Incognito Ergo Sum


elle_icon.gif lene_icon.gif peyton2_icon.gif

Scene Title Incognito Ergo Sum
Synopsis I am in disguise, therefore I am?
Date November 15, 2010

Redbird Security

Monday morning means clouded skies thick with cottony gray, a drizzling rain falling down on the streets outside. There's hardly any foot traffic visible out the glass facade of the redbird building, rainwater streaking down the tiled windows, rippling the view from the street. Business hours usually are busier than this, the street outside is usually a haze of tail lights on a cloudy day like today.

That just isn't the case in a city operating under martial law. The lone secretary at work behind the front desk is actively clicking her mouse in the middle of a frenzied bout of Bejewelled on her browser, smacking gum between her teeth, chin resting on the palm of one hand disinterestedly, gold hoop earrings waggling with each jaw motion.

The tail lights of a yellow cab taxi pulling up out front don't do much to distract the secretary from her 'work', eyes halfway lidded and attention disinterested. It's just another, ordinary day in the city and in Redbird Security Solutions.

Well, mostly ordinary.

The world continues to turn, even when there is an ominous cloud hanging over the city, even when the stench of smoke and the grime of ash still attaches itself to any surface. Many business owners able to return to their businesses have swept up the broken glass and boarded up the windows, opened the doors and hung the open signs despite the climate of fear and uncertainty.

Fear and uncertainty, and capitalizing on it, is — perhaps unfortunately — Redbird's bread and butter. The fact that their neighbors have opened up this Monday morning means, more fortunately, that Peyton enters the office (after leaving it twenty minutes ago) with a pink box of pastries and another box of hot coffee from the nearby deli and bakery. She's not late, since she's the boss — it's just a few minutes past opening, and the receptionist has already done the duty of unlocking the door.

"It doesn't matter that the city is burning. By God, there will be bagels and cream cheese," Peyton quips, bringing the box to the desk and moving to a cupboard to find the coffee cups. It's way too early in the morning to be this uncaffeinated.

Hobbling around— that's the best way to describe what Elle Bishop is doing right now. She's been busy resting, healing from her wounds obtained before the eighth even happened. She also got busy with breaking up with Warren Ray, who angered her immensely by painting her as a crazy psychotic person who would kill Harmony. Turns out, Harmony became a friend, while she put an end to her relationship.

Now, impatient and bored out of her mind, she's made her way down from the new apartment that she's been hooked up with, very slowly. Turns out, it is very difficult to go down stairs with one leg fairly useless and a pair of crutches. It's actually a frightening affair. Poor Elle has finally managed to get down to the ground floor, and it's gotten her tired as a result. Even though she just slept a full ten hours, she should really be in a wheelchair instead of on her crutches.

The smell of coffee entices her. Coffee sounds extremely tasty right about now. The click of crutches on the floors announces her at first. Then, she pokes her head around the corner, offering a wave of her good arm at Peyton. "Hey…" She tilts her head toward Peyton thoughtfully, brows raised.

"Hiya Elle. Looks like you're doing a bit better?" Peyton says. She herself looks like hell, if less injured. She's still recovering from a gunshot to the arm, but that's mostly superficial and bound and hidden beneath the angora sweater the brunette wears. What is more telling are the black circles beneath her eyes, and the eyes themselves are still bloodshot — she's overusing her ability, and tears haven't helped.

"Do you want a cup of coffee?" she offers, pouring one out for Jo the receptionist, then pouring another and setting it aside for presumably Elle. "Help yourselves to the doughnuts and bagels."

Jo is already pulling out the sugars — blue packets, yellow packets, pink packets — and creamer and setting them out. Apparently there is a system.

A silhouette obscured by the water on the front windows approaches the revolving door of the Redbird Security Building, dashing across the sidewalk from the cab to avoid the downpouring rain. As the door spins, a soft electronic chime alerts the secretary to another arrival. Looking up past Peyton, she arches a brow on watching the young woman coming in off the street. The leather planner she had been using to shield her head from the rain is dotted with droplets of water, soon folded closed on entering. Wide and nervous green eyes dart about the lobby and expressive brows scrunch up ward in an expression reminiscent of a wayward puppy wondering if she's about to be hit by a rolled up newspaper.

