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[font "Times" Gweniviere glanced over at Florence, seeing the complete incredulity on her face and just arched a brow, returning her eyes to the road.
Listening to Florence, her pensiveness caught her attention. A little bit of weight in her voice. It drew the Lieutenant's eyes to the woman, gold eyes trained curiously on her features.
"[B So, you're the agent they had originally,]" she mused, nodding a little. "[B Your organization mentioned they had one.]"
Another nod. "[B That would be helpful, yes.]" She had wondered if "Big Brother" had been hiding more information that they hadn't shared. Seemed they hadn't deemed Medusa- what- serious enough to share with? It wasn't insulting, considering up until now Flor's organization had only been on a periphery radar. Small time. A little less super heroes crashing in and stopping your bids for worldwide security. Admittedly the initiative had been... ambitious. But nothing the world's mightiest heroes needed to-
She needed to stop there. It was old blood. Years ago; what, four years now? New world. New management. Her hands relaxed on the steering wheel. No need to get worked up over seventy years of work down the drain because one American, celebrated hero thought they were getting too zealous.
And they were here. Gweniviere shut off the engine again and looked over at Florence, quirking a brow in inquisitiveness before she tilted her head. She nodded again and got out of the sedan, standing and straightening her shirt.
Gesturing for Florence to follow her, Gweniviere led her up into the cockles of the maze that was the black glass corporate building. Up, up, through doors into offices and then into deeper, quieter, sometimes widowless halls until they made it into a rather more industrial looking passageway. Sleek, corporate drab walls were exchanged for a little more internal machinery showing. A different sort of a staff populated these halls. More crisp, black, gray and red uniforms and searching, intelligent eyes glancing over the newcomers and parting to get out of the Lieutenant's way.
Leading her down to one closed door; and showing her identification to those who insisted on needing it, the Lieutenant exhaled as he pushed a hand through her hair. She was hesitating for only a moment, and then the door opened from inside. The Lieutenant gestured Florence in ahead of her.
Inside of the room could only be described in what Gweniviere assumed the American's words would be as an entirely villainous board room. Dark walls glimmering with inlaid lighting along the seams of the floor and walls- much like a sleeker movie theater- and a large table in the center; wood melting into glass at the edge; around which was seated a menagerie of individuals. The door was opened by Cute White Boy Model No. 3 who gave a winning, customer service smile to Florence as he bowed slightly, the pile of perfectly coiffed brown hair bobbing atop his head; Chanel suit glimmering gently.
Gweniviere stepped in behind Florence, gesturing the woman to seat herself in one of the empty seats. Dr. Arndt from earlier was inside, along with another two gentlemen who both arose at Florence's entrance. Gweniviere did not seat herself, folding her hands behind herself in that militant stance of hers.
The individuals around the table consisted of 6 individuals. The most noticable was either Dr. Arndt from earlier; the glass of his daftpunk masked face glinting in the slanted light, or it was the woman in full niqab; her black shrouds showing only a sliver of sharp, dark eyes, and her hands.
The others consisted of a tall, young man; the one who had stood alongside Felix. Angular, typically handsome for what somehow in either his stature or his features identified him as an englishman. Dark hair as well, longish and swept behind his ears to curl gently behind them. Soft, earnest, tawny eyes glanced over Florence as he seemed to consider her features, hand pressed against his front almost in a gentlemanly bow. He gave her a sweet smile as she entered.
Next to her sat an incredibly goth looking young woman who did not stand up. Straight bangs and long, straight hair and too many earrings over a strappy, highly structured harness on a shirt- that was also a collar??? The whole nine yards. She was chewing gum, peering at Florence through sunglasses that she was wearing inside a room without windows. With something that strongly resembled Starbucks iced coffee sweating all over the nice, black tabletop. The ice shifted quietly inside of the cup as if also noticing Florence's entrance.
Across from her was the epitome of a millenial introvert. Cross legged on the chair, concentration deep into whatever hideously mechanical contraption was currently disemboweled in her lap. Milky brown skin and dark, messy but nicely messy hair. The cleanliness of this obvious shut-in was a nice addition. This one showered, [i and] wore clean clothes! A blue button up shirt with a little spaceship embroidered to be coming out of the pocket, and those sort of black jeggings that almost looked like skinny jeans-- except this chick was crisscross applesauce, so obviously not denim or that wouldn't be happening.
And lastly was Cute White Boy Model No. 1 in a collarless, modern, nicely structured suit jacket in different, figure complimenting cuts of medium, light, and dark gray over a white button up and a tie [i with] a tie pin. He too had arose at her entrance and had nodded, then seated himself along with the others as Florence sat. He was forgettably handsome; something boyish about his features. Brown eyes and hair, sat ridiculously prim and at attention and was exploring Florence as curiously as she was exploring him. The only notable part of his figure was the blue band of fabric at his right, upper arm and the almost opaque blankness on his features, despite his active gaze, looking at everything of interest.
"[B Florence,]" came the Lieutenant's voice from behind her. "[B This is a portion of my team that you will be working alongside as well during this investigation.]"
"[B Those that you will be working most closely with will be myself, Dr. Arndt, as you know. And Dr. Thomas Stillorgan,]" with that she nodded to the long-haired man with the tawny brown eyes. He put a little smile on his face and nodded to her. "[B They are the lead staff in the medical and sciences team.]" Felix inclined his head.
"[B Vivian Haversham, there...]" The introvert who showered looked up, half raising a hand and saying nothing, immediately looked back down at what she was doing. "[B One of our technologies specialists.]"
"[B Next, Captain Madhur Abharabdi Chazul Chauhan, one of my special ops team members.]" The Indian woman in the niqab inclined her head, raising her hand partially in acknowledgment.
"[B Dr. Cynthia Rivers, cryptologist among- other disciplines.]" The goth girl frowned at the Lieutenant, but glanced to Florence, acknowledging her with an upturn of her chin.
"[+tan [B Well met.]]"
"[B And lastly, Connor, one of our field agents, may be accompanying the investigation.]" Cute White Boy No. 1.
"[+lightblue [B Pleased to meet you, agent Drake.]]" he responded in an animatedly polite, curt tone, inclining his head.
"[+tan [B Lieutenant,]]" the goth said again, gesturing to the German woman. She hummed in prompting. "[+tan [B You have, like, blood on your shirt.]]"
Gweniviere frowned at her, blinking; half shocked she said so. "[B Yes, I know.]"
Cynthia's frown deepened, looking a bit sickened, and then she seemed to consider it for a moment. Then she nodded to the side. It worked somehow. Black boots, suspenders, white shirt, rolled sleeves... a look. If you were a murderer perhaps. Which was kind of sick. Cynthia sipped more of her iced coffee.
