Who You Know


evan_icon.gif laura_icon.gif

Scene Title Who You Know
Synopsis It's not what you know, it's who you know — and who they know in turn. Trading on their prior encounter, Evan asks Laura for a favor.
Date November 27, 2010

The Corinthian

The Corinthian takes its name from a classical order of Greek and Roman architecture, and nowhere in the building is its influence more apparent than on the casino floor, which is supported by slender fluted columns elaborately decorated with scrolls and acanthus leaves. They match the white marble floors and compliment the pale gold colour that the ceiling and room accents have been painted while allowing for most of the attention to rest on what people come here for: the gambling.

Slot machines, roulette tables, blackjack and baccarat are all common fare, but there are also private poker rooms off the main floor with soundproof windows looking in to allow bystander observation while simultaneously providing the occupants with the quiet required for concentration. Pai gow, played with a set of Chinese dominoes, and sic bo can also be found at the Corinthian, catering to New York City's large Asian population.

Metal catwalks in the ceiling above the casino floor are patrolled by surveillance personnel and allow security to look down through one-way glass on the proceedings at the card tables or around brightly-lit clusters of chiming slot machines.

Thanksgiving has come and gone — and with it, for many, renewed contact with family. In Evan's case, he and his parents have been taking turns making the drive between New York and Maine; this year, they came down, and he's scheduled to return the favor at Christmas.

Now that the two of them have confirmed arriving safely back home, he's got the rest of the long weekend to kill on his own. With a good number of co-workers still occupied with their own visits, he's returned to the somewhat familiar environment of the Corinthian casino, working his way up and down through some spare cash. And checking the clock regularly; that last run-in with the city's curfew was entirely too risky.

Holidays have a tendency to blitz past Laura without any great notice — especially the family-centered ones, most contact with her relatives being by phone. When anyone can find her mother at all. It doesn't exactly faze the young woman any.

Dressed in a gray cardigan with lace insets on shoulders and sides, faintly pinstriped charcoal pants, a pearl pendant on gold chain, and bold makeup that contrasts nicely with her pale hair, Laura's more haunting the casino than actually working — not that she really associates the casino with work, anyway. Magic tricks are a fun diversion. Her flats are quiet on the carpeted floor, though it'd take work to make any footsteps audible over the background cacophony: too subtle a sound. Some of the patrons are familiar faces; she comes here irregularly, but they're here all the time. Those get a cheerful grin and a wave from Laura — as does anyone else who catches her notice, familiar or otherwise.

It takes her a moment to place Evan, after all this time, but he's a familiar face, too.

It takes a minute for Evan to recognize Laura, too, as his focus is turned in toward the numbers at the table. Five-four, odds bet up to the multiplier limit and— It's the faint hint of perfume that does it. Or maybe the color scheme, similar to so many others nearby, but with that distinctive little edge to it. He's not sure what exactly got through to him, only that something did, and he looks up to meet her gaze. "Three of clubs," he says, not missing a beat. "And I owe you a new hat, I know."

Laura tsks mildly, following with a warm chuckle even as she shakes her head. "Not in the least! It was well-served." The woman closes the distance between them, one hand bracing casually against Evan's shoulder as she rolls up on her toes to peer over it at the table. One pale brow arches, blue eyes glancing sidelong to his face. "You winning, losing, or holding even?"

Instinctively, he lifts a hand up, resting it atop hers. "All of the above, depending on the moment." A seven comes up, and faces fall around the table; Evan, for his part, merely presses his lips together. "Maybe it's time for a break. How have you been? Keeping in the right sort of trouble, I assume?"

Laura's other hand comes up to pat his sympathetically. The suddenly impish grin that Evan's query sparks is at complete odds with such a gesture, however. "If it was the wrong sort of trouble, I wouldn't admit to it, now would I?" Catching his hand in hers, she tips her head in the direction of the lounge. "C'mon, break means away from the noise, too. I'll buy you a drink?"

Evan nods, pocketing his remaining chips and stepping away from the chair, which of course is promptly filled by another bystander in turn. "Works for me. I'll get the next round, though, I haven't been doing that badly." As the worst of the hubbub is left behind, he shakes his head. "The other night, I was really pushing my luck— got caught on the street after nine, other side of town. Fortunately there was some stoner there, too, made for a nice distraction."

"Only fair," Laura agrees, retaining a loose hold on Evan's hand as they walk towards the lounge. It seems to be sincere agreement to the deal, at least tonight. "Hmm… sounds like someone needs to teach you to sneak," she remarks, which has implications, though doesn't cross the line to volunteering. She casts a grin his way, gesturing Evan towards a table and catching the eye of one of the waitstaff. "Assuming you make a habit of that. But I'm glad it worked out! They're being pretty rough with penalties these days, I hear."

"I wasn't planning to," Evan murmurs as he settles in, idly glancing over the list of drinks. What hasn't he tried yet? "That time was just a mistake… but if they keep the pressure up long enough, sooner or later it's going to be a real problem. I don't see it lifting any time soon— and I'm not inclined to start wearing a Star of David around, either. That's just as bad, only faster."

"Yeah, what'd they say, next March?" Laura snorts softly. "Try 'never'. Or near enough. Sometimes I wonder if it isn't time to look for greener pastures." When the waiter comes by, she places her order with the absent nonchalance of familiarity. It isn't until they've moved on that she resumes the conversation, however, propping her cheek against one hand and peering quizzically across the table at Evan. "Sounds like you're looking for a solution. Or did you have one in mind?" Straightening, Laura holds up one finger before he can answer, an amiable smile slowly curving her lips. "If that's too personal a question, I'll understand." They don't know each other that well, after all.

