Hot Pocket


sf_faulkner2_icon.gif sf_shaw2_icon.gif

Scene Title Hot Pocket
Synopsis Faulkner invites Shaw for a spot of lunch and a spot on the job in between bites of information.
Date February 20, 2021

La Luz Restaurant

2:57 P.M.

New York City. Uptown. Classy. Italian.

Isaac Faulkner sits at his customary table at the back of La Luz, browsing the menu and considering what he wants to get for this late lunch. He isn't entirely alone — a man lurks unobtrusively in the shadows near his table, with another posted outside — but the second place setting at his table is, as of yet, unoccupied.

Faulkner isn't worried about it. Either its intended occupant will show, or they will not; if they do not, he'll reconsider his approach then. Either way, La Luz's beef ravioli will make for a delightful midday meal.

Being not entirely certain what's on the menu has been the M.O. of the past few — has it been days? Weeks? The man who steps into La Luz and scans the establishment with a sweep of dark eyes isn't quite the confidently calm figure of Shahid Khan as he'd like to appear. But he's never been one to draw attention to himself, making this event where he'd been personally invited to, a rare one. Let alone with the senator himself.

An inquiry and being shown the way to the back tables later, Shaw approaches, easily within view of the bodyguards, and stops at the edge of the tablecloth. Hands extract from his dark jeans pockets, empty, trustworthy. At least he remembered to wear a grey neutral blazer over dark shirt for the meeting. "Senator Faulkner, good afternoon," comes the greeting.

Faulkner looks up from his menu, dark eyes assessing Shaw… and after a moment he smiles. "Mr. Khan. Thank you for coming. Please, sit down," he says, gesturing to the seat opposite him, and the menu in front of it. "La Luz is an old favorite of mine; I hope you enjoy it as much as I do," he says with a pleasant smile.

Considering the man before him right back, Shaw lingers standing a touch longer than one at ease would. At least he doesn't put on airs of old partnerships or friendship, this one. A practiced politician as Isaac would find him an easy read in the chummed waters of politics and business. Yet already, the man has a great many secrets held deep in those large, brown eyes.

Shaw sits. Fingers turn the page open for the menu, and eyes flick down to it. "How have you been, Senator?" A customary common ask, accompanied by an easing, albeit faintly forced smile, as he seeks to find the same level of comfort zone Isaac has in the restaurant.

"I've been well enough, all things considered," Faulkner says, folding his menu closed and laying it on the table. "But how have you been of late? That's what I'd like to know, Mr. Khan. One hears things, of course — I try to keep my ear to the ground — but what I hear seems to have a few pieces… missing." Faulkner shrugs. "It's always been my philosophy, when I run into a situation like that, to ask directly. To try to find out the whole story, unabridged and unadulterated. No matter how bizarre it may seem."

He lets that sit for a moment — only a moment. Then he smiles. "Are you ready to order, or would you rather wait a bit? The ravioli is delightful, if you'd care for my recommendation."

"Uh." Shaw hesitates, ungraceful in his dead giveaway when Faulkner elaborates on the small talk. The man's fingers around the menu pinch against the pages as he uses it to try and deflect. "Ravioli sounds good. I once made a mistake comparing them to even more miniature pizza pockets in front of an Italian woman in Lower Manhattan." The way the story drops off and Shaw makes a face, it's quite obvious how that culinary gaffe was dealt with.

Clearing his throat lightly, Shaw sets the menu down now that decisions on food are made so quickly. His assessment of Faulkner's intentions are far from over. "There's more than a few pieces missing - in the river," he replies after a pause. "They're probably not fishing the rest of it out anymore. But it's probably coming out of the pension fund." Lamentable. Shaw's gaze drops to a shameful stare at the table top between them. Regret comes first. Then the memory of the accident and the circumstances leading up to it cause a furrowing of his brow, and a harder stare down at the blank white cloth.

Quieter, softer, Shaw adds, “I heard some things too. It’s not on the chopper’s black box.”

Faulkner chuckles sympathetically; he can very well imagine how that particularly culinary gaffe played out. His expression fades to a well-practiced expression of earnest sympathy as Shaw goes on.

That last comment, though, is exactly what Faulkner had hoped to hear. He nods gravely. "I would be delighted to hear what you've observed, Mr. Khan."

Shoulders lift, tension running a line down his arms. Shaw raises his gaze to meet the man's across the table, studying the senator more fully. Silence grows until he pops it with a short, "She flew."

