Unconventional Recruitment


martin_icon.gif paulson_icon.gif zachery_icon.gif

Scene Title Unconventional Recruitment
Synopsis Zachery Miller has led a charmed life, right up until now, when all of his double-dealing and bad decisions come crashing down on him all at once.
Date January 7, 2010

Le Rivage

Dark days, lately. Winter brings the cold, and the cold brings undesireably crappy moods. Such is the case with the owner of this particular Le Rivage apartment, which may be in its worst state yet. That's not to say it's filthy - oh no, it's still strangely sterile for how cluttered it looks - but you'd be hard pressed to find somewhere to stand where you wouldn't find at least one empty bottle and a few open books strewn within your line of sight.

The TV in the living room serves as the only source of light in here, showing some sort of documentary. The background noise it drones into the room is completely lost on its owner; Zachery, an open book covering his face and one arm hanging down, lies belly-up on his sofa. As he has been for the past hour or two. He's not terribly better off than his apartment, in a T-shirt, pajama pants, unshaven. But at least washed. At least that's one good habit he has trouble shaking. Not that this makes up for all the bad ones he's picked up recently.

That unkempt attire makes the sound of four sharp knocks on the door to the apartment all the more unfortunate. As if visitors who were not delivering from Panucci's Pizza were not unexpected and unwelcome enough, the litany of explanation shouted through the door is both in equal measure terrifying as it is wakening. "Zachery Miller," comes the crisp trilling of a man with a decidedly British accent, "this is Agent Crowley with the Department of Homeland Security."

Perhaps, in the realm of inappropriate ways to be roused from slumber, than may rank right up there with gunshots.

"Could you open up please?"

The knocking manages to somehow drift between reality and dreams, only stirring Zachery's sleep to a point where he tries, and fails, to pull his arm back up onto the sofa with him. Go away, busy dreaming of less recent times. Unfortunately, the voice and calling of his name manages to smash his dreamy world with awful precision, resulting in the apartment owner's jolting upright. The book previously on his face flies off, bounces off the sofa, and lands somewhere on the ground with a clunk-a-thunk.

Tired eyes now wide open, Zachery fights to choke back the confusion and get up. Twitchily and nearly falling over in the process, he pushes himself off the couch, looking toward the front door. Almost as though considering something other than actually opening it. Then, wiping a hand past his brow in an attempt to look less fearful, he takes a few slow (albeit shaky) breaths, and finally heads in the right direction. "C-coming!"

When the door is opened, it's done slowly, carefully, and only just enough for the two on either side of it to be able to see each other in full. Zachery forces a smile, though the sincerity is lacking in every way. Nothing to worry about. Nothing to worry about. Oh, if only that were true. "Ah, hello. Good—" Afternoon? Evening? Morning? What time is it? He squints at his wrist, but a watch appears to be lacking.

"Evening," states the unusually scruffy looking British gentleman on the other side of the door. He's not particularly tall, and his unshaved chin and shoulder length hair gives him something of a Jesus of London appearance that juxtaposes awkwardly with his pinstripe suit and very laminated badge being held up towards Zachery. "I'm Agent Crowley, and this," he motions to his side to an even shorter man that Zachery only noticed just now, of inscrutable ethnicity — Indian, Pakistani, Samoan? — "is Agent Paulson."

The aforementioned Agent Paulson tips his curly-haired head down into a nod, offering a thin smile. "You're Zachery Miller, former Deputy Coroner for the state of New York?" There's a look in Paulson's eyes, dark and narrowed, but that thin smile still there in disconcerting quality. "We'd like to come in and have a word with you, if you don't mind?"

Disconcerting is exactly the word. Zachery offers a nod in response, though it may not be too distinguishable from other, random twitches his anxiety appears to be causing. "Yes. Ah— Miller, that's- that's me. Uh," Only now does a British accent of his own shine through, though it's definitely had its wallpapering of American influence over the years. He looks over his shoulder, then let his eyes flit between the strangers' faces again. "Of course, ah. I— Of course. Come in."

The door is opened properly now, and Zachery turns to grab the first three bottles he sees in an attempt to smuggle them back toward the kitchen, flicking one or two lights on, on the way there. "You'll have to excuse me, I had a… bit of a rough night." 'And day' is muttered in afterthought, before a brief slew of silent cursing through gritted teeth. Aimed at himself, that much is clear.

