Lobby Mint


luther2_icon.gif vincent_icon.gif

Scene Title Lobby Mint
Synopsis Vincent stops off in the lobby for a mint on his way out after speaking with Richard. Luther thinks he must be there to help! He totally is.
Date May 21, 2018

Jackson Heights, Raytech NYCSZ Branch Lobby

The bright lights illuminating the front lobby of Raytech’s New York Safe Zone branch office are undergoing some testing. It wasn’t long ago that an unexplained power outage and other events caused a stir of concern for security. Followed by another dire warning, followed by a death of an executive, and that has put the head of security under strain.

Still, Luther Bellamy shoulders the burden with determination to do what needs to be done. He’s pushing his way into the lobby from the interior, intranet connected phone in hand, where he’s looking over the latest message.

“Smoke filtration?” Are his first words towards the front desk, expectant and wondering . But the receptionist isn’t there, despite having sent Luther a message just moments ago. The security chief exhales a low and tired sigh, assuming she’s taken her fifteen.

Which leaves Luther alone long enough to realize that he has a moment’s peace. Fingers lift, pinching his tired, knitted brow. Eyes close. It’s just a moment. He’ll lie to himself and think that’s all he needs for now, and not think about the bottle locked in his desk drawer in the security room.

Exactly one moment of peace is all Luther is allocated.

Something dark stirs in his periphery — a soundless, sourceless haze that rapidly churns into a vortex of black vapor, and further still into the Secretary of Homeland Security. In less time than it takes to draw a sidearm, he’s standing dead center of the Raytech lobby: short, shaved bald, with one hand already behind his lapel of his suit. Which is blue.

His glasses are black, his cuffs are fastened, his tie is clipped.

He pauses at the sight of Luther, poise held mid-reach. That’s a lot of beefsteak for a receptionist.

“Afternoon,” he tries, on the wary side of polite as he crosses for the front desk. Receptionist Bellamy looks like he’s having a tough day. He can sympathise, but it doesn’t stop him slipping a business card from the confines of his jacket.

The Chief of Raytech Security isn’t just so for the title. Luther’s awareness - instinct might say - is what’s kept him alive for this long. That darkness immediately draws a sharp stare and a twinge of tension drawstringing his angled brows together.

Moreso when the vapor coalesces into the Secretary of Homeland Security.

“Homeland Security Secretary Lazzaro.” The title and name don’t manifest with any applause or celebrity fervor, but it does come with recognition of the crisply suited man’s face and stature, of position in the government. As well as the man’s distinct lack of his own security force. A puzzling, or perhaps alarming, note. Suddenly, smoke filtration makes a lot more sense. “Afternoon, sir,” Luther greets the man with the polite practice of one that might have actually manned the front desk at a point in life.

With a lack of anything else to offer once he spots the business card, Luther moves a hand to push the small glass dish of individually wrapped candies to Vincent. Because, lobby mints.

“What business brings you to Raytech today?”

“Just — Mister Secretary is fine.” Lazzaro begs off complete formality with his left hand, raised and splayed. The gesture doubles as a passive plea to not be shot in the face. He comes in peace. He’s just here to leave the card — which he does without flourish, sliding it down next to the glass dish.

Then he takes a mint. Because that’s what he really stopped in here for.

“Pest control,” he says, plain as the plastic wrap crinkling between his fingers. “Richard assures me there’s no need. I hope that’s true.”

Luther is very tall. Vincent squints up at him critically, mint thumbed into the side of his mouth, wrapper balled and flicked into a bin beside the desk.

“Have we met?”

Inclining his head, Luther looks down to the business card left beside the mints. Pest control manages to actually smoothe out the security chief's features with a touch of wry humor, especially as he casts a glance up to the multiple holes dug into walls and ceiling. It could look like there's a pest problem. Those holes, though, are by his own request. Upgrades in progress.

