(The next scene is back in blistering white, as PETE is walking behind PHINEAS through the waiting room they had previously occupied. This time, the two of them breeze through to the main conference room, but not before PETE’S gaze and the camera both linger on the chair CLEO had been sitting in when they first met.)
PHINEAS: Come along, Mr. Rodney…
(The camera follows behind PETE s he hurries to catch up,. Two massive doors open to a room surprisingly not in white plastic, but instead a warm, auburn wood paneled oval. There is a very timeless United Nations feel to it, with a raised dais on where four to six people sit, looking down at a simple white plastic table and two chairs for those being talked to. Those above are what you would expect: old, wise, wrinkled, authoritative. It is a blend of ethnicities and nationalities, but all of them expressly beyond middle age. The one sitting in the middle leans forward and furrows grizzled eyebrows)
ONE: Mr. Bogg, Mr. Rodney… have a seat, please.
(PHINEAS nods to PETE, and they do as they are told. Another one speaks from the dais.)
TWO: We appreciate your assistance with the incident this afternoon… both of you.
THREE: It has helped us to better evaluate the unique situation we have before us… Mr. Rodney?
(PETE looks, almost out of habit now, at PHINEAS when he hears himself referred to as “Mr. Rodney.” PHINEAS angrily turns his attention back to the dais.)
PETE: Uh… yes?
THREE: Why do you think you are here?
PETE: Due to some sort of, uh… unauthorized time travel of some sort.
FOUR: Please elaborate.
PETE: (confused) Excuse me?
FOUR: Explain the situation as you experienced it.
PETE: Oh! Uh… well, I was sleeping, and then this guy showed up…
(he gestures to PHINEAS, who still seems annoyed at PETE’s informal attitude)
And then we almost both fell out a window. Next thing I knew, we were helping the Wright Brothers get their airplane flying, but then I almost killed one of them, so we had to fix that, too. And then, we wound up here, and I suppose that was kinda my fault, but I was really interested in how all of this stuff works… and I know this sounds awful and like I’m just rambling but you sort of put me on the spot here so… that’s all I got.
ONE: Indeed. I take it then, Mr. Bogg, that you have discussed very little with your unwanted stowaway?
PHINEAS: (standing to attention) No, sir. In keeping with TES protocols, unauthorized time travelers are to be kept alive and mentally fit to return to their own time, but any potentially dangerous or revealing information is to not be shared.
TWO: Noted, Mr. Bogg. However, did you take note of any exceptional behavior from Mr. Rodney?
PHINEAS: (a little grudgingly) I did. He adapted to each new situation very well… if with a fair amount of complaining… but at his age that is understandable.
PETE: (muttering) Gee, thanks…
PHINEAS: However, as you all can see, his psychometric readings are the second highest on record for a non-sworn officer, and if this disciplinary hearing is meant to discuss what I believe it is, it would have my support and recommendation.
(PHINEAS sits down and gives PETE another look that says “hush.” One of the members at the dais stands from their seat.)
ONE: It is the decision of this council that Mr. Peter Rodney, of New York City, 21st century be admitted as a trainee candidate in the Time Equilibrium Service starting Monday. Mr. Rodney, you have until 0600 hours on Friday to make evident your decision on whether or not you will join us.
PETE: Excuse me?
TWO: You have great propensity to be a TES agent of high performance and skill. We are offering you the chance to join your friend Mr. Bogg as someone who travels through time, setting right what has gone wrong… and I am personally nominating Mr. Bogg to be your mentor agent.
(there is a bit of a row among the members on the dias, with lots of “harrumphs.” PHINEAS looks a little worried and fiddles with his tie.)
THREE: We will have to discuss that secondary matter before Mr. Rodney’s candidacy is confirmed.
PETE: Um, excuse me?
(the muttering wilts like a tulip in the desert. All turn to look, including PHINEAS)
PETE: Does this mean I won’t be going home?
FOUR: Preparations have already been made for your original timestream that confirm to Omni calculations.
THREE: Your guardian will receive word that you have been accepted to a prestigious university, and after a period of years another letter will be sent signifying your acceptance into a permanent employment position.
FIVE: You will be encourage to continue on in your life as usual, writing occasional messages back in time to your time, in order to keep up whatever appearances the Omni calculations deem necessary. If you do not choose to communicate, standard communications will be sent for you.
ONE: Should you choose to decline this offer, you will be temporally sterilized and returned to your own time with no ability to further damage the timestream given this current course of events.
