2007-03-16: A Jedi Like My Father Before Me

Starring:

Elena_icon.gif Ramon_icon.gif

Summary: Elena comes clean about the End of New York Redux to her father, who is not so happy hearing it. They both work on discovering the extent of his abilities. In the end, Elena finally finds out about the illegal gun, and Ramon makes a promise to his daughter regarding it.

Date It Happened: March 16, 2007

A Jedi Like My Father Before Me


The Gomez Apartment, Queens, New York City

She is typing away furiously in her laptop, waiting for her father to get home. At the very least she's had a couple of days now, considering there was a shootout on campus, and because of a few deaths and injuries, classes have been cancelled. Elena is still even in her PJs, examining the data on her screen after updating a few files she has in her rewritable mini-disc. Thanks to her father's help, it's been encrypted to high heaven. While her father didn't know much else, he was extremely good at what he did. RTS only hired the best, after all, given it was part of Lancaster Electronics.

There is a plate of breakfast next to her on the coffeetable in the living room, but Elena has barely touched it. She made it herself, and she ate heartily most days - she was those sorts of girls who refused to give up carbs or cheeseburgers if she wanted them. The fact that she's barely touched her food meant that she was busy. So busy she hasn't stopped but to eat only a few mouthfuls.

Ramon comes home and slings his jacket onto the hook on the back of the closet door. "I'm home," he announces — unnecessarily, as the security system is set to "chime" and there's a tell tale 'beep beep' every time a door is opened or closed whether the the thing is set or not. He comes over and ruffles through Elena's hair like she's about six. "What are you up to, chiquita?"

She looks up at her father and smiles. "Just working on your 'character sheet'," Elena teases, getting up on her feet, encased in her donkey fuzzy slippers, to give Ramon a hug as he walks in. "I was trying to figure out the best way I could test you. I'm relieved you haven't collapsed but I think using what I learned in the past few weeks maybe I could come up with a way to….get you to develop some way to shut other people out of your head. I mean, that would be helpful, right?" she asks, looking over at him. "I just don't want you to collapse again." She pauses. ~Plus I want you to be prepared in case things get so bad and we need to get out of the city…~ is the inadvertent thought surfacing from her mind.

Ramon sits down across from her. "Great. I can't wait to take out those level twelve orcas." He probably means orcs. He rests his elbows on his knees and leans forward. "I don't always hear everyone anymore," he admits. "I'm learning to not pry unless someone thinks loud." His eyes grow dark and thin. "Speaking of which. Why would things get so bad that we need to get out of New York?"

"I know, you've been good," Elena says, pushing her laptop away and taking a mouthful of cold omelette, wrinkling her nose and pushing the plate away from her. She clears the table so she could look straight at her father. She links her fingers together and she glances down on it. "I'm just mostly concerned with what would happen if you're stuck in a room with people who think out loud. It happens plenty," she tells her father. Also in case there's a mass pandemic sweeping the city and everyone's screaming inside their heads? No way. She can't take that risk. She may be helping to fight the future painted on a canvas somewhere, but she's not discounting the possibility that all of them could fail.

"Papa…" she says softly. "If I tell you something that's a little out there, you'll believe me, right?"

"Out there? More out there than us?" Ramon laces his fingers behind his head and sits back, the picture of a calm father who's not going to freak out at anything his daughter tells him. He also gets very still. He's anticipating hearing something he's not going to like. "Lets hear it, chiquita."

His daughter takes a deep breath, and looks out the window. "Remember the night I called you from the police station? When I saved a man from getting shot?" Elena prompts, her eyes still on her hands. "That was only the beginning."

And then, she tells him. About meeting others like herself. About being called to Jack's apartment and meeting a Japanese time-traveler who said that New York was in danger of a tornado and a viral outbreak. She tells him about Peter Petrelli, and how he almost blew up New York a few months ago, but thanks to a group of heroes including himself, they would still be alive. She tells him about Isaac Mendez, who died trying to stop the disaster by painting the future, but he was killed by Gabriel "Sylar" Gray….but he left his other paintings behind, of events that have yet to come true. She finally tells him of Sylar, the serial killer, who somehow harvests the abilities of other people just like herself and her father, who had just recently escaped police custody and is on the move once again. Lastly, she tells him of the Company, and the virus they're developing as a 'cure' for their abilities and her doubts as to how it could do it in a stable manner.

