Stop Thinking And Just Eat


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Scene Title Stop Thinking And Just Eat
Synopsis Cat and Teo come to an important decision.
Date May 9, 2009

Greenwich Village — Cat's Penthouse

Arriving by any of four elevators, visitors will find they open into three foot corridors facing wide double doors made from sturdy southern pine which swing outward and have the strongest locks available. The stairs lead to single doors, also outward opening, at the end of three foot corridors. Entry requires both a key and a keycard; other security measures are a video camera and voice communication terminal at all doors. The 4th Street side has floor to ceiling windows interrupted only by the access points. Cream colored curtains are normally kept closed.

This level has enough space for sixteen apartments. There is an office space with reception area, conference room, and executive office; a room for archery practice and other forms of physical exercise; a very well appointed kitchen and dining area; a music zone with an array of instruments, electronics, and amplifiers; an entertainment area with an HD set covering an entire stretch of wall from floor to ceiling; a locked room where security footage for the building is recorded and can be monitored; a laundry room; a staircase for roof access; central air and heating; the main bedroom and a few smaller guest rooms; plush deep wine carpet everywhere except the kitchen, laundry room and bathrooms; and track lighting everywhere overhead. The light levels can be lowered or raised in the entire place, or selectively by segments. The overall decor suggests the occupant is a woman.

It's early as fuck, mostly because Teodoro had had to go to the market at the ass-crack of dawn and help Abigail pick out produce while things were still fresh. She's going to be cooking for dinner all day, or otherwise agonizing over the arrangement of chairs and how conspicuous the carpet specks were. She has a cat. There are going to be specks. Surely her parents would understand. After awhile, though, Teo started to pace himself with soothing her, and she settled into the rhythm of preparation in this manic-eyed, silent, quick-cleavered way that indicated that Abigail Beauchamp had finally sealed herself off in an environment of self-contained energies and chemical exchanges.

Teo is at Greenwich Village now. Attending to business, involving dislocated time-travelers and ability havoc, which seems somehow surmountable compared to the prospect of meeting Mr. and Mrs. Beauchamp. Or so the joke goes. He raps the door with his fist, before sticking it into the pocket of his hoodie.

She's awake at that hour, having already been out on the street and secured the Saturday edition of the Times along with some food and returned home. Possibly even just moments before the Siciliano applies his knuckles, because as he does so the door opens partway as indication it hasn't yet been secured. Not far inside the residence she notices the sound and turns toward it, then moves to check the screen she uses for checking out visitors prior to giving admission.

"Buon giorno," she calls out. "Come in."

Always one to cooperate, Teo does. He trods in on a scratchy thump of shoes that gives way to a thumpy-thump of their discarding, one by one, dropped out of his hands at the side of the door, out of the way of anyone who might trip on it coming in. He then shifts his hands over his head, apparently unwary that he might mix particle produce dirt or palmed sweat in with the clean of his hair. "Buongiorno," he calls back, tilting his head to peer through the apartment's vast spaces and shadowed polish. "Do you want me to close the door?"

"Please do," Cat replies from a few yards away. "Is it a good morning for you, Teo?" She seems pensive, perhaps more so than she normally does when in the same physical space as Il Siciliano. There have been streams of information coming at her from unexpected sources lately, the data gained shocking in itself atop all of that. More footsteps are taken, she heading toward the kitchen and hoping/expecting he follows. Apartment? More than that. This floor could hold maybe sixteen of them.

But the walk from where she was to the kitchen table takes less than thirty seconds, both of them having arrived by the door closest to it. She sets down the paper and the bags carried. Out comes the food she procured from the Night Owl, and the items acquired elsewhere. Orange juice, coffee, soda. Pepsi.

