Honest Work


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Scene Title Honest Work
Synopsis Uninterpretable visions, rogue precognitives, improbable power switches, plans for advocacy and the crowning of an absent queen. All a day's work in a half-gutted safehouse.
Date April 26, 2009

Edge of Chinatown — Ferrymen Safehouse

There is no drywall up on the Eastern wall, leaving the gap between floor and load-bearing stone open. Three feet wide, it gapes around a dizzying drop that reveals the three stories below are similarly missing segments of floor, all the way into the basement, the pattern of mortar and brushed concrete receding down, down, down in a manner that would probably be more terrifying if there wasn't also a metal grid measured along the increments of a step-ladder nailed into it. An escape route. Or will be, some point soon.

This safehouse isn't ready for people yet. Mostly good so that Catherine and Teodoro don't have to worry about bothering fussy children or duly neurotic parents. The Ferry's refugees tend to have enough to worry about without their paramilitary counterparts sharing whispered conversations over their heads.

Along the border where Chinatown and Tribeca meet, this edifice stands a few turns away the bustle of the main road and the periphery of Triad ganglands. Its windows are all blindered up and there is a completely pointless weathervane rusted stiff on the top. Teo is on the fourth floor with a flashlight, peering down the inchoate escape climb and through the cross-section of the building. He hears it when the door opens several stories down, though he can't see her through the gap. Not yet, anyway. Squinting, he calls down:


She made her way out the back door of the building shortly after talking with Abby this Saturday morning, choosing clothes to obscure herself a bit. There's the guitar case and backpack, head crowned by a Yankees cap. It's her voice that replies, sure enough, when he calls out. In Italian, no less. "Signor Laudani,", Cat greets, "Molto grazi." For coming out.

"I met with Reverend Sumter, and spoke with Kimiko Nakamura." These two actions, most likely, are what has her looking pensive when she comes into view on reaching that floor.

"Signorina Chesterfield," he responds. The flashlight swivels through the room, slicing across the wall and the approaching step of Catherine's legs. He knows better than to raise the beam to see her face, despite the half-dark in here, barely diluted by the daylight the Ferrymen had barred out and lone electric bulb illuminating the room. "I did that first thing semi-recently, myself. Never met the other Nakamura, though.

"Take it you asked for a vision rather than moral counsel?" There's no slight in that when he says it, of course; Teo's upbringing holds that when you mean to be offensive verbally, you do so as with physical assault. Blunt until you bring knives. "I did, too."

"I had curiosity over what would be shown, and the man himself," Cat replies, standing there to have the beam fall on other than her face. "We did discuss religion too," she asides. "He's a scholarly sort on the topic. Picking his brain at more length would be most interesting." But she digresses.

"When the time came and I clasped his hand, what came over me was a vision of a film playing out, and a clock fighting against forces trying in competition to move hands both forward and back. There was a most distressing groan, and the fight was settled on a third path. The clock broke."

The look on Teo's face is obviously not intended for Cat. Grimacey grimacey. He never majored in English or literature of any language because he couldn't deal with constantly having to interpret truth, opinion, or meaning from that kind of overburdened symbolism. He likes to read, mind you. He just couldn't do this for a living, and his powers of intellect fall somewhat short when it comes to comprehending of prophesy.

"Okay," he answers. "That could have something to do with mine. I saw a train coming in to a gray city— Manhattan, I think. Helena, Alexander, my aunt and several others were on it. They stopped, got off. When I saw that, I knew that meant they were coming back. We already know Peter had a diarrhetic explosion of space-time manipulation, so… presumably," he lifts two strong eyebrows quizzically, rolls the flashlight in his palm. "…Something's going to happen."

She's quiet just long enough to take in his features and the words of his reply. "Good news, that," Cat offers in comment. But then she's moving right along.

"After the clock broke, amid cracklings of blue electricity, people all around me got up and left the theater. Except a woman with hair like the clear blue sky, someone I've never seen before. She claimed she'd have picked some other picture. Called it ironic the last thing she sees is the lives of others. Her smile was sad, she told me he came back."

Then bruises broke out on her throat, a less electric blue than her hair, her bottom lip split and bled. She was dying. I saw it in her eyes."

"Her voice was croaking when she asserted it's all going to change and it hasn't even happened yet."

"I don't know anyone who wears their hair like that," Teo says. He'd be annoyed again, but he hadn't ever really stopped. "Probably a symbol for something, isn't it? The girl. Or her hair. Or the bruises. Or— I'm guessing you don't know who 'he' is, either." His right eyebrow extrudes high on his forehead, the simple spark of temper conceding to facetious exasperation for a moment. These recollections and his own seem closer to the domain of Eve's dreams than anything he knows how to work with.