FOUR: You will be trained at the TES Academy, with in the field training hopefully supervised by Mr. Bogg…
(a few more grumbles)
TWO:And your guardian will receive a stipend in the currency native to their time and location for protection and enrichment of their life concurrent with your level of attainment in the Service. Furthermore…
(Again, PHINEAS is mortified at PETE’s lack of decorum)
PETE: You said my aunt’s going to get some money for my job here?
TWO: More or less, yes.
PETE: Well, if it’s all right with all of you, I’d rather the money be sent to fund. It’s for the families… it’s for the people whose parents died like mine did.
(pregnant pause as sadness washes over PETE’s feature for a moment)
ONE: It will be done. Are we to take from your tone and words that you accept this position, Mr. Rodney?
PETE: What are you, crazy? Of course I do!
(PHINEAS’ palm slaps to his forehead)
ONE: Then it is the decision of this council that you will begin your official capacities as a trainee on Monday at 0500 hours. There will be a room in the Carmen Wing prepared for you by this evening; we suggest you use the weekend to study the training manuals… and protocols… before you begin Monday morning. Are there any objections?
ALL AT DAIS: Let it be done.
(Some sort of chime is heard, and immediately the members at the dais turn to leave. PETE is herded out by PHINEAS back into the waiting room, looking rather pleased with himself.)
PETE: So… I’m gonna be like you, huh?
PHINEAS: You will assuredly NOT be like me!
PETE: But you said my psycho…something levels were high?
PHINEAS: second highest observed in a non-sworn officer.
PETE: Oh… is that good?
PHINEAS: Only one person was ever better.
PETE: Who was that?
PETE: (after a pause) Does that mean I have to talk like you, then?
(PHINEAS gives him a glare, and is about to retort when he notices PETE has stopped walking, staring again at CLEO’s empty, white chair. PHINEAS approaches the young man, care now etched on his own less-than-middle-aged features.)
PETE: Hey, Phineas?
PETE: Could some of my pay go to help her, too?
PHINEAS: (smiling) Absolutely.
(he turns back around, forcing a smile and sighing)
So… we’ve got a few hours until my room is set, huh? What should we do?
PHINEAS: I don’t know anything about “we,” but I suspect you might want to find some decent clothes and perhaps a meal.
PETE: What, we’re not hanging out anymore? I thought you were gonna be my, y’know, mentor, or whatever.
PHINEAS: There are several reasons why I am not going to be your mentor, and I’m not going to get into them now. If it’s all the same to you, Mr. Rodney, I haven’t had a moment’s peace since you came barreling into my life, and I want nothing more than a cup of chamomile and a good book.
(He opens the doors back to the massive hub room)
Feel free to explore, meet some people, try some food, and try not to annoy anyone one-tenth as much as you annoy me. Not everyone has my impeccable sense of patience and charity.
PETE: (sarcastic) Uh huh… how do I pay for food or something?
PHINEAS: (herding him out into the hub room) We don’t really have money in this time period, and any cost will be automatically applied to your account.
PHINEAS: Don’t get too excited: a trainee’s salary is hardly something to covet. Go on, now, and leave me be.
PETE: Well, what if I…
(he’s having trouble admitting it to himself, as most teenagers do)
What if I wanna talk to you… later?
PHINEAS: (with an imperious sigh) Standard directory program can be found at any dataport, extension 169. But so help me, if I hear you knocking on my door any time in the next….. thr… four hours… I will find the nearest window and jump from it.
PETE: (darkly, bitterly) Huh… you wouldn’t be the first to leave me that way.
PHINEAS: And what do you mean by that?
PETE: Why don’t you try looking it up on your science gizmo, or whatever, dickhead?! I’ll be sure to call you if I need to get told how much I suck again.
(PETE leaves into the mass of people. PHINEAS knows he’s struck a raw nerve, but remains rooted in place as he has no idea what to do, or what to say. We pull away from PHINEAS looking helpless and dissolve to a scene later in the evening in a spartan, undecorated room in the Carmen Wing. It is a fairly standard, sterile, futuristic room with acoustic tile in various shades of blue around a pod bed without a box spring. We see several new pairs of clothes rumpled on the floor, having been tried on once or twice, and next to them we see a few white take out containers drained of their contents. The camera pans up from the floor to the bed where PETE is sitting, slightly huddled, his head in his lap. He may have been crying. We see him put his head up in the half-darkness and lean over to the dataport near the bed. He types in a few numbers, and the hospitality program from earlier appears.
