A Not So Institute Christmas


boyce_icon.gif veronica3_icon.gif

Scene Title A Not So Institute Christmas
Synopsis Two people who find themselves at the Institute on Christmas decide to spend it elsewhere.
Date December 25, 2010

Suresh Center

Theoretically, Agent Sawyer has a home that is not in the Suresh Center. Theoretically, she might have friends and family to spend Christmas with. But instead, she's at work, doing research on the Mazdak group for the Halebi case, though she's not a part of the skeleton crew that's on call. She's here by choice.

After many hours of getting nowhere on her computer in her office, she emerges to get a cup of coffee from the staff lounge. She's not dressed as an agent today, but in much more casual clothing of tight jeans, boots and a snug sweater. She leans against the counter, one hand playing with a chain at her neck, the other wrapped around a hot cup of coffee, as whiskey-brown eyes stare into space.

It might be about the work she's been doing for the past several hours — but there are tears welling up in her eyes that swiftly get blinked away.

Theoretically, she's too tough to cry.

A pungent earthy smell wafts through the door from far down the hall. Along with the scent, the distinct sound of some merry singing can be heard. But this music isn’t of the Christmas variety, it’s more of the late 80’s/early 90’s distinct musical stylings. “Just a small town girl~ Livin’ in a — “ before the line is finished, Sterling Boyce dramatically twirls into the staff room “lonely world world— she took the midnight train goin’ AN-Y-WHEEEEERE~” With the last word, Boyce’s hand dramatically flairs into the air, convinced of his own incredible undeniable prowess and musical talent. He’s not bad.

”Hey hey hey!” his words are too enthused to indicate any potential Jack consciousness. Veronica’s glassy eyes, however, melt his features some. There’s no anger or reprimand in his features as his eyes scan her face. His eyebrows knit together and his head tilts, “I… I… did someone… die? If it was LIvi I swear I will open up a can of kick ass… or send Jack… because I once threw a punch in a bar fight and hit myself. It wasn’t pretty. But I lied and said it was another guy that hit me…”

Too late, Veronica makes an attempt to turn toward the coffee maker, to reassemble the stoic mask she's let slip today. She still turns that way, slipping the necklace beneath her sweater's neck, though the shape of a ring can be seen through the thin cashmere.

"No one's died," Vee says turning back to face Boyce with mostly dry eyes, though the long lashes are still slightly wet from the hard blink to get rid of the tears. Her nose wrinkles at his aroma and she moves away from the coffee pot so he can make his way there, if that's where he's headed.

There is no further explanation offered.

Boyce's eyes twitch slightly while his eyebrows escalate considerably upon his forehead. "You're upset," he observes blandly, although not as bland as Jack'd have said it. In fact, his voice inflects in a near squeal at the end of the observations. "What's goin' on then? You can talk about it."

He steps beyond her to the fridge and takes out a single apple which he tosses in the air and catches. The smirk he wears accompanies a shrug and a distinct wink as he bites into the apple, a smirk that's quickly washed away as his gaze returns to her. "Look, i know you agent types are all 'blah blah blah I am all rough 'n tumble'… but life sucks sometimes. I mean… things happen. And it sucks. A person can admit it, wallow in the moderate suckage, and then let it go… oooooor they can not acknowledge it and… well… let it fester and eat at them for years to come. That's where people like Jack come from," he grins and shrugs. "So what is it?"

The actual astute comment earns Boyce an arch of the brow and Veronica sighs, shaking her head and taking a sip of the coffee and looking out the window rather than his face. "Sometimes seems a bit optimistic, to be honest. I can't really think of a time life was good for more than a few hours at a time," she says quietly. "Not since I was a kid, anyway."

She exhales slowly. "It's Christmas. I'm at work. Not because I pulled the short straw on the holiday schedule drawing but because I literally have nowhere better to go. No one better to spend it with. And you know, most of that is my own doing, so I have really no one to blame but myself."

She pushes away from the counter. "This is me acknowledging it," she adds over her shoulder.

"Well your future seems better than Jack's. He gets to live perpetually in the hive mind collective of Sterling Boyce rather than have any ability or moment to RIP." Boyce turns back to the fridge and glances about the shelves nearly mischievous as he tosses her an apple— that she didn't ask for. The stoner has a semi-sensitive streak to him.

"It could be good if you wanted it to be," he notes, idly. "Believe me I wouldn't want to live in Sterling Boyce's body if I had the choice now. The guy is effin' crazy, buuuuuuut I have ways to compensate." He whistles before taking another crunchy bite of the apple.

"And you're not alone. You may not have to be here… buuuuuuuut.. I kind of do. It's not too hellish. Especially now that I get out on good behaviour from time to time…"

She catches the apple neatly with her off hand, given the right is holding a cup of coffee. Her brows dip and she glances down, a little sheepishly.