"It's like gene therapy," she says to the last. "We've had breakthroughs on it now, but it's still largely unstable. There are cases of those with terminal diseases who go through gene therapy and die from the complications."

Behind Ramon's head, his hands tighten until his knuckles go white. He's still got his jacket on, and beneath it, Elena might see a hint of a bulge that's never been there before. He goes very still again, then lets out his breath, pushes forward, puts his elbows back on his knees. He scratches at his beard seconds later. "Do you have any other good news?"

She could see it - but she doesn't know about the guns so thinks it's just something he needs for work. Elena looks up at her father, and exhales softly. "Well….I think I aced my midterms?" she offers with a cheerful smile. Despite everything else, it looks like she could still keep up with school. She glances down however and shakes her head. "Anyway, that's part of the reason why I want….you know. To do this. In case things really go south, and if we need to leave. And if something else happens. I also….I think I'm close to figuring out what I can do myself, but it's been difficult since I need a live subject to test myself and….the effects tend not to be pretty so I'm holding off and concentrating on you and Eric."

Ramon runs his hand all along his chin. "You're getting awful involved with these people. I'm concerned they're going to bring you into trouble that you're not ready for. Just because we have these things, these powers, that doesn't make us invincible. Knives still pierce us, guns still take us…" He pauses in his lecture. "And the best way to protect you and the rest of the family is to maximize what I do have. Lets go ahead with your tests. Who knows, maybe we'll be in the right place at the right time to help with something. Though who can stop a tornado when its an act of G…" he pauses. "Its not an act of God though, is it? It could be one of us with a weather ability."

"I know, Papa," Elena says quietly. "But….if New York's about to get destroyed, I kind of have to stick around so I get to know more about it. The more we know…" The faster they know whether to stay or bail. "I've been careful so far, Papa. I haven't had any trouble since …that day in the lakehouse where He found us." She speaks of the Haitian. But she knows that might not last, so she's doing her best to lay low. The campus shooting was bound to put attention on NYU, so she's decided to linger around the apartment and not on campus to study. "And I don't know. The virus definitely isn't an act of God, but the tornado…" She glances at her Google. "I've been under the impression that New York doesn't have the climate to support a Tornado, but I was wrong. There -was- a tornado that hit New York before, summer of last year. There was also one that hit New York in 2003. But it didn't last very long - it was enough to take out a store and a couple of buildings, but it died afterwards. The climate just can't support the damage the paintings are implying. It's going to need help, I think." A pretty big one.

She nods and she turns to her computer once more. "Okay….when you're actively trying to read someone's mind, how do you do it? Do you open a door inside your head? Visualize anything?"

Ramon stares at her. "Visualize? No. I just…pay attention to them. Focus on them. Start listening. Its like when I'm working, I can shut everything else out, but if I start to hear the kids get crazy I tune back in to figure out what's going on. Just a matter of directing my attention or failing to direct it, unless it gets too loud not to pay attention to." Ramon Gomez is not a man who has 'visualization' and 'doors' in his vocabulary.

She nods, and types something in her laptop, Elena rubbing her chin just a bit as she thinks. His triggers are definitely much different from Eric's and herself. Her father's was more straightforward - pay attention to the subject and 'listen' in. And then, his description strikes her as plausible: if her father can tune things out from his ears, and bring them back up if the noise becomes unbearable, he might be able to mentally 'ignore' other presences. That could be the basis of some kind of mental wall he could use to keep people out.

And perhaps other telepaths out, should he become good enough.

