The Broad Strokes


f_cat_icon.gif helena_icon.gif jessica_icon.gif alexander_icon.gif django_icon.gif f_teo_icon.gif

Scene Title The Broad Strokes
Synopsis A coming together. Some of the faces are new, some aren't, depending on viewpoint. Business is discussed. And Django sings.
Date April 12, 2019

Cat's Penthouse at the Village Renaissance Building

So at Helena's insistence and with Cat's approval, Django was given the code to the penthouse apartment. Django, as Helena had explained to him, seemed to be the only person to push forward who was not intimately connected to the goings-on of this future they found themselves trapped in, which is both a blessing and a curse. She did not want him to feel he was alone.

Presently though, Helena is sitting on Cat's couch, a bag of white cheddar popcorn half-eaten on the coffee table next to a stack of old comics. She's currently perusing through one, with the oddest, amused expression on her face. The entire stack consists of one title: Firebirds.

All of this is very strange. The jail break from Moab, assisted by what Django now knows to be Phoenix, followed by the inadvertent timeslip, landing them all in the this strange, paradisical future. He'd been a nobody before, then an opportunistic hanger-on after the breakout, and yet everyone seemed so eager to make sure he was comfortable and taken care of. More than likely he had Helena to thank for that, though his still wasn't quite sure why she seemed so fond of him.

He'd gone out the day previous, just to see the shape of the future. This future that might not even include him. Was he still out there, somewhere, ten years older? Did it even matter? Even if he did die, the world would still go on as planned. But that's not the sort of thing one wants to dwell on for long.

The keypad on the front door of Cat's penthouse blips its approval of the code, the lock slides open, and then there's a pause followed by a knock on the door. He may be a lowlife crook, but at least he's reasonably polite.

Helena looks up across the expanse of Cat's apartment to see the slender young man, smiling, she closes the comic she's reading and tosses it on the stack as she rises. Making her way over she says quietly, "Hey." And then hugs him. "You okay downstairs? I kind of told Cat I wanted you near me since I'm like, practically the only person you know. I mean, I know you know Alex and Lucrezia and such, but." She seizes his hand, begins leading him to the kitchen. "I figured you'd come upstairs when you got yourself sorted out. And I bet you have lots of questions." There is of course, something different about Helena now that she's on the right side of Moab's fence. In kindness one might call it an air of authority, though more cynical souls might just call her bossy and presumptive.

Django offers a simple, two-fingered salute as Helena looks up from her comic, and a muttered "Yo." The hug is unexpected, given the lack of physical contact in their history thanks to the fence that separated them for so long, so he tenses for a moment before, hesitantly, returning the gesture. "Yeah, everything's groovy. It's, uh, way better than I'm used to, actually. I appreciate you lookin' out for me." As he says it, he finds it difficult to meet the young woman's eyes with his own, even though they're partially obscured by the slim sunglasses he's procured, and a faint blush touches his sun-dark cheeks. This is a little awkward.

He smoothes his shirt a little nervously, until he's led by the hand into the kitchen, to which he does not object. "Er, yeah. And no. I mean." The Russky pauses, takes a deep breath, gathers his thoughts. Why is he so flustered now? Geez. "There aren't a whole lot of questions that need to be answered, y'know? Not for me. Honestly, things are lookin' pretty good here."

Helena doesn't seem to sense the awkward, which may in and of itself dispell some sense of it. "Mmm. You're not considering the right questions, maybe." she tells him with a faint smile as she opens the fridge. "I bet you're hungry though. God, I've been eating like a pig, you don't know. I'm gonna get fat." She starts taking out sandwich fixings. Like she's going to actually make him a sandwich. "But yeah, the sum up is that we're about ten years in our future. I don't know what happened to you in that time, but I apparently died a martyr's death about nine years ago, and before that, the actions Phoenix took became known around the world and we finally got our due. People - and relationships - have changed. Things seem," her mouth works into something wry, "Almost perfect."

"You're not fat," Django quickly objects. "I'm sure we could all stand to put on a few pounds after that shit they fed is in prison. And anyway, I like a girl with a little padding. It's not healthy to be thin." He leans both elbows on the countertop, crossing his forearms on the marble, and watches Helena with some amusement. "I'm, uh. Sorry about that whole dying thing. That's gotta be rough to hear. But you're like a hero or something, so it ain't all bad, right?"

Chewing his lip a little nervously, he considers the information given him before speaking up again. "So it all worked, eh? We- er, you made the world a better place. A guy could get used to this, y'know. Futuristic paradise and all. It's like a comic book or something. You need a hand with that?"

Helena lets out a little laugh. "Okay with it is…not exactly the words I'd choose." She makes a little handwave, she's good for putting together the sandwiches on her own. There's lunch meats of various sorts, mustard, mayo, lettuce and onion and the like. "The thing is, it hasn't happened to me yet. Which suggests to me that I need to go back. We may all need to go back, to our time." Wait…she wants to go back, so she can just die in 2011? Is she a little crazy?

"But you're here, and it's already happened," Django speculates with brows furrowed. "It happened years ago. So isn't it already done with?" He scowls, bowing to rest his head in his hands. "Man, all this time travel shit gives me a headache. This is why I had to stop watching Star Trek." With a shake, he straightens up again and paces around to lean on a different part of the counter, a little closer to the petit blonde. "Time travelers like that, what's his name, Hero guy must be bugfuck insane from figuring this stuff out all the time. I don't think I could handle it."

"I got nothin' to go back to, though. There's no place for me here— er, now? Or there. Then. Whatever. No job, no family, nowhere to go back to. At least here I don't have to worry s'much about DHS busting down my door 'cause they don't like the color of my hair or someshit like that. Way I see it, I'm better off."

"Only if you think of time being in a straight line." Helena says with easy patience. Her hands are very confidant, even with something as simple as sandwich making. She seems very at peace in the kitchen. "And all of those things can be found. Job, and people and places. Phoenix, and before that PARIAH, were my family for the last two or so years. We're going to look into contact some people we know about who have a deeper grasp of how time might be functioning and the best route to take. Maybe staying here would be best, but we don't know for sure."