Attention turning back to the Secretary, Luther extends a hand. "Don't believe so, Mister Secretary. Luther Bellamy, Chief of Raytech Security," he offers readily. The man's hand runs warmer to the touch than most might expect. Handshakes out of the way, he can't help the next remark. "I'd ask how you managed to get in, but I think I've got a fairly good idea." It's a wry statement. Perhaps he has another challenge to puzzle out.

"But since I've got the good luck to have you here, Sir, if you've got a moment to spare?" The twitch down of Luther's brow lends to the weight of the seriousness of his concerns. "I believe I have a few matters of security that could use your discretion, maybe some advice. I also believe, you may have just been discussing how to handle as much with Richard. Would I be correct?" Of the two, one brow lifts, an anticipation pressed into the man's features next.

“Vincent,” says Vincent, who knits his brow at the warmth of Luther’s hand — taking note the same way he does the name and title that go with it. “The leading impetus for smoke filtration systems this side of the civil war.”

Not really. Maybe.

He rolls the mint behind his teeth, drawn up to all five of his feet and eight of his inches opposite Luther, his manners keeping him attentive for all that his affect is one of imminent exeunt. The card is dropped, his message sent. But Luther keeps talking. As he does, a measure of the ease in Lazzaro’s neutrality pulls gradually back into more wary reserve, eye contact prying in, dark as it is intent.

“You know, it’s really interesting to hear you say that.” He takes in a breath to elaborate with, and pauses instead, thoughtful in that silence.

“Because you are correct, but Richard doesn’t seem to think there’s anything to discuss.”

Weird, right? Vincent twists his brow in commiseration for how strange this inconsistency must sound to friendly ears. Probably just a miscommunication.

“I have to take an appointment to make, but I’d love to speak with you if you’re available later this evening. Or tomorrow.”

The mention of the smoke filtration gets a short chuckle out of the security chief, humored, but with the sense that there’s a mental note filed away for puzzling through later. Once he’s made his request for a spare moment, Luther steps back in recognition of the man’s air of departure, naturally not wanting to impose his tall frame any longer than necessary upon the other.

The other brow of the two lifts with the secretary’s statement. Maybe not weird, his expression suggests, but curious.

“This evening, then,” he picks of the two options presented him. “The quicker things are laid out, the better to see the image in the puzzle.” After a pause to consider, he reaches into his suit jacket and pulls out a beat up looking brown leather wallet, drawing out a card of his own. But he doesn’t hand it over straight away, instead reaching over to snag one of Sera’s pens.

It happens to be a purple gel pen.

Expediency over aesthetic, though, and he scrawls a different number down on the back of the card, waiting for it to dry for those few seconds before offering it out to the other man.

“The number on the back’s for off-campus.” The purple pen is dropped back into the holder.

Lazzaro’s expression changes little, intrigue in the hood of his brows continued on through the process of him receiving the number (in purple) and giving the card a little shake. Just to be extra sure he isn’t going to transfer any ink to the inside of his suit, where he tucks Luther’s digits away.

“I’d like to meet in person.” Because reasons. “I’ll be in touch to make arrangements.”

One step taken back to spare Bellamy the strangeness of having someone turn into a breathable substance right up in his grill, Vincent lifts his hand in farewell.

“Until then,” he says. “Take care of yourself. Especially if there are cameras in here.”

He’d assumed there would be, or else this would be much less effectual a passive aggressive adventure in appearing in places Richard Ray would rather he didn’t. Anyway. With that, he collapses into an opaque snarl of black mist, still eddying in the air currents stirred up by his own step backwards in the fleeting moment before it disperses entirely.


Later That Evening

Phoenix Heights, Cat’s Cradle

In the evening, the crowd of the Cat’s Cradle swells as those seeking refuge from jobs and other responsibilities in the form of drinks and the 420-friendly atmosphere filter in. Public, yet with spots tucked away for quieter atmosphere. That it’s near his apartment in Phoenix Heights is a bonus. That Eve Mas, a trusted war buddy, is the owner operator of the establishment is perhaps the strongest reason why Luther has chosen this venue to meet with the Secretary in person. None of those factoids were revealed to Vincent though; the location and time were arranged quickly once Raytech’s public hours ticked by.

