Not For The Tea


gillian_icon.gif richard_icon.gif

Scene Title Not For The Tea
Synopsis When Richard Ray stops by Gillian Child's brownstone, it's not about the tea.
Date April 12, 2018

Elmhurst: Gillian Child's Brownstone

It’s so hard to communicate by phone these days; the old copper land-lines were damaged beyond easy repair during the war, and the lack of reliable cellular service means that the once-ubiquitous ability to contact anyone at a moment’s notice has been lost, at least in this part of the world.

A third-world city in what was once the crowning example of a first-world nation.

So there’s no warning when the black sedan pulls up outside of Gillian’s place and parks, and Richard Ray climbs out. He’s dressed down into more civilian gear; black jeans, a black sweater against the weather, a sturdy pair of work boots. A glance up at the sky, and then he’s strolling up to the front door to hit the doorbell - and knock, just in case the doorbell isn’t connected.

Dropping back to his heels, he waits for an answer, if there is one. For all he knows she’s out at work or something!

Based on the look of the neighborhood, Gillian Childs has done quite well for herself. The brownstones all in a row are well kept, she has a nice looking car parked on the side of the road that he parked behind. The thing that stands out most about her personal home would be the extra railing on the small set of stairs leading up to the door. Almost as if it had been fitted to accommodate for someone who would have trouble getting up even six small steps.

The handicap railing is something he’s seen a lot of, considering his sister, but she didn’t go as far as to put in ramps like Raytech has to consider where the littlest Ray is concerned. But handicapping might draw some attention, either way. The door opens, both the knock and the ring having been heard through the house, though he can barely see the hint of a shadow through the fancy glass window in the door. And he would have noticed the multiple locks she had to undo before she could open it.

The years have changed Gillian quite a lot. Not just age, cause she still looks the same physically, except for the fact she’s now dying her hair a honeyed blonde, but to go with that completely different look, she dresses differently. Business casual attire rather than lots of black and purple and velvet and leather. It’s comfortable and well fitted and clean, but gives off a completely different appearance than she’d once had. “Cardinal!” She immediately says, a wide smile making her cheek dimple, before she corrects herself, “Sorry, Richard. Part of me will always see Cardinal when I see you.” Though she will apologize for slipping on the name.

As she likely always will. “Come on in. I have some water boiling for tea, if you would like a cup. I have a variety of choices.”

Her home is also as well kept as the outside. A cat sits lazily on the chair, Chandra, the same ginger cat she’d had all those years ago. He’s older, lazier, and doesn’t even bother moving other than to roll and stretch his legs out in a ‘this whole chair is mine’ fashion. “It’s been a while,” she adds, even as she gestures him into the kitchen where she has a breakfast island with stools.

“Hey, beautiful,” Richard greets with a broad smile at the sight of her, not a hint of it feigned, hands spreading to either side, “It’s alright, it’s still weird to me sometimes too… especially recently. It’s good to see you, sorry I didn’t call ahead but— well, the cell network’s not what it used to be.”

A tip of his head in gratitude as he’s invited, stepping over the threshold - the sight of the cat bringing a smile to his lips even as he follows her towards the kitchen, “It has. Sorry I haven’t stopped by sooner, you know how life is… gets away from you… I hope it’s not a bad time?”

There’s a slightly weary air to him; shadows beneath his eyes, a bit of strain to the smile despite its honesty. An emotional sort of weight, the sort of which he hasn’t shown signs of for years.

“No of course not,” Gillian gives her hand a little dismissive wave. “The network’s actually not bad here. But you didn’t set up your house next to the only working cellphone tower, so that would have made getting a call through difficult.” She did. She also lives close to where her daughter currently works, and that had been one of the many things she’d been grateful for. If her daughter needed her, the texts usually went through with little problem.

