We Were Friends


melissa_icon.gif gael2_icon.gif

Scene Title We Were Friends
Synopsis Past tense, if Gael's intel is to be believed.
Date December 7, 2010


"Abandon hope all ye who enter here."

That is the sign that rests just above the double doors that lead from the small foyer into the club proper. Once through the doors the music is all-encompassing, the heavy bass beat filling the room and senses of the club-goers. The decor is all dark, the walls painted black, the bar a sleek dark wood. The lights all have a reddish tinge to them, with the bar and DJ booth being the only places in the club proper that have more normal white light.

There are high tables with equally tall chairs circling a large dance floor, and booths set along two of the walls. But while socializing is a big part of the club, the dancing is the priority. People, some Goths, some punks, and some just people who like to dance are all packed on the dance floor. Weaving through the sea of people are servers, men and women both, dressed in black pants or skirts, and tee-shirts that have "Tartarus" written across the chest in red lettering. Likewise there are security people at the door and mixed through the club, in similar outfits, only their shirts have "SECURITY" on the back.

Tuedays are pretty much normal days around Tartarus. It's not overly busy, but there are still plenty of goths hanging around, getting drunk, dancing, and doing their best to make a hookup so they don't have to leave the club as alone as they arrived. In most cases they'll fail, but the hope is always there.

Melissa, however, is not out there surveying the scene, but is in her office, where the bartender will direct Gael. She's sitting behind her desk, a sofa opposite her, and she's busy tapping on a laptop, brow furrowed as she does work. Paperwork. Eww.

Most of the clubgoers ignore Gael, which suits him just fine. The few who do otherwise are silently ignored, and decline to raise a fuss.

"Hell of a crowd in here for a weekday," he muses, as the door closes behind him and muffles the ambient noise. "There's this one girl who I think is trying to pull someone in for a three-way with her boyfriend— no takers yet, the guy's a big enough greaseball to be a fire hazard."

Glancing up, Melissa blinks, then grins. "It wouldn't surprise me one bit. Probably a tourist. And last time I was out there, it was a normal weekday crowd." She shuts the laptop, leans back, and scoops up a bottle of water from the desk, opening it and drinking deep. "So how's it going, Gael? Keeping out of trouble?"

Pulling up a seat, Gael shoots Melissa the classic ''are you high?'' look. "New York City's been trouble central for years now. If I was interested in keeping out of it, I'd have hopped a cargo plane to Switzerland." A brief shake of his head. "What about you, you ever hear back from that Yakuza goon?" Or Tong, or whatever— not a difference he's had much occasion to worry about.

Lips twitch and Melissa nods. "Good point. And Yakuza goon? Oh, him. Nah, not yet. No idea if he'll actually come by or not. But he honestly doesn't worry me. There's no reason for them to bother me. But didn't you say something abou thaving info last time? Was it about him or something else?"

Gael pauses, thinking back for a moment. "Right, the insider at the Institute. I'm afraid there's not a lot to tell— we've only talked briefly. I did get a list of agents said to have switched sides, but that's about it so far."

"Can you give me the list?" Melissa pauses a long moment, studying his face. "Or tell me who the insider is? Information is power and all that, and I'm tired of being powerless."

"Try being near-powerless and broke some time." There's a bitter edge to his voice, not that it's directed at her in particular. "I don't think they'd want to be named without warning, but I can give you the list in case it helps any." Fortunately, he's well-practiced in remembering names. "Dante Lupinetti and Isabella Dawson. Roger Goodman. Lucas Eldridge. Medical staff— Darren Stevens, Harve Brennan… Odessa Price."

"Try being…" Melissa's words trail off at the last three names on that list. "Wait, wait. I couldn't have heard that right. Darren Stevens, Harve Brennan and Odessa Price? Are you certain that they're Institute members? No doubt whatsoever?"

Gael shakes his head. "I haven't directly confirmed any of this— too great a risk that I'd be spotted instead. But unless something's changed in the past month or so… I don't see that the contact had any reason to lie to me. I suppose they could have been trying to keep me away from useful contacts, but if that was the case, then they could have just hauled me in and thrown me in a locked room by now."

