Date: April 13, 2010
Suspicions abound when two evolved women meet in the park.
"Meerkats are From Africa"
Small Partk — NYC
It's been raining for hours. It's chilly, almost to a point of being cold. There's hardly anyone out in this weather, at this early hour, and yet in a small park in New York, there is one woman, sitting on a picnic table, draped in a hooded sweatshirt and one of those cheap Niagara Falls poncho garbage-bag-things to keep her (somewhat) dry.
To Dee, it feels good to be able to get out of the house once in awhile. Her short time in another country taught her how precious the open sky could be. When she can't have it for long periods, well, to be perfectly honest, she gets a little crazy. So does Yossarian, who's not domesticated to begin with, and isn't fond of being indoors.
Weather like this brings out a whole bunch of yummy things to nom, though. Snails present an interesting challenge… The shell isn't so great, but when you get the shell off… delicious! And tiny little centipedes, which aren't the same as the giant African millipedes he's used to, but will do nicely. He's running from place to place in Dee's view, collecting as much as he can and stuffing it in his face.
Getting braver with each passing day, Sydney is determined to venture outside more, even if there is still danger lurking down the streets. The courage comes from a kind of faith that living in confinement is no life at all, not really. But then, she determined to be safe about her outings — only going out ridiculously early (and not ridiculously late after nearly being mugged in Central Park back in October) and only to places that were not her old haunts. So she finds herself here in this small park in the cold morning.
Dressed in black sweat pants and a black hoodie — she's out for a run, pushing herself into a routine of running. Once she reaches the park, however, she pauses at a picnic table — not far away from Dee's — to stretch out her muscles. As she tugs one foot towards her butt to stretch her legs, her gaze scans the park: lady on bench, trees, grass, meerkat, flowers… WAIT meerkat?! That definitely doesn't belong in a New York park. And so she stares at it, unsure if she has a civic duty to call the zoo and let them know they have an escapee.
Dee isn't fond of the colour black. Usually - at least lately - the person wearing black is up to no good. Yossarian hears the other woman first; when he looks up toward her, so does Dee. The woman's pale eyes stare across the short distance between them.
Caught? It looks like she's been caught with her hand in the cookie jar!
The surprised look turns suspicious, though, as she notices the black clothing. They're close enough - she thinks - to the Central Park zoo for her to call for reinforcements if necessary. Barring that, there are about forty million pigeons in earshot alone.
Making no sudden movements - or saying anything - Dee backs off the table, eyes glancing toward Yossarian, who is quick to follow. The woman is somewhere between cautious and angry; the meerkat is frightened, the feeling of which seems to be directly connected to Dee's mood. All she wanted was five minutes alone in the rain.
Oddly something else tugs at the blonde — an overwhelming sense of suspicion. She glances around as her dark eyes are moved from the meerkat to the figure the meerkat is following. Eyebrows furrowing curiously, she returns her leg to the ground and bounces in place a few times before taking a few steps towards Dee, not really in pursuit, but there's a cautious curiosity of her own that involves the meerkat.
The anger and caution are met with further skepticism. Unfortunately for Sydney she can only feel and determine emotion, but doesn't know the reasons for said emotions. "I don't think he's going to hurt you — " she begins rather gently. Yes, she thinks Dee is afraid of the meerkat. " — I mean, he's just little guy — "
She can salvage this situation! It doesn't seem like this woman is after them or anything, or there'd already be a dart full of solution stuck in her arm. "'course 'e's not. 'e's mine," Dee says. Yossarian technically doesn't belong to anyone but himself, but he loves staying with Dee, and so… here he is. "Poor bloke's got no claws, see. He's not a good match for the wild. Whadda you want?"
Obviously, it's Sydney that Dee is more afraid of at the moment. She stops backing away, though… The not-so-hostile greeting has earned more curiosity than anything. Yossarian seems to similarly calm, though he hides behind Dee's leg, as if she's some sort of shield between himself and Sydney.
"Uh — I don't think, I mean…" the blonde therapist tilts her head at the pair; this meeting isn't exactly conventional, "… shouldn't he be in like Australia or something? Not really right to keep him as a pet — " Sydney shrugs, but she doesn't step any closer. In fact, she takes a step back. So it's established. Dee isn't afraid of the meerkat, he's hers. But then, why the fear and caution.
"Are you… are you afraid of me?" She glances down at her attire as an easy smile forms over her lips. "I guess I could look like a mugger." This is met with a small snicker as she steps back again. She raises a hand and shakes her head, still smiling, "Forgive me, I only get this reaction when people are court mandated to see me — " she's laughing now. Yup, something about her being scary is hilarious, apparently.
"Meerkats are from Africa." As the situation becomes less precarious, Dee's accent becomes much more intelligable. She doesn't comment further on Yossarian's pet status except to say, "He could run away any time. He's no' on a leash. 'e stays because he wants to." Even as Dee says as much, he begins to wander around again, clearly no longer bothered at all by Sydney.
Dee herself sits back down again on the table, one leg curling under while the other remains on the ground, ready to run, if she needs to.
She probably won't need to.