“Texts are better, too. Assuming those big hands of yours can type.” It’s a joke, as she gestures to the tea-selection that he can pick from. Everything from Earl Grey to Chai to even things like Lemon Ginger Herbals. She has a variety. Mostly because boiling water was pretty much the only way to safely drink sometimes, depending on the pump quality in one’s area. She actually has running water— most days.

The water is put on for when he makes his selection, and she looks back, “I don’t suppose this is a social call? I imagine you’re still quite busy with your new initiative.” Just as she’s often busy with her projects for the Safe Zone.

“No, Valerie insisted that we set up shop in the crumbling ruins of scenic Jackson Heights, instead,” Richard states wryly, “Which I understand the value of, and the good we can do there, but the lack of infrastructure is a serious pain in my ass. We had to tap our own well even, it’s like we’re Amish.”

The selection of teas is glanced over before he allows, “Chai sounds good.”

He leans himself against the counter, admitting, “It’s not, though— well, getting some social visit in would be good. I don’t see you nearly enough— don’t see anyone nearly enough these days outside of Raytech. So before we get to that business— how’ve you been?”

“Busy. Between former Lighthouse Kids getting shot and refusing to move into the Safe Zone until I offered to try to move all her animals from the Bronx into the Safe Zone in some manner— potentially illegally if I can’t get the Co-op to sign off on it and the Food thefts and the possibility that there’s been a human trafficking group that has been kidnapping SLC-Expressives for god knows what… it’s been a long few months.” Gillian might be exaggerating, but considering they rode a crab together in Argentina, she’s probably not.

“And seeing the bastard who branded me in the newspaper didn’t help things, either.” A bastard who she was pretty sure was dead. “Someone who’s supposed to be dead, but really, how many times have the both of us died?” While she only knows of one time really for him, she can barely count the number of times she’s died on one hand. She’s not even sure she can.

Cause she’s not sure if she died in the Arc, or if she just imagined it.

“I think it depends on how you count it…” Richard shakes his head slowly, “Christ. Sounds like you’ve had an interesting few weeks.” He brings one hand up, pinching the bridge of his nose for a moment before letting his hand fall, a crooked smile offered over, “It never stops, does it?”

A deep breath’s drawn in, and he looks down at where his hand rests on the countertop, Peter Petrelli’s handprint permanently burnt into the skin of that hand as a reminder of one of those things that never stops. “Iago— I know. I saw. I’m heading out there with a Wolfhound squad next week— I didn’t tell you that,” he adds with a flicker of his gaze up, a hint of a smile again, “Hopefully we’ll get some answers. I’d like some answers, frankly, all I’ve been coming up with is more questions lately…”

“Is there anything I can do to help, Gillian?”

“There’s probably going to be fundraisers, and I might need some help rounding up the animals and getting them into a Zoo if the Safe Zone agrees with such a plan. Opening a Zoo probably won’t pay for itself, even if the amount of animals are just what’s already existing off of our environment. There’s even a wolf pack in the Bronx, right now more interested in eating rats than people, thankfully.” Gillian shakes her head, though she turns around when she hears the steam whistle through the small opening, pulling a bag of chai and one of lemon ginger and pouring the water overtop it.

She returns with the two cups, setting his down and finally taking a seat. There’s some sugar in a sugar bowl, should he want to sweeten it up any, too. But she doesn’t even start to sip hers yet. It needs time to cool and steep.

“If I have anything you can definitely help on, though, I can stop by. I kept meaning to, but…” She waves a hand. So much going on. So much that a man back from the dead, no matter how terrible he had been, was actually the least of her worries.

Mostly because he was so far away.

“We’re looking into doing what we can to clean up Jackson Heights, rebuild and all… maybe we could work together, a zoo out there would certainly attract more people to the area,” Richard suggests with a motion of his hand towards her, “So let me know if you’d like to collaborate there.”

He steps along over to claim a seat, reaching out to warm a hand on the cup itself. “I understand that, too. Life’s just hectic sometimes…”

A slow breath’s drawn in, and then he admits, “So… I wanted to talk to you about Eve.”

