The Small Things


cat_icon.gif gillian2_icon.gif

Scene Title The Small Things
Synopsis While saving the world might be on the top of Phoenix's list of things to do, one member who's sticking around wants them to focus on smaller concerns as well.
Date August 8, 2009

The Rock Cellar

A comfortable place, located in the basement of 14 East 4th Street. The red brick walls are covered with memorabilia from various icons of rock and places in rock history, creating a feel similar to that of a Hard Rock Cafe.

The left wall has two bars separated by swinging doors which lead to and from the kitchen. Directly across from the entrance is a two foot high stage with all the equipment needed for acts to perform there. The right wall has three doors marked as restrooms: two for use by women and one by men.

Thirty square feet of open space for dancing and standing room is kept between the stage and the comfortable seating placed around tables which fill the remainder of the Cellar.

The lighting here is often kept dim for purposes of ambience, and when performers are onstage the place is loud enough to make conversation difficult. Just inside the door is a podium where location staff check IDs and stamp the hands of those under twenty-one with a substance visible under UV lights at the two bars and by devices the servers carry. On the podium's front is a sign with big black letters that just about explain it all: If You Don't Like Rock 'N' Roll, You're Too Late Now!

The iPhone clock tells her it's eleven in the morning, some hours before the place opens for business, and it's empty. Chairs are atop tables, the bar is cleared off. Switches are thrown, some of the lights come on, as she walks to the front of the place and unlocks the front door. Staff may soon be arriving to start preparing for the day's business and, even though the first to arrive will have keys, Cat makes it so they won't have to.

Then she strides toward the stage and mounts it, plugs her red Fender Strat into an amp, and tunes up briefly. When she's happy with the sound, fingers go at the strings and frets to produce the guitar part to a Simple Minds tune. Don't You Forget About Me.

It's a good thing that the first to arrive didn't need keys. After checking into the front desk to go up to the Penthouse, Gillian found that the lady of the house would not be available for some time. Speculation on the part of the receptionist led her to attempt to enter the nearby Cellar. The attempt, thanks to the door being unlocked, worked to her surprise.

The door opens, letting in light from outside, and a dark figure. Easily recognized from the form and size, especially for someone of Cat's nature. A carrying case big enough to carry a laptop and notebooks and various other things hangs across her chest and from her shoulder, resting against her back, for the most part. The sound of music greets her, making her smile as she steps further inside. "That song's a little ironic from you," she admits, loud enough to be heard, but not quite loud enough to really interupt.

Eyes settle on the entering woman and track her as she plays, Cat choosing a segment without lyrics to reply with a subdued chuckle. "I felt a bit like paying tribute," she begins, "to a legend. But… what's ironic about asking someone not to forget about me?"

Lyrics resume, carried across to ears by her singing voice.

"Just the fact that you can never forget about anyone, unless you lose your ability, at least," Gillian says, moving over to the bar to swing her bag up on top of it. It's not that she's going to interupt more than that. With the bag there, she settles onto a stool, pulling it open to grab one of the many notebooks inside and a pencil. A few pages are flipped through, until she finds one worth sketching in the margins of.

It appears she's going to wait out the tribute.

It doesn't take long. When the song is complete, she sets the guitar down and leaves the stage. "Ever heard of John Hughes?" Gillian is approached, but a detour is taken toward one of the bars. "Want anything?" Cat asks. She draws herself a pint of stout and waits there to hear the answer. "I like coming here sometimes before the place opens and after it closes to play and remember when I had my own stage act at the Surly Wench."

"Yeah, I heard of him. I may not have been born when the movie the song's from came out, but I watched it more than a few times on television," Gillian admits, continuing to sketch in the corner. An old hobby revived, for various reasons. Some involving the woman nearby, with a pint. "I always liked the basket case and the criminal. Though I doubt that's a surprise." The pencil is finally sat down, and it looks as if she'd been sketching the woman's own guitar in the margins, below a set of eyes without a face. "Something weak should be okay. I have to drive home." And she's relearning her tolerance since losing regeneration, too.

"Got it," she answers, coming over with a glass of cola. Pepsi, in fact. It's placed near Gillian as Cat settles onto another stool. The notebook is spotted, and the image Gillian's sketched, drawing a quiet comment. "Billy Idol." A smile forms. "The basket case and the criminal. If it hadn't been set in a public school," she muses, "I might've been something of the Molly Ringwald character. And yet some guy accused me of being a geek recently." Her head shakes, she lifts the pint and commences to enjoy it.

"How've you been?" she asks sincerely some moments later.

"I went to public school, but we lived in an okay district, so it wasn't too bad," Gillian admits, taking a drink from the offered glass of pepsi. Definitely on the weak side, when compared to what all is available behind the bar. "My sister was kind of the Molly Ringwald, and I guess you could push Victor into the Emilio role. He'd always been involved in sports." There's a small sigh as she talks about her siblings that aren't related to her, as far as she knows. One dead, one… in the south. As far as she knows.

