Never Going Back


maya_icon.gif meredith_icon.gif

Scene Title Never Going Back
Synopsis Meredith offers Maya a way forward instead.
Date July 25, 2009

Brooklyn's Women's Shelter

The Brooklyn's Women's Shelter at 116 Williams Avenue looks like any other building on the block. With its red and black brickwork, wrought iron fence and matching security bars covering the windows, there is nothing — not even a sign — to distinguish it from the two private tenements on either side. It could be an apartment complex. It could be a group home for troubled youth. Only the staff and the individuals seeking provisional solace within its walls are aware of its true purpose: to provide quality safety and shelter to battered women and their children through crisis intervention and short term crisis therapeutics and to reduce the occurrence of violence against women and children in the greater New York area.

… or at least that's what the website promises, in exactly those words. At around eight o'clock in the evening, after the sun has set and the street lamps outside illuminate the pavement in a sickly yellow glow, there comes a knock at the shelter's front door.

It's not much for a place to stay. But it has the advantage of not asking a lot of questions, which is a good thing when you don't have a lot of answers you can give. Maya's been here since the trouble on Staten Island, and she's gotten along to some extent by pretending that she speaks less English than she actually does. She's in the shelter, since there's not really any place to go. When the knock sounds at the door, she looks up, and then looks around. Hopefully one of the staff is here to get it. At night, she's not so sure it's safe to open.

Even during the day, there's no way of knowing who or what might be on the other side of the door. While shelters for battered women aren't commonly targeted by extremist groups, there has been an increasing incidence of Humanis First setting its sights on organizations its militant leaders might perceive as being sympathetic to the Evolved. The Brooklyn's Women's Shelter is one such organization, but when one of the volunteers unlocks the door and swings it open, the figure standing on the stoop does not appear far removed from the building's other occupants, Maya included. A woman with a tangle of long, honey-blonde hair steps inside and, shaking off a fine sprinkling of rain, closes her umbrella. "Evenin', Becca," she murmurs to the volunteer as her blue eyes move past her, searching the room. "Sorry to make a make a nuisance of myself again, but I'm lookin' for someone. You wouldn't happen to know a Ms. Herrera, would you?"

Uh-oh. It's close enough that Maya catches her name, and immediately tension goes through her. She sits bolt upright in the chair she was in, holds that a moment, and then moves all the way to standing. Just in case she needs to run. Her heart begins to triphammer in her chest, and she takes a moment to breathe in deeply, trying to slow her heartbeat, and calm herself down. She'd like to believe it's nothing, but anyone looking for her by her name is almost certainly tied in either with looking for her due to crimes committed in Mexico, or looking for her because of the events on Staten Island. Neither is likely to be good for her. She takes a couple steps, trying to get a better look at the blonde woman, as she lets her eyes sweep the other woman for any sign of gun or badge.

No gun. No badge. No uniform. Beneath her coat, the woman is dressed in what appears to be a light sweater, faded denim and a pair of leather boots with pointed toes — if she's packing heat, then the weapon must be very well concealed. The volunteer directs her attention toward Maya with a lift of one small shoulder, saying nothing. She doesn't receive a word in response, either; heels clicking against the hardwood floor, the stranger starts across the room at a leisurely pace, umbrella tucked under her arm and a smile crinkling at the corners of her mouth.

Maya tenses up just a bit more. Her eyes flit about the room, making herself familiar with the exits in case she needs to bolt. But running when there's not a need will just lose her the only place she's found so far that hasn't pressed her for paperwork. She crosses her arms low on her torso; defensive body language. And looking back to the blonde, she takes the bull by the horns and opens the dialogue. "Mi nombre es Maya. Que puedo hacer para usted?" Sticking with the Spanish so as to not break her earlier deception of not knowing much English.

There's a slight pause, broken by a faint whisper of breathy laughter from the blonde. "«I know who you are,»" she says, switching from English to Maya's apparent language of choice as she offers her an outstretched hand. Her accent isn't flawless, but it's close — whoever she is, she's either spent a lot of time outside the States or has been speaking Spanish since she was small. Likelier still, it's a textured blend of both. "«My name's Meredith,"» she adds. Then, "«I'm told that you used to work for a man called John Logan?»"

The offered hand is shaken once, but then let go as if it were on fire when Meredith drops Logan's name. Her eyes narrow some, angrily, and she says «If you're here for him, you can leave now. I'm never going back there.» She wants to say more, but none of it would be acceptable for polite company. She takes a couple moments, calming herself down again before continuing and asking the real question, in a tone that still betrays the cooped-up anger she has from the whole Staten situation: «What do you want?»

Meredith's arm falls back to her side, manicured nails brushing against the inside of her palm as she flexes her fingers. "«We'd never ask you to.»" Go back there, that is. The expression she wears on her face is a sympathetic one, defined by crow's feet at the corners of her eyes and a slight downward pull of her mouth. She studies Maya in silence for another moment or two before reaching inside her coat with that same hand. "«I work for a man named Mr. Bennet,»" she explains. "«Logan caught our network's attention a few months ago, but we weren't able to do much for you or your brother at the time. I'd like to apologize.»"

The dropped name gets no recognition; Maya's never heard of Noah Bennet. Instead, her narrowed eyes are on Meredith's expression as she works to feel out the other woman's sincerity. So far, she apparently decides that the blonde woman is on the up-and-up, because she's neither bolting nor shouting. «Your network. What kind of network is that?» Because it sounds policey to her, and that means trouble.

"«We help people who are having difficulty helping themselves,»" says Meredith. "«People like us.»" The hand in her jacket slips back out, a business card poised between two slender knuckles, though she offers no elaboration on what she might mean. "«Take this. It's the address to the Village Renaissance Building in Greenwich Village. If you want a hand to steady you while you get back on your feet, ask for a woman named Catherine Chesterfield. I think she may know your brother.»"

Dingdingding! That would be the magic topic. Maya grabs the card from Meridith's hand at something just less than "snatching" speed, and looks at it quickly. «She knows Alejandro? Has she seen him? Is he all right?» The other elements that were part of this…possible police, mysterious people who know her, and even John Logan, all of that pales before the possibility of finding her brother. Her expression is pleading, almost desperate.

Meredith shakes her head. "«I couldn't say, sweetheart. Been a long time since I've been down that way, so you'll have to ask her yourself.»" She glances back toward the front door where "Becca" still stands, watching their conversation unfold from afar with her arms patiently folded across her chest. "«"I'm real sorry there isn't much more we can do."»

Maya shakes her head passionately, her hair tossing just a bit. «No, don't apologize. It's the first hint I've had of finding my brother.» A deep breath, and finally, the first English she's spoken in this conversation. "Thank you." She seems to be considering that a hopeful end…mostly because she's planning on bolting out the door and to the address the instant Meredith is gone.

Which promises to be soon. Meredith turns, showing Maya her back, blonde head tilted in such a way that she continues watching the other woman over her shoulder even as she retraces her steps and moves in the direction of the door herself. "You're very welcome, Maya." With a flick of her wrist, she extends her umbrella but does not pop it all the way open until she's out on the stoop. "«If you ever need anything, Ms. Chesterfield knows how to get in touch with us. Good luck with Alejandro.»"

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