No Clean Hands


aria_icon.gif cat_icon.gif

Scene Title No Clean Hands
Synopsis Cat visits Aria Baumgartner in the hospital and learns more about Niles Wight's past.
Date May 3, 2009

St Luke's Hospital

It wasn't all that difficult to locate Baumgartner, Ariadne in the network of New York's hospitals. Although staff wouldn't reveal her exact condition to Cat given she's not a family member, she is, nonetheless, granted access to the girl during visiting hours.

Aria is stable, else they wouldn't let Cat in, but the doctors warned her that the girl can't speak. Of course, given the inside knowledge on the girl's power, that's not going to be a problem.

Her room is small and more run-down than other areas of the hospital, and there's a man in the room next to her who lets out a chest-rattling cough every few minutes. Not the most pleasant environment. No TV, no form of distraction, but someone did give her a bouquet of supermarket flowers. Gio.

She's got IVs in her arms and a tube in her neck. A respirator helps her breathe through her injured throat. Her eyes are closed, but from the way her fingers twitch, she's resting but not asleep.

She spent a bit of time finding Aria, and came here when she did, checking at the front desk to ask which room she's in. Cat avoided giving her name or any information which might link her to the telepath in any kind of official records, not wanting to have any more attention from police than she already has by being present. Elisabeth is one thing, others are entirely different, and even Detective Harrison has to do certain things in avoiding exposure and keeping her position, Cat realizes.

It's with this in mind she approaches the door for whatever room the patient is in, nonchalantly walking on by if there are police present near the door.

There's no police present. Aria is not a high priority victim, sadly. And the NYPD are stretched very thin these days. The only security is at the front desk, where there's a description of Niles Wight and instructions not to let him in. That and a hospital guard checks in on her every twenty minutes or so. It's not much, but it's something.

That being the case, Cat enters the room. She closes the door behind her and walks over to the bed, taking some moments to survey her condition, then picks up the chart at the foot of it and reads whatever's written there. She understands the terminology used, having months before opted to read up on that subject when Dani was here after a vicious beating at the hands of thugs.

After reading, the jean and light jacket clad woman occupies a chair and attempts conversation. Aria, are you listening?

The chart lists her in stable condition, but she's going to be in the hospital awhile. She lost a great deal of blood, and it's likely to be several weeks before she can speak again. But at this point, her chances for recovery look good. That is, if she doesn't have another run-in with Niles Wight.

There's a moment of quiet, then, Hello Cat. Her eyes open. She smiles ever so slightly, but a lot of the area around her face and neck has been numbed, so muscle control is difficult.

Good. You're awake, that silent voice answers, sounding relieved. If you like, I can give your name and location to a friend who makes injuries vanish. But that's your choice, Fraulein. I'm mostly happy the attack failed. Cat glances up at the IVs and the tube at the woman's throat, then at the displays of whatever vital sign monitors they have on her person. Then her eyes close as she fights off a wave of remembering Dani being in this hospital with head trauma.

I'd rather stay here, to be honest. I'm safer for the moment. He may get frustrated if he finds me walking around again. If I stay injured, he will feel like he won a victory. Aria breathes deep. The machine rattles to compensate. You were unexpected. You threw him off his game. I think he'll leave us alone for now. Her fingers flex, gather up handfuls of the blanket that covers her. He is an ambush predator. His tactics don't work if his prey is aware.

I understand, Cat shares. But if you let her heal you, you can get out of here and I can take you to friends who will help you disappear. Give you shelter, even, where he isn't likely to find you. She pauses in projecting there, taking some moments to compose her thoughts, continuing with a question.

He's attacked and murdered before, Aria?

Aria purses her lips and stares at the tube that comes snaking out of her neck. Yes. A beat, And if you knew what we have all done, you would not want to help us. Things have changed since Niles, our Niles, disappeared. But we are not innocents.

I'm not into labels myself, Aria, Cat tells her. Nor am I innocent myself. I'll listen to whatever you care to tell me about yourself and Niles, but I won't press. At the very least she doubts they can be anywhere near as tainted as Gabriel and Peter. You may have done things in defense, and/or in fear of the law, this I understand. The tree of liberty must from time to time be refreshed with the blood of patriots and tyrants. As to other things, those are between you and the law, and even then there should be trials. Due process. What my country is becoming disgusts me. I'll have no part in helping any agency make someone just vanish.

Aria is silent mentally for a moment. She stares off at a vague corner of the room, hung with an art print that's meant to bring some touch of cheer to this sterile environment. But the watercolour boat on a washed out sea doesn't give her any comfort. All she can think about is how that painting was probably the last sight of a dozen people who have died in her bed.