It might sound confusing, enigmatic to those who have no context, but Shaw piles on the statement with a more pointed and heavy accusation. "She said that the government was keeping secrets. Speaking truth to power. That the government or someone powerful was keeping us broken. And that she was trying to help fix us. She mentioned you. And Gillian Childs." He stares harder, more desperately seeking understanding. "One moment she was outside, in the air, the next she appeared inside and told me… Then she did something when she grabbed me, and we fell out of the cockpit…"

Shaw drops off his rambling, disjointed explanation. He blinks several times as the memory rushes back like the wind roaring in his ears as he plummeted to the ground. A final blink and he looks back down to the tablecloth. Head shaking in disbelief, he finds it hard to describe. "I should have died, Mr. Faulkner," Shaw says, swallowing dryly. "I did die."

Except that he’s sitting there, ordering ravioli. Maybe he should have ordered a drink.

Isaac regards Shaw impassively for a long moment after he's done with his tale… then he lets out a single quiet chuckle. "She never changes her little speech," he says quietly, and there's a low anger in his voice — the kind that can burn for years.

He sets his silverware down carefully. However calm he may appear, hearing yet another case of Asami's Bullshit makes him terribly angry — angry enough that he'd prefer to wait until he's cooled down a bit to finish his meal.

"You have my sympathies, Mr. Khan, and I mean that. Being thrown from a helicopter is a nightmare scenario… to say nothing of the fact that, courtesy of her actions, you appear to be getting blamed for a crash that was absolutely not your fault." Faulkner laughs again, and again there's a sense of that smoldering anger behind the sound. "I don't know how she believes that this is fixing anything…"

"But I do know that it shouldn't be her place to just… decide the course of your life based on her aesthetics. She is not God, whatever she may believe," and for a moment that anger is written clearly on his face…

Then he exhales, and it's buried again. "You said you died, though," Faulkner says, picking up his silverware again before fixing Shaw with a curious look. "Yet I see, happily enough, that you are not currently dead. How, exactly?"

Shaw's laugh rings hollow, incredulous still at the circumstances he finds himself in. With dark eyed gaze flicking back up to Isaac, lingering upon that curious look, he drums his fingertips softly on the table cloth. Indecision isn't exactly what plagues him. "It's really… something I've had to ask myself a lot these past few months, but moreso since meeting her. My parents died in a car crash, and I survived. Few months ago, I had what the docs say was a 'mini-stroke', but I've come through it and got my wings back. Apparently I've been through a lot of shit, Mr. Faulkner. Seen a lot go down, too. But this? I've never seen nothing quite like this. This…" The fingers pause. He leans in slightly, voice hushing to serious tone for an absurd sounding premise.

"It's like I'm Wolverine."

He's even Canadian-born.

But to make his actual point, Shaw adds, "I pushed my own fucking bones back together after the crash. The fall. They were fucked five ways to Friday. And I felt it, just, come back together. Every bit of it." Shaw's emotion isn't anger, but rather, a terrified sort of awe.

He breaks off the stare when he realizes how ridiculous he must sound, even as there’s doubt formed into his furrowed brow. The fork in his hand tilts as he contemplates the possibility of the sharp tines… But the only thing that winds up on the end of the fork is another delicious pouch of pasta.

Faulkner listens with an expression of polite interest — the only sign of how raptly he's following is that his fork and knife have stilled once again. It's only after Shaw has finished his explanation that that expression cracks, replaced by… a smile, warm and amused.

He chuckles once, shaking his head. "It would seem, Mr. Khan, that you and I have more in common than I realized," he says quietly, a hint of something gently sardonic creeping into his demeanor now. "My own encounter was… rather less dramatic than yours, happily, but went over many of the same beats. She grabbed at me. I struggled, to no avail, and for my efforts I found myself with a throat full of broken glass."

Faulkner's expression, too, grows contemplative for a moment. "I very nearly died there, Mr. Khan," he admits. "But then… I healed." Faulkner regards Shaw for a moment, then nods. "The scuttlebutt I've heard is that things are not looking good for your continued employment with the NYPD. Would you be interested in working for me?"

The visceral imagery brought to mind of a throat full of broken glass elicits an expected eye-widening, alarmed stare from Shaw. The swallow after is a hard one, followed by a slow blink as it's quite obvious Isaac Faulkner lived through the encounter with nary a scar to show. Physically, anyway. What about mentally? Emotionally?

Hard to say. The man sitting across from Shaw is someone well-practiced in politic and the facades necessary to navigate them. Shaw, in contrast, brandishes emotion like an unwieldy shield in the hands of a squire. He grimaces with hesitation first at the rumors about his likely termination at the police department, then at the headhunting offer.

But it's obvious that he is interested, and desperation wells in the core of that interest. "Considering I'm still getting processed through the union," he says, the attempt to be coy a weak one, "it might take a while. Is this position… immediately open?" One of the bits of ravioli gets a distracted poke. "And how long for?"

