Today, on Trish Talk
Roleplaying Log: Today, on Trish Talk
IC Details

Trish hosts Foggy Nelson and Mary Peterson to discuss the metahuman registration laws and their plan to fight back.

Other Characters Referenced: Matt Murdock
IC Date: September 30, 2019
IC Location: Trish Talk Studios, NYC
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 16 Sep 2019 02:22
Rating & Warnings: PG
Scene Soundtrack: [* ]
NPC & GM Credits: Matt Murdock as call-in guests
Associated Plots

Call it the Trial of the Century, Part II. Last week Lois Lane broke the news with an exclusive in the Daily Planet: Almost two years after Matt Murdock and Foggy Nelson faced off against U.S. Attorney David Archer over the fate of war hero turned legendary assassin Bucky Barnes, the scrappy legal duo are back again.

This time they are challenging New York's harsh new metahuman registration law and subsequent crackdown on the unregistered with a class action lawsuit in state court. And, because history has a sense of humor, they are once again facing off against David Archer, newly elected Attorney General for the Empire State.

Their chief plaintiff? Mary Peterson, an elementary school teacher in Manhattan and a closeted mutant, who hid her powers of empathy and quit her job at a NYC public school before having to take a DNA test in compliance with the new law. The New York Department of Public Safety found her anyway, and threw her in the Raft for two months. Criminal charges are pending.

Nelson & Murdock know from their first rodeo that working the press is a necessary evil in any widely publicized trial. This time, they're resolved to be proactive and put their best foot forward. Hence the Daily Planet exclusive, and Ms. Peterson's first live interview: Trish Talk on WNEX radio.

Matt landed the Lane story, so Foggy's taking point on this one. Lawyer and client are being led through the swanky open-air studio by a young pencil-skirted producer in her early twenties, manilla briefing folder for Trish in arm. "Ms. Walker is right through these doors," she's saying to Foggy and Mary with a brisk smile as she pulls the glass door to the recording space open. "Can I get either of you anything? Water's usually a good idea for these things." A beat. "Just not too much."

Scrappy is one way to put it. Foggy Nelson had intended to get a haircut before the interview, but there were… THINGS. So, he's constantly threading his fingers back through his hair in a kind of obsessive gesture until he's tucking a bit of his straw-colored hair behind his ears. He takes a quick breath before adjusting his tie. He flashes a quick smile to Mary, and gently touches her upper back. It's a reassuring touch. Then he's trailing after the producer, shaking his head even as he says, "Yeah. Yes. Just water."

Again, he's fussing with his tie before he decides his hands need to be in his pockets. They're safe in his pockets. So, he shoves them into his pockets.

If you only knew Mary from her staff photo in the school yearbook where she worked, you probably would take a moment to recognize her. So much is the same, the dark hair and slender build. But her face is a little thinner, her eyes a little puffier from poor sleep, and the fine creases of her face just a little more apparent.

She had her husband find her something respectable to wear, and he picked a dark button down blouse, a fitted houndstooth skirt, and a pair of flat-heeled, black knee-high boots.

But the coup de grace is definitely the blinking collar that she's got around her neck. The best fashion statement that anyone could ever ask for.

Still, it's more human than she's felt in a while, despite that the skirt in particular fits a little looser than it did two months ago. She stays close to Foggy as they're led in, smoothing the lay of said skirt with an anxious hand. And when he sets his hand upon her back, she visibly relaxes a degree and her shoulders roll forward as she laughs nervously. "Water would be wonderful, thank you. And if you have lemon, I think I'd have declare you my new god. Or goddess, if the gender non-specific bothers you. Does it bother you? I suppose I could have said 'deity', and then we'd just bypass the whole issue. So… You know what? Let's pretend that I said that first for a moment, bypassed all of this really awkward rambling, and just let you answer the question about the lemon."

Oh, this is a match.

Waters are quickly and efficiently retrieved, as if this is something well practiced. A regular water for Foggy, a water with lemon for Mary. They will not let it be said that they deny such a request of their guests. They may be a radio station, but they're a radio station with standards.

The young producer is quick to disappear once more, this time to Trish, to whom she passes along the manilla folder to. "Thank you." Trish nods to her, quickly sifting through the information before leaving her desk. She stops first at the studio to leave the file on her side of the desk before making her way to where her guests await.

