Nothing Can Be Secret Forever


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Scene Title Nothing Can Be Secret Forever
Synopsis Allison and Bianca question the Widow Portman, and the case of the senator's death gets more and more interesting
Date August 17, 2010

Templeton-Dupont Estate

Clouds have been sewn into the sky like cottony patchwork by the time a black Mercedes rolls past the front gates and up the gravel driveway. In the climate-controlled environment of their car, two young agents of the Company approach a seat of wealth and authority within the hierarchy of New York's elite.

The Templeton-Dupont Estate rests nestles into the forested inland of Long Island's famous 'Gold Coast', home to the wealthiest mansions in New York outside of the hustle and bustle of Manhattan. the red brick wall of the neoclassical mansion are situated on three-hundred acres of land, protected behind a wall like a modern-day castle, surveilled by electronic security equipment and up until this month was the home of one of New York State's senators. Now, the Portman family lies divided by both scandal and tragedy.

Having been waved thorugh the security checkpoint at the gate and expected, the Company's black Mercedes rolls to a stop in the paved courtyard out front of the manor, and when the car finally arrests its movement, the driver slides down sunglasses off of the bridge of her nose, turning brown eyes towards the other agent seated beside her in the car. "You're sure you're up for this?" Bianca Karina has a taciturn and very business-like way about her. It isn't that she lacks empathy, but her concerns for success override any concerns she has for her fellow agents.

"I know you're still upset about the Stevens case, so…" Clearing her throat, Bianca's eyes avert away from Doctor Allison Richards, teeth drawing across her bottom lip and one hand lifting to adjust her glasses. "I'll understand if you'd prefer to wait in the car, I won't tell Crowley or Ryans." Sometimes, though, Bianca shows some humanity behind that stiff facade. Sometimes, just sometimes, she has a little empathy.

The estate is studied almost boredly by the woman in the passenger's seat, until her companion speaks. Allison looks over at Bianca and she shakes her head. "I have to go in. No one else can get quite the same information I can. But thank you for the offer, I appreciate it. I am upset about that." And here grief shows on her face. She's not quite over Darryl's death, and feels responsible for it.

She sighs and takes opens the door. "Let's get this over with. The woman's probably dreading our visit, even if she sees how necessary it is," she says before climbing out of the car and starting for the front door.

Bianca's emergence from the car comes with her sunglasses being slid back on again. The sleekly dressed agent swings her door shut, adjusts the lapels of her suit jacket, and offers an askance look to Allison with a slow nod of her head. On their approach to the estate, it becomes clear that the atmosphere is tense. One side of the front doors opens, revealing a servant of the estate with a weary and still mourning expression sagging her weathered and wrinkled face. The matronly old woman shows both agents into the manor, then promptly escorts them through the marble-floored foyer, past a grand staircase and white pillars, through a pair of French doors and out onto the back patio where the east lawn can clearly be seen.

The click of heels and shoes on the flagstone patio is their announcement as the agents are brought to a wrought iron table situated beneath a large white parasol. Seated at the round table, Amelia Portman looks much as one might expect for someone in her position. Frazzled blonde hair is brushed straight but looking as though she has been unable to tend to it as properly as one in her station would. Overly large sunglasses shadow her eyes to hide the redness, puffiness and bags associated with grieving, and a cigarette is pinched between her fingers, a long crook of ash hanging off the front.

"Mrs. Portman, Agents Karina and Richards are here to see you," the servant notes with a dip of her head into a nod. All Portman can give in response is a terse nod and a dismissive wave of her hand that trails smoke behind it. Feigning a smile, the servant turns on her heels without offer of anything, and makes her way back into the manor.

"Miss Portman," Bianca begins, offering a hesitant smile as she notices the lowball glass of whiskey on the rocks near her, "I'm agent Karina, and this is agent Richards. We— we won't be taking too much of your time, but we do have some questions we'd like to ask you about your husband."

The reaction the woman gives to their entrance has Allison pausing, her head tilting as she considers the widow. The woman doesn't want them there. Allison doesn't want to be there, and likely the woman won't be doing much talking. She sighs softly and moves to find a spot in front of Portman, schooling her face into a sympathetic one. "We're very sorry about your loss, Ms. Portman. We know the last thing you want to be doing right now is talking to strangers, but you want to find the people who did this to your husband, and we can do that, if you help us," she says, gently, her eyes remaining hazel. Just for the moment.

