2007-03-22: Mad World (Part One)


Elena_icon.gif Ramon_icon.gif Desiree_icon.gif Nima_icon.gif Molly_icon.gif

Summary: In New York City, a teenager is sleeping, a little girl lies awake, a visitor is relaxing with a glass of wine, and a comic book shop owner is working on closing shop for the evening. All are drawn yet again by the mysterious workings of Circumstance to stop a father with a gun and the wrong target in mind.

Date It Happened: March 22, 2007

Mad World (Part One)

Somewhere in New York City

All around me are familiar faces
Worn out places, worn out faces
Bright and early for their daily races
Going nowhere, going nowhere
Their tears are filling up their glasses
No expression, no expression
Hide my head I want to drown my sorrow
No tomorrow, no tomorrow
And I find it kind of funny
I find it kind of sad
The dreams in which I'm dying
Are the best I've ever had
I find it hard to tell you
I find it hard to take
When people run in circles
It's a very, very…

It is the evening. There is a light rain falling from the darkened skies of New York. In Queens, a father and daughter has just returned from the hospital a few hours ago, with the daughter put to bed, and leaving the father to his own devices. Somewhere else in the city, there is a little girl marked by danger, and in yet another part of the city, there is someone - an occasional visitor to the city, though this is certainly not her first time here. Destiny, Fate, Coincidence, whatever one deigns to call it, will once again work its crazy voodoo on these individuals this evening as water falls from the sky.

And it starts with a waking dream.

Wherever Desiree is, whatever she's doing, a hazy sort of picture will unfold before her, involving a man she knows - someone who she has identified as God fearing, which is why this picture might seem a little strange. Esoteric elements of the waking dream dance before her, a strange symbol wrought in black iron, faded snippets of a gravelly voice that sounds like a man who had smoked too much cigarettes in his lifetime. There is a foot chase, through boulevards and streets that she would recognize in New York. And finally, the climax, visions of a heavy set man walking away from a building somewhere in East Village, carrying a folded up paper and a baseball cap pulled low on his head. When he turns around, Ramon is there, with a gun.

Two gunshots ring out. The man falls onto the ground, dropping his newspaper and letting it soak in the dark and the water. His baseball cap rolls to a stop a few inches from him. And should Dezi 'turn' her head in the dream, she will find the shadow of a man, dark and ominous, closing his cellphone shut, before walking away, hands in his pockets, but not before slipping the phone into the trash.

Oh, but if only if understanding were so instantaneous. As the images spill out before her, Desiree Russo is sitting on the floor of the kitchenette of the small, cozy bed and breakfast she's been staying since she arrived in New York again just a couple of days ago. She was just going to have a relaxing evening with a glass of wine, but no such luck. "Why's it always the rain," she murmurs, pressing her palms into the old, yellow-and-orange laminate floor, her legs akimbo around her. The faces, the street signs, the gun, the rain: to anyone else, the woman would appear to be staring what's spilled in front of her: wine, with shards of slick glass scattered everywhere. It never quite fulfilled its destiny - then again…

A finger reaches out to move a shard of glass in the puddle. "Okay. Okay. I'ma regret this." She takes a steadying breath and clambers up, rumming frantically through an open suitcase on the bed until she finds a dark violet rain-slicker. She pauses to look out the window that overlooks the quiet street of the B&B. Hesitating.

But soon, Desiree is sliding into the back of a taxi. "East Village, please. Oor actually, jus' drive and I'll tell you where to go in a minute, okay?" She fumbles to find a cell phone in her purse, flipping through numbers until she finds 'Gomez, Ramon'.

Gomez Apartment, Queens, New York

Across the city from where Desiree is, a teenager is sleeping. Though it isn't a peaceful rest. Considering how exhausted she is, it ought to be. But Elena tosses and turns. She could hear gunshots in her head. She sees blood. She could hear….something ringing. Probably her ears? Her alarm clock? She gropes around for it as eyes flicker, crusted with exhaustion, and cracking halfway open. Her fingers fumble for her alarm clock, only to realize that it's not ringing.

The ringing was coming from her living room.

By the time she realizes this, it's too late. She rolls over and crashes hard on the hardwood floor of her room, a pillow bonking her on the head, and half her covers spilling down with her. Looks like her father tucked her in rather tightly before leaving her to her own devices. "Uuuuuuuuuuuuugghhhh…." Ring ring. Ring ring. That was her father's cellphone. Why wasn't he picking up?

Ripping the covers and sheets off her, she staggers upwards, padding to the kitchen in nothing but a shirt and a pair of shorts. She rakes her hand through her tangled hair, dimly noticing that it was dark in the apartment and that it was cold and raining - goosebumps from the drop in temperature are on her skin. Before the ringing can get to voicemail, she fumbles on her father's phone, and answers it. "Hello, Ramon Gomez's phone," she murmurs, her voice hoarse as she tries to wake up.

Somewhere in New York

Meanwhile, a frustrated Ramon Gomez is sitting in traffic in a taxi. His van is still outside at the apartment. He has a hat pulled low over his eyes, shading them, and the collar of his jacket is pulled way up. His very legitimate and registered gun is still at home. His unregistered gun, courtesy of Lachlan, is hidden in his jacket. The one Elena spotted in the first place. He has in his head how badly he did at the shooting range, but perhaps he can just get close. He is impatient with the rain, the traffic, everything. This bastard shot a friend of his. While trying to shoot his daughter. The cops have done jack all. His leg moves. Up and down. Up and down. His right leg, fidgeting as the bright city lights go by and cast his face in red light.

In another taxi across the city, Desiree taps a red-painted nail against the side of her cell phone. Come on come on come on. "Does this thing even get recep— " She holds it away from her ear and eyes it just as a voice pipes up on the other end. "Hi, hello? I needa speak with Ramon Gomez," comes the Mississippi-accented voice, speaking each word slowly as if that will punctuate her point more firmly. "It's a matter of like, some… kinda… importance." Pause. "Hey, who is this?"

Gomez Apartment, New York City

The woman on the phone sounds familiar. Elena pauses. Did Papa get a girlfriend she didn't know about? "Hi….who is this?" Right along the same time as Dezi asks for her identity. "This is Elena….Papa…isn't here right now, I don't know why he decided not to carry his phone around." Which seems, to Elena, a trivial oversight - after all, it happens - but probably not to Desiree who saw the things she did. "Can I take a message?" It does sound really important though, by the way the woman is talking. Her accent is nagging her though. She knows the voice. It's just that she hasn't heard it in a really long while.

Somewhere in New York City

Two taxis pass in the night, but Ramon doesn't even spot Desi as his passes hers. It's one of those cinematic moments, the type that make everyone following along in the home audience facepalm. And he's just a shadow in the window, not even really visible through the dark and the rain. A guy wearing a hat. Nothing more. Ramon's leg moves faster, and his fist clenches and unclenches.