Smoothing out her red dress upon her approach, her heels making a clicking sound upon the floor, she smiles. "Mr. Nelson, so good to see you." She reaches a hand to shake his. And once hands are shaken, she turns to Mary. "And you…you must be Ms. Peterson?" The smile she offers to Mary is more one of sympathy, and perhaps of understanding. She may not be a teacher, but she understands her stance regarding the registration. "It is quite an honour to meet you." She reaches out her hand again, this time to shake Mary's.

"Hello, Ms. Walker. You're looking lovely today." Foggy steps toward Trish, hand reaching out simultaneously to meet hers. He squeezes gently before he releases the hand, and then he steps aside to let Trish and Mary meet without him standing between them. He glances behind him, and then ahead of him toward the studio where Trish just arrived.

For the scrappy lawyer — he'll take it — he is finding his center. There's a breath that settles his shoulders, chest, and stomach. This is just a radio interview. Matt might have spearheaded most of the Barnes press, but he's got this. He's got this. He gives his jacket a bit of a tug and then looks toward the pair of women.

The producer earns nothing but solemn adoration from Mary, who savors the glass of water after a grateful sip. In fact, she's in the middle of savoring when Trish makes her appearance, and she's swift to gulp down the water to clear her mouth. "If people would just tell teachers that more often, what a wonderful world it would be." Mary quips, her hand stretching out to meet Trish's politely as her gaze meets the other woman's solidly. The curve of her smile is one that immediately protests the sympathy, but only in the way that it looks to reassure Trish and there's a subtle way she protectively curls around the hand with her shoulders. As though Trish needed any reassurance at all. "I'm very grateful for your interest, Ms. Walker," she continues. "It's very kind of you."

"Thank you, Mr. Nelson. Flattery will get you everywhere in this station." Trish gives him a playful wink. She takes a deep breath in and lets it out slowly, looking upon her two guests for the day. She's been wanting to broach the subject of the registration on her show, and this is the perfect way to do so, opening the door for more shows about it.

"It is I who am grateful for you, Ms. Peterson." Trish offers in rebuttal. "You've been through so much. Thank you for coming here today to share your story. You're braver than many of us." Glancing at a watch on her wrist, she clears her throat and motions down the hall. "Shall we? The show's about to start?" She begins to lead the way to her studio.

"Flattery?" Foggy's smile quirks suddenly. "Now, Ms. Walker, flattery is what someone does to earn points… I'm just being honest." He holds both hands open and out at her with a bit of an ease in his shoulders. Then he sobers up with a quick nod at Mary's gratitude. "We are very grateful, Ms. Walker."

Then as Trish prompts them that the show is about to start, he glances at Mary. He nods slightly to Trish. "We will be right in." He stays back just a few steps as he turns to Mary. "You ready?" His voice is soft. "Remember, Trish isn't here to grill or interrogate. We're here to tell a story, to give the public a chance to become more aware. Any caller that comes in, you look at me if the question is uncomfortable, and I'll take the lead, okay?"

It's when Trish isn't looking, when she's off to go and be the personality that sells ratings, Mary gratefully takes what space Foggy gives them and sips nervously from her water as though it were vodka in the glass instead. If wishes were horses… Is she ready?

"It's a little late to back out. …They say that a little case of the nerves is a good thing. Keeps you sensitive to your audience." She leans in, and then theatrically murmurs out of the side of their mouth as she tries to crack a joke. "Between you and me, I could do with a little smaller case." It's… not really that funny.

She sniffs sharply, and then straightens her shoulders. "But, yeah. Uncomfortable, look at you. Got it." The trick is to not just stare at him the whole time, she tells herself. "But now or never, right?"

She won't go ahead of Foggy, and so she waits for him to cut his way into the studio.

Once Foggy and Mary are all settled in the guest seats, Trish offers a nod to the production assistant and heads over to her seat, after making sure the door between them and where the production assistant sits is securely shut. The folder rest on her side of the booth, though she doesn't seem to glance at it for the time being.

Over the intercom from the assistant's sound stage, they can hear, "And we're starting in Five, Four, Three…" There's a silence on the Two and One, but for those who can see her, such as Trish, she was also counting down with her fingers, and pointed to Trish when they were good to go. Although, the little light above them to their side, on the wall, that says 'On Air' is another good indicator that their now, well, on the air.

