2010:-08-03: The Flock Society Forgot

Starring:

Ace_V5icon.pngClaire_V5icon.pngSandra_V5icon.png

Guest Starring

FatherPatrick_V5icon.pngSisterMary_V5icon.png

Also Featuring

Ben, Frank, Nuns One and Two, and "T-Cube"

Date: August 3, 2010

Summary:

My people hath been lost sheep: their shepherds have caused them to go astray, they have turned them away on the mountains: they have gone from mountain to hill, they have forgotten their restingplace.

Jeremiah 50:6


"The Flock Society Forgot"

Location

Last time on Heroes…

"I want to go back. I need to go back. I got a job and a roommatekind of. Damn you, lady. Take us back!"

"I can't be in Africa! I have a job, too— Fuck."

Back in New York

"Claire? Has anyone seen my Claire?" Sandra's worried voice echoes through the nearly empty dining room as she weaves between the tables and chairs with Father Patrick at her heels. Finding her son, she looks a little relieved and takes him by the shoulders, looking him in the eye. "Lyle, have you seen Claire? I haven't been able to find her for almost an hour."

Lyle had been helping Sister Agatha with dish duty. Still holding a dish towel and a pot lid, the young man shakes his head. "No mom, I haven't… Did she cut out and leave me to do all the work again?" It figures, the huff of his breath says as he turns back to help the nun with the last of the pots and pans. They'd fed over 200 people… that is a lot of dishes and with only a manual dishwasher to rely on, the young man ended up making friends with a few towels. This time, he was the good one.

Father Patrick seems quite concerned as the middle aged woman questions every one of their guests as to the whereabouts of her daughter. "Missus Bennet, I'm sure that ever'thin' is just dandy. She probably went with that other young lady sum'eres, they seemed sort of friendly, y'know?" He stares into her eyes for just a moment before averting them quickly to scan the room.

From the closet, a dusty nun comes. Her never waning smile and cheerfulness seems to brighten the room as soon as she enters. Sister Mary pats off her habit, the second dirty one in as many hours. Turning toward the priest she catches his eye and gives him a quick nod. The buzz in the room about the missing girl alerts her to the plight and the smile falters for only a half a second before she's up again. "The pretty one? With the long blonde hair? Oh yes!" Sister Mary chirps up, coming close enough to Sandra to place a reassuring hand on her shoulder. "She 'n that other girl went runnin' off to find someone they knew a while back."

None of this reassures Sandra, already an overprotective mother, her face sets in worry.

Two Days Later — Malawi

The local residents seemed happy to see the newcomers, happy enough anyway. Their brilliantly white teeth shine in the sun with every smile that greets the two girls. They can't communicate with each other though, nothing past a few crude hand gestures. Ben was found, unhappy about his situation yes, but working alongside many of the other homeless of New York City. Yes, working. It'd been a very long time since someone actually entrusted him with a job, even though this one was just picking rocks fom a field, it was a job and at the end of the day he went to bed tired… and happy.

One of the others, one not to happy to be there, managed to find Ace on the second day. She has a reputation among them, from back home, and they're all surprised to see her here. "Hey Ace? Ace?" the man runs up along side her, his bucket in his hand. He's on watering duty today. "How long you think we's gonna be here anyway? I got some deals goin' down, man, I can't afford to piss these people off. Y'know?"

Ace has been working the field herself, helping pull weeds if there are any and doing other manual labor-type stuff, the fact that she's doing anything a sign of the fact that she has kind of resigned herself to having no choice but to help out. A crate of gardening tools that has been gathered from somewhere is set down before she answers the man who has approached her, her arm used to swipe the beads of sweat from her brow, her voice weary. "I don't know, dude. People like that girl I arrived with? She's got family so they'll notice she's gone but people like us…?" Clearing her throat, she toes a rock before starting to move on, leaving her fellow homeless person to follow afterward. "Yeah. I don't really see us getting home anytime soon."