"Wasn't thinkin' mugger," she says. "These're hard times. 'arder than a lot o' people know. Not that I 'ave anythin' to give, even if y'were." Maybe she's homeless? There's nothing with her - no bag, nothing that could carry identification. Maybe she's just talking, though.
"Ah. Forgive me for not knowing where they're from," Sydney offers a small shrug as her gaze remains on Dee. She's more at ease as Dee's anxiety disappears. "I'm sure you have your reasons to be concerned. Seems everyone does these days." She presses her lips together and shivers a little under her hoodie. The rain had been acting as a nice cooling measure while she was moving, now it's just plain inconvenient and chilly. So she begins to bounce in place again to up her heart rate once more.
"Well, I'd be small for a mugger. I was almost mugged by two guys in Central Park back in October. That was… an experience." She smiles just a little. "So… you're in the park with a meerkat in the rain," with a nod and a hmmm she leaves the statement as just that, a statement being considered by a therapist.
"Observant. You always state the obvious?" This is said jokingly, easily, as her shoulders relax. No, Sydney's no danger, at least not that Dee can tell, and Yossarian doesn't smell anything odd or off about her that he's relaying to Dee. According to the meerkat, Sydney just smells like people. Maybe running people, but it's hard to tell in the rain.
It occurs to Dee that she could play up the homeless thing as she already has been. That way, there's no chance the woman would follow her back to her apartment and put both her and Laurel at risk. Has she really become that suspicious, though? Of everyone ever? No. "Yeah. S'you can tell, not many people're used'ta seein' meerkats. N' sometimes Yossarian likes to find 'is own grub, yeah? So here we are." Despite having no claws, the tiny creature sends mud and dirt flying. When he finally resurfaces, there's a long earthworm between his teeth. Dee makes a face. "No' that I partic'ly like what he eats, but hey."
Sydney also makes a face at the earthworm before shivering (or is it shuddering?) just a little. "It's my job to state the obvious," she smirks while now jogging in place. The action is a necessity just to keep warm in this weather. She grins again while watching Yossarian. "Well, I'm sure fresh tastes better than…" she shudders again.
"I get it though. I can't imagine staying inside all of the time, and I'm just a person. If I was an animal…" She shrugs again. "So… where you from? I'm trying to place your accent, but I famously bad at it — "
"Your job?" Dee asks, curious. "M'tryin' ta think of a job where people go 'round in the rain pointin' out the obvious, but I can't. You're gonna 'ave to enlighten me." Another smirk is offered as she situates the garbage bag poncho around herself to keep out the most rain.
Yossarian's worm disappears like a piece of spaghetti.
Dee laughs, shaking her head. "Wouldya believe I'm from Quebec? Was in a bad accident a few years back. Hit my head. Ever hear of Foreign Accent Syndrome? It don't bother me, really. Even went to live in Australia for a few years 'cuz of it." It's not quite the whole truth, but telling someone that a powerful Evolved woman stripped her of her ability to speak in proper American isn't really going to impress anyone.
"From Quebec?" Sydney smiles broadly. "No, I really wouldn't." She watches the meerkat again and shudders once more. "I'm a therapist. I don't normally go around in the rain observing the obvious, but I do tend to observe the obvious that isn't so obvious to those I make the observations. Does that make any sense?" She chuckles. It's been a long time since anyone's paid her to observe anything — three months at least. As she bounces in place again she watches Dee carefully.
"And what do you do other than sit in the rain with a meerkat in the middle of New York City?" her eyes gleam with a kind of mischief, yes, she's trying to figure Dee out. "I like the accent, by the way. I don't think I said that before."
"Ah, a therapist. Think I could use one of those sometime." Not that Dee could relate exactly what's happening to her lately. It just seems hard to keep it all in. "Pretty sure I was sittin' in the rain, though. Tha' much I'd figured out." Maybe she should talk to someone, though. Captive audience. Dee's got some major issues she still hasn't quite worked out that couldn't just be cured by that weird guy in Africa who, granted, redefined her entire life's purpose, but couldn't erase painful memories.
"Sorry, was just thinkin'," she says after a moment of quiet. A smirk follows. The suspicion returns when Sydney asks what she does… Maybe Dee is more paranoid than she thought she was. Or maybe the paranoia is justified. "I don't know you," she says, her manner changing subtly. Her tone isn't rude, but it doesn't seem like she's going to offer more information, either. Not yet. "Why d'you want to know? Look, if you…" She studies Sydney. "How about if you tell me about you?"
"Well you know I'm a therapist, so I thought it was just the next logical question," the blonde replies as her reasoning as she judiciously attempts to decide what to say. "I'm not sure what you'd want to know," is Sydney's response. "It's not… I mean, I don't wind up talking much about myself. Occupational hazard, I guess."
She considers everything Dee has told her and offers her the easiest stuff first, "Well, I was born in California. I was raised by my grandparents there. Then the first chance I got I moved here to go to NYU. Lived here ever since." She shrugs a little.
"I theoretically work at Hope Hearth Distress Centre near the University. And I do some other work for the police and teach a class or two a year at NYU." With another bounce she shrugs again. "I don't really know what else you'd want to know."
