Girl Gone Boy Scout


harper_icon.gif veronica3_icon.gif

Scene Title Girl Gone Boy Scout
Synopsis Veronica both makes her bed and has to lie in it.
Date July 4, 2010

Fort Hero: Harper's Office

More Spartan than Sparta.

The files that Harper demanded are late — he had demanded them on his desk the night before, but, despite his cocky smile and attitude, the man works for the US Government. Surely he's used to disappointment.

Veronica carries the file he expects; the evidence that Ahlgren was the perpetrator of the crimes, the fact that he tampered with evidence, that his power was more powerful than the details that his Company dossier and Registration listed — all of these facts were covered up, whitewashed by Kayla. His suicide was easy enough to explain — the autopsy of course will reveal he had Huntington's and thus was a dead man walking. No reason to cover that truth up. But Veronica's not here to conceal the truths of the file.

"Agent Harper," she says, knocking on the door and peeking in. She can't remember being more nervous entering an office in her life. It must be like stage fright — and this is the performance of her life. Or perhaps an audition would serve as a better metaphor. If she doesn't pass now, there will be no show.

Harper's office is so Spartan that the Spartans of history themselves would likely call it bland. Four gray walls with nothing hanging on them, a single cage dome light set into the middle of the ceiling to shine down with muddy yellow light onto a featureless brown metal desk with a smooth black top. Even his desk's chair is a rather immaculate metal folding chair, a matching one sitting on the other side of the desk for guests to his— humble— abode.

A lone laptop, slowly being closed with a push of fingertips, is the only furnishing atop the desk aside from a white ceramic coffee mug that reads I <3 Irony across one side. Hopefully for Harper, Isabella Dawson might well, in fact, love irony. He'll have to find out later when he gifts her with the cup once she can have visitors in her ward.

"Agent Sawyer," Harper notes with a lift of one brow, "I was hoping you might be able to help me, my baby grand piano and red leather chaise lounge seem to be missing. But by all means pull up a chair…" grimacing teasingly, Harper clicks the laptop shit and sits up straight, hands folding atop the closed computer.

"Someone clearly swapped your office for the penthouse one with a view when you weren't looking," she tosses back, sitting down on the folding chair with just a slight wince as her body bends. Ahlgren might have been a dying man, but the bruise to her solar plexus radiates pain at odd inopportune moments.

"The file. Sorry it's late. I wasn't the one here last night, since I was out chasing down leads," she notes, lest he ask why it wasn't here however-many-hours ago. She doesn't know what he knows about Ahlgren — myth or reality. The fact she doesn't drop off the folder and leave is novel in itself. The fact she sits is even more irregular. And then finally, to put a trifecta on the surrealism of the moment, she reaches for the ajar door, and pushes it closed. Her tired eyes return to his face, waiting for questions.

"Mnhmm," Harper notes with certain discontent in his voice as he leans back in his chair, "the invitiation to pull up a chair was actually sarcastic," the DHS agent notes with a certain surprise in his voice, lifting up a hand to rub at his chin as he looks to the closed door of his office, then back to Veronica. "Here, hold on a second…" and from there Harper's attention turns down to his wristwatch, one eye narrowing as he considers it, lookingup to Veronica then back down to the watch again.

Before Veronica speaks up, Harper lifts a hand with one raised finger, the universal sign for one second. Brows lift, a smile crosses his lips and Harper suddenly exhales a sharp breath. "Thirty whole seconds without you saying something nasty about me, a new world record." Dropping his hands back down to the tabletop, Harper scoots forward in his chair.

"Seriously, though," he finally notes, "you can just leave the file and go."
ORDER: It is now your pose.
You will no longer be prompted for poses.

Is he for real? Veronica stares at him for a moment when the punchline comes, then gives a tentative smile. "Well. You know. I'm a fan of setting records. Which … that actually brings me to why I'm here." Seriously? Worst segue ever, but perhaps the awkwardness makes it all that much more authentic.

Sawyer can only hope.

"Listen. This is between you and me, all right?" She leans forward in her chair, arms resting folded on his desk as she lifts her chin to meet his eyes. "I don't want you to think I'm in on it, but I also know that if I argued, well. That's not going to get me anywhere but fired."

