2007-09-29: They're Villains, Cassandra


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Cass goes to see her father and make sure he's alright. He tells her about what happened to Primatech and she asks his advice on some blood tests.

September 29th, 2007:

They're Villains, Cassandra

Aldric Family Home, Hartsdale

Crashing, bumping, and a general ruckus is coming out of the spacious garage of the Aldric home this afternoon. The garage door is open — not all the way, just low enough that someone of average height would have to duck to step under. Inside, everything is in perfect order: Dr. Aldric's car parked off to the side, various boxes and containers stacked against the walls, a normal, tidy garage, save for the easels leaning against the wall by the door to the house. One is se up, holding a medium-sized canvas blotted with ambiguous blue and green shapes. The cool space smells like oil and paint.

Dr. Aldric has a giant plastic box out on a workbench and is rifling through it frantically. The plain white t-shirt he wears is rumpled, as are his khaki pants and his hair that's in need of a cut, like his whiskers. Eventually, he stops his search, runs paint-stained fingers over his head, walks in a circle and starts digging through the box again.

… Stressed? Dr. Aldric? You must be imagining things.

When the black cab pulls up to the curb right outside the Aldric family house, it only remains stationary for a few brief moments. Almost before it's stopped moving, Cass is out of the car and tossing money at the driver. "Keep the change!" she tells him, not caring if she sounds cliche. Gripped in her hands is the day's paper and a slim manilla folder. The text from Benjamin saying something came up at 'work' was enough to put the store owner on edge, however, the paper sprung her into action. She called home, but got no answer. On the way to Hartsdale she would periodically try the phone, yet, still no answer. The open garage door draws her attention and she jogs down the driveway toward it. "Dad?" Those are feet underneath there, right? Merely slowing down, not stopping, she ducks her head and moves inside.

Taxi? What taxi? Every ounce of Dr. Aldric's focus is directed at the bottom of the storage box as he shoves old art supplies and various odds and ends out of the way. If he can just reach the very bottom, maybe what he's looking for will be there, given that what you want is always on the bottom— crash! The second he hears Cass — once she's almost in the garage — handfuls of stiff paintbrushes and half-empty tubes of paint tumble back into the box, obscuring the holy grail. He looks up, wide-eyed and flustered. "Cassattack!" He curls his hands tightly around the edge of the box and takes a steadying breath. "What I meant to say is… Cassandra, you nearly gave me a heart attack."

Cassattack? Well, that's a new one. Any other day and Cass may have laughed at his surprise. Instead, she just keeps rushing forward to hug her father, ignoring the crash and the paint. She knows his hobby and doesn't really care if she gets a little paint on her clothes. "It's all over the newspapers! I was so worried." Even if they may not agree on who he works for, he's still her father. "I didn't even know if you they would call if anything happened to you." The last time there was a fire at Primatech Research, she was concerned, but now knowing what her father does, it kind of terrifies her.

"I'm looking for my Payne's grey," Dr. Aldric tells Cass gravely as he returns the hug - tightly, but almost immediately distracted. "I'm all out of Payne's grey, but I'm sure I had a half-used tube stored away," he goes on, resuming his nervous rummaging; he paws halfway through the box before hefting it up, sliding it onto a shelf and taking an identical box down from a shelf above his head. "And your mother, she went through an put everything in this darn storage boxes and I can't find my Payne's grey."

With all the nervous rummaging, Cass takes a small step backwards to allow her father to continue his search. That's not exactly the sort of response she was expecting from him. 'I'm fine' or 'It will be okay' is more in the area of what she thought he would say. Anything other than 'Payne's grey'. Pulling the box that he only partly searched through, the bookstore owner starts to shift through it. "You know how mom gets about clutter," she comments, unsure of how to take this shift. "You're okay? You weren't hurt or anything, were you?" He looks okay - physically - but he's rambling and certainly not looking himself.

Dr. Aldric lets his shoulders drop, holding the second heavy container lower. He frowns, taking a break from his frantic distractions to regard Cass. There's clear worry in his blue eyes, and his brow is all a-furrow, possibly over more than his missing paint. "I was at home, in bed." He sets the container on the bench, hanging his head in silence. Eventually… "It's worse than you know, Cassandra."

