Licking The Wound


abby_icon.gif cat_icon.gif edward_icon.gif helena_icon.gif matt_icon.gif rickham_icon.gif teo_icon.gif

Scene Title Licking the Wound
Synopsis The events following the _vanguard attack on President-Elect Rickham continue to unravel into an unexpected series of events, ones that Edward Ray very carefully assesses.
Date Decmber 20, 2008

New York Public Library

Once upon a time, the New York Public Library was one of the most important libraries in America. The system, of which this branch was the center, was among the foremost lending libraries /and/ research libraries in the world.

The bomb changed that, as it changed so much else.

By virtue of distance, the library building was not demolished entirely, like so many others north of it; however, the walls on its northern side have been badly damaged, and their stability is suspect. The interior is a shambles, tattered books strewn about the chambers and halls, many shelves pulled over. Some have even been pulled apart; piles of char in some corners suggest some of their pieces, as well as some of the books, have been used to fuel fires for people who sought shelter here in the past.

In the two years since the bomb, the library — despite being one of the icons of New York City — has been left to decay. The wind whistles through shattered windows, broken by either the blast-front or subsequent vandals, carrying dust and debris in with it. Rats, cats, and stray dogs often seek shelter within its walls, especially on cold nights. Between the fear of radiation and the lack of funds, recovery of the library is on indefinite hiatus; this place, too, has been forgotten.

Hours passed in front of computer screens, notepads scribbled with names, dates and information. Conversations that drag on well past midnight, starting with the framework of Kazimir Volken and his men. Every time another layer of the horrible scenario is revealed to Allen Rickham, the more his steely countenance seems to sink lower and lower into despair. Still retaining his metallic form, there is something of a juxtaposition between his percieved invulnerability and the very vulnerable look of horror on his face.

Washington-Irving Highschool, the serial killings, and so many other staged events designed to sow chaos and cause panic. Now his very assassination attempt, all corroberated by a mole within their own organization. It's hard to believe, that a man who would be over one hundred years old is somehow orchestrating this from behind the scenes, manipulating a global organization of murder and terror that threatens not just destruction, but genocide.

Had it truly come to that?

All the while, Edward seems to withdraw into himself, listening to th data as it's dolled out in comprehendible bites. Going over notes and research on financial holdings and agents. He seems to almost be overwhelmed with the stimulus, and it's hard to imagine just how the probability predictor percieves all of this, perhaps in some glorified flow-chart in his mind.

After Rickham hears about Volken, and Helena begins to switch to the topic of the Homeland Security tests, Rickham cuts her short, rising up from his seat with a weary sigh and a creak of flexing metal. "I'm going to check on Matt. I'd like you to come with me." There's something suggestive about that, the very suggestion sprung only when she began speaking of Homeland Security. Perhaps he's simply going to take Helena to the source first.

"If you don't mind…" Edward mumbles, the reflection of a laptop in his circular lensed glasses and a steaming coffee clutched in his hands like a cross, "I'm… going to stay here," His brows lower, eyes narrowing slightly as he goes over what he reads again, "Try to make some sense of all of this." Rickham watches Edward again, then looks to Cat and Helena, turning with heavy footfalls to walk towards the room Parkman has been quarantined in, for lack of a better term. To see how he's feeling, and how well the young southern belle has been taking care of him.

It's been a long day, and the one now just starting will only feel longer.

The young southern bell, an empty can of redbull at her feet, hot coffee and two more full cans of bull ready to be devoured is on a chair beside the Home Security officers cot. His shirts off, what remained of it, so that her hands can splay across the laser inflicted wounds and blonde hair falling in waves toward him, little gold cross with a ring on the chain beside it dangling. She's working her 'god given' ability to make the telepath whole. There's softing singing, what one would expect to hear in a church coming from the room, the trigger for her gift, somewhat dimming the sound of approaching people. Matt's gonna be feeling a whole heap better soon enough.

Helena tries not to betray her evident frustration at being cut off when she starts discussing HomeSec's plans, but when he asks her to come with him to go see Matt, she calms down some. "Of course." she says quietly. The fact that he's been willing to dialogue with her has given her a new wellspring of hope, though she's trying not to get too excited. She rises and follows Rickham, reaching out to rap on the door and wait to be told they're welcome in.

The singing stops at the knocking though a soft "Come in" ina southern drawl gives them permission to enter. She leans, still keeping one hand on Matt and draws a blanket up to cover him, give him some protection and shield his upper torso from eyes. "He'll be awake any moment. I'm almost done" Her attention on him, and not on the people coming in.

She doesn't go with the President-elect and Helena to look in on Agent Parkman, something about the whole thing perhaps not sitting well with Cat. Exposure to him, and his telepathy, is antithetical given his position with HomeSec and the amount of information she carries in her mind. They'd shared what she has about the Kazimir Volken Group, but there are other things. Like the true source of the explosion. She in no way wants it to be learned she holds that secret. And by the time she's left there with Edward, Cat is reflective. The information has doubtless confirmed what her ability is, and given the President-elect her own name, as well as some idea why she was speaking with herself earlier.

