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[font "Times New Roman" Florence decided to tell herself that Gweniviere thought she was funny but didn't want to inflate her ego. It was logical in that sense--why encourage someone who was already the constant rider of the high horse? She gave herself an internal pat on the back but didn't respond back to the blonde agent--it was obvious that Flor was proud of herself for getting the little reaction she'd gotten.]
[font "Times New Roman" [+teal "Wear me out?"] The younger agent's lips pulled into a grin that was nothing short of a challenge--or accepting the one Gwen seemed to be putting on the line. [+teal "I have stamina for days. You'll see."]]
[font "Times New Roman" Flor adjusted the strap on her bag and unbuttoned one of the topmost buttons of her shirt, examinging the card that the Lieutenant handed to her with a lame description. Why that woman had this card chilling in her pocket in the first place, Flor couldn't guess, but she didn't question. She simply offered a curious, cocked eyebrow and a smirk. [+teal "Of course I'm interested. Almost sounds like you're asking me out on a date, Nietzsche. Almost."] The statement was chuckled with the perfect amount of teasing playfulness and seriousness, so as to suggest it but not to say it with any sort of finality.]
[font "Times New Roman" She was going to add something else, but held it in when she noticed the expression on the German woman's face--something much resembling wonder and deep thought. What she could be think about, Flor couldn't guess if someone paid her. But she didn't interrupt the moment; the only thing that broke it was Gweniviere whipping out her phone and going to work on it. Flor resisted the urge to peer over her pale hands at the screen, instead rocking back and forth on her toes.]
[font "Times New Roman" So far, she didn't hate her partner. So far it didn't seem like her partner hated her, either. But who knew? More than once had it started off soft and ended up with blood and feet stomping on glass.]
[font "Times New Roman" Flor looked at the restaurant when Gwen handed her the phone, admiring the menu--she'd already decided what she was going to order. Her expression was nothing short of childish glee when she handed her counterpart the phone back.]
[font "Times New Roman" [+teal "While I would love nothing more than to sit in very close proximity with you, I drove here, so my car is downstairs. Are you going to drive me back to get it when we're done? I'm very attached to it. I named it Malachi."]]
[font "Times New Roman" A lie. It was a boring black car that was just a stand-in until her actual [i personal] car could be sent over. They'd had to get new plates for it and patch up some bullet holes, but Flor was being rather patient.]
[font "Times New Roman" She followed Gweniviere down the hallways, exciting to be getting out of the frigid cold that was Smear. Her stomach rumbled as if to remind her, but she paid it no attention. All the things in the day she still had to do suddenly dawned on her--settle into her new apartment, call Big Brother with updates and to check on her beloved car, ask about her new identity , sign up for a gym, et cetera... It was a lot. She wanted to put some off for tomorrow, but she couldn't even be sure she'd have time then! Most of her stay in Berlin, she'd probably be with Gweniviere. Haha. Chillin' with Gwen.]
[font "Times New Roman" [+teal "Seriously though. You're asking me to dinner or something with this semi-formal restaurant card, right? Like... I have to wear a dress, no jeans allowed?" She looked up at the taller woman, her dark eyes widening at a realization a moment later. [+teal "Oh, you ARE! You said a less informal thing later tonight."] She laughed at her own childish idiocy. [+teal "I'm so stupid."]]
[font "Times" Gweniviere's mouth twitched into another smile, realizing that she herself had been watched as well. Made sense. Glancing not at Florence but towards the wall of windows on the other side of the office, she brought a hand up to the right corner of her mouth where a short scar stretched the corner, gently pursing the skin, and warping the line of her mouth just so. She rubbed the pad of her ring finger "[B Often there's little to laugh about.]"
Her eyes were taken from the space of the office back to the attractive features of the other agent. Her mouth pursed a bit before it flickered into another bare touch of a challenging look as she let her eyes fall half lidded. "[B Oh, I would have thought I'd tired you out by now.]"
Her expression didn't change from the neutral calm, tilting her head a bit, a cool, serious look in her eyes even as she let them fall to half lidded, the very slightest spice of challenge in their golden depths turned down to Florence Drake who seemed to have shifted into a might more familiar line of conversation with her. "[B What else would you have of me in this circumstance.]" Now that it had occurred to her, the lieutenant could only rise to the curiosity of what had brought it on. She had, honestly, not given very much in regarding to general pleasantness, but had offered assistance without question. Doubting her conclusion, but finding that as an avenue, Gweniviere wondered briefly if that had anything to do with it. By that logic, it made sense. but she wasn't about to come to a solid conclusion yet on the first day of meeting the woman.
The lieutenant shifted her weight off of the arm she had leaned against the doorframe, letting Florence pass her again outside. "[B My [i version], hm?]" she murmured, slipping her hand into her pocket. Gweniviere's long fingers dismissed a notepad and retrieved a small business card. Pulling it out and turning it over in her fingers, the tall woman then tapped Flor's shoulder with the edge of her hand to get her attention and handed the card to her. The white card had a formal, black and green printing on it with the name of the café marché she had had in mind. "[B If you're interested, it's semi-formal and the food is quite good.]"
After gesturing lightly at the card she let her hand fall to her side again and glanced out the side windows. Most of the building was glass paned, outside its architecture made almost entirely out of it. If the German woman was being very honest, it made her think of the large ships from the [i Star Wars] series, and she rather quite liked the semblance. It was unique, and she appreciated the monotone pallette and sharp lines. Aside from the rigid straightness, it made her think of the art that was popular when she was younger, during the German Expressionist period she figured out it was called later. It was a miserable time for everyone, and the art showed it, but she remembered always liking the tippy, off-centered buildings and the way the art would play with light and shadow.
Her mind then clicked back to the task at hand, or request rather it was, from Flor about places to go to eat. She then recalled the place that Calhoun always talked about, trying to remember its name. Pulling out her cellular she opened up its internet AI and had it search up places around where she had thought the place was, having not been there herself. Humming absently in thought she frowned at the results and scrolled through them, "[B I think-]" she turned the screen of the phone towards Flor, "[B this would be the closest thing locally.]" Handing her the phone to look at the rest of the results she then found her key in her breast pocket and pulled it out. "[B We can take my car. I would rather that than a taxi.]"
