2007-07-26: Remorse


Cass_icon.gif Ramon_icon.gif


Date It Happened:

Saturday, July 26, 2007

Log Title


Cass' lab

Around lunchtime on this Saturday finds Cass at the lab. It's only a short detour this weekend, just coming in to check on some tests before heading back home. At the moment, she's has some files out, studying the results of the tests she ran on certain pills that were given to her to see what may be inside of them. Her legs are actually swung up and hanging off the arm of one of the easy chairs, her head resting against the side of the chair instead of against it's back. The file is kept in one of those manilla folders and might be unreadable to someone who doesn't understand all the different abbreviations for chemicals and capital letters and numbers with a lot of long nonsensical words thrown in there. It almost looks like an alphabet soup typed up on paper. "Interesting. I think those pills had modified Azathioprine in them. Maybe they're trying to suppress abilities like they suppress the immune system." Sounds like she's talking to herself. Or perhaps the poor, still comatose Mr. Jones.

"Does Lachlan know you talk dirty to me like this?" Ramon growls, just sort of appearing in the doorway. A smirk is appearing on the non-sinister side of his mouth. Hey, when the man realizes he's hopelessly outclassed in the smarts department and he actually has no idea what in the hell she just said, what's left but to make a joke out of it? Not that he ever would have before. Since he took John Carter's life, it's like he's been struggling with himself, adrift in a sea and grasping at what he can find. All of the change and upheaval, even the good stuff, is doing a number on him acting exactly like himself too.

If Cass is surprised at Ramon's entrance, well, she kind of looks it. She starts in her chair and then shifts so that she can keep letting her head fall lower. That's when she sees the upside down Ramon standing in her doorway. She gives an upside smirk and replies, "Oh, he loves it when I talk science to other men." Mostly because Lachlan finds it boring and can't understand it at all. Swinging her legs around so that they're actually on the floor, she pushes herself up to a standing position and crosses the distance between them to give Ramon a big hug. He may notice a very ugly duct tape ring around her ring finger as she does so. It's possible he may not, too. Hugs always make things better.

Ramon hugs Cass like the little sister she is, and then pulls back and picks up her hand. He stares at this duct tape with his good eye and snorts. "That boy," he rumbles, "needs to learn some class." He mutters a few things in Spanish before he says, "Is that his idea of a ring or is this the kind of medical care you're learning at fancy schools these days?"

"It's making sure my finger doesn't fall off," Cass replies with an almost straight face. But just looking at the ring brings a big smile to her face. "Actually, the ring was my idea," she confides. "We're not…it's not like a /set plan/ or anything. It just kind of happened over breakfast." Hence the makeshift ring. "I don't need a big flashy ring. I'll be happy with just the plain gold one when the time finally comes. Plus, it kind of suits us. Spontaneous, hard to rip up, holds things together…" She trails off and blushes a little. "It's not the ring that counts." Shrugging, she smiles and also adds, "How are you?"

"I'm good," Ramon says. "I went and vetted Benji for you, but I gotta tell you—" He grimaces and shakes his head. He finds a place to sit down and says, "I'm not sure what recommendation to make. Cass, he's my friend. I like the man. He's been to dinner at my house. So I couldn't bring myself to maybe read him like I should, to really get in there like I would a complete stranger."

Frowning, Cass follows Ramon to a chair. Settling down in one sort of caddy-corner to his, she stretches out her legs and sets the folder she was looking at in her lap, closed. "He's my friend, too. The only reason I told you about him maybe coming here is because I didn't want anyone to get special treatment. I'd have you read me, actually, just so you know about /my/ intentions about this place." She isn't above any of this, either. Even if this is her lab, technically. "But…are you saying you found something?"

"No," Ramon says, drawing out the word. "Not exactly." He grimaces, which twists the scarred half of his face into something even more murderous, and expels a breath. "The man is the original Mr. Square, Cass. So suddenly he drops a good job for a good firm that he's worked at for years. He goes on a 'consulting' job for a 'confidential' client and he says they're going to pay him so much that he can maintain his current lifestyle /and/ put Rose through school without taking out loans, and I don't think he meant the Community College. I could have gone deeper, especially if I'd had someone else start talking to him like I'm going to do for this other person you want me to look at. I could have found out, but I just couldn't bring myself too. But I don't like the secrets. He did me a big favor with the John Carter case—but he was kidnapped, and then simply let go, and once upon a time he had a fear that he might be forced to change employment. I could have pried their too, Cass, leaned there, pushed the button. But I'm not that kind of bastard yet." He still looks uncomfortably like he thinks he's failed in his duty. "Maybe it's all harmless. I mean, this is Benji."