Settling back into a seat, she remains silent unless addressed for the time being.

Given the fact that Matt has been running himself ragged these past few months, it stands to reason that his body would take advantage of the forced sleep brought on by shock. In his slumber, Matt has heard and seen images relayed to his subconscious not from Cat, but Abby. Hymns, prayers - all of which are easily marked as coming from outside him, even in his unconscious state.

His eyes blink open slowly a few moments after Abby finishes her work, and the second herald of his change in state is a shiver that runs through him. It was warm when those hands were on him, but now…now it's cold. Some part of him is aware of the blanket beneath him, and as he turns onto his side, Matt pulls it around him. His dark eyes find Abby first, and after he blinks back some of the bleariness, he clears his throat.

"You," Matt croaks out, still warming up his vocal chords, "…thank you." He continues to stare at Abby for a minute before looking beyond her to Helena and Rickham. It doesn't take long for the pieces to fit together, but the picture is far from complete. "Mr. Rickham," Matt says, tensing almost immeidately at the President-Elect's still steely state. "Where are we?" Are they prisoners? But Matt's guns are gone along with his shirt and suitjacket.

"We're safe." Rickham's hollow and metallic voice sounds like someone talking in a suit of armor more than a living person, "For now." He walks around the cot, heavy footfalls clunking with each step, and leans up against one of the walls carefully, the wall creaking from his considerable weight. "I was worried, after everything that happened." Hematite-shaded eyes focus on Helena, but his words are still for Matt. "They are Phoenix, the group responsible for the miracles project that was on the news. But they aren't a concern of ours at the moment, or potentially at all." Metallic arms fold with a grinding sound across Rickham's mostly bare and carved up chest.

"I have some issues I want to address when you come together. First, while you were out, I've seen that the television broadcast of the attack was interrupted, Miss Dean has informed me that one of their operatives is responsible. Currently, no one in the public knows about my situation, or the attempt on my life. I'm imagining the Secret Service is keeping the other word of mouth clamped down on."

Rickham sighs a hollow, vibrating tone and hangs his head with a groan of flexing metal. "Secondly, Miss Dean has informed me of an organization active globally that she has passed information to Homeland Security on, one she feels may be attempting a biological weapons attack on this city, or perhaps on a larger scale." His eyes close, thin metal-sheened lids covering the dark hematite with a scraping noise. "Lastly, she knows about the blood-test that has been developed, and the non-public holding facilities." His eyes open partway, and the weight on his iron shoulders is clearly put upon by his own knowledge of such events. "We owe them our lives. So I'm looking to you for advisement on how to proceed."

"Me" It's a warm smile for Matt, despite knowing who he is and who he works for. She peeks at his chest, a frown at the scars. She's writing it off as her overall tiredness and pushing. Could just as well be the nature of what made the injury. Given an all clear by her, she reaches down for the hot coffee and offers it to the telepath. Black as can be with nothing else in it. Her other hand picks up the red, silver, and blue can. "I'm not Phoenix" She not going to Elaborate, just wait for Matt to take the coffee before glancing around the room.

Helena is about to protest, the way Rickham's making it sound, she's responsible for everything. "Oh.." she starts to say, and then he mentions the blood ests and the holding facilities and she visibly recoils from the would-be iron giant, darting her eyes between him and Matt with visible horror. "You knew? You knew they're holding American citizens and using them like guinea pigs?" There has to be an explanation. There's no way that Rickham can approve of this. She doesn't even understand how Matt can do it, but deals with the fact that he does. Oh, and Matt. He and Helena have history, even if he doesn't know it.

Coffee is more than welcome, and Matt gives Helena as warm a smile as he can muster having just woken up, saluting her with the mug before he takes a much needed sip. "This is a lot," he admits openly with a small sigh of both tension and comfort, the latter thanks to the beverage. "But thanks. Thank you to all of you." Matt directs this sentiment to Helena, assuming her to be the representative of Phoenix, since Abby has opted out of such an affiliation.

"It's good what happened isn't public," Matt continues after a moment, gathering his thoughts. "And I'm with you, so no one can claim a kidnapping or anything like that. What are the chances of this group knowing that you're here? We don't want to put anyone in anymore danger - you, sir, or any innocent people." It would seem, then, that Matt is perfectly fine if not grateful for the existence of humanitarian groups of peaceful protesters like Phoenix.

The MIT scientist hasn't spoken, she watches him a short time longer, then moves to stand. Quiet time is something Cat tries to avoid lately, to avoid drifting into the grief too far. Needing to occupy her mind, to keep busy with something, anything, she gives one last glance toward the physicist then wanders away toward the bookshelves and scans the titles, looking for something interesting to focus on. She finds a section where there are a few books on the German language, focused on rules and structures, grammar, etc. And there's an English to German dictionary. This is taken in hand as well, and with the books she makes her way back to that chair.