[font "Times New Roman" Gweniviere was always looking at her. Or most of the time, anyway. Florence could feel herself being watched, mulled over; could almost see the cogs twisting and turning in the Lieutenant's head. What she was thinking about, Flor couldn't even bring herself to guess, but she didn't comment on it. She figured it wasn't so important.]
[font "Times New Roman" The younger agent glanced up in time to see what might've been a grin or a smirk fade into a blank look, grinning a bit to herself. Did the Lieutenant think Flor was funny? Ridiculous, amusing, batshit crazy?]
[font "Times New Roman" [+teal "You don't want me to see you laugh or something, Gweniviere?"] She posed the question lightheartedly--or as lightly as it could be, considering the circumstances--but there was more to it waiting under the surface. Flor tucked the little snippet of happiness the German woman emitted into the back of her mind.]
[font "Times New Roman" Florence followed her companion out of the elevator, her heels bouncing off the walls and back at her. Gweniviere's step was almost completely silent. The walk of someone damn good at their job. Her interest was piqued by the little security thing, whatever it was--like JARVIS from Iron Man or something. It was cool. She wondered what kind of message Gwen could have gotten in their absence. Perhaps something pertaining to the man she was supposed to be torturing.]
[font "Times New Roman" Remembering her manners, the caramel-skinned woman thanked the Lieutenant for opening the door, walking ahead to grab her bag. She couldn't remember stuffing things so haphazardly into her bag, but she didn't question it. She'd been pretty out of it before and after her attack.]
[font "Times New Roman" [+teal "Of course not,"] she responded to the question after a moment as she readjusted her papers. [+teal "I love your dry humor and, so far, lack of will to carry on a conversation. Really gets me going, let me tell you."]]
[font "Times New Roman" Florence offered a bit of a smile at that and put the bag back on her shoulder, turning to face Gweniviere in the doorway. Her weight was put on her right leg as she tilted her head at what seemed like something of a proposition, a playful smirk growing on her features as she rose a single eyebrow. [+teal "It's always business with you."] The irony of the statement didn't escape her. It was sort of amusing, how absolutely ridiculous that sounded, coming from one "secret" agent to another, in the context of stopping a drug cartel that could potentially ruin the world. Ironic.]
[font "Times New Roman" [+teal "Ah? What's that I hear--less informal?"] She laughed a little bit, a light sound that was barely alive for more than two seconds. [+teal "Sounds like your version of fun. Sign me up."]]
[font "Times New Roman" Flor crossed the barren floor of the office once more, keeping eye contact with the much taller woman the entire way before exiting again.]
[font "Times New Roman" There was something she couldn't quite catch in the way Gwen was looking at her. It was different from the other looks, the "what the hell are you doing" and the "fuck off" and "you're such a child" trademarks that the woman had apparently made in the short period of time they'd been in one another's company. Gweniviere obviously had a range of emotions, as opposed to the apathetic indifference vibe that she was constantly trying to put off. Something hurt her. It hurt her bad.]
[font "Times New Roman" Florence wondered what it was. She wasn't nearly stupid enough to ask.]
[font "Times New Roman" [+teal "So what are some good places that make milkshakes around here? Can we sit in the same booth? 'Cause I don't want to sit with someone who's embarrassed of me; that's no fun. [i Ooh], maybe we can share a milkshake with two straws--how about it?"]]
[font "Times New Roman" Most of the questions were frivolous and held no real value--Florence was just being petty. Just trying to figure out how far the blonde woman would let her go.]
[font "Times New Roman" [+teal "And while we're there, you can tell me all about this 'less informal' thing. I'm very curious."]]
[font "Times" When her gaze was met, Gweniviere but narrowed her eyes in a decision made about the woman before she let her brows relax, arching over her eyes as she turned her head away. She ran her fingers through her hair, frowning now that she had started thinking about it. But setting the consideration aside, the woman inhaled and shifted her shoulders more comfortably, draining some tension from them.
Her mouth curled lightly into a smirking look. It did tend to steam, at least, fresh like that. Gweniviere's expression then relaxed back to its neutrality again, humming absently in acknowledgment of the remark. "[B Well, after so long, you become numb as with anything else.]" The woman's eyes slid over to the other agent, gazing at her from the corners of her eyes.
The lieutenant's eyes danced with amusement, her mouth again twitching towards a mild smile as the elevator drew to a halt on the proper floor. "[B Are you,]" the German woman acknowledged, laughing lightly. She was almost about to be impressed, but remained quiet. Best not to encourage her too much. Gweniviere allowed her face to fall calm again. "[B well, good luck.]"
She led them towards her office, slowing at the door and keying in her identification to open the door. The little electric eye flickered on and looked up at her, its blue little lighted camera narrowing in on the woman's visage. "[+blue Lieutenant Nietzsche, there is a message for you.]"
She forced a bland smile, "[B It can wait.]" and looked away. It was a pain, but because of their positions, she and the other officer sphere, it was a requirement that they had installed. The intelligence business meant that the intelligence was kept away from those who shouldn't see it. They were people who existed and functioned under the surface. On a level that no one was even aware of, moving between that and the shadows of 'their' realm, and then the ones they themselves inhabited. Othered.
Gweniviere was never one to be on that level in the first place, really. Even young, she was removed in a way by not being able to keep up with other people. But she carefully strayed away from those memories. Sweet, sweet childhood that lingered in the back of her memory. And lately- after what her last few weeks had been like- suddenly the idea of stepping into it to at least observe, and eat something entirely awful, sounded appealing. Partaking in the American pass time, it seemed. And what was more American, at least in the modern sense? Perhaps it was time she explored the culture in its modernity that had destroyed her life?
She frowned at the inside of her temporary office, hence its emptiness, and let Flor go in ahead of her to get her bag. Gweniviere's stony golden eyes observed the way that the other agent walked. "[B Mm, my company hasn't yet worn you down?]"
"[B We still have details to discuss.]" she continued, tilting her head to the side a bit. "[B we still have yet to complete that.]" her eyes slid towards Flor from the corner of her eye. There was a question in her eyes as she gauged the reaction of the other. "[B If you would prefer. Elsewise I can suggest something a little less informal later tonight.]"
[font "Times New Roman" Flor still found herself a bit surprised that Gweniviere had provided so much insight on something as trivial as [i granola bars]. She hadn't honestly expected such a ...[i detailed] answer out of the ice cube of a woman. She was easily surprised.]
