devon2_icon.gif graeme2_icon.gif melissa_icon.gif

Scene Title Eat
Synopsis It's a necessary action, even when you aren't feeling like it, and recently there's been plenty of reason to lack in the appetite department for a couple of people.
Date May 20, 2011


Friday night is one of the busier nights at Tartarus. People ending their work week, wanting to unwind and have some fun at the start of their weekend. Melissa's out on the floor, having finished her paperwork already, but she's looking a great deal more subdued than she normally does, and has all week. She's sitting at the end of the bar, in her usual spot. A clipboard rests on the bar next to her, and a half finished drink is in her hand as she watches the clubbers.

It's the first night this week that Graeme's working, having arranged to work the weekend and having taken off a day last week to go deal with Endgame business. But now, on the beginning of his fifteen minute break for the evening, he's seeking out his boss, a nod of greeting before he approaches. "Mind if I join you?" he asks. There's quiet concern in his voice, not exactly a query.

Melissa shrugs and motions to the stool next to her with her empty hand. "Have a seat," she says before draining her glass and signaling for the bartender to give her a refill.

Graeme does. The concern doesn't manage to show on his face, but there's a difference between how Melissa is now and the woman he'd come to get used to working for, and for the moment, the things he'd meant to say are put aside in favour of getting a glass of water from the bartender. A sip is taken, the glass is put down, and then he waits another moment, a deep breath taken before he talks. "Devon wanted me to tell you, if I saw you before he did," he says. "He's been staying away because there was that new non-evo flu, at the studio, and he's determined not to bring trouble to you."

"Well it's not an issue anymore," Melissa says, gaze dropping, moving away. There's a pause, before she digs out her pack of smokes and lights one up. "The only people at the apartment now are evolved. Just me and Perry. Junie's…she's with her grandparents," she says softly.

"Shit. I'm sorry." There's a hint of steel and edge to the apology in Graeme's voice, but the apology follows the cursewords, and then he falls silent.

Melissa shrugs. "Not your fault." Her new drink is set in front of her, and it's gulped down completely. "You heard of Colonel Heller?"

There's a slight frown on Graeme's face. Second drink, but she didn't go for another one yet, so there's nothing he will do. Yet. Instead, he just nods. "Yeah. I've heard of Heller." There's a fair amount of distaste obvious in his voice, that he's heard of what Heller's done as well.

"Yeah, well, he showed up at my door with the social services chick." Melissa keeps talking as she gets up and moves around the bar, just grabbing the bottle rather than waiting for each individual drink. "And you repeat any of this and I will hurt you, since it could put Junie in danger." She stops and looks directly at Graeme, a dark promise clear in her eyes. "Anyone puts that little girl in danger, for any reason, and I'll hurt them."

The only expression on Graeme's face is concern as she goes for the bottle, but there is a part of him that still isn't going to do anything — she's still his boss. "Shit." The second expletive is more emphatic than the first. He's no going to repeat it, no, but it has him beyond concerned and all the way to worried.

"Exactly. Not going to go into details, but the long of it is, they took Junie, gave her to her birth mother's parents." Melissa returns to her seat and opens the bottle, drinking down a few swallows. "My first reaction was, of course, to fight it. To fight it anyway I could. Then I realized…being with me just puts her in danger. This just proved it."

"That doesn't invalidate that you've been the one taking care of her," Graeme says, quiet. There's a pause, and another question. "Are you … are the grandparents going to let you see her?"

Moving passed security has become a bit easier, even with the guards who know him less. A flash of his ID and a finger pointing toward Melissa has Devon admitted without the usual teasing about his age. Returning his ID to his pants pocket, he beelines from the main entrance toward the bar, weaving his way past the occasional person as necessary. But a look from Melissa to Graeme and back again stops his approach short, the teen deciding to wait until notice finds him first.

His hands tuck into his hip pockets as Devon rolls one shoulder up. The pack hanging from the shoulder slides a little further up toward his neck. Eyes flick between the two again, worried creases forming across his brow as he surveys the scene.

"I really, really hope so. And no, it doesn't invalidate it, but it'd be selfish of me to keep her with me, knowing that it just makes her a target for people who want to get to me or use me," Melissa says, shrugging a bit. She spots Devon then and waves him over.

There's a nod to Devon, perhaps a moment before Melissa waves, and Graeme looks over at his boss again. "Have you eaten dinner yet?" Especially if she's drinking, but Graeme doesn't say that part aloud. It's a little off the wall of a question, but it carries the same tone of concern that his initial greeting did, and he picks up his glass of water, leaning one elbow on the counter and taking a few sips.

Moving forward, Devon's approach is almost apprehensive. He's seen Melissa drink before, but like this usually implies bad things happened. "What's going on," he asks quietly, almost too soft to be heard over the background noise. His eyes move from Graeme to Melissa, reaching forward to lower the bottle but not take it away.

Eyes narrow slightly when Devon lowers the bottle, but Melissa doesn't fight him or argue. Instead she shrugs again to Graeme. "Haven't had much of an appetite." Since the bottle was lowered Mel takes a hit off her cigarette before saying softly, "Junie's gone. With her biological grandparents."

