2008-01-06: The Things Close To Your Vest


DrAldric_icon.gif Cass_icon.gif

Summary: Thoughtful after her meeting at Pinehearst, Cass goes to her father with some questions — particularly regarding their family.

Date It Happened: January 6th, 2008

The Things Close to Your Vest

Aldric Home

Hartsdale, NY

Evening at the Aldric home is usually a quiet time — when Cass isn't visiting, that is — and tonight is no different, so far, with one exception (besides the visiting Cass). A curious rustling noise. That would be from the cage that has been set up in the living room. It has a very handsome, wooden casing, and inside is a ferret. Yes, a ferret. The world is surely ending.

In the kitchen, supper has recently ended. Warm light extends over the various surfaces of the room. The voice of Kathleen Aldric can be heard distantly from the dining room over the sound of dishes clinking together as she talks about the neighbours while gathering the supper plates. Dr. Aldric is at the kitchen counter, cutting into a meringue-covered pie and every so often going "hmmnnmmhn" in response to his other half.

For most of the dinner, Cass has been quiet, though she's been giving that ferret a very thorough eyeing. Since when did the Aldrics get pets? She guesses since there has been a Meryl involved, but she doesn't even know who this person is and she's giving her father pets? Strange. The reason she's even here tonight is something she has yet to talk about. It's hard to bring up, especially in front of her mother. So, she just swirls around whatever is in her glass and frowns thoughtfully until finally, she speaks up. "Dad, do you think could I talk to you privately?" She glances in the direction of her mother gathering up the dishes. "We'll be back in time for pie."

The knife Dr. Aldric is using to slice the pie is a butter knife - his precision in choosing medical instruments does not translate into cutlery, it would seem. Said knife hovers over a whirl of meringue when he hears Cass asking about private conversation. Out of sight, his face contorts slightly in a thoughtful frown, knowing that every time his daughter has to talk to him in private these days it means she's probably going to broach a subject he doesn't want to — or isn't supposed to — talk about.

Mrs. Aldric good-naturedly waves them off, whisking by with an armful of dishes.

"What uh, what is it, Cassandra?" Dr. Aldric broaches as casually as he can, turning around, away from the poor, lonesome pie. Putting the crude pie-cutter down, he heads through the kitchen toward the stairs — out-of-hearing distance is a good thing, since Kathleen is around. "Nothing's wrong, is it?"

"Uh, no." Not really. Or, well, nothing Cass wants to talk about in front of her mother. "It's, well, it's about the store. I just wanted some advice." Looking down at her glass, it may be easy to tell that it's not really about the store. But, she doubts that her mother knows about her labs or the fact that she and her father have been sitting at opposite ends of an ideological fence for awhile. Finally setting down her glass, she quickly follows after her father, glancing over her shoulder worriedly at her mother. It's not until they're by the stairs and out of hearing distance that she actually feels comfortable about talking about what she actually came for. "I…" Though she's not really easy about doing it.

Frowning, the bookstore owner sighs and folds her arms. "I don't really know how to bring this up. People with abilities…they don't just randomly appear in families, do they? I know that it's possible, but do you know if it happens often?"

Dr. Aldric faces his daughter at the base of the stairs and regards her, considering, throughout her question. Instead of answering, his brow furrows and he turns to makes his way upstairs, gesturing with his head for Cass to follow. Each step causes the stairs to creak faintly as they always have. At the top, he leads the way into his study, opening the door for Cass. "I wouldn't be telling the truth if I said it was a completely understood process," he says. "It, uh…" He hesitates, frowning. "What makes you ask?"

"I'm just curious," Cass tells her father irritably. Mostly irritated because that's not the truth and also because she doesn't know how to bring this up. "There's no one in the family that has abilities, do they?" Pausing, she eyes her father. "You don't you have them, do you?" She thinks she would know that by now, but there are lots of abilities out there and, of course, she didn't know that he worked for the Company most of her life. It wouldn't be so out of par for him to keep something that big out of her life.

After turning on the light, which is still relatively dim (hence the addition of reading lamps), Dr. Aldric closes the door behind them, standing in front of it with his back to Cass, pausing for a moment before he ambles in further. "I don't have an ability, no, I'm just as normal as you are." He doesn't sit down anywhere, though his desk and two comfy, old black chairs are options. The study is small, filled with statues and art relating to medicine, a bookshelf bursting with books, and framed photos situated on the desk. His expression rather grim, and somewhat wary, he eyes his daughter. "Scientific curiosity?"

"Yes and no." Running a nervous hand through her hair, Cass doesn't exactly know how to bring up what it was Mr. Linderman talked to her about. Once the door is closed, she follows her father with her eyes, frowning still as he walks. Glancing over at the comfy chairs, she opts not to sit either. She's got to be able to expend this nervous energy somehow and sitting down wouldn't really allow that to happen all that easily. "Someone told me that he thought I would turn out to be Evolved because of a family matter. I just…wanted to know what he meant by that because he wouldn't tell me."