"I knew as of a week after the election, when I recieved my third security briefing." Allen seems rather matter-of-fact about the issue, "Don't think that I appreciate the notion, but there's facets of what is going on that you aren't readily aware of. It doesn't exhonorate the situation from being barbaric, but you're judging a very complicated book by an incredibly ugly cover. Change isn't going to come overnight."

Turning his steely countenance to Parkman, Rickham gives a nod that is accompanied by a metallic creak of his neck. "There's no telling. We escaped under cover of the blizzard, but it's hard to tell if we were followed. No one is shooting yet, so I'll take that as a victory." Rickham pauses, recalling something said back in the foyer of the library, and he turns to regard Helena once more. "Who was the man with the glasses that was with you? None of your people seemed familiar with him when we came in."

When Cat returns to her chair, the subtle creak of it causes Edward's eyes to snap from the laptop screen to her, his incessant typing halting for a moment as he watches her. "Your father and I, were acquaintances in college. I didn't know it then, and I'm only marginally certain now, but I would hazard to believe he had an ability similar to my own." Blue eyes wander back to the screen, reflected in Edward's glasses. "He was a sharp mind, and a good man if not a big pragmatic. I haven't seen him in years," The tone shifts to something more casual, though calculatedly so, "Do you still keep in touch with family?" Edward keeps typing, working feverishly on the computer as he distracts Cat with conversational topics.

The sound of a redbull being opened is heard, no matter how quietly abby tries to do it. The blonde healers gaze going back and forth like some tennis match to whomever is speaking. Quiet is her game right now, listen.

"People are being held against their will as experimental lab rates, but change can't happen overnight? Maybe it should." Helena looks Rickham fiercely in the eye at that. She shakes her head. "I'm pretty sure we weren't followed. I can't garuntee it of course, but the route here is carefully plotted and visibility was kept very difficult. "His name is Edward Ray. He does something with probabilities. It's kind of confusing, and he tends to dither a lot." And then Helena looks down at Matt. She's not angry per se, but there's something very flat about her expression when she regards him. "You're welcome." she says neutrally.

The attention directed to her is returned, her hands placing most of the books on the floor by that chair and opening the dictionary. Page one is at her fingertips, but she doesn't look at it. Instead she's focused on the scientist and whatever he's typing, the data visible to her on the screen if any. Something seems to puzzle her at the same time. He knew her father in college, but, but, he looks under forty and she's twenty-six. Was Doctor Ray one of those who started at University by the age of 12? Everything on the man she's ever come across is accessed. "We talk from time to time," she replies quietly. "You did mention thinking he had something similar to what you have, and I recalled a conversation, which made me wonder if he used it on me. If he somehow estimated through probability the academic load would trigger my memory into overdrive and beyond. It explains his success in the industry where he works, and some other things. We do talk, from time to time, but I don't share much details. He never spoke of being Evolved, and I haven't either. I… I also haven't brought up the topic of me being bi."

"Miss," Matt says as he levels his eyes on Helena, trying to keep his tone equally neutral following her heated outburst. "No one is being treated like a rat in a cage. It's simply a medical facility. Research. The government is just as interested in it as the private sector is, but I assure you we're being much more careful than others, not to mention keeping a careful eye on potential threats. Or would you like another Nuclear Bob to go off tomorrow?"

Matt takes another sip from the mug and closes his eyes as he swallows. "Are you comfortable that way, sir?" he asks of Rickham, "Or…if you go back to being…squishy, are you gonna still have all those dents and nicks? We can't put you back into the swing of things - to get that change started - looking like that. Coming out is fine and dandy, but you've got to be careful about it." Matt pauses, thinking. "We've got to find Steve, too. And unless there's more than one person out there with the ability to change what they look like, you just met Sylar, sir. And if he's working with this Volken guy, we've got that much more hell coming our way." Glancing about the room, Matt narrows his eyes. "I need to make a phone call. Where's my coat?"

Rickham's brows furrow together with a metallic crinkling sound as Helena explains who Edward is, but Helena doesn't seem all that concerned, lowering his head in a reassured nod, "Jumping feet first into things gets good people killed." There's a tinge of self-directed resentment in Rickham's words. "Right now there's nothing in my power I can do to change that, and if this attempt on my life leads to… unsavory conditions in washington, I may not ever get that chance to do anything. So, prioritize." Rickham turns his head to focus on Matt again, "Sylar? First he destroys half of the city, now this… I have to wonder if he's been tied up with that Volken situation from the beginning." Allen doesn't seem to be in the know on Peter's confession. It looks like the news hasn't trickled down far from the top of HomeSec's offices yet.

"As for changing…" Rickham shakes his head slowly, touching the marks on his chest. "I've never been hurt when I was like this before." Before, it implies that this wasn't his first shift, his awakening. It means he's been hiding things. "These cuts are deep, I'm worried if I change back, maybe my heart will be split in two, or…" His eyes close and he shakes his head again with that same scraping sound. "I'll have to figure it out." Hematite eyes settle on Abby, "Could you handle that? I mean, if that was the case? Your healing gift."

