The Mouthpiece


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Scene Title The Mouthpiece
Synopsis Rupert Carmichael comes to Gun Hill in an effort to allegedly touch base with Magnes and instead finds himself speaking to a woman who could convey his message to more people than he ever dreamed.
Date July 14, 2010

Gun Hill

With Magnes out for errands, Elaine was left to her own devices for lunch… which meant she was snacking on leftovers from whatever Magnes happened to have made previously. Preferring warm pizza to cold, she pulled the plate out of the microwave, setting it on the counter as she grabbed for a soda from the fridge.

It's in this rather urbane setting that has afforded the perfect opportunity for a seemingly inauspicious visitor to come calling, concealing a well-oiled machination of planning behind the vaneerof a bumbling professor. The rapid three-stroke knock on the apartment door comes without any other fanfare, save for the unfamiliar voice of a man's hesitant tones calling thorugh the wood. "Magnes?"

Standing outside in the hall, Rupert J. Carmichael looks much the part he's trying to play, with that untucked white dress shirt wrinkled and creased, sleeves rolled up and black slacks seeming to make him look like some wayward, out of luck businessman. It's the skinny black tie that lends an air of credulous nature to him, despite his scraggly bears and mop-ling hair swrpt back from his face.

Fingers curled around a fedora held in both of his hands, Rupert stares expectantly at the door in clear view of the apartment's peephole, half his body illuminated by a yellowed ray of light shinign in through the hall across him. "It's Rupert," he adds through the door, "I was worried… ah… I thought we could— talk?"

Hearing the knock, Elaine headed to the door. Magnes' paranoia caused her to peek out the peep hole for a moment. Slowly unlocking the door, the redhead swings it open, tilting her head to observe the man. "Sorry, Magnes is out running errands. Can.. I help you somehow? I could let him know you're looking for him or something." The man seems harmless enough, and he did sound concerned.

Head canted to the side and fingers wringing the brim of his hat, Rupert leans towards the open door with both dark brows raised. "Oh… I— I apologize about that it…" there's an askance look into the aprtment before his eyes settle back on Elaine, taking a moment to seemingly let the pieces fall into place. "You must be Elaine? Magnes has said some good things about you…"

Dipping his head down sheepishly, Rupert casts another look into the apartment. "Actually, if Magnes isn't home right now… do yout hink maybe I might be able to talk to you? Something's sort've, ah, come up about him and… well, it's got me worried. Maybe you might be able to explain things a little better than he did, I— I hate hearing things second or third hand, you know."

"Has he?" Elaine smiles at the idea. Then looks behind her into the apartment, slightly concerned, but she gives a nod after a moment. She steps out of the way and gestures inside. "I suppose I could. What would you like to talk about?" She frowns, just slightly. "Is this about yesterday?"

A wary look is angles towards Elaine at the mention of yesterday and Rupert flashes a hesitant smile as he steps in thorugh the doorway, fingers still nervously wringing at the brim of his hat. "Maybe?," he offers a bit inscrutably with a worried crease of his brows. "Ah, I guess it wouldn't hurt to be entirely straightforward with you, I imagine Magnes has been pretty up front with you about everything…"

Rupert's wandering eyes peer around the apartment, darting back to Elaine with a skittish mannerism as he takes a few wandering steps past her, further into Elaine and Magnes' shared home. "Magnes and I work together, or, we did up until a misunderstanding seems to have gotten in the way of our partnership?"

Slowly turning, Rupert cants his head to the side, letting one stringy lock of black hair brush down across his face. "Magnes did some… work for me, in Washington D.C., and I think he's been misled about what my, ah… what our group's goal is? I'm really not sure he's told you everything about us." There's a glance over to a length of red cloth hanging in the apartment over the back of a chair, then back to Elaine.

"Has he mentioned Messiah at all?" Both of Rupert's brows lift at that, seeming hesitant to bring up the term. "It's— not quite what the media makes it out to be, I assure you."

There's a bit of hesitation. Magnes hadn't told her everything. Elaine frowns slightly. "He mentioned he left Messiah yesterday. He wanted to get out because of the way he was putting himself in danger, the way he was being reckless and dangerous. He seemed to think that your group would be retaliating." She glances at the door. "Really, he'd probably be pretty mad you're even here talking to me."

Frowning, Rupert ducks his head down and offers something of an apologetic nod. "I'm sorry about all of this, I really am… I didn't know at the time we wanted to ask Magnes to work with us that he had, ah, you know…" there's a motion of one hand away from his fedora and to Elaine, "a lovely lady at home waiting for him?" Wandering a bit further into the apartment, Rupert hesitates after a moment of thought and turns back around to regard Elaine.