“Jackson Heights is home to the old Queens Zoo, right on the north eastern edge of the district. I had actually considered that site a good possibility for a livestock area. It had already a large location in the old zoo dedicated to livestock, complete with cows, large rabbits and sheep. If any of the facilities could be salvaged, we could use the land for goats, sheep, chickens and even rabbits.” For food and wool purposes, not for petting. But it would get the safe zone another step closer to sustaining itself.

And providing some food within their own districts. Gillian has been doing research on it, has a whole spreadsheet for proposals. “The more family friendly Zoo would probably be in Park Slope, which also needs rebuilding. Where the old Brooklyn Prospect Park Zoo had been.” It’s a thought, at least. “We’d just need to round up as many of the wild animals that were released when the city fell.”

And there’s more than a handful of them.

But then— he mentions what he’d actually come for. “What trouble has she gotten into this time? Besides the well incident— ”

It seems she knows a little of what her old friend has been up to.

“That’s not a bad idea. I’ll mention it at our upcoming strategic meeting,” Richard says with an easy tip of his head in a nod towards her, and then he’s bringing up the cup of chai, blowing steam from the surface.

He draws in a slow breath, then exhales it.

“The worst thing she’s done lately is send Samson Grey to a safehouse where Tyler and Libby Case were hiding out,” he says, looking back up with a hard look in his eyes, “Fortunately, Samson decided not to kill them, but it was a very real possibility. She’s also been edging on revealing the locations and identities of people in hiding to those hunting for them, who are under my protection.”

“I don’t— look, Gillian, I don’t want to consider her a threat, but…” He exhales a frustrated sigh, “She’s not giving me a lot of choice if she keeps this shit up.”

For a long moment Gillian is silent, looking down at her teacup as she ponders what all one friend is telling her about another friend. She doesn’t seem surprised at all by the mention of Samson Grey. Or even that he’d gone after Libby and potentially Tyler in the process. Or much of it— other than the last bit, which causes her to look up and take a sip on her still steaming tea.

Once the teacup has been set back down, she nods. “Do you know why she gave him Libby’s name?”

She doesn’t expect him to answer that question, because she doesn’t think he knows. “Eve was my date to the Yamagato Gala. We had a few words before that cause — well— we hadn’t seen each other in a while and she suddenly had a broken leg.” She’ll leave out thats he knows she’d been doing Refrain too, but— well— “Samson Grey followed her home after an auction she went to, apparently, threatened to kill her unless she gave him the name of a regenerator, because that’s the ability he’s looking for right now. She tried to give him Adam Monroe, but apparently he was too lazy to go to China to get him. She could have given him Claire— but instead she gave him Libby. Who’s not even evolved, and certainly not what he was after.”

Even as she says that, she shakes her head, before he can add a ‘but’. “I don’t approve of her putting others into danger, especially not Tyler after all we did to save his cute ass.” Yes she just called him cute. Cause really, he was. And she did make a major Hail Mary when she tried to save him, and it had worked. Even if not how she would have liked.

“Samson came after her again. Obviously after not getting what he wanted. She broke her leg and fell down a well, using negation gas to keep him out. I don’t know who else she might be endangering, but when someone threatens to kill you, you sometimes do things to save your own life.” But she hadn’t given up Claire. “I can tell her to leave the person you’re protecting alone, but I don’t know what else you want me to do.”

“She was all but climbing in his lap at the auction,” says Richard in deadpan tones, “And her reaction when I told her that he was a serial killer that murders people for their abilities was to get excited, so maybe that’s a little less one-sided than she told you, Gilli.”