For the moment, Cass is a little oblivious to her father's furrowed eyebrows. Anything involving death and fire at her father's place of work has got to be pretty bad, right? There's a bit of a frown that creases her face as she keeps digging in the discarded box. "That's a relief." Of there was ever such a thing in a situation such as this. Finally, she pulls out a a small tube of paint and holds it up. "I don't know. It's not that bad of a storage system, dad. I think this is your Payne's grey." She holds out the little metallic canister for him with a very weak smile. Of course she knows that's not what he meant. The smile fades. "What's wrong?"

Dr. Aldric isn't even excited about the retrieval of his Payne's grey. He just wanders over to take the canister absently from his daughter's hand, is face stuck in its furrowed state. "There was a good deal of damage. Well, you saw the news, but the news— the didn't— couldn't report all the details. There was a breakout." The doctor, who doesn't much resemble a doctor today, looks down at the paint in his hands and unscrews the cap, hesitating. He regards Cass over his spectacles. "They escaped, Cassandra. And they're out there."

A break out. Well. The last time Cass heard about a break out it was Peter that was doing the escaping. Which, really, she can't say she feels like that's a bad thing. However, when Peter escaped he didn't burn anything down. And he didn't kill anyone. Picking up on the severity of the matter from her father's mood, she sets the paper down - the front page blazoned with a building on fire - along with her manilla folder on the work bench and moves closer. "What you do mean? Who's out there?"

"People who were never meant to see the light of day again," Dr. Aldric says with uncharacteristic cruelty. "They're the reason the rules and regulations you disagree with are in place, Cassandra. The Company took them away from the public, locked them away so they couldn't cause anymore harm." Noticing that he's slowly crumpling the canister of paint, he sets it down on a work counter, wiping his hand off on his white shirt with a smear of near-black. "They'll use their abilities to terrorize, to— to destroy. Just destroy, because that's what they do. They're killers. Three of them escaped."

"It's not the rules and regulations I disagree with," Cass corrects her father gently. "It's the principle." However that's not really the issue that she wants to push at the moment. Watching him incrementally crush the canister, she moves to grab one of his paint clothes to hand over. Even if he's already wiped it on his shirt, that can't get all the paint. There's silence as she thinks all this over, trying to process it all. "How? I thought your facility was all but impassable."

"Well, not entirely," Dr. Aldric says with irritation, not with his daughter, but with the incident at hand. "There are— there are two other terrible individuals, you see, who approached the building together. Alone, they're not something to scoff at. Together…" He shakes his head, his mouth moving into a tight line. His moustache seems to twitch as his thoughts clearly go a mile a minute. He doesn't look like he's slept much. "I shouldn't be telling you this, but I keep going over it in my head— how it happened- how they got in like they did. If I'd been there… the fire started in the hospital…" His jumbled words trail away and he belatedly takes the cloth. He just holds it.

"I guess nothing's fool proof." This isn't actually a dig at the Company, it's just a statement. The incident at hand is serious enough. When her father mentions two other terrible individuals, Cass can't help but think of those two people she was warned about before. The flamestarter and the Evolved killer, though she only knows Sylar by name. "Why did they go there?" She's already been briefed as to what these people can do to the world at large, so of course she knows it's dangerous. As for what might have happened had he been in there when the fire started, that's a whole different ball game. It's worrying. Not letting go of the cloth for a moment, so it's kind of kept suspended between them, the brunette looks down at it as opposed to at Aldric. "Why are they doing this?"

"One of the people who broke in — he can… take… abilities from others. By— by killing them. Sylar?" Dr. Aldric lifts a brow over the rim of his glasses, hunting for recognition in his daughter's face. She's certainly involved with the right sort of crowd to know. He turns away, inadvertently tugging the unused cloth with him. He doesn't go far; just to the counter, which he leans on. "I suppooose because it's a buffet," he quietly answers. "However, as far as I know, they're still free and, uhm, well, not— not killed by Sylar. Yet." Maybe they'll all just cancel each other out. Is that too vicious a thing to ask for? He sighs tiredly. "I only know so much."