The elevator at one part of the penthouse, there are four which go from the ground floor to this place seven levels up, opens outside the double doors at the end of a small corridor. A thirty-something brunette of five feet eight inches and perhaps 145 pounds steps out. At the keypad, installed just days before in place of an older combo of key and keycard, she types the access number quickly. It had been tempting to make the code very difficult, like pi to 100 places or something, but she doubts her guest could remember such a string of digits and kept it to a manageable eight.

Cat is in business clothing this Friday afternoon. Charcoal grey skirt and jacket, white blouse, matching heels which raise her to 5' 10". An iPhone is attached to her right hip, in whatever iteration is current for 2019. There's no cord to the earbuds, however; hers are wireless and hard to see in her ears. The whole thing works without any visible microphone like the version available in 2009 would have in the cord serving the left ear.

"Yes, Senator. I understand." Cat laughs a bit. "Senator, I did indeed see the record of the committe votes yesterday and I know what yours was. Yes, I have the text of the bill right in front of me." Then she begins to quote from it, something about continued funding of a thing called the Chesterfield Scholarships. The oddest part, perhaps, is she's doing so apparently verbatim despite not having any such text in hand to read from.

Helena and Django aren't yet noticed. She's still on the end furthest from them.

Django simply shrugs and goes to poke through the refrigerator, looking for something to drink, apparently having made himself quite at home already. "I'll take your word for it, boss, since you're the brains of the operation." And honestly, she's already proven herself to be quite a bit more intelligent than the Russian thief.

Hearing the one-sided conversation as Cat comes home, he looks up with a bottle of coke in his hand, and debates putting it back. With the owner of the place present, a complete stranger to him, he suddenly feels a little less comfortable being here. Especially given his status in comparison to hers. "Hey," he whispers to Helena, leaning towards her with eyes still fixed on Cat. "You sure she's cool with me being here?"

"Yes." Helena says firmly, and briefly reaches out to touch his wrist. "If she wasn't, she wouldn't have agreed to give you the penthouse code." With that, she goes back to making sandwiches. One of them is the thicker of the two, and this one she presents to Django. Not that hers isn't heavily laden, but he's a growing boy, or something. "Thing is, if it turns out we do need to go back, and you've found a place here…well. We'll figure it out." Helena gives Django a faint smile, and then waves to Cat, not speaking out lest she interrupt her.

She spots the two and makes her way to the kitchen where they are, it taking perhaps twenty seconds to reach their location, and her conversation continues. The closer she comes the easier it is to hear some of what she's speaking about, and it becomes very clear she's quoting something that has to be very difficult to remember that precisely.

As she enters the kitchen Cat opens the refrigerator to take out a bottle of Pepsi, then gets out a glass and fills it before putting the container back. Eyes settle on Helena, then the man, and go back to the sandwich maker. 'Django?' she asks, mouthing the word with a nod in his direction. Then comes a brief silence, apparently she's done citing material about whatever the Chesterfield Scholarships are and the Unity Act which governs them.

"Excellent. Thank you kindly, Senator. I'll be in DC again about two weeks from now. See you then."

Accepting the sandwich with a slight nod and a quiet thank you, Django takes a healthy bite and chews thoughtfully. The refrigerator is allowed to close, finally, as he steps away from it before its contents start to warm up. Subconsciously, he steps over to put Helena more or less between himself and Cat under the guise of finding a more comfortable place to lean. "Who exactly is she?" he asks of his compatriot in subdued tones, then realizes that the subject of his question is coming towards them.

When she draws near, Django simply nods his greeting to Cat, looking distinctly uncomfortable. Whoever she is, she obviously has a lot of money and influence, which makes her powerful. In comparison, the Russky lurking in her kitchen is a street urchin looking for a handout. At least he's clean, in his t-shirt and blue jeans, but it's a small blessing. In case he's expected to make some sort of conversation, he takes another large bite of sandwich to at least give him time to straighten out his thoughts.

Helena doesn't seem to mind being the net between the two, nor answering who 'she' is in front of Cat. "Her name is Cat Chesterfield. She's Evolved, and her ability is basically being able to remember, well…anything. As clear as day. Anything she's ever experienced, like it was right in front of her. It makes her crazy smart. She's a lot of things…umm, a lawyer, a musician, a kinda awesome pain in the ass…" she grins at Cat as she says that, and then continues for Django, "And she was - is - one of Phoenix's most dedicated members. And she's one of my best friends, which is all why she's doing so much for us."

The conversation seems over now, as Cat sets down her glass of Pepsi then takes the earbuds out. They're placed on the counter just before she turns back to face the pair. A smile breaks out, one intended to perhaps put the man at ease. "Yes," she says, "I'm what she said." Her head cants toward Helena, then back toward him. Her right hand extends. "You must be Django. Welcome to my place, and 2019."

Nodding along with Helena's explanation, Django hurriedly finishes the bite of sandwich so he may greet Cat, now that he seems to have her attention. "I must be," he echoes with an uneasy smile, extending his hand only to find that he's still holding the soda bottle he took from the fridge. He sets it on the counter, wipes the condensation from his hand on his shirt, and takes her profered hand in a firm but gentle grip. "I, uh. Thanks. For everything you've done for us. I dunno where I'd have ended up otherwise." A warm look is given to Helena, too, when he says this.

"The future doesn't seem too bad, really. I have to admit I'd expected a lot worse. Y'know, nuclear fallout and evil robots and stuff. Or at least to have a Dictator instead of a President. Seemed like that was kinda where we were headed." He shrugs his broad shoulders. "But a guy could get used to this."

"We don't know how long we'll be here." Helena points out gently. "So it may be that we do have to prepare for the long term. Cat and the others are preparing ID's for us, just in case." She takes a bite of her own sandwich. "Hey, Cat. I didn't know you'd started to get that deep into politics." She grins. "You're going to be a scary president someday, I bet."

She shakes once before releasing, her grip strong enough to suggest she uses them enough to keep a bit of tone there. The skin is smooth, warm and soft but calluses near the fingertips may be noticed. From time spent playing those guitars elsewhere in the penthouse? "It was," Cat confirms for Django. "But enough people stood up at the right places and times to say no, and it built from there."