It's almost the same insistence with which Graeme made Devon eat meals for the past two days, but more gentle when the insistence is towards his boss. And with more explanation, too. "That's fair, but … you need to eat something. I'll get something for you from the kitchen, but it'd probably be better if you'd tell me what you want." His glass of water is left on the counter, and Graeme slides to his feet, not going anywhere yet but ready to do so. "I'm getting you something from the kitchen either way, though. Even if it's just a little, you need to eat. Stress can kill your appetite but skipping food because of it is really not good for you."

"What?" Devon's tone slips even softer, grows more cold. As if things needed to get worse. His pack comes off, placed on the floor beneath a stool while he directs a look to Graeme. It's almost accusing, as though the older man were at fault somehow. Maybe it's the insistence of eating. He steps around the bar and, in doing so, bottles everything else up. He'd done it in the Dome, to cope then and he's applying it again now. Without trying to remove the bottle or cigarette from Melissa, the teenager draws an arm gently around her shoulder. "When, why?"

"I don't care, Graeme. It'll probably just taste like cardboard regardless," Melissa says wearily, leaning into Devon. "And a few days ago. A social services woman and Heller showed up at the apartment. Took her to her grandparents'. I was prepared to fight it, but by the time Perry got home I realized that…being with me just puts her in danger. People can use her to get to me or to hurt me. She's safer with her grandparents."

Graeme slips off to the kitchen, returning with some french fries, small containers of ketchup, barbeque sauce, and ranch. There's also a piece of whatever cheesecake the kitchen had, and a couple of cans of soda grabbed from the closet — ginger ale, sprite, things that are gentle on the stomach and not likely to disagree with the fact that she's already had what to drink. When he returns, these things are carried on a tray, deposited one by one on the counter, and then he's back a second time lacking the tray.

"Cake's from the shift leader in the kitchen," Graeme says, as if to shift a little of the blame. "She wouldn't let me say no about bringing it." And then he draws himself back up onto the stool, brows furrowed as he looks at Melissa and hears the explanation for a second time.

Devon's jaw clenches at the name. Heller. His eyes fall closed for a beat, then open again, and his arm tightens protectively around Melissa's shoulders. "She's no safer with them than she is with you," he states evenly. "If anything, she's safer with you. You've had that child since the fucking riots and got her through the Dome safely."

"No, she's safer with them, because no one cares about them. They're not a target, so she's not a target," Melissa says, eyes closing. "I love her, more than I thought I could when I brought her home. Which means I need to let her stay with them. So Heller and everyone else can't use her against me."

Graeme's mind is ticking away. "That good for nothing piece of shit tried, didn't he." It's a question, but only kind of one, and there's still the steel of anger and determination under his voice. "He's a worthless bastard, you know. Heller is a worthless bastard working with Humanis First."

"No," Devon says gently, but no less firmly. "Maybe temporarily, maybe for a month or two. But you will get her back. Even if she's with them, if Heller knows where she is, she's still a target. It's no different than if she were living with you." His eyes slant toward Graeme, hardened and cold, his arm around Melissa tightening a little more.

"Oh, it gets worse than that," Melissa says with a slow shake of her head at Graeme's words. "And no, it's not. If they see me give her up, think I don't care about her, then she's safe. All I want is for her to be healthy, happy and safe. My happiness doesn't matter."

Mel's words get a nod out of Graeme, and he reaches to put his hand on top of her free one. "I'm sorry," he says, quietly. It's all he can say, at the moment, and then when he withdraws his hand, he pushes the small plate of fries towards Mel somewhat.

It's clear Devon doesn't agree that it's the end all and only security for Junie's safety. If Heller's involved, like so many other things, there may very well be a deeper meaning, a reason for it. But to spare Melissa from that, the teenager doesn't press the point. His eyes fall to the plate of fries then slant toward his sister. He tips his head slightly, cheek resting against the crown of her head for just a moment before he releases her.

Melissa sighs and picks up a fry with a complete lack of interest, drowns it in the ketchup, and eats it. "That's why I haven't called you back. I've been…well, you know how protective I am of her. The whole thing just…it's killing me. It's necessary, but it's killing me," she murmurs.

"Good, at least I don't have to stare you down as well," Graeme says, quietly. It's not lighthearted, not really anything resembling humour, but it's an observation. "This one," and he points at Devon, "was outright refusing food, and I had to practically hover over him to get him to even eat a few bites." A pause. "Speaking of, Devon, did you have lunch today while I was out?" The answer is no, probably, and Graeme knows it. And then Graeme turns the same insistent expression on Devon, points at the fries. Since neither of them have much of an appetite, there'll be more than enough for both.

Graeme's assumption is right, Devon hasn't eaten since breakfast and that was little more than a bite or two of whatever had been offered and a glass of water. But the teenager meets Graeme's gaze, a flat look that translates in every language imaginable to Fuck You. His arms fold over his chest and his gaze goes back to Melissa, a small nod of understanding. "I'd guessed something was wrong," he replies, his brows knitting once again. "I couldn't come home." He still believes he can't, but for other reasons.