In the office where Edward and Cat converse, Cat recalls the public details of Edward Ray, none of which give details on where and when he went to college, only that he gained his notoriety in the field of theoretical physics once he became a professor at MIT. The rather glaring inconsistency of age goes unanswered, at least until she can get access to more records. "So," Edward doesn't let silence reign, nor does he directly answer her question, "Your ability, from what you've hinted about it, is classified as pamnesia isn't it?" He has a fair grasp of technical terminology for Evolved abilities. "The likeleyhood seems fair, in any instance," a few more clicks of the touch-pad on the laptop, and Edward nods his head. "There's a lot of talented people working here, for Phoenix," His conversational tone shifts and meanders, "I wish I had known about all of you before, perhaps…" He lowers his eyes down to the keyboard for a moment, then looks up again, "Well, there's no changing the past." He smirks slightly, then looks up to Cat, "Just work towards a better future, right?"

"Given the data we have, there's Tier 1's and 2's being slipped into the experimental population, particularly if they've been vocally dissident." Helena says quietly. "I don't think these camps are as clean as you think they are, Parkman. And there are precogs who've predicted that they're going to become something a lot worse." There's a pause. "Sylar is with them, yes. He's also got some new tricks up its sleeve, which is also in the data I gave you." You being Rickham. "But this has been going on for a long time, and he's new to their party. You know Sylar," her mouth crooks in a grimace, "He's generally not a share-er." Then to Matt, "I can't risk you bringing knowledge of this location to your people. My own would be compromised. When we've sorted everything out and you're ready to move, we'll make arrangements." Her lips press thin. "Many Evolved equate HomeSec with the SS. And consider you the dangerous one, Parkman." Her tone is frank, stating facts, rather than making accusations.

"Might be scars, if I push. Are you okay with scars?" Abby gets up from her chair, slow in approaching the President elect so she can look at the wounds of the man in his iron form. Not a by your leave, her fingers skim over the furrows. "If you lay down, it'll be easier. Your heart won't have to works do hard" her fingers slide with the barest of squeezes into the slice in the middle of his chest. "If it's hit the heart, I can touch it, I can make it whole, I can take care of the worst of the one on your stomach higher, the third will get it too" She looks to Matt. "Can he take your spot?" The blue eyes settle on Helena then. "Conrad can wait, i'll need a rest after this, then I can deal with him. This looks like it might be more… delicate"

Wordlessly, Matt stands and takes a few steps away from the cot, clearing the way for Rickham. he keeps the blanket, hugging it around his naked torso. A scar, albeit a light one, is the only reminder of his latest encounter with Sylar.

You have no idea how dangerous I //could be, but I'll never be like _them_// he thinks to himself, but since he is focused on Helena at the moment, unless she somehow resists it, thw words will whisper in the back of her mind.

"It's not like that," the Homeland Security agent says with a heavy sigh, feeling a bit more vulnerable than he'd like. "And if they think it will be, then…then we just have to change things, right? People expect change with Rickham - they wouldn't have elected him if they didn't expect and want it. "With those schools, and with just more information for everyone, people won't have to be afraid anymore. But as long as there are people who think they're better than anyone else - whether they have abilities or don't - as long as people have that hate strong enough to make them act like they acted last night, we have to fight back the best, and the only way we know how. We have to keep people safe and make sure there is nothing to be afraid of. That sort of change doesn't happen overnight."

"I'm familiar with Doctor Suresh's book," Cat replies with her lips curving into a slight grin. "Pamnesia is the technical term, quite correct." In point of fact, inside her head she's looking at that very page in his book. And the consideration of his words, the statement he made about not changing the past, has her calling up something else in that vast memory. A conversation about just that.

"That's how this all started" Peter's tone of voice becomes reminiscent, walking over to the articles, his fingers leafing through them with a distant look in his eyes. "Save the Cheerleader, Save the World." It's like a mantra, one that causes him to look down to the painting of the explosion beneath his feet. "Hiro traveled back in time to give me that message, to prevent Sylar from getting her power from becoming unstoppable." Closing his eyes, Peter looks away from the painting, and Cat as well, turning his back on both.

"For all the good it did. You can't change the future." His hands tuck into the pockets of his slacks, the long trail o fhis coat wavering from side to side as he takes a few slow steps away. "We saved her, and we didn't save the world we ruined it."

Peter shakes his head, then turns to point at the mural under Cat's feet, "That still happened." His tone is embittered, "Whatever it is, whatever it means. None of it matters, Hiro failed, we all failed and now we have to live with the consequences of that failure. Trying to go back to the way the world was? It isn't going to happen. Hiro's delusional if he thinks he can change any of this, stop any of this from happening." Peter's lips curl into a frown, head hanging. "One day maybe I'll convince him myself just how futile hope is."

"What is, is," Cat replies, coming back to the present and speaking some of what she had that day at the Mendez studio. "Heisenberg's principle. Trying to change the past, the permutations of it, even to someone who can actually jump around in time, could cause insanity. Each action creates a new variable."

