Table Talk

November 09, 2014: Paul and Sara talk shop over some tasty breakfast food.

International House of Pancakes - New York City

IHOP, the temple of breakfasty goodness- that place that sees the strange
overlap of late-night college students hanging out and early-bird senior
citizens looking for a good (or at least satisfying) morning repast. This
particular locale maintains the franchise's standard look- with comfortable
booths in muted patterns, tables featuring the classic arched-back wooden
chairs and dark green carpet.

This particular locale seems is used to the comings and goings of the
super-crowd, and the far wall has a host of framed pictures of notable groups
of heroes (most of them on the young-ish side) who have stopped here for one
reason or another. Busy servers dart to and from the kitchen taking orders
and carrying dishes to their respective tables. No matter the hour, this
particular IHOP seems to enjoy a decent level of activity.



  • None

Mood Music:

It's not unusual for Paul and Sara to be out on a case when they technically get off duty. Crime doesn't punch a clock. Which means mealtime is less a time and more an opportunity. Driving back from looking into a possible occult case in Queens, Paul said "I could go for some pancakes." which is why they're currently sitting in a corner booth in IHOP and Paul has a large stack of pancakes with syrup and whipped cream. "How long have you had that thing?" He'd never asked before.

Sara takes a bite of french toast, looking up from her plate with a quirk of her brow at the question. "Going on…six years or so, I guess," she answers after a moment. "Yeah, that about adds up. Seems like forever sometimes, but not so long in the grand scheme of things. Why? You getting new side effects?"

Paul shakes his head at the question. "No, nothing new or weird. Just wondering." He uses the edge of his fork to cut off a wedge of a stack and swirls it around a puddle of syrup before swiping it through the whipped cream and eating it. "You ever get the feeling you should be doing more?"

"Did you miss the last few conversations we had where I was talking about going over to SHIELD?" Sara pours a little more syrup over her toast, smile flickering. "Yeah. I get the feeling. I also try to keep a wrap on it. The Witchblade…" She chews, considering her words. "A lot of what it gave me at first was promises of power. Ultimate power. One of the first things I actually tried to do with it was bring Michael back to life. It also taught me really fast that just because you can do something doesn't mean you should. So I'm sort of…I don't always trust my own thoughts when it comes to doing more."

"You were talking about being tired of hiding mostly." Paul points out. "And being found out. Not so much doing more. They don't have a supernatural unit anyway from what they've said. It doesn't seem to be their thing." he pauses to eat another wedge then says "It just feels sometimes like what we're doing is… I don't want to say a waste of our abilities. But knowing what's out there, sometimes I feel like we should be doing something about it full time. Do you know what I mean?"

"I do," Sara says slowly. "I also feel like I've got bills to pay, and there aren't a lot of people hiring in the save the world from the occasional very strange threat business. You ever notice how it's real easy for billionaires to go into the hero business?" She reaches for her coffee, taking a sip as she watches him. "Or did you have something particular in mind?"

"Point." Paul says, making a face. "No, nothing particular in mind. Just something that's been bothering me a while and this thing with the little girl mutant…" He shrugs. "Keeping demons and elder gods from taking over the world is a pretty black and white thing. I don't know what to do about her. I'm going to have to put out an APB or turn it over to SRD before the department realizes I know exactly who she is. I just see either her or a bunch of cops dead."

"Did you try contacting some of the mutant groups?" Sara asks, leaning over her plate. "I know a farm where some of them are. Not the big names or anything, but they might be helpful. Or what about that group that was in the papers a while back? What were they calling themselves, the red team?"

"I tried contacting Illyana but she hasn't gotten back to me." Paul tells Sara. "Maybe she's not in this dimension. She's a part of that group but I don't know any of the others. I talked to Barton but he couldn't help. Thing is, she can't be a fugitive for the rest of her life. Whoever it is needs to be willing to turn her over for trial. And get her a good lawyer."

"Tricky," Sara grimaces. "Though if we could find her, we could always call Murdock." She taps her fingers on the edge of the table, pushing her fork through the syrup with her other hand. "But the finding her part is the hard part. And all we know is that she's got some sort of power that burns."