[font "Times New Roman" When light eyes met darker colors, Florence didn't back down. It was an intrusive question and implication, of course; that much hadn't escaped her, but was the Lieutenant really that taken aback, considering who it had come from?]
[font "Times New Roman" At the initial rejection, the younger agent just shrugged lightly. It wasn't exactly a subject that was eating her alive to know. It was just slight curiosity and interest. It would clarify, if she didn't already know, Gweniviere's specialty, anyway.]
[font "Times New Roman" Florence's eyebrow quirked up when the much taller woman began spilling her guts. Skinning, huh? What kind of person did it take to do that--without changing their facial expression?]
[font "Times New Roman" The caramel-skinned woman constructed the scene in her head: a man strapped flat on his back to a table, cold and metal, with the straps unnecessarily tight and biting angrily into his flesh. He's refusing to talk; maybe he's refusing something else, but talking seems most likely. Gweniviere asks him twice, in her version of [i nice], to tell her. He doesn't, so she sighs, whipping out the scalpel or knife or scissors or whatever the fuck she used. Maybe it was a fucking cheese grater or potato peeler. Anyway--he's starting to struggle, but still won't talk. The Lieutenant doesn't care; she was probably hoping he'd hold his tongue. She sets the weapon to tender skin and starts peeling/scraping/whatever away, basically extremely fucking this guy up. It's a blood bath.]
[font "Times New Roman" Or it was, before Florence arrived and pulled the other agent away from her business.]
[font "Times New Roman" The young woman wrapped the scene up in her head, deciding it was good enough as is, despite the holes.]
[font "Times New Roman" Her gaze rose to the display that showed the floors they were passing. Pretty slow elevator.]
[font "Times New Roman" [+teal "Nothing as hot as hearing about a man getting skinned alive,"] she muttered on a sigh. It was more to herself than to Gweniviere, but if she hadn't meant for it to be heard, she'd have surely kept it to herself. [+teal "I don't do the whole "tell-me-what-I-want-to-know" and torture thing myself, but I've sat in a few times. Not really everyone's cup of tea--but you don't seem too bothered."] Flor glanced up at the white-haired German woman as she paused, waiting expectantly on some sarcastic remark. Or maybe just a confirmation. [+teal "I'm going to figure you out, Lieutenant Nietzsche. You prove to be a challenge."]]
[font "Times New Roman" It wasn't even a regular part of conversation; she just felt Gweniviere should know. Or maybe she just thought the other woman might [i want] to know.]
[font "Times New Roman" In this business, nobody [i knew] anybody. They knew [i of] them. People learned to be okay with that. You stopped trying to dig below the surface because in order to kill people and still effectively sleep at night, you had to be royally fucked up inside. As far as Florence was concerned, everyone in this business was damaged or soon-to-be. She didn't exclude herself from the stereotype and didn't exclude Gwen.]
[font "Times New Roman" [i [s Who hurt you?]]]
[font "Times New Roman" [i [s "Cry baby, cry baby. Regardez, elle pleure à nouveau! Pourquoi tu dois pleurer tout le temps, hein? Pourquoi fais-tu ça? C'est tellement ennuyeux*."]]]
[font "Times New Roman" A grin tugged at the corners of Florence's lips. [+teal "Care to join me for milkshakes and granola bars?"] The question was mostly sarcastic in delivery, but open-ended enough to warrant a response. She wasn't getting her hopes up and wouldn't be disappointed if the woman said no, considering that was the exact answer she was expecting. Gweniviere didn't seem like a big sponsor of fun. Not even at the club. [+teal "Though I'm sure you'd much rather be skinning someone,"] she sighed, [+teal "I'm setting myself up for rejection."]]
*Cry baby, cry baby. Look, she's crying again! Why do you have to cry all the time, right? Why do you do that? It's so annoying.
[font "Times" Gweniviere's brow furrowed when she [i laughed] at the statement of heart condition. Actually laughed. Her eyes turned to the younger agent, looking her over again. She found herself wondering about this bravado that she put on. Gweniviere had seen similar characters in people who used it as a device to deflect how really emotional they are inside. On one hand it made sense that she was trying to brush off her panic attack earlier but she hadn't [i ceased] in doing that since she had met her. In all of her time knowing her there had been little different save for those few cracks that she had seen.
But in saying that she reminded herself that it was a [i defense] mechanism. Gweniviere wondered what against. What could have made her so insecure, so anxious to put up a facade like that naturally? Well, considering her job it made sense, but again, socially it still had been the same back at that club. And her rise at being called lazy, undriven by the lieutenant... curiosity was gnawing at the inside of her mouth, or rather she was as she tried to stop wondering so much about it, turning her eyes away, nodding quietly. "[B Of course.]"
The lieutenant glanced down, her brows lifting a little. So there is. She had completely forgotten about that. She recalled what she had been doing before she had gone into Agent Drake's company. A little SCATTER agent who thought they were clever.
Gweniviere's eyes slid to Florence's, looking entirely unimpressed as she considered the woman who was asking for information that soared above her security clearance as a foreign agent in Hydra operations. What audacity, she simply had to wonder, at that point it didn't even irritate her anymore, it just amazed her that she felt she had a right to know. "[B Even if I told you, you wouldn't know who they were. So there's no point.]" The woman said, "[B But if you're [i so] curious,]" Gweniviere continued, "[B I would reckon he needs a blood transfusion with how many arteries I severed while I was,]" she gestured absently, considering if she wanted to detail or not and then just gave up. "[B well, effectively skinning him.]" she nodded to the side, "[B Even for me, I can't suture the tiny ones.]"
Thinking seriously for a moment she tilted her head, wondering aloud, "[B Well, I suppose we could just cauterize them.]" her eyes drifted for a moment, imagining how she could do that to cause as much pain as possible. On raw flesh anyways it was agonizing anyways, but she figured that using an iron, instead of a cauterizing tool would scare him a little more... Blinking out of the consideration her shoulders twitched in a little shrug and fell silent.
[font "Times New Roman" Talking or even looking at Gweniviere had a way of making someone want to say everything and nothing at the exact same time. She had the stony face of someone who didn't care, so it was like no matter what you said, she couldn't be bothered enough to repeat it back or mock you or respond at all. It was her mouth and her eyes that contradicted it, cracking her marble features. She had the eyes of someone who used to care. Florence wondered what happened to her. Gweniviere was like a sentient machine or something like that.]