The very idea is stunning to Cass. Benjamin being something other than the harmless, lovable person he is. However, the way Ramon is setting everything into place for her…she gets it. Knows what Ramon is trying to tell her. "You think he switched teams. That he's a Company Man now." Everything laid out so neatly, she's not sure why she didn't suspect anything like that from Benjamin herself. Possibly /because/ of how nice and unassuming Benjamin is. "No, that's fine. I don't want you to invade too deep into anyone's privacy. I just want to make sure whoever comes here means no harm to the others I'm try to help. I want to trust everyone coming here wants help. But if the Company is as paranoid as they're seeming to be, I would expect them to infiltrate if they ever find me out. And I'm not about to make it a secret." That's what they do. "And to think they may be already starting. With /Benjamin/. He…he was the first person to find out. About me and Lachlan getting engaged. He came into the store. He seemed so…nervous. Kind of lost. He was so happy for me." It makes her kind of sick to think about the fact that he might have been lying to her throughout all of it.

Ramon shakes his head. "I don't know that. He could be doing the Mayor's taxes. Maybe he's working for the Mafia." He expels his breath. "The point is he has secrets. That said, lets say for the sake of argument that his secrets are potentially dangerous. If we don't act like a bunch of idiots and let him walk in here, there is no explanation that we can offer that might not bring us more trouble than letting him in would. So we've kind of got our asses to a corner if the uneasiness I'm feeling is warranted."

Leaning back against her chair, Cass doesn't really have to think about that very long. "I told him I'd help him," she says softly. Absently, she brings the folder with the tests results up and starts tapping the edge of it against her lips as she thinks it over more. "I mean, I'm not going to just deny someone help they need just because we /think/ he may be dangerous. That's not the way doctors do it. And that's not how I can do it and sleep at night." There's a possibility he's just into something equally as deep, but totally unrelated. "Maybe I could talk to him." Not that he'd even tell the truth. But…maybe the direct route is best.

"Hell no you're not going to ask him that," Ramon says, his eye widening in alarm. "If there's trouble you'll bring it right on our heads." He forces himself to relax. "Lets help him, but lets just be aware. You don't have to show him every damn thing to help him. You can be careful about where, and what's said in front of him. Lets just…be aware he has secrets. Whatever they are."

Keeping secrets like this doesn't sit well with Cass. Not when it's a friend. "No, I'm not about to tell him everything. Just…I don't know. I can't see Benjamin becoming part of a thing like that by /choice/. Maybe he needs our help other than just with his abilities." Realizing that she's still tapping the folder against her lips, she stops and rests is in her lap again. "But, I can't just give him /half/ help, too. That's not right. That's now what I'm trying to do here." It's a moral dilemma, to be sure. "But, I'm not about to let him near anyone else. If he /is/ what he /may/ be, I'm not letting him take anyone down but me." She frowns. "That means you, too. I'm not about to tell you to not come down here…but, just be careful."

Ramon stares at Cass, and then snorts. "Me male. Me protect you woman. You no get other thought through my big lug head," he says, deadpan. He expels a breath. "Maybe a better strategy is just to assume those shits know everything and work with that. Position ourselves. We're not an asset they can use, but we're still an asset vaguely in line with their goals of our sort not blowing up cities with overdone powers. We're not a liability because we're not going to every normal human on the street and announcing there are superpowers. We're not so powerful that we /must/ be taken down, but we're strong enough that taking us down would be worth enough resources to make it not worth consideration." He clears his throat, embarrassed. "Sorry. Learning to be a…Board of Director Chair."

"Sorry. I just…the idea of using friends to get through to us…it's rattling me." Cass sighs, readjusting herself in her chair so that she's sitting up straighter. "I'm fine with being prepared. I like that idea. It's what we /should/ do. But, I'm just afraid that by preparing for it, depending on what we do, we become like them." And that's the last thing she wants. "I don't know anything about security or covert operations or anything like that. I know some medicine and some science and I can figure those things out. The other strategy? I just don't know." Then, she blinks and tilts her head a bit. "Board of Director Chair?" She hasn't been reading the newspapers lately. This is something she should have known by now.