Dr. Aldric removes his glasses and uses a tissue from a box on his desk to polish them. He focuses on this simple, repetitive act while listening to Cass— then… sadfgyryuiwtgiruhgu. Is he hearing his daughter correctly? He slowly puts his glasses back on, situating them just so on the bridge of his nose — all the better to regard Cass with. "Cassandra…" he begins sternly. "I don't know who would tell you something like that." Who, not why.

Yes, indeed, he is hearing Cass correctly. "I don't really know, either. But he seemed to know a lot about me. And our family." As she watches her father polish his glasses, she can't help but find it something unnerving about it. It's as if he's not really listening to her, even if she knows that he is. She pauses for a brief moment, wondering if he is going to add on to that statement, but when he doesn't, she decides to press farther. "That's it? No explanation? No, he's insane? Why would he ever tell you something like that? What is going on, dad?"

The myriad lines of Dr. Aldric's face deepen as his tension grows and he becomes grimmer. Agitated, his restlessness is pushed down - he's stoic. "Of course he's insane," he answers, his gruff tone clipped. "I'm afraid you're not the only one who wants to know what's going on, Cassandra. Who've you been talking to anyway?"

"I don't know. Someone who found me and talked to me. He knew what I'd been doing and who you worked for." Cass frowns and stares at her father for a moment. He is her father, still and she should say something. "He said his name was Linderman. He sounded British." There's a frown there. "But he didn't sound insane, dad. He had information on all of us. And it was all true. He knew about…everything, somehow. So, what did he mean that he thought I'd turn out to have abilities, too? Why would he think that?"

Cass barely has time to finish her questions before her father's desk is suddenly in a state of disarray. Why? Because he had begun to lean a hand onto his desk's edge when one of the several surprising things he hears causes him to slip, knock a reading lamp over and upset a mug full of pens that creates a domino effect with two family photos. He clears his throat, hurriedly straightening the lamp.

The stoicism which Dr. Aldric was holding onto falls apart quite utterly. He scrapes a hand over his moustache and turns to face the window overlooking the back yard, beyond the now messy desk. "Uh. Well, uh," he stammers, looking like he was just hit in the face by a ton of bricks. "That sure is something." He lowers himself into one of the armchairs. "Just, I, uh. Give me a second, here, Cassandra. Sit down."

Automatically, Cass stoops down to help scoop things up to try and help her father clean things up. Righting the family portraits, she frowns at them and puts them back to where they were before. The stammering, the very un-Dr. Aldric-like way that he's all nervous makes Cass nervous as well. She wasn't even sure what she would uncover here when she came to ask all these questions. So many things have been unraveling for her lately, that she was hoping to be proven wrong about something. "Okay…" Feeling her way to a seat, she perches in one, straight backed and nervous. What is going on here? Really? "What's wrong?" She sounds apprehensive, almost too afraid to ask. It's like she knows she's not going to like the answer.

Dr. Aldric doesn't like the answer, either - and he's the one who has to give it. Or does he? The man wavers back and forth on waves of indecision. He runs a hand along his deeply knit brow. "I'm in a tight spot here," he says without looking at Cass. "There are things that— well, things that you aren't supposed to know." He knows this won't be comforting, and the glance he gives his daughter is almost apologetic. "What you, ah— what you said— I'm— I'm not sure what to think, there. This man, Linderman. We thought he… well he." Spit it out, Aldric! "We thought he was dead."

Ever since Cass has started to find the truth about what her father does, she hears her father telling her that a lot. This, however, is quite a surprise. "D-dead." That's…not what she was thinking she'd hear. "Well. He looked pretty alive to me. I guess that's something else you all were wrong about." There's a frown, though, as this complicates the whole matter. "Though I guess the being dead thing may help him learn a lot about other people he shouldn't know." A pause. "What was he supposed to have died of?"

"I'm not sure on the details," Dr. Aldric says distractedly; on that particular note, he's not being evasive, at least not obviously. "It's not, uh, as if hiding from the Company is unheard of. It's difficult, but it happens," he adds reluctantly. "I'm not sure what to think of him coming to you." There's more to be said, but he watches Cass closely, still considering, still weighing options. If he explains more to Cass, will it bring her closer to fulfilling a dead man's motives?

"Obviously." As she knows of people who have done it and she has tried to help people, as well. Cass frowns and studies her father. Linderman seems to have done it very well and discreetly while still managing to amass enough money and influence to build a huge research facility. "I'm not sure what to think about it, either. I don't know anything about him other than what you and he just told me. And what he said about our family…" It's still weighing on her mind, trying to figure out what it means. "I just don't know what any of it means."

