The Scent Of Rain


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Scene Title The Scent of Rain
Synopsis Agents Sawyer and Lu arrive in Washington State to investigate the death of Paula Grambla, AKA Sarah Barton.
Date September 8, 2009

It's no surprise that the Company's Washington State central facility is no longer a Primatech Paper cover. Much like the east coast's change of operations, it seems as though the Company's west coast holdings have matured and evolved into something new. The basement of Telestratus Industrial Electronics is reminiscent of Fort Hero — miles of concrete tunnels, power conduits and damp concrete that snakes like some serpentine labyrinth beneath the streets of Seattle.

It's here, behind layers of identification checks, internal security and the roving eye of black dome security cameras that agents Veronica Sawter and Curtis Lu have come to find a singular survivor from the bloody rampage of Adam Monroe. Director Balfour's specific instructions to the visitors from the Company's east-coast branch include temporary security passes thorugh the Telestratus facility, under the cover of regional representatives from shareholders. Cover stories are always so bland in comparison to the actual duties being performed.

Two floors below street level, in a small furnished room that looks for all intents and purposes like a furnished apartment in Seattle's downtown area, Sophia Gramble sits on a leather sofa, staring at the blank screen of a plasma television that hasn't been turned on. Windows in her room give a faux lighting and panoramic view of an unreal skyline ot simulate being above ground; it's only the one-way mirror that looks into this false apartment that can pull Sophie out of the illusion of comfort.

Standing by that window, the gray haired and square-shouldered Director Balfour watches the girl inside, hands folded behind his back, dark brows furrowed in sharp contrast to chalk white hair of a man in his late sixties. It's the distant sound of shoes on concrete that causes him to turn, subtley, and look in the direction of approaching agents from a different branch of the Company.

There's no love lost for different branches, at least not in Balfour's expression.

Veronica gives a nod to the older man, then glances at Curt. There's a tacit order to 'Behave!' from the much-younger agent to her senior citizen partner who looks like a GQ model. She has never seen Lu's "bedside manner," so to speak, and has every reason in the world to doubt that he can lend a sympathetic ear to the girl's woes. However, he has a daughter, so maybe the soft side buried beneath the crotchety shell will reveal itself. One can hope.

"Good morning," Veronica says, her husky voice soft and warm, modulated specifically to sound kind and trustworthy. She smiles sympathetically at the teenager, then nods to the man stationed with her. "I'm Veronica Sawyer, and this is Curt Lu. We've come ask you a few questions. I'm sure you're tired of answering so many lately, but I hope you understand we're just doing our job, and trying to help." Vee holds a file folder in her hands.

Curt looks good in a suit. Yes. A suit. Hard to pass as a rep for share holders if you're wearing fatigues. So, he's suited up, and looking like a young up and comer. Hey, if you got it… Sadly, from all his bitching it's a good guess this may be the last suit he ever wears. He carries a briefcase of course, cause, that's what business guys do, right? He says nothing for now, Vee's the people person, he's just Bad Cop.

"I'll be outside if you need anything." Director Balfour notes with a raise of dark brows, his eyes wandering over to Sophia for a moment, the faintest hint of something tense in his voice as he turns for the door to her room, stepping outside to watch the questioning from the other side of that one-way mirror. Unlike with detainees that may have at one time been housed down here, the door to Sophia's room — a hydraulic iron hatch similar to Level-5 containment cells — is left open.

Seated on the sofa, the young girl leans forward, hands clasped between the purposefully torn holes in the knees of her denim pants, dark eyes alight towards Veronica, then her partner and back again. From the file folder on Paula Gramble, there's little doubt this girl shares a genetic connection to her; the same chocolate colored hair, dark eyes and mocha toned skin. Only her chin is a little more pronounced, clearly a trait the father brought to the DNA mixer.

"Is it morning?" Sophie asks distractedly, wringing her hands together before nodding her head once and letting her eyes wander the floor. "Whatever… you wanna' ask, go on ahead. I already told everyone what I saw— what I remember."

Veronica moves to a chair across from Sophie's, perching on the edge and leaning forward as well, resting her elbows on her own knees, holding the file loosely in front of her.

