Dangerous Games


devon2_icon.gif elisabeth_icon.gif graeme2_icon.gif

Scene Title Dangerous Games
Synopsis Devon brings his strange proposals to the table, consulting Liz and Graeme which card to lay down next.
Date May 16, 2011

Corner Bistro

No meeting at Central Park this time, but a small bistro claiming a street corner. The street front seating is nearly empty at the moment, though covered, the rain has enticed most patrons to fill the inside tables though the open air dining is sheltered from the light drizzle. The street is fairly quiet, few pedestrians more intent on getting from A to B while hunched under umbrellas or upturned collars.

Devon's call wasn't sent first thing in the morning, nor even late the night before. It came during an appropriate time, when normal people could be considered to be awake and going about their day. Unexplained stress and tiredness had weighed in his tone as he gave directions to the meeting point. Then in the rain he'd set out himself.

The teenager is the lone occupant of an outdoor seat. The table set closer to the building and furthest from the street where puddles are more likely to be splashed. A cup of coffee sits in front if him, hardly touched, and a spoon is held in one hand. It's not touched the coffee either, but held up to allow Devon to stare at his own warped reflection and idly examine the purple bruising that darkens one cheekbone.

Umbrellas are a terrorist's best friend. They shield one's face from passersby. Elisabeth has a large one and she's walking along under it toward him. She's surprised to find him outdoors in this weather — it's both chilly and wet. "Hey," she greets, sliding into the wet chair across from him. "You don't look so hot, kiddo. What's happening?" she asks in concern.

"Hey," Devon answers, eyes focusing past the spoon to Elisabeth. The spoon is lowered and returned to the table and a look goes over his shoulder for a quick survey of the street corner. "Far too much," he admits, turning to face her again. "Stayed at a motel last night, the studio's on lockdown not that I'm likely to be allowed back." Elbows move to rest on the table, hands lifted to rake through his hair. "And I had an interesting couple of proposals from another woman with the Institute."

Elisabeth looks worried. "Why is the studio on lockdown?" she asks, vaguely alarmed. And then that concern is derailed by Institute chatter! "Jesus H. Christ on a crutch, Devon," she hisses. "How many Institute people do you fucking know???" And can she put a bullet in ANY of them to stop some of the madness?

Lowering his head so that it rests in his hands, Devon shrugs and looks slightly defensive. "I didn't know the second one was connected to the Institute," he states quietly. "And I only found out that the first was a month or two ago. Hell, it's not like I go around associating with the white coats who want to go find out what makes us tick and how to exploit us. I'd just as soon raze any building that's got them housed just to see how they'd react."

"Well, whether you mean to or not, you sure as hell have a talent for it," Elisabeth retorts, though not sharply. "So tell me about your proposals and then tell me why the studio is locked down," she urges softly.

"She's asked me to… I'm not even sure." Devon lowers one hand and looks toward Liz. "She knows how to work with viruses, it's her ability. Not something she learned in school. She knows how to make a vaccine for this new flu and she wants to …basically bring herself to sainthood by using my connections to get her onto Brad's show. And by proxy, make better of myself for being the one to 'find' her." He leans back in his chair, hands folding in his lap. "And there's more, that she's decided can easily tie into the first so that neither of our reputations are hurt."

Elisabeth's beyond alarmed. "Her ability is viruses?" she asks. "And she works for the Institute? Fuck," she swears under her breath. "Oh that is so far beyond not good." She listens intently, worry clear in her expression.

"Viruses," the teenager repeats. He draws a hand to his face, fingers pressing against the bridge of his nose and eyes flinching. "I can't tell you exactly what it is, but she gets total understanding of virus or whatever. And with that, she can also know how to destroy it. Which is good, but her understanding of it on such a level, and working for the Institute, is…" His hand lowers, and his expression is clouded with troubled thoughts.

"The other part," Devon resumes, his brows drawing together, "was a more personal request. But that it ties into her, her so-called work, and the Institute I… It's insane." He looks down at his coffee and lets out a steadying breath. "She asked me to… to act. To court her and… She's got this student or whatever, he's been on The Advocate a few times as a panelist. She doesn't want his affections and wants to use me to redirect him back to her tutelage."

