sf_asami_icon.gif sf_faulkner_icon.gif

Scene Title Unspoken
Synopsis A conversation occurs; in its shadows, many things go unspoken.
Date September 8, 2017

The other executives, and everyone who's had meetings late today with Isaac Faulkner, have either had bad experiences or had him cancel entirely. He's not just in a mood, he's in a state.

Asami Tetsuzan stands outside his office anyway, a manila with several sheets of paper in it held by her side. The door is closed, so she knocks lightly on it with the backs of her knuckles. "Mister Faulkner?" she chimes quietly, but enough for it to carry.

Who the fuck knows where his secretary is presently. They should have turned her away.

There's a thump from the other side of the door, followed by a moment of silence.

"Yes?" comes the response. Sharp. Waspish.

Asami's eyes narrow in idle wondering at what could have made that kind of noise. She briefly considers airing the question of if he has a moment through the door— then opts not to. She presses down on the handle, pushing the door in. This isn't a matter she can afford to be brushed away about.

"I need a few moments of your time, please. If…"

But she trails off at what she sees.

Faulkner's office is not in its best state. The view through the windows, as ever, is beautiful — the New York skyline is a sight from this altitude, even on a stormy night like this.

At the center of the office — an oversized space rendered in black marble — a lamp casts a pool of light on Faulkner's desk, but that only serves to illuminate the disorder there. Papers are strewn across the desk and off the side, to where an organizer lays toppled on the floor, papers scattered in a pile around it; it seems to have knocked over a trash can on the way down, adding wadded papers and empty styrofoam cups to the mess. Faulkner himself slouches in his chair; his jacket hangs loosely over the back, his tie is both crooked and half undone. His elbows are propped up on the desk, his head cradled in his hands; it's only when the door opens that he looks up, one reddened eye peering balefully through mussed hair.

Around the desk, the rest of the office is a half-lit study in shadow, darkly gleaming and immaculate, seemingly untouched by the disarray at its heart; the only sound comes from a lone grandfather clock, ticking quietly in the gloom.

"Ms. Tetsuzan," Faulkner says after a moment. Slowly he straightens, raising his head up, but he remains silent for a moment longer, visibly considering options. "What can I do for you?"

The news that's rocked Isaac's world hasn't made its way to Asami's, but that it affects him greatly is plainly seen. In all the ways the Linderman heir might be rough around the edges, the executive has never been someone she'd describe as disheveled.

The paperwork in her hand is momentarily forgotten until he answers her. Even then, she has to blink past the moment and reapply her usual steely deadpan.

"There is some urgent paperwork I needed your review on. I could put it through HR, but things always work out that they never get it back to me in a timely manner. Your signature, however, should certainly trump approvals granted by 'the company'. After all…"

He may as well be. He embodies the Linderman Group, does he not?

Her approach to his desk is a measured thing, and in the time it takes her to get there, there's plenty to observe and think about. To consider about Isaac's state.

Asami doesn't turn over the folder immediately. She finds herself asking, "Did something happen, sir?"

The question takes Faulkner by surprise; his eyes narrow, and he gives Asami a sharp look. There's a waspish rebuke almost visibly on the tip of his tongue…

… but it never quite makes it out. Instead, that sharpness fades away, his eyes lowering and slipping off into the darkness.

"I'm surprised you haven't heard," Faulkner says quietly, gaze slipping off to gaze somewhere into the darkness for a moment. His eyes move back to Asami's face, his expression grim. "Ms. Nichols was… in an accident tonight, on her way home."

He hesitates for a moment, affecting a shrug. "I assumed that was why you were coming to me; because she's not available," he admits.

"No," Asami is quick to assure. "Normally I would be doing this quite by the book, but…"

Something goes unspoken on her end here, too, something solemn; sad and longing. But she shakes her head.

"That's terrible," she leans quickly back into the moment rather than focus on herself. "No, I hadn't heard yet. Do you know what happened?" Her brow furrows up in sympathetic concern. For Nicole, naturally.

But perhaps, out of character for her, there's concern reserved for Isaac as well. "I know you two are … close."

That flicker of something sad on Asami's face doesn't go unnoticed; Faulkner's face softens a tiny bit. Asami's observation draws a tightening of Faulkner's lips, a glance to the side. "Yeah," he agrees quietly.