"Eat," is all Melissa says, but it's in that "don't argue with me, I'm a woman on the edge" sort of voice. The plate is pushed a little closer to Devon, and Mel reluctantly takes a second fry. "Why haven't you been eating, Devon? And you can come home now, since it's just evolved people in the apartment."

If Graeme's expression changes, at all, it is so minute as to be unnoticeable. Or at least, to anyone but him. On the other hand, even if it meant bringing up Devon's problems, there's a hint of having gotten Mel out of herself, even if just for a little bit. Sometimes that's all that matters. Graeme picks up his water, staring disinterestedly over at the bar and trying to decide if they need him to take initiative to go grab stuff from the supply closet before he returns to work.

"Not hungry," Devon replies, giving the fries no attention at all. "Not sure if it's safe to come home yet. There's some things to consider. I'm… You remember the fancy dressed Russian woman that came in here during the auction? She… approached me, she wants me to bring her into the studio to reveal the vaccine that she can create." For the new H5N10. "And… she's trying to redirect the attentions of her quasi-student and has asked me to …play courter."

"Eat," Melissa repeats. "And a little more information on this Russian woman and what she wants you to do would be useful. Who's her studen, and what vaccine?"

Once again, it's almost the exact same piece of information that Graeme's able to convey. "Dr. Elvira Blite," he says, a pause before he continues. "Ms. Blite works for the Commonwealth Institute, and her ability has something to do with viruses. Vaccine, for the non-evo-evo flu, but she wants to go public with it on the air, rather than do this … through any of the usual channels." Graeme's unease with the situation is not readily apparently, but it's there. "And didn't want to just go to the studio herself. Or something." He falls silent and picks up his water, a watchful eye more on Melissa that she eats some as well.

A look goes to Graeme as he fills in some of the blanks, though Devon nods slightly to his words. "She's… able to know how the virus works, it's her ability. She understands how the virus is and can use that knowledge to make a vaccine. Not just years or months away, but more like hours. And she wants to reveal it, after a couple of weeks to show progress before making her discovery. I don't know why she's chosen to get me into this instead of going to someone else or through proper channels, but I'm hoping to find out while I do the other part of her proposal."

Which brings the teen to that topic. Shoulders rolling slightly, he glances toward the bar top. "She's asked me to… basically appear to date her, gifts and dinners and… pretty much everything that can be shown in public. Her student or whatever he is, is Magnes Varlane. He's been chasing after her attentions and she claims he won't take the hint that she's not interested."

"The Intitute? Devon, stay the fuck away from her. And if Magnes is her student, I can guarantee that you, especially with your age, won't make him realize that she's not interested," Melissa says, forgetting about the fries and getting worked up. "Avoid Magnes, and avoid this Elvira bitch. It won't end well."

Magnes being involved in this is news to Graeme, and he turns to Melissa. "The biggest question becomes why she's doing it this way, motives, reasoning." And it's too late to back out, but Graeme doesn't put it quite like that. If Devon does want out, there are plenty of ways to do it, but in a controlled fashion. "I didn't like Ms. Blite when I met her. I didn't like her, from the standpoint of security and not being able to tell what the fuck she was doing. I still don't like her. I'm much more comfortable now that Dr. Brennan's said that he will to negate her to hell and back before she has any chance to become a problem. He didn't know what her ability was, it was news to him. But if she can make the vaccine for the flu — the flu which the mortality rate is unprecedented, right now — then although this may not be the path to take, we can't alienate her, or let her know that we're on to her, either." Finishing thinking aloud, pretty much, he glances between his boss and the teenager, taking a deep, slow breath.

"I can't back out right now," Devon says quietly. "I… I saw what it's doing to Ms. Reynolds. Last time I was actually at Studio K she… It was bad. She was coughing blood, bleeding from her nose. The mortality rate is over ninety percent." He rubs a hand over his face, briefly showing the weight of the matter as he sees it. Stress, sleeplessness are evident in that action before he manages to bottle it up again. "I don't trust her, I wouldn't have acted without consulting you and Perry first. But …if there's a chance to understand and expose her. I told you, and Perry, I wouldn't bring trouble home with me and I'm going to hold to that. But if something happens, I'll have to ask you to rally."

Melissa glances between the two of them before she shakes her head and rises to her feet. "I can't deal with this right now. I know I should, I know it's stupid, but I can't. Just…Junie and Kincaid…I need a few hours. I'm gonna…I don't know. Go vent. Shooting range or a fight or something. I'll talk to you guys later."

"It's not stupid," Graeme says. There's a nod to Devon. "My break's up, anyway. I take too much longer and I'll get trouble for it." He looks at the fries, at Devon. "You heard her. Eat those, alright?" And then he's rising to his feet too, bending to murmur something into the mic at his shirtcollar for his radio, and back to work.

For a moment Devon looks like he might follow Melissa. He tenses and begins to fall in behind her, then stops himself, instead just watching before moving himself back around the bar. His backpack is picked up, Graeme's instructions pointedly ignored, and he heads for the door without another word.

The fries remain on the counter.

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