In one of the more secluded corner seating areas, Luther hasn’t changed appearance from his daytime look save for the disappearance of his tie and the top buttons of his shirt undone. And the addition of a glass tumbler with whiskey being rolled around the inside as he waits for the other man’s appearance. Every so often he glances to the door. And every so often, he looks up towards the vents, and the light haze of marijuana smoke that drifts in the air of the bar.

Vincent is a suspiciously fashionable five minutes late, holding the front door open for an older lady who doesn’t give him a second glance. Luther will recognize him immediately if he’s looking out — Lazzaro is distinct in his glasses, police dog poise in his shoulders.

To most everyone else — save maybe those among the war crowd — he’s just some guy in unseasonably warm clothing sidling in to order at the bar.

His sweater is grey, mock neck unfastened to expose a cable of scar tissue under his throat a higher collar would normally hide. He’s in dark jeans and casual shoes. There’s a reason he’s taken the time to change, and that reason is the atmosphere. Literally. ‘This place’ rates high on a list of things you don’t want your suit to smell like when meeting with the President.

He finds Luther easily, and takes a seat across from him with a beer in hand. Generic label, base planted down on a napkin he takes the time to fold first.

“I don’t really trust phones anymore,” he explains, by way of hello. “Not to be dramatic.”

Nobody’s going to give them a second glance here, is the presumption that is confirmed by the lady who entered before Vincent. Luther spots him too, glasses and poise first. Beer and scar second. Accessories and person.

“They don’t work out here,” the man responds to the greeting as a matter-of-fact acknowledgment. “Glad you made it though. Appreciate your taking the time.” He even sounds like he means it, raising his whiskey glass in a short cheers before sinking a long drink of it down. That done, the security chief - the man - starts with, “Read the article in the Times. There was some shit going down the whole war and before it, wasn’t there.” Not a question, but a dark observation. He tips his head, acknowledging the scar. “Who got in close enough to do that?”

“Of course.” Vincent raises his beer, brow knit like it ain’t no thang on his way to tipping it back for a drink. Of course. “This is what your tax dollars pay for.”

Private consultations with cabinet members.

Shit going down might be the understatement of the evening — one Vincent hasn’t quite drawn in the breath to answer for when Luther asks him who got in instead. He glances down at himself, right hand still wrapped around his beer. There’s a scar there too, subtler, cleaned up by a cosmetic surgeon, cut in around the bone of his wrist on its way up under his sleeve.

“Negator,” he says. “Two-thousand and eight.”

Another one runs along his skull on the same side, a barely-there line chipped in over his ear to complete the picture. However much of it Luther can see at present, anyway.

“There’s always been shit going down.”

Luther’s laugh comes out dry, more a huffed exhale of ‘ain’t that the truth’. The man shakes his head slowly, in sympathy about the negator, although the year given makes his brow twitch together. The next regard is with an additional attitude of respect as he circles around the subjects he’s called the secretary for.

“Used to work guard duty, front desk, up and center.” He slides a fingertip around the rim of the glass in hand. “Didn’t pick up on security ‘til the war.” His words pause with the weight of that memory, the heavy dump of them a burden that makes him physically roll his shoulders. Then he eases into the second sip of his whiskey and a searching glance to the man sitting across the table top. “Now I’ve got a bunch of people who can’t seem to catch a break with what seems like constant death threats. Against them, and their families.”

He stops shy of saying my family, but his tone is protective, guarding. Frustrated too. “One of them,” he continues, “was just killed in a supposed accident. Landmines. I’ve got stalkers. Snipers. Pirates.” He snorts at the last word, swallows down a third, full drink that takes care of the last bit.

