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Scene Title Influence
Synopsis Everyone who wants something is susceptible to it.
Date July 10, 2011

Jane's Place

It's the weekend and Agent Jane Pak has been taking advantage of her time off. As much as the curfew allows, of course. So while she was drunk several hours ago, but now she's unfortunately sober and sitting on her couch eating a very stereotypical bowl of rice and drinking a very responsible bottle of water. While she might love the liquor, she does hate a hangover the next day.

There's a movie on the television, although she's not really watching, and the sound is so low it's just barely audible. Instead, she's looking over a file, which may or may not have anything to do with her actual, legal work.

Occasionally human beings in a dwelling by themselves will fall victim to a creeping sensation that they are not alone. More often than not — outside of slasher films, of which this is not one — they are.

Alone, that is.

But not tonight. When and if Jane looks up from her reading to mark a subtle shift in air current and temperature, there's no one standing between her and the television set. But there is a figure reflected bleakly behind her in the screen, hard shoulders and balding skull cast in still relief over colors stirring too bright for the volume being as low as it is. Inevitably, Vincent's eyes fall to the file in her hands. Prying less invasively than they could be.

"You're up late."

Catching sight of that reflection, Jane doesn't imitate those many slasher films with a jump and shrill scream, but rather anticlimactically lifts an eyebrow. She doesn't turn until that comment, but when she does it's with a crooked smile as she folds her arms on the back of the couch. "I like the night life."

She closes the folder on her lap, twisting to slide it into a drawer on a side table. "I'm going to assume you're not here because you're lonely. Care to sit or are you intent on lurking in the background."
Rockefeller has looked at you.

The line of Vincent's mouth slants somewhat out of it's traditionally level set when Jane turns to fold her arms at him. Not near enough to a smile to even be considered close, but he's more at ease than he could be in a brackish sports coat and blue jeans. In another dimension, he might even make a pass.

Except that this is very serious business, and he looks exhausted, and this isn't another dimension. He answers her question with simple compliance, couch rounded the long way, without vaporous theatrics, and slouches very unlike himself against the opposite arm. Tired around the eyes. And everywhere else. He probably isn't even being cute when he asks: "May I smoke?"

"Sure, knock yourself out," Jane says, seeming to opt not to make the obvious joke. Probably because she sure he's heard them all by now. "You want some coffee? You look like hell, by the way." Her own food and drink are set aside as she leans back against her side of the couch. Waiting, but not impatiently. It is a somewhat delicate situation, after all, and contrary to popular belief she doesn't always come at them with a hammer. Just sometimes.

Lazzaro's mild, "Thank you," is genuine. It must be, because he wastes no time in retrieving lighter and box from the inside of his jacket, not shaking his head to her offer of coffee until he's looked at her water like he might ask for some of that instead. He doesn't.

He lights up instead, cigarette poised between pointer and index finger ahead of a long-held drag and equally exaggerated exhale. And if she hasn't grown too used to the acrid cling of alcohol to clothing tonight, she might detect it in miniscule quantities across the span of couch he's occupying. "I feel like hell."

Jane watches, from that look toward her water to the long exhale. Curious, no doubt. "And mother said never judge a book by it's cover," she remarks to his eventual comment. "Just don't die on my couch. I'd have to try to cover it up, and I haven't had to move a body in at least ten years." It's a joke! Probably! He doesn't get much of a warning before she grabs her water bottle to toss in his direction, but it's a gentle lob instead of a sharply aimed fastball.

"Why would you?" inquired with all the sensitivity and care one might inquire about moving a potted plant with, Vincent checks his watch like he meant to three hours ago and never got around to it. Brow furrowed, cloying smoke spent at a jet and furl through his sinuses. Later than he thought, even. "There might be a bounty."

Seriously. There might be.

Spare thumb scuffed sandpapery coarse under his chin, he's slow to reach for the bottle of water that thumps against the side of his leg and slower still to unscrew the cap, evidently less conscious of cooties than he used to be. "Did you know that Raymond Praeger is married?" To a woman. Might be the implication there.

It's very hard to tell.

"Because rotting flesh clashes with my decor. Almost every decor, really. With a few exceptions." Jane doesn't comment on bounties, although there is a return of the smirk there.

"You didn't know?" Amusement turns her smirk into a more even smile, although the touch of wariness in the eyes keeps it from being an entirely jolly expression. She knows about the wife, maybe more than she'd like to. "I hope that doesn't disappoint you, him being married." The little tease is just about enough to cheer her up, though.

"Really? Rotting?" Vincent asks. Conversational, still, while he smokes and sips her water and watches her television more than he watches her. "Leaving a body lying around in your living room for over 24 hours just seems lazy to me." Nevermind the hygienic issues that start to arise as the clock ticks on. Goodness. He has to focus to screw the cap back onto her water after dropping it twice.

A too-even, "Not really," must be re: suggested affection beyond affection for Raymond. Too even because he must have heard a rumor, once, or seen a scrap of slash fiction. Who knows.

"What do you know about her?"

"Well, close enough," Jane says with a quick glance over him as if considering how close he is to that description already. She manages not to reach out to screw the lid on for him, but just barely. "How much have you had to drink tonight, Vinnie?"

His question to her has her pausing for a moment, taking in a breath before she starts to answer. "Well, I know that before the DoEA was the DoEA, she got a little publicity for curing someone with AIDS. Evolved. After a while, she stopped making her presentations and faded away from the public eye. Of course, with a little digging, anyone could find that out. Why do you ask?"