[font "Times New Roman" [+teal [i "Crawling through vents?"]] Florence looked incredulously at the blonde woman, hoping she'd laugh or give away some sign that what she was saying was a [i joke.] But there was nothing. Just her eyes on the road and her jaw set.]
[font "Times New Roman" Her eyes shifted back to the window as she tried to swallow what she was being told. [i Crawling through vents?]]
[font "Times New Roman" She didn't know who was the one at the very top of this very cruel, very intricate pyramid. It was a confusing dance, it seemed, between user, dealer, and supplier. Dealers didn't even know where they were getting it from. Most had too much to lose to go to police when there users turned up dead. There was no way to win, it seemed; for suppliers there was no way to lose.]
[font "Times New Roman" [+teal "Yeah, I met Kassan."] Florence's mind briefly clouded with the flashbacks. Them doing business, her ending up in his bed, laughing, watching him leave, him telling her the least he could about what he was doing when they weren't together... She'd been on the op for months. [+teal "I was... investigating him. But, you know, I still had a hard time figuring out if he was who he was supposed to be or if he was just a--a figurehead. Like someone who was just a storefront for a greater individual who didn't want a face."] She pondered her next words before letting them flow over her tongue. [+teal "I can get you the files, everything I learned, and we can talk about it. If you want."]]
[font "Times New Roman" The deviation of conversation to talking about swimsuit models brought a little appreciative grin to her face. It was truly entertaining to imagine Gweniviere in any kind of swimsuit... Imagining a bikini felt like she was asking for the lieutenant to punch her in the face.]
[font "Times New Roman" The car turned a corner and they were arriving in the parking lot. Florence hesitated a moment, her fingers clicking the seatbelt release. [+teal "Nietzsche, I feel I should say that... Nevermind."] She shook her head, thinking better of her words. [+teal "Forgot my train of thought."]]
[font "Times" Gweniviere shook her head, the corner of her mouth twitching up in just sheer wonder at the comments she was getting. For some reason she kept expecting her to run out of them, or just run out of steam at least. But she was so... energetic?? God, she was getting old if she was saying that, wasn't she?
"[B You'll freak out less if they approach you if you get a proper meeting. Makes things go smoother, you know. Recognizing the people hacking into your phone to reach you, or crawling through the vents. All that.]"
Another wry grin. Florence sounded so righteous about that. On the payroll, as if the Lieutenant wasn't the holder of many of those payrolls. Did she not [i know] what Medusa was? She did mention she didn't know anything about the agreement that Big Brother had made... Interesting. So that explained why she didn't know who the Lieutenant was. Which is okay. The history books lied anyways. Mostly. But perhaps that wasn't a good comment to make at this time.
"[B And all we have to do is figure out who. Where's the money flowing?]"
Of course she was right; but those weren't the monsters that she had meant. But. A little at a time.
"[B Kassan is a person you've met?]" Gweniviere asked, glancing over at the woman. "[B You made it sound like we had no lead. Do you remember where he was? Or 'he' was? What was your operation before you got pulled? That was something your organization failed to express when they proposed your asset...]" Infuriating, but workable. Take a breath. Stupid Americans.
The German woman just laughed, actually laughed this time in amusement. "[B Quite the luxury indeed; no blown up trains. I envy you.]"
The following inquiry made her pause, wracking her brain for what knowledge of James Bond she had. English novel series... later American film series... "[B Well,]" she mused, "[B I highly doubt I'm the swimsuit type nowadays at least. I've worn many hats. I can't say.]"
[font "Times New Roman" [+teal "I've become so popular already,"] the woman mused with a slight chuckle, sliding a grin to her partner. [+teal "Didn't think you'd take me to meet the family so soon."] Florence pulled her phone out, checking her accounts and messages to see if there were any new developments. [+teal "Of course, but I don't know the exact deal between my guys and yours. I'm not a Lieutenant like you, Gweniviere, I'm just a really good agent."]]
[font "Times New Roman" Finding nothing she was interested in besides the files with her language immersion, she sighed and relaxed back into the seat. [+teal "It means coroners are lying if it doesn't make it to the newspapers, then. Cops might be stupid, but not stupid enough to mislabel a drug overdose when they're so easy to spot. Somebody's on the payroll."]]
[font "Times New Roman" She drummed her fingers along the center console thoughtfully as she chewed her lip. It made sense to pretend to fall into the 'Kassan' trap because that was as far as their information went, in a practical sense, but what if they actually found themselves in over their heads? What if these people were smarter than they seemed? It was obvious they had the connections to be, considering how long this had gone on before it was noticed. Even so, it could've been going on longer but Big Brother was just now deciding to do something about it.]
[font "Times New Roman" [+teal "I do believe in monsters. Men would trade their soul and the soul of everyone around them for a green piece of paper."]]
[font "Times New Roman" Then again, were they any different?]
[font "Times New Roman" [+teal "Well the Director personally pulled me from my op with Kassan because he was 'getting invested' in me or something like that. So Kassan will know my face, wonder about my whereabouts if I show back up. I know he's real, you know, but not if he's [i him]. The actual Kassan. I just heard about things; I never actually saw him work, I couldn't find much information about where he conducted it, nothing. He was very thorough in making sure things were hidden."] She cracked her knuckles as a nervous tick. [+teal "I'd like to think I'm James Bond. Twice the luxury, triple the beauty, and less of the... blown up trains and such, yeah?"]]
[font "Times New Roman" The thought made her laugh as she looked out the window. It was funny to think about how they'd come from bickering in her office to talking about James Bond on the ride back to where they started. Florence didn't feel like testing her future partner anymore; the woman was hardy enough to flow with any unfortunate personalities Flor decided to take on. And the Big Brother agent knew she was dramatic, which was arguably worse because she acted on the urges anyway.]
[font "Times New Roman" [+teal "Are you Bond? Or one of the nameless other people that never get their own movie? Maybe a cute girl in a swimsuit he picks up?"]]
[font "Times" Gweniviere's brows rose, "[B Then that's something we agree on,]" she said as she led the way out.
The car was unlocked from afar remotely as Gwen let them both approach. They would return to operations now. "[B I'm going to introduce you to someone when we get back. You've already met Dr. Arndt, but there are two more science staffers and other sources of support you haven't met yet that you'll want to. You will need to become familiar with these people as we move forward.]"
She hummed in response to Florence's telling her where she would be staying. "[B Keep me posted,]" she said as she started the car. "[B However, I'm sure it would be beneficial to keep all our resources close together,]" Gweniviere glanced at Florence, then before she started backing out. "[B Your agency came to Hydra for its resources, and we have them. I know they don't want to admit it, but they asked for help for a reason.]"
