2007-11-07: Ironic Timing


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Summary: Is it a coincidence when the "most powerful person in the world" walks into a comic book/gamer store just as a couple gamers argue about the usefulness of someone who has the powers of everyone else in a campaign, or is it irony?

Date It Happened: November 7, 2007

Ironic Timing

The Secret Lair

Lee is a tortured soul. Forced to cover the register while the regular guy mops up a spill of Warhammer miniature paint in the back, the vents and floor fans chugging away to push the fumes of the paint remover out the back of the store rather than the front, Lee tries valiantly to write lesson plans on the Federalist Papers #9 while a skinny Asian kid in a Deadlands RPG T-shirt argues with a fat neckbearded guy in a 'Dungeon Masters Don't Kill People, Magic Missiles Do' T-shirt: "I just don't see your point." "You can't have a guy with every single power that everyone else has." "But why not?" "It's a 120 point game for one thing." "But the story, he could be good for the story." "Listen, that is a stupid idea, it's the worst, if one guy can show up and make everyone else superfluous, why are the rest of us even here?"

Lee chips in at this point, without looking up: "Who can say." he says, flatly.

The two glance at him, unsure of what they heard. Lee looks wearily at them: "Are you going to buy something?"

They move away, the argument re-starting with: "But for story purposes, it could be really cool…" Lee heaves a heavy sigh as if the word 'story', spoken in this context, has stabbed him with a needle. Previously dipped in sewage.

On that note, enter Peter Petrelli. That one guy. With many stories.

The door opens to reveal him. He looks rather out of place in this store. No signs of comic-book or gamer apparel on his body anywhere. In fact he's dressed practically, with heavy enough clothes for the warmth, and favoring darker colors. A longer coat and he could be a Matrix geek, but otherwise, he looks like the average New Yorker who has a job and personal hygene. Unaware of the conversation that prefaced his appearance, he looks around the store, catching a hint of the last line. Story purposes? The man at the counter is who he approaches though, toying with the cuff of his coat, "Hello, do you know if Kory is working today?"

Lee looks up from his lesson plans, closes his copy of 'Philosophical And Epistemological Foundations Of American Government' (which you cannot find in comic book form yet), and says, "Yeah, she should be in a bit later. Can I help you with something?" This last in a tone that implies he clearly thinks Peter is lost and could not possibly have intended to come here.

There's a hint of a conversation building in the background, the argument that preceeded him continuing. A few words catch Peter's ear, but he hasn't caught on to what they're arguing about yet. "I'm honestly not sure. I came here hoping to catch her. There's a few things I wanted to get her…" his voice trails off as he spots what the other man was reading. "That's… not the usual reading material I'd expect to see in this kind of place."

Lee says, eager to explain: "I'm only covering at this garbage stand because the jerkoffs in the back spilled their paint. It's my sister's shop and Kory's running it while she's out of town. Me, I'm a civics teacher. Hey, didn't I see you on TV? Petrelli, right? The guy with the disappearing brother that won the election anyway. I thought you were in prison or some corporation had kidnapped you or something." He knows what?!

There's a few moments of 'oh, I see' from the younger Petrelli brother, until he's recognized of course. Evil corporation— what? Peter blinks a few times, keeping his eye on the book for a moment as he seems to think about how to answer that, "Yeah, I'm Peter Petrelli— My case hasn't gone to court yet, but I'm— what do you mean kidnapped by an evil corportation?" That was almost a year ago. Almost exactly a year ago now.
GAME: Save complete.

Lee says, flippantly, "Maybe it was some other Peter Petrelli that was kidnapped by the bad guys from Robocop and busted out by an assorted band of wackjobs and losers. Sorry, where are my manners?" It is a mystery. "I'm Lee Jones." He puts out his hand.

"I wouldn't call them wackjobs and losers— but I guess I shouldn't be surprised you know something about that," Peter says, shaking his head a little as he reaches out to take the hand. His side of the handshake is only moderately firm, but firm enough. "Nice to meet you, Mr. Jones. This isn't the first time I've met someone who heard about that— it's just been a while since I met someone who did. It's been quite a few months since that happened. I'm guessing you know Cass?"

Lee's shake is graceful, but otherwise average. "Yes, I know Cass, known her ever since I moved back here. Most of the shops on the block and the people around the neighborhood… I live upstairs." he says. "How do you know Kory?"

