2007-07-30: Watered-Down Caffeine

Starring:

DFCass_icon.gif DFDaphne_icon.gif DFRudyard_icon.gif

Summary: Cass drops by to visit Daphne at the zoo and bring some supplies. As they're talking, Rudyard returns from his mission.

Dark Future Date: 30 JULY 2009

Watered-Down Caffeine


Bronx Zoo

Today, there's a rhinoceros on guard near the gate. For those in the know, it happens to be the same one who was released from its enclosure a couple years before and kind of gave everyone a huge scare, but now the giant creature is serving as the first line of defense against anyone who doesn't belong here. With notoriously bad eyesight, the rhino has to go by smell or voice to determine who's okay to enter the zoo, and who isn't, and so anyone attempting to enter will briefly find themselves at the business end of an intimidating horn.

Once past the rhino, the other animals on guard duty are slightly easier to get along with.

Daphne is located inside what used to be the zoo's central office. It still is, really; it's got electricity and some patchy communications equipment, and also contains the only slightly warm water in the entire zoo. Mostly it's just short of outright cold, but at least it's not frozen. There's a kitchen near the center where there's some coffee brewing. It's early, so the zoo's owner is staring at the pot, still half-asleep, waiting for it to finish. It won't be the best coffee ever, but it's better than nothing.

—-

The Alliance works with the zoo on occasion, so Cass is quite used to the rhinoceros treatment. Were she with Lachlan, it would probably take even less time to get through all the animal guards as he could just talk with them. Poor Cass has to go about it the old fashioned way, letting animals sniff, prod and generally just get a good look at her. By the time she makes it to the central office, she's a tad bit ruffled from animal security. Being a mother, she's used to early hours, late hours, all kinds of hours. Really, the woman is just used to not sleeping. Carrying canvas bag over her shoulder, she knocks purposefully and loudly. While it might be polite to just hold off and give Daphne some more time to wake up, she was just prodded with a rhinoceros horn. Formality and politeness can hold off for a few.

—-

A chimpanzee answers the door, takes one look at Cass, and holds out her hand to indicate that she can follow.

The central office is fairly large. There are already people working here this morning, delegating duties, typing up announcements on an old computer that's been patched together too many times to count. There's the odd meerkat here and there, and when the chimp walks by with Cass, one of the parrots gets on the intercom to announce this to Daphne—

—Who's waiting at the door just inside the kitchen when Cass arrives. At least she's dressed, her hair's pulled back and in some sort of semblance of neatness, though not entirely. She's holding out a cup of coffee for Cass. "Here. S'got lots of sugar in it." Because that's the only thing that makes it taste edible.

—-

Passing the people already at work, Cass smiles and nods at them. She'll greet the few that she knows by name in quick passing, however it's Daphne she's here to see. Already holding out a cup of coffee, the woman smiles and takes it. "A little coffee with my sugar, you know just how I like it." Ever since having Abigail, her coffee intake as severely lessened. She stopped drinking it while pregnant and only recently got back into the habit of it. Any coffee is better than no coffee. "Thanks." She takes a sip of it and doesn't seem to mind how it tastes. Just the semblance of coffee is enough for her. "How have you been?"

—-

Returning to the pot, Daphne pours herself half a cup of coffee and fills the rest of it up with sugar. "It's kind of like drinking bitter water otherwise," she says with an apologetic look and a shrug aimed over her shoulder. "Two meerkat pups yesterday, that brings the mob to forty-two. Dunno if you read Douglas Adams, but that'd be the answer to life, the universe, and everything." And so Peter arrived. There's some sort of correlation there, or coincidence, but she can hope it's a good sign.

"You hear the news report? The attack on the White House?" There's a pause, then, "Rudyard isn't back yet." There's worry in her voice, but not too much. It's tempered by the fact that she'd accepted the fact that he might never come back. "How's the baby?"

—-

"I like the image of 42 meerkats being the answer to life, the universe and everything." Maybe that's what called Peter to this exact time and place. Anyway, it could be a good sign. Cass will take any good signs that she can get right now. Seeing Peter again, remembering what things used to be like…it's shaken her in a way she didn't think it could. "I did. Didn't know it was Rudyard." Cass shakes herself out of her reverie and takes another short sip of the sugar/coffee. "I'll put out over the network for any patrols in the area to look out for him. They'll get him home safely." She sighs and looks into the brew she was given. "Abby's fine. Getting over a cold, but good. I worry about her. About what world we brought her into. We lost the Vermont branch. And we're finding more moles. They're getting closer."

