Eyes and Ears


matt_icon.gif veronica3_icon.gif

Scene Title Eyes and Ears
Synopsis Parkman recruits Veronica for a special assignment. Veronica is humored by Parkman's inability to construct an appropriate or coherent analogy to explain said assignment.
Date September 28, 2010

Department of Homeland Security Facility

This government facility was opened by the Department of Homeland Security in the fall of 2009. As a thirty-story building it rises high over the landscape of Battery Park City, a monochromatic monolith of gray and black set amidst manicured trees and a concrete plaza where several flagpoles rise and a granite slab sign displays the building number 663 in serif font face.

Inside, this facility houses department executive offices, holding facilities, interrogation rooms and an armory to supply a standing security force with the necessary firepower to defend the building against terrorist threats on home soil. The lobby of the building features a large seal of the Department of Homeland Security at the center of the ground floor in plain view of balcony tiers of the second and third floor, accessible by stairs flanking the glass facade entrance and security checkpoint.

Every body ought to have a personal assistant.

In truth, Parkman had shied away from having one for some time, given his past experiences with secretaries on Capitol Hill. But Miriam is invaluable in her ability to keep not only one, but two schedules straight. Yes, her Blackberry is home to many of the Secretary's official engagements, but his office is on a "no tech" floor of the Battery City facility, meaning that the young woman also has to keep the cop-turned-political official's more comprehensive to-do list on paper as well.

Oddly enough, Veronica Sawyer's visit is recorded in neither of these.

The Institute employee has no trouble in getting to Parkman's office. She does have DHS credentials, after all, and doors open easily when one is expected. Miriam even waits not far from the elevator, a thick leather bound portfolio that undoubtedly contains that more inclusive schedule, in her arms. She is marking in it with a navy Uniball, but she looks up when the elevator doors open and smiles politely. "Miss Sawyer. Thank you for being punctual."

The Company Institute agent's eyes are wary as she glances at the surroundings once she steps off the elevator, but she nods politely and even manages to smile for the assistant. It is a civil and professional smile, though it lacks a confidence it might have had once upon a time, back when she was the star agent back in California, before coming to New York City and finding the world she thought she understood unraveling.

"Thank you," Sawyer tells Miriam, stepping alongside the woman to be led to Parkman's office. She's dressed no differently than she usually is — slim pinstriped trousers, black boots, a cream silk blouse beneath a matte black leather jacket, holsters no doubt beneath — as she knows there is nothing to impress: whatever impression Matthew Parkman has made, it's already done. She is fairly sure dressing up or wearing more makeup won't change it.

Miriam shows Veronica to the corner office that Parkman has set himself up in without any small talk or even professional banter. She opens the door and peeks her head in, one heel lifting off the ground as she does so. "Sawyer is here, sir," she says before she backs away to let Veronica through. She lingers just long enough to close the door behind the other woman before resuming her perch at her own desk.

Inside the office, Parkman stands surveying a board that will look disturbingly familiar to Veronica. On it, tacked around maps of various New York boroughs, are the faces of many Company agents that have yet to be located. Leads and the like are either attached via sticky-note or else written in dry erase marker with an almost indecipherable series of arrows and other pointy indicators.

"Glad you could visit, Sawyer," Parkman says without looking at the woman. His arms are folded across his chest, and he's without his jacket, though a quick survey of the room reveals the garment to be hanging on a rack near the door. Some habits die hard, and even though he isn't considered a boy in blue anymore, there's still a shoulder holster bearing a Baretta strapped across his back. "Your boss know you're here?"

Her brown eyes sweep the board, her mind working quickly to try to figure out if any of the leads are close, so that perhaps she can warn her former colleagues of impending doom — if she knew where they were, herself. She has guesses, at least, for some of them, but she hasn't been in communication with them to know for certain.

For their own safety.

She shakes her head, but realizes he can't see that, back to her as it is. Her hands clasp behind her back as she waits for him to sit or for him to tell her to sit.

"No, sir. You said it was secret assignment, and I figured that if any of my supervisors were on the need-to-know list, then they would know where I am," she offers quietly. "But as I'm sure you know, I do have an isotope marker, so … it's possible they know where I am, even if you didn't tell them."

"They also know where I am," Parkman says with slightly raised eyebrows as he turns to face Veronica. "So I don't think you'll run into any issues. Besides," and a smile creeps onto his face, "if you want to be technical, I'm your boss." That's what all her public paperwork says, anyway, and Secretary Lanford wouldn't begrudge him the use of one Institute agent - not when both of their departments have been tasked with tracking down Company personnel.

Parkman unfolds his arms so that he can pull the leather office chair away from his desk and lower himself into it, picking up a file - Veronica's file - from a stack before he gestures for the woman to take a seat. "I want you to be honest with me," even knowing, as she must, that he can't check to see if she's being honest. He sets the file down and pushes it away from him, leaning back in the chair. He laces his fingers together and rests them on the gentle swell of his abdomen. "How different is the Institute from the Company?"

"Of course," Veronica says lightly when he points out he is her boss. She sits after he does — no sexist chivalry here — and rests her hands in her lap. Her face is somber as she listens to him ask for her honesty. Honesty is a rare thing in the best of circumstances, and Veronica's career as a Company agent has been anything but the best of times. Her eyes are guarded, though she wears the polite mask of a proper government drone.