Elisabeth eyes him. "Sooo….. okay, first thing…" She pauses. "Are you asking me if you should, uhm, … comply? I'm not exactly in the business of pimping out teenagers," she says somewhat derisively.

"I don't know." Devon lets out another breath, part sigh and part unsure whine. "I don't know. I mean… It would… could lend opportunity to learn something. But… It's… there's risks and exposure…" And a hundred other bad things he could probably name. "I don't know what… Why she'd ask that… Either thing."

Leaning forward, the teenager wraps his hands around his coffee mug, forearms resting on the table. Though he doesn't venture to taste the drink, simply holds the vessel tightly between his hands. "I… I asked her for time to think but I don't think there is time. Kristen Reynolds is sick, with the new flu. I think. Something the… that was said…" That Kincaid said, though how he knows the assistant producer's knowledge is another secret all together. "I'm almost certain of it and… If there's a chance for a vaccine…" Another sigh and one hand releases its death grip on the mug only to scrub through his hair. "I don't know…"

Elisabeth has her own inside knowledge of certain things about Studio K. "Shit," she says succinctly. "So the studio's locked down with one of the non-evo techs inside, quarantined? Shit." She sighs heavily rubbing her forehead. "Look…. I realize that you are more than capable of dealing with any problem that gets thrown at you." The blonde has been a teacher and a cop in this city for years — she's seen teens better able to cope than adults, though their judgement is often in question. "But here's the thing. The woman who approached you about the viruses — why the fuck would she do that? If she knows how to destroy it, all she'd have to do is show up at any hospital and do like Abby used to do — or Christ, start 'healing' people of the virus out on the streets even. She wants to do this publicly…. and she wants it out of the Institute's eyes until it's too late. Why?" She frowns. "It doesn't sound like it's because she's figured out that the Institute is a bunch of fuckers. For all we know, she's the one they've had working on this damn strain — which again brings us around to the question of why the fuck she'd approach you. No offense intended, but you're not in any way high profile in all this. Why not go to Russo herself?"

"Studio K is on lockdown with Kristen Reynolds and her assistant maybe inside." Devon pushes his coffee mug aside, the liquid arching up and seeping over the top in the motion. "No one gets in, and at this point I don't know where Ms. Reynolds is or if she's even alive." The image of the producer violently coughing up blood is on par with some of the sights he'd witnessed in the Dome, and not easily forgotten. Drawing his hands back to himself, his arms fold over his chest, shoulders hunching.

"Why is what I've been asking since she brought it up." Devon eyes the coffee mug as though the answers were there, a frown implying threat to the container for withholding the secrets. "There's something going on. Something… I don't know. And why me? Because I'm Brad's assistant? Because I'm low profile and that could be what she wants. I just… What do I do? I… there isn't time to weigh the risks but moving too quickly could be just as bad." His eyes lift from the cup to look at Liz, teeth hooking onto his lower lip.

Elisabeth doesn't have the mind for chess that her lover had. She shakes her head and says quietly, "No, there's not." She clenches her jaw and her blue eyes study the boy in front of her, for that's really all he is. He is a boy. And he's asking her to make the call. "Tell her you'll do it," she finally says quietly. "I do not expect you to whore yourself. Go as far as your conscience allows. But I want ….. no. I need to know everything you can tell me about this woman."

Tipping his head back, Devon's hand hooks on the back of his own neck. He can't rightfully say he wouldn't have made the same call, with too many variables to weigh. But out of the frying pan and into the fire it would seem is where he's going. "Fuuuh," he breathes, not quite a complaint but the layers of frustration are tucked away in the syllable. "Her name… Ironically is Doctor Elvira Blite. Goes by Yana and lives at Dorchester Towers. I …she's with the Institute." That's already been said, but his mind snags at it anyway.

