Three Minutes Notice


praeger2_icon.gif vincent_icon.gif


Scene Title Three Minutes Notice
Synopsis Vincent may want to call Human Resources about this…
Date November 7, 2010

Department of Evolved Affairs Building

It's cold, out there. There clouds have a bruisey quality to them, like they could send down rain or snow or sleety mixtures of both at any minute, but instead simply seals in a New York-wide chill that Vincent probably can't detect within the comfort of his own office. With the fate of certain entities of the American Government out of his hands— well. The landscape won't rearrange itself. Time doesn't stop. The coffee is still not that great in the staff kitchenette down the hallway. Change is sometimes less dramatic than a shift in the weather.

There it is. The rain. It spits needle fine patterns down upon the window that shows Vincent a great view of New York. It doesn't show him the best view of the street down below.

The phone rings merrily, suddenly. There's no warning from any intern, and it's not from his office landland, but his cell phone. User ID identifies it from Raymond Praeger, and though their correspondance is a regular thing, it's certainly never random.

Vincent is smoking in his office.

He doesn't, normally. But his massage therapist called in sick this morning and there's an ozone tang sketching restlessly at the edges of his nerves, the warm ache in his bones aside.

So he closed the door and opened the smoke detector and dropped the battery in the trash and he is smoking. Somewhat illegally. Somewhat entirely illegally, but his ash tray doesn't mind, having already played host to two other butts while he went through his inbox and had a conference call and spun slowly, baldly around to stare flatly out the window like he still is when his phone rings.

And he answers it, boot black eyes ticked down to the ID only once before he exhales and brings the blackberry to his ear. "Hello."

"Hello Agent Lazzaro," is pleasantly tinny down the line, and a little distracted. Perhaps Praeger is baking.

Unlikely, however, because the last thing Vincent knew, was that the Secretary of the Department of Evolved Affairs was in the building, like a spider at the centre of his web. He sounds a little like he's moving at a fastish pace— for him, a power walk of dignity and serenity as opposed to being rushed. "How are you this evening? We're getting miserable weather." The sound of a door yawning opening, and the subsequent sound of it clicking closed.

"I'm alright," says Vincent: amicably, because he is. A slow rock of his heel turns his office chair by a matter of well-oiled degrees. Seconds wasted that might be better spent researching a potential contact or looming (figuratively) over interns. Smoke winds light through his fingers while he rocks his heel more sluggishly back the opposite way.

"Very grey," agreed about the weather after he's taken too long to think about it, he scuffs a thumb at his nose and does the 180 necessary to realign himself with his desk. "Everything okay?"

"Unfortunately not." Oh.

Praeger is sitting down, picking up a silver pen at his elbow to fidget with, prodding against a notepad and making worried, meaningless punctuation against the lined page. "You understand that when Vice-President Mitchell demands a meeting, it's in the best interest of the Department of Evolved Affairs that I comply. It's in all of our best interests to align ourselves with the will of our leaders.

"It will make it the second time I've had the pleasure of speaking to Mister Simon Broome. I believe you know that name."

Oh. Vincent's eyebrows make a half-hearted effort at pretending to look surprised, but they are the only part of him that does. He flicks ash into his tray and looks at his laptop — currently devoid of open programs. The background is the DoEA default, stylized eagle and seal to match the hulking metal duplicate mounted to his right. Grey on grey.

More than anything Vincent understands rhetorical implications. He does not need to say that he understands because clearly he would be an idiot if he did not. It seems likely in turn that jolly old St. Praeger can interpret the implications of Lazzaro saying only, "I know the name."

There's a pause, and a rueful sounding, "Good." There's a hesitation, long consideration, and then, "As a public servant for the American government, you had a certain obligation that other people simply do not have. Though some of our peers may consider this more of an option, I know you're a very dutiful man, Vincent. Which is why I think you understand that I'm asking you to resign from the Department of Evolved Affairs. The coming days are going to be very difficult for you and your affiliations, I think. Especially the next— "

Vincent won't hear the sound of Praeger calmly drawing the sleeve at his wrist back. "Oh, I would say three minutes, but that's not excuse to dawdle. These nine to five hours are terrible. We should do lunch sometime, however."