Moving to take a seat at the table, Bianca folds one leg over the other as Portman waves the agents in to be seated. "I know, I know I just…" her voice is hoarse, likely from spending several nights up in a row crying; she has enough reasons to. "Tony was a good husband," Amelia defensively notes, bringing a shaky hand up to her mouth to draw in a lungful of smoke, exhaling it down towards the table with a shake of her head. "He— he's been a good father, a good husband, a good senator. I don't…" trailing off, the grieving widow dips her head down and adjusts her sunglasses, seeming to be very protective of her husband's — and her family's — good name.

"My husband was a good man," Amelia firmly states as she looks back up to both agents, "I— don't know what either of you think you're going to find out about him, but— but Tony was an exceptional man. He— he would never do the things they're saying he'd do."

The woman's defensiveness has Allison sighing silently. Okay, she'll do this the easy way. For her. There's a quick glance to Bianca, and as she looks back to Amelia, eyes slide into their spooky silver. "Ms Portman, you will answer our questions truthfully and fully. You will leave nothing out. This is the only way we can find out what happened and put the person or persons responsible for your husband's death in prison. Do you understand me?" she asks, leaning back, her expression sharper than it was before.

The perfect pitch of Allison's voice and the implanted suggestion in her mind and subconsciously has her mind attuning to a more agreeable state. On seeing Allison's eyes silver out, Bianca offers a sigh of relief and adjusts her sunglasses, folding her hands in her lap as she crosses one leg over the other. "Ms Portman," Bianca levelly asks, "were you aware of your husband's Evolved status prior to his death?"

Silence hangs in the air as agent Karina asks the question, and Amelia slowly shakes her head, taking another long drag in her cigarette before breathing the smoke out in a wafting cloud from beneath wrinkled old lips. "No… no I— I never… I never had any idea. I mean, I— I knew he had something going on, on the side? I thought it might be a mistress, or… I don't know, work?"

Scowling, Amelia looks down to the glass of whiskey in front of herself in quiet contemplation. "I wasn't going to pres it with him, when I had my suspicions. I— I didn't want to risk the marriage, for the sake of our children, for his career. A divorce would ruin him, ruin the family name, put all of us in the spotlight." Her sardonic tone seems to indicate an unspoken addendum of for all the good that did us.

"He'd been… attending meetings or something," Amelia looks up with brows furrowed, "he said they were AA meetings, within the last couple of months…"

"What days did he attend them? Was it a regular schedule? Regular days, regular times?" Allison asks. "Did you ever see any sort of brochures or any other material that might have been from some sort of AA group? Or did he, perhaps, get phone calls the last few months at odd times, calls that he would refuse to take in front of you?"

Everything Allison asks seems to elicit a surprised reaction from Amelia. The widow's eyes avert behind her dark sunglasses and she sucks that last bit of her cigarette down before noisily clearing her throat. "He… in the last couple of months, he'd been getting some odd phone calls. I noticed he'd picked up a disposable phone, the kind you pay as you go? He got calls on them at odd hours of the night and…" there's a slow shake of Amelia's head. "None of the meetings that Tony said he was going to were ever on a regular schedule, I… I looked up local AA groups in the New York area, nothing matched."

Notably, the forensics investigation of this house and Tony's body never turned up a trac phone, which means somewhere out there is a telephone with some very important information on it.

Sliding her tongue over her lips as she brings her cigarette from them, Amelia Portman looks devastated. She snuffs her cigarette out on the corner of the table, then just throws the cruched butt down to the flagstone with a few others there, no ash tray in sight. "I figured he was just… seeing someone else. I don't… he never— /drugs?// I don't… I don't understand why he'd be doing that, he never— he was always against that sort've thing."

Allison glances to Bianca at mention fo the disposable phone, then looks back to Amelia. "What other sort of odd behavior did you notice? New people? Visiting at odd hours or acting strangely? Social events that you should've been at with him, but were told to stay home? Social events that you hadn't heard of before? Try to remember, Amelia. Anything out of the ordinary?"

"He was spending a lot of money from his private account. I hired a PI back when he had his first affair, we… kept it quiet." Amelia notes with a purse of her lips. "Since then I'd had access to his personal funds without him knowing. Tony was… spending money liberally, a few thousand here and there, usually withdrawn from his account the night before one of his meetings. I figured it might have been for an escort or a call girl, but it was in chunks of anywhere from one to five thousand dollars every two weeks. This… was going on for a few months."

Wringing her hands together, Amelia picks up her whiskey and takes a sip, looking between Bianca and Allison. Despite being asked to answer honestly, it seems that Amelia is hesitating on something, hesitating on actually saying something that's come to mind and instead offers a shift of her eyes down to her glass.

"Mrs Portman?" Bianca urges, "Was there something else?" Over the frames of her glasses, Bianca offers a look to Allison and a nod. Give it your best.