Niles…started out as one of us. He appeared after the bomb and… her mental voice hesitates, then she looks Cat in the eye. We are thieves. A gang. I won't pretend that we're anything more noble. We refuse to live by the laws of this city because the laws are meant to control, repress and whisk away people like us. Niles' words, she realizes. Words that she used to stand behind. The words taste bitter now. Many of us have skills or family connections to live elsewhere, but we choose the farm because we can be free there. Have a community that runs by its own rules. Niles…became our leader. I taught him how to use his power, how to control it, how to make it grow. She blinks, eyes glistening with tears she refuses to let fall. I made that monster.

And now, Cat supplies in a quiet mental voice, he's come back as your enemy, older, as if from the future. Her eyes rest on the woman as she speaks, something solemnly knowing about her features. I think I have encountered associates of his from that time. What their future holds, I can't be certain. I can only suspect something may have happened which caused him to hold a grudge. I may try to make inquiries and learn more.

Niles is dangerous, Cat. Very dangerous. But he protected us. Our Niles did. He never so much as touched one who was behind him. If he is from the future, we must have done something terrible for him to turn against us like this. Thea… She looks up at the ceiling. When she blinks, tears do slide down her cheeks. …was always the most hesitant, always afraid to get her hands too dirty. She was support. She patched our injuries, helped make plans, but never came along with us. Her next touch of mental tone is bitter, but sad, I could see how she would be the first to betray him.

She's thinking, assessing, speculating as she takes in what Aria tells her. I know someone like that, Cat admits. We admire her spirit and her courage, her honesty. She's the healer I spoke of. She heals all who come or are brought to her, regardless of faction or lack of one. Like the Red Cross, this one. But we also don't tell her anything more than she needs to know. A peaceful woman. Religious.

There is silence for a time, a lack of projection.

It may be that in his time he became someone darker than you could reconcile conscience with. Only he and any with him would know the truth, but I suggest perhaps it won't be you who does something terrible, but him. You said you're thieves, not murderers. I don't picture you the sort who would kill in cold blood.

That's because we're cowards. If someone needed to be killed, Niles did it. He enjoyed it. We… Aria's mental tone takes on a colour of shame. …we all knew he was killing more people than he told us about. But he said it was to protect us, and we enjoyed the fruits of his evil deeds. So we turned a blind eye. We are complicit in the murders of I don't know how many people. If we turned on him in the future, I'm sure this is the source of his anger. And from the sound of her mental voice, she's starting to consider that maybe they deserved this.

Stop that, Cat tells her. Stop that right now. Niles Wight came back to kill you for something you haven't yet done, and may not even have done. That in itself says everything, Aria. Don't ever blame yourself for having a conscience. For not being a psychopath. He enjoys killing. He may even have come here to kill you just because you know of things he did, whether or not you told anyone. Because your life became inconvenient to let continue.

Aria snaps her head towards Cat. There's a hard look in her eyes and the tears have stopped. I take responsibility for my actions. I trained him and gave him the means to kill. I must accept my part in this, in the deaths of those people. Another deep breath and her eyes close. The man in the next bed starts to hack. Something is not right with him. I know his mind well and it never felt like it did when he attacked me. There is something cold and broken there. He has suffered.

There's a pause that lingers for a fairly long moment. The machines beep, the respirator huffs. If you find our Niles, please do not punish him for the man he will become.

Yes, Cat agrees, the tone having softened, but that's not the same as believing you deserve to be killed by him, Aria. You don't. She has herself killed, but never enjoyed it. She went into battle to achieve objectives, they resisted with weapons, and she's alive, simple as that. The man she shot at Greenwich Village, he too was a threat. Making explosions. He was stopped the only way possible. And there's betraying Dani, letting her be lost to get killed, no way could they trade a technopath. If these are the kind of people Edward has surrounded himself with, sought assistance of, the chances of her aiding him grow less and less. Save the Company indeed.

I give you my word, if I see the Niles you know, I will speak to him of what his future self has tried to do and see if a different path can be found. Because if Gabriel Gray can abandon murder…

Thank you. Aria's mental tone is grateful. Her eyes drift closed. If there is nothing else urgent you need to ask me…I could use some sleep. With the drugs, it is difficult to focus and communicate like this. Her eyes open again and she looks the other woman in the eye. Aria Baumgartner is a strong woman, but this whole encounter has forced her to reexamine her own morality. It's a wake-up call her alternate self never had until after she had betrayed Niles, five years from now.

She could tell Aria her medical bills will be taken care of, but Cat opts not to. She will simply arrange for it to happen anonymously, in cash which can't be traced to her name. There are things to do also, whether before or after she sees her father. One of them is seeking Edward Ray alone to speak with about his dogs and leashes. She can see little difference between Niles and Ethan.

You're welcome, Cat finally replies. But she doesn't leave. Instead she calls up a memory of a film she finds hilarious and begins viewing it in her mind's eye, letting Aria in on that. Unless asked to stop, she will remain until the patient sleeps.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License