Not Acceptable


cat_icon.gif tasha_icon.gif vincent_icon.gif

Scene Title Not Acceptable
Synopsis Vincent doesn't approve of the Ferry's tactics when Tasha is the unannounced third party to a meeting between Cat and the DoEA Agent.
Date June 18, 2010

Cat's Apartment

Back home again, with Tasha in tow, after the session where Eileen Spurling revealed plans for restructuring the Ferry's operations and touched off a debate during which insults were hurled and in some cases tempers flared. Cat muses to herself it's a wonder the whole thing didn't turn into a festival of people throwing each other off boats. She removes the hooded Yale sweatshirt as the double doors across from the chosen elevator are passed through, having paid for the food she arranged to have an Alley Cat courier pick up from Piccoli's and bring to her building.

"He'll likely be here within a few minutes," Cat opines quietly as she heads for the kitchen table, "if he isn't already here and lurking in the air vents."

Cat has already been told by Tasha to act like she doesn't know the relationship between the father and daughter. Knowing Vincent, Tasha knew he wouldn't show if he knew she was there, and as it is, she is nervous about his reaction to seeing her with Cat on Ferry business. She's pulled off the damp sweatshirt she was wearing in the flooded tunnel, wearing just her old softball All-Stars raglan t-shirt, too tight as it was first worn by a much-younger Tasha, back when she was still an athlete and trying to please her father.

She slides into a seat and nods. Vincent is usually on time. He's that sort of man. Plus, traffic woes and the like don't really apply to him when he's in his vapor form.

Certainly on cue (not as if), a studly balding gent in a dark suit whose crisp creases are right at home amidst such finery resolves not far from the table in a plunge of black smoke that is quick to fade into a more tenuous wisp at shoulders and elbows and the grasp of one hand at opposite wrist before him. Vincent is on time. Technically, he is (at least) several seconds early. And he didn't knock.

First and foremost subjects present will note that he does not say hello, either. They may also register that he does not look very happy, and is, in fact, standing very still save for the carbon lift of fog from his fringes.

"Agent Lazzaro," Cat greets when the suited man ceases to be merged with the air and appears before them, "thank you for coming." She takes wrapped sandwiches out of the bag and sets them on the table while speaking pleasantly. "You're quite welcome to enjoy some of the food, and I've a decent variety to drink if you like."

She opts not to introduce Tasha to him, perhaps believing it best to not comment on her identity, that it would seem more in keeping with Ferry principles not to reveal an identity when it can be avoided.

When her father seems to emerge out of, well, smoky air, Tasha's eyes drop, avoiding that unhappy expression she knows will be on his face before his face is present. She takes a deep breath and lifts her eyes, her brows knitting together slightly with the worried look she perpetually wears — while in many ways she is very much like her father, and in others, very much like her mother, where Tasha is very much her own person, and what Cat already noted, is that she lacks a poker face.

She gives a very slight shake of her head — a pre-emptive answer to a question he won't ask. Her hands move to her laps, not touching the sandwich put in front of her. She finally says in a quiet voice, "Agent Lazzaro." Let him think Cat doesn't know who she is to him — that's the plan. Less of a liability that way — or so she hopes.

"I'm alright," says Vincent, who looks to the sandwich turning out process as he might a homeless person attempting to get close enough to shine his shoes for him, "Thank you."

He's more severe than usual, somehow: the shadowy haze of his hairline freshly shaved down to nothing, deliberate stubble all at an even scrape around the clamp of his jaw. Eyes black, tie straight, cuffs neatly fastened and collar immaculate.

He doesn't look to Tasha until he's taken his sweet fucking time soaking up a read on Cat and her sandwiches. "What did you want to communicate?"

Scrutiny doesn't faze the woman who matches Vincent's stature, standing at the table in jeans and athletic shoes with a dark blue t-shirt. Cat regards him for a moment after he speaks, leaving food there for him to take or not. Feet carry her to the refrigerator where she obtains a bottle of Guinness stout for herself and opens it, then returns to table.

"The Institute has been busy again," Cat provides, "it seems they abducted a precognitive who can give visions to others, and an augmentor. They may or may not have also used amp, but the results of this activity are obvious."

Content to let Cat do the talking, Tasha sits still at her seat and merely listens and watches, her dark eyes moving from Cat's face to her father's to watch for his reaction. He never asked her what he saw. He denied knowing what caused the blackouts, or if they were precognitive visions or hallucinations when she spoke to him on the phone. She brings her hand to mouth in her familiar nervous gesture, chewing the thumbnail as she has since she was small — and which stemmed from a thumb-sucking habit that lasted until she was three.

If Vincent was already aware of this information, there is no reaction accordingly. If he wasn't already aware of this information, there is no reaction accordingly. He holds his ground and his posture, stiff shoulders squared to both of them, hands crossed, boot black stare boring resiliently back to Cat from his daughter after a moment's silent review. "If you are aware of the precognitive's identity and are unwilling to provide me with a name, location or registry entry, I will require a full written assessment of the nature of the ability in question as it has been previously understood to function. Coherency, accuracy, influence, duration and projective scope, among other things."

He has to pause to take a breath there, voice otherwise unbroken and even as an airport runway. "In turn, I have no relevant information to offer at this time. If you have specific questions, I can offer to look into them."

"Joseph Sumter," Cat provides, "former Pastor of the Guiding Light Baptist Church here in the Village. Survivor of Humanis First attempts to kill him. His ability generally works by touch, deliberately given to those who ask. I don't know of anyone else who can do that. It can't be proven, sadly, but the pieces fit. The augmentor Gillian Childs vanished days before the blackout, her car was found abandoned. Investigation showed she was captured by recognized Institute tactics. We later discovered Mr. Sumter had also gone missing. He's since been released, with no memory from the time he was taken to the point of his release."