Luther has much to discuss, and want of a listening ear. Shit’s been going down.

“And now? There’s a person you’re looking for, from that article, who was working right under my nose.”

Vincent just has the beer, and he’s taking it slow — knuckles set idle against the label while he listens, diverting condensation on its downward slide. Which is what he came here to do, dark eyes tracking close after the weight on Luther’s shoulders, the speed at which his whiskey is vanishing.

Luther’s searching glance doesn’t yield much more than the obvious: scars, greys and the distinct sense that he’s being turned over in Lazzaro’s mind like a lucky penny he found in a parking lot.

“I’m sorry for your loss,” he says. It’s something he’s grown accustomed to saying in recent years, and he means it. Landmines, he’d agreed with Richard earlier in the afternoon, sounded terribly unlikely as a cause of death. There are reasons Raytech needed a Luther in their ranks.

But he doesn’t broach the potential of an assassination here and now. He has more pressing puzzles to piece apart.

“Did you know what you were getting into when you signed on? Stalkers, snipers and pirates all sound like standard fare for Raytech. Just wait until the time travelers start showing up.” Good joke, Vincent.

Now he lifts his beer, deadpan.

“How long have you had her?”

Under assessment, Luther doesn’t appear duplicitous. His features, manner, wrapped in a simple everyman packaging, look like the sort that would otherwise escape notice. Until now, when he’s emerged from the shell he’s otherwise normally tucked into.

Condolences received with a slow nod, he remarks to that regard, “Thank you. It’s… been rough.” And it’s hard to say whether he means just on recent events or recent times in general.

And for the note of time travelers, there’s a notable wry breath of a laugh again from the Raytech security chief. Like Vincent’s just a little too late to joke about that tidbit. “Somehow, I don’t think anybody could have known about all this ‘standard fare’,” says Luther as he taps his empty glass, staring down at the clear bottom. It’s going to need a refill. “But whose job description actually lists all their duties, right?” Right.

The last question, the weightiest, changes Luther’s wry demeanor, the gravity of it pressing and extracting a thin sheen of guilt into his stubbled jawline. “Few months,” he considers, eyes finally lifting from staring at the tumbler to look straight at the other man. “I knew we were keeping her hidden from certain organizations who would have had vested interests.” To that end, there is no conflict in the man over that. He had helped protect her, as he did with others. Just a little moreso with her.

The conflict comes when he continues, “But to think that she… What you had written in the paper? What she’d done with Humanis First?” Not for, but with. “Is it true?” The question posed takes on a rhetorical tint. He’s turning his own mental gears, churning the ideas of all the implications around in his mind. Outwardly, Luther just looks like he’s tasted something off.

And he looks like, deep down, he knows that at least part of the answer isn’t something he wants to hear.

Vincent’s soul is weighed down by no such conflict, dead sure of his own place in the grinder — the brackish brown of his eyes coated tar black by low light, shadowed by the hour and the subject matter at hand. Rounding up remnant fugitives is a dark business, there’s no denying that. The conviction rate is high; the consequences are dire.

His regard isn’t without empathy — warm to whatever reluctance, or doubt, or wish for some other, less unpleasant truth. He understands that people mourn the wicked.

He just isn’t one of them.

“You’re not the first person to ask me that question,” he says. “And that worries me.”

Odessa Knutson has convinced others not only to look out for her, but to love her, and to lie for her. To put themselves in harm’s way for her, apparently, as Vincent looks briefly through Luther and all the way across New York back to Raytech.

“It’s all true.”


He lifts paired fingers to Luther’s empty glass, focused back in to the here and now.

“What are you drinking?”

A lone brow twitches up for the note that Luther isn’t the first to express a worrisome question about Odessa Knutson. Desdemona. “Who else?” he asks, jaw tight as he does, grey eyes pinning on the man sitting across.

