2009-12-06: The Good, the Bad, and the Geeky



Date: December 6th, 2009


Gene earns a few more prematurely grey hairs.

"The Good, the Bad, and the Geeky"

Rooftop of Destiny

Lena was not joking or exaggerating when she claimed she might steal the Rooftop of Destiny for herself. It's a sanctuary of sorts, and will be until new digs are found and the people crammed into Sydney's tiny apartment have more room for themselves.

She's a solitary creature, she is. Really.

The sun set not long ago, leaving the city wrapped in the rapid-onset dark of a winter night. In spite of the cold, Lena has discovered that she likes it that way; the lights seem brighter, the sounds drifting up from the street below seem crisper. Every now and then, you can even see stars…if you squint, or poke yourself in the eye while peering up at the sky. That will be for later, though. At the moment, she's seated cross-legged against the wall beside the stairwell door. A little ring of items have been set out before her: a pair of hot pink sunglasses, three prescription bottles of pills, and a small eye-shadow. A tube of lipstick (brand new!) is in her gloved hand, and she's testing the color against the inside of one wrist.

"I didn't expect anyone else to be up here," Gene announces as the fire exit closes behind him. He's dressed in his usual peacoat-jeans combo, the chill of winter forcing his hands in his pockets. Both to keep him warm and hide his identity, he has a black scarf and knit cap on. "I can leave if you are…" The genius attempts to figure out what is going on from the objects gathered. Either he has no clue or doesn't want to state what he thinks is going on. "Um, doing something private."

With the door's opening, there's a mad scramble for the pill bottles; they're shoved without ceremony into the pocket of her hoodie. This means that the lipstick must be dropped. When Lena realizes that it is neither a building manager or the cops, but only Gene, she grimaces at him and reaches for the tube. Little flecks of gravel are picked out of the bright-red stick. "You're gonna give someone a heart attack one day," she complains. "Nah…just…it's quiet up here, right? No one around." Oh. A glance goes up at the young man, eyes widening. "I'm kinda squatting, aren't I?"

She climbs to her feet, using her free hand to brush the dirt from the back of her jeans. "How're you feeling? Did you come down okay? Bert…seemed like she had you."

A brow is arched at the bottles as they are put away, but Gene doesn't ask about them. Not yet at least. "I dunno if it was okay or not… Only been high once before my entire life and you were kinda there for that. Bert took care of me the entire time, she's a really nice woman," Gene offers with an awkward smile. He leans over slightly as he tucks his hands into his pockets.

"So, um, who are the pills for?"

"You're kinda cute when you're high." Lena caps the lipstick and gives Gene her biggest and best grin. It's quite possible that she's trying to get him flustered as a diversionary tactic. "I should maybe just write you like a permanent I'm sorry note or something. It was an accident…I thought she was gonna bite my head off though. Don't think she likes me much."

The lipstick put away, the hidden bottles rattling as she rummages around in both pockets in search of something else. A slip of paper is withdrawn and offered to him. "I dunno yet, got them for helping someone out earlier. Might see what I can get for them on the street…here, this is for you. I was gonna give it to you the other day but…you know."

"I'm a freaking moron when I'm high," Gene announces with some degree of shame, moving to take the paper (after first making sure he takes it with a hanky from his pocket). "I hope you aren't selling them to people so they can get a high. I mean, I understand that's how you made a living, but you don't have to do that now."

Gene appears ready to say more, but stops as he considers Bert. "I just think she's really protective of me. I'm a co-worker and with everything that's gone on, I think she just wants me to be safe and okay. You know, like how you got when you thought Sydney was in danger."

On the paper is just a name, a number and an email address, all beloning to one Agent Felix Ivanov.

Lena's smile goes lopsided. "Nah. You just say the stuff that's in your head. And you gotta get that shit out sometimes, or it's like…going to make you explode, man. I know it's easy to make fun of Tiago but he's pretty smart about stuff like that, you should ask him some time. I think you're awesome, man. Except when you're going all Dad on me." Her hands retreat into those pockets again, curling protectively over the pills. "They're pain pills, not high pills. I'm down to my last twenty and I can't just hold my hand out to Eric every time we need spending money…um." Lena goes very very still. "Eric told you about that?"