And attention shifts to Helena. She shows a slight smile. "I was inspired, some time ago. There was work still to be done, so I did it." Cat chooses not to elaborate on the statement. "I'm considering a Senate run in '20."

In comaprison, Django's hands are rough and calloused, the hands of the low-class. For some reason, he finds this a little embarrassing, and quickly withdraws his hand once the shake is done with, stuffing it into the pocket of his jeans. "Guess all hope ain't lost for the human race," he responds with a nod. "That's good news."

Stepping back, he excuses himself wordlessly from the conversation for the time being, since it seems the ladies have things to discuss. He'll just take his blue collar self over to the other side of the kitchen, pour himself a glass of soda, and finish his sandwich while the grown-ups talk.

Helena blinks. "Wow." she says to that, but it's all she seems to have to offer on comment about. Until, "Oh my god Cat, did you know someone made a comic book about Phoenix?" She shakes her head. "I've been reading them all morning." Then delightedly, "They gave me such big boobs!"

Her eyes shift over to him as he steps away, and Cat shakes her head. A chair is pulled out at the table, followed by an invitation. "Relax. Come sit, Django. There was always hope for humanity. It just took some time to wake up." She herself sits, and laughs, as issues of Firebirds are called up.

"Not that you were ever small, Hellstorm," Cat comments. "They're pretty accurate, even having me with archery gear in the artwork. Why they chose Kitten, though…" Even as her head shakes, she's still smiling. "I'd have gone for Lioness. Or Tigress. I was twenty-six at the time!"

Never having been one to reject an invitation from a pretty lady, Django sits at the table as indicated. "I guess I'm just too much of a pessimist," he admits on the tail-end of a mouthful of sandwich, following it with a long drink of Pepsi. "Life's been givin' me the short end of the stick for as long as I can remember." But he doesn't want to rain on their cheerful conversation too much with the miserable sob-story of his sub-par childhood, so he'll just remain mostly silent for now.

"Yeah, I saw, Kitty." Helena cracks up a little and moves to join the others at the table. She turns earnestly to Django, "It doesn't have to be like that anymore. It may not even have to be like that if we go back. If you don't want it to."

"It won't be," Cat opines without a trace of doubt in her voice. "You've found the right people to help make it happen. Pinehearst is a part of it also, of course, but only a part. The most important thing is people standing up and making themselves heard, or felt."

"In the past, before we raided Moab and failed, I'd started to think big. I believe you had too, before we got tied with the Vanguard. The Miracles project, and the media actions. I realized we couldn't win as we were, taking only small operations with big stakes and no publicity. The cause, nationwide, needed to have a single leader people could rally behind."

She pauses a moment to drink some of the soda, her eyes next settling on Django as she resumes speaking. "Knowing that need, Django, who makes the better face to present: a woman who came from money, went to Yale and Yale law school, or… a girl/woman just twenty years old who only wanted to go to culinary school and grow beautiful gardens, who got thrown in prison without trial for the terrible crime of saving the world?"

Having been unexpectedly put on the spot, Django looks slowly between Cat and Helena, his mouth full of the last bite of sandwich. He swallows, winces, and reaches for his drink. When the glass clinks against the surface of the table again, he pauses, takes a breath. He can understand that they're trying to be inclusive and make him feel welcome, even appreciate the sentiment, but why does he feel like they're singling him out?

"Is that a trick question?" he finally answers with a question of his own. "Because I'm no good at riddles. All your politics and marketing and, and… It's all Greek to me. When I can figure out why my dad stopped paying rent and started drinking his unemployment checks, then maybe I can work on figuring out how to change the minds of an entire fucking country. But I can barely take care of myself half the time." He shrugs, folds his hands behind his head, and leans back in his chair. "I just don't have the smart for that kinda shit. Stuff," he corrects. "Sorry."

Helena looks kind of embarrassed. She doesn't say anything about it at all, at least until he mentions not being smart. Then she scowls at him. "Don't say that." she says. "You're not stupid, you've got the smart for whatever you decide you want to bother to learn." She rises from the table to head for the fridge. "Look, Django - what can we do to make things better for you?"

Having failed in making her point, Cat has to hope Helena got it. It was for her benefit anyway. She's quiet for a short time, thinking. She could try again and ask which story resonates with him more personally, which seems the more inspiring, but she can sense he feels singled out. The timing isn't right to try again in rephrased terms. Instead she drinks from her soda and leaves Helena the floor.

The Russky flinches back in surprise when Helena reprimands him, then lowers his gaze, abashed. "Sorry," he repeats. He's really not sure how to handle this situation, and it shows as he flounders for something to say. Social interactions were never his strong suit, it was always hit or miss. Apparently, this time he missed. "Honestly, Helena, things are the best right now that they've ever been. Getting here was kinda upsetting, but who wouldn't be shocked if they were suddenly in the future?"

Deep breath, followed by a sigh, and he looks back up at her. "I never really told you much about myself while we were in Moab. For a reason. It wasn't my first time in prison, y'know. They didn't just throw me in there because I've got an ability. I'm a crook, a thief." There. That's out on the table. A very expensive table in the home of a powerful political figure. Now to see how they take it.

Helena cocks her head, studying him a moment, and then shakes her head, grinning. Putting her hands on the table she says with a faint smile, "I think there's maybe two people on this planet who I think of as my brothers." she says. "And one of them - he was a thief. And a carjacker, and a conman. And he was…the best of men. I didn't get to find out that he died - he sacrificed himself - to save the world. So it really doesn't matter to me, okay? What matters is…what you do, when the cards are down."

Her eyes settle on Django as he declares himself a thief, and Cat's expression is easily readable. She isn't shocked or disgusted by any means. For all the world it seems as if she might equate that piece of information with him declaring he's a man. It's very much 'yes, and?' "What, or who, do you want to be, Django?"

As both women give Django their full and undivided attention, Django wilts faintly and removes his hands from behind his head to fold them in his lap, suddenly looking much younger than actuality. His eyes dart back and forth between them, and the look of discomfort on his face deepens. "I, um." He clears his throat and tries again. "I hadn't really thought about it," he answers Cat honestly. "Most of my life has been spent just trying to make it to the next day, I never really had time to dream."