The simple statement of claimed truth tightens Luther’s fingers on the glass as well as the straight line of his mouth. “Fuck.” A simple, emphatic word for all the complex, roiling inner feelings that whip up discontent and anger. But also, a lack of understanding. One that he, at the very least for this moment, does not reconcile within himself. Luther is content to stew in the feeling of betrayal, of guilt.

“Whiskey double, neat,” he answers straight to the question posed by the point. He follows it with a tilt of his chin up, considering the man. “You want something more than that?” He doesn’t wait for an answer to come before he stands from his seat to move over to the bar and orders two drinks. The man looks back over his shoulder at the other, gauging, thinking behind the thought-filled gaze. There’s a lot to think on. And once he’s gotten both drinks from the bartender, Luther returns, reseats himself and nudges the second rocks glass over.

“So how do you want to do this?” It’s a straight pointed question, no frills, purely cooperative. “I’ve got teams that can move in when you’re ready.”

“Someone whose input I would normally value,” is all Vincent has to say for the question of Lynette’s identity. He’s still a little sore about it, resignation drawn up behind a heavy-lidded look for his own lack of elaboration.

Like he can’t say, but he wouldn’t want to even if he could.

The silence gives him a moment to read anger into the look in Luther’s eye. He’s still feeling around for an angle back into the meat of the problem when the bigger man flips the implicit offer of a second round back on him. …And departs for the bar, before he can say no thank you.

“Shit.” Muttered. Private.

Luther’s glance back will catch him scuffing his hand up around his jaw, scrubbing against the grain. He siphons reflexive resistance out into a sigh — busies himself with centering the base of his bottle on its napkin, brows hiked at his own expense. What’s the worst that can happen? Wondering on the many, many possibilities keeps him well occupied until Luther’s return.

“Thank you.” Really. Vincent claims the nudged glass with a nod. This is absolutely what he wanted

“Practical strategy we can save for the light of day — we’ll need information on the facility. Floor plans, if you have them. What I’m more interested in right now is the nature of her relationship with Raytech and its employees.” He lifts his whiskey and takes a small sip, God help him. “Particularly Richard himself.

“Not that I’m saying he knew all along,” a qualification he’s quick to make, once he’s squared the glass down next to his beer. “I don’t think any of you truly did, or we wouldn’t be in this position.”

Nodding slowly, Luther responds with an easier, “Floor plans, sure. But there’s some construction going on, so I’ll have the team get currents to you.” The latter note, the meat of Vincent’s investigation, draws Luther’s brow downward in the middle as he regards the implied question.

“Miss Desjardins…” He hesitates on the name, but lets it stand as he works through the thought. “As we know her, she cares about the company. Her work touches several projects.” A hand comes up to stroke a finger along his chin, drink temporarily left sitting. “Richard’s familiar with her background. Well, what we knew of it. What she chose to share of it. He told me she used to run with the Company, the Institute.” None of those organizations seem to hold much personal bearing with Luther, judging by his steady listing. “But that she was… made to work with them. Whatever it was that was done to her.”

Luther picks up his glass of whiskey then, taking a drink, staring into the brown liquor. “He couldn’t have known,” considers the man aloud. “He wouldn’t have taken her on if she still thought that way. And it’s not like Miss Ray-Sumter to miss an ill intentioned mind.” The man shakes his head, the logic of Des frustratingly not parsing for him.

So he clings to the simple notion. Setting his whiskey down a moment, he looks back up to Vincent, gaze narrowed slightly. “She put us here,” he agrees slowly, drawing up to a straighter sit, “and I’m not about to let her take the company down. The Rays aren’t the ones you’re after.” Or are they? His look grows a touch cautious for the thought, but he continues, “If she put herself in Humanis First, there’s got to be some reason. I’d like to know, myself.”

It’s a statement that couples to the implication that they’d be able to question her. Or at least have the opportunity to.