[font "Times New Roman" The offices were interesting to peek into. The young agent lingered here and there when decor caught her eye, but caught back up to the lieutenant quickly. If she were to get lost in this labyrinth, there was a good chance she'd never get out again.]
[font "Times New Roman" Maybe Smear wasn't as cold and unforgiving as one might assume upon first arrival: there was a break room. Which implied they got breaks and someone got paid to make coffee. Maybe even snacks? Lunches to steal? Or... scratch that. Someone might put a bomb under her car for stealing a sandwich.]
[font "Times New Roman" It was odd to her that she was almost completely unfazed to be surrounded by a bunch of very deadly strangers. [i Strangers.]]
[font "Times New Roman" [+teal "Heart condition."] Flor didn't know what part of that was funny to her--none of it was comical in any way, to be honest--but she still laughed a little to herself. [i That would imply that I had one.]]
[font "Times New Roman" [+teal "Thanks for the recommendation."] She really had to hit the gym. She hadn't been there in a few days and going to it was basically like walking into a sanctuary... most of the time. It was a stress reliever. It was as if making herself sweat would purge her of her sins and worries, though it never happened quite like that.]
[font "Times New Roman" Plus it was a great way to work out her anger. God knew she had a surplus of it. And anyway, who would be dumb enough to think this body happened on its own? No. After she was... reformed, she reclaimed her body. She had taken everything back for herself: her name, her home, her body, her [i life.] How strange it was to lose everything again, but in a different way. No war, no great fire that swept everything away. Just giving up. Just giving in.]
[font "Times New Roman" Florence followed Gweniviere to the elevator, the sound of her heels muted by the floor. She was holding her head up higher, her confidence returning to her in waves. It was easy to lie about what went on in her head. Most people didn't expect much of her other than doing her job and inappropriate humor; they didn't even know what questions to ask if she was willing to give the answers. And besides, they had no idea who she was. That was just the way the cookie crumbled: quickly and all at once.]
[font "Times New Roman" Once in the elevator, Flor resumed a place beside Gwen. They'd gone down approximately three levels before the young agent turned to the Lieutenant, eyes sweeping up and down before landing on her shirt. Then her eyebrows lifted: target acquired.]
[font "Times New Roman" [+teal "There's blood on your shirt."] The woman pawed at the fabric for a moment before retreating back into her space. [+teal "Oh, obviously you keep busy when not on missions. Are you going to tell me who it's from or do I have to guess?"] A sharkish, predatory grin appeared on her face. [+teal "I'm very good at guessing."]]
[font "Times" The lieutenant led the way inside when Florence followed her, back into the cool interior of Smear operations and down to the top floor. In the quiet hallways, the echoey stairwell turned into a muted carpet and a nearly silent, but well lit area lined with office doors with names on them, people bustling quietly between them. The halls were generally pretty plain, it was the offices themselves that were the interesting parts, some of their doors open to allow a peek inside. All had the same open planning like the largess construction of the lieutenant's office, a lot of space, large glass screens, large, dark wood desks, seating areas, lamps, decoration depending on the occupant.
Gweniviere felt the surfacing edge of an insult in agent Drake's words, turning a cool look back towards her before looking forwards again, "[B Well, I suppose we have different questions then.]" she said. The woman would not call her temptation towards addiction an answer at all. Her physicality was a double edged sword often it intimidated individuals who were honestly not worth her time, and others it attracted the attentions of scrutinizing, prideful, or specific types of people who saw her as something to be tamed, if they didn't think she was a man at first, or something to be courted, tasted, something new and dangerous. It all depended on the person, but being the dominant that she was often it was her who got the most out of it.
A large part of her profession, more so when she was younger, but still prevalent now, was to gather information in that manner. Now, her skillset had reached beyond that niche considerably and as such more pressing matters courted her time than others.
The lieutenant couldn't help the almost feral, smirking look that came up on her face at the victory, if tiny. It was a comfort thing for the both of them, clearly. And with how uncomfortable the name had been for her, now she had effectively extended it without having to argue. With that she left it alone, thinking it best not to think of it again. Being referred to something as tenderly as one would a mother, a figure like that that she had been somehow compared to. It repulsed her how simply [i wrong] it felt, without the connotation of having Florence Drake call her that. That in and of itself was another story.
"[B No café.]" Gweniviere said, ignoring the continual barrage of slights from the haughty woman's frippery. "[B But a break room, if you're desperate for coffee, I suppose.]"
Considering the question Gweniviere frowned pensively, scratching her head and running her fingers through her snowy hair. "[B Well, nutritionally if you're looking for more fiber in your diet you would want the granola, but unless it's one of those ridiculous ones that are basically dessert, then I don't see why you can't have both unless you have a heart condition.]" she shrugged. Some granola is better than others. That was the end of it, really. "[B But you'll have to leave campus if you want one, that's the only real issue.]"
Finding a slight relief in the change of subject, the woman had gone along with it easily, shifting her manner of speech to match Florence's. And, on a slight note, she liked the feeling of acting against Florence's expectations, if even it was for a millisecond. Shrugging off the feeling she realized she was being childish- was that really the effect that Florence had on people? It sounded terribly useful, she supposed, but frustrating. Gweniviere herself used a similar tactic when she was getting information- insult the other, make their ego get the better of them, make them feel the need to prove you wrong, and they will, along with spilling some very, very valuable niblets of information. t also unfocused them, like if it were in a combat scenario it would make them act erratically, and thus if she was able to keep her respective head, she had an upper hand outside of her immense strength. A win-win, to use the American English colloquial term.
At the elevator she paused and looked back at Florence, "[B But even if you want to leave you will need your bag, I imagine. Let's just go back to my office and talk there. Mm?]" she suggested, pressing the elevator button with the knuckle of her forefinger.
[font "Times New Roman" Florence didn't respond to what the Lieutenant added about her...prescription. She didn't feel like it, and besides, what was to get defensive about? She was tired of talking about it. She still did whatever she wanted because, well, fuck it, if she was going to be taking the shits, she wouldn't let them dictate her life. If that caused her eventual death, so be it.]
[font "Times New Roman" Perhaps she would deserve it.]
[font "Times New Roman" She threw the thought out of her mind and decided not to be bothered with it anymore.]
