Hand In Hand


brennan_icon.gif melissa_icon.gif michelle_icon.gif praeger_icon.gif vincent_icon.gif

Scene Title Hand In Hand
Synopsis The Department of Evolved Affairs meets with respected members of the community for a chitchat regarding the immediate future of Summer Meadows.
Date February 20, 2010

Summer Meadows

There is a nice car pulling up on a lonely street in Summer Meadows, and a nice man stepping out of it.

A black coat shields an immaculate suit from the harshness of a snowy winter day, though snow fall is a minimum at the moment even as frosty, fluffy slush and ice pads thick along the edges of streets, the corners where buildings meet pavement, coating the tops of abandoned or long parked cars. Tall and lanky, balding on top with stark white remaining hair combed primly, Raymond Praeger is, perhaps, curiously alone, but doesn't seem bothered by this fact as he steps up onto the sidewalk and nods to the driver in thanks and confirmation to wait right here, thank you. A scarf bundles snugly around his neck and woolen gloves cover his hands, both of which he takes a few seconds to discreetly if fussily adjust.

This won't be Praeger's first time down this way, either, and through frameless glasses, he evaluates whatever changes he might recognise from the neighbourhood, or imagines to. Pushing closed the car door, he moves at a careful pace on icy pavement, polished shoes making prints as he goes, towards the address he'd been given. Upon spying someone waiting outside, he offers a smile, and waves.

It's not that he's uncomfortable meeting mano a mano. It's that this is more than him. This is Summer Meadows, and to a degree, the Ferryman. This is about doing what's in the best interest of the people who live here, who will continue to live here and those who will eventually return to here and whatever other communities that will inevitably end up getting this sort of attention in an attempt by the private citizens of New York to reclaim their city back from the destruction of the Midtown and it's effects.

Brennan's outside one of the completed buildings dressed in business casual. Not that Praeger doesn't deserve a suit and tie but it's the weekend. So for him is a pair of khaki's, a button down beneath a sweater and a mens black peacoat. Far more better dressed than most would find in this area. Michelle stands beside him, though shorter, leather boots, long skirt, leather gloves, long lined trenchcoat and a - serious - knit beret. Her ability is in play too as when Praeger hits the half point between them and where he came in, the weather takes a far less biting chill to it. Not so warm though to melt the snow and slush, but you don't feel it to your bones anymore.

There's a third person with them and after a wave witha relaxed hand, forefinger, middle and thumb extended in a lazy salute to the government official, and a returned smile he looks to Melissa. "Play nice. Try not to be sullen and defensive huh? This man has a lot of power. It could make life around here easier"

Melissa is wearing an ankle-length coat and knit cap, both in black, and looking only mildly curious until Brennan speaks. She gives him a dry look. "I /do/ play nice. You just bring out the snarky part of me. Ask anyone else, and I'm a joy to be around," she says blandly, before she takes a moment to study Praeger.

"Good afternoon!" tags a second or so after Melissa's words, the politician moving on into speaking range. Blue eyes study each three figures in turn from behind glass and beneath a serious brow almost exactly the same colour as the snow freshly sweeped aside from the stoop he approaches. Praeger's face is a little pink from the immediate cold, and doesn't change even as the weight of winter is lifted a fraction — he might not have noticed it, for all that he's a little comfier. "I hope I haven't kept any of you waiting — nothing stops the traffic in this city from being a nightmare, especially in this weather."

He extends a gloved hand out first towards Brennan — either that's just sexist or assumptive, but actually— "Dr. Brennan, we meet again," is friendly enough, a smile going with it.

Brennan's hand comes out once he takes his glove off, shaking Praeger's hand. "If it didn't snow, we wouldn't have so many people employed scraping it off the ground. With everything bad comes a blessing. Secretary Praeger and we haven't been waiting that long. So no need for apologies. May I introduce my wife, Doctor Michelle Brennan" He lets go of his own hand and Michelle extends hers. "MOnsieur Praeger, a pleasure" She leans forward to offer her own usual greeting, air kiss/cheek press to either cheek. "Welcome to SUmmer Meadows"

There's a gesture to Melissa next "And i'll let the young lady introduce herself"

Melissa smiles, and it's a friendly enough thing. Though how she goes from mildly irritated to friendly so quickly is a mystery. Maybe they're both acts! "I'm Melissa. A pleasure to met you, Secretary. And as Dr. Brennan said, we haven't been waiting too long."

