2009-09-21: A Year Later

Date: September 21st, 2009


A year after the various of events of 2008, life goes on. For some, that means a life much different from the one they knew before, for better or worse.

"A Year Later"


Jamie lies on a table in a non-descript room, filled with rows of other such tables. Like everybody else, she's strapped down and has an IV in her arm and a tube up her nose. Barely conscious, she stares at one of the doors to the room, waiting to see who comes through next.


Cass, visibly healthier, wanders about Enlightenment Books in the morning sunlight. The walls have been repainted and there are considerably more books to rearrange on shelves. A sign in the window reads: Grand Reopening. The store itself is bigger, having expanded into the building next door.


The sign on the window glows in the morning sun: THE TRENTON DINER. A constant stream of cars go by. Lee sits on the right, Nima sits on the left. Nima says: "God, it's just awful when stories skip ahead, you can't tell what really happened."

Lee replies, "Only in the twerpy nonsense you waste your time on. Real characters that are solid, you know who they are, you don't have to read through every day of their lives."

Nima retorts: "Aren't you the one that's always criticizing unchanging characters that never learn anything?"

The waitress approaches. Lee has a ham omelette, Nima has bacon and eggs. Lee smirks, but admits: "It is kind of unnatural that the only time a character changes is when the narrative focuses on them."

Nima says: "Comics even get that right."

Lee says, "Do you ever get a feeling of deja vu, like we've had this conversation somewhere before?"

Nima levels a gaze at him: "No, big brother, every moment of every conversation with you is a scintillating new and unique diamond I will treasure forever." And Lee punches her in the shoulder. The cars keep going by.


An office that overlooks the city of New York has its lights on. Cars and people cannot be heard from as high up as the building is. A young woman crosses her heels and looks out towards the city.

A cat meows and rubs against her feet. "It's ok Tiger.. I miss them too." She says softly. Kitty looks down towards the picture she is holding, of her and her parents. Tears well up in her eyes as they turn a milk white and she hears the fire in her mind.


Kory sits with her laptop open in front of her at a swank restaurant. A candle centerpiece and a glass of white wine are before her. But she's currently staring out the window. Reflected in the window behind her is an ad for Grey Watch Repairs. She catches sight of the reflection and smiles faintly, before turning to look at the laptop again. The banking page is glanced at quickly and closed, before she opens the email from a prestigious advertising agency. There are a number of products from the mundane to the ridiculous listed. She sighs faintly, and checks the email again, hopefully. Then she pulls up the page for the Secret Lair. She closes it again, with a sadly resigned expression, and reaches for her wineglass.


"CUT!" The director's voice is always loud. Today is no different than the days before.

Taine reaches up and scratches at his make up, a force of habit. "Why do I always have to get turned into something? First a werewolf, then a vampire— now I'm some kind of lizard person. I'm going to have a talk with the bloody writers this time, I mean it." All this is said while he walks toward his dressing room, intending to strip off the heavy make up as soon as possible. Though that means he'll have to put it on again first thing in the morning. Sometimes he really hates this show.

Inside the dressing room, there's a stack of fanletters. A whole stack from the same person.


Joule is on stage in London, arms working at almost blurring speed as she works the audience and her band to exhaustion with a cover of Janet Jackson's "Black Cat". Her hair, lank with sweat, flies in every direction. A young man is brought on stage — winner of some radio contest — and she turns to dance with him. Well aware of the bouncers in the wings, he minds his manners, but Joule doesn't mind hers. It's all part of the act. It's all pretty much conditioned reflex to her now. In another hour, the show will be over, encores and all, and she'll be able to sink into a tub and then go to sleep. She'll get offered the usual recreational pharmaceuticals, and tonight she ponders indulging, because she misses her father. And she misses another man in her life her well-meaning assistants informed her had called. The next song, resultingly, is a "Trying to forget you" breakup song. The audience goes wild.


