The Wrong Tree


ando_icon.gif bennet2_icon.gif candice_icon.gif hiro_icon.gif

Also Featuring


Scene Title The Wrong Tree
Synopsis Hiro is barking up it.
Date November 8, 2011

Primatech Paper Facility

Staten Island

"But — but what if he's dangerous."

Noah Bennet hears that question all the time, from concerned family members, neighbors down the street from his home, people he's never met on the bus. The question haunts him every time he performs one of these surveys. Under the high ceilings and hanging lights of the old Primatech Paper facility on Staten Island, Noah looks wearier than usual. Sleep debt has caught up to him, and the last few weeks have been harrowing enough. As he sits on the corner of a folding table, looking at a pair of concerned parents and their son, he imagines what he would do if the roles were reversed. Ultimately, the answer is anything.

"Then you learn to manage," Noah explains, hands folded in his lap. In the background, Hana Gitelman prepares documentation, listening to the conversation — and dozens of others as data swims through her mind. Noah and she work like a well-oiled machine, though one built on poorly fabricated parts. "Having an ability is about control. Learning it, maintaining it, and keeping it." Sliding off the table, he looks to the family and offers them a well-practiced reassuring smile gained in his days as a car salesman. "But we're getting ahead of ourselves. Now, I've already tested you both," he gestures to the parents. "But — " Out of the corner of his eye, Noah notices movement in the operations room through large windows. "If… you'll just excuse me one moment," he distractedly asks, slipping away from the family.

When Ando, Hiro, and Candice appeared in the operations room of the Primatech Paper facility it was accompanied by a rush of displaced air. Papers scattered off of folding tables, curtains disturbed. Motion enough for Noah Bennet to notice from the facility's warehouse floor. "Alright, Candice… I don't know what kind of mood Noah is going to be in, and I don't want him to know I've recruited you for this. So, could you please — " before he can even finish is sentence, Candice nods and shimmers away into the background of the room. Ando's brows shoot up and he looks at Hiro, who gives Ando a please keep up expression.

Not less than a moment later, the door to the office swings open, and there stands Noah Bennet in tall silhouette from the bright light coming in from the warehouse. As soon as he sees Hiro, Noah steps into the room and shuts the door. An accusatory look is fired to Ando, then back to Hiro. "Is this a refugee?" Hiro shakes his head in response, stepping in front of Ando.

"He's a friend, but it's not important right now. I have a list, I need some assistance." From within his jacket, Hiro produces a handwritten sheet of names. Bennet snatches it from him, eyeing Ando, then eyeballs the list up and down. One hand is already moving to the door.

"I have people I'm moving, right now. This," Bennet wags the paper in one hand, "waits until I'm finished. You two," he points to Ando and Hiro. "Stay put, you hear me?" With a series of repeated nods, Ando acquiesces, and Hiro merely nods once in solemn understanding. Bennet looks back and forth between the two, then opens the door and steps back out into the warehouse, folding the list into his pocket. Once the door is shut, Hiro exhales a sigh and smooths one hand over the top of his head.

A voice from the corner of the room inquires, "Why's Bennet so tense?" Hiro looks in the direction of Candice's voice, then shakes his head.

"I don't know," is a weary admittance. "I can travel time and space, but I can't be everywhere at once." Hiro looks over to Ando for a moment, then down to the floor. "I have a feeling the last trip I made to the past… changed things."

Out in the warehouse floor, Bennet returns to the family that's been patiently waiting. In the time that's passed, they've turned to whispering among one-another. Clearing his throat, Bennet cuts that down and steps over to the table they're seated at. He lays down a box, sliding off the top, revealing a white fabric pad beneath that's visibly damp. "Alright," he begins, looking over the family. "This is a standard SLC blood test, the kind you've probably seen at schools and hospitals. It has a 97.8% accuracy rate, which— given what you've already told me? I think that's going to be the best you get." Looking to the young boy, Noah raises his brows and looks to him expectantly. "You ready? Pad turns red… you're one of them and they'll arrest you. Pad turns blue, you're free to go."

There's a moment of hesitation, and the young man finally pricks his thumb with the lancet given to him by Noah earlier. With a droplet of blood on his thumb, he presses his finger to the pad. Dye turns blue, then purple, then darkens to red. Noah closes his eyes and nods solemnly, then looks over to Hana, who is already on the way over. "From now on you will be the Cranes from Boise, Idaho." Hana instructs them, handing paperwork to each familt member. "We've enclosed back stories, references, and money, okay?" She's direct, to the point, and concise.

The mother, now ostensibly Ms. Crane looks in shock to Hana and Noah. "How do we know when we're safe?"

Sternly, Bennet regards Ms. Crane with a growing frown. "You don't," he needs to impress this on them. "Not ever." Because as far as he can see, things will never get better. At that delivery, Bennet turns and picks up a vial from a cooler on the table and hands it back to Mr. Crane. "Always keep a refrigerated sample of this on your person. Buy a thermos." Bennet squeezea a drop from the plastic container onto the pad and it turns blue instead of red.

"Now you're gonna have to be vigilant," Noah explains, looking to the young son of the 'Cranes'. "Always on the lookout. Can you do that, son?"