"Elena… oh, oh, I met you! Yeah! We all had dinner, after church one day, it was a l'il while back- this is Desiree, Desiree Russo," the woman explains, in the midst of gesturing wildly at the cab driver and making him swerve into the next lane once he hits this street. She's clueless as they zip past Ramon. "No no make a lef' -uuh, right. Oh where the blazes…" Screeching tires can be heard over the line. She scrunches a hand into her multitude of dark curls. Cluing back into the fact that she's on the phone with Ramon's daughter, she says with urgency, "Do you know where he is? I know it's kinda outta nowhere 'cause I don't really know y'all that well, but I think— this is gonna sound real crazy and I'm probably a nutter, but I think somethin's wrong."

Gomez Apartment, Queens, New York

"….Ms. Russo?" Elena says, blinking. "You were at my father's parish that day. We all went out to get food…" Oh yes, she remembers her. She furrows her brows a little bit as she squints, looking around. What was going on? Papa just came from Rhode Island and now he was gone again? She rubs her eyes, wiping the sleep gunk from them and moving to the bathroom. The woman sounds urgent though, and when she says there's something wrong, it wakes her up like a splash of ice cold water to the face. "I….I don't know where he is. What do you mean something's wrong?" She turns on the faucet, and she splashes water on her face with one hand. At the words 'This is going to sound crazy', THAT'S when she really starts to listen. Because she's said that SO MANY TIMES in the last few weeks before saying something crazy that didn't end up being crazy.

Somewhere in New York City

The taxi turns a corner and hits some lighter traffic, and Ramon settles down, starting to relax as the delays slow down. He reaches into his jacket. His fingers caress the comforting weight of the .38, but then they fall on his rosary beads. He pulls them out and they click between his fingers, one by one. Olive wood and chisolite. "O Mi Jesus, nos perdona nuestros pecados, nos salvan de los fuegos del infierno." The cabbie's eyes shift back to the man muttering prayers in Spanish. He says nothing, though, merely snorting.

"Nonono, I need you to go to the East Village," Desiree says, her voice muffled as she holds the phone along her jaw, directing the cabbie. "Yea," she tells Elena. "I need you to just, just go along with me for a minute here Ms. Gomez," she says, gesturing emphatically even though the girl obviously can't see her from Queens. "Sometimes I see these pictures, and then they come true, like a psychic or somethin' only it's a lot more confusin' than the television makes it out to be," she explains, snorting after the fact. "S'why I came back to New York, because— well, never mind, point is, I saw your daddy. He got a gun, an' he's gonna use it. Now, I believe he's a good man and he believes in doin' what's right by God, and…"

Gomez Apartment, Queens, New York

"Wait…wait. Papa's going to -shoot- someone?" Elena sounds stunned. Yet another 'Evolved' has managed to cross paths with her, and she has absolutely no idea that Dez would be one of them. She seemed so normal, quirky, even funny. She liked the woman when she got to know her for a little bit. Talk about your usual Southern Psychic. And why did she come to New York? Information bats and slams at her sleep-addled head. But she's already moving while she's on the phone with Desiree, hopping around and across the hall as she attempts to get some pants on. She has no coat, so she'll have to settle for one of Manny's or dad's. She yanks her brother's coat from the rack, and throws it on. "Where are you? I can come meet you. I have absolutely no idea where Papa is…" Oh god. How is she going to look for him? She didn't know. She didn't even know where to start and considering she's holding her father's phone, she has NO IDEA how to reach him on the road. She squeezes her eyes shut. Think. Think.

Peter's voice echoes in her head. Something about Dr. Suresh. Something about a system. That's how he knew where Hiro was.

Dr. Suresh. Her eyes open wide, and she grabs her backpack as she throws the door open of her apartment, dashing down the hall. Her father was going to kill someone. She had to try and stop it. Otherwise there won't be any going back for that.

Somewhere in New York City

Another spot of traffic hit. The cab breaks suddenly and Ramon is thrown forward. His prayer beads drop to hit the sticky floorboards, and he growls. He swipes them up and tosses some cash. "Just stop here. That's fine. We're close enough now that I can walk, thanks. It would probably be faster." He's too determined to think about the fact that normally, even he is awful leery about walking alone at night in New York City. Tonight, he is a Man on a Mission. In his own mind, the archangels Michael and Gabriel are swaggering along behind him, wearing trench coats and fedoras and packing their own holy heat.

"You sure, buddy?" the cab driver asks, taking the cash and watching Ramon open the door. "Weather's only gonna get worse from here. I mean I know the traffic's bad, but it's a helluvalot better than walking around in this wea—hey! Don't you want your change?" he calls out. Granted there is a little something weird about the guy he's carrying, but New York cab drivers are surprisingly honest (a survey says so!), especially when it came to money coming their way.

"I'm on my way to the East Village, I think that's where he's gonna be when it happens," Desiree says to the addled girl. "But I'm from Mississippi and New York City may's well be the Amazonian Jungle!" As she speaks, she's scrawling words and numbers all over the back of her left hand with a black pen, squishing the phone between her ear and the fluffy collar of her green jacket. "I'm just goin' from street signs in my head. I— I don't know how much time we got. Who d'you think your daddy'd be goin' after anyhow? He seemed like such a good guy… he wants to shoot someone face-on like that he's really gotta have a burnin' reason to think it's the right thing. But it ain't. It ain't. Elena?"

"Yeah. I'm sure. Keep the change. It's a good tip," Ramon mumbles. Just a couple of blocks. The Secret Lair. Yeaaaah. He'll /bet/ it's a secret lair. He /looks/ murderous as he strides, walking fast. The hat is keeping most of the rain off his face — a baseball cap for the New York Yankees. His eyes are narrowed and tight.

Queens, New York

When Elena stumbles out of her apartment building, she is soaked to the bone. The weather is getting worse, she looks around, wet hair swinging wildly around her face. She is trying to process what Desiree is telling her. It's important. At the same time, she's trying to get to the busiest street corner she can find. "Okay…okay. I'll be there in a few. I…I might know someone who can get his exact location. I'm going to go there first and I'll call you when I get it." East Village. East Village. She was going almost the exact opposite direction from that, but with Desiree going there without an exact location, maybe they can split up and prevent certain disaster from happening. "And I think…he hasn't told me much, about what he found out— TAXI!" she cries, finally seeing a cab whiz down and practically jumps in front of it to get it to stop. The driver punches the brakes. Desiree can probably hear a man cursing in the background through the receiver when Elena continues talking again. "But I think….he's been after the guy who killed Mama. He won't tell me the details but I think he found something, because ever since then, he's been acting strange. He brought home guns. He's been out later and later. And ever since he started looking into it himself, he's been given warnings, first through a girl, and the next some…some…some guy who's kind of heavy wearing a baseball cap." She gets in the cab and gives the cabbie the address of Dr. Suresh's place.

Dr. Suresh's Apartment, New York

Inside Suresh's apartment, people are sleeping like normal. Everyone but Molly, that is. Once again, a nightmare has kept her up and rather than tossing and turning in bed, she's decided to creep into the living room to make herself a bowl of ice cream. She's wearing her flannel pajamas that are a little too big for her, she sits at the kitchen table with her ice cream and some homework. Might as well do something useful if she's up.

