Into The Dead Zone, Interlude II


claire2_icon.gif noah_icon.gif

Scene Title Into the Dead Zone, Interlude II
Synopsis During her trip to the Dead Zone, Claire Bennet delivers a letter from Hana Gitelman to one Ted Barnes…
Date April 19, 2018


An evening fog has rolled in from the higher land, carpeting the streets and making everything glitter. With the sun having set, the nearly half moon shines out from behind the clouds and casts everything in a pale light. There’s no street lights out this far from the center of Snoqualmie, where civilization clings on by its fingertips. A mile north and on the outskirts of the new town, on the shores of Lake Alice, there is an old log cabin set within the pine forest and swathed in shadow. It is here, perhaps expectedly, that Hana Gitelman’s personal request has led her. Claire had been given directions here from the Snoqualmie residents, and it was a simple enough path to follow under the cover of night.

The cabin itself is old, thick trunks stacked atop one another and stained dark. The interior of the cabin is lit only by firelight from a hearth, the smell of woodsmoke clings in the air. There’s a pile of cord wood stacked up to the front of this he cabin, a dreamcatcher hanging over one window. There’s no mailbox here, just an old canoe covered with a tarp and some oars next to it. No vehicle, either. Whoever lives here — Ted Barnes if the letter is any indication — must not drive.

Alice Lake

Snoqualmie, WA

Movement darkens one of the windows, a tall figure moving between the hearth and the glass, briefly silhouette and then gone before Claire could get a good look at whoever it was. In the deeper, darker forests, an owl’s hoot feels almost like a cheesy sound effect given its spot-on performance. But this is what those horror movie nights are pulled from, the real dark places of the world, the real fringes of civilization. And here goes a former cheerleader, out into a cabin in the woods.

That’s how those stories start, usually.

Standing in the shadows, just beyond the porch, a letter stuffed into her back pocket of her BDU pants and only a bone knife to protect herself, Claire watches the activity in the cabin. Deep down, she knows that Hana wouldn’t send her into anything she can’t handle, but standing there… she can’t help but feel that little fluttering of nerves that comes from being a woman in the middle of the woods at night. Maybe it was the picture stowed away in her gear that made her a bit more jumpy, than usual.

Unseen wings snap and whistle overhead, yanks her out of her thoughts and making Claire jump…. Ugh… how embarrassing. A glare is tossed up at the invisible intruder, before she moves towards the cabin to her possible(?) doom.

The envelope is pulled out of her back pocket, with the name Ted, being barely legible in the dark. This in hand, Claire reaches up to knock… a bit of nervousness has her standing to one side of the door and lightly raps against the rough wood.

The door opens, expectantly, and standing in the doorway is the tall and bespectacled shadow of a ghost, much as would be expected from this sort of story. Looking down from his considerable height advantage, Noah Bennet — Ted Barnes — offers a somewhat reluctant smile as he takes just one step back, brows furrowed and shoulders tense.


It feels like the world just drops out from under Claire and the shock she is feeling is plain on her face. She knew he was alive. She really did, but there is something different about looking at a written letter and real thing. As if that last reluctant piece clicks into place. As irrational thought and realization swamp her.

Claire had never written him back, because there harsh realization had been… he had abandoned her and her mom… his wife.

The prickling of tears and the sudden deep breaths as she finally starts thinking again. He sees the sudden anger. What she had planned to be a slap… ends up being something harder as fingers curl into a fist. Later, she may regret it, but for now….

You bastard!

His Clairebear is so angry…. Feelings of despair and abandonment… when she needed him most. The letter she was asked to deliver is crumpled in her other hand, unaware she had done it. Tears slide down her cheeks, tears she hadn’t allowed herself in so long. “I had to tell her you died… I had to be the one to tell mom that Lyle got killed. Mom was devastated. She wouldn’t get out of bed for days… We thought you were dead!” The words are spit out in anger… Looking like she might try and hit him again, with her hands clenched at her sides.

The punch hits Noah square in the chest and send him stumbling back a half step, but he doesn’t seem surprised by it. WIlting, some, his shoulders slack and he seems less nervous now than he was a moment ago. The possibilities of what would happen here have all slid into place. He doesn’t try to justify anything, not yet, perhaps not ever. All he does now is stand there and frown, his arms slack at his side and attention fixed on Claire.

“I’m sorry,” seems like a hollow thing to say, all things considered, but it’s what Noah musters in the moment. “I… suppose Hana didn’t tell you who you were delivering the letter to then.” Which he should have expected, but somehow hadn’t.