She nods to the file on his desk. "It's bull shit. Cruz didn't want another rogue agent on the record, so they're covering for Ahlgren. Not like it was anything like Ichihara and Paulson, so I donno why he feels we need to cover it up. He ordered us to fake it, but he didn't know that you came into the meeting yesterday. He didn't know you already know something's up, and I don't want my ass on the line for not doing right."

Vee's dark eyes flick to the "I <3 Irony" mug and notes that it's Independence Day… and she's playing the role of Benedict Arnold.

"Excuse me?" Comes cooly from Harper as he stares at Veronica, brows furrowed and eyes darting over her shoulder and then back to the agent again. "This is one of those joke shows, right? That block-headed actor from that TV show about the 70's is going to come in with a trucker cap and big sunglasses and say I was Punked, right?" Grinning awkwardly, Harper rubs a hand over his mouth and slouches back in his chair slowly.

"Why're you here, Sawyer?" is Harper's pointed question as his hands fold in his lap. "Seriously, why are you telling me this? Do you have any idea how bad it looks, that your superiors were trying to subvert an official government investigation? How bad it looks that not only was Ahlgren doing things behind the scenes but that his superiors were willing to cover up his guilt to protect themselves?"

There's a slow shake of Harper's head, fingers laced together. "I don't get you, Sawyer. You don't like me, you don't like what I do… what gives?"

There is no humor in Veronica's expression when he makes the joke, only weary eyes that show sincere anxiety and fear — she doesn't have to be a good actress to pull off that. She feels both in spades. She gives a shake of her head, glancing at the closed door and back, brows knit together. She glances down, weighing the words that come to her head. The best lies have an element of truth.

Finally, she offers a wry smile. "Have you read my file? I'm not really known for liking anyone. I'm Girl Friday, all ambition and no congeniality. Once upon a time I think I had some, but I might have lost any of that somewhere between Pinehearst and Argentina," she says, her husky voice sounding more tired than usual.

She shrugs. "It does look bad that my superiors are trying to … what were your words, subvert an official government investigation'? You think I wanna tie myself to something like that? This ship is sinking, and I'm not going to go down in steerage. I'm not blind and I'm not stupid, and covering up someone who — sick and dying as Ahlgren was — killed one of my colleagues just isn't right," Veronica says, emphasizing her words with a shake of her head, eyes narrowing.

"Now… I know what the real story is, and I can tell you, but you can't let them know I told you," she adds.

Rolling his tongue over the front of his teeth, Harper laces his fingers together over his stomach, head odding in slow recognition to Veronica's words. "You never struck me as an opportunist. Bleeding heart, sure, yeah, maybe… but opportunist? I dunno, Sawyer. First of all, between you, me and my fist— you know who I really work for. You called me on it the day I got assigned to this Dog and Pony show, and I know that the people I work for have some pretty black and white ideals at times."

Wringing his hands together, Harper slouches forward and furrows his brows, sliding his hands across the desk as he scoots just a little closer. "Why's a girl gone boyscout like you want to play patty-cake with a guy like me? I know you don't trust me, I'm damn certain you don't like me. What changed your mind?"

Unintentionally, Harper has given Veronica a glimpse of something unexpected. His wristwatch isn't a wristwatch at all. In that leather band there's osmething that looks like a watch, but the metal ring and copper wiring interior looks too familiar to Veronica now that she's been to Coyote Sands, as does the wedges shaped needle she mistook as watch hands from a distance.

Desmond Harper has a compass on his wrist, miniaturized and — quite likely — fully functional.

Harper's not as stupid as he looks, apparently. The easy lie — just wanna be on the winning team — isn't going to work, despite Bob Bishop's words at Coyote Sands. It strikes Veronica that she's changed much over the past year; no one would have considered her a bleeding heart then. Eager to please, ambitious, focused, maybe. She shakes her head, glancing down, trying to buy some time without looking like it. Catching sight of the compass, she brings a hand up to her head, leaning on it as if wearily, so she can ensure her eyes are not tricking her without him noticing her glance.

That is definitely not a Rolex.

With a sigh of exasperation feigned for Harper, she pushes back into her seat, bringing her eyes back to his face. "Goodman. Denton. Crowley. Cruz. These are not men to inspire confidence, you know? Do I trust any of them? Not with my life, I can promise you that. So if you're asking do I trust you? I only trust myself, Harper. This Company's done a lot that has hurt me — more than you probably know. I've stayed — not because I'm loyal, not because I'm a 'bleeding heart' who thinks she's doing the right thing. God, I would have quit a year ago if that was the case." She gives a bitter laugh that, again, there's no need to feign, and there is no humor in it.

