What World We Live In


eileen_icon.gif matt_icon.gif

Scene Title What World We Live In
Synopsis One enemy attempts to knock another off-balance.
Date September 9, 2010

Dorchester Towers

One can go made watching for the red dots of laser sights, but in a world where death can come in so many other, nigh-untraceable forms, simple fears like snipers lurking on rooftops become negligible. That being said, how Raymond Praeger doesn’t live in a bunker is beyond Matt Parkman. As many that may want to do in the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security must wish equal ill on the cabinet member who heads up the Department of Evolved Affairs.

So it is without these cautions that would send a man not already walking the tightrope to the deepest, darkest basement that Parkman sits out on the balcony attached to his Dorchester Towers apartment. Sure, he has the same security detail assigned to the other members of Petrelli’s cabinet, but it takes a fair amount of effort for the telepath to banish thoughts of how various individuals may seek to shoot themselves and others like them in the foot by sending Parkman to meet his maker.

They’re twisted thoughts. Parkman is sane enough to recognize that point.

The balcony is bare save for an outdoor lounge chair and a potted topiary that has long ago been allowed to grow back into a shapeless bush. Parkman sits on the chair, but rather than lean back and relax as was intended when the piece was designed, the man sits up and slightly hunched forward, his elbows resting on his knees. Two thin, black chords snake from buds is ears to a slim black device that rests on the ivory cushion that Parkman straddles.

Whatever it is he’s listening to can’t be that good, if the look on the man’s face is any indication.

Contrary to popular belief, New York City is home to a multitude of birds — not just pigeons. Falcons nest thousands of feet above the streets in shallow nooks, occasional flashes of scarlet red and periwinkle blue are cardinals and jays scissoring between cars and the spindly branches of trees that are still in the process of recovering from the winter storms and have paper thin leaves with a texture like ancient parchment, and sparrows fill the air with their shrill, incessant chattering.

Matt can’t hear it. His headphones block out their belligerent voices and the rumble of traffic below. In a few more hours, it will have thinned out to an intermittent trickle, and by the time the sun goes down curfew will staunch the flow entirely, but for now distraction presses in around him. If it wasn’t for buds in his ears, he might not be able to concentrate at all.

Wouldn’t sense the uninvited presence lurking somewhere in his psychic periphery like a leopard waiting in the dappled shade. He isn’t alone.

Still, it’s good to know that the soft music meant to aid in mediation and relaxation are working well enough to make Matt aware of the intrusion. He narrows his eyes and looks from side to side as he mentally sweeps the vicinity, keeping his reach relatively close.

Matt’s intention isn’t to spook whatever is lurking out there, but to simply gauge how far away and how notable a threat it may be. He straightens his back and rolls his shoulders before he lifts a hand to pluck the t-shirt he wears away from his chest so that the fabric falls in a more comfortable arrangement.

The blip on Matt’s radar doesn’t move when it feels his mind sweep over it. Although there’s something familiar about it, it’s a distant sort of memory with a cool texture like fog and the glittering drops of iridescent condensation that gather on a spider’s web over the course of a night. It doesn’t have a smell or a taste, but if he listens for it, there’s an accompanying sound — a thin, whispery soprano murmuring lyrics to a song that he doesn’t recognize.

Whatever it is — whoever it is — they pass the time by making music that only they’re meant to hear.

There was a time, when men were kind— and their voices were soft, and their words inviting. There was a time, when love was blind— and the world was a song, and the song was exciting…

Like the presence, Matt finds the song familiar, even if he can’t place where he knows it from. But the vague proximity of the thing coupled with an unknown agenda are enough to pique his interest for now.

If it is here for him, it won’t be the first time something has reached out to him by unconventional means. And right now, unconventional communiques are high on Matt’s list of things needing to be listened to. He waits patiently for the length of the stanza before he does the mental equivalent of clearly his throat.

It’s a push of sorts. Gentle and polite, but still firm enough to carry meaning.

I'm sorry, says the voice, and perhaps unsurprisingly it doesn’t sound particularly apologetic. Were you trying to concentrate?

Despite its apparent lack of remorse for disturbing him, the question isn’t meant to be facetious — there’s a thread of genuine sincerity woven through it, and while there’s nothing identifiable about the notes the speaker is hitting, Matt can be sure that he’s heard her before.

And it is a her.

More like the opposite, but it is a thought Matt doesn’t share. Whoever it is - whoever she is - she doesn’t need to know why he was sitting out here counting his breaths in and out while listening to the playlist Miriam constructed. He takes another one of those deep breaths and leans back against the lounge, bringing his feet up to rest on the bottom cushion. Still, for all his posture may say, the man is far from reposed.