Gweniviere shook her head at the mention of false information in the newspapers. "[B They don't have to falsify anything.]" the German responded. "[B If all the press receives by either police or other order is to say 'drug overdose' people don't squint too closely. It would do us well to look at the deaths, you're right. But we shouldn't ignore that.]"
"[B Do you believe we can find who their dealers are? Skip the streets and start moving up from that level?]" another glance at Florence as they drove. "[B Drug dealers for the well to do are often well to do themselves, aren't they? Closer to where we want to be; no CEO wants to be seen standing on a street corner in a handshake with a walking stereotype, I imagine. A name like Kassan sounds like what we're looking for, but we should see if he actually exists, of course.]"
"[B If this Kassan [i is] a trap, however,]" she said, "[B perhaps we should allow something at least to walk into it. Otherwise they may realize that we know more than previously assumed and they might go into hiding. Perhaps let them think they've quashed the issue so we can continue unhindered. Let them believe they're smart.]"
Gweniviere exhaled a little as it dawned on Florence who exactly they were dealing with here. "[B Florence,]" she said, shifting a gear higher as they got onto the roadway, "[B That's why your people came to us.]" The Lieutenant glanced in the rear view mirror as she said this. "[B Hydra wouldn't even be involved if this was any less than that. You may criticize me, but I'm not posturing for you, I'm serious.]"
"[B I'm not asking for you to believe in monsters yet, of course,]" the Lieutenant continued with a chuckle, a little bit of amusement coming up on her face before it relaxed. "[B But you won't believe the balls on the people who function at this level.]" she shook her head.
"[B It's money you couldn't fathom, and power shifts that people don't think exist; weapons, legends... It's like a movie, if that helps. And that makes you either James Bond, or one of the little women who are in over their heads.]" Another glance at Florence to gauge her reaction.
[font "Times New Roman" [+teal "The price for knowing someone?"] Florence turned the idea over in her head, considering it thoroughly for a few moments.]
[font "Times New Roman" Her mind strayed to their first meeting, how she'd spilled her drink on the Lieutenant, how they'd managed to be at the same place at the same time. How was that? Was God real? Or luck? Was there anything other than different strings being pulled in the same ways at the same time?]
[font "Times New Roman" [+teal "Yourself. Parts of you. If you believe in souls, say it's that, then. When someone gets to know you, they take something small and it turns into something big and ultimately that can be extremely detrimental. Not even considering our profession."] As she stood, she let a long sigh out through her nose and straightened her collar, following behind Gweniviere as they exited the restaurant. She still didn't know the deal of the German with the hostess, but their secrecy was part of the reason the Big Brother agent strayed the conversation from work. She didn't like feeling left out.]
[font "Times New Roman" As usual, she was always catering to herself even if it didn't seem so.]
[font "Times New Roman" She yawned on the way to the car. Gweniviere was interesting, and actually put up with everything the younger woman threw at her gracefully, so this was turning out much better than it had started off. Sometimes, in the restaurant, Florence couldn't tell if she was being flirted with or just taunted and watched.]
[font "Times New Roman" Once she was safely in the car and her new partner had joined her, she answered the question. [+teal "It's a temporary situation, a maximum of three days. Big Brother is sending me the new details to my account with everything I need to be able to afford someplace where the walls aren't paper thin and the shower doesn't run out of hot water."]]
[font "Times New Roman" She crossed her legs and drummed he fingers on her thigh thoughtfully. [+teal "Listen, I think maybe the meth did get to some corporate hotheads. Something like that wouldn't be in the news--how embarrassing for your company to find someone with a managerial position would die like that? They'd have to falsify the death. So maybe this is more widespread than we gave it credit for. I've been thinking it originated, you know, in London, but it may have spread from more than just the dealers. Word of mouth. "Try this, man!" and shit like that. Junkies talk a lot. They do more work than actual dealers."]]
[font "Times New Roman" The caramel-skinned woman turned her head to look at the window, appreciating the view. Too bad she wouldn't get to sight-see while she was there. She'd have to request Big Brother let her begin her German lessons immediately. Until she became fluent, she'd have to rely on the Lieutenant to translate and interact with all German contacts. That didn't feel right.]
[font "Times New Roman" [+teal "We have to hit the streets and get to the rats. They lead you up the chain, besides the little lead we have on Kassan--which I don't think will pan out anyway. It was too easy. I don't believe it."] Her brows lowered as she thought about it. What was a guy like Lucas doing giving out names like that to random girls in bars? It seemed staged from the beginning, and while it was her job to dupe men like that, Kassan wasn't an idiot. That was why she'd been pulled from the op. It would make sense the man would relay the message that [i someone] was looking into him, probably saying it was some government agency. Big Brother didn't work like that and you couldn't find them on Google, so in that aspect, Agent Drake was safe.]
[font "Times New Roman" [+teal "London is dead if the men I left in pieces there got the message. They'll move operations to one of these other cities because I highly doubt they'd risk moving it to a new one."] She chewed her lip thoughtfully. [+teal "Unless I didn't leave them in enough pieces, in which case they'd be looking for me. I need to know how far up their superiors are, who they're connected to. Because there's no way local law enforcement hasn't said something about these strange deaths."]]
[font "Times New Roman" Florence jumped forward in her seat, excited now, cheeks flushed and eyes bright. An epiphany that wasn't much new news than a regurgitation of the old. [+teal "It's perfect. You're right, Nietzsche: population control. That's the only explanation."] She chuckled and relaxed back into her seat. [+teal "Didn't think the fuckers would ever have balls big enough to do it."]]
[font "Times" The way that Florence drew the plush of her lip into her teeth pulled a smile onto her lips, eyes drawing over the other woman's face. The Lieutenant wasn't going to lie, she was a hugely attractive individual. Satisfaction colored her features for a moment before she relaxed that feeling out of them before Florence could take offense to it. It seemed the possibility of the sexual nature of her words did not fall on deaf ears, unless simply the power she expressed had turned the other on. Either way, Gweniviere was pleased.
A grin touched the corners of her mouth, hiding the hesitant pang that those words provided for her. "[B I'm just waiting to be corrupted,]" she said, keeping that intimate tone, voice register low and rough, "[B I've spent too long doing the right thing.]" her tone became bitter for a moment, dropping as a hardness touched her features, she gave a single syllable of scornful laughter. "[B I'm too tarnished to be a white knight anyways.]"
The woman's eyes snapped up to Florence's, holding them in a sudden and direct passion, "[B I'd rather be powerful and corrupted than where I am now or have been. There has to be some payoff to corrupting myself to serve others. I can't get worse.]"