"Papa before I do anything, I need to run a quick test." She digs into her backpack and pulls out a pair of earplugs. "Put these in your ears…and then I want you to 'hear' what I'm thinking." She wants to see if her father can still read other people's minds while his ears are still blocked, see if his powers are dependent on a subconscious comfort that his ears are open.
And when he puts them on, she takes a deep breath and brings her thoughts to the fore. ~I miss the other kids, do you think it's safe to visit Grandma at some point next week…?~

Ramon takes the earplugs. Something about them strikes him as terribly funny. He flashes her a grin and lets out a soft breath of a chuckle. He puts them in and focuses on her. He nods his head — if it weren't for things being so unpredictable he'd have probably brought them home already. "At Mamacita's, yes. Not here."

"Okay," Elena says with a smile. But she doesn't take them out of her father's ears. She'll let him keep them on. She can just -think- her instructions to him. It's good practice. She types a few things on her laptop before she continues. ~Now we'll try and push you down a level, Papa. I know you can pick up surface thoughts…but considering how 'sensitive' you are when a lot of people are in the same room as you, I don't think that's your full potential. I want you to go down another level. Deeper. See what's in my thoughts that I'm not actively thinking about right now, but are there lurking under the surface.~

A look of discomfort passes over his face. That seems a little invasive. But surface thoughts are just one kind of noise, he realizes. The easiest one to hear. So he focuses hard, attempting to focus past the obvious noise and off into what's behind the noise, like trying to hear someone else's conversation in a very crowded room. His eyes narrow while he attempts it.

His daughter remains on the other side of the coffeehouse, patient and watching her father. To add to the challenge of the test, Elena sings a little bit in her head. ~No pido que todos los das sean de sol/No pido que todos los viernes sean de fiesta/Tampoco te pido qu vuelvas rogando perdn….~ It's an old Shakira song, but she knows the lyrics by heart, so she 'sings' it inside her head to add a sudden roadblock to her father's efforts into reaching her deeper into her unconscious.

At first all he hears is the little ditty. Then he grouses, "I'm hearing I need to install motion detectors on our fire escape." He raises an eyebrow at her, but its half a smirk. Eric has passed his approval rating already, but he can't help but keep up the overprotective thing at least in words.

Oh Jesus! Elena looks up at him, and then her face fires up bright red. She groans and hides her face, mortified and embarassed. She was doing her best ALL day not to think about that, but her father still managed to reach it. ~He just…I mean, he wasn't planning on— I mean, I don't think—!~ she stammers, before she turns her face into one of the couch pillows. Oh god. Oh god. Just how many times will she have to be embarassed this week?! But she laughs, giving him a sheepish look. ~It's…not like we're seeing each other, Papa. It was just…I don't know. Random? He just did it.~

She pauses. And then she stands up from the other side of the coffeetable and moves around it so she could sit directly in front of her father. ~Okay. Another level. You can pick up the surface. Things under the surface. What about….~ She pauses. And she continues. ~Let's see if you can actually go into what's there in my unconscious. I keep remembering a certain memory I have of Mama…after school she took me to the park. I was seven. I begged Mama for ice cream all day but she always teased me only if I was good. Finally she bought me a cone…. but I don't remember what flavor it was. Not consciously. I want to see if you can pluck out that detail that I remembered at -some- point in my life, but can't remember now.~

"How the heck will we verify if I'm right?" Ramon wants to know, simply waving all her embarrassment away. "Don't worry about it. I like Eric. After Kellie — its like I said. Date. Have a life. Just be careful about it." He takes a deeper breath still and tries to find this thing in the unconscious. This ice cream cone flavor. Listening for it, somewhere in there. "How do we even know its still in there?"

~Thanks, Papa,~ This is said after a pause. ~In truth though, I don't really know much about him. I mean….we just kind of got thrown in together. I'm having a hard time parsing out if I like him because he's there, or because….augh. Nevermind. Let's do this.~

Elena looks over at him and she smiles. ~Well I figured the brain is like a computer. Like you told me before, even if you delete something, it's never really truly gone - you have to dig in deep in the code to see the trace and if you find it you can bring it up again. Not to mention when other people have been hypnotized by a professional before, they can call up things they don't really remember, but have happened to them. I'm trying to see if those concepts are true. And if you bring it to the conscious mind of the other person, the other person typically either remembers or doesn't. But you're the mindreader, Papa. You've proven it. I think anything you pluck out of my head, I can trust you with its veracity.~

And so she lets him do his work, watching him and observing what she could see.

