To Dine With Mr. Grinch


bennet_icon.gif helena_icon.gif lyle_icon.gif sandra_icon.gif

Scene Title To Dine With Mr. Grinch
Synopsis Helena has a bone to pick with Noah, who responds in tones carefully modulated thanks to the presence of his loving wife, and the evening's chef.
Date December 9, 2009

Tribeca, Manhattan — Safehouse

Sandra is making dinner. Of this, Noah said, "What a treat!" and gave her shoulder a squeeze as he looked over into the pan she was tilting to and fro on the stove's orange-hot coils. He keeps out of her way, mostly. In the kitchen, that is; his long and awkward absences from the other parts of her life, Lyle's, and Mr. Muggles' is not as easily accounted for by politeness and respect for space and division of labor within the family. Most of Noah's labors occur decidedly outside the family. Or, as Sandra may suspect, deliberately away from them.

He'd bequeathed upon Muggles tonight a dog-safe chocolate muffin, though. Taken the time out of his busy schedule to purchase it, have it wrapped. It's something.

Weather's getting colder, though there's no snow whitening the streets outside the Tribeca safehouse. Merely asphalt, apartments, and shop facades sketched out in shades of gray, Chinatown's electrically-lit merriment only a distant rosey twinkle on the blocky horizon. Between meat sizzling fatly in its own juices and the buzzing bleat of the Gameboy in Lyle's hands, there's little noise at all.

Seated across his son on the couch, Noah stares at the back panel of the small device, tries to decipher what soundtrack that is, project off it notions of ideal Christmas presents. It's challenging, even for a man of his expertise. Especially for a man of his expertise.

Sandra adds a dash of spice here, a pinch of salt there. What can she say? Outside of her time breeding dogs and going to dog shows, she has become the official cook of the Bennets. She had to be, especially with how often Noah was gone. She gave Noah a smile and responded, "If you think it's a treat now, just wait until it's ready." And the cooking continued.

Mr. Muggles had ripped open the wrapping in no time, and make quick work of devouring the muffin. Let it not be said that he does not like presents. Even from Noah, to whom he's slowly starting to warm up again. How can someone be totally bad if they give you a chocolate muffin? It's impossible! Sandra must be wrong to have so much tension in regard to him.

"Dinner's almost ready!" Sandra calls out. "Be sure that you are all washed up. I don't want to see any dirty hands or faces at the dinner table." The Bennet matriarch continues.

What's been happening to her lately has slapped her awake something fierce. She's been scrutinizing herself closely, going over the details of everything she's been through and…and she remembered something. Something Helena's questioned since the memory flitted its way up into her consciousness, and thought couldn't be possible. And yet, given how much Hana seemed to distrust Noah after a point…could he be capable? There's one way to find out.
Helena knocks on the door.

The boys obediently begin to troll bathroom-wards, sure to lighten their tread when the pass by the door behind which the refugee family of five are sleeping. Lyle even goes so far as to power-down the Nintendo object before physically reaching the bathroom. It's Noah, however, who finds himself distracted and stalled midway along the course; the knock on the door jerks laced feet to a stop, takes a sudden hand to the lapel of his suit jacket.

A sidelong glance shows him Lyle's widened eyes. He smiles. "Go on, wash your hands." Turns and moves at the door, stepping briefly past it to squint through the hole he'd drilled through the adjacent wall, some months earlier. Smaller than a peephole; small enough that a thumb-sized expenditure in plaster would be enough to conserve one's security deposit from even the most ravening of landladies, coincidentally. Not that the Ferry wants to— can really afford to lose another safehouse.

Helena's profile shows fair and bright in the shadows of the hallway.

"We have a Ferrymen operative," he calls to his wife, his voice modulated out of acknowledgment for the nearby sleepers. "Phoenix's leader." Locks snap and click. A slim yellow bar of living room light stripes Helena's face, and as familiar a spectacle to the young weather-witch as it is unfamiliar. Noah Bennet in a place he might even call home.

Sandra keeps her ears open, careful to hear if the males of the family are indeed moving to wash up. Once satisfied, she starts to collect plates and the proper cutlery for their supper. She stops dead in her tracks, though, when there's a knock at the door. She pauses, waiting for a response as to who it is. "Phoenix's leader? My goodness…what would she be doing here? Unannounced, at that!" She sighs, brushing herself off and making herself more presentable as she heads to the doorway as well, to greet the woman. While she puts on a calm from, Mr. Muggles is barking at the door. "Oh, Mr. Muggles. Stop that!" She swoops down and scoops him up, tapping him on the nose. "That's not how we treat out guests is it? No it isn't…no it isn't." She baby talks to the dog as the door opens. Sandra quickly plasters on a soft smile as the woman comes into view on the other side of the opened door.

Zoe stands there, calm in the way that the center of a storm is calm, tranquil like the sea before the monsoon begins. "Hello, Noah." she says with an air of placidity. "Am I disrupting your time with your family?" The question's rhetorical. She doesn't care. "I'd like to talk to you, but it's about…" she takes in those beyond him - Lyle, Sandra, even Mr. Muggles. The infamous Mr. Muggles. She's heard stories…getting back to business. "…business." She's weighing and measuring the merit of exposing Noah in front of his family. Of course, she has no proof but her dead father's word, and Noah can be a slick, lying bastard.

