You Are Welcome To Try


cat_icon.gif helena_icon.gif knox_icon.gif rajas_icon.gif rickham_icon.gif

Scene Title You Are Welcome To Try
Synopsis Helena is reunited with two persons, and meets a technopath.
Date May 22, 2009

Village Renaissance Building, Cat's Penthouse

Arriving by any of four elevators, visitors will find they open into three foot corridors facing wide double doors made from sturdy southern pine which swing outward and have the strongest locks available. The stairs lead to single doors, also outward opening, at the end of three foot corridors. Entry requires both a key and a keycard; other security measures are a video camera and voice communication terminal at all doors. The 4th Street side has floor to ceiling windows interrupted only by the access points. Cream colored curtains are normally kept closed.

This level has enough space for sixteen apartments. There is an office space with reception area, conference room, and executive office; a room for archery practice and other forms of physical exercise; a very well appointed kitchen and dining area; a music zone with an array of instruments, electronics, and amplifiers; an entertainment area with an HD set covering an entire stretch of wall from floor to ceiling; a locked room where security footage for the building is recorded and can be monitored; a laundry room; a staircase for roof access; central air and heating; the main bedroom and a few smaller guest rooms; plush deep wine carpet everywhere except the kitchen, laundry room and bathrooms; and track lighting everywhere overhead. The light levels can be lowered or raised in the entire place, or selectively by segments. The overall decor suggests the occupant is a woman.

Life has its simple pleasures, and music is one of them.

While the crooning lyrics of Sweet Home Alabama may not be exactly what Benjamin Washington had in mind when he took the risk of allowing Allen Rickham to have his way with Cat's old turntable, the result isn't quite the sedate and boring tunes he would have thought the man who once would have been the most powerful man in the country would listen to. But there it is, the twangy guitar, the classic rock, and the wiry and lanky frame of Allen Rickham pacing through the entertainment room, murmuring the lyrics to himself in a way just off-key enough to get under Knox's skin.

"Hey, Rick," Looking up from where he lounges across the sofa, Knox lifts his head up from the armrest, hands unfolding from behind his head as they move to air in helping prop himself up. "Who sings this song again?" One dark brow kicks up at the question.

turning from the shelf of records, Rickham looks over at Knox like he has two heads, staring at the young man with visible concern on his face. "Come on, Ben, it's Lynyrd Skynyrd." There's a pleading tone in Allen's voice, and he's not quite prepared for Knox's retort.

"Hey tha's cool, how's about we keep it that way?" There's a crooked quality to Knox's smile as he flashes it at Rickham. The older man stares for a moment, until finally the dig hits home and he begins to laugh in a feigned manner, waving both arms up and down slowly as a smile creeps up on his face, deepening wrinkles at the corners of his eyes.

"Oh, sure, sure… pick on me, I see how it is." Allen gives a shake of his head, turning back to the records as he pulls one out slowly. "Would you rather I put on some Heart?" He holds up a record sleeve over one shoulder, a crooked smile matching Knox's. Were Cat in earshot of that, she'd probably have some stern words for the ex-president.

"Nah, man," Knox notes with a wave of one hand, laying back on the couch again. "I can dig this, you know, for a while. Just— no backup vocals, okay Tin Man?"

Were Cat in earshot, she most likely would have guitar in hand and be playing the lead part in that tune, and on mention of Heart be very ready to launch into Barracuda. The records Allen has found are just the tip of an iceberg. She does have some taste for retro vinyl and the equipment to use it with, but the greater majority is CDs and MP3 files.

Where is the Cat of the house? She's moving from the nearest elevator to the room where those two are, not saying much of anything along the way. When she gets Helena to that spot, well, things will explain themselves.

"What's so important that - KNOX!" There is suddenly a tiny, fast-moving streak of blonde, as the man suddenly finds himself being hugged by a skinny little white girl. "You made it out!" She'll let him go immediately of course, but she's grinning fiercely. "I had no idea if you had, and I'd wondered - " she starts, and then stops, because as she stepped back, Rickham came into her field of vision. Her smile falls right off her face and her eyes go flat. She doesn't have anything to say to him, but her sense of betrayal is radiating from every tiny little pore.

