2007-03-13: Family Negotiations




Dr. Aldric

Summary: Cass has a talk with her father and comes up with some surprising information, but not what she was hoping for.

Date It Happened: March 13, 2007

Family Negotiations

East Village, then the Family Car

Stepping out of her store after just opening it up for Alyssa, Cass is on a mission to meet her father. The morning is just starting and there are few people on the street, making it easy for her to gather her thoughts. There is going to be talk! And negotiation! And…seriousness. She's not quite sure what she's going to say, but she figures that she'll know when the time comes. "Thanks," she smiles at the figure of Elle as she pushes her way into her store and then pauses to catch her bearings as to where she's heading next. Picking that direction, she starts walking in a determined fashion. See, this is a woman on a mission!

With a heavy coat and a scarf knitted by Mrs. Aldric (more colourful than one might expect of a man such as himself), Cass's father walks through the East Village on a mission of his own. He suspects his daughter's mission might reflect his own on opposing sides of the mirror. The doctor's steps are brisk today as he heads in the direction he knows Enlightenment Books lies. He looks concerned in a serious way. Ironically, as he approaches, he doesn't even see Cass walking toward him, because he's expecting her to be at the /store/, not on the /street/. Way to mess up your dad, Cass!

Her mind totally focused on where she's about to be and where she's not going, Cass doesn't realize that there is someone bearing down her. In fact, she doesn't even realize that it's the person who she's about to travel to go see. Face turned down, her eyes are glued to the pavement. But, clearly, that's not what she's paying attention to because her foot catches on a crack in the sidewalk and she goes flying forward. Arms pinwheel in an attempt to catch her balance again.

Dr. Aldric carries on his way, shifting his hands about in his pockets. He's deep in thought, focused, his expression basically mimicking his daughter's to a tee. His daughter who he completely does not see, even when— "Whoa there, miss!" Flailing person! Alert! He catches her before she the possibility of her hitting the pavement becomes too close, steadying her with his hands on her shoulders. "Careful where you CASSANDRA?!" The doctor blinks and steps back at arm's length of his clumsy daughter. "I was just on my way to see you."

"Sorry!" Cass manages to catch her balance, but only with the help of the nice man who catches her just in time. "DAD?" She shakes her head in a bewildered manner and brushes herself off even though she didn't even hit the ground. "I…I was just on my way to see /you/." This is too weird. "What are you doing here?" She was going to gather all her thoughts on the way to see him! This is definitely not the way her plan was supposed to go.

"Going… to see /you/," Dr. Aldric replies, still a bit befuddled himself by his literal run-in with his daughter, perhaps for the same reasons as Cass. He tucks his hands into his pockets again, and his eyes squint just a tad behind his glasses. "I suspect you want to speak with me again since your visit. …I don't know what to tell you, but the middle of the East Village isn't the place to tell it."

"Okay, this is weird." Cass can't get over it. Well, she can't take him back to the bookstore, there are people there. And she's not sure she wants to take him back to her place since she's not sure if Lachlan is still there. "You're right. I do. Um, let's go…" she's trying to think of some place they can talk. Any place. "Did you drive here? There's no place to talk in the bookstore and I've got friends crashing at my place." Sort of true.

"Yes. I parked a block away," Dr. Aldric replies. "It was easier," he explains unnecessarily, then nods succinctly and turns to walk back the way he came, expecting Cass to follow, of course. It's not a long walk; soon, his car should be in sight, in fact. In the meantime… "So. Cassandra. How are you…?"

"Okay." Cass nods and quickly falls in step beside her father. He's quite right in thinking that she's going to follow him. She's the one that wants to talk to him after all. The car comes into sight and she quickly angles toward it. Not exactly the most comfortable place to have a conversation, but beggars can't be choosers. "I'm…pretty lousy, dad." She's not going to lie to him. Not right now about this, at least. As soon as she reaches the car, she waits for him to unlock it so she can open the door and slip inside. "Things are kind of a mess."