Greetings are done with an almost militant precision, actions smooth and unfaltering even as Preager goes from manly handshake, to European airkissing, through to a final handshake for Melissa, gloved hand clasping warmly and securely as he says, "And it's a pleasure to meet all of you," with a solid kind of sincerity before he lets go. "Let's head inside, shall we? And then we can get started. I can't tell you how relieved I was to hear back at all. "

It's probably par for the course with the politician as with little fanfare, they head into the freshly renovated home that will serve as the meeting point for the negotiations. In as much as they can be called such. "I have to admit that I am too. Things government are notorious for moving at something barely resembling a snails pace, if not slower. In a circumstance like this though, time is of the essence if one is to keep the faith of the people involved. By that of course, I mean the residents of this community." Doors opened, jackets shrugged off and hung up on a make shift coat rack before there's a gesture towards the homely living room with it's fresh paint and refreshments laid out. "Your promptness will go a long way to making these people feel more at ease, I'm sure, please, take a seat Secretary Praeger. A Ms Trafford brought a message, that you and those whom you are employed by, wanted to offer help to the community and lend some security to help insure that what's happening here, isn't disrupted again yes?" There's more to it than that, and he's left out things on purpose to see if he'll keep offering what he's offering or whether he changes it.

Melissa moves inside with the others, bringing up the rear if she can. It's a safer position that letting the Secretary at her back, anyway. Her hat and coat are taken off, then she moves into the living room, waiting for Praeger to sit before she follows suit. For now she falls silent, letting the man who really knows what's going on do the talking. For now.

Initially, Melissa does bring up the rear. The door closes after her without pause or disturbance, clipping off the cold and presumably any potential for trouble from the outside with it.

But the nearer they get to the living area proper, the greater the feeling that she's being watched, and not but a few seconds after the entry has opened up into the larger room beyond (replete with refreshments and pleasant decor) a distortion at her back condenses like a ghost out of thin air. It's hardly a second more before spectral intangibility has condensed into a shortish, baldish, stubborn-looking man in a dark suit and overcoat nearly as dapper as Praeger's steps free of the flush of blackish fog he was just borne of. Excess mist licks at his heels and seethes in around his collar at one last rush.

And all Melissa hears is a new set of footsteps tracking more heavily after her own.

Following on in, Praeger sweeps a glance around the interior of the building, unwinding his scarf from his throat and folding it primly as he goes. By the time they reach the living room, he's tucking it into a coat pocket, exposing the grey-green silken tie he's wearing over the clean white of his shirt.

"Ms. Trafford would be correct," Praeger replies, either not heeding the sound of additional foot steps, or not minding them. "As you know, I've already seen what amazing work you and yours have done with this neighbourhood, and after that dreadful riot, I thought it was a good time to offer what help might be appreciated. Up until this point, I hadn't wanted to interfere. The initiative taken is admirable."

Gloves are slipped off as he adds, with a smooth smile, "And might I introduce Agent Vincent Lazzaro, one of my department's liaisons with the New York Police Department."

"I wasn't there the first time that these individuals apparently came around, but … I can say that I sincerely hope that it will never occur again. We help out though here, when we can. I tend to look at a few of the people that live here that can't afford to visit a doctor and see what I can do for them. We all do a little of what we can to make New York a bit more pleasent and comfortable for those who were affected by the Midtown disaster" Brennan offers with a bit of a surprised look when Lazzaro seems to just come into being behind Melissa. "Interesting mode of transportation I have to say, must come in handy, Agent Lazzaro" Brennan offers his hand to Vincent, even as Michelle is quietly setting about to being the best wife and hostess ever and pouring something warm to drink for everyone.

"What exactly, is the department offering to the community of Summer Meadows, and more important, what are the strings, both visible and invisible, that come with this gift. Because we all know that nothing in this world, comes for free" There's a gesture for everyone to take a seat on the couches and chairs available.

Melissa tenses ever so slightly and glances back at the footsteps, and doesn't really relax once the man is introduced. She does smile though and nod to Vincent. "Pleasure." She studies him for a moment before she looks back to Praeger, looking curious about his answer.

