2007-05-07: A Few Things About Gene


Elena_icon.gif Gene_icon.gif

Summary: Gene picks Elena up from the NYU campus to drive her home for the day after her Biology final. The two discuss Gene's latest project - a portable brainwave monitor. Along the way home, however, Elena is introduced to Gene's surprisingly tragic past, and the reason why he's so paranoid.

Date It Happened: May 7, 2007

A Few Things About Gene

New York University Campus + Gomez Apartment


Vampires rule the streets, able to play their lame trading card games in the AM hours due to a plot device blocking the sun. Will you fight the darkness… Or join it?!

Looking at the PSP screen, Gene does not look impressed at all. "I hope Ted intended this homebrew to be a comedy, this is retarded," the young inventor offers as he reads the scrolling text. While Gene wanted to check on the people that were bleeding in his car the night of the incident, Gene had to handle a few pressing matters. They looked like they were able to live and considering that Eric didn't call saying that Elena was dead or he had a funeral to go to, everything worked out in a way that seemed to mock probability. There's a reason why some scientists are believe in a higher power.

An alarm begins to beep on Gene's watch, forcing him to swiftly turn off his game and get the idling car out of park. Good… The campus police were likely gunna kick his ass for being in the 'No Standing' lane as long as he has. He pulls up in front of the requested building, just waiting for Elena to come out as he waits in his usual ride.

The door to the science building opens, and Elena steps out, bogged down with several books in her arms as well as a backpack. Spring is here - closer towards the summer now. The weather is warmer, and trees were growing their leaves again. She shields her eyes from the sun, just a touch, stepping down off the steps and into the pavement. She's wearing a pair of form-fitting yoga pants, sneakers, a tanktop, and a fitted, black hoodie. Her hair is bound to the back of her head by a pair of chopsticks.

In a growing sea of modern car models, Gene's car was quite distinct. She smiles, seeing it, and appreciating it from where she stands. She did like classic cars, it was almost the only thing she had in common with Jack. She waves her hand from where she stands, so Gene would hopefully spot her, and then she walks over to the Camaro.

Pulling the passenger door open, she dumps her backpack and books in the back seat before getting in herself, strapping on her seatbelt and looking over at Gene. "My biology final just let out, were you waiting long?" she asks. She peers at the PSP curiously. "…..what game is that?"

Sadly enough, Gene's car was bought the second he got the leak of what Bubblebee would be in Transformers. Like a truly geek that enjoys unveiling secrets of the universe, Gene reads spoilers for his more 'socially unique' interests. Speaking of such hobbies, Gene looks toward his PSP. "Oh, friend of mine made an R.P.G. he wanted me to look at. It's nothing big, but you know, support a friend and all that," Gene offers before he turns his head to look out the back window, making his way out from the wedged area he got himself into when two other drivers decided to wait in their cars for people like he did. Like most New York drivers, they don't really care to move to make Gene's life easier.

As he twists his body about, Elena will be able to notice Gene's simple fashion: black t-shirt with no design and blue jeans. Both are somewhat tight on him, likely clothes from high school from the wear on both, but he doesn't mind, they're worn in. His usual footwear slaps on the gas once Gene finally frees himself. Only when he's out does he start talking. "Wasn't waiting too long. I gave myself more time than I thought I needed. Lights were kind to me today. Think you did well on the final?"

"I think so," Elena says. "I felt pretty good coming in and leaving it - but that doesn't really mean anything, you know? Papa never worries about my grades, even if I do. I'd come home fretting over them in high school, and he'd just pat me on the head and tell me to go eat something….and he'll end up being right about me doing just fine. I guess I've just learned not to dwell on the grade so much since then." Since she always did pretty damned well anyways. She leans back against the car seat and grins at Gene. "Nice day, huh? Where are you taking off for the summer?" she asks. While she knows Gene works and doesn't really go to school, he might have summer plans. People always had summer plans, mostly people who are still in school, but people who worked as well.

