2007-11-14: Evidence Versus Blame


Cass_icon.gif Peter_icon.gif

Summary: Taking the blood samples into Cass for testing, Peter continues to blame himself for what's happening now that they've found a connection.

Date It Happened: November 14th, 2007

Evidence Versus Blame

Bat Country Labs

Afternoon. With a case in hand, Peter enters Bat Country, buzzing before he opens the door so that there's no startle of surprise and even more broken things in the lab before. The turn toward good health has only done good things for his appearance, at least. The weight that he'd lost has come back, more or less, though he probably needs to get a bit of a workout routine going again before it can be said that he's exactly how he'd been before. Hair hangs onto his forehead, not quite touching his eyebrow, but he does look tense. Something is obviously bothering him quite a bit. "Cass? You here?" he calls out.

Like most afternoons, Cass is in Bat Country. However, this time, she's going over the information that Nathan gave her and trying to figure out how that all connects with that she now knows. It's nothing like what she knows, though, so she's back to where she started. There's a phone book open right in front of her and she's trying to find names and phone numbers to start calling. That is, until Peter enters. A distraction! Thank God. Stepping out from the office, she stays in the doorframe for now. Seeing how much better he looks makes her smile just a bit. "Hey Peter. Where else would I be nowadays?"

"I'm not sure, but I'm glad you're— " Peter cuts off as he spots the sign. The one that says that no Petrelli's allowed beyond this point. "Cute," he says, though there's little in the way of humor in his voice. "I have two blood samples I want you to run." He puts the case down, outside of the lab itself, and pulls out two vials. Both have a code on them, but no names, really.

With a glance over her shoulder, Cass gives Peter a reassuring smile. "I made it mostly to annoy Nathan," she explains. "Obviously, you can come in as you work here." It's just a reminder to everyone to be careful. She's already had to refit Enlightenment with a bunch of doors and new security and she'd like to keep Bat Country as disaster free as possible. "Alright." Taking them the vials, she glances at the code, and then up at Peter. "Whose are they?" Stepping away from the office doorway, she walks into the lab quickly to start setting up the equipment.

There's a hint of hesitation as Peter follows into the lab, though it may be due to the questioning glance and question more than doubt that he should enter the labs at all. "Mrs. Burnstein and her live in nurse, Paula. I questioned her today, trying to find out if there were any connections between us and him besides the quarantine— and when he started getting sick exactly."

As she starts putting everything into machines and flipping the on to test them all, Cass gives Peter a very hopeful look. Because that's exactly what she wants to know: what that link is. "I read that Mrs. Burnstein has lung cancer." Which isn't like liver failure, but it could still be linked tot he virus somehow. "What did you find? Is there any sort of connection?" The blood samples placed into the centrifuge, she can turn around and give the man her full attention. "What happened?"

There's that tension again, mostly around his eyes, readable by almost anyone. Someone who didn't know him might think he's angry, and in a way, he probably is. Peter finds a place to stand out of the way, with no breakables within accidental knocking over range. "She's sick, no doubt about that— Paula didn't outright say it, but I'm betting she's in-home hospice care, like I used to be. The doctors had recently said that more organs than her lungs are failing, though, kidneys mentioned specifically." There's a pause, before he looks away, watching the centrifuge instead of looking at the woman who's his boss and mentor. "He started showing symptoms before we did— back in early September. She specifically mentioned his sister's birthday party, which is probably how she remembers the date— it started sometime after that. She mentioned that his sister had been feeling ill at the funeral, something that could be accounted to grief, but…"

There's a long silence as Cass listens to what Peter retells. "Kidneys." Hm. She thinks that over and leans against one of the lab tables as she does so. It's easy for her to the tension and anger in her friend's face; it's mirrored in her own. The longer they go without curing this, the higher the death count may go. "Early September? Where could he have picked it up, though? His sister's birthday. Did you find anything about where he normally went, anything unusal about the meat place he worked at?" That's all she can think about from what her father told her.

"I haven't checked the meatpacking plant yet, but we're going to need to— and soon," Peter says, the tension transforming into something else when he looks back at her. It's still there, as slong as before, but tighter— almost making his eyes redden. "His sister lives in my apartment building, Cass. One floor below me, to be exact. It's funny— the past week I've found out about three people who live in my apartment that I never knew about— all of who I have some kind of connection to. But there it is. The connection."
Frowning, Cass thinks this through. "Wait. But. Have you ever met his sister before? It…it can't be airborne or I'd have it by now. And…I don't know. If he started showing symptoms before anyone else, then so would she. Did you get a chance to talk to her?" About checking the meat packing plant, she nods her head vigorously. "You're right we do need to do that. And…who are the three people you didn't know live in your building? Are they sick too?"

