2010-01-11: Like Candy for Your Brain



Date: January 11th, 2010


A Geek God and a punk princess walk into a zoo…

"Like Candy for Your Brain"

Staten Island Zoo, Staten Island, NYC

It's probably been established that Lena has certain issues, among them fear of abandonment. This translates to her being something of a pest about "checking in". So it was that a day and a half after Gene got a message about the girls being at the Petrelli safehouse, he gets another phonecall; Jade's cell number and Lena's voice on the message: "Hey Gene, it's me. Niki. Yeah, guess who got 'hold of you know who? Anyway, I was just checking to see how you were doing and if you wanted to meet up or something. Um. Yeah…you know where the Staten Island Zoo is? I'm gonna be there around lunch time, maybe noon? I'm looking at a map now. If you can show, I'll be at the Aquarium thing in the middle. Hope you're okay."

Who goes to the zoo in the winter time? City girls, that's who. When the appointed hour rolls around, Lena walks past the floor to ceiling tanks of sealife to find an unoccupied bench against a wall. There really aren't many people around, but she's bundled up anyway with her fur-lined hood up over her head to hide the lighter shade of her hair. The rippling light coming from the water behind the glass gives her eyes a blue-green sheen as they study the fish.

It's a little like being back home in Miami, between the colors and the light. Even the slight chill in the air mimics the extreme air-conditioning that Southerners deep necessary for much of the year. The similarity is enough that Lena's wearing a small smile even as she scuffs her feet against the concrete floor, trying not to fidget in impatience.

The trench that 'Prometheus' usually has is buttoned up all the way up, the collar popped to hide most of the bodysuit. Like most things in Gene's apartment, all of Gene's clothes have gone the way of the Dodo, blasted into a million pieces. For many reasons, he hasn't really been up for shopping. So, he toward the fish tank in question, his eyes covered by the sunglasses he was lucky enough to leave in his car.

As he spots Lena, he only has one thing to say in the tired tone of his as he walks up to her, his combat boots clopping along the ground. "You're using a dead woman's name," he states, seemingly uncaring of the location he is in or the people around him.

As greetings go, it rates high for creativity and individuality. Lena has some warning, thanks to those boots and the acoustics in here, so she's standing by the time Gene approaches. But the words, the accompanying tone of voice, make her blink. "Uhhh…hi to you too."

Great. So the fourteen year old not only gave her a stripper's name, but it's a dead stripper's name. The young woman breathes out huffily, lower lip jutting out to puff the bangs from her eyes.

"I'm not using it, it was given to me. I gave him suggestions and he picked Niki Hawking. And Tracy, for Jade." Lena pauses, giving Gene a sharper look. The once-over completed, she tilts her head and musters a smile. "Did I piss you off somehow? I thought I was being good."

"No, Sylar pissed me off by trying to kill me and making me blow up my damn home to throw him off my trail," Gene states in a chilly voice. He walks on before remembering stating, "He used to be a killer and might be again. He's got a lot of powers like Peter. Powerful." He sighs as he moves on, starting to walk as he seems incredibly restless, though he keeps the tone low to ensure random passer-bys aren't totally confused by the conversation topic. "As for your names, I would have hoped Rebel would have done a better job, but I guess no one's perfect."

Wait, what?

Gene certainly has a knack for shutting Lena up. She blinks several times in quick succession, startled enough that she has to hurry to catch up with the young man. "I…don't think I understand, why'd he try to kill you? You blew up your house?" That certainly puts things into perspective…

"Gene, wait." Talking low is all well and good but Lena isn't capable of discussing weighty topics while on the move. So she reaches out in an attempt to take his elbow and wheel him around. She isn't annoyed. Far from it; the only emotion in her expression is worry and he's given a second looking over. "Are you okay?"

The entire body tenses up as Gene pivots on one foot. His tone is still hushed, but clearly angry. "No, I'm not okay. I've been doing a good job of keeping myself as sane good guy, but it's getting too much. I barely have anything save the tools in my car right now until Eric can hook me up with more stuff. And I don't know why, he wasn't really in a talking mood, just threw me against the wall like he was gunna cut my head open like I hear he did with the rest of the people he killed."