"First of all, let me tell you how sorry I am for your loss. I know people probably keep telling you that, and I know it sounds like bullshit, but … I lost my dad when I was about your age. And I was a total daddy's girl. So I kind of know what you are feeling." She watches the girl for a moment. "I know you already have gone over this with people, but memory can work in tricky ways. Can you tell me what you remember, one more time? Something might have come back. Even if you're not sure if you are remembering it accurately or if it's just a hunch or feeling? Go ahead and just say anything that comes to mind." She glances up at Curt, eyebrows raised, as if to ask him if he wants to add anything.

Curt is staring out the fake window for a long moment before he shakes his head no. Not yet. He eyes Vee then, setting the brifecase aside and going to stand before the window, running his finger over it idly. He stays out of the way for now, he knows when his turn will come.

Veronica's statement ears a curious glance from Sophie, but nothing otherwise. It does beg the question of something notably exempt from the teenager's file — there's no listing of who her father is. Staring at Veronica, then glancing past her towards Lu, there's a furrow of the young girl's brows, and then a nod of her head as her eyes fall shut. "I… it was night. I was… I was helping my mom at the store, going over inventory in the storage room out back."

Swallowing dryly, Sophie's eyes drift up to that one-way mirror, then back down to the floor again. "I heard some people come in. I— I don't remember, I wasn't even paying attention. I came out, it as late and I was hungry. There— I wanted to get something to eat, so— so I left and— I asked my mom if she wanted something at the store, so— " neck muscles tensing, Sophie curls her shoulders forward and brings her heels up to rest on the curhions,d rawing her knees up to her chest.

"I got my umbrella and— and I forgot my purse. So… so when I got halfway to the store, I had to turn around. It— I don't… really remember much after. The— the doctor's say I've got brain damage from— from what happened?" Her brows furrow, eyes glassy now with tears. "All— All I remember was running, from— I just— " her words come out chopped and clipped. "I don't know…"

The company agent is only a decade older than the young woman in front of her, and it's only been nine years since her father passed away. "I'm really sorry," Veronica says, her voice soft. "Did you get a look at them at all? Maybe, if not enough to identify, just general ideas — like coloring, age, anything like that?" She has photographs, of course, but she doesn't want to scare the girl with images that might make her clam up too quickly. "Also — have you ever heard the name Adam Monroe? Especially if your mom mentioned him recently?"

Curt pauses and turns to look at Vee, "I'll be right back. I forgot something." he says softly, patting Vee on the shoulder as he passes her, a sudden memory of his own hitting him. PTSD recovery for Vietnam vets was pretty extensive, those sessions have given him an idea….

"There was a guy at the counter when I left," Sophie says quietly, "I only saw 'em from behind…" her eyes drift from side to side, dark irises reflecting the slatted light of simulated sunlight coming thorugh the blinds. "White guy— " she wrinkles her nose, "going gray, wore a suit… " not really the most helpful distinction. "I— I'm really not sure it— it's all…" Sophie runs one hand over the side of her head, brows tense and lips pursed together in a stressed expression.

Sophie's eyes follow Curt as he walks out of the room and into the dimly lit concrete hall outside where Director Balfour stands. The white-haired man turns to watch Curt, and one black brow lifts as he notices the man seems like he's ona mission, and even more pointedly seems to know where he's going. Clearing ihs throat, the director turns back around and focuses his attention on the girl beyond the glass, back straight and jaw set with equal tension that the girl is showing.

"When I came back, I— I think there were a lot've people, but— but it's all screwed up, I can't— " can't or won't recall the details. It is her mother's death and perhaps her own, the trauma likely is severe. Veronica may have lost her father, this girl lost her mother in her presence. How much is brain damage and how much is psychological damage is hard to discern, and Director Balfour hasn't authorized a telepathic sweep of her mind, which in itself seems suspicious.

"I don't know any Adams," Sophie finally states, lips pressed together in a thin line, brows furrowed and head downcast, her arms wrapped around her legs and teeth now pressing at her lower lip.