[font "Times New Roman" The young woman instead focused on her partner. Nietzsche wasn't necessarily [i nice] or [i accommodating], but ironically, Flor had worked with worse. There was a guy about a year ago on a mission regarding a weapons trade where they had to be dates to a fancy party... Long story short, he kept putting his hand on her thigh and he may have been handcuffed to a steering wheel once or twice. Other things may have ensued. Who knew.]
[font "Times New Roman" Well, technically [i she] knew, but... It wasn't much to repeat.]
[font "Times New Roman" [+teal "It helps any question [i I] have,"] Florence declared with a self-satisfied laugh. It was a complete lie, but it was better than admitting the cold, stoic woman was right. She resorted to using her body like a hammer when it came to problems; it was a horrible mindset, she knew it was, but she didn't stop. Flor knew that she had a pretty face, that she was attractive, that she could get almost anything she wanted. She took advantage of it. Anyone could learn to care about you if you gave them something to care about that they'd benefit from... Which was, in this case, a night where the air was hot and nobody actually slept. A few nice words was all it took. Hell, sometimes people didn't want nice; they wanted rough and frustrating and slightly stupid, but in a charming way. Florence was inclined to use either when she felt like it. When she [i wanted] it enough.]
[font "Times New Roman" What was not to want?]
[font "Times New Roman" Okay, so obviously Gweniviere had gotten to the chink in Florence's request: the wind was crazy and the overall idea was idiotic. They sort of stared at each other for a while, the younger agent unwilling to voice just how dumb she had sounded. Obviously Gwen knew. Obviously. It was all in that look that was clearly saying "are you fucking kidding me". Better let that one go without a fight.]
[font "Times New Roman" Florence visibly cringed when the Lieutenant referred to herself as "mommy". Bad joke, bad joke, will never be repeated again. Oh, gods, it was disgusting. She didn't mind being called 'honey'--had a soft spot for nicknames--but calling... Gweniviere...the tall, German, almost humorless woman... mommy? [i Never] happening again. Big mistake on Flor's part.]
[font "Times New Roman" [+teal "You win, dammit,"] the light-skinned woman said with a scrunched up nose, as if the word was a bad taste in her mouth. It almost felt tangible. [i Mommy.]]
[font "Times New Roman" Trying to keep her mind off Gweniviere's tongue wrapping around the words [i 'honey'] and [i 'mommy'], Florence shrugged. [+teal "What, so Smear's agents can't enjoy a nice cup of coffee in between breaking up militia in various parts of Africa and hackers getting their hands on nuclear launch codes? Boring. No wonder you seem so dead inside."] Besides, she was craving some coffee. Or maybe a milkshake? Yes, she'd love a milkshake! That was it. That was what she wanted. A nice milkshake and maybe some salty French fries to dip in it. Or maybe a salad? A nice salad or a healthy wrap?]
[font "Times New Roman" She couldn't figure out if she wanted to be Indulgent Florence or Healthy Florence.]
[font "Times New Roman" [+teal "But there's a granola bar in my bag, so do I have to be healthy?"] The female was almost completely zoned out, hand on her chin as she absently went back towards the door, following Gwen's lead. Clearance, schmearance. She couldn't leave her stranded out here... could she? Knowing what she knew so far about Gwen... the other woman probably would leave her there.]
[font "Times New Roman" Flor followed pretty uncomfortably close behind.]
[font "Times New Roman" She tapped her chin, eyebrows threading together in deep thought. [+teal "Gwen, quick question: would eating a granola bar be healthy? Or is that complete junk food and I can have a goddamn milkshake if I want? It would be really great if you didn't stare at me in disgust like I predict you doing because I [i really] need this question answered."]]
[font "Times New Roman" Maybe she was just asking the Lieutenant purely to tease and annoy her. Her intentions were foggy even to herself. The question didn't matter much--she'd get that milkshake if it killed her.]
[font "Times New Roman" Her childishness did not escape her. The gravity of her predicament a few minutes ago and the reality of the situation at hand were coming to light. It was a sort of... escape. She'd never figured out if this part was a figment of her personality or a part of something greater; she just knew she couldn't be too serious for long. It got boring, it got sad; people expected her to answer questions about herself after a while. The type of stuff it was kind of better to know about someone than not knowing--she didn't like being forced to do stuff like that. So her logic was if she just kept it as far away as possible, and pretended to be happy and bubbly and a little irritating, she'd get her way. It would all stop.]
[font "Times" "[B Not yet.]" Gweniviere agreed noncommittally with a sparing glance at the other woman.
"[B Mm. I see. but that still means a lot you cannot do, I imagine, addictive or not.]" she said, glancing over Flor. It was an unfortunate phenomenon, how many people were diagnosed with even mild depression, and its infinite amount of complications. Gweniviere was tempted to shake her head a bit in wonder but made an effort to stay still, should she be misinterpreted... again.
Her skin crawled at the petname of mom, her shoulders twitching. No, she didn't like the sound of that. But she got a note of amusement from it, thinking to herself [i You don't know the half of it. I'm old enough to be your great grandparent.] Huffing out her breath in a darkly amused note she did actually shake her head this time. This was going to be a long partnership, she was already yearning for it to end. The woman had half a mind to let the request go unmet like she had threatened to do earlier just to save herself the stress. Tempting, tempting yes. But if anything it would be good exercise. Clearly Smear wanted to exert itself on this, or they wouldn't have let the request through to consideration- so at this point it was an assignment that she would do better to accept.
Gweniviere's eyes slid to Florence's face. She looked right satisfied with herself for that comment, was she really that dull? Her eyes returned to the front, shifting her weight in preparation to leave. "[B Sex isn't always the answer.]" she stated, giving Florence a pointed glance over. "[B It helps ease pain, no vanish it.]" [i But, it helps immensely when you physically are no longer capable of becoming drunk- as a substitute at least, if brief.] she thought to herself bitterly. Her addictive behavior wouldn't help her professionally, so in a way it was a blessing that it didn't affect her anymore. It was hard enough to deal with the added deficit of substance abuse no longer being an option, unless in generally lethal doses which ended up making her sick, but without the previous effects that were desired. She glanced at Florence. The young woman had it so easy, to just assume like that. She didn't even know how easy.
Nodding, Gweniviere started to turn towards the door that led back inside. "[B I can get you a bottle of water.]"
Angling a suspicious look at the caramel skinned young woman, the super soldier glanced around, noting how both their hair was whipping into their faces and just quietly gazed at her before shaking her head. "[B I wouldn't think so.]" she trailed off, gazing at Florence to see if she understood why, nodding in agreement when she saw the other woman come to the conclusion.
