Radiating Suspicions


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Scene Title Radiating Suspicions
Synopsis Trust doesn't come easy for the Gitelmans; miscommunication and misunderstandings do.
Date April 28, 2011


The word Flatbush is an Anglicization of 'Vlacke bos' or 'wooded plain' in Dutch, and while the community has a high concentration of trees, including stately elms, oaks and beeches, it has an urban heart and veins of concrete through which high-emission traffic flows. Most of the businesses in Flatbush are small and family-owned, including boutiques, restaurants and the occasional second-hand shop nestled between taller buildings that advertise cramped office space for rent. Low-income apartment complexes are common but well-kept on the outside to preserve their architectural heritage, but there are also long streets of rowhouses that have decreased dramatically in price over the last few years as well as Victorian-style homes south of Prospect Park and distinguished-looking brownstones in Prospect-Lefferts Gardens, which caters to working professionals or anyone capable of affording a single family residence.

The neighborhood of Flatbush is quite pretty this time of year, with all the hardwoods in the glory of full verdant foliage and the many landscaped flowers in vibrant bloom. From the vantage point of this little pedestrian bridge, all black metal railing and textured concrete with wisteria vining determinedly up one side, the city seems at a distant remove despite the ever-present noise of traffic and urban life — but that background hubbub remains a distinct and not precisely pleasant contrast to the wooded isolation of Pollepel Island.

The woman who stands on the bridge, elbows braced against the railing, attention apparently turned towards the ribbon of water below, presents no remarkable sight in the city. Long dark hair unbound, she wears a windjacket whose brown is only a few shades lighter over teal shirt and black jeans; she seems occupied with tossing crumbs of bread to the trio of ducks lurking below. Anyone who knows Hana of course knows better… although the incongruence might give pause, as little effort as Hana usually puts into blending in.

The smaller figure of a young woman approaches the bridge, and Nora seems to be playing the part of a typical student today, a Jansport backpack on her shoulders and head phones in her ears trailing to an iPod in the pocket of a plain green hoodie. Unlike most 18-year-old students, however, there is an alertness in her eyes and a readiness in her posture — something like a rabbit, legs ready to spring into action at any moment.

As she gets closer to the bridge, her lips twitch into an uncertain and guarded smile. “Hey,” she says quietly, though there’s still several feet between them. Dark eyes sweep the area that surrounds them, and Nora’s head tilts slightly, eyes narrowing as she apparently concentrates on what Hana can’t hear. She nods a moment later — at least, as far as anything out of the ordinary like a policeman’s walkie talkie or an Institute or DHS agent’s earpiece, the area is clean.

A quick, assessing flicker of eyes; Hana's expression doesn't change. "You're radiating I am suspicious," the woman remarks offhandedly, in lieu of any traditional greeting. The statement is punctuated by a plop of bread into water. "Whether it's interpreted as 'I am wary' or 'I am up to no good' doesn't much matter." She dusts off her hands, folding them on the heated rail and leaning against it.

"Try for I'm supposed to be here," she suggests, finally turning her head to look directly at Nora. A beat of silence falls then, a moment's almost tangible weight in the pause. "Is there a problem?" Hana asks, blunt and to the point.

Nora’s eyes drop and she nods at the reprimand-slash-advice before looking up again. “No problem,” she answers to the question with a shake of her head. “Just listening for company. Didn’t find any.”

She moves to lean her arms on the rail of the bridge, looking down at the ducks as they clamor for the bread as it’s tossed down to them. There’s a few feet between the two women, a distance respectful of Hana’s personal space but close enough that they don’t have to speak loudly.

“I guess ‘supposed to be here’ is something I’m not used to. Where I’m from… the only place we’re ‘supposed to be’ is pretty much in prison and camps and buried,” the teen says.

Lest Hana thinks she’s making excuses, the teenager adds, “I’ll work on it.”

No bread left now, and the ducks, well-accustomed to the ways of handouts, seem to figure it out relatively quickly. Though they still paddle around beneath the women, just in case there's more forthcoming. "Doesn't need to be true," Hana points out. "Just that you can counterfeit it." Folding her arms, weight still resting against the black rail, she regards Nora levelly for a moment, then restates the question with more clarification. And a little more exasperation. "The island. Is there a problem?"

“At the island?” Nora echoes, then shakes her head, brows dipping in confusion. “No. Not that I know of. I mean, just the usual, hiding out and the flu and everything, but nothing new.”