Graeme approaches slowly. Odin is with him, following at a pace behind with a leash that's short but not too short, though by now the man doesn't actually need the leash to have the Great Dane stay with him. Still, something about the confidence with which Graeme walks has it that the dog's presence hasn't been challenged. Or maybe it's simply the fact that the dog, who is quiet and well mannered, is the size of a miniature horse and follows the man very, very protectively. There's a cup of coffee in hand, and he pulls a chair up to the table that Elisabeth and Devon are at, sitting down, and Odin, without prompting, lays down as close to under the table and out of the way as possible.

"Sorry that I couldn't make it sooner," he says, quiet. "Stuff came up." There's no more elaboration given, but the tone of voice implies that it was probably something that he needed to do at the bookstore. It's a fond tone of voice, rather than anything particularly aggravated or such, but apologetic nonetheless. "I really would have been here sooner if I could have."

The name brings Elisabeth up short. That's the second time this week her name has come up, and in conjunction with the non-evo flu. And now she learns the woman's ability is viruses. Oh. Good. Christ. She's not sure there EXIST two degrees of separation in this town for fuck's sake. The blonde merely facepalms. "Fuuuuuuuck," she sighs. And then she looks up as Graeme comes to the table with his horse — er, dog. That she scritches idly because his head's on level with her shoulder. "No worries, you didn't miss much," Elisabeth retorts. "I'm becoming a pimp," she informs him, wrapping the table in a silence bubble. "Jesus, I don't even know what to say about this, Devon."

"I know, right," Devon asks rhetorically. He glances toward Graeme, long enough for recognition to light in before tipping his head forward again. Adolescently, he rocks forward enough until it thuds against the tabletop. Twice, three times he knocks his forehead against the surface. "Fuuuck," he whines quietly. "There's something about her that… She's like the Cheshire Cat. And just… fuck. I can't have this following me home either."

Both of them cursing. Graeme's eyebrows furrow, worriedly, but then he nods, simply looking at the teenager with mild worry showing on his face as the teenager's forehead meets the table. It's something that he does … understand, at the very least. But not a method of dealing with frustration, either. "The two times I met her, I didn't like her very much," he says, quietly, reaching into a side pocket of his messenger bag to pull out a treat for Odin as he reaches down to pet the dog. "Good, stay," he murmurs, the second the tone of voice that the Great Dane responds to commands in, the dog taking the treat in a rather lazy and yet still quiet manner. And then, perhaps on an afterthought, the next thing Graeme murmurs to the dog, audible in the silence bubble. "Watch." Then he turns back to the people. "Wasn't sure why. But I really and truly don't like her."

Elisabeth's sigh is heavy. "Honestly, when I met her I thought she knew something about the bomb," she says. "She acted like it. But other than that, I have nothing on this." She looks at Devon. "If you don't want to do this, don't," she insists. "The Institute is not a group to fuck with. You can leave that to me." She'll screw Zeke's work into the ground if she can.

"There's something not right with her," Devon points out yet again. "Just… she's too smiley, too smooth. It… I don't know!" Sitting up again, hands lacing behind his neck, he looks at Graeme and then Liz. "No. Fuck no. You might be an awesome ninja-woman but you can't be everywhere at once. I've already told you I'm in this war. It's just…" Letting out a breath, the teen bows his head, elbows pressing together like some oversized vice on his head. "I got people I need to watch out for too. I'm doing it, just… I don't know how."

It's the first time Graeme's heard it pointed out. "I have to agree with that. I still didn't figure out what the hell Ms. Blite," and Graeme pointedly doesn't use the woman's title, though he never does use people's titles, slow drawl pensive and thoughtful, "was trying to 'accomplish' at the date auction." It's a random thought, voiced, and then Graeme falls silent again, picking up his cup of coffee.

Despite the command that Odin had been given to watch, assumedly to watch for anyone coming by, the dog crawls (because if he stood, he'd be taller than the table, and somehow he seems to know this) and settles across the length of the table with his head resting heavily against Devon's leg.