The young genius shakes his head. "When all of this is done, I'm freakin' going to Disney World… And then Disney Land. And then being a pirate for fun and leisure."

"He…you…jesus." Lena can do little but stammer and stare. It's bad enough to know they have to deal with the government breathing down their necks, but hearing that there is a serial killer with super special powers? Targetting her friend? In the end, she takes a page from Pete's book. Of course, Peter is far more accomplished at hugging, and less concerned about personal space. So Lena kind of twitches in place before throwing caution to the wind and stepping in close to get her arms around Gene. Should she succeed, awkwardness will be replaced with a surprisingly strong clinch. Relief does wonders for upper body strength.

"I'm glad you're okay. And…and you should stay with us. There's another room. No furniture but we got money and…and…god, Gene. I'm sorry. I'll pay for you to go, if you want."

The Geek God takes a step back, but before he can fully react, he finds the arms of Lena around him. He doesn't say anything at first, but he does give a tired sigh after a few moments has past. "..It's not your fault, Lena," Gene offers, his words a soft whisper while the woman is so close to him.

"Until the Alpha Protocol is handled, I'll just have to be on my own for awhile, using motels here and there until things get a little safer. I'm not sure if Sylar will keep looking for me, but if he does, best to stay away from you, Peter, and Jade. If he really is becoming a killer again, having Evolved around him would be like asking him to kill you and take your power. Trust me, it's best this way. I'll still be around, just keeping my movements as under the radar as possible."

"That doesn't mean I can't feel like shit that I couldn't…wait." Lena must be worse at this comforting thing than she realized, because she draws back to look Gene in the eyes. She, of course, is frowning. And gripping his arms as if she expected him to take off at any minute.

"Take my…? He…" Remembering where they are, she forces her voice into a softer tone but it is no less intense. "He cuts off heads and takes people's powers? And you're going to go on the run alone? No. That's so dumb I can't even…it's…what the hell, you're supposed to be smart. Look, I'm from the South and I knew lots of hunters and they always went for the deer or whatever that was alone."

The reply is firm and resolved even as the grip on his arms tightens. "I'm. No. Deer," Gene states with a hardened look in his eyes. "If he comes after me, I'll be ready for him. But it's like in the movies, Lena. I can't go all out if I'm worrying about other people. And if he happens upon the place where Peter is, it will get ugly and draw the attention of the government. If I find other friends I can stay with, I'll do that, but for right now, I can't risk Peter and I can't risk you and Jade." A split second pause is given as if to say 'end of discussion'. "What were you going to talk to me about before we got sidetracked with Sylar talk?"

Lena's hands drop away, the look in her eyes transitioning from fear and concern for Gene to confusion and a hint of hurt. It'll be the end of the discussion when someone's bruised feelings say it's the end. "What happened to sticking with your friends? Or…or letting them help if you're gonna do something dumb and dangerous? We could help. I could help. But you're gonna…go off on your own and leave?"

Having been the one to stop their stroll through the glass hallways, Lena now begins it again. She steps past the genius, shoving her hands into her pockets and tucking her head down beneath the hood. "I don't even remember what else I was gonna say. It…you…god damnit." Sputter.

Sticking his hands in his trenchcoat, Gene continues on with a semi-conversational tone. "I'm not leaving you alone. I'll still be around to talk and stuff and even help out on saving the world. I just won't be staying around your place. I mean, if this is all because Tiago's gone and you want an attractive man to snuggle up with, I guess from time to time, we could… But I take it that wasn't what you wanted to talk about originally. If I need help, I'll ask for it. Promise."

"No, you're going to be out there alone. With some sick fucker hunting you, maybe, and if he gets you, then you…won't…what?" That was a short-lived walk. This time it's Lena who turns on her heel and comes to an abrupt halt. Her eyes narrow, one slightly more than the other. "Did you just make a joke when I'm bein' worried about you dying? 'Cause if you just made a joke, especially that kinda joke, when I'm busy being all afraid for your life? That's an ass-kicking."

