Glad I'm Driving


cristian_icon.gif veronica3_icon.gif

Scene Title Glad I'm Driving
Synopsis Institute Agent Sawyer tests one of her colleagues with an exercise in futility.
Date October 26, 2010

Lower East Side

It's not particularly cold for a day in late October, but apparently hell has frozen over.

Veronica Sawyer approached another agent to pursue a lead on the Company case.

To this point, Sawyer has been the epitome of the independent worker, preferring to keep to herself and work alone rather than rely on the kindness of strangers. She's rarely in the office, always darting this way or that, supposedly following up leads on the few cases in the Institute "docket."

Today, she has a passenger in her Institute-issue sedan. Cristian Arroyo. The Mercedes definitely isn't at home in this neighborhood, a bit of a seedy one in the Lower East Side. She pulls up alongside the curb — a row of apartment buildings on one side of the street overlooks a small park that really isn't much more than a few trees, a few benches, and a swingset.

"This is it. Someone said they saw people fitting the description of Ayers and Anderson here."

Cristian Arroyo, for his part, hasn't exactly been the cat's meow in the playing-with-others department himself. Oh, he'll hang about in his downtime and make nice with anyone. He just isn't going out of his way to be any Bruce Willis' Tracy Morgan. Sadly, this may be for the best. He seems to have trouble remaining absolutely still, a flaw only partially overcome by constantly spinning his pen- a simple black affair, but no mere Bic -across his knuckles, then lacing it through his fingers, and so forth. Like a "tough" guy in a Quentin Tarantino flick.

"How long ago was it?" His voice comes out soft, though with the usual low-end grit that seems inescapable with him.

Whatever his motivations for coming along with Veronica- admittedly, she was nice to him in that mildly aggressive sort of way he likes so much, and may or may not be nice to look at, but that certainly can't be all of it -he's apparently going to help her right. He draws an unmarked bottle of orange pills from his jacket pocket and washes it down with the contents of a silver flask. Oh, yes, the model government employee is he.

"The info doesn't have to be perfect. It'll just make this faster."

Veronica's brows tic upward with curiosity at the pills, and then furrow when they're washed down by what she assumes is alcohol in the flask. "Glad I'm driving," she says sarcastically, then leans to peer across him through his window at something in the park.

All for show, of course. Ayers, Anderson? Neither of them were seen here, and she suspects they're across town if they're anywhere near the spot she saw Gael Cruz. "I have some informants around the city. I passed around photos of our wayward agents a few weeks back. Got a call, saying that two people were seen here yesterday, around this time, meeting and talking on that bench there," she says with a nod toward a bench near the swingset. "That's all I got." She shrugs and looks up into his strange eyes. "I'm wondering if you can see that, however your mojo works, and maybe see which way they went. I'd assume if they're meeting here, one or both are somewhere nearby."

"Darling, I promise you that I am both fully capable of vehicular navigation and operating under the strictest of possible professional guidelines." Cristian doesn't flinch away from her gaze; just offers an almost sad little smile. "I'll be right back, baby doll."

He doesn't waste any time slipping out of the passenger door after he says it. He tucks his hands into the pockets of his pea coat as he makes his way over towards the bench. There is an unfortunate moment where reality creeps in and, despite his dapper clothing and well-kept appearance, he doesn't look at all out of place. In any event, once he arrives at the bench he spins about and takes a seat. With flaire.

The supposed moment in question was just a day ago- realistically, he probably could have squeaked by without supplementing his ability. Inexplicably, however, he wanted to get this right, and so he waits a few minutes to let the haze of the Vicadin and Vodka to wash over his conciousness.

Baby doll? Veronica is left blinking for a moment at that as he gets out of the car. A moment later, her own door opens and thuds quietly behind her. She glances at the apartment buildings across the way — she doesn't believe any of her former coworkers are in such a place, but if they were, if this exercise in futility were the real thing, it'd be likely someone there could be watching them — seeing her. She pulls sunglasses over her face despite the gloomy sky and strides toward the bench, hands moving to her pockets as she watches him.