He brings a hand up, rubbing between his eyes, “Look, she— doesn’t listen to me, at all, she just takes my warnings as something to laugh about, still doesn’t even feel regret for anything she’s done. She listens to you, at least sometimes— just— she needs to chill the fuck out, stop being so destructive. Honestly she needs to get her ass to Benchmark; say what you like about Broome, but putting her on psychiatric meds was probably the best thing he ever did. For awhile she was pretty damn sane.”

"I wasn't there, so I obviously can't know how she was," Gillian responds simply, but doesn't seem to agree with much of the rest of it. "While I could have her commited, I won't. That kind of help only works and lasts if the person themselves makes that decision. But I guarantee she does not want people to be murdered." They both knew of a serial killer, one who happened to become a close friend. And this man just happens to be that one's father.

“I understand she’s done some things in the past, I’ve been present for some of them, but so have we. I’ve probably caused more deaths than Samson ever has.” Not by her own hand, but with her ability, with how people used her. “But I know some people in SESA. I’ll let them know to keep an eye out for Samson Grey. I have no intention of letting him stay at large.” If she can help it, at least. She’s not sure that the people she could call would be able to do much— except maybe Vee. If anyone could be part of a group to hunt down Samson Grey, it would be her sister-in-law.

“And I can encourage Eve to stay off certain drugs and possibly seek counseling. I won’t force her to do it, though, unless I believe she herself is a direct threat to others anymore. Not an incidental one.” Cause it had been Samson that had been the threat, as far as she can see.

“I wouldn’t want her committed, just…” Richard exhales a sigh, taking a sip of the chair, “I just don’t want to see someone I used to call a friend become someone I have to consider a threat, Gillian. That’s all. And I know she won’t listen to me.”

“I have enough trouble figuring out all the other shit going on right now, I don’t want to have to be thinking ‘what’s Eve up to right now’ constantly on top of it all,” he admits, grimacing briefly, “Sorry, I don’t want to put you in a bad position here or anything, Gilli.”

“Believe me, I considered putting a low-jack on her wheelchair after she rolled off on me at the Gala…” Gillian shakes her head a little. She hadn’t really considered it as more than an exclamation of how dare she. But it still sounded funny for the moment. Even if this is a genuine issue she understands. “She won’t be moving around too much, though, with the broken leg. That’s going to take a few months to heal, and I’ll be keeping close to her during all of it.”

She takes another sip on her tea, before suddenly changing the subject, “Speaking of wheelchairs and disabilities— does your company, or your brother, happen to have done any research into genetic damage caused by viruses?”

It’s quite the left turn in the conversation, and Richard arches a brow slightly. “Genetic damage caused by viruses…?” A sip of the chai, and he leans back a bit, “What sort of genetic damage, specifically? I know that we have someone working on spinal damage, and we do have a project - a bit hush hush, but I think I can be confident you’re not a corporate saboteur— “ A grin, briefly, “— working on repairing genetic damage to abilities from burn-out.”

“So what sort of damage, and virus, are we talking about?”

“Did you ever meet Jolene… no, of course you did, she worked at Redbird, didn’t she? Did you know she was my daughter from the future?” Gillian doesn’t wait for that surprise to settle, if it was a surprise. She hadn’t exactly talked about it in their previous meetings, though a few of the Ferry had known about it. She’s not sure this man did, though.

Even with his past connection to her.

“During the war, she the other side, they used a modified and weaponized H5N10 strain on us. Jolene had been hit by it. She barely survived. Lost her ability in the damage, and can barely walk. That’s why my house has been fitted with handicap rails. She has to use crutches to get around, most of the time.”

She shakes her head. “She’s too proud to ask for assistance, and she would probably be mad at me for even asking, but… I don’t care if she never gets her ability back, but it would be nice if she could walk normally, live normally. If that damage done to her could be repaired.”

“What?” The smile’s gone at the explanation, and Richard sits up straighter in his chair, the mug of chai slowly lowered to rest on the table’s surface, “I— I knew she was your daughter in an alternate timeline, I didn’t hear that she’d been— Christ.”

