The Gift Of Security


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Scene Title The Gift of Security
Synopsis Marcus Donovan comes to Redbird Security to seek protection not just for himself, but for something far more important…
Date December 22, 2010

Redbird Security

The last meeting of Elisabeth's day is not one of FRONTLINE origin. No… it's a Redbird meeting, and although technically that is a conflict of interest, it seems like a better option to have Marcus Donovan meeting one of the people behind the place. And a familiar face, as well.

The lobby is brightly lit, the receptionist Jo typing away industriously on her computer when the front door opens, and Elisabeth Harrison is using Richard Cardinal's office as a base of operations for the moment.

When the door opens, letting in a swirl of cold air, Jo looks up and smiles automatically. "Welcome to Redbird Security Solutions. How may I help you today?"

"Uhhh…" isn't the most inspiring greeting, but juggling a paper Starbucks coffee cup and tugging down his scarf from over his mouth, former NYC Mayoral candidate Marcus Donovan looks a bit sheepish. He also, admittedly, doesn't look like a candidate for mayor any longer. His well-worn, brown leather jacket is scuffed and damaged by age and abuse, zippered shut with the collar raised to protect the back of his neck. "Yeah I… had an appointment with someone here, I actually didn't get a name over the phone?" Mirrored sunglasses shield Donovan's eyes, despite the overcast skies outside.

Shuffling through his pockets, Donovan's brows furrow and his posture shifts from one foot to the next as he tugs down his jacket's zipper, fishing through a pocket while approaching the desk. "No I— you know I could've sworn I had a card. Ah, anyway I think it's a man named Richard that I'm supposed to speak to? That's who my buddy down in DC said would hook me up with things here…"

Donovan turns, sweeping a gloved hand over his shaved head, looking back to the front of the building, then back to Jo. "There is a guy named Richard that works here, right?" He seems a bit disorganized.

Jo's been expecting the man — more to the point, her boss has been. "There is," the girl chirps cheerfully. "Although he's out of the office. One of his partners is expecting you. Come with me, please, Mr. Donovan." The girl, clearly a college-aged student, steps out from behind the desk and leads him down the hall to an office marked with Richard Cardinal's name and taps on the door. "Ms. Harrison? Mr. Donovan is here."

The tones of the blonde within the office are maybe familiar to him. "Thank you, Jo." The door opens and the woman steps back to allow Marcus Donovan entry. "Mr. Donovan. A pleasure to see you again," she says. Elisabeth is dressed in a black skirt that stops above her knees and a cranberry sweater blouse beneath a black suit jacket. Knee-high boots give her an additional couple of inches in height, and she looks every bit as professional as he does scruffy. "Come in, please. Would you like some coffee?" She gestures to the chair and waits only long enough for him to answer about the coffee before dismissing Jo.

Cue one Marcus Donovan looking a sight puzzled where he stands in the doorway to the office. Brows lift up behind the frames of his sunglasses, his head cants to the side and lips part. "Harrison?" At first his confusion turns to a big, keen smile as he sidles in to the office with more confidence than he had a moment ago, but it slowly begins to turn downwards into a frown as pieces of a very awkward puzzle begin to get put into place.

Not voicing his concerns, not in front of a secretary at any rate, Marcus looks over his shoulder to Jo and offers her a fleeting wave and a smile, then ambles on in further to the room with his hands tucked into the pockets of his jeans. "Hey, well, would you look at you huh? When I heard Lau call you a woman of many hats back in the day," Donovan's smile returns, fleetingly, "I guess she wasn't blowing smoke out her ass, was she?"

Lifting up his hands to start tugging off his gloves, Marcus watches Jo on her way out, ambivilant to the offer of coffee as he stands beside the offered chair. "How's SCOUT's golden-girl doing these days?"

Closing the door behind Jo, Elisabeth would normal seal this room with a sound barrier, but her ability in the state it is she forgoes that aspect. Walking back around to slide her derriere into the chair next to Donovan instead of the one behind the desk, Elisabeth smiles faintly. "Lau had no idea," she admits in a husky, somewhat nasally voice. She sounds like she's coming down with a cold, but so far it doesn't seem serious.

