2010-03-29: Climb the Ladder



Date: March 29th, 2010


Don't call me, I'll call you show up at your door.

"Climb the Ladder"

Fred's Apartment

New York City

Knuckled sheathed in black press to the door of one Mr. Stone. Knock KNOCK.

The figure outside the door in the corridor is dark in garb, petite in stature and brings a certain ominous impression with her. That is due in no small part to the fact that the woman is dressed as if going to or returning from a funeral. However, the feeling is also attributed to the fact that the woman under the downturned, wide-brimmed, prim hat and behind the lightly printed black veil is Angela Petrelli.

Still dressed in his usual suit, as if going to a high end company meeting or a fancy restaurant, Fred Stone hears the knocking at his door from his office. His first thought is: 'Has Sydney come back?' But he doesn't hold out hope. He know that that is unlikely. Especially with the periodic calls he's been getting from Jamie. So, cleaning up the papers of his desk and straightening his tie, he makes his way to the door, opening it slowly to see who is there, standing at his door.

The woman's head lifts a few increments. The finer details of her face are blurred by lace, but the bold eyes of Angela Petrelli penetrate the veil to regard Fred solidly. "Mr. Stone." If amusement and suspicion can be contained in two words — she makes it so. A gloved hand reaches out to push on the door, fingers splayed. "I've been wondering what became of you."

Fred doesn't stop Angela from pushing the door further open. In fact, he is more than happy to let her, once he realizes who it is. "Mrs. Petrelli." He says quietly, moving aside ever so slightly. "Please, do come in." His voice rather monotone. However, the amusement and suspicion, however they are laced in her voice, are not missed by Fred. "I've not gone anywhere. I have been right here." He pauses for a moment. "Well, here and with the Protocol." Assuming that Angela enters, Fred closes the door behind her and leads her toward his living room. Indicating the couch, he says, "Have a seat. Can I get you something to drink? Bourbon? Whiskey? Wine?"

Angela does step inside the residence. "No. Thank you." Matching monotone. She lingers by the door, removing the veiled hat, holding it in both hands by the brim. Her revealed face reveals something of its own: a red-lipped smile, but it harbours little cheer. Her smile is telling of knowing something he does not, and her eyes remain watchful.

She takes a step in, one hand slipping into her coat pocket. "It's been too long. Long enough for alliances to change. I hope that's not the case here."

Fred watches Angela carefully, his eyes catching signs that his training has taught him to look for. "Might I then take your coat and hat for you? I daren't let you hold then while you're here." He offers. He tilts his head ever so slightly, gazing at the older woman. "I may not have been in contact with you for quite some time. I assure you, though, that I know where my allegiance stands. You need not worry of that one bit." His mind is curious though. Yes, he must inform her of the AP. But…is there more than that? His eyes flash with concern. "I have needed to gain their trust. I believe the Alpha Protocol was suspicious of me, after my work with the Company. I had to be cautious. I could not attempt to contact you, for fear they may have been listening in."

One can never be too careful, but Angela will allow Fred to say his piece. She walks briskly across his apartment, as far as the indicated couch, though she doesn't actually sit. She keeps holding the hat, keeps that one hand tucked in her pocket and there it shall stay for now. "I don't plan on staying long," she prefaces brusquely, tempered (barely) by the smile she gives him, brushing off his polite offer to take her things. "Just long enough for you to tell me what you know. I think it's high time."

Fred bows his head into a nod. "As you wish, Mrs. Petrelli." He takes in a deep breath and lets it out slowly. "Yes, I do believe that it's time enough to tell you what I've found out in the time that I've been there." It's with that that he starts repeating everything off memory, about the pills, the collars, about them seeming to hold both dangerous and non-dangerous evolved. About how they do things and who he knows who works for them. Everything. "The dampening of abilities did have some quite adverse effects on some of them, though. There's one, with the ability of cryokinesis, who began overheating. It seems her ability kept her temperature in check…at least to what it should be for her. Though…she's gone missing." He says, though it doesn't seem that he cares too much that she has disappeared. "She and a few others."

