What Tour Guide?


buck_icon.gif veronica_icon.gif

Scene Title What Tour Guide?
Synopsis Agent Sawyer plays art student while doing recon on Liberty Island, watching a certain scrawny tour guide. Buck comes along to discuss school, terrorists, and brain damage. Just another day on the job for Vee.
Date August 29, 2009

Liberty Island.

Home of the Statue of Liberty.

The Statue of Liberty! Almost strange that in his couple of months in the city, Buck hasn't made it here, yet. Or maybe he has and this is a return trip. If so, it leaves him with the same slack-jawed gawp it might leave any rural tourist on his very first visit. Buck removes his conspicuous cowboy hat as he stares up at the moss-tinted Lady Liberty, blinking into the sun. He is not from around here, one might guess.

Agent Veronica Sawyer sits on a bench with a sketch pad like an artist, charcoal in her hand as she sketches the statue. She wears dark sunglasses so that it's easy enough to cast her eyes not at the statue but at one of the tour guides walking around the base with a group of, well, tourists. The sketch is decent, like a beginning art student might make — better than someone who can draw stick figures but definitely not someone with a lot of training or gads of talent.

Buck finally brings his lips close enough to one another to emit a low whistle. This is his signal that he is impressed with the grand green dame. Having done that, he takes his eyes off of the statue and brings them to a more human level as he does a slow turn around. He spots an apparent artist, and with no thought that the woman might want to be left alone to concentrate, he moseys right on up to her. "Hey, you're good at that," he announces in his obvious Texas twang.

Vee, dressed more like a student than a HomeSec agent in jean cut off shorts, Teva sandals, and a Ramones t-shirt, glances up at the interruption. Her head turns slowly to track the tour group as they begin to walk to the far side of the pedestal, ready to round a corner. She turns back to Buck, her lips curving into a smile. "Not really, but thanks anyway," she says with a shake of her dark hair. "I have to take an art class, and I asked for drama, but they put me in art instead." She frowns down and taps the picture. "See, her arm's at the wrong angle, and the torch looks like a club or something."

"They /put/ you in?" Buck demands, although he's grinning. "Well, hell, you're payin' 'em, aren't you? You oughta march right on into the office and tell 'em, 'Hey! I paid for this damn…school…an' I want some go— some…gull-darned…customer service!'" He smiles at her, then looks over his shoulder at the picture. "Naw, that's all right. Top's just gotta be…flame-ier."

"It's a way they guarantee you a class, otherwise you might not ever get it. 'Cause it's just for my general ed. You say I want these general ed things filled, these are my choices and my hours, and if they don't have your first choice, you get wherever there's room," she says with a shrug. "And I'm scholarship, so the whole 'I'm paying for this' argument doesn't fly too well." She looks up at the torch. "Can't really see it well from here." She gets up and begins to walk around toward the other side (where luckily the torch is, but so is the person she's keeping an eye on!), though she walks slow enough he can follow if he wishes. "First time to New York?" she asks politely.

"How come they don't have your first choice?" Buck pursues. "They run out o' education over there? An' hell, if you ain't payin' for it, /somebody/ is. I know those schools don't do much out o' charity." He follows right along at her heels when she gets up. "I been around a little while," he answers her. "But seein' as I ain't gone anywhere and come back, guess it still counts as my first time. Now, listen, you gotta send somebody down there an' get you the thing you /want/ to take." He pauses, then offers, "Hell, I'd do it for you. Where d'you go?"

Veronica looks amused as he gets all riled up at her cover story. "It's not like that. They just have small classes, especially for something like drama. Once I'm in my major, I'll get the classes. It doesn't matter, it's just a general ed requirement," she says, reaching over to pat his arm. "I'm not a drama major either, so it's not like I need the other class." She follows the tour group from a distance of a couple of hundred feet, pausing to look up at the new angle of the statue. "Yeah, it looks more flamier over here," she says, shielding her eyes with her hand as she stares upward.

Buck frowns at Veronica when she seems to be ignoring his advice completely. "That's just not good customer service," he complains quietly, but he lets it go, squinting up at the statue. He brings his hat up again to shade his eyes. "It does?" he asks.

"It isn't, but I'm a scholarship case, and beggars can't be choosers. It's okay. At least I can draw a little. I think I can pull a B in it," she says with a shrug. "Besides, class already started and I don't want to be behind in the other." She chews her lip as she studies the statue, then glances over to the tour group again. The tour guide is a gangly twenty-something man, with spiky hair and black "Buddy Holly" style glasses. Easy enough to find in the future, at least.