She doesn't move too close, knowing that if he's trying to use his power, that might be distracting — of course, she knows he'll come up dry, but she's supposed to be hoping for something. Her eyes dart around the perimeter of the park as if keeping a lookout. Her mind does touch upon the question: what if her coworkers happened to be here, of all places? Bad luck — which would be her luck. Still, she needs to see how his power works, to see what he needs to make it work, so she knows when he's using it.

Ahhh, there it is. As the first wave of his 'Government Employee Ability Lubrication' kick into effect, Cristian's eyes slide half-closed and his head droops just a touch. And there is no pain. He withdraws pictures of the Agents in question and gives them a cursory perusal before beginning. When he's ready, he slips them back into his pocket and smiles. "Alright, lets do this."

Cristian lets his mind blank; well, at least as much as he can. He's no Bhudda just slipping in and out of Enlightenment with a little bit of booze to kick him along. In any event, his eyes suddenly go… distant. He doesn't close them; in fact he swings his head this way and that as if watching people walk past that aren't there.

This goes on for several minutes before he finally speaks. "No dice. Your informant was wrong. And, I feel like I need to burn these clothes now." Halfway through his sentence he suddenly blinks, as if snapping out of a daze, and then he's back. So much for the fireworks.

Veronica catches a sideways glance- 'Really?' - but he doesn't offer any byplay on the subject. At least for now. He just stands, brushing off the back of his pants and jacket as best -and perhaps more vigorously than necessary -he can.

"Well, that sucks. No one who looked like them?" she says, pulling out her institute-issue cell phone and scrolling through it, eyes on the screen as she scrutinizes something. Perhaps the name of her informant.

Her dark eyes move back to his face. "You okay? Why the ants-in-the-pants routine, and need to burn your suit? Something interesting happen yesterday, or just the typical bum vomiting his Irish breakfast on that bench or something like that?" she says wryly.

"No, not even close, darling." Cristian doesn't use these words the way one might assume, the 'darling' and the 'baby doll'. They appear to be, as it turns out, more like a male Californian version of a Southern waitress calling everyone 'hun'. As mildly infuriating as the average New Yorker might find that to be. If there is any danger of causing such an emotional reaction, he doesn't give any indication he's aware of it.

"And I only wish it was something so heart warming and wholesome. Don't worry, I may be impolite, but even I won't bore you with the gory details. Anyway. Is there any reason this informant might have wanted you looking in the wrong place?" Other than said informant not existing, anyway.

Veronica slips the phone back into her pocket and chuckles. "Right, because there's things in this world I haven't seen still?" She clearly is a jaded and bitter soul. "Sorry for wasting your time then, agent," she adds, a little sigh of exasperation. She's not a bad actress, actually — most agents have to be, from time to time, but Veronica's always been one for the undercover roles.

"So," she adds, nodding toward his pocket where the pills and flask were stowed. "Is that your typical M.O. for your ability?" The question's asked simply, with curiosity, not judgment.

"Note to self: Add Veronica to horrific chain email forwarding list." Now that Cristian has properly- and by that, clearly, entirely ineffectively -cleansed himself of whatever foul contaminents were on that park bench he returns his hands to his pockets.

The Question earns her a long, hard evaluation. There are secrets in this world that aren't meant to be shared. "You are an inquisitive one, aren't you? Although, I am flattered that you would assume there was some connection, and I not just another deadbeat on Uncle Sam's payroll. Still, I feel like I answer a great deal more questions than I ask when I'm with you. Don't think I'm better than the sort of person who would catalogue that kind of thing."

He looks away; into the distance, at a hobo shuffling across the street- oh, he might be clean for the most part and not worrying a shop cart along behind him, but he's a hobo alright -or at an imaginary jogger's ass, its impossible to tell. But he says one more all-important word, in regards to Veronica's purpose today.


