Poker Faces


elisabeth_icon.gif graeme_icon.gif

Scene Title Poker Faces
Synopsis Graeme meets with Liz to discuss his recent meeting
Date February 16, 2011

The Nite Owl

The Nite Owl is relatively busy, even though it's past the breakfast hour, not really time for lunch yet. Most of the booths are occupied. Including the one where Graeme Cormac sits, coat next to him, phone on the table, rolling up the sleeves of the grey waffle fabric shirt, and then back down again, and then rolling them up. He's fidgeting, having eaten already, but there's coffee in front of him which he does pick up and pay attention to.

Another moment passes, and he smiles a bit to himself. If it weren't for the fact that he'd had more than a merely social reason to ask Elisabeth to meet up, he might be smiling more. Still, her company is something that he enjoys, though hell if he'll say it. A glance towards the door, and he picks up his coffee cup as he waits.

The blonde comes in looking a bit on the harried, weary side. Things are certainly hopping in the land of law enforcement in this town. Elisabeth usually makes the effort, however, to not look much like a FRONTLINE officer — yes, the regulars in here know she's a cop, know what she does now. But she doesn't alienate them. This is a place of refuge for her. To that end, she's dressed in a pair of jeans that have seen better days, her black combat boots tucked up underneath and not glaringly obvious. Her blonde hair is loose, held by a single barrette off her face to tumble in waves down her back. And she's got on a heavy storm-grey fleece. Glancing toward the counter, she waves familiarly to the waitress, who simply calls out, "Coffee in a few!" And then with a simple nod of acknowledgment, Liz glances around for Graeme.

He's not hard to spot. He's too damn pretty by half. And as she slides into the booth across from him, Elisabeth just grins to herself at the assessment. "Hey," she greets tiredly. "You look like you've got a lot on your mind, handsome."

Graeme grins a bit, and blushes at the compliment. As ever, he looks anything but tired, at least, physically. "Something like that, yeah." He stretches slightly, trying perhaps to make up for the fact that while he may not look tired, his voice betrays the fact that he is, at least a little. "Nothing I'm particularly surprised by, in this case," and he grins again, "but a lot that I've been thinking about nonetheless." That, and it's always harder to find the space to think when your roommate's a telepath, but that's not said aloud.

He picks up his coffee again, spare hand reaching up to run through his hair in a half-subconscious motion, lets out a deep breath.

Propping her chin on her hand, her elbows on the table, Elisabeth grins cheekily at the man. Now that the clue bat has hit in earnest, she's more than comfortable enough to keep on teasing him. "That's the cutest blush ever. We're gonna have to play poker sometime — you've gotta suck at it. And I'll even introduce you to some cute guys I know when we do it, if you want." She rolls her eyes a bit theatrically. "I'll be horrendously jealous and all, because seriously, what is it with the cutest guys enjoying guy company? But whatever. I'll just drool from afar."

Her coffee arrives as she teases him, and Elisabeth looks up. A large container of cream is dropped at the same time her coffee cup is and the older redhead pouring just tries not to laugh. "Be nice," she cuffs Liz's shoulder gently. "He's just a baby." Or at least baby-faced and shy enough to blush. Then she's off to go fill other cups.

Elisabeth simply smirks. "I am being nice! Felix will let me drool from afar!" And then, as the woman leaves, the blonde's hands start doctoring the coffee with unholy amounts of sugar and cream. It should be a dessert. And slowly all the sounds of the diner ease away until they're left in silence. "So, now…. I'm doubting that you called me here just to let me flirt uselessly. What's up?"

It takes a moment, and Graeme does a small double-take at the name Felix. And blushes just a tinge more, chuckling quietly. "Felix?" He's not really asking her, just trying to put together why she's saying the name of the man he happened to flirt with when his roommate interfered. "Right, small damn world. And actually, I'm good enough at poker," he adds. But he's not bothering to demonstrate his poker face, at the moment.

"And no, though I admit I might be happier if I had." Graeme's coffee is simply black, as can be seen when the cup gets set down gently on the table again. "I went by the building on the card I got, yesterday. It was an interesting experience." The card he'd received for the Deveaux Society is drawn from the pocket of his peacoat next to him, onto the table. With it is the scrap of paper with Ygraine's address and the word liberty. Graeme's intonation on the words interesting experience is rather closer to something appropriate for mention of dealing with school administration, or something similarly unpleasant.

"My partner and best friend," Elisabeth admits easily. "Felix Ivanov." She shows no indication that she knows they've met. "Although I admit, he's about as good at flirting as you — he gives the owl-eyed stare at times." She smiles, clearly thinking quite highly of the man.