Usually, uuuusually, when Cat presents food on the main table where a guest is arriving that means she's going to share it. Teo has this surreptitious, furtive look on his face, which sometimes male college students wear when they're trying to determine where the demarcation of the manners learned at childhood end and the dog-eat-dog opportunism conditioned from a shitty cafeteria diet begins. His fingers twitch. He only looks at the food a moment longer, before his features crease in good-natured self-exasperation. He pulls out a chair for himself and drops himself in it.

"Better than my evening will be, probably. Abby's parents are coming tonight. She's lost herself to the drudgery of filial responsibility. You, on the other hand, met Arthur Petrelli. What's the dead guy like?" Sometimes, he forgets to pay the other generation proper reverence. It's harder to determine where that comes from, either being young or of growing up; some formalities are a waste of time.

[Cat(#340)] "Are you hungry, Teo?" she asks with a chuckle. "I can share." It seems she indeed has enough for him to partake of without shortchanging herself. Steak and eggs, at that. Utensils and a plate are gotten, set out on the table for him to use.

And there's business. "Very much not dead," Cat reports, "or a flawless illusion and acting performance. I'm leaning toward the man being the real him. And he's very knowledgeable about us. Both he and Mr. Goodman, actually. As was Father both times we spoke recently." That can of coffee goes into the appropriate cabinet, then the cola to the refrigerator. "We should invite Wireless into this conversation."

Of course Teo is hungry. He's Teo. He grins, sudden and sharp-cornered, nods his bristly head with enough gusto to have imparted whiplash if his neck muscles weren't built enough and move his hair if he had enough hair to move. He accepts utensils. He'd eaten breakfast earlier, but that was earlier. The portion of food he alots himself is more modest than the one Catherine could have spared him, and he's quiet and deft about making his way through it as she follows him into the next subject. "I asked Hana to come, but she's been— I don't know.

"Busy. Disinterested. She doesn't trust them. You know how she gets about the Company, or anything involved with them. Arthur would've done a damn sight better to send somebody else to approach her outside the firm instead of waiting until Carmichael brought his poacher squad. We should talk about it," the fork gestures between himself and the pamnesiac, before he turns the stainless teeth downward to snare a slice of sausage off his plate. "I'll bother her if there's something that needs doing or a shade of gray we need to try and get her to acknowledge. How do you feel about their operation?"

Nods come as he speaks and she listens, taking it all in. "Wireless may well be busy searching for the body Robin Hood stole, and perhaps the spirit which should be in that body. I also doubt her opinion would be changed by what I've learned. Mine isn't so much swayed either. There's so much overlap in persons between the Company and Pinehearst. Father worked for the Company years ago. Arthur had a hand in it also. I'm told Linderman is one of the founders, along with Angela Petrelli, Charles Deveaux, and Kaito Nakamura."

Pausing here, she takes in a deep and slow breath, followed by a question. "What do you recall being told about a formula for installing Evolved abilities?"

"Nnnnot… much…" Teo says, his eyebrows inclining in surprise. His fork catches on the lumpy topography of scrambled egg, divides it into geometrically measured segments. "Jesus fuck.

"There's too much going on to track. Robin Hood stole a body? I thought he was a fucking cyberpath— how does that work?" His eyebrows draw together, cramming a deepened wrinkle of disconcertment in between them. He exhales through his teeth and hunkers forward, looking down at his plate, retroactively struggling to file away the founders' names into memory. He shares a few gifts with Catherine, but perfect recall isn't one of them. "A formula… I dunno. Mostly what I read in the tabloids, I think. I might have seen a footnote somewhere on the Shanti virus files, too. I can't quite remember. Is that—"

He lifts a brow, a pallid eye flitting up to her face. "Is that what Pinehearst is about?"

"It would seem Robin Hood is a disembodied technopath, maybe he wandered too far at some point in the future he came from and couldn't get back for whatever reason. I'm told he's possessed Mallory Alistair. Wireless is on the case, a plan is being formed to trap him and set things right." Cat's features show she isn't joking, the woman is all business as she sits and places a fork into her food.