"I'm sorry, Boyce. I guess I have no reason to complain, you're right." The words are sincere — there's always someone more screwed than she is, and she did have the choice in coming to the Institute. The alternative was no more attractive, granted, but the choice was hers.

Was it the right choice?

She sighs. "You did a good job the other day, by the way," Veronica says, taking a bite of the apple. She glances at the refrigerator and shakes her head. "You can't leave? Except on cases? That blows. Tell you what — I can go get some sort of food resembling something remotely festive and we can be not alone on Christmas together."

”I’m not totally stuck but people don’t actually trust Boyce himself… the rest of us are okay— even if Jack and Charles hate me…” his eyes narrow a little. “And honestly, I wouldn’t trust that man either. He really is effin’ crazy.” That’s the beauty of splitting someone’s mind.

”Thanks! Yeah, I normally don’t get to play action hero… glad I didn’t shoot you— sorry about that! Next time I’ll just hold the gun and try to look menacing, I’m pretty sure that’s all I’m capable of…” And then as an aside he quips. ”Annnnnd… I have dessert,” his eyebrows lift expectantly. “I mean, if you like chocolate… special delicious chocolate… mmmmmm…”

"We can follow up with a visit to the shooting range, maybe," Veronica says with an actual and rare smile that brings the dimples to her cheeks. "All right. Gimme a couple of hours to go see what I can drudge up and …"

She glances around at the room with a wrinkled nose. "Where do you stay? I can probably say I need you for an investigation and get you out for the day. I'm at the Octagon, so it's not far."

"Ha! I need the practice. One day I will rock the world with my mad shooting skills and everyone will be the envy of Grayer Merck because I'll be able to crack like ANY password, break into most level five security system, and be able to hit the broad side of the barn. Or a car. Maybe I should aim for a car." Boyce grins deeply as he nods. "I would love to get out of here if you could make it fly and honestly, as long as nothing… uh… dire happens, I'm probably sticking around. Especially if I bring dessert."

The Octagon Veronica's Apartment

Christmas dinner wasn't the best meal ever eaten — a hodgepodge thrown-together meal based on whatever markets and delis Veronica could find still open at 3 p.m. on Christmas day, consisting of sugar-glazed ham, mashed potatoes, rolls, salad, and cornbread stuffing that would go more with a turkey than ham, but beggars can't be choosers. The best part of course is that it was served on paper plates, so there's nothing to wash after.

Veronica seems cheerier, at any rate, curled up in the corner of her sofa of her own living room — the place looks barely lived in, because it barely is. White sofa, black furniture, DVDs upon DVDs in the entertainment cabinet that never get watched, a plasma TV on the wall that is only ever turned on for background noise, to try to drown out the silence of the apartment when she is alone there.

This is the first time anyone has been in it besides her.

"Ugh. I'm so full," Veronica confesses, pushing away the plate that still has a too-large serving of everything on it. "And now I'm going to have to run an extra couple of miles tomorrow morning."

The moment he managed to step outside the Institute, Boyce had an attitude of merriment. His entire demeanour changed. While Grayer-Boyce is not one to be in a sullen mood, everything in his expression became alight at the exit. In fact, being outside the building’s walls had a very positive effect on him nearly immediately, his eyes brightened, his smile extended, and his steps lost their heaviness.

He’d insisted on bringing his brownies with him, even through the grocery store romp to track down food, and he’d been actually helpful in choosing their apparent ‘feast’, wandering the grocery store like a kid in a candy store.

Finally having finished dinner he lounges opposite Veronica on the couch as his eyes flit to the television, “That is awesome, by the way. I bet if I wanted to I could get you free specialty tv! I’m like a whiz with the electrical objects! Seriously! I once programmed my remote to like turn on the lights and stuff too which is totally possible! I could totally vamp up this place! It could be the shiz!!”

Those words said he’s pushing his box of brownies towards her, “Okay. So… because I think you’re awesome and not one of those Institute drone types that only likes me around to track that computer hacker thing, I’m going to tell you… they’re pot brownies. They contain the good stuff.” He raises his hands defensively, “I live at the— “ realizing he’s outside it’s walls he actually uses the real swear “— fucking Institute. SO. I have the good drugs to make it through. And… this is good stuff! This is like the stuff people would give up any other vice for…”

Veronica isn't innocent or naive by any means, but she was a very good child with everything going for her and her eye on a future that she wasn't willing to risk by getting in trouble with drugs in her youth. After that, she was a very good student in a criminal justice major, not willing to risk her chance at the best positions by messing with drugs.

In short, while she's been very drunk many, many times in her life, she's never been stoned.

Her eyes drop to the box and she gives a slight shake of her head, lips curving into a smile as one hand comes up to decline politely. "That's really nice of you, Boyce, to share your good stuff with me and all, but…" But what? They're Institute — she's pretty sure she can get out of any possession charges if they fell on her. She's in her own home, and it's Christmas, and while good food and amusing company has kept her demons at bay for the last couple of hours, they are still there, waiting to press in on her.