Allen looks with morbid curiosity as the young girl slides a finger into the laser-smooth slice in his chest cavity, a thin beed of molten and re-hardened iron trimming the edges. He purses his lips with a grating sound of strained and felxing metal, then looks back to Helena as he listens to Parkman speak. He'd always wondered where Matt's stance on his issues was, and hearing him speak now, it's like listening to a whole different person from the taciturn Homeland Security agent he was first introduced to two years ago.

There's a mild smile, creaking his metallic face as Matt rises from the cot, but Rickham gives a somewhat hollow and haunting laugh to the notion. "Not to be rude, but I'll lay on the floor." As drafty as it is, "I've broken enough beds by accidentally shifting while I sleep to know that won't hold my weight. Like this, I think I weigh in somewhere close to two-thousand pounds." An estimate, clearly. Rickham takes a step across the room, eyeing Parkman for a moment. "Things like Frontline that Mitchell is still pushing for worry me too but — //" He's getting off-topic, "No, there's other things we should be worrying about right now. Not Mitchell, least of all.//" There's a loud groaning sound of metal, like someone flexing steel as Rickham leans forward and crouches down, letting his body weight settle with a creak of the floor, and he moves to lay on his back, staring up at the ceiling.

"Let me know when you're ready… I… I think this isn't going to be plesant." Rickham, for all his stoicism, manages a crooked grin as he shifts his hematite eyes to peer at Abigail, "What was your name again?"

In the office, Edward peers down at the screen for a moment, then looks up to the book in Cat's hand as she flips a page, then down to the screen again. His voice shifts from conversational to passionate once she changes topics to something he's more fluent in. "Heisenberg's uncertainty principal is only one theory," Edward notes with a tilt of his head, "If we're getting into the theoretics of time travel," Edward stops working at the laptop for a moment, sitting up straight to look at Cat over the top of the screen, though the light of it still reflects in his glasses. "The Novikov self-consistency principle actually matters more-so than Heisenberg does, given the potential for paradox. I mean," Edward laughs gravely, "What if you traveled back in time to tell yourself not to do something, and then your past-self proceeded not to do it. Would you have ever had a reason to go back at all?" One brow raises, "Novikov says it's irrelevent. Certainly actions have reactions, but now you're getting into Ray Bradbury territory, and I think we all know that A Sound of Thunder was a rather bland story that misrepresented the particulars of time travel and its consequences."

As Matt rises and Helena hears that whisper in her mind, she briefly closes her eyes, and once opening them, reaches out and curls her hand around Matt's bigger wrist, looking him intently and silently in the eyes. She clearly knows how to make it easy for him to hear what she's thinking, she's dealt with a telepath before. I know just how dangerous you can be. Even without your powers, and just your bullets. Rickham says he owes us, but it's you I want a favor from. Her hand withdraws silent as her gaze draws to the preparations between Abby and Rickham. Aloud, "Should I get sheets? Towels? In case there's blood?"

"No, likely not to be pleasant. Not at first, it's gonna hurt, I can't do a thing about the pain and if you loose enough blood, well, your gonna need some juice and cookies, but I promise i'll be as quick as god lets me. Deal?" Down she comes, legs tucked under her neatly. 'Abigail. Abigail beauchamp. But you can call me Abby instead of Ms Beauchamp. Give me a moment" Her hands are there once again on him, his chest, one hand position with fingers inside the chest furrow, the other hand pressed over the ones on his abdomen. "Hel, there should be another blanket, for his modesty. Probably towels to clean up anything that spills. Ready?" She matches her eyes to Rickhams. "I'm sorry, if it hurts, I really am. I'll be quick as god lets me" and then she slips into a prayer, the words spilling from her lips, faith, god, plea's for her ability to flow true and fast. She can feel it kick into gear and she opens her eyes. "Now" immediatly pressing it outwards, from her hands, much as as possibly can so that if his heart did get hit, it's going to get a good dose of healing right quick, her fingerspoised to brush the president elects hearts to accomplish this.

Physical contact is something Matt is wary off, even if it does make reading easier. But he nods, his eyebrows furrowing with concern and interest. "I'll be back, sir," he says without taking his eyes off of Helena. "I'll call the offices to let them know you're safe, but I'll make sure no one tries to stick their nose in quite yet." Then a thought hits him. "There's a woman - she was with the Company, and she isn't now, but she manipulates wireless signals from computers and cellphones. Is she with you?" Because if she isn't, that phone call isn't going to happen.

"Not at the moment." Helena replies. Which should be answer enough. With that, she offers a nod to Abby, wincing at her effort with the next president, and slips outside, presumably with Matt to follow.