"Arthur played it down, he spoke of the Company having an obsession with that formula, but what Father told me is another story altogether. He said there was once a working version of that formula, but the supply of it was destroyed in a lab disaster. The recipe for it, I'm told, was seized and locked away by Kaito Nakamura."

"Recently, within the past year, in fact, there have been incidents of a failed version being used. Melted people, to wit, and the word Edward carried that in his future it merged with the Shanti virus to create the plague. Now I'm told Adam Monroe hired Ethan and some others to attack Hiro over something connected to Kaito, and Arthur is banking on finding something of great value in Japan."

Ssssigh. Teo deflates slightly at this barrage of news. Japan, the future, his former student. He's already an expatriate nosing around well outside the logical demarcations of his own business. His face ends up scrunched lopsided, his left eye squinted shut as if the light was hitting his hangover at an uneven angle against his corneas. His throat works a mouthful of egg and pork down, and he snags a napkin to wipe his mouth with. "I hope Wireless' plan is working out," he says slowly, first. "I've seen how possession can fuck a person up." Deckard. Teo'd almost gotten himself shot over that, once.

The rest warrants another moment of digestion, which wasn't a double-entendre on purpose. He helps himself to a glass of orange juice, watching the pulp tide up on the inside of the concave wall as it seesaws in his grasp. "I've been wondering what Arthur fucking wants from us. Ideals are all well and good, but it's one thing for a coporate power to try and recruit a few sharp young interns to his political cause. It's another to throw your money and weight in behind an independent terrorist group. Do you think he wants us to do his dirty work for him?

"He want us to do his business in Japan?"

"No," Cat replies. "I think it isn't a coincidence that Adam and Ethan are headed for Japan on business regarding the Nakamuras, and the formula recipe was locked away by Kaito. Arthur at first played down the formula as a Company obsession, but he later said straight up he's working to revive it. Father and Mother are working for him in that regard, recent attempts have failed, and Father says they've a Doctor Meier who used some reckless methods in trying to make it work. Her experiments resulted in melted people in the wild, his word, I saw two of them myself last autumn. Father says Arthur suspended work on all projects until he receives word from Japan."

"His interest in us…" Cat begins after taking time to call the memory up into her mind's eye, "… isn't doing his dirty work. But we do figure into his plans. He says he wants to help us, has been watching us for some time. Part of the plan is to see us pardoned and advanced as public heroes. It would seem, from that, he intends to have us fill some variety of political function. He knows a great deal about us, Teo. Mr. Goodman mentioned Elisabeth, Arthur said he'd wanted to speak with Helena. Then he said he'd like to consider me our de facto leader while she's away. I told him I'd not be one to undermine you like that. So he pulled up a computer screen with bits of your family tree on it, including Lucrezia Bennati, and claimed given your genetic heritage it's a surprise you lack an Evolved ability."

There's a flick of movement through Teodoro's brows, a shrug that takes residence in the minute muscles of his face because his shoulders are too lazy to do things by themselves. "I would be Phoenix's tard reserves," he acknowledges, dryly self-deprecating in the way of one whose egocentric self-loathing is founded up on something so large and entirely irrelevant to that that there isn't really any room left for giving a fuck about that. "He has a point. My brother is Evolved, you might remember" the one who hates him, "and my aunt incurred a well-deserved rating of Tier fuckin' 3. My mother might be too, I guess she is zia Lucia's identical twin, but I've never asked. We aren't close."

Intimacy issues? In the Bennati gene pool? Surely not.

"Political agenda seems likely, if he's planning to show us off for our reputations as well as clear our names. That's not my area. Kind of wish you hadn't told him what my job is," he admits after a moment, slowly, his eyes thinning around a bemused squint. "It probably doesn't matter. I'd make a pretty fucking sorry posterchild for pro-Evolved rights. It'll be Helena when she gets back. The top corner of the pyramid and the vast majority of these decisions." There's a beat's pause. "Fucking creeps me out, that they know about Liz. You even smell blackmail and you let me know, please?"