"C'mon man, you gotta have a plan or something. I can't stay here, I got rights and stuff." Whoever this guy is, he's been pleading his case to everyone who will listen. He's got deals, he's got to get back to New York, same old story to any set of ears that'll listen. "What if we grabbed one of the nuns and made her bring us back?" He looks over at one of the few tired looking women dressed in dusty white habits. All of them only have kind words to give the people here, they've been more than kind and much more than hospitable. In exchange for a fair days work, everyone gets a clean bed, clean clothes, and enough food to fill their bellies. It's something of an arrangement here. "Ace, you gotta understand, I'm jonesin' here… I haven't had anything for weeks. I can't take it anymore. I gotta have some smack or I'll go nuts."

"Told you…you got to quit that crap." Ace looks around before walking over to one of the Sisters, her expression grim. "Hey, look. You're breakin' the law, you know? Kidnappin' is bad enough but when ya take people out of the country? Serious offense, hmmm?" Folding her arms, she tries to look menacing, not wanting to go as far as to actually threaten the nuns, that being something she is saving for a 'last resort. "So how about you guys let us go home and we will be nice and not press charges. It was all a misunderstandin' or something'." There's little in the way of hope as to if this will actually work but at least she's trying.

One of the nuns frowns at Ace as she makes her threats, the other has a friendly expression but her smile drops as she keeps listening. "Of course, you're free to go home whenever you wish," the second one says as she turns her head to look into the distance. The vast expanse of desert around the tiny oasis they've built for the people here seems menacing, to say the least. "The supply truck will arrive in a few weeks, you missed it by just a day. I'm sorry." She seems quite sincere, her dusty old face is wiped at the forehead with the back of her hand as she puts a small trowel into the front pocket of her apron. Nodding to the man that Ace is with, she wipes her hands clean on that same apron before approaching him. "And you, do you feel better today?"

"Get off me, you freak bitch! Leave me alone!!" He yells out, backing away from the nun as quickly as he can, dropping his bucket of water at the same time. There are shouts from some of the natives as they rush over to witness the precious liquid being wasted to the dry soil. Nothing's been planted on that small patch and the water soaks into the parched ground faster than the blink of an eye.

The nun seems hurt by his words and lowers her head and hands. She nods once and then turns away from the both of them. "As you wish, the truck will be here in a few weeks. I hope you make good use of your time until then."

Turning around, Ace regards her bud with a sigh, exasperated over how he's acting. This is exactly why she stays away from most drugs. "Dude, shut the fuck up, huh?" Wheeling back around, she peers back at the nun who tried to ask how he's doing, her brow furrowing deeply. "Don't you see that you're killing him? How do you just justify that to your God?" Sniffing, she takes one and then two steps closer, her hands curling into loose fists. "We are going home now, Sister. Call that freak who brought us here and have her come back so she can get us back home. Now." She doesn't like being like this to people who do God's work or at least believe they are and she just knows she's going to wind up burning in Hell for this, but she did try being nice…for her…at first. Now it's time to get serious.

This time it's the frowning nun that turns toward Ace to answer. "Killing him? He was doing that all by himself when he was back in New York City." Her voice is stern, as tough as Ace's and her posture, though not as aggressive, is firm and unyeilding. "Since he's been here, he hasn't put a needle in his arm, he's gotten through the worst of his withdrawals and now all he's left with is his yearning to get back to it. If you want to kill him, go ahead and call Sister Mary yourself. The truck will arrive in three weeks to take you to the closest air strip where you can catch a plane. Otherwise…" She pauses to lean a little closer to Ace and point in a westerly direction, "It's twenty miles that way. If you can find a vehicle around here that'll carry you and whoever wants to leave with you… by all means you are welcome to it. As you can see, we're a rather poor mission." Where Ace's threats cower the other nun, the one that stands up to her is much used to taking the hard road. By the look of her, she's likely had to knock a few heads around in her past.

The settlement itself is rather small, the few mission buildings that are permanent residences are painted white and dingy from the dust picked up by the wind. All in all, there are ten of them plus the tiny huts that the Malawi natives call their own dwellings. Children play in a common area when they are not helping their mothers and fathers with daily chores. There are a few thin cattle in a paddock along with some goats. Under one of the larger stilted mission houses a small clutch of chickens rest in the shade. Against the wall of that same building is a dilapidated motorbike that seems to be in a few pieces. It's long been abandoned and in dire need of repairs.