This might keep them at bay just a little longer.

"Ah, screw it," she mutters, and picks one up, dark eyes looking up at him before she takes a bite.

There's a very satisfied smile when Veronica bites into the pot brownie. TOTAL WIN. Boyce nods emphatically as he takes one and bites into the ooey gooey brownie that literally drips with chocolate icing. His smile grows considerably under the taste of chocolate in his mouth. "I'm telling you… special brownies are the only way to live! They're better than just smoking up sometimes even. Like… no smell. No obvious evidence. I remember the days when I used to uh… hide it. But then I discovered pot brownies. I’m telling you, this stuff works wonders.”

Part of Veronica knows this is stupid — potentially dangerous even — but she bites into the brownie and chews. "Make that like five extra miles tomorrow, now," she says, regarding the extra calories from the dessert. One hand reaches for a remote control on the coffee table, flipping on the plasma television and changing channels until she finds something that isn't about Christmas or about the state of the world.

Choices are slim, but she finally settles on Avatar. "I haven't seen this, have you?" she asks, nodding toward the screen, the movie just beginning.

By the time the movie is ending, Veronica is giggling, tears in her eyes borne of mirth, not sorrow. "When is Gargamoyle coming in?" she asks, reaching for another brownie out of the mostly-empty box.

Rubbing his eyes, Boyce leans forward and reaches for one of the few brownies left, munching on it rather happily. “I dunno, but man, that movie needs more Smurfette! Can you imagine how many boyfriends that chick must have?! She’s like the only woman in a village full of male blue things. ALso I can’t figure out why the smurfs” or really, in actuality, the Avatars, “ride birds. I would ride an elephant. Two feet always on the ground!”

Deciding not to finish the rest of the brownie, it’s haphazardly flung towards the tv, but he has no aim, so it hits the wall. “That movie needed more Gargamoyle. More Smurfette. Less birds.” His eyebrows arch. “I hate birds. They’re just like… ‘Cah! Cah Cah!! Imma eat yer head while yer not lookin’.’” He nods sagely.

"Fucking birds," Veronica agrees, turning the television off with a lift of the remote and rubbing her eyes. "What's worse is robot birds. Like chickens. Not like that show on TV with the action figures, but real robot chickens." She shudders, then stretches — boots have long been cast off and her sock-clad feet are curled beneath her on the sofa.

One hand stretching out knocks him in the head, and her eyes widen before she snorts with laughter. "Sorry!" There's a smudge of chocolate icing on his temple. "Oh, hold on, let me get that."

She rises to her knees to move across the sofa closer, rubbing at the chocolate, brow furrowed with concentration. "I think I just got it more in your hair…"

”Duuuuuuuuuude! ROBOT BIRDS THAT EAT YOUR FACE!!!!” Boyce’s eyes widen dramatically while he leans forward to rest his elbows on his knees, moving closer towards him. “Scariest. FUCKING. Birds. EVER.” His face flushes a slight pink while she gets that smudge of chocolate. “Whoooooops. I… didn’t… “ he shoots her a cutesy sheepish smile while he frames his face, giving his best Vogue Madonna impression.

His eyelashes bat equally sheepishly while his face flushes further and he leans closer to her, mirroring her look of concentration. He snickers while he reaches towards her chin, closing the little bit of sofa distance between them. “You have a dallop of chocolate yourself…”

"Do I? Don't eat my face…" Veronica says, finding that immensely funny as she giggles again, tipping her chin upward even as her eyes close. Somewhere, a little clouded, the logical part of her knows this is a mistake, but the lightedhead, giddy part of her speaks louder right now, loud enough to be heard:

"Shut up and kiss me," she whispers to Boyce. Because it's Christmas, and she doesn't want to be alone with nothing but the plasma television to keep her company.

Like Veronica, this is incredibly funny to Boyce. His fingers gently smudge the chocolate away with a simple shift of two fingers, which then, carefully run down her chin. It’s the softest touch as he lifts her chin slightly while his breath runs warm along her skin.

He leans downwards at the request, his lips softly press against hers. Even in his altered state there’s something sweet about that first faint brush of lips, soft and smooth against hers. Within short order, however, his arms enfold her waist, tugging her closer, tightly to him while the kiss is given full depth.

Intoxication has led Veronica into various "office flings" throughout her time with the Company. This is the first time under the influence of marijuana, and the first time with a member of the Institute. It's a bad idea in so many ways — waking up in the morning, Veronica will take a look at the very strange stranger in her bed and undoubtedly rue this moment.

For now, though, the touch of another person's lips to hers is a siren's song she can't resist. There is laughter to share. Pleasure to share.

Another person to hold on to, if only for the night.

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