"Incinerates." Paul corrects. "In seconds. I'm less concerned about not finding her and more about actually finding her. I'm just guessing here but I can't believe she deliberately killed her aunt. So she's scared and guilty and hair triggered. Anyone who gets close could end up a pile of ash. Unless SRD decides to just shoot her on sight."

"Which is why someone like us needs to find her." Sara pauses, glancing up from her plate. "Like me, at least. I would completely understand if you didn't want to try the fire thing again, you know," she points out. "But I'm pretty…okay against fire. So far as I know. For a short burst. There was a dragon demon thing, I managed all right."

"We don't know that it's fire." Paul points out. "We know it was energy of some sort." All fire is energy, not all energy is fire. "And damn powerful. One look at you in that armor and she's likely to erupt. Even if you're okay, no telling if anyone else would be. Then again, we might not have any choice if we can't come up with something else."

"Maybe. I had a young mutant the other night tell me she didn't realize I was one," Sara says with a brief flicker of a smile. "People fit weird into their own expectations, Paul. That's why people like you and me manage to keep doing our jobs, and doing them well. We know how to read things that aren't what they're expected to be. So, you have any leads? Or are we winging it here?"

"As to where she might be? Not a clue." Paul says with a sigh. "She's unlikely to go home and her aunt was the only family in the city. She could be anywhere. And getting more desperate as time goes on."

"Any idea if there's something she needs to…refuel?" Sara asks, checking another angle. "Might be one place to start. If she needs heat, maybe somewhere it's easier to stay warm. Otherwise, we're right where we end up most of the time. Pounding the street, or finding someone who's got another means of tracking."

"Do I look like an expert on mutants?" Paul asks. "I don't know shit. I don't even /know/ it was an accident. I'm just guessing based on her expression leaving the building, her mother saying she was very close to her aunt, and her age being about when mutant powers generally appear without control according to the internet. For all I know, I'm wrong and she just got pissed and fried her deliberately."

"Don't take out your frustrations on me," Sara points her fork at Paul. "I get it, it sucks. And I'm here helping you, right? Just making sure we know everything we can." She takes another bite, frowning down at her plate. "So we'll start looking. Start at the apartment, figure out which busses or trains are close. Which she would've been familiar with. Start tracing the path from there. Old school."

"She was in the city almost a week." Paul notes, concentrating on his pancakes as he talks. "She's got to be staying somewhere. Even here, an eleven year od girl isn't going to be ignored sleeping in a doorway or the subway."

"Did she go to school while she was here? Maybe find a friend to stay with for a little bit?" Sara continues to eat, thinking it through slowly. "Or else someone picked her up, which isn't exactly promising. But if they did, I'm thinking we'd be seeing more charred bodies, especially if she doesn't have control."

"If someone had her, she wouldn't have been allowed ot visit her aunt every day." Paul points out. "So that seems unlikely in addition to the lack of ashes. The problem, and it always has been, is once she's found, how do we keep her from frying everyone around her?"

"And that's why I think either way, we ought to talk to some mutants about it. They'll know better than-" Sara pauses, thumping her fist to her brow. "I'm an idiot. Nancy. I don't need to talk to Nancy because she might know what to do, I need to talk to Nancy because she is what to do." She reaches for her phone, setting down her fork for the moment. "You remember Nancy, right? She was acting as the Partisan's sidekick on the rescue mission. She's stepped back from that nonsense, is trying to help out some other mutants. But what she does, is she negates powers."

Paul Manning just looks at Sara for a moment then sits back. "She does? And she can keep this girl from using her powers? Yes, call her! And call that asshole Murdock. The least he can do is defend for free someone who's actually innocent." Pause. "At least I hope she is."

Sara scrolls through her phone, selecting an entry and holding the phone to her ear. "Yeah, well, you didn't hear it from me, and you don't give her shit if she comes out to help us," she warns as it rings. "But she sort of owes me, I think. Some. Enough to help us do something she's in the habit of doing herself, anyhow. And if she can't help, she's got the contacts for people who can." The phone rings, and when there's no answer, she leaves a brief message. "Hey, it's Pez. We've got a possible emerging mutant issue here, worried about being able to bring her in without people getting hurt, and I thought of you. Give me a call when you can."