Dr. Aldric offers a sympathetic, if guarded look over the top of the car. There's a pause before he unlocks it - chirrup! - and gets inside. "I'm sorry to hear that, I am," he says once Cass is in, too. The doors are locked again afterward. Safety first, you know. "Am I allowed to ask why things are a mess?"

Shutting the door as soon as she's seated, Cass lets out a sigh. The doors are locked and she's in this now. "Yes. It's why I wanted to talk to you, dad." Turning, awkward to do in the car, she leans up more against the door than the actual seat so that she can look directly at him. "I need you to help be save some of my friends." It's sort of a kid pleading tone.

Dr. Aldric certainly suspected Cass wanted to talk to him about his place of work and their ways, but did he expect /this/? "Cassandra…" The trailing-off name is spoken with the quiet, slightly chastising tone to match the plea. It pre-emptively says 'this is a bad idea' in fewer words. "What's gotten into that head of yours?"

Oh, Cass knows that this is a bad idea. But, she has to try it. "A lot, dad." Now she's going to be firm. "The people you work for. They…they have some of my friends. And I want them back." She's gaining a little more confidence as she speaks. Finding that this isn't really the most comfortable way to sit, she shifts again. She can't look directly at her father any more, but she twists just enough so that she's facing him as much as she can.

Dr. Aldric, on the other hand, stays exactly where he is. He regards Cass with a turned head, but then focuses on the steering wheel for span of several seconds. He does not look happy, nor comfortable. "If they are there," he begins carefully. "They are there for a /reason/. I'm not sure what you're asking of me."

"No. They're not." Cass replies stubbornly. While she doesn't exactly like talking to her father about this, it's a necessity. "I know what your Company does." Yes, she does put an emphasis on that C. "And it's /wrong/, dad. You can't just take people off the streets. I'm asking you to let Eliana Pasternak, Hiro Nakamura and Jane Forrest out of wherever you have them."

There are many points Dr. Aldric could argue - his face says as much. He's starting to bristle a little. But he's boxed in. "I didn't think you would understand. One day, I'd like for you to…" he frowns, not finishing his sentence as originally planned. Instead, he says, "One day maybe you'll see. I know where you're coming from, Cassandra. I do." He leans back in his seat. It squeaks. "Ms. Pasternack and Ms. Forrest are not at the Company's facilities, and it would be in everyone's best interest if you didn't inform them that they were ever there."

"You mean Eliana and Jane have been released?" Cass is genuinely surprised at that admission. Well, that's two people who she doesn't have to worry about any more, she hopes. "But what about Hiro? He's still there, isn't he?" Shaking her head, she frowns at her father and her brow furrows. Any arguments that her father has about what he's doing as right isn't something she wants to hear. Though she wants to be calm about this, her anger and frustration is starting to break through. "No, you're right, I don't understand. How can you /do/ this to people? Take away their free will, toss them in cages like criminals, test them without their consent? If you knew where I was coming from you wouldn't be a /part/ of this!"

"Yes. And yes. Mr. Nakamura is there. I believe." So he's heard. Dr. Aldric keeps his voice calm and relatively quiet. Maybe, just maybe, that way Cass's anger won't escalate any more. "Cassandra, now, hear me out. I'd like to think I'm a good doctor, and a responsible researcher. These people come in with all kinds of troubles. I work to understand their unique problems, their gifts, so that they can understand them, so society won't be injured… I…" The man brings a hand to his forehead, closes his eyes. "I'm a good doctor."

That's when Cass' anger cracks. Because, he's her father. The man who brought her up. And seeing him like this is really hurting her. But, she has to keep going. Because, really, this is important. She's obviously uncomfortable about it. "Dad…you are a good doctor. But…you can't help people if you kidnap them. They're not coming in asking for help, they're being forced in against their will." She reaches forward to wrap her arms around her father, who looks so troubled. "/Please/. Help me get Hiro out of there. He's a good man. And my friend. He doesn't deserve to be held in some cell….wait. How /are/ you holding him there?" He disappeared in front of her eyes, he can bend space in time, how are they holding him in some cell. She pulls back a bit at that, the realization hitting her.

