brennan_icon.gif matt_icon.gif veronica3_icon.gif

Scene Title Lifeguards
Synopsis When paths cross in the Suresh Center — some coincidenal, some premeditated — Veronica is offered a secret assignment; the more things change, the more they stay the same.
Date September 27, 2010

Suresh Center

The Suresh Center, for all it's sleek, fine lines, offices, labs, and programs, is not a place that Matt Parkman visits often. For one, it's public - or at least, more public than any other government office. Rooselvelt Island may be under relatively tight security, but that doesn't mean that the cabinet member is all that comfortable putting himself in a place where so many different, powerful evolved come in and out all day long, not to mention those without abilities wishing to learn more. The Suresh Center is, in short, quite a target. Stick even a minor sort of public figure like Parkman in a place like that, and it becomes quite the shiny little pin on a terrorist's map.

There's also the fact that the general public can be counted on to not be very comfortable with heightened security, which is the only way that Parkman would ever think to visit any venue on Roosevelt Island, government controlled or not.

His business today on the third floor of the Center is his own, but at the moment he stands near a window, in a hallway, looking out onto the grounds below with his hands in his pockets in such a way that the jacket wrinkles. People are always telling him to slow down from time to time. So here he is, almost at a standstill as he peers down at those milling about below, coming in and out of the building. Halfway down the hall, a thin, mousey sort of woman with thick black frames and a modest, low ponytail is checking her Blackberry, giving her boss space that he didn't ask for, but hat she can only assume he needs.

As George Castanza knows, it is hard work to act like one is hard at work. It's a full time job for Veronica to keep up the illusion that she is working hard at the Institute's number one priority — hunting down the former Company agents that are now on the run, who are now the collected Public Enemy Number One. The brunette agent is always a flurry of activity, following up on leads that lead her nowhere, one wild goose chase after the other. No Institute agent seems harder at work, and no doubt she is gaining a bit of sympathy for running herself ragged.

Coming out of her office, fingers pecking away at her new Institute-issue phone, Veronica's head is down as she heads for one of the stairwells that will take her out one of the Suresh Center's secret passageways, far from the public accessways.

Out of his office, humming to himself, Brennan's got his own blackberry out, pecking away at a missive sent by his wife, about the medical group and an issue that's reared it's head. Concentrated on it, he's not paying attention to the possible train wreck that may occur since both he and Veronica are headed towards each other. The only witness to the oncoming horrific crash of body and technology is the Homesec official on his self imposed time out to watch the clients of the Suresh Center. What he does about it, who knows.

But Veronica's path aims to take her right past Miriam, and the secretary to the Secretary, the only person in the entire building who knows what Parkman's full agenda here is, coughs. Pointedly. But when Parkman either doesn't notice or simply ignores her, she presses her lips tightly together and walks toward him, her heels muffled by the carpet. "Sir."

When he turns to look at her with eyebrows slightly raised, Parkman does so just in time to see Veronica walking toward them. "Sawyer," he calls out, looking to his feet as he steps away from the window and toward the middle of the hall, placing himself as an obstacle in the woman's path, as well as (though unbeknownst to him) Brennan's. "Got a minute?"

The cough draws Veronica's eyes — she's an able enough technology user not to walk into people while texting, and she glances up at the cough giving a polite smile before she hears that sir, and knows this is perhaps a planned run-in. Her dark eyes flit to the man at the window. She swallows, closing out whatever it was she was working on, slipping the phone into her pocket. "Sir. Head's up," she says, tersely, to try to stop the impending collision from happening, nodding over Matt's shoulder toward Dr. Brennan, no doubt looking up from his own phone.

Her eyes move back to Matt's broad face, waiting for whatever doom his knowing her name spells for her.

The voices in the path he intends to go causes the tall broad shouldered doctor to lift his head, tap a few final letters and send off the email, in the span of the amount of time that it takes for him pause in his stride, glance to Miriam, glance to Veronica and Matt. Parkman, who doesn't know what he looks like. "Director Parkman" Slightly gravelly. "Sawyer" He's seen her around, not really stopped and talked to her, she keeps moving. Does she have a minute. Looks like someone is either in trouble or about to get marching orders for something. "Sorry" Lift of his hand to the pair. "Don't mind me, just passing through"

Parkman looks over his shoulder at Brennan and nods. Not minding is easily done, though it will certainly make it more difficult to speak with Sawyer. All the same, he clears his throat politely and nods to her even as he looks down, surveying her face. He knows well enough not to try and needle into her brain. "How's the transfer been?" he asks, the question itself seemingly benign, though the meaning it holds it quite the opposite. "Everyone adjusting alright?"

There's a slight frown, like a child called on in class when they aren't wanting the attention from the teacher, and Veronica nods to Brennan, then glances back at Parkman. She offers a polite smile, reminding herself that she's supposed to want to be here, that she's supposed to be the best and the brightest, worth recruiting, worth keeping, from the Company.

