Neither Enemies, Nor Friends


goodman2_icon.gif veronica3_icon.gif

Scene Title Neither Enemies, Nor Friends
Synopsis Veronica Sawyer is visited by a ghost from her past who comes like some Dickensian allegory, offering warnings of the future.
Date August 30, 2010

Dorchester Towers


It evokes memories of a song, Moondance, echoing off of the walls of Veronica Sawyer's apartment. Moonlight spills in slivers through filmy curtains partly shielding windows, the city glow of Manhattan outside seems subdued and those pale shafts of blue light cast stark against the floor and walls, against rumpled conforters on a bed too wide for just one person. Yet, Veronica Sawyer sleeps alone tonight.

By her bedside, and alarm clock reads 1:07AM in bright red display, the dots between the hours and minutes fashing with a steady heart-beat rhythm. On the nightstand beside where agent Sawyer had fallen asleep reading an investigation dossier i a leather holster for a .45 caliber handgun of distinct, Company-issue.

A shadow creeps across the space of the window, gaunt and bald, lanky and slinking. The figure casts a long shadow across her bed, one spidery-fingered hand reaching out to draw the blinds open, dark eyes peering out to the street as the slats are pushes apart by two long fingers. The plastic slats slide closed, and the intruder turns towards the agent's bed, his patent leather shoes creaking softly on the floorboards.

"Wake up agent Sawyer," is the voice of Roger Goodman crooning from the shadows.

"We need to talk."

The unfamiliar voice doesn't have to speak loudly to wake the agent; what's shocking is how he managed not to wake her already. She may not recognize his voice at first, but she recognizes it as out of place, not belonging to Brian nor anyone else who should be murmuring her name from such close quarters in the middle of the night.

In one abrupt and fluid motion, she's sitting upright while her hand flashes to the bedside table for her firearm, eyes trying to make sense of the shadows while her subconscious wrestles with that baritone, the adrenaline chasing away the cobwebs as her mind grasps the name that the voice belongs to.

But that's impossible, unless it's a dream, the logical part of her mind whispers.

How many people have you seen die that have come back to life? another part of her whispers back. Her heart pounds. "Goodman."

Coal black eyes narrow slowly, dip down to the gun and look back up to Veronica. Roger Goodman says nothing, but the subtle arch of his brow tugs at the shadows as he leans into the moonlight closer to the firearm, casting half of his face in clear view as if to say we both know that won't work.

"You might want o point that at your enemies, Sawyer." Leaning away from the agent, Goodman steps away from her bed and becomes silhouette by tanother window, looking out through the blinds again at the street before turning to face her, half his body in shadow, half in moonlight. His crisp red tie looks practically Presidential against his white shirt and black blazer. "You have made a very difficult bed to lie down in and I am of the mind that you do not know the exact repercussions of the decisions you have made up until this point."

Brows furrowed, Goodman watches Veronica and her gun for a moment, folding his hands behind his back. "I only have a few moments to spare, Sawyer, but I thought that if I was given a second chance at life… I had best do my part to live up to my name in it. It isn't very easy to be a good man in this world."

The agent lowers the gun, though she doesn't release it, holding it loosely on her lap still draped by the top sheet — Veronica feels vulnerable and exposed, clad only in a lacy white camisole that reveals more than she really would have liked Roger Goodman to ever see. Luckily her bottom half, in a pair of very-short pajama bottoms, is covered by bedding. She shakes her head, as if he'll disappear with a hard enough jostle.

"You're here to help me?" she says flatly, her husky voice incredulous in tone. "Tell me what you want, then." This has to be the most ridiculous business meeting, her lying in bed half-clothed while he's dressed like a CEO or politician. "Why would you want to help me?" she asks in an afterthought.

"Because you and I aren't enemies," Goodman spells it out with a tone that implies he'd expected Veronica to be on top of things. "We never were, but you didn't realize it until too late. Pinehearst would have prevented this," Roger states as he motions to one of the bedroom windows without, "would have changed the world. But now that chance is gone and people like you and I who could have been a part of that change are forced to sift through civilization's ashes for the bones of hope."