He shifts a bit, straightening in his seat. "She was… apparently hit by another driver," he states matter-of-factly. "She's always been a bit reckless when it comes to driving," he says. For a moment there's a flicker of a fond smile there, but it's overtaken by regret almost immediately.

"We had an argument. Before she left. And now…" he trails off. His hands come to rest on the desk in front of him, right hand wrapping around his left wrist; his gaze drops to focus on them. "Her injuries are… pretty severe," he states quietly.

There will be a void left behind by Nicole, Asami notes, regardless of whether or not she pulls through. The thought dawns on her slowly, pulls her shoulders down with the weight of them. The half-lifted manila with her request for extended leave lowers back down to her side.

She feels her stomach sink. For a long moment, she says nothing at all. The trip she'd planned, her return to Japan, isn't a thing she mourns in this moment. Instead, she lives in the present that's immediately before her. She lives in her loyalty to a group that saved her from a much more unpleasant life than the one she so nearly lived.

Then, she shifts the folder from one hand to another. "Forget signing my request— what do you need?" Asami's voice is quiet, but firm. Unflappable in its support. "Now, and long-term. If there are duties Nicole performed which need covered, I will gladly step up to fill them. Whatever is needed so you and she can focus on what's important."

Never mind that Asami would be sacrificing what little chance she had at reforging her relationship with her own family so Isaac could be present for what little is left of his own.

None of her sadness reflects in this moment, though. Only her sympathy, and her determination to help shoulder the weight during this trying time. "If there is anything I can do so your focus can go where it needs to be, I'll do whatever I can."

Faulkner frowns, peering at Asami. His brow furrows slightly, eyes narrowing as he considers her… then he nods slowly. "I may end up taking you up on your offer, come to that," he says after a moment; he seems uncharacteristically subdued. "Nicole did… quite a bit to keep the Group running." Now Faulkner looks up, meeting Asami's gaze. "Things are going to be… turbulent for awhile, I imagine; I'm going to need people I can trust with me. Now more than ever."

He musters a smile, but it's not the bright, carefully polished smile he shows on television; it's a worn, tired looking smile, but one that seems somehow more sincere. "Thank you, Ms. Tetsuzan. I'll almost certainly need your insight in the days to come."

Asami shakes her head once she's thanked. There's nothing worth thanking yet, she feels. "You should go home, get some rest. At this hour… the world's stopped turning. There's nothing that can't wait here." It feels so out of place for her to be giving advice, or rather, this thing that goes beyond that, so she quiets afterward. Isaac's smile goes unreturned.

"The company will be here in the morning. I will be here in the morning, early." Her brows lift, voice softening slightly from its edge. "We can… start sorting things out then. I'll interface with Nicole's assistant and ensure nothing gets dropped in the next few days. The Group will be fine. But I can only take on so much extra work— we'll have to find a deputy to pull forward and bring up to speed if you also need time off, sir."

"It's nothing unmanageable, just choices to be made," she assures. Her hands come to fold before her, clasped around that manila folder.

Faulkner studies Asami for a moment, then lets out a long, slow breath. "Yes," he agrees wearily, raising a hand to rub at his temple. Yes, she's certainly right there; just choices to be made. Yes indeed. He steals a glance at the clock, and what he sees there elicits a grimace. The hour is already later than he'd expected; the lack of news is making him… uneasy.

"Yes. I'll… I'll take my leave soon enough, Ms. Tetsuzan," he concedes. He doesn't particularly care for getting chased out… but she's probably right. No: she is right. What will be will be, and it will be whether or not he's well rested; the only difference is in how he'll be able to handle things, and he's going to need to be at his best. His eyes come back to Asami. "I'll no doubt be relying on you in the days to come." Now his gaze slips to the folder she's carrying. "Now then. Before I go… was there anything else you needed from me?" She did come all the way up here for a reason, after all, and while she seems to have changed her mind about that, he'd be remiss if he didn't at least ask if she needs anything.

Asami considers briefly needs of her own again, decides otherwise in following up on them, at least immediately. "I might need a word put in later to allow my time off accrued to roll into this next year," she says with all the air of a joke. But she's serious, too, in her own way. The way her soul slowly is in the process of decomposing from a lack of nourishment is hidden well under piles of work, under her eagerness to be of use.

