No Joke


bennet_icon.gif meredith_icon.gif

Scene Title No Joke
Synopsis Two of the Ferry's chief operatives sit to talk shop after somebody burned down one of the fronts, locked somebody up in a meat locker, and gave valuable and therefore dubious intel.
Date February 4, 2010

The Lighthouse

From the outside, the Lighthouse looks as if it has had better days. The massive tower rising out of the house has fallen from its former glory. It is no longer a shining beacon, guiding wayward ships in from the lost harbor — though some may argue its purpose now is even more admirable. In its current state, the lighthouse seems to be in disrepair. Though upon closer inspection it all seems to be in the details. The paint has chipped away, leaving a discolored patterns of grays, whites, off-whites, and more grays. The occasional graffitti tag is here or there along the large building. One would notice that the doors, the windows, and the integrity of the building are all quite sound and newly repaired. The lighthouse has just been left with the look of abandonement.

Inside is a completely different story. Upon entering the main door, one will find a completely furnished and cozy arrangement. A spacious living room lined with two large blue sofa's, facing each other, a coffee table between them and several large bean bag chairs have been planted in the room. Shelves have been hung on the wall to display various different pictures of the occupants. A large bookcase is against the wall, holding a large variety of books from Dr.Seuss to the Bible, and even a copy of the Qur'an. The living room is focused on the fireplace a small black fence encloses it, the wood stocked on the bricks in front of it.

Connected to the living room is a kitchen, complete with a large rectangular table capable of seating around four on each long side and two on each end. A sink, a stove, an oven, a microwave and two refrigerators complete the look. Several low and overhead cabinets line the kitchen. At the edge of the kitchen are a pair of doors, one leading to a bedroom and the other, which has a padlock on it, leads to the basement.

At the back of the living room a glass sliding door leads out into the backyard of the Lighthouse, but just before it a staircase leads to the upper levels of the structure.

"I figured I'd try to get my news straight for the horse's mouth, so to speak." The lighter flinks back under the pull of Noah's thumb easily, despite that the Ferrywoman knows better than most that he doesn't smoke. "There's been a lot of rumors about security breaches recently. First Harrison says Kershner psychometrically helped herself to Phoenix's Rollodex, now Dalton's giving us warnings.

"What do you think is going on?"

He sits back. Behind and around him, the Lighthouse's kitchen area hardly seems like it has the most gravitas of any safe location ever, but it's where Meredith has been staying for the past few weeks, and it's been afforded the ironclad sort of privacy that you get when you're having a meeting so secret that everybody knows about it.

At ten o' clock, the children are huddled in their beds, asleep or whispering, and Brian is scattered variously, in his basement, on the grounds outside. Dinner's dishes are washed up and still glistening in the drying rack. A window's been cracked open to the might of winter to allow the pyrokinetic's vice of choice to seep out and leave the linoleum and bright counter to smell only of vegetable oil, hot chocolate, and cookie dough. Months after the Lighthouse was burned, the only fires that have been lit here have been sanguinely metaphorical, in the stove, or miniature accidents, but if anyone deserves a cigarette…

Noah doesn't look much changed since the last time she saw him. Gray suit with lines too severe to betray his arms, horn-rimmed glasses, fit, his features too stoic to betray worsening lines of age or fatigue, wool overcoat heaped over the back of his chair. He looks as absurdly at home here, between refrigerator magnets and cereal boxes as she does. Then again, they'd blended in just as easily into Company personnel, once.

He cracks a grin: it's almost rueful. "Besides that they saved the world." He doesn't have to add aloud, Again.

While Meredith didn't think she'd really be at home with all the running munchkins about - she never being a child person, ironically enough - the crowded ruckus of the former lighthouse has been surprisingly relaxing for her. Maybe because she thinks that a place stuffed with kids would be the last place most people would think to find her. And she's actually taken to enjoying her stay here. The disruptions of the past night have led her to less sleep than she normally gets, but in her mind the dangers of the so-called Nightmare Man has been dealt with dreamwise. She doesn't think she'll have to worry about him again.

Seated in another chair across the kitchen table from Bennet, Meredith does smoke and she indulges now that the children are in bed. An ashtray already holds the grave of other rubbed out cigarettes that she's partaken in already. "That warning didn't come easily, by the way. Bad as you were, you never locked me in a meat locker," she eyes him. "And hell if I know. You were with that place lot longer than I was. Best I can figure is they like to see us all squirm." The blonde woman frowns and takes a long drag. "It's not good, that's for sure. I don't know what I like less, the fact that they know a lot of the places we're working out of, or the fact that they're not gonna be keeping it quiet much longer. Both bring down a bunch of questions that I'm gonna like the answers of a lot less."

At the saving the world, the woman just snorts derisively. "Yeah, sure. They saved the world. While they were at it, they could have given us a less cryptic head's up."