For a moment Ramon's breath catches and he really can't answer or say anything. He imagines he can smell his wife's perfume, and what he wants to do is dive into his daughter's memories and just try to watch them, feel them, smell them, follow them around like he's a lost puppy. It's with an effort, a real effort, that he tears himself away long enough to mutter, "I don't know the flavor. It was some sort of green with black specks. Mint probably. Mint chocolate chip."

"….." Elena's favorite flavor is rocky road, so the fact that Ramon plucks out something that -would've- caught her curious attention as a child makes her believe him. And so she thinks back, trying to remember….and she smiles faintly. ~Yeah…I think….yeah. It was summer, there were children playing in the park. And there were balloons. There was a balloon man, but I didn't want balloons. I wanted ice cream.~ She turns to her laptop and types more into her laptop. ~You can go pretty deep, Papa….you can even pluck out bits that I haven't remembered in a really long time…~

She looks over at him and his expression. Part of her heart aches to watch him access a memory of Catalina inside her head. It kills her to see him this lonely, or how much he missed her. ~Papa….you don't have to talk about it but….was it difficult? Did you discover anything new?~ She needs to get his impressions.

Stoicism settles into the deep lines of his face. Now he looks carved from stone. "Difficult to do? A bit. Sort of like…straining your eyes really hard to see something over the horizon." He scritches at his beard slowly. "You already told me you were at a park. I thought I could see images of her but — I'd want to." He clears his throat.

Her laptop typing stops, and Elena looks at him, her eyes somewhat wide with surprise. ~You… -saw- … Mama?~ she asks in her head, startled. Part of her looks incredibly surprised, and part of her looks….well. Awed. Her father was AWESOME! ~But you said you thought…I mean….you're not sure?~ She is looking at her father intently now, for the moment the purpose of helping him build a wall is shattered for the moment in lieu of basking in this new discovery.

"No I'm not sure," Ramon says. "You brought her up. Its just as likely I was remembering her while I tuned in to your memory. Its not like I don't have her face memorized." His voice grows deeper and more gravelly as he speaks. "Every smile. I wouldn't call that conclusive. I've heard it all before. On the surface it still sounds just like you're over there talking to me."

~Ah…you're right, of course~ Elena says, glancing down at the laptop keyboard she has dragged towards her and furrowing her brows. Perhaps she shouldn't have used that memory. She'll need to select something more impersonal. Or rather, something that had nothing to do with her mother or her father. Still, she types up that impression. It might be helpful to know that his thoughts can affect his perception even while he's inside someone's mind. There was that breakthrough, however. It was difficult for him to reach deep into her head like that but perhaps in time… She nods, and looks up. ~Alright.~ She reviews her impressions, and then turns to face her father again. ~Now going back to what you were saying earlier. You said you can tune other people out if you have to. I think I'm going to use that as a basis in helping you. I'm going to think at you. Random things. Anything I can think of. And then I want you to try and tune me out like you do when you have to work. Ready?~

Ramon nods his head and makes a face like he's steeling himself. He sort of does what he'd do to tune the kids out. Focuses on a bunch of computer stuff. "You might test your 'volume' out too," he says. And then he gives her the high sign. Ready to go.

~I will~ Elena says, turning around so Father and Daughter are face to face on the carpet, an equally determined look on her face as she looks at him. And then, she gives it everything she's got. Her jaw sets, and her dark eyes narrow. This is where the family resemblance is much more obvious. Part of her hates doing this to her father, but it was necessary. And so she uses her own willpower to slam her thoughts back over and over at him. Jumbled things. Confusing things. Her growing attachment to Eric, her frustration with Drake, her anger towards her mother's killer, and fear about the end of New York as they knew it. She throws in other stuff, like how worried she is about Jane and everyone else in the Pack, how angry she is that a shootout happened on campus. And then, she jacks up the volume of her thoughts, loud, screaming pandemonium of a mess of a teenager's woes.