"I'm sorry we had to meet again quite like this. I guess you could say I'm doing well enough for myself. I just took over as FRONTLINE Manhattan's operations director. Enjoying the work, for the most part." She pauses. "Richard Cardinal's a friend of mine — we work together sometimes. So since he's out on assignment dealing with a couple of Humanis First issues and he knew you and I were acquainted already, he and Peyton asked me to sit down with you." She tilts her head. "I'm surprised that Redbird's acquired enough notice to be recommended from someone in Washington, honestly. Why don't you tell me what's going on?"

"You really shouldn't be surprised," Donovan admits, forsaking the comment that Lau didn't know a lot of things. "I was down in Washington lobbying for some reform to the Linderman Act when that whole Unity shitstorm went down out west. They arrested a few lobbyists from the group I was working with and I got held for questioning for a couple days, just until they could be sure I wasn't associated with Unity." Donovan rolls his shoulders, walking around the desk and turning his attention to the floor, then back up to Liz.

"I'm actually in the process of working with a few non-profit groups to push the Chesterfield Scholarship through Congress, but it looks like it's going to wait till after Christmas. I was recommended to Redbird by Sarisa Kershner, I…" Marcus cracks a smile, "think you're familiar with her. We rubbed elbows in a bar down in DC, talked politics and the like. I mentioned I was looking for a small security detail since I'm… not exactly campaigning for popular things these days. She dropped this name."

There's a breathy, awkward laugh that comes next. "Guess I shouldn't be asking if this is a conflict of interests, should I?"

There's a soft huff of laughter as Liz crosses her legs. "It would be a conflict of interest if I owned part of the company," she replies. "But I don't. I'm merely consulting for a friend at the moment. Not to worry, my day job still requires most of my attention. The people who work at Redbird are all professionals… may I call you Marcus?" Elisabeth asks mildly. "They're a good group, and quite frankly…. having a detail I trust protecting you is not in any way a conflict of interest with Kershner or my own interests."

Shrugging light-heartedly, Marcus finally settles down in the chair after having circled it like an anxious cat a few times. "I think we've known each other — tangentally — long enough for you to call me Marcus. So, I guess what I don't get is why they needed someone like you to handle all this? I mean— Kershner didn't even know what happened to me a few months back, so I can't figure that's why there was a rush put on this or anything. Stillwater was going to make me sit on my hands for a month while they reviewed my security profile…"

Crossing one leg over the other, Marcus drapes his arms over the back of the chair. "I figure if we're being up-front though, you should know that I've had some problems since the whole campaign. Week before the elections, maybe a little less, someone took a pot-shot at me from a rooftop when I was on my way out of a lounge here in New York. Seemed like a warning shot, you know? Struck the curb right beside me, no more. I think someone was trying to scare me out of campaigning…"

Tilting his head to the side, Marcus scrubs one hand at the side of his head. "Whole reason I've been spending time down in DC is because my ex-wife dragged our daughter out of New York this summer. It's not that I can really blame her but… I don't want the security detail for myself. Not— entirely. I was wondering if your company could discretely put a couple of people to keep eyes on Diane and my little girl? I don't want the sort of stuff I'm doing to blow back on them…"

Elisabeth's blue eyes narrow on him. "I'll have a six-man detail in Washington by tomorrow," she tells him calmly. Because that shit's not going to fly. "Richard will, of course, sign off on whatever I decide that you need, Marcus. It doesn't sound strange to me at all that someone would want you both off the campaign trail and off the Washington circuit. You are high profile enough to be of quite a lot of interest to Humanis First. And in point of fact, you have the ears of enough people and your opinions are moderate enough to potentially garner you a lot of influence in circles that are lower profile but far more active than some of the louder voices." She smiles faintly. "I'm glad to hear the Chesterfield scholarship will go through."

"It's not a sure shot yet, there's plenty of opponents to it on both sides of the aisle and I'm doing my damnedest to try and preach tolerance… but it isn't easy these days." Donovan slouches back further in the chair, letting his hands come down into his lap, folding there. "As far as this business goes, I need you to be as low to the down-low as you can get as far as my ex-wife is concerned. I don't need to scare her or Jackie with this… I just…"

Donovan wrings his hands together, then looks up to Liz. "I don't think it's Humanis First that's got their eyes on me, Liz." The tone of voice Donovan uses is a weary one, a tone that Elisabeth has heard from enough people to recognize the solemn resignation prevalent in the world that was born in the fires of the New York riots and Midtown's devastation four years ago.