"It does, actually," confirmed with a firm grasp of his right hand to Brennan's and the kind of sidelong smile veteran officers perpetually have on standby for Public Relations, Vincent nods a slightly less formal greeting to Melissa in turn before remarking, "I believe we've met before, Dr. Brennan. Briefly." There was snow, and coffee, and a shovel.

Never quite at ease despite the warmth of the setting, he steps around Melissa to lead himself on further into the living area before he sets to shrugging out of his coat, the grim hang of which is then carefully folded over and into the crook of his arm while he considers.

"We're considering increasing police patrol of the beats this neighborhood occupies in addition to moving forward with a few quiet community outreach programs to increase positive contact between uniformed officers and the locals here in Summer Meadows."

Sitting down and thanking Michelle for the coffee handed over, Praeger sets about politely sipping from it as Vincent speaks, all of which words are entirely expected for the politician. He stirs a spoon through the frothy liquid with a delicate scrape of metal to porcelain, and when he smiles towards the three Summer Meadows regulars, it shows in his eyes. "Neglect is an enemy that many corners of New York City have to deal with," he says. "First and foremost, and shouldn't. If you consider cooperation to be a string attached, then I believe that's all we're asking for, Dr. Brennan."

"We did. I remember now. I remember and I am sure, that a quiet increase of those in uniform, would mean a great deal to the community and provide the resuscitation of a positive working relationship between the community and the officers. I know that those who have volunteered their time here will feel more comforted in knowing that and the residents even more so. They've very much welcomed everyone who's wanted to help, into their homes and appreciate the gifts of their time, energy and extension of goodwill"

"Herve has a silver tongue. Good day Monsieur Lazzaro, would you care for some coffee?" Michelle eases around Melissa, a gentle hand to the younger woman's shoulder and a squeeze. Brennan sits down opposite the politican, pulling up a little at the knee's of his pants before leaning forward, elbows to said knee's and hands clasped. "What would be required and requested of the community, should they accept the offer of assistance is what I'm asking. We know that increased presence of officers is part of it, and good publicity for the Department of Evolved Affairs is a second given. Should they be putting forward a wishlist? Things they need or hope to have because I tell you, they could do with a playground here for the resident children and my personal wallet can only go so far. Your's is a much needed but fledgling department in the government and I think, and I hope that it will only prove to be a good move on the governments behalf" Brennan looks over to Melissa. "Did you have any questions or concerns for Mr. Praeger? Being that you're from around here."

Melissa looks at Brennan, brows arching. "From around here? Not quite, but I suppose I have seen some of this area." She looks back to Praeger. "Besides increasing the police presence and starting these programs between the residents and officers, what else is it that you intend to do? The neighborhood isn't a rich one, and while more police may lower the crime rate, I don't know that it would truly make it a more comfortable place for the locals."

"Coffee would be amazing. Thank you, Michelle." Having blended (but not BLENDED) into the background the way government security has a tendency to in their starkly cut suits and ear pieces, Vincent is undeniably second fiddle in this equation, with Praeger at the lead. He is quiet when he is supposed to be, and speaks when he is supposed to speak. Kind of like right now.

"If cash for public facilities is a persistent concern, we could certainly lean towards organizing fundraisers with police support, or direct support of the organization. Uniforms consistently attract higher donations than plainclothes groups operating on a similar scale. My main concern as a representative of the Department is that officers posted here walking beats on foot or via mounted patrol are able to establish comfortable, trusting relationships with the locals to cut down on avoidable conflict and misunderstanding."

"If you support the cause that the Department of Evolved Affairs stands behind," Praeger says, setting down his coffee cup so as to better link his fingers together, hands clasped in his lap, peering at the other three over his glasses, "then a little publicity would not be completely without benefit for any of you."

He addresses Melissa, mainly, though with swift glances back towards the Brennans as he speaks. "I concur with Agent Lazzaro — my department also oversees the New York Development and Housing Program in the hopes we can further along some of the construction this city so badly needs. I think that securing this area as a safe place comes first — and once an equilibrium is maintained, Summer Meadows can and should petition the DHP for increased funding and assistance. One thing follows the other."

'So a neighbourhood watch, working in conjunction with the officers that will make their way here and by here, would be ideal and probably help to ease the weight of the increased manpower as well as help the department keep an eye on crime rates down here. This would allow for a better and more empathic working relationship and provide both sides with a unique understanding of what either is going through and what either side needs"

Coffee makes it's way to Lazzaro with a smile, an increase in the warmth when Michelle is near due to her natural proclivity to make it warmer for herself. She abhors the cold.