She confuses even herself. She's trying to replace the hole left in her by the lack of her country and family, and refuses to even ask for the time to go back to it, despite having come all this way just to do it.

Maybe it's better this way, though. Maybe going home again would just bring about a depressing amount of nostalgia and desire to stay.

Asami firms her mouth into a small smile. "What I really need from you is for you to clear your calendar day after tomorrow so we can work through this. Give me a few hours and we'll workshop through the open items that need closely followed the next few weeks. If I know which direction to steer on them, that'll be enough."

To emphasise as much, she folds her hands behind her back now, folder out of sight. Her time off can't can wait.

That her joke… isn't — or isn't entirely — is not lost on Faulkner. Under other circumstances, it might have been, but now? Now, it's far easier to pay attention to someone else's problems than his own.

He regards for her a beat longer than he might otherwise — only that — and then musters a faint smile of his own. It's not a convincing smile, not a corporate smile or a political smile or another of the others he's memorized and carved into his muscle memory… but an effort is being made, and in that it's more honest than those others.

"That can be arranged," he says, nodding once. he says. He takes a deep breath and runs his hands through his hair, trying to reclaim his usual facade; it doesn't work that well. Tomorrow will probably be even worse, when he gets the news he's expecting. Doing what's needed isn't always easy, after all.

But there's time enough to think about tomorrow tomorrow. For now…

He frowns, looking back to Asami. "For now… I'll get some sleep. At home," he says, not entirely successful at keeping the grimace off his face; going anywhere right now, let alone to sleep, feels daunting… but Asami has made her point. "I'll… get myself together and head out," he says, exhaling.

The reassurance he'll do as much is the only thing Asami can hope to expect out of him. She returns a small smile of her own. "Good. I'll see you tomorrow, sir. Have a good night." She lingers only a moment longer before bobbing her head and stepping back from the desk two paces before turning her back to leave the same way she came.

The door clicks softly shut behind her again after she leaves.

There is a moment of silence after she leaves… then Isaac sighs, rubbing at his forehead. After a moment, he levers himself to his feet, pulls on his jacket, and starts to gather the papers that had fallen from his desk, sifting them from the trash as best he can. He takes a moment longer to right the trash can and return the refuse to it; thankfully, it's mostly just wadded papers and not anything more… messy.

He has maintenance staff for that kind of thing, of course, but he wants to do this himself. And… maybe, just maybe, he's dragging his feet just a bit. Waiting in case the news finally comes through. It doesn't; there's no buzz of a text message, no ringing of a phone to let him know the tragic news. Dammit.

Alright. Fine. Faulkner straightens his god-damned tie — all on my own, Ms. Nichols, no reminder required! — and turns for the door.

Then he pauses, looking back to his desk. No signs of anything out of the ordinary or worrisome here, of course, but there's one last thing to do. He pauses to write himself a note. A reminder. Not just to clear his schedule… but to see about the other request that had been made, as well. The question is whether he wants to make a specific exception, or a more general review of the Group's PTO policy for senior employees. The former's a riskier move and runs the risk of being construed as favoritism, thus undermining faith in his leadership abilities, while the latter requires care to avoid causing unforeseen consequences… although that's something he'll have time to decide on later. The important part now is to make the note so that he doesn't forget. And, one more item — to have a plan in place, should his CIO actually decide to use the vacation time she's piled up. He makes it a habit not to make the same mistake twice if he can help it, after all; he doesn't intend to be caught out by a key employee becoming… unavailable… again.

Unavailable. That word catches Faulkner offguard for a moment, a well-timed jab slipping through his defenses, making him miss a step. Unavailable. It's such a… bloodless… way of putting what he's done, the chain of events he has so delicately and painstakingly set in motion. He has to grit his teeth against the surge of almost violent nausea he feels for a moment, leaning against his desk and trying not to add anything to the trash can. For a moment it's close, but he manages to keep the contents of his stomach down; after a few moments the nausea ebbs. He's signed off on more than a few things over the years that he's had to learn to live with; he'll learn to live with this, too.

Isaac Faulkner straightens and takes one last look over his office… then he flicks off the desk lamp, turns, and strides out into the darkness.

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