"I'm telling you this because I don't care what happens to someone like Cruz and because I care about my own ass, and I do what I have to do to get by. And I don't know how to do anything but this. It's what my life amounts to." Dark eyes study his. "People don't like me, either, you know. We're not that different."

"People love me," Harper says with feigned defensiveness, "what're you talking about, look at this mug?" He motions towards the I <3 Irony mug, "People get me gifts all the time, presents. Just because I'm a re-gifter, that makes me bad doesn't it?" Cracking a smile, Harper shakes his head and waves one hand dismissively in the air. "In all seriousness, I think if you met me outside of this environment you wouldn't think so badly of me. No one likes me here because I'm here to do a job no one wants to have done. But honestly," Harper motions to Veronica, "what you're telling me here just reinforces that I'm doing the right thing."

Exhaling his own exasperated sigh, Harper brings up both hands to smooth up and down his face. "Alright so… okay. Do you have whatever the undoctored reports would have been? Do you have the real files, the smoking gun, whatever it is? I can't present something like that in good faith on a word of mouth to my superiors. I need some hard, actionable evidence, no matter how small it might seem."

The mug pun gets a shake of her head, but she allows Harper a smile, one that shows the dimples that few get to see within these walls. Fake as it might be, he hasn't seen her real smile to compare it to. "You might be right," she concedes. She'll scrub her lying tongue with bleach later.

To the rest she sighs, reaching into her blazer pocket for the letter from Ahlgren's sister and setting it on the desk between them. "Just what he told me, and this letter backs it up. He said he was dying, right before he took my gun and shot himself in front of me. He didn't say of what, but the letter indicates Huntington's. The autopsy should back that up. His power — biological intuition or whatever it was, apparently had grown to something more, something capable of doing what he did to Ritchie. Ahlgren swapped out the match for his DNA and stole the bottle from the lab to keep it from being re-tested, I guess," she explains.

She runs a hand through her hair and shakes her head again, as if ruefully. "I should have thought it fishy, but there was no reason to suspect him, you know? But there's no evidence that I can find that he's the one who swapped things around. Just… what we know. Unfortunately, they destroyed the hard file with his actual match on it, which is when I decided you should know."

Paper crinkles between thick fingers as Harper looks over the letter, turns it around in one hand and then lays it down on top of his laptop. "You do realize what this is going to mean, don't you?" Both of Harper's dark brows go up slowly. "When I file this, there'll probably be a few days of silence, and then a hammer is going to come down. I don't know how big, I don't know how hard, but there's going to be repercussions of you doing this, of you… showing the truth."

Harper's eyes look down to the letter, then back up to Veronica. "I don't have to say how I got it, or who from. Not to anyone here, at least, but they're going to start suspecting things, you know?" Wetitng his lips with his tongue, Harper shakes his head once and leans back in his chair, hands folding in his lap.

Silence hangs over the small office for a short time, before Harper breathes in slowly and looks up to Veronica. "Go on," he says with a motion of his nose to the door, "I'll clean this up. I appreciate you being straight with me…" and as if, pressured by his own sarcastic side Harper adds, "well, you know, as straight as you can be, right?"

Okay, so maybe he did read her file just once.

The warning has Veronica staring at the desk, a slow nod to show she understands, her brows contorted with worry and fear that is not part of the show. She can't let her two trusted colleagues in on this — for their own sake — and she isn't sure how they will take it. She swallows, audibly, then looks up, nodding again this time so he can see her eyes.

She gets up to go when he tells her to, wincing again when the bruise makes itself known. His joke takes a moment to register; the words earn him a look of confusion before the agent finally rolls her eyes, having held the gesture in for far too long.

"Oh, haha, very funny," she mutters. "Did you read all the file or just skim for the juicy parts?" she tosses over her shoulder before opening the door to head out.

Cracking a smile, Harper folds his hands together and shoots back after Vee's retreating form. "I didn't," he finally admits with a broad smile and a tip of his chin upwards, "but you seemed that way, trust me I know it when I see it. But thanks for confirming my suspicions," he adds with a wink and a click of his tongue. "Let me know if you wanna' play poker sometime."

Desmond Harper may be many things, but it seems a smooth liar is one of them.

Veronica will have plenty of time in the future to take lessons from him.

Much to her chagrin.

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