Buck doesn't argue further than that. "Well…I guess I don't know a lot about it," he finally admits, frowning again. But immediately the smile returns and he puts out his hand, stepping in front of her. "Sorry, didn't introduce myself. Name's Buck."

With the taller man in front of her, she can't see the group, but it's not like the guide is going to use his powers now or that Vee is ready to bag and tag him. She's just there to watch a bit, and follow him on the last ferry of the day to see where he lives, maybe catch his name if she can from another tour guide. "Nice to meet you, Buck. My name's Ronnie." Best to keep your fake names close to your real name, in case you ever meet that person again in another circumstance. She takes his proffered hand in her smaller one.

Buck squeezes Veronica's hand warmly, and the wattage of his smile ratchets up. "Nice to meet you. So you're in college, huh? How is that? You from around here? Is college expensive up here?" Having asked all those questions, he wears the expectant expression of a golden retriever about to be taken on a walk.

The agent doesn't know if the guy is coming on to her or just that friendly. She tilts her head. "It's a private school, and New York is always expensive, isn't it? I'm at NYU. But I'm from California originally." Mix some truth in the lie. "You sound like you're from … Oklahoma or Texas or thereabouts?" she asks politely in return, beginning to walk again around the perimeter of the statue at a slow stroll.

"I guess so," Buck answers with a less pleased expression. "More than I thought, anyway. Hey, if NYU's a private school, how come it's called…NYU? Isn't that short for New York University?" Buck gives a puzzled smile. "Sure," he says. "I come from Blanco, Texas." And now he has to walk with her to keep up the conversation.

"A private university can be named whatever it wants. It is short for New York University, but it's not the state school. That's NY S U," explains 'Ronnie.' "Back home where I'm from, near San Diego, there's a San Diego State University, a University of California, San Diego, and University of San Diego. The last one's private." She shrugs. "It's just to confuse you, I'm sure." She keeps walking, this time about 400 feet behind the tour group. Unnoticeable. "So you moved here? What do you do?"

"Oh," Buck says, frowning as he puts his hat back on his head and then stuffs his hands back in his pockets. "Uh…I guess I bounce, right now? Sorta…part time. Lookin' for somethin'…a little bit more my style. But, you know. It's tough right now." Mood further deflated, he walks along with her in silence for a few moments before he perks back up, "Hey, you know somebody in that tour group, or just wanna get a better look at somebody who caught yer eye?" he wonders quietly, with an oblivious, conspiratorial half-smile.

"Oh, where do you bounce at?" she asks curiously. She'll have to remember not to go there in other personas, namely her real one! "Nooo, I just… wanted to walk this way," she says, indicating the far end of the island. "Get all the views of her in my head. I should have brought a camera, but I guess the internet is good enough for that, right?"

Buck shakes his head a little. "I don't exactly have, like, a permanent gig. Sorta…float around an' get work when somebody needs an extra hand." He doesn't look particularly happy discussing his non-career, so he goes back to teasing Veronica, which is a lot more fun. "Oh, really?" he asks, unconvinced. "Cuz I /thought/ I saw /somebody/ sneak a glance at a certain skinny little tourguide. I wouldn't judge you." He grins.

"What tour guide?" Veronica says, pulling up those very dark glasses and tilting her head. "Him? I didn't even see him. He's not bad, but a little scrawny." She puts the glasses on and keeps walking. "No, the lady in the pink and green mumu reminded me of my grandma for a minute, Grandma Lyla, and she lives in Florida, so it would have been kind of crazy to see her here, you know?" She pushes a strand of hair out of her eyes. "What do you want to do, if you don't like what you do now?"

Buck turns his head to see the old woman in the muumuu. He laughs. "Oh boy, you gotta introduce me to your grandma," he responds, and then back on the other subject. "Oh. Well, 'scuse me, then. Guess it was just me." He seems to shrug the matter off easily enough, at least. "Oh, I wanna hunt down terrorists," he states.

Well. Isn't that interesting. "Hunt down terrorists? Like that … what's it called, Humans Are First group?" 'Ronnie' purposely gets the name wrong, all the better to sound like a clueless college student, right? "Or the other kind?"
Buck shrugs his shoulders. "I dunno, depends on who's breakin' the law an' hurtin' the most citizens, I guess. Feel like it's pretty hard to get a straight story outta the media. Y' know. All that spin. Never do talk about the important parts."

"Well, what side are you on the whole Evo thing? I mean… one group hurts the evos and one group hurts the evo haters. Both are citizens, right?" Veronica says with a tilt of her head as she looks up at Buck. "I'm not Evo, so don't worry, I'm not going to run screaming either way."