"I work with Cass, at her Lab, and the bookstore too, but I'd never been here until recently," Peter glances away, looking up at the comic books on the wall, the gamer books on another wall, the figures, the card games. Not his sort of thing, by the look of it. But when he looks back he answers the question, "We met last month, there was an incident. I got the place that she worked and decided to track her down a few days later, but then some other things came up and I haven't been able to visit again til recently." He's being careful with his explanations, just like a politicians brother probably should be. Jones. Cass. Why is this tugging on a memory?

Lee says, "Of course you do." when Peter mentions where he works, as if that fits just exactly right into place. "An incident? Hm, she hadn't mentioned it to me…must be pretty private, we have been friends for a long time." He leans on the counter a bit, mulling this over - he doesn't seem put out that she didn't tell him, nor surprised, exactly, but he is concerned. "Is she in any kind of trouble? I can at least ask /that/ as a friend."

Not many people are willing to put up with a guy who vanishes for months at a time when he travels to the future or gets tragically sick, or various other circumstances that tend to pop up in the power absorber's life. Peter avoids direct eyecontact for a moment, which might be a sign of considering how best to lie. But when he looks back, he's more open instead. "She's not in trouble. I just need her advice on something, her help if she's willing to give it. I need help with a few things that are happening, but it shouldn't be dangerous for her." Course he did get that dog killed that one time, though, didn't he?

Lee says, encouragingly, "Kory's got a good head on her shoulders. If I'd listened to her more, I'd have had a lot better life. No kind of situation that a busted civics teacher with a clapped-out Volvo could help with, or make seven hundred times worse? The seven hundred times is a scientific estimate, I can't /guarantee/ I'll make it that much worse."

"I'm honestly not sure what I could ask you to do, a civics teacher who gets wrangled into working at the counter of a comic book store…" Peter trails off, not really intending to make fun of him when he says that, though it could be taken either way. "I guess I could ask you to keep an eye out for anyone showing signs of a flu that doesn't go away in a few days. And contact either me or Cass if you do. Cass is really more of an expert in this sort of thing than I am. I'm sure if you recognized me you already know I used to be a nurse."

Lee laughs at the quip, or is it a jab, lightheartedly, and says, "Touche'. What, is there a mutant death flu going around infecting everyone?" with a smirk of schadenfreude. "If you took all the 'superpower sickness' storylines in this dump and tried to fit them into longboxes, it would reach…" He interrupts his reverie to say: "Actually, no I didn't know you were a nurse, that's seriously quite impressive, but why 'used to be'?"

"I wouldn't call it a mutant death flu, but there's something going around," Peter does give, one corner of his mouth tugging towards the hint of a smile. Long boxes of comic books with virus storylines? "I had no idea. I thought virus storylines were things Saturday SciFi movies. But this is definitely not something made up. Cass is working nonstop on it." Former nurse. That causes him to look away, again. The hint of a smile is gone, replaced by some signs of discontent. "Technically my work at Cass' lab is could count in the same area at least, but I haven't really had time to get back into the swing of things and go back to actually being a nurse. I was in home hospice care, so it would take up most of my time."

Lee whistles lowly. "Wow. Well, that's pretty amazing, hope you can get back to it, or something like it, there's a huge need out there." he says, impressed. "I mean, after your legal problems are cleared up." he amends. "Cass is still running the labs? They haven't found an actual doctor yet? Not saying anything bad about her, or you for that matter, but…you know, never mind, I won't go down that road. I'll keep an eye out."

"Life would be a little bit easier if I could go back to it, but I'm not sure if that's what I'm meant to do anymore," Peter says, voice trailed off a bit before he looks back, eyebrows raising. "No, I understand. Cass is more of a scientist than a doctor, certainly better at the lab work than I am." Where their actual medical knowledge would be about on the same level, honestly… "But there are a couple doctors helping with this particular case. I bet she'd love to hire one full-time."

Lee scoffs: "'Meant' to do, by who, God? Yeah, God is really against helping people in need, it pisses him off, I think that's in the Bible somewhere." Clearly Lee grinds the mandates of Fate under his heel. That'll work out well for him. "I was just saying, she really didn't finish med school and a lot of very capable /doctors/ aren't qualified to do CDC type stuff. But if you guys have help, that's good. And I understand, you know, patients don't want to go public. It's just bullshit that they have to get treated in some underground facility by under-qualified and part-time people just because they have this secret. It's bullshit."

"I wouldn't say God exactly," Peter says, never the religious type. "I more think it's… I'm supposed to help more than one person at a time." There's an optimistic dreamer tone to his voice, before he nods. "I understand that. It's— more than just some things that need to be kept secret, though. I mean you know all about this— and you know about the people who were holding me… if this went public, they could try to silence us, or the people involved. It's likely they already covered up what started this whole thing." Finally something clicks into place. Knows Cass— has kind of an attitude about certain things— "Do you also have a secret, Lee?"