There are very little in the way of options here. Walking is impossible as she'd probably succumb to the heat before she made it to where help can be called and the motorbike is pretty much a lost cause as she has no mechanical adeptitude what so ever, although…"Hold that thought." Clearing her throat, she returns to her friend's side and leans in close, murmuring in a whisper. "Hey. Do you know how to repair motorcycles and stuff like that?" Long shot, that, and there might not even be parts for the thing even if he is able to fix it but maybe it'll provide some kind of distraction from his jonesing even if nothing can come out of it.

Shaking his head, the drug addict has a rather helpless look on his face. "Can't you just beat them up or something? I gotta get back, someone might've taken my stash already." Since last she saw him (though it was only in passing) he's put on a good ten pounds of healthy muscle weight. Whether or not kidnapping is evil, it seems to have done some good things for each of the people brought. Pointing over to the field, he picks one one of the other men who is helping some children water the little stalks of grain that will likely feed the entire settlement for a season. "I think Frank over there used to run a shop in Queens… maybe he'll fix it so we can all get back?"

Ace has noticed the difference in the tweaker and for a moment she feels a pang of regret. Will he go back to the way he was before? Is she going to wind up killing him like the nun accused her of? She's pulled out of her head when he motions to someone else and she nods, patting him on the shoulder distractedly. "No, not going to fight them," she starts before looking over towards the guy. "Thanks, man." Taking a deep breath, she ambles over to where Frank and the kids are, her hands shoved deep into her pockets. "Hey, Fred. Come here."

Looking up from his work, Frank's eyebrows draw together just a little as he instantly becomes suspicious of what she's got planned. Straightening fully, he rolls his shoulders back and a long series of pops sounds out before he sighs contentedly. "It's Frank, actually, what's up?" This is a man that Ace is completely unfamiliar with, someone who's been here for a long time, by the looks of it. His clothing has been stitched and patched and taken in too many times, as though he's lost a lot of weight in his time here.

From behind Ace, the druggie stalks up and Frank's eyebrows knit together even tighter. A small pat on the backs of two of the children and a nod toward the buildings sends them scurrying away. "If you're asking for more deisel, you can forget it." The comment is aimed at the man behind Ace, not Ace herself. "I'm not going to give you antifreeze or mothballs either. You can get off the stuff or you can walk away."

"It's not for him, Frank. I need your help. Gonna try to get us the hell out of here. Dude here says he thinks you might've had a shop or something. Can you repair that bike over there?" The 'bike' is motioned towards with a tilt of her head as she asks that, Ace trying to indicate the motorcyle that is in pieces discreetly. "I need to get us out of here and you can help with that. What do you say, huh?"

While Claire is still bitter at being kidnapped, she has been practically adopted by several of the little children, shown around and taught by little hands how to milk the goats and collect eggs and do all sorts of things she certainly never expected to do. Despite her anger at the situation, some small part of her actually is enjoying the work, even if the larger part of her is considering taking a walk across the desert to try to find a phone. She won't die of sunstroke, but the thought of getting lost is an ominous one. And if a lion eats her, she can't regenerate — she doesn't think. Various worries keep her from setting out across the barren landscape, but the idea is still there.

She has decided to find Ace, to tell the other girl of her plan. It's not safe for Ace to go with her — but how does she explain why she can, and Ace can't? Stupid, Claire. She just got teleported here — you think powers are still a secret? she asks herself, even as she strides toward Ace and Frank, giving a little wave and pushing a blond hair out of her dirty face.