That's a name that Cass certainly knows. The recognition and fear is plain on her face when her father confirms what she already suspected. She lets the cloth slip through her fingers as her father turns away as she didn't have a very tight grip on it, anyway. "Then…why?" It's so confusing. If all that man wanted was to feast, why didn't he do it there? How did they all get free? If these men and women are so dangerous and the Company so ruthless, why didn't they just kill them? Not that Cass condones that, just that she hasn't gotten a grip on what the Company does completely. "What did these people do that was so bad? That got them put away?" Because maybe that will clear a few things up. "That's certainly more than I know. And if those people are lose and as dangerous as you say they are? You need to warn the public!"

"Given the state of the building— well— I can say there was a lot of…" Dr. Aldric frowns deeply as he searches for a word. "Pandemonium." …he may have overshot his inner thesaurus a little. He faces Cass once more, fixing a steady, concerned gaze on her. "I don't know what they done to get in there— I don't know a lot about— about there period. I just know that they're dangerous," Aldric answers, annoyed at his lack of knowledge — it comes out sounding defeated. "It's not my job to warn the public. It's not the Company's, either, for that matter! Think. Think about it. What would we tell the media? Beware psychopathic escapees from a secret facility and oh, also, by the way, they have super powers? The Company is taking every action to track them down and stop them before they cause any real damage. I-I know that much." And yet he sounds doubtful. Worried.

From the picture on the front page, Cass would say something other than pandemonium. "Dangerous," she repeats. The young woman is just as concerned and worried about this situation. More so knowing that her father could have been a part of those casualties. So, when her eyes flash with a bit of indignation, it's fueled by a lot of conflicting emotions. "Not your job? You make it your job to protect the public without even letting them know what you're protecting them from! Your job takes people without letting them know what's going on! And you say it's not your job to protect that same public from a danger they have no way of protecting themselves from because you made it so secret? The very least your Company could do is let them know that dangerous criminals are on the loose. That they are very armed and to not be approached!" She shakes her head, once, forcefully. "Any real damage. You're talking about before they kill innocent people. Who have no idea what they're about to be hit with."

Matching indignation flashes in Dr. Aldric's eyes, but he waits until Cass has said her piece before he speaks. "Yes," he says in regards to the last statement. He steps closer to his daughter, reaching out to lay his hands — dirtied by watercolour as they are — on her arms, but hesitates, as if expecting her to move or maybe detonate like a bomb. "In all honesty, Cassandra— I can't tell them what to do. They're not going to listen to someone like me. I'm just a doctor."

Though she's been training Peter, Cass has yet to suddenly manifest the ability to explode and take out Hartsdale along with her. The woman doesn't step backwards, try to get out of her father's grasp or anything of the like. Instead, she just stands there, starting to glower. "You're a doctor! You're supposed to help people." This whole situation has left a bad taste in her mouth. "What's the use in that if you don't even try? What good is this Company of yours? It's too busy protecting it's own secrets it won't help the people it's pretending to. They should listen to you."

"It is— it was protecting the public. From people like them. If they're taken back in promptly enough, the public will never need to know. It's…" Now Dr. Aldric clutches Cass firmly about the shoulders, making sure he looks down into her eyes, although there's a tentativeness to the gesture. "The core of it is, if I understand the strength of the escaped inmates correctly… if the public were to know of, of say, dangerous criminals on the loose, there's very little the public can do to protect themselves. What can any ordinary person like you or I do against those who can spring fire from their hands or throw people down a street with a single thought?"

This isn't an argument Cass wants to hear. Or likes to hear. It's not one she agrees with. "But now they're out there." When Aldric puts his hands on her shoulders, she doesn't look down, she meets his eyes. This has gotten to their fundamental ideal difference. "What do you do with a dangerous person with a gun? Or a knife? You defend yourself! Or you duck! I don't buy into the fact that we're lesser or somehow worse off because we can't fly or fling fire at other people. We can be just as dangerous as they can. Just as much of a danger to society."

