Unto Iscariot


harper_icon.gif praeger_icon.gif

Scene Title Unto Iscariot
Synopsis Raymond Praeger comes to cut a deal with the Institute's representative.
Date April 14, 2010

Financial District

The office of Desmond Harper rests some twenty-six floors above the streets of Manhattan's financial district. A wall of plate glass windows views the snow-shrouded city like the interior of some great and majestic snow globe, and judging from the light flurries drifting down from the sky and blowing across the side of this skyscraper, someone's taken the initiative to shake up that snow globe today. The analogy is fitting in more ways than one today.

With shoulders squared and hands folded behind his back, Desmond stands facing out towards the city, lit only by the diffuse light coming gray and pale thorugh the windows, watching the concrete headstones of Midtown freeze under a blanket of eternal winter. "You know you're not who I expected to come knocking…" talking to his own muted reflection in the glass, Desmond doesn't yet afford a look over his shoulder to the man standing at the entrance to his office.

"…I was expecting Lazzaro." Finally turning to offer a look over his shoulder, agent Harpet's youthful profile seems quizzical with its quirked brow raised high on his forehead. Staring across the desk his stands behind, Desmond slowly turns, lifting a hand to lay down on the back of his desk's chair, towards the office door opposite of it and the American flag resting crooked beside it, all full of red white and blue lies.

"Raymond," Harper offers with a nod of his head, pulling the chair out as he debates the finer points of sitting and standing, "what's up, buddy?" The casual flash of a pearly smile from Harper seems discongruent to the seriousness of Raymond Praeger's reason for being here. "What can I do for ya?"

Rather than find a place to neatly store away scarf and coat, Praeger has stepped further into the office instead, as if perhaps he doesn't want to stay very long at all, though his manner and demeanor are amicable enough. Polished, too, from the literal sheen of his shoes — clean of snow, overshoes stored away in the sleek black vehicle twenty-six floors downwards — and briefcase, to glossy smile he sends Harper's way. "Vincent will know, better than anyone, that there are some things I care to handle myself," he says, shoulders hiking up and back down, before he moves for the desk.

Without too much care about what rests upon it, Raymond neatly sets down his briefcase and takes a seat, gloved hands smoothing the front of his ensemble as he does so, an off-gold tie clipped against a crisply white shirt, the barest slice of gunmetal grey suit fabric peeking from beneath the pitch back of his snow-speckled woolen coat. His nose and cheeks have gone slightly pink from the icy cold outside.

"There have been some startling developments in our investigation about the current weather issue we're having," Praeger begins, looking at Harper over his rimless glasses. "Ones that I think my interest you, Desmond, with regards to that missing persons memo that crossed my desk— what was it, a month ago or so? A girl named Liette."

The name is enough to turn Desmond's blood to ice, send a chill down his spine and make him wonder exactly how much Raymond Praeger has known about this from the beginning. It's a name that the secretary of the Department of Evolved Affairs shouldn't even know about, let alone have even the most tenuous of threads connecting her to anything resembling powers.

"Oh?" It's too understated and comes far too late. In Desmond's mind it perfectly delivered and smooth, but in reality it comes out more like him looking blindsided but this revelation and sounds a bit more like, "Wh— O— Oh?" than the dark-haired man perhaps intended. But good intentions and prepared speeches were thrown out the window the moment that young girl's name came up.

"Go… Go on." Desmond tries to recollect his mental equilibrium from that, trying not to focus on the fact that each of the lenses of Praeger's glasses are reflecting his own dumbfounded expression back at him. Not only has he been caught with his proverbial pants down around his ankles, but practically bent over his desk too.

"Gladly," Praeger says, now moving his gloved hands to fidget with the silver clasps on his briefcase, frown lines forming as he concentrates. "These things, I swear, the cold simply freezes them shut." With a neat snick, they come free, and Praeger levers back the shining leather lid to extract a file. Closing it again with a bat of his hand, he takes his time rustling through printed pages, before locating one that he observes through spotless glasses.

Keeping it angled from Harper's searching eyes, he reads aloud: "Doctor Jean Martin Luis." A flick of slate-blue eyes shoots a glance over stiff white paper. "We have reason to believe that this man might be whom you are after — he was, at least at one stage, her caretaker. Her sister, in turn, might be whom we have interest in — she is, in all probability, the cause of the blizzards we've been so afflicted with.

"Of course, Doctor Luis also works within your organisation known as the Institute," he continues, shuffling his pages together back into a neat stack. "So either there is absolutely nothing you need to worry about with regards to Liette, agent, or you're currently in the middle of a massive security breach of truly dire proportions. Among other transgressions."

One of Desmond's hands slowly moves up to hold against his forehead, perhaps in an attempt to feel if he's become feverish and delusional and has somehow dreamt all of this in some psychotic episode brought on by stress. That effort slowly turns into a sweep of Harper's hand back over the top of his head and a slacking of his shoulders. When his hand comes down, he's snatching the bluetooth headset out of his ear and tossing it down with a noisy clatter onto his desk.

"Where'd you— how did you come across this information?" Now he's moving to sit, the merits of standing have been completely lost, because as of right now Desmond Harper feels like if he's standing a trap door is going to open in the floor any moment and deposit him into a shark tank. "I— I'm not even going to question the validity of your information because there's no way you could've plucked those names out of the ether to just— " he stops, pauses to catch his breath and slouches back against the leather of his chair, both hands covering his face for one stressful moment.