Frank glances toward the motorcycle and then toward the tweaker and lastly at Ace. "Why do you want to get us out of here? I ain't leavin', he shouldn't leave, and most of the others are happier here than they ever was back in New York." He looks toward the bike again and then hardens his features. "I can fix it, sure, but it'll have to wait 'til I'm done with my work." In that, he seems very firm and he stoops down to pick up the pail of water and begins watering each of the tiny plants with the ladle. He steps very carefully between the rows of plants, being careful not to crush any of them under his feet. When he looks to the side he sees the tweaker's boots crushing a few of them and growls. "Get off the plants, man! What you just did cost two days worth of food for these people!" Indeed, there's a nice little trail of crushed seedlings in the wake of the druggie. When fully grown, they would have been worth a good two bushels of grain.

Claire's arrival just adds to the suspicion of the plant watering motorcycle mechanic. "You aiming to leave too?" The regenerator is questioned with a little less suspicion. Unlike the others brought here, she was wearing good clothing and immediately started talking about her family. Drawing a deep breath, he jerks his head toward the motorcycle and then lifts the bucket for Ace. "Tell you what." He pauses and looks her hard in the eye. "I'll make you a deal. You and her go, leave him here 'til he cleans up. The nuns've been pretty good about letting people go home if they want. He's the only one they've kept past the truck 'cuz he's just aimin' to go back to dealin' smack and stickin' needles in his arm. You leave him here an' water these plants… I'll get the bike runnin'."

The drugie's looked at as he is admonished by Frank, Ace's expression blank. She knows he'll hate her for what she's about to do but if his staying is required then that's what's going to happen. "Yeah, he'll stay." The bucket of water is taken after she makes that promise, her gaze shot to Claire as she grins. "So now we just gotta wait, I guess. But don't worry, kiddo. You'll be home before you know it." The contents of the vessel's poured very so carefully over the small plants once she gives Claire that reassurance, the rest of her end of the bargain carried out.

"Yeah, it's not a bad place, but I have people who…" Claire's voice trails off and she glances down at her feet, dusty in flip flops of all things. She certainly didn't dress for trekking across a desert. She realizes that one fact fundamentally sets her apart from these people, and she doesn't want to rub that fact in: that she has people who are looking for her, people who love her. These are the people who society forgot.

Her eyes dart to the druggie and back to Ace and then Frank. "But what if after some time, when he's clean and all, they still don't let him go if he wants to? I'll agree but I want to make sure that you guys aren't lost here…" she begins, thinking about if Peter can bring her back in some time to check in on them. "Let me give you my number in New York. And if I don't hear from you or him in like three months, I'm gonna come back to make sure it's all still voluntary and not, like, just Stockholm's Syndrome, you know?" She chews her lower lip and glances at Ace. "I was going to go look for a town or phone or whatever and see if I could get help. It's what I was coming to tell you, but maybe this is a better plan…" That way they can get out together. She turns back to Frank, green eyes searching his face. "Anyone else wanting to leave, or is it just us?"

Frank just shakes his head, "Anyone that wants to leave goes with the truck, the nuns bring 'em back every few weeks." His eyes go to the smackhead who has since backtracked through the seedlings and is waiting on the edge of the little field. "They didn't let him go last time 'cause he's still sick. He wouldn't make it on the plane the way he is right now. Long flight from here to back home. Maybe next truck, maybe the one after that." It seems as though their supplies come every few weeks, what they can't grow themselves at least. He nods toward Claire and then jerks his thumb toward the bike, "If you're not helpin' them, you might'swell help me. That bike's not going to make it twenty miles the way it is right now."

He turns and ambles toward the small shelter housing the motorcycle, leaving Ace to water the plants and the druggie to watch. He never seems to volunteer for anything else, at least not in the couple of days that the two girls have been here.

Back in New York

Father Patrick shuffles through the papers on his desk and picks up a few of them to read. The glasses balanced on the end of his nose are lifted a small increment and then placed back down again, trying to determine whether it's better with or without. It's only in recent years that his eyesight's been failing him, only in small ways though. It's become more difficult to read and his arm doesn't seem quite long enough to hold the page away from his face without the aid of the spectacles.

