Oh, Balls


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Scene Title Oh, Balls
Synopsis Here, there is no airport, nor turtles, nor visions of a future. Instead there is a wayward ball, a lot of swearing, and enough distrust to fill the crater on the moon.
Date September 11, 2010

Griffith Park, Los Angeles, California

Matt Parkman entered the Glendale Hilton at roughly 10 AM.

He didn't walk back out again.

At least, not according to the hotel staff not privvy to the security cameras.

The person they might have seen leave the room booked under the name Matthew Parkman, the same Matthew Parkman who attends closed door cabinet meetings with President Petrelli, looked entirely different, but was easily written off as a member of the government official's staff. It's only when he reaches his old house and is sure he hasn't been followed that Matt lifted the illusion.

But that's been hours ago.

The afternoon heat has ebbed by the time Matt, Janice, and little Matty have settled themselves under a tree at Griffith Park, not too far from a set of boxy benches and a wall of caves. Janice, the majority of her face covered by a pair of diva-styled sunglasses, is taking a break from the demands of motherhood and stealing forty-winks in the sun. It's one of the reasons she tolerates the visits from her ex-husband. She can enjoy a nice day in the park without having to be made of eyes and ears in order to supervise her rambunctious three year-old.

And Matt doesn't mind at all. The game he plays with his son has no rules, though it mostly consists of the two throwing a brightly colored rubber ball back and forth across a small span of grass. From time to time, Matty will stop in the game and point to something, proudly proclaiming what it is. More than once already, he's explained to his father that, "Mommy's sleeping. Shh!" to which the elder Matthew Parkman can only obey.

The tableau in the never-ending Californian sun is, in a word, idyllic.

There is something magical about a vast green space surrounded by skyscrapers, concrete, asphalt and brick. These kinds of places are always Daphne's favorite to go to when she gets a little homesick for the vast plains of her hometown. She's a city dweller, but the country girl she once was likes to find open space, away from the noise and hustle and bustle of the city, and it is those times she comes to places like this.

It is also times like these, when everything is uncertain and she feels penned in by circumstances, that she needs to get out and run. Away from the place she brought Corbin to hide from the Institute. Away from the fears and what ifs, and the I told you so's she's had to bite her tongue to keep from saying.

The winding trails are as cathartic as a hundred tragic heroes' downfalls, Daphne's form a blurred streak of cream and red and black as she winds the switchback trail of the hill that flattens out to the area that Matty and his father are playing.

"Ready, Matty? Catch!" Matt tosses the ball so that it bounces a few times before it rolls toward the toddler, but at the last minute the grinning child is distracted by a college aged woman walking her dog.

"Look, Daddy! Itsa puppy!" The boy's dark eyes light up at the sight of the animal, and all attention on the game is lost as he watches the sleek Irish Setter trot along in front of its mistress. The forgotten ball keeps going, however, helped along by the few undulations in the field before it slips onto one of the trails that frames this little patch of green.

"Yes, that's a dog," Matt says with only a thread of fear in his voice as he catches up to the toddler and lifts him off the ground with a tickle and a good-natured, fatherly growl. Matty erupts in a fit of giggles as he twists in his father's grip, and when Matt buries his face in his son's belly, Matty squeals.

The ball is slow compared to the speed at which Daphne travels — but its path is erratic and non-linear. Daphne is able to react quickly to the obstacles in her path: rocks, divots in the ground, overgrown shrubbery or even a low-hanging tree branch now and then. These are all in her line of sight, and the striated streak of colors makes subtle corrections in her path. The ball, however, comes from the side, from between two bunches of chapparal, unseen by Daphne's dark eyes that are on the path ahead of her.

The pixyish speedster's foot steps on that ball, which rolls beneath her, sending her tumbling at too-fast a speed onto the rough path. Daphne's just fast enough to slow her speed at the last second, but her momentum is still too-fast for the collision with the ground to be anything but painful.

"Fuck," she hisses — just what every father wants his little monkey-see-monkey-do toddler to hear, just as she makes contact with the ground.

This all happens in full view of little Matty, whose eyes widen as he watches the lady appear out of nowhere and fall quite hard. "Daddy, Daddy, Daddy," he rattles off, "The lady! The lady went boom!" He pauses then, one finger still pointing at Daphne, and adopts a more contemplative expression.

"Fffuck." Deciding he likes the sound of the new word, Matty lets out another squeal of laughter. "Fuck!" he repeats, clapping his hands. "Fuck fuck fuck!"

Matt is, of course, horrified. He brings his son down from the elevated premium belly-kissing height he had been holding him at and lifts a hand to cover the boy's mouth. "Shh! Matty! That is not a nice word!" He looks over to Daphne then and narrows his eyes, surveying the situation. He hadn't noticed her either, but neither had he been paying much attention. The park is, for a Saturday afternoon in September, relatively empty of recreationists. It's one of the reasons he wanted to come here.

Still holding his son, who has now made a game of trying to lick his father's palm, Matt walks over to the fallen woman. On the way, he grimaces and wipes his hand on his jeans, giving Matty a dissapointed though slightly amused look that makes the boy giggle with delight. "Are you okay, miss?" he asks as he draws nearer.

"Lady went boom!" Matty chimes with another few claps. "Fuck!"

