Time To Pay Dues


helena_icon.gif sal_icon.gif

Scene Title Time To Pay Dues
Synopsis Helena meets Sal. They discuss the formula, identity changes, and Teo.
Date May 19, 2009

Old Dispensary

On the outside, this sprawling multi-level complex has not seen use in many years, its walls covered in greenery and stone exterior and glass windows showing evidence of disrepair. Surrounded by a chain link fence, a drive leads from the street to a large dock, and around the back one can expect to find more sprawling greenery that eventually leads to a concrete drop off into the Atlantic Ocean.

Passing through the chainlink fence and into the dispensary will reveal that the aged and crumbling outside is a facade. The loading dock is kept clear for the most part of everything save vehicles and supplies, though a section has been quartered off and transformed into an open workshop. The dispensary itself has been transformed into something akin to a makeshift dormitory, complete with common areas, a sizable kitchen and eating area, with various rooms converted into bedrooms for the residence. One room has even been set up as a makeshift clinic, amply stocked with supplies.

The back lawn and garden of the dispensary is surprisingly well tended, green and lush during the right months. Vegetables have been planted in accordance to season closer to the building, though someone has indulgently planted a plots of flowers - notably sunflowers - here and there. Further out, the ground drops a little and makes it to a concrete edge from which opens out into deeper water of the Atlantic.

Spring, slowly turning into summer makes it a good time for gardening. Truth be told, in between bouts of planning and going out on purposeful missions, Helena has time on her hands. But that time allows her choices, and Moab took that away from her, and now she knows to be greatful for it. So anyone coming to look for her will be told by any of the residents in passing that she's most likely either in the kitchen or the garden. The latter is where she'll be found, on her knees as she works on weeding one of the vegetable beds.

Sal has spent a number of hours manning the clinic here over the years. Still, since he's approaching the Dispensary as his new face, he knows he'll be treated as a stranger. Fortunately, Teo has sent word ahead of his arrival and anyone keeping watch will know that Sal Silvatti is allowed access. He's counting on the fact that his boyfriend had a chance to tell Helena he'd be dropping by, else this is going to take a bit more explaning.

It takes a few minutes for the doc to locate Helena, although he doesn't know it's her from a distance seeing as the pair of them have never met. He picks his way through the grass towards the garden. "Nice that the ground's finally thawed, huh? No matter how many New York winters I live through, I always worry each time that it's not actually going to end."

Helena sits back on her knees, wiping at the sweat on her brow with a gloved hand. "Yeah," she says. "Winters are bleak and long, and they kinda suck. But spring and summer always come back, and that's what I always tell myself. Are you…?" She's not sure what to call him. Sonny? Sal? Teo's Boyfriend?

"You can call me Sal." The man steps forward and offers a hand out to her, either to shake, help her up, or both. "It's good to finally meet you, Helena. Tay's very glad you're all back safe and sound." He offers a smile. "So'm I. I've heard you've all had a hell of an adventure."

Peeling off her gloves, she sticks them in her back pocket and rises smoothly to her feet before taking the man's hand. "Hello, Sal." she says, shaking it firmly. He'll notice that the air is quite comfortable in her immediate area, not too hot or too cold, the most perfect of temperatures. "I've been doing thirsty work, you mind if we head back into the kitchen?"

"'Course," says Sal. He motions towards the kitchen in an 'after you' gesture. Funny. He would have thought from the way Teo spoke of her, that she'd be quite a bit older. "How much has Teo told you about me?" he asks in a casual way as they make their way towards the house.

Helena lifts a hand briefly as if to ask him to hold a moment, and then takes a second to sort of peek out the doorway to the kitchen to see if anyone's loitering. Generally she's not concerned about spies, but Sal's made an effort to keep his identity secret and she doesn't want to discuss anything too incriminating. As she heads for the fridge she remarks, "A little about who you are and what you do for a living. And what you can do. I think some people will be taking you up on your offer." She opens the door, peers inside. "He's asked me to let you have at one of the samples I brought back."

"I've been working with the Ferrymen for a little over a year now. Told Teo recently I was willing to do more. Couldn't practically do more before now because of the balancing act between lives." Sal too, pauses a moment to look around. "I…trust you and Teo to tell who you think you can trust about me. This secrecy is more to keep away from the press and from my father. He's a good man, and believe me when I tell you there's far more militant anti-Evolved who would like to be in control of this city. It's to Phoenix's benefit that his reputation remains good and he remains in office." In the bright future, he made it to president. But of course, his son doesn't know that.

As for the formula, he nods. "Yeah. I'd…like to run some tests. Was it in wide use in the future?" He still can't quite believe that. The future.

"You should know I've offered Teo the chance to use the formula if he wants." Helena says. "That's his sample, and his chance, if it he wants it. So keep it in mind, if you break it, you bought it." She smiles faintly and pulls out a pitcher. "Lemonade." she says. "Want some?"

Helena adds, "Yes, it did see fairly wide use. Almost everyone had abilities who wanted them, if they weren't completely off their rocker."