The young woman is dressed well — if not casually — at the very least; a black pencil skirt over dark tights, red flats and clap against the tile floor. Her black and white horizontal striped sweater is something of an attention grabber, if in the way it looks like an old-timey prison jumpsuit's design scheme. The wool jacket she wears over that is unbuttoned, a loose multicolored scarf wound around her neck.

The receptionist offers a look to Peyton, then back to the young woman who hesitantly rakes fingers through her tangled hair, shakes the water out and then starts to nervously approach the front desk where Peyton and the receptionist are systematically preparing the coffee and doughnuts. "Ah— ex— excuse me?"

The young redhead halts in mid-stride, nails biting into the soft leather cover of her planned. "I'm… I'm looking— for human resources?" Given that this is the receptionist's job, she offers an apologetic look to Peyton and steps back behind her computer, flicking a glance up to the redhead.

"Did you have an appointment with us?" The question has the stranger hesitating, her brows xscrunching together and lips parting, then closing, the bottom of which is soon tugged at by her teeth. "Well, no I— not so much as… um…" green eyes flick nervously to Elle and Peyton, then back to the receptionist. "I'm Jolene— Marlowe?" Awkward hesitation is flung everywhere. "I was, um, it… there's a work-placement program at Columbia University that listed Redbird Security as one of its sponsor companies and… and I was hoping to," she traces a finger in the air as if trying to draw out her hard-found words.

Hopefully she doesn't want a communications-based position.

"A little bit— it'd be nice if Richard had made this place handicapped accessable. What does he have against people who can't walk well?" This is partially a joke, partially a grumbling, as Elle takes the coffee. Creamer is poured into the cup first, followed by a few sugars. Elle stirs, and promptly slurps some of the hot beverage down. "Thanks, Peyton." A slight smile is cast in Peyton's direction as Elle reaches for a donut. Normally, she'd go for a bagel, but— well, sugar sounds good right now.

Elle turns, blinking a few times toward Lene with raised brows as she makes her way in. Elle is also in the middle of taking a large bite of her doughnut. A bit red in the face, she chews said donut down, and offers a timid wave toward Jolene. What a great first impression she must give off, with a broken arm and a knee in a brace!

However, Elle's rather unsure what to say. And Peyton is the boss, so— she'll let the other woman handle it. Instead of answering, she slurps down her coffee.

Columbia University? Sponsor? They've only been in existence for a few months, and Peyton doesn't remember signing any agreements for interns with any college. Not that that's a bad idea. Maybe Alia or Cardinal or Jo did it, though, since it's not like Peyton deals with that side of the business. Still, her brows raise.

The phone rings just then, however, and so she steps forward, letting Jo answer the phone with a chirped "Redbird, how can I help you?"

"Hello," Peyton says, reaching for Jolene's hand and smiling. "I'm Peyton. What kind of work did you see yourself doing with us? What's your field of study?" It's a bit hypocritical, that question, since Peyton herself only has a high school diploma.

Clearing her throat, Jolene's eyes flick towards Elle and down to her knee brace, a brief look of sympathy and worry crosses her features, teeth nibbling at her bottom lip before she settles her attention back on Peyton. "Oh w— well I'm," the planner is fumbled around, flipped open and held in both hands. That her resume is now rippled by water spots is a fact that has Jolene's brows furrowing together and a sigh strained out through her nose.

"I'm actually studying for a degree in mechanical engineering at Columbia," the multi-page resume is slid out and turned around, offered out to Peyton. "Since Redbird is a civilian defense contracting company, I'd wanted to get— ah," she glances back to Elle, then over to Peyton again, "I'd wanted to get my foot in the door. I'm hoping to eventually get employment at Lockheed-Martin once I graduate in two years and having some experience in civilian defense would be a huge plus."

Sliding her tongue over her lips, Jolene's brows furrow before she glances back up from the water-wrinkled resume to Peyton. "I'm— you— you can call me Lene too, if you'd like ma'am." Ma'am. Peyton just inwardly turned 30.