Grunting when a blonde missile hits him like a sack of bricks, Knox grimaces and leans his head back with one brow raised. "What, you had doubts? Man, I had hoped to bring ol' Shard back with me, but we got separated by crazy, or you know, whatever it is that happened to us all." When Helena steps back and her expression changes, Knox's brows lower and he follows her line of sight over towards where Rickham stands, noticing the slouching of the older man's posture, the way his hand slowly slides away from the records.

Pale green eyes finally settle on Helena below a furrowed brow, and Allen Rickham swallows tightly, not managing even a feigned smile. He says nothing, because the look in Helena's eyes says a rebuttal to everything he could possibly voice. There is only a shameful hanging of his head, and a step backwards that is taken, as if to give Knox and Helena their space.

"Okay…" Knox murmurs, looking from Rickham to Helena, "You know you coulda' told me you knew Dean-Bean back when we were hikin' across six states, Rick." He's trying to lighten the mood, but the tension is eating right into Knox, and it's making him visibly uncomfortable.

The tension isn't so hard to dispel, in Cat's view. She speaks with an intent to do just that. "Helena," she begins, "one of the many things Father told me is what happened with Allen. He got caught. Someone walked up, surprised him with the SLC test, and blackmailed him over it." She, for her part, shows no signs of disapproval toward him. Of the fact he was robbed that way, now that's apparent.

Helena's approval dims a little bit at that news, but only a little. She nods in acknowledgment, but still regards Allen with some faint disapointment. "You were our hope." she says softly. "We might have been able to help you. And now it's - I guess it doesn't matter. It is what it is." Her smile returns, tight, but at least it's a smile, before she then turns a warmer one toward Knox with a faint smirk. "Shard? He's probably on some Caribbean island somewhere, hip deep in women and Krystal."

Rickham just nods slowly, offering nothing but silence as he slides a record back into its place and turns to walk over towards the windows a few paces away, folding his arms across his chest as he does, allowing him to keep his back to the rest of the conversation. Knox, feeling that awkward silence creeping in, clears his throat and looks back and forth between Helena and Rickham, "Women and Krystal, you say?" He quirks up another brow, managing a rueful smile, "kinda' wish he dragged me with him in that case."

The words fall a bit flat, and Knox rubs one hand at the side of his head, moving around where Helena stands and towards the doorway, "Hey I'm— gonna grab somethin' out of the fridge, any a'you want somethin' while I'm uh — duckin' out?" Because obviously Cat didn't bring Helena here to see him, why of course not. It seems Knox's weakness is awkward conversations.

It was both of them, actually, and hopefully the technopath too. Cat glances at the screen he spoke from briefly as if expecting it to turn on of its own accord, then back to the others. Knox first. "Juice is good, Fort Knox," she tells him. And without delay, she speaks toward all three. "They weren't alone. A technopath came with them, calls himself Rajas, claimed to know Wireless. I contacted her, she didn't say much beyond friend of a friend."

"Cat should have a coffee pot, if you don't mind pouring me some." Helena calls out, feeling momentarily awkward about it, but hey, Knox offered. She looks back and forth between Cat and Rickham. "So…does he know there's a crazy future duplicate of himself running around mucking things up for everyone?" she asks, and then looks at Rickham, "There's a crazy future duplicate of yourself running around and mucking things up for everyone. Just so you know." And then it's back to Cat. "I'm glad Knox is safe, and Mr. Rickham too, but I'm a little lost on what else needs to be dealt with here. Call me a dumb blonde, but there's not nearly enough caffeine in my system."

"I haven't heard from him since yesterday." Knox notes, glancing over to Rickham's phone on the table near the sofa as he hangs in the doorway to the entertainment room, forearm resting on the door frame. 'He kinda' comes and goes, you know, as he pleases. We don't evem know how to get in touch with him, he just sort've magics himself up on the text messaging whenever he's inclined, you know?"

There's a crooked of Knox's head, looking from Cat to Helena, then back again. "I take it you're a cream an' sugar kinda' girl?" Knox raises a brow, "See that's a really good opportunity to thinly veil hittin' on me," he adds after a prolonged moment of silence, "you know, because black coffee and— " there's a wave of one hand and Knox awkwardly pushes himself off of the door frame, "Yeah— let's pretend I didn't just try an' say that." His voice trails off as he hastily makes his way towards the kitchen.

Helena's nonchalant mention of Rickham's alternate self elicits him turning around, completely. There's a look given to Cat, one that says you could have mentioned this yesterday without needing a single word. It's just that creasing of his eyebrows and the pressing of his lips into a thin, straight like that tenses his jaw. One slow, steady breath is taken, and he exhales the words, "What is she talking about?" All while motoning to Helena slowly with one hand.