Brown eyes return to Helena, and memories of their time together in the yard come back to him. Their days singing to each other through that fence. He'd enjoyed that quite a lot. He bites his lip again, raises his eyebrows at the blonde, and finally speaks up once more. "I think… that I'd like to sing."
Helena hearing that brings a smile to Helena's face. "Oh," she says, turning to Cat. "He's so good, too. We used to sing to each other, each on the other side of the fence."

Blushing visibly, at Helena's compliment, he flashes her a sheepish smile, straightening up a bit in his seat. Then to Cat, "Not really. My mom put me in piano lessons when I was a kid, but I hated my teacher. And I had a guitar a while back, and managed to kinda work out a couple of songs, but then I had to sell it for grocery money. All I really do is sing."

He watches Cat for a moment, the rises uncertainly from his seat, unsure if he's expected to follow her or not. Pausing, he looks to Helena for an answer, expression questioning. What do I do?

Helena takes another bite of her sandwich and gives Django an impish 'I dunno!' look, but then waggles her head from side to side and gets up from her seat. Brushing the crumbs off her hands, she holds one out to Django. "C'mon, then." she says. "I think Cat might want to show you her recording studio."

Helena is close, but not quite. After studying him a few moments longer, Cat speaks just two words to the man. "So sing." Then she's on the move, headed across the penthouse. It isn't for the elevators she goes, but to another area of the penthouse which has an array of instruments and equipment. Several guitars, some bass guitars, a cello, and a piano.

A red Stratocaster is picked up and plugged into an amp, she spends some time checking the tuning. It doesn't take long, because she keeps this one ready. Then she listens for what he sings, prepared to join in.

These days, Teo has an uncanny knack for finding people. It helps, of course, if he already knows where they are.

Rap-rap-rap. That is the sound of a keycard's thin, plastic cross-section struck on the surface of the recording studio door, a noise almost inundated under the shuffle of feet and the muffle of soundproofing. There's a man in the doorway. He's a little late, but that can be attributed to other vices which both of the women who know him— knew him?— are reasonably familiar with.

Outwardly, he hasn't changed a lot, but to Helena who last saw him 10 years ago and Cat with her eidetic recall, every new nick and line distinguished by age stands out, lending him an overall sense that he's growing more into himself. He's wearing black, the commonplace, utilitarian, urban Big Apple resident kind, in peacoat, shirt, slacks and boots that weren't specifically designed to break anybody's face. He's too occupied listening to say anything.

With a shrug a purse of his lips, Django takes Helena's offered hand and follows both her and Cat to the other side of the penthouse. It's easy to see that he's a bit nervous, but far more at ease than during the previous conversation. At least this is something he knows he can handle reasonably well.

Unless he's not good enough. That's a bit of a disheartening thought, his stomach knotting as old pessimistic habits crawl to the surface. What if Cat tells him that he can't sing well enough to make anything of it? It's one of the few things he's got that he might be able to make an honest living out of.

His fears are pushed aside as he enters the room full of musical paraphernalia, replaced by awe. "Damn," he says, drawing the word out, clearly impressed. "You in a band or somethin'? I wouldn't have pegged you for the type." But she didn't bring him here to show off. Quite the contrary, he's supposed to be the one showing.

So he walks slowly to the piano, runs his fingers across the top of it, and turns to Cat.

It's nine o'clock on a Saturday,
The regular crowd shuffles in.
There's an old man sitting next to me,
Making love to his tonic and gin.

The young man's voice is high and clear, and rings loudly through the penthouse without too much effort on his part. It's honestly quite unbefitting of his appearance.

He says, son, can you play me a memory?
I'm not really sure how it goes.
But it's sad, and it's sweet, and I knew it complete
When I wore a younger man's clothes.

Helena takes up a seat as she listens to Django sing, a smile coming to her face. She mouthes the words but doesn't commit her voice, and unsurprisingly, does not hear Teo at the door. Hopefully Cat will.

She has the guitar in hand, ready to play, but on hearing the tune chosen she opts not to. There really isn't anything to add; it's a waltz which works well with piano alone. Instead her eyes close and she mouths the words silently in time with the tune. Clearly she's enjoying and thinks he has skill.

It's the desire to demonstrate this which causes her eyes to open. She pulls one money from a pocket and moves to place it on the piano, in so doing she notices Teo. A smile breaks out, and she motions with her head for him to come inside and slip up behind Helena without her seeing him yet. If that's possible.

Light coruscates off the laminated flat of the keycard as it dovetails, gets slotted neatly back into Teo's coat pocket with a twist of forefinger and thumb — something of a salute for Miss Chesterfield. He moves pallid eyes over Django, an unexpected inclusion if not one he hadn't alerted himself of a few minutes earlier.

He sings well. Pleasant surprise flits through his eyebrows, but that doesn't stop him walking up behind Helena. He stops there, hands in his pockets, studying her posture for signs of delight, looking somewhat mystified himself.

Django smiles winningly at Helena as the song goes on, despite the sad theme to the lyrics, pleased to see the happy expression on her face. Then he turns his gaze to Cat when she puts down her guitar, a little puzzled by the action, but her reaction to his performance is relieving, dismissing his previous worries. The money laid upon the piano earns a raised eyebrow from the man, followed by an implicit waggling of both of them at Cat. He's never been paid for his services before.

Sing us a song, you're the piano man.
Sing us a song tonight.
Well, we're all in the mood for a melody,
And you've got us feeling alright.

As the song goes on, he lets his own eyes drift shut, head raising and hands clasped to his chest as he loses himself in the melody.

Now, John, at the bar, is a friend of mine,
He gets me my drinks for free.
And he's quick with a joke, or to light up your smoke,
But there's some place that he'd rather be.
He says, Bill, I believe this this is killing me,
As the smile ran away from his face.
Well, I'm sure that I could be a movie star,
If I could get out of this place.

The song carries on, his voice smooth and even, never wavering, even as a tear forms at the corner of one of his eyes and rolls gently down his cheek. Quickly, a hand comes up to scrub it away, and Django silently hopes that nobody noticed.