—-

"I've got sea gulls keeping an eye on things. They eat everything, and they get everywhere, so I thought they'd…" She pauses, shakes her head. "They're being killed now, so people are getting wise, I guess." And that's all there is to be said for that. Daphne reached in a bit too far, and now anything that has a pulse is suspect, even if they're not affiliated. And Daphne never likes it when she feels one of her animals die.

She doesn't want to comment one way or the other on Rudy's whereabouts, or whether bringing him home at this point is an option, so she just nods. It's easy to hope, but it's also a little foolish.

There's anger that appears on her features for a moment. Moles. "Because it's easy," she says. The Other Side is winning, and these traitors don't want to be caught and destroyed if it comes to that. So they sell out. Daphne feeds traitors to the pigs.

They eat anything.

"I ran into someone … yesterday? Said he was Peter Petrelli from the past. Seems crazy, but I let him stay."

—-

There's a frown as she mentions people getting wise. "They're starting to get our codes quicker, too. I think we may need a complete overhaul of them. A woman yesterday gave Bailey's old code from only a month or two ago." It used to take them much longer than that. "I don't know if they've turned one of us or if they're just feeding them to captives with the promise of freedom." There's a hardened look on her face when she thinks of that. Using people to try and infiltrate. People that she has to order to be killed to keep the sanctity and the lives of her own people. It may be just the early morning, or the sugary coffee, but Cass rubs her eyes as if scrubbing something out of them. It's not been a good couple of days. Or years.

The mention of Peter, snaps her out of such thoughts again. "Peter? You…this is where he stayed. Before. He mentioned that to me." There's a brief smile. "Thank you. He's an old friend." Which didn't stop her from shooting him in the leg, but that was for security purposes as well. "He doesn't have any idea of what he's gotten himself into."

—-

To be honest, this is the best way to win a war. It's hard to really be angry at the plants and moles for doing what they're doing - though that doesn't stop Daphne from losing her temper with them. The method Cass uses to dispose of them is much more humane. Still, taking out the opposition from the inside is the easiest way to finish things. It's the neatest, it doesn't involve the formalities of the battlefield, and they have to face the fact that they're doing the same damn thing on this side.

That doesn't make Daphne a devil's advocate. She's not happy about it, either. It's a battle between what's right and what's easy - she read that in Harry Potter once.

"Yeah, I found him flying. Chewed him out for that a bit, but." Bygones. "I met him a long time ago at a pet store. First time he had animals in his head, I think. It was a rabbit." Which she gave to Laurel. Laurel, who is now working for Petrelli. "You hear anything about Laurel Halifax lately?"

—-

Rudyard knows where to find Daphne. It's not hard to find someone when there are multitudes of little helping insects around. Having dropped his bag off in their room, he makes his way to the main office's kitchen. Without a word, he stands in the doorframe, leaning against it. Waiting to see how long it takes for his presence to be known.

—-

It's not that Cass is angry with them, she hates the methods that they've been forced to resort to. She wishes she could remain the idealist who abhors violence and never touches a weapon. But those are the people who get sent to the camps or are killed in the streets. It's not easy to Cass to come to these terms, but it's what she has to do to make sure the Alliance remains a safe haven. Codes, problems, they're living out a 1940s spy movie. Something that Lee at one time would be happy to point out to everyone. Before.

"It's been awhile," Cass nods. "I haven't yet. But, I haven't seen Petrelli in a little while." There's a frown. "Next time he checks in, I'll ask about her." The people that he recruits seem to have a short, bloody tenure.

Even if Rudyard doesn't say a word, Cass still has that fine tuned sense of knowing when people show up in doorways from all those years at Enlightenment. Stepping slightly to the side, she looks behind her. It's never good to let someone sneak up on you from behind. Seeing Rudyard, she smiles. "Infestation problem?"

—-

A 1940s spy movie where one side can, say, crush you with an elephant, if said elephant is asked nicely enough. Or fry you with lightning. Et cetera. It's a weird world they live in, but it's all completely normal, and that's scary. Daphne wasn't quite as pacifistic in the past as Cass, but she's gotten a whole lot worse now. It's easy for her to tell herself it's 'necessary,' and it's 'for the common good,' but is it?