The boy, trembling with anxiety, looks up to Noah with wide eyes. "Yes, sir." He doesn't know what else to say. No feels right, but sounds so wrong in his head.

"Good man," Noah adds, clapping a hand on the boy's shoulder in as much reassurance as he can muster. There's a look he shares with Hana, she knows it. He has company. Swiftly, Hana moves to change roles.

"Okay, we have to go." The urgency may not be completely necessary, but the window of time to move people out of New York is ever narrowing. Hana is quick to escort the shaken Cranes away from the table and the family moves to follow her out. But Bennet, intercepting the father, takes him by the arm gently.

"Do whatever it takes to protect him," Bennet murmurs, looking back to Mr. Crane's son. All the shell-shocked father can do is nod, shakily, and slip away to rejoin his family when Noah lets him go. Bennet looks back, eyeing Ando and Hiro's through the window of the office. Ando looks distraught, having seen another family torn apart in ways wholly different from the last. He shakes his head and turns away, unable to continue witnessing these tragedies. Hiro watches Noah, intently, as Hana leads the Cranes out of sight.

On his way back to the office, Bennet examines the list Hiro had given him. He pauses, draws in a slow and patient breath, then steps in and practically throws the sheet back at Hiro. "It's out of the question."

Hiro isn't deterred, though. He steps beside Noah, getting in his way. The distance between them is less than a hand's width, and their height disparity makes Noah look like a giant. "It's Homeland Security. I need help getting in there." Noah steps around Hiro and walks deeper into the office as Ando watches helplessly from the sidelines. Frustration, anger, and resentment swell in him.

Noah turns around, pointing an accusing finger at Hiro. "These people trust me." The words are hard for Noah to say. "They come to me to keep them hidden. You're asking me to do the exact opposite!"

Again, Hiro intercedes. "I'm only asking for the ones that I brought to you. DL, Candice," that last one elicits a look from Ando, but Hiro doesn't break pace, "Molly Walker. And they'll all be safe when we succeed." Noah's brows lower, jaw sets, and he steps up to Hiro again, looking down at him with a vein visible now in his brow.

"Sorry," Noah offers quietly, "I can't help you."

Finally, Ando steps up and closes the distance between himself and Bennet. "He saved your daughter's life." Ando had seen more tragedy in the last hour than he has in his entire life, and this display was wearing him thin. Bennet looks at Ando with a level stare, his tone becoming icy.

"Excuse me?" For a moment Ando withers under Bennet's stare, but he finds his strength, remembers the pop of gunfire he saw in Chinatown, the way that child's body crumpled into the street.

"Your daughter," Ando asserts, getting in Bennet's face. "The cheerleader. She's alive because of Hiro." One hand gestures to Hiro, who nearly pulls a don't drag me into this gesture when Ando gets in Bennet's face. But then, Hiro tenses, nods once, and locks his stare on Noah's.

"What is he talking about?" Bennet smoothly slings that question at Hiro, nearly through clenched teeth.

"Five years ago," Hiro takes a step back, deescalating the situation. "I asked Peter to save Claire from Sylar at Homecoming. My friend tells me he did it. Claire's alive. Isn't she?" Hiro raises one brow, and briefly shoots a thankful look to Ando. Begrudgingly, Noah snatches the list back from Hiro and gives a good, long look to each of the men in his office, unaware of Candice's presence.

"You guys sit tight." Bennet notes, looking around the office one last time. "I'll see what I can do." As he leaves the office, Bennet shuts the door behind himself. Hiro slaps a hand on Ando's shoulder, smiling for the first time since Ando had seen him.

"That was amazing," Hiro offers in a hushed tone of voice. Then, over his shoulder, another voice whispers silken in his ear.

"Bennet's nervous," Candice offers. "Something's up. I don't like it, and I want out." Hiro glances back to where the voice is coming from, then looks to Ando.

"You aren't just being paranoid?" Hiro asks the empty room, and Candice reveals herself behind him again, even though he'd just turned around. Laying a hand on Hiro's shoulder, Candice slowly turns him back to face her.

"Sugar," Candice whispers, "Paranoid keeps me alive. I know fear when I see it, and that man's afraid." One of Hiro's brows raises, slowly.

"Of… what?"

"Not what," Candice suggests, fading away into a heat mirage ripple. "But who."

Outside, moving into the parking lot beyond the Primatech warehouse, Bennet withdraws a cell phone from his pocket. Dialing a number from memory, he brings the phone to his ear. "Nelly?" Bennet smiles, squinting against the sun. "I'm going to need a pick up and delivery. Say, ten minutes?" He nods, as if she could see him. "Yep, the usual. Thanks." Then, as he closes his phone, he looks back to the Primatech paper facility, then slides the phone into his jacket. He hesitates, looking to the spot in the parking lot he'd talked to Peter Petrelli about Amid Halebi months prior. Doubt casts over his face.

After several long moments, Noah retrieves a hidden phone from a matte gray ziplock baggie in his coat. Opening it and dialing, he waits on the other end. "Mister Verse," Noah's voice is kept low.

"Could you redirect my call to our mutual friend?"

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