Noah can also be confused, which is— perhaps revelationary for those whose acquaintance with him has been limited to the recent few years. He tends to carry on like he's seen it all. Mostly, because he has. This wouldn't be the first time a blonde woman came at him purely rhetorical about his convenience with the accusation of a thunderstrike in her blue eyes. The deja-vu is enhanced by the fact that Sandra is right here.

Behind his glasses, his eyes rotate in their sockets meeting Sandra's inevitable, droll stare, before clicking back. "Please come in. We were about to have dinner, but Sandra tends to make extra for the refugees. Helena, Sandra. Sandra, Helena. Lyle's in the bathroom, washing his hands," or eavesdropping by now, judging from the turn of the wall clock's hands. "They are both part of the Ferry network now."

It isn't exactly reassurance that it's safe to talk business in front of them, but the most diplomatic way he can think to pitch the possibility. More and more these days, it's up to Sandra whether or not she'll deign to disinclude herself from the conversation.

And…cue said inevitable droll stare. Sandra just shakes her head at Noah. "Well, I moved here. I should expect that you have people coming all the time to talk business with you." She shakes her head. she turns to and smiles at Helena, while Mr. Muggles lets out another shrill bark, this time more curious than anything. "Please come in, dear. Won't you join us for supper? As Noah so aptly I do often make more than enough for us." She says happily. Who is she to turn away a guest. And she won't, for the time being, talk to Noah about semantics. She's of course been helping the Ferrymen for a while now, only in another state. But again, semantics. She'll worry about that later, if at all. Mr. Muggles does bark at Noah, however, as if to remind him. Sandra just taps Mr. Muggles on the nose however. It seems to be a way she trained him to quiet down. "Now now, Mr. Muggles, we've got company, and we can't be making loud noises around company now can we?"

Helena's eyes flick to Mr. Muggles. She sort of can't help herself. He's a legend. "Thank you, Sandra - but I'm not sure if you'll want me to stay." Her gaze goes back to Noah. "I'd like your husband to explain something to me, if he would. Or maybe tapdance out of it. I'm not sure." And then back to Sandra once more. "I'm sorry to bring a disturbance to your home. I really am." And back to Noah, right in those spectacle covered eyes.

If eyes are the window to the soul, Noah has something to be worried about. The gaze he levels on the girl is not precisely empty, but they have a stillness about them, whatever happens to be therein contained concealed by more than glass and disguised until it's become something of a stranger to itself. He presses the door shut with a click of tumblers falling into place. Locks it, as a function of simple pragmatism.

There's no way out of this one. Not even with Muggles' greatest efforts to change the subject. "When I evade, I don't tapdance, Ms. Dean. I just evade. Rhetoric and stage presentations are more Phoenix's style. If you would get to the point, I'm sure Sandra would like to know as soon as possible how many place settings Lyle and I need to get out."

Sandra frowns and turns to face Noah. "I hate to say it once more…but what have you done this time? I always try to be supportive of you, Noah. But it's hard when people are wanting you to 'explain' things and accusing you with possibly 'tap dancing' around issues." She sighs. "Look, this is none of my business, I'm sure. But, this is why I pertain we should be honest. She says this not only to Noah, but to Helena as well. "'Honesty is the policy'. It's a saying for a reason!" She pauses for a moment. "Lyle! Go to your room until I call you!" Honesty is good, but she doesn't want her son, who she is certain by now is listening, to get caught up in his father's affairs. There's a little groan from him as trudging is heard. Mr. Muggles barks again. "Now, I'm going to go and check on the food. And if I find you two arguing when I get back, instead of calmly discussing the matter, whatever it is, I will not be held responsible for the actions of Mr. Muggles." And with that, she turns and heads back to the kitchen.

Zoe's face contorts for a brief moment, because Sandra's actually kind of funny with that, except this is actually rather deathly serious. The amusement does not last long. "I want to know why you would hand Emile Danko profiles on us." she says softly. "On me. Tell me why you would do that."

By now, Emile Danko is a name familiar to the vast majority of Ferry and Phoenix operatives: he did, after all, instigate the first organized gathering and democratic vote of the sprawling network of volunteers and civil rights activists. The grave weight of the accusation is clear. Will be to Sandra, must be to Lyle. Registers unmistakably in Noah's sudden stare through the panes of his glasses.

Surprise is a rarer visitor to his features even than confusion. Conundrums of supply, tactics, and conflicting motivations do occasionally arise in the purview of a Ferry leader, after all; one expects that much. He wasn't really expecting that. A beat, anticipating more information that never comes, and then a brown brow arches high on his forehead. If a situation ever called for fancy footwork, this…

…isn't it. "I didn't," Noah responds.

