2007-05-20: Be Careful Walking Alone

Starring:

Elena_icon.gif Haitian_icon.gif

Summary: The symbol Elena left for a certain someone is finally answered, the young woman coming across the mysterious agent waiting for her on the way home from work. He leaves her with several things to consider, as well as a quiet, sincere warning.

Date It Happened: May 20, 2007

Be Careful Walking Alone


Somewhere in Queens, New York

The great thing about summer vacation is that there are so many things to do, and actually enough time to do them. She could go shopping, catch up with friends. Go to the beach. But does she do all those things? No…. instead, she works. But that was typical of Elena, who had to -keep doing something- because she hated feeling lazy. After putting in a good amount of hours at Evosoft today, the sun was sinking gently down the horizon when she finally steps off the bus, back to her neighborhood. Shouldering her carrier bag, she turns to start hiking down the street towards her family's apartment building. Clad in a short-sleeved, button down shirt, a pair of pinstriped slacks, and shoes made for walking, she did indeed look like she was coming from work.

There's a swarm of people on the street today, many of them having departed with Elena from the bus. Some trek down the street in the same direction as the young woman, perhaps to their own families; others disappear behind her to points all over Queens. When the group of twentysomething Latinas up ahead of her parts like a school of fish, he's standing there.

The Symbol hanging around his neck glints once in the sun before it sets.

In front of a telephone pole and standing just as still, the tall, dark stranger — this one is always a stranger, really, whether they've met once or a hundred times — is watching Elena.

"Elena! Como es?" One of said latinas in the school of fish in front of her greets her as she trots down the street, going the opposite way as the young woman, who herself, pauses, and smiles at her. They chat in rapid fire spanish for a while, until Elena indicates that she has to go. So when she turns around, and the crowd thins out….he's there. She pauses in her tracks, seeing the familiar symbol hanging on his neck, and the dark eyes. He cut an imposing figure, all the time, and she can't help her breath hitch into her throat as she stands there, staring at him right in front of the telephone pole.

Out in the open, just like that. It has been weeks, and so many things happened. She didn't think, really, that she would see him again. Her grip on the strap of her bag tightens. Part of her was starting to change her mind. It was still okay to change her mind, wasn't it?

Exhaling slowly, she starts walking up, in a normal pace, towards the telephone pole. If he had anything to say to her, it wouldn't be right in public. So she walks slowly enough to see if he'll move someplace else.

The man moves exactly zero inches as Elena makes her way closer. It's almost as if he doesn't blink; his dark eyes watch her approach without judgment one way or the other, and it might become clear that the ball is in her court. If she veered away, he would be on his way as if they'd never arranged this meeting.

The Haitian does, however, move away from the telephone pole. Not speaking a word, his head dips in a slow but definite nod - follow me - and he turns to walk in the direction Elena had intended to go when she first stepped off the bus.

She nods, almost imperceptibly, Elena stepping down the street and heading towards the street where her apartment building lies. She keeps her steps….a little quick, in pace with him considering the man was very, very tall. But she does, indeed, follow. Not side by side with him, but a bit to the back, and to the side of him. While she has little experience when it came to cloak and dagger, once again she adapts to the situation - she didn't want other people to look at them and think they were together. In the end it might become disastrous.

As she walks, she lets her eyes roam. Just in case. To alert herself if there were other suspicious goings on that she didn't know about. Her grip on her bag is secure, and she could feel adrenaline course into her blood. And why shouldn't it? This man would make anyone feel nervous. But she was following him anyway, like he indicated. She had a few things to actually -tell- him, and a few things to ask him. Thoughts of her family drift at the back of her mind, and Desiree now, too. She had to do this. She had to know if he knew.

But God give her strength. The crucifix in plain view on her collarbone glints, soaking up the red-gold glow of the sunset.

They're walking for several minutes, moving straight down the street, before any indication is given that they've reached their destination. Not once does the man look back to check to see if Elena is following. He swiftly turns to the right into a narrow alley; the shadows are growing here, especially rampant with the imminent dusk. He strides quietly through it to reveal that it opens into the small junkyard of a scrap shop that looks abandoned for the day. It's hardly more than a backyard with a chain-link fence around it.