Ramon is wearing a suit, too. Which he never wears. Looking embarrassed he intones, "In the recent merger between Lancaster, Inc, and EvoSoft, Inc., the old Chairman was ousted and someone thought a simple Hispanic family man would be a good Chairman of the Board. I believe Mr. Cain's exact words were something to the effect of 'Charles Exaviering it Up.'" He sounds so awkward when he says this. "I'm probably the first Chairman of the Board in History who is going to the University of Phoenix to figure out how to give orders to CEOs."

"Wow! Ramon! Congratulations! That's really amazing." Cass looks really pleased for him. "They couldn't have put a better person in charge." And she means it. "I wish I…oh! Wait!" She jumps up and puts the folder back on the chair behind her. "Wait. Right. There. I have something for you." She goes running back to her half set up office and comes out with something behind her back. "Okay. This is for you. It's not all that pretty, but I've been meaning to give it to you. Sorry it's not wrapped." Then, she pulls her hand from behind her back to reveal an eyepatch. With a skull and crossbones stitched into it. "It's…I know it's kind of morbid. But, it's a gag gift. You can be a pirate. A good one. Like Jack Sparrow from the movies. Scare all those white collared rich millionaires on the board."

"Hey, that's pretty cool," Ramon says, impressed. "And it…fits right in with the company." If Jaden shows up to a meeting in SuperMan tights he's just going to nod like that's what he expects. "I have a parrot to go with it," he says. He actually puts this thing on. "Jaden gave me a parrot."

It's not all that well sewn, but Cass did it herself. She's learning to be be crafty. Or arts and crafty. "It's not the best thing ever. Not like you'd be in a store or something. I'm learning to sew," she explains, handing it over. "He…Jaden gave you a parrot?" Now that's confusing. "You really could be the pirate Director. You'll have to start meetings going 'Yaaarrr'." She grins when he puts it on. "I'm sorry about what happened." She looks behind her. "I'm also still worried about Mr. Jones. His son…Lee…he's really not thrilled about him being here. And he really doesn't think much of any of us at the moment."

Ramon grimaces. "I told him he could take his Dad home whenever the fuck he wanted," he growls. "I said I did not recommend bringing him to a facility where he might disappear again and might not get the care he needs because nobody would understand the extent of what happened. I gave him my God Damn code. What the fuck else does he want from us?"

"He's just…" Cass sighs. "I've known Lee for years. He's kind of an insufferable know-it-all. But, he's the brother of my good friend." Possibly the only reason they talked to each other after that first meeting. "But…this is all kind of too much for him. Abilities, his father coming back, serial killers, people he has no idea somehow holding the fate of his family…" There are a long list of what Lee finds troubling. "He thinks at some point we'll blackmail him and his family because the police are looking for him."

"What?" Ramon roars. "Why the Hell would I do that when his sister covered for me?" He glowers at the door as if he expects Lee to come through /that/ minute. So, you know. He can make it worse. By screaming at the man in Spanish. He grits his teeth and struggles to clear his head. "Maybe that's a good thing," he says, ennunciating each word, "as it sounds like the little punk would turn on us in a heartbeat if he didn't think we had him by the balls."

Stunned by the roaring, Cass takes a step backward. "He's…he's not here." She checked on Mr. Jones before she settled down. That's the only other place he would be. "I don't know what to say, Ramon. He just…the first time he met you, you were trying to shoot someone. And after that all he knows is that you're out for revenge. He doesn't /feel/ things, he thinks through them. I don't know, Ramon. He can be insufferable. But, he's scared. His father's unresponsive, still and his mother is still out there. I think he doesn't know what to do any more."

"I wasn't trying to shoot anyone, because Dezi'd already talked me out of that. I just shot the store," Ramon growls, as if that makes it, you know. Better. He expels a breath, clearly the exact opposite of Lee in the thinking/feeling department. "Well. That reminds me I should get right on finding his Momma, anyway. I just don't know where to start."

Right, that is much better. Well, at least it's not a /person/. "I'm sorry. I just…wanted to make you aware of that. And I'm not sure about what to do with Mr. Jones. I'm set up for keeping him stable, but…if he doesn't get better soon, we might have to transfer him somewhere else. Somewhere that's better equipped. But Lee thinks he'll try to walk out the moment that he wakes up. I'm not sure if that's true or not." And that brings them to their other problem. "Desiree and I were supposed to find the fertility clinic that…that…whoever he was was supposed to be going to to get his drugs. Maybe we can pick up a clue there."