"I think whatever happened during the campaign might have come from inside the government. Kershner thinks so too. That's… one of the reasons I opted to go with a non-government contractor, why I wanted to stay as low-profile as possible on this. I think someone in Washington is gunning for me. Hell, probably someones."

Welcome to the club, Marcus, Elisabeth thinks wryly. "I'll make sure the teams that come from Redbird are exceedingly discreet. Each team will be on eight-hour watches, tag-teaming." She purses her lips and asks quietly, "What else have you been working on since the campaign? And out of curiosity… are you planning on resuming a political lifestyle? Not that it will make a difference in this instance, but it might help to be able to figure out who's taking the shot at you."

"There hasn't been anything since the campaign, nothing— I mean nothing concrete. I had that shot taken at me before the election results were in, before Chesterfield was killed and Lockheart won. I was originally suggesting to Kershner that maybe the people who killed Chesterfield went after me, but she said that was some Russians connected to something else the FBI was investigating…" Marcus' hand smooths over his forehead. "Since that shot, the only thing I've noticed— heck, it might be paranoid. But I've been followed a few times on my way back from Capitol Hill, nearly got run off the road by a guy on Thanksgiving. Just… scare tactics shit, nothing I could go to the cops about, I know what sort of thumb up my ass results that'd get."

There's a faint snicker at that. "Have a high opinion of your law enforcement tax dollars at work, do you?" Elisabeth teases lightly. "I don't think you're paranoid. But my concern here is twofold — your safety primarily. And what the hell they're doing fucking with you now if you're not really doing much." There's a long sigh, and Elisabeth considers his situation. "I think you should have a team as well, Marcus. Discreet, but constant. And I'd like to put an additional investigator on it to see if they can perhaps follow your tails back to their own little hideaway to determine who's playing with you."

"Oh— " Marcus sits up a little in his chair, "Oh, no don't— mistake concern for my family for thick headedness. Yeah I need a guy too, probably just one full-time bodyguard, so… I'm figuring a pair in shifts? I'm not exactly rolling in dough these days, most of my campaign contributors went on to greener pastures after I tanked the election."

Though he failed to become New York's next mayor, Marcus Donovan did manage to still set himself in the sights of people who would wish him harm. "It isn't like I'm doing nothing though. I'm a voice, a prominent voice in a minority where people are afraid to speak out. I can count the pro-evolved lobbyists on Capitol Hill on one hand Liz, one goddamned hand. It;s not hard to stand out when you're the only black sheep in a white flock, you know? My stance, it isn't a popular one right now, hell if I think it ever will be either, but it's not stopping me from trying."

Wringing his hands in his lap, Marcus slouches his shoulders forward. "See, the thing is no one on the Hill wanted to pass pro-evolved registration. There was a Stigma, the kind that doesn't go away. Midtown made all of us pariahs and it was just not politically correct to be completely against it. When that fucking riot hit and when those assholes in Messiah started doing what they did, it made it very fashionable to shit on our kind, to be frank. People who used to support me jumped ship like rats afraid of a little water."

Elisabeth hears him out. "Don't give up, Marcus," she says softly. "Far sooner than you know, it could make all the difference." She sighs heavily. "Let me ask you something — you said you want to keep at this. That you want to help all of it. Can you do it better where you are now, or are you interested in getting into office down there in the hellhole to try and make it better? I'm curious — you always said you didn't want to be in politics, but now you're a lobbyist." Her tone is not exactly amused. It's sincere interest in his thoughts.

"What I want to do and what I need to do are totally different things," Marcus elaborates with a motion of his hands spreading apart from one another. "I don't want t'be in politics, I hate it and I hate politicians even more so. But I'm old, I get that, I can't be a beat cop or a detective or doing what I want to do for the rest of my life. I missed my opportunity to stick on the force and become a Comissioner, I missed my chance to become Mayor. I don't have many other options left, unfortunately. Higher seats require more money than God to get, and I had a hard enough time — and drove myself into a deep enough debt — with my flopped mayoral campaign to know better than to try again."

Exhaling a tired sigh, Donovan rubs his palms on his knees. "So… doing what I do down in DC is the closest I can get to making a difference anymore. All I do is just…" he waves one of those hands in the air, "I try to get people to see things the right way. Guess that's a lot easier in a perfect world."