"I think, that they could swallow a bit of publicity, if it would help bring more volunteers and perhaps some much needed private funding that could be set up into a non-profit trust for the purpose of helping reclaim Summer meadows and further communities when the job is done here. I am sure that Michelle and I could initiate a function of sorts to help facilitate this as well." Brennan straightens up

"This will not be a one time deal but I feel something that can be continued. A display to the city and to the citizens of the united states and even the world, that people care, and will react in a positive manner and help their fellow kind, despite race, gender, genetic disposition or sexual orientation"

"Wouldn't petitioning for housing assistance be a matter for the individual owners though?" Melissa asks Praeger, head tilting, not seeming interested in coffee for the moment. "Why is your department so interested in Summer Meadows though? I would have expected you to be focusing on other projects, ones that are helpful to the Evolved directly, or to evolved/non-evolved relations."

"I'm referring to donations and financial backing via the Rebuilding Foundation, which I believe was the backbone behind Summer Meadows reconstruction," Praeger states, raising a hand to adjust the sit of his glasses on his nose. "A community effort, not an individual one, although do correct me if I'm wrong. I don't intend to interfere with the lives on individual residents unaffiliated with these efforts, but of course, they will be impacted if we agree police presence would be a fine idea — which is of course why I'm meeting you today."

A warm smile follows, then a measured sip of coffee as he considers part two of the young lady's question — the pause is not veiled, designed to be considered with thought rather than grappled for. "I would disagree. I think that this project can be helpful to the Evolved directly, not to mention the promotion of a charitable organisation run and assisted by Registered Evolved— " He lifts a hand to indicate the Brennans. "— such as yourselves. Call it an increased awareness of what good the Evolved community can do for New York City.

"The Rebuilding Foundation's movements got my attention through their affiliation with the Suresh Centre, and simply put, I'd like to see their efforts go well."

There's a beat of silence after Praeger's voice that follows very nearly like punctuation. Then there's Vincent again, black eyes buzzing warm at the sheer amount of potential this one room seems to contain. "At the rate things are going, Doctors Brennan and Brennan and — Melissa," Vincent is polite (or political) enough to manage all inclusiveness despite impulses otherwise, "the population ratios in Summer Meadows may soon reflect the standard across New York. Maybe even the entire country. This is an opportunity for both of us to 'get it right' while we're still working on a scale where proposals can be made, issues discussed and practical progress accomplished face to face. Within a community rather than over its head, as is so often the case when you increase the scope to — all of New York City, or the entire state."

"The department of the Evolved Affairs I would believe has a vested interest in the relationship between those possessing the SLC gene and those who were born without and promoting positive relations Melissa. It's in their interest, and frankly ours, to show this to the country and the world." Brennan looks over to Lazzaro, a brief nod for the evolved man. "We're a test project. I can, and I'm sure that the summer meadows populace can agree. It's how it's done with many things on a scale such as this. Grocery store chains switching from cashiers to automated check outs will often select a town and all their grocery stores in that town will switch over for a select period of time. If it's successful and patrons respond well, they will then expand it to a few other cities to get a better gauge of the market and whether it's profitable. THough in this instance, that's not exactly the situation, there isn't a product but more of a project-slash-idea. But Summer Meadows will be the testing ground it seems, for that" Brennan looks over to the politician and agent. "That about right?"

Melissa smiles at Praeger. "I see." She considers him, then Vincent, for a long moment, before she glances at the Brennans. There's a slight flicker of something in her eyes when Brennan speaks, before she looks back to the other two. "So what precisely is it that you expect from us? You said cooperation, but in what way?"

"…More or less," allowed Brennan's assessment post half a second of hesitation and a permissive tip of his head, Vincent draws in a deep breath and stands himself up a little straighter, which — given how straight he's already been standing, seems nearly impossible. "Cooperation is what it sounds like. In communities with strong internal ties and reason to fear or distrust authority, it's common for crimes to go unreported or for disputes to be settled on private, potentially violent terms without the police ever being called. Fear of crime increases, local opinion of law enforcement decreases, and the situation continues to deteriorate until extreme measures are necessary to restore equilibrium. Los Angeles has been plagued with similar problems throughout the last century." This is a a long speech for Lazzaro, and he has to pause long enough to look between the lot of them and recollect his thoughts before elaborating further.

