2009-10-08: Fighting the Institution



Guest Starring: MacMillan

Date: October 8th, 2009


Unikely contacts Angela Petrelli and Lee Jones do not see eye to eye.

"Fighting the Institution"

Lee finishes up his morning classes at Brubaker Secondary. On the blackboard he has written 'Thenardier Changes' and 'Thenardier Constant', which students have written in adjectives underneath. "Okay, everyone, remember, I won't be at office hours today, but at lunchtime tomorrow, I will." He is packing up in a hurry as the kids leave, when one pauses, showing him a CD: "Did you really date Joule Dahanuakar?" "My private life is not your concern, Tom." Lee says without really looking. "Now scoot, I have to go." Tom scoots.

He barely makes the express train, but he makes it. It's two transfers to get on the line that heads out to Passaic. Nevertheless he arrives around lunchtime and even has time to grab a brown paper bag with a burger and a salad from the local grill, which he noshes on as he goes over papers and lesson plans at a desk that looks a lot like the desk he just left. MacMillan, his "aide", angrily stews nearby over something Lee must have done sometime, but says nothing. The kids are not in yet, but they will be soon.

Passaic, NJ

An unannounced guest resides in Palisades Boarding School this afternoon. A VIP, though she is not a familiar face to any of the children. Knock knock — a few raps sound next to the door of the classroom, heralding the figure of Angela Petrelli. The matriarchal woman is in the process of folding the black coat she removed after her arrival, draping it over her arm. The navy blue jacket and skirt, widely trimmed by white, strike a bold, strong figure, matching the lady herself. "Mr. Jones. MacMillan," she greets civilly. "I'm sorry to interrupt your lunch. Lee, I'd like a word before the children get to class."

MacMillan leaps to his feet, "Ms. Petrelli! You must have got my memo." he whines with a superior smirk coming to his face. "You can't let him keep on like this, it's an absolute outrage. It's the last straw, it has to be. Get him out of here and close this place down before nightfall. He's going to ruin everything."

Lee, by contrast, doesn't look up from the essays, marking something with a red pencil, but instead says, "I know one way to resolve this, let's ask the experts. Of the three people in this room, why doesn't everyone with actual classroom training and experience raise their hands?" He then looks around as if interested, and slowly, sarcastically, if that word can apply, raises his own hand. Apparently surprised to see it, he says, "Oh, look, it's me. Hi." He smiles at Angela. "Hi. I'm glad you're here, I wanted to talk about our post-secondary planning process." There's a post-secondary planning process?

"That's just what I'm talking about." MacMillan mutters, pointing angrily. "He thinks they're going to go to college."

Angela observes teacher and aide with a hint of a smirk twisting classically red-painted lips, but it's only barely enough to truly appear amused. She steps briskly into the room, approaching the teacher's desk. "And why shouldn't they," she challenges casually. "If they become well-enough adjusted, they should go to college, get a well-rounded education, friends, as normal a life as their genetics will let them." A pause. She hasn't glanced at MacMillan throughout all of this, but she does so now. "Give us a moment, will you, MacMillan? I'll send you a memo later."

MacMillan looks like a fish who has been netted and landed, gulping for air. He stomps out. Lee says, not even deigning to notice MacMillan's departure, "Glad you agree. The main issue is going to be socialization. Even a community college, an independent living program is going to get them out of this hermetically sealed box, and the 'secret'…" Lee can do those air quotes without even moving his fingers, "…is going to be as dead as Dillinger."

"What we have to worry about right now is whether or not they'll get a chance at socialization." Angela moves from her spot in front of Lee's desk; rather than addressing him from a student's spot, she sits down at a chair near his desk, likely MacMillan's. "A hermetically sealed box is exactly what they need right now." Mrs. Petrelli crosses her legs, hands on her knees. "I've ordered extra security around here. So far Palisades have been safe, but now… the tide is changing. We can't be sure."

Lee stares a little. "What the hell are you talking about? Tide? What tide, there was a tide? I mean, other than the tide of history, which I would think, since you've picked the wrong side, you'd be thrilled if it was changing. FYI, It is not changing." he says casually.