Some of the science she knows already, but not a lot of it. She's read things here and there, beyond taking the required courses for her private high school and the time spent at Yale. Each term he mentions is flagged in her head to perhaps research at another time. Conversations with this man will give her fodder to keep filling those memory banks, expanding knowledge, at the very least. But for the present, there's something in what he says she can key on. "Dani and I would talk about things sometimes, I think she occasionally felt inferior for not having anything like I do. I'd say she shouldn't feel that way, perfect memory can be a curse as well as a blessing. I rely a lot on the word of critics for literature and film because, well, if it's bad and I read it, or watch it, I'm stuck. Most people can forget."

Rickham closes his eyes, steeling himself — not literally, for once — for what is to come. His eyes close, and as Parkman makes his way out the door, he recalls just out squeamish the Homeland Security agent can be about things like this. But then, given the severity of what these wounds could be, even Allen isn't sure he could stomach it. "Matt." Rickham urges before the door is closed, "If something happens, you make sure Vince and Marie get taken care of." It's a hard enough thing to ask, and an even harder thing to accept. But Parkman's silent, and somewhat unsettled nod says it all as he slips out the door.

"I… don't know if that cross is for more than just fashion." If only Rickham knew, "But I won't be offended if you pray." With that, Rickham's metallic body tenses, and his skin begins to lighten from its dark gray shade. The transition from iron to flesh is uneven, patches of his body fading to flesh quicker than others, and the entire appearance is something like watching water evaporate, but then the injuries start to become flesh and blood as well, emphasis on blood.

Rickham screams, a horrible, pained scream that turns wet and gurgling the moment his injuries manifest. His body convulses, arms and legs kicking as blood begins drooling out of his mouth and pulsing in spurts out from the cut at his chest, Abby can see his heart beating thorugh a split sternum, lacerated but not cut in half, one ventricle is sliced entirely open. Blood pools out from Rickham's midsection as he begins choking and coughing on his own blood, completely eviscerated by the lasers across his midsection.

He's dying, fast.

"Dani?" Edward tilts his head to the side, "You mentioned the name before, was she your — " Something Cat said earlier, something Edward tried to brush off as too personal clicks in his head, "Oh." He goes quiet, sinking back down behind the computer, "She — " Edward's words are cut off by the sound of a wild, gurgling scream and scuffling down the hall. That wasn't in his predictions. He bolts up from the chair, sending it toppling backwards as he makes an immediate break for the door to the hall, stopping with wide eyes, listening. "No… Not yet." His voice is a sharp whisper, and when another scream comes Edward charges down the hall as fast as he can, towards the sound of Rickham's horrified and pained screams.

The moment, the very moment that iron turns to flesh, the healing starts— Her fingers in the president-elect's chest, takaing that moment to see where wounds are. Prayer falls from her lips as it flows as fast as she's ever made it, straight to the wound in queston, the damaged heart, watching it knit before her eyes. "Please, dear god, faster, please" This isnt' a gunshot through a lung, this is a clean wound, across a heart, a beating heart pulsing against her fingers. If ever a moment she has a life in her hands, this was it. A wing a prayer that he pulled through. That all she has, all he has. Abby's implicit faith that god's not about to let this man die.

There isn't time to reply to his question around the name, the scream reaches her ears too. She's on her feet with the first scream, dodging the chair, following behind Edward and passing him when he stops. Cat continues on toward the room where President-elect and healer are. Nonono! The man is hope, and hope can't die. She appears in the doorway, quickly asking of Abby "Do you need help, someone to apply pressure and maybe keep things together, work to prevent blood loss while you do your part? I read Grey's Anatomy once." This is Cat as she was the night before again, totally focused, everything else put aside.

"You — " Edward lets out a hissing sound as his words splutter, "You read Gray's Anatomy once?" He throws his hands into the air in a flustered gesture of total lack of composure on his behalf, Cat's complete opposite, "For the love of — " When he rounds the corner and enters the office, and sees all of the blood, sees a girl with her hands inside of Allen's chest, he lets out a wheezing hack and backs away from the door with a hand over his mouth. "Ohgod." It's slurred as one word as he staggers out into the hall and promptly vomits everywhere.

Rickham spasms and convulses on the floor as Abigail's healing power surges through him, bone knitting together, tough vascular muscle welding shut like a patched up pair of jeans. His entrails fuse back into one proper length, but do not move of their own accord, laying like unspooled rope at his sides, preventing the membrane that keeps them in place from becoming whole, let alone the two gashes in his stomach. It is a gruesome and terrible looking thing, and as that gash straight across his chest begins to heal, Abby can feel the texture of jagged bone around her fingers, the worst wound still working its way closed as a spurt of blood sprays out and out of the hole in his chest, spattering on his bare skin.

Intestines are easy to fix. It's not the first time she's had to shove them back in. Come on! "Towels. Something for him to drink, probably something for pain, he won't be in any, but he'll probably feel some." The one hand still in his chest, sending direct healing to the wounded organs and vessels while the other starts to pack the mans intestines back in place so that the wound can close. Her head turning to and fro, working hard and fast.