The young genius merely blushes oh so faintly at the talk of saying his mind. "I am not in danger of exploding. If I was… I change that explosion productively. Or try to, at least." The mention of pain pills causes Gene to quirk a brow. "I didn't know that pain pills worked for you… Or that Eric was giving out money. The second doesn't surprise me. He isn't really proud of the money's got and would rather it go to good use."

"Well, exploding or passing out. You don't exactly have a balanced life, right? You're gonna make yourself sick and then where are we gonna be?" Lena cocks her head at him, grin gradually fading into a light frown. "I mean…you're kinda holding everything together, aren't you? Hell, if I were single…" But no! He has to go and ruin her second attempt at flustering by harping on the pills. Her sigh is not exaggerated. "They don't, but there are folks out there who can't pay what the pharmacies charge, you know? Life's not just hard for us. And I can get about five hundred for these. Help Syd pay for groceries, get the cat more food, get him checked out by a vet."

It's time for another diversion. She gestures at the paper, and finally explains its meaning. "That guy, he's one of us. He was the first one to help me and Chi out, but they're watching him now…the government knows what he is, they just haven't snatched him yet. I told him I didn't know if I could help, or if he could help us since he's being followed all the time but…he's kind of on the inside."

Tucking away the paper, Gene gives a brief chuckle. "So he's being followed by the government, but you want me to try an talk with him… You enjoy making my life a challenge, don't you?" he remarks before he gets to the other topic. When it comes to moral issues, sadly, Gene's always has his thing to say. "I'm just considering that people might buy it for reasons other than not being able to buy it at the store. If you really need money, you know you can ask me or Eric. Eric gives me hundreds of dollars all the time and I never feel bad about it. I mean, it's not like I wouldn't do the same for him if the situation was reversed."

Lena shakes her head in a firm negative. "Nah, I wouldn't do that to you. Not after dropping the crazy lady in your lap. I told him no promises, and I'll be checking in with him anyway every week to make sure he isn't grabbed yet." There's a slight pause before she adds, in mildly uncomfortable tones, "I'm supposed to like…let his wife know if it happens. It kinda sucks being the go-to person, doesn't it?"

A small breath is taken, expelled slowly. "Yeah, trust me, I know you guys would. But we gotta hold up our end of things too, right? Or…me, anyway. Chi's gonna be doing the car thing, at least. You guys are using what I can do but that's just…I could be in a coma and you could still get that stuff from me, if you had a needle and a strong stomach. So don't tell me I'm already helping out or you'll have another accident."

Gene coughs into his fist before he speaks. "Techicinally speaking, we could get Eric's money if he was in a coma too, one of us would just need power of attorney… I haven't had a chance to talk with the other woman yet, but I'm sure I will in time. As for Felix, if you want me help, it's no biggie. Right now, just trying to wait for an opening to get into the government. I might put out a summons for all the people I have working with me and try and get us a little more organized."

"Yeah, didn't I tell you to not argue with me?" Lena pulls a hand out, and though it's gloved, she makes a grabby motion at the young man. It's pulled up short, however. The smile is back, faint and crooked. "I guess he could maybe help with that…oh." Speaking of the government. She tucks her chin down, considering for a long, long moment. Then, quiet again, the girl goes on. "Um. I dunno if this'll help any but you know that blonde chick, the one who works with the Senator guy? Yeah…don't ask me how I know, okay? 'Cause I don't want Chi finding out. But…she's kinda maybe not stuck on him anymore."

"Disagreeing is just part of heroes working to.." Gene processes what Lena says, mostly the end. "…gether. Did you just tell me what I thought you did?" Gene's voice is in disbelief. "It sounded like you went to Washington to help Tracy, but I'm sure that she just went up to New York or something. Because going down there alone without telling ANYONE…"

Lena shifts from one foot to the other, casting a look at Gene that would translate in any language to 'oh god, not you too'. "I wasn't about helping her. Look, forget I said anything. I just figured you're looking for an in with the government, and she's probably gonna be pretty pissed off now, right? But…yeah. There you go."

See, this is why Lena keeps secrets. Because people use that tone when she doesn't.