"It's going well enough. I'm looking forward to getting some cases that take investigating," she says brightly — meaning less with the chasing down of the Company agents she used to call her co-workers, and more with the solving of new problems. Not that she wants to do much of that either, knowing that most of their targets will end up in those coffins. "Pleased to meet you." She offers him her hand, then smiles back to Brennan. "And you're Doctor Brennan, yes? I'm sorry I haven't had a chance to meet you yet, either."

"Harve, Brennan" He confirms for Veronica, a glance to Parkman. "Really, just passing through, you'll get a chance to meet me again, I'm sure. We're both on the same floor after all" Brennan inclines his head to Parkman and then to Sawyer and carries on, past the pair and for the stairwell, avoiding the elevator. Gotta get your exercise in where you can.
You have been applauded.

Parkman takes Veronica's hand in a business-like shake, but he's distracted by Brennan again. Same floor? They're not even in the same building. And people thought he worked too hard.

"That's what you did at Fort Hero, isn't it?" Parkman asks, already knowing the answer to the question he poses to Veronica. "Looks to me like you had a real talent for it. You kept your ears open."

The brunette agent tucks a strand of hair behind her ear, tilting her head at him curiously. "It's what I've done since I've been an agent for the Company, sir, right out of college. I've been successful enough, I suppose. I feel like the past year hasn't been my strongest, to be sure. If it had been, maybe the Company would have still been seen as effective. Too many cases got away from us, obviously, or I wouldn't be here, right?" Of course he knows that she knows better than that, and she knows that he knows better than that, but it's the proper etiquette to pretend they don't.

"We've never really been good at interdepartmental cooperation," Parkman says thoughtfully, his bottom lip protruding slightly. "You're pretty by the book, though, aren't you? Never do many… special assignments? Not like Bishop, I mean." Or any number of agents who never knew their place because it changed so often. "It's good that you're fitting in with Harper's operation." Even though Harper is under his own Department's Umbrella, Parkman is well aware that the Institute is an operation he has little control over.

That's the scary part of it all.

Veronica's lips curve into a little bit of a smirk, and she gives a soft huff of a laugh. "I wasn't kill squad, if that's what you're asking, no," she says bluntly. "As far as 'special assignments,' most of what I did in the past year has been 'special,' and 'classified,' to the point that I was pretty much on my own within my department, and had no one but my superiors to go to for help on things. Most of that won't be in the files, but I did as I was told, because that's what the book says to do."

There's no use keeping all of this secret, and Veronica is very aware that the more truth she doles out, the least likely she is to be considered sneaky — and she needs to be sneaky at times. She needs all the trust points she can get.

Parkman nods, but he's at a loss. It's been awhile since he's been forced to rely on a skillset that didn't include checking what someone says against what they're thinking. Still, his mood remains cordial enough as he listens to Veronica's answer. "Miss it?" he asks with a quirk of an eyebrow, his mouth still held in that level line that is neither a smile nor a frown.

Not that Veronica's work here is that much different.

Miss it? Veronica's brows shoot up at the question. It's really the first time anyone's asked her how she feels since she's been here. "To be honest?" she asks, tipping her head as she surveys him, "I don't really know. I've never been close friends with my colleagues, so I can't say that I have a lot of friendships that I'll miss. As far as the work, I expect that work is work, that I'll be doing much the same thing but under a different name, slightly different tactics, but still the same thing when all is said and done. Protecting the innocent from those who would hurt them — it's what I signed up for."

After giving him the party line, Veronica shrugs one shoulder. "But it's all I've known. I don't have much to compare it to. Somehow I don't think lifeguard duty, the only other job I've ever had, counts."

"Why not?" Parkman asks with a laugh. "It's the same basic business. Guarding lives?" He lifts his chin a bit, the smile brought on by his laugh lingering on his face but taking on a more supervisory sort of flavor, like a teacher withholding praise, but with the barest bit of control. "I'll make a deal with you - you ever want a special assignment that runs right up that alley, stop by my office." He nods his head toward Miriam, who is already lost in her Blackberry again. "Miriam'll set something up."

He moves to walk past Veronica then, but he does so slowly. "Keep your head on straight, and you can't go wrong in a place like this," he says by way of parting words, lifting a hand to give the sort of unmoving wave that is part salute that is common among men who don't have time for gratuitous gestures. Miriam follows after her boss, but not before giving Veronica a puzzled sort of look.

"I never thought of it that way. I guess it's my natural tendency to want to help people," Veronica says, blinking in surprise when he puts it that way. After all, she had initially wanted to be a doctor. Then law enforcement. Then her path had been twisted by the Persuader and lies that led her to the Company. Her whiskey-brown eyes narrow in curiosity when he talks about yet another 'special assignment.'

Miriam's puzzled look is reflected back at her, Veronica giving a shrug. She certainly doesn't know what the secretary is hinting at, but she'll certainly follow up with an appointment to find out.

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