Option Number Three


cristian_icon.gif veronica3_icon.gif

Scene Title Option Number Three
Synopsis The Institute's charmer (not Harper) chats up the former Company anti-socialite. Somehow no one dies.
Date September 11, 2010

Suresh Center

It's fairly pointless for Veronica to be "at work," since she actually has very little of anything resembling work to do — not until Harper and his lackeys sort out all the details for the new agents. Hers shouldn't be too complicated, since she asked to stay with Homeland, but who knows what sort of red tape stands between her and active duty. Not that she's in a hurry, especially given that the first matter of business is to hunt down her former Company colleagues.

So work, at the moment, is comprised of standing in one of the lounges, staring out a window with her hands wrapped around a styrofoam cup of hot coffee. Windows are a step up from the Company at least; at Fort Hero, everything was concrete and slab, no windows. Veronica spent as little time as possible at the actual facility. She'd avoid this facility too, but in her mind, there's no difference between it and the Octagon — or any of Roosevelt Island. It feels like a prison.

The brunette agent is dressed her usual — today's pinstriped trousers are black with a faint lavender stripe that goes with the lavender sleeveless blouse. Somewhere on a chair back a black leather blazer juxtaposes with the soft ruffles of the silk blouse.

Every day is a different challenge that is pretty much exactly the same as the last one. But different. Cristian may be on a theoretical holding pattern professionally, but really, that doesn't mean there aren't strides to be made. Lots of new people around. Social graces and networking might not get a lot of air time on CSI, but try getting things done in a beauracracy without having any friends. Others are rattling the bars of their cage like underfed monkeys, and knowing what someone is like under pressure- even just a slight, continual strain -is valuable info. If you know how to leverage it.

Cristian doesn't have a purposeful stride when he walks into the lounge- really, if you're walking into a lounge, how do you get off pretending you are some kind of important business? What, is your cup of coffee a matter of national security? I doubt it, chief. Which, in this case, coffee is exactly what Cristian is after. He sets down a large leather dayplanner and pours a cup. Speaking of having friends… the brunette staring out the window all forlorne like could be a viable candidate. Cute enough to make it fun even if he fails, anyway…

"Here." He says, sacrificing his recently poured cup of coffee- well, if she takes it anyway. "I've got ten dollars that says you could use a friendly face." There's just a little grit to the bottom end of his voice that speaks of staying up way too late last night.

His attire is purely business, though. A black suit with a blue shirt and plain black silk tie. Its finished up with a long pea coat and a matching black silk scarf, though now that he's indoors the scarf is allowed to hang loose around his neck to let the heat out. A fine silver watch encircles his left wrist. His eyes do look a little bloodshot, though.

The agent turns to glance over her shoulder at the masculine voice that interrupts her reverie. Her deepset eyes are solemn, dark circles beneath them suggesting a lack of sleep. One corner of her lip quirks into a half smile, polite in that it doesn't quite reach her eyes. She turns from the window and lifts her own cup of coffee so that he knows he can keep his own.

"And yours is supposed to be friendly?" Veronica quips — he doesn't look all that amiable, even if he's being kind in greeting her. She knows the Company agents amongst the older agents might not be befriended all that easily. She certainly is distrusting of the older agents, so turnabout is fair play.

"Kidding," she adds, lifting a hand as if to ward off any anger. "Besides, the friendly faces are the ones that are hiding stuff, right?" She brings her coffee to her lips, sipping the sweetened, creamy brew.

Cristian's own coffee holds two creamers and two sugars. Anyone who claims to like their coffee black has watched too many gritty dramas. Posers. In any case, he lets some spill between his lips once she reveals she already has her own. Those lips curl up in a smile of his own- his is genuine, though -at her response.

"Oh, good. I really didn't want to give mine up anyway, but since I didn't think to pack a rose this morning…" He shrugs casually and joins her at the window. She didn't totally reject his presence, so if she wanted him to go away, she has officially failed. At least he doesn't stare at her with those creepy, haunting eyes. He shares the view outside the Center.

"Anyway, my voice is friendly enough. Its just strange because I'm a stranger." He looks at her sidelong, the smile remaining but joined by a slightly raised eyebrow. "My name is Cristian, by the way. Now we're not strangers."

She arches a brow as he jokes about bringing roses, and she nods to the coffee pot. "I think there's plenty to go around. You don't need to go giving up your caffeine just to make friends," she says with a slight smile, before sipping her coffee again. "But tomorrow I totally expect a rose, got it?"

She swaps her coffee from her right to her left hand so that she can proffer the former, introducing herself as she does. "Veronica," she says simply. Likely, all the Institute agents got a memo and a dossier on the new employees. Likelier, they got a memo and a dossier the week before, labeling her as a target.