Evan shakes his head. "I could use one… leaving the hot zone's an option, but not one that's high up on the list. I'd be leaving so much behind… and the pastures aren't going to stay green too much longer, anyway, the way things are going." Having opened up that much, he peers at Laura more closely. "You wouldn't happen to know where a solution can be found, would you?"

Laura leans back in her seat, both brows rising. "Me? Do I look like I'd mess with that kind of stuff?" She looks down at herself as if to critically evaluate; seems just as innocent as she sounds. When the young woman looks back up, it's to fold her arms, still settled back against the chair. "Surely not. You seem awfully honest a person to be dabbling in those waters yourself." But that's more in the nature of dancing around the subject than actually saying no

Not to mention that, well, she's a stage magician; lying is her stock in trade, in a way. It's not that much of a stretch to suppose that she might be dancing around the topic for a reason. "I don't like it, but sometimes you don't have a choice in these things. Now if you did know someone— well. I'd owe you a favor." Not that Evan knows her well enough to guess what sort of favors she might need, but there's likely to be something or other.

Laura smiles at the waiter as he drops by to deposit their drinks, wrapping hands around her glass and sipping at it pensively. "Hmm. Okay, let's play," she says to Evan, blue eyes glinting as her expression turns distinctly impish. "What if. What if I know someone who. I mean, we all know lots of people, it's certainly possible!" Which still hangs on to the realm of plausible deniability. Barely.

"Favors aren't wise," Laura points out, seriousness creeping in. "Only owe them if you're really prepared to pay anything that might be called in. And I don't mean money; money's cheap, by comparison." She takes another drink. "Consider two things: what exactly is your purpose, and how much is it worth to you?"

Evan rests his hands on top of his own glass, waiting for the surface hint of fumes to disperse before he tries it. "I wouldn't offer favors to just anyone. Only someone I trusted." He did say he'd owe her one, not whatever random person she might dig out of the woodwork.

"I just need to give the system a blind spot," he explains. "Buy enough time to figure out what else I can do to steer it away from the cliff. Only, going through normal channels… wouldn't work." There's a hint there, albeit a subtle one.

One brow arches, but she's given him as many cautions as she's going to; Laura sets her glass back down on the table with a quiet clink, leaning forward with the attitude of someone settling in to hear a story. "What kind of blind spot do you need?" she prompts. "What are you avoiding?" A wryly lopsided smile. "If you're going out onto that limb, you might as well commit yourself all the way."

Instinctively, Evan glances around, just to make sure that no random passersby happen to be listening in. Only then does he lean in and reply to Laura. "I have an ability," he says. "Not a dangerous one — just a sort of heightened perception — so officially the government would consider me a low priority. Unofficially? All it takes is one cop who had somebody piss in his coffee that morning, and boom, I'm up against the wall."

"You're not Registered." Her voice does drop a shade in volume, although Laura doesn't do the conspiratorial glance to either side. Neither does her tone imply any censure on that note. "Everyone has to be, now, even for stuff like using transit. So you're going to want docs that say you did." She idly picks her glass up again, sipping at the liquid within. "You can fake an ability, or say non-Evolved — second's not smart, though, 'cause any passing test can break it." And they've already established Evan isn't sneaky.

Laura muses over this for a moment longer. "Then again, I don't know if they can get you in the actual db — not my business, you understand. I'm Registered right enough, never needed to worry about it. Probably depends on what level of scrutiny you want to stand up to — and how much you're willing to pay. Or owe," she allows, looking over the glass at him.

A sigh and a nod. "Exactly. I can't get tested… but if the paperwork says I already have been, then it probably stops there. Getting it into the database would be a nice bonus, but if I have to come back for a replacement, then I have to come back." Evan shrugs. "Not like I'm planning to pull a bank job or anything, where they'd double-check everything just in case."

Laura tosses back the rest of her drink, mouthful or so that it is. "Fair enough. I'll put out a couple feelers, see if anyone bites, 'kay?" She smiles across the table at Evan. "Got a number you want me to use, or are you planning to hang around here a while?"

Evan goes through his wallet, coming up with a business card and passing it across the table. "I'm around from time to time, but— this is more reliable." A beat, then: "And feel free to call even if you don't get any bites, okay? I haven't seen you in a while, you know."

Deft fingers make the business card disappear; but for a stage magician, that's expected as a matter of course. "Hm. An excellent point," Laura allows, grinning lightly. She tips her head towards the empty glass, blue eyes glancing away long enough to pointedly single out the waiter. "I also believe you said something about buying the second round. So we can still make a head start on fixing that," she cheerfully concludes.

That, at least, gets a bit of a smile out of Evan. "You're right, I did. I'd suggest a return visit to the roof afterward, only someone's screwing with the weather. Again. At least we don't seem to be at ground zero for once…"

"Small blessings," Laura agrees. "Though the weather's bad for business anyway." She nods to the waiter as her glass is replaced, and smiles broadly at Evan, as if to encourage that little bit of cheer. "Although I guess the casino likes it — between the weather and curfew, I guess more people stay over, or something. Keeps things interesting. The other day, I was out on the floor…"

Laura has lots of stories, or lots of fables — hard to tell which is which — and if Evan's not mindful of the clock, he might find himself listening for a long time.

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