The program's theme music plays and Trish puts a smile on her face. "Thank you for tuning into WNEX. You're listening to Trish Talk, I'm you're host Trish Walker." She pauses briefly to let the music play out. "Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We're all familiar with these words. These are tenets that, from a young age, we're taught to believe in. The men who formed this nation wrote, in the very Declaration of Independence, that these are unalienable rights!" She pauses, perhaps for dramatic affect. "Yet, what do we do when our life, our liberty, our very pursuit of happiness, is infringed upon and we're forced to make a choice: Our unalienable rights or being forced to reveal a part of ourselves that may bring judgement and persecution to our doorstep?"

Trish sighs. "The Registration Act, for the good it promises, may be a double edged sword. But more on that. Today, I have a guest. Or rather, guests." She smiles at Foggy and Mary. "I have lawyer Franklin Nelson and, our guest of the hour to tell her story, Mary Peterson. Welcome."

Mary, who had settled into her chair with a grateful smile to Foggy, listens to Trish's opening attentively with her eyes upon the glass of water that she'd set on the table in front of her.

She also calls down every calming trick in the book that she's got as she weaves her fingers in her lap to keep them from fighting or messing with things she's not supposed to. She smiles to brighten her tone, and what comes out of her mouth is her very best Calm Teacher voice as she looks up to watch Trish carefully. "Thank you so much for the generous invitation. I'm grateful to you for a place to do so."

In that moment, Nelson is real glad that this isn't a televised interview. He rubs his hands on the top of his thighs before he nods at Trish's welcome. But, he realizes that he just nodded at a microphone, so he leans in a bit to say in his best casual voice, "Thanks for having us, Trish." He glances aside to Mary before he goes on, "These are troubling times, and so thank you for bringing awareness to just what the Registration Act means for citizens — all citizens — of New York."

He folds his hands together in his lap, his shoulders a little hunched. He looks to Mary, nodding with her own gratitude.

"I'm glad to have you both here." Trish looks from one to the other as she speaks. "Truly, the registration act does affect every citizen, doesn't it?" Leaning forward slightly, she turns her attention primarily to Mary. "We all know the saying that children are our future. However, we rely on the important tutelage of teachers as yourself, Ms. Peterson, to help guide and inform our children."

"Some of you may recognize Ms. Peterson's story. She is, or rather was, a teacher." Trish explains, perhaps for those who haven't heard the story. "And then came the Registration Act. That is when Ms. Peterson…" She raises an eyebrow, which is more for her guests than her audience. "Actually, perhaps you'd like to tell everyone in your own words the events that took place?"

"Of course. This year would have been—goodness—17 years teaching? Registration passed, and then they let us know at the school where I worked that they would be requiring all of us to undergo genetic testing for the X-gene. After a discussion with my principal, it was pretty clear that I wasn't going to get out of it. So I resigned my position, rather than be tested." Mary recites this easily, having practiced enough that she details are burned into her brain. As if living through them wasn't enough.

"It didn't really matter. A few days later, DPS was at my door and they removed me in full view of my children. A neighbor had to watch them until my husband could get home."

Foggy glances over toward Trish before his eyes settle on Mary while she tells her story. He's quiet at the mic, giving Mary the space to go through the bullet points. When Mary gets to the end, Nelson leans in toward the microphone. "Ms. Peterson is not the first, nor the last, New York citizen to be forced to illegal testing to root out whether or not a person with the X-Gene is employed. It is just the first layer of targeting what the mainstream has defined as metahumans — a term itself that suggests that those like Ms. Peterson need to be defined as something more than, other than, human."

"If I'm hearing you correctly, they were going to force you, a teacher of 17 years, to take the test and register, all to remain under the employ of the school system." Trish recounts. "You, understandably, quit. And then, and can you believe this, listeners? You were forcibly removed from your home, in front of your children, to be tested, leaving your children to be taken care of by your neighbor until your husband returned home." She clucks her tongue. "How horrible that must have been both for yourself and for your children."

Trish turns her attention to Foggy. "Are you telling us, Mr. Nelson, that Ms. Peterson isn't the first person that this has happened to?" She sighs. "Ms. Peterson, you quit your job to avoid the testing, is that safe to say? Is it okay if I ask, why did you wish to avoid being tested?"