Buck looks a bit puzzled. "Well, how come I gotta pick a side?" he asks. "It's like… well, ya got yer Sunnis and yer Shias, right? But if you pick sides and blow one group half to hell, then they're gonna come back madder'n hell at /you/ an' then y' gotta dig out the /other/ side. Right?"

"Well, if you go at both sides, you have two enemies coming at you, don't you?" Veronica points out with a shake of her head. "Maybe you should look into becoming a police officer, though, rather than being… what do they call it… a vigilante?" she asks. After all, part of her does believe in the law still. The tour group has paused once more, but she keeps walking, rather than stopping when they stop, as that will look strange.

"I don't know why everybody I talk to thinks I'm a vigilante," Buck says quietly. "There ain't neither money nor honor in that. I never did anything without the blessing of the U.S. government. Don't think the cops'll take me, though. I got a medical discharge."

"Well, if you go after the terrorists without having the blessing, you would be," Veronica points out, now passing the tour group but not looking directly at the tour guide. She's going back on the same ferry he is, no reason to stalk now. "What were you discharged for? I think if you're healthy now they can take you, right? But if not, fighting terrorists is not on most people's job descriptions, I don't think."

"I dunno," Buck says, considering whether or not the cops could take him. "I've got brain damage." Even Buck can't manage a grin in tandem with that information. "Got my skull blown apart."

"Owch." Understatement of the year? "Sorry to hear that," she adds, then tilts her head up to look at him. "You seem normal, now, though? Or is it something I can't tell just from five minutes of talking to you?" She slips her sketchpad in the shoulder bag she carries.

"Oh! I do have a camera. I forgot, cell phone!" She pulls out the specially-made phone she carries for the Company, but it looks just like any typical Blackberry. She snaps a picture of the statue, then over at the tour group. "I need a picture of Grandma Lyla," she says with a grin that shows her dimples. Zooooom — much more than a normal camera could, and much clearer — and she gets a picture of Lyla (with tour guide Philip not too far away, of course!).

"Thanks," Buck says, since that seems like the thing to say when strangers are sorry about your brain damage. "Uh, I got some mem'ry problems…" he relates uncomfortably. But at least he can watch more cheerfully as she takes a picture of the tour group. "She'd prob'ly make an even better art project."

"Andy Warhol Lyla in technicolor, instead of soup cans?" Veronica suggests and smiles. "You ever been to one of those Evo healer people? They can sometimes fix things that the doctors can't." Buck's been friendly and Veronica likes his amiable personality — may as well give him a tip if he hadn't thought about it. "I mean, I had a friend who almost had his arm torn off. I think a regular doctor would have just had to amputate, but they fixed him and he was right as rain in a day."

Buck looks a bit blank at the Andy Warhol joke. Maybe he's not an expert in pop art. "No, I don't know if I'm too comf'rtable with that. I mean…you're talkin' about a brain, y' know? If somethin' goes wrong… more wrong…" Buck frowns, shifting his weight a little.

"I don't think it does go wrong though. I think it's just fixed, or it's out of their ability to fix it, you know? They can or can't, but I've never heard of it going really wrong." She shrugs. "It's worth checking out anyway. Or maybe not. If your … problem isn't bad enough that it's worth risking, I guess I see your point. I've heard of people who were almost dead being brought back from healers, though, so they can do pretty amazing things." Part of her twangs at that — some people, but not the ones that matter, her skeptic's voice says. They couldn't save Kat.

"People who're almost dead don't have a lot to lose," Buck says quietly, looking down in search of a rock he might be able to casually kick, but none are convenient, so he just firms up his lips. "Maybe I should get goin'."

She nods. Point taken. "Sorry to bring things down," the agent says, looking a little chagrined. He's a nice guy. Too nice, maybe, really, and she went and made him feel bad. "Good luck finding a job and all that. And um, killing terrorists." She grins at the last. "I need to get some more work done before I go, I think." Veronica reaches out to offer her hand again in a farewell shake.

"Yeah," Buck agrees half-heartedly. Apparently when it comes down to it, he's not too confident about landing a job he wants. "Thanks." But he does summon a smile for a polite farewell. "Nice meetin' you. See ya 'round." He turns and starts to walk away.

Veronica heads toward the end of the island near the ferry dock. There's two more ferry runs and she needs to be on the last one that takes the workers homeward. From there, she'll follow Flaco the tour guide to find out where he lives, save the bag and tag for another day.

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