She paused a moment, considering that question, fingers stilled on the metal cuff on her ear. A moment passed and she responded."[B The price is a life.]" she said finally, "[B If you know me, then you have a piece of my life in your hands. If I know you, in turn, then I have a bit of yours, whatever that ends up being. An agent, at least in my skillset, deals in lives this way. Information, weapons, [i fear]. Memories. If I have anything, then I have them. A piece of them, or a whole, depending on the trail. An agent endeavors to know others, but no other knows them. We deal in lives. Pieces and wholes. We end them, we even pave the way to create them. So I say they are exchanged thus. To know someone is to possess them, in a way,]" at the last, she decided to soften what turned into a rather fatalistic statement. But if Florence was still trying to get a hold of her, Gweniviere would respond by offering her defenses. She gave a mild smile, letting her eyes narrow slightly. "[B at least professionally.]" She tilted her head a little, "[B And what do you consider the price for knowing someone?]"
Florence was being very truthful to her, Gweniviere noticed. She tilted her head slightly, studying this. Could it be a genuine attempt at getting to know her partner? An attempt to give a little to receive? But at the end of her statement, she caught herself; this could easily be a ploy. A string of words, created within a moment to fill space with even more emptiness under the guise of verity. But Gweniviere listened, even while she dropped her iota of salt into the pool of the other agent's words. "[B Everyone loses something. And some are prevented from losing, which often is worse. A conscience is a hard thing to lose, and sometimes it makes itself known by preventing you from looking at someone else whose is untouched.]" she said, referencing Florence's mention just now, "[B A partner, someone you are deceiving, whatever the case may be.]" Her eyes lingered on Florence a moment, "[B Or perhaps we don't lose it. It just gets twisted. There was a Freudian concept that kind of mentioned something similar...]"
Gweniviere offered a smile of commiseration. She was trying, "[B You're right.]" she said, rising as Florence did, smoothing the front of her pants as she did so, "[B But alluding to our conversation earlier, then I would be trading a part of myself. I'm not prepared to delve with you just now.]" her eyes fell half-lidded, her smile becoming somewhat darker, "[B But I appreciate the interest. There are few who would want to speak to a war relic with such interest.]" It did ache that she could not, would not, open. But Florence, for all of her easily alterable character, was yet a stranger to her. Strangers can be one of two things, simply people, or dangers in hiding. Considering that Florence was involved with a group that she didn't know about, that was a negative. Gweniviere was too old to be trusting, too scarred. Certainly it was unavoidable to Florence to notice. "[B The last time I spoke, I was not heard. Another I was heard too well.]" she tilted her chin up, stretching the spread of scars across her throat in a bit of an exemplifying motion. "[B Perhaps another time.]"
"[B Of course,]" the Lieutenant said, her voice shifting back to her conversive propriety, glancing at her cellular as she picked it up off of the table to glance at the time, scooping the car keys up with another long-fingered hand. "[B this turned out to be a longer day than expected.]" she looked back at Florence again, slipping these things into her pockets. "[B It's draining, I know.]" Gweniviere felt like softening slightly, nodding to the young woman as they turned to leave, as she had come to terms with the other's disposition, her anxiety. It was something to be aware of now.
"[B Better living arrangements,]" the German woman repeated, giving Florence an inquisitive arch of her brow. "[B what's wrong with yours now?]"
[font "Times New Roman" Gweniviere's little speech made Florence bite her lip. It was in a thoughtful way, but also in an effort of concentration. Gweniviere's choice of description was effecting her in all the right ways and she had to know it. For Florence, the sensation was amusing; Gweniviere was highly entertaining.]
[font "Times New Roman" The Big Brother agent allowed a knowing smirk to cross her face as she nodded. [+teal "Well... 'Absolute power corrupts absolutely', as they say. Every good thing has an equally bad counterpart, so... what do you reckon is the price for knowing someone?"]]
[font "Times New Roman" Florence had her own ideas of what it meant to know someone. You had to give them something of yours even if you didn't know it at the time they received it. All it took was a look, a laugh, a simple nod of the head for them to have just a little piece of you. In the end, it wasn't so bad. Just intimidating.]
[font "Times New Roman" There was a vein in Florence's neck that always stuck out if she talked too intensely. She could feel it slipping out of its prominence.]
[font "Times New Roman" [+teal "I'll be even more honest for a second, ah... I think consequence and emotion go hand in hand, like we just established a moment ago, and it's businesses like ours where, you're right, they get you killed, but also... This business and its apathy steals something from you. Something basic and human, something entirely primal that you cannot regain once you lose it. You never know its gone until someone else brings it up, maybe... in the heat of argument or in a seemingly harmless observation, I'm not sure. It's something as simple as "your voice holds no genuine emotion" or "I don't understand why you can't make eye contact with me when we have sex.""] Florence sighed and looked down for a second before finding the fire in her veins again. This was something that desperately angered her and she knew the Lieutenant didn't care, but it was nice to get it out. She couldn't figure out what she had stolen from her yet. [+teal "Excuse my obscenities. I just... it's odd, very strange to me."]]
[font "Times New Roman" The trip to the bathroom allowed her to get a grip on her composure again. Sometimes anxiety could creep up her back like a demon and she could feel herself getting overwhelmed... hence a panic attack or thirty different trips to the bathroom.]
[font "Times New Roman" Florence noticed Gweniviere putting away her wallet, which warranted an observatory eyebrow raise. How could she take the whole check herself?]
[font "Times New Roman" Flor figured that there was no use arguing now.]
[font "Times New Roman" [+teal "I'm sure you have a story, Lieutenant. Actually, no--I know you do."] Her shoulders lifted in a weak shrug as she finished off the rest of her milkshake. [+teal "We're ready to go, then?"]]
[font "Times New Roman" She wasn't sure why she tried to push the conversation. Gweniviere wasn't going to tell her anything and they both knew it. Flor supposed she was just saying it for the hell of it because she wouldn't tell the German anything if the tables were turned.]
[font "Times New Roman" That was the business. Emotions and consequences.]
[font "Times New Roman" Even before Big Brother, it was still the same deal. Just a smaller degree.]
[font "Times New Roman" [+teal "If you could escort me back to HQ so I could grab my car and get to my hotel, that would be great. I still have to unpack and find better living arrangements."]]
[font "Times" "[B I like a lot of things,]" the Lieutenant said, letting her voice drop to a more intimate level. Leaning closer to the other woman, the Lieutenant slid one elbow up onto the table, her fingers drifting to the piercings on her left ear, shifting between the three on her lobe before slipping absently up towards the ring in the cartilage. "[B But as much as I enjoy teasing apart the characters and the depths of others, of slipping my fingers into those crevices with the slow release of a long project, I also enjoy the power itself of gaining that insight.]" Gweniviere's eye "[B I like knowing what I'm working with. It's a selfish notion to want to recieve in that manner, and I know it is. But you of all people would tend to agree, I would assume.]"
