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Scene Title Obelisk
Synopsis Hana and Avi discuss what to do about Berlin.
Date October 4, 2018

The Bunker — Intel Room

Rubber-soled boots thump softly across a concrete floor, softly echoing down the corridor toward Major Gitelman’s private office.

Avi Epstein’s silhouette is a tall and broad-shouldered heap, his arms hang limp down at his side, head bowed not out of any cowed sense of guilt, but rather out of exhaustion. His long day started more than ten hours ago, and after a late night call spurred him and the major into a drive from Rochester to Jersey’s Pine Barrens and back, he's run ragged. But today isn't something that can wait.

It's waited long enough, apparently.

So there he is, dark stubble across his square jaw, brows furrowed and lips hanging into a frown, clutching a stack of file folders under one arm. One file in particular, labeled OBELISK, sitting on top. Though he raps a weary knock on the door to Hana’s office, he doesn't wait to show himself in. He knew she was expecting him.

Some places seem to lend themselves to difficult conversations. The space that is in some respect Hana's sanctum, all white walls and projectors just a thought away from Wolfhound's computer system — there's an inherent distance to it, the sense of being one step removed, the legacy of hours upon hours of meticulous analysis. It's a place Epstein sees quite often in one capacity or another.

Most often, those entering the room find Hana staring at one wall or another, data written across its surface in nothing more than colored light. Today, the walls are flat, featureless white, and it's at the table that Hana can be found: seated, her arms resting on the table's surface, her attention drawn to the door by the knock. Half a second ago, her thoughts probably weren't in the room at all.

Somewhere between their return and now, the major clearly made the time to don her title — which is to say, to wash up, brush out and tie back her hair, and put on the black mandarin-collared suit that is part and parcel of her business face, not usually turned upon the unit. There's a measure of severity in choosing to present that front… yet not only that. A more obvious concession to fatigue is the mug of dark coffee at her elbow, already half-gone.

Seeing Epstein, she tips her head to indicate the chair across the table. Another cup sits beside its place, steaming.

Avi closes the door behind himself and eyes Hana’s coffee with a frustrated noise in the back of his throat; he wishes he’d thought of getting a cup for himself. Then his eyes move to where the other cup sits, and there's a mixture of relief and uncertainty. As he makes his way over to the table, there’s no semblance of Hana’s professional face on Epstein. She knows he has one, knows he can muster it within the walls of the Bunker, and knows what it means when he chooses not to address things in such a fashion. He isn’t here professionally. At least, not in his mind.

“This is a treat,” Avi says as he drops the file down on the table with a soft slap, the momentum of his toss letting the folder slide just a little closer to Hana, “if you’re into fucking nightmares.” He slides the coffee down from the seat across the table and pulls out a chair diagonal from Hana, then settles down with the tired creak of someone who’s been at this for too long. Avi extends his bad leg out, adjusting his brace with a grimace, then looks from the file up to Hana. “Also, according to this,” he taps the folder, “this whole conversation is going to be fucking ridiculous. You ever hear the name Nathalie LeRoux? One of the kids we hoisted from the Ark?”

Hana drops her gaze to the folder as it slides, then arches a brow at Epstein. "They come with the territory, from time to time." Her chosen territory, not necessarily Wolfhound's.

Wrapping her fingers around her mug, Hana settles back slightly, postural shift more sensed than explicitly seen. She doesn't reach for the folder, since Epstein seems to have designated himself storyteller. "Ridiculous," she adds in the same neutral tone as her prior statement, "announced itself with the body covered in bone dust."

Hana takes a sip of her coffee. "I know the name," she says, providing implicit cue to continue.

She knows all the names of those kids, or near enough as makes no difference.

“Ruskin put her on a kill list back during the raid.” It's the first time Avi’s ever mentioned the work she'd asked him to do. “I was handed a list when I left New York. Had a half dozen names on it, do not rescue types. Genuinely dangerous people the Institute had locked up, all from Sawyer’s intel, or so I was told.” He doesn't sound proud of his time as Special Activities’ executioner.

Cradling his coffee in both hands, Avi stares down into the dark surface with his one good eye. “Last name on the list was LeRoux. Probably would've… might've… I don't know. That feral seer girl, the one that hangs around Demsky,” is a way to put it, “showed up. Talked me out of it.” His expression goes distant. “Talked me out of a lot of things.”

Drumming the fingers of one hand on the side of his coffee, Avi looks up to Hana. “I carried the kid out. We… got separated? I was looking for Eric.” Avi’s brow furrows, head tilts to the side, and he seems to slip past that moment without realizing it. “She wasn't at the chokepoint. Found her back at Pollepel…” Avi’s brows furrow. “Right around the time all those people with the five-ten suddenly recovered. Gillian… I guess… rescued her from the Ark? Somehow. Never been clear on that. Or how Gillian even got out.”

All of this seems unrelated, the rambling of an old man with a guilty conscience. “Last I saw Nathalie LeRoux was under Pollepel. I handed her off to Robyn. Never saw her again after that night.” Avi’s brows furrow, and he starts to look at a distant point in space past Hana. “This… is all going somewhere. I promise.”

Flipping open the file, Avi slides a text-heavy medical document over to Hana. He gives her the crib notes version. “Guy Berlin killed? He was the acting researcher on Nathalie LeRoux. Way the Institute sees it, she’s got both the necrotizing abilities of Kazimir fucking Volken and it's antithetical, pray the pain away, Abigail Beauchamp power. In one.”

Next comes a map of Mexico with a coordinate marked on it. “Institute found her here, in Ojas Amargos.” Hana knows the location, a Mexican end-destination that the Ferrymen would evolved out of the states to. It was hit by the Institute in the summer of 2010. “No trail on how she got there… Not until recently.”

