2009-09-24: Turnaround



Date: September 24, 2009


Almost as soon as he arrives in India, Matt is told to go back to New York for assistance - and that he has more on the line than he realized.


Chennai, India

The house in India seems lonely and warm, even with a visitor there. Tea has been set out and poured, warm, with saucers. Wind shifts curtains on the windows, the breeze not cooling the house nearly as much as it could. "I didn't see them," the older woman says, voice shaking as she sets a cup down. The teacup bangs against the small plate. Her voice isn't the only thing shaking. "I heard a car pull away, but I only saw shadows in the hall, heard footsteps. I didn't see anything else."

Matt glances around, taking in the layout of the house, what he can see of it from here. Forces himself not to ignore the teacup, not to slam a fist into the table in anger; he can't blame Grandma Suresh for this. If anyone present is at fault, it's himself. "Can you show me her room?" he asks, after a perfunctory sip. "I assume she was asleep, too."

"Right this way," the older woman says, standing up from her seat, though she continues to shake, slightly. Having the home broken into and a child stolen from one's care, who wouldn't be a little shaky. She leads down a hallway, until she can open a door. There's signs of a struggle. The covers are pulled back, but the struggle doesn't seem to have happened there. By all evidences, the struggle happened next to a bag, where the contents had been pulled out. A few things on the dresser have been knocked over, the mirror cracked.

For a brief moment there's a flash of something in the corner of Matt's eye. A shadowy form of a man standing near the window. Dark, a silluette more than anything, of a bald man holding a stick.

A moment later there's a knock on the door.

Matt presses his lips together, taking in the sight as he tries to work out what would've caused it. She had enough time to call him, but only just. What did she leave behind, does he recognize it, is there anything missing that she might've grabbed? But before he can get very far with that line of thought, the knock at the door distracts him. "Wait here a second," he says, stepping back out into the hall, trying to listen in on the newcomer's thoughts in case they've come to finish the job.

"I wasn't able to find her cellphone, but the only thing that I can tell is missing is her pyjamas," the older woman explains quietly, as she looks around the room. She may not be a cop, but she cleans, washes the clothes, buys her thinks, helped her unpack. While she didn't clean up the site, it's likely that she's looked around carefully. She doesn't move to follow, though she looks confused.

At first, the thoughts are in a very different language from English. Soft sounds, no sound of foul intent, but a quiet kind of curiousity. Then suddenly the mental voice shifts. It seems very clear that the man on the other side of the door knows that he's being listened in on. Parkman. Your future is changing— your children need you.

Oh, great, he's thinking in— Indian? Whatever it's called. Not even the right ballpark, but then he hasn't gotten a good look at the man yet. Should've known. —Wait, how do you know my name? How do you know my future? What do you mean, children?

Meanwhile, out loud, Grandma Suresh gets to hear something like: Pause. Frown. "What? What? What?"

Not even remotely close. "Mister Parkman?" Grandma Suresh says outloud, coming up a few steps closer and looking very confused. He is yelling WHAT at the door, after all.

A moment later there's another loud knock. It isn't hand against door, but sounds like wood against wood. I have been painting you since I was a boy. You and others. Open the door, Parkman.

Well, two out of three isn't bad. And he clearly wants to help. He's undoubtedly going to make Matt's life even more complicated, but there's no helping that now. Pacing the remaining distance, he opens the front door, waiting for the man with (more of) the answers to speak first.

The man looks like the flash that went through the corner of his vision. Except solid and not-shadowed. A t-shirt looks decidedly out of place with much of the rest of his attire, for Planet Hollywood of all things. "Keep expecting people to break into song and dance. India is not like Bollywood movies say," he says outloud, spoken voice with a thick accent very similar to his mental voice. There's no sign of deception from him. "Your children were taken to the same place, along with many others. I can lead you to those who can help you find them."

At the mention of Bollywood, Matt merely offers a blank look, as he's never seen any himself. (He was asleep when they showed Marigold on the plane.) And aha, there's the topic he was expecting. "Absolutely," he replies, fishing out the keys to his rental, "but I only have Molly - sort of - I mean, what do you mean?" It couldn't be Janice, she would've told him, wouldn't she?