"Does any of this make sense, Cass?" Peter asks, looking at the centrifuge again, taking in a slow breath. "What I know is that he got sick in September after having a birthday party with his sister in my apartment. Now unless we find out that his sister or her boyfriend are in bio-engineering and brought something home they weren't supposed to… then I don't know what other connections there are. I don't know if I ever met her, but we could have come in contact— not the kind that might be needed to spread this— we'd be seeing a lot more sick people, otherwise. But you can't deny it's a connection of some kind. Especially since…" He trails off, voice tightening to the point he can't continue. After a breath, he speaks on the second topic, "The other two don't matter, I don't think they're sick— God I hope they aren't."

"No, you're right. None of this does." But, that doesn't mean in her mind that there isn't some sort of logical explanation to all of this. There has to be. Something that will just unlock this strange puzzle and will make it all click together like a jigsaw puzzle. "But that's what worries me. How is it that some random casual contact will make one person sick with this virus while the other one doesn't." She frowns and tries to think this through. "Wait." She starts fumbling through her papers. "Okay. So. This thing is piggybacking, like Dr. Applebaum said. It originated from the quarantine from Mt. Sinai. That part isn't airborne, otherwise most of the city would have it already. But. There's that second part, the protein coat. What if that is airborne. So…in order to get the full harmful virus you have to have had that first part from Mr. Sinai and the protein coat. Passing along the first part is harder - maybe it's something that's like mono and you only get it from sharing drinks or other contact. So, that would fit. And from there, you could easily get the second part just by being near someone who has both." She frowns. "I don't know if that makes any sense."

"That could make more sense," Peter says, glancing back up at her and nodding a bit. There's a small pause. "There's a problem, then— we really, really need to get the CDC involved. If those blood tests come up how we're afraid they will— the meatpacking plant he worked at? Specializes in deli meats. Supplies local delis, at least, but— Mrs. Burnstein said that he worked right up until he died— on the factory line. And there was mention of people at the plant itself being sick— probably dismissed as an usually long lasting flu."

There's a paling of Cass' face when Peter mentions all the food workers at the plant being sick. "Certainly…but is the CDC going to believe us? We have a previously unheard of disease that only a few people specialize in. They'll want to investigate us at best and not believe us at worst." She scrubs her face with her hands in order to try and give herself more energy somehow, or maybe to rub her brain into thinking in a different line. "Do we know where in the city his plant supplies? We really do need to go there to get more answers."

"I don't know, yet. I can call and find out as soon as we know this thing isn't just a flu," Peter says, glancing toward the wall for a moment instead. When he looks back he hesitates, "Even if we can't explain what it is to them, we can't just allow this to keep spreading. And who else are we going to call? The Company? Do you really want them cleaning this mess up? If they don't believe us, maybe we can get someone from a hospital to contact them instead— or Nathan." Newly elected Senator has to have some kind of perks.

"No, it's not that." Cass shakes her head and looks over to the centrifuge which is still spinning merrily. "I know. We definitely have to tell someone. Officially." The mention of Nathan calling makes her nod her head quite decisively. "If you think he could do it, he certainly should. I don't want the Company cleaning this up or we'll suddenly find a playground in the spot that meat packing plant was and all those people gone." There's a sigh and the centrifuge clicks off. Automatically, but with slight trepidation, she plucks the blood vials out to process. That will take still a little while afterwards. "But…if this has been going on since September, Peter…there's more than likely meat that has already gotten out and possibly infected people."

"If they even let anyone remember there'd ever been a meatpacking plant there," Peter says, that anger and determination back in his voice. "If the CDC gets involved they can inform the public— people can think it's a bad meat issue and come in and get tested before they spreads it further from there. Abilities don't have to come up at all. It's a virus." There's a pause, before he shakes his head. Maybe they won't help as much as he thinks, but he knows they can't do this alone. "If the protein coating and the virus are two different things— maybe you only need to cure one of them. I know Erin killed the virus, but do you think the coating stayed behind?"

"Even if it's just a virus, they're going to want to know how we found out about it," Cass replies. She's not arguing, she agrees that the CDC should know, just that she also thinks that Peter should know what's at stake. "The public should know. We could actually just tell them that we think the meat has a strain of mad cow or something. And hopefully through that they'd find the other virus strain. It's not exactly like it's hard to miss. Not once you're already looking for a virus." There's a frown as she thinks about this and looks to the machine, willing it to start printing out diagnostics. "I don't think so. I mean, it's possible that all we have to do is destroy one to make the other ineffective. But, they're now attached to each other and creating one virus. I don't know if it's possible to actually destroy one without needing to get the other. What Erin did…it's not like any conventional sort of cure."

"If you can come up with a better story that I can— maybe you can do it, or maybe Samantha will have a better idea. I don't know, Cass. I'm not very good at lying, and I know we can't tell them the truth about where it came from and what it is. Or even how we figured out that it was happening at all." Peter rubs his hand over his face, pushing the lock of hair back off his forehead before looking at her again. "I don't know how we're going to fix this, but maybe more brains on it can come up with a more conventional kind of cure. At least one person is already dead… and if more people die— if Elena or Nathan or Evelyn die…" There's that tension around his eyes again, the reddness. "This is my fault. If Burnstein hadn't been connected to me in some way before he got sick, maybe it wouldn't have been— but he was. So the dream was right. It is my fault."