East Village, New York

"Goddamn, that's him, the man I saw in my whatever it is I saw on the damn floor with the— anyway, there was a man fit the description like that. Falls to the ground with your daddy pointin' that gun at him, then there's this shadow and some man puttin' a phone in the trash… STOP HERE!" As Elena calls her taxi, Desiree stops hers; on her yell, it screeches to a halt. The driver, no doubt, thinks Desiree is another NYC crazy-meaning he doesn't much blink over her babbling. "I'm-I'm gettin' out, I think I recognize this street corner." Her clunky high-heeled boots splash into a puddle at the curb as she steps out. Rain pounds down, pitter-pattering on her hood as she pulls it up and no doubt echoing in the phone. "Call me /soon/ as you're on your way darlin'," she tells Elena with a hint of desperation in her voice - because as Dezi stands here at the side of the road in the pounding rain in the middle of the night on a mission to stop one man from killing another, she starts to wonder what the heck she's gotten herself into.

Ramon draws to a stop before the store. It's an irony, because it's a comic shop, and the moment with him in front of the door might have made a good comic still. Ramon, staring up at the Secret Lair sign, his front hand out just a little, his back hand back just a little, as he squares feet and shoulders in preparation to go in. As he gathers the last of his courage. He's not aware of the cinematic or artistic quality. The moment his hands drop its to wipe the sweat of them off on his jeans. Heart racing, mouth dry. Muscles tight. It's possible he'll go in there, and find nothing at all.

A block away from the Secret Lair, in the opposite end from where Ramon is striding with a purpose, there is a heavy set man, walking along carefully in the rain. His hat barely contains the water, soaking in and dripping along a hidden face. He has a copy of the New York Times tucked under his arm, and his coat is long and nondescript, also soaked through thanks to the weather. There is a phone in his hand, up against his ear as he listens to the person in the other end talk. He pauses under a street lamp, eyes falling on a sign that should be familiar to him, but at the same time isn't.

Stars were aligning again.

Somewhere in New York

"….wait you -saw- him? And some other guy…some other…" Elena blanches a little bit. There were two? ARE there two? What the hell was her father walking in on? Even as she sits in a cab, speeding all the way to Dr. Suresh's apartment, her heart feels like it's about to explode in her chest. "And I will. I'm almost there….I think. It's so hard to see, it's raining so hard… but I'll get to you as soon as I can. Be careful, Ms. Russo. The guy you saw, the big guy with the baseball cap. He has a gun. Please be careful!" Her desperate tone matches the other woman's. At the same time though, she can't have Desiree walk into a possible gunfight. Her only hope now really is to stop it from happening before it even starts.

The cab driver takes a few more minutes, before Elena calls for the cab to stop. Here. Right here. She practically falls out of the cab in her haste to get out after throwing some money at the cab driver. Later, in a Cab Drivers Association of New York meeting, these same three drivers will probably come together and talk about the crazy people they ferried that night. But she throws the apartment building door open, and scrambles upstairs to Dr. Suresh's apartment.

East Village, New York

In Desiree's part of the world, the rain pounds on the pavement, water swirling into the drainage points of the street to keep it from flooding. There is a sandwich shop nearby. The cab has managed to stop at, in front of all places, Enlightenment Books. Around four blocks away, she'll be able to see the Secret Lair - still open at this time of night. There is a liquor store that is open as well, though compared to other parts of the city, the East Village is one of the safer ones.

Stop it before it starts. Desiree's thoughts echo Elena's even as she hangs up the phone reluctantly and tucks it into the coat she managed to throw on underneath the rain slicker; and good thing, too. She's already starting to chill to the bone, her legs bare because of the dress she wears. She hugs herself, retreating into her rain slicker as much as she can, an anxious look etched semi-permanently into her features underneath the overhang of her hood. She looks to the left, then to the right, squinting at street signs. She looks at the notes scribbled on the back of her hand. Already, the rain starts to melt them away; trying to dry it with her thumb, the ink smears. It's up to her memory. "Enlightenment," she mumbles sarcastically when she looks straight ahead. "Yeah." Taking a deep breath, she starts to march down the sidewalk, heading toward the Secret Lair, even though she doesn't know it.

Dr. Suresh's Apartment, New York

She practically slips along the hall, her sneakers were so wet. Elena manages to catch herself though, on the stairs railing. But she keeps moving. Moving until she finds Dr. Suresh's door. Finally she gets to it, and knocks on it rapidly. "Dr. Suresh?" she calls out, and she can't help the panic in her voice. After that impromptu dinner with him, she promised herself she would never, ever, stop by this apartment again. But this night was different. This night, it was urgent. She can't help the tears already coming to her eyes, given how scared she was over her father. And Ms. Russo. And whatever was going on in East Village that she can't see. "Dr. Suresh, it's Elena. Please please please open the door, I need your help." She tries to contain the volume of her voice a little bit, considering it was late, she didn't want nosy neighbors poking their nose into other people's business around.

When the door opens, it's not Dr. Suresh, but Molly. Though the voice on the other end of the door is calling for Mohinder, he's working late at the lab. And she doesn't want Matt to wake up and see that she's been up for awhile already. Scrambling to the door, she unlocks it, unchains it and opens it up to see Elena there. She remembers her from the dinner before and she looks confused as to why this crying girl is standing in her doorway. "He's not here," she says quietly. "Shhh. Matt's asleep." Elena may not know who Matt is, but she can assume it's someone not to be woken.

East Village, New York

At this time of night the place is locked up tight. Ramon's mouth twists. He's already carrying an illegal piece on this mad quest. He's already going to attempt murder. What's some breaking and entering? At least he's not going to steal anything. And he'll leave some money for the damage he's about to cause. He draws the gun and wraps his jacket around and around it. Then he puts it right up against the glass, right above the Neon Superman Signal, and fires, holding his breath. If they got the standard motion detector, this will not actually set off the security system. If they got a glass break, he may be done before it starts. He's unaware he's echoing the thoughts of women who are trying very hard to keep him from making a mistake.


The gunshot cracks sharply over the East Village, and then - silence. The sound ripples through the rainy night. It might be muffled by the sound of the torrents of rain falling from the sky, but it does reach Desiree from where she stands. It's coming…..right from the direction she is walking in. But in the dark, and the dim light, she doesn't know who's done it considering she's around a good few blocks away from the Secret Lair. But she's already heard of someone carrying a gun tonight, right in the place she was at. It can't be a coincidence….can it?