KIRA: Hello, Mr. Rodney. What can I do for you?
PETE: Hey, Kira… it’s Pete, OK?
KIRA: Nominal redesignation: Pete. Understood. How can I assist you?
PETE: Well… you’re a hospitality program… right?
KIRA: That is my designation.
PETE: So… you’re here to make me feel welcome?
PETE: Could you… I dunno… welcome me, here? Like say, “Welcome home!” or something?
(She gives a little wave and a smile.)
Welcome home, Pete!
(PETE has not heard that in many, many years, and we might even see a flashback to his mother saying it to him as a child all those years ago. His face immediately softens and relaxes, and he settles back into his bed.)
KIRA: Is there anything else I can do for you?
PETE: Yeah… tell me about yourself?
KIRA: I’m afraid I don’t understand that command.
PETE: Kira… let’s just talk.
(We fade out from the room as PETE tries his best to have a conversation with a hologram. The camera pans through the wall, outside into the Hallway, where we see PHINEAS standing there next to CLARISSA, with her arm in a sling.)
CLARISSA: Just do it.
PHINEAS: He appears to be talking to someone, Clarissa. I don’t want to be rude.
CLARISSA: Rude, nothing! The kid’s talking to a damn computer, Phin… he’s lonely. You read up on him, you know the kind of life he’s had… he’s looking for you to show him the way..
PHINEAS: Clarissa, I don’t even know what my own way is! How in the bloody am I to help him with his?
CLARISSA: Maybe that’s how you learn, you stuffy bastard. Maybe you don’t always have the answers right away. Sheesh, I hope you’re not this way when we have our son…
PHINEAS: (scandalized) Clarissa!
CLARISSA: Just shut up and give him the present, all right?
(With a heavy, grunting sigh, PHINEAS reaches up and knocks on the door. There’s the immediate mad scramble and shuffle that always happens when you knock on a teenager’s door.)
PETE: (from the other side of the door) Just a minute!
(More thumping and smashing)
How the… how the hell do you open this door?!
PHINEAS: Erm… there’s a panel next to it. Third button.
(There is a conspicuous silence until the door slides open, Star Trek style, and PETE stands there, trying to look cool and uninterested)
PETE: Hey, man.
PHINEAS: H…”hey” yourself.
PETE: You read your book? Have a good time away from me?
PHINEAS: Well, yes…
(CLARISSA elbows him in the ribs)
But! I realized I was a little harsh to you earlier and, well… I wanted to apologize.
PETE: Ah, don’t worry about it, man. It’s all good.
(He looks past PHINEAS to CLARISSA)
You ok, lady?
CLARISSA: I’ll heal. Thanks for your help today. Cleo’s condition is stable.
PETE: Oh, that’s good to hear…. good to hear…
(There’s an awkward silence where CLARISSA has to push PHINEAS forward again)
PHINEAS: Erm, yes… I’ve got this… it’s for you. Considering it a, well… a housewarming present.
(he hands over a plain brown paper package which PETE unwraps to expose a brown, clunky looking piece of hardware… the original “Omni” prop from the 1980s show)
It’s my old Omni. My first one when I started here. It’s deactivated now, but it still has my notes and readings in there. It should be able to help you study up and get to see how we do things around here.
PETE: (turning the chunky thing over in his hand) How long you been working here? This thing is like some 1980s-lookin stuff…
PHINEAS: (clearing his throat) Yes, well… I started here when I was quite young, not unlike yourself. Go ahead and play around with the Omni, let me know if you have any, uh, questions.
(he glances over and sees a rubbish bin overflowing with takeout containers)
I see you’ve already eaten… perhaps Clarissa and I could take you out for a celebratory coffee?
PETE: (taken aback by the generosity) What? No…. no, I’m good. Thanks, though… maybe some other time, all right? I’m just gonna…
(He wiggles the old Omni in his hand)
Hit the books, here. See you Monday?
PHINEAS: I usually take my lunch on the patio.
PETE: Okay, then. G’night, I guess.
PHINEAS: Good night, Mr. Rodney.
(he begins to walk away, but stops and returns)
Oh… and Welcome Home.
(CLARISSA smiles broadly behind him, she’s starting to fall for him despite it all. The two of them head off down the hall as PETE closes the door behind him and leans back against it, clutching the Omni like it is something precious in his hand. He looks at it and smiles.
PETE: Yeah… welcome home.