Vee tilts her head. There's memory there, it seems — she can remember some things, just not the details. "Did you hear anything? If you can't remember faces, did you hear them say anything? I really want to stop these people, Sophie, so they can't ever hurt anyone again. I really want to do that, and I need your help to do it, okay? Anything you can think of. The people you've already talked to? They didn't know some of the stuff I do, and so it's possible that something you think is trivial, something you think is unimportant, well, it might mean something to me when it didn't to you." She wants to hold off on the photographs — one of Adam and one of Grim, though she is fairly sure the Grim photograph won't mean a thing even if the girl remembers seeing the former agent — since she doubts it won't look like the man she has a photograph of. "Words, smells, names — anything? And did anyone threaten you or your mom in the past several months?"

"Ev— everyone loved my mom. She— she never did nothing to anyone, they— people loved her." There's a tense swallow from Sophie, her eyes wide and focus squarely settled on Veronica now, brows tensed and expression somewhat defiant. "I told you I— I don't remember! He— he was probably just a customer, he was buying a book! I— " then, there's a twist of her brows, a swallow and her eyes dart away from Veronica's.

"There was another guy, he— he was browsing the aisles but— but I didn't get a good look at him either." Biting down on her lower lip, Sophie's head shakes and her fingers curl into her jeans. In that tense moment, there's something Veronica can see rising up off of the girl's shoulders — thin wisps of smoke filtering out through her clothing, remarkably odorless smoke at that. "I didn't— see— I didn't see anything I already told— " she stops herself there, bites down on her lip and just shakes her head.

Time to back off. "Okay. It's okay, honey." Agent Sawyer glances down at the folder in her hands, then her eyes flicker to the mirror. Where did Curt go, and will whatever he's up to help?

Veronica nods to Sophie. "Your mom was loved. Is loved. Very much so." Veronica never met the woman, but she wants to make the girl feel better, like this is important. "I'm sure she was very proud of the woman you are becoming," she adds softly. Time to play good cop, win back some brownie points. This isn't going anywhere, and now she's spooked the girl, she doesn't want to show those photos.

"I think this has gone on long enough," Comes the voice from the doorway, hard-soled shoes clicking on the floor as Director Balfour strides back in to the room, one hand on his hip and the other gesturing towards Veronica. "Everything she's said here was in our report to Director Dalton's office, and I told your people that nothing she had would be of any use to us in hunting down the people responsible. We have psychometrists combing over the ruins of the bookstore and they've come up with nothing."

Some some overbearing parent, Balfour moves quickly into the room and stands behind the sofa, watching the back of Sophie's head before his dark eyes come up to settle on Veronica. "She's said enough, agent Sawyer, and while I appreciate the New York branch's interests in handling things with the grace of a sledgehammer she's already been through enough trauma." His dark brows furrow, jw set crooked and shoulders squared, "I think you're done here."

Where did Lu go?

Curt stands in the door way with… an umbrella and a backpack. "Director Balfour, I'm going to need you to step outside. I havn't had a chance to question the young lady." he is a bit wet, hair drenched and stickig to his face. "Or better yet, stay here, but stay quiet. Also? I'm going to need someone to dim the lights."

Veronica's mouth opens to protest Balfour's requests, holding up the file as if to show she still has tricks up her sleeves. "I'm not brow beating her and I'm sure she wants to help if she can. Yes, she has been through too much trauma, I agree. I hardly wish to inflict more on her, and neither does my partner." Her eyes flicker back to the young woman in question. "You don't mind, do you, Sophie? There might be something, the smallest thing, that could help us put them away."

The sound of Curt's voice causes Director Balfour to stop, raise his brows and turn to look at Curt as if he were some three-headed monster out of Greek myth. "Excuse me?" His eyes flicker with blinks, and Sophie manages to mirror something of that shock, but not nearly any of the ego-trodden outrage. "You're not the director of this facility, and when I say that someone under care of this building is done with interrogation, it means thank you for your time and please leave."

One hand comes up to emphasize the Director's point as he motions to the door, head cocking to that direction in a very get out motion, though not quite vocalized in that way. Sophie, despite herself, seems to be more confused than upset as she looks from Veronica to Curt, mouth open partway and head shaking from side to side in disbelief.

Opening the folder quickly to the two photos she has — one of Adam Monroe and one of Grim — Veronica hands the folder to Sophie. "Did you see either of these men there?" she murmurs quickly, her eyes meeting Sophie's with a look that is a mix of sympathetic and pleading — and not feigned. "Or have you seen either of them anywhere else, for that matter?"