"Now Murdock." Paul reminds Sara. It's the very first, and probably the last, time he's ever wanted to see the lawyer. Or even hear about him. "There seems to be no doubt that she killed her aunt but if she truly has no control over her power, she doesn't deserve to be found guilty of murder. She needs training. And now a shrink."

"You can call Murdock," Sara wrinkles her nose. "Just because he's dating my friend doesn't mean I want to talk to him." She tucks her phone back into her pocket, reaching for her coffee again. "Of course, we're back to finding the girl. But at least we've got a plan for when we do."

"I don't have his phone number." Paul says with a hopeful note that maybe Sara does. "And you got along with him better than I did last time." Which, granted, isn't saying much. "Right, now we know how to stop her and how to defend her, finding her should be the easy part. It's just regular police work. And once we get Nancy's commitment, we can put out an APB. Locate but don't approach."

"I don't get along with him, he just knows I talk to the girlfriend who's way too good for him," Sara smirks, reluctantly pulling out her phone and sending a text. Because that's as far as she's willing to go on this front. "Right. So there's one problem solved. How do we save the world next?"

"How? On a full stomach. So after dessert." As if the syrup and whipped cream Paul's been smothering his pancakes with isn't enough. "But speaking of, have you heard from Jason or Constantine lately? I'd like to believe their silence means things have been quiet but…" Shrug.

"I ran into Constantine in Gotham a few nights back," Sara muses. "Though he was definitely a little bit busy with some weird activity in the cemetery. Jason…" She trails off, grimacing. "I haven't really spoken to Jason since the whole thing with you went down. Just once after that night, and not long after, either."

"Then we can hope things are slow for them." From Paul's mouth to… whatever's ears. "I saw Hellboy not too long ago in the sewers. Some fool summoned a demon as a hazing ritual or something and got more than he bargained for. Aside from that, quiet."

"Been relatively quiet for a while," Sara muses. "Which…you know. Doesn't entirely make me feel comfortable. Makes me feel more like something's due to happen. Hopefully it just means we're putting a dent in things, though, right?"

"Do you really believe that?" Paul asks. "Why do you think I suddenly wondered if we were doing enough? They never stop. No matter how many we put behind bars, there's always more of them. Maybe the wizards can keep up with them since we're busy investigating werewolves."

"Wishful thinking," Sara sighs, sopping up the last bit of syrup on her plate with the last piece of french toast. "That's no different as a cop than it is with what we do, though, Paul," she points out. "There's always more crime on the street, always more kids making bad decisions every day. It's why people burn out."

"I'm aware of the analogy I was making." Paul uses the last piece of pancake to sop up the syrup on his plate. "Except we don't live as long as they do." Pause. "Do we?"

"Who are 'we' in this equation?" Sara arches a brow, sitting back and cradling her mug between her hands. "Because I think we're straddling the line here. I can't speak for what you've got," she nods toward his chest, "But no. This thing…When I look back, when I try to get information, most of the women who held this thing for even this long were…queens. Or something. People who had a lot of support and people to keep them safe."

Paul shrugs. "People who carry one of these things. So the answer is no, then. Good. I doubt living for hundreds of years is at all healthy to your head. It would certainly explain why they're so difficult to deal with."

"You've seen what it does, Paul," Sara shrugs. "These things are magnets for weird and dangerous. And just like being a cop, if you get caught in enough firefights, eventually you're going to get hit." She pushes a hand through her hair, looking away. "But that's a new way of looking at it, I guess. Better a shorter life than looking at immortality."

"Hey, how many of the ones who carried your bad boyfriend had someone to watch her back?" Paul asks, using his fork to gesture at the bracelet. "I got the impression these things usually go solo. So screw that shit. We've got each others' backs."

"Not a lot, actually," Sara muses. "You're right, it's mostly been loners. But the ones who've lasted have been the ones who had people around them. And hey, so far as I can tell, none of them have had someone like you around. Angelus, occasionally," she adds. "That's a…weird and incestuous thing."