There was consideration of not giving names, but, well… the cat is out of the bag. No need for secrecy when the Institute already knows who they are.

"Which means," Tasha actually speaks up, her eyes worried and seeking her father's, "what people saw last Thursday was probably a widespread mass precognitive event, right? If a precog and an augmentor and maybe that drug were all involved. It means that there's a chance that was an actual glimpse into the future." Just in case he needed it spelled out for him, right?

But there's a slight quaver in her voice that hints she actually wants him to dispel this theory. It's much like the look she once gave him when she explained her fear of a monster lurking in her closet — the look she'd given him right before he gave her what she wanted: a cup of water and all the reasons a monster couldn't possibly be lurking in the small space.

The look she gives him now clearly says she's not hardened enough for this organization she's chosen.

Tasha looks at Vincent. Vincent looks at Tasha. And for the first time, there's a pull of something like discomfort in a minute change in the angle of his head over his shoulders, otherwise aquiline posture preserved from the stiff of his neck down. The grip he has across the back of his left hand tightens as well, scar etching white from its run down the bulge of his wrist.

Then he looks back to Cat.

"A written report or an interview with the precog you suspect to be involved at his earliest convenience will be sufficient, Doctor Chesterfield. I cannot currently speculate as to The Institute's motivation, if they are — in fact — responsible at all. There is little mutual trust between our respective organizations, as you may imagine.

"Now," says Vincent to Cat, suffering a sudden change of tack but positively no change of expression, "I am not and have never been an advocate of extortion, however — I can promise you with every part of my being that I will only say this once:"

He lifts a hand, pointer finger slightly hooked as if to indicate the room and everyone currently extant in it, but somehow especially Tasha, "This is not acceptable."

It would seem the jig is up, given this pronouncement. Cat, however, opts to preserve the cover. Smoothly she asks a calm question. "You've objections to Miss Oliver's presence, Agent Lazzaro?" An eyebrow raises, she slides her gaze over to rest on the woman in question as if to ask 'do you and he have some connection I should know about?'.

Within her mind is the existence of curiosity. What will Tasha do? Will she suddenly discover a poker face, or will she fold like she's got seven deuce off-suit?

There is no cup of water and no debunking of monster beliefs tonight. The fact Vincent doesn't argue that it's most likely a hallucination or that their theory is ridiculous means, Tasha knows, that they're right — not that she doubted it. Not that she ever doubted it. She's known for a week that what she saw was a slice of life from the future — and a little research has even given her the date. She's known that the fact Colette and she saw the same thing means it was not a hallucination.

But she was hoping she was wrong.

When Vincent changes subjects abruptly, gesturing at her, her face pales, and her eyes drop. No poker face. "I don't think it's extortion. They wouldn't do that to me," Tasha offers quietly. The pronoun choice is deliberate: They might do it to him, but they wouldn't do it to her. She lifts her eyes. "You're giving the same information or lack that you would if I weren't here, so does it really matter?"

No more amused by feigned ignorance than he is by much of anything else these days, Vincent lets Tasha do the talking and the blanching and the breaking of eye contact off on her side of the room while he persists in staring Cat down, hand still lifted. To add insult to injury, he doesn't so much as look to his daughter to acknowledge her voice in the matter.

Then again, he doesn't bother answering Cat's question with more than the way he's looking at her, which isn't actually better.

"We need information on the ability. In the mean time I highly recommend you refrain from telling anyone else his name, my associates included. Have a good evening."

He says so more quietly than he spoke before, still warning in a way, manners having left him to go through the motions of pleasantry robotically on his own. Then he glances to Tasha and exits as he entered, in a stir of squid ink and vapor that flushes itself fast to the floor to speed its own dissemination.

His exit is observed dispassionately, Cat not being one to let on that she has any emotional reaction to Vincent's behavior. It's entirely unspoken, her understanding that the jig is up and he doesn't believe she had no idea exactly who Tasha is, while he remains present. Once he's gone, however, things change to a degree.

"That was interesting," she allows dryly while lifting her bottle of stout and drinking from it slowly, eyes settling onto the food. "That man isn't fooled one bit. However, he remains incorrect. I would not seek to extort him for information in any fashion, involving you or anyone else. Anything else." A wrapped sandwich is slid over to her.

More unspokenness: Were she to attempt coercing information from him, she would opt to do so by far more subtle means. Like telepaths or people with the ability of persuasion.

Tasha's face, worried as he speaks, stays just as worried once he's gone. She turns to look at Cat and shakes her head in apology. "I… I'm sorry. I hope that doesn't screw up your … whatever… with him. He knows that, um, Eileen knows who I am, but that's all I told him, so you can claim you didn't know. I'll tell him you didn't know, if it helps," she says, rapid-fire words.

She shakes her head at the sandwich and grabs her sweatshirt. "I gotta go. I … need to … I just need to go." There's a thick sound as the tears well up and she tries to swallow them back, heading for the elevator that will take her out of the building, where she will find a cab to bring her back to Gun Hill.

Words are spoken as Tasha makes to flee at a walking pace, her voice quiet. "It's not likely I would again choose to meet with him in your presence, Tasha. I will not have there be any appearance of extortion. In such dealings, it doesn't matter whether it's true or not. Seeming true is all it takes. The scope of your father's declaration of unacceptability may extend beyond this to your involvement with the Ferry in general. I don't know. But I will not presume to dictate your choices."

Whether or not Tasha hears and chooses to remain or continues on her exiting path, Cat is hungry and there is food from Piccoli's. So she eats.

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