“Right,’ says Vincent, “right.” She was made to work with them. “And it’s not like he’s still protecting her, now that the story is out there.”

Lazzaro opens his hand out to invite testimony to the contrary, brows knit — dismissive of the possibility.

“That would be…” irresponsible, impractical, dangerous. Unthinkable. Insane, even.

He tilts his glass with his non-inquiring hand as if at a loss, leaving room for Luther to fill in the blank himself.

“She’s likely to keep running with the same defense, you know.” Liquor rides amber up the side, barely touched. “The question becomes how many evil organizations one person can tumble through before you’re no longer able to suspend your disbelief, and consider the common denominator.” He has a very methodical way of laying it out there — steady affect, baseline reason laid out in broad strokes.

“But that’s not for us to decide.”

“Well, no,” Luther replies evenly, quirking an evaluating look at the man with open hand. “Since he just got back to all this and more…”

He doesn’t finish the thought, but he does use his drink to put in the point. Another swallow. Another look to Vincent and his lack of drinking. But Luther doesn’t press on that so much as he heaves a low sigh, conceding, “No. It’s not. But ultimately, if it comes down to it, she’ll find that no matter how far she runs… The past catches up.” The ominous intonation is finalized with a knock back of the rest of the drink. “She can rabbit. The turtle’s gonna win though.”

“So that’s it, then. We help you, and Raytech’s out of your sightlines?”

Vincent finally takes a longer drink when Luther knocks his back entirely, breath pressed out slow after it.

The taste doesn’t seem to bother him. He doesn’t shudder, or grimace. What he does do is peer down at the glass like Luther’s ordered him a hamburger the size of a small pony and is looking on while he tries to figure out how to deal with it.

“When Raytech assists me in putting Knutson on trial, that’ll be the end of it.”

He looks up to Luther, black eyes every bit as inscrutable as his verbiage.

“I took a look at your record,” he admits, after a pause, “before coming out here tonight. If you ever decide to move out of the private sector…”

A slow blink is all that interrupts the long look of Luther watching the other man take the drink. It’s upon hearing Vincent’s conditions that he agreeably nods. “Sure.” The simple word co-signs an unwritten contract of cooperation. He’s toying with the once more empty glass in hand when the Secretary reveals his admission to background checking. Luther ticks up a brow at that offer. The glass is set down.

A twist of a wry smile accompanies his response. “I’m flattered, and fearful, about what you found,” he remarks, eyes not leaving the man. He doesn’t deny the suggested offer outright, instead regarding it in a sober fashion. And he looks a little more intensely curious, yet doesn’t ask his questions. Perhaps out of self-interest or self-preservation. Perhaps to spare the man across the table from any further need for untoward revelations.

His hand curls around the glass once more, but this time to pick it up and bus his table. “I think on that note, Mister Secretary, I better head out and get a few things prepped.” He’s pushing to his feet again, deliberate movements that allow onlookers to detect the slight buzz of alcohol affecting his actions.

“We’ll be in touch.”

“Sure,” says Vincent, in unconscious echo. Sure. Get your floor plans together, Luther. Prepare for disappointment. He’s sat back upright against his seat, shoulders just now on their way to loosening up. He doesn’t stand. “Thank you for meeting with me.”

A handshake here and now would be awfully conspicuous, and he’d rather sit here and babysit his whiskey while the earliest stage of regret creeps through his nervous system.

“I look forward to hearing from you.”

There’s something missing, in the look that accompanies implicit farewell. It’s dry within the bounds of plausible deniability, bled of enthusiasm. A discrepancy to think about later.

Maybe he thinks Luther won’t actually call.

Maybe he already knows exactly what that call is likely to be.

Either way, when Luther busses his glass back to the bar, it’ll be to find that his orders have been relocated to Lazzaro’s tab, with no room for argument or negotiation. Alone at the table, Vincent’s set the whiskey aside and gone back to his beer. Back in the clear. He can only hope.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License