"Yeah," she states, looking at the floor. Everyone seems to have the same reply. "I don't want her killed. I want to get to her first. If I can." Because if Laurel dies? Daphne's fault.

Looking at the floor causes her to miss Rudyard's arrival, but when Cass looks toward the doorway, Daphne looks up and the relief is evident on her face. It's not an over-the-top reaction by any means, just a closed-eyed sigh and a smile. "Good job." Glad you didn't get yourself killed, what would I do without you, NEVER DO THAT AGAIN YOU IDIOT— that all remains unsaid, but implied.

—-

Rudyard smiles a little at Cass and inclines his head in a nod towards the woman. Don't mind him, he was content just standing there, watching, listening. Mostly watching Daphne, but let's not discuss that. It could be a bit pervy really. "Is that the sort of greeting I get? Bugger all. I shall just be popping back to DC for a peaceful arrest then shall I?" He jerks a thumb back the way he came as he teases Daphne. It's not entirely funny, given how dry his tone is. Obviously, he doesn't mean a word of it. Given that he steps fully into the room, approaching Daphne and pulling her into a fierce embrace. "They're bound to be looking for me now."

—-

Strange what life does to people. Of course Cass is going to say that this isn't for the best or for the common good. Shooting people and killing them isn't good at all. But, it's either giving her daughter a safe place to call home, or letting people infiltrate and maybe take her away from them. "I'll talk to Petrelli next time I see him." The never really schedule visits, but maybe she'll actually go looking for him this time. "We'll find her." A part of her optimism seeping through. When Rudyard finally makes a greeting, Cass deftly moves to the side to not interrupt the homecoming. "We can help you go underground," she says softly. "We're already rerouting a sector. It's part of the reason I came through. Bat Country is almost full. I was hoping you had some space for some refugees here before we find out how to get them to Canada."

—-

"No," she says, allowing her face to be squished up against Rudyard's chest as she wraps her arms around him. The whole thing just happened yesterday, but she was worried as soon as he wasn't home five minutes later. She won't admit that, though— not to him, anyway. "We can just hide you with the gorillas. If they come looking, they'll never be able to tell the difference."

And this is the strong foundation upon which their love is based. Obviously.

When she does detach herself from her husband to offer a glance backward to Cass, she's actually smiling. "There's room here. As long as people don't mind doing a little work - cleaning up after the animals, cooking, guard duty inside the zoo." And other things like making sure the water purifiers are working and that everything's going smoothly. "We can take more. Maybe twenty."

—-

Cass's words have Rudyard's attention. Leaving an arm draped around Daphne, he nods to the other woman. "Canada, eh? I can't stay here. That's a fact. I'll not endanger everything Daphne has accomplished here." Smiling lopsidedly, he plants a kiss on top of Daphne's head. That's as mushy as he'll get in front of visitors. "I'm fairly certain his Majesty on High is most displeased with my statement. As charming as your gorillas are.. I doubt they'll withstand certain forces." No. He's not thinking highly of himself. It's just a realistic outlook as to the displeasure against those speaking out and whatever attempts made at silencing dissent.

—-

"We can take you with the rest of the refugees," Cass nods to Rudyard, downing the last of her coffee. "It'd be good to have someone else on the team who can handle himself. I'll talk to Rimbauld about it." Rimbauld being Lee. She never really uses names when she doesn't have to. Nodding, she sighs and moves to go wash out her mug. Doing her part and all. "That would be really helpful. I'm sure they won't mind doing some help. I'm sending you the least injured of the batch." The rest need to stay where immediate care is an option. "Right now it's only twelve, but it'll open up enough space that we can take in the overload from elsewhere. Thanks, Daphne."

—-

She doesn't particularly like hearing this. However, the statement that Rudy 'can't stay' is met with a grunt and a bit of a nod. They either risk the whole zoo to keep him here, or they send him off. Neither are good options. She does say one thing, though: "Think about it before you make a decision?" Her voice is flat, but her eyes - the plea is there. She wants him to stay, if he can. There has to be a way.