Florence was surprising in her endeavor to try and get to know the Lieutenant. It was surprising to her in that she rarely did, not as openly as this woman did. Gweniviere was one who would rather work on the dynamic of not knowing while working towards the common goal simply for the sake of said goal. And here Florence was trying to initiate the equivalent of a dangerously close relationship. In their world power came with information- as the quote said- and it came in the power of the exertion of that information, as its weight in immaterialness was more than any physical material one as long-lived as her or any other agent would. They thrived in the darkness of ambiguity, of being little more than a name and a set of skills. But Florence seemed keen on upending that. Gweniviere began formulating the hypothesis, aided by her growing curiosity, that Florence Drake was new to the intelligence and private sector military/security world.
She listened patiently, allowing the look of interest to settle on her features as Florence talked to her. She would not interrupt.
The Lieutenant's pale brows rose as Florence spoke so passionately out of nowhere. "[B Well that's true.]" she admitted, eyes glancing to the side, recalling certain instances in which she had learned the same herself, or had seen others do the same. "[B You're right about that.]" Gweniviere glanced down a moment, "[B I suppose I am referring to children in their protected disregard of that flame. Having touched it, but being those in the position in which their privilege prevents them from seeing that flame to touch, and so they sour as people. They turn out to be the worst adults. Consequence is important.]"
Gweniviere smiled rather ruefully at that, a vague, breathless sounding laugh of the same tone coming from her as she shook her head. "[B For what wonder it did for my independence I suppose I was at its detriment. But,]" she said, arching her brows again, and tilting her head a little, "[B it did help me socialize better with adults.]"
The woman exhaled slowly, nodding in agreement as Florence spoke. "[B I suppose your choice of profession wasn't anything to help with that. Circumstances like that are even more exaggerrated in this business. Emotion makes people in the public uncomfortable, and it makes people in the private like this- it's gets them killed.]" She brought her aurelian eyes back to Florence. "[B Much as I would suggest for your own health to to otherwise, allegiances are allegiances, aren't they?]" The conversation had taken a shockingly potent turn for the uncomfortable. The delicately balanced. So the other woman knew about her opinions. That mattered little, that didn't seem threatening. It was easily arguable at the least.
Glancing down at her food again, the Lieutenant began to pay attention to that again as their conversation came to a halt once more. She was comfortable with it, but judging by the excuse from Florence, the other wasn't. "[B Sure,]" the Lieutenant responded quietly.
What was this, the second or third time that Florence had escaped to the bathroom? She couldn't recall, but it was something excessive like that. Her eyes followed the other as she left. Presently the waitress approached her with the bill, Gweniviere thanking her and accepting it. The littler woman turned to leave, the German catching her a moment and pulling out her wallet, offering her credit card, and left the woman to it.
When Florence returned, Gweniviere tilted her head a little, setting her wallet onto her lap. "[B Everything?]" the veteran repeated, "[B Everything about what?]" It was a coy and infuriating answer, most like, but Gweniviere was that way. Both of those things were but facets of her that she was repeatedly told, had thrown at her face, the lot of it. Her mouth presently pulled into a teasing grin. Of course she knew what Florence was asking of, but what would she be but incessantly evasive.
Presently the waitress returned with the little, black folder with the Lieutenant's debit standing up out of it. Gweniviere took it easily and and pulled out the card, flipping open the wallet in one hand and setting the card back in. She had paid the bill without thought, considering she had been the assumed, circumstantial cause of a panic attack in the other agent. For as pleased as she was at the time, she felt bad to some extent. "[B There's not much to tell, I'm afraid.]" Gweniviere said, a vague frown appearing on her face as her brows arched forwards, the tall woman shifting to slip her wallet back into her pants pocket.
[font "Times New Roman" Goosebumps rose on the Big Brother agent's arms, and she rubbed at them slowly. The cold of the restaurant was starting to seep into her skin like a toxin. Everything else was turning cold, too.]
[font "Times New Roman" The Lieutenant was perhaps the most reserved person Florence had ever met, and she'd been through a lot of people. She kept her secrets secret to the point that Flor didn't even know what she knew about the woman. Very private people had a way of talking to you where they said very little about themselves in all actuality, and even though Florence hadn't known the woman that long, she had a hunch that her partner would be exactly like that.]
[font "Times New Roman" [+teal "Telling you all my secrets. But then would you even want me to say them out loud? Don't you like the thrill of the chase?"] The words came out full of air, breathless, not rushed but not slow.]
[font "Times New Roman" The caramel-skinned woman lightly wondered why she wanted so badly for the Lieutenant to be interested in her. It wasn't like she couldn't find the attention anywhere else. It was some other reason... Flor herself wasn't even sure. It was something deep and desperate and she was beginning to hate it.]
[font "Times New Roman" It felt foolish, very suddenly, for the young woman to have ever mentioned anything about her past. She regretted being so forthcoming; maybe she'd been moving too fast, gotten too excited. She didn't know what the hell it was that just made her want to [i talk]--the pale German may have had a look that warranted speech, but there was no reason for it to have been about Florence's own childhood. The silence that had followed her omittance haunted her like a dead body or something else terrible until Gweniviere started talking about the maliciousness of children.]
[font "Times New Roman" Maybe it was a waste of time. Florence hated talking about the little parts of her she had left--what made her want to bring it up in the first place? A reaction? Idiot. Idiot.]
[font "Times New Roman" [i Always seeking attention somewhere. Look at me, look at me, tell me I'm pretty, say you love me.]]
[font "Times New Roman" Honesty got you nowhere. The law was reinforced in the younger agent's mind like a fresh burn.]
[font "Times New Roman" [+teal "It's human nature for a child to learn from bad things."] The words came out too fast. It was almost as if her lips were rushing them out before her brain could tell her there was no point. [+teal "Punishment is necessary... It takes for you to touch a flame to realize it burns. You'll never fully believe it if you just hear about how bad it is."]]
[font "Times New Roman" She drank more of the milkshake, embarrassed now. What she wouldn't do, though, was look away from the near-stoic countenance of her partner. She was good at hiding how she felt, but she wasn't perfect.]
[font "Times New Roman" [+teal "Yes, well..."] Florence looked down into her glass before raising her gaze again, only making it to the woman's third shirt button. [+teal "Playing 'tag' alone is hardly any fun."]]
[font "Times New Roman" Her eyes dropped again and her breath hitched in her throat for less than half a second. It felt like all the background noise was muted and the only present things were Gweniviere and the cold that had begun to settle on the Big Brother agent's shoulders.]
