Out Of The Loop


conrad_icon.gif helena_icon.gif

Scene Title Out Of The Loop
Synopsis Conrad feels out of the loop, so Helena tries to get him back into it.
Date December 14, 2008

New York Public Library

Once upon a time, the New York Public Library was one of the most important libraries in America. The system, of which this branch was the center, was among the foremost lending libraries /and/ research libraries in the world.

The bomb changed that, as it changed so much else.

By virtue of distance, the library building was not demolished entirely, like so many others north of it; however, the walls on its northern side have been badly damaged, and their stability is suspect. The interior is a shambles, tattered books strewn about the chambers and halls, many shelves pulled over. Some have even been pulled apart; piles of char in some corners suggest some of their pieces, as well as some of the books, have been used to fuel fires for people who sought shelter here in the past.

In the two years since the bomb, the library — despite being one of the icons of New York City — has been left to decay. The wind whistles through shattered windows, broken by either the blast-front or subsequent vandals, carrying dust and debris in with it. Rats, cats, and stray dogs often seek shelter within its walls, especially on cold nights. Between the fear of radiation and the lack of funds, recovery of the library is on indefinite hiatus; this place, too, has been forgotten.

Helena left Conrad a voicemail, asking if he could stop by the library and talk to her if he had a chance. And it's here where he'll find her, after being directed into the kitchen by one of the sentries. She's standing over a saucer pan of hot chocolate, using a makeshift sterno oven to heat it.

"Why don't we get a for real generator in here?" asks Conrad as he walks in, eyeing the sterno burner. He sniffs once, because it's cold out and it makes the nose run. Hands in pockets as usual, wearing a Minnesota Vikings jacket. One of his seemingly endless collection.

Helena looks over her shoulder and smiles when she sees the new arrival. "Aren't we going to be moving soon anyway?" she points out. "It's almost ready - you want some? There's enough for two."

"Sure!" replies Con cheerily, grabbing a seat because he's too lazy to stand. "Wassup, kid? You give me the impression you have something heavy to talk about."

Helena snags a few syrofoam cups from their supplies in the cabinet, and then pours the sweet, dark stuff into two of them. Setting it to the side, she brings his to him, cupping her free hand around hers. "Yeah. I talked to Elisabeth. I know I disagreed with you about bringing in HomeSec, but I wanna know - were there other times you felt like I wasn't listening to you?"

Con leans on the table with his elbows, taking the cup and blowing on it. Because: hot. "Lemme think. Uhm…mostly it's less like you're not listening to me than I feel out of the loop. You know I didn't realize we'd even kidnapped anybody until Abby told me about it?" He tries a sip and winces. Still too hot. "That kidnapping shit? Huge fucking mess. That should never have happened at all."

Helena nods. "I know. I didn't - I didn't realize how bad it could get. It gets worse, because Brian left Eileen with a butter knife and she used it to stab Teo. And after we traded back for Cat - Ethan insisted we give up Wireless for Dani." She shakes her head. "I'm sure she's been executed by now."

At this point Conrad puts a hand over his eyes and sighs. "Okay." long pause. "Well he probably hasn't, not if we have Cat. Then he'd have lost his only bargaining chip left. So she's probably still alive but really unhappy." That's his guess anyway.

Helena shakes her head. "He was very specific. He wanted Wireless, and we won't give him to her, and he's exhibited being a man of his word. By now he realizes the demands won't be met." She shakes her head. "I think maybe I got caught up in things, I hadn't realized everything would happen so quickly. You being out of the loop was by no means intentional. Do you know how I can make that less of a problem?"

"Not too late to bring in help." suggests Con, hand over his mouth as he thinks hard. "DHS is still an option. Maybe get Wireless to help. How does he know her?" That last is asked with a disbelieving look, like there should be no way.

Helena cocks her head. "Can I explain to you why the idea of using HomeSec bothers me so much?" she asks. "I've explained it to Teo and he seemed to understand. You might have a different perspective. I like the prospect of having a link with SCOUT; Elisabeth's been very helpful so far."