Curt leans the umbrella next to the door and sets the backpack next to it. "Obviously you havn't been fully briefed on the situation." he says in a congenial manner as he approaches the director with a smile. "Cruz gave us full authority and access to anyone and anything concerning this case. Which means, with all due respect, I'm going to question the nice girl for as long as I see fit, and then when I'm done I'm going to sit you down at a table and I'm going to ask you questions. Her," he points at the subject, "I like, so I'm going to be nice to her. Guess how much I like you right now?" his smile remains charming and warm, "You should maybe read a file, or go fuck yourself, I don't really care which, so long as it's not near me in the next thirty seconds." then, with all the flourish of an Oscar award winning actor he flicks his hand in the exact same manner the Director did, dismissing the man.

Mouth open and breath sucked in with a sharp inhalation, Director Balfour stares at Curt the way someone might stare at a streaker at an Opera. Stammering and nothing of linguistic sense coming out of the Director's mouth, his eyes flick over to Sophie who is trying to hide a smirk and just shakes his head repeatedly. "I— " he swallows tensely, "I am going to get Gael on the line right now and find out exactly what is going on here, and then— " lips press tightly together, and Director Balfour swallows his pride and storms out towards the exit of the room, turning around only once he's reached the door to point at Veronica and Curt.

"I'm going to have both of you put on suspension for this little stunt!" He turns, jerkily, and storms out of the room and down the hall, polished shoes click-clacking like tiny little hooves on his way out. Once he's out of earshot, Sophie breaks out into a giggle and hides her face at the backs of her knees, sucking in a choked sob that blends incongruently to the laughter. When she looks up, tears stream down her face but a smile is spread across her lips. "You— actually tol' him off," she says with a crooked smile, "bitchin'."

Vee shoots Curt a look out of the corner of her eyes, but smirks a little at Sophie's reaction. "Yeah, he's got a stick up his ass. He's trying to protect you from the likes of us. We're troublemakers." She still holds out the folder with the photos, but looks curiously at Curt. "Unless you have any ideas on these photos… I'm going to let you chat with Agent Lu here."

Curt waits for the man to leave before grinning at the girl, "Well what can I say, he's a total dick and he wears that funky old man after shave." the kind that Curt himself has in a cabinet but has stopped wearing after Vee kept making fun of him for. He moves back to the door and plops down in a chair that he spins around backwards. "Okay Sophie here's the deal. I think you know more then you're remembering. Not saying you're doing it on purpose, but I think it's there. When I was in the war it happened to a lot of us. We had to go through a few things to get the memories back."

He makes a face, "Which means I'm going to have to ask you do something I wish I didn't have to. I'm going to need you to be stronger then someone your age should ever have to be. I'm going to have to ask you to try something with me, something small, and then if it doesn't work me and my friend over there won't ask you another question. But I /will/ get the security guys to burn that little bit I just did onto a DVD for you so you can watch it when ever you like. Think you can soldier up for me?"

Shaking her head back and forth, Sophie stares at the photographs as that faint amusement fades from her. "I— I don't recognize any of them," she finally says after a moment of staring at the pictures. Swallowing tensely, her eyes drift up to Curt, brows furrowed and the smile returning as she considers the jovial tone in which he references showing Director Balfour what's what.

"I— I can try but— " When Sophie closes her eyes, there's doubt flitting across her features. "I don't know why any of this is happening," she admits in a tiny voice, "I— I didn't know what my mother did, who she used to work for, I— I didn't even know she— I didn't know she was like me."

There, right there.

Something tipped off in her voice, in the way she speaks, and in the fact that she admits she realizes her mother had the ability that burned down the bookstore. Was she told by the Company? Possibly, but with how secretive Director Balfour seems to be, unlikely.

The memories are there, she just needs a jog.

"How did you find out she was like you?" Veronica says softly, giving a look to Curt, to see if he caught the slip. Her eyes are curious — she doesn't know what it is that Curt is up to. "That she was Evolved?" she sits back, prepared to let Curt do his thing, whatever his thing may be.

Curt shakes his head as Vee pushes, he makes a small motion with his hand, "Vee, can you go see if they'll turn the lights down in here? I wanna try a little something with Sophie, see if it helps at all." he offers a smile to the girl before shooting Vee a look that just about screams 'trust me. I gots me an idea!'