"[B I'm afraid we'll have to go inside to at least [i procure] the documents.]" she said, giving Florence a deeply mocking look of concern, biting back at her comment on being called 'mother'. "[B Can I ask you to do that, [i honey]? Be strong for mommy?]" Saying it made a disgusted shiver crawl up her back, but if it was any amount of uncomfortable to say, surely it would be mortifying to hear, and she could only hope the matter would be dropped.
Pausing again, Gweniviere couldn't help but give the woman a sidelong gaze. She was so quick to change to another subject it was a miracle she had finished [i any] assignments before now, wasn't it? her eyes drifted, brows hovering together over her eyes as she shook her head again. "[B Not in the building.]" Gweniviere replied, "[B If you hadn't noticed, with all of the security and such, we aren't really-]" she paused for a moment, trying to find the perfect scathing word, "[B [i keen] to invite the public inside, don't you think?]" Arching a brow, Gweniviere did little to keep the sarcasm from her tone.
She fished in her pocket for her cellular, looking at the time. "[B But it is nearing my break. I could use something as well...]" the woman murmured, turning back towards the door with finality. "[B You don't have the security clearance to get back through this door without me, so I would suggest coming along, then. Your bag is still in my office anyways.]"
[font "Times New Roman" Florence could barely hold back a dismissive scoff, so she just looked away, muttering, [+teal "Well I'm not dead yet, am I?"]]
[font "Times New Roman" Her gaze strayed to Gweniviere for a millisecond before returning to the horizon as she crossed her arms. Was that a little bit of concern or was she just trying to make sure Flor wouldn't be in charge of driving while high off her meds? [+teal "They won't let me have anythng that might be addictive,"] she answered. The noise was barely above a mumble. She hated talking about it. [+teal "It's only antidepressants. I'm fine, mom."]]
[font "Times New Roman" They knew too much about her to let her try the alternative medication--it would work on the attack immediately and she wouldn't have to fucking suffer while not on it. She felt so fuzzy sometimes, like there was a cotton ball in her brain. It was hard to act like she was normal and not like some syrupy, run-down version of a person. She hated them. She hated the medication they gave her and tried to skip it most of the time, but they knew. Somehow, they always figured it out.]
[font "Times New Roman" She'd get a phone call in the middle of the night, it didn't matter, and it would just be a voice saying, "So you didn't take your medicine today?" Florence always tried explaining how they made her feel; she'd be met with a simple "that's a side effect" and told to carry on. Hell, she'd broken before and told them she'd go to therapy. That didn't work beyond two sessions.]
[font "Times New Roman" The breeze making her shiver tuned her back into the situation at hand. Gwen was standing near the edge of the building, making a tingle go up Florence's legs. She wasn't sure why; she wasn't afraid of heights. She wasn't too keen on looking down at the traffic below, either. Who fucking knew, she had so many issues that being afraid of heights just might be one of them.]
[font "Times New Roman" At the answer to her glacier comparison, Flor allowed a bit of a smirk to grow on her face. She was sliding back into her personality. [+teal "Nah, I think it just means you're not getting laid. And if you are, well, it's not very good, is it?"]]
[font "Times New Roman" She raised her eyebrows as if in questioning, but hoped the prestigious woman wouldn't actually answer it. It would be an odd answer to hear either way. Maybe she had just put herself in a bad position.]
[font "Times New Roman" [+teal "I could stand to treat myself to a cigarette, a drink, and a bed warmer, but we both know it's highly unlikely at this point. May as well just settle for a bottle of water and the cold."] The young agent smiled wryly, very aware of how terribly she was babbling to get the spotlight away from her insecurities.]
[font "Times New Roman" When she had attacks, they usually weren't that sudden or that paralyzingly severe. She wasn't sure what made this one so special, but she intended never to have to experience it again.]
[font "Times New Roman" Most of the time when she smiled or grinned, they were empty, completely for show. They were just meant to complete the look. Flor could almost hate how easy it was to do that.]
[font "Times New Roman" [+teal "Actually--can't we just bring the stuff up here? Like, where I can feel my fingers move? I'm sorry, but I just can't do it, I'd be cool doing work pretty much anywhere else in the city."] Florence held her hands out in a pleading gesture. [+teal "Please, Mom? Don't make me go back in there."] The side of her mouth began to pull up into a small smile but she quelled it to poke out her bottom lip. Granted, calling her new, icy partner "mom" wasn't hot and probably would get her punched in the throat, but it was a little funny to her. She figured maybe if she annoyed the woman enough, her propositions would be honored and they could move the show to a warmer location. She hated the cold.]
[font "Times New Roman" Though, in hindsight, bringing all those papers and everything to the roof sounded like the worst idea on the planet. Plus, taking them out in public was just looking for a reason to get shot or something. Also, cover blown pretty much instantly. Maybe her idea [i wasn't] so golden.]]
[font "Times New Roman" [+teal "I'm hungry,"] Florence added after a moment. [+teal "You guys got a cafe or something?"]]
[font "Times" The woman gave Flor a calm look, "[B I would if it were imperative to my reliability as an agent.]" she replied in a nonconfrontational manner, keeping her voice even. The woman was done with petty fighting with the littler woman- she was irritating as it already was, and the Lieutenant was not someone who would 'kick someone when they were down'. At least not often, she wasn't obsessively passive aggressive, only occasionally.
The snowy haired woman was gazing quietly down at Flor from where she was resting on the roof of the building, suffering the tickle of the ends of her short hair on her nose and face. Her pupils had narrowed sharply emerging out into the bright sun of the outside from the tinted, and artificial light of the building's interior. The building was in the urban area of Berlin, being operations base, one of its larger military establishments outside the city that they were technically attached to. But it was a quiet enough street, not too much traffic so aside from the wind, it was relatively quiet up where they were.
She nodded quietly at the quick explanation. It was enough, "[B Does it interfere with substance ingestion? Like is there something we need to watch out for when you're on it? How often must you take it?]" Gweniviere asked. She needed to know if it was a dangerous type of deal, or a minor issue. Her pale bros drew together as she gazed down at the other agent in a reserved concern.