As Django continues to sing, delight is indeed indicative in Helena's posture, though she also gets that odd back-of-the-neck feeling one gets when they sense someone is behind them. Turning in her seat, she looks at the person standing there. Her mouth opens, her eyes widen, and she almost stumbles out of her seat in her urgency to hug Teo tightly.

There's mischief in her face and eyes as Teo waits behind Helena and is finally spotted by her. Not a word is said when she moves to hug the man, she simply lets them have their reunion and focuses attention on Django and his playing. The guitar is still held, Cat didn't put it down, she had simply felt the song worked best without guitar.

The abandoned chair is spared a noisy nose-first plow into the ground by Teo's foot, held out quick to tilt it back on-axis. His arms shut around the girl, tight enough to match the constriction of her eyelids and the weird burn in his lungs. He smells a comfortable cocktail of soap and detergent. This song is going to be stuck in his head for days.

Maybe years. 'You've got us feeling all right.' It's true: they're lyrics to cry for, though Teodoro spares himself that particular embarrassment. Django has it covered.

He shuts both his eyes, briefly, kisses one corner of Helena's, lets one arm go with a brusque Ciao hello. The one that remains does so tightly, deceptively casual around the girl's waist.

Django is simply oblivious to the goings on around him as he sings his heart out, having forgotten, at this point, why he started. But he doesn't care, he'll just keep singing until the song is finished.

Now, Paul is a real estate novelist,
Who never had time for a wife.
And he's talking with Davy, who's still in the Navy,
And probably will be for life.

He leans back against the piano, palms pressed to the cool, smooth surface, and silently wishes that he had paid attention to those lessons when he was younger, because he would dearly love to play while he sings, especially this particular song.

And the waitress is practicing politics,
As the businessmen slowly get stoned.
Yes, they're sharing a drink they call loneliness,
But it's better than drinking alone.

As he comes up on the chorus, Django opens his eyes to invite the women to join in, but the presence of Teo startles him so badly that he falters and stops singing for a moment. He watches the unfamiliar man and Helena for a moment, then turns to Cat and mouths 'Peter?' with a quizzical look on his face, before picking up where he left off, a little more quietly this time.

The manner in which Helena hugs Teo is like something more than a sister, but something less than a lover. She stays by his side, puts her head against his shoulder and listens to Django finish the song with a smile on her face. Clearly she's intent to wait to speak to Teo until Django is finished, giving her the majority of her attention even as she leans into Teo.

Her head shakes a few times when the question is mouthed, Cat opting not to speak her reply and disturb the sound he's making. One finger instead moves across the top of the piano, forming a T, an e, and an o to identify the newcomer. She glances their way again briefly, then returns attention to Django. Her head moves as he plays in time with the song. One two three, one two three, one two three.

She slips a bit more money out of her pocket to lay before him, as she starts to mouth the lyrics.

There is no interruption forthcoming from the Sicilian either. Half of him is bound up in Helena's embrace, the other squared, militarily straight, his features attentive and his eyes a little too raw. Not the red kind of raw, merely over-sharp, searching the lyrics constructed out of Django's mouth or the shadows on the opposite wall for some—thing. He probably couldn't answer you even if you asked.

The finger sketch of his name attracts a brief glance, a smile that is almost reflex. That's a reasonable semblence of an introduction.

Sing us a song, you're the piano man.
Sing us a song tonight.

The Russky smiles at Helena, then nods to Teo and raises two fingers of his right hand in a little wave.

Well, we're all in the mood for a melody,
And you've got us feeling alright.

Tears start to well up in his eyes again, threatening to spill over onto his stubble-rough cheeks, but he scrubs at them with the heels of his hands. There'll be no more crying from him today, no sir. It would spoil his rugged, manly image.

It's a pretty good crowd for a Saturday,
And the manager gives me a smile,
'Cause he knows that it's me they've been coming to see,
To forget about life for a while.
And the piano, it sounds like a carnival,
And the microphone smells like a beer.
And they sit at the bar and put bread in my jar,
And say, man, what are you doing here?

Once more, the chorus comes around, and Django turns his hands palms-up, gesturing invitingly to the others. All together, now.
Helena knows the song in the way that someone does who can remember the lyrics if she's hearing them. Fortunately, she is. So still with her side glued to Teo's, she sings along with the chorus, smiling through the words at Cat. There's little to say just at the moment, so instead she allows the music to carry her.

Maybe it was in her head she heard the notes keys on the piano would make as she listened, based on Cat's behavior by standing there with guitar ready and not playing. That wouldn't be entirely unlike her. In any case, as Django moves to the next segment of lyrics she slips the strap off over her head and sits at the piano bench. Fingers are flexed a few times, then begin to work the keys. She's a decent pianist, following the waltz pacing of Piano Man. Her voice joins in softly, quietly. It's soprano in pitch, though she isn't letting loose with it at full power. Her goal is to support Django and hear him out, after all.

Teo hasn't been the singing kind for about twenty years, and he isn't about to start now. No offense meant; the sorts of songs he used to belt out where harsh and frequently politically correct kinds, more like chants than music, to bolster the morale rather to express one's feelings. He doesn't join in.

He's smiling though, small, inobtrusive rather than condescending. Watching Djang struggle against a tide of sentiment that somehow does not ruin the emotion. He tilts his buzz-shorn head down to hear Helena's voice pipe up, clear as a bell underneath the sudden onset of the piano throaty acoustics, following words that he had never learned for himself. It isn't a sad song by itself, Teo thinks.

Reminds him of the ones the boys used to cry singing because they were remembering who used to be there to sing it with.

Django's smile widens significantly when the girls join him, those tears once more threatening to overflow the dam of his eyelids. He cants his head at Teo, leveling an implicit gaze at him. Oh come on, it seems to say, as the piano pipes up behind him.

Sing us a song, you're the piano man.
Sing us a song tonight.
Well, we're all in the mood for a melody,
And you've got us feeling alright.

Twice more he goes through the chorus, and draws out the last note, long and sweet, as his voice trails off into silence. Then he breathes a deep sigh, leans heavily on the piano, and wipes at his cheeks with the back of a hand. "I told you that damn dong makes me cry, Helena."