"I need names of who knows what you've said, where it came from and details on how this is potentially connected to the weather pattern happening right now. Because as it stands…" Harper isn't even sure how to finish his sentence, and he doesn't. All he makes is a wet raspberry noise with his lips and tongue.

Very professional.

Praeger's hand comes up to let his glasses sit lower on his nose now that Harper sits across from him, patience conveyed in expression save for the very focused look the younger man is getting. "I am sure you do," he agrees, gently. "But I don't have much reason to give them to you, Agent Harper. Now, I have enough faith in you and your— people— that this," and he lifts a hand, splays his fingers towards the snowy city terrain beyond, "is not deliberate. An accident. One that has not been controlled, that apparently cannot be controlled.

"I can see why you might be concerned. However, I have my own concerns. About sensory deprivation tanks, and names such as Edward Ray, Moab escapee by the name of Carpenter, and of course, Liette's sibling, and other names I know have been, at some stage, been taken into custody by our government. Evolved men and women, Agent Harper."

The sheaths of paper cast back into his briefcase, allowed to shift apart. His frown is the one a principal might wear. "I need good reason to believe why I should not make every effort to dismantle your organisation, let alone assist you."

Posture changes on Agent Harper with the flow of the conversation, and when it's clear he's backpedaling on the defensive, Desmond's brows furrow together and one hand comes up to scrub over his mouth very slowly. "I think you might want to consider the safety of someone in our custody that's more important to you than any of this." The switch from casual to cruel is a mercurial one, and Desmond's brows lift up in a genuinely concerned looking expression afterward.

"I think there's enough you and I have in terms of personal interests that can get your source into my hands and your nose out of Institute affairs. There's a changing of the guard coming, Raymond, and the Institute is performing a necessary function for detaining criminals. But I'd be very much interested in knowing who knows about Elijah Carpenter and our other detainees… because unless you want another Moab hanging over your head," Desmond's shoulders rise into a shrug, "I'd really hope you come forward with helpful information. I'd hate to think of what might become of her if there was a raid on our facility because of a security hole you could have helped patch, and chose not to."

Leaning forward in his seat, Desmond folds his hands in front of his mouth, both brows lifting and eyes settled on Praeger thoughtfully. "Think about the long run, Raymond. The future's coming a lot faster than either of us can prepare for it, and you really should decide which side your own. For her sake?" The last bit almost feels like a jab.

There's a cold kind of confirmation that settles on Praeger's shoulders at these words, his hands steepling together as suspicions click together almost as perfectly as the puzzle that is Liette, the blizzards, and all that stands in between. It's not pleasant, by any means, a sickly satisfaction. The older politician sits back in his chair, and for now, eyes the window rather than the hard glare being fixed upon him over the desk. Snow glare seems almost as potent as a sun hidden behind cloud, and his glasses flash white to veil whatever thoughts might show in his eyes as they turn over in his head.

"The truth is, Desmond," he says, after a moment, his tone as pristine and calm as it's always been, "that Rebel is as elusive to us as he is to you. The allies through which have handed me this information are neither expendable, nor your problem." Or so he has decided, as much as Harper is pressing on the point.

Praeger's hand goes out to close the briefcase with a snap. "I want insurance," he says. "I want insurance that Carol isn't hurt. I want to be able to see her, agent. And then we can discuss this security hole of yours."

Leaning his head down into his hand, Desmond rubs at his eyes with his forefingers and thumb, then bobs his head into a nod in that gesture. "I think I can get you that much, Raymond. I can talk to the right people, I can't say how long of a… of a visit it will be, but you'll be able to see her— probably even talk to her too. I don't think that'd be too hard for me to arrange, depending on how good your information is." Rebel is a topic that Harper tries to hedge his expression against revealing, throat tightening just a little as he levels a more neutral stare on Praeger.

"We're taking our time setting up that mousetrap, but I think no matter our difference of opinions on how things get handled, we can both agree Rebel's a problem that we can't wait much longer to put down. I can get you time with Carol, maybe even regular visiting rights, but you're going to have to work with me on this one, Raymond."

Wetting his lips, Desmond folds his hands together and stares down at the top of his desk, considering the glow of the light coming in over his shoulders and the dark silhouette of his body that it leaves before looking back up to Praeger. "You let me decide who's a concern of the Institute, and you tell us where you got this information about Liette, and especially the weather, because that's something that's hurting more people than anything else out there right now and if we can fix that…" he quirks his head to the side, "that's what we're supposed to be doing, isn't it? Protecting people?"

"Of course." That same smile, although under a watchful eye, it's probably easy to detect that way it seems contained to the corners of his mouth and no where else — not his eyes, certainly not his heart. The rest of Praeger's cards remain snapped shut in his briefcase, which he takes off the desk once he's secured the latches, chin raising in a prim and proud kind of posture as he thinks.

And makes a decision. "I can tell you where Liette is," he finally states. "And you will let me see Carol, just as you've said. We can go from there, can we not?"

It's a politician's question — the kind that isn't, actually. Praeger doesn't bother extending a hand to shake, simply stares across at Harper and waits.

"I can have an extraction team together in fifteen minutes," is Desmond Harper's too quick response.

The handshake is just a formality at that point; as much as blood on the dotted line of a contract with the Devil is.

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