Let Me Leave You To Your Ragnarok


helena_icon.gif rickham_icon.gif

Scene Title Let Me Leave You To Your Ragnarok
Synopsis Because, ultimately, that's exactly what Helena does.
Date June 10, 2009

Village Renaissance Building, Fourth Floor Safehouse

The floors here on the fourth level of the Village Renaissance Building at 14 East 4th Street are of polished grey marble and the smooth walls are painted a cream color. Four corridors with four apartments each are found here, with stairwells at the front and back and elevators centrally placed in each corridor. The elevators have buttons for the first three floors visible, and control panels requiring both key and keycard to open.

The apartment doors, made from sturdy pine, are operated by keycards only on this floor. Like the second and third floors, they're numbered 401-416.

But that's where the similarity ends. This floor isn't for rental to the general public. It's a place reserved for temporary stays by whomever the person who lives on the top floor chooses to give sanctuary.

It's a safehouse of the Ferrymen, operated by a member of Phoenix, using the cover of musician's eccentricities to explain away the motley crew of folks who might come and go if anyone should ask.

It's not like it's a huge distance. The amount of yards between Cat's door and the apartment Rickham is staying in. At least she doesn't have to put on the wig again. It's a very usual looking Helena who knocks on Rickham's door.

A door from which the sounds of Wager are spilling out from. While the soundproofing in most of the Village Renaissance building is remarkable, the soundproofing between the various apartments isn't quite as profound, leading to a little bit of sound bleeding from the doors, which is exactly why the bombastic melodies of Götterdämmerung are bellowing out from behind the entrance, mostly muffling Helena's attempt at knocking.

A few more rounds of knuckle-dusting on the door later, and Allen still hasn't heard her over the cry of Operatic symphony. The sound echoes through the hall between apartments, and when cymbols clash and horns blare, the sound — though muffled by the door — is a truly marvelous thing. Somewhere on the other side of the door, Allen Rickham is probably quickly going deaf from the volume.

Helena balls up her fist and pounds on the door. "Mr. Rickham?" she calls out loudly, trying to get his attention. For a moment her mind flashes on the random possibility of her walking into the apartment and finding a dead body because that is just the sort day - err, month - year? Try life lately, yeah, that'd be about right. "Mr. Rickham? It's Helena."

It's like listening to a mouse try to squeak over the roar of an engine, though after two repeated thumps of her fist on the door to the apartment, it simply clicks open and swings into the living space, clearly not having been closed tightly. As the door swings open, the scream of Wager's epic about the end of the world comes with painful volume increase, strong enough to vibrate the floor beneath Helena with every thumb of the bass and rattle the windows with every crash of cymbals.

However it is a scene far less macabre that greets Helena, one of notable serenity despite the symphonic noise. Seated in the middle of the unfurnished apartment, Allen Rickham has transformed into his living iron body; Legs are folded beneath himself and arms are resting palms up, forearms on his knees in something of a lotus position. Dressed only in a pair of brown slacks, Rickham's iron torso reflects the light from around the room in its dark and pitted surface.

His back is to the young woman as she sees him, speakers from a portable boom-box detatched and angles on either side to face him directly, CD playing with the volume cranked as high as it can go. Not far away, a cot has been laid out with folded blankets, likely where he's been sleeping since he arrived.

Helena skirts out of arm's reach in the event of getting smacked by a literal iron fist, and sort of…waves her hand in a frantic fashion to try and get his attention. "Allen!" she calls out.

Once she's entered his peripheri, hematite eyes open and Rickham jerks her head towards her with a befuddled expression. His mouth opens, something is said, but for all her worth Helena can't hear a damn word over the noise of the music. Rickham quickly reaches out, metal fingers squeezing the volume knob a bit to tight as the plastic deforms under his touch as he turns the volume down to a far, far quieter level.

"Helena?" Rickham's tone is as sheepish as it is confused as he looks up to her, dark and metallic eyes fixated on her for just a moment before he begins to push himself up from the seated position, bare, metallic feet scraping on the hardwood floor beneath him. "I'm sorry— " a hand waves in the direction of the radio, "I was — " his head shakes, "it's not important. Did you need me for something?"

"I might." Helena says, stepping away to give him a bit of room to recollect himself. "I'm hoping you may be able to. Have you seen the interview I did? It's been on the 'net." That's a bit of an understatement. Holly's been enjoying some seriously high level traffic.

"I ah…" Narrowing his eyes, Allen looks a little lost. "I haven't used the internet in a while," is the sheepish answer he gives, turning slowly before heavy footfalls carry him over to the cot where a dress shity and suit jacket have been laid. "I do watch the news, though." His brows crease together with a metallic creak, picking up the thin beige shirt, sliding one arm on at a time before looking back towards Helena as his skin begins to shift and change, bleeding away themetallic textures to return to something more human looking. Once his fingers are flesh again, he starts buttoning the shirt up.