Dr. Suresh's Apartment, New York

"Molly…" Elena says faintly, watching the little girl with wide eyes as she opens the door. She isn't crying - not yet, but her eyes are starting to become red. She wipes her eyes, and tries not to panic. Dr. Suresh wasn't here. Dr. Suresh isn't here! What was she doing to do??? Now wasn't the time to cry. She gets down on one knee so she could look at the little girl right in the eyes. "Molly do you know where he is? A friend of mine…his name is Peter….he told me he has a system that can find people who are missing," she explains. She doesn't waste any time, considering she was on a time crunch and time was something she didn't have at the moment. "I need to borrow it. Papa….my Papa might be in really big trouble and he left his phone and I don't know how to get to him. So I need to use the system so I can find him and keep him from getting hurt."

The pleading and nearly crying Elena makes Molly wary. And, well, sympathetic. "Peter told you what?" And confused. He told Elena that she was a system? "I…" she knows that she shouldn't just tell people her power. She and Mohinder had that discussion after Sylar got out again. But, this girl's father is missing. Chewing on her lip, she looks at Elena and takes a deep breath. "You can't borrow it." Making a decision, she keeps her eyes steady on Elena. "It's me."

East Village, New York

Every shadow in every alley could be something from her vision - something ominous and dangerous, but although Desiree casts frequent, worried little glances into the dark, Desiree doesn't waste much time. It doesn't happen /here/. She should be safe until she gets… wherever she's going. Right? Right! Okay, so she doesn't really know how it works. One block, two blocks, gunshot— wait, what?! "Oh sweet Lord, what'm I doin' here." No, she's not taking it for a coincidence - she's taking it as a sign. Her boots sloshing along, the woman picks up her pace to an outright run, awkward though it is, closer and closer to the Secret Lair.

Sweating openly now, Ramon cleans out glass with his coat. He's wearing gloves, so there are few worries on that count as he carefully moves the Superman sign to the side, trying not to damage it. He looks around for the motion detector and, after determining it's location, climbs gingerly inside and drops to the ground. It's a little known fact that motion detectors actually sweep to about midchest when it comes to market security systems. This is because they sell about the same ones to businesses that they sell to homes, and often Fido still needs to have the run of the house. He clearly remembers the short, plump, motherly woman with the spiky short brown hair carefully explaining everything as she'd sold him the security system years ago. Ramon soldier-crawls across the floor, right past a comic book featuring a man who looks exactly like him staring up at the entrance of a comic shop, in the same pose he'd just adopted moments before. He doesn't notice. He gets right under the motion detector. He's going to need the run of this shop. He pulls out a wad of duct tape and…the cash he was going to use to pay rent, about $1000 total. That should cover it. He'll have to dip into his tax refund for rent this month, thank you Benjamin.

He sticks it all together in a wad, with a big wad of tape on the outside, sticky side out. He finds himself face to face with a plastic light sabre. "May the force be with me," he mutters. He takes the light sabre, ductapes more to that, and swiftly thrusts it up to thump right against the motion reader before it can catch anything. Motion detectors also look for heat, or else every balloon that drifted across would set it off. He sticks it all firmly there. Cash, plastic light sabre, and duct tape wad, right on the eye. Security system defeated. Now he can look around. He pushes the sabre back into its casing so that it won't provide too much of a weight and adds more duct tape to keep it up there. It will have to serve as his message.

What was Han's famous line? Sorry about the mess. This should cover it. And he picked a green sabre. Maybe the owner will read the correct message into this.

Dr. Suresh's Apartment, New York

There is a pause.

"…..what?" Elena says, confused, looking down at the little girl. "….what do you mean it's you? You don't look like a system." Alright, so that sounded cooler and more cinematic in her head than it did coming out of her mouth. And then, it hits her. She groans, and presses a hand to her head. Why is it that in the most crucial of times, her usual brand of intelligence just utterly FAILS her? Maybe she was doomed not to work as efficiently under pressure than she is without it. She shakes her head and looks at Molly again. "Molly….you mean you can find Papa?" she asks, going the most direct route. "If you can….I really need your help. Please. Someone could die tonight. I need to stop it."

The desperation in Elena's tone is not mistaken. Molly looks over her shoulder to the darkened apartment where Matt is soundly sleeping and then back over to her. "Come in. But please be quiet. Sit down." For once, she's actually in charge of something. "I need a picture of your father to find him." Tiptoeing into her room, she grabs her atlas and then comes back to Elena. She picks up a pushpin from a tin on Mohinder's desk and drops the atlas on the kitchen table, already flipping to the familiar pages of New York City.

The latina nods, and creeps into the apartment quietly. She'll follow what the little girl says. It was almost funny, if she thought about it. First she foils her dastardly plan to take Mohinder hostage, now she's following her lead. Elena moves in and peeks at the apartment hall leading to the bedroom where this 'Matt' is sleeping, and then takes a seat. She doesn't say anything more after the door is closed. Instead, she digs out her wallet, and shows Molly a picture of her father. "That's him," she murmurs softly.

The Secret Lair, East Village, New York

Meanwhile, Desiree lurches forward several feet from the Lair as she sloshes through a deep puddle. By now, she can make out the features of the comic shop, and while she's not sure that this is the spot the gunshot came from, she can see the shape the door is in. "Ramon…?" Desiree calls out tentatively, picking her way around the rivulets of water as she gingerly inches toward it. She presses a hand on the doorframe, oh-so-close to breaching the security - but she will, unless she's stopped. That darkness needs to be peered into. The woman's figure poses in the door, perhaps slightly less artistic, rain falling off of her dark rain slicker, a contrast to the green jacket, light dress underneath and boots. "Hee-eeeyoo… Is anyone in here…?" Please don't be a random burglar, please don't be a random burglar.

Ramon's eyes nearly /bulge out of his head/ when he hears the woman calling his name. He's having trouble processing, and before he's fully recognized it his hand is shooting out to grab her wrist and yank her inside of the building with him. He's breathing hard, and now he looks like a race horse in a firm lather. He's shaking all over, and he stares into the woman's eyes for a moment. His grip is like iron for all of that. "Desiree," he rasps, frank incomprehension stealing over the man's haggard features. He's got a much bushier beard than the last time she saw him, thanks to nights of no sleep and overtime at work. "What are you doing here?" He keeps his voice down to a whisper and keeps them both hidden in the shadows as much as he can. Clearly, this was a kink in the works he did not expect.

The Heavyset Man lowers the phone after receiving his instructions, the thing snapping quietly shut and stowed in the protective confines of his pockets. He looks left, he looks right. And then, he starts to move, deeper into the darkness. He has Something to Do today, and that Something seems to be leading him towards the Secret Lair where a Burglary seems to be happening. Considering he's a couple of blocks away, and walking at a slow, almost robotic pace, he isn't visible yet.