"I did tell you about that, Allen," Cat replies calmly. "It was right in there with Gillian having your ability after encountering a you from ten years forward, the bit about Tyler Case switching abilities around." Next she faces Helena. "First, to show you we've got reinforcements by seeing them yourself. Second, to see where they stay. I'm happy to have them here. But you might want them at HQ. Third is to talk about what's coming, the things Rajas pointed out."

Some brief consideration is given to what Knox said about the technopath, and Cat tries something. It works for Wireless, it worked with Robin Hood, maybe now too. She uses her iPhone to send a text message to Rajas. It says simply Hello.

"She is the cat's mother." Helena says reflexively, for a moment echoing something her own mother used to say, before snorting at Knox's retreating form.

"Black, and sweet enough to kill you." she calls back to him, perhaps opening the door to innuendo, perhaps not. "Okay," she agrees with Cat. "I'm happy to see Knox put up wherever he likes, but I think I want to know more about your own intentions before any decisions are made, Mr. Rickham." Helena crosses over to one of Cat's couches and sits down. "And I'd like to be briefed on what's coming, or re-briefed such as it is, as I'm starting to lose track of how many balls we're juggling in the air."

Allen's expression flattens some as Cat corrects him just from an expression, and his brows crease together, one hand moving up to pinch at the bridge of his nose. "You— did? Was that before or after… nnh, thre was so much to follow. I— how is that possible? The time— " he hesitates finishing the question, holding up one hand, "no, nevermind. Knox tried to explain this… thing that happened at the prison and— " Slowly moving away from the window without finishing his sentence, Allen moves to settle down on the couch with a tired with, hands resting on his knees as he does.

Almost immediately over Cat's phone, a text message response comes alight; Hello. It states back rather playfully, and the identifier reads R.Ajas.

Hearing the chime of a text on Cat's phone, Rickham arches a brow and then sulks back against the sofa, smoothing his hands over his face. "I… don't have any intentions, Helena. I don't even know what I'm doing here. I just— " there's a sigh blows out between his fingers as his hands fall away from his face to lay on the couch cushions. "Rajas," he nods to his phone, "contacted me where my family is staying in Anchorage. We— he had some convincing things to say, things that worried me. I— I had to try and explain to my wife and my son why I might not be coming back." There's no explanation of what Rajas said, or why it would suddenly motivate him to leave his family and risk everything by coming to New York. "If anyone inside the government knew I was here, my family's life would— Rajas said he'd protext them, but— " it's clear that Rickham isn't even sure why he's here, in any sense of the word. "I just… I don't know."

"You're here because I make some damn fine coffee," Knox blurts out, coming back into the room juggling two coffee mugs and a tall glass of juice. The latter is handed off to Cat, and one of the cups of coffee is directed to Helena, before he walks back into the room and lays a steaming mug of black coffee down in front of Rickham. "Drink and relax, or I'ma put more than some Bailey's in there so you stop yoour sulking and worrying."

Knox's eyes direct back to Cat, then to Helena, "Alright ladies, so what're we doin'?"

"I think we may be soon to hear directly from the person who led you back to me, Fort Knox," Cat replies, as she reads the text and enters some words on the screen in hand. "There's a war coming, Rajas led them to me and may be bringing others for the purpose, people he believes will do the right thing. He said he needs us to warn Phoenix about what is coming, to warn them that when all is said and done with the people who do not belong here, the real war will start. To rally people. Draw like minds together, and prepare for what we all fear will come."

To Rajas, she sends There is someone here to meet you, Mr. R.Ajas. She has questions.

Helena takes a sip of her coffee, and for a moment gets momentarily bliss face. That is a damn fine cup of coffee, Agent Cooper. Blinking herself back to the very serious here and now, she nods. "I was thinking it's likely that our game plan is going to change. If there's nothing we can do to stop it, and it's going to be us versus them, then we need to figure out how we're going to go about it. I don't think any of us want it to be that kind of scenario, but if there's no stopping it, then it's something all members of Phoenix need to address and agree upon as to how we're going to deal with it. And determine what part they're going to play."

