You Are A Disappointment


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Scene Title You Are A Disappointment
Synopsis After appearing on a taping of The Advocate, Magnes Varlane is reunited with the father he has not seen in four years…
Date November 20, 2010

The Advocate Studios, Backstage

The hall backstage from the studio where the television show The Advocate is filmed look much like any other in television production. The walls are whitewashed, along with the exposed pipes on one cinder-block wall, a border of blue trimming the ceiling, exposed rafters overhead hanging with halogen lamps that shine a bright, colorless light down onto tiled floors. Doors marked with dressing room numbers line the opposite wall from the electrical conduits and pipes, and production staff and stage hands bustle up and down the corridor.

Standing outside of his dressing room, one hand cupped near his mouth, Pete Varlane is breaking the smoking ordinance of New York City by lighting up his cigar in the hall. Not that he honestly gives a damn about smoking ordinances. A puff of smoke huffs out from the sides of his mouth around the fat, snub-length cigar along with a strong and distinctive aroma from the crackling cinder on the end.

Shaking the match he'd lit it with out, the faint whiff of sulphur in the air accompanies the gesture. With his appearance on The Advocate finished, there's little left to keep Pete Varlane in New York City, save for a few last minute errands to attend to.

Also, the clap-clap-clap of feet hastily approaching from off-stage.

He almost forgot about Magnes.

Magnes crosses his arms, suddenly stepping right in front of the older Varlane, the gravity around the tip of his cigar suddenly collapsing, condensing all of the smoke into the tip of the flame. "I had to hear that my parents abandoned me from some sadistic military woman. What, was keeping me away from other children and cramming more math than I'll ever need into my head not enough? I had to be tossed out and not even get a chance to see if I could have done what you wanted me to do?"

"Fat lot of good it did," Pete explains with a flick of his tongue over the end of his cigar, plucking it out of his mouth and waggling it oddly with a raise of his brows. Breathing in deeply, Pete huffs a theatrical breath on the end of the cigar and Magnes can feel the vice-like application of gravity resume as normal on the cigarette. Pete's eyes flick up to Magnes, one brow raised.

"You're a colossal disappointment," is blunt and flatly delivered as the cigar comes back into Peter's mouth. "Honestly, your mother and I were going to ask you to move out before everything in Midtown happened. You were supposed to go to college, Magnes, you were supposed to make something of yourself, not— become a Pizza delivery boy." Both of Peter's brows scrunch together as he offers his son an askance look that says really now.

"You're an embarrassment to the family, and if you ask me why I'll cuff you upside the head." Pete's cigar waggles up and down between his teeth as he talks. "When you joined the NYPD I almost came down to visit you, but by the time I had a chance to come to New York you'd already lost your job. So— " Pete's brows raise slowly, "there's that."

"I became a delivery boy because I didn't have any money! How did you expect me to pay for college by myself? I could barely talk to people because apparently that wasn't an important part of my education! And the police wanted to be rid of me because I guess I'm supposed to let helicopters crash into crowds!" Magnes frowns when he feels gravity release, but doesn't comment, instead continuing to move on the defensive.

"I was Tracy Strauss' intern, I liked that job, but Matt Parkman put a stupid mental compulsion in my head, and it led to me quitting my job. What do you expect from me? I try as hard as I can, but the government keeps screwing me over. And now I find out that my father works for a place that hires mad scientists who turn themselves into four brained monsters and torture my goddamned girlfriend!" He suddenly lashes out in a rage, thrusting his hands forward in an attempt to grab his father's suit, trying to push him against the wall.

Magnes halts in motion as if he'd found out his father had put a brick wall between the two of them at some point. But no, it isn't that, it's something far more familiar. Magnes' arms are slowly pushed down to his sides, even while Pete takes a slow puff on his cigar. Air warps and bends between the two of them, light being bent by the application of intense gravitic forces at work.

"You know, I had hoped raising you the way I did would make you more distanced from stupid things like this. More capable of taking a rational look at the world around you," Pete flicks a look askance at a stage hand who walks by, then back to Magnes. "But you don't, you can't. No matter how hard I tried to drill into that thick skull of yours an objective viewpoint you just kept turning back to your silly Superman attitude." Smoke wafts out of Pete's mouth like some sort of dragon.

"Magnes, you are never going to get anywhere in life, if you keep blaming everyone else for your failures. If you keep leaping before thinking." Brows furrow and Pete sucks in a lungful of smoke, then tilts his chin up slowly. "You don't have the first clue what the Institute really is, no matter how deep on the inside you think you are. Whatever you saw at the Staten Island lab?" One of Pete's brows raise slowly as he takes a step towards Magnes, cigar ember glowing hotly as he sucks a lungful of smoke in from the back.

"Don't judge the orchard for one bad apple." Smoke issues out of Pete's nose in twin jets, and Magnes feels the restraints around his arms relinquish. At the skin around his wrists, flesh has reddened and taken on a blotchy appearance as if he'd been exposed to a vacuum, his skin tingles.