But Cass needs people, too. Maybe more than Daphne does. It's a selfish need, but without anyone else here for her, she has to at least suggest it. "I can take care of some. Broken arms, bad cuts. I was going to vet school… Not the same, I know, but we can take care of medical needs, as long as they aren't too extensive. There's an animal hospital on the grounds we converted." She waves her hand at the thanks, though. "You might need to return the favour someday."

—-

She doesn't particularly like hearing this. However, the statement that Rudy 'can't stay' is met with a grunt and a bit of a nod. They either risk the whole zoo to keep him here, or they send him off. Neither are good options. She does say one thing, though: "Think about it before you make a decision?" Her voice is flat, but her eyes - the plea is there. She wants him to stay, if he can. There has to be a way.

But Cass needs people, too. Maybe more than Daphne does. It's a selfish need, but without anyone else here for her, she has to at least suggest it. "I can take care of some. Broken arms, bad cuts. I was going to vet school… Not the same, I know, but we can take care of medical needs, as long as they aren't too extensive. There's an animal hospital on the grounds we converted." She waves her hand at the thanks, though. "You might need to return the favour someday."

—-

"If it's not too much trouble. I can also arrange for protection with native insect species along the way." The right toxic bites and stings, oh yes. Rudyard's already thinking.. Just a few feet into Canada and the US government cannot legitimately touch him. Unless an extradition order is arranged, but by then, hopefully he'll be well hidden. Extradition back to the States might be a tricky arrangement these days. The rest of the world cannot be pleased with Petrelli's policies. Surely. His hand gives Daphne's shoulder a tight squeeze. Not now honey, daddy's making decisions here. "I've already made my decision Daphne. I won't have your operation jeopardized because of my presence."

—-

This is obviously a matter that the two of them should be settling. Without Cass involved listening. "I can't decide for them," she tells Daphne softly. It's unclear if she's talking about Rudyard or her wayward refugees. "But I'll let them know that the option is available to them." Either way, the woman will help and support their decision. "We've got a good contact in Canada. It doesn't have to be forever." When they win, if the win, maybe even before that, he can come back. Pulling off her canvas bag, she sets it by the wall in the kitchen. "I brought by some supplies. I should get back to Abby." The supplies are mostly things that Daphne can't get from inside the zoo, more sugar, coffee, the little things that make life a bit more bearable. "Just let me know about what we can do for you, when we can." She's not about to take something for nothing.

—-

She's losing everyone. Looking ceilingward for a moment, Daphne then nods. He's right, she knows it. "All right. Okay, just… be careful." Half-tempted to have a rhinoceros sit on him so he can't go anywhere and will, indeed, be bound to his current location by a whole bunch of broken bones and internal injuries… she resists. Barely. That doesn't mean she won't employ other tactics that are equally effective but not quite so messy. Like bears.

Seriously, bears versus bees. BEARS ARE EXPERTS ON BEE HUSBANDRY according to Winnie the Pooh. Bears win one hundred percent of the time, and BEES LOSE. Or elephants. Elephant vs. Brown Recluse spider equals SQUISHED SPIDER. She's thinking this through way more than she ought to be, when a rope would work just as well.

Back to reality, though. "Thanks," she replies when Cass sets the bag down. They need something. Any little comfort helps, especially when you have a zoo full of people who really need this stuff, even if they aren't necessities. She'll have to figure out what Rudy's doing later, and, yes, this is an argument that they should have somewhere more private.

On her way back, Cass will find an eagle circling above. It's not much protection, but if the need arises, at least something will know where she's at, or what happened.

—-

As far as Rudyard's concerned.. the conversation is over. He's leaving. He won't be a trouble magnet for this sanctuary. No. Leaving the country is a temporary measure. It won't be forever. Remaining by Daphne's side, he leans against a counter. Wisely, he keeps his mouth shut until Cass has left. No need to include her in a marital spat. Once she's gone? "I should go and pack another bag and leave before they look for me here. Before they can track me here."

—-

The passive air vanishes as soon as Cass is gone. She could accept this statement of fact in company, but— Daphne closes the kitchen door. She's well-aware that people will still be able to hear them, and because she doesn't want bugs crawling in through the crack under the door, she has the foresight to stuff a dishtowel under it, before turning to stare. "You think about asking me before you just took off again?" she asks in a quiet, albeit heated tone. Even if she knows he's right, she needs to have some say.