Avi leans back in his chair and takes a swig of his coffee. “Agent Quinn took some time off, personal matters, said she wanted to dig into LeRoux’s whereabouts and see if she could track her down. Make sure she made it through the war ok.” Avi’s brows raise slowly. “Found her fucking adoption papers where her mother gave her over.” Avi’s brows furrow, and he looks down into his coffee. “File listed her mother as Sarisa Kershner.” Avi looks up to Hana. “Sarisa listed me as the father.”

Setting down his coffee, Avi draws a line through all of the data. “Berlin’s a little too brown t’be related to me and the wicked witch of the west. But I don't think that's why Kershner used my name. I think it was… I don't know. A message.” He doesn't seem as convinced about that.

Not as convinced as he is that Berlin is Nathalie LeRoux, at any rate.

Hana fails to bat an eyelash at Epstein's mention of the raid, the list, the executions. Equally so at the revelation of the one he left off — although why elicits a shift in expression too subtle to name.

She continues to listen in silence as the story rambles on, taking another sip of her coffee, clearly willing to wait and see where it is he's going. Although given the greater context, Hana can guess.

That guess turns out to be half right.

Both dark brows arch at the girl's listed parentage. There's another sip of coffee before Hana speaks. "Sounds like you have some catching up to do," is far too mildly spoken for the gravitas of the day's issues. It might even be humor, although not a joke; family, whatever its degree, is never that.

"So," the major continues more pointedly. "Beckett is LeRoux, a former Institute research subject, your daughter on paper if not literally, and the holder of both conduits." Setting her mug down, she looks at him expectantly: Go on…

Tongue pressed against the side of his cheek, Avi fixes Hana with a particularly flat stare at the notion of catching up, and then slowly shifts into an expression of relaxation and relief. He smiles in appreciation for the rapport they'd managed to regain, though somewhat awkwardly, and shakes his head.

If she's literally got both of those abilities and not just close approximations, that comes with a lot of baggage. Getting beyond the how the fuck and into the what the fuck territory,” Avi says as he motions to the files, “we’ve got the distinct possibility that even a small portion of Volken survived whatever the hell made her the way she is. We’ve also got the fact that Monroe is in the states, tracked her down and… what?”

Avi spreads his hands. “We've got two corpses. One story. She admitted to killing Clark, but those barbecue bones on the ground weren't his. I want to get her talking, then find out what she knows.” In spite of any sort of parental obligation that may have been foisted on him by Sarisa, Avi sounds distinctly like he’s treating her as a target of interrogation, not an ally. “Because If Monroe has eyes on our operation… that's all our heads. I'm just not sure the best tack to take.”

If Hana is amused by Epstein's nonhumor, she fails to show any sign of it. Her silence takes on a tenor of agreement when he resumes speaking, only to sharpen as he continues. Resting her hands on the table, the major leans forward, intent gaze locking with his. "We'll ask her about Monroe, yes. Volken?"

A weighted beat of silence. "Three years, Epstein," she continues sternly. "I think we can conclude he's not in charge. Maybe the other one's keeping him in check." It's as good a hypothesis as any. A different form of mutual annihilation than the one originally pitched. Settling back again, Hana inclines her head slightly. "That said, she alluded to an 'issue'; that's a thing to watch."

"I'll bench her," is no surprise; that was going to happen no matter what. "Until she proves her control to my satisfaction. But I think we can give her time on that score."

Hana pauses then, a moment spent in thought. "Finish telling her about Monroe. Give and take. She'll share," the major has confidence, or at least is willing to bank on, "on something that's everyone's problem. And he is next, after we finish cleanup."

Clearly, he has to be.

Nodding slowly, Avi scrubs one hand over his mouth, giving the abundant stubble there a scratch. As he stares down into the dark of his coffee, it's clear there's a lot going on in the margins of this conversation. “Honestly, of everyone we’ve taken on, Berlin— ” He hitches at the name, uncertainty now painted in his tone. He rolls with it. “She… was the last one I'd have suspected for a colossal fuckup like this.”

Sighing, he moves his hand across the side of his face then up through his hair, then defeatedly down into his lap. “I think… sometimes I forget we’re running with a pack of mostly-green former child soldiers, not professionals.” He looks up to Hana. “Not that the professionals,” Curtis goes unsaid, “are any better.”

But he's digressing, meandering in the way he's often wont to do. “What Quinn found out about Sarisa’s got me tangled up. That's a ghost from my past I've never really put to rest, and for her to slap my name as the biological father on the adoption papers… is fucky. I did some digging of my own, couldn't find anything about her actual father. I hiked Robyn up the chain to talk to an old contact in KC that might be able to help her. I'm keeping my distance for now… I can't help but feel like this is some sort of trap from beyond the fucking grave from her.”

Hana's quiet on the subject of greenhorns, professionals, Hounds in general, Berlin in specific. The meandering earns Epstein a distinctly dry look to which only extensive personal experience can ascribe a measure of sympathy. It's a small measure.

"Never crossed paths with Kershner, myself," Hana observes. "Might be a trap, might not. Either way, it's ours now." That conclusion is definite, inexorable. "I can't help you there," she continues. "All I can say about dealing with ghosts is, I outlived mine."

And not even by deliberate intention, at that; nothing one could call a strategy.

After a few moments, she nods in the direction of the file. "Leave it, for now." The subject of fatherhood. "There's enough fallout to deal with. Just don't expect it to disappear," Hana adds, more pointedly.

Complications so seldom do.

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