Forge Ahead


kayla_icon.gif veronica3_icon.gif

Scene Title Forge Ahead
Synopsis A chance encounter between two former Company employees leads to little information but mutual understanding.
Date November 22, 2010

Central Park

The midmorning sky is veiled with thin clouds, filtering sunlight down to shades of gray that seem to leach color more than evoke it. Approaching winter may have something to do with it, the park's trees past their peak autumn glory and now reduced to skeletal branches clothed in the tatters of once-lovely grandeur. There's still snow on the ground, hiding the grass beneath its dull blanket; the cleared walkways offer only different shades of gray to punctuate the landscape. While there can be beauty in the cold months of the year, this particular atmosphere doesn't quite make the cut.

For all that, Kayla Reid finds the environment suits her just fine, when she pays it any notice at all. Dressed in loose gray pants and a black sweater, the blue scarf loosely wrapped over her shoulders is the only color the woman wears. She sits on a bench beside one of Central Park's smaller ponds, gray-gloved hands idly worrying bits of bread off a roll and intermittently flicking them in the direction of three expectant mallards. There aren't too many humans out in the frigid morning air, and those that do travel past she pays only slight regard.

Feet come pounding on the trail, and soon coming around the bend into the straight-away that borders this end of the pond is a trim brunette, dressed in sweats with a baseball cap on her head and sunglasses shielding her eyes from the gloomy and sparse sunlight. A wire connecting the earbuds in her ears trails down to an iPod at her waist, and it seems she too will just pass Kayla by — until suddenly she slows from that all-out run into a slight jog into a walk, as if this were her stopping spot.

Behind the glasses, Veronica surveys the woman sitting still ten feet away; today Kayla will be happy to note that Vee only has slight injuries, old injuries that might seem familiar to the healer: an ache in the shoulder she's dislocated too many times, an ache in the muscle that had been sliced by a robot in Argentina, another in the opposite leg where she'd taken a bullet. Injuries that never quite heal all the way, and that cold air and exercise tend to cause to flare in protest.

"Kayla," Veronica murmurs as she plants hands on knees to catch her breath, waiting for the other woman to either acknowledge her or flee — clearly giving her the option of not talking to the Institute agent, if Kayla so chooses.

She's been chasing away conversationalists for the past two days. It'd be appropriate if she did so again. Kayla looks sideways to Veronica, gray eyes narrowing as she evidently thinks about it. "Veronica," she replies in kind, acknowledging the greeting. Considers the other woman's expression a moment, and snorts softly. "Don't worry, I won't even bark much, promise. Too much effort," the healer supplies, as she tosses another bit of bread to the noisy ducks. Not that it seemed to take much effort for Kayla to become volubly antagonistic, most days.

Vee chuckles softly. Some things don't change, after all. She stands again, pulling a water bottle from the belt at her side and taking a long drink as she moves closer to the bench. "You didn't peg me for a duck feeder, to be honest," she says lightly, then glances at Kayla, appraising her for any injuries, any scars from last week.

"You doing all right?" she says, reaching for her cell phone, also clipped to her belt and slips the battery out of it, then pushes her sunglasses up on her head so she can see Kayla better.

With the clothes she's wearing, if there are any injuries, they're not easily seen — in fact, the only skin visible on Kayla is her face. Though, strangely enough, it is her left hand tossing out the bread. The younger woman shrugs a bit at Veronica's quip. "It's not exactly something I do much," she admits. Are you all right only has one answer, Veronica knows this: "I'm fine." She watches the battery removal, one thin brow arching. "Seems a bit much for a public conversation, Sawyer," Kayla remarks, with definite emphasis. Though given that the last two people she tried to convey that emphasis to failed to translate… She shrugs again, as if to say whatever.

The agent shrugs. "I'd rather they not listen in, anytime I run into someone from before. I don't know if they do, but I'm not willing to take that risk. For your sake, more than mine," she says quietly, dark eyes dropping apologetically for being in this situation in the first place. Even if it was one Kayla helped her get into, knowing it was coming.

"Richard Cardinal ran into me yesterday. Asked me if I knew where Dalton was; seems he's missing a friend of his," she adds — suddenly the telephone dismantling makes more sense. "I'm hoping it's for his own safety, given the identity of Cardinal's friends. Can you give me any information on that? Or at least assurance?"

Kayla leans back against the bench, brow furrowing. "I'm anything but a secret, Sawyer. For all I know, they're watching now. Even listening. And not through that." Spotting a tail was never part of her training. Recognizing Evolved observers is beyond her capability. …And then there's that name again: despite her promise not to bark, Kayla scowls. "Damnit, he shows up everywhere. You're three in three fucking days." She tucks her arms a little closer into her torso, because with her luck that knee'll buckle if she tries to stomp off. "I don't need to hide, I'm not working for Redbird, and I don't know anything about his friend. Satisfied?"

Dark brows rise and Veronica tilts her head curiously, lifting her hand to ward off any hostility or fear. "I didn't think you were, Kayla," she says softly. "I just… wondered if you knew anything. But I believe you." She takes another drink of water, letting her eyes wander over the pond for a moment, giving Kayla her moment to fume. "Can I… can I ask who else is asking about him?"

The younger woman doesn't look at Veronica while she fumes, but turns her gaze away, face visible only in oblique profile. The minute isn't nearly long enough. "What?" She turns back, brow furrowed deeply by what seems — to her — to be an illogical question. They're not quite having the same conversation, here. "No one. No one's asking about him. They're all just damned solicitious meddlers who can't take a hint." Kayla's lips press together in a thin, sour line. "Do you look over your shoulder all the time," she asks without quite looking at Vee, a sharply abrupt change of subject, "or do you just forge ahead and hope it works out?"

Vee shakes her head, looking apologetic as she clips her water bottle back onto her belt. "If I kept looking over my shoulder, something would just take me out from the front," she quips, though there's no humor in her voice. "More of the latter, I'm afraid, and it doesn't look like it's working very well right now, does it." It's not a question.

She bends down to retire her shoes, glancing up again. "I won't ask you for any favors, Kayla. I appreciate all you've already done for me, and I'll respect that by staying the hell away from you if I see you again, all right?" It's meant to be a solicitous gesture, but there's an edge of grief to it as well.

"Good." Gray eyes glance to Veronica, down to her shoes, and then away towards the city horizon. "I can't help you," Kayla says, with a perhaps surprising lack of animosity. "I can't help her. I can't even help myself," is added with the bitterness that is her other trademark, a flick of her left hand sending the entire remainder of the roll out to bounce across crusted snow. "I don't want to be the reason they start looking too close. At anyone."

A nod from Veronica shows she understands too well. "If you need me, though, call, and I'll come. A message to DHS would get to me. Say it's from…" she stands, thinking for a moment, her eyes darting across the water. "Margo Drake." The ducks are apparently her inspiration for the surname.

Dark eyes seek Kayla's for a moment, then she gives a nod of farewell, beginning to move once more, giving Kayla a wide enough berth to keep the girl from feeling defensive. Hopefully.

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