"I know. He told me," says Sal with a small smile. "Please." Of the lemonade. "Given how the motives of the company who actually produced this formula are up in the air, I'm not ruling out the possibility of some kind of side effect. Or some long-term effect that may be negative. I may be a little bit paranoid, but…" it's his boy who's considering injecting it. "Not to mention the possibility of manifesting powers that make life difficult. Some Evolved abilities don't really improve things."

"This is a perfected serum. As optimal as can be made. I'm assuming your plan is to try and reverse engineer it?" Helena pulls out cups and ice, before pouring lemonade into each one. "I'm sure there's always a percentage chance that someone will react badly, and that the ability they gain will be of little benefit or even detriment, but I imagine that's a risk of free will." She picks up the glasses, turns and offers one to him. "In the future," she says solemnly, "There's air traffic control for people. Teleportation is subject to transportation laws. Abilities are common enough for there to be changes in daily life to accomodate it."

"I'm a doctor, Helena. The thing with drugs - especially 'miracle' drugs is that sometimes they're not subject to enough scrutiny if there's enough demand for it. It's possible that it's completely safe and has been tested extensively. That every measure has been made to ensure the fewest possible reactions. But there's also the possibility that the company the discovered it was in a rush to reap the benefits and skipped over something criticial. Either through negligence or just sloppy work." He lifts a shoulder. "I just want to be sure there's nothing funky about it, find out why it works, before I tell Teo the risks involved in taking it. Ultimately it is his choice. I'm not going to stand in his way if he feels like he wants to take the risk. But I want to make sure it's safe to the best of my ability."

Helena sips her lemonade, listening to him and nodding. "I understand if you can't take my word for it. But I'm curious how you think you can test it for safety without ruining the sample?"

"It's not your word that I don't take, Helena. It's the word of the people who distributed the formula in the first place." Sal sips from the glass of lemonade and leans against the counter. "I only need a small amount to test, maybe an eye dropper amount. The percentage I need to remove to run tests shouldn't have any effect on the formula's overal efficacy. And, well, there is also a possibility that I can find out how it works. I doubt I have the skills to duplicate it myself, but, well…" a hesitation, then, "…my mother's a biochemist."

"All I can tell you is what I saw." Helena says. "I mean, you're acting like the formula we have is from a present day lab with unknown quantities, and it isn't. I don't disagree that it should be tested and possibly reverse engineered, but…" she shrugs, and then frowns. "You want to bring someone outside of this organization into analyzing the sample?"

"I…I'm probably guilty of being a bit paranoid, I admit." Sal rubs the back of his neck. But they are talking about someone he cares a great deal about. If some stranger wanted to use the formula, he'd be far less hesitant. "If anyone else is going to take one of your samples, would you let me examine them before and after? It would help me figure out how it works."

He looks thoughtful for a moment, then shakes his head. "No. Not now. But if there is a way to duplicate this formula, my mother'd be far more capable than me of figuring out how. It would be up to you whether or not it would be worth it to do so. I can't promise that my mom would be willing to keep such a discovery secret. The question then would be whether or not you want the existence of this drug to remain secret."

"So this is actually about Teo? If it were someone else, someone who wasn't your lover, would you be this concerned?" Helena prompts, leaning against the counter and sipping her lemonade. "For now, consider it under wraps. Let's see how far you get with it, and if it bears further study, we can make a decision about who we can reach out to further, and how public we want the knowledge to be. But Teo's not under any kind of time limit as to when he decides if he will or won't." Rolling her shoulders a bit, Helena crosses over to the kitchen table and sits down.

"I would still feel squidgy about someone taking a strange drug from the future without any tests, but…well," Sal smiles a touch sheepishly, "It…it always does get complicated when you're talking about someone close. I wouldn't be so insistent about testing it first if someone was adamant they wanted to try it. Because, well, it's their life. I have a bit more invested where Teo is concerned."

"Teo's not adamant. If he was, I'd be worried." Helena says in some agreement, then cocks an eyebrow, Spocklike, in Sal's direction. "Teo's important to me. So I hope you'll understand that when I say if you hurt him I will make sure you are stuck under a permanent raincloud for the rest of your life, that I mean it with the best and most loving of intentions." She flashes Sal a grin.

Sal's smile is a touch sad at that. He doesn't think he'd be the one doing the hurting in this scenario, but that would require too much explanation. "I don't intend to hurt him, Helena. We've been living together…oh…" he squints as he tries to think of how long, precisely. "…almost four months? We've been, uh…committed for two, maybe three?" Never mind the one instance of infidelity. "This…" he spreads his arms and motions down to his changed body, "…is in part for him. In part for me, to get away from all the shit that comes with being the mayor's kid."