Gweniviere slipped her hands in her pockets shifting her weight and glancing back through the door they had left through. "[B Operations buildings often are. They are meant for function.]" she said, turning back to her supposed partner with a touch of an admitting smile at the corners of her mouth, "[B But I thought this one was rather stylish. Really updated, you should have seen the last one.]"
Speaking of her partner, or rather studying her as the woman was, Gweniviere wondered where all of that irritating, narcissistic bravado went. It had fallen away so quickly- obviously a part of the condition she had, whatever it was, but they were often [i triggered] by something. Gweniviere's episodes were a result of PTSD and anxiety- she wondered then of course what could have brought the other to such physical distress. Her eyes flickered over the attractive woman, noting how her body language was relaxing. Well, if anything it was a quick episode.
She dropped her eyes, shifting her weight and moving towards the edge of the building, but lingering from the actual edge- just nearing it so she could gaze off of it. "[B And often, I'm not there for very long. I'm doing field work, going here or there, much like what you do, I imagine.]" she said, giving Florence, the mistress of inconsistent accents and apparently the collector and exhibitor of her many talents. Evidence of a spy, not an enforcer like the lieutenant was. But her basis had come in intelligence work like that, and it still was a large part of her expertise.
The German woman watched the anxiety slide out of Florence Drake's body as she got to her feet again. If anything she was trained well for the most part. She blinked placidly, feeling a bit of an emptiness form at the comment but knew it wasn't unwarranted. It had been decades since she had grown from something resembling the young woman, zealous, quick tempered and defensive, to what she saw as this- hollowness. Yet she was filled to the brim with so many inconsistencies. She couldn't help the mild touch of a smirk on her lips, nodding, "[B That means I'm doing my job correctly.]" she said, finally turning back again and slipped one hand from her pocket, gesturing at Florence. "[B Are you alright now? Do you need anything more?]" the previous military nurse asked mildly.
[font "Times New Roman" [i Embarrassing.]]
[font "Times New Roman" That was the only thing Florence could think as she tripped and stumbled in a desperate attempt to remain upright down the hallway. [i EMBARRASSING.]]
[font "Times New Roman" She was so focused on the rise and fall of her own chest that Gweniviere's voice was on the farthest edge of her recognition. It was the slight memory of a familiar voice that penetrated her concentration, causing her to cast her gaze around in a burst of paranoia--mistaking that voice for another old one.]
[font "Times New Roman" The young agent didn't have the energy reserves to roll her eyes, just kept stringing herself along.]
[font "Times New Roman" A tap on her shoulder brought her to the present; she hadn't even noticed that she had zoned out of it. She flinched slightly, turning doe eyes up at Gweniviere. Flor decided that, despite how much they may despise one another, getting her out of the building was in her best interest. She followed behind the taller woman, pinching the bridge of her nose as a headache started to knock gently on her forehead. She'd have some explaining to do.]
[font "Times New Roman" Florence composed herself enough to steel her jaw as they continued through the hallway, threading small amounts of confidence into her step. An actress, that was what she considered herself most of the time. The best actress that ever lived--so good, in fact, that she wasn't sure what the real her was like anymore.]
[font "Times New Roman" She didn't think about that too often.]
[font "Times New Roman" When fresh air hit her lungs, Florence could've almost laughed at her foolish panic attack, taking several steps out onto the tarmac before sinking down onto the ground. She pushed some of her hair behind her ear, gazing off into a small section of the city skyline. Calming, calming, calming...]
[font "Times New Roman" [+teal "Why would I want to put 'may have a panic attack at any time' in my application? Would you?"] She shook her head and peeled her blazer off her arms, crossing her legs under herself. She didn't look at Gweniviere on purpose, resting her elbow on her knee and her head on her hand.]
[font "Times New Roman" She got quiet, attuned to the feeling of her burning pulse slowing and becoming less of a prominent presence in her veins. The wind picked her hair up and blew it in her face almost as if in teasing, but she just pushed it back again, venturing a look up at her new blonde, German partner.]
[font "Times New Roman" [+teal "I have medicine for it,"] she continued almost as if absently. Florence wasn't much interested in explaining herself, but felt at least a little something was owed. Maybe. [+teal "Didn't get to take it today. "]]
[font "Times New Roman" And besides to speak of things they'd kept secret from one another--what was Gweniviere's deal? The scars, the height, the eyes, even her position at Smear--what did it all add up to? What the hell was she?]
[font "Times New Roman" The question was fighting to leave the tip of Florence's tongue, but the young caramel-skinned woman didn't let it. The moment was fragile enough with no one spitting acid and venom; and besides, she didn't feel like deflecting any questions she was sure she'd get.]
[font "Times New Roman" Besides, Florence Drake was in perfect physical, mental, and emotional health. She didn't have panic attacks. She was from France, a middle-class family, studied in America for two years with her father before deciding she didn't like it and returning to Europe. Now she sort of traveled.]
[font "Times New Roman" That was the story they'd come up with this time around.]
[font "Times New Roman" Big Brother was awfully good at making people disappear.]
[font "Times New Roman" Flor sniffed, biting her lip thoughtfully for a moment before speaking. [+teal "That building is a soul-crushing place and it's cold as fuck in there. I don't get how you can just be there all day. It's enough to drive anyone crazy."]]
[font "Times New Roman" The woman cracked her neck and rose to her feet, balancing precariously on her heels for a moment as she got up, blazer slung over her shoulder. [+teal "You remind me of an ice glacier."]]
[font "Times" [i Preferences... she probably meant pronunciation.] The woman mused to herself, taking in all of the information she was being given. [i That means she is either not a native English speaker, or is simply not in possession of a very large vocabulary...] the woman thought, nodding to florence neutrally.
"[B Oh, I believe it.]" The Lieutenant said, watching how the other agent carried herself. Her eyes narrowed some in confusion. Something was wrong. She was unsettled, and the removal of the bow made her suddenly realize what was going on. Gweniviere herself, and many other sufferers, pulled at their clothes like that at times of attacks like this. The Lieutenant had suffered few, that she was aware of, but had done her research and her own observation.
"[B Yes,]" Gweniviere said slowly, her eyes tracing the amber skinned woman's trajectory across her office with a calm reserve. "[B and the fact that this is still being sold, as far as we know, means that these deaths have all been small time. No big boys have been killed yet so it hasn't been caged as dangerous yet.]"