The Southern woman, suddenly back in New York and hey, /right here/ for no apparent reason, is also caught very much off guard. It takes her a second to make sure it's him; seeing someone lurking around a store like this is quite different than meeting at a church social. "Ramon!" Oh, I'm sorry, were you being sneaky and criminal? "I been lookin' for y— ahh! Whaddayouthinkyou're—!" she stumbles when she's pulled into the store and its shadows. She blinks at him in the dark. "You look like hell cooled over," she comments bluntly. "You're plannin' on doin' somethin' stupid. Ain't ya?" Desiree tips her head back, chin up. "Well, I'm here to make sure you don't do it. 'Cause you ain't never gonna be the same if you do. Ain't worth it, whatever it is. So." She didn't quite think this through. She just eyes Ramon matter-of-factly. And then? The kink in Ramon's works smacks his shoulder. *Thwap*. "Hey, snap to! I'm like. Psychic. Mm-hmm. Yeah, so you can't deny anythin', and I'm tellin' ya, don't do it. You gonna come with me before the man you wanna kill comes along or what, Mr. Gomez?"

Dr. Suresh's Apartment, New York

Squinting so that she can see the picture of Ramon in the poor light, Molly commits the image to memory before turning away from the wallet to focus on the map in front of her. Closing her eyes, she positions the pushpin right in the center of the map and then concentrates on the static image she knows of Ramon Gomez as hard as she can.

The pin goes steering down the streets of Manhattan going south, then east and then more south. By the time the point stops on a singular point its right by the Secret Lair. Her eyes flicker open. "That's where he is. With some other lady." She sounds confused that she could see that.

The Secret Lair. The young woman eyes the intersection the pushpin lands in. That was near Cass's bookstore. She JUST mentioned it the day she met Jaden. But…why there? What's Ramon doing close to Cass's bookstore? Elena looks confused herself. Did her father go all that way to kill someone over a book? Then again, Cass's bookstore -was- the place where Ramon said he found that book about alchemy. She doesn't even know if she ought to believe Molly considering the power seems impossible. But is it? She was JUST talking to a psychic, her father's a telepath, her best friend came out of the Matrix, and the guy she had a crush on had ninja darkness powers. There was no room to doubt anymore. Impulsively, she reaches out - to hug Molly if she will let her. "Thank you so much," she whispers. And she doesn't waste any more time. She grabs her father's phone, and punches redial on the last call received in it.

"Please," Molly whispers at Elena as soon as she's shaken off the confusion of what she's seen. She's wrapped in a hug, so it's not hard for the other girl to hear her. "Don't tell anyone about me. Matt and Mohinder'll get mad."

"I won't," Elena whispers back. "I won't tell anyone, I promise you." She'll keep the secret until the day she dies, for the help that the little child has given her in such a strenuous time. "I better go before your Matt or Dr. Suresh finds out I've been here. I'll keep a secret if you can." She lets go of Molly gently and stands up, putting the phone to her ear as she starts heading for the door. She tries to get out as quietly as possible, and she waves to Molly a bit and closes the door. And then? She'll start running again. Down the hall. She doesn't want to put the little girl in trouble, and she had a father's soul to save. The phone keeps ringing in her ear. Pick up. Pick up, she wills quietly.

East Village, New York

Ramon spends a few moments /gaping/ at Desiree after she smacks him, as if he'd just stepped into some version of the Twilight Zone and he can't get out. Not because of her power. No, that's too common place. He showed no reaction to that except acceptance and belief, as if she'd said she had some Cheetos she wanted to share. Then anger tightens his eyes. "And what else am I supposed to do, bonita?" he snarls. "Now he's threatening my daughter. The DA isn't returning my calls. The police have forgotten us again." Then his eyes narrow. "He's coming here? Good. I won't have to look." Mind you, the man has not /taken out his gun/, which might be a prudent move, because he's now preoccupied with Dezi.

"Hell! I dunno!" Desiree throws up her arms, which just makes her rain slicker flap about. "All I know is, this ain't the way to go about it. This the guy that killed your girl's Mama? Well, you wanna be better then him, ain'tcha?" She grabs onto Ramon's elbow, unless he sneaks away; there's an urgency to her grip. She truly believes what she's saying and means for him to /listen, damnit/. Just then, her phone rings, piercing this important moment with La Cucaracha. "… that's your daughter." See? She's psychic. (Not really. She just knows no one else would be calling at this hour.) "What's she gonna say, huh, if you go through with this? She don't want her daddy to be a murderer no more'n you do, deep down," she says while the jaunty ringtone goes on and on. Hazel eyes, dark and glittering in the dim environs, stare at Ramon empathetically before she answers the phone. "'Lena? I'm at some comic book store in the East Village with your daddy. We're alone…" She looks around cautiously. "So far."

The Heavyset Man stops in an alley, close to the Secret Lair, and stares down at the pile of rubble and debris left from a local construction project, as well as a dumpster. Setting his newspaper in a roll and tucking it in his pocket, both hands reach out for two things planted there. Pulling away a spare piece of tarp, he brings out a plastic gasoline container - the sort that could be taken from a gas station. He stands up slowly, hand gripping on the handle of it. And then, he turns, to walk in that same, slow, deliberate pace over towards the Secret Lair. He is turning the corner, and he is stepping close to the building. Closer….and closer….

Should Dezi or Ramon peer over their shoulders through the shop window, they would see the dark, slightly rotund shadow suddenly appear from the corner, the baseball cap pulled low on his head and carrying the gasoline in his hand.

This is around the time that Dezi's phone rings - sharply, the sound piercing the quiet night through the rain pouring outside.

The Heavyset Man freezes in his tracks, and turns to look through the window. For a moment, the eyes on a shadowed face look back at them.

Dez is right about two things. Thing #1. Ramon cannot become a killer in front of her. Thing #2. He /absolutely/ cannot become a killer with his little girl on the phone. His head snaps up and his eyes meet the heavy set man's. They've made him hesitate now. They've made him /think/. And he reads the man's mind and gets basically…garbage. His marching orders, repeating over and over like a record on skip. He goes /white/ as he realizes what he nearly did. He nearly shot an innocent. "I'm trouble," he growls at the man, picking up on something in that record. "So you know what to do." He steps in front of Dezi though, tense.

Somewhere in New York

"You found him?" Elena says, throwing the door open of Dr. Suresh's apartment building and heading out into the rain again. If she was cold, she ignores it, looking around for a cab. "Oh thank god. I got the exact location just now and it's…..a comic book store? The Secret Lair?" That was the only comic book store that she knew was close by Enlightenment Books. "Okay….I'll come over there right now. Thank you so much, Ms. Russo! I'll be there as soon as I can!" And with that, she ends the call, running to the closest, busy intersection so she can flag down a cab. Oh god. Oh god. It was over. Desiree found her father. Everything's going to be alright…

Or is it?

The Secret Lair, East Village, New York

"Yeah, that's it. Good, 'cause I don't know the address." Desiree shoots a concerned look to Ramon. It's also sheepish, because she realizes he probably doesn't /want/ her talking to Elena at this exact moment in time, but if it does the trick… "I… oh snap." She's looking out the window. And there's someone looking back at her. She instinctively goes to elbow Ramon, but the man is stepping in front of her, and she finds herself peeking over and around his shoulder. "Wait, don'— " Her words to Elena too late. She lowers the phone, staring out the window.

Burn it to the ground.
Leave nothing behind.
Leave at the first sign of trouble.
Leave nothing behind.