Paulson is the first in, hands folding behind his back as he makes a very public inspector emergence into the apartment, dark eyes scanning the furniture and looking from one pile of takeout boxes to the next, then nudges an empty beer bottle across the floor with a touch of his shoe. "Long day," Paulson murmurs as he turns to look back over his shoulder at Agent Crowley.

The more unshaven and British of the pair of agents comes in next, adjusting the collar of his dress shirt with one hand, then tucks his badge inside of his jacket. "I ah," he closes the door behind himself on stepping in, looking down at his hand afterwards as if uncertain what felt grimy on the doorknob. "I apologize for this unscheduled appearance, Mister Miller, and for the bit of— er— misdirection in the truth behind this meeting's particulars too." Not that hey'd given many.

"After you left your position as Deputy Coroner, an investigation was put in by the Department of Homeland security for some, ah, discrepencies in the records. We spoke to a miss, ah," Agent Crowley glances over the frames of his glasses to Paulson, like a bad stage actor looking for a line.

"Ross." Paulson throws out, "Astrid Ross." Martin wage a hand towards Paulson and offers an affirmed nod, tucking his hands into the pockets of his slacks afterward.

"You see there were some discrepancies that, after some scrutiny, we discovered in your record keeping during your tenure. Missing autopsy files, incorrect numbers of corpses moving through the facility and… in a few cases, cremation of remains when no such requests were made." Grimacing for Zachery for than himself, Martin motions to the littered sofa with a nod of his head. "You… may want to take a seat."

Zachery, once out of the kitchen again and back into sight, has by now lost all of his feigned pleasantness. Weak as it was. Though his expression is hard to read at this point, his bodylanguage screams of uncertainty and reluctance.

"No." His gut response finally sounds, though unfortunately a great deal more certain than what follows, "If there were mistakes, they must've… been made by—" His brow furrows, and he looks back and forth between the men again. Better stop talking for now. But… Ross? Honestly? Of all people. They could be lying. They have to be. But if they are, why? And discrepancies. How would they've known, otherwise? Without finishing his sentence, he drags another hand over his face and saunters over to the couch to sink down into it with confusion still on his face. He's still wobbly. No doubt not entirely sober. For now, he's silent, staring listlessly at the coffee table while his right hand grips tightly onto his left in an idle habit. Well, shit. Continue.

Offering a dishonest smile, Agent Crowley's eyes follow Zachery as he takes a seat on his sofa, brows furrowing in thought. "We're not here about the discrepancies themselves, per-se, as we are the ah— clientelle you may have been cavorting with. You see, the organization we represent has some very talented people on our command. Notably of which, is a woman who's gift it is to read the histories of objects that she touches. Agent Bailey is a very gifted woman, decidedly British like myself as well," Crowley notes with a fond smile, "but gifted. She can see… oh I don't know," he folds his arms and looks over at Paulson. "Years?" his eyes flick back to Zachery, "decades into an object's past?"

Paulson seems a little bit less aloof in his estimation of things. "Long enough," the agent notes with an incline of his head. "We'd like to ask you a very pointed question, and your answer to this is a very important one." Reaching inside of his suit jacket, Agent Paulson retrieves a black and white photograph of a terrible familiar man; strong jaw, defined now, thick eyebrows, dark eyes and hair. "What exactly is your relationship with Gabriel Gray, also known as Sylar the Midtown Man?"

It's not entirely clear how many words Zachery catches, now. Too lost in his own thoughts, worries and concerns. He does manage to register 'gift', however, and this appears to slap at least some sense back into him. Wait, what?

By the time the picture is held up, the ex-coroner manages to shake some of his anxiety, and sits up with an expression of sheer surprise. "… I…" He starts, one hand going up to rub at his neck. One more look is thrown up at Crowley in partiuclar, before his eyes are glued to the picture again, likely for as long as it's held up there. And something within Zachery makes him crack a grin. An effortless and slightly unstable-looking grin, but it's definitely there.

His voice is weak, the cause of which unclear. "I haven't seen that face in a long time."

"Sit down." Paulson states flatly the moment Zachery sits up, raising a gloved hand as his fingers spread, extending a telekinetic shove that drops Zachery back down into his seat. The pressure lets up the moment he's back down, but the audible clue of a sonorous hum around his body when the ability is utilized rings for a few moments after its effect has ended.

Looking at Paulson the way someone might an over-eager Doberman, Agent Crowley affords the shorter man a mild smile, then squares his attention on Zachery again. "I'm sorry, he's very excitable." With that feigned wince, Agent Crowley taps his fingers together in front of himself, then begins walking around a few paces in front of the sofa.