The reminder of the letter snaps her out of her tirade of anger a little, but only a little. It at least gets her to stop yelling at him. Claire looks at the letter in her hand and slowly loosens her grip on it and straightens it up a little, though there is no apology as she holds it out to him. Eyes still snap with anger and cheeks damp with tears. “Only that it was for Ted, but I should have guessed,” is said with a strained voice, unable to look him in the eyes now — gaze dropping to the letter she holds out. She wasn’t as smart about these kind of things as he is.

Maybe this is what Hana was expecting… or maybe she just wanted to let Claire see her dad. Not telling the regenerator might have been a good thing; else, she might have had Nick or Richard do it.

Noah draws in a slow and deep breath, then exhales it as a sigh. When he reaches out, it isn’t the letter he takes, but his daughter’s hand. “I know I have a lot to explain. There’s nothing stopping me from doing that, not now…” Noah looks out to the lake behind Claire, then back to her. “I think we might both have the time, if… you’d be interested in coming in.”

Smiling, anxiously, Noah adds. “I put on some tea.”

It takes a lot for Claire not to yank her hand out of his, since she is still fuming over it all. Still the hand is pulled away and the letter offered again with a little shake to get his attention away from her and the tears. Right now, she can’t even look at him while she considers his offer, brows lowered as she wars with the desire to run away or find out why he did what he did.

It is clear he burned more bridges with his daughter. He was really good at that.

After a moment, Claire finally looks back up at her father, eyes still filled with anger. “Fine,” she starts gruffly, “But I reserve the right to get up and leave if I don’t think you are being honest… or I don’t like what you are saying.”

“You’ve been reserving that right for about as long as you’ve been able to talk,” Noah gently admits as he lets Claire walk in ahead of him. He watches the treeline at her back once she’s past him, peering into the dark of night before slowly closing the door.

The cabin isn’t very large on the inside. The ground floor is all one room with exposed wooden rafters and posts holding up a loft accessed by a ladder. A rivenstone fireplace burns with a bright fire, dining table adjacent to it with a single plate and glass set at it. There’s a small L-shaped kitchenette, a ratty old loveseat next to a partly-reupholstered armchair. Noah moves around Claire once she steps inside, toward a smaller table by the cabin’s front window. A pair of teacups are set there, a kettle on an iron trivet.

“Someone in town told me you’d come with Wolfhound,” Noah explains quietly, “I wasn’t sure if you’d be coming up… but…” he manages something of a hesitant smile. “I had hope.”

“Of course, they did,” Claire comments softly with a resigned tone, following after her father and eyeing the teacups. Suspicion nags at the back of her mind, only because this was her father after all. There was an emotional war going on within his daughter. The relief and joy of knowing he was alive, but also the anger at what he had pulled another of his disappearing acts.

The still unclaimed letter is set on the table and Claire settles into one of the chairs. Glancing up at her father, she studies him thoughtfully, eyes narrowing slight. “Which means you probably also know why I am here with Wolfhound.” So she shouldn’t have to explain that or the significance to her. “Though, I wouldn’t mind hearing your thoughts on all of that.” She knows her father well enough to know he must have some sort of thoughts. “Especially, on the so called the Horsemen.”

The woman sitting there was not the girl he left behind. No longer the girl he’d pick up from cheerleading practice. No longer the little girl playing terrorist. No longer that broken and raging young woman whose mind had been broken in Madagascar. The eyes that meet his, while filled with anger, are those of a woman that has been turned into something much stronger then when he last saw her.

Settling in at the table by the window, Noah picks his cup of tea up and takes a sip. “I tried for years to try and keep you away from the fight, and I see now that I was trying to keep you as the little girl I always saw you as.” Staring down into the surface of his tea, Noah looks thoughtful. “Your mother tried to keep me from doing the same thing, because she wanted the husband she thought I was, not the man I actually am.”

When he looks up to Claire, there’s a tempered patience to him that wasn’t there years ago. There’s a slowness, where once Noah was a tightly wound dynamo under the illusion of a still surface. “You can’t change your spots any more than I can. Which… is why I’m here.” Setting down his teacup, Noah looks out the window.

“I don’t know much about the Horsemen, except that they’re using the moniker as a control method. Fear, theatrics… it’s typical of the Vanguard.” But Noah doesn’t like that answer. “Except they’re not acting like the Vanguard. At least not in any way we know. We don’t know all their identities, or even have an accurate headcount of their residents. But there’s a lot of them. What they want… seems to be to survive, but with what they did to that Yamagato shipment, I don’t buy it. Something’s going on.”

“You’re right. We can’t change our spots. I’ll still be your daughter and you’ll still be my dad,” Claire’s voice is soft as she speak, “We can’t turn off this part of us and I don’t want to. But, I had a good teacher.” They don’t share blood, but she is her father’s daughter in some respects. She has purpose with Wolfhound.

