Pot? Kettle Calling


elisabeth_icon.gif magnes_icon.gif

Scene Title Pot? Kettle Calling
Synopsis Magnes comes bearing gifts, and Liz gives him some hard information.
Date Oct 23, 2009

Magnes's Apartment

It's later in the afternoon, and Magnes' room looks relatively normal, with the same pizza scent faintly rising from the shop below. Though occasionally one notices articles of female clothing left behind by Claire occasionally sleeping over lately, usually on top of his dresser or a shirt laying on the bed. Today he's wearing the faded blue Superman shirt he got the other day, with a pair of baggy loose-fitting blue jeans, and black sneakers. And, while waiting for Elisabeth to arrive, he's fiddling with a large black dufflebag, unzipping it just enough to dig inside. She wasn't told why he needs her to come over, just that it'd be of interest to her.

Elisabeth told him she couldn't come by until after her work shift. So it's nearing the dinner hour when she finally makes it. The knock on his door is brief — not like 'open up, it's the cops!' but definitely not a tentative tap either. When he opens it, she has a faintly puzzled expression. "Hey, Varlane. What's all this about?"

The door is closed and locked behind her, and he raises a little ziplock bag with a bit of freshly dried blood in it (Can't be more than a day old), and a molar. "Emile Danko's tooth, I thought after what they did to you, you'd like it." Magnes says with a serious stare, though there's a touch of sympathy in his tone.

As she turns around to face him, the door being locked behind her, Elisabeth …. stares. "That's… disgusting," she tells him mildly, her brows pulled down into a frown now. "How the hell did you get that?" The very fact that he's offering her some kind of trophy perhaps also weirds her out just a little. What does Claire see in this kid? He's cute in a kind of goofy way, but….

"I pulled it out in the middle of interrogating him, if you wanna call it that. The only reason I couldn't arrest him was because of the mercenaries, I couldn't escape with him and my life, they wanted whatever bounty is on his head I'm guessing. Who knows what they'll do with him, but it's thanks to them I got him in a corner." Magnes and his tooth bag walks over to the bed to take a seat again, motioning for her to come over. "I cracked all of his ribs, crushed his stomach, and collapsed his lung. He'll live, I made sure I didn't damage him on the outside. I just thought you'd wanna hear it. I don't know if you'll be angry or not, Abby was angry when I told her something like this, but you still deserve to know."

Elisabeth's expression, contrary to Abby's reaction, becomes very shuttered. Neutral to the point of being cold. "I think you better tell me exactly what happened, Varlane. What mercenaries, and how the fuck did you get your hands on Danko to start with? Start at the beginning and keep is very short." Whatever she's feeling sends a gentle thrum of sub-audible bass waves through the room, not so much heard as felt like a gentle pulse of air ruffling the skin.

Magnes rubs his arms at the strange feeling, though mostly doesn't pay much attention to it, watching her face to try and read her mood somehow. "Yesterday while following various Humanis First rumors, Emile Danko sightings and such, I finally narrowed things down to Midtown. I'd been flying around there for a while until I spotted the mercenaries chasing him down. There didn't appear to be an Evolved among them, so I ruled out any known organizations, and at times they seemed to be having fun with it. Then one of them said something about needing him alive or his head intact."

He leans down, unzipping the dufflebag to slide the ziplock into it, since Elisabeth doesn't want it. "He was running into an alley, which was closed off from the back due to the rubble, but I slipped in through the rubble before him and closed it off, then I hid on the ceiling, which was essentially two buildings leaning together to form one, and when he entered, I froze him there, and questioned him. After a while, I realized he could withstand torture, at least as far as answering questions goes, but I knew it was hurting him. I didn't intend to kill him, but I couldn't arrest him either because of the mercenaries. One of them walked in on us, but he didn't do or say anything, so it was clearly not a personal vandetta they had. so I left him there and slipped out when I was sure the guys were starting to move in. I took some very useful items from him, all of which I'm turning over to Phoenix. I'd normally give it to the police, but in the case of Humanis First, this isn't the kind of stuff I can risk disappearing because of corrupt cops."

Danko. In Midtown. In the ruins. Near her people. Oh, that's not going to do at all. Elisabeth whips out her cell phone and sends a fast text out. R, put a lookout. Danko spotted in Midtown recently. —E She shoves it back into her pocket, and looks up at him as he continues to talk. Her jaw clenches tightly. "You couldn't arrest him anyway?" She pauses. "Okay, I'm going to leave aside that part for just a minute. You do realize that anything you turn over to the cops is tainted evidence, right? It's unusable in a trial anyway, so you may as well give it to Phoenix." Her voice is tight as she watches him and asks quietly, "Are you trying to turn it over to me in the hopes that I know who to give it to, or for some other reason?"