"There are ways, pharmacologically-speaking and otherwise, to put a stop to just about anyone." Just about. Dr. Aldric hesitates for a long time after that. He might have just given up on Cass in that moment, shut her out. However, his hands slowly curl around the steering wheel of the parked car and he takes a loooong breath in and out. "There are people within in the Company…" You know that tone of voice someone gets when they're about to say something they know they'll regret? Cass in bringing it out in her father. "…who are loyal to… well, that doesn't matter. There are things going on that— " His voice raises all of a sudden. " —I'm not sure. I'm not sure. I shouldn't be telling you any of this, Cassandra."

"You're /drugging/ him?" Cass replies incredulously. She removes her arms from the reassuring hug she was trying to give him. "I…I can't believe I'm hearing this." She went into medicine for this man. To make him proud of her. However, it seems like she's actually getting somewhere with him and she tries her best to keep her mouth shut and to let him talk even though just thinking about them drugging someone up to the point where they can't do something that comes naturally to them does not sit at all well with her. "Tell me, dad. What is going on? What is it that people are loyal to? I'm going to get Hiro out of there no matter what. Whether or not you talk to me."

There are answers on the tip of Dr. Aldric's tongue. He's a fount of information, but he's not spilling it all. He regards Cass guardedly, his hands still tight around the wheel. "Cassandra, no." His hands grip tighter yet. "Don't do anything that would get you in trouble. When I said loyal, I meant loyal to one of the Founders of the Company who happens to be!" He cuts himself off again. "Look. I don't know for certain, but there are rumours, just whispers really and, well, to be honest, I hope they're true that mean you just have to wait. Just wait. Wait and see what happens. You might be surprised. I'd like that." Or let down.

"Wait while what? Your Company continues to drug my friend out of his mind? And do who knows what to him?" Cass shakes her head resolutely. "No. I can't do that. I don't care who this Founder is or who is loyal to him. I'm glad you want things to change there, dad. And I hope they do. But I can't wait for some change of administration while people I know are in trouble. I need to get him out of there /now/. Yesterday would have been better." She sighs, realizing that she might not actually be getting anywhere with this. "Surprise me," she repeats in a tired tone, strange for this being already pretty early in the morning. "You've surprised me plenty in the past couple of days."

Dr. Aldric just shakes his head slowly. "Just promise me one thing, Cassandra," he sounds pretty tired himself now. "Do not tell anyone about what we've talked about today. If certain people get wind of the fact that I've been candid with you, /I/ can't promise that they won't take measures. Now, I know you'll want to say that's harsh and inhumane or against civil rights, but what the Company does… it's under the radar. And it has to stay that way. So promise me. I don't want anyone messing around in my daughter's head just because she talked to her dad."

Cass frowns. She doesn't want to make a promise she can't keep. "I can't say I won't tell some people that the Company still has Hiro. Or that Eliana and Jane got released. Because I know people who are just as worried about them and I can't keep that information from them." If he's going to be candid with her, she's going to be candid with him. "Yeah, well, it doesn't have to be. If you didn't do things that were against their civil rights, then you wouldn't have to be under the radar." This certainly isn't going how she wanted it to go. "I'm still looking for a way to get Hiro out of there. You can't stop me from doing that. And even if you wanted to, there are others who are going to try, too." But the idea of someone rooting around in her head spooks her, so the threat is kind of not as biting as she wanted.

"It is how it is, Cassandra. I just want you to be safe. I think you've realized by now that this is not a safe thing you're doing. Or necessarily a smart one." He sighs. "From what I've gathered, this is what I think: I think Mr. Nakamura needs a different tactic. That's what." Dr. Aldric starts up the car, prompting a subdued rumbling of its engine. "Do you need a drive anywhere?"

"Just because that's how it is doesn't mean that's the way it should be." Cass turns so she's facing the windshield fully and pulls her seatbelt so she can be buckled more securely. Drivers in Manhattan can be crazy. "It doesn't have to be safe. Or smart. But it does have to be done. Just, you can just take me home." That is home to Brooklyn, not Hartsdale. She pauses and looks over at her father. "What do you mean another tactic?"