Gliding in from the cover of clouds West hovered just outside his own window. No car in the drive way, no one in his room, maybe he was safe. Well… for the time being. West pushed his window open before flying on in and making a gentle landing. "How did she know?! I mean I know. but who would have believed her?!!" The young man began shouting while he packed his bags. Running down the stairs he would grab a few nick knacks and make it yourself meals to throw into his backpack. Heading out the back door West lifted back into the air before heading east using the cover of clouds. He didn't know where he was going but one thing was for sure, he had to keep moving if he wanted to live.


By the time she's finished, it's dawn and she's struggling to hold onto coherence. The final stitch is laid and Cybil cuts the thread, dropping the bloodied needle into the tray. Gauze is unraveled and taped in place; she's nothing if not brutally efficient at this bandaging thing by now. They cut her good, they did; be a good week or two before she can get back into the fray. It was her stupid fault, but it could be worse; she could be the other guys: dead. She's not entirely stupid: she dug the bullets out of them, took their knives, and compromised any blood evidence she might have left with some caustic detergent and a quick scrubbing. Later, she'll have to get rid of the bullets and knives. For now … her couch calls.


Stupid economy. Kimi hasn't had a lot of her favourite type of work these days. So she's got a job waitressing at her mother's restaurant. Being cheerful and cute to sararimen and slumming yuppies is not her idea of a good time … particularly since her mother won't allow her to flip any of the diners who get inappropriately friendly. But the contacts she makes — some of them work out okay. She is a quick typist and learns a lot of information from some of the customers she encounters. It's not all bad, she reminds herself, pasting on her sweet vapid smile and calling "Nihao!" in her chirpiest voice.


Cam steps off the bus onto the New York sidewalk, looking around, and across to Brubaker school. Covered in tattered and dirty clothes, the boy doesn't exactly fit in with the local crowd of teens, but he doesn't head for the school. Subtly slipping an iPhone out of the pocket of one of the kids he passes, he makes his way up the street. Around the corner, he stops, tapping the iPhone's controls to access an online phone book. Someone he knows has to still be in New York.


Marie's up before dawn, as always. Coffee brews while she readies herself, a few case files spread out on her bed to review during her morning ritual of preparation. Soon enough, she finds herself contemplating her plans for the day while drinking the first of many cups of coffee she'll have for the day. Six patients lined up and she might be lucky to have a lunch break. A new self-defense class at the gym. A side-project that James wanted her to work on. Then there's the book she started six months ago. And, to cap it all, dinner with her parents, in which she has to explain, yet again, why she hasn't married or had kids by now. She sighs. It's going to be a long day.


Hunter would rub his head forcing himself to continue walking down the busy New York street. He was angry, why? And that sadness where did it come from? And excitement? That doesn't mix. As the teenager continued his walk his head began to ache. Popping a Tylenol the boy stuffed the empty medicine bottle back into his pocket and began fighting though his emotions again today. Finally coming to his destination the boy unlocked the door to his dorm room and plopped down on his bed. Ah, finally, he felt content. "I'll never get used to the anxiety of being around so many people every day." Hunter idly stated while looking around his new home.


A woman sits cross-legged on the floor of a room. Wearing blue clothing, her hair loose and falling well past her shoulders. Her eyes are closed tight and she lifts a hand, as she does. A pencil lifts as well and then a piece of paper and then another object. This happens until all the loose objects in the room are spinning around her, wind from the speed of the objects making her hair move.

Hazel colored eyes snap open at the sound of a scream and bang. After a brief pause, the objects resume their spinning and twirling. Just another normal day. Dextris thinks to herself. The words Level 5 can be read on the wall outside of her room.


"Checking on the detainees again?"

Dark hair, nice suit, well-groomed, Peter glances down the hallway toward the voice. "Yeah. I used to be one of them, you know," he says with a shrug, before glancing back through the glass at one of the prisoners of Level Five. The truly dangerous. Including one that killed him twice in the same night. "I'm not staying long," he assures, as his hand touches the glass, catching sight of his transparent reflection.