"No, I couldn't arrest him, those mercenaries had the area pinned down except for the exit covered by rubble. I could have tried to make a hole large enough for us both to get through, but they were starting to move in, and if they saw me trying to take him away, well, you'd probably not be talking to me right now." Magnes explains, basically having to leave Danko or risk getting shot by bounty hunting mercenaries. "I was only giving you the tooth, I don't know, I thought it would make you feel better, but I'm starting to realize people aren't big into an eye for an eye, at least not in the literal sense. The evidence is going to Phoenix no matter what, I can't take any risks. I have Danko's phone and I don't want anyone touching even one button until an electronics expert can look at it. I can trust Cat to get everything to who needs it. I have his guns and a knife too, don't know how useful they'll be."

"Cat's…. a good choice," she says. Elisabeth blows out a long breath, attempting to choose her words carefully here. "There are so many things wrong with everything you've said so far, Varlane, that I'm not even sure where to start. Do you remember that I said you and I needed to have a talk? Well, … now's the time." She moves now to go sit down where he previously gestured. "The first thing you have to understand about what you're doing out there in your mask and whatever else you're wearing…. is that NOTHING you do will ever be admissable in a court of law. You are, in fact, just as much a criminal as the people you arrest during your day job. In point of fact, based on what you just said to me, you are just as much a criminal as Danko himself because you chose to cause him pain while you attempted inexpertly to interrogate the man. Everything you do out there is against the law. So… to say that you 'couldn't arrest him because of the mercenaries' is not even remotely close to correct — you couldn't arrest him because you were not going at him as a cop! If you'd even tried, his lawyer would have gotten him off, made him a sympathetic figure because you tortured him on the streets, *and* pressed charges against you."

Elisabeth falls silent, nibbling at her lip. "Magnes… I'm going to say something to you that may be hard to understand here, but you need to understand this. If you're going to play both sides, there is a VERY fine line to walk, especially when you use your powers in both places. When you go out as a cop, you're a COP. You do the job, you follow the letter of the law as best you can. But I also believe that the oath we swore — to serve and protect — extends to cover certain other actions. Torture? Even murder? Those…. are not actions that the oath covers in my mind. Having already been faced with the man who tortured me…. I couldn't pull the trigger. Someone else had to. Faced with the situation you were in? I don't…. think I could have killed Danko either. But damn it…. you had him in custody. You could have trussed him up and FLOWN both of you out of there, dropped him off in front of headquarters. Regardless of HOW he got there, … Christ, there's a warrant out on the man! At least we'd have had a CHANCE at prosecuting him!" She scratches her head. "This is a complicated way of life you've chosen, and I'm not sure you even get that."

"I know things are complicated, if I didn't do you think I'd be as stressed out as I usually am? I do what I can, knowing the risks, and I do my best to plan. I know why you think what I did is wrong, but I can't feel sympathy for a person who's caused so much pain to so many people. He needed to know what it was like. And it's not as if he escaped, I left him stuck to the wall so he'd be there when the mercenaries arrived. I don't know what they wanted him for, but it won't be good." Magnes sighs, hunching over and holding his forehead, wincing slightly. "I want him arrested as much as anyone else, but there was no way for me to take him out of there that didn't end in 'And then the mercenaries shoot Magnes'. I'm sorry, I do know my limits…"

Elisabeth says quietly, "I wasn't angry at you for NOT taking him. You said you couldn't get out. I'm angry at the fact that you were so damn close and had to leave him." She offers a small smile and a sigh. "Your heart's in the right place, kiddo. It's your… ability to actually juggle this game that I worry about. Your powers are pretty distinctive, and you use them in both jobs in the same ways. It's going to get you caught. As it is… you know that Homeland Security probably already knows what you're doing. They choose to let you operate for the same reason they choose to let a bunch of us continue operating… because you're doing their job for them. If someone realizes what they're seeing when you use your powers, Magnes…. they won't keep turning a blind eye. They'll incarcerate you." Her tone is gentle. "Do you have an exit strategy if you're nailed? Do you have any kind of a backup plan? Because I'm pretty much betting here that you just became one of the top annoyances on Danko's list of people he hates." Or, well, maybe not — who knows with Danko, but Liz is still worried about the kid.