"In a manner of speaking … yes," Angela answers, although it's with no shortage of glaring at Lee. "There's a lot you don't know about history, Lee, despite your credentials. You understand even less about the intentions and the past of the Company, but you look after these children, you foster their education and the hope that they'll one day lead a better life so that, one day, we won't have to round them up into a cell for the safety of themselves and their neighbours. That's why you have to continue to do your job. You need to watch out for these kids as much as you can, because there is someone out there, not us, who are going after people with abilities. People are being taken. We suspect some children are among them."

Lee stares…then starts chuckling darkly. "Oh, people are being 'taken'? Shock and horror! I see your point. The competition is catching up to your strategies. What if they kidnap people for no reason more cheaply than you do? What if their secret underground bunkers are more attractive to consumers than yours? Do you think…" He leans over and feigns solemnity. "…do you think they'll take smaller bribes than you will?" He shakes his head. "The free market hard at work again." Then, not feigning, he says, quite seriously, "Let me get this straight. People with particular genetic markers are being kidnapped, just like this institution does. And your solution, your very best thinking on this subject, is to try to make things more secret. Put a few more locks on the doors and filing cabinets, spend ten million to encrypt the files against their five. That's waht you came up with. You do see how that makes the situation worse, right? You do see how that is the exact wrong plan to make."

The malice in Angela's dark eyes could move mountains as she listens. The woman's jaw hardens and seems to square an increment more. "That's the plan for the children, Lee, because they're children," she hisses. Her voice is concrete. "Your point of view is so small. You don't see how dangerous your ideologies could be. We believe the government is involved in taking these people. This very government. Do you know what that means?"

Lee says, "It means that the whole effort is wasted, that you'll never accomplish anything with more security, nothing. Zero. It is an absolute waste of time and effort that will make things worse for the kids. I know what it means. I'm pretty confident you still haven't got a clue. Of course the government was going to do something boneheaded, the only ones more boneheaded are private corporations. I knew that from day one. So I did what I could given that I'm just some shmuck from the Village." Now there's a scary thought. "You're signing the checks with all the zeros, hire as many rent a goons as you want, I guess. Everyone needs a hobby to keep them out of the street and off the public dole. Anything else?"

Angela has a dark look about her. A look that says someone should probably stop her from ordering Lee to be Haitianed and stuffing him in a small box out of everyone's sight for the next twenty years. "Oh please, you have no idea what you're talking about. We plan to fight back against this, but to do that we have to have shelter. We have to keep people safe when they can't do it themselves because that is what we do, even if you never see it!" The woman rises. "I sometimes question ever hiring you, Lee. If you want to keep making a difference here, you best re-evaluate your worldview," she says, acrid. "Just do your job and alert the Company immediately if you see anyone lurking around the building. Anything at all suspicious."

Lee says. flippantly, "The reason you question hiring me here is because this classroom undermines everything you have done with the entire rest of the Company and - as far as I know - your life every day it is in operation. And that…" Here he smiles. "…That's the only reason I ever agreed to come here. Sure, I'll report anyone hanging around who doesn't seem to have a good reason for being here. Let's start with this guy named MacMillan. Now he claims to be a teacher's aide, but…"

Angela had started to stalk away, but she lurches back and approaches Lee's desk. She brusquely puts her coat on, vigorously flipping the collar up around her neck before leaning against the edge of the desk. "Disparage me and the things this Company has done in the past all you want, pretend we're the worst villains in the world, but don't think for an instant that you know me." She shoves up, adjusting her coat, beginning to button it. "And put up with your TA." The Company's director eyes Lee for another moment, a good deal of wisdom behind her glare despite whatever it is the teacher may say. She turns on her heel to march to the door.

Lee says nothing, lets her go. MacMillan hounds Angela all the way to the parking lot, demanding the closure of the facility and the incarceration of the kids 'in light of the security situation.' By the time she's gotten to her car, Lee is already discussing patterns in algebra with the class. Surely that can't really be as subversive as he thinks. Can it?

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