A World Of Opportunities


alice_icon.gif graeme_icon.gif stone_icon.gif

Scene Title A World of Opportunities
Synopsis Graeme Cormac goes in search of the elusive Deveaux Society.
Date February 15, 2011

Lower East Side

36 Gramercy Park East

Nestled between the taller highrise buildings of Manhattan's lower east side is one of the neighborhood's best kept secrets…

36 Gramercy Park Easy rises just fourteen stories from the street, a whitewashed building bristling with scowling stone gargoyles, its entrance flanked by ice-crusted and snow-decked suits of armor on tall marble slabs. Directly across from the wintry scene of Gramercy Park, this midrise building is easily obscured by its taller neighbors that surround it. From the street, though, the tall white building with baroque sensibilities and a 1940s charm seems an imposing sight.

With the brief glimpse of spring now gone, bone-chilling cold and high winds have come to assail New York City again. While the sun is out and bright in the clear sky, it doesn't feel like the city is getting its warmth. Cold radiates from every stone surface of the city, carried on the frigid wind that stings skin and reddens cheeks. The pedestrians out today move quickly, bundled up in heavy winter coats and scarves.

A taxi cab idles on the curb out front of 36 Gramercy Park, a bicycle courier whipping past nearly clipped by the door as it swings open. A darkly dressed gentleman with slim build and middling brown hair hops out of the cab and looks in the direction of the courier whipping past. Clutching a leather briefcase under one arm, he hastily makes his way towards the front steps of the tall, white building, nearly bowling right into a man walking on the street.

Sidestepping just in time to avoid a collision, the pale-eyed Iranian offers up a gloved hand in apology towards the gentleman he nearly stepped into. "Sorry, I'm— terribly sorry." Graeme Cormac may have narrowly avoided a collision on the way to satisfy his curiosity, but he's not yet aware just how little he actually avoided.

Offering a meager smile, the man that nearly ran straight into Graeme tips his head into an apologetic nod, then starts to turn for the entrance to the same building Graeme is headed to.

One of Manhattan's best kept secrets.

Graeme blinks a few times, raising his eyebrows, and offers a hint of a smile in return. Enough of a smile to be polite, at least.

Unlike most people, despite the cold, Graeme Cormac hasn't made a particular hurry of anything. The weather doesn't even seem to bother him, if how he's dressed can be any indication. He's wearing a dress shirt and a light sweater, though he does at least carry a peacoat. "Really, it's quite alright," he says, a soft bit of a drawl tinging his voice as he pauses to glance up at the building before turning towards it.

One hand slips into his pocket, fingers finding the card, his cell phone, keys, anything just for Graeme to keep a hold of, small little reminders of focus. "Right then." It's muttered to himself, and he steps up the pace, making his way to the door, with the thought that even if it's nice outside he may as well look like he'd rather be indoors.

The heavy metal-framed double doors leading into the building's lobby give way to an opulent's decorated lobby. Marble tiled flooring, cream colored walls and bronze accents are only the beginning. The ivory-colored bas reliefs of figures in action poses in Roman style along the upper border of the wall brings out a strong classical sensibility in the brightly lit entryway.

The door is held open by a dapper dressed doorman, a small gold pin on his lapel glinting in the sunlight. "Welcome to 36 Gramercy Park East," he greets with a tip of his head, then motions with one gloved hand for Graeme to head to the reception desk where a clerk is waiting.

The man that seemed in such a hurry carries on past the front desk, fumbling thorugh his coat pockets until he produces a key card that is waved in front of a proximity reader by the elevators. The doors rush open, and as he's turning around to punch in what floor he wants, there's a sudden burst of motion as the man swings an arm out and stops the elevator door from closing.

It's obvious enough that the building, the stonework and decoration, the general atmosphere of the lobby, has Graeme feeling slightly out of place. His steps slow, and he crosses over to the desk with an assurance that might not be truly felt as much as it is shown.

A half a glance is kept on the man whom he'd nearly collided with, but Graeme doesn't afford him too much more attention, instead glancing at the desk. The card is withdrawn from his pocket, smoothed over several times, and Graeme squints his eyes shut momentarily before taking the last few steps towards the reception desk. It's not like he has an appointment, or anything that would make this at all easier for him. No, he just stands there, a hint of an absent-minded smile on his face.

The wiry gentleman behind the front desk turns from the computer screen he'd been regarding to offer a silent look back to Graeme, one brow raised expectantly. Turning to fully face the younger man, there's an equal amount of awkwardness present as he tries to assess why Graeme is being so silent. After long enough to be painfully evident that he is going to have to initiate the conversation, the Clerk beings an abortive query of, "Can I help you s— "

"Mister Cormac?" Interjecting himself into the conversation, the very gentleman who had nearly plowed right into Graeme on the street shifts his briefcase to be held under his other arm, offering an inquisitive look up and down Graeme.. "It's okay he's— " the stranger turns quickly towards the clerk, "I've got this."