Helena nods to that amiably. "I understand, I do. But it needed to be said, because he's my friend and no matter what time I've been in, he's been there for me." The statement's enigmatic enough. "So to recap: I'll give the formula to Teo for him to give to you, and you can with withdraw your sample. If Teo trusts you to keep the whole dose, I'll trust him, but absolutely no one else outside of myself, Teo, or anyone as deemed necessary by me is to know about it for the present." Yes, she's younger than he probably expected her to be, but only in chronological years.

If Teo hadn't spoken so highly of her, Sal'd be more hesitant about following her orders. She gets some default respect, in this case. He also knows he's low man on the totem, and no matter how much Teo vouches, he'll still have to prove himself.
"Understood." He looks down, then up at her. "I want you to be able to trust me. I want to help Phoenix in any way that I can. In more ways than I have been. This is Teo's life and I want to be a part of it. And what you're doing is important. I've had a privileged position as an Evolved because of my father and the nature of my ability. I haven't had to fight for it. It's time to pay my dues."

Helena nods a little to that. "I'm not perfect." she murmurs, looking up at him. "I will sometimes make decisions that are hard, and I won't always make the right choices. But I try to do the right thing. You're in a position to do a lot of good, and I'm greatful that you're willing to act on that."

"I…well, this dual identity thing failed in the past because I tried to keep one foot in each world. I've made a choice. And I think it will be good for me. So I want you to know that I am seriously in this. I'm not just a rich boy playing at being a freedom fighter." Which is something Sal realizes some people think he is.

"Don't worry about what people think of you in that light." Helena counsels with a faint smile. "Just act to prove them wrong. But your other persona…does exist, so how will you cope with the duality? Have you put yourself on extended vacation or something?"

Sal bobs his head. "Yeah. Peru. Doctors Without Borders." His lip curls up a little. Feels a bit bad to be saying he's doing charity work when he's not. But it was something he was considering, so it works with his motivations and is something his father would believe. "I'm going to let my mother in on it. She…knows about Teo and I. And she knows that it's important that my father doesn't know. So I'm fairly certain she'll help me keep up the lie. The only people it has to fool are my father and a few curious press or high society types. Fortunately, the press tend to forget about you if you go quiet for awhile." At least when they're at his level of celebrity.

"Um. How much are you going to let your mother in on, exactly?" Helena asks carefully.

Sal lifts a hand. "Don't worry. Nothing about Phoenix, nothing about working off the map. As far as she'll know? I'm just doing this to be with Teo. Because Teo didn't want to risk ending up in the spotlight. It's…" a twitch of a smile, "…a very old story when it comes to me and relationships. The majority of my relationships have ended because of too much secrecy or too much publicity. She'll understand."

Helena nods. "Okay." she says. "I had to ask." With another sip of lemonade she notes, "I think as far as your ability, Alexander's going to probably be your first customer."

Ah, the 'A' word. But Sal simply nods. "Anything I can do to help, of course. If I can give any of you back your freedom, I'd be happy to." He looks at her thoughtfully. "What about you? It could be something as simple as hair and eye colour change. Maybe a skintone shift. It would still be you, but less obviously so." He knows not everyone is willing to re-make their appearance, even if it means more freedom.

Helena shakes her head with a faint smile. "Not me." she says. "I look like my mother. And someone in this movement needs to be a recognizable face." Studying him thoughtfully a moment she asks, "Is Alex going to be a problem? Because I don't object to people having personal lives - god, if not now, then when, right? But the drama llama needs to be kept out in the yard, know what I mean?"

Sal blinks. "I…" he's fairly blindsided by that. "I don't have anything against Al, if that's what you mean? I only met him a handful of times before he was taken to Moab. And what's between him and Teo is, well, between him and Teo. He says Al is his best friend. I know they have some history, but…" he swallows. "Well, that's getting a bit too personal, frankly. You'll have to ask Teo if you want to know more than that." His chin lifts slightly.

"If you say there won't be a problem, I'll believe you." says Helena placidly. She won't let on as to what degree of knowledge she has of Teo and Alexander's relationship.

"From what I know, I don't see why there would be one." Sal's features harden a touch. "I'm not a vindictive person. I'm not a jealous person. I trust Teo. And I'm confident in our relationship." And now this is getting increasingly uncomfortable. Why are all of Teo's friends so quick to think their four month relationship is going to disappear the moment Al makes a play for Teo? It's enough to give a guy a complex. "I should get going."

Helena senses it. "I don't mean to make you uncomfortable. If it helps, I'm under a similar kind of scrutiny from others with my relationship." She nods, rising from the table and offers her hand. "I'm glad you're with us, Sal. You're going to save a lot of lives, not that you haven't been already."

There's 'scrutiny' and then there's being looked at like he's just a temporary complication in the middle of two of their friends. Sal isn't put any more at ease by her comment. But he shakes her hand and musters a smile anyway. "I'm glad to have finally met you, Helena. And I'm glad you're all back safe and sound."

"So am I." she says, her smile briefly unable to hide a bleakness that once she realizes she's emitting, she forces to disappear immediately. "Why don't you tell me what you need for a clinic room to be set up here?" she asks him as they walk out.

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