The rest of his words, though, bring a more serious expression to her face. She takes the paper curiously and the number is … familiar. Blue eyes shoot up to him from the paper and she demands softly, "Tell me what happened." It's not exactly a request; her tone holds a darkness and a sense of authority — she's used to giving orders and in this case he's startled her enough that she's giving him one.

"Thought I'd go by, yesterday," Graeme says, beginning, clearly not terribly caring much that the tone Liz used was less than a request. It doesn't seem to bother him, from her. "I had the taxi let me off a few blocks away, walked over from there. Went in. The building is … impressive." He chuckles, and grins, steering himself back on topic. "Man named Zachary Stone, assistant to Claudia de la … Fontaine."

It takes Graeme a minute to remember the name. "He claimed that he recognised me from their file on me, but hell if I can't recognise when I'm expected."

She is …. less than certain of this situation. And it shows. Elisabeth quirks a brow and picks up her coffee cup. "Go on," she invites. "Considering you got a card in the first place, it seems like a foolish deception to attempt," she observes more to herself than him, but her eyes don't leave his face as she sips the hot beverage.

"Mister Stone gave me a brief overview of the Deveaux Society, and it came off very much as if it were rehearsed. They have a definitive public front," Graeme says. "And the man was jumpy, nervous, awkward. Not to mention that he nearly ran into me in front of the building. He did mention that his own job was to scout people of notable interest or talent, that the Deveaux Society took to providing such people with opportunities and such. In pursuit of the 'betterment of our kind'." The last bit is bracketed by air quotes, and Graeme purses his lips, pausing for a moment to pick up his coffee. "Mind, a great, great deal of my life, my early life and adolescence specifically, is publicly accessible, and I was not surprised that they had a file on me. I was a ward of the state, it makes information rather easy to come by."

There's another pause, before Graeme continues. "More interesting was," fingers drum on the table momentarily. "Alice Shaw. Older woman, perhaps even towards old. Blonde, very forceful. Appeared after I had been sitting and talking to Mr. Stone for several minutes."

Nothing he says seems to surprise Elisabeth and she continues to listen. She's clearly interested in everything Graeme's saying and the silence is a tacit invitation to continue.

It takes Graeme a bit, and the first few times he manages the word 'I'. "I can't pin down what it is, but I don't like her," he admits. "Not very much at all. She was polite enough, overall, but. She asked me about how a scenario, forcible relocation of people like us," and the distaste is obvious in Graeme's voice, "made me feel. I didn't exactly oblige her. There was a great deal of bias and nearly perhaps… vendetta, behind her words."

Tilting her head Elisabeth considers Graeme's take on the matter. "If you don't mind me passing what you tell me on, I have someone who is also in contact with them. The idea of comparing notes on what you're being told seem…. prudent." She's not going to hide from him the fact that she has concerns. "The person they've given you," she taps on the paper. "What do you know of her?"

Graeme nods. "I don't mind, no," Graeme says, quiet. "I made contact with her several days ago. She's been trapped in the Dome, and I haven't heard from her since then, though I will hopefully be talking to her again soon." There's a hint of worry in his voice. "She'd unfortunately little idea why the Deveaux Society saw fit to point me at her, in the big picture, and I have little enough idea after having met with them."

He sighs, quietly. "Alice seemed particularly disappointed when I chose not to indulge voicing my feelings on the matter. I don't… feelings are one of those things I have to be very careful with. I tend to be overquick to action, sometimes, and partially due to my ability, and I've found it's always best to keep things under some amount of control." He smiles, faintly. "Alice Shaw was attempting to provoke me. To what end, I don't know."

"Considering what that woman has lived through? I'm not surprised that she'd want to see your reactions to some things," Elisabeth says quietly. "She … was one of the first experiments in what amounts to concentration camps for Evos. Back in the 1960s, there was a place out in the desert where the Company — and that's a long story I'll tell you some other time — herded the ones they knew about and experimented on them. The government has known about Evos for half a century. It was actually only outed because of a political agenda."

With a sigh, Elisabeth looks around. The silence field is effective. "Ygraine… is a friend of mine," she finally says, looking back at him. "You'll find that I have my fingers in a lot of pies. I know a lot of people." She nibbles her lip. "I've heard from her, and so far they're doing all right. Not great. Humanis First is on the loose in there, and it's causing problems. But they're pulling together. I'm …. sorry that you got pulled into this the way you have, Graeme. But I will admit to you that I would very much like to keep tabs on what they're asking of you and of Ygraine. I don't trust them very much. They're still too in the shadows. But from what I've seen and learned so far, their agenda is definitely in line with mine — by which I mean protecting Evos from people like Humanis First and from those who'd exploit them and from those who'd lock us up just for existing. Other than that…." She grimaces. "I'm not sure what else to tell you in this moment."