Paranoid. Man, this really sucks from someone who really always used to look for the best in people. For awhile, those pale eyes just study her would-be therapist. There's a very intense look on her face, almost like a lion studying a herd of gazelle. It's intentional, as you can find out a lot about a person by trying to make them squirm. For lions, it makes it easier to pick out the sick and injured.
And then, this turns into an interview. "D'you think people are fundamentally good, or bad?" she asks. Daphne still doesn't know for sure, but she's leaning toward 'bad' lately. There are a lot of good eggs in the world… Herself, Laurel, Rebel, just to name a few… but for enough people to mass to attempt to destroy terrorists who just aren't terrorists means that there is enough bad in the world to overshadow the good.
"Depends on the day, I guess," Sydney says quietly. "But I believe people generally intend to be good. The problem is the road to hell is paved in good intentions." She moves over to the bench to sit next to Dee. "I think a lot of people live in the grey — somewhere between good and bad. They try to be good, they follow the convictions of their own feelings, but then, somewhere, their passion turned into something unrecognizable."
"But then what do I know?" at this she manages a soft smile. "Just a therapist." Sydney's eyebrows furrow with concern, "In fact, I'm aware of most people's intentions. Like a sixth sense almost." She can hone in on feelings, and often tell if someone is lying to her.
"Yeah, that's for sure." It's a sentiment Dee can agree with, finally looking away from the other woman to the rainy sky. "I think you 'ave to have a starting point, though. Like a balance. Where do people begin when they're born? I mean, d'we only know murder's wrong 'cuz someone told us so? Or are we less likely to kill 'cuz we know it's wrong? What if it were legal t'kill someone you 'ated? Would we all just refrain 'cuz it's morally wrong?
That's the way Dee looks at the Protocols. They're doing what they're doing because they were told to. What would they do if they weren't given orders? Would the operate the same way? Would they treat Dee with fear and contempt? Would they have killed Jasmine?
Yossarian tunnels under some bushes and out of sight. Dee doesn't seem concerned at all, despite the fact that such a tiny animal could disappear very easily. "I s'pose you'd 'ave to, bein' a head doctor n' all, yeah? Empathisin' with people's part o' yer job description." She doesn't connect the ability with an actual power, though. There's not enough pieces to do that just yet.
"And perhaps that's what it is. It's all determined from the starting point — what our parents taught us to value and what they taught us to hate." Sydney's observation is quiet once again. "Empathy is part of the job, but I feel more than I ought to. I guess I'm still young though. Maybe one day I won't be so moved by others' feelings."
And in a way she's improving on that. She's coming to control her ability more with every passing day — not her emotions, but her ability. One day maybe she'll actually be able to really control it. Maybe.
"And maybe people just don't have all of the information. Like we hurt each other because we don't really understand." At this she bites her lip. "It just seems life is full of misinformation."
It's about then that Dee sort of clues in as to the nature of Sydney's ability to discern emotion. There's a slight shift in her own demeanor from cautiously friendly to outright relieved. It's strong, powerful, almost as if any mistrust between them is gone.
Instantly, she feels hypocritical. Humans without abilities fear those with abilities. Why should she fear those without?
Because they've proven dangerous.
She's guarded again, but less so than she was before. "Y'don't want ta go tellin' that to just anyone, mate," Dee says. Even if she's wrong, even if Sydney's just more sensitive than most, if she can surmise that there's more of an actual power there, then the Protocols can, too. "There's people that'd use that against you."
And the change in emotions peaks Sydney's interest as she tilts her head curiously at Dee. "Huh." She sinks in her seat and nods a little, "Most people would just think I was talking about being too sensitive. I bawled for hours after my last session — we all wrote it off as a strange sensitivity to other people." But she feels what other people feel; she knows that now.
"And I know. I've been… avoiding them." Hence she theoretically works at Hope Hearth. "But staying inside… that's no life…" For her or for her wards. She just needs to figure out how to make life manageable again. So she can live it.
Dee doesn't think she's met an empath before… Barring Peter Petrelli, who she'd classify as a sponge more than an empath if she knew his power.
It's probably not a good idea to talk here, but Dee can't help it. It's cool to find people like her just randomly. There's a little voice in the back of her head urging her to be careful, and she listens to it… she isn't telling Sydney yet that she has an ability. Maybe one day, if it's safe. Or maybe she'll figure it out, with all the conflicting emotions that are still battling back and forth. "Nah, no one wants to stay inside. But look, it'll get better."
"Where'd you say you were at again? Looks like you need more 'elp than I do. I'll stop by and offer you a bit o' counselin'."
"I work at Hope Hearth, but I haven't been there for awhile… although — " Sydney glances around. " — I'm thinking about getting back to it. Someone shared her bravery, even if she didn't mean to." She shrugs a little. "I just have more to consider than only myself. But then… don't we all."
"You should come by sometime. It's a good place, good people." She glances at Dee, and there's a wave of trust that comes over her, "I'm Sydney. Sydney Falkland. Come by. It's a good place." She glances at the edge of the park and then back to Dee, "I need to get back where I'm… people are expecting me." Jamie and Trent, namely. With that she offers Dee a quick wave and jogs back down the path.