—-

"What are you on about? Some say?" Rudyard watches Daphne go about stuffing the towel under the door and a sigh escapes. "This is for your safety and that of your zoo. Why are you getting upset?" Yes, the reasoning behind Daphne's ire is completely missed. Oblivious, this one is.

—-

Incredulously, she continues staring at him. It's not obvious? And then the realisation dawns (For the millionth time) that he's always been like this, and she's really just making things harder on them both my making him guess. He should just know, though, and it's a little distressing that he doesn't. Him leaving would save the zoo a lot of grief, and in the end, she only has her own selfishness to blame for what she says next. "Okay, fine. Go." …Wait, that's not what she wanted to say, dammit!

—-

Okay! Leaving.. wait.. Even the most oblivious of men should know that's not a good statement. "Daphne.. be reasonable." Rudyard starts in a pleading tone. Upset women, so not his forte. He looks as helpless as the day he met her and she cried. What a start to a relationship that was. "Fine.. I'll go pack. I'll be sure to send messages to you as often as I can." Was the upset tone and 'fine, go' comment supposed to sway him? He knows it wasn't a good statement, but, again, he's not sure how to cope with an angry woman.

—-

She is being reasonable, she just doesn't have to be happy about it. In fact, she's so close to pouting that Rudyard can probably already see the signs. He should go, he should get out of here and keep the people who live here safe. There's a lot they could do! While she does step aside to let him go if he really wants to, she does add, "I want you to stay." It's quiet, because if she speaks any louder, she is going to cry again. "We can make a decoy or something. I mean, you could tell a swarm of bees to follow someone around, can't you?"

—-

Rudyard was as a matter of fact, in the process of walking past Daphne to leave. At the quiet request he stops and looks down at her. ".. I could.. Daphne.. but I won't set up an innocent person as a decoy." Unless… it happens to be someone working for Petrelli. He places his hands on Daphne's upper arms, squeezing slightly. "Everything will be alright. You'll see."

—-

Thing is, he's said it himself. He's probably being hunted now, and if he walks out that door, leaves the zoo, there's no guarantee she'll even ever know what happens to him. When Rudy puts his hands on her arms, she tries to at least meet his eyes for a few seconds, but it's difficult, because she knows they're just a little glazed at the moment, and there's no place for emotion like this anymore. "You're all I have, Rudy." She reaches for his hand. "Kipling." Smile. "You're all I have. I don't know where my parents are, Laurel— You know what I did to her. Please. We can hide you here. We're good at that. And how are you going to trash the White House again if you're in Canada?" Smelly place. That's where Daphne's from!

—-

"Daphne…" Rudyard starts, but the protest sort of seems to die a feeble death. "Bloody hell woman," he utters in a defeated tone before hauling Daphne against him in an embrace. "Arrangements must be made you realize. Play the part of the angry wife." As if she'll have difficulty doing that. "Fine.. I'll stay put.. but.. and no arguments.. if this place is threatened. I'm leaving." Even if it means giving himself up. Not that he's telling her that.

—-

Arrangements, plans, a whole bunch of underhanded things that they're all way too good at lately. She'll have no problems making any conceivable effort to keep Rudyard put, and while he can't see the smile on her face while he's holding her, it's definitely there. "If," she says. It's time to make sure that doesn't happen. It'll mean locking things down a little more, but not so much that attention is drawn to the zoo. It's simply a matter of instructing the venemous snakes to kill any squirrel or rat or mole (Ha, ha) that they see who wanders into the zoo unauthorised. After all, Nathan could have people with animal telepathy, too. It's certainly not exclusive to Daphne. "Thank you. We'll make things safe."

—-

"Don't thank me yet," Rudyard says as he raises a hand to smooth at Daphne's hair. "I know we will. I'm still not sold on this being the best course of action." But Daphne clearly wears the pants.. or he's just easily manipulated by her. He pulls back and cups his hands against her face. "Alright. I'm going to get back to work.. I will be listening for any trouble, and start setting false trails."

—-

It's a stay, anyway, and it'll give her some time. If it takes a couple weeks, a month, longer for them to catch up with him, then at least they'll have that. Nodding, she waits for Rudyard to leave before the smile drops from her face and she turns to pour herself another cup of coffee. Nothing like watered-down caffeine and a personal victory to start off the day, eh? And she's going to have to put her personal life aside for the next twelve hours or so so she can function. This just made it all the easier.

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