For the time being, Gene puts away talk of Government Takedowns because in the end, Evil Organizations may come and go, but friends should be forever, right? "No, I'm not going to forget it, Lena," Gene states as he runs a hand through his hair. He seems ready to blow a gasket at first, but after pursing his lips, thinking a few happy thoughts, releasing the bad air, Gene offers a concerned, but calm tone. "This is the kinda stuff that we can't do. I mean, imagine if I told you I did the same thing… How would YOU feel?"

"I…don't get it. You're like in charge of all of this, if you did it you'd have a reason, right? You do lots of shit that I don't know about." A curious and confused look is fixed on the man, as if Lena expects a return of that blown gasket at any moment. She's already turtling in preparation for it. "Why can't we do it, anyway? I mean, she's not like Syd was anymore. It's fucking wrong for someone to get used like that. I was helping."

The young Geek God shakes his head. "This isn't about what you did. When Bert needed my help, I went to her too. But HOW I did it was entirely different. First, I told my friends, Elena and Eric. Then, I went with one of them. I know, there is a chance people may disagree with the stuff we want to do, but doing it behind their backs…" Gene shakes his head as he sighs. A hand runs through his hair, almost brushing off his hat. "Maybe you told Sydney or Eric and they went with you. If they did, that's totally fine, but I'm assuming you didn't let anyone of the group know… And if that was the case, what happened if something happened and you got caught or worse? There was a chance we wouldn't even know what happened for weeks."

Oh. That's what he meant. Lena's sigh billows before her face as she looks away, face scrunched up in a vain effort to hide the guilt being heaped up high on the plate. With gravy, no less. "I…no. I wasn't alone though. It was just…um. I just…" But the lies aren't coming so easily, which is proving frustrating. Another tactic is clearly needed.

"Look, I know you guys would worry if something happened to me. But it's not like…it's just…I was okay. And I can take care of myself. I can't sit in that apartment all day, doing nothing. You don't even know." Lena pauses, stealing a peek at Gene's face to see if any of this is working. "I'm sorry. But I wasn't by myself and it worked out okay."

The frown on Gene's face and the crossing of his arms lets Lena know exactly how it's hitting. "I'd rather worry about what could be than be ignorant of what has been, Lena. If you want to leave the apartment, that's fine, I get cabin fever in my room too. I'm not saying you can't go out on a night on the town or have a nice dinner out. Heck, if it's that important, I'll pay for you and Tiago to have a good time. You said yourself that letting yourself go free is important."

The arms are unfolded as Gene walks a couple steps closer toward Lena, his tone losing his edge as he just seems heartfelt with a hint of tired. "Look, I'm not asking you for every move. I'm not asking you to be selfish. I'm just asking that if you are going to do something that is dangerous or could end really badly, you let us know… Even if it's leaving me a voice mail. Going to DC, talking to people we think might be a traitor, stuff like that. I promise you that I'll follow the same rules you do because I don't believe in double standards if we're in this together, alright?"

It's so much easier to blow off this kind of lecture when it's delivered in a raised voice, laced heavily with obscenity. But when it's delivered so calmly, so reasonably, with such obvious concern, it's enough to make a street-weary, self-proclaimed punk chick want to beg forgiveness. Or, at the very least, give Gene a hug so that look on his face goes away.

The tired concern…that's just so unfair.

"Yeah…yeah, okay. I knew I shouldn't have done it when I told him I would. I was scared shi—a lot." Lena's shoulders relax enough that she can reach up to a hand back through her hair. "This team thing. It's…except for Chi, I haven't…it's just weird. I'm sorry. I mean that, Gene. Just don't keep looking at me that way, okay? Please? I won't pull anything like that again, I promise."

"You don't need to feel guilty if you want to change," Gene admits, putting away his 'secret weapon' as a smile appears on his face. He rests a hand on Lena's shoulder, offering it a light pat or two. "If you honestly are sorry, it's no problem. I mean, if there was a problem, you had with me, I'd hope you could talk to me about it. Sure, I kinda want to lead everything because I think I'm the best suited for it, but I know that everyone to know their opinions matter and that I am going to make mistakes too… And when I do, I expect a talk like this at the very least."

The young man moves toward the rooftop, perhaps living out his own dream as he puts a foot on the edge, resting his elbows as he looks out to the city… The bright lights, the honking cars, the endless flow of people. "Being a team means that we get draw from different outlooks, different insights. To ensure that we keep our path even if the light grows dim and the world goes to hell. To keep us safe, happy, and prosper even when there is little to share. To live the lives we were destined to live."