The brunette crosses her arms, chin lifting slightly defensively at whatever he is insinuating when he mentions her inquisitive nature. The barriers in her eyes seem to lower a touch when he admits to needing to use in order to see the past. That helps. "You need to be at the scene of the crime so to speak?" she asks — another question. "Sorry. I just… if I'm working with someone, I want to know how their power works. My last official 'partner?' He was a cell leech. Every moment I was with him, he was swapping out my healthy cells for his dying cells so to speak. I'm probably like five days older than I should be, physically speaking." She winks at the number — like five days would make a difference.

Those cold blue eyes of Cristian's seem to harden, although he's not looking at her so there really isn't any way for her to know that. "Ahh, and behold the vanity of Woman." It almost sounds like he's quoting something, but then, he isn't. Finally he turns, and it would seem he's schooled his face into impassivity. Many in his wake have assumed he wasn't very intelligent- especially those who knew about his power -just a frat boy with all the right touches of sophistication to cover it up, due in part to the fact that he can seem so… flippant.

"No offense, Miss Sawyer, but you haven't exactly been running around acting like a team player. That isn't an insult, just an observation. I appreciate your sentiment in wanting to trust, or at least know, who you're working with- I do. But with me its trust or nothing, and that, baby doll, is a two way street."

For now he leaves her second question unaswered. It hangs in the air like a floating elephant; ready to be answered, and yet not. She isn't the only one testing people today.

"Vanity," repeats Veronica with a scoff and a shake of her head. She's the least vain woman she knows, at least in the usual meaning of the word. She shrugs and turns to head back to the car, pulling the keys out of her pocket.

"If you've been through what I have, you'd have a hard time trusting people, too," she points out. "I spent the last five years of my life trusting the Company, and look what happened. I'm lucky to be alive and not behind bars, since I saw the light before it was too late."

She gets to the car, opening the driver's door and sliding inside to start the engine.

Well, Cristian certainly isn't walking back, so he really doesn't have any choice but to follow the woman. He slips in the passenger side, but thank God, he doesn't start that twitching. Err, spinning the pen. Call it what you want, he doesn't do it. In fact he lays his head back against the headrest and closes his eyes. The man just looks tired. The kind of tired sleep can't fix.

"I have no intention of arguing the point, Miss Sawyer." So now its formal again. "Betrayel might not taste good, but its fast, easy, and cheap. Its McDonalds. We've all had that particular happy meal."

At tihs point he breathes in deeply and forces his eyes open. He even offers a little smile, though this one isn't sad as the one when they first got to the park. "Distrust and suspicion are easy too, and nobody's ever accused me of liking to make things hard."

"I don't distrust you. I just don't trust anyone. There is a difference, isn't there?" Veronica asks in a soft breath, staring out the window for a moment, not looking at him for a long moment before she finally darts a glance his way through the corner of her dark eyes. "Don't take it personally."

She puts the car in drive and pulls away from the curb. "I trust you enough to work with you," she adds tersely, glancing at him again. "Is it mutual?"."

"Is there a difference? I'm not really sure." Cristian peers out the window, missing her glance through the corner of her eyes. "But no don't worry, I don't take it personally. I didn't put those scars on your soul, and I can't make them go away." He shrugs, raising one hand to feel the slight chill of the window, careful not to touch it- some people are sensitive about fingerprints on their glass.

"I trust you until you give me a reason not to. The fact that you don't is something I'm used to. Its not a problem. What I said before, I meant whatever distance you want to keep, its fine with me."

She doesn't look at him this time, though there's a tension to the set of her jaw and her hands on the steering wheel. "Thanks for trying to help, at any rate," she says, her husky voice quiet and subdued as she keeps her eyes on the road, taking them back toward Roosevelt Island.

"Can I ask you what your pills are? I think for medical purposes I should know, in case there's ever a problem. And I don't mean that you'd abuse them and OD. I trust you know your limits, but sometimes medications can suddenly affect someone in a way they haven't before; also, who knows what abilities we might encounter that could adversely affect a controlled substance." Suddenly she sounds like a doctor. "I'd like to know just in case, so I can tell medical staff or make decisions based on what I see happening to you."

