2009-11-13: Cart Before The Horse



Date: November 13th, 2009


Angela comes to Enlightenment Books. For once, she and Cass are on the same side.

"Cart Before the Horse"

Enlightenment Books

Enlightenment Books is winding down for the day. It's been a busy day and the store has done well since it's reopening with more space. There are still a few customers wandering about and queueing up to buy things, but Cass is allowing Amy to take care of those. The chatter drifts around the store - this is no library after all - and there's laughing in one corner, an intense discussion going on over by the 2012 shelf. What the owner is doing is straightening up the stray books that have been placed down by the window seat and generally organizing. She's also attempting to find he perfect place for a tarot card table for when Dustin starts next week. Crossing her arms over the pile of books that she has scooped up to reshelve, she pauses and sits down by the window to take a breather.

The rate at which the door opens is quick; it swings at the rate of someone in a hurry, which is very much true of the figure who enters. She stops as soon as it's shut behind her. An unfamiliar face to the bookstore, the aging woman comes off as imposing, dignitary, her features bold and refined, her characteristics dark, and the coat she wears black as pitch, a heavy wool trench coat that hits sharp lines, its collar raised up about her neck — to fend off the fall chill, presumably. Her hair, gathered back in a style barely modernized beyond the beehive, is unravelling, only the first clue that everything is not right. Looking out from those Petrelli family features, here's a tiredness beyond the otherwise sharp eyes that critically, searchingly, scan Enlightment Books.

All in all, Angela is a contrast to the warm, eccentric East Village store.

Honing in on the woman at the window, she approaches grimly. Her greeting is not so cold, but nor is it warm. "Mrs. Aldric … or is it Deatley." Recognition, despite never having met Cass. "I have to say, this comes as a surprise."

The sudden appearance of Angela Petrelli is certainly a surprise to Cass at least. Angela, at least, had the head start of knowing when she would show up on the doorstep of Cass' store. The owner, however, had no idea. Though she had gone to her father for help on their current situation, the younger brunette blinks and tilts her chin up so that she can take in the woman properly. At first, her expression is confused, because whoever this woman who knows her certainly doesn't look like anyone she knows. However, with a sudden realization, she stands up and greets her, "Mrs. Petrelli." Putting the books back down on the window seat - she can pick them up later - she gestures toward the back room door for the two of them talk in. "Ms. Aldric is fine. Or Mrs. Deatley. I answer to both." Already she's moving toward the door, opening it for the elder woman as is polite. "A surprise? But you're the one that came to me." It's strange to see the woman here in her store. An event she never thought would come to pass.

Angela follows briskly, a watchful, and guardedly wary, look cast over her shoulder out the window onto the street as she goes. "An unexpected turn of events," she replies, matter-of-fact. Unexpected even for Angela Petrelli? Perhaps an overstatement, but Enlighenment Books is not a place she visualized herself in, either. The cozy, renovated store and the book spines she passes are eyed critically as she walks — particularly the titles. Crop Circles of South America? Inside the back room, she gives Cass space and turns, hands covered in fine, leather gloves folding in front of her. "I'm here through your doing. More or less. It took awhile but I came when I could." The thin dark ruby line of her lips twitching into a smile that's almost warm — pre-emptively warm, as she says next, "Perhaps it should be a surprise we haven't met sooner; I believe you know my sons."

"You can say that again." Cass is not quite as eloquent as Angela, and she doesn't try to be. If she's nervous about being the presence of the head of the Company - the woman she spent many months disliking, if not hating - she doesn't so it. Instead, she's almost embarrassingly polite. "Can I get you anything to drink? We've got coffee, tea, water…" she trails off and waits for her preference, if any. Not ashamed of the books on her shelf, or any of the subjects presented within. "I did ask my father for help, but I kind of expected to be summoned to your office or something. Not a personal call." It's hard to let go of some of the misgivings she has about this woman, but she attempts to put the to the side for now. "I do. However, you're also the head of an organization I vowed to fight. I didn't expect to be invited to any family dinners or parties or anything."

"Tea would be lovely." The back room is given a summarily similar once-over as the store proper, but this time Angela's dark-eyed gaze remains away from Cass for several long moments, her study of the room drifting into a deep and critical thoughtfulness which has nothing to do with how Cass has decorated her store.

"Just as well," Mrs. Petrelli snaps 'to, perceptive eyes back on Cass. "There haven't been many family dinners or get-togethers at the manor lately. Not for… quite a long time." Regret there; sadness, even though her face remains mostly stoic. "As for a summoning, well, you'll be happy to know that the organization you vowed to fight," she says the latter word as if it's a silly thing, child's play. How cute for Cass to think she could accomplish such a thing when it took an army. "…is barely an organization at all. You're bound to find out sooner or later, through your father or otherwise. I'm here because we have no offices. The Company is a dying breed, unless we can come out of the other side of what I expect you want help with."

