Three Years Gone


brennan_icon.gif bella_icon.gif carla_icon.gif grace_icon.gif kaylee2_icon.gif leonardo_icon.gif robin_icon.gif tamsine_icon.gif

Also with appearances by

darla_icon.gif len2_icon.gif mouse_icon.gif praeger_icon.gif

Scene Title Three Years Gone
Synopsis Three years later, the Manhattan Explosion is remembered.
Date November 8, 2009

Suresh Center: Ground Floor

The lobby of the Suresh Center is an open, very well-lit space; the exterior walls are more window than wall. There's a raised half-level on the right side of the irregularly-shaped room as one walks in, carpeted in pine-green, decked with oak furniture and small table lamps; a comfortable-looking space, with actual living plants at the top of the stairs and scattered here and there elsewise. Continuing to the left brings one to the receptionist's desk, a small vending area located just beyond that.

Impending sunset frosts the city in orange and gold, and in red-brushed shadow; it lends a beauty to Manhattan that is warmer than the autumn-chill air, brighter than the smog-dulled sky. Transient, ephemeral, and strongly reminiscent of the past in a way that evokes either nostalgic sorrow or pained grief in those who compare the atmosphere with the many, many artistic works comemmorating the Manhattan Explosion.

Roosevelt Island is distant from ground zero, but not untouched; nothing was. And it is in memory of the bomb's effect that so many people have gathered at the Suresh Center this evening. The doors are propped open, security personnel a thin black-garbed line halfway down the grounds; demonstrators are an everyday sight at the facility which proclaims itself a haven for Evolved, but they're out in more force than usual today. After all, it was an Evolved who three years ago single-handedly crippled the nation's largest city. How dare they — and their sympathizers — think to impose themselves upon something sacred to the memories of the lost?

And yet they do dare, the halls of the Center's first floor decorated with fabric swathes in the colors of harvest season and of mourning — russet, amber, indigo, black, and smoke-gray. The small tables scattered throughout are draped each in one of those colors, with a white doily overall; small votive candles bracket picture-collage centerpieces, and each table also holds platters of various edibles — or beverages, in the case of some. There's even alcohol, in moderation, in the forms of various beers and wines.

The memorial hasn't started yet, technically, but people began to gather some time ago — a motley menagerie of dressed-up and dressed-down, from people who at a glance seem to be refugees or homeless, to the director of the facility herself, wearing a subdued but professional dress-suit. There are a few people, here and there, who clearly have money; their version of not-dressed-up makes Carla's suit look bargain-basement cheap. The black-haired woman who carries six white pillar candles encased in glass to the only table lacking both centerpiece and refreshments isn't one of them.

The red and umber sunset seems to set Tamsine's hair on fire — red already, it seems to glow like embers, though it's muted by the black of her somber clothing. She's neither dressed up nor down but somewhere between the twain; in her arms she carries a jar full of coins and dollars — probably about $200 or so, if one were good at estimating such things. She brings it to one of the tables in the lobby. Her voice is hushed, as if in respect for the ghosts that they all remember. "A small collection, to go toward the lectures and classes or anything you need," she tells the person manning the desk, her own cheeks coloring lightly as if embarrassed by the paltry amount of money. Still, it's an effort, and she's vowed to herself to make one — an effort to change the status quo, one small action or deed at a time.

Brennan is in attendance, suit, muted tie, his wife in navy blue and rounded belly on his arm. He works here part of the time and it's only proper that he show up. So they mingle, greeting folks who come up, Michelle kept occupied by someone else as they get into some sort of discussion that Brennan frankly has no interest in - women stuff - so goes in search of other company till the service proper starts.