"Being part of this fight doesn't mean letting the monsters eat you, Devon," Elisabeth retorts. "I'd far prefer that you both stayed close to Russo, if possible. I have someone I want to send to see him and I need you to be sure they get in," she tells Devon mildly. "This little pursuit of Yana's…. " She purses her lips. "If you can play along to help her divert her student, great. But be cautious of anything else she offers. Especially considering she's sitting there getting ready to let people get sick just to tout her own ability. That said, however…. her little plan segues into mine very nicely if I can get it to work in tandem." She looks thoughtful. "Planting Cardinal as the martyr who lost his life to this and her as someone stepping forward to help develop a flu vaccine…. having that working together at the same time could turn the tide of public opinion on Evos."

The teenager's eyes open to find a dog's head resting in his lap, but he only stares at it dispassionately. "I can't very well get into the studio, let alone see Russo anymore," he points out again. "I may no longer have a job there. Whatever Mister August said, I doubt security'll let me in again any time soon." Yet another card from his hand on the table. "And I haven't seen Brad since… fucking… shortly after Coyote Sands." Ignoring poor Odin, Devon lifts his head to look between Graeme and Liz. "She was trying to accomplish something there. Something… It wasn't her costume, but that's what she claimed."

Tilting her head, Elisabeth invites softly, "Elaborate." His perspective is the only one she has.

Elaborate. Devon's mind grasps at the concept, though he looks at Elisabeth as though she spoke a foreign language. "Kristen Reynolds, in all her sickness and bloody froth, fired me," he says slowly. Then to elaborate, "And security saw me holding her down so Kincaid could get her to take some Nyquil or something. As for Coyote Sands, don't ask. I don't know what that was about."

With a drawn out sigh, he rubs a hand over the back of his neck. "She had this look." Devon lifts one shoulder into a shrug. "Like she said something she hadn't meant, and covered it with a smile. The accomplishment just didn't fit with her attitude."

At Elisabeth's request to elaborate, Graeme becomes more attentive again, having stared off into space. After the teenager finishes speaking, it's his turn, and he turns, addressing Devon first. "If she's sick, then what she's saying probably isn't her in her right mind, and don't worry about it until after she gets better as far as whether or not you still have a job."

A pause, and then it's Graeme's turn to elaborate. "I was working that night, not just attending to have fun, though I did have fun," he says. "And I am not sure what about it, but Yana's behaviour was one of those things that didn't jive right. I wasn't the only one who noticed, and we kept an eye on her all night, but aside from possibly bumping into people too much, there wasn't much she actually did that either I or anyone else working security could tell. And she didn't have enough to drink to warrant the number of times she bumped into people or lightly touched shoulders when she could have gotten through the crowd without excusing herself just fine."

Graeme's brows furrow. "I don't know. Like I said. I really didn't like her, the way she was carrying herself. I'd walked a few steps back, after Devon introduced me, to be able to pay attention to my radio, and then she muttered something about having accomplished part of what she came there for. And I dunno, but it didn't seem like she was talking about drinking, or socialising, or anything pertinent. And we kept an eye on her after that, but there was nothing overly odd beyond being odd."

With a frown, Elisabeth considers. "If her ability is touch-based or something, maybe she was …. checking them for viruses or something?" she asks. It's something she's never considered, the possibility that someone could do that. But then again… she never thought about the idea that a dream manipulator could make 36 kids commit suicide either until it happened. "Christ," she sighs. Looking at Devon, she says softly, "I don't know what to tell you. This is going to be a dangerous game you're playing. I wish she'd asked someone older than you… I'd feel more confident in asking them to walk into this. I feel like a bit more…. social experience… might serve better. But that may be why she chose you — because you don't have it."

"Checking for? Maybe. Somehow, that seems a little too innocent of intentions, but god if I know what she was actually doing," Graeme says, then pausing again.

Odin pushes his head against Devon's leg once more, a low whine of canine concern.

Thumb and index finger press into Devon's eyes, moving inward to pinch at his nose. His brows furrow slightly, but a slow and steady exhale is allowed escape before he speaks again. "Every game is dangerous," he points out, quietly. "But that's the life of a terrorist. Shit." His hand draws upward, scrubbing over forehead and hair as he peers at the dog, unsure of the beast. "I'll…" The teenager begins, lifting a still troubled gaze back to Liz and Graeme. "I'll wing it. She's older, but… I'm… I've been around peers older than me my whole life. I can make it work."