Noah doesn't chuckle, exactly, but there's an intimation of humorless mirth in the show of his teeth. "If they were going to get any less cryptic, they'd have to know exactly what they gave Kershner, and I'm guessing they don't care to try to find out. Our relationship with Phoenix is pretty one-sided. They save the world and publish to YouTube. Not a lot in between."

Bitter, much? Noah Bennet doesn't do 'bitter;' it's as cold an assessment as the one Meredith had delivered him, and he's just a little bit too diplomatic to tackle the subject of his meat-locker use (or abuse) or equivalent activities in the Company directly. Nobody's perfect. Everybody's busy. "Well, I'm glad you got out of the meat locker all right.

"You seem like you're in good health." And Noah occasionally does appear perfectly honest saying so. Not that Meredith must really be surprised. The Ferry is going to need every pair of hands it can get, and between Phoenix draining their resouces more than they put in, Hana Gitelman's continuous— unconsciousness, Eileen's enforced double life, and the worsening sociopolitical outlook for the Evolved of the nation, competent and regularly accessible help is far and few between. "I'd agree with you about Dalton wanting to see us squirm— Hell, I do agree with you, but recently…"

Noah shakes his head slightly, as if to say: Perish the thought! One cynic's recommendation to the other, Take this with a grain of salt. "An old Company contact of mine in Russia send word to me that the government's losing patience with Dalton and her operation last month. Now they're scratching our back…"

"Yeah, and they didn't ask us to scratch their's first." That, obviously, bothers Meredith. As little as she knows about the true face of the Company, she knows enough that something is up when they don't want the favor back. "All the information they wanted out of me was about that so called Nightmare Man. 'Course, that was before I knew what he was."

At the comment about good health, she smirks and takes another drag of her cigarette - the picture of perfect health. "You'd be surprised what someone burning down your apartment will do for your state of being. Maybe getting put on ice did me some good." The tone of her voice just oozes sarcasm. Rubbing out the smoking cigarette in the ashtray, Meredith takes out another cigarette from her pack. For the moment, she doesn't light it. Instead, she just taps it lightly against the table thoughtfully.

"The whole reason Ferry works is because we don't publish. Ain't a lotta good to have a secret safehouse if it's all over the papers. Or the internet." At least that's the way Meredith thinks about it. "And I'm not lookin' forward to seeing that change." The blone woman sighs. "She all but told me the same thing. That she didn't know how much longer she'd be in a position to be able to do that. Maybe she's tryin' to get in our good graces so we'd actually Ferry her out. If she has all that information, she'd be too dangerous to let HomeSec get a hold of her."

Now that's an angle to consider. Noah's brow furrows thoughtfully above the horn rims and he says, "Hm," drifting his eyes across the same ridiculous calvacade of baking and children's paraphernelia that Meredith had viewed some some skepticism only a few weeks ago. The Lighthouse is the only Ferry-related operation that's known at all to public, and even then its association with the so-called cattle-rustlers is one of its least-known attributes.

And even then, a sociopathic metal man tried to burn it down, and all of the children within it to ashes. "I think you're onto something. They're up to something." The wryness of his tone makes a play on the words. A reasonable facsimile of morbid curiosity lights his eye. People-puzzles. Noah likes them because he's good at them. "But they aren't ready to tell us what, yet. Maybe the pan isn't hot enough for them to get into the fire, or only Dalton and a few others are willing to jump.

"A 'trap' doesn't make sense, frankly," Noah adds, as if that suspicion is the natural progression of thought. For him, it certainly is. "I don't believe the Ferry could have moved to the top of the Company's hit list, unless we were to be come the sacrificial lamb to HomeSec. The Company and HomeSec have always had their differences. I'll have to go and talk to them when they're at that stage.

"Until then, we can't waste the warnings we've been given. Do you think you'll be up to operating another safehouse soon? Or do you have your eye on one already?" He lifts a brow, looks at the pyrokinetic through the sheer tendriling of smoke from her ashtray.

If Meredith didn't know that Noah doesn't smoke, she'd offer him her pack of cigarettes. This is a man who looks like he's in desperate need of an addiction of some sort. Maybe he's already found it, but it's not drugs or alcohol. It's doing this. Seems likely. As for his statement, she quirks an eyebrow. The cigarette she was tapping on the table stops for a moment as she glances over at him. "That's not exactly a revelation, Bennet. They're always up to something." She's not paranoid if they're actually out to get her.

"I can imagine they've got bigger fish to fry. But Dalton was pretty specific to say she knew we're hiding people who'd be the magic words of 'Tier Three'. I was top amongst her list." For obvious reasons. "So us on a hit list of some sort isn't really that out of the ballpark."