"Lets do this," Ramon says after he calms down enough to think. "Lets have Gene stick one of those GPS devices in his glasses, another in his shoes, and another in his watch. Let him go wherever he wants when he's out and on his own. Maybe he'll lead us to Mom. Maybe we'll let /Lee/ find Mom and Dad doing their thing, and back him up from a distance so that if he gets shot at we can save his stupid hide. Where do you want to transfer him?"

"I'm not sure. That's the problem. The police are looking for him. And if we take him some place normal, they'll arrest him." Cass frowns. For obvious reasons, that doesn't sit well with her. Not to mention he can't lead them anywhere if he's sitting in a jail cell. "I need to either find a way to hide him as someone they wouldn't research and wouldn't alert the police to, or we need to find some place that just wouldn't care." She's not even sure where that would be yet. "And what if…what if that other guy. The boss. What if he sees Mr. Jones as a liability just by being here and instead of welcoming him back, kills him?" She's seen a few action movies.

Ramon bends his head and scratches it a few times. "I'll see what I can do about the fingerprints. The policia are fucking useless ass holes and they can continue to keep their head in dark, moist, messy places." He looks up and says, "I think I have some ideas what I can do but I'll need to have a conversation. We won't tell Lee though. He'll just see it as sinister or some shit and I really don't have time for his foolishness. Or rather, maybe I'll make a trade. My evidence for Nima's, and we close up both of what we have on each other. As for him getting killed…l don't know."

Blinking at Ramon's language, Cass scoops up her file again and thinks that over (in more polite terms). Really, she should be used to it by being with Lachlan, but, well, it's different coming from Ramon. "No, he'll certainly see it in a bad light. But, then, hiding it from him might make it worse, too." She sighs. "Because then he'll see us as just as sinister. This is his father we're talking about using." Emphasis on using. "See, that's the problem. I would never be able to live with myself if I knew the actions I took directly contributed to Mr. Jones' death. He's done some bad things, but…he was controlled. It wasn't his fault."

Ramon just sighs, abruptly looking old, and tired. "Do what you think is best, Cassandra," he says wearily. "I don't know where the lines are anymore. It was supposed to go different. I was supposed to bring the kids their mother and father back, and they have a happy reunion, and they geek it up at the comic store for the rest of their lives, except when they're being an even worse geek with the French literature, and I walked away and it was all okay. That's how it was supposed to happen."

Cass gives Ramon a very odd look when he calls her Cassandra. The only person to do that is her father. However, she doesn't explain that right now. Instead, she sighs and looks down at her test files. "I know. That's how it's always supposed to go. It's how it goes on TV." And in comic books, too. "It's a little messier than that, I guess, when it actually happens. I don't know what's best, Ramon. I wish I did. Doing this could get them their mother back. Or it could get him killed. It's impossible to know." She frowns. "Maybe we just let fate decide. Get Gene to microchip him just in case he wakes up while still here and tries to leave. Then, yeah. Talk to Nima and Lee. It's their father. They should make the choice about him."

"/You/ talk to them. I'm done talking to them," Ramon says, sounding cranky. "The next thing they'll do is read the papers and see that I've had a really big promotion and their brains are going to spin out more conspiracies than Roswell, New Mexico."

"Okay. I'll talk to them. But…that doesn't mean they're going to like it coming from me any better." Lee doesn't think much of her for being a part of all this. Cass is still unsure about where Nima stands. "No no, you should go up to them and talk to them about aliens. Maybe it would lighten the mood. And, really, it's just Lee that you're having problems with. Nima can be a lot more…rational. But, they haven't seen anything. Not really. I don't know if they /can/ know what's going on without seeing it happen. Without being involved in it."

"I tried to read his mind and tell him his thoughts. All he was thinking was that he was numb." He scrubs his fingers over his scalp. "Was it so wrong," he asks softly, "to want to avenge my wife? To want some justice? To want someone to listen? And to want it to stop? To want these women to not be hurt anymore?"

Frowning, Cass settles into her seat again and watches Ramon again. "I can't say I blame him. Being involved with serial killers and murder is something that doesn't exactly generally appeal to people." If she could make sure this wouldn't happen again, she would. "Revenge is a human emotion. It goes back to the Bible. The eye for an…" she realizes what she's saying, but finishes it lamely, "eye." She sighs again, a longer one. "And wanting it to stop, to make sure no one else got hurt…that's what's right. I'm not sure I would be able to do it myself. Revenge in blood. But, I've never had a man who I loved more than anything killed." The very idea makes her protectively put a hand on her 'ring'. The idea is terrifying.