Rays of sunlight filter through half-turned blinds, hinting at the day to come, and spreading playfully along marble countertops. This kitchen is pristine, delicate woodwork off-setting thick cream slabs like it just fell out of a magazine spread. Petite bare feet race across the floor panels, making not a sound on this eager dash for the tall white refrigerator door. She swings it out, her face disappearing inside shelves stuffed with all kinds of exotic fruits and diet drinks before she comes back out with a container of pulp-free orange juice. Unabashedly, she tips her head back and gulps some down straight from the source. The orange juice is soon abandoned, though, left to be the only thing out of place in the room. Little does she care! It's now tip-toe towards the— Click. Silence. A blonde head tilts expectantly. The front door begins to wiggle. "No one enjoys their vacations anymore," Daphne muses disappointedly, right before zipping into the study to grab a sleek bronze statue and her shoes before going out the window she came in.


"We're following up some leads— as soon as we find anything, we'll let you know right away." In response, shouted curses; threats of lawsuits, of a lead story on the WNBC evening news; then the line goes dead.

Yesterday, Matt was equally annoyed with this case. No suspects in custody, no eyewitnesses with any useful memories, and of course staring at the case files just gave him a headache. Today, he barely pays it any mind— the mystery thief will just have to wait, he's got a more personal issue to deal with. He pauses a moment to catch his breath, then double-checks the departure schedule. Flight 550 (MAA) - 12:30 pm - On time


"There, that should do it," says the doctor. Elisabetha sits still as he moves away, waiting for him to close up the machinery that composes her right arm. Her eyes are wet with tears from the pain of having a mechanical arm clamping onto the nerve endings in what was once a stump, instead of a right arm. A lot of surgery, and a lot of physical therapy, and a lot of mechanical adjustments had gone into gifting Elisabetha with this experimental prosthetic. It still isn't perfect. It has no sense of touch, for instance, as most people would understand it. Oh, sure, she can tell when she is touching something, and manipulate it a bit clumsily, but she can not feel hot, or cold, or soft, or firm, or anything else with this right arm. Still, it is better than nothing. As the lady doctor pulls the 'skin' cover over the otherwise exposed machinery, like a sleeve, Elisabetha brushes her shortish blonde hair behind her ear. "Thank you for the check up, Doctor Sing," Elisabetha says politely.

Doctor Sing glances at Elisabetha and tsks as she finishes with the skin sleeve. "I've told you before, please call me Cho." Elisabetha grins, wiping the tears from her red-irised eyes and says, "As you say, Doctor Sing." Cho Sing sighs and shakes her head with a smile. "I just wish this didn't have to hurt you so much." Elisabetha shrugs as her prosthetic arm is unhooked from where it was suspended in a sling, allowing her to move it around. She tests the appendage, and finds it to her liking. "It's alright. What is life without pain? I'll just have to make up for the suffering with some pleasure." She slips back into her blouse, collects her things, and says goodbye to her doctor. Stepping outside the hospital a little while later, the chilly morning air flows into her face, drying what remains of her tears. In the back of her head, a voice whispers about numbness being the only real way to prevent pain, but she ignores it, as she has for a year now. Thanatos has no hold on her anymore. Elisabetha is her own woman, and right now it's time to meet Emily for breakfast.


Just a couple of years ago, if you asked Church what he would be doing today in two-thousand-and-nine, he would probably not say what he is actually going to do. That is how much things have rattled out of place and how much they've been re-sorted afterward. Before he opens the door, Lawrence cranes his neck back to examine the sign posted above the restaurant. Never a place he would likely come all on his lonesome. Thankfully, he is not all by himself; Church has a bare four words with the hostess at the front, walking forward into the restaurant proper to visually investigate faces. A smile pops into place on his lips, and with a shrug of his shoulders his blazer comes off, to be perched on the hanger beside the booth where he has found himself.

"You like to make things painful for me, don't you? Knowing I can't stuff my mug here." He taps the edge of his temple and sits down onto the plush seat, leaning back as he does so.


