Probably. After all this publicity, I'm sure your mom'll come out smelling like roses. Just gotta get YOU out of the picture.

It's probably a good thing that Andrew's back is turned. When that little nugget of truth is unearthed, Parkman can't help but smirk, if for a moment, in victory. Then he turns sharply away from Andrew, searching out another consciousness. One that he knows is there. He rides the wave of thoughts, his jaw shaking as he nears it.

Two competing audio inputs will scream at each other if they get too close. Finding what is dumping into Andrew is like playing a game of Hot-Cold with a cell phone that's about to ring near a speaker. But when Parkman finds it, the feedback is strong. He grits his teeth to keep from crying out, but the individual on the other end gets it far worse. Parkman is older. His power, stronger. His amperage, as it were, higher.

Still, it takes the agent a moment to get his bearings again, and his own ears are still ringing. Or at least they feel like they are. Who knows - maybe the guy on the other end is bleeding just from the sheer idea of pain. "Andrew," he finally says, his voice choked. "It's okay, guy. Everything's going to be fine. No more bad thoughts, okay?"

"It's not going to be okay. I just… I can't make it stop," Andrew admits softly to Elisabeth. "Whenever I get mad, things around me just… burn." In truth, the boy is upset and depressed enough that the very air around him is tropical-feeling if the officers were to get close enough. Over 100 degrees. "I just … want my mom and Ginny to be okay."

Elisabeth continues to reassure him gently, "~They're going to be all right. I swear it to you. We're going to get you help, Andrew.~" Oh God…. it goes against everything she wants for this kid to let Homeland Security take him into custody. He's a *kid*, he needs his mother, and she has a feeling they're not going to just test him and let him run loose. Not with his power out of control. But … what other options are there? Elisabeth's personal hell stands before her. Because for Andrew's own good, and for that of those around him, he *has* to learn control somehow. And it's not like there are many options for that. "~You're not going to get in trouble for the tenement, Andrew. It was an accident. Thankfully no one died, and it was an accident,~" she tells him softly. "~Ginny wasn't hurt, and your mom's not going to hate you. She's probably worried sick about you.~"

The mental voice on the other end of the line, so to speak, doesn't even realize that what he's doing can be traced. By the time he actually senses Parkman and tries to fight him off, it's too late (and his power is still new to him). It takes no more than a couple of minutes, and by the end of it, the person on the other end lays unconscious on a rooftop half a block over, where he can get a good view of the jump.

Andrew looks toward Matt when he speaks, the curve of his body language revealing dejection and incomprehension. "I … don't understand." But for the first time in several weeks, there is nothing in his head. His conscience is not lambasting him. He looks between the officers, confused.

"One of those bad Evolved," Parkman says with another swallow, lifting a hand to pinch his nose between his eyes to stave off a headache. "He was messing with you, son. Putting all that stuff in your head. But he's… he's not doing it now." Parkman opens his eyes to look at Elisabeth. "Get on the horn and have them do a canvas. He might need medical attention, but hopefully he's just napping now. We need to grab him before he wakes up." Mental terrorists. Sheesh. Parkman takes a deep breath, then smile softly at Andrew. "You're a good kid, Andrew," he says, nodding his head. "You just got confused. Now come on over here, and we can talk about getting you some help, okay?"

Without the other voice in his head, taunting him, Andrew finally seems to feel … hope. "Someone…. it wasn't just me?" The boy steps away from the ledge, out of view finally from those below.

Elisabeth nods. "Any idea how far away?" She pulls her radio off her belt, calling it down to the officers on the ground to get uniforms out to start a canvas and to use caution — telepath, young, no description available. Possibly woozy or bleeding from the nose or ears. Somewhere in a one-block radius. Yeah… the boys in blue down there LOVE that order, considering the number of apartments and rooftops we're talking.

"Close," is all Parkman says to Elisabeth before he reaches out a hand to Andrew. "It's okay, son," he says, nodding his head to encourage him. "We're gonna get him. You're gonna be just fine."

Andrew starts to put his hand into Matt's, but he gets an alarmed expression on his face and backpedals as tears roll down his face. "I don't want to get too close… I could burn you by accident," he admits to the cop. It's still quite warm around him, both Elisabeth and Matt can feel the heat rolling off him.

Elisabeth is reminded as she watches Matt Parkman of the reason that she has admired the man. He's good with Andrew. And although he appears to think the worst of her, something she's unwilling to dwell on, she's grateful that he was here tonight. There's no way she'd have caught that there was another telepath involved. She murmurs to Andrew, "~Just take some deep breaths. Once you calm, it'll come back under control. You'll be okay. Breathe in…. out. In… out. Keep doing it, you'll feel yourself calm down.~" And when the boy does, Elisabeth steps back. This is Matt's success, not really hers.

"S'alright, Andrew," Parkman repeats, keeping his own tone low. "You don't want to hurt me. You don't want to hurt anyone, and we don't want to hurt you. So there's no reason to be scared. No reason to get antsy, or upset."

It takes a few moments, but Andrew finally puts his hand, if tentatively, into Parkman's. After a moment, he squeezes it as if the older man were an anchor he desperately needs to tie himself to. It's slow-going, so as not to rattle or spook the fledgling pyrokinetic, but the trio make it down from the roof and out of the building soon enough. There's the slightest hitch when Andrew is put into a police car, but a soft explanation of procedure and getting him the help he needs - the real help in how to control his newfound abilities - is enough to settle him.

Who knows. Maybe Andrew will be a good candidate for the Company. But that doesn't matter.

The kid'll live to see another day.

February 14th: Cally Meets Her Nemesis
February 14th: Red Sky
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