A hand runs through Melissa hair and her eyes close as she sighs. "I know the last three names. Darren…I got him out of the hospital where they were using him, took him to the Ferry. I'm sorry to hear he's gone to the Institute. Brennan…We were once co-operators at a safehouse. Hell, I called him to a friend's house to help me with this kid I ended up with. And Odessa…" Eyes open and she looks sad. "We were friends."

Gael shakes his head. "I'm sorry. I hope the intel is wrong, that any of it is wrong… I was never exactly close with any of them, but I can imagine how you feel. It's possible that they're there under duress, or because they think it can be fixed from the inside."

There's a faint, sad smile. "Maybe. Brennan's easy enough to get a hold of. If he hasn't ratted me out now, I…well, I hope he wouldn't. I think I'm gonna have to have a chat with Odessa though. But Darren? I tried to get him out. To save him. And to know that he's with the Institute?" Melissa shakes her head and reaches for her cigarettes, lighting one. "I feel like I failed with him," she says, rubbing absently at her left forearm.

"It's hard to tell," replies Gael. "Especially when there are that many people involved with a group. For a while, I blamed myself for not foreseeing where they were taking things— but some of their people may not have seen it coming, either. A few people with a hidden agenda could pull it off, provided they were in the right position to keep things hidden till the end."

There's another smile and Melissa gives a soft laugh. "Trust me, I know all about that. I should've seen something that would've had me offing Rupert long before we did. If we had, maybe the riots wouldn't have happened, and a lot of people who are dead would still be alive. But…guilt isn't productive, unfortunately." Not that it stops her from having it.

Gael makes a face. "What's lost is lost. Barring a temporal manipulator— but if I knew one of those, then we wouldn't be having this conversation." Ever, possibly. "I'm still trying to get in touch with enough people to move forward, but it's been slow going."

"Oh, been there, done that. I am so not traveling back in time again," Melissa mutters, shaking her head. "It's easier than our trip into space, but still not much fun. What is it you're hoping to do though? With the gathering of people?"

Again? His fingers dig into the side of the chair in sudden anger. What the Company wouldn't have done for an opportunity—

"It's still a minefield out there," he answers, quashing his annoyance, "just waiting for someone to step in the wrong place. The Institute's experiments, whatever other time bombs Rupert might have left behind… Almost everyone I used to work with is either gone, or still running defensive measures, which is only half the picture. And as fun as China was, I've gotten a little long in the tooth— I'm a better manager than I am an operative."

"Fun. Right. Might've been if I hadn't had a migraine the entire time, or, you know, my ability hadn't gone wacky," Melissa says softly, darkly. "You're right though. We may not have seen the last of Rupert. They were using recordings. There may well be others out there. I'm a decent enough operator, but…" She shakes her head. "I'm tired of it. I've got so many scars now I didn't have a year ago. I got a kid killed saving me, and now I have a seven month old baby to take care of. Well, eight months now. I can't afford to be going out there and dealing with shit."

She smiles again, a bare twitch of her lips. "You ever wish life could be normal, Gael? Just normal problems, no life or death issues?"

Gael shakes his head. "My life's never been normal. More normal, but always pushing hard against one problem or another… A normal life for me probably would've been doing the books for some warehousing outfit for twenty years, then getting canned when they bring in someone younger. Quiet doesn't mean good."

"Maybe, but I'd like just a little bit of normal in mine," Melissa says, shrugging. "Anyway. Thanks for coming in, telling me all this. It'll come in handy. Oh, and having a Christmas party here in a few weeks. You're invited, if you want. No trouble allowed, no shop talk, just…you know. Party stuff."

He manages a faint smile, for once at least, as he rises to his feet. "Let's hope it stays that way— we could use a break from things for a little while." Now if he can just get back out to the street without Electric Green Hair accosting him again…

Melissa smiles and nods. "Yeah. Last party I had…Well, Rupert showed up. Sorta killed the mood. But he's dead, so maybe we'll manage a happy party."

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