Faulkner inclines his head at the union bit — a fair point. He considers the next questions. "The position would be open as soon as I can get the paperwork rammed through HR, so… from tomorrow onward, most likely. As to how long…" Faulkner mulls it over for a moment. "Let's say until the end of the year, with the option to renew annually if you're agreeable. Your record is sterling, barring this singular incident, and…" he waves a hand. "We've already gone over the, ah, extenuating circumstances on that," he says, giving Shaw a wry grin.

That brand of confidence Faulkner shows is one Shaw might harbor a bit of envy for. But for now, he's content to simply be near it, and perhaps absorb by osmosis. "I appreciate the invitation and the opportunity, Mr. Faulkner. And hope to help out as best I can during these, um. Interesting times." To downplay their mutual predicament.

There's a quiet clink of Shaw's fork as he sets it on his finished plate, and reaching for his water glass there's a pause as he mulls a question he wants to ask but doesn't dare until, "Did she tell you anything else? About… deserving what was ours? About how we're not alone? That… there are others like us?" He wets his lips nervously, casting a glance to the bodyguards nearby then back to Faulkner. "Do you know who else?"

Faulkner is silent for a long moment, his lips creasing into a frown as his gaze shifts not to Shaw but past him, somewhere into the middle distance.

"No," he says at length. "Much of our discussion prior to the attack was centered on the allegations the government was making against her. She gave her side of the story — saying that, despite video footage and not-inconsiderable evidence, the charges were lies — that, rather than agents returning fire, they initiated the gunfight."

Faulkner moves the ravioli around his plate for a moment, considering his words. "Then the subject shifted to her… gifts, and to how there was something… 'broken' inside of our brains. Then she decided that she was going to fix me, with or without my consent, and…"

He trails off, shrugging — they've been over this, as well. "I didn't linger long after that; there was… someone with me that I wanted to get out of there, before she ended up getting what I'd gotten," he says grimly. "The others there… I tried to stall her long enough for them to escape, too, but even after what she'd done, they were… blind. All they saw was the healing. All they wanted was the power," Faulkner says, and in that moment, there's a deeply bitter grin on his face, something almost pained.

His eyes come back to Shaw, then, and that grin tightens, becoming something grim. "But what she gives comes at a cost, Mr. Khan. This, I believe," he says. "I have seen troubling things; things as inexplicable as these gifts, and based on timing I'm given to suspect that there is a connection."

"But that… might be a long conversation," he says reluctantly. "And, therefore, one best suited to another time. Perhaps when next we meet," Faulkner offers. "There is much we do not know about this strange new world we find ourselves in; if we work together, we might be able to find some answers. Particularly given the similar nature of our respective gifts."

That seems to be a thought Faulkner finds cheering; he returns his attention to his plate for a moment, devouring another bite of ravioli. "As to others… a few. I'm tracking down leads, but the Petrellis are the only ones I know of for certain at the moment. Though… I'm not sure they see things the way we do."

A frown casts into the stiff, pursed lips that part when Shaw takes a final sip that finishes his lamentably non-comforting drink. "She doesn't seem to be making many friends amongst the authorities, no," he adds in similar tone, skepticism evident of Asami's original intent. Yet, there lingers some doubt of his own, and the man remains on the fence with the mention of the cost and what unknown connections there may be. "Whatever it is she wants from us - from all of us she's… afflicted… it's far from over."

"And, whatever remains to be seen," Shaw says evenly, nodding slowly to Faulkner in tacit agreement, "My wife and I, her partner Detective Muldoon, we're all part of this predicament too. Whatever Asami Tetsuzan's intentions might be, we'll figure it out." Teamwork is something he's used to and finds comfort within; his quirked half smile shows a much more genuine gratitude for the cooperative invitation in return. He wipes his hand, rises, the cleaned hand offered out to shake. "So again, I appreciate the offer, Mr. Faulkner, and I'll look forward to your next call."

Faulkner rises smoothly to his feet as Shaw does, taking the offered hand and giving it a firm, businesslike shake. "Of course," he says, smiling in return.

"Should anything come up, please don't hesitate to call, either," he says, producing a business card and offering it to Shaw — in addition to his name and office numbers, another number is written on it in clean handwriting. And with that… he steps back, nodding. "And thank you for coming, Mr. Khan. I'll look forward to hearing from you, as well."

All in all, a decent opening, but Isaac Faulkner's mind is already moving on — back to the mysteries at hand, and to the future. With luck, this encounter will pay dividends, somewhere down the line.

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