The last two lines in his 'program' for the evening seems to conflict. The shadow outside of the window with his dark eyes boring at Desiree and Ramon look…well. Conflicted. As conflicted as a glazed state of being could allow. Leave nothing behind, but leave at the first sign of trouble. His hand raises, withdrawing the pistol in his pocket and aiming through the window, the barrel of the gun pointed right towards the center of Ramon's forehead.

Leave nothing behind.
Leave at the first sign of trouble.

But Ramon steps in front of Desiree, and identifies himself as trouble. There is a pause. His finger tightens on the trigger.

Leave at the first sign of trouble.
I am trouble.

A second passes. Two seconds. Three. Four. Five.

Finally, the gun lowers. The gas canister is dropped on the ground. The Heavyset Man turns to flee, back to where he came from, tearing through the rain as fast as his weight can carry him.

The man was used before. That indicates a favorite puppet for the Alchemist. So Ramon gets a look of total focus as he watches the man flee. He's diving in, trying to get one thing. The man's real name. If he's going to be freed, if they're going to find the real Alchemist, and if he's ever to figure out /what/, besides /killing/ him, can be done, he's going to need that. If he can get it. He only had ever tried going beyond the surface in controlled circumstances, with Elena's experiments.

"… damn." Desiree is left in shock when the man turns and runs, staring blank-faced out the window. "Y'are trouble." This time, she stands a fighting chance at elbowing Ramon, which is exactly what she tries to do from behind him. "Someone else is around here," she says with gravity. In other words, it's not a hunch. "We gotta go." On that note, she starts heading for the door, looking at Ramon pointedly for him to follow.

Ramon grunts. "I knew that would make him leave. You go. I promise not to shoot anyone, but the killer wanted him to burn the place down. To leave nothing behind." He starts slogging through the shop, his shoulders set with determination. "Which means there's something to find. I didn't get his name, but there's still this shop." Pause, beat. "I'm like. Telepathic."

Desiree stops, turns, and squints at Ramon. "Telewhathic?" She sets her mouth in a firm line and marches back over to him. "Is a comic book store. What's there to find?" She pokes one of those lightsabers and watches it wobble. "How'd you know to come here in the first place?" She folds her arms stubbornly. "Well, I ain't goin' anywhere," she announces, lifting her brows high to prove how matter-of-fact she is. "I didn't see no /fire/." Dezi is pretending to be more confident in her ability to see the future than she actually is, or has any right to be, but never you mind. "Ain't budgin'. What're we lookin' for?"

Ramon can't be too exasperated with her. He's too grateful to her. Some of that flashes across his face before he starts a thorough search of the store. "I know because I tracked him down to a school he set fire to while snatching documents on a target he failed to kill," he explains, keeping his eyes on his work. "I found a card shoved in her desk, half burnt up. That lead me here. I have his real voice recorded and saved, now, on several mp3s across several compact disks. His entire vile messages. He's dangerous, bonita. He's a serial killer. He's like a dog that should be put down. And yet I can't get anyone to listen to me or take me seriously about him."

The more Desiree listens to Ramon, the more serious she realizes this is, and the wider her eyes get. 'Saucer-like' is a good term to use right about now. "Okay…" Pause. Pause. She follows him tentatively around the store. "So… what're we lookin' for again?" She runs a hand over the fronts of a few comics. "How come they ain't listen to you? Well, that's not the point now. Now, see, I think what we oughta be lookin' for is in the trash the fella tosses somethin' into." What a strange tense to use. "Bet he's doin' that right now."

"Because the killer controls people with his voice," Ramon says, as he continues to search. "He speaks, and they're compelled. It's like…a power. Like what you do. Like what I do. He calls them on the phone and they act like his puppets. He can make them kill themselves. Or kill for him. Or burn for him." He rubs a hand over his face, careful not to touch merchandise. That's absolutely not what he's after. He just wants a clue, a lead.

It is approaching three in the morning. It is dark outside, cold, and rainy. Upstairs where Nima has returned from her comic store not one hour ago, several things start happening. First, she will hear a very loud noise - and while the motion detector isn't triggered if the comic book store is wired for such a thing, there will be an alarm winking her towards the security camera system she has set up around the store. The videofeed is up and alive. Whenever the young owner peers at it, she will find very strange things happening downstairs.

There are two people, one middle-aged man, and a curly-haired women. They are in the store, when it is closed. There is a broken window, and the door is wide open. They don't seem to be armed, and they are looking around the dark space. Peering at it closely, both look….well. A little lost, if not very lost.

She would also see something strange. Both people seems to have frozen, and both are looking out at one of the shop windows. There seems to be someone standing outside, but the face is obscured with a large cap. The man outside whips out a gun….but doesn't fire. Instead, the man drops something, and runs away. Perhaps the people inside the store right now scared him?

Either way, the crisis seems to have been averted - except for the fact that there are STILL two people in her store that shouldn't be there.

"Oh. Of course," Desiree deadpan-drawls to Ramon with a tiny roll of her eyes. "'Cause he controls people with his voice. That's peachy, that's what that is." It's not that she doesn't believe him; she does, unquestioningly, but that doesn't make it any less bizarre - and terrifying, let's be honest. She clenches her eyes shut, processing this, and peeps with one at Ramon. "Okay," she says through a sigh and bobs her head. "I'ma watch the street to see if anyone's comin'," she says, since she doesn't know what she's looking for otherwise, and moves to the door to peek out watchfully, anxiously, worrying at her lower lip with her teeth.

"He thinks he's getting immortality," Ramon rasps. "He's real loco, but it doesn't matter. He believes it, and it's driving his actions. When he kills he makes the women wear this symbol called Squaring the Circle. Pagan. Alchemy. And he makes them appear to suicide. He chooses devout women. Mothers. Tearing the families apart, as well as their purity, means something to them. But NYPD and the DA apparently have better things to do. My only lead leads /here/." The motion detector didn't activate because there's now $1000 and a plastic light saber duct taped to it. Ramon's not touching merchandise at all, but he is running his fingers, now, along a stretch of wall. Whatever they're doing, its not robbery.

That plastic lightsaber (oh, such a travesty to call it that!) and $1000 do nothing to deactivate the armed alarm, though. That, apparently, has nothing to do with motion detection. It also happens to be silent — in the shop, anyway. Upstairs is another matter. With a survey of the situation and a decision made, the police are phoned and further action about to be set in motion. Having already donned her sleepwear, which tonight consists of some camo-print pajama bottoms and a G.I. Joe t-shirt, Nima slips on a pair of knee-high stripey socks and some combat boots. Then, quietly, she slinks downstairs and unlocks the door that leads to the back room of the shop. Hopefully, she's as stealthy as she tries to sneak into the front room, tonfa in hand.

"That's… that's /awful/," Desiree says, looking away - dangerously, perhaps - from her watch to look at Ramon. Genuine sympathy, if not understanding - as much as she can feel - glimmers in her eyes. "I'm sorry all this hadda happen to your family, Ramon. You'll figure this out. Then he'll get what's comin' to him, somehow," she says, nodding. "Just not…" Not the road he was going down. Oblivious to the imminent act of them being BUSTED, she frowns and looks back.