"I think about who knows what I can do pretty often. The general public knows I land choppers and can fly, as far as they know I'm Superman. Danko may or may not know I can fly, depending on the assumptions he's made. But between you and Danko, no one else knows about the organ crushing. There's little details I make sure are distinctly different in both lives, but I do understand what you're saying." Magnes smiles, moving to place a hand on her shoulder just as he did to reassure Bella the day before. "But you only have to worry about me for a little while longer. Once Danko and White are nailed, I'm focusing on trying to join FRONTLINE. But if I'm nailed before then? I have a plan, I just can't tell you. It's an absolute last resort, multiple last resorts actually. I know they say comics rot your brain, but I've read enough Batman comics to know that getting busted after long-term vigilante work is more of an inevitability than something you can avoid, and you have to be prepared."

Elisabeth looks up at him and shakes her head. "Do you hear yourself? This isn't a comic book, Magnes. There is no way you're going to be allowed to join FRONTLINE. It's military personnel only. So unless you're planning to enlist, it's pretty much a no-go right out of the gate for you. And even then the fact that you're out here doing vigilante work is not going to work in your favor." She sighs. "Getting caught is inevitable. Believe me. It's something that every cop I know who's worked both sides of this knows before they do it. I'm not just worried about you. I'm worried that you're going to expose people that I care about … or get them killed. Did you know that the night the Ferris wheel went down, it took Claire into the harbor and held her under? She died, Magnes. She drowned out there. Only her ability let her come back." She looks up at him. "A lot of the other people doing this job? Cat? Me? Cardinal? We're not that lucky. And you don't think ahead when you act. You have no strategy, you just do things. Do you think that torturing — ineptly, I might add — Danko is something he's just going to ignore? Or did you think that maybe he might take it out on the next innocent person he grabs?"

"Claire died?" Magnes knows she came back, but the very thought… "I don't know, I plan to stop this vigilante stuff soon, and I'm not copying comics, I'm just saying, I get inspiration…" His tone is a bit dark, as if he's barely focused on what he's saying, staring at the bag in front of him. "I'm sure the mercenaries have Danko…" still trailing off, he looks back over at her, frowning. "Claire died?"

"Well, I hope to hell you're right," Elisabeth says with a grimace. "I hope whoever they are, they wanted to beat the shit out of him and they're going to kill him. If you can manage a sketch of them, that would sure be helpful. Maybe we can figure out exactly who else he's pissed off here." She puts a hand on his arm, her expression weary. "Yeah, Magnes. She died." She's quiet as she looks at him and says softly, "Lucky for her, she comes back. But I've already lost one lover and nearly had to bury two others in this fight. Tweaking the tail of the tiger like that? I'm worried. You need to be extra careful. If, God forbid, Humanis knows who you are…. you're definitely in danger." She sighs. "I don't know what to do to help you. I really don't. I want to. I want to keep you alive long enough to let you … maybe turn into the guy you're supposed to be, Magnes Varlane. But I seriously don't know what to do to help you."

"If I quit being a vigilante right now, I may have covered my tracks well enough to just put it behind me." Magnes says as he stands, moving one of his comic book cases out of the way of his closet door. "I can't keep doing this, I should be focusing on protecting Claire and doing what I can legally. But what am I supposed to do when they fire me? FRONTLINE was my backup plan, the NYPD is firing me…"

There's a snort of laughter, quickly smothered. "Well…. if you're going to focus on what you can do legally, you're not going to be able to focus on protecting Claire. Leaving aside the fact that that young woman is more than capable of protecting herself generally, she's also more than capable of protecting any number of others." She grimaces. "And yeah… I kinda of expect they are going to fire you. Probably for the same reasons the Company did. You're a good kid, Magnes, but … you're just not playing it smart sometimes. I'm sorry that it's biting you. If you're asking my advice, I'd suggest you try to do some college classes. See if you can turn this dedication you have in a new direction." She smiles a bit. "Hell, maybe become a lawyer or something eventually. God alone knows, some of us could seriously use a good one. Specializing right now in Evolved issues sure would put you on the cutting edge."

"Someone's already paying for me to get my investigative and physics degrees, but I guess I could change out my physics major for law. I'm not sure who's paying, but they haven't minded so far…" Magnes pauses when something that skimmed over his ears suddenly comes to the front of his mind again. "Wait, wait. Did you just say I was in the Company?"

Elisabeth purses her lips. "I told you that the day I brought you back here, though maybe you don't remember. You had a job with them. It wasn't a good fit, and you were let go. The way I understand it, the wipe is standard procedure so you couldn't accidently or on purpose give away classified information." She shrugs slightly. "The agent in charge of you contacted me and asked me to bring you home safely. He thought you were a good kid."

"When Peter Petrelli told me about the Company, I didn't know it was the same place…" Magnes doesn't open the door, instead he walks back to the bed and flops down. "Alright, you know stuff about this. Do you know what my note meant? You know, by leaving them for Claire?"