"Magnes is sort've… well, he's headstrong? I don't know if you and I get to see different sides of him, but— retalliation? No, no never. I'm— I'm not a violent person at heart, Elaine. I'm… well, I'm a history professor, language scholar, you know… I'm a bookworm." Carefully chosen words, each and every one.

"I was hoping to actually come here and smooth things out with Magnes face to face but… you know, maybe it would be best if I talked to you about it first? Maybe a little woman's intuition would help things?" Awkwardly offering a smile, Rupert looks into the apartment again. "Maybe we could have a seat somewhere, and I could tell you what we've been up to and… maybe you could help me understand Magnes a little better?"

Oh. Now she feels a little guilty. "Right, I'm sorry," Elaine offers, pointing to the couch. "Please, have a seat." She moves to take a seat herself, though her eyes have practically lit up at the mention of the core of who Rupert says he is. "I'm… a big fan of languages and history too, so I guess we can relate." She makes herself comfortable, pursing her lips for a moment. "Alright. I can give you my opinion on things."

"A fellow linguist?" Rupert lifts one brow with feigned surprise, nose wrinkling slightly as he makes his way over to the sofa with an appreciative nod. "My focus is primarially in dead languages, Sumerian in specific, it goes hand in hand with the classes I teach at Columbia." He's not just a terrorist sponsor, he's a professor. Settling down on the sofa, Rupert leans forward to rest his fedora down on the table in front of the couch, then laces his fingers together and rests his forearms over his knees.

"I'm sorry if I'm picking at… well, sore wounds here, with what it is Magnes is doing. I'd thought he might have been a little more up front with you, but…" There's a crease of Rupert's brows. "Our group is militant, and… it's true, we have done some dangerous, violent things in the past. But I think without context it becomes dangerous to make assumptions about us? This might be a bit long-winded, but I'll try not to turn it into a lecture."

"A few years ago, when Nathan Petrelli made his revelation about the Evolved to the world? It wasn't as… revlelatory as most people thing. There've been groups of people, world over, who've known about the Evolved for generations. Some who've gone to great lengths to control and subvert them, others who've been trying to make life easier for their kind. But now, with everything… sort've— out in the open? Well, it's complicated matters some."

Teeth draw across Rupert's bottom lip as one eye narrows in a squint, staring at his hat as he searches for proper words. "The ah, the group Magnes and I are a part of? We're fighting a corrupt element within the government… sort've— a modern day analogy to the Nazi party before they came to power in Germany following the end of World War I. They want to round up people with abilities, put them into camps, and we have proof of that. Not proof enough to sway all public mind, but proof enough to need to act."

Wringing his hands together, Rupert's brows furrow again and he looks up from his fedora to Elaine. "Imagine you were back then— back in Germany— and you saw all the warning signs of the rise of the Third Reich, and you had the power to stop it. Most people wouldn't be willing to make the necessary sacrifices to help stop the holocaust before it happened but— that's what we're trying to do. It's coming— a war. A war between people who fear the Evolved and people who see them as humans. Whether we like it or not, whether we fight or whether we hide… but the important part is, waiting and hoping for a non-violent solution isn't going to help anyone."

As much as Rupert said he wouldn't turn this into a lecture, he has. "We've known for months that the American government engineered the H5n10 virus… a fatal virus for the Evolved… in order to control them by means of forced registration at innoculation sites. There's the beginnings of concentration camps springing up across the midwest, and even before that they attempted to make a prison capable of holding people arrested without due process."

Sliding his tongue over his lips, Rupert furrows his brows, shaking his head slowly. "Magnes… he's an idealist and I think he's a self-fashioned hero. I know he knows what we're doing is right, but… I think he might be afraid of pushing you away by what he does. Maybe the reason he hasn't told you about what we're fighting against… is because he wants to protect you? Or— maybe he thinks you won't— can't understand? I… I don't know. Maybe… you might be able to help me understand him more?"

Elaine's heart leaps into her throat. "You teach at Columbia? I've been working on an application to go there, do more work with linguistics and stuff… it's my ability. Learning languages and all, and so I was looking to see if I could get a scholarship to go there… a friend's father does linguistics in Edinburgh and was going to put in a recommendation for me. Sumerian? Really?" That's exciting. She hasn't gotten to do much related to older languages. Much harder to learn dead languages without direct access to material to learn it.