"It's… disorienting. Going from having a dozen plus abilities to just…" No burst of purple or augmentation follows, but she does kinda raise her hand as if to gesture at the sky. From all to one. "I'm still trying to decide what I want to do now. I have some ideas, but I wouldn't say they're all compatable with… everyone's goals." There's a pause. "Is it okay to talk about stuff in here?"

"It is," Cat answers, her eyes settling on the door to watch for people arriving, of which there are none. "Part of what you're feeling might be like fog or static in your head, a feeling there's memories present sometimes that you just can't get to." Her gaze shifts from entrance to augmentor, and a memory plays out, triggered in that moment.

A Gillian clothed in the style of the Founders is speaking to her outside of Federal Hall on Wall Street, in the dreamscape she entered.

"Maybe what we need to do is find out about the past. What Vanguard was up to, what things we don't know yet. We have a man in the Garden who used to be one of his top men as far as I could tell. Amato. He thought, without a doubt until the end, that they were doing the right thing. We also have Lucrezia, who I think was involved for a long time. Find out what happened before we came in contact with Vanguard. Cause I don't think the past as we know it is the past the dream had been referring to. Else we might have a better idea what the fuck is going on, right?"


There's a shift in the dream suddenly, a shadow of a man in the background with blue eyes. Only the eyes really make it through, before it loses cohesion and breaks apart.

"And maybe the past isn't just prologue maybe it repeats. Maybe we need to find out what the past was before we can hope to break away from the cycle that we're getting dragged into, kicking and screaming, practically."

The small exertion on the dream, involuntary as it was, makes her edges blur again. This time they don't quite snap back.

"That's part of what it's like," Gillian says flipping a few pages back in her notebook. The margins are full of small sketches, but there's paragraphs or words in between. "I've been keeping a journal cause my memory isn't what it used to be. I started it before I lost your ability to, when I heard what happened to you when you lost your ability temporarily. I didn't really want to risk losing almost three months worth of memory."

The shifting of the woman's glance doesn't go unnoticed, though it takes her a moment to say anything about it, perhaps as long as it takes for the memory to play out. "Remembering something?"
The voice pulls her out of the remembrance, back to the here and now, and Cat nods. "Yes. You, in fact. Something you said." But there'll be time for that later, she pulls herself to other topics. "What was it you wanted to express, the ideas you have?" Eyes rest briefly on the notebook, then go back to her face.

Neat and easy to read handwriting, it wouldn't take much to reconstruct the page later with time to think about it. A first-hand recollection of a day with the kids at the Lighthouse, a list of books she thinks would be appropriate for each of them. It's simple and non-intrusive, perhaps even flipped to for that very reason. The notepad is flipped closed at the mention of memories, ideas… "For a while I wasn't sure if I wanted to be part of Phoenix anymore, but certain… people… said things that made me…"

Her mind got changed, in short, but she doesn't continue on that, pausing to take a drink. "I think we've been… focusing too much on what could happen. There's bad things happening right now. Terrible things that have already happened. By focusing on what could happen I think we… fail to see what already is. Things we can help with right now. And those things that have happened might actually prepare us for what could happen."

What's said is listened to without interruption, her features showing interest, and when Gillian's yielded the floor Cat remains mostly quiet, as if expecting to hear elaboration on the things spoken of. Details of things happening now, and which happened before casting long shadows on the present and future. "The past is prologue," she murmurs, "and we don't understand fully what was written in it on certain fronts, this makes moving forward nothing more than stabs in the dark."

"And while our stabs in the dark have been somewhat successful… I think we could have stopped certain things from happening if we'd have focused on what we could find out. Brian might not have been attacked by Arthur if he'd been briefed on his shapeshifting. I know you briefed a lot of people, but he didn't know, and…" Gillian closes her eyes a moment, letting out a shaky breath. What he'd not known had nearly killed him. "And then there's Teo. I think we could have helped him… I know a lot of this is based on hindsight and what-ifs, but— like the earthquakes. And I found out from Eileen that the government — the CIA — is hunting down people who were involved in Vanguard. Ethan Holden specifically. While I got no positive emotions for that— man— there's people who I do care about that could easily get caught up in the crossfire trying to find him…" Like Peter. Gabriel. Even, possibly, herself.

Her features darken, the jaw setting. The CIA. "The CIA," Cat growls quietly, "isn't supposed to be operating on American soil. Their only function is supposed to be overseas, the FBI handles domestic investigations. But it isn't surprising. People aren't ever supposed to be locked up in deep dark holes indefinitely without trial, and DHS is wholly unneeded."