The door to the back room is closed now. There's things that need to be discussed that wouldn't be good to let drift out into the main store. Cass goes about making a cup of steaming tea for Angela - it's green - and holds it out for her to take. Having a hotpot really was a great idea for the back room. It's come in quite handy recently. "I know. I'm sorry." She sounds very sincere in that. Despite what his alterego did to her, Nathan is still considered a friend. "I…have heard," she tells Angela. "At least, I've heard things are different." Through Peter, which is part of the reason why Angela is here now. "I didn't know about the offices, though." It may show why she's a bit more disheveled than before. And while she may not find it silly to have vowed to fight the Company. All it takes is a few people to become an army, and she was proud to be a part of that. "I'm not going to lie and say that I'm upset to hear about that, though I would be worried about my father's future." Blood is blood, after all.

When Angela speaks about what Cass has asked her for help with, that seems like the perfect segue. "I can imagine. Though, I don't think it's any surprise about why I've asked to talk to you. I'm sure you know that Peter's been taken by the government. And, well, I want to find him. If there was anyone I could talk to that would have an insight on what a group takes people with abilities to study them, it would be you." She gives an awkward smile to Angela. "No offense."

Angela slowly peels off her gloves as Cass makes the tea, and by the time it's ready, she's tucked them into the purse that hangs snugly at her side. She accepts the cup with a brief smile, which turns thinner and more wry after a short time before disappearing entirely. Peter. "None taken. You're not wrong, not entirely. However," she says, lifting the cup closer to her face, letting the steam rise against it. "What's happening now is… it's a different animal than the Company; it's what the Company was made to prevent." In that, they seem to have failed. The Petrelli matriarch's face grows stony. "You're in an interesting position," she seems to change gears suddenly. "You've long been at the heart of all this— people with abilities. Living in our world, as it were. In some ways you make it turn. From here. And your … labs. Even your stint at Pinehearst." Hiss. Yes, she knows about that.

Not getting a cup for herself, Cass remains by the teas and other makings for drinks at the moment. Too wired to sit down without needing to tap her foot or her finger on something. That wouldn't really do, though, would it? So, she stays standing for now, fighting the urge not to pace. Though she's heard about this woman before, it's nothing like staying in her presence and telling her that she's a kidnapper to her face. That's a bit more difficult than she would have imagined. "Different?" Not that she wouldn't say that it is somehow different from the Company, but she thought it was merely in certain ways: the ways that they took people, who they took. "I don't make anything turn," she shakes her head, certainly not agreeing with that. "I've heard what goes on, I try to help people, but the labs have slowed down in progress, and Pinehearst was - obviously - a disaster." With a frown, she wants to get back to the point. "All I need is to find some sort of weakness, something that they wouldn't think of we could exploit so that we could get in there and get Peter."

A quiet sip of the green tea is taken and Angela gives the store owner a look with a raised eyebrow, faintly skeptical, and not unlike an expression her eldest has been known to sport. She's frowning by the time the cup is lowered. She moves away, not in a restless pace but a simple stroll, never taking her eyes off Cass. "I have a few things brewing," she confesses with a lilt. It's barely an open invitation to questions, however. No, it sounds like her brew of plans is more secretive than that. Severe, her voice takes on command, working from a place of knowledge. Experience of years. "And yes, different. The US government seems to be using the Company's own memoirs … our information, our resources, our research, and they have one of our former agents under their wing … but they're coming from a different place. A dangerous place. The Company was founded by people with abilities. It was founded with conviction, with vision. Pinehearst was founded on power. This … government operation… it's is founded on fear. Unfortunately, that's one weakness we can't exploit too much, or we're merely proving their point. That's not how we'll get Peter back."

There's a frown. Oh, yes, she does know that raised eyebrow from Peter and it's strange to see it on his mother. Maybe this is why the two haven't crossed paths very often lately. Cass is more of her son's ideals - optimism, hope, emotions - while his mother is more about logic and facts. "Right." Maybe calling on Angela was a mistake, as they both are going to play their cards close to the vest. "The government certainly does seem more malicious. And I'm not debating the fact that they're dangerous." Not that she would call the Company all smiles and kisses, though. Of course Angela would think the Company was founded with vision and conviction - she was part of the group that founded it. However, she doesn't call her on that. Not yet, when she could still use her help. "I don't want to attack them, or to kill anyone. I just want to get our friends back." Micah, Peter, Cam…they've all been taken and she needs to get them back. "There's kids in there. And there has to be something they're missing. Some way we can infiltrate or get inside. Just because they have your information doesn't mean they have the context that it comes in. Like you said, the Company was founded with people with abilities. These people…they probably don't know what any of it means. They just know enough to subdue people."