"This normally isn't my job," Crowley explains with a bit of a whine, "I'm actually Internal Affairs for our organization, but things are a bit— " he flippantly waves one hand in the air, "downsized as of late, and I'm forced to be a bit more of a multi-tasker than I'm used to." Flashing a toothy smile, Martin crosses his arms over his chest and adds, "I guess that'd be why I'm here, actually. So, could you answer that question first? What exactly was your relation with ol' eyebrows, then?"

Perhaps unsurprisingly considering how much strange things he's been through lately, Zachery only offers a short chuckle in response to the telekinetic trick, rather than something more fitting. Figures. 'They' are everywhere. He should now this by now.

Fear is still present, but it's mixing with misplaced amusement for no readily apparent reason. The man on the couch can't seem to decide which to show, and they emerge both simultaneously and seperately, in turn. A rough night. More like a rough year or so, on and off.

The words that next leave his mouth sound rehearsed, but no less like they might very well be the truth. "Sylar. He threatened to kill me, several times, within the morgue and within my home. I had no choice in the matter, and I did what I had to do. I haven't seen him in… I can't remember." And this last part? Definitely a good thing, according to his grin.

Paulsona nd Crowley share a look at the last words that come out of Zachery's mouth, followed by a lopsided smile on the latter's part. "Well, mister Miller, you're in a considerable amount of luck in that regard, because Agent Paulson and I happen to know quite a few people who're very adept at helping others remember things they've done gone and forgotten. But prying into that head of yours, unfortunately, again isn't why we're here."

Crowley gives a look to paulson, a somewhat chiding one, and the telekinetic agent tweaks two fingers and neatly fixes Zachery's hair and straightens out his shirt from a distance, some sort've long-distance apology. "We know that you have been keeping a very large secret from the State of New York and the, well— everybody." Crowley's lips draw back into a pearly-white smile. "It's that very unique gift we're here about. All unintentional roughings up aside."

Walking over to Zachery, Martin slides his fingers into a pocket and retrieves a business card, pinched between two fingers and offers out towards the seated man. "We actually have a business proposition for you, due to your connections and your special talent. The card reads:

Eric Thompson
Human Resources Director
Biomere Research Incorporated.

"Mister Thompson would like to have a little chat with you, tomorrow, at around…" he looks around the room, for a clock, and failing to find one settles his eyes back on Zachery. "Seven-thirty sharp, in the am?" His bearded smile is beginning to wear thing. "About our job opportunity. Of course, you could cancel your appointment, but then Paulson and I might have to make a little trip back here for public relations."

Paulson just silently arches one dark brow.

"We really don't want to have to come all the bloody way out here again." Crowley adds with a pleading grimace.

Zachery twitches at the fixing and straightening, grabbing hold of the front of his shirt immediately afterward, no doubt somewhat messing it up again. But… the things he's hearing. It makes no sense. His eyes narrow at the pair in his home, another chuckle leaving his throat without thought. What? He's seeing, hearing but not comprehending, and even the business card is taken and held in both hands as if he expects it to disappear at any point.

"I don't—" Understand. He looks from Crowley's face back down to the card to check whether it's still there, then back up again. Why does this feel increasingly more like just another threat?

"Right," he finally breathes, defeated yet still somehow amused "seven-thirty. Duly noted." He taps a finger to the side of his head, then shakes it disbelievingly.

"Right then," Crowley notes with a raise of both of his brows, turning to look over at Paulson, "I told you we wouldn't need the bloody taser." There's a purse of his lips, furrow of brows and a shake of his head as he offers an incredulous look to the telekinetic. "Come on then what's say you and I go grab a pint, eh?" Without even so much as a goodbye, Crowley turns around and affords Zachery his back and makes a stalking procession towards the door of the apartment.

Paulson seems far less aloof than his partner, sending a dark-eyed stare down to Zachery, and then with the faintest quirk of a smile, he taps his wrist in a keep an eye on your watch sensibility, and turns on his heels as well, headed for the door. It's only once Crowley has let himself out and into the hall, and Paulson's filed out of the apartment that the door shuts— then immediately swings back open, with Crowley leaning inside, smile spread from ear to ear.

"Happy New Year and all that too." He affords cheerily, before closing the door again and leaving Zachery alone in his apartment.

Well, marginally alone. There's a cockroach perched on the corner of a pizza box, antennas wiggling in appreciation of the mess.

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