His mouth thins into a line. Eve— or Tamara, if she made it out of Moab, and God knows if anyone did, it would have been her. Either precognitive would probably have a better bead on this than they do. "On the other hand, blood and death are morbidly straightforward. There may be people we could ask." His eyebrows knot with thought. "Was that the end?"

Eve, in Teo's cognitive process, could be ruled out easily. Cat did say the woman wasn't anyone she'd seen before. Her voice is somber and subdued when she speaks, likely from running the various possibilities over in her mind again. Yet again.

Her head turns to face the man, eyes settling on him when she speaks. "Unknown. But there are ideas, one of which came from my talk with Hiro's sister." She takes out her phone and pulls up the photo of Tyler Case, showing it to him.

"She says this man, Tyler Case, is the one who switched Hiro's ability. Switched it with Nathan Petrelli."

Eve, in Teo's cognitive process, had nothing to do with the identity of the blue-haired woman: Teo had been wondering who else to ask, acknowledging that the stranger — real or symbolic — was well outside either of their respective acquaintances. He keeps both precogs in mind until the photograph of Tyler Case crops up in his field of view, elevates an eyebrow. He stares for a protracted moment. "I remember. The fucker who got Deckard in trouble and all that shit, right?

"He's supposed to be in jail. Ironically." A rough forefinger and thumb close on the corner of the picture, tug it free. Teo points his flashlight at the man's printed face, his gaze narrowing on the reflected sheen of dark eyes and dark hair. "I didn't know Nathan Petrelli was fucking Evolved. That makes me want to punch something. What do any of these people have to do with your vision?"

"That's him," Cat replies. "Obviously, he's out. Not the first time DHS or the Company's got clutches on someone and let him go for whatever reasons. I had wondered, as did Elisabeth, if he was in Moab and made the switch there. I didn't see any evidence of that when he came out behind Helena. Your reaction says you didn't either. And then," she muses, "there's Nathan. Kimiko said Hiro believes the Nathan with his ability could be some future manifestation of him."

What. Teo's whole scalp seems to shift backward on the force of pressure with which he raises his eyebrows, amazed or incredulous or disbelieving or some combination of other subdepartments to the general feeling of 'surprised.' "This sounds like a line of questioning best pursued with Hiro Nakamura actually here," he says. The flashlight hand drops to his side, sending a haphazard circle of ghostly light dashing across the walls, and he proffers the photograph back to the lawyeress. "There were a fuckload of people at Moab Federal Penitentiary.

"I'm pretty sure President fucking Petrelli wasn't one of them, but I didn't get a look at every goon who ran past in orange. I don't know what happened here, or whether it's really our jurisdiction, so to speak— Hiro being a victim of Case, aside." His lips thin slightly. "Is he okay? The ronin?"

"His sister says he is," Cat tells him. "But I haven't spoken to the man himself. Now, while it of course doesn't rule out others being the 'he' who came back, according to this Nathan Petrelli could fit the bill very well. I have to wonder what other precogs are seeing or painting lately. I'm interested in talking with them."

So was Teo, as of a few seconds ago. His forehead smooths out of its incredulous creases of confusion, and he nods his head straightforwardly, stepping sideways across the floorboards. They creak underneath the tilt of his weight. "Eve, Tamara, Peter and Gabriel. We should probably see them if we can. As I understand it, Pastor Sumter's visions are always relevant to the one who sees it, one way or another, so… a little fucking luck, this is actually our business on some level.

"That aside, Phoenix probably needs a new direction too. The activism side of shit hasn't been— active, you know?" Slotting his finger through the carrying strap of the torch, Teo lets it dangle away from his grasp, finally, gripping the handle only long enough to switch the bulb off. "Liz and I are beginning to suspect that tarring HomeSec and the government with one brush and as a whole isn't the best way to bring this nation hope or justice."

"I do plan to tell Elisabeth all of this, maybe she can get me banks of images to look through, to see if perhaps the woman from the vision is in them. Part of the vision was metaphoric, with the clock and time breaking and the woman could be too, perhaps symbolic of the future dying. But she could also be a flesh and blood female who dies badly sometime in the future. Looking for her can't hurt," Cat opines solemnly. "So I'll do that." An eyebrow raises. "Who is Tamara?"

And leaving that question out there, Cat begins to muse. "She and I have talked about this a few times ourselves. The Founders acted on two fronts. They fought, and they published. Ben Franklin was the country's foremost publisher. Thomas Paine wrote pamphlets supporting telling that foreign king to go eat shit and forcing him to dine on a turd sandwich when he wouldn't be reasonable. Later, James Madison wrote the Federalist papers in support of the 1789 Constitution. Longest lasting document of its kind."