There's a pause at that. And Elisabeth says quietly, "At best guess? You realized you were out of your league. The Company always has its own agenda, and they like to keep tabs on certain people when they can. Claire Bennet is one of those people."

"This sucks, I screwed up again. Every time I think I've got it together." Magnes groans, falling back on his bed to stare up at the ceiling. "I know Claire wants to help, but there's certain things I don't wanna drag her into, so more often than now, I'm doing things on my own. It's not like I have a group backing me or something. I'm doing my best to help who I can, I put my neck on the line hoping that something good comes out of it. But every time, every single time, whatever good I manage to do comes with this huge mistake I made." His foot lightly nudges the duffle bag, grunting once more. "Well that's it. I'm dumping this stuff off with Cat, and I'm done. My ability is supposed to be a responsibility, well I'm not Spider-Man, I can't keep doing this stuff with everyone saying that I'm screwing up and that I should stop. If they want me to stop, then I'll stop. I'm sure someone else would have gotten Emile Danko's phone which likely has a bunch of his contacts if I didn't." Yes, he is a tad bitter now.

Tilting her head, Elisabeth listens to him rant and grins faintly. "You sound like me," she tells him quietly. "Every time shit hits the fan, I wonder…. if I've done the right things. I'd like to think the answer's yes, but …. that's pure ego. We all do the best we can with what we've been given, Magnes." She considers. "To be quite blunt here …. the only reason I think you should stop is because I don't think you think through your strategy very well. You tend to see a situation and you go barreling in like you think you are in fact Spider-Man. On the other side of that, though… are the people you have helped. I watched firsthand how many people you helped save the day the Municipal Building came down. And I think you have a lot of potential, and a lot to offer, Magnes. Even if the NYPD is letting you go because of the interview and whatever else…. I honestly don't think you should give up. I just think you should… operate smarter."

"I don't know, when Gabriel himself starts giving me psychological advice and says I don't trust people enough, maybe I need a mentor. A therapist only goes so far, I need someone to teach me all the right things I should be doing." Magnes is giving her a rather expectant look as he says these things, hinting. "And by the way, don't freak out about Gabriel, Claire banned me from seeing him."

Elisabeth reaches up and rubs the side of her forehead, the movement absent but giving away her stress. "Probably for the best, though…. I understand that somewhere in that future that some friends of mine saw, he was a friend of mine." She grins faintly. "Seems like insanity right now, but… perhaps not considering that I find myself working with the very people I've fought to bring down. There isn't much in this conflict that's black and white, Magnes, that's for damn sure." She sighs heavily. "Before I can help you, you gotta figure out which side of this you're on," she says, looking at him directly. "It's hypocritical, and believe me … I know it. But until you figure out if you want to dance on the legal side of the line or the illegal one… I don't know how best to advise you." She shrugs a bit. "I don't think that at this stage of things you have the …. skills that you need to be able to straddle the line. Hell…. not even sure I have them, but so far… things are working out mostly okay for me. In your case? Not so much." She smiles a bit. "When you decide for sure where you want to stand in this, when you're ready to commit to bein either a vigilante or an activist…. then I can help."

"Gabriel said that me and him are police partners or something in the future, and friends. Apparently I hit rock bottom, and since I tried to help him before, he got me back on my feet. I'd never go against Claire's wishes, and I don't know, I've seen Gabriel do some horrible things, but I just feel like he's as lost as me." Magnes shrugs, sitting up and hunching over again, calmed considerably from earlier. "I know you said it's impossible, but I still wanna talk to some FRONTLINE people before I decide anything."

There's a faint shrug at that, and Elisabeth says, "Nothing's impossible. Especially not if you and Gabriel Gray are fuckin' police partners." That just blows her away. Seriously. Sylar as a cop!? What's the world coming to??? "Good luck on getting close enough to talk to anyone. The best advice I can give you on that is … the same advice I'd give you as a rookie. Don't talk. At all. Listen. And watch. See if people's actions match their words. And remember that actions speak far louder about what their true mindset is."

"I'll try. I think I'm getting a bit better at the whole investigation thing." Magnes stares at her for a while, just kind of going quiet, then asks, "So, is there anything else you wanna say, or should I fly you home or something?"

Elisabeth chuckles softly. "The saddest part of this is that I always feel like most of what I say goes in one ear and out the other with you. Like what you probably hear is blahblahblahblahblah." He reminds her so much of the seniors at Irving sometimes. "Anytime you want to talk, by all means…. feel free to call me, okay? I might give you shit about the stunts you pull," she warns, "but …. Claire sees something in you, and so do I. I'd really like to see you make it." She moves to stand up. "I can get home on my own just fine, thanks."

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