"Ma'am, yeh can't just go in there, he's a busy man.." the voice echoing from the hallway alerts Father Patrick of the visitor and he removes the glasses in time to tuck them away in his pocket. He sets down the papers just in time to see a very angry mother throw open the heavy wooden door to his office and stands as she marches right up to his desk. "Missus Bennet, I assume you haven't heard from your daughter yet?" His voice carries a strong edge of concern for the well being of the missing young woman. The church has put out posters and fliers along all of the posts and walls of their neighborhood and the surrounding ones. It's been more than forty-eight hours now. Twenty-four hours ago, the missing persons report was filed.

"Did you ask everyone where Claire went or who she went with? Someone has to know that other young woman, doesn't anyone care that she's missing too?" They couldn't file the report on Ace because no one knew any of the details on the homeless woman. Not anyone that would talk, anyway. They'd put out posters for her too, but the ones that knew something had already taken most of them down. No one was talking, not to the police, not to the Bennets.

"I assure you madame, I've been doin' ever'thin' I can think of. We'll find 'er, I know we will." Father Patrick says, his voice calm and soothing as always. He walks out from behind his desk and comes around beside Sandra and places a comforting arm around her shoulder. He begins to slowly walk with her, toward the door, talking to her in that same calm manner. "Trust me, we'll find them, a man of God wouldn't lie t'yeh now."

They reach the hallway where Sister Mary is leading a small class of children toward their daily bible study. A look is passed between them and an almost invisble nod is conveyed from the priest to the kidnapper. She smiles to the two of them and ushers the children into one of the large classrooms.

Many Hours Later — Malawi

"Gimme a three quarter socket, that should do it…" Frank barks out from his position under the bike. He's at an odd angle to reach the tool himself and so the duty passes to Claire or Ace to find the right one and pass it to him. His hand is blindly reaching for the requested tool the instant the need is relayed, fingers flicking in impatience. It's been a long time since he worked on anything mechanical, it feels something like home…. Before everything happened.

Ace is doing her part in helping, mainly sticking with the kids who have some kind of calming effect on her. The plants have been watered and now she allows herself to be led by the children, letting them show her what needs to be done next. Frank and Claire are watched from time to time but she doesn't allow herself to do much more than that, Ace trying very hard not to fret over what it is they're trying to accomplish currently.

There had been a little lesson on what tool is called what, since Claire certainly has no clue from personal experience. Noah wasn't exactly the 'work in the garage' type, after all. She finds what she thinks is the correct tool and brings it to him along with a bottle of water for him to sip from. "So you really like it here? I guess I can see why. Still, it's not right for them to kidnap you against your will, you know. No matter if it's for your own good. They could have asked," says Claire as she crouches nearby, watching his hands work on the machine. "You know what they say about the path to hell, and all. Kinda ironic it's nuns doing this."

The man remains silent for a moment or two before he grunts and begins speaking. "If they'da asked me, I'da said no." He answers plainly, there's no hitch of hesitation in his voice. "Back in New York, I had a family, y'know? A garage 'n I repaired motorcycles worth more'n I paid for a car. I lost all of that myself. The day before Sister Mary brought me here, you know what I was doin'?" He flips the wrench deftly in his hand tosses it a couple of times to adjust his grip, after that he begins to tighten a bolt. Claire must have been paying attention during his explanation of each of the tools, because she handed him the right one.

Leaving her just enough time to guess but not enough time to actually put together an answer, he continues. "I started drinkin' a few years back. My little girl, Bianca, she was about five then. Cutest thing thing you'd ever see…" There he pauses for reflection. "I lost it all, when Sister Mary found me, I was lyin' in a puddle of my own puke in Central Park. I still would'a said no… 'cuz they ain't got no booze here. I haven't seen Bianca in nearly fourteen years, last time I tried to call they hung up on me. Next time I try to call, I'm gonna make her proud to call me Papa."

Claire's expressive eyebrows rise and she gives a nod, watching him tighten the bolt. "Well. I have a little experience in reuniting with family after not really being to happy to be related to them, you know?" she says softly, her voice empathetic. "But the bond is still there, no matter what. I bet she'd be really happy to see you clean and healthy, doing something with your life. I know I'd forgive you and let you back into my life, if you were my Dad, Frank. If it means anything," she says quietly.