Unless he was serious about Lancaster Electronics keeping him a prisoner in their building. She glances surreptitiously for a perimeter alarm on him.

"Oh that's good. I would've gotten out faster but…" She grins at him sheepishly. "I was too busy re-checking my answers. We had diagrams as part of the exam. I just wanted to make sure I didn't miss anything. So how have you been?"

The relationship between Lancaster and Gene is an odd one. The two understand Gene's potential and its applications to the modern world. When they agree on things, everything is hunky-dory. It's when they disagree that things get interesting. Thankfully, that hasn't happened for awhile, so Gene is able to say honestly, "Work's been okay. Took a couple of days to fix up Model T and the recon drone, but they're fine now." Summer plans? Elena didn't mention any summer plans. Or at least Gene is talking about them right now.

Thankfully, he has something else to distract Elena with. "Was able to work on your stuff here and there. Been a pain in the butt, let me tell you. Some of the scanning equipment uses X-rays, and while I might be able to make it smaller, it won't be too portable and I wouldn't advise carrying around since, you know, radation. I think I might be able to do some stuff with functional magnetic resonance imaging. Considering this is a radio freq that we have to transmit, it should be easier to make it something you could take on the field. I've been working on the helmet itself which will do the brain scans, but the laptop will take some work since I'll have to make something that is not only able to study and display the information, but also make it user friendly so you don't have to be a technician to use it and understand it. Will likely be a bit longer."

…did this kid ever have anything outside of work? Or his projects? Maybe he can't turn it off? Elena stares at Gene, trying to parse it out. Maybe he couldn't, which is why he has to keep working. She furrows her brows a little bit. That was a little worrisome, even the hardworking Geeks of America need a breather now and then. She knew she went crazy when she had to study for hours without a break.

When he talks about the brainwave monitor though, Elena blinks at him. "……..wait….hold on a second," she says. "I thought you were just going to build a regular one, not a….are you serious? You're…you're making it -portable-?" Was that even POSSIBLE? She listens to the techno/science babble, furrowing her brows. While more of the technical aspects go over her head, the science part she understands. "Wow, Gene…I didn't realize….I mean. That's awesome. You didn't have to make it so….I mean. Wow. Thanks." She looks…incredibly impressed. "So we're not really using radiation right, but a sort of electromagnetic field based imaging method? I guess it makes sense, the brain generates its own electricity after all."

Like most people, Gene has become the young man he is through a less than perfect life. At least he is an obsessive introvert with a heart of gold rather than a haughty genius with a selfish streak that blinds morality. The young man listens to Elena during a red light, glancing toward the fellow scholar before he speaks again. "Well, we can use the radiation I suppose, but I recommend that you have that set up wherever you were planning on having the full sized equipment. Only if you really need to take it out should you. I don't want to patent the technology lest the government know about it and I don't want anyone else finding out about because yeah. Make sure that Eric understands that all too well because if not…" Gene leads off as grinds the gears, seemingly a little rough as he speeds up, as if to drive the unspoken point home.

"Either way, doing this sort of work is good for me. Expands my horizons so to speak, you know?" Gene gives a small smile, able to do that while his mind is somewhat distracted by driving. "Sure you'll figure out some way to thank me. If not, that's fine too. Helping to help is good enough for me as long as my gifts aren't abused."

"I'd rather we not, even if it's the battletested method. We'll go with what you're doing," Elena says. "I don't want to use anything that could potentially damage…well, anything. That and I don't think I trust myself with radioactive equipment more complex than a microwave. Something might go wrong, and if I'm going to be using this to study my friends' gifts….I'd rather not put them in harm's way. They're my friends. They're not labrats. I'm doing this in case….they push themselves so hard that what happened to me in that building happens to them. It's the reason why I started this in the first place….Papa collapsed because of his abilities. It got too much, and he couldn't control it."

Gene thus becomes one of the handful of people who know about her father. While people in her circle know about her gifts, she had done her best to hide her father's. Gene's only the fourth person she's told.