"You made a really bold move, going public. It's — " his voice changes from its metallic tone to a natural rumble as he speaks, " — also incredibly dangerous. You put your face out there for every lunatic in the city to see…" Somewhere in that, he loses his point, head hanging as he finishes the last button at the top of the shirt. "If you're asking me if I think it was a good idea, I'm not sure you're going to like my answer."

Helena shakes her head. "I'm not interested in whether you think it's a good idea, I'm sure you think it's dangerous." She grimaces faintly, and says, "But I've just been wondering…how long have you been a politician? Kissing babies, shaking hands, making speeches?"

There's a laugh, an honest one, and more of a laugh of nostalgia than anything. Reaching for his suit jacket, Allen pulls it over one arm, "Since I was your age, in one way or another. It's in my family, my father served as governor of New Hampshire, and I always looked up to him and his aspirations. When he passed away," the other sleeve comes on next, then with a slightly incline of his head, Allen begins buttoning up the jacket as well, "I started pursuing it full time. I probably would've continued on in some fashion if things had gone differently…"

It's clear Allen has an idea where the conversation is going, but instead of getting to the point, he dances around the topic with a bit of a joke. "If you're looking for advice," there's a crooked quality to Allen's lips, "you might want to ask my assistant. She was the brains behind my campaigns, and that seems like the direction this is going in…"

"But you still had to have…" she pauses, hesitating. "I'm not planning on stopping. With making the media appearances. That was really just the first. The thing of it is, I'm wondering how much of it is natural talent, and how much of it might be skill based. How much of your charisma and speeches and dealing with people might be um…transferable skill."

One dark brow rises as Allen turns around to get a good look at Helena. "I went to school for that, Helena. Charisma is one thing — you've got that in spades — but it will only take you so far. Knowing how to respond to accusations, knowing when to speak up and when to pipe down," he looks away, a strange expression on his face, "that's not nearly as easy, that's something learned either over a lifetime of experience, or devotion to understanding. I don't know whether or not that interview you gave was scripted, but if it was you need to fire your writer."

Straightening the lapels of his jacket, Allen walks over to a duffel bag laying on the floor, crouching as he unzippers it and begins rifling through some clothing. "To be frank you left yourself open for your opponents to pick you apart, and they have, if you've watched the news. Associating yourself, for whatever reasons, with the guy who founded Pariah?" His eyes divert up to Helena, "That was a bad move, honest or not. The biggest part of politics — about politicking — is telling your version of the truth. It may be slimy, and it may be underhanded, but this is a world where nobody plays fair, not even the 'good guys.'"

Finding the black socks he was looking for, Allen slowly walks back over to the cot, sitting down to pull them on over bare feet. "If you ask me, Helena, you should go to school. If you're really, truly interested in doing something for the betterment of people like us? You can't learn that living underground. Che Guevara was a revolutionary of his people, but people like him can't succeed in the modern world. You aren't going to start a revolution if you don't have the right weapons, and today it isn't so much about bombs or guns as it is hearts, minds and media."

Reaching under the cot for his shoes, Allen pauses for a moment. "I've heard Catherine talking about new identities, new faces… I'm considering it, to be honest. I can't ever return to the life I knew, the family I love, and if I do anything in the public eye it endangers them. You… you're a lot younger than me, got your whole life ahead of you…" from the sounds of it, Allen doesn't entirely buy into R.Ajas' doom and gloom of the coming war.

Helena gives him a look that's faintly incredulous. "If you think what I'm doing is about bombs and guns, you haven't been paying attention. Why do you think I gave that interview? I understand that the media is power, and it's power I intend to use. But you also know how to use the media, and I want your working knowledge. How to deal with people…I thought these were things you could teach me." She backs away. "I might have been wrong. I'm sorry for bothering you."

A sigh is strained through Allen's teeth, "If you give up on everything as easy as you're giving up on this, you're not fit to lead children through a crosswalk, let alone whatever it is you do here." Setting his hands on his knees, Allen gives Helena a stern look. "I know you're not about bombs and guns, I was saying Che was. It was an analogy, his bombs and guns are your words and thoughts, an analogy of the way you fight to the way he fights, to show you how times have changed. I— " one hand comes up and smooths over his mouth, tiredly.

"Like I said, charisma can get you so far, but expertise gets you further. I can give you pointers, some suggestions on the right direction to take things, but I don't know if I'm the best teacher for this. School and a life would be the best, Helena… don't— " his expression is conflicted, something eating at him, "don't let everything Rajas and his friend say get to you. Don't let it make you feel like there's no hope to live a normal life again. You could take this time to learn… more than anything I could teach you."