"They made it clear that they were going to enforce the order. So, I quit my job, yes," Mary says very carefully, visibly weighing the words. "Because I was concerned of what would happen to me, my family, and my students if I submitted. And what sort of example I'd be setting for them if I just went along with… with something wrong, just because someone told me to do it. I didn't really know how I would be able to look them in the eye, even if I didn't get fired."

After it's out of her mouth, the dark-haired woman takes another long sip of her dressed up water and glances towards Foggy. Her attention doesn't stay there, though.

Foggy's hand gently touches Mary's elbow. It's a comfort, but also an encouragement. She's doing great.

Now, when Trish turns to him, he sits up straighter so his voice carries an even keel. "Mankind has a kind of reputation, Trish, to first targeting and then oppressing those they deem 'Other.' There's plenty of instances all across human history, and I don't want to bore your audience with a history lesson, so I'll just get right to it."

Foggy gestures as he speaks. "The moment we — either consciously or unconsciously — started calling all those with abilities 'metahuman,' we started the divide between what is human and what is not human. Meta, as defined, is not just a change in condition, but also a way to denote something as higher or better. Now, I know what you're going to say — sounds like a compliment. But it isn't, not by those who are using this term as a way to categorize, register, and watch those individuals who fall under 'metahumanity.' They first make the general population fear their power, and then try to alleviate that fear by promising that they will be heavily scrutinized."

Now he gets to his point, "So, no… Ms. Peterson is not and will not be the only person that this happens to."

"Thank you, Ms. Peterson." Trish nods to Mary, offering her a little smile of encouragement. Her position is certainly not an easy one to be in. Not for anybody.

"That's a curious choice of words, Mr. Nelson." She turns her attention to the lawyer, furrowing her brow as she talks. "You say that the use of the word meta is 'also a way to denote something as higher or better'." A very brief pause to let those words hang there for a moment. "While yes, that may sound like a compliment. To some with these abilities, it may be used as an excuse to see themselves as better than, quote unquote, 'normal people'." She sits back ever so slightly. "Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that anyone in this room believes this. I'm certainly not accusing you, Ms. Peterson, of this belief, but there are some individuals who might prescribe to the notion of metahumans being better than everyone else."

Leaning forward again, she smiles once more. "Of course, that's not yourself, Ms. Peterson, is it? And I suspect that's a small portion of those with abilities."

"Now, I'm sure we've got some listeners who are just burning to ask some questions. Are we ready for them?" She looks to both Foggy and Mary for confirmation before motioning to her assistant to inform her of who the first caller is.

The touch on her elbow earns the lawyer a grateful - if short-lived and not quite believing - smile from his client. As Foggy takes over and speaks, Mary's hand comes up to nervously run a thumb, for the millionth time, along the bottom edge of the collar about her neck as her shoulders start to roll forward into a worn-down slouch again. It's a newer posture born of the last couple of months—minimizing, self-effacing.

Of course, that's not yourself, Ms. Peterson, is it?

Mary softly shakes her head, although no one outside of the room can see it, with a joyless smile on her lips. And hopefully the rueful exhale that threatens to deflate her isn't heard either. "No," she says a beat later. "That's not me."

When she Trish mentions the other questions still to come, Mary's awareness returns and she rights her posture and pushes both of her hands back down, folded, into her lap. "Yes," she says, with a confidence she prays doesn't sound as paper-thin as it feels, "Of course." And then her eyes just close to listen.

Foggy gestures out with both hands before his hands settle together once more. "It has a double-edged etymology — but it is also used as the way to denote that those like Ms. Peterson are not just human, and that opens the doorway to prejudice driven by fear." Then he glances slightly toward Mary and her tracking collar before he continues, "But that's not the reality of it."

Now he takes a breath, and the exhale isn't heard in his words — carefully measured — as he nods. He folds his hands together again, resting into his hands and forearms.

"A doorway to prejudice. Yes. I do believe that's true. And therein lies the fear, doesn't it?" Trish agrees. "I can imagine that's why those with abilities would keep themselves from registering. It opens them up to more and more prejudice." Furrowing her brow, she continues. "Love, acceptance, and respect. It's what we all want. And yet in this day and age of registry, we've taken a few steps backward away from those three important aspects of life." She sighs heavily.

There's a pause. "Right after these brief message we'll be accepting our first caller." She motions to the PA on the other side of the desk to move to commercial and inform her of the caller list, who is on what line.