That hesitation has Allison frowning. She told Amelia not to hesitate. This shouldn't be happening. "Ms Portman, do not hesitate to tell us anything relevant to your husband and the questions we're asking. If you know something, can remember something, you need to tell us. What is it that you remember?"

Sometimes people with a strong mind or reinforced willpower can buck Allison's hypnosis after a prolonged conversation, but all it takes is a little tightening of the psychic leash to get them back in line. "Clothes— " Amelia blurts out without context at the choke-chain of another hypnotic suggestion, her lips pressing together tightly as she considers her own words and willingness.

"He— Tony was buying strange clothes and hiding them in the back of his closet. Things he'd never wear, clothing that didn't even fit him. Shoes that were too small or too big, and he'd just… sometimes when he went to his meetings, I noticed him packing a bag to go to the gym before them, I— I checked once, and he was packing the other sets of clothing."

Something clicks with Bianca there, and her brows furrow as she looks to Allison. "In the forensics information, something that Martin didn't bring up at the meeting that I'd noticed. The Senator's suit was one size too large for him, and his shoes didn't fit properly either. It didn't make any sense at the time and… I'm still not sure it does."

"He was wearing the suit? Maybe he can change sizes? Shapeshifting?" Allison murmurs to Bianca, shrugging a little, but keeping her focus largely on Amelia. "Were all the clothes you found the wrong size? Or were some just things that you never saw him wear, or that you could see him wearing? Not his style or whatever? Or perhaps women's clothes?"

"Everything that he kept hidden, yes…" Amelia clarifies along with another sip of her whiskey. "N— nothing like women's clothes, God know, like we needed anything else wrong with the family." There's a slow shake of Amelia's head as her eyes fall shut and the glass rests down on the table with a clank of the metal on glass. "Everything he had in that closet wasn't suited for him, wasn't his style of clothing, it was like he was shopping for other people. None of the other sizes matched each other. Who— who needs four pairs of shoes that don't fit?"

Desperate sounding for an answer, Amelia lifts up a hand to rub at her forehead. "I don't— I don't know anything else. Honestly, I— I don't." There's a slow shake of her head that follows, and Amelia braces her forehead against her fingers. Bianca tenses just a little, looking up to Allison then back to Amelia.

"Are his clothes still in the house? The— ones you mentioned? If they are, do you mind if we take a look at them?" Bianca's question has Amelia looking up at the brunette, then nodding her head and giving a ubiquitous, "Yes," as a response. "Yes they're— they're upstairs."

"Are they in the closet? In your bedroom? So we know where to look? And would you mind if we looked in his office? He does have an office here at your home, doesn't he?" Allison asks, though she's already starting to rise, expecting the answer to be in the affirmative. "And Ms. Portman? Let yourself relax a little. You can mourn, but don't let yourself get to the point where you break," she says gently.

"They're upstairs in our bedroom in the armoire," Amelia explains, even while Bianca is getting up out of her chair. "Doris can… show you the way up there, I— really don't want to look at them. Tony's office is on the first floor, but— there's nothing in there any more. The FBI came the day after they found his body and took everything, said it was for— for an investigation they were handling." Which is likely the drug and prostitution investigation, which means if anything interesting turned up from his office, the Company will have it in their hands soon — hopefully.

"Let's go check out the upstairs," Bianca notes with a look down to Amelia, "Thank you for your time, Mrs. Portman, I know this wasn't easy for you. We appreciate the cooperation."

"Thank you, Ms. Portman. You've been a great help. And do try to relax," Allison says, her eyes going back to their normal hazel. She nods to Bianca, then starts back towards the house, and hopefully, Doris's help. "This is getting strange," she murmurs to the other agent once they're out of earshot of the widow.

On the way back into the manor, Allison and Bianca find themselves guided up to the bedroom of Amelia Portman that was up until recently shared with her husband. Much like the rest of the manor, this third story bedroom is an elaborately furnished and decorated affair, and just as she said in back of the bedroom beside a window, a tall darkly stained oak armoire rests with doors open to racks of men's clothing.

Bianca is quick to dismiss the help as she pulls on a pair of latex gloves and pulls out a flashlight, approaching the armoire and pushing through the first rack of clothing to get at the ones in the back. One by one, she withdraws suit jackets, jeans, a leather coat, pairs of slacks, laying them all out on the bed nearby. Then, crouching, Bianca withdraws pairs of shoes ranging from tennis shoes to handmade patent-leather pairs, golf cleats and work boots. All different sizes.