"Well, there you go." Paul says with a nod. "So you don't have to mope around over the idea of getting killed early. It's not just me, either. We can call on Constantine. Even Jason. SHIELD. It's a whole different world now than the other yours lived in."

"Little by little. You know, there was a Musketeer?" Sara grins briefly, taking another sip of her coffee. "An African queen. Anne Bonny. Some Indian woman in the old west. A Russian during World War II. A Celtic woman who fought in the Coliseum. I don't know all of their stories in full, but I've gotten glimpses of them."

"Sounds interesting. I don't get anything from this thing." Paul says and he doesn't sound at all disappointed. "Though I think it can influence me. Like those sewers I mentioned. I had no reason to go down there but one thing led to another and then demon." He shrugs.

"I get that sometimes," Sara nods. "That's what brought me to that cemetery in Gotham, actually. Though it's a little more…obvious, most times. This thing doesn't really do subtle."

"I wonder what the deal is with the Spear." Paul muses. "I didn't get any feel from it when I was holding it. Did you? And no one's come to reclaim it right? So if we need to, we can always use it."

"Yeah," Sara says slowly, scrubbing a hand over her face. "You know how you asked about if I ever felt like I could be doing more?" She lets out a breath, eyeing his chest again. "While you were…out, for a brief time, I had the blade, the Spear, and the Rapture. And let me tell you. I felt like I could remake the world if I wanted to."

"Probably not a good idea to be feeling that way." Paul suggests. "That's not the doing more I had in mind." After a moment, he asks curiously "Did they make each other stronger? Or were you just high on power?"

"Balance, I think," Sara says thoughtfully. "Types of energy. The Witchblade is the balance, so having just one didn't make that much of a difference. Actually, alone, the 'blade wouldn't touch the spear. Hurt like hell to do it. But balance it out with that," she points toward his chest, "And suddenly we were all great friends."

"But you could touch just the Rapture without a problem? So it must be something about the spear. And if it turns all its wielders into a variation of the one we met, I can see why yours wouldn't like it." Paul thinks a moment then adds "I don't think I ever touched it after I got this, did I? So I don't know how they react to each other or if they even care."

"Honestly, I'm still waiting on a call from the church telling me I'm in trouble and in danger of excommunication if I don't return the Spear of Destiny to the descendants of Christ," Sara snorts softly, taking another drink of coffee. "And let me tell you, Catholic guilt? Really on par with the Jewish grandmothers."

In response to that, Paul grunts and finishes his coffee. "I'm not really sure what to think about all that now. I gave up religion once I realized what Gotham was but this whole hell thing makes things a bit confusing."

"I've seen way too much not to believe in God," Sara shakes her head. "Religion…" She trails off, shrugging. "It's different. I believe. I can't not believe, with everything I've seen. Ritual means something. Religion means something. Even if the people involved, the organizations, can be assholes."

"I've met Lucifer. I wouldn't swear that a god doesn't exist too. But…" Paul has to pause to organize his thoughts. "A god. Not God. Not a creator of the universe. Or even this planet. Something of great power, sure, I could accpt that. But not what any of the religions say. More like what those Norse gods are, maybe a bit more powerful. Humans just aren't important enough to be anythign meaningful to the universe."

"Aren't we?" Sara leans back. "You met Lucifer. And what was it that this extremely powerful being wanted, Paul? Because my money is on some tasty human souls."

"And what about alien souls?" Paul counters. "Maybe ours mean something to them here but we're just one little planet. I bet other planets have their own versions of Lucifer. Unless we're just the lucky ones who happen to have lots of portals to other dimensions on their planet."

"I officially lack information about aliens and their souls," Sara raises a hand with a smirk. "I only know one, and I'm not the one who can inspect them for souls. Is that a thing you can do, by the way?" she asks, taking another sip of her coffee. "Because I can see that being useful."

"See souls? No." Paul assures Sara. "But I'm not so arrogant as to assume we're the only ones who have them. I didn't see any in Hell though, for the record."

Sara can't help but bark a laugh at that. "The televangelists would shit bricks," she grins. "Also, there's an awful joke about illegal aliens in there somewhere, but I think I'm going to skip going for it."

"Good choice. Now where's that dessert menu?" Paul looks around for their waitress to flag over.

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