Bella arrived here early, not particularly wanting to linger at home, and feeling obliged to come. She wouldn't say she's particularly moved or touched by the tragedy. Unlike so many, she suffered no real loss because of the Bomb; in fact, it opened doors for her. It's really just because of her adjunct position here at the Center that she's attending. Good to see and be seen. To that effect, she's wearing a solemn black dress, floor length, falling short of gala-formal only because she's wearing a thin jacket to cover the thin straps. She spots the fellow redhead making the rounds, and gives her a smile, though no money is immediately forthcoming. She eases from one foot to the next a bit, trying to suppress the uncharitable 'why can't we get on with this' feeling she's having.

One of those dressed down in her jeans, t-shirt and leather jacket, Kaylee hangs at the back of the crowds, working to try and ignore the louder thoughts in the room. People that think too loud are hard to ignore, like trying to ignore someone shouting. She hadn't planned to come down to this thing. In fact, she was going to stay far away and yet she still showed up. Hands shoved deep in her pockets, her eyes scan over the crowd of people standing around. What was she expecting by being here? That's for only Kaylee to know.

How dare anyone within the unevolved human race even think of suppressing an Evolved's ability to celebrate, mourn, or do anything they damned well please. Leonardo enters the center in a rather expensive black suit, with his ironically shorter 'bodyguard' Cassius at his side, in an equally expensive yet unkept and generally messily worn black suit. "Cassius, go find something to do, I'm going to have to socialize, and, well, you know what happens when you talk." All while slipping the person at the desk a check. It's a few thousand, though nothing impressive. He regularly donates, so there's no reason to do anything showy. He starts to head in after Bella, since it's better her than some annoying corporate guy.

"Yeah yeah, probably all sorts of desperate homeless chicks here anyway." Cassius says with a casual shrug, then heads off into the crowd where he can generally keep an eye on Leonardo, but also keep his distance.

Robin has actually dressed up for this event in his only suit, a dark blue jacket and pants that's offset by a white shirt and dark tie. He offers a small smile to the familiar faces as he passes slowly through the growing crowd, a faint echo of his usually wide grin. The beer is a welcome sight and he heads towards one of the tables holding said beverage post haste.

In response to Tamsine's donation, paltry though it may be by some standards, the receptionist smiles warmly. "Thank you, ma'am," he says, gently taking the assorted bills and adding them to a half-full collection bin. "We really appreciate your help." If everyone donated a little, it would become a lot.

The trickle of new arrivals continues as the light outside begins to fade, sky slowly progressing through a succession of muddied warm hues. One knot of three is decidedly out of place — not because of their neatly pressed black suits, but because nothing about this entire reception screams official in quite the way they do. Something about their demeanor, the way two of them eye the whole of the attending crowd, while the gray-haired and balding man in front sets a course for Carla the minute he spots her. She greets him with a handshake and a pleasant smile. "Mr. Praeger; I'm glad you could make it." He smiles at least as pleasantly, looking much happier about the crowd than either of his compatriots are. "An excellent turnout, Carla, even with the unpleasantness outside; I'm glad."

In turn, the receptionist greets Leonardo with a smile and the warmth of recognition. "Mr. Maxwell; it'd good to see you again."

Recognizing the (yet another; the evening's been full of them) familiar face, Grace tilts her head to catch Robin's gaze, offering her fellow Ferryman a crooked, subtle smile. But it isn't long before it's Grace's turn to have her attention caught — by Carla, who sketches a two-fingered wave, in reply to which Grace nods. Drawing a lighter from her pocket, she begins to light the six pillar candles.

The petite redhead smiles, and nods her welcome, before glancing up at, then getting out of the way of Leonardo. She skims the crowd, keeping an eye out for Len, who dropped her off, but had some other business to attend. She doesn't know anyone here, though she's been to the Center once or twice. She backs up to find a wall to lean against, watching Grace light the candles.

Leonardo's approach is caught with some seconds to spare, some seconds Bella uses to rapidly size up the terrible well dressed man heading her way. It would be inappropriate to smile too much in this setting, she knows, so she keeps her expression carefully muted, though she is nothing if not cordial. 'Come talk to me if you want' the expression says, though she does nothing so forward as start the conversation herself. Instead she clasps her hands before her, demure in the face of the tragedy. She even glances up at the candles as their lit, before looking back to see if Leonardo has draw any closer.