Did you need something? he asks, his own projected voice dry and flat, as if the intrusion were simply a butterfly resting on the back of an ox for a moment. Can I help you?

It’s entirely possible, the stranger answers, but if I’m being honest, I’m not sure I want your help if it’s the same kind you offered Magnes Varlane.

It’s not a good idea to speculate, is Matt’s firm yet deadpanned reply, when you lack all the relevant facts.

Enlighten me.

There is a laugh, and Matt’s mouth twists into a faint smirk. Because I share government secrets with every Tom, Dick, and Sally-Telepath that comes askin’ for them, yeah. Magnes came to us, and he knew what he was getting into.

His valiant crusade to slay the multi-headed dragon that is Messiah. I’m already aware. There’s a weighted pause on the stranger’s side of the conversation, either as she considers her options or makes a conscious effort to veil them from him. Sharing doesn’t necessarily imply reciprocation, she says finally. It could.

So you want a show and tell. Is that it? There’s another chuckle, but it’s deeper and has a certain somber quality the first one lacked. Did you know he dresses up in a spandex suit and stalks the city at night like some comic book hero? The question is asked with a great deal of shock and disdain.

It’s difficult to miss.

There’s a tension on Matt’s side of the exchange there, and the man narrows his eyes as he looks up into the light-polluted night sky of the city. If you’re here, there’s a good chance you already know what happened to Magnes. Not what Matt did. What happened.

And you know, since we haven’t tried it again that it doesn’t matter anymore.

In truth, Matt’s putting the pieces of this particular puzzle into place as he lies there, his fingers interlaced and his hands resting on his Xiphoid process. He doesn’t expect the other telepath to be that far behind him

If you tell me what Magnes offered to help you with, the stranger offers without even the slightest hint of coyness, I could be convinced to answer other questions you might have.

You’re going to tease me with information that I can’t even know you know for sure? The laugh comes again, and Matt takes a deep breath where he lies. You have to give me more than that. A Jeopardy category even.

Although he has no way of knowing, he’s just named one of the few American game shows that the stranger is familiar with. Most Wanted.

Magnes wanted to share intel on Messiah. Wanted to bring them down. He’s not a fan of the way they’re doing things - and he thinks if he kills Sylar single-handedly, he’ll become the next best thing since Spiderman.

Again, the thoughts are thick with disapproval and scorn, and they’re as much spat out as they are projected. Matt grimaces where he lays, the muscles in his jaw tensing.

There are two pieces of information that Matt has just given the stranger. One interests her more than the other, though it isn’t immediately clear which, even when she asks, Bring them down how?

Matt’s own mental presence takes on the texture of sterility, like the unyielding script of a hospital staffer come to perform some hourly procedure on an invalid patient. There is an authoritative, patronizing quality to it. Now, now, he gently scolds, you’re smarter than that.

Apparently not, the stranger rebuffs, but smart enough to recognize your work when I encounter it. Why not take him up on his offer? If he thinks he can kill Sylar, then he must also have some way of finding him or drawing him out of hiding. Something you presently lack.

Something you have?

You mean a death wish?

I’m not going to get in Varlane’s way. If he wants to kill Sylar - fine. My only concern is that he doesn’t take out a city block in the process.

And in what way did altering his memories alleviate that concern?

That’s your concern? That the government covered up talking to Magnes Varlane? There’s a pause, and Matt’s presence withdraws somewhat, pulling back against the sea of thoughts that are ever-flowing throughout a city this size. With everything else happening, you’re worried about his brain?

When Matt withdraws, the stranger’s voice becomes wispier, gossamer in the breeze. She doesn’t sound any further away, but the tentative connection between their minds has weakened considerably. You sound skeptic, it hisses. So am I.

That space between where the thread that connects mind to mind is stretched so thin doesn’t remain empty for very long, but neither does Matt push further forward than he had already been when he returns.

Skeptic or no, he says with an unshakable staunchness, you have done nothing to earn my trust. Don’t forget what world we live in.

Silence, then. A hefty stretch of it.

Do you have children, Mister Parkman?

Do you? It doesn’t matter. This world is this world. Yes, we can try to make the future better, but it doesn’t matter if it’s for your kids or your neighbors. It’s just common human decency. Also, Matt’s getting more than a little tired of being asked about his dependents.

That’s not why I asked.

I might. But the words are tight, as if spoken through teeth.

An abrupt crackling sound is the only reply Matt receives. A sparrow that had been hidden in the topiary-slash-bush explodes into flight, breaking his concentration, and in this moment the stranger’s presence leaks through his fingers, escaping like a fine stream of white sand.

The link is severed, the voice silenced.

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