Oh, great. She wants to work with civilian defense, and here's Elle, looking like death warmed over, eating a donut. She glances toward Peyton, frowning apologetically. What do I say? She never was too good at dealing with this kind of thing, so she shuffles back a bit on her crutches. Another bite is taken from the donut, chewed awkwardly.

For now, Elle opts to remain silent and let Peyton handle this. She's still the new girl who just got grievously injured on a mission to take out Rupert Carmichael, so she doesn't feel comfortable telling this girl anything about Redbird, really. She's still pretty unsure, herself.

"Well, hell, you're more qualified than I am, probably," Peyton says with a laugh, shaking her head as she flips through the paper, frowning slightly. She already feels so out of her element without Cardinal here. She can write out checks and decorate and make appointments with clients, but knowing just what a 20-year-old student engineer can do for their company is over her head.

"I'm sorry," she adds, glancing at Elle as the blonde fidgets, and she smiles. "This is one of my consultants, Elle." No last name is offered.

"Well, I'm not sure if we need someone, but it's possible we can find some work for you to do on a part-time basis, though your resume looks like you don't really need it," Peyton says, handing off the resume to Jo. "It's okay if we do some backgrounding on you? You understand. We're a security firm — it's what we do for our clients, so we kind of do it for ourselves, too." Peyton smiles at that. "What kind of jobs do you see yourself doing for us? How many hours would you be willing to work?"

Green eyes widen when Lene looks back to Elle, for a moment there's a fleeting look of recognition like she knows her from somewhere, but keeps it clamped down before flicking a stare back to Peyton. "Oh ah— y-yeah background checks, that's fine I'll— sign the release or whatever." There's a flustered smile as she realizes that she had been too quiet all that time she was giving Elle a look. "I'm, ah, anything you could give me really would be good. I figure— you know clerical? I'd just like your company's name on my resume, after all you're one of the few firms who have boots on the ground on Staten Island and that's pretty big. Stillwater wasn't hiring, even for interns, so…"

Sliding her tongue across her lips, Lene looks down to her planner, then back up to Peyton. "I've got, ah, other commitments? School— I mean— school, so…" one hand waggles in the air. "Part-time would be preferred, I think by both of us? It'd be primal if I could get in on the ground floor here, so to speak."

Elle offers another small wave as her name is offered, chewing on her donut quietly. After washing it down with some coffee, she offers the most winning smile she can— which isn't too effective when she's pale and standing up is getting a little uncomfortable. On that note, she snags another donut and her coffee, and struggles her way over to a seat, which she flops down in with a sigh.

"Sorry I'm not so talkagive. I'm, ah, kind of new myself." A sheepish smile crosses the tiny blonde's face. She doesn't like that recognition look she was. Elle tilts her head to the side at the mention of Staten Island, her brows raised. "Something special about Staten Island?" Her tone isn't unfriendly, rather casual, really, as she munches on her second donut.

Having injured people in the lobby is probably not the best way to instill confidence in any clients, but it's early yet; Peyton can probably convince any clients that Elle's there in need of a bodyguard. And will stow her in an unused office if she's not up for making the trek up to her apartment again for a bit. The word primal gets another lift of brows. "That'd be primal, huh." Maybe the girl means prime.

"Well, I can't make any promises just now, but I can look at your resume and do the check. Jo, you got the application paperwork for me?" she asks, turning to the receptionist who is already handing her the proper forms on a clipboard, which Peyton then hands to the redhead.

"We're still rather small, so I don't know exactly what kind of work for your skillset we can use — but it's one we definitely don't already have on staff, so I'm willing to talk to my other partner and see if we can offer you something." Peyton's smile here is a little feigned, thanks to the fact she knows she won't be chatting with Cardinal about it any time too soon.

A smile spreads wide across Lene's face as Peyton offers her the hopeful news. "Oh! That's— thank you so much." Taking the paperwork in hand, Lene reaches down into a pocket of her sweater, sliding out a pen and then reaching up into her hair, lowering a pair of red-framed eyeglasses down from where they'd been perched to setle on the bridge of her nose. One knuckle wipes a bead of water off of a lens, and with a click of the back of the pen, Jolene leans over to the reception desk and begins filling out the application paperwork on the spot.