She chuckles. "I mentioned your name because 1) I'm fairly sure he already knew and 2) he was trying to flatter me. It felt like he was baiting, testing my ambitions, to see if I'd take that step. I don't believe for a minute he didn't already know all of us by name. He says they've been running interference for us for some time now. And they were the ones who recruited that Brian. I'm assured his real loyalty is Pinehearst, not Company."

Cat goes silent for a moment, then speaks of posterchildness. "It has be to Helena," she agrees. "I'm certainly not the one to have that role. A young, hot blonde from a middle class family whose mother was murdered, a girl/woman who just wanted to tend gardens and go to culinary school who stepped up to be a heroine and for her troubles was rewarded with secret indefinite prison is a far better story than the Ivy League educated rich woman. No, that one advises the Face, writes speeches for her, and lobbies." A smile forms. "That, and she becomes a rock star. I hear she's hell on wheels with a guitar."

Then she's serious again. "The formula worries me. I have to wonder if something done with it causes a bad future, but I also doubt, given Edward's lack of evidence, the absence of any shred of sanity in his request to help the Company not be wrecked. Arthur and I talked about that, and I was frank about not trusting. He was married to Angela, a Company founder. He claims she and Linderman tried to kill him, he found out they were going to commit mass murder and he had to let them believe he died. That's what he said. I wonder at the she said side of this equation."

"We agreed the Company is corrupt and beyond redemption. I told him the nature of our misgivings are rooted in the nature of power. If the Company falls, and he fills that void, the same issue plays. Power potentially corrupting."

"Sounds like he already has a few graveyards installed in his closet," Teo observes dryly. "If you're right about the length and depth of Arthur's intel on us, that implies another thing. He doesn't trust Peter yet. Guy didn't know who was in charge when I spoke to him the other week." He cranes his left eyebrow up a fraction of an inch, considering this and the maddening, multitude possibilities for why if this is the case, but there's no point in wondering, really.

It could be anything. Naivete and idealism are the primary suspects. Having been the subject of that species of skepticism himself for much of his recent life, Teo could commiserate… whenever he isn't shooting the guy in the chest.

His features relax into a darker mood the next moment, where intellectual curiosity about bioengineering experiments and political conspiracies of monstrous intricacy. "You should consider getting an exit strategy outta here soon. This building," he clarifies, nodding through the apartment's cool spaces. "If both the future Doctor Ray and Arthur Petrelli know about it. Not saying it's time to abandon ship— just to consider. Ray's already douched a few of our associates over. And Arthur's. I seriously doubt either of side will like it, if they get to believe we were in bed with both of them.

"The Formula" his brow furrows. "You said it doesn't work anymore though, right?"

"Do you know where Peter is?" Cat asks, concern showing on her features. "Arthur, he told me to call him Arthur, says he'll ask him to contact me next time he sees him. Peter has apparently been struck by Tyler Case and claims not to have an ability, but his blood was tested and the Suresh Linkage Complex is present. Tyler got Gillian and Gabriel too, they were together, it seems. I've no idea how they were recombined. The present time Tyler is in Company hands, his memories have been wiped. All of them, apparently; Edward calls him John. As in John Doe. Regarding Arthur's intel on us, Roger Goodman says there are clairvoyants and precogs they used in scoping us out. His answer when I asked how he failed at low profile."

A quietude settles in next, Cat's eyes going distant and focusing on a spot of wall. She breaks it to start listing bits of data.

"The formula they've been trying to create hasn't worked, Teo. But it once did. Kaito Nakamura has the recipe for that version, all stocks of which were destroyed in a lab disaster.

"Evidence is Arthur intends to secure that recipe from Kaito Nakamura. I've warned Hiro he has trouble coming in the form of Adam Monroe and Ethan. Whatever develops with us and Arthur, I'm zero percent willing to have it happen at the cost of Hiro's safety.