Leonardo approaches, and despite Cassius off somewhere likely being inappropriate, the President of Maxwell Development Corporation has a generally sympathetic expression. One with Bella's skills might be able to see through the general superficialness of it all, everything he says almost calculated. "It's all a shame. We shouldn't be here today because of one man, but I suppose there isn't much that can be done for history except remembering."

Moving along the outskirts of the crowd, Kaylee continues to watch the people. Chewing her lip, she wonders again why she came here. Reaching a refreshment table she gets herself a non-alcoholic drink, and wets her parched throat. She looks almost amused with the mingle of the well off and not so well off in the same room.

Robin gives Grace a somewhat brighter smile though it's still muted due to the setting. He finds a seat that isn't too close to any of the others and sips his drink slowly, watching the crowd mill about before his attention is caught by the lighting of the candles.

Brennan makes his way to reappear beside Kaylee, singling her out. There's a gesture to Tamsine and her whisperings at another table. "Can't say that I've seen you, or her her. Dr. Harve Brennan, you might be?" He offers his hand to Kaylee with a disarming smile.

As the six candles are lit, other people begin to split off from their small conversations — one at a time, each moving up to take a candle from Grace's hands. A black woman with loose, curly hair; an older man, hair gone iron-gray but not balding; a matronly-looking woman, a younger but seemingly unrelated companion in tow; a tall, skinny youth who offers an incongruously impudent grin as he takes the fifth candle. Grace herself picks up the sixth, and they step out in separate directions, moving to seemingly prearranged places and watching the crowd as they wait.

Carla Dove smiles at the three governmental representatives, raising one hand. "My apologies, Mr. Praeger; excuse me a moment?" Praeger shakes his head a bit and waves the woman on. "Certainly; can't keep the hostess from her own party." Even if this doesn't fit the usual connotation of party.

Carla steps away from the knot of black-suited men, and as she does so, the hall lights dim until they are but a backdrop to the flickering glow of dozens, perhaps hundreds, of candles scattered about — and the large pillars most of all. Grace's six aren't the only ones, brighter flames standing out in the distance of gathering gloom; but they're the ones in the lobby. Dimming lights leads to a quieting of conversation, and into the relative silence, Carla speaks.

"We are here tonight to remember. To honor those lost and gone, that we may never forget the past — and that we may also look to the future, in their names and in their memory.

"I ask that each of you gather around the people holding candles, whomever is nearest you; and let us begin first with a moment of silence for the victims of November 8, 2006."

Tamsine notices Brennan nod toward her, and then notices Kaylee. She gives the girl a nod — she'd met her in passing at the bar, when the younger woman had worked at Biddy's. Her dark eyes move to the candle ceremony again, and when Carla speaks, she moves away from her wall to draw closer toward a candle bearer, her head bowed slightly in respect for the dead.

Just when Bella was about to start up a conversation with the handsome and obviously wealthy man who addressed her. Stupid tragedies. It would be very, very bad form, she realizes, not to join in the moment of silence. Still, she detects Leonardo's irony, his distance behind the tone of obligatory sadness. She motions for him to come with her as she approaches the circle, and she risks casting a glance toward the sky only he or someone at the right angle looking at her will see, an expression that says 'here we go, huh?'. She then dips her head and is silent for the assigned moment.

Len has removed his ballcap and changed into more of a nicer shirt to be more respectful. He has been standing behind Tamsine and when she stepped towards the candle bearer, Len gives her hand a squeeze, then let her go as he held back from the center. The last thing he needs is for his phone to vibrate in the middle of this ceremony. As she leaves, he watches her go knowing how important this was to her and he'll be here when she comes back towards him. As it is, he may have to duck out if something goes wrong for any reason.