There is an awkward pause. "No… No joke. I just thought you were frustrated more than usual and all that due to…" Gene puts up his fingers to make air quotations. "'sexual tension'." The young man sighs, going on before Lena explodes out bring up sexual tension in a conversation involving his own life. "I'll be fine. I mean, seriously, when have I been wrong yet?" Good thing about all of this, if he is wrong and dies, he won't have to admit his wrong. A+!!!!

Oh, how genius confuses her. Maybe this is how normal people feel when confronted with the little quirks of Lena's ability, because she's left staring. "You're…you're offering to fuck me. To make me feel better." Silly Gene, there is no going on before Lena can comment about sex. "And then you're going to go play dodge the serial killer. Am I…am I missing something here? Like…did you maybe…get so smart you replaced yourself with a robot? A dumb robot? 'Cause I'm pretty sure you wouldn't let me do this."

"CUDDLING IS NOT SEX!" Gene exclaims as he leaps back in fear. Is she going to try and snag him here? His virginity is in dan-Oh, it isn't, it's just some good old misunderstanding, a normal meal when chilling with Gene. As the people that might be around stare, Gene moves in closer to whisper again.

"This is NOT the same. I've had experience with this person and I've proven myself able to handle him once already. If it was just you and me, maybe that might be different, but it's safer with Peter than with me, so stick with him. This isn't exactly the option I want either, but it's the best I can think of, other than trying to get some people to hunt down Sylar… But right now, Alpha Protocol needs to come first."

"Oh god." Please, help her. Help her to understand. Lena looks around, catching those stares and feeling a flutter of panic for them. She reaches out to seize the young man's arm again, looking to pull him with her into the corner where concrete and glass walls meet. It isn't shadowy, just slightly more sheltered. But have no fear, it isn't an attempt at molestation.

Her voice lowers, and she looks up at him with eyes that are concerned even through the unnatural green tint. "Look. Look, Gene…if you can tell me why I'm safer with Peter but you wouldn't be too, I swear I won't bitch at you or guilt-trip you or anything. And don't say 'cause you'd lead him to us, okay? If the Protocol hasn't raided us to get me back…Pete can teleport, what's his face with the dumb name wouldn't be able to find you and I swear, I'll cuddle you all you want if you don't run off and get yourself killed. Please?"

The young man allows himself to be dragged, his eyes meeting hers. "Because like me, Peter can't be everywhere at once. Because like me, Peter is likely wanted by the government since he was working for them and is likely considered 'rogue' after you purged him and Tracy from Wynn's influence. Because the more Evolved gathered in one place over a period of time, the more attention they draw. Encounters here and there are one thing, staying in one living space is another. And they haven't raided to get you back likely because they don't know. They are still active, Lena… I promise if anything happens, I'll call. And even IF Sylar wants me dead, there may be tricks left to play. Please Lena, don't look at it like I'm running away. Just please…"

Gene lifts a hand to try and place it upon her shoulder. "Trust me. The only time I plan on dying is if I can't see any other better way. And right now? I do. When we stop the Protocol and Sylar, then I'll start my own company, you, Tiago, and even Jade can work there with some friends of mine, it'll be great. Until then, I'll just have to live away. I'll be around still. I don't abandon the people I care about. Not now. Not ever."

Lena deflates, expression crumpling in the dangerous and feminine manner that signals impending tears. Her shoulders sad then hold under his hands as she lifts a hand up to swipe at her eyes. That prevents the tears at least. But not the glare. "You better call even if nothing happens. I swear to god, Gene. Just 'cause you're like a super smart ninja hero doesn't mean I'm not gonna worry, okay? I'll get Jade to come after you if you're not careful." And that is a threat not tendered lightly.

Then the poor man is subject to his second hug of the day, her messy head turned ear to chest. "I don't care what happens after. Just don't get hurt. And…and if you need anything…" She pauses a beat before adding, "I almost got truth serum down."