For the time being, there is merely the sneaking of Nima and her tonfa. Homecourt advantage and all that rot. Closer and closer, knowing just how to tactically position herself behind a rack for both eavesdropping and possible attack. Mental note: set a mirror behind the main counter and other strategic points.

Ramon works his way behind the counter. He pulls out a photograph and his eyes widen. "Oh…mierda," he mutters. "I found our puppet. He'd have felt /real/ bad in the morning had he managed to follow through with the Alchemist's instructions. He apparently belongs to this place in some capacity or another." He scrubs a hand across his face. "That's all I needed to find. I'll have to figure out how to free the man." He, too, is oblivious. He replaces the photograph, right where he found it, and steps from behind the counter. "Lets get out of here. Maybe I should leave more money. That glass probably costs more than $1000." He opens his wallet and discovers…$26 more. He grimaces and lays that on the counter and starts stepping towards the busted door.

"You mean he works here or somethin' when he's not bein' told what to do by crazy killer guy?" Desiree needs a nice, easy point-form package of this insanity. She picks her way over and leaves a crumpled twenty dollar bill on the counter, too, even though she had no part in breaking and entering. "There. Okay, yeah. Let's go - we can call Elena, and you can tell her you're alright, thank heavens," she says, though by the way she peeks around, she's not too sure they're out of the woods. "She's on her way, we should meet her."

Wait… what? Puppet? Feel bad if he went through with something? What something? Tied to this place? Hey! Someone is handling the photo of the parental units Jones. Is that guy talking about Pops? Slink-Sneak-Stealthy-Stealthy-Karate-and-Wushu-Are-Not-Ninja but the Force is strong with this one, especially in this place. This is not the shop owner you are looking for. Closer to the door, Nima is poised and perfectly capable of intercepting with a swift moment. Elena? That's a name. An unfamiliar one, but a name nonetheless. And, yeah? The puppet works here? Answer that woman, fella. Especially since a crazy killer is involved. 'co, if you don't, a certain someone might well not be in a position to make an "I'm alright" phone call.

"Well his picture was under the counter, along with a woman. So I mean he either works here or is kin or friend to someone who works here, when he's not being controlled by the crazy killer guy," Ramon grunts, stepping out behind Desi. He's so tired. So focused on Desiree now. The gas can is there in the street and he stares at it blankly, trying to figure out what to do with it. "I mean he's the crazy killer guy's prisoner, right in his own mind, and I've got to help him now that I know. And I mean he might give me my next lead to crazy killer guy." He reaches out to touch Dezi's arm. "Thank you." He'll leave it at that. He finally kicks the gas can to spill its contents into the sewer. Granted, the heavy set glasses guy's prints are all over it, but all he can think is to make sure nobody sets the place on fire. "Hopefully he won't be back to burn down the place tonight." He half shakes his head. "God /damn it/. How will I ever find the real killer?" His fists clench. "He could send puppet after puppet after me."

Desiree smiles a tiny bit, encouraging. "Hey, we'll find 'im. Maybe I'll have one of them visions and find all the answers," she says optimistically. "…'cept they don't seem to work like that, I'm just— just tryin' to figure it all out, how it works." She starts to walk, picking a direction that's /un/familiar to her from the images she saw earlier. As she pulls her phone out and starts to search for Ramon's number to call his daughter, she looks at him and says simply: "And you're welcome." Buttons are pressed and she brings the phone to her ear. "Hey, 'lena?"

Having -no- idea what happened or is happening at the Lair, Elena is still stuck in a cab in New York, GROANING at the accident right in front of her caused by the heavy rains outside. "Oh damn it," she groans. Is she going to have to run all the way through to East Village? Granted she might as well. Her running would work this faster than staying in the cab and hoping that the stupid truck in the middle of the road would get towed. She pays the driver, and jerks open the door just as her father's phone rings. She answers it. "Hello? Ms. Russo?" she calls out, suddenly soaked by the rain again as she struggles to get on the sidewalk and start running towards East Village.

"Y'know, puppets are the least of your worries, right now." Holy smokes! It's a disembodied voice from the shadows a la Batman. Except it's feminine and decidedly dulcet despite the ominous choice of words. Man, why did she have to opt for G.I. Joe tonight? Well, it can still work. Knowing is half the battle, right? And Nima bloody well wants to know some things. Ok, it'd be a heck more humorous if her jammies were an homage to the caped crusader. Nonetheless, she dramatically emerges, now standing just past the door frame. At least she gets to make the requisite badass entrance.

Cops don't dress like that. They also don't wield their nightsticks like that. Two at a time. Grasped in a manner to reinforce their forearms and whip-out with large amounts of momentum when quickly twirled by the handle. And the way she's handling them, the woman means business — even if it is after hours. "So, unless you don't want me telling the cops," who really will be arriving momentarily, "that you are not merely concerned citizens, who helped thwart an attempted burglary, you've got some 'splainin' to do, Lucy."

Ramon whirls around to face this woman who…rather looks like /she/ stepped out of a comic book. It's another one of those moments that could easily be a still from one. He actually puts his hands up for a moment. And he…/doesn't/ want the cops being told anything other than that. So after he says, "…" he says, "I apologize about your shop. I'll be happy to explain." His left eye? Twitches.

"Yeah, it's me! We're just leavin' the…" Desiree twists to look over her shoulder as she walks, "…Secret Lair. The heck kind of name is— anyway, your daddy's okay," she says. Her words have a double meaning; Ramon's okay, and so is everybody else. Then, with a muffled shriek, she whirls whirls around as Ramon does, hands (cell phone included) in the air. Hello, disembodied voice! "Where did you come from?!" Blink blink blink. What does that girl have in her /hands/? "It ain't what it looks like." What /does/ it look like?

"The Secret Lair. I know where that is. I'll be there in a few. There was this accident and this STUPID DRIVER…" Elena shakes her hair from her eyes as she keeps running. She passes Enlightenment Books. She has a few more blocks left to go. "Anyway I'll be— Ms. Russo?" She hears the muffled shriek over the phone. Oh god. What now? What ELSE can happen today?? "Hang on, I'm coming!" And with that, she disconnects the call. She's glad to hear her father and Ms. Russo are okay, but what about now with this latest happening? She proceeds to bolt, her jeans already soaked through, her hair, everything. This was turning into the worst night ever.

"And I'll be more than happy to listen." For someone who has just witnessed a whole lot of seemingly mundane strangeness — like people breaking into her shop, people wanting to set said shop ablaze, people handling the photo of her mysteriously vanished parents and appearing to talk about her father, people going on about puppets and serial killers — Nima appears to be taking it well. "Inside." Lightly, she gestures with her head but does not otherwise move. And if politeness doesn't work, that's what incapacitation is for. No need to hurt anyone, if it can be avoided. This is the nice twin, after all.