[font "Times New Roman" [+teal "Of course I was. The thing is, emotions are okay, you know, people are always talking about how we need to emote more. What they actually mean in practice is... it's like you can express yourself, but it has to be behind doors where no one can see it. That's where you can feel and really exist. There only. If you carry it all over to the outside, it's too much."] She lifted up her hands in a grand gesture, looking in Gwenivere's direction but not making eye contact. [+teal "That's what I did. The bullying is like the punishment that you said is fading out, it teaches you how to make it out here. And some people need the extra help."] Maybe it was too much of an outburst, but the light-skinned woman was done pretending. If she was going to have to work with Gwen, things couldn't always be what she wanted and Gwen would never look at her the way she preferred. The other agent obviously thought her grossly incompetent, childish, and probably overemotional now, too. There were too many balls to juggle at once.]
[font "Times New Roman" The air settled over her like a blanket, except on top of the cold, which dripped down her limbs. She shivered.]
[font "Times New Roman" Long fingers trapped a fry between them before escorting it to her mouth. Florence chewed thoughtfully. There were a million things racing through her head, in her blood, from head to toe. It was positively electric.]
[font "Times New Roman" [+teal "Excuse me."] The woman stood carefully, smoothing down her shirt as she did so. Her eyes lingered on Gweniviere for a long moment. [+teal "I'll be back momentarily."]]
[font "Times New Roman" Sometimes the feeling of needing to be alone could sneak up on you like a jungle cat. Whatever it entailed was something else entirely.]
[font "Times New Roman" Flor carried herself to the women's bathroom, and once safely in, exhaled a breath equivalent to five sighs.]
[font "Times New Roman" [i Give me attention attention attention give me give me it's mine attention]]
[font "Times New Roman" She looked at herself in the mirror, extensively examining her own face as if it was the first time she'd seen it. She got so close that she could see herself reflected in her own blue-green eyes.]
[font "Times New Roman" [i What are you doing?]]
[font "Times New Roman" [i I don't know.]]
[font "Times New Roman" Someone came out of a stall. The moment was over, and Florence quickly washed her hands while sharing a polite smile with the unexpected companion before returning to her partner.]
[font "Times New Roman" She wondered what these people thought of them. No one ever looked at someone and thought, "Well shit. That's a secret agent if I ever saw one." Even Gweniviere, in all her scarred magnificence, didn't look too obviously like an agent. The blood stain could be explained away by a number of things. It was all so easy.]
[font "Times New Roman" The people that told the least and most truth were the ones that were trying to get in your pants. Florence learned this both the easy and the hard way. They were subject to tell you anything in their desperation--Flor had come to know a lot about herself.]
[font "Times New Roman" [+teal "Your turn, Lieutenant. Tell me everything."]]
[font "Times New Roman" She smiled. It felt real.]
/ 4y 101d 8h 30m 22s
[center [i [font "Times" ~And images of sugarskulls danced in their heads~]]
[font "Times" Gweniviere released Florence's hand as soon as the last sentence was out of her mouth, folding her arms across her chest again as the attractive woman in front of her seemed to sink into thought again. Curiosity, as it always did, tickled at the forefront of her mind but she easily suppressed it. To ask that question would mean Flor to assume that she was inviting her to question back, and that was something that she really didn't have patience for. Gweniviere generally was this same tone of closedness with others, but in Florence Drake's case specifically she didn't need the childish categorization of that woman to drag her down. Make prods, comments and undermining her in whatever way she would find [i amusing]. Gweniviere knew other people like her, in the general sense of her character, how petty they could be. Constantly trying to keep track of their tally marks against the other. The Lieutenant was already displeased with this partnership, there was no need to make it any worse than it was.
The German veteran arched a brow, and met the little quirk of her grin. "[B Depends on the thing. Sometime's they are more trouble than they are worth.]" she said, tilting her head in a pointed manner. "[B In this case, though,]" the Lieutenant continued, "[B it being who specifically?]"
Shifting her weight slightly in her chair, her mind clicked back to her last outside partner. A very interesting man by the name of Laurent. That was the name she knew him by, at least. He was frustrating as well, like Florence. But entirely not like Florence. His irritation also laid in his temperament, his arrogance, but something about it fueled Gweniviere to engage at one point, rather than to push him away. Made want to her force him to [i look], to value, to see her. Pulled out of her comparison her eyes lingered on Florence for a moment. There was something just- [i childish] about Florence that made twists of revulsion turn the woman's stomach. It made her begin to fight the urge to slap her and make her stop. Stop trying, stop trying [i so hard].
Her eyes then drew over Florence's own features, her train of thought shifting to the face of the other. Smooth. Almost featureless, practically, in comparison to the Lieutenant's own body branded with years of what her position had left her with. Florence was so concerned with her vanity, and perhaps she was only valued for it and as such she clung to it desperately. Perhaps that was what made her hateful image of the other as childish all the more realistic, with the addition of her character to boot. Being implored to take an assignment by an outside source asking [i them] to assist and then criticized every step of the way by this little thing. It was enough to make the woman want to bow out. She yet wasn't convinced that this problem of "Big Brother's" was any of Smear's concern, nor any of hers.
The touch of a smile vanished at the younger woman's next statement. Florence was trying to open up conversation with her to get her to talk about herself. A string of irritation was plucked like a bowstring, thrumming tightly. She didn't want to play this game with the woman. Bullied, hm? Was she now trying to get her to empathize?
Gweniviere herself had been bullied in her own right, and young. No child isn't. No person alive exists without trauma or abuse of some sort. Many don't adhere to that idea, but the very act of being born and or being is traumatic, the act of learning. But for as much as those words stuck in her mind, she kept quiet. She had already almost launched into one sort of a topic discussion such as that, had almost tried to entertain Florence on an intellectual level, and Florence both didn't listen and made a point to criticize her for it. She didn't care at all, despite her obscure references towards her curiosity towards the Lieutenant. So she wouldn't bother. There was no point in talking to Florence if she didn't care. It frustrated her, also, among other things. A lifetime of not being listened to, and of being manipulated, did that to a person.
She instead exhaled patiently, taking her glass in her fingers. "[B Children are both the most vicious and the most preciously innocent in existence.]" Gweniviere said, bringing her eyes back towards her dining companion over the rim of her glass. Setting it down again, she nodded her head to the side. "[B It's only gotten worse now that the whole idea of punishing a child apparently has faded out of favor. The no-tolerance policies of late I find counterintuitive and ridiculous.]"
A noncommittal shrug and a dismissive gesture from a hand freed from her glass. "[B When I was young, I couldn't play with a lot of kids. I suppose it saved me a little of that.]" The lie slid off of her tonue so easily. Her brother was probably one of her biggest bullies in her childhood, frustrated with her throughout his life for that reason and more... It never really stopped, even into adulthood, and it was only now that she realized it wasn't only her brother. His mild frustratio with her as a boy didn't compare to the manipulative abuse she suffered now. It was simply harder to see because it was clever, quiet. She blinked, eyes on nothing for a moment, before bringing them back up to Florence.