After several commercials run — including a plug by Nelson & Murdock to metahumans to join the class action lawsuit — the first of the call-in questions begins:

"Hi, this is Thomas from Queens," comes a muffled, gravely voice of a man over the intercom. "You basically got confidential information about kids without permission and without disclosure to their parents. I mean…what my kid is feeling isn't your business. You're then using that information to manipulate him anyway you want. That's just wrong. Why didn't it ever occur to you to let parents know that you were doing this so they could move their kids to some other class if they didn't consent? Schools have to get my consent to take my kid on a field trip or to give them a health screening, so why shouldn't you have to disclose and get consent for your empathic whatever?"

"That's not exactly accurate," Mary says, voice filled with a seemingly infinite calm. "Actually, a child's feelings at the primary level is absolutely within an instructor's scope of work. By the first grade, most children begin to demonstrate greater independence, but they require greater attention and affirmation from adults. Part of an instructor's role—in addition to the state-dictated curriculum—is to help students navigate an increased emotional understanding of the world around them, to manage their own increased emotional sensitivity with solid coping mechanisms, and increase confidence."

She swallows, hard. "I felt that I owed it to my students to deliver to them the best that I could do so, and my natural abilities—if you were to look at my professional records—would show that my students actually had overall better outcomes across a variety of metrics. With statistical significance. That's why I was given advanced classes to teach; I consistently empowered children to manage their feelings and believe in themselves while simultaneously demonstrating advanced academic concepts. My classroom was a healthy classroom that got results and I believe you would have been hard pressed, sir, to find an emotionally safer one… Which is paramount for academic success, gifted students or not."

"Educational systems all across the country are already bogged down by a crippling amount of paper work. If you don't think that's already happening in a quote-unquote good classroom… A teacher making daily, hourly, assessments about your child's emotional well-being… You're wrong. I just happened to be very good at it. I loved my students, and attempting to manipulate them in the way that I think you are suggesting would have ultimately created an unhealthy reliance upon me and crippled their ability to self-manage. That is not what occurred."

Foggy just nods, knowing he does not have to actually respond to Trish's question. Instead, he takes in a breath as the first caller comes in. He's not sure what he expects from Thomas from Queens, but he knew this was going to be something. He glances toward Mary just once as she fields the question. She does so with ease, and that's enough for Foggy. He takes a moment before he leans toward the microphone to speak, but only after Mary has had her full say. "Educators have certain rights that come with their particular duties — in loco parentis. This means in place of parents — when a child enters a public school, the premise of in loco parentis places them in the care of their teachers. Part of that care includes social-emotional well-being. Mrs. Peterson is able to better assess and meet students, providing them with more responsive care. In fact, according to Mary Peterson's evaluations — which are public record — she has been able to respond and help students of trauma."

Now Foggy takes a breath, going on, "It is of course the duties of a parent to choose the best course for their child, but anti-discrimination laws — federal laws — make it illegal for anyone to be persecuted for the color of their skin, choice of religion, sexual orientation, and countless other classifications. It is our belief that metahumanity should be another protected class under these anti-discrimination laws."

"Thomas from Queens. Thank you for your question, and for hearing us out." Well, hearing her guests, anyway. Trish has listened intently, both to Mary's words as well as to what Foggy had to say. "The emotional development of our children is certainly of the utmost importance. Emotional learning can be just as critical as math, history, or physical education." She shuffles some of the papers before her. "To help someone be a more well rounded person, it is paramount that they learn to be in touch with their emotions. To know that they can feel and express those emotions with there being negative connotations with expressing said emotions."

"In an ever evolving world, where emotions and discussion of them is becoming less and less taboo, encouragement of our children toward healthy emotional lives has never been more important." Trish continues. "If we desire to move away from the toxicity of our collective societal past, we must move forward. People like Mrs. Peterson are the ones helping us to do that."

No sooner than Trish puts a cap on Thomas' question, it's time for another. "Tandy from Brooklyn here, longtime listener, first-time caller, Trish, I love your show," comes the new voice, a woman in her twenties with a thick Brooklyn accent. "But I just want to ask your guest… mutant powers sometimes evolve really suddenly right? What was your plan if you suddenly found you could influence emotions or change them? What would you have done if you'd had a really big break up and like…reduced the kids to complete and total despair or something without meaning to?"