"Eric won't say anything, you know that deep down I think," Elena says, looking over at Gene. "He's not the type to sell out his friends. Despite hanging out with frat boys he's a good guy. Besides…he has much to learn from this as all of us. And…I think we need to figure you out too. I don't know if you have a limit point, but…if there is, I think it might be beneficial to find out than cart you to a hospital if you did, and we found out too late."

At the last, she sighs and glances down on her fingers. "Truth be told….I've been trying to figure out how," she says quietly, looking out the window. "I've always tried to be independent. I work. I pay my own way through school. I use the library often so I don't have to spend what little money I have to buy books. It's….become harder and harder these days the more I go deeper into all this. I'm very glad that you've helped me so much already, and I wish I could…you know. Pay you back or something but we're….not very wealthy. So if there's anything -I- could do for you, please call me."

"Well, cat scan technology is fine… I'd just rather not work with radiation until I have to. Hard to get my hands on the needed supplies for personal projects without risking unwanted attention."

Gene is silent for awhile. The first matter was easy to talk about… But Ramon and his power is something else. His own father is an object of Gene's hate, so concern for a father figure is unique to the young man. "His ability actually hurts him? I can imagine why you'd want to learn more about that stuff then. Well, don't worry about repaying me then. Money's not something I'm interested anyway. If it was, I'd be a hacker or something." Pause. "A professional hacker that stole money," he clarifies. "As for Eric, I know that he wouldn't knowingly do something to get me in trouble, but just… I've learned that trust is important and some people just trust too easily, that's all." Gene narrows his eyes to the road ahead, as there is a construction worker waving people down a detour due to road work. The genius is not amused, but takes a left when he should be going straight.

"Me neither," Elena says, looking over at Gene. "Besides….I can't help but associate radiation to bad stuff anyways. Skin cancer. Radiation poisoning. Did you read about the Russian spy that got assassinated in London by radioactive material? Whoever did it -put it in his food- and made him slowly die of radiation poisoning." She shudders in her chair. Looks like the young woman read the papers every day.

"Well, sometimes," Elena admits. "He….he's learned to turn it off since then, but only after we started….you know. Trying to figure out how they work. But before, he was picking things up left and right. When he was in an entire room full of people who were gossiping…it was just too much for him. It fried his brain. He didn't wake up till….close to forty-eight hours, I think. And it was just a room with eight people. Imagine if he had to go into the city and the city gets rocked by all the weird earthquakes we've been having. I don't know if he'll be able to take the millions of people in New York panicking. That's why…."

She looks over at Gene. "I know, you're a good guy, Gene. I'm so lucky we met, and even more because you're a genuinely awesome person. But I mean it. If one day there's something I can repay you with, if there's some way I can pay you back. Let me know. It wouldn't be right if I didn't try." She inclines her head a little bit when Gene continues driving, his eyes narrowed. "…..did people try to take advantage of you before?" she asks. She's only making a guess, considering what he tells her about trust.

Heard people thinking, that would mean that Ramon is an… Oh no.

'Crap, if I ever met him he'll know if I'm thinking about Elena being naked and because I'll trying not to think of Elena naked, I'll be thinking of Elena naked and now I'm thinking of Elena naked.' Gene looks over for a bit toward Elena, keep his eyes on her for a second before there is a faint glance downward. He then shifts it toward the glove compartment as if that is what he was drifting his eyes toward. He was checking on his gloves, not thinking about… Dang it, he's gunna just have to talk about other things until he naturally forgets about this.

To Elena, Gene offers simply, "Nah, not really. Just some umpleasant times here and there. More annoyed at the traffic than anything else." To avoid the potential of the conversation going back to him, Gene glances over, his previous mental stumbling block behind him now. "Everyone okay after the incident? It seemed pretty serious from what I could gather from the stains." He nods back to his backseat which has a few bloodstains on the seat. Most of them are covered with a G.I. Joe knitted throw blanket though.