"You did." she says, but her tone is more happy than melancholy. "Django, you need to meet Teo, Teo, this is Django - we were at Moab together. You've seen Alex, haven't you?"

The last notes are played, then her hands go still and remain at the keys for some moments before Cat settles them into her lap and turns toward the gathered persons. "It's a shame I didn't have a jar out here to go with that one," she murmurs. This, before addressing Teo. "Good to see you again, signor." But beyond that she's quiet, to let the Sicilian and the Weathermaker converse.

There's a smile in Teo's eyes even before he bends his mouth around it, and his nonchalant is too simple and accentless to be studied. "Jesse's been with me the past couple days." He doesn't elaborate. Probably doesn't need to, but will if asked.

Until then, he leans forward slightly, hooks the chair that Helena had discarded with his right foot. Drags it closer, that the weather witch can sit if she wants; there's another seat over to his left. Cat's simple greeting is returned in kind, and then, "He told me about a few of you who came over. My aunt among them. Didn't know other prisoners got caught up in the thing.

"What were you in for?" Teo blinks at Django with polite curiosity.

A discrete sweep of his hand causes the bills laid on the piano to vanish into Django's pocket, a very practiced and familiar motion for the thief. Then he moves around to sit next to Cat on the piano bench, a bit closer than would normally be considered polite, hip to hip. He waves again to Teo, adding a nod this time. "Yo. What's the haps?"

The question catches him by surprise, but he just shrugs. "Same as anyone else. Being lucky enough to draw the genetic short straw. 'Course, the theft and assault probably didn't help any. Name's Django. And you are?"

"He's Teo. Part of Phoenix." Helena says. She doesn't name him as one of the leaders - not to avoid giving him credit - but if they do go back, and somehow wind up back at Moab, it means Django doesn't have information that can be forced out of him. She gives Teo a brief squeeze, hoping he'll understand.

Her head turns slightly to settle on the man next to her, but Cat makes no move to open space between them. She merely looks the keys over in silence, perhaps thinking of another tune to play. Not even a flinch comes at the man sharing his history of theft and assault. She's simply thinking of ways she can send word back to herself that the man should be given employment, perhaps as one of those musicians she hopes to mentor through the recording studio.

Teo does, but then, he's never liked to be known— never mind to crow about any of that. It's already occurred to him, vaguely, that the encrusted residue of his fame in 2019 could well be detrimental should the travelers take their trip back. Depending on who came with. Probably needless paranoia, really; things turned out all right here, with his face, name, and repertoire known, didn't they?

"Congratulations on getting out. You have a beautiful voice." However predictable the flattery, it's sincere from the show of teeth that comes with it. Teo glances down at Helena briefly. Up again. "You guys figured out how the fuck you got here, yet?"

"Thanks. On both accounts." Django sounds confident, but he glances downwards briefly. "I don't… usually sing in front of people, but Helena worked me over in prison." He starts to correct himself when he realizes what it was he just said, then shrugs and lets it be. "It was a pretty magnificent scene, the break out. I got nothin' on how we got here, though. Just fuckin' woke up here."

He stands up, then, with a smile aimed at Cat, and heads for the doorway, in the general direction of Helena and Teo. "But that song made me thirsty. Anyone else need a drink while I'm headed that way?" Under the guise of waiting for an answer, he lingers near Helena, and places a hand lightly on her shoulder.

"Time travel gone wacky. There's only two people I know of who can do it, and both were at given points, near an augmentor." Helena says. "I've not seen Hiro Nakamura since arriving, and when I spoke to Gillian, she said Peter was out of town." This comes out smoothly, perhaps more smoothly for Helena then it should. "We're looking into finding Edward Ray, and we're hoping Pinehearst will help us. A pause. "I don't suppose you know the whereabouts of Claude, or Hana…or Claire?" Helena makes as if to put her fists up, 'working over' Django and says softly, "I think I left my coke over there, could you grab it for me?" The hand on her shoulder earns him a smile.

Standing, Cat answers Django first. "I'm good. Thanks." Aaaand there's the matter at hand. "I've conducted a few interviews," she informs. "The one most productive was with Elle Bishop when I invited her to breakfast with me on the roof yesterday. The story she told me places Peter still on Red level when the displacement occurred, near Gillian. You had told me earlier, Helena, Hiro was on Green Level with you at the time. It's not yet conclusive, I'd like to interview more people and see if the stories match, but…" She trails off, not quite wanting to say what the accounts thus far suggest.

The knit of Teo's brow darkens thoughtfully as the prisoners and their hostess speak up soupcons of information, all of it pertinent, none of it the answer. Hiro and Peter's proximity with Gillian sounds likely. Peter having acquired Gillian's augmentation also seems likely. He would throw Gabriel somewhere in the mix, but his whole 'serial killing' phase of maturation aside, Gabriel's control has always been the least suspect of three.

His brow is creased about more than that, but no words forthcoming on the subject yet. Instead, he acknowledges their collective feedback with a nod, and answers Helena's question. "Hana's working counter-terror in Israel. I just left her a few days ago. I don't think she'll be able to get free anytime soon, but she's still around via machine if you need her.

"Haven't heard from your other friends in awhile, I'm afraid." That much comes with a touch of infinitely characteristic rue. Hel might have managed to speak of her erstwhile lover's recovery from loss remarkably smoothly, but he knows that not all of the changes the world has seen since are easy to talk about. A beat's pause; his gaze shifts between Django and Cat, his recollections of Alexander's experiences and his own. He does not apparently need a drink.

"You should speak to Lucrezia. She was with me on Red Level that day."

Even the changes of the world made easy to talk about aren't necessarily easy to deal with. But that's not important now. "I'll send out an IM to her or something, I'm sure she'll get it." Helena murmurs. "You'll need to tell me what you've been up to, still." Curling her fingers into Teo's, she looks to Cat in silent suggestion that they move to the living area again and resettle there. "I don't know that we're going to be staying in this time, or how long for that matter."