Biting down on his lower lip, Allen runs one hand through his hair. "Look, if you want some pointers — sure — I can give you that. But if you really want to figure out how to more effectively use the media, I'm not the man to teach you that. I had a whole team of people that helped me do what I did, and a Presidential election is small-time compared to what you're trying to accomplish; you've got a much more uphill battle."

"If I want to be told how impossible it is, I'll talk to Liz. I want to learn what you can give me. What I do with it - well, that's up to me. I think I may be less incompetent about this whole thing then you think." She studies him in silence for a moment, but doesn't actually let anything pass her lips.

For a few moments, Allen's quiet, just watching Helena in abject silence. "Helena," his tone is somewhere between a frustrated school teacher and a tired parent, "listen to me. I'm not telling you it's impossible, I'm not saying you're incompetant, I'm saying you've already made some mistakes, and you need to be able to bounce back from them. If you just keep…" he waves one hand vaguely as if to emphasize some salient point in the distance, "running around and doing things without planning, which is what it looks like to me, you aren't going to do anything except exascerbat the situation."

Slowly, and with the weariness of an old man, Allen rises from the bed and clear the distance between himself and the young leader of Phoenix. "Every leader makes mistakes, and every leader has a whole lot to learn. If you want to learn, you have to be willing to be open to the idea that what you do with a movement like this has repercussions for you and everyone else. So, fine — you don't want to try the school angle, and you want to cut corners and learn fast. I can't do that for you, and I'm not sure I know anyone who'd be willing to."

"I can give you pointers, but you have to be willing to take criticism, and not just…" Allen's head tilts to one side, "not be the hedgehog, and curl up with your spines. If you get defensive at a conversation like this, than how're you going to handle if I tell you that a speech isn't a good idea, or…" A tired sigh escapes Allen, one hand running through his receeding hair. "How're you going to handle an answer you don't want to hear?"

Helena frowns a little bit, her expression turning thoughtful. "I'm willing to listen." she says. "I'm willing to take criticism. But I've also gotten burned putting all my eggs in one basket, and going completely with whatever was told to me that I thought was older, wiser, and smarter." She leaves it at that, studying his reaction.

Rubbing a hand over his chin, Allen tilts his head to the side and nods. "Yeah, well— I can't fault you on that." He takes a meandering step away, collecting his thoughts. "Why're you so averse to the idea of going to school for this? I mean, this is a long-term battle you're looking at waging here, it's not the kind of fight that is over in four, even five years. I know you want to make a difference now, but you have to take the long-view on this."

Shrugging one shoulder, Allen leans up against the bare wall, arms folding as his brows crease and green eyes settle on the young woman. "You've got a lot of potential, Helena, I just— I'd hate to see you waste your whole life on this fight." He winces, "I— I'm not saying it's a waste it's just— a girl your age, this is just a lot for one person to handle. I was serious about you looking in to hiring my former assistant too. She— she got burned, bad, by the whole scandal that knocked me out of office. She knows my secret, hell— she's the one that psychopath was impersonating when he tried to kill me…"

"I don't have four years." Helena says quietly. "I may not even have two. I could run away from all of this, you're not the first person who's proposed it to me. But even if I did - even if I changed my face and everything, I'd still know what was happening. I'd still have to live with it, and the knowledge that I could have done something and didn't, it would kill me sure as anything else."

Rickham's brows crease together, "What do you mean you don't have four years?" He doesn't get the underlying meaning, or the foreshadowing, "you've got all the time in the world. This problem isn't going to solve itself, and if you ask me — taking four years out to tackle school and keeping up this, er, trade on the side, would be a hell of a lot more worthwhile than making some misinformed leaps at trying to make an immediate change, and just… making things worse."

"Sometimes," Allen's head tilts to the side again, "the best action is inaction. I'm no war philosopher, but a lot of times the biggest mistake people can make is acting out of the misguided sense that they have some entitlement to, and not sitting back and making a bigger, larger plan. Sometimes you have to let things pass you by, take a few blows, and let the small issues roll by so you can tackle the bigger ones that can't be avoided." With one hand scracthing as the side of his face, Rickham leans off of the wall and makes his way back to Helena.

"I'm not saying the next time you get wind of someone trying to lay the pipes for some world-ending virus, that you just fold your hands and sit. But you — this whole thing you have — it's more than just you, and it'll keep rolling on even without you. You've got a lot of good, talented people here. Why not take the risk to become the best leader you can?"

Helena shakes her head. "I don't have that kind of time. There's too much that's going to happen between then and now that no one will be able to stop if we don't get things moving." She peers at him. "Is this some sort of test? To see if I'll stick to my guns?"