The television clicks on with a low hum, the enormous flat screen eventually warming to a colorless white glow, followed by a charming — if not somewhat out of place — looped image of a log burning in a fireplace. "I've heard of Helena. Word travels." It's a much younger voice than would have been expected, a boy, probably a teenager, masked behind a synthetic screen that makes him sound like a robot. "Good morning, Helena. It's nice to finally meet you as face-to-face as we can get. You can call me Rajas."

Knox quirks a brow and looks at the burning log on the fire, then shakes his head and comes to sit down on the sofa beside Rickham, hands folding behind his head as he kicks his feet up, crossing them ankle over ankle. "Doom and gloom over here behind the burning log seemed to be pretty sure that his old man thinks things are headed that way." Knox glances ro Rickham, then the coffee, then back rather pointedly before Rickham finally exhales an exasperated sigh and leans forward, snatching the black coffee up before taking a sip.

"Monk would not call alarm to a situation without just cause. He's very sure that this country is heading in the same direction others around the world have. The haves versus the have nots. Maybe not this year, but without a doubt soon. He's scared, for all of us." R.Ajas' words cause Rickham to sigh over the top of his coffee, looking up to the burning log on the screen, then over to Helena and Cat.

"When I was traveling from Alaska to meet up with Knox, Rajas used the words civil war pretty liberally." There's bitterness and distaste in Rickham's words, "I don't think this country could survive something like that. The only hope we'd have to avert something like that, would be somehow turning everyone's perspective on the Evolved around and fast." One future crumbles away, and what rises up in its wake ends up being a far more looming specter of darkness than what was on the horizon.

"Thanks for coming, Rajas," Cat offers to the burning log onscreen. Her eyes drift over to Helena, their expression speculative. "We talked before about the future course, about achieving a national presence, and needing a sympathetic face with a good story behind it. About how our actions have been needed, but also miss the mark. They don't change minds, they don't inspire. Teo, Elisabeth, and I discussed things like this a few times in these months, and when we thing of that person, Helena, we come up with one name."

After she goes silent, Cat casts a slow nod toward Allen indicating agreement.

"Hello, Rajas." Helena greets politely. To Rickham, "If it comes down to some form of civil war, I doubt we can win it. We can barely avoid fighting amongst ourselves, and both sides will likely be peppered with types of both. But people need to prepare to accept the consequences of what this means if - " Helena pauses mid-sentence and stares at Cat. With eyes as wide as saucers she repeats, "A sympathetic face." Oh, she gets where Cat's going, she's just trying to get over her mental pinball going TILT.

Rickham leans forward with the cup, elbows resting on his knees. "I wouldn't know how to win a war like that either, I… was always more of a preventative type of man." His eyes track back to the television, "You're sure there's nothing we can do to stop it?" There's a sense of urgency in his voice, a pleading need for some semblance of reassurance.

"Monk thinks it is inevitable." And that, apparently, is enough for R.Ajas. "I trust his jugement, though K.Apila might have a different opinion. Those two… never reallt saw eye to eye, according to Monk." There's an awkward silence for a brief moment, followed by a change in R.Ajas' tone. "He send Robin Hood to K.Apila. Hoping that she could teach him, you know… how to be a better person. In the only way she really can." Which is to infer the hard way, but the monicker of K.Apila is likely lost on the guests. "Wireless." He adds as an afterthought.

"Look," Knox states as he closes his eyes, hands still folded behind his head. "This is all really nice that we're going over this again, but what I want to know is why you came after us." One eye opens to stare at the television.

"I came after Rosen and Redhouse as well." It's the only response R.Ajas can give. "Admittedly that did not go over as well…" At that, Rickham groans and takes another sip of his coffee.

"Because we need people to do a lot of things, Fort Knox," Cat answers. "Thinkers and fighters both, and as many of them as we can get." She glances briefly at the screen. K. Apila. That's a new one, who is also Wireless? Curious. But she chooses not to pursue it. "Who are Rosen and Redhouse?" Helena is given a glance to see if she's emerging from seeming shock, then Rickham. "Maybe we can stop it from happening, maybe not. But if it does happen, I think we can definitely defend ourselves, and work to prevent it from lasting longer than it has to."

One of the names certainly prompts a bit of surprise that jolts her out of her temporary brainwave vacation. "Rosen? West Rosen?" Helena turns toward the tv. "Is he okay? Did something happen to him?" She's still kind of irked with him over the whole parting ways thing, but wishing birds would poop on him when he's out flying is a far cry from wanting him to be actually hurt. Since the others haven't touched what Cat was hinting at, Helena pushes it to the side for a moment. "So the first decision is whether we do treat it as an inevitable and prepare, or if there's any hope at all of prevention."