The source of the displacement seems fairly clear to Cat, though she hasn't yet said the name. Hiro was on Green Level when it happened, and nowhere near Gillian. Peter was on Red, with Gillian. Gabriel was there too, but to her knowledge Gabriel doesn't augment. She's certain of that because Gillian is alive. She remembers stitching up the booster's forehead after Gabriel tried to kill her and take that ability as clearly as anything else in the past seventeen years.

A nod of agreement is given to Helena, Cat moves toward the area indicated while still speaking. "I've begun to plan ways of making certain Miss Bishop doesn't manage to save Primatech from being exposed if she returns."

"There are memory manipulators for hire. At least one under Pinehearst's employ, I'm sure," Teo says, his voice thoughtful. His hand tightens almost imperceptibly around Helena's, either a belated answer for her earlier reassurance or something new offered out of his own power; perhaps some trace, some figment of anxiety at the implication of their departure. "I've been working with Hana in the Israeli government.

"I got a teleport over when she overheard you guys came back." Then promptly abducted his boy, or so goes the chronology, but enough of that has been disambiguated that Teo doesn't elaborate. "Phoenix's course has probably already been changed, if not a lot," he muses, his pale eyes flattening before sharpening again. "It was a pretty fucking big deal when the Presidential pardon got you all out of Moab. Presumably, if or when you go back, you're not planning to walk back in with wrists held out again, si?"

"God, no." says Helena emphatically. "From what I've read, the pardon didn't even happen until 2010. I'm not staying in Moab at all, if it can be prevented. I'm hoping that's one of the things that can be circumvented in the river's flow is our prison stay. I mean, the president can still pardon us while we're fugitives."
There's a knock at the door. Al has been out to get Chinese, of all things. Not in disguise, because he doesn't need to. He's dead. And if people wanna remark on his similarity to a dead celebrity, hey, that's fine. Better than thinking he's Elvis.

"I think," Cat opines, "the broad strokes are the most important to see happen. The pardons depend upon the truth of having defeated the Vanguard coming out in a way that has proof attached and will stick. That was tied to Primatech being exposed, so the main task is making sure it happens. Yes," she nods in Teo's direction, "memory manipulation is possible. I've also floated to her the idea that odds are not in her favor."

"That agencies like Primatech are doomed, as are tyrannies. The USSR fell apart, the KGB agents became exposed and largely unemployed, Nazis were defeated and executed, those that escaped were hunted all around the world. In that light, I suggested, she should see the writing on the wall and make herself a public heroine by helping to expose Primatech."

"But, in the event she won't, if we can't edit her memories, there's another path. We ourselves dredge out the relevant info and make several copies, thus ensuring even if Miss Bishop takes Roger Goodman down and/or tells people where to find us, the word still can't be suppressed."

After a brief silence, Cat speaks again. "I also need to find a trustworthy telepathic psychologist."

At some point during this considerable exchange of words, Teo's eyes slide subtly out of focus, his mind hiking out further afield to check the door because somebody knocked on it, and he thinks he knows who. He's right, it turns out.

"If this Elle is the Bishop girl, her dad was in deep with the Company. I wouldn't assume we can turn her," he reminds, even as he lifts Hel's hand up under his chin, ducks to kiss his thumb and rub it into the young woman's knuckles— a gumdrop gesture of apology before he lets go. "There's someone at the door." He points at the door in case the women forgot where it was, turns on a heel and lopes off on long strides.

Metal clunks, clicks, slots home. Teo handles the door open, scoots out through the gap and weaves his head and torso around the armload of Chinese to close a kiss on Alexander's mouth. Two. Three, before he benignly remarks, "Catherine, Helena, and—" four, "a kid named Django are around."

"I don't even know if showing her what kind of future it creates will turn her." Helena says. "But again, we may have to fall back on Dr. Ray's principle - we can divert certain events, but others are irrevocable. Hopefully the revelation of the Company is one of them. Alex!" She beams at him, stepping forward to help with the Chinese. She's just eaten, but Helena seems to have a bottomless stomach, and more is certainly welcome.

When Teo and Alex kiss, her grin broadens, and she looks pleased. "Django got distracted, I think. He's like a kitten that way. Be that as it may, I want to get started doing things. Making stuff happen. I think I'm going to go a little stir crazy, actually."

Alexander isn't the least bit embarassed about that kiss. No one ever cared. He makes no use of his power, as if that were still literally or figuratively to tender to bear any weight, settling the Chinese on the nearest available counter with purely mundane hands. "I dibs the hot and sour soup," he says, tone utterly inane, though clearly his ears are cocked to attend to the conversation.

Her head inclines toward Helena as Teo goes for the door. "That's the basic point I was making with Miss Bishop. That the likelihood is that Primatech goes down, both she and her father could go with it, but she has a chance to save herself and him by breaking free ahead of time. It depends on how strong her self-preservation instinct is. Not that it matters, in the end. She won't be allowed to mess this up. I'm fairly certain Pinehearst will assist with her. I don't believe Arthur Petrelli will be any more willing to let her mess things up for Roger Goodman, and by extension his own work, than we are."

Cat goes quiet as Alex makes his entry with the Chinese food. She realizes that in his viewpoint it may be just a few months since he saw her leg it at the Jersey City site, leaving him and Brian to be captured.

With a little bit of luck and adequate distractions, Alexander might never remember that Catherine turned tail and abandoned him and Brian to Homeland Security's clutches. Something Teo might have been fastidiously trying to see to, if he didn't understand the value of closure. God knows that going eight years without it didn't improve on his sanity.

He keeps his hands to himself. He's thirty five. Even Teodoro Laudani can grow up. Honest. Slinging an arm around Alexander's neck, he effectively gets himself out of Alexander's face, and considers Catherine with a perfectly serious expression. Which threatens to turn slightly too serious, when he glances briefly at Helena with that ridiculous look on the front of her head.

"Problematically, she'll probably realize that Robert Bishop is too deeply invested in the Company's well being to want to give that up if there's any chance of damaging the opposition."

Teo fades out into a brief silence, either to allow Alexander and Catherine their moment or because he's remembering that simply slitting Elle's throat is not a supportable first option with the current crowd.