At Devon's ignoring, Odin finally gives up, and goes to shove his head against Liz's lap instead. There, at least, the dog is more certain that he'll receive some amount of attention. The low whine of concern, however, continues.

Elisabeth scritches the beast while they talk. And she smiles just a hint at Devon. "You are a rebel. Not a terrorist. By definition a terrorist is someone use systematically uses terror as a means of coercion. Arguably that's what we're doing by outing the truth…. the trick is that the only people to whom the truth is a threat are people who have something to hide," she says quietly. "It's a slippery slope, to be sure. But you haven't crossed it." Yet.

A single brow arches as Devon looks at Liz. He might argue, considering his own connections and acceptance that violence is a necessary means when people won't listen, balanced only by his lack of haste. "Terrorist is a government given label slapped on rebels," he says mildly, that brow raising slightly more. A twist on the words he'd shared the first time he'd spoken to Elisabeth. "I'm in this for the long haul," he continues, "whether it works or not. I'm already committed to "being a rebel"."

Nodding, she moves to stand up. "Then get to it. And feel free to text me any reports you may have. You have the number," Elisabeth tells him. "Let's try not to make three face-to-faces in five days a habit, shall we? It's a good way to get you hauled into Evo Gitmo," she murmurs. Dropping a hand on Graeme's shoulder as she slides by him, she says, "I'll arrange the meeting for you for tomorrow, okay?"

"Evo gitmo would be bad," Graeme agrees. "We're not having that. Not any of it." In it for the long haul describes all of them, though, and there's a nod, before Graeme gets up, not letting Elisabeth go without a tight hug. One that looks like the standard parting of close friends, perhaps, if not for the perhaps unexpected gentle kiss on her cheek. "I have more things for you, but that'll be later. Didn't want to make you carry home the chocolate and goodies by yourself and all." He'll probably bring them by the safehouse, but it's not something that he wants to say aloud, or anything. There's a quiet nod to the comment in return, before Graeme lets her go, watching her walk away.

But he doesn't watch for too long, simply sitting down and wrapping Odin's leash around his hand with a quiet, slightly wistful and sad expression on his face. Concern for his friend, the same concern that he so often tries to hide he does nothing to, now. The dog settles back by the edge of the table, in every visible manner the image of the obedient and well behaved companion dog, which got the dog in in the first place, though Graeme said nothing and will say nothing on the subject. Picking up his coffee once more, the teacher looks over at the teenager. "We're all in this for the long haul," he murmurs.

"Yeah," Devon agrees quietly, barely more than a whisper and laden with guilt. He's well aware of the dangers of meeting, not concerned with himself so much but the risk involved in bringing a known terrorist out to meet with one not yet known. He watches the table rather than the exchange between Liz and Graeme, respect for their own needs of subtleties and space.

When Liz departs and Graeme returns to the table, Devon's eyes flick toward him, his head remaining tilted downward. "Some of us more deeply than others," he adds. Then, lowering his hand, he pushes back his sleeve to eye his watch. "I don't even know what to tell Melissa or Perry. I gotta tell them I'm not coming home for a few days though." The last is followed by a small cringe and a sigh, another adolescent example of uncertainties.

Graeme nods, biting his tongue about the arguments as far as how involved any of them are. Instead, there's a quiet mental debate of whether or not to push the teenager at the moment, as Graeme takes a sip of his coffee. In the end, the decision is made that it's gently, at least at first, testing for what response he gets.

"I'll help you cover whatever motel room you're in, and food," Graeme says. Though that's probably going to go to the credit card rather than one of the active accounts, but it's a big enough line of credit that he's not worried, and it gets paid off monthly. He reaches into his wallet, pulling out not the usual Visa, but a Discover card. "There's a 3000 dollar at a time limit on this card." It's pushed over to the teenager, without room for the teenager to refuse. "Don't skimp on things like meals."

