Tired of Running


veronica3_icon.gif gael2_icon.gif

Scene Title Tired of Running
Synopsis An inside agent risks helping one stuck on the outside. Again.
Date November 24, 2010

Deli King and Grocery, The Bronx

It's near curfew, and once more Veronica is doing her "late night" shopping if one can consider 8 p.m. late night. If stores were open until 11 p.m. she'd be doing her shopping at 10, most likely. It's just how she is. Today she's still dressed in work clothes, a sleek pinstriped suit with a periwinkle blouse beneath, which means she most likely is in this end of town doing some sort of business she just completed. Of course, curfew means little to her — she has the right to be on the streets at any time of night, thanks to her credentials.

Turning the corner, she heads to the refrigerator that holds eggs and dairy, opening the glass to grab the pink and white carton of cottage cheese and a twelve-pack of eggs, and finally a half gallon of non-fat milk.

On the other hand, curfew means plenty to just about everyone else in the place, customers and staff alike. There's only an hour left to find stuff and pay for it and get home - and the stick backing it up is bigger than ever. Tense efficiency is the order of the day.

And then there's the all-too-familiar tall man standing just around the corner, slumming in jeans and a gray windbreaker and a hat too ugly for anything but a thrift store, loading up a plastic bucket with crackers and peanut butter and hard salami. This time, it's Veronica's turn to spot him first - he's on edge, still, but increasingly worn down at the same time.

Veronica turns away, closing the glass door. She watches Cruz for a moment before heading up the aisle to pass by, her eyes glancing down at her own basket as she does so.

But then in an impromptu gesture, she opens her wallet, pulling out several bills. She knows he has no access to his finances, their accounts frozen even before the raid took place that day. Her own had to be cleared by Harper before she could touch them. As she passes by, she tosses the five $20 bills recently taken from an ATM into his basket without a word, and keeps moving.

To his credit, Gael manages not to start as Veronica's hand darts into view. While she walks away, his fingers close around the bills, then he lifts up the basket and moves to catch up with her. His own cash on hand hasn't quite run out yet, but it has indeed been running low - to the point that he's had to pawn a few things. Like the rings that never got to fulfill their original purpose.

"Thank you," he says, keeping his voice low, "but…" Two of the bills are offered back. "What I could really use? Is some fresh contacts. The old ones seem to have accepted a life of running."

She's already turning hwen he catches up with her, the sound of his lengthening foot steps putting her on high alert. She waves off the cash with a quick shake of her head, then tips her head up to narrow her eyes at him.

"New contacts?" she repeats. She understands the last bit easily enough — the Company agents are on the run. Does that mean he doesn't want to? "What are you asking me for?" Veronicas already husky low voice is quieter than usual, her eyes wary as she watches his face.

Gael shrugs - hey, he tried - and pockets the bills, leaving the selection of groceries unchanged. Every little bit counts, these days. "Because there are too few others. Two or three steps removed— or with old grudges waiting to come up to the surface again." The latter concern is based more on emotion than reason, but there is some logic to it: don't put all your eggs in one basket if you can help it.

Shaking his head, he glances out toward the street. "The old problems are still out there, and some new ones on top of it. I've had more than my fill of running - and I'm sure as hell not going to just sit back and let the current powers-that-be run their course - but I can't do it alone, any more than I could before. At this point, I'll pretty much take whatever I can get."

Her eyes narrow. It could be a trap. It could be a ploy. She and Cruz weren't close by any means when in the Company. "I'm not in contact with anyone from the old job besides the ones that got transferred with me," she says carefully. "I think you probably saw the list of who made the move. We lost one of those — left the company so to speak. A bit o a livewire, didn't make the cut."

Just in case someone's listening who shouldn't be. "I'll give your name to someone who I think might be interested in someone of your talents, if you like, put in a good recommendation for you. You got somewhere I can contact you at?"

Even if Gael knew which agent was the lost one, he probably wouldn't know quite how to feel about it. He isn't even sure how he feels about the ones who did successfully jump ship— did they honestly feel it was the right thing, or were they just trying to save their own hides? Something to mull over later, when he can't sleep.

"A cell phone," he replies, and fishes out a pen and a crumpled old receipt to write it down. Even cheap office supplies can be stretched out a little bit. "Not planning to leave town any time soon, but I might need to change hideouts again on short notice." Not that he would give out that information anyway, except to someone that was closer to him. As if anyone is, any more.

Veronica reaches for the slip of paper, glancing at it, before nodding and slipping it into her pocket. "All right," she says quietly. "I can't promise anything. Not even that I can get in contact with them, but I can see what I can do. I mean, just talking to you and not taking you in, I'm going out on a huge limb. You understand."

This is yet another face of Veronica Sawyer for Gael Cruz — he'd seen her confident and sure of herself, the young and rising star; he'd seen her quiet and angry under the Harper reign of terror. This Veronica is uncertain, wary and tense — clearly, her life as an Institute agent is not one of certainty and comfort.

"Curfew's soon," she finally says. "You better get moving."

Having said his piece already, Gael simply nods, taking his turn in the checkout line as it comes up. They both took a lot of risks with the Company— though most of his were before her time, so she's been seeing a new side of him too.

"I'll return the favor as soon as I can," he says, just before stepping outside. He doesn't know how, yet, but he knows the fine line Veronica is walking; she's liable to need it sooner than later.

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