"You know more than most that people with abilities are just that, in the end: they're people, as flawed and as driven by … emotion as anyone else. In the end that might be what we have on our side." Angela roams back closer to Cass, her head tipping back as she mulls over the woman. "I'm working on getting people close to the inside. The Company is scattered, but we're still out there, and we have to work together with people like you if we want to come out on the other side. I think you're more of a key player than you think you are, Cassandra. But," the matriarch turns abruptly, placing her tea on the back room table, her voice again growing sharp and, if one listens closely, regretful. "Getting Peter back is more complicated than you know. He's changed."

Cassandra. Angela must have been talking to her father more than Cass would like. That, or she just has a sixth sense for names that make the bookstore owner feel like she's twelve and talking to her parents again. Resisting the urge to petulantly tell Angela that her name is Cass, she tries to keep the conversation moving in a direction that solves the Peter Problem. "People like me." The brunette raises an eyebrow at that, wondering if Angela means people without abilities or people who dislike the Company. Or maybe she just means people who own Occult Bookstores. As for being a key player, she wants to shake her head, but she knows many of the people who she would consider the main players of all of this. That makes her involved in much of what goes on. What really catches her attention, though, is what she says about Peter. Worried, she crosses her arms, face obviously worried. "What do you mean, changed? How? What happened?"

Those wise and sharply watchful eyes of Angela Petrelli's fix on Cass and follow her They contain a glimmer, a distinct impression of I-know-something-you-don't-know, but it's dark rather than smug. Whatever secrets she harbours are not good ones. "A little bird told me he was in an accident."

(Actually, someone had to explain to Angela that what was happening to her phone was what's called a "text message" and explain the announcement from the mysterious Rebel to her, but saying as much does not quite have the same dramatic affect.)

There is, of course, always more to the story. "That was only the beginning. I'm not sure on the details but until we can get to him, until we can have him back with the people he belongs, he's not the Peter we know. And he's not to be trusted."

"The helicopter." While Angela may be all wise and knowing, Cass has her own sources, too. Or, that very same Rebel texted her. And, at least, she knows who that Rebel is. But, Angela has more sources - or at least more fingers in more pies - and knows what happened after that. The bookstore owner just assumed that Peter was being kept in a barred room somewhere with an IV pumping his powers away. After a moment, Cass just looks at Angela. She frowns. Peter is not to be trusted? That's not something she can readily reconcile.

"Mrs. Petrelli." Cass uncrosses her arms and just watches Angela for a moment. Though this is the first time they've met, they have a very unique situation right now where they have similar goals. "Look, I didn't agree with the Company, and I certainly don't agree with the government right now. I want to help. I will do anything in my power to get Peter back." And Micah, and Cam, though Angela may not care about them. "Just…be straight with me." If Angela can do that. "What can I do to help? What, do you know, is wrong with Peter? How do you know we can't trust him?"

"I saw it." Matter-of-fact. Straight. Mrs. Petrelli waits a moment for that to sink in before, with a few decisive steps, she approaches the book store owner, staring weightily into the younger woman's eyes as one of her hands reaches out. She lays it upon Cass's shoulder. "In Greek mythology, Cassandra knew the future. But she was powerless, no one would believe her. Her powerlessness is said to exemplify the tragedy of the human condition. You're not a prophet, but at least you have a vision people understand." She steps back, but only just; her hand remains grasping Cass.

"People trust you. You're not likely to be a suspect; you don't have an ability. So. What I want you to do is exactly what's in your nature. Continue to help people. We're on the same side of the coin now," she says with a slightly tilt to her head, a hint of a smile.

Saw it. Well, with Nathan and Peter and Arthur all having abilities, why not Angela? The entire Petrelli family has abilities. Interesting. When Angela approaches her, Cass stiffens, but doesn't move away. Nor, does she shrug off the hand on her shoulder. "So you're saying that I exemplify the tragedy of the human condition?" With a raised eyebrow, the bookstore owner gives the other woman a wry smile. She doesn't really think Angela meant to mean to say that, but then again, maybe she did.

"I don't know about that." Cass sighs softly. Mr. Petrelli tried to use her for his own purposes, as have other people. Mostly because people seem to trust her. "But, you're saying I can't do anything proactive. What I'm trying to do is help people, a few specific ones in particular."