Dark eyes flick to Veronica, and Sophie's expression changes, her brows furrow and she stammers out a hushed, "I— I don't— " swallowing tensely, her chin comes to rest on her knees, voice a hushed whisper. "I don't remember…" It's not entirely the truth, and Curt's been around the block long enough to be able to see whena teenage girl is trying to lie to him, he's had enough problems in his life to be able to pin the tail on that particular donkey.

When it's requested that Veronica hit the lights and move out of the room, Sophie's brows furrow and her eyes flick towards the female agent, swallowing noisily as if uncertain of exactly what it is Curt is going to try. Anyone would probably be nervous, in a dark room with Curt. It's only common sense.

"I'll be right here," she tells Sophie, glancing at Curt. She rises, handing the folder she carries to Curt in case he has use for it, and moves to the doorway and finding the light switch. She turns off the lights, then closes the door to the hallway. "I'm here. You're safe, Sophie, I promise." Her husky voice is soft but sure in tone.

Curt is a nice guy!! See the completely harmless suit and the charming smile!?!? Now sure, if he'd shown up with a knife dripping blood… maybe. But he's cute when he's cleaned up! Pshaw. He stands and picks up the items at the door and returns. "I want you to close your eyes for me Sophie and think back to that night. Not the bad stuff, the part right before. When you said you were going to leave. You said you picked up an umbrella and you went outside." he waits until she's relaxed and he snaps the umbrella open, water splatters the girl and the scent of fresh rain wafts through the cell. He puts the umbrella in her hand.

Doing exactly as Curt says, Sophie's eyes are shut when the light spatter of water fromt he umbrella he procured brushes across her face. She jumps, just a little bit, but then tenses her brows and breathes in a deep breath, feeling the handle of the umbrella press into her hands. Her fingers work over the crook at the end, "It— feels different…" her voice trails off some, "mom's umbrella— has a duck on the end, not— this is rounded." Details, whether correct or not, show a sign of intent to remember. Even if she's being contrary, it's still progress, and pretty much exactly what Curt was expecting. In a way, this is a side of Agent Lu that Veronica hasn't yet had a chance to see, through the usual hail of bullets and screaming.

"I— I left to head down the street to the coffee shop, I— I was going to get a danish for me an' mom, and then…" her dark brows crease together, fingers wringing over the curve of the handle, "I was on the other side of the block when I noticed my… when my purse was missing…" Looking to be deeper in thought now, the meandering tone of voice Sophie is offering is exactly what Curt was hoping for, she's piecing things together.

Vee Veronica doesn't speak, but instead merely stands sentinel by the door, prepared to intercept the director if he returns. Hopefully he'll look through the window and see that progress has been made before he comes barging into the room. She watches Curt as Curt watches the girl; her body is tense, ready to spring into action if she's needed to soothe the teenager, though it seems the handsome troublemaker has won her over more than Veronica's sympathy.

Curt is made of awesome. The sooner Vee remembers this the better… and he has a daughter all his own. Which is likely more pertinent to this situation then his level of imagined awesome. He doesn't say anything, just lets her talk, walking them back. He waits for her to speak of reaching the door of the book store, of opening it and stepping inside. That's when he opens the book back, releasing the smell of book glue and paper into the air, the smell of a million book stores everywhere, only a touch mustier then that, just a hint of age to them. He lets this guide her more then anything he says.

Immediately upon the opening of the book, Sophie's brows tense and her lips part, words threatening to come out the same moment that tears finally dribble down from her closed lashes and roll across her cheeks to stain the knees of her jeans. She swallows tightly, her ovice cracking as she speaks. "I— got back to the store, and— and something was wrong. I— I didn't notice it till I got inside. There were— people everywhere, and— and mom was crying and— and I— "

Here it is.

"I— I was— I was already in the building…" The impossible sentiment comes with a shaky exhalation of breath. "I saw this guy, he— he had a gun to my head and— and I was— I— I don't know," her face buries down at her knees, shoulders trembling. "I was already in the building! I— it was like I never left, he— oh God I was already there!"