"Mason and Jennifer Chesterfield raised me from an early age, but I'm not their genetic child. My conceivers were allegedly Alisa and Harold Forrest, they called me Jane. Both were Company scientists working with that formula. I'm genetically modified," Cat shares in a hushed voice, her features shrouding feelings on the subject. "I was dosed with that formula at age two. My ability isn't naturally gained. My conceivers died in the lab disaster which destroyed all stock of that formula."

"The Chesterfields own daughter Catherine was of the same approximate age as me. She died during heart surgery. They were asked to take me in by Charles Deveaux, one of the Company founders. They simply slipped me into the slot of the dead child. I became her."

"There are a number of people who were dosed as children. Arthur had a list of them up on computer screen, but I could only see some of the names. Nathan Petrelli, Abraham Randall, Niki Sanders, Tracy Strauss, Brian Winters, and Gillian Winters."

Holy motherfucking God and his all-permeating cock. Teo doesn't have anything to say for a long time because he's that surprised. Not speechless, only working hard to keep himself from being summarily crushed by that galloping calvacade of information. His brow furrows very gradually, like someone were pulling on the thread underneath the fabric of it, steadily, until the weave buckled and zagged into wrinkles. "Peter has a room at the old dispensary. Conrad's. I don't know how often he's there instead of with his father. I…"

He studies Cat with a clarity unusual for him. His is the sort of intelligence that usually gnaws its way through things, rather than making incisive strikes through blockades of extraneous of information and into the core of the matter. He's looking at Catherine now, however, like he actually knows her. After all this time working together, in absence of the guitar heroine and for strange months stilted by tragic mistakes and self-recrimination before that, that might not be the most unfeasible possibility. "Thanks for telling me," he says, suddenly.

"I don't know what to say about it. Hell of a thing to learn about yourself. And the others. Do you—" he lapses into an odd pause. "Are you going to tell Brian?"

She won't speak of how she reacted. Not a word's mention of being drunk and the morning after when Elisabeth found her still less than sober. Cat cracked, but for all others it never happened. "Hell of a thing, yes," she agrees. "None of that is proven, mind, but it all does make a certain sense. I may yet decide to snag a sample of Father's dna and have it tested. Have him over for dinner again and put his drinking glass aside."

"As to Brian," she muses, "I'm not certain. When I saw the information Arthur had opened that file on his computer, but he closed it before I could see much. Maybe he wanted me to see just that section, maybe he decided he didn't want me to see any of it. But I presume one of the Brians knows, at least. The agent does use the name Winters, after all."

"I may visit the Dispensary and look for Peter there. Talking over some of this with him would be good. As well as figuring out whatever power Tyler Case left him with. He went at him, Gillian, and Gabriel. Odd he didn't apparently have anyone with him."

And a smile forms, a thin one. "There's more I've learned lately. Some from Father, some from Arthur. I can share, if your brain isn't broken. Like why Allen Rickham walked away from the Presidency. He got tested, and was threatened with exposure if he didn't. Arthur says the Company pulled off a coup d'etat and the country doesn't even know. He says part of his plan is to see the Presidency repaired and afterward use the formula as a bargaining chip. But he also says his priorities have shifted. Edward and associates have pulled his focus away from the Company and toward handling them."

There's a pantomime gun folded out of Teo's right hand then, its nozzle wiggled lazily at his own head as if to remind of that one time he caught a bullet in the skull. "Takes a lot of breaking, this thing I have," he says, wryly, before lapsing into a squinting silence to listen. The squint goes after his eyes after a moment, leaves dark thought lazing there under the hard knit of his brow. His mouth finds a paler line, before loosening enough to allow color to seep back into them.