"I wish I was a ninja… Then I could move so quick, I could rip off Sylar's heart in a split second and then the second one when he regenerated the first," Gene states with a soft smile as he relaxes into the hug and returns it, craddling Lena gently. "I promise I'll be as careful as I always am. And that I'll make a couple of tricks so if there is a next time, I'll come out of it just as well as I did the first. If we can just make it out of this… The lemons tossed at us now, we can make them into lemonade, I just know it. There is going to be a meeting soon… It's going to change everything. Make sure when the message is out, you're there."

Lena trembles but it isn't from crying. Mostly. The young woman gives a shaky laugh, and a slightly less attractive sniff. "You gotta stop reading those inspirational posters, man. They're like candy for your brain, they give you head cavities." Cavities which lead to running rather than going to ground.

With the hug accepted, she takes the liberty of drawing her arms snug to cling for a moment longer. Then Lena lets Gene go and steps back the half-step allowed by the tank behind her. "I'll be there. Jade too. Oh…" She looks down while reaching into her pocket, coming out with a small metal flask that is offered in one hand. The other is busy with rubbing at her nose, a task which seems to require avoiding eye-contact. "Here. It's the coma stuff. I didn't know how much you had left so…I wish I brought more, now."

A soft chuckle is given as the geek pulls away. "Nothing wrong with hope as long as it is tempered with hard work and persistance, Lena… And there is hope to be had," Gene replies as he takes the flask and puts it away. "Anything else you wanted to talk about or did you just want to hang for a bit? I have some time if you want to do that."

"Yeah?" That earns a look, complete with raised eyebrows and a tentative smile from Lena. "You know, I think that's like the first time you've just wanted to hang out. Usually you just stop at the anything else you wanna talk about part…wait. It's 'cause your house exploded, isn't it? Nothing else to do but maybe check into a motel, or hang out with the jerk who yells at you for being all heroic. I see how it is."

She tucks her hands into their respective pockets and glances off to the side. "I guess maybe it'd be nice to have someone to see the zoo with. If you promise to stop with the motivational stuff. I'm not gonna be fooled into not worrying."

"Actually, it's because I figured we were both in a screwed up spot and figured 'just hanging out' would be good for the pair of us. But, eh, if brutal honesty was scary to me, I would have stopped talking to you months ago," Gene states with a smirk before he starts walking. "I'll do my best, but if there is a kitten holding onto a tightrope valiently, I make no promises."

"Screwed up is a good way to put it," Lena agrees as she falls into step. Her head is turned to watch the tanks as they scroll by. "And I like hanging out. It's been…yeah." Awhile. She manages a quirky but brief grin, shaking a hand free of its pocket in order to loop it through Gene's arm. "Tell you what, we see a kitten on a tightrope here and I'll let you buy me lunch. And before you go all smart on me, I'm talking housecat kitten. None of that lions and tigers and oh my crap. You don't get to cheat just 'cause I took you to the zoo."

Gene is a little surprised by the arm going through his, but other than the slight raising of his eyebrows, he does little to react. His tone staying converasation, the young revolutionary continues on with Lena. "That is unfair, the odds of even wild kittens doing that is low. Why don't we go all the way and say that unless a duck is killing a frog with a pocket knife, I don't get to buy you lunch." There is a brief silence as Gene looks over to Lena with a faint hint of confusion. "Wait, why am I trying to earn the chance to spend money again?"

It's easier to maintain the grin this time, and Lena doesn't even bother to try to keep the smug from her expression. "Even geniuses can be really, really dumb sometimes." She pauses, steals a glance that lets green eyes meet blue, then amends the previous statement. "I mean, you're just not used to me looking out for you, right? So it's habit. But hey, I got a place and money and stuff. You don't. So…I win?" So eager and fake-innocent that smile, and insistant the tug on his arm, steering Gene towards a set of double-doors "Cmon, they have a tropical jungle inside and everything." Pause. "There might be frogs." But probably no ducks.

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