Setling a look back on Graeme, the stranger belatedly introduces himself, offering out a gloved hand. "Zachary Stone, sir. I'm Claudia de la Fontaine's personal assistant. Did— you call ahead and make an appointment to see her?" Something about that question makes Zachary wince.

"No, I uh…" Graeme's startled, though it shows only very briefly. It's not every day people call him by name when he's not said it, and it takes a split moment before Graeme ducks a nod in greeting, handshake an afterthought but a firm handshake nonetheless. The card is shoved back into his pocket, a second afterthought.

"I was unaware of precisely who I was here to see, actually." It took a moment, but Graeme's slid into the slight formality of dealing with someone else, such that he's now fairly composed, analytical almost. If he notices that the other man winces, there's no indication given. Graeme shifts a bit, standing there, alert. For whatever reason, the fact that it's an airy, apparently secure building just seems to make Graeme less comfortable.

Relief washes over Zachary as he exhales a withheld breath, juggling his briefcase back under the other arm. "Ah, well— that's probably for the best. Claudia's currently down in Virginia handling some business matters that required her direct attention. I ah— I'm sorry I really only glanced at your file before," his file? "Did Claudia contact you about an opportunity with us, or…"

As Zachary talks, he takes a step away from the front desk and Graeme, motioning with a nod of his head towards a large, open doorway flanked by deep red curtains that brush the floor. Beyond lies a well-appointed lounge furnished with antique chairs and tables juxtaposed against impressionist and pop art on the walls.

Graeme's gaze glances about once more, and he takes the hint, though he lets Zachary set whatever pace to walk over. The furniture gets a glance, the decoration far less of one.

"If that's what you folk call leaving a card under a coffee cup, then I suppose well yes, she did." His voice is amused, overall, even if there's a slight bit of annoyance to the statement. The words are clipped, short, but his tone is even, and Graeme's kept his hands out of his pockets so far. Which means they're not balled into fists or anything. Generally a good sign.

An apologetic noise joins the matching expression that Zachary wears as he walks thorugh the doorway into the lounge. "I'm— sorry. Claudia has this way of handling things sometimes that's a little less— business savvy?" Making headway towards where a pair of slim leather armchairs are arranged around a coffee table, Zachary motions for Graeme to take a seat. Laying his briefcase down on the table, Zachary sinks down into one of the chairs with a creak of the leather.

"I guess her intention was to pique your curiosity about us then, which— mission accomplished?" Cracking a smile, Zachary crosses one leg over the other and folds his hands in his lap. "Did she leave you any kind of instructions? Or…" lips pursing to the side, Zachary glances down to the table, then back up to Graeme. "How much do you know about the Deveaux Society, mister Cormac?"

"Probably far less than you seem to know about me," Graeme responds, sitting down. Jacket is thrown across his knees, and he then leans forward. There's some amount of curiosity in his expression, curiosity he's not truly meaning to show. "Since you seem to know a fair deal." It's an attempt at humour, though the drawl might disguise it more than he intends.

He does chuckle quietly, before reaching up to rub his forehead.

"Appearances, are, ah— deceiving," Zachary opines with a crooked smile. "Honestly I just recognized your face from Claudia's work files. It's my job to keep them in order but— I rarely browse, that's really now, um. It's not usually safe." Clearing his throat, Zachary closes a fist at his mouth, shifting awkwardly in his seat.

"Well— in the interests of openness… The Deveaux Society is a philanthropic organization that donates to worthwhile charitable causes. We… have a humanitarian-focus in world events, and while we're not a particularly large organization we're funded by the money left behind by Simone Deveaux in her will to carry out the Society's ends." Sliding his tongue across his lips, Zachary re-folds his hands over one knee, then looks across the table ot Graeme.

"My job is to scout for notable talent or persons of interest for the Society with the intentions of giving them opportunities that they may not normally, ah, be aware of or otherwise explore in the interest of forwarding acceptance and the betterment of our kind." Our kind.

Graeme nods, interest clearly piqued. "Glad I'm recognisable," he says. There's a bit of a grin on his face. Eyebrows raise ever so slightly at the word our. Graeme's fingers splay over his knees, and he sits there, quiet a moment though clearly considering wording.

"Far more than I'd been able to um … find, by looking," he admits, shifting restlessly. Sitting still isn't his strong point, and his pulls his phone from his pocket in order to simply turn it over in his hands, repeatedly. The question isn't asked of why he's of any interest, though.