"Brian," Cat goes on to say quietly, "chose to stay apart from us, and chose to make approaching him difficult. He'd been taken by Primatech and made into an agent, at the same time the uncaptured Brian chose to become a public figure and be allied with Linderman. I admit," Cat adds, "not being terribly upset at not seeking to make much contact. I didn't miss his mocking of everything I'd say. A thing which, very happily, he's grown out of."

"There's a lead on the earthquakes," she adds, "a man called Norman White. Terrakinetic. As to the CIA," she asks, coming back to that, "do we have names and faces on operatives in the hunt?"

"And at what expense did he grow out of it?" Gillian says, moving to shove the notepad into her bag. It's not a happy situation at all for her, the topic seemingly personal. Norman White, Terrakinetic. That's a new piece of information, to which she nods. "I don't know anything about the CIA. You'd have to ask Eileen, but they're trying to find Vanguard overseas too. I don't know if I blame them, trying to hunt them down, either. We'd probably be doing the same thing if we had the resources, considering you're afraid they're going to drop nukes on us somehow."

There's a shake of her head. "This is exactly what the problem is and I'm even falling into it. I don't care who is causing the Earthquakes, and I don't care about the CIA, I care about the people it's going to hurt, the people it already has hurt. We focus so much on the big things that we let people who should matter get hurt."

"On July 30th," Cat begins, calling it up in memory, "there was a report from Russia. It said senior Russian government officials have denied the claims of retired General Alexi Potroi that two nuclear weapons went missing from the active Russian arsenal as recently as 2002. Potroi made the claims on a BBC television program earlier this month, alleging that subversive paramilitary elements within the Russian military allowed for the theft of two 20 megaton warheads during the fall of 2002. Russian officials denied the existence of the weapons which, according to Potroi, that have the potential to destroy a large city and its inhabitants. The claims have fueled the debate on Russia's control of its nuclear stocks. In response to these allegations, the United Nations brought forth shocking claims that a mid-March raid on a terrorist cell based out of Germany responsible for the destruction of several infrastructure facilities in the United States in January were in the possession of an active nuclear warhead. Michele Montas, Spokesperson for the UN Secretary-General was unwilling to connect the warhead to the alleged missing Russian warheads, but made claims that further investigations would need to be made in light of the discovery. This is the first news of a discovery of nuclear armaments possessed by the terrorist organization 'Vanguard' since the raid on the Berlin compound in March."

"I'm uninclined to help Ethan at all, but even he deserves a fair trial and consideration for having done the right thing, for turning against Kazimir at the moment of truth. Because this is America, and that's how it's supposed to work here."

This too she sets aside after relating it, to address another topic. "You aren't wrong," she admits, "the question is how to not let that happen while still tending the larger issues, because if we don't we all get killed anyway. I think the best thing in that regard is your focus, to watch for and call our attention to things that develop. To stay in contact.

A lot of information gets pulled out, and Gillian shakes her head, because it's pretty obvious that there's little she can do about that sort of thing. Only so much a single person can do against a nuclear weapon, and there's so many ifs involved that the CIA has more hope of getting it right than she thinks she does. "I saw the news, I remember it, even if not word for word like you do, but what the fuck can I do about that? Or what can we do about it for that matter. We don't have the resources, we don't have the capabilities, we don't have the people, we don't have the support… there's so many big things that we can try to do, and…"

She trails off, stopping the rant before it begins to take a drink from her pepsi. It's almost finished by this point, with such large drinks, but… "I think we're capable of doing both. Some people to focus on the big problems, some people to focus on the more personal ones. By helping people we can help, smaller problems, smaller groups— we'll make friends. It's like that miracle thing you guys used to do. Those were big things, but if we did a lot of smaller things… and if we made sure people heard about them… I think it would have a bigger impact than one giant act."

"That was just to demonstrate more than fear, that there's evidence, of the nukes. But we won't understand the significance, how that might come into play, until we've learned the prologue, and we certainly won't achieve that today," Cat admits. "You're correct, of course, and this also ties in with what T.Monk advised us. To gather people who'll do the right thing, to bring them in and prepare for the coming war. People who can be eyes and ears on the streets, telling us what they see, meeting people, finding ways and places to make small moves and publicize them."

"I took a step a few days back which can help in this, I think. I hired Claire Bennet to prowl the city and find musicians. Hear them play, tell me where and who they are, and so on. I could change the terms of the job to just roaming, meeting people, reporting back, and cooking up simple gestures. It would also be the chance she asked for, to have constructive things she can do beyond dying over and over or being a shotgun wielder."

"That would be a start," Gillian says, hearing the name and frowning a bit. Die over and over or be a shotgun wielder? If only she'd had the memory from weeks back, she could look through her mind and remember a reference in a database to a woman by that name, and who she was. And maybe could draw a line to the one she saw die once and wield a shotgun. There's a moment where she can't help but wonder, either way. It could be…

"There's a girl I met in the park. She sat down and played chess with me, and when my ability activated hers… I think she's new to her ability, and confused, and I mean to go visit her and try to help her. It's a very small thing, but I think it would mean a lot to her. I don't know if she's recruitable, but… If nothing else it's the one thing we have that few other people do. We care about people. The big changes are important, they need to happen, but they don't help people now, and some people need help now."