Sandra putters around the kitchen for a little while longer, Mr. Muggles still in arm. She slowly makes her way out to the hallway once more. "Well, at least you aren't arguing in high voices…yet. If there's an argument to be had, anyway." She gazes at the two people people in the hallway while Mr. Muggles tilts his head and lets out a little noise to indicate interest. "Why don't we all come into the dining area and have a sit down. Standing is never a good way to have a discussion. Back for the back."

"Really? Because my father was very specific about who gave all those names and photographs to him and Danko. Practically called you an angel from heaven dropping mana in his lap, and described you," Helena taps a finger near her eyes, "Pretty well." She looks to Sandra a moment, then to Noah uncertainly. She's not unwilling. Just cautious.

The sweep of one arm is enough courteous invitation, from Noah to Helena, only a little stiff from the certain, disagreeable nature of what the atmokinetic has laid at his door. He turns his head at the bathroom's ingress, framed in white light. "Lyle, you can come out of there," he says. "There's been some misunderstanding, but everything's fine."

Which may well be an optimistic spin on the reality of the situation, but as far as Bill's angel is concerned, the only danger that remains is that posed by Helena's gullibility. To allow his pride to be stung at the principle of the offense would be a waste of energy. Instead, he occupies himself with bringing out the flatware, passing stacked plates to Lyle when the blond boy emerges faintly sullen with embarrassment, Gameboy jutting from one deep khaki pocket.

"You might have had some enemies with illusions, telepathy, or shapeshifting at their disposal when that happened." Noah arranges glasses on the table, none of the necked and shaped for alcohol. There's something cool about his cordial inquiry next: "Any word from Claire or Wireless?"

Sandra starts bringing out the food as Noah and Lyle place the cutlery, plates, and cups out. Mr. Muggles, having been placed down once more, trods beside her, proud, as if to say 'Look! I'm helping too!' She places a pot roast in the middle of the table, with vegetables and mashed potatoes spread to other parts. "Times are tricky, and those who do not like us will go to any means to make it look like we're doing something that we're not." She states as an obvious.

"Wouldn't that be our enemies, Noah?" Helena asks, giving him the hairy eyeball. "Don't you even care that someone's allegedly pretending to be you, moling on members of our organization with your face on? You don't have any speculation as to who it might be, or even want to bother to speculate?" Yeah, she's a little incredulous. To Sandra, "That's true, but I'd still want to know who did it."

It's either the further harrying or the fact that Helena ignored his question: Noah glances at the young woman, unwontedly sharp, consternation squaring his jaw and steeling the accents of his brows. "I care that you seem Hell-bent on turning me into your enemy, then expect me to turn around and solve a Phoenix problem that hasn't been one for at least two months.

"I hope you've noticed: the Ferry is operating at half its usual manpower and security capacity to protect civilian refugees from a government that your people are now working with. If you would like to help, the Ferrymen would appreciate it." He closes his hands on the shoulders of Sandra's chair, pulls it ajar to allow his wife to sit, carefully steering his shoes around Muggles' small body. "If you want help, you'll have to try something else."

Sandra bows her head to Noah as she takes her seat held out for her. Mr. Muggles jumps onto her laps as she looks between the two disagreers and then gives a look to Lyle as if to say, 'What a life, eh?' Finally, she speaks up again. "There are no enemies under this roof. Only people wish to help each other for the greater good." She looks to Helena. "Now, listen carefully…there are some others here who may have had their own disagreements with Noah and have been angry with him, but ever they do not think that he would give anything over to anyone who would harm or jeopardize people with abilities or the people working with them and to help them. I'm not saying that there aren't reasons people would have to not like him, because you can't please everybody, but he is essentially a good person, despite his faults. Take if from me. His wife." She speaks softly and without judgement as she speaks. "Have some mashed potatoes and think it all over."

"I haven't heard from Wireless, or Claire for that matter." Helena answers, and then looks at Sandra. It's been a long time since anyone's spoken to her that way. There's a moment of silence, and then: "Fine." Helena actually manages to sound somewhat gracious, but the two of them can probably tell when a young woman of a certain age is so not fine about things, and this certainly isn't over. Helena will retreat from this battlefield today. Save for one issue: "You've worked for the government too, Noah. You're not above it."

Noah eases Sandra back in under the table with a smile that's all gentleman and very little cutthroat Company super-spy. Good person. Well, if anyone was going to think so, his wife would.

And it brings a smile to his face. A tall man, it takes him only a few loping strides to move himself to the other end of the table. If he notices a certain symbolism and peculiarity in having an irritable and criticizing blonde atmokinetic— who happens to used to have been his daughter's best friend— sitting where Claire should have, he chooses not to mention it. He adjusts his jacket before sitting, arranged with tidy domesticity between dining furniture.

"I'm not above it," he agrees with Helena. "But I never have. I left the Company long before Homeland Security adopted it. But as long as you're looking for something to hold against me, I did steal Christmas." His demeanor has grown significantly less friendly over the course of the past few minutes, by which one may take to be the difference of degrees between gooseflesh and frostbite, but as much for his family's sake as for the varying challenges of Helena's situation, Noah refrains from doing more or worse. "Please let me know if you hear from them.

"In the meantime, if you're looking for ways to keep busy, Summer Meadows could use another pair of hands."


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