Angela is stoic throughout. It might be a difficult challenge to tell what, off all the snippets of information, is a surprise to the woman. "I would imagine they have." Eventually, she gives a nod that is vaguely approving. "Do they still trust you? What do you know about the people in charge of this… operation? We know de Souza was involved, but now that she's dead the thing keeps rolling."

Fred shakes his head. "I've not been able to find that out, since de Souza died. But I do think they trust me more now. I think it was de Souza who had the most distrust for me, regardless." He is quiet for a moment before saying, "I'm sure that you'd like me to find out. And I will do my best, of course. I'll try not to disappoint." He frowns. "Might I ask a question of you, Mrs. Petrelli?"

After a bout of narrowing eyes, creases forming all around in sharply honed thought as she studies Fred — and what's more, his words — Angela gives the man a tight smile. "Yes, of course you can, Fred. What is it?"

His words a slow in coming, and his thoughts whirling. Finally, after a couple moments, Fred speaks up. "I suppose it's two questions, really. It had come to my attention that a Nathan Petrelli was being kept by the Protocol. I figured that he was your son. As he's now gone from the Protocol as well, I wanted to know…how is he doing?" Because, well, he assumes that she knows where he is. "The second question is as follows, when you came in, I got the impression that there was something else on your mind. Might I enquire as to what that might have been?"

"Don't worry about Nathan," Angela says, first of all. It's curt, for an answer to what may have been a well-meaning question, but it's also telling: she knows where Nathan is. How he's doing is another matter. "Well, you have to understand, I had to make sure you're the same person you were," she explains matter-of-factly to Fred. "The Protocol has a way of changing a person, as I'm sure you're aware."

Fred lets the matter of Nathan drop. He's heard that tone of voice before, and knows that it's best not to argue with it. "I am more aware of what the Protocol can do to a person than anyone." There's a soft sigh. "Is that the only thing on your mind? Because I hope I have made it evident that I am, for all intents and purposes, the same person as I was before. I am still a Company man, as it were."

"If that's in fact the case, then I need you to start taking risks. What you've given me is good information, if not good news, and I commend your loyalty, Fred, but to be truly useful at this point in the game you have to branch out." Angela steps toward Fred, eyes intent, the brim of the black hat in her hand being used to gesture ever-so-slightly at him. "It's your position on the inside that could be the most valuable. If you use it well. You need to dig deeper. Climb higher. Get further. Find out who matters, where these orders are coming from and what they plan to do next. Can you do that for me, Fred? For what's left of the Company and your country?"

Fred watches Angela for a good moment, silent. "You ask me to take risks? I'm not afraid of taking risks. I've already taken risks that could cost me my life." He pats the inside of his jacket unconsciously. "I'll take risks. I'll climb the ladder. I'll become to person in charge if that's what it'll take for me to find what's going on. I'm not the best at what I do for nothing." He narrows his eyes. "I can act, manipulate, read emotions, all from what a person says or does. Even if it's in a monotonous way. I will find out what's going on here and I will not fail you or anyone else."

Now a real smile comes to Angela. Even if it is on the conniving side, it's also pleased. "There are so few of us left, Fred," she says with regret — but respect that this man still seems to be loyal to the Company. To the cause. "I'm afraid we're running out of time, though. So do what you can as fast as you can before it's too late."

Fred bows his head. "There may be few of us left, but that doesn't make our jobs any less important. What the Company has done, what it stands for, is important. The Protocol has destroyed that. Instead of just holding the dangerous, it holds the innocent as well. We don't want that to keep happening." He smiles kindly. "Whatever it takes. I know how important this is."

Angela dips her head somberly, though another smile does show itself. She finally removes hand-from-pocket to place it on Fred's shoulder, just for an instant. "Good. Keep remembering what we do this for." She takes a solid step back and places the hat back upon her head, though she turns the veil neatly up afterward. Be careful… but not too careful. The time for tiptoeing is long gone."

Fred smiles ever so slightly. "I can never forget." While he says this, memories of Sydney and Jamie quickly flash through his mind. "I'll make sure I never forget." He shakes his head. "No more tiptoeing. No. It's time to be bold. They'll regret the day they decided to hire Fred Flint Stone. I'm gonna make sure of that."

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