Wouldn't surprise him that she'd needed a drink. There's a lot of that going around these days. "Okay," he acknowledges. "I didn't know that. Fucking sucks, though. Poor damn Rickham. Though that throws into sharp fucking relief how many pies the Petrelli dynasty has their fingers in, doesn't it? Allen's mutation came out in the sieve, but Nathan Petrelli's inducted President of the United States, flies faster than a fucking jetplane, and he's the little shitheel who led the charge on the Linderman Act that he's evading. No offense, but sometimes I hate your country."

"The Founders were brilliant men," Cat murmurs, "but they couldn't foresee everything. They crafted a fairly resilient document just the same. I think it needs to be amended again to spell out just what to do if the President-elect suddenly declines and the person elected to be Vice President also does. It had to go to the Supreme Court, but they didn't go far outside the bounds. As to Nathan, he's just a contemptible coward. His mother is a bitch. She and Linderman, I think, should be shot. I'd like to find out where Rickham is now." Her expression says if she could do it and live to tell tales she probably would. Maybe even if she couldn't live to tell the story. But she also realizes that would probably backfire without some legal process going first. Last thing anyone needs is to make martyrs of them.

"This," Cat remarks, "is why Wireless doesn't want to be in bed with either side. I have to agree. But I'm also pragmatic enough to realize we may not be able to oppose both at once, and think Priority One is seeing the Company crash and burn. Regarding Pinehearst, we should watch and learn, get into as much position as possible to knock over Arthur's cart if needed. It's the same basic game it's been since the 1770s. Keeping too much power from concentrating in too few hands."

Grimmer and grimmer. Teo looks through the scudded glass of his orange juice, and then over at the arrangement of breakfast food on his plate. She's right, of course. Phoenix has become the subject of interest for two immense powers of military prowess and expendable wealth who could, you know, destroy them all by tattling a couple soupcons of information to the appropriate authorities. Life was relatively simple when it was about following Doctor Edward Ray's step-through method for destroying genocidal cults.

"There's at least one incarnation of Rickham kicking around with Case and Ray. He attacked Gabriel on the night that the three of them got their abilities douched up. Seems like Gillian picked up metal mimicry from him. Fucking relief to me that she's figured out how to shift her skin back since." He sighs, wipes crumbs off his bottom lip with a swipe of his rough thumb, exhales a gust of warm moisture on the edge of his hand. A year ago, he would have been dismayed by the notion of assassinating Linderman and the President's mother as the most obvious recourse of action.

A year later, Teo forgets even to blink. "Do you know where the current day Edward Ray's located?"

"That makes no sense," Cat replies, seeming confused. "He was displaced from the Presidency he won fairly by the Company, the test, and Linderman's act, so why would Rickham be running around with Edward's gang? Christ. We don't know nearly enough about what motivates these people. Rickham in a time traveling cadre which includes the man who fucked him most. Nathan. The current Edward is in Company holding somewhere. Goodman's seen him, Arthur's read his journal. There was a mention of Hiro in it, he didn't say what exactly. I was also told persuasion was used on him to help locate some people. There seems also to be some grand sweeping plan Doctor Ray has, once which I can't begin to understand. Nor does Arthur."

"So, then, Rickham possibly has one or more of the many abilities Gabriel and Peter had, as well as Gillian's augmentation, maybe. Unless Tyler kept most himself, or let them scatter into the ether. We know he can switch things around. Unknown is whether or not he can hold onto any. Peter has at least one ability now, though. Gabriel may or may not have anything still. Gillian's the Iron Woman, and the rest is question marks. Edward's got our asses kicked in more ways than I can imagine, I think."

"I found out what's up with Claire Bennet, too. Arthur says she works with him now. He's her grandfather. Said there were issues around her being brought in they're working to fix. Like maybe they're having troubles covering their tracks for having used the Company or DHS to snag her."

"I'd thought she was smart and elusive enough to not get taken, thought she'd gone scarce because she didn't like the idea of Gabriel being in the mix. Maybe it was both that and her getting captured. But right now," Cat suggests as her fork makes contact with food and subsequently approaches her mouth, "let's stop thinking and just eat, yes?"

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