Patting Cass's shoulder as though the woman is more familiar a face than reality would suggest, a grin that is just as wry spreads across the thin lips of the Petrelli matriarch. As her hand moves from Cass and reclaims the strap of the purse at her own shoulder, she rolls her eyes. For an instant, the shine in her eye suggests something more good-natured. It's a ghost, gone once she has more to say. "No. On the contrary." She reaches into her purse to withdraw a notepad and pen; a number is scrawled neatly upon the paper. "We're going to need Matt Parkman. He'll be a fugitive by now." She tears the page from the small pad and hands it to Cass. It's a simple paper with a gold inlay border. "Can you find him?"

"Well, if that's his number, that should make it easier." Cass doesn't let the grin fade from her face. This meeting is going much better than the bookstore owner thought it would, which is worrying her a little. Especially when she looks like she's much better natured than she would ever have guessed. Taking the paper, she glances down at what was written there and then back up at the Matriarch of the Petrelli clan. "What do we need Matt Parkman for?"

"That's where I //can be reached — at least for now — for when you //do find him. Or, if you know anything else." If only calling fugitives up were that easy. Like many others, she's resorted to a prepaid phone and swift, abrupt calls. She tucks the paper and pen away. "Parkman is a telepath," she explains— and for a moment, it sounds like that's all the explanation she's giving, and perhaps it's all that's needed, but she does go on after a flippant flick of one hand. "When we find Peter, or as I'm suspecting, Peter finds us, it wouldn't hurt to know what's happening in his mind. What went wrong."

Pocketing Angela's number, Cass nods her head once. "Gotcha." It's strange to know that she has Angela's number and that she will actually think about calling her. And it won't be a prank call. The thought of rooting around in Peter's mind without his permission may scrape against the boundaries of her morals, this is to help Peter. "But…how are we going to find him or keep him if he finds us? He can teleport. And turn invisible." Which she's sure Angela knows. "This feels a little like putting the cart before the horse."

"At least we'll be prepared." While the Petrelli family matriarch is, truly, being honest with Cass, the lingering sense of secrets still lingers about her demeanour. It lurks about her words especially now. "If do see him before we find him, call me immediately. There are ways of making sure he can't use his abilities. I doubt he's truly dangerous, but there might be… other influences at work." Angela goes about sliding her gloves back on, pulling the wrists tight one after the other. "I should go. I'm as on the run as the rest. I'd hate to put your…" She glances about the back room as if she could see the books beyond. "…store at risk."

Dangerous. While Cass knows that Peter has the potential to be dangerous - he can explode, can throw people about, can hold people against walls - she can't think that he actually is. The idea of having to 'neutralize' him doesn't really sit well with Cass. She can think of other ways to try and get him to stay. At the idea of her store being at risk, the woman shrugs. "People know I'm friends with Peter. And they know you're his mother. I think it would be natural for us to talk at least once. If you'd feel better about keeping people off our trail, I could pretend to throw you out."

"…That's quite alright," Angela responds dryly. "Better to not make a scene. If it's alright, I can just sneak out the back." A woman such as Angela Petrellli, resorting to sneaking around in dark alleys. What has the world come to? Nothing good, as far as she's concerned, that is for sure. She turns, looking for an alternate exit than the way she came, but halts abruptly to look at Cass. "Oh," she says, remembering, "You oughta be aware that some of the people who escaped from the train — where Peter was when he was taken … they're the few that actually deserve to be locked away. They were contained in a place we called Level 5 for a reason, and unless the government has herded them all up, they're fugitives now, with the rest. That means they might be out there somewhere. Be careful who it is you help, and make sure your friends don't do anything stupid."

"I think my friends doing something stupid is all kind of par for the course." Not that Cass can't be stupid about some things, too. Moving toward the back door, she unlocks it and holds it open for the Head of the Company. This is strange, after all. Not only because Angela is not the sort of woman to be sneaking into back alleys, but because Peter has used that back door often. As has Nathan. "I'll remember And I'll be careful. I'll call you, as long as you promise to keep me in the loop, too. I don't want to be left out just because somehow you manage to find him for yourself. I just want to make sure he'll be safe." Even if they think he may be dangerous, that doesn't mean she totally believes them.

"So do I," Angela says with a tired, but determined conviction, following to the door; all the while, she watches Cass. "I need my sons." She lingers in the exit for a moment, adjusting the high collar on her coat. "I won't leave you cold. Like I said, you're a key player whether you think so or not." The woman's stoic visage cracks with a flash of teeth, a half-hearted smile. "Thanks for the tea." Angela steps through Enlightement's Petrelli Doggy Door into the alley behind the store and heads back into the dark.

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