Stepping into the darkness between windows, Roger nearly disappears in the contrast of moonlight and shadow. "You and I have both come to serve a very dangerous Devil, agent Sawyer. One that has taken a lease on our very souls," and as Roger comes into view by the third and final bedroom window, he's looking back over his shoulder to Veronica, "but I know you. I know what you are capable of and for what ends."

Which is to say, "We're on the same side again, agent Sawyer. It just comes down to the question— are you going to put a bullet in me for superiors you don't trust, again? Or are you going to be your own person."

Veronica's wide and dark eyes mirror the moonlight and his shadowy form as he passes in front of the windows. Her brows knit together as she tries to piece together what he is saying — who he is with. "What side are you on — and what side do you think that makes me? As far as superiors I don't trust, I don't see that changing anytime soon — not when all any of us ever are are pawns and none of us get the whole picture. We get told to do something and it seems to make sense, but none of us ever have the whole picture. It's only later when we see the final product that we know we were used for something we didn't sign up for… How many of us were lied to going into the Company? Were you? Or were you always actually working for Pinehearst?"

She shakes her head, closing her eyes. "Are you with the Institute now? How are you here?" She doesn't mean just her apartment, but on a much grander scale.

"I was Arthur Petrelli's agent when I was brought into the Company, from day one. Even after he faked his death I maintained a cover within the organization preparing information to be fed to him. This is how I became the assistant director of the Chicago training branch, how I ascended to the position I held here in New York. This is how I found myself dead and gone in the space of a heartbeat."

Black eyes sweep the bedroom, and Goodman's slow pace brings him to the corner of Veronica's bed. "The Institute brought me back, somehow. They rewound time on my body to prior to the assassination, and they have pulled every last bit of vital intelligence I had about the Company and Pinehearst from me in the interim. I have become their blunt instrument with which they will sever all of the hydra's heads at once."

Roger's posture stiffens right before he makes the very odd gesture of sinking down to sit on the corner of Veronica's bed. "I'm living on borrowed time, Sawyer. Everyone that Darren Stevens rewinds is on a clock. Mine is likely shorter than most, given how far back he had to go to get me. The sands in my hourglass are running down, and so is this meeting."

Looking down to the floor between his feet, Roger's voice becomes quieter, but still has that knife's edge tone. "I know that the Institute wants you, Sawyer, and they're going to take you." Black eyes alight to the brunette. "Tomorrow, but I don't know how or when. They're going to make you an offer, they're going to take you. Don't go in to work tomorrow, Sawyer…"

Roger's lips downturn into a frown. "Run. Run as far and as fast and as long as you can and don't ever look back. I've seen the inside of the Institute, Veronica, and I've never seen anything like it. The Company, the government, no one has any idea what they're actually dealing with. If they did, if they'd seen what the Institute is… I don't know how the world would react."

Looking to the moonlit window, Roger's shoulders rise with a deep breath and sink with an exhalation. "Don't let them bring you in, Veronica. You don't want to see behind the curtain."

Veronica's brows contort into a grotesque visage wrought with horror and confusion. He could be here to dissuade her on the Institute's behalf — to try to get her to admit that she's going in willingly as an infiltrator. He could be here to honestly, sincerely try to help her — she can't know for sure, though her instinct says it's the latter. For whatever reason — even though she gave the signal to have him shot by a sniper's bullet, after he told her the truth about her recruitment into the Company.

"Stevens… he… I thought he was a healer…" she murmurs, her eyes wide with the implications of the ability to rewind time on a body. "Oh, God." Her voice trembles and she drops the gun on her mattress to reach up to run her hand through her hair in a gesture of anxiety.

"If the Institute is that bad — my running won't do any good, will it? What can you tell me that will be of some help? Running… running would save me, but it's not a solution, Roger." She's never called him his first name before, but for some reason — perhaps because his time is literally running out, if what he says is true — it seems the right thing to do. He's not her boss. He's not a colleague. He's someone who is trying to save her life.

If he's telling the truth.

"You told me the truth before. I don't know if Pinehearst was the answer or not, but the Company's dead, we both know that. Do you see a way out of whatever future the Institute has in store?" she murmurs, ignoring the fact that she's barely clothed, and sliding out of the bed to move in front of him, to make eye contact simpler.