Elaine, however, has been relatively living under a rock. Organizations, governments, Evolved rights… this is all stuff she's never really thought of touching. She registered when she had to, found herself tossed about in a sea of the foster system, and really never decided to ever read up on much of any of that because it never really involved her. She was fine. The idea of war camps… "Like… everyone with abilities? Even someone like me? But… my ability is harmless. I don't understand why they'd just… throw people in…" She swallows. What reason did Hitler need other than the fact that they were Jews?

Then there's the issue of Magnes. Elaine's brow creases in frustration. "Magnes is trying to protect me, yeah. I've been bugging him about taking risks. I don't mind him being himself, being a hero of some sort since that's just how he is, but… he was taking risks, being careless, and I wanted him to scale back. He always assured me he had plans, that he was okay with things. He said he wanted to be more neutral. I think a lot of that was cause of all of the things that have happened to him."

There's a bit of a pause, as it appears this is where it gets more personal. "He doesn't talk to me about this stuff because he doesn't want me involved. The last mission he went on.. I was there when they told him details.. building 26, I think it was? Anyway… they said I could help. But he said no. He didn't want me involved in a life like that. He wanted me to be normal." A swallow. "That's what I've been avoiding my entire life. Being normal. I was never quite enough until I went abroad and discovered my ability. I never liked being normal."

"Normal is… over-rated," Rupert notes with a crooked smile, though a bittersweetly sympathetic one. "Magnes is a good kid, he really is, but the world isn't as cut and dry as," eyes divert to an issue of 9th Wonders left on the coffee table. "Well, as cut and dry as most comics are." Lifting his attention back up to Elaine, Rupert settles back in his seat, lifting one leg up to cross over the other, hands folding at the back of his knee.

"As far as I know, the government has plans— through an organization called the Commonwealth Institute— for each and every person with an ability… that doesn't work for them doing God knows what… to, well. Disappear?" There's a sigh as Rupert explains that, his head shaking slowly as his eyes wander across the sofa.

"It's noble of Magnes to want to protect you, but everyone deserves to have a choice about the life they lead. Messiah, the group we're a part of? Part of it is about violence, it's about fighting back at these facists and depriving them of the tools they use to disarm us. Be is striking out at a facility that creates the H5n10 virus, or like what Magnes was doing… liberating wrongfully imprisoned people from a government-sanctioned 'dark hole'. Did he tell you that's what he did? He saved probably thirty innocent people froma government prison where they were held in medicated comas."

Rupert's brows rise slowly, a weary smile crossing his lips. "You're a smart girl, Elaine, you seem like the kind of person I'd like to have as a student. I know it's not really my place to say something like this… but I think there's a lot you and I could learn from each other. At the very least, my talking to you here today's given you a bit of a warning, so that you know… when the time finally does come— when they come door to door to round up the genetically 'pure', you'll know what to look for."

Sitting forward some, Rupert's brows furrow worriedly, and his attention drifts back to the absent scarf left draped over the back of the chair. "A lot of people were pretty upset when Magnes left. He— there's this young kid, Harrison? He put a lot of faith into Magnes as a mentor, as a rock of stability and… well— we're all a little confused and surprised by his coice. But— it's his choice, after all."

Then, as Rupert's eyes alight from the saofa to meet Elaine's, he adds, "Just like you have a choice about your life."

"Jesus. Magnes was saying to be careful cause there were Evolved people disappearing." Elaine's eyes widen at the mention of really, what they'd managed to accomplish. "He… didn't really tell me any of that." She rubs her arms a little, looking conflicted. "I can't believe Magnes would just…" She sighs. "No, I can believe it. He's a good guy, he still just doesn't know how to balance things. He's… well, for someone older than me, he's not as good thinking things through. He feels like he needs to protect me… and I appreciate it. He deserves someone who's normal but… I don't like being normal. And recent events have even proved to me that I can't even try to be." She lets out a breath.

"I just don't know what to do. I wanted him to be less reckless. I wanted him to just grow up a little to show focus, maturity… just enough so that I wouldn't have to worry he was going to get himself hurt doing something foolish. But I've never really had a choice about my life. Really, the only thing I've had full control over for me has been my ability. Learning languages, applying to Columbia… that's all me. I don't know… I just kind of go with what Magnes wants."