Cristian takes the offered hand in his own. "Done and done, Miss Veronica." It doesn't take a genius to check somebodys hand for a ring, but hey, take the little victories in stride. Thats detective work right there. "Anyway, you've called me out on the coffee quite enough. How else am I going to appear selfless and endearing, without actually giving up something with real value? I mean, c'mon. I'm a nice guy, but this is still New York, isn't it?" There's the slightest accent to his voice; its hard to place, but its that slightly too proper pronunciation- when he's not purposefully leaving out entire letters -that one might expect to hear on campus at Harvard or MIT or Stanford.

"So now that we're friends, whats troubling you? Unless you were staring dramatically out of this window fishing for bigger fish, in which case I humbly apologize." There is a confidence to his voice that even when he's being self deprecating clearly shows that he's enjoying himself- and thinks Veronica is enjoying him too. "Then again, fishing is a social activity anyway."

The engagement ring she's worn on a chain beneath her shirt for the past several months is tucked away in a drawer, waiting until it's safe for her to pass it off to someone to bring it back to Brian. She won't go to the Lighthouse to visit him — not when she can be tracked via the mark she wears on the back of her neck.

She snorts. "I never did like fishing, nor am I all that social, which I'm sure you'll find out soon enough," Veronica tells him dryly, moving to the coffee pot to refill her cup — the tiny things only hold about three swallows' worth of joe. "Never got Miss Congeniality at the Company pageants. So as far as what's troubling me…" she pauses, her brown eyes narrowing a little as she appraises his face, "I'm a little too introverted to open up to strangers or this is just my usual sour expression."

Veronica moves on to the cream and sugar, adding equal amounts before stirring. "You decide."

Engagement rings are the Devil's Cheerios. This is a bit of knowledge that Cristian obviously can't share, knowing nothing about the one that's hidden away in Veronica's drawer. Its not even a thought that crosses his mind, because marriage isn't the subject that she inspires in his mind. It IS what he'd say if she had said something about it, but then again, this is all just maddeningly theoretical.

What isn't theoretical is Cristian's response. In fact, it is literally what he says. "Well, its clearly your normal sour expression if those are my only two options. I mean, we met like ten minutes ago. We go way back. Exchanged names. We laughed, we cried. I still remember the day I said, 'Hey, we're not strangers anymore' like it was yesterday." Cristian finishes his own coffee at this point, but he's too comfortable now that he's turned to continue their conversation without talking to her with his back turned like some kind of Bond supervillian, leaning against the glass.

"Option number three. You think I'm some jerk-off that is either A.) Trying to screw you professionally, or B.) … well, trying to screw you physically. Which I guess I can understand. I have 'one of those' faces." He shrugs. "The truth is, its rough times around here, and I can do my job better if I get along with the people I work with. And I really enjoy doing my job." That has nothing to do with the drugs he has to take. "I'd say trust me, but you can never, ever trust someone who says that. So I guess you'll have to take my word for it or let me prove you wrong."

"You decide."

"Option three it is," she says quickly, as if not giving it any thought, but a genuine smirk comes to her lips, pulling the rarely seen dimples from her cheeks. She knows the Institute is her enemy — but like the Company, it might be made up of individually good people, just doing the job they've been told is important, told in a myriad of manipulative manners just like the Company agents were so long ago. If this were the old days, before everything fell to pieces, for her so much earlier than for most of the rest, she would have liked his demeanor and considered him someone worth working with.

Today is not the old days. He may not be her enemy, but that pessimistic part of her doubts she could truly trust him or call him friend. Still, someone who doesn't hate her — or at least is acting like he doesn't hate her, is a pleasant enough surprise.

"I trust people who want to screw me physically more than those that don't, for what it's worth. The others clearly can't be trusted," Veronica quips back — she has to act like she wants to get along with these people, after all.

"Well, well, well, somebody does has a sense of humor." Cristian pushes off the glass and strips himself of his coat and scarf, leaving both in a pile on an unused portion of the table. "I mean, that was a joke right? Or, oh…" At this point he offers an exaggerated review of her feminine charms. "Well, I mean, maybe with a couple pitchers of beer…"

The grin he displays can described in no other terms than mischevious. Sure, its cliche, but so are Affliction shirts and you still see people wearing them. Oh, they might say they're being ironic, but chances are they don't even know what irony is. "Look, the truth is, if getting into bed with me is the only way you could learn to trust me, well… I guess that is a sacrifice I'm willing to make. I am dedicated like that. But really, afterwards, you're going to have to cuddle. I would hate to think you were just using me for my body."

The former Company agent snorts a little at the various quips, and she takes another gulp of her coffee, then turns to throw the small cup into the trash can on the other side of the counter.