"Your courage is heartening." The Haitian looks out over the yard in profile as he comes to a slow stop, his large hands sinking into his pockets. He still does not look at Elena. "But also… dangerous."

She follows him, like a little puppy dog. And when he turns the narrow alley, Elena turns herself, trying her best to be casual. This was New York, everyone else was more concerned over their business than anything else. And as she turns, it was as if the skies grow darker in turn. It was odd how just a simple shift of light can turn one's surroundings into something more ominous. When he finally stops, she stops in turn. When he speaks up, she blinks, and forces herself to let go of the strap of her bag, something she had been clinging onto like a security blanket.

She pauses, letting his words sink in. And she replies. "I…love too many people," she replies to that. "I'm not…it's not my nature to take risks like these." She pauses…just a short one, as if pulling out the words in her mind. She was unprepared for this. "I didn't think you would come. Thank you. I'll try to be brief."

She takes a deep breath. "The man you told me and my father about. I know how he works. He uses phones these days, but he's hindered by the fact that he needs to know the name of the person he's calling, in order to be… 'let in'. I think that's why he had to stay in your facilities for as long as he was held there. He needed to know people's names, before he could escape. But he has…a favorite." She describes the man her father has seen several times, who might be recognizable as Nima and Lee Jones's father. "Does he sound any way familiar to you?"

Nothing seems to surprise him. Of course… does it ever? Is he capable of surprise? If anything, his dark eyes seem to darken even further by the time Elena has voiced her thoughts and worries and news. If, in fact, it's news to him at all. However, to her description of Lee and Nima's father, the puppet, his only answer is a shake of his head.

He turns to walk a few paces away, looking across the junkyard as if viewing an expansive landscape, an oean — but the view is nothing to look at; just an empty street past the chain-link fence, lit by streetlights, not all of them in working order. "The killer you speak of," he begins. An intense anger is well-subdued within his voice, but his accent becomes thicker. "His escape was the result of… a great travesty."

Nothing surprises this man, then again, Elena could get that the first time she -remembers- meeting him. So when he walks a few paces away, she remains where she is. She hesitates for a moment, but she takes another step or two after him. She doesn't linger too close - something tells her the man really likes his space. But when he says what he does, she looks startled. Not by the words alone, but from what she could sense. The slight thickening of his accent, despite the fact that he looks relaxed and unfazed she can't shake the feeling that the man was…angry.

And she had a feeling no one ever likes it when this one is angry.

"…what do you mean?" she asks softly. "….what do you mean a great travesty?"

The Haitian is silent for a spell before he turns to face the young woman. His intense gaze finds hers as quickly as if they'd been staring at each other the entire time. "You deserve to know," he prefaces before announcing in a lower key: "It was not a mistake."

She freezes. Elena stares at him, for the moment, uncomprehending, and then….horror. The delicate, expressive face shifts from serious to the look of sheer… it was indescribable. "What….what do you….mean it wasn't…" Her knees threaten to buckle. They just…the COMPANY just… but there was nothing to lean on so she keeps herself upright. She had hope that the Company did the right thing most of the time, she was actually starting to believe that a little bit. But now, this bit of news just blindsides her. "P…please tell me," she whispers hoarsely. "Please tell me why."

"There is nothing to say that will justify the sins that have been committed because he walks freely." The man continues to regard Elena as her world seems to crumble. "The Company…" It's as if he's reading her thoughts; in truth, he cannot, but a lot can be inferred from the look on one's face when you know what he knows. The memories of hundreds. "They are not the monster," he says slowly, firmly. "But there is a monster lurking within its walls. It grows… like a cancer."

There is silence. Elena turns away from the Haitian a bit, closing her eyes and tilting her face up. Composure. Calm. She had to be. She had to keep moving forward. No matter what she feels, and no matter what other shocks and revelations are tossed her way. She takes a deep breath, and when she looks at the Haitian again, turning around to face him, her face is serious and grim. "Is it a founder?" she asks, quietly and straightforwardly. "Like Elle Bishop's father, or Hiro Nakamura's father?" They were the only higher-ups she knew in the Company ladder. But if he says that there was a monster -lurking- in the structures of the Company, it might not be part of the upper echelons. Whatever it is. WHOEVER it is… his or her place might not be as lofty.