"Also, don't hit your old man. I've got a bad back."

"I'm not trying to be Superman, father. I act out of a sense of responsibility, I do what I feel I need to do. If people ask me for help, what am I supposed to say? 'No thanks, too busy helping myself'?" Magnes rubs his wrists, deep down wanting to be surprised, but it all makes far too much sense for him to question it. Pete's age and experience, the effects on his skin, the familiar feeling that surrounded them. "What's the Institute supposed to be? I saw the coffins, how are you any better, if not worse than the Company? Who says people deserved to be picked up off the street and put into a coma because of what they can do? You people pick up my friends."

"You only saw what you wanted to see. That's been your problem since you were crapping in a laundry hamper because it was shaped like your potty," Pete explains with a tick of his brows up and down. "You're not going to get any explanation from me, Magnes, because you won't— can't understand. You're perpetually twelve, a man-child that's never grown out of his adolescence for whatever reasons I can't even begin to figure out."

Tapping ash from his cigar down onto the floor, Pete tilts his head to the side and assesses his boy. "If people ask you for help, Magnes, your first response should be to question what will happen if I do?" He widens his eyes, as if to emphasize the point. "That's where you're a retard without the special helmet."

The cigar is returned between Peter's lips as he takes another puff from it. "That's what I asked myself before I started working for the Commonwealth Institute, and you know what?" One of Pete's brows raised. "I found a good answer there. The Company was full of self-righteous boobs who thought they could keep the world in the dark about people like you and I for as long as they wanted."

Pete reaches up with one hand to the collar of his dress shurt, tugging it back with two fingers to reveal a pair of black marks on his neck. "You see that? That was their big plan, marking us with a radioactive isotope and tracking us like dolphins or something stupid like that. They lacked vision, and they lacked a plan."

The collar is returned to its normal snug fit around his neck, and Pete offers his son a thoughtful look. "You need to start taking responsibility for yourself, Magnes. Not every problem in your life is someone else's fault. The only thing every problem in your life shares in common, is you."

Magnes moves his neck to the side, showing his own isotope. "My girlfriend broke up with me yesterday because I chose to risk my life saving people, over taking care of her and giving her what she deserves." Magnes averts his eyes down to his shoes, hands suddenly stuffed into his pockets. "I don't know what to do. I still have my scholarship from Operation Apollo, but I don't know what to do with it, I don't want to be a physicist, I'm not good at it. I know math, I know physics concepts and can solve a lot of problems, but I'm never going to have an original thought about physics for as long as I live, it's not what I was born to do. What would you do, if you were me?"

"Throw myself in front of a bus and pray that Buddhism had it right," is Pete's snap judgment, followed by a huff of breath, a roll of his eyes and a sigh that implies: fine I will be your dad just this once.

"You girlfriend left you because you're a twit. I mean look at yourself, Magnes, you're— okay I don't remember how old you are," he admits with a grumble of uncertainty, "but you're however old you are, and you've made nothing of your life. So, she left you because you were trying to do something impossibly stupid, dangerous, and brazen because it seemed like the right idea?"

Pete furrows his brows and sags his lips into a frown. "Put away the stupid costume, boy. You're lucky to have the opportunity to live a normal life with all the dumb stunts you've pulled. But one of these days there isn't going to be anyone out there to clean up your mess after you and wipe your bottom clean, or— throw the poop out of the hamper."

Pete plucks his cigar from his mouth, looks down at the end and then back up to Magnes. "Take that goddamned scholarship, enroll at Columbia, and don't settle on a major. Just— take some classes. You're smart, I know you're smart. You're just— impossibly dense. Stop having your pity party, grow up, and take some initiative…"

Then, with a thoughtful raise of his brows Pete adds, "and for the love of God if there was a woman on God's green earth who would date you get her back."

Magnes lets out a long exhale, then turns to start walking down the hall. "That's the trouble with dating me, I can't make any guarantees, someone always wants to blow up the goddamned world or mess up the timestream or something." He throws his hands up, not looking back as he adds, "Fine, I'll go to college."

Dubious is the look Pete Varlane offers Magnes as his son moves to walk away, sucking in a mouthful of smoke and letting it waft out the corners of his mouth with a puffed breath. Eyes narrow, attention focused sharply, and Pete watches his son's departure with either stoicism of Alzheimer's forgetfulness. After a blink, Pete reaches down inside of his jacket and withdraws a cell phone from inside his suit jacket.

Slid open, Pete glances down at the screen and presses the number 7 on his speed dial, then turns towards his dressing room door, slowly opening it and stepping inside as the phone rings. "Hey," Pete murmurs into the phone with a glance over his shoulder to the door as he swings it shut.

"Yeah, I just talked with him," Pete's brows crease together as he looks away from the door to the dressing room mirror quietly. "No, no we're good…"

"I don't think he remembers."

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