"Short of a bullet?" is Roger's coarse answer for a way out, "no." Coming to stand up from the corner of the bed, springs protest noisily at the movement and soon floorboards do the same beneath the weight of his footsteps. "Running will save you, because that's all you can save now. If there was any way I could imagine that the Institute could be stopped, I'd tell you it, Sawyer. But after what I've seen? There's no way, there's no possible way to take them down. The government has handed the keys to the future to madmen and they are going to lead us head-on into an apocalypse from which there will be no steering away this time."

Roger walks in front of the middle of the three bedroom windows, his back ot Veronica as he stares out through the slatted blinds to the street below. "I don't even know how to explain what they are, Sawyer. They aren't an enemy, but they aren't our ally either… and when they find their leader," Roger turns, looking over his shoulder to Veronica, "then there's no telling what they'll be capable of."

As if that sentiment wasn't worrisome enough, what Roger delivers when he turns around is almost like an ultimadum. "Save yourself, Sawyer. Because if you don't, you'll become a part of the problem again. I came here to warn you and give you a choice that I wasn't given. I came here to prove to you that I am not your enemy… but just like the Institute, I'm not your ally either."

Her arms wrap around herself as Veronica stands barefoot, staring at him with wide, incredulous eyes. Haunted by a ghost of her past warning her of the future's dangers and the inevitability of her becoming once more a pawn in the hands of people playing gods — it's too much. Her resolve in her decision to try to infiltrate wavers. "Their leader? Who are they looking for — a hypothetical person or someone they're looking for now?"

As always, from childhood through her years of training to her years as an agent, and even now, she's full of questions, but her questions never seem to lead her to the right answer. "I can't just run. I'm marked. They'll find me. Isn't it better to try to do some good?" she asks in a soft voice, one hand going to her neck where that little hash mark identifies her as Evolved. The more things change, the more they stay the same: she finds herself trusting that deep voice, those dark eyes. For better or for worse — though just like in the past, it's very likely she won't actually do what he asks. If it were in her nature to run, she would have run a long time ago.

"Always playing the hero," Goodman offers with what might be disdain, or perhaps jealousy. "I don't know what good there is to do, Sawyer, except try to save the people I respect on the way out. Because if you don't accept their offer? There won't be a place in the world where you'll be safe to stop, they will hunt you to the ends of the earth. Maybe one day they'll find you, but at least you'll have been able to live on your own terms until then, live with your own conscience."

Looking back to the window, Roger parts the blinds with ihs fingers again and peers out to the street below. "All I know about their leader is that he's missing and they're searching for him. Beyond Simon Broome, he's the true power behind the Institute, the true man behind the curtain. Everything I've heard tells me that when they do find him it's going to be the beginning of the end."

Roger's dark eyes sweep back to Veronica from the window. "I need to go," seems so abrupt, "I've done what I cam ehere to do."

Her eyes narrow at the tone when he calls her a hero. She's anything but, though it's what she set out to do so long ago, upon a foundation of lies. But there's a nod at the word respect and the few words of advice he offers.

"Damned if I do. Damned if I don't. Maybe I should change my name to Yossarian," is a bitter reply in her husky voice. But Veronica nods. He needs to go — he's living on borrowed time in the most literal sense of the word.

"Thank you," she murmurs, her eyes studying his face. A shaky hand reaches up to push a strand of unkempt hair behind one ear. "And…" her eyes drop away, her jaw tightening slightly, "I'm sorry. For what it's worth."

A blank expression remains on Goodman's face, that ever-stoic mask that he wears, half cast in moonlight. "Don't be," Goodman asserts with reluctance, "if I was in your position, I'd have killed you too." Brows furrowed, Goodman slowly tilts his head to the side and raises one thin brow, watching Veronica thoughtfully after having delivered that truth.

"Remember that," Goodman adds, "every cornered animal bites." With that riddle left behind, Roger Goodman disappears in a flash of vibrant violet luminescence, leaving a mist of purple drifting like smoke in the air in his wave, scintillating dust-like particles slowly dissipating as the smoke folds in on itself like being sucked through a straw, then disappears entirely in a tiny puff.

Veronica Sawyer is left by herself, in the dark of the apartment, half-cast in moonlight.

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