Thankfully, Ramon is the telepath, not Elena. Elena is completely and utterly oblivious about Gene's paranoid thoughts about her father. And….well, to be honest he's not the first person who's ever felt that when finding out Ramon was a telepath. She blinks, looking over at him as he explains that traffic is annoying him. "It's not so bad," she says with a hint of a smile. "Relax," she says. "It's just traffic." She knows there's something underlying - something she could sense, but she doesn't say anything. He clearly didn't want to discuss it, so she lets it slide. Besides, after everything, they didn't know each other very well.

Thankfully that changes just a bit at every encounter.

She nods. "Yeah, everything's okay. Mrs. Pe— Heidi. She was injured, but she's much better now. I felt so bad, hearing her cry when we brought her into your car." She leans back and closes her eyes. "And I couldn't do anything because I overloaded. Not only did it kill my sight, it also killed the use of my own powers. I couldn't even take her pain away like I could normally. It's never happened to me before, then again I never used it to try and drop an entire floor populated by men with guns, so…." She laughs. "All of us ached so much but, we pulled through. We're tough peoples."

She looks over at him. "Thanks for coming to get us. You didn't have to."

"I planned on being there sooner," Gene admits. "To be honest, it was stupid to go in like that. You all have amazing abilities it would seem, but still, going in without a plan and just having faith it will work out all right… It's a small miracle no one died. Hell, Eric was supposed to let the damn robot handle the hostiles, but he went up there anyway." While Gene's voice is calm, there is a bit of ice in it. He's pissed about Eric's actions, that's for sure. It's hypocritical for Gene to think that considering HE went against a friend's advice and behind their back to save them, but Gene was trying to reduce risk.

While his eyes stay on the road, Gene's eyes seem to be a little more distant for a short time. "I saw a bit of fighting in Iraq and other places while reviewing stuff for defense contracting. I'm sure a lot of good men that are dead thought they were gunna pull through." Suddenly, he realizes he's not looking toward other directions and snaps out of his pensive state. As he checks his side windows and rear mirror like a nice defensive driver, Gene continues on. " I'm not saying stay out of stuff like this, because I know it would likely be like asking Jaden to keep a low profile, but try and keep the risks to a low. If you need help, ask. I'd wave off offers of favors than see friends in the hospital or worse."

At the chastisement, as mild as it was, is enough to cause an embarassed flush over Elena's cheeks. She looks away, and she has the good grace to look sheepish. "…it….was pretty dumb," Elena says. "Thinking it over, it was. The Petrellis saved New York before - remind me to tell you the story sometime, but I was a novice. I had no business going into the building, but….I just….I didn't want them to go without backup. In retrospect I was probably more of a liability than anything. I just wasn't thinking. I suppose I can't help it….this isn't the first time it's happened." She laughs weakly. "Maybe I really am attracted to situations with bullets in them. Might be some overwhelmingly unconscious desire to un-sedate my life. It's been so routine. It's selfish but….save that and the desire to help, I don't really have any other excuses. I'm sorry."

She looks over at Gene then. "Were you….actually on site, then?" she asks. "In the Middle East? How old…were you?" she asks. Did she even want to know? Were they taking him to hotzones when he was very young? How long has he been at what he does? She had so many questions, but considering the look on his face as he said it, she didn't want to pry. She was nosy enough.

Great, make the woman feel bad, Gene. Why not go for the romantic one-two and call her an idealistic moron?

Sighing, Gene continues on driving. He's starting to get close toward Elena's house, despite the attempts fate has thrown in to try and foil him. "It's not stupid to help, Elena. I mean, if it was, the world would be a worse place. There are just better ways to do things. If Arnold was there before hand, he could have been your shield, a guiltless distraction… Could have given you all some equipment to ensure you all had an easier time. I dunno, maybe I'm just trumping up myself thinking how my help would have changed everything from the start," the genius says, his left wrist resting against the steering wheel, his right hand still holding the bottom of the Circle o' Power. "Besides, if anyone was to blame, it was Nathan. He's older than all of us and I thought a smart guy Shoulda known better. Either way, suppose as long as people learned how to avoid stuff like that, we can just move on."