There are sirens. That's the good thing about living 5 blocks away from a police station.

Or bad… depending on who you are and what you've been doing.

Sooooo. Back in the shop then. Ramon steps back inside. He starts talking. "I'm searching for a serial killer who killed my wife," he says quietly. "Recently a heavyset man with glasses matching the description of the man in the photograph in your shop burned a portion of the John Philip Sousa middle school, where he stole personnel files on a woman who my serial tried to murder." Ramon puts his hands down. "The police didn't bother to do a thorough investigation. If they had, they'd have found the business card to the Secret Lair at the scene. Not me. But I did find it, and I came here." He takes a deep breath. "I thought the heavy set man /was/ my killer. So I broke in." He gestures to the money, to show he attempted to make restitution for the damage already. "The heavy set man showed up with a gas can and a gun, intending to burn this shop to the ground, to leave nothing. Not because it was his fault. But because the killer is a crazy good hypnotist." Ramon looks her steadily in the eyes. "He can make people do things against their will. It took coming face to face with the man in that photograph to realize that it wasn't him. He wasn't the killer. But if that man is someone to you, know that I want to help him, before this killer uses him for anything worse. My lady friend here came here only to stop me from doing something drastic." His eyes turn darker. Sadder. "This killer, he killed my wife. He's threatened my daughter and shot a good friend through those he has hypnotized. Nobody is doing anything. Because its so difficult to believe, but every word is true."

"H-hello?" Desiree says into her phone once she slowly places it by her ear again - her other hand, meanwhile, is still up in a 'please don't hit me with a stick!' pose. Elena is no longer on the other end, however, and so Dezi slips her phone away. She gives Nima a winning smile, bright and— okay, perhaps not so winning. She looks a little manic; her smile only gets wider when the sirens approach, but fades into seriousness as Ramon gets into explaining himself to Nima. She's followed him back into the store, by now, and stands quietly behind with her arms folded. Sidekicking. Don't mind her. She does, however, give Nima a little wave right about the time Ramon says 'lady friend'. "S'true," she adds to the end of the tale, puncuated by a succint bob-bob-bob of her head and wide-eyed, Very Serious Expression.

She finally gets there, the Secret Lair, Elena practically falling through the doorway and panting breathlessly, resting her hands on her knees. "I'm….here…" she gasps, her head hung low as she tries to quell her burning lungs. The cold night helped some, but she looked like a wet rat, in a coat much too big for her. Her sneakers and jeans are soaked through, and she looks like she'd run a mile - which she probably did. She looks about ready to keel over. "What….did…I…" And she pauses. She looks up, a lock of hair plastered over one eye. She sees the shattered glass. And she sees the PJs wearing, tonfa wielding woman and her father and Ms. Russo with their hands up - though they're lowering already. "……miss?"

Aforementioned woman gently motions — with said tonfa — for Elena to enter. Once everyone is inside, Nima actually closes the door before she continues to instruct, in a rather polite tone, "Be so kind to remove your coats and place them on the counter. Then place you hands flat on the glass countertop." Now, the only photo the rambling man could be talking about is the one of her parents… but Pops is not heavyset. He wasn't, anyway. Regardless, she really /is/ a kindhearted person, which prompts her to genuinely offer her condolences. "I'm sorry about your wife." Then, actually astute about such things, adds for the younger of the unknown women, "And your mother."

Although the sympathy is sincere, that doesn't mean she's buying the whole serial killer shtick. However highly developed Nima's imagination, creativity, sense of fun and playfulness may be, she actually is a very practical woman. And when a certain junior high is mentioned, she concludes that there are other conclusions to be drawn. "You found the card at Sousa?" beat. "Where, exactly?"

Ramon removes his jacket. There's a gun holstered right there, but he puts it on the counter top with the jacket instead of drawing it on Nina. He's sort of had enough of the gun tonight. He puts his hands on the counter top, grimacing now that Elena's been drawn in. He's failing Fatherhood at the moment. "Secretary's desk." ~Believe me,~ he thinks, his eyes tightening with urgency. He's not aiming anything at her intentionally. He's just feeling that in every fibre of his being. ~I'm telling the truth.~

Desiree also takes off her rain slicker, which involves a lot more flailing around and spraying of rain droplets, but she manages to sit it down beside Ramon's; she eyes the gun, having never seen it for real, and frowns. The sight of the bedraggled teenager rushing through the door out of breath creates one reaction in Desiree then. That is to, without hesitation, scamper over, brush the wet hair from Elena's face and wrap an arm around her. "Oh honey. Did you /run/ all this way? You look like you're gonna keel straight over. Breathe! Your daddy's just explainin' his story to…" Camo pyjama girl? "…this… nice and understanding," Flash manic smile! "… lady… here."

She looks up at Ms. Russo as she drapes an arm around her. "….close….took….cab…here….halfway…" she wheezes. But she lets Dezi herd her inside. "Thank you….for keeping….Papa…out…of…" Another wheeze. It was hard to talk when you were trying to speak and breathe at the same time. And then, the woman with the tonfa speaks. Elena moves to do what Nima says, slowly, glancing over at her father as she shakes off her wet coat and places it on top of the glass counter. She also rests her hands on it. She does look at the tonfa curiously, as she's never seen the weapon in real life. Just in the videogames that Luis likes to play on the X-box. She shivers a little bit, with the coat off and given she's freshly soaked by the rain. She gives her father a -look- though. It is full of questions. Question number one being what the hell was he doing breaking in a comic books store.

Sirens are coming closer. And sure enough, there's a cop car, pulling in right in front of the store. Two officers can be seen climbing out of it.

See? That gun is /precisely/ why coats are being removed. And had Ramon decided to try a quick-draw, the intended target looks as though she would have been more than ready to issue a swift concussive smack with those hefty sticks of hers. Which she wields in tentative combat stance. At least until she's satisfied perceived threats are removed. Like the gun, which she actually reaches for, whipping into extension one of the tonfa to indicate that she's hardly prone in doing so, and more than willing defend herself. Guard still up, with one foot she opens the mini-fridge behind the counter. Truth be told, outside of whupping ass with virtual BFGs, Nima knows squat about guns. Why should she? It is nigh-impossible to actually get a gun permit in any of the 5 boroughs. And, unlike some people, she's never actually broken any laws. Ergo, no permit = no guns. Ever. So, when she squats to carefully place the weapon inside the mini-fridge, she just really hopes the safety is on.

By that time, the cops have arrived. "Wait here," she says, not replying to anything anyone has said. Tonfa still held, Nima moseys over to the door to let-in the cavalry. "Hi. Thanks for coming out. Sorry that I don't have any brownies." Brightly and amiably, she smiles. Having lived her entire live in the apartment upstairs, the native has become well-acquainted with so many in the neighborhood — including the peeps at the 9th Precinct, of which these officers are a part. Not many people, after all, bring homemade baked goods to the coppers and the firefighters for the major holidays of all faiths. Agnostics don't play favorites, after all.

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