Not Going Anywhere


carol_icon.gif vincent_icon.gif

Scene Title Not Going Anywhere
Synopsis Carol's waking situation is spelled out for her in straightforward terms by a straightforward terrorist.
Date July 18, 2011

A Safehouse

She dreams. It's meant to be a good sign — Benji believes it is, whatever it is she's happened to see in the long hours in which Carol Praeger slumbers. She is, now, or rather, slowly beginning to rouse out of it, eyeballs shifting beneath papery eyelids, fingers curling into palm. Once blonde-silver hair is more yellow-grey in dullness and by now, greasiness, the warm of the late afternoon on her skin though her temperature remains consistently healthy. She doesn't look unwell, exactly — only faded.

The prolonged sunlight that sticks around in midsummer procrastination presses in through a window, veiled by cloud and pollution and stained lacy curtains that cast speckly shadows across Carol's face. The bedroom is little, because the house is little, wedged in between others of its kind not so far from where Queens had been mauled by fires and then Dome-related rioting. There are still scars less than a block away where the massive forcefield had so neatly cut into the world, and there's a view of the wreckage of bridge that has only been cleaned up a little as opposed to repaired. There are a lot of things in this city that haven't been repaired, not the least of which being the crater that started everything.

The mattress squeaks beneath her shifting frame, loose sheets obscure and damp over the shapes her legs and pelvis make beneath it.

"Morning," says Vincent.

Even though it's afternoon.

He's doing sudoku in some newspaper or another, mechanical pencil poised eraser down when he glances over from headway he's made in the last hour. Dressed down in a thin, zippered hoodie and jeans, grey and blue respectively. Casual.

There's a quiet scuff when he pauses long enough to push his sleeves down from his elbows, covering whorls and turns of puckered scar tissue in the process. Then the paper is wielded again. And the pencil.

"Sorry about the curtains. Dodgy interior decorating comes with the territory."

Whatever the Institute happened to be, it was not this. An apartment decorated by someone's Jewish grandma. Carol doesn't so much have a problem with the decorating as she does with the strangeness and unfamiliarity and also the heat of the room — mildly summery if a bit humid to some, but near alien to another who knows ice and air conditioning. Alarm doesn't surface, though. It's too energetic an emotion to portray.

One long, needle-scarred arm comes up and angles to grip at the bed's wooden frame, Carol lifting her head as she draws herself up in small stops and starts of strength, the furniture at a judder as she turns bleary sights for Vincent. Confusion reflects back at him, and with some measure of doubt, she asks;


"Vincent." Less ruffled by the guess and requisite correction than he probably should be, Lazzaro fills in one final number on his way to setting the paper aside for good. A tightly scripted, halfhearted 9 that he'll probably end up erasing when (and if) he ever gets back to it.

"I worked with your husband." Past tense is too carelessly glossed over. The kind of careless that someone is when they care.

Nearly as dark around the eyes as he is in them, he compares her to recollections of photographs without judgment or even real pity for the state of her. A hint of resignation, maybe.

"You're no longer in The Institute's keeping."

Despite clumsily misplaced name and guess, there is some sharpness in bleary blue eyes that speaks of recollection — if not of Vincent himself, but of immediate events, of the things she knows or doesn't know. There is a fluttery blink at the word husband, and tendons and bones stand sharp against her skin when the hand wrapped on bedframe clenches. Breaking her focus from him, for now, Carol turns her gaze for the window and the old curtains that frame it. Slowly, she eases her legs out from under the thin sheets, bare feet finding the floor.

Getting up is as predictably wobbly as one would guess — but Carol anticipates it too, compensating with steady hands on angles of furniture and the wall by the window. It's out the glass that she intends to see, silent until she can push papery curtains aside and look run down dystopic suburbia of New York City.

She sees that he is right.

Instinct pushes Vincent to his feet in tandem with her wobble — an automatic impulse that he's careful to keep from becoming sudden movement or a reach in her periphery. Upright he's not much taller than her, with muscle bound around his shoulders that fails to achieve truly pitbullish proportions. Not a thug, then.


"How do you feel?" inquired politely on an awkward delay is not a very thuggish thing to ask, either.


Carol's tone of voice sounds as though she'd tell the truth to anyone, thug or not, speaking into the window as much as she is to Vincent — a little distant as she crawls her attention over the desolate street outside, hand moving to let the curtain sweep back down and cast its spotty shadows again. Fingers come up to fidget with the feather-fine ends of her hair, chin tucking in before she looks back at Vincent again, studying him and recalling the name he just gave her. Raw is a good descriptor — more pragmatic labels would also be tired from excess sleep, underfed in the only way someone who's been in her position can be, but present.

Aware, verging on alert. She is deciding what the best question, of many, is to ask. "Where is Raymond?"

"Within the city." Specificity or precision is no longer one of Vincent's strong suits. The only eyes he has at his disposal are his own, so he is vague as necessary to tell the basic truth: that he isn't 'here.' If 'here' is the building they are in, or the organization that oversees it.