At a four way intersection, the young man looks over toward Elena, studying her eyes for a second. His blue eyes dart about, studying for detail, as if trying to observe something with some tension. Whatever the reason or motivation, Gene actually ends talking about himself rather than starting. He answers her question only as he begins to turn. "No. I've been in the US my entire life. Part of the reason why I'm where I am is to keep me out of danger supposedly."

Well she needed that, really. Elena looks over at him and grins. "Oh I know. It's wonderful to help….if you do it intelligently. It makes all the difference. It's like….when you try to save someone from drowning. If you see yourself getting rammed by the waves into a rock, you use the unconscious person you're trying to save as a cushion….because even if you don't like it, if you get knocked out by the rock, you'll -both- be dead. I think the situation I was in was sort of the same thing on principle - if I came in just jumping with guns blazing, which I did, and something happened to me that was…permanent….then it didn't do anyone any favors. You're right. How we did it was dumb."

When he blames Nathan, she sighs. "Well, at the same time I couldn't blame Mr. Petrelli either. This was his wife. He probably wasn't thinking either. Hell, I think none of us were, which would've been -disastrous- if we didn't….have what we have. And even -with- what we have, it could've still have been disastrous. Besides, when it comes to Mr. Petrelli, I'm not so worried about him getting into a situation he can't handle - he's a politician. He's probably, normally, more calculating than that. It's Peter who's reckless." And it was Peter who was invincible, so he could -afford- to be reckless. Most of the time.

She looks over at him and furrows her brows. "Why do you think you're in danger?" she asks. "Has something happened to you before?"

"It's nice to be known for your heart." It's a simple statement Gene makes, yet distinctly different from most of his comments. He doesn't go into it much though, figuring he can just get more from Peter and Nathan by talking to them. He needs to talk older Petrilli anyway. He has no idea what he'll say, but he knows it needs to be done. Peter seems rather close to Elena, so he figures he'll be seeing him sooner or later.

Elena's questions just get a heh. He wants to answer them, it would seem, but finding the words to say doesn't come easy. After all, the wounds are still bleeding for the young man, even after ten years. "Don't go around telling people about this, it's awkward, but… My mother died in a trailer fire when I was a baby. Almost killed me too." There is a long pause. Gene pulls up to the proper drop off point, though his eyes are still forward, even after putting the car into park. "The police believed my father to have done it. I believe them, so does my grandfather." Pulling his left hand so it rests on the wheel, he stares at it, anything to avoid looking at Elena's face. "He was put into prison for other stuff, but he'll get out eventually. It'll be interesting if he tries to find me. Combine that along with being as smart as I am, and you have a kid willing to sacrifice a bit to make sure he's hard to find." With that, he gives a firm twist to turn the car off, leaving the mass of key chains and keys to dangle about in the silence that may follow.

"It is," Elena says simply, watching his profile for a few moments. When the Camaro slows down in front of Elena's building, she leans back against the seat, and looks around the perimeter to make sure Manny's car was there. It wasn't. She can't help but expel a breath. Hopefully he's not off getting in trouble somewhere. Because then she'd have to play the big sister card, and that -always- gets her into trouble whenever Manny is concerned.

When Gene works up the nerve to explain himself, and does, she is silent, watching him as he keeps talking. Her eyes widen a bit when he mentions the trailer fire, about how his father could've done it - and the grandfather. After everything perhaps it's a good reason why he's been in hiding, in case the father returns to try and enforce his parental rights. She narrows her eyes. "Even if he does, you're….what? 20? At least 18. He has no legal hold over you," she says grimly. Though if it's killing him that he wants…. her expression is tight, her jaw set. The expression held both determination and …sympathy? She looks away. "Mama was killed, too," she tells Gene. "…it's….not exactly the most cheerful way to bond but….if anything believe me when I say I understand. Your is worse in a way….parents should love their children. And their spouses. Not like…"