"What we hope to achieve is honesty from the people and proportionate response from the police, first and foremost. If Summer Meadows is willing to trust officers they know and see on the street every day, then those officers must repay that trust with understanding and careful discretion where there might otherwise be an understandable fear of prejudice."

"How does that sound to you Melissa?" Michelle inquires, her own coffee in hand and settled on the arm of the couch side that Brennan is seated on. Brennan glances from Lazzaro to his safe house partner.

Melissa smiles at Vincent. "It sounds like my question wasn't really answered. We can't /make/ the residents report crimes, or involve the courts instead of violence, or learn to trust the police, anymore than you can. But out of the things that we /can/ do, how much is it that you're expecting of us? Do you want us to simply be liaisons between the residents and police or you? Or do you want more?"

Glancing towards Vincent, as if checking who is fielding what, Praeger fixes his attention on Melissa with a slight raise of an eyebrow. "Certainly, we don't expect you to make anyone do anything," he agrees, coffee cup held in a limbo between taking a sip and setting it back down. "But we trust that we're talking to three respected members of the community. We only ask you, for now, for your opinion on what we're proposing, and then when we turn our offers of help into a reality, leading by example. Give the residents a heads up about what's going on, encourage good behaviour. Nothing more and nothing less, I don't imagine.""

Vincent smiles thinly back, the very picture of longsuffering patience, and says nothing. When Praeger looks his way, it's to catch him in the act of a tired glance cast of sideways at no one and nothing.

"Keep doing what we're doing in other words" Brennan looks over towards Melissa then back to praeger and Lazzaro. "I would say secretary, Agent, that the paperwork should be drawn up to make it official and sent to my office at the Suresh Center. I'll have a lawyer look it over, we'll inform the community what exactly is on the table and we should have an answer very soon. Is this acceptable?"

Melissa smiles at both secretery and agent. "I apologize. It's just that I believe it pays to be clear on things. Leads to less future trouble, which I'm sure we can all agree is a good thing, don't you?"

"Absolutely," Praeger says to Melissa, once a final sip of his beverage is taken, and he casts a blue eyed gaze towards Brennan, a smile bracketed with soft age lines shone his way. "We can certainly hand you the details behind our intentions, but with all due respect, Roosevelt Island and Summer Meadows are technically owned by the State of New York — I don't expect there'll be much for you to sign or for your lawyer to review. Funding help in support of the Rebuilding Foundation will probably be dealt with with their officials."

He sets down his coffee cup, and begins straightening out his shirt cuffs as he adds, to Michelle, "This is wonderful coffee, Mrs. Brennan."

"Keeping an open line of communication will be invaluable to Summer Meadows' success as a community," agreed with a bland sense of certainty, Vincent dips a gloved hand into his coat long enough to shuffle out a pair of plain white business cards bearing his name, phone and fax numbers and the Department of Evolved Affairs logo in stark relief. "Should you have any questions," one card is held out for Melissa and the other to the Brennans, "you are welcome to contact me directly. Otherwise, I believe you already have Secretary Praeger's contact information."

"You will have to tell that to the bean grinder at the coffee bean Monsieur Praeger. I did nothing other than pour it" Michelle smiles, shuffling the compliment further down the line. Brennan just nods his head. "Then the details written and the request would be ideal, so that there's no loss of pertinent information between this meeting and the one I'll have with the residents. But I don't think there will be much argument and can assure you that there will be co-operation. They were most vocal when I met with those interested in the community here, with regards to the proposal as to the acceptance of your offer"

Brennan rises from the couch, offering his hand to Praeger after the business card is taken from Vincent with a nod. "May what we've started here, flourish into something that can only be an example of what can happen when community and government, and the local authorities work hand in hand together to make the world better"

Melissa takes the card and looks over it for a moment before she rises as well. "And do let us know if anything changes, for good or bad?"

Up on his feet, Praeger gives Brennan a strong handshake right back, a two-palmed clasp, before he smiles at Melissa. "We certainly will. Thank you, all of you, for taking the time to meet with us — I look forward to what good work we can all do together." With a slight flourish, his scarf is extracted from one pocket, hooked back around his neck.

"Agent Lazzaro and I can show ourselves out."

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