"I really, really appreciate this opportunity miss Whitney. Hopefully I'll… get to work with you too, miss Bishop?" Green eyes track over to Elle with a sheepish smile and a duck of Lene's head before she starts writing down on the paperwork again, head bobbing from side to side like there's a song trapped up in there.

"I'll leave my resume so you can take a look at it and I'm so excited about this that is fantastic!" A squeak rises in the back of Lene's throat as she continues to write while talking, her tone bubbly and light. "You have no idea how much this means to me, trying to make ends meet here in New York City is so much harder than I thought! I mean— everything's so much more expensive than anyone told me and I didn't bring enough money and my friends are idiots and— " there's a pause, a huff of breath and a look askance to Peyton followed by a furrow of Jolene's brows as she exhales a soft sigh, signing her name at the bottom of the background check release form without much of a thought.

"There. We. Go," she says lyrically, sliding out the papers and handing them over to Peyton with brows raised and lips crooked up into a grin. "Thank you so very much, miss Whitney."

Elle's look immediately turns suspicious as she watches Jolene, staring the younger girl down with a slight frown as she chews at her donut. She never was one for subtleties. Richard Cardinal has made the comparison many times that Elle is about as subtle as a brick to the head. Today is no exception, even if she is feeling like absolute shit.

"How did you know my last name? Peyton didn't give you my last name." She frowns at Jolene, struggling up on her crutches. "How do you know me? Moreso, how do you know my name?" She's not yelling, per se, but she's got a disapproving tone to her voice as she leans against her crutches, frowning.

When you never know what's been erased from your memories, it's easy to jump to conclusions. Especially when those conclusions are aided by a good dose of pain medication.

Eyebrows raise and Peyton looks amused and rather charmed by Jolene's effusion, about to murmur her own thanks and such — that Bishop was used, well, Peyton's so used to people knowing her name, it didn't even register. She blinks and sets down her coffee, turning to look at Elle, eyes slightly widened.

She swallows and looks back at Lene, tilting her head. "I'd like you to answer her question. Also, if we're potentially hiring you, I'll need your driver's license to photo copy," she says amiably enough, glancing at Elle again, looking for any little telltale sparks of blue light.




Green eyes widen slowly as Jolene stares at Elle, lips parted and gaping in obvious confusion for a moment. Her eyes track from side to side and she looks down to her feet, then back up again, taking a few steps backwards away from the reception desk. "Oh it— I… " Way to fucking go is painted on Jolene's face before she even has time to put her pen down. Her wary eyes flick back and forth from Elle to Peyton and then to the receptionist juggling a phone call and something she's trying on the computer.

"Your— family," comes with a hitch in the back of Lene's throat, her teeth pressing into her bottom lip. "I— I knew your father, he carried pictures of you around with him wherever he went. P— Paper salesman?" Both red brows arch high on Jolene's head as she nervously offers a hesitant smile.

"My.. my mom was related to people in the paper business too," comes with a nervous flick of the corners of her mouth up into a smile. "It ah, I— God I'm— sorry." With a look that expresses both guilt and a certain cat who ate the canary worry, Jolene reaches up to curl one lock of red hair around a finger, a nervous tic. "I shouldn't have… I…"

"I don't… have a driver's license," is Lene's murmured response, "but I— I have my ah, my Registration card." Opening her planner, Jolene slides out of a plastic slip her rectangular card that says clearly at the top: Registry of the Non-Evolved followed by a serial number string and a photograph of Jolene smiling. That is not so much her expression right now as she hands out the card between shaky fingers.

Daddy is a sensitive topic for Elle. Extremely sensitive, really. There's no sparks coming off of her, yet, but the look on her face suggests that she is not exactly happy right now. "My dad— how do you know my dad?" She frowns at Lene, hobbling a little closer to the girl with a frown. "How do you know Bob Bishop?" Clack, clack, clack. Her crutches sound as she moves a little closer to Jolene.

"Please, I'd like to know." She frowns at the girl, resting against her crutches as she comes to a halt a few feet away from her. "And why do you talk about him in past tense? What do you know about him?"

A frown rests on Elle's face as she examines the younger girl, brows raised. Then, she tries to be disarming. Probably won' work, but she can try, at the very least. "If we're going to be working together, I'd like to know everything."