"To be honest, I don't know yet," she says, with a shake of her head. "I know the Company has made mistakes, but in the time I've worked for it, it was about keeping innocent people safe, like any law enforcement agency. Or at least that's what I did, that's what I believed in. Most of the mistakes that seem to have been its downfall were before my time."

She frowns slightly. "That isn't to say I won't do my part in bringing them in," she adds, nodding to the wall. "I'm sure those with higher ranking than myself know more than I did, and were behind some of the mistakes. But for now — I don't know. I just haven't been there long enough to know. I haven't seen enough to know."

Sawyer offers a shrug. "But I didn't see the things at the Company either that apparently made it so bad, so maybe I never will. Agencies like these — they rely on people doing the work without knowing all the reasons why, right?"

"Transparency isn't something they can afford," Parkman says with a nod. "Security is the biggest concern. But when you get a bunch of people who are hoarding their little slice of pie while sticking their fingers in everyone else's…well, you end up with a bunch of pie that nobody can eat." It's an odd analogy, and Parkman seems to know it. He clears his throat and sits up straighter again.

"The whole reason why the Company was brought down and the Institute built up in it's place was to do things the right way. They thought they were building a better mousetrap, only I'm not convinced it's better. I think it's the same mousetrap with a new coat of paint."

He snaps his fingers and points at Veronica, resting his elbow on the desk. "That's where I need you."

Pie? Mousetraps? Who paints mousetraps? Veronica nods, slowly, unsure of where this is going. Is this where she should ask about mad scientists and Frankenstein's monster taking over the laboratory? Probably not. She tilts her head, brows raising in curiosity as she allows a slight smile to curve her lips upward.

"Part of the problem might be that we keep trying to catch mice instead of something that actually might cause some damage," she says, lightly, though it's meant to be taken as a joke. "But in all earnestness, I think the Company was built to try to keep the Evolved a secret, and whether that was a good idea or not, I don't know, but obviously they should have changed the way they did things after 2006." She shrugs. "Hindsight's always 20-20. How can I help you?"

One side of Parkman's face jerks into a short-lived smirk. "Funny." But he's in no mood for laughs. He knows his comparisons suck, and having it pointed out to him only makes him more determined to get his point across. "Still. One of the issues we had with the Company was not enough information in a timely manner. Now, the Institute isn't private anymore. They got bought out, and they're stocked with government employees just like any other federally funded agency. They've got to learn to play a different game now, and I'm not sure they're up to it.

"Now, this could all be meaningless. It could turn out that it doesn't matter at all. That we're just being…overly cautious. But a government is all about checks and balances, right?" Even if it seems they've lost that snippet of high school civics. "What I need is someone who can keep them honest. I can do what I can to get you where you need to be." It's no secret Harper answers to Parkman, in the end, but there are other political and personal ploys he can use as well. "But considering your background, your ability, and your performance record, I'd like you to be those eyes and ears."

Could it be the big bad wolf is actually looking out for the three little pigs' welfare and home security? Veronica manages to keep her face fairly neutral — if anything, she appears to have just the right amount of professional curiosity piqued — as she considers the ironies playing out in front of her. Harper played narc on the Company. She had to play narc to Harper, to get in good with the Institute. And now she's being asked to play narc on the Institute to Matthew Parkman?

She can't decide if everything is working out perfectly or if she should find the next flight to Costa Rica and live under an assumed name for the rest of her days.

She swallows, and nods. "How exactly would this work?"

"It's risky," Parkman says with a slight dip of his head. "I won't lie to you. But I know you wouldn't have taken that first job if you didn't know that up front." Parkman takes another deep breath and settles his gaze on Veronica, searching her for those subtle shifts in body language. Of all the Company agents brought into the Institute, she's the most qualified for what he needs - but the unknown factor is also the one that he hopes is his ace.

That's Veronica's sense of ethics.

The dimples in her cheeks deepen as Veronica actually laughs at the well-intended warning that it's 'risky.' She clears her throat, realizing that might not be the best reaction on her part, and she sits up a little straightener, putting back on the more solemn face of her stoic mask.

"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to laugh. But yeah, risky just sort of comes with the territory for me. I don't even know if I'd know how to work in a job that wasn't. Did you know I was going to be a doctor? Not that there's not some risk there, but it's not quite the same as needing to wear a flak vest or getting electrocuted by your teammate." Veronica smiles again, apparently a person beneath the masked face. "I can handle risky. I'd be happy to do my part to be … part of the checks and balances."

The smile that appears on Parkman's face doesn't creep, or ghost, or even twitch it's way there. It oozes like sunshine cresting a hill. It's slow, and it warms his entire face in a way that only sunshine can.

"I'm very happy to hear you say that, Miss Sawyer."

He reaches for her file once more and flips through it, presumably double-checking facts. "I don't think I need to remind you of the extremely delicate circumstances. Do not assume that anyone other than you and myself are aware of this assignment." He nods to himself, then closes the file and stands up, slipping his hands into his pockets.

"Do you like Thai food, Sawyer?"

It's hard not to feel a little more at ease when faced with a sunny smile such as Matt Parkman's. Veronica grins at the question. Her penchant for foreign food and little ethnic holes in the walls is a well known fact among the few people she calls her friends and co-conspirators.

"The spicier, the better," she says brightly, reaching across the desk to shake his hand with her far smaller one.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License