He brings a hand up, rubbing it over his face, “Shit. Of course, I— well, she’d need to come in so we could examine her, or we’d need access to her medical records, but…”

“I can get her medical records, probably, but I will try to get her to go in and get checked out. If she’ll agree to it,” Gillian has her doubts, from the way she’s looking down at her tea cup. The girl happened to inherit both her parents pride and stubborn streaks. And constant need to save people, too. “When would be a good time, if I can talk her into it?”

Because she knows this would be a huge favor, if he did anything. And in a way a risk, too.

But she doesn’t know many people who have their hands deeply into the scientific community. And she hadn’t managed to make any connections when she went to the Yamagato Gala.

“Just call the office and ask about an appointment, I’ll make sure to have a note in your file,” says Richard, not hesitating to make his resources available, “And we’ll see what we could do… mnm. Honestly, I think restoring her ability might be the easiest method, if we could manage it. Then she could just go stand near Claire for an hour or two to repair the rest of the damage.”

He shrugs one shoulder, “But— I mean, that depends on how bad it is, and what’s caused it. I have an excellent virologist on staff, though.”

There’s a pause, and he asks tentatively, “Ah. On the topic of Jolene, I— can I ask some advice? Not about her specifically, it’s— “ Another pause, searching for the words, “Complicated.”

“I suppose that would work, if you could restore her ability…” Gillian responds quietly, but doesn’t sound as if she’s too thrilled with that particular idea. Mostly because she’s worried what her daughter would do if she ever got her ability back again. How much trouble she would jump into with it.

Not that even having to use crutches to get around has stopped her when danger happened in front of her.

But instead of continuing on with that, she nods, “Of course, ask away. If I can give any, I’ll certainly try to.”

“So.” Richard tilts his head back, staring at the ceiling, “How do you… I mean… shit, I don’t know how to ask this in a way that isn’t either weird or sounds offensive.”

His chin drops, and he looks back to her, “How do you… deal with the fact that while a Gillian gave birth to her, it’s not you? Do you still, I mean, consider her a daughter, or..?”

That is kind of an awkward question, but Gillian doesn’t even hesitate before she nods and responds to it. “Of course I consider her mine. I may not have given birth to her, I may not have seen her grow up— I only even had one dream about her.” Some had seen multiple dreams of their children— she’d only had the one. “But she’s my daughter, as much as Hailey is, as much as Lance is my son. All the Lighthouse children— I don’t say it as often, but they are.”

She hesitates, before she adds, “And so is Nate. The boy who I never met, only saw in dreams. But he existed. And I wish I could have known him.” She had dedicated her book to a Nate. Though most no one knows who that had been. It didn’t matter if only three people knew, or if only she knew. He had been her son, even if she never got to touch him, or carry him. Or even meet him.

“I didn’t get to raise her, I didn’t get to give birth to her, but I can be the mother that the other me is no longer able to be.” She can certainly try, at least.

Richard Ray listens as she speaks, and nods… and then he rakes a hand back through his hair. “How did you— I mean, how did you take it, when you found out, when you were told? I…”

Then he grimaces, hand falling to rest on his knee, “Look. I— found my biological father. The one that I was always told was dead. There’s just a— there’s just one itty, bitty, tiny, minor complication.”

“I don’t think I was born in this timeline, Gilli.”

“I was surprised at first, but after a moment I was so happy that she existed I didn’t care.” Gillian admits, quietly. Because really, until she dreamed of Nate she’d never wanted kids, but then she had and she did. But she had always, always wanted a daughter. It had been strange, especially after she met her parents for the first time.

In the past. When she tried to time travel to save them, and ended up possibly sealing their fate instead. She touches the locket that’s always around her neck and then… tilts her head at the final revelation.

“You think you’re— from the future?” Because she hasn’t even really considered the alternative.