"You can't— you can't duck the things that— " Dr. Aldric stumbles over his counter argument, sighing. He lets go of Cass, running a hand through his increasingly shaggy hair. He doesn't want to be arguing, that much is clear. "I'm not arguing that regular people— well, not regular, but disturbed normal humans… I'm not saying they aren't dangerous also." There's a flash in his eyes, a sort of fear; he removes his glasses and polishes them on his shirt, next to the smear of paint. "I've been at the hospital for hours," he says, his voice taking on a hoarse quality. "Hours and hours. I've hardly slept, for treating injuries made by those people. Terrible injuries, Cassandra. People burned, people that … have no faces left. It's easier for those with powerful abilities to be horrendous creatures, and that's what makes them more dangerous." Hands on his knees, Dr. Aldric flops heavily down onto a stool by the work counter; it creaks, metallic. "You and I, if we were to go insane, God forbid… we'd have to arm ourselves; plan. We'd have to be ready, to attack our fellow man. But them… they're always ready. They think, and someone dies."

Okay, so ducking wasn't really the best analogy to how to defend yourself against someone with the power to fry your face off. However, Cass isn't really at her best when fighting with her father. She doesn't want to argue, either. This isn't why she came here. She came to make sure that her father was alright in the face of all this craziness. It doesn't take someone particularly perceptive to know that he's exhausted, worried, stretched thin. He's her father, not just some Company agent. "I'm sorry, dad." And she is. She's sorry that he had to go through all of this. But at least he's alive and unharmed. Wrapping her arms around herself, she turns slightly to follow Aldric's progress. For awhile, she doesn't know what to say. She doesn't want to fight, but she doesn't want to just agree. "I…I actually was coming because I wanted to ask your help about something. But, it can wait until…this is all settled a bit." When in doubt, change the subject.

Dr. Aldric and the cement floor of the garage have a long, involved conversation in his head. At least, that's what it looks like by the way he stares down in heavy silence until Cass speaks, and between them. "I didn't want to argue, today, Cassandra," he says — not meaning to be offensive, it's simply a tired statement. "And no, no, you came for help?" He puts his glasses back on, adjusting them as he looks up at Cass with underlying concern.

Even if Aldric doesn't mean it to be offensive, it still still hits Cass with a wave of guilt. Her father's been stretched thin and she's been trying to morally upstage him. Her mood turns on a turn of a dime to being almost ashamed of her response. Though she still feels the rightness in what she said, there's a time and a place. And this is certainly not it. Not when her father is like that. "I know," she says softly, looking down at that same cement floor. Hopefully it's a very wise floor and will have answers for the both of them. The change of subject brings a sort of surge of energy. Different, something that's not talking about deaths and morals. "Yeah. Well. Found something I can't identify. I think it's a virus but I can't tell anything about it." Going back for her manilla folder, she holds it out.

"A— virus?" Dr. Aldric, naturally, looks confused; his eyebrows knit together and stay that way as he takes the folder and opens it. It's a welcome distraction — inasmuch as he can be distracted — but not exactly a pleasant one. "That's certainly … odd." He carefully thumbs a page over, reading, studying. "Whose blood is this?"

That's about the same look that Cass had when she say the results for the first time and figured out what she was looking at. "I don't know. I…I think it is. It doesn't look like anything else. I mean, look at it." Finally, she swings around to stand behind her seated father on the stool. This way they can both look at what she's found. "It is, right? I couldn't make head nor tail of it. But…I remembered that Mohinder was working on something similar when I met him for the first time." When he gave her his number. There's a pause. "I can't tell you that."

"…hm," is all Dr. Aldric has to say on his daughter's confidentiality; he expects as much. "White blood cell count is a little high is the patient exhibiting any symptoms?" He flips back to the first page, frowning. "It certainly seems like there's some kind of viral mechanism at work here. If that's the case— well— it has to be the early stages."

"That's what I was thinking." Cass isn't all that sure what she's looking at, unfortunately. She can tell what the tests tell her, but she's at a loss as to what this is all doing to Evelyn. "I can't be sure. I'm not even sure." Since she hasn't actually examined the girl herself. "I haven't actually examine the patient. A little…shy." That's as much as she's going to give him. She's even trying to be careful to not allow the gender to slip through. "What do you think it could be? I don't think this is something like the flu or the measles. I've never seen anything like it."