Helena hesitates. "We have a little time to see how things go." she says. "If it looks like Elle's going to screw us over - and I'm willing to bet we have the means to find out - we can figure it out. It's certainly something to consider when we speak to Peter." She almost doesn't get a little flutter in her voice at the sound of the name. Not quite so smooth there, alas. "I don't know what else needs to be handled in the meantime."

"What's the story?" Al wonders. He's been out of it, in more way than one. If Al bears a grudge, there's not the faintest hint of it in his body language. Cat gets an amiable nod, before the redhead reverts to sorting through the takeout, paper rustling as he searches for the soup. Bygones are apparently bygones. Or else Moab and the drugs and a good twenty four hours of fairly brutal sex are enough to at least momentarily subdue that usual attackdog temper of his.

She returns his nod of greeting in like fashion, and speaks not of the situation. Al hasn't made an issue of it, and she certainly isn't going to remind him. Moments later, the thought of what Jessica was told resurfaces, and with it the recollection of someone she'd come across long ago. "Please excuse me for a few minutes," Cat offers, as she rises and heads toward the office area, only to remember she left the wireless earbuds to the iPhone on the kitchen counter. Her course therefore changes, when the items are retrieved she calls Elisabeth's place.

Teo holds up a hand, waving as Cat moves off to attend to… something. He has no idea. Is left blinking after the way she'd gone, the nape of his neck prickling slightly as he aborts out of the automatic urge to listen in on her phonecall, or the first couple lines of it at least. He doesn't. He's off work. Vacation-time. He still remembers those.

"We were talking about making minor adjustments to the course of history," Teo explains to Alexander, cheerfully. The half-embrace looped around the redhead's shoulders doesn't budge; Teo allows himself to lean against the kitchen counter, sniffing at the vapors that escape from cardboard cartons, his head bending to and fro and eyes hooded with lazy curiosity. "Keeping Elle shut up, and… I don't know who else you brought with you."

Helena grins at the two boys. "Nice to know someone gets a happy ending." she says quietly, but then, "I'll be right back. If I don't go take care of the seeds before sundown…" with that, Helena is suddenly out the door, presumably up to the roof garden.

Al's expression is…..uneven, grin watery. He's contentedly cuddled up to Teo, as if his version had lived through all those years of that affair, rather than being new to it. Time's funny that way. He's begun to wolf down the soup with that near unseemly haste, after stepping out of the way to let the others pick and choose. "Unh," he says, oh so eloquently to that. Columbia. That's all he knows thus far, and it doesn't bear thinking about.

Jessica is at Liz's place, as she has been since this whole insanity began. She's also bored out of her mind, and so when the phone rings, she's actually picked it up before it dawns on her that this isn't her place. Dammit. Oh, well. Better that than nothing. "Hello?"

"Jessica, it's Cat," she starts out into the phone. This is luckier than she hoped for. "I wanted to tell you I found a name for what we talked about. She's Doctor Michelle Collins."

There's a hesitation for a moment, and then the reply is "All right. How do we go about setting this all up?"

Nice to know someone gets a happy ending.

Teo wishes that she hadn't said that. He really does. His arm tightens around his lover's shoulder, an inadvertent tell for something which otherwise would have been just as pathetically obvious. He finagles a slice of scallion pancake free, pushes it into his teeth, gnaws, listens to the slurp of soup until he decides to dip one corner of his food in, and see how it goes together. Pretty well, it turns out. Savory.

"What do you want to do today?" Folding the droopy edge of the pastry in with a thumb, he offers it up to Al for a bite.

Alexander obediently takes a bite. Honestly, it's kind of sickening, but a far cry from the previous bristling and armed thug. Al betrays no particular reaction to that offhand comment, merely chewing the pancake with bovine placidity. "Me?" he says, a little bit later. Someone's brain is definitely on ten second delay.

A little sickening never killed anybody, although possibly bovine placidity would have. Maybe it's just a well that they aren't together in the present or, really, people would die. "Yes," Teo answers, jamming the rest of the slice into his mouth. It winds up scrunched up in the right wall of his mouth, a bulge as if he were either making a very, very tawdry joke or breaking his teeth around a gumball.

"We could check out the new bridge to Staten— which is a good place now. Orrr." He puts on his thinking face, which is less grim than it used to be. He takes a spring roll up between his grease-slicked fingers. "Watch movies you missed. I probably missed them too."

"Alternatively, the cops could always use a little help around here." A euphemism for kill some terrorists, which Teo neither expects Alexander to take him up on nor plans particularly to elaborate on. The roll breaks between his molars with a crunch.

"I'll make you an appointment for early next week," Cat says into the phone, "then you can talk to her and things go from there. Are you more for mornings or afternoons?"

Jessica can't keep the smirk off her face or out of her voice. "I don't exactly have a regular job at the moment, unless sitting around watching paint peel counts as one. First available opportunity."

"I'm not interested in fighting. Or policing, right now," Al says, with a tinge of apology in his voice. He looks around in hopesof his own whole pancake. "I….I'm tired. Vastly so. I mean, I know I can't spend all my time eating, sleeping, and screwing…..but that's very much first on the agenda, for a good while."

Sounds good. Teo turns up the corners of his mouth, pushes the stiffened, crackly plastic of the bags down so that Alexander can have a clear view of his food options.

The scallion pancakes are stuffed into a carton, a lot of them, tiny round cross-sections of spring onion peeking bright and fresh green from the breaded portions. "I have enough money to accommodate your preferences, should you eventually lose the ability to walk," he says politely. "But I want you to see the bridge eventually. The Verrazzano-Narrows replacement.

"'S beautiful at night." Packing the rest of the spring roll into his jaws, Teo cranes his head to locate actual chopsticks with which they might tackle the rice and entree part of the meal. Tiny plastic cups of sauces scatter under his roving fingers.

"Will do," Cat states. "It'll likely be first off Monday morning. I'll call back closer to five p. m. with the details." Then she ends the call and makes her way back toward the gathering. There is food to be had, and the Friday morning's business to unwind from. On reaching the refrigerator, still clad in lawyer clothing, Cat opens it and pulls out a bottle of Guinness stout. In that moment she allows herself to be glad Al seemingly doesn't intend to take issue with what happened at Jersey City.

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