It turns out even when you fully expect your boss to smear your nose in your own shit, it still — is what it is. Shit. In your nose.

Tar and oil stare ticked down and then back up after a pause that is what it sounds like, Vincent flumes twin furls of smoke through his sinuses and pushes smoothly to his feet. Nine paces to the door to turn the lock with a solid clack, cigarette plugged back into the corner of his mouth so that he can have both hands free to sheathe his laptop into its black bag once he's back.

"As long as you don't mind picking up the tab, sir."

There is a smile in Praeger's voice that probably doesn't make things any better when he says, "Oh, I'd be happy to." The sounds of Vincent getting ready to leave make it through the phone, and a sigh breezes past Praeger's talk piece in his phone as he swivels around to regard the very grey weather outside. Pen taps against notepad.

Tiktik. "You should take the out of order elevator down to level three and use the emergency fire exit. They're watching the entrance and the basement. Good luck, Vincent."

And click. That's about all he gets. No watch for years— months— of service, or two weeks notice.

Vincent should know better, really, than to trust what sounds like an infallibly polite debt repaid in the midst of everything else that is suddenly happening very quickly.

Computer zipped away, cigarette snuffed and cell phone tossed in the trash bin with the smoke alarm battery, Vincent is tidy enough to send the ash tray after it. Then he pushes in his chair, looks sidelong to the great metal seal and collects his briefcase on his way to the door.

He does, at least, have sense enough to crack it open and peek out once it's unlocked before clips out into the open floor.

The floor is a little empty, but at this hour, that's not so surprising. However, the girl at the desk is still there and she is sitting somewhat tensely, with her eyes on her computer screen and typing a little like TAKATAKATAKA without paying much attention to Vincent as he heads out of his office. She does strain a smile his way.

No, good evening, Mister Lazzaro.

That's fine. Especially compared to the way the stairwell doors suddenly bang open in Vincent's peripheral hearing, and in the same motion, heavy footsteps. He'll recognise them, the Institute goons, in their careful, impersonal masks, in the split second they seem to swarm.

The receptionist nearly pees herself a little.


…Is cold.

Heart and eyes alike stuttered into a blank skip behind the slat of his tie (dark olive to set off the lighter shade that comprises his collar), Vincent is left with the question of what extent, exactly, those heavy footsteps and masks have adapted to manage problems like him.

Actually, he is also left with an immediate and powerful impulse to run like hell, so. More agile than he looks like he should be in a state of impossibly unruffled urgency, he hooks back into his office with a bang that shakes the floor, door slammed solid at his back.

He doesn't need more than that to draw the 9mm holstered warm under his jacket.

Five shots fired in rapid succession crack and crater the heavily-windexed expanse of his window to the city, but it isn't until he vaults over the desk and mule kicks the chair he just pushed in behind it that the wall of glass shatters out of its frame.

He dives out after it into the rain without looking back.

Below Vincent, the world rushes up to meet him. Black vans like beatles cluster out front the Financial District building. Praeger was at least correct about where they were situated.

Too late, two canisters spewing yellow gas bounce through the slammed open door of the office. One rolls in a haze of negation vapour into the corner of the room, the other bounces all the way out the shattered window as if to chase falling agent, but one falls faster than the other, and rain dampens out the line of yellow that goes searing down the side of the Department of Evolved Affairs building.

«We need a retrieval team on the ground now. Incoming canister, repeat, clean up and search the block.»

This is nothing he can hear as the retrievers tear through his office, the woman at the desk getting the unfortunate duty of getting detained just by being there. Up in his office, Praeger sits with his fingers steepled, his cellphone maybe pettily switched off, and as the rain comes down harder, his office line rings. Male intern voice, graduate with a double major in law and international relations, nervously reports; "Vice-President Mitchell is on the line, sir."

He doesn't need the intern to say he sounds angry for Praeger to pick it from the notes of it voice, and he depresses the button on the speaker. "Tell him I'll call him back. Thank you."

There's a panicked syllable coming down the line before Praeger hangs up. And feels better for it.

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