There's a decisive shake of her head. "Peter. You can't blame yourself for this. There are a million factors here. As far as I can tell the only people whose fault this is is the Company who engineered this virus as a means to use it against other people." Glancing over at the machines again, Cass sighs. "Self blame isn't going to get us anywhere, Peter. We'll fix this. And then we'll go talk to the Company. We can't keep letting this happen." Something finally starts printing out and Cass heads over to wait and rip off the top sheets to see if she can gather what she needs immediately. "I'm all for more heads thinking about this. We could just tell them about bad meat, make it work from there. I don't know how to deal with the CDC."

"I'm not— " Peter snaps, hands clenching into a fist. "I'm not blaming myself with no evidence at all, Cass. There was the dream, evidence number one. The future I went to, this hadn't happened, point two. All the people who got sick until this possible outbreak stemming off of Mr. Burnstein— were connected to me. Even Mr. Burnstein, now. Maybe if people stopped telling me to stop blaming myself, we'd actually figure out where this virus came from. Because early September? That's when I got back, Cass. Maybe the fact that he wasn't Evolved made it progress faster. Maybe that's why it showed up in him first, it does not mean he had it first."

Surprised at Peter's angry reply, though perhaps she shouldn't be, Cass just rips off the top sheet of the paper. "Yeah, Peter, I'm really spending most of my time here telling you not to blame yourself as opposed to figuring this all out. Honestly, I don't know how I find the free time." The response is cold, certainly not liking the tone he's taken with her. She's tired and has barely gotten any sleep since this whole thing started, so her temper has a much shorter fuse. "Maybe if you stopped blaming yourself for all of this then we could focus on other answers, as well. Just because one person says this is your fault in a dream doesn't suddenly mean it's solid evidence. And even if this did come from that future you went to, you weren't the one to make it. You had to have gotten it from somewhere. You didn't make this, you're not more at fault as a person who gives the other the flu in the subway. There was no way you could have known. At the point we stood at two months ago we had two options: you not go to the future and have no idea how the tornado that destroyed New York happened, who it was caused by, when it could have happened OR you could have gone to the future and gotten those answers. We know who caused the tornado and now we can talk to her and make sure it doesn't happen. And now that future you saw won't happen. Everything has consequences. We will fix this and no one else will die. And if you don't take a step back and look at the big picture as well as your part in it…." By now she's glanced at the sheet and seen the telltale signs. "They're infected." Maybe she should have broken the news easier, but right now she's frustrated. "We need to talk to the CDC and we need to get to that meat packing plant."

The responses do get him to shut up, but Peter doesn't get defensive or fight back. There's tension around his eyes, anger of sorts, but he doesn't snap anymore. Instead he waits til she's finished, and nods at her announcement, already turning to go back to the case he opened, picking out a piece of paper, "I'll go talk to Dr. Applebaum. Maybe she's got some ideas of the best way to contact the CDC, then I'll call the factory, if you don't beat me to it." The piece of paper is held out to her now, "This has the address and phone number of Mr. Burnstein's sister. There was mention that her boyfriend might have been sick too, so contact him through her. Do whatever you think you need to."

The not fighting back is just as bad as the fighting, if not worse. Closing her eyes, Cass pinches the bridge of her nose as if she's starting to get a bad headache. Maybe she is, all the coffee, not enough water. Spending most of her time in a basement under florescent lights. "Okay." There's not much else she can say about that. It's not until she opens her eyes again that she takes the paper, of course, so Peter may be waiting for a moment or two. Glancing at the sheet of paper, she just replies, "I'll talk to them." She should know by now that nothing she says to Peter will change his mind. However, she can't help but argue with him on opinions such as these. These days she can't seem to do anything but fight with the people she's trying to help. It's not really a good position to be in. "Stop by or give me a call after you talk to Dr. Applebaum and the CDC. And before you go to the factory. Or, after, I guess, if you go before we talk."

"I'll call you after I talk to Dr. Applebaum," Peter says with a nod, agreeing with it at least. Doesn't change that he's even more tense now than when he'd first entered, but he doesn't look like he's going to start yelling. Good thing, too. Last time he yelled about how this was all his fault— the lab didn't fair well. "I took an extra sample from the nurse, in case she wants to confirm it for herself too. So I won't ask for the paper work." And with that, he closes the case up and starts out.

"Okay," Cass repeats. She's not about to apologize for getting angry with Peter. Especially when she thinks he's the one that is being pigheaded about his involvement in this. However, she's not about to yell, either. If he ruined her lab again, she would certainly point him in the direction of her 'No Petrellis' sign for an extra reminder. "Alright." Maybe he doesn't want the paperwork, but she's going to want the full report as soon as it's finished printing. "Thank you for stopping by, Peter."

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License