“I wish,” Richard allows with a brief near-chuckle, shaking his head, “That’d be way more simple. No, if I was from the future then he’d still be my father…”

“No, it’s— like Edward used to say, time is not a line,” he explains, “Every decision of a certain magnitude creates another timeline. The Flood, the Wasteland, the Vanguard’s Virus— there’s even a timeline where Arthur won. We don’t normally interact with them.”

“But…” He grimaces, “There are ways. I was never born here, Gillian. My mother died before she was ever pregnant, in… this timeline.”

“That…” Gillian tilts her head as she considers it. She had written a whole book about time travel. Fictional, but she understands the concept. Multiple world theory. She had done research on what people thought about time travel when she wrote it, and she’s read the complaints in the fan letters that said certain things couldn’t have been possible.

But she also didn’t include that she herself had travelled through time a couple of times. “Wow.” Yeah, that’s an understatement. “In that case, I’d say he’s your dad if you choose him to be, and if he chooses to be. But if neither of your want that connection— or if one of you doesn’t really, it probably won’t happen.” It would need to be both of them. The father considering the man his son, and the son considering the man his father.

“I wonder what that timeline was like— I mean I’ve heard of different futures, yeah, but that sounds like an entirely different past. And how did you even get here?”

“That’s a… long story, and I don’t have all the information yet, but— “ Richard looks down at the chai, then back up and offers her a faint smile, “I think I’m gonna need something a little stronger than chai if I’m going to give you the whole story here, honestly.”

“I do have some rum hidden away— and some schnapps,” Gillian responds with a grin, but she doesn’t think they’ll be sharing that story today, either way. “Maybe next time, though. And maybe when you understand it better yourself.”

Cause it sounds complicated.

“My door’s open whenever you need it, though.” They were old friends, after all. And even more, at one point.

“Alright, alright…” Richard chuckles, raising the mug in an easy toast, “You don’t want to hear about my fucked-up life anyway.” A wry half-smile, a shake of his head, “Maybe he’ll— understand. Maybe he won’t. Guess we’ll see.”

He takes a sip of it, noting, “I’ll bring up the zoo - farm idea at the strategic meeting, and if the board decides that it’s a good idea we’ll talk to you about it. And I’ll tell the labs to expect Jolene. Hopefully. If she’s reticent remind her that I did explode her place of work, so technically I owe her a severance package.”

“Oh, believe me, we both have some fucked up things going on in our lives— though I am pretty sure I was born in this timeline.” So. There’s that? Gillian does have quite a few strange things that have happened in her life, hints of other worlds and times, hints of things she’ll never do and never be.

And she would say she’s very interested— even if she doesn’t get the drinks and ask him to talk about it right away. “If you prefer to talk about it now, though, I can pull something out. But I think I should probably go check on Eve sooner rather than later.”

And letting Jolene know her former boss feels as if he owes her— that might help. “Good idea. I hadn’t thought of it like that.” That she might use her old job with Richard as leverage to get her to go to Raytech. In the end, she just wants her daughter to get the best help possible, and while the hospital is helping some, it doesn’t quite have the personalized care that she could get elsewhere.

“Hopefully she’ll agree, and hopefully we can figure out something; we’re working on spinal reconstruction techniques for Valerie, the treatment for power burn-out… I don’t understand half the technical-babble, but— “ Richard flashes a smile, raising the mug up a bit in salute, “— I know they’re good at what they do.”

“And yeah, probably…” A last swallow of the chai, and he moves to rise, “Sorry for just barging in like this, I know you’re busy. It was good to see you, though, Gillian…”

“With my new library opening already done, I should have a little more time on my hands,” Gillian responds with a smile, standing up as he does, to lead him to the door. The ginger-yellow cat no longer sprawls on the chair, but instead in the middle of the floor so they will have to step over or around him on the way to the door and out, which the homeowner is at least prepared for and does.

“I hope to see you again soon.” Either as a social visit, or to potentially help her daughter regain— something.

It would depend on many things.

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