"[B I would say possible dealer in common, I suppose.]" Gweniviere posed. This was by far not her expert area, being a governmental entity usually, but apparently this Big Brother had paid top dollar to get someone of the woman's caliber to work with them, or someone else was taking this seriously. The doctor was right, this really wasn't normal for her. She felt out of her element for the first time in a long time. "[B Otherwise, most likely just a coincidence.]"
Gweniviere grew quiet as Florence continued, noting her rising discomfort. The woman nodded quietly, her arms crossed as she watched the dark haired woman's body language, giving her quiet hums of acknowledgement until she finally pitched herself towards the door. Her arms uncrossed, face falling slack from her concentrating look as she glanced at the abandoned bag in the chair. She strode after the young woman and into the hallway and followed after Florence. "[B Hey, hey, hey-]" she glanced around, gesturing away another agent that thought that she was speaking to him and gave him a sharp look.
The super soldier's long legs and stride easily got her to catch up to Florence, tapping her shoulder and gesturing her down the right junction. She met resistance initially, frowning at her, "[B Hey, you want out? Follow me and focus on calming down.]" she said with soft authority, gesturing down the hall again and leading the way.
Having worked at Hydra operations at this present building since its foundation she knew the area well. She didn't touch Florence any more than that, knowing the signs of what she was going through and also knowing the fact that being what she was, and after their roust earlier she herself wasn't sure if even in this situation that Florence would want contact. Though, internally, almost the existence of the panic attack seemed to ensure that Gweniviere, if Florence was convinced that she didn't win the argument, or if neither of them did, she at least had had an impact.
Her mouth was set tight and her face was serious as she glanced around, leading Florence outside into the actual air and dispatching any people who served as obstacles until they found the roof near the helicopter pad where a black vehicle was crouched, awaiting to be told to lift its bulk up into the air once again by its pilot. There was no one else there but there was a breeze that ruffled the super soldiers hair, now taken from its cultured part shown to be a bit longer than it seemed now freed from the constraint of stillness.
Glancing around the woman slipped her hands into her pockets, tilting her head back to get a good look at the blue sky peeking through some mismatched clouds above and sighed. "[B This would have been a very important thing I wish was brought up sooner.]" she mused to herself, glancing briefly at Florence. "[B Do you need water?]"
[font "Times New Roman" Florence took several deep breaths through her nose as she listened to Gwen more or less state her grievances. She nodded just to make it look like she was listening, but she was hardly paying attention. It was starting to feel like she was losing her mind; the anxiety would cripple her soon. If she couldn't calm down, things would get supremely embarrassing for her.]
[font "Times New Roman" [+teal "Emotions are a conflict of interest,"] she said after a small gasp. [+teal "Especially on missions of this caliber. Keeping up the accent of a language you more or less just learned is real work, excuse me if I'm still tweaking my preferences."]]
[font "Times New Roman" She was struggling to keep any remnants of her composure, but she pressed on, her trembling legs carrying her across the room. She tossed her bag back into the chair that held the two discarded dossiers and tried to gracefully lower herself down into the other.]
[font "Times New Roman" [+teal "Believe it or not, I have other important things to do that go into the "fucking off" category. Deal."] The woman hunched over a bit, her fingers lodged into her hair, pushing it back off her forehead as she looked around the office again and tried to keep her heart from pounding out of her chest. It almost felt like if Gweniviere stopped talking, she'd probably be able to hear it.]
[font "Times New Roman" She was finding herself back in the mind of her younger self, in that slum that was always so dirty, laughing laughing laughing--suffering. It was so odd how one could bleed internally and not have a scratch on the outside, alternatively.]
[font "Times New Roman" Florence squeezed her eyes shut and got up again, pacing, untying the bow tie and ripping it from around her neck. It felt like it was [i strangling] her. Like it was plotting to end her life. Maybe it was.]
[font "Times New Roman" [+teal "Okay, okay, okay... So all the addicts that died, they don't have any kind of history together,"] she pretty close to mumbled as she roughly ran a hand through her hair. She was trying to anchor herself to the present, trying to convince herself [i she] was real, that this problem was real. She'd left everything else behind. She was Florence Drake now. That other girl didn't exist, drowned to death years ago. That was her fate.]
[font "Times New Roman" [+teal "Except a few of them went to the same high school..."] Her heels clacked as she went over to Gwen, trying to get herself from the mountain summit she was finding herself on, as she pointed to a few of the marks on the map. [+teal "Here, here, and here... It's possible they had a dealer in common or the whole connection is just coincidental."]]
[font "Times New Roman" She felt like screaming. The veins in her neck strained, eyebrows threaded together as if in intense confusion as she looked down at her own hands. Eventually she just shook her head, moving her hair around again as she moved past the Lieutenant and collected her things.]
[font "Times New Roman" [+teal "I really do have to go, Gweniviere."] She shook her head again as if confirming what she'd already stated. She didn't have her medicine, she couldn't do it by herself, and she didn't want to break down in tears or worse in the presence of this German... machine.]
[font "Times New Roman" Flor was sure there would be questions about the occurence, and not the concerned type. Her attacks usually never bothered her as long as she took her medicine. If she didn't, however, even the littlest thing could send her spiraling. It was a desperate feeling, paralleled to dying, and she loathed it. But she couldn't help it. It had become a part of her much like an arm or other prized appendage and she couldn't seem to part with it.]
[font "Times New Roman" [+teal "Call me or come to my hotel, I don't care, request a new partner, I have to go."] The young agent unbuttoned the top button of her shirt, shoving her tie in the bag in a flurry of rushed, impatient motion.]
[font "Times New Roman" Her heart was pounding in every vein and artery in her body as she tried to hurry up and make her way back to the door. It was a mistake to leave it in the first place.]
[font "Times New Roman" [+teal "I'm not asking you to do this mission [i for] me, [i Nietzsche]. I don't--I just..."]]
[font "Times New Roman" Florence cut herself off, opening the door and rushing through it without finishing her sentence. No time, no time. Her heart was pounding like she was jumping out of an airplane or drowning out at sea. It was getting worse because she wasn't tending to it, trying to win like it was a fight or something. Trying to power through it and losing fantastically.]
[font "Times New Roman" Her breaths became shallow as she returned to the horribly cold hallway, walking with a purpose to [i get out], get lost. It was getting even more severe; it felt like the walls were retracting into one another, threatening to crush her.]
[font "Times New Roman" A yelp escaped from her mouth. She was suffocating.]
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