The teenager's eyes fall to the card as it's pushed toward him, then lift to Graeme. There's definitely argument there. "You shouldn't be the one helping me," he points out without reaching for the card. He should be going to Melissa and Perry, but the lingering worry of these events following him home. He'd promised that he wouldn't bring trouble home. "I'll return however much I borrow," Devon says quietly, relenting. His eyes drop again, to the card and the table, though he still makes no more for it. "Just for a few days, until I can get Melissa and figure out how to move next."

"You're my friend," Graeme retorts quietly. "And I'm in the position to be able to help you, at the moment." The teacher is stubborn, as far as this goes, though he's not going to push the card any further towards the teenager. He'll let Devon take it in his own time. "A few days, but Mel would kill me if I let you do something like skimp on food or any of that, necessary stuff, and I don't want you drawing on your savings or anything like that. Leave that for something important, or a situation where you're on your own." Graeme pauses, and there's a quiet smile offered.

Drawing on his own savings isn't as big of a deal, at least in his own opinion. Three thousand dollars, total, out of the bigger savings account that he rarely touches is more like a drop in the metaphorical bucket. For the most part, he hasn't touched the money that his adoptive parents left him, money that was his mother's retirement and life insurance, money that had at one point been a substantial college fund that he had refused to use. "It's not a big deal." After all, Graeme had promised Devon, at one point when Devon had offered help, that he'd do the same for the teenager, and such is the situation now. He's looking out for himself, as well, though.

He's well aware of what Melissa's reaction would be if he were caught skipping meals. Even now there are times where Devon has to be reminded to eat, though those incidents are fewer and farther between. His hands scrub at his face as he continues to waffle over the offer, though he's already accepted, until finally he picks up the card. Without giving it so much as a glance, his eyes remaining on the table, he pushes it into a hip pocket. "Thanks," he murmurs.

"Don't worry about it." Graeme lets the matter drop, not wanting to push Devon too much, in such a public place without the benefit anymore of the silence field that they had while Liz was present. But he's not sure if now is the time or the place to push Devon in the first place. Instead, it's back to practical advice, as far as things go. "When you leave, go to a store. Buy soap, not just the standard stuff but Boraxo, or one of the other ones, the harsher soaps. Buy hand sanitiser or other such disinfectant meant for skin. Buy yourself new clothing. When you get back to the motel, take off the clothing you've got on, put in a plastic bag, take the hottest shower you can stand, scrub yourself as well as you possibly can, and then put on the new clothing. Take the old clothing and tie it in as many plastic bags as you can before disposing of it. And use hand sanitiser after you've dealt with it, too. Dispose of whatever you were wearing at the studio the same way. In a dumpster. Try not to let it touch any surfaces of the motel room." Not quite quarantine procedures, but probably the best that Devon will be able to manage. "Alright?"

It brings about a whole new cringe of agitation, not for the necessity or even depth of cleaning, but the nature for it's necessity. "I got it," Devon says with a sigh. Leaning forward, he places one arm against the edge of the table, the other goes to cradle his forehead, with its elbow braced just above the opposing arm. "Shit. I need to call Doctor Blite then, and give her my answer. And try to call Melissa again. —Guess I need to call Kincaid and… See if I can salvage something of a job for whatever Elisabeth has planned." All tasks, the stress of even one of them turning out badly, marks in the teen's expression. Though he makes attempts to bury it.

After a moment, his hands press against the table and his chair scrapes back as he stands. "I have to get to work," Devon says softly, looking at Graeme. "I… Thanks. Graeme."

"First, you go and you deal with going to a store, getting the clothing, and doing what I told you to. Then you go deal with work after that," Graeme says, looking up at the teenager, mild concern showing on his face. "And call me later, or something, let me know how you're doing."

Devon nods as he moves away from the table, hands sinking into his pockets. A glance up and then down the street brings back to mind the others milling and mingling as he steps away from the outdoor table and onto the sidewalk. He glances back at Graeme, a lingering thought or concern left unspoken as the distance increases. Instead, he gives the man another nod then turns to tread away from the bistro, shoulders hunching and head lowering against the weather and the dangers ahead.

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