"Who is she?" Cat asks. "What I've done in the past when meeting people who could fit us, is to touch briefly on politics, their positions on things, and see where it leads. To let that first seed take root and bring it along by their own realizations, understandings. One such person was brought in by Brian. Peyton Whitney. I didn't go into detail when she and I spoke, it's far too soon, but there's time. Time to let her get her head sorted before sharing information beyond the simple fact we're tied with the Ferry, and the Ferry shelters people in need. Like she is."

"I don't think this girl is in desparate need, she's a student," Gillian explains, showing that the girl isn't running in fear, at the very least. "Wants to be a doctor, carrys a guitar around too," she adds, giving a hint of a smile. "Her name's Adelaide. I think her ability has something to do with memories, but not— not her memories, but someone else's. She looked at me and saw something that was in my memories. But I did ask her if she had considered registering, and she seemed against it."

"Interesting," Cat replies, not making the connection between this Adelaide and the woman she spoke with here who didn't rock quite hard enough for the cut. It's a big city, lots of young women named Adelaide might carry a guitar. "Medical school, expensive. Does she ever pick a spot on the street, open the case, and just play to see what she can make from it? I like to do that sometimes," she shares. "Do you know where to find her again?"

"I have a contact number, yeah," Gillian says, reaching into her bag and pulling out a much smaller notepad. "I've called her once, but the kids and other things have kept me from calling again. But I arranged a place to meet up once I do call her. I didn't want to ask for her apartment or dorm, cause it's— a little weird, you know? I wouldn't want to give a stranger who knew my secret the place I live, so why would anyone else want that." The smaller pad is flipped through. "It's a bakery run by her grandmother. But I have no idea if she plays her guitar for money. She had been carrying it around in the park, so it's possible."

Her pint is lifted and enjoyed as Gillian speaks, Cat simply nodding in places. "It's a worthwhile contact to pursue," she opines. "Hopefully it leads to something." Maybe, she thinks, the woman can be helped through college, as her mind turns to yet another thing.

"What've you heard about the Suresh Center, Gillian?"

"Just what's been said in the newspaper," Gillian says with a shrug, moving to stand up from the stool so she can stuff the notepad back into her bag, and pull it off of the bar. "It sounds like a good idea, but since it seems far too early for something like that to get brought up, it's suspicous. I'd be worried about stepping foot into their doors for any reason."

"I think I'm going to check it out tomorrow," Cat states, "with eyes open to see if DHS has a squad of goons at the front doors pricking fingers and taking tests."

"It's not a bad idea, to send someone to check it out," Gillian admits, pulling the bag back onto her shoulder, and stopping to finish off the drink. "As long as you're careful, it would be nice to hear that it's not a cover for some kind of government trick— or worse just another group of people like Pinehearst doing experiments for their own benifit."

That gets an empathic nod. "Thus watching for people testing at the doors," Cat affirms as her pint lifts. She watches Gillian shoulder the bag, it prompting a query. "Taking off? See you."

"Yeah, I just wanted to make sure one of you heard what's been bouncing around in my confused brain lately," Gillian says, shaking her head a bit as if she's not sure what to think of it anyway. There's a pause, a frown. "I doubt you do, but… You wouldn't happen to know where Peter is right now, would you?"

"Last time I spoke with Eileen," Cat answers, "she said he was at the Garden. I don't know if he's still there. He came by here on the 30th, wanting to speak with Else about her visions, but she wasn't here. He wanted her address, I wouldn't give it to him, and when I tried to share what I've learned since hearing of both Eve's dream and Else's songs he acted like an ass and left."

"He left the Garden," Gillian offers, but can give no more than that. By the sound of his visit, she doesn't seem at all surprised by it. She'd known he would be coming by to ask about the singer, and she'd assumed he'd done so on his own based on what Eve had said. As for his being an ass… "He sucks the life out of a room right now— literally." A shake of her head. "I'll send word if I learn of anything else that I think needs our attention, and I'll try to contact Adelaide soon, let you know what happens with that."

"We saw," Cat shares, "when Claire touched him. He wouldn't even take the time to be nice to her for two seconds, or even say hello." The glass is raised again, her eyes settle on the stage briefly, before she turns back to Gillian. "Thanks. And good luck, Gillian."

There's a pause, a hesitation, before Gillian nods and starts to move toward the doors she came in, "I think I need good luck all the time." Unfortunately, she rarely has it. "Good luck to you too," she adds, raising a hand up in a wave before she exits through the door.

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