Grandma Suresh continues after him, "Mister Parkman, will you call if you find her?" There's a distinct look on her face that she understands what the man is saying at the very least, and that Parkman needs to go.

"You need to call your wife, Parkman," the dark skinned man explains simply, already turning to walk in the direction of the rental car. Perhaps not the answer that he wants, and the thoughts continue on in another language.

She wouldn't. She didn't.

"Right away," Matt calls back, before resuming his original hurried pace. Along the way, he takes out his phone and stares down at it. He shouldn't call right now, he's still angry. No, he should, she deserves to know that (apparently) their kid is on the way to being rescued. Speed-dial, speakerphone, then the device is set down near the armrest as he glances to Usutu for a direction.

The long walking stick is stuck into the back seat, while Usutu settles into the passanger seat. From the looks of things, a few bags had been put into the back seat as well, all rugged looking. "Airport," is all the man says, looking straight ahead.

The phone rings, the speaker coming over, until finally someone answers it, a paniced voice that's familiar. "Matt?" Apparently caller ID still works in India, though the bill on his cellphone may be high priced.

Matt nods to Usutu, sending the car into motion with only minor hesitation due to unfamiliarity. "Janice," he replies, confirming that the phone is still in its owner's possession. "I'm--" Well, how do you explain what he's doing, anyway? "—pursuing some kidnappers. Thought you should know." Now let's see how she react.s

"Matt— Matt there's— there's something you need to know that— there— Did they contact you with the ransom? I don't understand…" Janice's voice shakes, it's obvious that she's having a hard time with it. As the car moves, the phone begins to cut out. Some of the breaks in her voice weren't just do to stuttering.

"Ransom? No, I— I'm following up a different end," Matt replies, "but I get the feeling they wind up at the same place. The people who called you, what did they say, exactly?" He's having a hard time too, but as long as there's a clear course of action in front of him, he can focus on that.

"They haven't— police suspected they were after a ransom— no one's called me yet," Janice says, though the phone continues to cut out a bit. "I didn't— they were— never saw them— took my son." The phone cutting out makes the conversation difficult, the static sounds genuine.

In the passanger seat, Usutu stays silent, expression serious.

Took our son, Matt thinks. Unless Usutu got it wrong, and she— no, don't go there. "Okay, that sounds about the same. I don't know anything specific yet, but I'm with a guy who says he can help. Or at least he knows somebody else who can." He does still care about her, even with all the distractions and all the drama. "I'll call you back as soon as I can, okay?"

"Matt, wait, I have to…" The phone connection dies completely at that point, leaving nothing but dead air. Usutu looks over and speaks in his calm voice, thick with an accent, "I have plane tickets to New York City. It will take some time to get back there, but once we find your friends, you can save your Molly and your son."

Matt glances down at the phone, just long enough to swat at it with an open palm. Won't help the reception any, but as stress relief, it's decent. Leaving it alone afterward, figuring Janice will call back once the reception clears up, he returns his attention to the mystery man in the passenger seat. "Is that where the friends are, or the kidnappers? Or both?"

"Your friends. Though you will be reunited with your Molly soon," Usutu assures, but there's something in his expression as he looks out the window, then suddenly says, "Beyonce is in America. I would like to see her while I am there."

A blank pause, punctuated only by the faint sound of air rushing past the outside of the car. Well, Mara always gets messed up by seeing the past, it's little wonder that this guy would be a little weird if he can see the future. "You said my future was changing." Thought, but close enough. "So what was it before?"

"It was different," Usutu says carefully, still looking out the window until he glances back. "The future always changes. Some changes are small, some are large. This one started to change a year ago." Then he looks back out the window again. "Getting travel visas took a long time."

Matt rolls his eyes. That's not an answer, he thinks to himself. Well, he must have some reason not to say— just hope he really does know as much as he says he does. Falling silent again, he busies himself with traffic, and with checking the phone to make sure the battery hasn't died yet.

The battery hasn't died, yet, but there's a distinct lack of bars. "You should have gone with Sprint," Usutu says, unhelpfully.

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