"We need a national leader for this movement," Cat goes on to suggest. "We should've had a whole army drawn from groups like ours all over the country. That's why it almost failed. Insufficient numbers. We can't remind the Feds that we the people are the bosses and they'd better start obeying us if we don't look like a national trend."

"The leader needs to be a sympathetic figure. One who just wanted to have a quiet life tending gardens and going to culinary school until the world crapped on her. Modest beginnings, simple dreams, no silver spoon or entitlement."

There is Helena. There— Teo wishes there will Helena, and has faith there will be, and that's almost the same thing. His lips flatten around a wry smile, and the pale of his eyes flits through the room thoughtfully. "I like that answer mostly because that means I don't have to do too much until she gets back. More or less. Tamara's a friend.

"Acquaintance, I should say. More than Peter is, if not as much as Eve. She's a precog. Crazy, but that seems to be a common side-effect hand-in-hand with that particular gift. I don't know why or what happened after, but she was at Moab Federal Penitentiary when we attacked it. And she's helped us before, with the Vanguard. She gave warning about the bridges." Teo roughs one palm across his jaw, his mind rolling the other soupcons of information and proposal over and over again. Back and forth. It makes sense.

"Publications sound like the way to go. We've done YouTube type shit too, before. I remember. Do you think it'd be good if we tried a more even-handed perspective on? Would that weaken our credibility or strengthen it?" Teo cocks his head, a dark eyebrow lifting around the arch of a question mark. "Occasionally, the government does manage to come up with a decent idea. Liz does good work with SCOUT, keeping people safe— or trying."

"There has to be," Cat muses, her eyes settling on a wall while she speaks, "a balance to be reached. Powers are tools like any other, it's all in how they're used. And the people using them. There is, despite all the Linderman Act presents itself to be, nothing to actually educate anyone."

"Laws apply as they're currently written, and they're sufficient to the task, really." She shifts her eyes to rest on him, the brows raising as her question is floated. "If someone reads your mind without your consent, what crime would you call that?"

'Really mean.' 'Keep doing that and I'll shoot you.' 'You're an asshole.' None of these answers would be sufficient, Teo is aware. "Thievery, rape. Obviously, you'd know better than me: I'm just a thug." A smile slivers in between his lips, enamel-white. He'd be the first to admit that, and also the fact that.

"I'm not sure how to go about it, if we're going to start making other noises than raw criticism. I'd appreciate it if you gave it some thought. I will too, and talk to the others. Seems like this country needs hope. It'll get Helena, but we need to have her back too." Curling rough hand into round fist, Teo pushes it into his trouser pocket, demeanor shifting slightly.

He regards Catherine steadfastly as he waits for an answer and pauses momentarily before moving on to the other thing.

"I believe she was already thinking on those lines, Teo," Cat muses. "Kinson came here for media arts. His persuasiveness is just a bonus, or was supposed to be. We have to show usefulness, and advocate for other Evolved to be ethical. Put the word out, make these points. Some may call me obsessed, but the Founders are still compelling figures to me. Those lofty words in the Declaration. Consent of the governed, created equal, they're still very powerful. And true. All governments," she asserts, "are democracies in the end."

The corners of Teo's eyes sharpen faintly, a smile that doesn't quite reach his mouth for a few seconds until it does. All governments are democracies in the end. "I don't know if that's really optimistic of you or if you're really just being factual." The evocation of Kinson's name brings him pause momentarily: it's been awhile since he saw the media geek, after all, but now wouldn't be the time for inquiry, granted Catherine takes good care of all of the residents under her roof.

"I'm not sure she thought along these lines exactly.

"They seem to diverge — there's a separation between speaking to Evolved citizens, and giving your evil government a little credit wherever credit is due. SCOUT's work on the streets, what little education there is. I think people want more of that, as well as less of the conspiracy and bullshit." A shrug moves through the breadth of Teo's shoulders. "Probably not my call to make either way.

"I figure we can wait another two months before we need to start moving on some shape or form of this advocacy, regardless of whether or not Helena and the others are back. Does that work for you?" Teo says that like he doesn't want to. He wouldn't, of course. Keeping people alive is his area, and he isn't exactly an expert at that either. This kind of work isn't out of the blue for him, it's from a spectrum completely outside of his perception.