"No, no, it's not something so common," Dr. Aldric says, not taking his eyes away from the contents of the folder. He's in doctor mode. "Are you able to obtain further bloodtests?" Pause. Brow furrow. "…where did— where did you even run these samples?"

"No. I didn't think so." The folder has his daughter's attention just as much as his. She's seen the results here a million times, but they're still puzzling to her. They still draw her attention. "I'm not sure. I might be able to, but it's not really up to me." It depends on what Peter can talk Evelyn into giving or coming in. "Well. I thought you knew that already." Since Benjamin knows, she figured the whole Company knew. Or at least someone like her father.

Apparently not. Dr. Aldric regards the file for a few moments longer before confusion truly hits him. He closes the folder and twists his head around to see Cass. "Knew uh, knew what?" He's earnestly, naively bewildered, here. "Knew that you got back into medicine and forgot to tell your old dad?"

That's certainly confusion that Cass doesn't get at first, too. She just assumed that he knew. If Benjamin knew, that should translate to her father, shouldn't it? Then again, she keeps forgetting that the Company isn't one huge organic being. Some people don't know what others know. It's an organization, not a symbiosis. Catching her father's stare, she shakes her head. "Not medicine, really. More theoretical stuff. Lab work." She frowns. "I figured you knew about it already. From, you know. Them."

"…Aha," Cass's father voices quietly in response. He shrugs stiff shoulders as he gets to his feet. "Like I said," he says, handing back the folder. "I'm just a doctor. An esteemed vocation, of course you know, but my post is quite separate from… certain… well. Certain goings-on." In other words, he doesn't have clearance for certain goings-on. "I also get the distinct impression 'they' don't want me, ahh…" Dr. Aldric reaches up to tug on his ear idly. "Involved. So much. In any matter that has to do with you and what you, ah… do."

"Quite." As Cass hasn't sat down for any of this, she just watches as her father does. "I guess." She's not privy to the inner workings. But, that's okay. She doesn't really want to be. It's all so military and secretive. So CIA or something. "Ah." She gets that part, at least. "I guess I understand that. I kind of feel that way about what…you do." There's a hint of a frown pulling down the corner of her lips. "But, I figured, I'm almost positive we both ultimately want the same thing. For people to not get hurt." And to not let New York get destroyed. Maybe not his employers, but he himself. "And if we can't figure out what this thing is…I think it's going to qualify in the hurting people category."

Dr. Aldric bows his head gradually in a nod. There's a hint of a smile under his moustache, if you look very closely. "Or maybe… it's as simple as a rhinovirus in disguise." Optimism? Sadly, no; just a lack of details. "Better safe than sorry, though, especially if you think there's cause to worry, and— and who wouldn't, faced with a little medical mystery. Get some more samples if you can, do another full work-up, see if it's progressed since— when did you take this? Well, see if it's progressed at all."

Still all wrapped up in the results and medical charts, Cass misses that smile. Even if she caught it, it's hard to say what she would make of it. "Well. Maybe that, too." There's a smirk at that diagnosis, but the woman's never seen a rhinovirus like that. Or at least, she hasn't read about it. "There may be." It's so hard not going into a full depth work up about this with him. To talk about every detail of this little mystery like she wants to. But, she has to think of Evelyn's safety first. What a strange line she walks now with her family. "I'll see what I can do," she nods. "It's been a week or two. It might not be enough to see if it's developed, depending on the type of virus it is."

"Precisely." Dr. Aldric eyes that file in Cass's hands now that he's given it up, but soon glances over to the beginnings of a painting over on the easel. "I have go back to work," he says, not speaking of art at all. "You'll tell me, if you find anything interesting." A question that's not quite a question and more of a statement of what he hopes Cass will do.

Keeping a firm grip on that folder, Cass nods. "Yeah." The woman figures he's going to be in for a few long days after all this. When she looks over at the easel, too, she can't really make out what it's turning out to be. Maybe the next time she stops by, she will. "I will." Because now that she's let him in on it, it'd be nice to get his help. Even if she has to do it in a weird roundabout way. "I hope you'll do the same." About the those escapees. Or about the virus. "I'll go call a cab."

"You should go say hello to your mother," Dr. Aldric points out in lieu of answering. "Cassandra… take… care."

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