"I don't know if he's been notified of your extraction. I wanted to speak with you before approaching him myself." So as to avoid playing keepaway with the boss's wife, deliberately or via accidental implication.

Across the room, he maintains his post, opting not to retake his seat with her as close to the window as she is. "I'm not sure how much you know."

The hand at the wall never leaves its position, not quite confident on her feet and already feeling tired about standing. It's not a thing Carol wishes to advertise, even if to those receptive to detail, it's not hard to figure out. "I think that makes two of us," she says, voice already beginning to take on a rasped edged. Talking isn't a thing she's done a lot of lately, either way. She moves, then, to reposition herself to sit on the edge of the bed, a hand that shows a shiver in her fingers up to fidget, adjust the collar of cotton shirt she wears, a futile and prim gesture that does little to improve her presentation.

Fingers fold with the other set of them. "I was told I was under evaluation for my ability. At first. They needed to see what it could do, before I was allowed to go back into the world. It's been a long time." She lifts her chin, head tipped a little to the side. "What I don't know is if I'm still in danger or not."

"Yes." She is.

Matter-of-fact in the manner of doctors delivering bad news, Vincent keeps eyes on her throughout her study of him and eventual settle onto the bed's edge.

"In the sense that you are a tier three Evolved fugitive from a corrupt government organization fueled by fear. No in the sense that they would much rather have you alive to utilize should you choose to surrender yourself back into their control."

Comfortably (or uncomfortably) honest, Vincent lifts his brows at her before he glances back and sinks himself stiffly down into his own seat. "'No' also in the sense that you're with me."

She smiles, then, for the first time since he's seen her in the flesh — thin and rueful, and makes her eyes into crescents, the spread of laugh lines that don't get fudged out from captivity even if she otherwise seems depleted as a human being. Carol swallows. "I am," she begins, her creaky voice wavering a little in the earnestness of sentiment that lies there, "not going back there. I never did anything wrong with my ability, and I feel that— " And she stops, there, hand coming up in hesitant hover and fingertips resting against her chin as she thinks, goes back over the conversation so far.

Utilise. "What happens now?" is quiet enough to be near inaudible.

"With your permission, I will make arrangements for you to meet with Raymond off the radar. What happens from there will be up to you. That said," Lazzaro breathes deep — just shy of stifling a yawn with a scuff of his hand after his ear, "calculating for the current climate it's my personal recommendation that you remain here. With us. He's the Secretary of Evolved Affairs, you know."

America is watching.

Some kind of tension releases in Carol's posture at the news that she will have the chance to speak with her husband, for all that there is a flinty quality to her glance when Vincent asserts where she's to remain, a small, dry sound in the back of her throat at the reminder of Raymond's position in life — almost a chuckle. Again, there is that shift of internal ponderings and reactions to more external assessment, but if there is argument, it's certainly not in the way she curls her legs up onto the mattress. "You've made some promises," she notes, going back to watching the window and what lays beyond it, passed glass and curtain. "If you keep them, then you won't see resistance from me.

"I'm not going anywhere, regardless. Will you get me some water?"

"I don't make promises," says Vincent. Not immediately but certainly pointedly, in a wary kind of way. Is this going to be a problem? "Force of habit." A refusal to make promises is one of those things that tends to be a problem, when you're dealing with recently 'liberated' captives. So, while he's on the subject of bad news: "You should also remember that you're being sheltered by a socially inept terrorist faction who may ask for favors or make demands. They lost one of their own, recovering you."

Having just sat, and far from accustomed to running errands for women who look like they should be sitting under a crown somewhere, Vincent is slow to acknowledge her request. In part because he has to remind himself that she has had a hard time and he shouldn't be annoyed. He is probably just tired. "But yes," he creaks back to his feet, finally, "I will get you a glass of water."

The tilt of Carol's head doesn't suggest it will be a problem — just that she doubts the validity of his statement. It's the most argument she's willing to give — the man is already willing to get her her water, after all. Slim arms fold around herself, palms sunk into the corners her elbows make and chin tucking in. "Thank you," she says, and it sounds sincere — a little crackly, in that she does actually need a little hydration, or maybe parched with reservation about the news of this terrorist faction, blue eyes dimming some and whole body seeming to grow even smaller and withered on the bed at the thought.

But it's not the Institute.

Increasingly prone to tripping himself into accidental we-s and us-es, Vincent can't make himself commiserate the way he'd like to. A lingering look back at her across the stock of his shoulder falls away before it can get there. He is more easily, understandably classified as 'one of them' to outsiders, these days, for all that individual, internal distinction keeps him from giving completely over to their. Manipulative. Insanity.

Encapsulated irritation pushes out into a shove at a random open door once he's moved out into the hall, dull, rebounding clonk sourceless to Carol on one end of the hall and Ferry staff out beyond the other. The kitchen is —-> that way.

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