She nods slowly. "It all fits together," Cat asserts calmly. "Speaking of ethics in the use of abilities leads to the question of policing lawbreakers, and a platform to praise those doing the work. Honest work. We can't condone just following orders, however. They need to be challenged to really think about what they do and who they deal with. After the Nazis were beaten, many German soldiers claimed they only did what they told. They still got hanged and imprisoned. But at the same time, they still had real lawbreakers to handle. Murderers, rapists…"

Some of whom Phoenix no doubt cut loose upon the States. An uncomfortable thought for a later time. Teo nods his head at this, however. It makes sense, a concatenation of logic that he is more familiar with than he is with the Founders and the political history and mechanics behind America from times earlier. It's been said: he's very much a foreigner in this war.

"A platform," he agrees. A half-beat, and then a fragment of a smile. "You're better at this than I am. Better still be standing by the time Hel gets back, all right?"

The expression fades after a protracted moment, that earlier inquiry finally forging its way back up from the backlog of tabled concerns and to the forefront. "How have you been? Still considering Registering as soon as we're out of hiding again?"

"I've got a degree in political science," Cat answers with a mildly proud smile. "Did I ever tell you the story of how my ability kicked in?" And she pauses.

"I'm well enough," she offers. "One of my traits when things are challenging is to stay busy. It keeps me focused, holds attention away from painful memories and wallowing in them. I've not thought much about registering. On the face of it, the law makes a degree of sense. It should be voluntary, though, completely, with incentives to do so. It's like I told that Agent Carmichael before we made him forget."

"I've no problem with putting who I am, what I do, out to the public to stand judgment in the light of day, as long as the other side is just as exposed so both sides are seen. I challenged him, believing I and we would be justified, asking him if the same would be true."

"The overriding shame is we can't do that. We lack concrete enough proof. For now."

"So this should be one of our operational focuses. Digging up and exposing all the dirt we can. Information is power."

Dirt again. Teo knew it would come to that, and he doesn't honestly begrudge it. "I'd be patient with the exposure, but digging— the more weapons we have in our cache, the better." He's always valued secrets; the only way he really knows to hold together the tenuous webwork of alliances he's managed to tie the burning bird's wings and claws up in since the Vanguard.

"You never did tell me how your ability kicked in," he admits after a moment's pause to remember. No. Their first real conversation came in light of Danielle Hamilton's death, and guilt the frame and inspiration of it. He and his lieutenant have come a long way since then, but there's a lot of ground still left uncovered. The manifestation of their ability, however obvious and pivotal a moment, one among those.

"It's been nearly seven years," Cat begins, her expression wistful. "I was at Yale, in my second year. First year I studied only music. My passion. It still is. But Father had other plans, other desires. He told me I had to take a prelaw major or be cut off. I was twenty, and couldn't conceive of being poor. And despite everything between us, I wanted to make him proud. But I also didn't want to give up music. So I faced the challenge head on."

"I set out to do both. PoliSci and music. It was hard. Had to leave the band I fronted, I spent nearly every minute either in class or studying just to handle the load, and I was drowning…"

Her eyes flash here with perhaps the same amazement and awe she might've felt at the time, as well as the surprise and fear of being called freak. Or pigeonholed as something she didn't want to be. "Then suddenly it got easy. So supremely easy. I found all I had to do was show up for class and hear the lectures. Read the material once."

Having tumbled through what feels like a half a dozen colleges himself, Teo is somewhat familiar with the fundamental components of that story. Their experiences diverge at several points. The influence of the parent, the level of academic ambition and, of course, the eidetic memory. He's left to stare and wonder, the corner of his mouth curling up, flattening, curling, flattening, like a tendril of a new plant caught in an error loop of video capture.

"It found you at the right time," he decide, at length. Teo's mouth finally recurves around a grin. "When you needed it most. 'M sure that was pretty fucking sweet for both your areas of interest. I know you love the law, and I've heard you play the piano."

"It's good to have, the doctorate," Cat muses. "I don't love it, but it's part of me now. Life moves in weird directions. I still really just want to be a rock star. Joan Jett, Pat Benatar, Anne Wilson. Real rockers. Life is about what we need to be doing just as much as what we want to do, though. Someday, maybe, I can combine the public rock star persona with activism, like so many do." That's the quintessential Cat, seeing ways to wrap her desires into necessities and see if both can be had.

And she reflects. "I get looked at oddly sometimes, a lawyer calling herself doctor. It's not done often, but I am a doctor. All attorneys educated in the US are, the programs are Juris Doctorates. If people don't like it, tough. Let them pester the educational establishments to rename the degree."

A soft laugh breaks out of Teo with a nod of his head. His wall is considerably less decorated, and he's always taken it with some small token of embarrassment that Doctor Chesterfield avoids rubbing that in his face. "Justice, then. If not the law.