If someone asked Angela what she'd be doing in 2009, it's possible she'd have an answer for them; the year past has been one of planning, of re-evaluating, of reorganizing. One son is still lost, the other more close at hand, and with the Company taking on its new direction… the image of Angela sitting in this booth, looking up at Church with a faintly amused smirk skirting her lips, is not uncommon. "Variety is the spice of life," she says, handing Church a pair of wooden chopsticks. The woman is looking very slightly haggard, as though great and heavy things weigh on her mind, but overall, she appears strong, as usual. "You might be surprised. Try the eel. I'd consider it a personal accomplishment if I could broaden your horizons a little." On that note, her aging, pristinely painted lips take a downward turn. "There's something coming, Church. I get glimpses when I close my eyes. And despite all we've done, I'm not sure we're ready."

She knows he hates chopsticks. With a passion. But Lawrence accepts them regardless, resigning to plan some stabbings. While he gives holding them a good old attempt, he listens, looking up with a furrowed brow as Angela speaks. "There is always something coming, no matter what anyone does. I know that much- all we can do about any of it-" The chopsticks slip apart clumsily, adding a tone of absurdity to what he's trying very seriously to say. "-all we can do, is try our best to be ready when it comes. There's no way to be perfectly ready, no way to avoid some things. But we can do our damndest."

A polite young Japanese man approaches and sets down black serving dishes of sushi, neatly arranged in spaced geometric patterns. Both Church and Angela are given a dish; apparently, she already ordered for them. "The damndest is all the damned can do." She gives a smile that's as sardonic as it is soft — there's truth in the statement, but it's no revelation. As long time participants in the Company, and wielding these powers besides, their past has not always been pure. They're damned. "You're right, though." She plucks a swirl of what can only be seaweed from her plate, precise with the chopsticks. "Even after all the years, I just sometimes wish it were easier."


Novak Garbaldi steps off the plane. He is a changed man. Changed to the point that those who had seen him a year prior would not recognize him today. He is more bald than he used to be, and what hair he has has gone pale, including his moustache. His glasses are gone too. There is no need to wear glasses, and there hasn't been for a couple decades now. He looks much older than he should be. Dressed in a fine suit, he walks through the tunnel connecting his plane to the airport building, and glances at his eye-shaped wrist watch once he is not obstructing anyone's passage. The hands are shaped like half of a DNA helix, and show that it is presently 12:30. As the sun rises in the east, sending deep blue and purple night fleeing to be replaced by the fiery red and yellow of an awakening day, Novak sees that his watch is wrong. He uses the electronic clock in the airport to adjust to the correct time, and then he begins walking, with an attache case in hand. He has arrived in Washington D.C.


As water streams down the windows from the rain pelting down outside, Tracy Strauss sits on the edge of a white couch in front of a decorated, unused fireplace. She's not quite ready for the day ahead, but still, even partway dressed, her wardrobe is impeccable — pearls, charcoal pencil skirt, warm grey top, waiting for the suit jacket that's laid over the arm of the couch and a pair of shoes. Now, though, Tracy swipes long blonde hair over one shoulder and leans in toward the laptop on the corner of the coffee table.

On the screen is an article from The Washington Post.
Surprise New York Senator Ivory Wynn Makes a Splash in Homeland Security
Wynn meets with the President as part of an ongoing effort to boost safety measures, in what the President is calling "a substantial operation against threats to the country"

Tracy picks up her cordless phone and speed dials. "Governor?" she says, indulging in a satisfied smile. "You don't have to worry. We backed the right guy."


It's raining in Washington, D.C. As the grey sky sheds a driving rain onto the city, it spatters hollowly off the slick surface of a long, black, highly secure limo that slows down along E Street preceded and followed by an entourage of Secret Service vehicles. When it comes to a halt in front of one of the many anonymous office buildings, number283, it's mirrored in the glass doors. A man in a suit exit’s the car, quickly obscured by a vast black umbrella. He steps up to a building where a waiting figure awaits out of the rain.

That lone figure bows his head just slightly out of respect, before reaching out to take the hand of the man with the umbrella. He steps to the side, reaching out to open the door, as the umbrella is pulled closed. The figure steps in line behind the man, following him inside the building. A slight look over his shoulder reveals the face of Senator Ivory Wynn and a smirk that's borderline sinister.

As he shakes the hand of the Senator, the square-jawed face of the President of the United States looks out from under the umbrella and gives the other man a solid nod. Secret Service men head up the route into the building. "Let's see this operation."


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