"Well— ah," Clearing his throat awkwardly, Zachary leans forward, uncrossing his legs, letting his arms come to rest over his legs. "Without knowing exactly what Claudia may have had in mind for you, there's only so much I'll be able to do today. If you're interested in following up with us on opportunities pertaining to… humanitarian causes in the city, I should probably get your phone number. I don't— think we had anything recent on file, at— all."

Unbuttoning the front of his wool pea coat, Zachary retrieves a smartphone from inside, sliding his thumb along the screen and them tapping in a brief key code. Looking up and across the divide of the table to Graeme, Zachary arches one brow slowly. "Furthermore if… I guess if you could let me know if you'd be interested in following up with— "

"Mister Stone you're so very unnecessary," comes from behind where Graeme is sitting, from the approach of a severe-looking old woman with swept back blonde hair and sharply sculpted eyebrows. Pale, blue eyes settle over Zachary's shoulder, and with arms crossed over her chest the old woman regards the pair like a reprimanding teacher might.

"Miss— Miss Shaw, I— " Zachary looks taken aback by the woman's appearance in the lounge. Alice Shaw rolls one shoulder, the creak of her tan leather jacket a subtle noise as she cranes her head to the side and raiseso ne brow expectantly, as if waiting for Zachary to leave.

"No of course you didn't," Graeme mutters quietly. There's a glint of amusement in his eyes. Many aspects of his life happen to be public, but his phone number has been something that he's careful to make sure isn't one of them.

Then, biting back surprise, Graeme leans back ever so slightly, as to be able to observe both the woman who arrived and the man he'd been speaking with at the time. He doesn't appear to be particularly intimidated, though. "Good afternoon." The greeting is pleasant, respectful.

Whatever it is that Stone nows that Graeme doesn't likely is what inspires the assistant's escape from his chair, slipping out and up to a stand, sidestepping and reaching out to snatch up his briefcase quickly before offering an awkward bow of his head as he steps back away from the chair. Alice's intention is clear as she circles around the table, offering Graeme a fond smile that crinkles crow's feet at the corners of her eyes.

"Don't mind Zachary, mister Cormac, he's hired help." Blue eyes flit to regard Zachary askance, as if wordlessly dismissing him, before she folds herself down into a seat in the chair, lounging to one side, elbow planted on the armrest and cheek in her palm languidly. "My name is Alice Shaw, I'm one of the representatives of the Deveaux Society, and I'm pleased to get the opportunity to meet you. Claudia was impressed with your background and… all vagueries aside, we're here to give you an opportunity."

Reaching up to her leather jacket, Claudia tugs down the zipper so as to reach into an interior pocket. She comes back out with a business card, holding it up between two fingers. "I presume you received one of these?" It's the same Card that had brought Graeme here in the first place.

The man nods. "Yes, more or less," he says. Along with a piece of paper, but he had only brought the business card with him. His brows raise at the mention of his background, though, and he shifts in his seat, slightly uncomfortable, doesn't bother to fish out the card from his pocket. "Please, just Graeme."

A glance away, before Graeme is looking back, looking at the woman now across from him with that same vaguely analytical look that he'd given Zachary earlier.

Zachary himself didn't flee far, still within eyesight but probably not earshot thorugh the doorway into the lobby, waiting at the front desk. Alice leans forward, lacing her fingers together under her chin, elbows on her knees as she considers Graeme. "You have a functional college education, you're Registered, and you're on an intellectual level that can appreciate the fundamentally flawed nature of this country's system of management for people like you and I."

Shifting to rest her chin on one palm, Alice regards Graeme thoughtfully. "if I ask you a relatively personal question," she begins, her voice a bit more hushed than before, "I'd like you to answer honestly if you could?" It's all rhetorical, in truth, because Alice has no intention of waiting for Graeme to answer that before posing her real question.

"Forcible relocation of the Evolved can't be far down the road, if history repeats itself…" One of Alice's thin brows raises towards her hairline. "What do you feel about that? For the protection of their kind, the country wants to segregate the Evolved away from elements like Humanis First— or… whatever. Segregation to quarantine against deadly viruses, whatever the rationale. How does something like that happening make you feel?"

Graeme's response is modulated, careful, the way he acts in front of people rather than letting more than mere interest show. "My background should make clear that I don't believe the government has the answers, Miz Shaw," Graeme responds, the drawl clipped by the fact that he's still uncomfortable overall. His feelings are left out of it, entirely, buried behind the careful mask reserved for dealing with difficult people and/or situations. "At least, not the way they're going at the moment. There is, as I'm sure you know, historical evidence to back the theories which suggest any population in forcible isolation will not thrive. The same historical evidence that suggests what's coming, I am aware."