"And just because it's not the way it should be, Cassandra, doesn't mean you can change the way it is by wishful thinking." Dr. Aldric fastens his own seatbelt and pulls out onto the street. "You know some people are calling what happened a few days ago terrorism, half-seriously," he comments. "That's going a bit far, but it was reckless. That's the kind of bravery that will get good men and women hurt— like you could be, if you keep this up. I know the Company doesn't always employ the most peaceful methods, but as I understand it, the alternative is a last resort." Of course, he could be deluded. Or optimistic. "But things have changed these past few months. …Damnit, Cassandra. Years of not telling you about my job and now…"

"Who says anything about wishful thinking?" Cass retorts. This is her father and she can't help but say some things she's going to regret. "Look, I didn't agree with what happened. I don't like violence and I don't condone it at all. That's why I'm talking to you rather than just going in and forcing open every door I come to until I find Hiro." She sighs and looks moodily out the window as the car starts to move down the Manhattan streets. "But things obviously haven't changed that much if you're still doing what you were doing before. Look, dad. Just tell me what I need to do to get Hiro out of there. That's all I'm asking. I /do/ know people who are willing to use violence again and I don't want that to happen. You're with the Company, I'm with them. Let's figure something out so it doesn't come to that."

"I'm glad to hear that. I didn't /think/ you'd took a violent turn." Dr. Aldric manages a small smile in the midst of this, but it's woefully brief. He turns down a Manhattan street, headed for Brooklyn. "There have been more… sudden moves on the Company's part as of late. A change in management." He's quiet a moment as morning traffic impedes progression. He stares at a taxi ahead of him. "What you're saying is… if there's another way, a non-violent way, then the threat of violence will subside? Over Mr. Nakamura internment?"

It's certainly weird for Cass to talk to her father like they're negotiating a hostage situation. But…that's kind of what's happening right now. "A change in management, huh?" It's starting to sound like what Mohinder was talking about before. "Yeah. I don't think anyone /wants/ to hurt anyone. We just want our friends back. And we don't want to have to worry about getting yanked off the streets for no reason. Can you do that, dad? Get Hiro out?" It's back to sounding hopeful now.

"Me? No, no. No. I can't do that." Dr. Aldric says, yet it doesn't so much sound like a refusal as it does a /clarification/. "But, look. The Company doesn't want to hold anyone forever…" Pause. "With … a few exceptions, I'm sure, but those are… extreme, extreme cases, I'm not so sure Mr. Nakamura falls under that umbrella. In fact, he most certainly doesn't." By now, the car is moving at a moderate pace again, but Dr. Aldric chances a pointed sidelong glance at Cass. "Loyalties, Cassandra. I've come to realize that one of the Company's founders is Hiro Nakamura's father. You see how his circumstance could become… unique."

There's a bit of sputtering coming from Cass' side of the car when she hears what her father has to say. "Hiro's father is /what/?" Okay, so this is sort of calling the kettle black, but it's pretty surprising. "And they're keeping his /son/ there? Does Mr. Nakamura /know/ that?" By now she's sitting straight up and looking back at her father, catching that sidelong glance he throws her. If his father /doesn't/ know then that could be a huge advantage to getting him out. If he does…well, then the Company is even worse than she thought. "Hiro /isn't/ dangerous, dad. He's just trying to do the right thing. So you can't get him out…but someone has to." Her mind is working furiously.

"I'd be surprised if he didn't, but I've been surprised before," Dr. Aldric gives Cass a glance, on that note. "Look, what I can do is, I can put my ear to the ground. Is that the right term? Sure. Sure it is. I'll do that."

Cass shakes her head. "I just don't understand that. You wouldn't leave me trapped in a cell, would you?" It's mostly a rhetorical question, she hopes. "That's the right term, yeah. So you'll help? Really?"

"Of course not." But Cass doesn't have any unusual genes. Even so, of course… he couldn't. It's obvious — or he hopes it is, at least. Dr. Aldric frowns a bit before he goes on. "I don't want to see anyone hurt needlessly," comes his simple answer.

The unusual genes isn't really the point of the question. Cass nods and then turns to face out the window again. "Well, that's something we have in common." Maybe it runs in the family.

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