Explain to Me


hana_icon.gif susan_icon.gif

Scene Title Explain to Me
Synopsis Hana confronts Susan with the information provided to her by Abigail and Delilah.
Date June 25, 2010

Somewhere in Manhattan

Tall, drab, uniform. All the brownstone rowhouses on the street look the same. The only thing that separates the home that Susan Ball shares with her husband from their neighbors' is the brass number hanging above the stately front door and the fat tabby cat that spends sunny afternoons lounging on the front steps in spite of her best efforts to drive it off. Her ability doesn't work on animals.

When the yellow cab pulls up next to the curb, it's a quarter past six and the sky is already starting to adopt the golden hues preceding dusk. Humidity makes the air hot, sticky, but a chic wide-brimmed hat paired with a pair of designer sunglasses shield Susan's eyes from the glare. It doesn't take her very long to locate the cash she carries in her purse and pay the cabbie the fare owed, sending him on his way with a brisk thank you.

Keys are next as she approaches the front steps, eyes narrowed behind the lenses of her shades at the feline lashing its tail at her in cagey anticipation.

Imagine her surprise when the door opens for her.

A tall, dark-haired woman dressed in khaki pants and a pale green shirt looks down the steps at Susan, a pair of sunglasses tucked away atop her own head. Not designer, any of it, but practical and effective. Her expression is casually neutral, and Hana doesn't look armed… although that particular appearance is essentially always a matter of deception. She offers the secretary and Ferry operative a small smile. "Hello, Susan.

"I believe we should talk."

Susan reaches up and slides her sunglasses down the bridge of her nose, peering across at Hana with a pair of blue eyes accented by paler shadow and thick sweeps of mascara applied to lashes less curly than the vibrant red hair under her hat. Her gaze darts past the other woman, searching the brownstone's interior for any sign of her husband, but she somehow doubts that Hana would let herself inside if her family was home.

Although Jacob Ball has a passing familiarity with his wife's work, the high-profile lawyer has yet to insinuate himself into it. "You could have called," she says, moving past Hana into the entryway as she removes her purse from her shoulder and drapes it over the coat rack at the Israeli's back.

Closing the door behind the other woman, Hana inclines her head. "I could have," she allows. Corollary: I chose not to. In turn, she passes Susan, moving their conversation into the next room. That Hana chooses to lean against the wall is probably a good sign; on the other hand, her sitting down would be better yet. Dark eyes watch the other woman levelly. "What have you been doing the past two days?"

"Working." There's nothing particularly defensive about Susan's tone, and while the answer is an evasive one, she attempts to remedy this perception by elaborating as she crouches down to pick up a stuffed bluebird left on the tiles at her feet. "Something's come up at the bureau, but I think I have it under control."

A quick squeeze around the toy's middle produces a shrill, squeaky sound that's probably meant to resemble a chirp but sounds more like air shrieking out of a balloon, but rather than toss it aside in exasperation, she places it on the wooden console table behind the couch in the living room, which is decorated in warm shades of gold and brown. "Is there a problem?"

Evasive answers are not the kind Hana particularly likes.

She straightens up off the wall, shifting her weight onto the balls of her feet. "There could be," the technopath replies: not oblique, but a prelude to further explanation. Meanwhile, however, Hana is disinclined to stand still; she walks around the edge of the room, a prowling arc centered upon Susan. "Several concerns were brought to me — about your activities, your ability, the council being formed, and 'Central Park'.

"Explain to me, Ball: Do we have a problem?"

Susan is quiet for several long moments, gaze steered out the brownstone's window and the dark clouds rolling across the sky outside, heavy with the promise of rain. She lowers her eyes to the stuffed bluebird, removes the sunglasses from her face and the hat from her head, wavy tresses of flyaway red hair cascading down her slim neck and shoulders. "No," she says, "I have a problem."

Both sunglasses and hat are placed beside the toy on the table. "One of my co-workers found out what I can do. She wants money—" Her mouth curls disdainfully around the word, exposing a brief flash of veneer-perfect teeth behind her upper lip. "Using my ability to dissuade her won't work, and she's a registered negator. If I don't pay soon, she's threatened to go to one of our superiors.

"She doesn't know about the Ferry." Susan turns her head to track Hana's progress through the room, finely-plucked brows knit into expression of quiet consternation, concern. "I wanted to resolve things before the seats were finalized," she says, "rather than have the network appoint a councilmember who's being blackmailed."

Hana pauses in her trajectory; stands there, looking down on Susan even though the other woman is technically taller than she. Just barely. It's a matter of attitude. Deliberately, the Israeli sets her shoulder against the wall behind her, folding her arms across her chest, lifting her chin slightly. Repose, yes; but not relaxed. "I see."

Never looking away from Susan, the technopath considers her story in forbidding silence. There's minimal support Wireless can retrieve on a moment's notice — and probably not much more to be had from an in-depth search, either, which is why she doesn't bother. There's a subtle change in the focus of her eyes as she returns her full attention to the redhead. "And how do you plan to resolve it?"

"How do I usually resolve things?" Susan asks, mirroring Hana's gesture. Tapered fingers curl around her biceps and a wedding band glints below the knuckle of one, a diamond engagement ring on another. "I went to Clark and Damon for help, but if you think I'm better off paying her— I will. If she's smart enough to have figured me out and knows she can wring money from me, it's only a matter of time until she realizes what else I'm doing, and then, Hana, you will have a problem."

Outside, visible through the window, a silver sedan is pulling up in front of the brownstone where the cab had been idling only a few minutes ago. Susan's grip on her arms tightens. "I don't want to endanger the network," she says as a man climbs out of the driver's side and moves around the front of the vehicle to pop open the passenger's door. He crouches down, both his arms held out, and extracts a little girl from the front seat, an oversized backpack in the shape of a stylized daisy dangling from her tiny shoulders.

"Or my family."

Hana smiles thinly at the idea of paying off the negator; there's no amusement in the expression, but something rather grimmer. She wouldn't suggest paying blackmail, no. Doesn't now. "I suggest, Susan," she says, stepping away from the wall, "that in the future you also keep me apprised — and advise your compatriots to watch their chatter."

Picking up another hat from the coatrack, one that doesn't belong in this house, Hana brushes her sunglasses down over her eyes and sets the hat atop her head. She lets herself out the front door, offering husband and child a polite smile as she passes them by.

Jacob doesn't recognize Hana but returns her smile nevertheless. The child on the other hand, her skinny arms a frail circle around her father's muscular neck, shyly buries her face against his chest as they crest the steps. "Who was that?" she'll hear him ask Susan, who has come to linger in the brownstone's doorway with a dour and despondent expression on her handsome face.

Whatever her answer, Hana doesn't catch it.

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