Cristian flicks his eyebrows. Its a rapid movement; up/down. It almost says 'oh well', though he isn't dense enough to miss the sudden tension. He looks back out the window, suddenly realizing his hand had accidentally touched the glass. He withdraws it.

"Right now they're Vicadin, but it changes. If you end up having to tell medical staff something, just tell them I'm a junkie and to proceed accordingly." He sniffs conspicuosly, but at least he doesn't touch the more ominous purpose her question could indicate.

She's an agent — she's been an agent since she was 21. Veronica is observant and she notices the withdrawal of the hand. "Man, relax. It's not my car, for one, and two, do I really look like the type to flip out over smudges on my windows? I thought vicodin was supposed to relax you." She's been on it often enough after being shot and dislocating her shoulder, among other injuries. "Thanks. Sorry. It's the almost-doctor in me. I don't like there to be unknown parameters that I have control over, you know? I can't control what comes at us, but I can control what I know about my partner." She pauses. He's not her partner. "Or whoever I'm partnered with for the time being."

Her brows knit together, and she reaches for the radio to flip it on, a Muse song filling a bit of the silence. "So. They tell you how much of a bitch I am yet?" she asks with a little bit of a smirk. "Or did you figure it out on your own?"

"You'd be amazed, how relaxed I am right now. I was actually just thinking how much I wish it was raining…" Cristian lets that little grin- the one she saw the first time they met -take over his lips. "The problem is, I could be on anything- or nothing. I can 'look' without being on anything at all." She's thinking nine steps ahead; he appears to not even be paying attention half the time. Maybe he is Tracy Morgan, after all.

"Miss Sawyer, you're not a bitch. I'm from California. If that was what you were going for, you're gonna have to try harder than that. Did you know you're cute when you're frustrated?"

She snorts. "Well, then, I can definitely bitch up more if you need. I'm from Southern Orange County. No one bitches like South County bitches, after all," Veronica says with a smirk, glancing toward him. Of course, that's not how she was raised, and she went to school in Berkeley, about as distant in feel and attitude from Orange County as one can get, if not in mileage. "Where you from?"

Maybe its a temporary situation, but he smiles nonetheless. Cristian was sure there was a person hidden in there somewhere. He'd seen it once before. "South Sac, the Garden Block, born and raised. I think I spent as much time in Frisco, Marin, San Jo, and Oak Town as I did at home, though." Hey, if she wants to throw 'South County bitches' out there, he'll play the game.

"You can put your bitchy level wherever you'd like with me. I adapt easily. Just be careful; if you make me laugh, I might actually like you. And then you're fucked." Profanity might not be his normal style, but the word flows off his tongue in a way that clearly indicates at one point in his life he used it frequently.

Her brows rise and she glances at him. "No shit? I went to Berkeley. Probably passed you on the freeway or something. How long have you been in New York? Don't worry. I never make anyone laugh. I don't have a sense of humor. Or maybe I lost it with my virginity. I don't really remember having either." There's a tic of a smile that belies her words.

"If by 'passed' you mean 'crawled slowly by in the next lane', then maybe. I've been back several times, but I moved East in '92." Cristian's pause is only long enough for him to turn back away from the window to glance at her again. "And color me surprised. I would've never guessed you had ever even lost your virginity. The sense of humor… well, Hell, I assumed that was a birth defect."

What a gentleman.

Her eyes narrow slightly as she turns the corner, though her lips are still in that smirk. "Well, maybe not, if you left in '92. I was 10 in 1992. I didn't get to Berkeley until 2000, so probably not. And I got to this hell hole in 2008." It's said straightforwardly enough, not seeming to be trying to brag about her relative youth. After all, she's had partners much, much older than him.

"So when'd you find out you were a precog? Before or after the day that changed the world?" AKA November 8, 2006.

Cristian sighs. "Well, now I feel… dirty." He slips a hand into his pocket and grabs his cell phone, flipping through… whatever it is on it… occasionally turning it on its side and slipping it open to type something even as he talks. "I've known about that for quite some time now. Given that you've brought up my personal antiquity, I suppose you could assume you were still playing with Ninja Turtles and dreaming about Scott Wolf, but to me it was 'College'."