Leonardo's quiet now, simply following Bella's lead, glancing around, but lowering his head, offering a light smile before his expression turns somber again. Even Cassius is being serious for once, standing in a group.

The appearance of Brennan at her side and talking to her no less, makes Kaylee jump a bit. "I… haven't… been here before now." She admits with a small smirk, reaching to take the man's hand briefly. "Kaylee Thatcher…." She glances over at Tamsine, recognition touching her face. "Her? She use to be one of my bosses I think. Never dealt with her much when I worked at her bar." She sips her soda and studies the man next to her. "A doctor? A medical one… or ….?" Her voice trails off as things start to happen, her jaw clenched she watches the candle bearers, slowly bending her head as well for that moment of silence.

"Doctor. Medical Doctor and now, the vigil starts." Michelle is already easing her way over and Brennan offers his arm to Kaylee. "Come on, I'll walk you over hmmm?" Time to gather around the candles and there's a gesture to the one that Grace is at, along with the others and Kaylee's former boss. "I promise we don't bite." Whether Kaylee comes or not, takes his arm or not, Brennan is easing over to Graces group and lapsing into the silence of the moment.

Moving towards the closest person holding one of the brighter pillar candles, Robin finds himself next to Grace herself, and murmurs a quiet 'hi' before bowing his head slightly for the moment of silence. He's got his hands shoved into his pants pockets to keep from tugging his tie loose. It's obvious that he's not used to being in a suit for very long, because hey, T-shirts and jeans beat ties and slacks hands down.

Grace inclines her head to each of those who gather around her candle, expression solemn. She counts out measured breaths, slow heartbeats, metered seconds — something, and when the count is up, the woman speaks.

"My name is Grace." The gravelly tones of her ruined voice are harsh against the background susurrus of other speakers, as all of those holding candles address their own groups. "I am not a New Yorker; what family I have is a long ways from here. But I have become one, these past two years. I remember when I first came to the city and saw, not the skyline featured in almost every TV series ever, but the collapsed ruins of dead buildings covered with a swarm of men and women in black and neon yellow. I remember walking into a new street every day with a radiation badge clipped to my jacket, praying that it wouldn't change colors, that the rest of my squad would stay safe, and that the next block of concrete we pried out wouldn't have another dead body underneath.

"I remember hundreds, thousands of people with blankets wrapped around their shoulders, cups of coffee or soup or tea clenched in their hands, staring ahead with blank, desolate eyes. I remember the desperate searches for parents, for children, for friends; the list of the missing and dead that stretched out for whole blocks' worth of bulletin boards."

She pauses a moment, looking at the rest of the circle. "I didn't lose anything in the Bomb, not my home, my friends, my kin; and yet I did. I will never forget waking up each morning with the hope that we would find one more person, reunite one more family — and going to bed each night exhausted from the despair of finding only ruins and death."

She lets silence gather a moment in the wake of those words, then passes the candle to Tamsine.

The small redhead looks surprised at the candle being handed to her — she was here to pay her respects and remember, but she certainly didn't expect to speak. She's barely found her voice of late. She throws a pleading glance at Len's retreating form, but then clears her throat.

"My name is Tamsine," she says softly, perhaps too softly to be heard by all. "I've lived in New York my whole life. In Greenwich. There's no way you could live here and not know someone who was affected. People I grew up with. People I worked with. And I had to help so many orphans, as a social worker, kids who lost their innocence way too soon." She glances up at Grace and pauses, struggling to know what more to say. "I just hope we never forget those who died that day, or those whose lives were changed forever by the fear and the anger since." She glances to the next person, and passes the candle on.

Bella finds herself confronted with the candle, and she accepts with with as much grace as she can quickly gather, taking it in hand and holding it tight as she lifts her voice to speech-level volume. Here goes:

"My name is Isabella. I was working at Mount Sinai Hospital when it happened. I wasn't on shift that day, and that's the only reason I'm alive. In the days that followed, as a doctor, I saw so much of the suffering, not those who died at once, but those who died after, often slowly. I had to retain my composure, do my duty, in the face of so much horror," she pauses, "But we can't forget about the good that's come from it, the revelation of those remarkable individuals among us for whom this center was built, the incredible hope should feel knowing that, while everything has changed, if we're wise and patient, we can make that change for the better."