"West Rosen, yes. He and Sparrow Redhouse. They were contacts I felt would have useful abilities to lend to your assistance. I wasn't able to find Rosen, however. He's somewhere in the city, but I just can't pin where he is down. He's doing an admirable job of keeping a low profile." Knox glances up at that name, looking over to Cat and Helena with a raised brow.

"West, he was in PARIAH, right? Flyboy?" His eyes flick back to the television screen, then close as he reclines his head back again.

"Correct. Sparrow Redhouse is a terrakinetic, but finding her proved to be just as difficult as drawing her out to speak… it's not an important detail any longer. We'll find others, there's always more people willing to be a hero." There's a mildly wistful tone to R.Ajas' voice there, one that is quickly clipped away. "To the best of my knowledge he is fine, but that knowledge is… limited."
Public> Anarchist Candy flops.

"I remember West," Cat replies. Oh, yes, she remembers, the one acting all impatient and demanding Claire come with him when they went their hothead ways all those months past. Maybe his perspective changed, Cat's certainly has. "That's the one, Fort Knox," she offers as confirmation. "I didn't immediately link the name Rosen."

Then, tilting her head as eyes move between all present including the screen, she muses "We can prepare by being ourselves. We need to make miracles happen, positive things people can rally around, and make ready to defend ourselves and others against attacks that might happen. And we need bombshells, things that raise our credibility. Proof we can use to demonstrate the real purpose of FRONTLINE."

Helena sinks back a little into her seat. Of all the people sitting in the room, it might be Rickham who bests recognizes her expression; the moment every leader has when they suddenly realize that not only are all the balls in the air, but they're on fire, interspersed with knives while one feels like they're balancing on a tightrope while riding a unicycle. "I think it's important for us to assess all the issues that have come to our attention, and determine what if anything we can do about each one." Make me a list, Cat. Make me a chart, Cat. Be my walking, talking, Microsoft Outlook application, Cat.

"FRONTLINE… yes." R.Ajas' tone becomes something somber, "There is something I have been neglecting to tell you, I was trying to deicde on how to best brooch the subject, since… I feel it might be sensative.//" Rickham finally looks up from his coffee, glancing over to the television, then Knox, then over to Cat and Helena, not quite expecting this pensive tone out of R.Ajas. Pensive more so because of the look on Helena's face — can he see that?

"Spit it out Rags." Knox notes in an impatient tone, finally unfolding his hands from behind his head,letting his palms work at the back of his neck, clearly tense from all of this discussion. By the time R.Ajas chimes back in though, Knox has sat up straight in his seat, looking into the kitchen inquisitively, trying to remember if he took the last of the coffee or not.

"I pulled a list of names from the Department of Defense database when I was searching the Pentagon for something for Monk. In it, I found a draft list of names for potential candidates for the New York branch of FRONTLINE, should the bill pass." There's a hesitant sound in R.Ajas voice, "I checked out the names myself, and one came up that — " an image of a sour looking man with short, dark hair and a goatee comes on the television. "United States Marine Corps Second-Liutenant Michael… Spalding." The pause is telling enough, before R.Ajas brings up a mugshot of a more familiar face to paralell. "He is the older brother of PARIAH founder Cameron Spalding. He is on General Autumn's short list of Registered Evolved he would like to propose as a member of FRONTLINE in New York City.//"

It makes sense, then, why he's been holding on to that bit of information. "I… thought you should know."

"General Autumn's a plant helping Pinehearst. If Arthur makes the serum, the General will supply people to take it and fill FRONTLINE's ranks. If Arthur doesn't make the serum, if the Company remains, FRONTLINE remains too, helping Nathan's agenda." Cat lapses to silence, eyes taking in the man's image as she considers whether or not approaching him and asking him to be an insider is a good idea.

Helena almost drops her coffee, and looks like someone just smacked her in the face. "Michael Spaulding…" she echoes in disbelief. Did she even know he existed? Survey says negative. "Do we know if he knows Cameron's status?" she asks faintly. Cat's comments about the formula gain her attention. "If our own doctor can reverse-engineer our sample, then we might be able to level the playing field. Hell, if it came down to it, we could distribute it, if we're desperate enough. It's hard to have a war when suddenly everyone's on the same side."