"[B Were you bullied for [i showing] emotion?]" she said, glancing over Florence a moment, humming absently, and dropped her gaze in thought. The Lieutenant set her fork down, exhaling in a patient manner as her napkin touched her mouth briefly and returned to her lap. She then sat forwards, "[B People have this idea,]" the woman began, "[B that emotions are inherently weakness, somehow, rising to the surface.]" Her expression hardened imperceptibly, shaking her head and touching her temple briefly with her fingers and closed her eyes a moment. "[B I don't understand it.]"
[font "Times New Roman" [i I used to be a merc before they figured out I'd be better at... tamer things.]]
[font "Times New Roman" The thought crossed her mind absently at Gweniviere's mention of interrogation. Looking at the Lieutenant brought up old ideas and reverted her to an older train of thought - the one she'd had before she was re-repurposed. Florence was, after all, much older than she cared to admit and Big Brother cared to accept.]
[font "Times New Roman" [s Experimental drug, try this out, first human trials -]]
[font "Times New Roman" Flor sipped her milkshake almost as if it were an afterthought - spaced out and lazily, her eyes not completely focused and her eyebrows half raised as if in anticipation.]
[font "Times New Roman" Gweniviere was not, by any means, an easy target. She knew how to read people on the same par that Florence did, maybe; though she wouldn't admit it to herself, perhaps a little better. Maybe. It was all a matter of perspective. Either way, the pale German woman obviously wasn't too keen on letting the younger agent into her head. But Florence was determined to find a way there. It was a must - something that always found its way on her to-do list. Conquering her partners had such an attractive flair to it... who was she to deny?]
[font "Times New Roman" [+teal "Would it be worth it if it wasn't just a little dangerous?"] Florence smiled lightly, verging on arrogant childishness with the expression. Her mind was growing numb to the feeling of Gwenivere's hand in hers, growing used to it and deciding to focus on more immediate, important things. Her mind instead led her eyes to Gwenivere's own cold stare, then her lips, her scars, her throat, then her eyes again. There was a story there.]
[font "Times New Roman" It wouldn't take a genius to know that Gweniviere saw Florence as something small and easy to take apart. A cheaper version of a Rubik's cube.]
[font "Times New Roman" The young caramel-skinned woman grinned to herself. [+teal "When I was much younger, during my first years of school, I got bullied a lot."] Her shoulder lifted in a light, nonchalant shrug. [+teal "They used to call me a cry baby. I was such an emotional kid."] She waited for a moment, laughing at the bittersweet memory. [+teal "I cried over almost anything! It was honestly embarrassing."]]
[font "Times New Roman" It was a truth, a real one, about her real self--the little bits she could remember, anyway. She wasn't sure if Florence Drake was a cry baby because the history didn't go back that far. It didn't have to. Who would ask about that kind of thing? It was irrelevant, and therefore safe. And besides, how much could Gweniviere even do with that kind of information realistically? It didn't pertain to anything.]
[font "Times New Roman" Safe.]
[font "Times New Roman" Unimportant.]
[font "Times New Roman" [i I used to be a merc.]]
[font "Times New Roman" [i A cleaner.]]
[font "Times New Roman" [i I used to kill the agents that betrayed Big Brother.]]
[font "Times New Roman" [i I slept like a baby at night.]]
[font "Times New Roman" She changed her posture, shifting her weight to the left side and licking her lips lightly. It didn't bother to think of her history at Big Brother-- after all, she owed them her life. Her old one and her new one.]
[font "Times New Roman" Some part of her wanted to tell Gweniviere. What would she think? All it would be was a means to a reaction. Would she be surprised? Would she agree? Would she be disgusted? It was easy for Florence to turn her back on a life. After all, how many times had she done it to herself? Would Gweniviere be repulsed?]
[font "Times New Roman" Blue-green eyes slipped back to a mouthful of scars. She wanted to ask about that, but she couldn't just yet. She had to start on the innocent things and work her way up the totem pole. Now she would talk about herself - then she would start asking the questions.]
[font "Times New Roman" Florence lifted her brows in quiet anticipation, bringing one of the fries to her mouth and eating it slowly as if distracted. Her gaze traveled around the restaurant again, flitting over the hostess irritably before settling on an older couple in the corner. They were unmistakably married, wedding rings on their wrinkled fingers, smiling while just staring at one another. The man had white, fading hair, and he had a very angular face. The woman was softer on all her edges, hair equally white and wispy. They looked happy. They were quiet and to themselves, enjoying their meal.]
[font "Times New Roman" Flor couldn't very much wrap her hand around that idea. How could you be together for so long and not run out of things to say? How could you keep one person so endlessly entertained? It didn't make sense; didn't add up. It felt like a lie.]
[font "Times New Roman" She moved her jaw, returning her gaze back to Gweniviere. She reminded her of the man a little, mostly in her face shape. It was fascinating.]
[font "Times New Roman" The edge of her mouth quirked up in a sort of grin. [+teal "Do you plan to hold my hand the entire time?"]]
[font "Times New Roman" Despite the fact that she'd had no conscious intention of letting go.]
[font "Times" "[B Probably.]" Gweniviere repeated, drumming the pads of her fingers on the surface of the table once and leaning the edge of her jaw on the curl of slender fingers. She wasn't fond of the maybe-maybe-not answer, giving her the obligation now not to stand up Florence on the off chance that she actually showed up. Gweniviere was a polite woman, but being at the mercy of others was something she didn't often stand for. Was Florence so desperate to gather a little power from a conversation into her dainty little hands? "[B Then I'll [i probably] expect you.]" The German woman said, gesturing to Florence absently.
Florence seemed to finally be catching on to the fact that Gweniviere had definitive reserves about her. Or rather it seemed to finally be getting to her. The idea almost sent a trickle of satisfaction through her shoulders. The woman let her golden eyes fall half lidded as she gazed at the other agent for a few moments while she scoffed at her.
Gweniviere's lips pursed a little, arching a brow. Had she thought the woman meant special by means of personal preference? She was quick to assume that people valued her personally, and not skillfully. In this situation did she really think, despite the apparent idea she had gotten about the exchange of information. But in saying nothing she didn't rise to the chance for another comment sent towards Florence. Instead, the scarred woman hummed absently and offered, choosing to keep the other's voice civil. "[B Well, you're not wrong.]"
At the pause that Florence had taken, Gweniviere took the opportunity to start on her own sandwich. A simple French dip, as she had ordered. It would do, and the meat wasn't dry, nor sopping wet, and the bread wasn't either. Florence was right, these people did know how to prepare food. And despite the simplicity of her own meal, there was much that could go wrong. She hummed a bit in acknowledgment of this, quirking a brow, and returned her gaze to the raven haired agent when she spoke again.