"Maybe that's for the best?" Rupert loosely suggests, but it's a half-hearted attempt at playing the Devil's Advocate. "All I know is the facts, and that being Magnes was an invaluable member of our group, one who brought a strong sense of justice and discipline to our group, and one that I'm— frankly— sad to have lost. I think somewhere deep down inside he wants to try and believe that this…" Rupert waves one hand vaguely in the air, "this life he has? That it can overcome what's brewing behind the scenes, but I don't think it can."

Creasing his brows, Rupert shakes his head slowly, then looks up to Elaine. "Everyone has a choice about their life, what they do with it, where they go. Sometimes people try to take that choice away, but those people? They're the real villains in all of this. I'm a proponent of free will…"

The irony in that sentiment is, perhaps, overwhelming to Rupert. His smile seems to be a genuine one, but it's more smug satisfaction than anything. "Here, I— I feel bad for burdening you with all of this, Elaine. You're a sweet girl, a smart girl. If you're looking to get in to Columbia, I'm on the board of admissions and… I could probably put in a good word for you for the fall, if you're serious about it. I'd like to see that bright red head of yours front row and center in my ancient history class though if you did get in."

Smiling a bit awkwardly, Rupert lifts up a ahdn and rakes his fingers thorugh his hair, then furrows his brows. "I know you're not a fighter but— in any war, there's always a place for people willing to do the right thing. I've probably given you too much to think about right now but— if you're interested in pursuing things? I'm more than willing to see if there's a place for you with us. Whatever you're comfortable with and nothing more. I never forced Magnes to do anything he didn't want to do, and I won't do any different by you, Elaine. But I'd hate for this to come between you and him…"

And therein lies the hook. "Maybe… you might be able to say something on my behalf to Magnes? Maybe you'd have better luck getting through to him than I have? He's a smart kid, but sometimes…" he laughs, "it feels like we're talking different languages."

"You'd… really put in a word for me? That'd… that'd be amazing. Yeah, I'm serious. I've got almost all of it done, I just have to turn it in…" Elaine smiles broadly at the idea. College was something she didn't think she'd really get the chance to have. "That'd probably be the first class I'd sign up for anyways." She offers with a grin, though she manages to focus once more on the serious business. Can't get too carried away with academic passion.

"… Could you see if there's anything? I know it's not what Magnes wants, but it's more of what I want." Elaine peers towards him hopefully. "If I can make a difference doing something I'm good at.. than what better reward is that?" She chews on her lip. "I'll try to talk to Magnes. He respects my opinion, so if there's anything you want to get across to him… you can count on me to try." She grins. "I am a bit of a translator, after all."

"I always wanted someone who could help convey my message to more people," Rupert notes with a fond smile, "maybe you're just the person I've always been looking for." Leaning forward to pick up his hat, Rupert tosses the fedora back and forth between his hands, then offers a squinting look towards Elaine. "If there was anything I'd want to convey to Magnes, it's… that I hope he understands that we're never intentionally harming the innocent. Our job is to protect people, and to hurt those who would hurt us."

Pushing on his knees, Rupert rises up with a tired noise from the sofa, glancing back at it with a crooked smile. "If I didn't know any better, I'd say that couch of yours had some sort of special Evolved power to make me sleepy." Turning his attention back to Elaine, Rupert laughs off the comment and flips that black hat atop his head.

"I'll talk to the man in charge, see what he thinks. He's a pretty nice guy, once you get to know him. As for Magnes," there's a glance back to the apartment door, then to Elaine again. "Just tell him, if he does decide to stay out of things, I have no hard feelings. But if you want to get involved…" Rupert smiles, broadly, "I think I might just be able to make room for you. Think on it though, and I'll see about putting in a good word or two for you at Columbia."

"That'd be a clever ability, wouldn't be surprised if someone can make couches like that." Elaine notes, getting slowly to her feet. "I'll let him know. And… thank you. I really appreciate the conversation. It puts some things into perspective, I think." She nods towards the door. "I'll make sure my application's in, then. And I certainly hope I'll see you around there, then."

As Rupert turns towards the door, he hesitates for a moment before turning to look back at Elaine, grimacing faintly as one eye narrows. "Oh and… one last thing," he notes with one finger raised as if motion to that ephemeral point of conversation. "Try to be discreet about who you speak to about what Magnes and I do? Loose lips and sinking ships, you probably know the similie."

Turning that finger into a pointer towards Elaine, Rupert clicks his thumb back like the hammer on a gun and makes a cluck of his tongue and a wink like quite possibly the largest nerd possible, and turns towards the apartment door, having both said his peace, and sown the necessary seeds in this environment.

Now, all that's left, is Magnes's reaction.

Wild cards are always tricky like that.

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