Third time's the charm. Vincent caps the water and rests it back against his leg, slow about that, too. Possibly misled at some point to believe that doing things slowly to get them right the first time is mark in favor of his own sobriety. "Not enough that you're allowed to call me 'Vinnie,'" he says, once that's done. Only mildly matter-of-fact.

Which is good, because it's important for him to remain even-tempered enough for him to drag and drag and drag and continue with:

"She was detained, actually. She was held. And has been held." Unhappily ever after, so far. Now, at least, he's watching Jane, scoping for reaction as well as he can, considering. "The Institute has her."

"Oh yeah? I have some bottles here, if a little more would get you over that threshold." She likes nicknames, maybe. Or poking the beehive. But Jane doesn't prod further than that, perhaps because he brings up that little extra gem about Carol Praeger. she's not surprised.

"Yeah, that part I know. I know she's been put through some tests and I know what sort of tests they run there and I know… Well. I think they use her to give people of certain positions some help, sickness wise. Does Praeger know?" That seems to be the point that worries her, that she's not entirely sure where the boss man sits in all this.

"I'm not sure that there is such a threshold." If there is, he has yet to achieve it. Or. He has yet to achieve it and remember it the next day.

Coffee probably wouldn't have been a bad idea, he reflects in a look at nothing at all. The same look transitions slowly into a glance around himself for something that might pass for an ash tray while secondhand smoke films light around the ceiling overhead.

"He knows enough to yield to their influence," isn't really the kind of thing he should say offhand. Which is probably why he had a few drinks, first. Not enough to keep him from chiding himself with a reluctant, "'Influence,' is a strong word," a beat or two later. "Probably."

"And that's a shame. I like to think I have a threshold for anything," Jane chuckles wryly at herself before she glances toward the kitchen. She might be regretting not continuing to drink when she got home.

"That's been what I've… been assuming. They do have his wife, that tend to make people pliable. One of the reasons I never got married. It isn't smart to just hand your enemies leverage like that. But I digress. I've been doing some digging. Trying to… prove all this. Before someone on that side of the law does something truly stupid."

"Which side?"

Both sides seem pretty stupid, these days. So stupid that it's hard for him to distinguish which one might cause the next major meltdown as predicted by Jane Pak.

It's actually a while before he even asks. Like he gave figuring it out for himself a decent go and had to give up.

"If given sufficient cause and confidence to believe that everything isn't so hopeless as it seems," says Vincent, "Raymond would make for a powerful ally. Politically. Publicly." If Humanis First says fuckit and shows up with M-16s and wants to throw down, you know. Less so.

"Any side that isn't me. Obviously. I'm about eighty-five percent sure I'm not going to do anything truly stupid. Maybe a little stupid, but hey, that's life." Jane folds her arms loosely over her torso, her head tilting a bit as she looks over at him. "I've got terrorists on just about every side, seems like. Terrorists, in my experience anyway, have itchy trigger fingers. Prone to escalation. I'm still confident I can do the right thing within the law and get it done without genetics solidifying as the dividing line between trusted citizen and science experiment. Which may be a bit naive, but I like to aim high. Praeger will get some proof this all isn't already over. And I need a drink. I'm going to have to see if I can write off my increased alcohol purchases as a medical expense come April." She does stand there, to cross into the kitchen just long enough to grab a glass and a bottle of what seems to be particularly vile whiskey.

Vincent watches her go in a resigned state of quiet for the fact that he is having this conversation. Making decisions. Naming names. Placing people at risk.

He spends a guilty minute examining the scar bit subtle across the back of his wrist and snuffs his cigarette with a sick little crackle and hiss of black steam, thoughtlessly morbid. No comment on her decision to drink. Or what she decides to drink. He doesn't look particularly surprised, though.

"It'll be easier if we get her first."

"And which we do you mean by that, exactly? We may need a flow chart before this is over." When she sits back down, she wastes little time in pouring herself a generous amount from which she takes a healthy gulp of right off. She doesn't exactly offer the bottle, but she does leave it on the coffee table sort of halfway between them. "And would this 'we' intend to keep her after they got her?"

Who is we? Vincent thinks about it until he finds himself looking at the whiskey instead of actually thinking, left hand pawed up across his mouth instead of reaching for it. An excess of self-control in action. "Terrorists," he answers, finally. "You know." 'We.'

The vacant slant of his stare takes on a faintly nauseous shade while he checks out the far side of the living room. "I don't know. And you probably shouldn't know, anyway." A second fidget hooks paired fingers across his brow; he's getting ready to try and leave. "Thank you for listening to me."

"Of course. That we." Jane pauses there to drink a little more, but she looks over at him as she rests her glass against a knee. "Look, Lazzaro… Just so long as she's not going from one stint of captivity to the next. No one in this situation needs that. And you're right, I can't know… details for various reasons, but just make sure your people know she's a victim in all this and not collateral."

There's a bit of a chuckle at the thanks and she nods a little in his direction, "Anytime. My air ducts are always open. Apparently. And find a place to get some rest before those bags under your eyes turn into a full set of luggage."

'Your people.' 'His.' People.

Vincent opens his mouth as if to protest once her phrasing's had a chance to permeate, only to stay himself back into a mute remove. He sits and thinks about it instead. Mainly about the part where he said, 'we' first. His fault, then.

In the end he has to roll a shoulder and sigh, resignation vented as passively as it can be without inviting further question or curiosity. "If the Ferry behaves irresponsibly I'll relocate her myself. But they know what is at stake." And know better accordingly. One hopes.

He's quiet again after that, listing around in his own skull after anything he might have forgotten to touch on. When he comes up empty, he nods one last silent thanks and sublimates somewhat lazily on the spot, former Agent Lazzaro giving way to a churn of murky vapor and eventually, nothing at all.

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