Ramon is suddenly squeezing his eyes very tightly shut. "I don't feel good about it," he says, hoarsely. "I feel sick." For one second the man looks like he might cry, but he turns his face in case that disaster happens. "I tried. I tried to do something different. I tried to preserve his life and stop him. He overcame my trick. And then you, and Elena, and Dezi, you were dead, and it was too much…"

Immediately Cass is up on her feet to hug Ramon. He may not want it, he may be too manly for hugs, but she's going to try anyway. "Ramon, you did everything you could. But…he tried to kill us. He almost did. I thought all of you were dead in that warehouse." If he should cry, the woman isn't going to think any less of him. Not at all. Never. "You're not a killer, Ramon. It was self defense. He tried to kill us."

"Originally, though, I did want to shoot him. Maybe I'm more of an idiot romantic than every kid in Nima's store put together. I like…Westerns, you know? Charge in at high noon, everyone goes home happy. It's not like that. It's not." His throat tightens. "Its like there's filth on my hands now." He sounds suspiciously hoarse, that's for damn sure. "And I'd make the same decision again. All over again. And if something threatens any of you, I'll do it again too. But it still makes me sick. I don't know about right or wrong or any of that. I know that none of this is right. It's not right, not anyone who's been hurt in this, and all that matters anymore is making it right. But when it just gets more wrong…" he shakes his head. "And some through my own mistakes. How different would some of this be if I'd just gone to /talk/ to Nima and Lee instead of charging in? Looking back, I was desperate, angry, and very stupidly naive."

Hugging, Cass tightens her grip. As if she can just transfer comfort and good feelings through osmosis. "That feeling. Right there. That's what makes you a good man. It should never feel good killing anyone. /Anyone/. It doesn't matter who they are, it's still a life. But still…sometimes it has to be done. There are just some people…" This is a departure from her earlier pacifist doctrine. And he's not sure how she feels about that. "And the people who take care of them…I'm sorry you were a good enough man to do what had to be done and now have to live with this. But…this feeling, what you have…it shows me just how /good/ you are." It sounds hypocritical, but it's not.

Well since she's hugging, she maybe won't see the source of her shoulder getting suspiciously wet. But he gruffly swallows it down. "Thanks," he says awkwardly. She has, he realizes with a start, been in this with him from the beginning. Him setting that symbol down in her shop—that started all of this.

If she does, which she almost certainly does, as it's her shoulder and it's getting yet, Cass says nothing about it. She doesn't even bring any attention to it. She remembers how it was when he almost cried trying to explain his wife's death those months ago. And while she would argue with him that she came in relatively later, it was Elena that was there with him since the beginning, she won't argue that she was at least in it with him. "You're welcome." She's learned enough about him to not offer him tissues or anything that would bring attention to the tears. There when the ball started rolling quickly downhill, she'll see it through to the very, very end.

Well of course Elena, but that's not quite the same. He stands up and clears his throat. Business. Get back to business. He pats her back, another quick, awkward motion and says, "For the girl I think we need to have someone else talking to her. I /don't/ know her so I'm going to be invading her thoughts while seeming to read a newspaper or something from a table away or whatnot. Benji is Benji…I won't be extending the same courtesy to other random strangers."

Standing up with Ramon, Cass takes a step back and says nothing about the clearing throat or the wet shoulder. She doesn't even reach up to rub it, despite it being a little damp. "I imagine she's fine. But…just…" The whole idea of reading minds is a strange moral slope that she's afraid of sliding down. "The only thing I want to know is if I can trust other people around her." So, whatever else he may find, all she needs is a yes or no. Or a maybe, like in the case of Benjamin. "Maybe I could get Lachlan to talk to her nearby. I'm pretty sure he wouldn't mind. Like I said, she seemed nice. And scared. And she already ran into someone who I think was with the Company and /didn't/ want to get help with them. She sounds like someone who just wants help without someone trying to call in a favor for her later."

"Aw jeez," Ramon rumbles. "How can I be an objective screener if you make me like this person before I meet her?" He smirks. His life is all about slippery moral slopes these days. "I gotta go home," he says. "We'll meet up with her tomorrow, does that sound good?"

For the first time since they have met here today, Cass actually laughs. It's short, but it's still warm. "Sorry. I'll stop making you like people in the future." Probably a lie, but, he'll just have to deal with it. "That sounds good to me. I'll talk to Lachlan about it. You guys can pick a place to run into her."

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License