The brunette frowns, though she nods at the Registration card, handing it off to Jo to be photo copied as well as examined for being a counterfeit — if it is, Jo won't say so in front of Lene, of course. It doesn't even mean they wouldn't hire her — after all, Luther is in their employ, among others.

"Elle," Peyton says softly, trying to calm the blonde before turning to look at Lene curiously. "Are you… were your parents employed by the same company as Mr. Bishop?" she asked, eyebrows rising slightly on the word company. Clever code talk. "If that's the case, we might need to talk a little more honestly in my office."

More honestly in her office.

Lene's expression conveys a clear look of Peyton help me in wide-eyed clarity as Elle comes click-clacking over on her crutches. "Paper salesman," Lene blurts out as she draws her leather planner close to herself, lifting it up to hide her mouth and nose behind it. "He— your father, Robert," she does not call him Bob, "he worked for the same paper company the— I guess my grandparents did? He— ah— he used to come over for…" her eyes wander to the left, then back to Elle. "For family get-togethers, you know, parties and stuff around the holidays?" That's normal, right?

"He used to talk about you, my— my grandparents knew you I guess? He always used to show off pictures, he was so proud of you, called you his little angel." Lene's nails bite into the leather of the planner, part of her face still hidden behind it. "I didn't know him very well but you— you haven't changed much in all these years." That much sounds genuine, and it also sounds wistful. "Really you— you don't look like you're any— ah— any older than in the pictures."

Looking down to the floor, then to Peyton, then back to Elle the redhead lowers her planner and affords Elle a faint smile. "I haven't seen him in years."

Peyton…really doesn't have much of a calming effect on Elle right now. She stares long and hard at Lene, brows raised. "Who are your grandparents? It's important that you tell us everything about them." She frowns at the girl, brows raised.

Her dad's in Institute custody, and now some girl shows up knowing him and her. And— holidays? Family get-togethers? Where was she for all of this? For the whole being his little angel, being so proud of her, where was she? All she remembers is the cold father who never told her that he was proud of her.

"Please, let's— can we go into your office, Peyton? I'm sorry, it's just— it's very important that we know everything you know about my dad, and his relationship with your family." She takes a few breaths, seeming to slump a little on her crutches.

The words from Jolene seem to Peyton to imply that Jolene knows nothing of the real Bob Bishop, his job, or Elle. With the electrokinetic already injured and already upset… "I don't … I don't think that's a good idea, Elle," she says quietly, reaching up to rub her forehead. Her head hurts from peeking in on everyone and their brother, trying to keep tabs on everyone's locations.

"Why don't I look over your information and I'll get back to you, Miss Marlowe?" Peyton glances at Elle, expecting an argument, before glancing back at Lene, appraising the younger girl's face for signs of deception.

"That's— " Jolene offers a smart smile to Peyton as she takes a step back, flashing a nervous smile, "yeah that— that's primal. We can totally catch up later, Elle. I— I promise. I'm not going anywhere so, ah, don't you worry about me none, alright?" Both of her red brows lift up and a nervous smile flickers across Jolene's mouth as she squeezes her planner to her chest and starts to sideways shuffle around Elle and then backpedal on scuffing flats towards the front doors.

That Jolene was applying for a job suddenly seems to be slipping her mind, though at least she'd left contact information on her application form. She also, however, seems to have forgotten that she left her Registration card with the recepionist to photocopy.

"I actually— I have to get to class anyway, so like— " she lifts one hand up and offers a nervous laugh and a toothy smile, "so I'll be fine." I'll be fine is a weird, awkward thing to say. "We'll talk again, catch up, I promise…"

Elle looks like she really wants to protest, even opening her mouth and closing it, frowning at Peyton. No! This is her dad. She needs to know if she can find out anything about him. However, she pulls back, frowning a bit. "That…that's okay. Don't forget your registration card." She gestures toward the receptionist.

"I— I'm sorry for coming off a little strong. It's complicated, you see. I haven't seen my dad since back in August, and— I miss him." She frowns quietly at Jolene. "If— if you know anything about him, or if your Grandparents know anything that could help me find him, it would be so much help…I don't know what happened to him." This is genuine enough, as is the sadness on her face.