"No." Allen states rather matter-of-factly, "No, no it's not. I— I actually am honestly interested in seeing you go to school, hell, Columbia's right in your backyard. Even if you just took independant courses in political science as a part-time student, an educated leader isn't that bad of a thing. I know…" he looks away, "I know you want to try and make a difference as soon as possible, but I can tell you now that isn't going to happen. You can't change the world overnight, or even in a year."

Rickham's eyes wander the sparsely furnished room, then eventually just settle squarely on his shoes. "If you're hell-bent on not trying out education, though, you're going to need someone who has a better head on their shoulders in regards to being an assistant than I do. I can teach you, and I'll be damned if you can find a better second in command than Catherine — er — if that's what she is," he grimaces, "but you need someone who handles your day-to-day, someone who can give a quick look-over of a manifesto or a speech and say "this is terrible" and go over it with a hilighter. I think she's trustworthy…"

"I don't think Columbia's quite the right place for me." she says, her face going funny for a moment. "And there'd be the whole issue of getting accepted, anyway." Helena looks around a moment, considering her seating options. "Who was it, anyway? The one who attacked you."

"Rajas could make you the valedictorian of every high school in the United States if he wanted, I don't think there's much issue with that. Hell," Allen cracks a smile, "the fake identification he made for me when Knox and I were traveling cross-country says I'm an ex-cop from Oregon." Stifling any more laughter, Allen rubs at one temple and looks back to Helena. "Who attacked me? I… thought you guys knew? Vanguard — that's what Catherine said. It was a shapeshifter, specifically, posing as my assistant Stephanie."

Memories of that day flow through Allen, causing him to stiffen, neck-muscles to tense up. "I— somebody said the name Sylar but…" he looks away, rubbing at the back of his head, "I don't know, it's hard to believe? But— I guess there's a lot of that going around lately. I just— the guy goes from blowing up half of New York, to trying to assassinate me, and somehow he's still out there. It's times like that I can almost see Petrelli's view on Registration." There's a crack of a smile, "Almost."

"Sylar." she says, shaking her head. She leaves it be for the moment, instead saying, "So what you're basically saying is that I need a sort of…personal assistant? There's still a lot for me to learn, even if you're the only person I've got to learn from - officially anyway." She offers her own crack of a smile, then shakes her head. "It is so not even funny. The Petrellis as a collective are a dangerous bunch." She looks askance. "Even the most benevolent of them." She looks back at him. "So how do we do this? Just meet up with you when I can?"

"Every leader needs an assistant, even rebellious ones." Allen manages a smile at that, then becomes a bit more serious as he downturns his head. "Yeah, I think that'd be best. I should be around for a while, since Rajas called me out here, I don't have anywhere else to go. I haven't been leaving the building, if anyone in the city recognized me — I just don't even want to take that risk, or put my family in that risk."

Shifting his weight to one foot, Allen folds his arms and breathes in a deep breath, then exhales a slow sigh. "My assistant, I kind've lost track of her after everything happened. She and I— we have kind of a tangled history, so— this would have to entirely be on you. I think, once she got to know the situation, she'd be amenable to it, but you might want to feel her out just in case. I know she's trustworthy, and I know she's willing to give everything to a cause. Her name's Stephanie Caiati, I don't know if she's in the city or headed back to D.C., but I'm sure Catherine or someone could track her down and look things up. She'd be a big help for you…"

Helena nods her head, murmuring the name in order to keep it in mind. "You know, we have someone who could do some…work on you? Change your face, give you a new life, if you wanted. I mean, if you don't think you can handle being a part of this."

There's a bit of a resigned sigh at that. "Yeah, Catherine told me. I— I'm considering it, if not for a new life, then just for a cover. I'm used to changing, personally, given what my ability is, so it's not too different. Besides," he tries to lighten the mood, "what guy my age wouldn't want to get a free face-lift, right?" There's a good-natured laugh at Allen's own expense as he slides his hands into the pockets of his slacks, shifting his weight to the other foot. "So, I guess that leaves us with an uneasy student-teacher relationship. I'll be around, whenever you're not… doing whatever it is you do," and to that he honestly doesn't know, "and when you're ready to learn, you just come to me, and we'll see what makes sense at the time."

He probably doesn't want to know. "Sounds like a plan." she says. "Well, uh…let me leave you to your Gotterdamerung." She gives him a faint smile, and heads for the door.

Let me leave you to your Twilight of the Gods. The way that sounds in Allen Rickham's head is a bit foreboding, his brows creasing together as he turns to look back at the quietly playing stereo, lips pressed into a thin line as one hand rubs over his chin. "I— " he isn't quite sure how to respond, "I can't promise there won't be homework!" He calls out after Helena, managing an awkward smile before leaning back into the room and closing the door.

Let me leave you to your Ragnarok.

That's a hell of a goodbye.

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