"She IS helpful. And unlike most of my friends I actually trust her." Con says with a grin. "I actually feel a little bad she's wrapped up in this shit sandwich now, but oh well." He takes a sip of the drink and ah…finally it's drinkable. "So I can guess why DHS bothers you, but you gotta cop to the idea that they're out there and gonna do a job on Somebody, so we might as well help it be the right somebody."

"It's a bit like getting the Red Russians to help you stop the Nazis, isn't it?" she asks a touch furtively. "Or maybe it's the Japanese. My history can be spotty in places. But I think you get my meaning. Elisabeth brought herself into this, and she still wants in - I spoke to her today." She looks down at her cocoa guiltily. "I wouldn't have known how you were feeling if she hadn't told me." She looks up, eyes earnest. "You know I need you, right? I mean, not just as another soldier in this. I don't have a lot of people left."

"Oh I know." says Con, nodding and staring right at Helena. "Fact is, Hel, we get another stunt going down like that kidnapping? My bags are packed. No hard feelings, we're still friends, and I'll come when you need me, but I'm not hanging out in this clubhouse anymore. That's why we left PARIAH, remember?" He takes another sip and gestures toward the girl with his cup, "Not saying I'm at that point right now. Just saying I've got a limit. I better not find out that Eileen girl was tortured either. That would be real fucked up. But back to Homeland Security…someday eventually we're gonna have to make peace with those assholes. Somehow. They ain't going away. Either they go or we go or we all get along, and we've already decided we're staying. And I promise you they're not leaving."

Helena takes a breath. "Alex. He tried to torture her, and he was stopped. I've made it clear that's not acceptable. If he doesn't like it, he knows what his choices are." She keeps his eyes. "I'm telling you up front about that. You can decide whether or not you want to leave, but I hope you don't."

Screwing up his face at that news, Con looks like that rankles him, but he shakes his head. "Not so long as he was stopped." he says. "Makes me puke he was gonna, but I'll live. You got a good heart, Hel. That's why I like you. S'why I'm even here."

"I wish that were enough." she replies. Helena's eyes grow hard. "There's going to be some changes. If you have any ideas on how to improve the communication structure, let me know. Think about it, okay?"

"We could really stand to recruit somebody else that can be our own Wireless. We oughta keep an eye out." That's the first suggestion Con has. He half-shrugs. "Other than that, we tie our hands a lot because it's the right thing. And I'd say we need more tech-savvy folks. I'm not so big on that skill myself. I'll letcha know if I got anything else helpful."

Helena looks thoughtful. "It's not exactly like we can pop another technopath out of a vending machine." she admits. "But we can figure out better ways to stay in contact." She gives him a grateful smile. "Thanks, Con."

"Dunno what you're thankin' me for, all I do is pat you on the back and make smartass remarks." Con gets into the mug now, since it's cold out and that stuff is good. And he finishes the mug. "Hey by the way I took Liz to that safehouse we put Deckard up in. Told her she can hole up there for a few days until she feels like going home again. No emergency, more of a precaution type thing."

Helena grins. "You help more than you know. And I saw her out and about today, and she seemed fine." She takes a sip of her cocoa, blinking sleepily. "That's all I got, unless you have something."

"Seen Claire lately?" Con asks casually.

"Once." she admits. "To talk to her about Peter. I haven't heard from her since." Blanching a little she adds, "I haven't heard from Peter, either."

"Her ass is to die for." remarks Conrad simply. He sets the mug down and asks, "One for the road?"

Helena shudders. "Gross, Con. You do know she and I are around the same age, right?" But she obligingly refills his cup.

"You're legal!" he says defensively, taking the mug back once it's full. "What?"

Helena grins. "How am I like a little sister and Claire not? Not that I mind, because no offense Con, I'm sure you're very handsome for a man of your advanced years, but I like my older men a little less older."

"Shut up." replies Con with a smirk. "Respect your elders." he adds with an even less serious tone, getting up.

"I will as long as you stop make comments about Claire's ass in front of me." she replies cheekily. "See ya later, Con."

December 14th: Old Faithful
December 14th: Fathers and Daughters
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