"What if I don't want to though? What if…what if I can't? I'm not like Syd, or Bert. They're nice and all but…" Lena waits for Gene to remove his hand before giving a shrug (and to her credit, she didn't visibly flinch when the pats landed, as she'd seen his hand coming). Her sneakers crunch against gravel as she trails behind to the roof's edge, having no fear of heights to interfere with standing beside the Geek God. Although her slouch, with hands in pockets, is far less picturesque than his pose. Still, she seems comfortable enough now that Gene is smiling. And monologuing. That she can listen to respectfully, before framing a reply.

"Trust me, I don't have a problem with you. I just dunno if I'm a good fit with ya'll, you know? You say stuff like that, all about the safe and happy and prosper…you're the good guys. Me, not so much." She shoots him a sidelong grin, crooked as the day is long. "Not that I mind helping you out. But…you worry about the way I do things, it's gonna turn you grey, man. Like Chi. I'm not like those nice chicks you hang out with."

Gene speaks to Lena as he over looks the city, clearly getting a high from the winds that blow about and almost feeling the city itself under his feet. "You are about helping other people… Even if you show it in different ways. You want the world to be a better place, even if you don't think that it can ever change. You're a nice chick, you've just been forced to fight for yourself. Besides, a good person can always become evil and an evil person can always become good. It's the choices that we make that define us."

Perhaps his fears finally overcoming his desire for the dramatic or just done with the pose, Gene takes his foot off the ledge to turn fully toward Lena. His gentle smile is sincere, his words softening now that he doesn't have to content with the city below. "If you want to do the right thing? Then I want to hang out with you. Even if you didn't want to help in… whatever ends up happening next with the Alpha Protocol, I'd still be fine with you hanging around. You're a good person. You just want to be taken care of. For life to be fair. Free from pain and guilt… That's nothing to be ashamed of, that's just being human. Sydney and Bert… Tiago and myself, we all want those things too."

Lena is already shaking her head in a denial, even before that assessment of her qualities has finished. Bless the rooftop gloom that hides the awkward flush. "Nah, Gene…you're a great guy. You really are. Just, you see everyone that same way. I wasn't fishing for compliments, I know you think I'm incredible," she confides with a half-smile that almost mirrors the man's. "And I'm not saying I'm like the next Baroness or anything, I do like helping. I'll help you guys out because you've helped us out, and 'cause you're so nice…you deserve a break, and if I can make that happen, awesome. Especially if it means you help Chi stay safe. Just…"

The bridge of her nose crinkles. "Enh…nevermind, I guess. I'm sorry for giving you more work. And heart attacks. I'll try to keep my head down for a little while if that helps."

Normally, he would be blushing himself at the compliment exchange, but something is different. Instead of those bright words, he focuses on something else entirely. "No… I don't see everyone that way," Gene swiftly replies, his tone getting a slight chill to it. Catching himself in a Dark Side moment, the geek shakes his head and moves a couple of steps toward the fire escape. "It's okay, Lena, not work at all. Saving the world is just a hobby and I'm currently… between jobs," the young man awkward states. "Speaking of Chi, sure I shouldn't keep you from him or whatever else you got going on. If you guys need me, you know how to reach me, right?"

"Yeah…" There's a longer pause, during which Lena cocks her head to the side and regards Gene rather oddly. Her expression is trapped somewhere between thoughtful and confused. There's a moment when she might have asked for clarification, or offered an apology (suspect or not) for having offended. It passes without comment. "Yeah, we do. I haven't broken it yet, don't worry. Your radio thing. Be good, Vader." The young man is tipped a wave, a half-hearted smile, and then she's withdrawing to make her way back to the stairwell door.

The nickname causes Gene to swallow slightly, merely giving a simple nod toward Lena to let her be on her way, only giving a weak smile at the last second. After she goes, the Geek God looks up to the sky before he pull a hand back, stretching it as far as he can to have it sip past his shirt collar, feeling the arrow-head like tip of his scar, the distorted tissue slightly bumpy and even rough in some spots. "Not everyone," the young man states before he pulls his hand back out and moves to go down the fire escape himself.

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