The idea of Bennet talking to them when a few things were already on the move is not exactly unheard of, but it's risky and Meredith doesn't like it. But, she lets that topic slide for the moment. There are better topics to talk about at hand. "If I were everyone, I'd start moving some key safehouses as quietly as possible. I know it's not like we had a bunch of spaces to expand to before, but we'll have a lot less if we get raided." The woman frowns. "I haven't got my eye on anything yet. I've been pretty well stuck on this island. I'd be fine with taking another up soon, but till we've got a secure place, I can still help out here. Least I'll be doing something."

Tier Three? That has Noah's attention, instantly, and with more than a little annoyance. That's annoyingly specific. Divisively so. There are a lot of convicts from the Moab Fed Pen, at varying degrees of insane and varying degrees of useful to the rest of the Ferry proper.

"The Company knows better than most that categories like 'Tier Three' are unreliable at best. And that if there's any reason you need to be put away, it isn't because you're a threat to innocent people with your ability. I've never doubted they were collating information on us, but there's a reason the Company's spent the last three years since the Linderman Act, still bagging and tagging, continuing their research instead of forcibly Registering or dark-holing people off the street. There's a reason you're here now. And I can believe they and Homeland Security are, eventually, going to have their differences. Funny joke: the President is an unregistered Evolved, eh?"

Funny joke. There's enough sarcasm to go around. "Expansion's something we can try," he says, after a moment, selecting one word and refitting it into a slightly more optimistic context. He bumps a square forefinger into the glass of water he'd squeaked out of the tap for himself. He hasn't drank any of it. "We can start making some new real estate purchases and transferring people.

"Get together a few people with logistics to try and determine which ones the Company knows about." There's a hopeful beat's pause: he looks at her as if waiting for a tiny puppet Sabra to pop out over her shoulder and rattle off the list, but Noah doesn't really expect something so convenient. "Focus on those categorized under Tier Three, see if a sting operation to find moles is possible. But there are some projects for us too big and central to let go of. Especially Grand Central Terminal.

"Would you consider joining a committee like that or the Terminal, back on the mainland?"

"Hilarious." Meredith certainly took that joke like she assumes Noah expected it to be taken. She's not laughing. This certainly calls for a cigarette. "I think she was trying to scare me. And, most likely, through me, scare the rest of us." It's certainly a good guess - anyone even being threatened with words like that would sit up and take notice. It's not a good association.

"Doesn't mean some people don't want to use those categories. I'm not registered, but if I were, it's not gonna be with some happy, fuzzy ability. Especially now." What with the burning down of her apartment building and other key components, like her brother and her past. "That's the same as it is with others."

With a determined nod, Meredith lights up again, using her fingers to do it. They're only lit for a second, casting a warm orange glow around her face before it's quickly extinguished. It's a move she's used more times than she can count, it's instinctive. "I'd say the sooner, the better," she mutters around her smoke. After a quick drag, it's back into her fingers again. "As soon as we get the place settled, we can let up on the abandoned places, but to keep going as is is a mistake, I think."

The offer of being a part of the committee raises both her eyebrows. She's been in the Ferry for years now, but she's never really been in charge of much other than her own safehouse. This means some sort of politics, which she's neither adept at or interested in. However, the idea of getting the moles and making her own place safer…that's hard to pass up. "Yeah, I could get into something like that. This just off the top of your head, or do you have an plan?"

"For the sting operation?" Finally, Noah grasps the cup of water, lifts it to help himself to a sip. "Integrate it into the moves. Narrow the information channels and supply routes, strict need-to-know basis, and the information's the bait. Start applying telepaths to anyone who seems too curious. It's going to be a pain, and slow down operations," especially without Hana, now, "but necessary. What we'll do with any moles we find— I'd rather not have a repeat of Emile Danko."

Another recent, unwelcome newsbite. He doesn't have to explain to her what that means.

"Real estate? We can make do. And one thing our fine, feathered friends have never begrudged us is funds." Not to be like a spoiled and unloved child, or anything. Sometimes, when you throw money at a problem, it really does go away. Weapons and personnel don't go amiss, either, and money tends to help there as well. "That aside? Working on it. Good to know who I'll be working with." While everything's up in the air.

It's true: he does better here, on the brink of uncertainty, than he would have in a more stable environment, an addiction in a more deep-wired way than an adrenaline junkie's pursuit of death into the sky. One might say the same for the pyrokinetic, really. This is a ship either one of them could have jumped a long time ago. It's useful, sometimes even righteous, as long as you don't— for instance— sit down and count how many days it's been since you saw your daughter.

Noah isn't very good with kids, either.

There's nothing here to toast with, and the troubled political waters of the upcoming months promise little in the way of celebration to a woman of Meredith's predispositions. So he just claps his hand on the table-top and starts to stand, Good night on his lips and a smile that almost reaches his eyes. Sooner the better. He has places to go, then.

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