Bloody palms — check. Bloody knees — check. Bloody elbows — check. New capris now torn to shreds — check. A frightening throb in one ankle — check. Daphne manages to push herself back to sit upon her heels, reaching to pick a stone from where it has embedded itself in the flesh of her elbow, grimacing as she throws the bloody pebble into the path.

"Do I look all right?" she snaps, lifting her face to make eye contact with the owner of the voice, and her face, flushed with anger, suddenly pales when she recognizes the man she's only seen in passing and of course on the news and in the paper.

"Fuck is right," she adds, nodding to Matty. "And lady did indeed go boom." She's afraid to try to stand for fear that that throbbing pain will make her fall on her face again. Best to hope it subsides so she can make a run for it.

Matt rolls his eyes and sighs at his son's persistence in using the word. "Thanks for encouraging it," he says with an exasperated, tight-lipped sort of smile that lacks any real geniality. He does bend to retrieve the offending ball, giving it to the boy to at least stop the clapping. "Look, I'm sorry," he says, his eyebrows furrowed upward in what is indeed concern. To suffer those kinds of injuries, this woman must have been going awfully fast.

Too fast.

"I can call someone, if you need me to?" he offers, taking a step away from Daphne and holding Matty just a little closer as he entertains himself by bouncing the ball against his father's shoulder. "You're pretty banged up, and you might have twisted that ankle." For all the kindness and good intention in the worlds themselves, there's little in Matt's tone of voice.

Call someone? Like who? Like the people that come and put people in coffins? Daphne's dark eyes widen and she shakes her head. "Right, sorry about that," she says, glancing at Matty and then back to Matt. "I'm not around kids a lot, so I don't normally have to edit, you know? Not like you probably do, as a Dad and all."

While she talks to him, she's wiggling her toes on the sore ankle, her weight mostly on the heel of her other foot as she tries to put some weight on the sore foot, to see if it will bear her if she tries to stand. If she tries to flee. She brushes her skinned palms off on her capris, then slowly begins to rise. She manages to get on both feet, though her eyes tighten with the pain of that twisted ankle, as well as the soreness around her knees. They will be bruised and scabbed, that much is certain.

"Look, it's not your fault. I was jogging and I wasn't looking where I was going, and you know, little kids have the right to throw balls around. Just like I have the right to jog on a path." No, that's not suspicious at all, Daphne.


The ball bounces against Matt's head, and he reaches to take it from the boy again. Leaning over, he sets Matty down on the grass with the ball. Matty immediately kicks it toward another group of children playing not too far away, and Matt seems to be alright with his son toddling after it and toward the other corona of watchful parents. He gives them a gentle wave - maybe they know each other from something.

"Jogging," he says with a quick, disbelieving nod. "Funny. I didn't hear you. Or see you. Not until you fell." The woman is clearly unsettled already, but that's all the more reason for Matt to squint at her, turning his head ever-so-slightly as he focuses in on her thoughts.

The loudest thought in her head is simply Run, directed toward herself. Daphne has no identification on herself — no registration card, fake or otherwise, since she hadn't planned on stopping long enough for anyone to stop her. No driver's license, since she doesn't drive. No passports, no state IDs. Nothing in per pockets but a house key and a stick of gum and a cell phone.

The ankle is still hurting her, and she's trying to buy time, to give it a few more minutes for the jar to wear off. She's sure it's not broken or even sprained — it's one of those "walk it off" sorts of injuries. She lifts her foot and rolls the ankle in a circle. "I'm a quiet jogger. Special shoes. And your son was chattering at you. He's so cute, how old is he?" Look, Matt, a red herring!

"Three," Matt says, but he doesn't take his eyes off Daphne. If he is what he thinks she is, it would be a bad idea not to watch her every second. And the excited chatter of the children not ten feet away is enough for him to know Matty is alright. He's just hoping the boy doesn't share his new word with his peers.

Matt slips his hands into the pockets of his dockers and regards the woman with a sterner face. "Running like that," if she was in fact running, "in a place like this probably isn't the safest thing to do. Track might be better. And you might need a tetanus shot, with all those scrapes and cuts, even if your foot's not that bad."

"Cute age," Daphne says blandly, trying to sound interested in a toddler — if he's still listening to her mind, he knows she's not at all interested in the miniature Matt.

She glances down at her bloody knees, the shredded cloth of her capris, and gives a shrug. "I don't like shots. Or doctors. Or hospitals." Shit, why did she say hospital? Daphne's subconscious is dredging up the memory of seeing him frozen in time from Odessa's ability as she and Clara and Odessa raced against him and his goons to try to save Hiro from the clutches of the Department of Evolved Affairs.

"Thanks for your concern, Mister Parkman. I'll be fine. I'm resilient. You just can't keep me down," Daphne says cheerily, taking a careful step backward. Her eyes dart to his hands in his pockets, not sure if there's something there he might be planning on pulling on her.

She doesn't plan on sticking around to find out.

With a quick pivot on her good ankle, Daphne aims herself down the hill, and pushes off, the air rustling past Matt in the wake of her fleeing form.

Matt blinks as the woman tears off, and he almost immediately turns to go and collect Matty. It doesn't matter how much fun the toddler may be having in the park - he can have just as much fun back at home in the yard. And Janice can take a nice long bath while he does so.

But now? Now it's time to leave.

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