"Tandy, I can't say as that I'm an expert in mutant genetics by any means. I don't know what the chances are that my mutation would evolve any further than it has at this stage of my life. I'm forty-three." Mary gets through the sentence without pausing, per se, but there is a certain inflection on the word mutation that Foggy will likely immediately hear after hours of practice, trying to get her used to saying the word out loud as though it's normal. Her eyes open as soon as the phrase is done, and she wordlessly apologizes to him with a wince before continuing.

"But, I can say that all teachers have bad days. They lose loved ones, coworkers. They lose students. You train yourself to keep them away from your kids, away from your classrooms, because any teacher can bring undue baggage into the classroom and, you're right, it can have a negative impact on the students. And, while I would hope that I wouldn't be going through a really big break-up as I've been happily married to a wonderful man for fifteen years, I understand your concern about the additional risk in my particular impact. I can influence students in a way that is different, although perhaps not to the extent that I think many people think."

There's a pause, a brief one, as Mary leans in to the microphone. "But, really, this is about trust. And I understand that many people feel betrayed when one thing they thought was true turns out to be untrue, when there wasn't a conversation at all about the things they believed to be true in the first place. Teachers are entrusted with the most precious thing on the planet: the future. Children are the most precious resource we have, and they absolutely deserve to be treasured and protected. And you need to be able to trust the people who are charged with their care, right? Well, the way that I look at it, I am no different today than I was seventeen years ago, except that I have seventeen years more experience of helping children celebrate victories, tackle shortcomings, and persevere through challenging life experiences. A mutation isn't a crime, and I didn't have a choice about it. I don't think that what I'm dealing with is a violation of trust. Rather, it is discomfort that comes of… of adjusting an understanding. Sometimes an adjustment can be pleasant. …Sometimes it's not."

There's another pause, brief, and then she continues. Because Mary is a teacher still, at the heart of it all. Turning that off is difficult, and all she's had for months is time to mull and think in a terrible void of what used to be the sway and pull of other people's sentiment. In the studio, her hands extend emphatically, and her eyes close again. "There are so many things that can happen in a classroom. A teacher with a heart condition could die suddenly in the middle of a math lesson. That impacts students. A teacher could be in the middle of that messy breakup that you talked about earlier, and lose control and break down sobbing in the middle of the day. That impacts students. Everything, every choice, impacts students. We… we all impact each other. Every day. There's no way around that."

"The revelation of my mutation to the public," there it is again, that strain in her tone and then the wince as she hears it for herself, "is an uncomfortable adjustment of a reality. And I am genuinely sympathetic—" another choice of wording that has come to replace the 'sorry' that was there prior to Nelson & Murdock's wordsmithing "—to the discomfort that it is causing the community. However, I don't feel that I violated the public trust. The children were safe with me and—if I ever felt that I was jeopardizing their well-being—I would have taken a sick day, a leave of absence, or resigned… just like any other teacher worth his or her salt. My students were safe and loved."

The words are passionate and heartfelt, and the depth of that threatens to unravel her. She feels deeply, and those of the public aren't the only ones left struggling with the adjustment of a reality. Unseen by radio listeners today is the twisting of her lips as she stops herself from saying anything more. Her hand comes down to take up her dressed up water, to take a shaky sip.

Foggy Nelson knows when it's not his turn to talk, so he ducks his head a bit so that he's nowhere near the mic. This gives Mary the time she needs to talk through the question. The passion that enters her voice draws his chin up slightly, and then he's looking across the table toward Trish. He nods slowly to her, as if to convey that it's all good. He looks back to Mary, watchful as she unpacks her life on the air. Out there, her jury — thousands if not millions of peers who are now deciding what they think about Mary Peterson. Her pedagogy, her perspective of her responsibility as a teacher and educator and caretaker, are all put before the masses.

So, Foggy takes a breath. "Mrs. Peterson believes in her duties to the students of New York City. Any school would be lucky to have her in their ranks. There are hundreds of people just like Mary who strive every day to be their best selves, to give to the communities around them. Their mutations should not take them away from their communities and their duties to those communities."

"Thank you, Tandy." Trish shuffles some papers. "Mrs. Peterson brings up a good point, really. One doesn't have to have an ability to positively or negatively affect those around them." There's a pause as she reaches for her own drink. Perhaps a tactic she's learned over the years to help let her words be thought over. "The fact of the matter is, teachers and instructors know better than anyone how an emotional classroom can easily derail a lesson."