Lee says, "Secret? No…" He amends: "… well, just my parents." He indicates a picture behind the counter - the only one left of what used to be dozens. "They're freelancers and worked for that company at least once. Obsessed with superpowers. It's why they built this shop. They figured that people /with/ superpowers would be interested in fictionalizations and would come here in disproportionate numbers. They…did a lot of other pretty crazy things, too, let's just leave it at that. My dad was at the lab for a while as a patient, so he knows about it." Lee must not think they're /much/ of a secret if he'll just tell anyone who walks in about them. He's clearly resolved his feelings about the situation on some level.

Some people keep secrets better than others. Peter likely wouldn't have mentioned them if the other man hadn't first, but there's something about his story that seems to surprise him quite a bit. "Oh. Mr. and Mrs. Jones…" He sounds as if that's the last thing that he expected. Another memory clicking into place. This one a little more relevant, "I was there when we found your father. But I…" Huh. He's now trying to remember whatever happened to that man. His trip to the future happened soon after, and by the time he got sick and spent weeks in Bat Country, the man was long gone. That, and his boss didn't really keep him informed on that particular case, even if he helped treat him the first time.

Lee says, "Well, thanks for that. He ended up in the lab infirmary for a while, in a coma. The theory was that he had ODed on the drugs a guy used to help keep control of him. He woke up, got his bearings, figured out what had happened to him, then drugged Cass and myself and ran off with the contents of the lab computer." This last with a wry half-grin. "A real bona fide idiot. That's my dad." Lee takes Peter's pause as a prompt to tell his father's story after the rescue, nothing more.

There's definitely a strange look on Peter's face when he hears this story, a surprised blink. "I tried to fix the imbalance as much as I could when we found him, but he'd been under Carter's control for so long that I wasn't sure what we could really do to fix it entirely, but…" There's something confused in his expression, "When did this happen? With the computer theft?"

Lee says, "A month ago? No, a bit more than a month. It seems like forever. He didn't get away with any patient records, just what was in the testing computer. It was really the first time I'd been able to talk to him since he disappeared. Oh, the imbalance was fixed with time. He was clean by the time he woke up. This was just his own loony-ness."

There's a slow nod in response, but Peter still looks visibly bothered by something to do with this. "I'll talk to Cass about this. I might be able to find him for you again. Especially if he's ran off with lab information." But… There's a pause and he glances down toward his wristwatch. "Do you know when Kory's coming in? I think it might be best if I just come back later and catch her then."

Lee says, sharply, "Don't bother. I don't really care where he is or what he's doing. None of it matters. He's made his decision about my sister and I and he can live with that decision. I have to. He knows where I am if he has any interest in talking. Besides, you don't want to give a nutjob like that a whack at you. Who knows who he might trade info about you to. At least me, he thinks I'm completely worthless because I don't have powers. You, oh, he'd be /very/ interested in you." Lee glances up at the clock. "She comes on shift in an hour and a half…why don't you check back after the evening Magic brackets get going at eight? There's usually some dead time then."

"Yeah, he sounds like someone who'd be interested in me," Peter says softly, frowning visibly as he hopes his training info wasn't included on the lab files, at the very least. "I'll try back around then, but… abilities don't matter as much as he thinks. I've seen what happens to a world where people without abilities are deemed useless— it's not a world anyone wants to see." That's about as direct as he can get with things, but since he's bringing up abilities… "You seem to know who you are and what you want to do with your life, which is more than I can say for a lot of people. You are not worthless, Lee. And if I think of something more you can help with, I'll let you know."

Lee grins. "I tend to need more punctures than pumps for my self-esteem, and I never really listened to any of the crap my parents said when they were pretending to be semi-normal, but thank you. And yes, I've been telling people all along these abilities don't mean anything. What a waste of everyone's precious time and energy." he says, shaking his head. "A perfectly respectable hospice nurse, and now where are you? At least /I/ can be a teacher and make a difference, you're stuck in a corner. I'll see you around, Peter."

Something about 'perfectly respectable hospice nurse' makes Peter laugh, or technically make a sound that's very similar to a laugh, but more like a pitched inhale. "Good luck with the rest of your shift while they clean up paint in the back," is all he says in response, before he turns and makes his way to the door. He's also reaching for his phone before he even gets outside.

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