There's a frown and a tilt of the female agent's head at that. She looks at Curt and gives a shake of her head to show she doesn't understand. He should get her to elaborate. But she's letting him run the show for now, and doesn't want to pull the girl out of her reverie; she does not speak.

Curt's voice is soft, but firm, "You're strong enough." he nearly whispers, the softest of sounds, "You're stronger then this. Beat it. Don't back away from it, show it it can't beat you…" there's a soft authority to his tone, a tone Vee's /certainly/ never heard before. She's heard the soldier, the cold blooded killer, the Sargent, but never the soft caring but demanding tones of a father. Not from Curt's lips.

"I— " Sophie's voice hitches in the back of her throat, "I saw me… I saw me." Her words come clipped, sharp and painful. "I— I don't know, the— the blonde guy in the photograph was there, and— and the guy with gray hair who wanted the book, but— but mom was shouting for me to leave and— she she caught on fire and— and— she wasn't burning." There's a tight swallow, "I always knew— I always knew she was special… that— that I wasn't alone."

A ragged, sucking sob comes from the girl as her fingers wind into her jeans tighter, nose pressing down into the space between her knees. "I think I ran, I— I changed, the thing I do, I— I don't remember. It's— I don't remember." Her hands shake, fingers tremble. "I woke up on the sidewalk, outside— in the rain and… and the blonde guy had a blanket wrapped around himself— he had a syringe and— " her sobs break up her words, emotional and overwrought with pain. "The store was on fire, I couldn't— see mom anywhere…"

Away from the door, Veronica moves to Sophie and takes her hand, opening her arms to let the girl fall into an embrace if she wants one, but not forcing herself on a frightened child. "It's enough. Thank you, Sophie," she whispers. "You're here, and you're safe, and we're not going to let them hurt you, all right?" she murmurs, kneeling in front of the girl and looking up with her own teary brown eyes. She turns to look at Curt, and her eyes narrow. "Grim," she mouths to him. Illusions. Grim was at the site of the Gramble murder — it's enough to indict him in her mind — and Adam is confirmed. Suddenly, however, she frowns. "A syringe?" she tilts her head. "What did he do with that?"

Curt remains silent, letting Vee play mommy now that he's done his part, she can ask her questions again now that the girls brain is jump started. He lets out a slow breath, a worried frown on his face as he thinks over the things she said.

Leaning rather immediately into Veronica's embrace, Sophie shakes her head and sucks back a rasping whine of emotion, "I— " her voice cracks, "I dunno… it had blood in it. He— he took it with him." There's a tense shudder that runs through the girl as she turns and buries her face in Veronica's shoulder. There's a swallow, tense and anxious, "You— you have to get them, you— " she looks up, chocolate brown eyes glassy and wet, tears staining her cheeks matching dampness now on Vee's shoulder. "Promoise me you'll stop them…" she sucks in her lower lip, grimacing away the pain of an enchroaching emotional outburst, "you have to."

"We're going to do our very best, Sophie, I promise you," Veronica murmurs, letting her arms wrap around the teenager; she's not really one to hug and touch strangers, but it's a teenager girl who's lost her mother — the female agent has a heart, after all. "Listen. I'm going to give you a card with my cell phone number, and if you need to tell me anything, or you see them, or you just need to talk to someone, I'm happy to listen." She doesn't know who the girl is going home to, but assumes there's some form of family once the Company is done babysitting her.

Curt smiles, "And if the director gives you any shit you call her too, she'll let me know." cause Curt will totally tell him to go fuck himself again. He's cool like that. He pushes himself to his feet and patpats the girl on the shoulder fondly, but with a certain lack of comfort, obviously he's a guys guy, not good at the girlie stuff. "You did good kid. Real good."

Nodding her head slowly, Sophie manages a hesitant smile and swallows awkwardly. "T— thanks. I— I just… you have t'find the people that did this… M'just glad I could help." Tense for a moment, Sophie inclines her head and breathes in a deep breath before exhaling a tired sigh. Her lips creep up into a hesitant smile, one sleeve rubbing at her eyes as she looks from Veronica to Curt and back again.

"He's…" She manages something of an awkward laugh, "He's always been that way," the girl notes in a tiny voice, leaning away from Veronica with dark eyes alight to Curt.

"S'just how dads are."

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