"I did no such thing as bring up your old age," Veronica says, though the dimples show in her cheeks. "And that makes sense. With what, all the pot and alcoholic experimentation, right? Did you think you were getting just extra special brownies or that you were going crazy, since that was before we all knew about people being — what is it the good doctor's calling it these days — SLC Expressive?"

"Yes and no. My childhood was… less than ideal. So I was fairly well aware that powerful hallucinations were not a normal side effect of weed. Even mushrooms don't have that kind of kick. Yet, I wasn't quite prepared to accept the fact that I could see the past. I," Cristian coughs a little, "didn't believe in that kind of shit. I thought I was losing my mind, so I quit. The rest, as they say, is history."

Veronica frowns and nods. "I'm sorry," she says quietly. "I had a good childhood. None of that sort of thing. And I didn't know about this kind of thing until I got recruited for the Company." With lies. "I can't really imagine what it'd be like back then, before everyone knew. Harder in some ways. Easier in others, I guess. But with a power like that — well." She glances over at him, and the hints of humor are gone, her eyes solemn, but she does offer a smile — one that is a bit rueful and sad. "You look like you did okay in the long run. You have my respect."

"Lets not sugar-coat it, baby doll. I'm a highly-functioning addict, at best." Like House! Cristian still has that vague half-smile on his face, though, so at least he's not getting weepy. "I'm slowly destroying my body for my job. The sad thing about that is, its not at all uncommon. Just rarely so literal." He shrugs. "Thank you, though. I think it was easier to know before. Frightening for a while, but when the truth about 'us' came out… not much of a shock for me. Because I'm old, if you recall." Now its his turn to look out the corner of his eye at her.

There's another snort. "You're hardly old. And yeah, tell me about it. I've been shot, electrocuted, shoulder dislocated, sliced by a fucking robot, don't even ask," Veronica holds up one hand as if to ward off questions, "had knives thrown at me, tasered with my own weapon, don't ask again or I'll have to kill you, and then of course there's the partnering me with known and wanted murderers without telling me. That's not even getting into the targets and their various powers that have almost killed me."

The car is now on the bridge to Roosevelt and the Suresh Center, almost "home." "Anyway, what happens if you don't do it — the drugs? I mean… the job might not work out so well without it, but … you know, I'm an agent, and I wasn't hired for my ability back in the day. And now, it still isn't too useful, as I can't really do much with it."

"Well, actively speaking, nothing happens. I can look without it… just not as well. Its complicated and frustrating; the latter I would normally be for, considering my earlier observation regarding you and frustration, but in this case it'd be me getting frustrated, which is far less enjoyable for… me. Here, we're getting back into that two-way street territory we talked about earlier, though. I'm not giving up my alluring 'mysterious aire' for nothing."

"Although, I might consider it to hear about this robot story some time."

She arches a brow at his reminder that she said she's "cute when she's frustrated," a slight shake of her head that is basically says men! without a word. The news he can see without the drugs isn't good news — she isn't sure how much she can trust him, if he can look in on her past exploits. But she's still here, and not locked up in a facility with an oxygen and negation gas tube up her nose. He hasn't looked in on her activities, then. Yet.

"Operation Apollo. I was in Argentina last winter," she says quietly, a shrug of her shoulder indicating there's not much to tell. Or much she can tell, at any rate.

Reaching the checkpoint, she flashes her badge at the DHS goon on the bridge, who waves her through with a polite, "Ma'am" and nod of his head.

"I'll buy you a coffee from the coffee house before we head into Suresh. I can't stand that cheap Folgers crap they put on," Vee says lightly, steering the car toward a quaint little mom and pop somehow still in business.

It's the least she can do after deliberately wasting his time.

While she's worrying about whether or not he's looked into the past and seen something incriminating, Cristian quietly says, "Yeah, like that." He doesn't offer any other pleasant conversation, however, for fear of losing out on his hard-won coffee.

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