She frowns, reaching up to tuck a strand of hair behind one ear when the wind whips it into her face.

“I didn’t mean that you had to get in contact with me immediately when I left the note, just that if you wanted to, you had my information,” she says, dark eyes staring out over the water, narrowing a little as she considers the possibility that Hana misunderstood the note, that she took it for a plea for help or a distress signal of sorts. “I … didn’t mean to waste your time. I’m sorry.”

"My time," Hana counters, her voice devoid of affect, "is mine to do with as I please." Bringing her hands up to the rail on either side of her waist, the woman pushes up from her lean, stepping forward onto the sidewalk. She stands there for just a moment, shoulder beside but carefully, definitely not touching Nora's. Looks over and down at the girl after a beat of silence, with a tilt of the head that could be any shade of acknowledgment. "Enjoy your vacation."

Mouth twitching slightly, as if she might argue, at the first comment, Nora stays silent, eyes following Hana’s motions until her head tips curiously at the words of the second comment.

She swallows, then shakes her head. “Vacation,” is murmured in as flat and neutral of a voice as Hana’s, “is about as foreign as a concept for me as it likely is for you.”

The teen steps away from the railing then and toward the spot that bridge meets dry land. “Thanks for the sentiment, though,” she tosses, half over her shoulder with a toss of long brunette hair; her face only turns enough to let the words fall on the wind and on Hana’s ears, no eye contact made before she is heading back the way she came, apparently taking the words as a dismissal.

The twitch of lips Nora can't see acknowledges the truth of her remark; vacation isn't particularly familiar to Hana as an experience, except when enforced. A beat later, the distinctive sound of her long, purposeful stride interweaves itself with Nora's footfalls; the older woman lets the girl go, her departure directed the other way.

"You're welcome," are the parting words Hana speaks into the breeze, atypical and understated, not pitched to carry but left to the vagaries of chance whether their subject receives the message.

Nora’s footfalls made soft by rubber soles of Converse, a shorter stride, stop suddenly and she turns, watching Hana retreat in the other direction. Her eyes narrow and her head tilts, unvoiced frustration tensing her muscles until, apparently, it spills over.

“So that’s it? Nothing’s wrong over there, so there’s no point in talking to me here?” Nora snap to Hana’s back. It’s not a shout, but the sharpness carries the words where a more gentle murmur would fade in the distance between them.

“If just ‘business’ is all you want, just let me know, and I won’t bother you again.” Nora’s words are unfair — given Hana’s only had days to get used to the idea of her grown daughter visiting from the future — and the flush and sigh that follow are guilty ones.

In this family, temper flares are inevitable. Also contagious.

Nora's words are met with the thumm of impact resonating down the length of metal rail; Hana's hand on the sun-warmed surface provides the pivot around which she wheels back. Her lips press into a nearly bloodless line, not to restrain words, but because the spark of ire doesn't initially come with words attached; that Nora visibly realizes the folly of her outburst doesn't seem to soothe Hana's feathers any.

"What the hell is your problem?" the woman snaps in return, bracing her feet on the sidewalk, fingers loosely curled at her sides. Standing still, but with the sharp tension displayed when only a hair shy of exploding into motion. "You're the one who fucking made it my business! You don't like it, keep your damned business to yourself." Similar words, different context.

Hana draws in a deep breath and lets it out in a hissing rush. "Next time, I won't fucking bother to ask!" she growls out, before twisting around in a scrape of shoe sole on concrete and striding down the street. It's better than the alternatives.

So much for peaceably blending in.

When Hana pivots, Nora’s chin lifts, defiant and stubborn as she stands to weather whatever the storm will bring. Her cheeks flush more in a tangle of anger and shame that will take longer than this moment for her to sort out.

“Sorry if I thought my business might concern you,” she hisses to Hana’s back. “Don’t worry. I won’t bother you again unless it’s regarding the network.”

Nora turns away to move in the opposite direction but doesn’t make it far before sinking onto a bench, fingers curling around the weathered wood as if holding onto it might keep her from lashing out with anything worse than vitriol.

Hana doesn't make it very far, either. She sets a hand on the railing, but without the sharp impact this time, as if its solidity might provide some temporary anchor. A brace she couldn't damage if she tried, and welcome for it. The woman doesn't look back at Nora; the profile of her face is just visible in angular outline.

"You think I'd have come if it didn't concern me?" Hana asks, volume low but the words energetic with anger and resentment. Her hand falls away a beat later, and she keeps going, this time without stopping.

Lesson learned and filed away.

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