Graeme nods, silent but frowning a fair amount. "That does put it a good bit in perspective," he says, thoughtful. "She also mentioned that I had passed. Whatever criteria she had for asking me to do something." He runs his hands through his hair again, briefly.

"For whatever reason, there is some reason I've ended up involved in all this," Graeme says. He doesn't sound like he's too averse to it, though there's an edge to his voice, possibly from the mention of Humanis First, and a bit of a grimace. "I can't say I'm particularly inclined to trust them, either. I left Alice with the impression that I'm not particularly comfortable in my own skin, and that I was more discomforted by the conversation than I actually was." There's a grim hint of a smile. "It's not the easiest impression for me to leave someone with, but I think it was the right one, for now."

Everything for a reason. Elisabeth's a firm believer in that… and Graeme's reactions to a lot of things is telling her that he's possibly someone to be trusted as time goes on. She'll simply have Ygraine keep tabs on him along with her own tabs. She smiles at him a little bit. "I'd have to say that right now, hedging your bets seems a good idea. It's…. " She shrugs a little and says honestly. "It's a war, Graeme. It's not going to be over quickly. For what my opinion is worth to you… which probably isn't too much given that you're learning I too have my secrets… I think you're wise to trust cautiously."

Once more, Graeme chuckles. "You underestimate your own opinion," he says, with a bit of a smile. And it's possibly an attempt at teasing, for there's a light note in his voice. He leans back, relaxing a little. There's been no need for him to put on any act, any front, around Elisabeth so far, and no need at the moment either; instead, a bit of a smile, less grim than the ones before, lights his features.

"And yes, it's a war. Sometimes I wish things would just be straightforward, but it's not our lot in life, I don't think. I've seen that much." He bites back some unseen emotion, memory, leaning forward onto his elbows, before the smile returns, not as much present as it had been.

Sipping her coffee, the blonde studies him. Elisabeth asks mildly, "Why do you trust me?" There's honest curiosity in her expression and no real hidden agenda. Yes, the woman can play the politics a little — that's evident by the fact that she holds the job she holds — but she doesn't come across like The Shark either. She truly wonders what she's done that this man trusts her.

Graeme shrugs, mouth closed, and just smiles a little more. He picks up the cup of coffee from in front of him, nearly empty by now, and takes a sip. "If that I knew," he says, grinning. "Gut instinct, which is funny enough, I don't usually get gut instincts, or anything." Though, well, the shared background working in education helped. He shrugs again.

Well, at least that's an honest answer. And Elisabeth returns it in kind. "I've had a few times where my gut bit me in the ass," she says quietly. "But I'm learning to trust it again. If only… because I've lived through hell in the past two years." He's a perfect stranger. He doesn't need her life story. But she offers him this much.

"I've spent time in the hands of Humanis First. I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. I've watched things happen, things that are not right, and been unable to stop them…. and other things I've been able to fight. This war I will die fighting, Graeme." Elisabeth's tone is soft, tired. But there is steel underlying it. "My kids — the ones killed at Irving and the ones I might someday have — deserve a world that's better than the one we're looking at. And it's going to get worse before it gets better. But it will get better if I have anything to say about it."

There's an honest, involuntary wince, and for a moment, Graeme looks away, biting his lip. The wince becomes a grim, determined look, after a long minute of quiet, of silence before he actually looks back at Liz. "We all deserve a better world than the one we've got at the moment."

"Yeah, well…. to get that, some of us are going to have to fight for it. And some…. " Elisabeth trails off and her smile is every bit as grim as his. "Some of us have already died for it." She shrugs a little. "It's not going to be pretty, Graeme. But if you want in on it…. Ygraine's a good place to start." She offers a faint smile. "And if you ever need me, you have my number."

"Thanks," Graeme responds, a small amount of cheer returning to his features. "When this Dome thing resolves, I'm going to be taking you up on that poker game, by the way." Because he does have a decent enough poker face, when he wants to.

Elisabeth chuckles. "I would like that a lot," she admits on a smile. A night off sounds… amazing. A poker game? Hell yeah. She finishes her cup of coffee and says, "I better get back. Keep me in the loop, okay?" Setting the cup down, she slips out of the seat. "See you soon."

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