"This is unbelievable, why…" Shaking her head slowly, Bianca shines the flashlight inside the armoire, then crawls inside and starts knocking on the wood, checking for compartments in the paneling while leaving the clothing itself to Allison to check over.

Gloves are pulled on, and Allison, frowning a little, starts to poke through the clothes, hunting for anything left in pockets, stains, anything that might give some clue as to what the senator did in these clothes. "If you find something in the armoir, a hidden compartment, I mean, I wonder if they might not be one in his desk too. Because yes, this is unbelievable."

Rifling through the clothes doesn't come up with anything, save for a few loose small bills, change and a disposable lighter in total. Likewise Bianca's search comes up fruitless for any sort of hidden compartment, however she does return with something in her hand none the less, a matchbook.

"Found this," agent Karina notes as she clicks off her flashlight and rises up to her feet again, turning the matchbook over. "Just a gas station book of matches, nothing specific," she admits, though on flipping the matchbook cover open, there's a phone number written on the inside. One dark brow lifts and Bianca's stare drifts from the number to Allison.

"Looks like something, at least," the brunette agent admits as she withdraws a plastic baggie from inside of her suit jacket and places the matchbook cover inside.

Straightening, Allison moves over to peer at the number, looking surprised. "Well, well. I guess it's pointless to say trace it since I know you're already planning on doing it. I didn't find anything in the clothes, but we should bag 'em anyway. Who knows what the lab might find. I hope they find more than we did, anyway."

"I think we did pretty good, information-wise. Physical evidence has been small, but… this has been relatively productive. I'll run the number when we get back to Fort Hero and see what comes up with it." Putting the baggie down on the bed with the other clothing, Bianca exhales a steady sigh and shakes her head, frowning visibly before looking up towards the ceiling. "I'll call a clean crew to come in and get all of this, I think we're pretty much done here…"

Looking back to Allison, Bianca offers an unusually honest smile as she adjusts her sunglasses, ones that now indoors, have untinted to regular eyeglasses. "You do a fine job, Richards, I'm glad I finally got the opportunity to work with you, it's refreshing." Then, with a furrow of her brows she adds. "I… really hope you reconsider your pending retirement. We need people like you on the clock."

Allison shoots a surprised look at Bianca, one that quickly turns to suspicion. "Plenty of people have seen me work. It just makes them mistrust me. Afraid I'll do the same to them," she says, shrugging and starting to bag the clothes on the bed. "And I can't stay. I don't trust my superiors. Ryans, especially. He should have told me about Stevens murder. So…" She shrugs. "When this case is over, I'm out."

"You should talk to Ryans about that, Richards," Bianca offers in a small voice, "there was something strange going on with that case from day one. No bulletins posted about activity, Ryans' vehicle getting shot up by those gunmen, then the attack in Midtown? I didn't know about it either until it was brought up at the meeting. If you ask me, I think Ryans doesn't trust us. With that bastard Harper around, I can't say I blame him."

Sliding her tongue over her lips, Bianca shakes her head slowly, then looks back up again. "Gael said you saved his life, back… when Ichihara attacked Fort Hero. He told me, about how you stopped that possessed agent. I— I appreciate you being here, Richards, even if no one else does. Gael probably wouldn't even be alive right now if it weren't for you."

Looking away, Bianca lifts her glasses up and pinches briefly at the bridge of her nose. "For whatever it's worth, I… I'm glad you're still here."

Bianca's words have Allison stopping, going still and studying the other agent intently, as though just that could give her fact from fiction. "I don't know that I saved his life. I just did what I could. And you're right. It does seem as though he doesn't trust us. I know he doesn't trust me, because I can find and fix those problems. Like I kept a couple from being convinced by that evolved cultist." She shrugs and picks up the bag.

"Anyway. Let's get out of here. See what can be found out with the clothes and number."

Brows furrowed, agent Karina dips her head into a nod and looks back to the clothing pile, then back to Allison. "Talk to him," Bianca adds again in gentle insistence before taking out her phone and flipping it open, pressing one of the speed dial buttons as she steps away from Allison, head tilted to the side and phone trapped between chin and ear. "Command, this is agent Karina, agent code zero, zero, three, five, six, six. I need a clean crew sent out to my current location to pick up some forensic evidence for shipment back to base."

Secrets are hard things to handle, either they're so deeply buried that they only come to light long after their relevance has been lost, or they're too shallowly hidden that they do damage that they were not meant to do. Secrets can divide people, unite people, or create rifts that can never ben joined again.

The Company is founded on secrets, and perhaps in that way it's no surprise that it is coming apart at the seams.

Because nothing can be secret forever.

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