hana_icon.gif rue_icon.gif

Scene Title Impeccable
Synopsis Rue conveys her concerns about working with Wolfhound's new SESA liaison to Hana.
Date January 16, 2018

The Bunker

The briefing room empties mercifully fast, and Rue is spared having to listen to the murmurs of her colleagues. She's spared having to participate in those conversations. For now. Once it's just her and the Major, she lifts her head. "I'm sorry. I'm really sorry. I know that wasn't…"

She swallows against a throat gone dry, jaw set tightly. There's no need to state the obvious. They both know that wasn't professional at all. And it's also unlike her. "I don't know what to do," she admits in a voice that carries more strength than she feels. If nothing else, Rue is very good at owning up to her mistakes and admitting when she's in need of guidance, because she wants to be the best she can be for Hana and for her team.

Once the room is empty — empty save all but herself and Rue — Hana moves from where she's been standing, pulling out the nearest chair and sliding unceremoniously down into it. She stretches her left leg out, resting its heel on the floor, hands folded idly over the wolf's-head cane. "It wasn't," she allows, her tone neutral. "But situations like this aren't. I didn't exactly hit you with a small surprise."

A thin smile, grimly sardonic, lifts the corners of her lips. "People aren't professional when it comes to relationships. Friends, family. Enemies. Lovers, present or former." Which is, ultimately, why Hana belabored the point during the meeting. Glancing towards the wall, towards an indistinct distance beyond it, Hana exhales quietly.

"There is no good advice I can give you," she says. "I could put you on indefinite leave," Hana continues, looking back to Rue. "That would at least get you clear of the problem." The tone in which she presents the option is neutral, offering no indication of the major's own opinion. But it doesn't take words from Hana to explain how that isn't a solution. There are no solutions.

For a moment, Rue looks vaguely ill, but she isn't quick to offer up a protest. It's not a solution, but it might mitigate part of the problem. What Rue does not want to be in this situation is part of the problem. "For what it's worth, I don't think she's… out to get us? But what you're asking…"

The sigh is heavy. With how far off the handle she flew during that meeting, there's no sense in hiding her emotions. In her experience, it's best to be honest about them with Hana anyway. "One of the last times I had a real conversation with Robyn Quinn, she was still engaged to be married. And she asked me to run away with her." Rue shakes her head, her lips pressing into a thin line. "I didn't have any inclination to do it then, and I definitely don't now. But I can't trust her to be professional with me. If… If that's going to put the entire organization in jeopardy, then…"

She doesn't want to say it. So, instead she offers, "I defer to your judgement, Major."

Hana listens with quiet patience as Rue speaks, nodding briefly as she concludes. "I don't expect she is either. If anything, Quinn's an unfortunate pawn in someone else's game," the major continues, tone shading towards bitter on the last few words. "I never knew Quinn well," Hana says after a brief silence. "Only of her. Unfortunately, there is nothing I can do to change SESA's side of this equation — not that doesn't make our position worse," she adds grimly. Inevitably, Hana did consider those options. Even though they were never true options.

"I do not want to take you off active duty," Hana allows. "The only gain is that it removes you from a bad situation." Which is a gain… but implicitly, there are other costs that she does not consider to balance. "If she does prove unprofessional? That may be ammunition for us… if it is properly documented." She regards her student levelly. "Which will be a fucking pain."

That is not documentation Rue wants to have to write up, unsurprisingly. It's bad enough that she just had to admit to everyone who didn't already know that she used to date their new watchdog. Having to document if Quinn starts to edge that way again…

The thought is banished with a nod of her head to signal understanding, and moving on. "So the question is…" Now she's more herself. Now she's thinking about work. Rue leans forward just a bit, a small light in her eyes that has been absent since she lost her latest bet with Avi. "What are we on to that has them wanting to discredit us?" She's been at this long enough to know how this works.

Hana sits back as Rue moves on, one brow arching in response to her question.  "Are we on to anything at all?" she counters.  One hand gestures, again, in the general direction of the Safe Zone.  "Remember, this is the federal government we're talking about.  One of the agencies we work closely with.  If they want to discredit us?"  She shakes her head slowly.

"They could just refuse to hire us again.  The government is our major client; that would be a severe blow both financially and for our reputation.  If they wanted to damage us?  Epstein and Demsky between them handed us over on a silver platter," Hana continues, more than a hint of snarl in the words — not to mention the way her hands clench over the cane.  "We know they acted without sanction.  But the feds could still bring charges against Wolfhound.  Hold the company culpable.  Tie us up in bureaucracy potentially for years, and murder our reputation at the same time."