Screams brings Teo running when, apparently, very little else had. Barely enough time to exchange passwords with a sentry, a monosyllable explanation for where he had been— 'far,' the snow still laden into the folds and wear-worn notches of his jacket and shoes. The chatter of Midtown's media personnel walkie-talkies, droning wind, and strobe sirens are still staticky in his ears, undercutting the otherwise deafening throb of his own pulse and adrenalinized brain and running feet pounding out holy shit in Morse as he bolts. Someone's dying, he figures. They hadn't gotten Abby in time, he thinks. Something's going t—

The door slams inward. He's there, cold hands and wide eyes, down by Abby's side even before he's pinned names to the faces on the figures here. His friend; the man whom he recognizes only from televised broadcasts. None of which had ever depicted him in so much broken and red. He says something; can't be sure whether it made it out in louder than a whisper; moves to hold the man down.

She doesn't go for towels, or anything for the man to drink. Not yet. Cat sees Abby working to push his insides back inside and kneels next to her, over the wounded President-elect, starting to help her restore things to where they go. In her mind is the picture of where organs go inside the abdominal cavity, so she can see they're fitting into the right place. It seems to her more important to assist in getting things where they belong so Abby can keep concentration, not to mention having him in order sooner so she can seal the wound.

Rickham's violent and reflexive motions are contrasted by visible spotting of gray-black on his forehead for just a moment as his brow looks like it was momentarially covered in pitted iron. He struggles to keep his power in check, but all of the pain, all of the blood and terror of being so close to death is causing him to struggle to keep even that level of compsure.

Rickham tenses, then looks wild-eyed and blankly when Teo restrains him, eyes rolling back in his head again as — perhaps luckily — the President-Elect remains conscious through the whole procedure. Once the intestines are shoved back into place, the stomach seals up like a Zip-Lock bag full of polish sausages. His skin knits closed, and finally the gaping chest wound begins to fuse itself shut, leaving a thin line across his flesh, which Abigail expertly begins to smooth out into fresh skin that leaves no scar.

In the hallway, the sounds of Edward doubled-over and vomiting continue with a few gags and a choking sound before a low, groaning noise and a mumbled apology echo through the closed door. He makes no effort to go back inside, or apparently an effort to clean up his gastral expulsion. He's just going to sit down for a minute.

Blood, everywhere. But more in the President-Elect, than hopefully outside him. She pulls her hands out in time, still keeping contact, concentration high in an effort o seal him up better than Parkman. To leave not a trace, so as not to leave evidence that anything ever happened to the man. This is high exhertion, far more than some little bulletwound. Abby smiles though, wide when she moves a hand, smearing blood so she can get a look to either wounds, peer and press. "Done" She whispers. "I'm sorry. I wish it could have been easier for you" She leans back, shuffling to sit on her ass, and lean against a wall. Knee's up and her arms balanced across the top of them out. Yup. President elects blood all over them, couple drops dripping onto her boots. She's too tired to care right now though, the weight of wounds, seeming to sit on her shoulders.

Teo remembers that Abby can't do anything for blood. He decides to stop thinking about that because of how much of it there is laking on top of the President-elect's newly sealed skin, and on Abby's clothes, now on his and Cat's too, scabbing in the air and squeaking under his shoes. Shit. At the point where holding down a panicking victim of brutal violence for healing turns into pinning an exhausted old man to the discolored floor, he loosens his grip, leans back on his heels.

Starts to wipe his discolored sleeve across his face, but thinks better of it. It takes him a moment to realize he's psychologically capable of registering silence again. Slightly unsteady, he gets up to go get everybody some water.

She moves back once the task is complete, holding her hands out in front of her. Cat's composure now seems to falter a bit. She isn't becoming ill, but the presence of blood on her hands and in clothing is something found unpleasant. Her eyes study the hands, then her hooded sweatshirt, and she rises to her feet slowly. "Now is the time for towels." But with none at hand, and the garment already damaged, she pulls it over her head and uses it to wipe her hands as best she can. In a pinch, it'll do. Under it she proves to be wearing a t-shirt with Ann Wilson's face on it.

Rickham's head settles against the cold floor with a wet thump of his blood-soaked hair, as some of it had pooled behind his heads as it ran out of his mouth. He lets out a few ragged and painful coughs, eyes closed as he swallows dryly and achingly, "…s'right…" He murmurs, his voice something far more natural now, not having that metallic and hollow sound, "M'gonna live…" He reaches up one shaky and remarkably clean hand to grip at Abby's shoulder, fingers curling into the fabric of her sweater, "Thank you." The words come off as of dire importance, as if he wanted to impart with whatever strength he has left, that his life would not have remained as vivacious as it currently is, without her aid.

Tiredly, Rickham's hand comes down and settles against the floor. No longer made of solid iron, merely an exhausted old man, the cold begins to send a chill into him, and he weakly, painfully struggles to sit up, reaching for the edge of the cot, and the effort is a bit too much, as his hand slips and he lands on his side, exhaling a frustrated gasp with a dry groan.

