Last Rites


linderman_icon.gif f_zoe_icon.gif

Scene Title Last Rites
Synopsis Linderman is permitted to see his loved ones before he is executed. He and Zoe share a final goodbye.
Date December 30, 2009

A Federal Prison Facility

It's cold in the facility where they're keeping Daniel Linderman. But it doesn't matter, because he won't be needing it anymore soon, anyway. He had the luxury of being allowed to confirm the list of those allowed to visit him in his final days. And one of the last on his list was Zoe Porter. His daughter, in everything but blood. The guard walks her down the length of the hallway, taps a code, and Daniel's door slides open. "You've been given an hour." the man says, not unkindly, before locking the cell again and walking away. Presumably they are still being monitored.

Zoe stands there in the cell, dressed in sober, dark colors which make her hair seem all the brighter red. She looks tired and soulsick and like she's been crying, but her chin's up, and after watching him with sad eyes for a moment she says, "You look so thin."

Thin. Gaunt. Sallow. All three are words that could be used to accurately describe Linderman's present condition, but the smile creasing his lips is as genuine as ever and his eyes are bright, full of vitality. "Nonsense," he murmurs, though he does not rise from his cot to greet or embrace his goddaughter. Instead, he smoothes the bedspread beside him, sheets pressed flat beneath his knobby-knuckled fingers, and gestures for Zoe to adopt a seat.

The orange jumpsuit he wears is a far cry from the slick business suits of his past — without a crisp white dress shirt, tie and slacks he loses much of his authoritative air. In this place, behind these bars, he's just another man — old and weathered. "How have you been?"

Zoe moves to sit down next to him. For a moment she merely sits in silence, then turns, and takes his hands, looking down at them. "Fine." she lies. "Kain and Eliot have been driving me crazy. Last week all of a sudden both of them think they need to get into my hair and they keep asking me if I'm alright. I expect it from Eliot a little, I suppose, but from Kain it's a little odd." She tries to summon a smile, to talk as if this isn't the last conversation they'll ever have. Like the revelation of his plans to the world at large, unbeknownst to her before then, don't matter and never really did. She doesn't ask him how he is.

Linderman rubs his thumb along the curve of Zoe's left hand, tracing its curve beneath his calloused touch. One had rises to the young woman's cheek and he cradles her face in his palm. "He may not show it, but Kain cares very much for your well being. Now more than ever, I'm sure." As he speaks, he tucks several flame-red strands behind her ear, leaning in to brush his lips against her milky white brow. "I've entrusted you to them, but at the same time I'll be counting on you to keep a watchful eye on the business in my absence. Will you do that for me, love?"

"I'll try." she says, her eyes closing as the old man's lips touch her brow. Like Jacob offering a blessing to Dinah before he goes to rest. "I can't - I don't know how to - I promised myself that this wouldn't be a time spent being angry at you. They - they told me that if you requested it, I could be there when you - when they - " she can't even finish.

"In comparison to the long, drawn out affair that was my trial, the sentence itself will be quick. There will be nothing to see, and to be perfectly honest I think I would rather be alone when the time comes." Linderman has had a lot of time to think — his resignation is reflected in his subdued tone, not in the least bit rueful. While he doesn't sound sad, he doesn't sound particularly optimistic about his prospects either. "Are you angry with me?"

Zoe sucks her lips inward a moment. "How could I not be?" she replies. "But you are my father in every way that counts, and I love you. And I think you need that right now more than you need me to be angry." And that's a lot for her to say, when one thinks about Linderman's crime. Which to him isn't one at all of course, but mass murder of almost an entire city is nothing to sneer at.

"Anger is good. Healthy. I'd be perturbed if you weren't." Linderman says nothing more on the subject, however — they've been through this a hundred different times before and he's long since given up attempting to convince anyone of his unique perspective. It didn't work on the jury, and it won't work on Zoe. "An hour— isn't a lot of time. Is there anything else you'd like to get off your chest?"

"It wouldn't be enough time if it was two hours or all day." she declares. She wants to declare that it isn't fair…except that it is. Fairness and what one wants don't generally coincide. "No, but - is there anything you want me to do? Specific, for the company. Or for me. I'll do my best, I promise."

"All I want is for you to be happy. If you'll promise me that, I can walk down that aisle and pass through those doors content. That's all that I ask." Kain and Eliot will handle the numbers, the logistics — every loose end that needs tying up and sequestering away, swept under the rug with the rest of the allegations that didn't stick. Daniel Linderman may be a dead man, but the Linderman Group will live on. Under a different name, true, but it's the foundation that counts. "There is one other matter, however, that needs to be addressed."

Zoe nods. "I'll be happy." she promises, trying to force another smile. It might be more accurate to say at this juncture that she'll be content. Happy is hard. Happy is something you have to fight for, and Zoe is a mouse. Mice aren't fighters. "What is it?"

When Linderman next speaks, his voice is considerably lower than it was a few moments ago, bordering on a whisper. "Eliot isn't an empath," he says as he gives her much smaller hand a firm squeeze and interlaces his fingers with hers. "I've been protecting him for years, for fear of what the government might do if it discovered what he was truly capable of. You need to be aware, and more importantly you need to be wary. I don't believe that he would ever intentionally do you harm, which is why you were never told. But listen."

Zoe blinks. "Eliot's not an empath?" she repeats. "But - but he's so good with people! He always knows what to say, people just listen to him. And he wouldn't hurt me. I mean, he's never been dishonest to me, even if I hadn't liked the truth. Except for…what does he do, then?"

"It isn't that he always knows what to say," he murmurs. "I apologize. I don't know how to explain this in a way that won't put him in a bad light." Linderman places both of Zoe's hands in her lap, resting his atop hers. His gaze is steady. "Eliot is good at what he does because it's everything he can do. It's a sort of hypnotic charm that commands attention, drawing others in like flies to honey, moths to flame. You'll pardon the weak analogies. I'm very tired."

Zoe blinks at that. For a moment she just gapes at him. "Oh." she says at last. "Oh." Then, "He admires you. You've been a great mentor to him. He won't let me come to harm, and I'll be careful." She pats his hand then, and says softly, "What do you want to talk about? That isn't anything business or…" she pauses. "Tell me again about the first time we met."

An hour isn't a lot of time. She won't let the last minutes she spends with him be filled with anything but the history that the two of them share, until at last they're warned of time. The last words that Zoe Porter whispers in Daniel Linderman's ear as she embraces him are simple and clear and without doubt:

"I love you, Father."

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