And now Elisabeth debates the situation. Kershner sent him to Richard. Knowing that if Richard got hold of this bit of information…. what? She smiles just a little. "No such thing as a perfect world. Only shades of gray — and doing all the wrong things for the right reasons, and hoping they come out okay." She reaches up to rub her forehead, absently touching the same spot that she's touched since she was shot, where a bullet tore through her brain. "I have a feeling I know why Sarisa sent you this way, Marcus…. and it wasn't to just get you some security," she says finally.

"I think perhaps if you said to her what you just said to me, she thought you and Richard would be a good fit. You may be getting on in years in terms of being able to run on the streets — fuck, I'm getting on in years to be pulling that gig. But for a man with your connections, someone to whom people will listen, there are avenues of helping the pro-evolved legislative movement. Let's deal with what's in front of us, though, okay? First things first — you and your family safe. And then I believe that you and Richard should talk a little more. About your political future." She grins a little. "Cuz I sure as hell would like to see a man like you make it to the top."

"You know," Donovan begins with an awkward smile, "why is it that I get skin-crawlies whenever people in the security contracting business wind up having political aspirations?" One of his brows rise over the frames of his sunglasses. "Because the way I look at it, its the people who get paid for the world being in a shitty place that profit from keeping the status-quo, you know? I don't know Sarisa from any other sharky blonde, but…"

Donovan quirks his head to the side, "Not that I'm saying you're sharky too," he flashes Liz a smile, "but… let's just say this makes me a little uncomfortable, but not enough that I'm not willing to at least hear him out. But I'll let you know right now, I like to do things on the up and up, okay? I'm not a behind the back kinda' guy, you know how I ran things in my precinct."

"Oh, I haven't got political aspirations at all, Marcus," Elisabeth reassures. "And nor does Richard Cardinal. What we do have in common is a hope that someone worth running for an office might eventually pop up that we could put some of our personal support behind. Because dammit… we're tired of people like the Vanguard and Messiah fucking with everything and making it so the rest of us have to be herded into concentration camps." She shrugs a little. "If you're not interested, that's up to you."

Elisabeth uncrosses her legs and leans forward. "Marcus, I'm not going to fuck around or lie to you. And Sarisa may have an agenda, but to be quite blunt….. I just want someone who gives a shit to be in a position to make things better." She grimaces. "And I want bastards like Humanis First held accountable when they put a bullet in the head of someone."

"You and me both, sister." Marcus admits with a slow shake of his head, resting his palms on his knees and pushing himself up slowly to stand. "Unfortunately, I don't know if someone like that's still alive in this fucked up world of ours…" He looks down to the desk, thoughtfully, then turns those mirrored sunglasses back up to Liz. "Let Richard know I'll talk with him. I've booked a place at the Corinthian for the next two weeks, I've got a couple of people here in New York I want to talk to. I'll let the front desk know to be expecting your security team."

Donovan pauses, then turns back towards Liz and offers out his hand to her. "It's good to know that someone who deserves being where you are managed to get there. Kershner made a damned fine choice appointing you to the position she did, you're one of the best cops to come out of the SCOUT program, Harrison. I'm glad you got what you deserved."

Elisabeth moves to stand up and she takes his hand. "Mr. Donovan…. I hope when you know the things there are to know about me, you still feel the same way," she admits quietly. "You're a damn good cop, sir. I've admired your career for a long time. I hope I can live up to the opinion you have of me." She smiles a little. "Your team will be at the Corinthian in an hour. I'll have a courier bring you the contract paperwork, and your family will have their team as soon as I can arrange boots on the ground."

The handshake is firm, but also unrelenting. Donovan's brows furrow behind his glasses, and his head angles to the side just a little. "Thank you," he states firmly to Elisabeth before releasing his grip. "What you're doing for my family… matters more than whatever skeletons you might have in your closet." Donovan offers a weary smile as his hands come to tuck into the pockets of his slacks. "Some things, you know, they're more important than anything else. Family— that's the big one."

With a slowly bobbing nod of his head, Donovan starts to turn away, for the door out of the office, then turns back to Liz one last time, having remembered something important.

"Merry Christmas," he says with a half smile, having just recalled how close that day is.

The gift of security is all that Marcus Donovan wanted.

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