The tall man's gaze follows Elena and his eyes narrow ever-so-slightly, a barely perceptible squint, when she says certain names. Rather than surprise, it's wariness. Fleeting.

Perhaps she knows too much.

"I cannot say, at this time."

She watches the wariness pass his face. She could feel fear creep up on her. Perhaps it was wrong to say that, but he was trusting her enough to impart that much, she had to give something in turn. Elena wasn't out to use anyone - right now there were bigger problems. They all had to help each other, and she tended to be deferential to those who knew more. She holds her ground, meeting his eyes even as he squints at her.

Her heart feels like it could burst at any moment, but she had to keep going.

"That's fair," she tells him quietly. "You came to see me, even if you didn't have to." She slides her hands in her pockets, and glances off to the side. "….it…I just want to know…" She pauses, and she looks at him. "What they say you did to me before, the things I remember that I don't anymore. There's…no getting what I lost back, is there?"

"What I take— I cannot return. That is how my gift works." The man looks thoughtful, though it's hardly a change from the stoic mask he wore a moment earlier. Silence reigns on his part until he speaks again. "The man they call … 'the Alchemist' … must be stopped. Elena…" Her name is made almost almost French by his voice. "I would like to speak… to your father."

Her heart sinks into her chest. Whatever he does, it's irreversible. Somehow she knew, because tried as she might, she could not remember. Elena looks at him, but she keeps her face composed. "It's alright," she says softly. "God made you the way he did for a reason." God and Evolution. She had no reason whatsoever to believe that the two forces can't work together. Can't coexist. She slides her hands in her pockets, rocking back on her heels. There is another one, another one she has to ask. "….a friend of mine who you know about lost her locket," she says softly. "It…it's very important to her. Do you know….what happened to it?" Elle's locket. And for the first time in her life, she calls the woman who tried to kill her a friend.

She blinks when he calls her by her given name, and she nods. "I'll make it happen," she promises. "I'll have to talk to him but….he has always been receptive to what you have to say, despite everything. Ever since…that day in the Hamptons." She pauses. "How do I get word to you? The same way?" She pauses. "And what….do I call you?" He called her by her name. "…they call you the Haitian but….do you have a name?"

"I do not know about your friend's locket," the man responds simply, with a hint of apology. "Please tell no one but your father of this meeting. He will know, when it is time." The Haitian starts to stroll away then, making a wide circle around Elena and heading back for the alley they emerged from "I left my name in Haiti," he says on his way. With his back to the young woman now, he raises his voice just loud enough to call out: "Be careful, walking alone."

It's full dusk by this time, and the shadows try to accept him as one of their own.

"I won't," Elena says softly. No, she wouldn't. In fact she hasn't even told the people closest to her that he had let her go the last time. And she will keep that promise with every ounce of willpower in her body. She watches him circle her, and she follows him with his eyes. And at his response, she couldn't help but look a little….well. It's a strange expression. It was both melancholy and accepting at once. She doesn't know why -anyone- would prefer such an impersonal moniker, over one he could call his own. His words implied that he had left everything to do….this. Including who he once was. It was fitting, for one who is able to erase memories.

"You too," she tells him, when he asks her to be careful. "Thank you again."

When the shadows reclaim the Haitian, Elena is left standing there by herself, a swirl of dust around her sneakers by the kick up of a breeze that heralds the later hours. She doesn't move though. Instead, she sinks onto a pile of metal things left in the scrapyard, lifting a hand to rest it on her face and taking several deep breaths. The meeting had been nervewracking, but at the very least she knows he wouldn't hurt her. Unless he had to.

No guts, no glory. She couldn't help but feel that there was another meaning lying underneath his last words to her. Be careful, walking alone.

She stands up from the scrap heap, dusting off the seat of her slacks. She steps out and starts making her way out of the alley. It was time to go home.

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