"I've forgiven my father for worse than being a drunk. We're still trying to figure out how to be a part of each other's lives, since it's really really complicated at times, but I can say I do love him, and I'm happy that we made up. If anything had happened to him and I hadn't made amends, I know I'd hate myself forever." And forever for Claire might be a really long time.

It's a good thing that Ace can't hear Frank's story from where she stands as she's already a wreck; unprepared to deal with the kiddos, she has no emotional defenses up and she's already finding herself choking back tears that threaten to overwhelm her. Frank and Claire would undoubtedly reduce her to a blubbering mess. So yeah. She's not herself right now.

From around the corner, the man they'd originally come to find ambles out with a small escort of his own. Ben, the crumb guy, is dressed in his dingy kahkis and old button down with the sleeves rolled up to his elbows. He's been here two days, two days with nothing to do but work and be at peace. The first day he spent with one of the sisters in a secluded hut a few hundred yards away from the settlement. The second, he emerged looking much happier than Ace had ever seen him, certainly less crazy than when Claire first noticed him. He smiles with his raggedy teeth toward Ace and raises a hand in greeting before trundling off behind two of the men leading a pair of yolked oxen toward a dry patch of land that had just been cleared of rocks a few days before.

From under the motorcycle, Frank ducks his hed out to observe Claire. His untamed eyebrows look a little wiley and the stubble on his face looks patchy as though he cuts his bear with scissors rather than shaves. One would presume it would be to preserve the precious water. "Yeah, I'm a lot better now, but I still got some things to make amends for. I ruined her Mama's life an' made her homeless when she was supposed to be playin' with Barbies. I was goin' to go back in a few more months after the crops've been harvested." He gives the regenerator a little bit of a grin and then pushes himself up off the ground. "Okay, time to get some fuel in 'er. I'll have to sweet talk the nuns. They've been keepin' it locked away cuz 'T-Cube' or whatever he calls himself keeps tryin' teh get high from sniffin' it." He actually puts finger quotes around the tweaker's self given moniker when he says it.

The petite teen's eyes are somber and sympathetic as she listens to him, but she bestows a grateful smile when he says it's time to fill 'er up. "Thank you," she says earnestly, spontaneously darting forward to give him a hug around his grease-stained waist. "I promise I'll check back on you guys. If you're not still happy when I come back and if they're keeping anyone here who's ready to go home, I'll get you out." She lets go, tilting her head up to add another fiercely whispered, "I promise."

Having migrated a bit closer, Ace manages to catch Frank saying that the bike's ready to be fueled up and she smiles, looking happy as well as relieved. "Dude, you so fucking rock. Thanks." Pausing, she blinks several times before she adds suddenly, "Got to talk to one of the nuns. Be right back." Time to eat crow and apologize. Kind of.

Frank just shakes his head and pats the young woman on the back, stiffening a little as she grips him in a hug. "No one's kept here after they get better, trust me. I bin' here longer'n anyone here. They're all free to go when they're ready but you can come back to check if yeh want. Maybe you can find Bianca for me, tell 'er I'm cleanin' up 'n gettin' better?" It's a hopeful expression on the man's face as he peers at Claire, but then Ace's voice comes through and he nods toward her. "Welcome…" he says gruffly, trying to mask the softness from before, when talking about his daughter but she's off again, always in a hurry. The hope turns to worry as he pivots his boot, ready to follow the young woman toward the nuns. Instead, he narrows his eyes and stops short of actually following behind. "She must've had a reason for bringin' you here. Sister Mary 'n Father Patrick don't make mistakes like that."

Back in New York

The little children file from bible study in a neat little row, each smiling at Father Patrick as they pass him waiting outside the class room. He waits until they're all down the stairs and out of the building before entering the large room. Sister Mary is just finishing cleaning the board of all the lessons of the day. He folds his hands in front of him and draws a breath inward before parting his lips to speak. "Sister Mary, I've come to beg a favor… I think it's time we fetch the girls an' check on the rest of the flock."

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