When it comes to her mother, sometimes, truth hurts just as much as the lies. Leaning with elbows on the table and hands folded in front of her, Claire can’t look at her father, so she stares down at her hands instead. There was a time, she might have had tears in her eyes, but so much had changed during the war. “You still should have gone to her and told her the truth. Then she could move on.” There is an accusation to her tone.

However, she brushes it away, giving a small shake of her head. Forcing herself to focus on the what he says about the Vanguard. “These guys just being here, says something is going on. Two of them, I know for a fact, should be dead.” Looking up at her father finally, she adds, “Richard says he had seen Iago turn to literal dust.” Unfolding her hands she spreads them a little. “He shouldn’t be there.”

It is hard to admit, but she adds, “And if they are here, who else is?” Gregor? Raoul? Though she can’t say those names out loud she thinks it. She still has those nightmares even after all these years. “I —” There is a pause and Claire corrects herself. “We need to find out.” By ‘we’ she means her team.

Noah agrees, evidenced by his slow and purposeful nod as he takes a sip of his tea. But it isn’t the revenant Vanguard he’s concerned with at the moment. “There’s… still people who want Noah Bennet dead. People from the Ferrymen, who knew what happened, people in the government who survived the civil war. Old enemies of the Company.” Noah looks to the window again. “If they had reason to suspect I was alive, they’d go after Sandra. If Sandra thought I was alive she…” he exhales a sigh. “She’d try and protect me.”

Wringing his hands around his teacup, the look Noah gives Claire is a pointed one. “The people responsible for what happened to your brother,” is the only way he can say Lyle without saying his name, without breaking down. “They got what was coming to them.” That much, Claire needed to know. Her father hadn’t set idle all these years.

As much as Claire would like to deny it, her father was right about her mother. Even though she knew so little of the real world under all of it, Sandra was fiercely protective. Part of why she always kept as much about who and what she was to herself as long as she could. With that realization of truth, she lets it go, though she won’t give him the satisfaction of saying he was right.

“Good,” Claire finally comments about the fact that her father had at least done something. “Lyle…” Her voice hitches, catches. Hot tears threaten to spill down her cheeks. Even after all these years. She can still feel the weight of him as he slumped over riddled with shrapnel. Still, she can’t talk about it; only gives a small shake of her head against the angry she feels over if. Through gritted teeth she does manage to say, “I just wish I could have been the one to end them.” So full of anger his little Clairebear. “Thought about it often, until… ” Until she became mortal, but she can’t speak about that either. “But, at least it was you.”

Taking a deep breath, Claire suddenly finds herself desperate to change the subject, turning her gaze to the window and the world beyond. “How—” She hazards a glance his way, if only briefly. “How long have you been here?”

Noah lets the anger pass, allows that moment of it to be enough that's said. Instead, he transitions easily into the latter, simpler question. “I headed west almost immediately after the eighth. I knew I had to put distance between myself and what was going on back home, make the necessary arrangements to get you and your mother out of the country permanently if it came to that.”

But, it never did.

“I was on my own, mostly. Leveraging old contacts, working to hunt down the people that were responsible for the Cambridge massacre, and coordinating information out to groups liberating holding camps.” There's guilt, though, in spite of what Noah had done. It wasn't — couldn't be — enough.

“That's how I ultimately fell in with Cyrus and April. I was the one who told them that Nakamura was most likely dead…” Noah raises his teacup, sipping from it as he stared vacantly out the window. “I stayed out of their way, mostly. After the EMP, when the survivors started to hand together, I started helping to organize things. Around… I'd say three years ago or so it became official. Ted Barnes was settled in.”

Claire turns thoughtful as she listens to her father, watching the world outside the window. The whole situation kind of reminded her of his Ferrymen group. So it made sense that he felt comfortable there and would be in the middle of it all.

There is a soft sigh from the regenerator, hands unfolding finally and reaching hesitantly for the teacup. Taking it means she plans to stay a bit longer. “I can see why you stay,” Claire says with a bit of a rueful smile. “With some of what I have seen today, I’d be tempted too.” Not really a lie, but there was too much to do still with Wolfhound. Too many fugitives in hiding.

However, there was a part of her that was tired of it; but she knows she never could walk away. “Maybe once the job is done.”

Noah’s dishonestly flashes a smile, then dismisses it when he realizes what face he’s putting on. He looks down to the table, frowning, and then looks up at Claire with an expression she hasn’t seen much in him, not since the day he first confessed he worked for the Company, since the day he had his memory erased to protect her.

For the briefest of moments, Claire is staring back at her father, and sees him in all honesty. “That’s the problem…” he finally says, turning to stares at his reflection in the window, against the black of the night outside. “It’s never really over…”

“…is it?”

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License