At first he just sits there, focusing on her eyes but keeping nothing but C++ in his head. The more emotion that is in there though, the harder it gets. He starts to become aware, just as though the kids were starting to bicker. He grits his teeth and pushes /back/ a little bit, just gently. Quiet down, kids, Papa's working. Then his eyes start to grow tighter still. By the time she's screaming he ends up hissing and drawing back. He gets nothing specific…snatches of words that make no sense…but the /vehemence/, the sheer /vehemence/…he doesn't get much, he gets hardly anything, but he gets something.

At her father's hiss, Elena draws back and shuts down her thoughts. She looks at her father. But he's….still standing. He's not even bleeding from the nose or anything at how hard he was concentrating. Whenever Drake uses his powers and concentrates as hard, his nose always bled. She knew because she was there to take care of him. But her father? It might take something something extremely difficult for him to do so. ~Papa…?~ she ventures hesitantly. ~Are you okay? Does anything hurt? Does your head hurt? How are you feeling?~ She asks these questions slowly, gently.

"I feel a little queasy," Ramon rumbles. "But not like before when I fainted. Of course that was lots and lots of people, all upset. But I think had you kept it up…" He puts a hand to his head. "I didn't enjoy the sensation as it got more intense. I felt like if it kept up the results would be pretty unpleasant." He notes, "I was also concentrating on doing it this time. Usually when I get overloaded it takes me by surprise."

It was time to stop, now that her father has confessed that he was queasy. Elena moves toward him, reaching out gently to take the hot-pink earplugs from his ears and sets them aside on the table. She speaks now, nodding to her father. "I know, I have that in my notes," she tells her father softly. "In a controlled environment things can be easier, but there's a lot of unpredictable factors out there. But I think though that if we practiced hard enough, you can be able to do what you just did in a split second, like instinct." That was her aim from the beginning, really. "At least it looks like when you do so, you don't bleed out or anything. I know whenever Drake concentrates really hard, he gets a really bad headache, and his nose bleeds. You…you just feel queasy, and you're not bleeding at all. It might have something to do with your age, and your control. I mean even when I was telling you to do stuff you've never done before, you managed to do them. When did you discover you could do this, Papa?"

Ramon thinks about it. "I think I was doing it a bit before I realized it," he rumbles at last. "I didn't realize it till I went to jury duty. I heard all this stuff the DA was saying but his mouth wasn't moving. Then I started responding, and checking, and watched his reaction. I poked at him, repeating things I'd thought he'd thought. He got pissed off. Really pissed off. And then I knew." His mouth keeps going sour at the mention of the DA.

"Yeah? How old were you?" Elena asks, dragging her laptop with her as she continues typing. She's in 'work mode' now, managing to push her prone-to-worry persona aside in favor of just figuring out the best possible way to get her father's defenses up as fast and as safely as possible. Her brain is running a mile a minute, glancing over at him now and then as she types. She has to get his vitals later as well, see how the strain affects him physically, but that can be done after she finishes typing all of this. "If you could remember….when you first….you know?"

"The DA thing was just a month or so ago when I got jury duty," Ramon says gruffly. "I don't know. I think…I had a few moments where I'd think someone said something and would answer it and they'd look at me funny shortly after Catalina was killed. But I can't be sure. I just dismissed it."

"Around three years ago…" Elena murmurs, furrowing her brows. And then she nods, turning away from her laptop then so she can take out the apartment's medical kit, pulling out the stethoscope and the blood-pressure apparatus. She also takes out a penlight and a thermometer. "Okay Papa, I'm going to take your vitals, see how much this affects you physically." Especially the last part where he was straining the hardest. She'll have to take those readings before the effects fade off, and she'll have to do this quickly. She'll go for the heart rate and the blood pressure first, before tackling his temperature and his eyes. While she didn't have a brainwave monitor, she knew from her classes that one could determine the extent of brain or mental trauma by examining the eyes.

Ramon watches while she attaches the blood pressure cuff and says, "If you ask me to run on a treadmill you're fresh outta luck, chiquita." He watches her squeeze the thing and says, "Am I going to give myself a heart attack reading minds like the fabulous Mr. Wonderful?" Though now…as she goes in with the stethescope, she might spot the gun.