"That's not what I asked," Alice is quick to point out, blue eyes narrowing a touch in the sentiment. "I didn't ask you about some… statistic or political strategy. I asked you how the idea of people like you being… carted up, moved against their will and corralled," there's a personal agenda in her words, the way she phrases things. There's bias. "I asked you how it makes you feel. Not what history says, not what other people might think. I want to know what it's like…" one of Alice's hands motions to her chest, "in here for you, when you think about the images of razorwire fences for our protection."

Lips pressing together in a thin line, Alice seems intently investigative about something as personal and presumably trivial as emotions. "I don't want to know what your head says, I want to know what your heart feels— unfiltered."

Graeme purses his lips, tilts his head to one side. There's a bit of an edge to his voice when he speaks again, after a moment of pause. There's bitterness behind it, too. Eyebrows raise slightly. "I don't like any of it, Miz Shaw, and beyond that, you'll have to pardon me if I tend to keep my feelings somewhat quiet." He shrugs, a bit.

"And I know that sure as hell either way, such things are never really for the protection of those inside." He shakes his head, just a little, looking up. Shoulders drop very slowly. "I don't like it."

There's disappointment when whatever was boiling inside of Graeme is kept bottled up, and Alice seems to visibly slouch at the notion. She lets the momentum carry her backwards slowly, bracing a few fingers from one hand against her right temple. "I know this may seem a bit strange, Graeme…" her brows lift on speaking his name, emphasizing that she's no lomger addressing him so formally. "But I'd like to posit a challenge to you."

Full of anxious energy for a woman her age, Alice leans away from her hand, sitting forward again with her hands folded at her knees. "I'd like you to make contact with a woman that Claudia should have pointed you in the direction of. Her name is Ygraine FitzRoy, and she does some charitable work on her own. I think, right now, she's probably looking for people like you to fill out some side projects she's working on."

Toying at her bottom lip with her teeth, Alice looks Graeme up and down. "When your comfortable with the work she does, you should ask her about the work she performs for her sailing club. They're a good, close-knit group… very proactive." There's a crooked corner of Alice's mouth that rises into a smile. "Have you ever been sailing, Graeme? I'd like to one day…"

"Miss FitzRoy is currently inside of the Dome," Graeme says. "It's a bit hectic in there, from what I understand. I haven't spoken to her in several days, unfortunately." Worry creeps into his voice, unwarranted. Perhaps the largest display of emotion of the time that he's been talking with her, actually.

He leans back, watches Alice. His fingers drum against his leg, and there's a bit of a smile on his face, as he does so. Mental notes, for a bit, before straightening with a bit of a shrug. "I have to admit I've never been sailing," he says, a little more relaxed and no longer with quite the careful control of his voice. "Most of my more … active endeavors are very firmly on land."

"Is she?" That much seems news to Alice, and news that troubles her some. "Unfortunately I don't know if I can be of much help with that situation, but…" Alice arches one brow thoughtfully, pressing her hands to her knees and rising up from the chair. "I think she might like some company, given what predicament she's in. A friend on the outside can sometimes do more than on the inside. You should try to make contact with her again, see if there's anything she needs help with."

Looking down to where Graeme is seated, Alice offers out her hand to him, politely. "I like you, Graeme, even if you're a bit uncomfortable in your own skin. You'll grow out of that yet. You passed, which means I'll be in touch in the future… however far away that happens to be."

Passed what?

Graeme rises to his feet, easily. He bites his lower lip, then smiles, taking her hand, with a firm but gentle handshake as if he's slightly afraid she might break, or something like that. "Something like that, yeah." There's worry in his voice, and on his face, again, but it's but a flash of it this time.

It takes a moment, but Graeme digs slightly through a pocket of his jacket, drawing out a card to offer over. Admittedly, one that says he still works for Grants-Cibola County School District, but with the no longer up to date information crossed out so that only the current information remained. "Well, I look forward to it." Once more, he smiles.

Taking Graeme's card, Alice turns it over in consideration. It's been a long time since someone handed her a card like this, and the notion draws a rueful smile to her lips. "I'll make sure Zachary gets this," she explains, keeping it pressed between two fingers as her hand lowers down to her side. As she steps away from Graeme, Alice motions towards the exit of the lounge and offers a crooked smile to the younger man.

"Also, in the future? Be mindful of the games Claudia plays, she's sneaky… even if she means well about it." The card is folded into Alice's palm, and as she turns to head towards the door she had come out earlier — deeper in the lounge — she turns and offers a piece of advice over her shoulder to Graeme.

"You can never fully trust anyone these days." she opines with one brow raised.

"Be careful out there."

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