Gene is honestly surprised when Elena tells him that they have something in common. Not exactly the sort of thing he was hoping or would ever wish for. "I'd tell you I'm sorry about your loss, but well, figure you know how empty that is too. The pity people give you, acting like their guilt is supposed to make you feel better. It's why I just don't trouble people with it. Makes it easier all around. Looks like I chose someone that understands this time though. Glad I did…" Gene offers a weak smile, gentle but with an emotion fatigue tied into it. "If he does try and find me, we'll resolve what we have one way or another. He's a felon due to some other crimes, so if he moves around, the police and I will likely know about it." There is no hate or malice in Gene's comment, just a young man stating the obvious. Gene doesn't look forward to the idea of shooting his own father, but considering what the dad did to him, it would serve him right.

"Don't mean to ask the question you've gotten two billion times but… They get the person responsible?" he asks.

"It's not exactly a happy thing to bond over, like I said," Elena says, looking over at Gene and smiling ruefully at him. "But….we deal with it in our own ways I suppose. I'm actually a little surprised you're not….you know. Angrier. You seem pretty well adjusted despite knowing that. I think…if that happened to me I'd be a little messed up in the head." She exhales a breath, and looks at her apartment building. She doesn't make a move to get out of the car yet though. Instead, she looks back at Gene.

The last expression causes a weird expression to fall over her face, and she shakes her head. "No," she says grimly. "We didn't know anything about who did it until recently. The guy who did it was….special too. He can enter your head through his voice and make you do things. Some sort of audible hypnosis. He picks women, devout women, women with families. Women with children. And he makes them kill themselves. It's this….from what Papa managed to dig out in one of the victims's voicemail, he somehow believes doing what he's doing is making him achieve immortality. I don't know -how-, but that's what his message said. He…needs to know your name. Before he can make you do things."

"I guess by saying the name, he triggers a neural pathway he can tap into somehow with his voice. Hijacking the recognition area of the brain or something…" the young man guesses, his analytical mind focused on the problem rather than the feelings. Of course, he understands that only after looking back toward Elena as he slumbs back in his seat. "I know you've heard this a ton, but if there is anything I can do, let me know. Unlike most people, I'd like to think I can offer a bit more help than most," Gene says with his best attempt to be supportive. Reflecting a little on Elena's comment on his well- adjustedness, he shrugs. "As for me being angry and sad… I guess I am. I dunno. I guess I just had a lot of time to get over it."

"Yeah, but I don't know that for sure. It's a possibility but it's not like I've had time to actually study the guy," Elena says, pursing her lips. "Either recognition or the node in the brain that controls susceptibility to suggestion. Whatever happens, he still needs to be let in. The other person has to open the door, so to speak." She looks over at him and she quirks a small smile. "I will, thanks a lot," she says simply. Since she's been hanging in his car for quite a while now, she unbuckles her seatbelt, and leans over to give Gene a hug. "Thanks for giving me a ride home, and everything else. I wasn't kidding, Gene. I owe you, and I owe you lots. So if there's anything, you call me too. Okay?" She pulls away and gives him a smile, and then unlocks the door and steps out of the car.

Gene recieves the hug and returns it this time, and suddenly, the debt Elena had is just about paid in full, regardless if she knows it or not. Giving a small smile, Gene nods, "Right. I'll let you know if I need something. I'll let you know when I'm done building the machine and it's ready for use. Should be another week or so, unless I get swamped with projects."

"Don't worry about it too much, Gene," Elena says, dragging her backpack and books out of the backseat and she beams at him. "I know you have a lot of work and all, that and…well I'd like to think you did some stuff that was fun too," she says simply. "I mean, you can't be working all the time, right? You need to breathe sometimes." She waves at him cheerfully. "I'll see you later. And if you want to hang out, just give me a call, okay?" She hitches up her backpack, and turns to head into her apartment building.

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