"Cassandra," Dr. Aldric says, sighing and placing his hands on his knees. He clears his throat again, frowns. "You've proven by this point— " For better or worse, depending on one's point of view, " —that you can make your own decisions. If… if by telling you this it gives you some insight, sways you in any one direction, I can't stop that and I can't be responsible for it."

Whenever anyone starts out a conversation like that, it can never bode well. Cass anxiously keeps an eye on her father. It's not that she doesn't think she can make her own decisions. Of course she thinks she can. "Alright…" she's not exactly sure how to answer that. She's not about to argue with him about making her own decisions one way or another. "Wh-what are you trying to tell me?"

"Keep this — all of it — close to your vest." He can't say 'I shouldn't be telling you this' one more time. "You were, uh…" Dr. Aldric adjusts his glasses and goes on. He attempts to keep his voice to its usual even deadpan tone, but the father's struggle to admit information that's been kept close to his vest for almost thirty years shows through here and there. "There was, uh— once upon a time there was the possibility that you could have, could, potentially, develop… abilities… as well. Because of your brother, Cassandra."

"Close to the—" Cass trails off as her father continues, quickly realizing why it would have to be played close to her vest. This bomb shell hits her with an open mouthed kind of stare. "Wait. I…" Shaking her head, she tries to clear it out so she can think about this clearly. "My brother had abilities? How did you know that? He was…young when he died. Really young. I didn't think that abilities manifested that early." Of course, she's seen them manifest in Cam, but, still, that's a rare occurrence as far as she knows. "So…but…" This is still confusing. "Why didn't you tell me?"

"It's rare. It was … a fluke, that he took to the abilities as well as he did. Considering, it was surprising when you seemed to take a, uh, a different path." Dr. Aldric stands up from the chair, moving listlessly toward his desk with stiff movements. "I've always been glad that you didn't turn out to be one of them."

"…took to the abilities?" Cass frowns. "What do you mean by that?" This is confusing her more. "How do you take to abilities when you're born with them?" As for a different path, she shakily pushes herself up out of the chair. "One of them? You're talking about someone who was a member of this family. He's not a 'one of them' he's a one of us." There's a shake of her head.

"It didn't intend for it to sound that way. You know what I mean, Cassandra. People with these powers. They can be more trouble than…" Dr. Aldric trails off, looking down at his desk — notably at the framed family photos that show no sign of Cass's brother. "Some people's … genetics are uh, more hospitable to these powers than others. Others can't handle them. They never get the chance to develop. I, ah… suppose that's the part of the answer you were looking for."

Circling around the chair, Cass folds her arms on the back of it and then leans. That makes things a little easier on her. She can stand and expend energy as well as lean and not fall over. The best of both worlds. All the time she's lived here, she's never seen a picture of her brother, never really heard him talked about other than knowing that he existed at some point. "You're saying that he was more trouble than he was worth?" Suddenly, she shakes her head. "So, what, it's okay that he died because he was more trouble then he could have been worth?" She never knew him, but that doesn't make that okay. This was someone she was related to you. Reining herself in, she takes a deep breath and tries to ask, more calmly, "Are you saying his abilities caused his death?" The words are a bit clipped, but still work.

"That's— no, that's not what I was saying!" Dr. Aldric raises his voice a little in frustration. "Stop turning my words around on me, Cassandra, I wouldn't mean something like that about a member of this family, I would hope you'd know that." He takes a moment's pause. "His … abilities contributed to a house fire. Your mother— she doesn't talk about it, it would be best if you didn't remind her."

"I'm sorry, I'm just a little stunned to find out that a brother that no one talks about had abilities that caused his own death." Snapping back, Cass pushes away from the chair so that she can pace, just as frustrated. "A house fire? I don't remember any house fire." Of course, she was young, too, she can't really remember the brother, why would she remember a house fire? "No one ever said anything about that before."

Dr. Aldric's expression remains stationary, his mouth a sharp line. "Like I said, it's hard on your mother. We moved back to the city for awhile… you might not even remember our first house. Your mother … she didn't know. Why the fire got so out of hand, that is. She was very… she was in rough shape, after it happened. To have you asking questions when you were just a girl would've been— well. So we didn't talk about it."

This is all….a little much for Cass to handle all in one sitting. Learning her brother effectively killed himself - by accident. That there's a whole traumatic experience of her life that she just doesn't even remember. That they don't even talk about. "I see." Staring at the floor, she stops pacing for a moment as she thinks long and hard about what she just learned here. Finally, her eyes crawl up to meet her father and all she can say is, "I need some time to think this all through."

When you ask Dr. Aldric an important question, expect a traumatic answer, apparently. He frowns, his stern expression showing a bit of regret. He withholds saying anything else and says, simply: "Stay for pie. Your mother made lemon meringue."

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