"I do not know." R.Ajas admits quietly, "Cameron's death was eventually noted by the police once the remains were identified. I would have to imagine they notified next of kin. This is conjecture, however. I know nothing of the brothers' relations to one another." Finally, after all of this, Knox gets up from the sofa and runs a hand over the top of his head, brows creased together in a frustrated look as he takes a few steps away from the couch.

"You got an address for this guy?" Knox turns, asking the television. There's a brief delay, with Rickham seeming to quickly follow where this line of interrogation is leading.

"1727 West 54th Street, Mariott Hotel, room 616." The mechanical reading of the address comes with a bit of a squint. Knox will at the very least remember the Mariott, and he'll just ask around afterwards if he has to. Rickham moves to stand up, looking back and forth between Knox and the tlevision.

"I'll go pay this joker a visit, if he's going to side up with the goons quad, I'll put him out a damn window. It's what Cam'd do." How quick Knox seems willing to revert to the old ways. After all, he's never been a member of Phoenix, but he was a card carrying member of a violent terrorist organization for over a year. Some habits die exceptionally hard.

"Ben," Rickham spits out, moving to lay a hand on Knox's shoulder, "Hey, come on, that's not— " Knox reaches up and takes a hold of Rickham's wrist, forcing the hand away as he begins to push the older man back, until the floor beneath Allen's feat creaks from a sudden displacement of weight, and the arm Knox is holding is made of solid iron — as is the rest of Allen Rickham.

"Go ahead." The older man spits out, brows lowered, "I'll put you out a window if you think I'm going to let you go over there and make an idiot of yourself." Knox's lips curl back into a snarling expression as he roughly lets go of Rickham's hand, tilting his head to the side.

"Don't tell me what to do, man. You ain't the president." Something's gotten under Knox's skin, that much is readily evident from his reactions.
That would be one of the reasons Rickham and Knox are in the same place, Cat thinks. Helping the angrier one vent some excess energy because he can absorb more than most can from him. She looks from one to the other a few times, keeping counsel of her own thoughts and not speaking about the exchange, as it seems Allen has things well in hand. Hopefully.

"Knox." Helena rises and moves swiftly to the two men. "Knox, please. We don't know anything about this guy or what he's capable of. I'd rather wait and do some research before we go storming in. And he's probably being monitored. I don't want you being locked up again, I don't want anyone locked up again." Honey (along with long blonde hair and boobs) is often better than vinegar. "Please?" she asks.

A quick glance is shot in Helena's direction, both hands balled up into fists. Knox quirks his head to the side, squaring his jaw as if he's about to give Helena the samw rash of shit he just gave Rickham. But something in that all-too-serious expression of his finally gives, and his shoulders slack, fingers unwinding. The creak of the floors ends as Rickham's skin begins to fade back to its normal coloration, dark gray bleeding away like evaporating water to reveal pale flesh.

"Whatever, boss." He's sore, but at least he's staying. Well, staying in the kitchen from the trajectory of his leaving the entertainment room. Rickham brings a weathered hand to his head, shaking it back and forth slowly as he massages his temples.

"So… that could have been worse." R.Ajas states obliquely from the direction of the television. "Um— unlss there's anything else you need me for, I should go back and see if Monk needs me for anything. We're kind of handling a few problems all at once."

"Thank you for coming, Rajas," Cat offers after the minor skirmish is defused. "We'll be in touch, I'm certain." She lifts the bottle of orange juice, drinking from it slightly, while entertaining the thought conversations like these might call for vodka to be mixed in with that, no matter that it's morning. "We've got time to debate, think things over. But not much."

"Thank you." Helena says, visibly relieved when Knox backs down. Stepping away from him and Rickham, she looks over her shoulder toward the screen. "And thank you, Rajas. Can I contact you in a similar fashion as Cat?" Once that's sorted out for good or ill, Helena looks down into her coffee mug. "Cat," she says in a funny voice, "I think there's more to discuss. But it doesn't have to be right now." With that, she heads into the kitchen.

"You can," R.Ajas notes, "But I won't lie. Sometimes I cannot respond." The log on the fireplace the television is showing burns out, and the television goes black. Helena's phone buzzes and vibrates from a received text message that reads, But you are welcome to try. Watching the television turn off, Rickham exhales a sigh and turns to the window again, arms folded and head down as he stares out at the cityscape across the street.

Well, at least this was a step in one direction or another.

Hopefully the right one.

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