"Rock star or legal hotshot, my parents would've been overjoyed if I had as much aspiration in my whole body as you have in the rim of your fucking pinkie nail." A footfall drubs out under his right shoe as he drifts toward the door, an accommodating sweep of his hand inviting the woman to accompany him at least down the stairs. When he hunkers his shoulders up, there's the faint click of gunmetal, betraying a weapon— somewhere on his person.

"I'm glad to see you've been doing okay over these last couple months. I remember you mentioning that your gift is ind of a double-edged weapon."

"There was this movie I saw once," Cat deadpans. "It was awful. Truly horrible. Most people can forget it. But me? No, I'm stuck with every single excruciatingly bad line." She gives a mock shudder. Then she becomes more serious, to add "It's about management, like anything else. Keeping the mind occupied is the best way. Reading, learning, making new memories of the more pleasant sort. When time allows, I'll probably take up flying planes."

"Soon, though, I need to get those reporters to go be someplace else."

A shrug shifts through Teo's shoulders. His shoes press a whine out of the nails in the steps and he lets his weight list lazily against the wall, hip on the railing, not bothered to master his weight with his own feet. It's better, he thinks, that they aren't really going to talk about Danielle. Masochistic streak made him drag the subject around to the approximate region of discussion. Keeping the mind occupied sounds right.

Words to live by. "Do you need it right now? It'll die down in a little bit. Hopefully. If not, we could try and fool them into thinking she's moved for awhile. The Ferrymen have the doctor who can shift faces."

"The press are a tool like any other," Cat muses. "I've thought about this already, without telling Abby. She doesn't have our agenda, but that agenda remains. Having her name in the public eye, the focus on someone who can heal, isn't a bad thing altogether. Inconvenient for me in ways, distressing to her, but still… Abby is who she is. She chooses to be the Red Cross and heal all in her path, these are the wages of that."

"I hope to maybe sell her on the idea of giving selected reporters access for one on one interviews where she explains her philosophy on the whole thing, maybe lets them document a spontaneous healing of someone she comes across, saying if she does so they'll eventually get bored. There'll be nothing more to see."

The most important thing is no one connecting me to that building. The covers are still in place, not endangered. I just don't let the media see me there."

The press are a tool like any other people, Teo thinks, which is a small distinction from guns and bazookas and shit. Sometimes people are slightly too innovative. "She might go for that, but there's a reasonable possibility publicizing her further would only give them more to exploit. She's had a few problems with exposure in the past, you'll remember.

"And she prefers not to do interviews, but obviously she makes exceptions." There's a wry twist of a grin, and he straightens his jacket lapel with fingers on the bottom edge. "I'd pitch it from her, but the progression of logic will probably sound a damn sight better from you."

They have hit ground floor, and the exit's only a padlock away. Teo slows his stride so gradually he steeples into a halt, watching the other Phoenix operative should they have something else to discuss.

"Maybe we can turn their attention on John Logan," Cat speculates as she steps behind him. "Legally, there's not a lot to be done to make them leave, provided none do more than stand on public property and hope for a word or a photo, making no move to impede or accost her physically. If she wants them gone, the likelihood is giving them something they want. It's a bit surprising, though: have they never seen a healing before? She can't be the only one."

"Abby will understand," Cat muses. "She is who she is. The man she healed was dying. If the same situation played out again, she'd take the same action, cameras be damned."

The man smiles again. This time, eyes and teeth cued to the same bright instant. "As a good friend of hers once pointed out, far fewer people would give a fuck about Abigail Beauchamp if she had her crazy compulsions and ability tied up in a package that was old, male, and obese. She's a darling. The media loves that as much as the next demographic. Healers are rare enough. We'll see. There are different ways to go about it. Maybe the interview's already done something to start stemming the tide. God knows she makes a sympathetic figure."

Teodoro Laudani might never have accepted sending a chopper full of machineguns and militant mutants over to Staten Island on her behalf otherwise. Or maybe not: what God recalls better than most of even his closest allies and friends is the original circumstances of the Sicilian's recruitment to PARIAH's cause. "Stay safe, signorina."

She looks as if she's been inspired by what Teo tells her. A smile slowly forms. Abby says God gave her the ability. How is she to know if God sent her the man about to die and needing healing so she could fall into the camera eye and become a media figure for having it too? The bible is, after all, filled with people whose resolve was tested as Abby's has been in her captivity. Maybe she'll buy it, maybe she won't, but Cat will certainly plant the seed of it in her mind.

"You too, Teo," she offers in parting just before she turns to head in a direction opposite his.

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