We Can Cheat Death


joanna_icon.gif tasha_icon.gif

Scene Title We Can Cheat Death
Synopsis Joanna confronts Tasha in a public place to ask her about the Ferry, and drops a bigger bomb on her daughter.
Date July 22, 2010

An Upcale Restaurant

There's any fair number of restaurants near Joanna's office, and the one she chooses for lunch has a purpose to it. High end, quiet and discreet, used often by lawyers to do business. Someone getting up and walking away in a huff like she fears her daughter might, will cause a scene and that's something that she knows her daughter would try to avoid.

Any number of people are parked around, tables distanced far enough away from each other to guarantee privacy and just to be sure, they're got a booth in a far corner and there's no others to either side. At least not yet.

Pink jacket hung up, white silk blouse and grey skirt, Joanna's placed her order with the waiter, patiently letting Tasha place her own while her fingers toy with the stem of the waterglass. It was at her beck, that Tasha was here.

For her mother's sake, Tasha is not wearing anything with Jack Skellington, Invader Zim (or Gir), or a band name on it today. In fact, she's in a dress, one that her mother had picked out the last time they went shopping — a gray denim sundress that she wears with red ballet flats, she looks mostly presentable. It's too hot for Doc Martens and knee-high socks or she probably would have rebelled a tiny bit on that front with neon green and black striped witchy socks. Another time when sweating isn't an issue.

Tasha orders, politely joking with the waiter a bit. Once he's gone, she tilts her head and smiles at Joanna, not expecting anything on the agenda. They have lunch often enough for no particular reason, after all, or have in the past.

Which might be why she's springing this now, during a lunch. Forefinger taps at the base of the swell of glass. "I tried to find the Ferryman, or Ferry, whatever you're little volunteer group is Tasha. I couldn't find it at all. I wanted to see about volunteering, helping out with it. Couldn't be that bad for my reputation if I ever want to run for District Attorney"

THis was really likely not a topic that she would have likely ever brought up with Tasha, or that Tasha would imagine, especially in light of the last time it came up. "IN fact, I asked your father about it" She leaves at that, leaves it at implication that Vincent told Joanna a little more than 'ask your daughter'.

Tasha is just reaching for water glass when that bombshell drops, and she knocks it over instead. "Oh, shit," she says, jumping up to pull the napkin from her lap, managing to catch the puddle of water before it runs over the side of the table. She spreads the napkin out on top of the spill to soak up the water, then sits back down, her eyes down for the moment.

"No, it wouldn't be something you want on your resume," she mutters. Understatement of the year? "I didn't lie, really…"

"But you skirted around the truth. Bent it just a bit." Her jaw tightens a bit, wisely falling silent when an apron'd waiter rushes over with a few others in tow so that they can set about to mopping up the table, replacing linens and apologizing despite the fact that it was her own daughter who made the mess. It's obviously a tense moment and they do their best to get out of the way fast. It gives both women a chance to formulate things in their minds.

"Obviously, it seems, it's not something I want on my resumee, and if I don't want it on my resumee, I'd like for it not to be on my daughter's. Care to elaborate further, with unfettered truth this time, instead of lying, or skirting around it?"

Moving to the corner of the booth so that she can lean against the juncture of wall and bench, arms crossing a little defensively, Tasha is the human equivalent of a dog with its tails between its legs. "I don't really know what to tell you. Dane and me, we were helped by this group when we needed help. They would have put him in jail or a dark hole somewhere, for doing what he did — but he only did it to protect me, and not even all that much on purpose. He didn't mean to kill innocent people," she says quietly, tears coming to her eyes at the memory of that night.

"When I learned that they're about, I wanted to help. I still want to help. Mom, what the government is doing is wrong, and it's wrong for me not to help if I believe that, right?"
"What's wrong, is breaking the law. Your father and I, we can't be here to bail you out, should you do something that gets you caught. Only way to not get caught Natasha is to not do it in the first place. As a citizen of this country, with the freedom that you so cherish, comes certain rights but also, quite a few responsibilities. What exactly are you doing, that you believe is right and feel the need to hide from us?"

So there was more to the Dane story and Boston. She'd sensed as such but hadn't prodded.

"I don't expect you to bail me out if I get in trouble, Mom. I'm not doing it because I think I can get away with it because of who you are or who he is… hell, I'm trying to keep those things secret so I don't … " ruin their careers? She sighs, looking away. "I have responsibilities as a citizen to rebel against injustice. It's how our whole country was founded, right? A moral person should break the law if the law is wrong. Breaking an unjust law isn't wrong. Legally, yes. Morally, no. It's an obligation. Remember your MLK. An individual who breaks an unjust law because it's unjust is actually showing the greatest respect and love for law, right?" It's a paraphrase, but one she holds to be true.