"So, this leads to a serious question, Cristian," she says, her tone mock somber as she looks at him with a faux stern gaze. "Just how many sexual harassment complaints have been filed against you here at the Institute? I mean, I'd hate to waste my time getting to know you and trusting you and all if you're just gonna get fired next week," she says, glancing at her watch as if checking how long he'll be around. "Nothing I hate more than wasting my time."

"That is an admirable trait. Rare, in a woman." Hey, if you're going to do something, do that shit right. Even sexual harassment. Cristian chucks his own cup before flipping open his dayplanner. "Lets see here… looks like there have been three this week. I mean, technically four, but we all know that when I told Harper he had a ghetto ass isn't going to stick. I mean, sexually harassing your boss? C'mon."

The planner is flipped back closed before anything useful can be gleaned from it. There was an actual planner as well as a notebook- the page it was opened too half-full of neat handwriting in black ink. "Not to fear though my fetching female friend. I'm too valuable to get fired just because the new girl couldn't keep her hands to herself."

"Busy week, or is that the usual workload for you?" Veronica says coolly, chuckling a little as he throws in what seems to be an actual compliment in the end there. It's been a while since anyone besides Brian complimented her, aside from the various men on Staten who took her for a prostitute — at least she was undercover for a hooker at the time. 5r

"So, how long you been working for the Institute? You got an ability, or should I look up your file when you're not looking?" she asks, crossing her arms as she leans against the counter.

"I've been taking it easy, getting ready for a vacation." Ha. Like they'd let him take a vacation. Cristian sets half his ass on the table next to his dayplanner and unleashes his hypnotic- err, hazelish -eyes on Veronica in earnest for the first time in their entire relationship. "I've been here for a few months. Not long. They plucked me off the Major Case Squad because of my charismatic demeanor, classical good looks, fine analytical mind…"

"Oh, and I'm a post-cog. Those things aren't really connected in any way, but…" Cristian pauses randomly, though his gaze never wavers. "You're dangerous. Honest, beautiful, and smart enough to violate policy and- unless I'm wrong, which I never am -check my story against my file even if I am way too blatantly truthful with you in person. You are gonna get me in trouble, Miss V."

"Post-cog," Veronica repeats, reminding herself to only keep new items on her person, to get rid of anything used or worn in the past that might tell him anything about her secrets. Luckily today she's in all new clothing so she doesn't have to worry about it. "That's handy, I guess. Takes a lot of the investigative work out of the cases. I guess that means a lot of headaches are avoided — no wonder you guys beat us to stuff a few times in the past." It sounds like begrudging praise for a rivalry, which is what Veronica intends.

"You post-cog on objects or people or just general events, or what?" she asks, curiously — she needs to know how her power would work against or with his, after all.

There is that first second when it dawns on people exactly what post-cog means. Just a brief flash as they think about whether or not they picked their nose on the way to work or helped themselves out with that latent sexual frustration the night before while crying and listening to Lady Gaga. And so Cristian grins. "I haven't used it on you. I prefer to get by on my winning smile and charm."

There's a mechanical voice in his pocket! What it said was indecipherable, but he withdraws a phone, presses something on its surface, then slips it away. "I see the past. I can just… look, back. I can't really describe how, but no I don't have a focus." Well, okay, that is mostly true. And its only a lie by omission that he doesn't talk about needing to be present. "As for investigations, its that simple. 'I saw it in the past' is not admissible as evidence. Helpful, though."

She nods. Her power should not conflict with his — which is as she expected. And with no focus, at least she doesn't have to worry about whether she wore these shoes while talking to Bob or Cardinal or whatever — on the other hand, she has no safeguard against him, which is worrisome.

At the mention of evidence, one of her brows arcs and she shrugs a shoulder. "Call me cynical, Cristian, but I didn't really think the Institute was too worried about admissible evidence — or court procedures at all, for that matter," Vee says a touch wryly.

"I told you I haven't been here long. Old habits die hard, and I was a detective long before I was an agent." Cristian doesn't ask about whether or not she has an ability. At least not yet. Maybe he's just saving up so that he has a reason to hit on he- err, talk to her again in the future

"I understand. It'll take some time before Company habits die for me, I'm sure. Been doing that since I graduated college. This is just the second job I've had — you know, not counting lifeguarding in high school and college and stuff like that," Veronica says. She moves past him to pick up her jacket from where it hangs on the back of a chair.

"Well," she says, inhaling to take her leave and give her excuse, "somewhere at the Octagon is a gym with a treadmill that is calling my name. I need to get back into my workout routine. It was really nice meeting you, Cristian." She smiles as she pulls her jacket on and heads for the door.

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