"As a company?  We're small fry," Hana says bluntly.  "We can't play the games the multinationals do, and we can't take the hits they'd just shrug off.  Neither do we have the protections inherent in military institutions.  All of this?"  She waves to indicate the conference room, the prior discussion of their observer… then leaves the thought hanging for Rue to fill in.

To her credit, Rue doesn’t shrink back when Hana shoots holes in her notion about what’s really going on. It’s all taken in stride, considered, reasoned, accepted. Maybe she’s spent too much time digging in the dirt for secrets. Everything looks like a part of a bigger riddle or conspiracy at times. "That’s why the set-up doesn’t make any sense to me, though. They could bring all of this down on our heads with almost no effort. So why the sting?"

Rue’s nostrils flare as she draws in a breath, a sound of frustration quiet in the back of her throat. "It just had to be Quinn, didn’t it?" At least it isn’t someone who still wonders if the stories about her are true. That she helped facilitate the fall of Pollepel Island and engineer the downfall of the Ferrymen. "I know I don’t have to tell you not to hesitate to pull me if I appear to be compromised, but this is me asking you to do just that anyway. You let me rebuild my reputation here. I don’t wanna fuck all of this up for anybody here."

Hana’s gaze is met and held now. Chin inclines toward chest slightly. A nod, respects being given. "And of course, if there’s anything you need me to do, I will do it. Without question, Major."

Why the sting?  A good question indeed.  "Why, indeed," Hana echoes.  "Is it incompetence or malice that assigned Quinn?  Is it competence that's playing a deeper game?  Are we a target, or are we a piece of the gameboard?"  Breathing out a sigh, Hana rubs a hand across her eyes; the weight of that breath says everything there is to say about the answers to those questions.

Lowering her hand, the major nods firmly to Rue, solemn assurance not accompanied by any words.  She lets that moment pass without speech, because nothing further needs saying; they are on the same page.  Her brows arch as Rue continues, and Hana gives her statement a moment of thought.

"Keep your ears open," she says; though that is another thing that all but goes without saying.  "We don't have nearly enough information.  Also— "  She casts her student a sidewise glance.  "Be aware that Quinn may — should, if she's going to defend any claims of impartiality — record any conversation she is in.  Remind the others."

"Of course." It’s a tough pill to swallow, that her ex-lover might do that to them. But it’s exactly what Rue would do. It’s just part of the job, and Robyn’s work ethic has to have improved a hell of a lot, or they wouldn’t have given her this assignment. Whether or not they’re setting her up to look incompetent. Too much and it will be obvious there was no mistake made in this matter, but that she was set on them purposefully.

The next question has Rue staring down at the table for a long moment. And she’d like to keep looking at it, but she tries to always give Hana the courtesy of looking at her when she’s speaking. It shows resolve and that she thinks what she has to say is worth saying. It’s a turnaround from the young woman she used to be. "If she starts to become… unprofessional…" Brows furrow, she presses on, "Do I exploit that if I think I can learn something, or do I walk away?"

Hana waits while Rue studies the table, then arches a brow in silent prompt as her gaze lifts.  The major smiles at her query, close-lipped, thin, edge sharp as a knife.  It's a good question, a difficult question, one for which she has a simple, simple answer. "Impeccable," Hana states, echoing her own words from earlier in a tone as unyielding as steel.

Leaning forward she crosses her arms on the table, gaze riveted intently on Rue.  "If she becomes unprofessional," Hana elaborates, "you record it.  Then you walk away."  She straightens slightly, dials that intensity back a notch.  "And you make damned sure that recording never, ever hits a system I can touch."  Impeccable, indeed.

It is a simple answer, and the simplicity is comforting. It absolves her from making a hard choice she will never be able to take back. "Yes ma’am." Still, a silent prayer is offered up that she’s not placed in a position to have to make that decision at all. Maybe Quinn will do her job the way she’s meant to do, and Rue can look foolish for all her worry.

"I’d like to take the remainder of the day, if that’s all right." Rue works hard, trains hard. But right now? She could use a drink and a chance to mull all this over. Preferably with a friendly face, but it’s not strictly necessary. Rue shifts in her seat, not uncomfortable under Hana’s gaze. Not anymore. Or not this time anyway.

Rue's assent — the relief she visibly expresses at having that clear directive — is followed by Hana leaning back in her chair, her shoulders shading down, another quiet breath exhaled.  To the younger woman's request, Hana sweeps a hand in the direction of the door.  "Go."  Permission and instruction all at once.

After Rue has gone, Hana remains seated, hands folded over the wolf's-head cane, her eyes closed.  She lets an existential weariness seep out into her posture, bowing head and rounding shoulders, shaping the long and slow rhythm of her breaths.  But only for a moment.  Then she shakes it off, picks herself up, and refocuses her thoughts on matters ahead, because the preparations for their new associate aren't going to make themselves.

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