"Mostly what we do is hide people if they need it… I make fake IDs sometimes for them, because I'm good at it. I haven't done that here, really, but I did a few in Boston," she says quietly. She leaves out the fact they tried to steal vaccines from the government. Theft is worse than harboring fugitives in Joanna's eyes, Tasha is pretty sure. Armed robbery, definitely.

Now Joanna just might drop her own water across the cloth, if she was actually drinking any at the moment. "Don't go quoting things like that to me young lady. You are my daughter, not some law student or some person sitting across a table in a conference room, justifying why I should take their offer. It's also my job to report crimes. What about the new registry, are you just going to not register because you feel it's unjust? Do jail time and pay a fine? What then?"

The fresh napkin is unfolded, shook out over her lap. Her daughters art skills were forging ID's. Helping hide people if they need it. How many people needed it? She was the more lenient of the parents and was surprised that Vincent hand't acted on this already. Was there something he wasn't telling her.

"How deep in are you"

Tasha's eyes roll at the ceiling when she's told who she is and who she isn't. "It's not like I can't leave, Mom. It's not like a cult and like they'd kidnap me if I try to leave. They wouldn't want anyone who felt obligated to help them, you know? And, no, I'll register, because for that kind of thing it's better to look like you're doing what they want so that they don't get suspicious. Plus I know it'd look bad for Madame Prosecutor's daughter, for Mister Department of Evolved Affairs' daughter, not to be on the registry. It'd raise questions and I'm trying not to do that. It's not good for any of us." Either of her family's, the Ferry or the broken Renard-Lazzaros.

"Mom, do you know they're putting those people in coffins and taking them and keeping them unconscious? Any evolved they can make a claim is dangerous? How is that not worth fighting against? That's cruel and unusual punishment, I am pretty damn sure, and unconstitutional," she says, voice quiet. She's learned some discipline in the past couple of months.
"Do you have proof"

It doesn't come out snarky or condescending. In her house, accusations had to have proof, perils of being the daughter of a lawyer. "To say this and not have any proof to back it up Tasha. Things can only be taken so far on faith alone. Subverting the law too, will not get the public to believe you"

"We have some of the coffins," Tasha says quietly. "But I don't know where they are now. Mom, the government knows. It is the government. The problem is probably half of the people don't disagree with what they're doing. All the haters, all the bigots… they would probably agree that the government's doing the right thing. How do you fight that? A little at a time, I guess, and I'm just doing my part. It's small. Really small. Like, not enough to really worry about, Mom." She'll leave out the fact she shot machine guns yesterday. "Food's coming," she murmurs to let her mother know the waiter is approaching and to drop the talk of anti-government groups.

My daughter the domestic terrorist.

She could just picture that on a bumper sticker. Proud mother of a daughter who subverts the government! They'd sell like hotcakes.

All talk of underground evolved smuggling is put to the wayside as salads and what have you. So her little group has the coffins. Illegal posession of government property. A myriad of other possible charges go flickering through her mind, hard to halt the lawyer in her. Could Silver help her? If shit hit the fan.

"I want you to see a lawyer. He's a friend of mine. If you will insist on doing this and your father hasn't put a stop to your.. antics.. and if you get caught, you need a lawyer"

Running her hands in frustration through her short hair, Tasha shakes her head, staring at the food that the waiters leave without many words, sensing the tension between the mother and daughter. "No, Mom. I'm not going to see a lawyer before I get caught. That's just … no. There's a lawyer with the group, she can help us if we need it. If not, I'll keep this Silver guy's card on me and I'll call him if I need him, but it's probably better he doesn't know all my activities before I get in trouble for them. I mean, the less people who know, the better. And you shouldn't tell him either, except to say that you've given me his name in case I ever need him. Please. Don't talk about any of this in email or phones or anything like that, all right?"

She exhales. She can't tell her mother not to worry about it, but it's on the tip of her tongue. "I'm not going to get caught, okay? I'm not anyone important in the group, and I'm just a kid, and they're not going to give me anything important to do… I brought a little kid from Boston to the Lighthouse, you know? That's like, the hardest job I've had. It's not all bad stuff, I promise. There are really good people, Mom. Really really good."

"And Tasha, it's the people on the side, who do the little things, that when things go to hell, are thrown under the bus. I've seen it enough times in court. People like you are the ones who end being made the scapegoat. Do you understand me? They leave the little fish out to dry while the ones higher up the chain, they sit back protected." Fork and knife are picked up, held in hands as if ready to attack the food but her gaze is settled squarely on Tasha.