Her eyes grow -round- at what she sees on the blood pressure gauge. She can't help but be concerned. Doing the last exercise had brought upon a tremenduous spike and given her father used to swim, she knew her father's blood pressure was excellent most days. "….if we don't figure out how to get you to do this faster and easier, yes," Elena tells him. "At least concentrating as hard as you do might send you into a cardiac arrest if you're not careful." She looks at him worrisomely, but also in a determined fashion. "Your heart rate is up too…but it's not so bad. It's your blood pressure I'm worried about." She checks the thermometer after she's done with it. "Your temp increased too, but not by much. That's normal if you're pushing your brain as you were."

She looks at him when she pulls away, and she focuses, willing her father to calm down. Something to help with the spike in blood pressure, will be felt washing over him. It feels warm, and soothing.

Ramon closes his eyes. "You did this before on that damnable ferry," he murmurs, as he starts bringing him down to something a little more normal. He lets out a breath. Some of the bleaching from that event has still settled into his hair. It hasn't grown out. His skin has mostly returned to normal, however.

"Yeah…." Elena says softly. "I can do it without touching anybody. I can do lots of things…I can take pain away, calm people down, wake them up when they're unconscious. I can make them so drowsy they drop. I can also…" She glances away to the side. "But it's not like yours. From what it looks like to me, you're always open. Me, when it comes to my abilities, I'm locked up tight. My abilities don't lash out, even on instinct or in high levels of stress like with what happened in the park. I have to will the effect I want to happen so it comes out. I think really it has a lot to do with you. These things aren't just genetic, it's hereditary. It's like I have a wall that's built in. I don't know how, but if I can find out how, I can use that to help you develop you—what IS that?"

Her eyes are round, pointing at the grip of the gun jutting out of his pocket. "Papa, what IS THAT?"

Ramon edges his jacket back over the gun and gets a look on his face that is vaguely guilty. "That would be a gun. In case psychos from the Company try to snatch you or…in case we happen to run into Catalina's murderer." Just…happen to run into. He's not a very good liar. That's because he's so honest. Even now he's basically telling the truth, without really telling the truth.

She stares at her father, Elena's dark eyes wide as he claims that he brought the gun into their house for their own protection. Her heart leaps into her throat. She knows, could tell, that it's not all. There's something else down there. Her father won't lie, he hardly ever lied - just didn't tell things that didn't need to be told. Part of her, however, understood. She knew. And she's looking at him with an expression that tells him that she knows. "Papa…" she croaks hoarsely. "You…."

She shakes her head and she sighs. She rubs the back of her neck. "Do you….know how to use it?" she asks him. "Because…if not….did you register for this? I mean, WHERE did you get this??"

"Its not too hard I don't think. You point the business end at the other person and shoot," Ramon says. "They're so dangerous because any idiot can use them. As for where, well I bought it. How else would I get one?" No, hell no its not registered. Because he doesn't hasten to assure her that it is registered.

She groans. While her father is right… "Papa," Elena says. "I don't want to doubt you over anything but if you're going to keep one in the apartment will you…at least….learn how to use it properly?" Because that would probably make a difference, and she wants to be able to sleep at night. She can do without gunts for a while, she won't lie. But she can respect her father's decision to have something in the house for protection. After all, she was a big fan of preparedness, right?

"Sure, I think there's a range down on 20th street," Ramon rumbles. "It makes good sense. Though I wasn't sure I wanted to draw attention to — well." He reaches over to ruffle her hair again. "Don't you worry about a thing." He zips up his jacket as if to shield her from the thing.

"I'm your daughter," Elena grumbles. "Who knows my father has an unregistered firearm and that New York might be on its way to Dodo Land. Of course I worry." She looks over at him, and then, she can't help but smile. It looks a little exasperated, but… she stands up, and walks over to Ramon so she could hug him, and kiss him on the cheek. "I'll go make your dinner," she tells him, and moves to the kitchen to fix something up. "Rice and beef okay?"

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