Outside in the hall, Edward has managed to get himself together, at least in terms of his stomach contents being all over the hall and no longer inside of him where they were churning. He rises to his feet, stepping around the mess he made to walk to the door Teo closed when he ran past him. The mathematician cracks the door open, leaning his head to one side as he catches Cat's comment, "I recommend a mop too."

For here, and the hall.

A weak smile. "Not me. Don't thank me. Thank the heavenly father, I'm just his conduit. You need to rest. I can't .. I can't replace blood you lost" She struggles then, shifting from her neeling, to knees underher, heedless and caring very little about the fact that there's blood beneath them. 'Cot" Hoarsly spoken to Teo as Cat makes for towels and Edward reccomends a mop. Her own strength very little in the scheme of things. "Likely need a transfusion. so much.." She stops trying to get up whne a wave of dizziness hits, just plops back down in the blood that coats the floor. "Get him on the cot. I'll just lay down right here. Just a nap and then I can see to conrad" already her eyelids sinking.

And thus, wonderfully, Teo has some new biological fluids to track across the floor when he tracks his way back to the room, though he does his best to avoid planting his slush-rimed shoes squarely into any puddles of erstwhile pastrami, or whatever it is Edward had had for supper. By the time he comes back, he has shed his jacket in favor of carrying a lot of other shit. Towels, ordered in neat white stripes across his forearms, water in bottles clamped to his ribs.

One towel, he gently pitches underhand at Cat; another, he offers Edward, with a generalized motion at the other man's chin; a third, he manages to spread out and straighten in an awkward, one-handed snap, before draping its orange terrycloth folds over Abby's drooping body like a blanket. The last, he approaches Rickham with, his intent obvious from the hold of both his hands after he lets the plastic bottles drop out from under his other arm and hit the floor like a tuneless drum-roll. He tries to bundle up the politician's blood-streaked torso and help him up onto the cot in one heavy, shuffling scootch of movement, muttering under his breath: "Sorry."

Looking around as she catches the towel, Cat speaks with a quiet voice. "When things with blood on them are cleaned up and taken away, they need to be burned somewhere. It won't do for some city worker to spot bloody items in a dumpster, call the police, and find they've got the dna of a President who was never injured in New York on them."

Edward takes the towel, sheepishly, and wipes at his mouth with his head ducked. And he watches Teo sturggle with Rickham, but makes no mothions what so ever to help him move the man. Instead, he just levels his gaze squarely at Cat, one brow raised, "If the garbage men service the ruins then I've been lacking in my praise of the mayor." There's a dry sarcasm to his tone, and finally he moves over to the cot as Rickham's struggle ends with the old man landing on his back, staring up blearily at the ceiling with half-lidded eyes.

"He'll live." Edward postulates, "He did lose too much blood though, he's going to be no use to anyone for a while. This could pose a number of problems." Crumpling the towel he cleaned his face off with two hands, he looks at Teo sidelong for a moment, unfamiliar with the sicilian. There's a faint, awkward smile of hello I belong here on Edward face as he drops the towel to the floor with a soft thump.

"If anyone needs me," He seems almost frustrated, "I'll be in the study, reading." And apparently not cleaning up after himself either, "Try not to murder any leaders of the free world while I'm in there." His shoes click across the floor as he walks back to the door, and by this time Rickham has drifted into unconsciousness, his lack of energy from his drop in blood pressure sending him right out.

Abby's sliding into the land of unconciousness too as she curls up below the towel on the floor beside the spreading pool of blood, oblivious to things spoken around her. Energy expended, not enough to come in and compensate. Her arm folded beneath her head to act as pillow. Conrad's plight to be dealt with later. Her other hand curling protectivly around the cross at her neck.

Sure, Ed belongs here. Like Allen Rickham belongs here. And Abby still belongs here. And— Teo really has no idea what's going on, but as long as people are being brought back from the brink of death rather than the other way around, he's not going to be pushing anybody off the edge anytime soon. "Wait. Fuck." He glances down at Rickham's face and aborts in the middle of trying to shake him awake; glances up at Edward's departing back and between the enervated women.

Fuck, fuck. "What's his blood type? We can get him blood. And banana bags and TPN and — and shit. And blood. Fast." His brain stumbles around the notion that Abby's fallen asleep far too close to filth and a campfire fuelled on ruined cotton, keeps circling around on blood. Clumsily, he grabs around for his cellphone. The Ferrymen can get blood.

She lets her eyes wander, to take it all in. Abby's asleep, the incoming President is asleep, Edward has gone to read somewhere, Teo is arranging for blood to give Rickham… But something isn't right. Where's Helena? Where is Parkman? Why didn't they hear the screams and come running? Damn. Cat makes her way out of the room and into the hall, there to see the mess left by a physicist who spewed. Her face wrinkles a bit, and she continues on to find the pair she doesn't see. On the way a thought courses through her mind. Just like a Harvard man.

Let him mop up his own juices.

December 19th: Trying To Help

Previously in this storyline…
After the Ball was Over

Next in this storyline…

December 20th: All You Have to Do is Try
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