"What does your father think of this? Why has he not taken you over his knee yet? :

Tasha gives a shake of her head at the talk of the higher-ups letting her take the fall, her eyes stinging a little with tears she manages to keep back. The mention of Vincent taking her over her knee makes her snort. She stares at the food, no appetite to be found.

"That would require actually touching me, Mom," she says sarcastically, but immediately she feels a pang of guilt, since her father was almost kind the last time they spoke. Even if he ignored her offer to meet and talk in person.

"He knows. He doesn't approve, but he hasn't told me to quit. He gave me some advice, I guess," she says, finally reaching for the Diet Coke to take a sip.

'Your father and I need to have another conversation it seems" She's eighteen. Old enough to go to college, old enough to vote, old enough to get involved with terrorists.

"November Eighth of this year Tasha, I'm going to die"

She hadn't planned to tell her daughter. "Somewhere, there is a Russian man holding my hand as I ask him to tell you that I love you, and I die. In a parking garage with other people like me, dying or already dead"

"Leave Dad out—" Tasha begins, but then another bombshell is dropped. Her hand holding the soda falters, and once more a puddle of fluid is spilling across the table, drenching part of Tasha's plate of untouched food. This time, however, the teenager ignores it, shaking her head and staring at her mother.

"What?" her voice is a whisper, and those tears she was so proud of stopping now come to her eyes. "Did- you saw that? On the d-day of the b-blackouts?" And the confident, ardent speeches of constitutionality and unjust laws are replaced by a terrified little girl's trembling words as Tasha is faced with the possibility of losing her mother — on the very same day she might lose Colette. "N-no." She shakes her head and the tears creep from the corner of her eyes.

There's a harsh and swift flick of her hands, warding off the waiters when one spots the spilled drink. Causing a scene, even if quietly.

"I did. I haven't told your father yet. I have been… putting my affairs in order, in case it really is something that will come true or just some illusion cooked up someone with evolved abilities go awry. You'll be taken care of" Can't even bring herself to look in Tasha's face while saying it. Just hands in her lap.

"It won't happen," Tasha whispers fiercely, the same promise she and Colette keep swearing to one another. "We're stopping it, somehow. And … and it's not an illusion, Mom. It might not come true — I don't think it can, now, everything's different, the path is all different, but it isn't an illusion. The people… the people who made it happen, they have powers that mean it's real. The real future. But it's not the real future anymore. I won't let it be."

Her voice is rising a little as she speaks with determination, teary eyes fierce as she leans toward her mother, reaching for her hand. "I won't lose you, Mom. I won't let it happen. I'll… I donno, you and me and Colette and even Dad, we can go somewhere where that stuff won't hurt us…" She realizes she left Tamara out of the equation, but if she can separate them for that day, all the better. "Early dysfunctional family Thanksgiving or something… I don't know. We can all go to … Disneyworld."

"Disneyland. Really. Do you think you can cheat death Tasha?" Tasha has her hand out and with little effort, her own eases into hers, squeezing. "What if it's at Disneyland in a parkade there Tasha? What are you going to do, put me in a little bubble? Hide me away from the world so that you can keep me with you just a little longer? If it's real, then maybe you doing that, will be what causes it to happen. I know that I just need to avoid Russians and Parkades hmmm?"

"I don't believe it's fated. If we change enough things, yes, we can fucking cheat death. It's not like you have a day written down and that it has to be then. That vision, it was what might happen, not what will. It has to be, Mom, or…" she shakes her head and closes her eyes, more tears sliding down her cheeks. She doesn't finish the sentence: or she'll be totally alone. "It can't happen."
"What will be, will be" Laid down, from on verbal high as if this was the end of this part of the conversation. It at least accounts for her mothers behavior and turn around after telling her she'd have to get a job and pay rent. "Maybe we can salvage this lunch? I have court after this and a long day to prepare for tomorrow. Not a tear, but Tasha can tell that they're there, hidden somewqhere behind her lawyer face.

Pressing her lips together, Tasha bites back the sob that threatens to answer her mother's words, for Joanna's sake. She nods. She will eat. She will drink. She will … not be merry, but she will talk to her mother and let her mother know she values their relationship. "Okay," she agrees, picking up her fork and taking a bite of pasta, even if it now has the additional flavoring of Diet Coke in the mix.

"I love you. I'm sorry I worry you, Mom. I will do everything I can to keep you safe," she says softly, eyes downcast before finally looking up. "What's on the docket today?" Change of subject, to allow her mother to talk more easily about something not related to death or November, and to let her mother put herself back together to prepare for court.

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