And it's not a mask this time.

Peyton steps back to retrieve the registration card with a breathless, "Oops!" when Elle mentions it, glancing over her shoulder to make sure the young woman is all right. "Thanks, Miss Marlowe. And Elle, that's understandable." There's a sympathetic glance to Elle — the two young women haven't spoken much, but both have father issues; they might be able to relate to one another.

"Since Miss Marlowe has class, we should let her get going, but we can possibly arrange another meeting once we've got everything squared away. Sound good?" Peyton says, trying to sound chipper and not worried as she reaches out to give the card back to the younger redhead. "Thanks for coming by."

Hesitating where she was standing, Lene's brows lift up slowly and form a pensive expression. Eyes dip down to the floor and she looks back to the front desk, then begrudgingly offers a weary smile before shuffling over to the front desk and reaching out to take her Registration card back, trapped between two fingers.

"My gr— wel— my whole family is gone, Elle. I don't really have anyone to talk to about that kind of thing, so. I— we'll talk about it again, later, I promise. My— um— I have a friend who you might want to talk to too, but— I'll need to check with him and see if he's okay with it first. He's— "

Jolene just demures a polite smile instead of explaining the rest, folding her card against her palm. "I have to go," she murmurs in a hushed tone of voice, stepping back and away from Elle, then glancing to the front doors of Redbird and back to Peyton. "Th— thank you for the opportunity, Miss Whitney. I'll… I'll be looking forward to hearing back form you."

Shuffling backwards towards the front doors, Lene finally shows herself out, unfolding her planner to cover herself from the rain as she stands in the drizzling precipitation, edging her way to the corner of a street to hail a taxi.

Elle frowns as she is unable to pursue that little threat she thought she had caught. "I— I'd really like to talk to you again, Jolene. I— please don't let me scare you off." She turns her eyes down to the ground. "You— you have a good night." She wants so badly to just pick this girl's brain, but…this isn't Daddy-land any more, and she has to try to behave.

Looking more than a little dejected, Elle turns her back to Jolene, hobbling over to her chair and reseating herself to resume eating her donut and drinking coffee. She wants more information about her dad. She wants to know if Richard ever got that message to her, that she's alive and that she's sorry. And more than everything, she wants to see her dad.

She looks pathetic, sitting there in the lobby chair as she is with that dejected teary-eyed look on her face.

When Lene steps back out into the rain, Peyton frowns — it was a worrisome chance encounter, and in this city there are no coincidences. A hand comes up to press against her forehead, and she stares at the door for a long moment, then turns to look at Elle, apology and worry in her eyes.

"I'm sorry, Elle — I … I have to find out more about her before I could let her stay in here longer, and I didn't know if you got upset, being hurt and all… I didn't want you to get upset and hurt her or yourself. I'm sorry. I know you miss your dad and I understand that, I do, I've lost all my parents, all four of them, so I get it." Her voice trembles a little as she tries not to cry, to be strong, to be brave, to be professional.

"I need to look into her background and see if there's anything there that we should worry about. She might be Evolved and God knows what she could be here for — we've tried to make it safe, but if she was a telepath or something? She could have known your name from reading your mind, and if she could read our minds…" she shakes her head and sighs. "I have too many people here to protect."

Peyton swallows and she moves closer to offer Elle a hand. "Including you."

She smiles and tips her head toward the hallway. "Come on. My office chair is way more comfortable and you can play games on my computer. Or I can help you upstairs."

Elle frowns down at the ground, slurping at her coffee in teary-eyed silence. "I wasn't going to hurt her. I— you don't understand. My dad…he's being held by the Institute, Peyton. They're probably going to use him to make a public example of the Company." She looks down, rubbing her face with her good hand. Then, she sighs. "The last thing I said to him…was asking him why I shouldn't kill him. For all I know, I'll never get the chance to say anything else."

Now is about the time that Elle would storm off to go pitch a fit in private. However, she can't exactly get up fast enough or hobble fast enough to storm off. So instead, she makes a quiet retreat, with only the clacking sounds of her crutches landing on the ground as she moves toward the stairs.

"Thank you for the coffee and donuts."

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