She appreciated actually good food. After growing up as she had in postwar Germany, there was a right lack of that, even when she was older, and then she rarely had the money for it. No one in her family did, and so it was a true treat. Even now, decades later, she could really appreciate it. She wasn't nearly as expressive about it, but she wasn't completely passive so as not to appreciate what was there.
Her mouth pursed at the message. It seemed that a certain doctor seemed to be putting pressure on her to act a certain way. Gweniviere's sense of claustrophobia extended its fingers to thread up through her chest, drawing tension wherever it lay. Her work was being threatened, and she was being treated as a tool again. Nothing but. He was trying to shut her down, and shut her up.
"[B Mm, ah.]" the Lieutenant replied, nodding. "[B I meant this,]" she gestured around them. "[B the meal, the meeting and such. We don't seem to be discussing much about the details of our assignment, and you seemed to want to leave but I had asked if we could at least finish our food.]" she said, trailing off a little, gesturing at their spread.
She gazed at Florence for a few moments as she offered her hand, noting the slight hesitation as she even brought up what she herself brought up. "[B Is that not the point of an interrogation?]" she queried calmly, arching a brow. Gweniviere had had an odd mix of both little and entire intention to be social with the younger woman. Often open socialization was the best way to get information from people, but so was making the subject incredibly uncomfortable a viable manner in which to do so. You could watch how they evaluated you, and considered their words carefully. What nervous tics to look for . There was so much to draw from and tease out- much as it frustrated [i Florence] it was incredibly informative for the super soldier.
Initially at the offerance of the hand, Gweniviere's instinct was to refuse. But after a moment of looking at that pretty hand, she extended her pale, scarred appendage and threaded hers with that caramel skin. "[B Fine.]" the German woman relented, "[B Gweniviere Nietzsche, I have a preference for cats, and I already know a few sorts of ballroom [i and] swing.]" She knew Florence likely might not take kindly to the repeated information, but at least the white haired woman had altered the information, harmless truths, to match herself.
The white haired woman let her eyes fall half lidded again, the corner of her mouth twitching upwards a tiny bit. "[B Since you're so curious.]" Her grip was firm but not overpowering. Years of practice had allowed her to remain within the bounds of normal human strength and physicality without issue. She could temper herself now, no longer like the American super soldier who reportedly destroyed an entire window display with a lack of control of his own augmented body.
The idea of seeing the young woman just possibly [i more] uncomfortable, Gweniviere teasing her frustrating nature and seeing it writhe underneath the gentle, but firm press of her thumb. Florence was so frustrated by feeling [i naked] as she had said, but Gweniviere reveled in peeling that facade back. It was both a large part of her job, and a fulfilling amusement, such as people-watching would be.
She wasn't an unattractive woman, by far, either, and the lieutenant would not feel much reserve about such close contact. She let her gaze slip over the other's frame and features, allowing her eyes to linger on Forence's, her smile edging on a predatory teasing. "[B Or does that perchance sound threatening to you?]"
[font "Times New Roman" It would be a lie to say Florence wasn't absolutely [i dying] to know what was in that little notepad. Why hide it if it wasn't anything secret? Sure, Gweniviere was the human incarnation of secrets, but that one, and how suspicious it all looked... she had to know. She had to.]
[font "Times New Roman" But she tried not to look interested. Just the slight inclination of eyebrows as she resumed her place at the table.]
[font "Times New Roman" [+teal "And you never took back the invitation when you realized we had a misunderstanding, so I'll probably still show up for dinner."] She scooped some whipped cream out of her milkshake and placed it into her mouth. She was very pleased to see no lipstick came off on the spoon, smiling slightly at the utensil as if praising it for doing a good job or something.]
[font "Times New Roman" [+teal "Me? Special to you?"] Her chuckle was wry and a bit bitter in nature. [+teal "I may be childish, but I'm not stupid. I hope you can give me that much credit."] Flor genuinely hoped her words got her point across. The Lieutenant was the only one that could make her feel so unsure about her words. Maybe it was the way she looked at you--well, no shit, that had to be it. The pale woman didn't talk much, so when she stared at you, it was like a teleprompter. You HAD to say something. But when you did, you'd be criticized and judged. It was a lose-lose situation, but Florence continuously fell for it without any indication of fail.]
[font "Times New Roman" Fuck.]
[font "Times New Roman" What had Gweniviere figured out about her already?]
[font "Times New Roman" She decided to focus on the food instead. The chips were good, the sandwich was good, it was all heaven. Big Brother always had her trying out these extreme diets that were basically eating leaves and drinking water flavored with some kind of fruit. The food was weird and the water was nasty. Today she decided to cheat the thing, especially since her impulse control was at an all-time low. She almost forgot about the panic attack earlier in the day, about the rush to get to Smear, about how tired she actually was. She almost forgot.]
[font "Times New Roman" [+teal "What are we bringing to a close again?"] the young woman asked between bites of her sandwich. 'This'? What 'this'? Did she mean the partnership, the food, the outing? Hell.]
[font "Times New Roman" Florence glanced at the phone that began vibrating like crazy. Seemed that Gweniviere was actually quite popular. Might be work, might be friends, family... Maybe the weirdo hostess had managed to get a friend of a friend's cousin's dogsitter's uncle to find Gweniviere's number. Who knew.]
[font "Times New Roman" The pale German woman seemed particularly secretive about whatever had been on the phone, but Flor didn't try to pry. Not only was she likely to get shot down, but it was also pretty likely that Gweniviere would crucify her for it. It'd be like asking where the blood on her shirt came from except with a magnitude of eight thousand.]
[font "Times New Roman" Whatever the message said seemed distracting. When her companion returned to her, Florence offered a slight grin and dipped her head as she put another chip into her mouth. [+teal "You were telling me what you meant by 'bringing this to a close'."]]
[font "Times New Roman" She knew her file only had information on the cover of Florence Drake and very few personal details of the agent behind it, but some parts of her still panicked when it came to finding out her real identity. How would people react? Would they shun her? Some part of her wondered if that was what Gweniviere was preoccupied with: looking into her background. Alternatively, the Lieutenant's file had been comparatively as bare. So maybe if anyone should be looking, it should be Flor.]
[font "Times New Roman" She sighed. All this was getting her nowhere.]
[font "Times New Roman" [+teal "Okay, let's start over. First impressions can be tough."] The caramel-skinned woman extended her arm across the table and used the other one to sip at her milkshake. [+teal "Hello, I'm Florence Drake. I like dogs and I find a guilty pleasure in learning how to ballroom dance. Now it's your turn."] She'd add a smile onto the end of her sentence. [+teal "Let's just get five minutes of total honesty here. No thinly veiled threats, no beating around the bush, just... honesty. Please? I feel so... [i naked] when you just stare at me while I talk. Please."]]
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