She passes the candle on.

Leonardo takes the candle now, looks around at everyone, then takes a deep breath. "My name is Leonardo Maxwell. I was still early in my career when it happened, it's by sheer luck I wasn't in Midtown with so many of my friends. I'll miss them all, but, I'll never forget." he says as sincerely as he can muster, then passes the candle on.

The offered arm gets a blink, Kaylee looks rather amused by it. Is he for real? She doesn't deal with this sort often so she doesn't seem to know what to do. So she opts not to take the arm, but allows him to escort her. "Thanks… ah…. Doctor." She gives Tamsine a nervous smile, before listening to Grace. Her face pales a bit as she realizes what they are doing. She could flee rather then having to talk, but then the candle is in her hands, she glances around nervously.

"Ah… My name is Kaylee. I didn't grow up here, but I've been in the city a few years and my parents are both from here." She swallows censoring her thoughts as she continues. "I… ah…. lost a dad I never met in the explosion… and if it wasn't for a class, chances are I would have been there too." She keeps her eyes on the flicker of the candle flame so that she doesn't lose her nerve. "I was… supposed to meet him that day." Her tone doesn't have the sorrow in it one would thing of a woman who had lost her father that way. "I heard, felt and saw a lot of the aftermath. I know at least I won't forget, and I really doubt anyone else will either." She then is quick to pass the candle to Brennan, still not looking at anyone, she doesn't want to see the pity that might be there.

Brennan takes the candle, holding it close, shared between him and his wife. The two look at each other as if mentally conferring what might be said before he clears his throat and speaks up loud enough for the group. "I'm Harve, this is Michelle. We lost friends and our home that day. We were lucky enough to have been visiting family with our own young ones and were spared by the grace of God. But I remember returning and knowing that we had no home but at least we had the means to rebuild whereas other didn't. I've treated many a person though, who has lost someone, many ones in the tragedy that befell this great city." He lifts the candle towards their small group. "People who weren't going to make it past a week, others who defied the odds and did. Something you carry with you for a great deal of time"

The candle is passed to his wife, who in turn passes it to Robin since Brennan did the talking for the both of them.

Robin takes the candle and glances around the small group before focusing on the burning flame once more. His words are addressed to it more than to the people around him.

"I was born and raised here in the city, and I got lucky. My family is still alive; I didn't lose anyone close to me… I'll never forget hunting for my brother, and the time it took to find him and his family. It was agonizing but short compared to what others went through."

"While everything changed, some parts of my life stayed the same as ever. Which was, and is, still more surreal than comforting. Now I do what I can to help those whose lives changed completely." Robin's words trail off and he passes the candle back to Grace.

Accepting the candle from Robin, Grace looks over it at the rest of the circle. She smiles, briefly; it's not a cheerful expression, but an acknowledgment of what they all share. That they are all scarred, somehow, by the events of three years ago.

Then she blows the candle out.

One by one, as each circle finishes its litany of memories, the other pillar candles around the building also wink out, until only the lesser flames of tealights provide a soft glow to see by. Streetlights gleam in the distance beyond plate-glass windows; the sky is dark, absent of stars.

Silence and shadow reign, until the house lights are gradually brought up to a more normal level and life returns to the room.

"Thank you all for coming," Carla says, her strong voice ringing out across the halls. "We will have food and drink out for the rest of the evening; please help yourselves, and as you do so take the opportunity to speak with others, whether in your circle or without. Share your sorrows for the past and your hopes for the future, that we can lighten the former and together make the future a place where disasters like the Manhattan Explosion happen only in history books.

"This is the vision of the Suresh Center, and my hope is that you will all help us make it reality."

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