Staring across at Mrs. Peterson, Trish offers a kind smile. "Her abilities as they are now are, partly, in question. Not how they may be in the future." She says softly. "The fact remains that Mrs. Peterson has been a staple of the educational system for many years now. She has been a trusted member of the community. Many children, many potential leaders of tomorrow, have passed through her classroom and have come out the other side better for having had her tutelage."

Another short pause. "At the end of the day, we're all different. Can we deny that? No. But as Antonio Guterres of the United Nations has said, 'We have to transcend our differences to transform our future.'"

Up to now, the public questions have seemed more like a public flogging, with reactionary callers-in grilling Mary as hard as Attorney General David Archer might from the stand.

So it may come as some relief when the next caller chimes in: "Hi, this is Jenni — from Harlem. And I just want to say that what's going on out there is disgusting. Those Mutant Town pickups. Shooting people up on the docks? It's not right."

The caller's worked up enough that she pauses a beat to remember her question. "My question is — was this civil disobedience? You not taking the test, and not registering? Or did it just shake out that way? And will you be doing any organizing or activism when this trial is done? There's a lot of people who will have your back."

Mary looks up to Foggy, and then to Trish, with glances that last seconds. It wears on her, the grilling, and it shows in the way that she fights to keep the slump out of her shoulders. The curl out of her spine. The uncertainty that fills the brief and curling attempts at smiles. She'd been a firm but gentle sort before all this.

But when the next caller speaks, there's a look of confusion that reveals itself plainly all over her face. She wasn't anticipating it, and the look she shoots to Foggy from beneath her furrowed brow begs for help. Is this woman serious? She's not actually sure if she should say anything. "That… That's very kind," she stammers out after a moment's thought.

Foggy is steady, hands folded together in front of him the same way that he would be in a courtroom. He listens to each little tell in Mary's voice, the sharp retort of the callers, and Trish's ability to mediate both. When the third caller comes in, and Jenni offers her support for Mary, it is Foggy's turn to lean in. "Mrs. Peterson will raise awareness of the inequalities and injustices around this new legislation." He doesn't field the questions on whether or not Mary will launch into activism or organizing — though Jenni's words suggest that they will successfully pull through it.

"What comes after the trial will be based on the people of New York City. Whatever happens, I hope that New York City becomes a beacon of awareness and new education around metahumanity in both this country and across the globe."

"Thank you for your call, Jenni." Trish gazes across at Mary and Foggy. A soft smile of encouragement is offered to Mary, along with a little nod. "Wise words spoken just now by Mr. Nelson, the hopes for New York City to become 'a beacon of awareness and new education around metahumanity'." She repeats his words, letting them really sink in. "We are a city, a state…a nation built upon diversity. I hope we haven't forgotten that."

"Thank you for tuning in to Trish Talk on WNEX, we're going to take a very short break. Don't change that dial. We've got more for you after these ads." She holds up her fingers and counts down from three to one and lets out a slow breath. "And we're good." She smiles to Mary. "I hope you know you've done quite well, Mrs. Peterson. I realize this isn't easy, but I think you'll come out the other side all the better for it."

When her attorney defends the choice to say nothing at all about what the future may hold for Mary Peterson, the brunette offers an half-hearted smile. Hope is such a precious, fragile thing, and she's terrified to hang too much upon it lest it break apart.

She wants to be able to tell Jenni that, of course, her lawyers will win. Then, of course, she'll march on to defend other people who just want to live their private lives, like she did before everything got turned upside down. Instead, she holds her tongue, for fear that it could jeopardize a chance to get home to her children.

So, when Trish offers that tiny bit of praise after they cut to break and the light goes off, Mary heaves a guilty breath that she didn't realize she'd pent up, and she offers another wry twist of her lips. "You know, five years ago, I used to fantasize about being on a show like this, but the subject material was a little different. It was going to be me versus the board of education, or discussing disparity in district school funding. Not…" She shrugs helplessly. "You know. Me."

She sips her water, emptied halfway already, and then tucks her hair behind one ear. She laughs softly. "But hey, this is the best night that I've had in months." She leans in to Trish, and smiles with a kind, maternal twist of her lips. "Because the best things are so very rarely ever easy things."

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