2009-12-20: All Alone In A Crowd

Starring:

Tammy_V4icon.pngStephanie2_V4icon.png

Date: December 20th, 2009

Summary:

Tammy goes out to meet her mysterious caller, and then spends the better part of their encounter trying to convince 'Julie' that she's no more than a mere therapist. Will it work, or will the standard denials fall through?


"All Alone In A Crowd"

Times Square, NY

It's eleven fifty-five by her watch, though that's three minutes off if the giant digital clock outside the bank is to be believed. Tammy stands on a crowded corner, a trenchcoat over her sweater, blazer, and blouse, and leg-warmers under her charcoal slacks. It was layers upon layers, including wook-knit gloves on her hands, for the agent, and she was still cold enough that she kept both hands wrapped around her styrofoam cup of Starbuck's Hazelnut to stop her fingers from freezing.

There's a prodigious yawn as she stands still in the veritable sea of moving people and bobbing heads, the culmination of too many hours at the office, not enough sleep, and not nearly enough caffeine to make up for either, much less both. Christmas shoppers and lunch-goers make their way around her, the occasional one jostling her lightly, once while she was in the midst of trying to sip from her beverage, which causes an indignant 'hey', and for her to clutch her purse closer to her, to avoid any pickpockets who might steal something that really shouldn't be stolen.

"Ugh, if this is just some kid messing with me…" With a tired sigh, she shoves up her sleeve to check her analog watch again, noting it was now twelve on the dot.

Twelve o'clock, and her cell phone rings, the ring-tone going off. There's plenty of crowd around; Times Square during lunchtime is about as busy as it gets. If the woman who called is here…she could be almost anyone.

"I'm just a material girl~
And I'm living in a material world~"

Oh yes, that's Tammy's ringtone of choice lately, and it goes off in the crowd right on time. She takes a moment to fish it out of her pocket, thanking the good lord above that no one was paying attention, or knew her, to hear the silly tone. Her reputation as a hardass at work would be ruined otherwise.

The lavender cellular device is flipped open, the unrecognizable number is noted, and then the receiver is placed to her ear. "Lansing. Let's make this quick, I have other things to do today."

The voice that replies is the same voice as yesterday. "Miss Lansing. So good of you to come. Now, since Times Square is such a busy, busy place, and I don't have the benefit of knowing what your pretty face looks like, do me the favor of putting both arms straight up over your head for a moment."

"You've got to be kidding me…" Muttering to herself with a roll of her eyes, Tammy stifles another yawn, using her cuphand to cover it as she glares around at the crowd, damning whatever fool notion had urged to entertain this idea. "Fine, fine, but if you're a sniper, I'm going to be pissed."

With that pleasant platitude spelled out, Tammy groans, holding up both her hands, coffee in one, phone in the other, and giving a little hop, just for good measure. She was half-asian, after all, and they weren't exactly known for their height. After a half-minute, her arms lower again, and the phone is back at her ear, wedged between her ear and her shoulder, so that both hands could warm themselves on the rapidly-cooling beverage. "There. Did you see it? I'm tired of running up my phone bill with you.

The voice sounds amused. "If I was a sniper, you'd be dead, not pissed." And then…the people begin filtering out of Times Square. Nothing like a panic, or running. They just begin moving out. Walking, in a smooth-but-unhurried nature, filing out of Times Square in an orderly fashion. It starts nearest to Tammy, spreading out from there, leaving the woman in a gradually receding sea of humanity.

"Oh, that can't be any good." At first, Tammy doesn't notice anything unusual about her sudden receival of space around her. But after several more moments, there was entirely too much space around her, as if invisible police officers were herding people away from her due to some biological plague that only she didn't know about. She turns around, frowns, then turns around again, frowning some more.

The phone is kept balanced between her ear and shoulder, thus freeing her hand to reach up and unbutton the top of her coat, in case she became in desperate need to use her firearm. She wasn't a field agent, dammit, she needed to stop coming out to place to meet people! "Okay, okay, cute trick. Come out, already, this is getting pretty old, and it's colder than a rainy day in Seattle out here."

More and more. The people continue to filter out. As the streams of people pass over the crosswalks, even the cars that were behind them are gone. Tammy is suddenly there, standing alone in Times Square, as if the city itself were devoid of people. It's silent, too. Even the normal sounds of the city are missing. Ghost town.

From out of one of the shops comes a figure. Female, red-haired, tall. She's dressed simply, in a leather jacket and jeans, walking out towards Tammy. She has a cell phone in her hand, and she pointedly closes it, the cell in Tammy's hand reporting call ended. The redhead walks closer to the agent, stopping finally about 20 feet away. "I thought we could use a little privacy. Wouldn't do to go spilling governmental secrets in the ears of the common folk, now would it?"

As the phone in her hands goes dead, Tammy snaps it shut, lowering it from her ear, to jam into the front waist pocket of her overcoat. She takes several moments to look around, pointedly at the surrounding, eerily silent environments before locking eyes on the redheaded woman once more.

"Cute trick. I'm highly doubting you've attained the level of mind manipulation needed to control so many people, else the world would already be dancing to your tune. So I'll just assume none of this is real and people are watching me stare at nothing and talk to myself in the street."

She nonchalantly takes a pointed drink of her cappuccino, noting with dissatisfaction that it had gone lukewarm since her last sip from it. "What makes you think I have any government secrets to give you, anyway? If your information is as accurate as you believe, you'd know that I'm a CIA psychological analyzer. If you want to torture the Deputy Director's mommy issues out of me, then great. Otherwise…"

The redhead smiles. "Maybe. Maybe I'm not interested in running the world. Or maybe it's all in your head. And I'm interested in Alpha Protocol. I figure you might have done some psychological studies on your fellow co-workers. Or maybe I'm just looking to get some information. So. Since you're theorizing that this is all in your head, it's a fair bet that I've already been able to get whatever I wanted out of your mind. But, I like being sociable. My name's Julie, Tammy. There. Now we're on a first name basis." She gestures to a bench. "Why don't you sit down, and tell me everything about Alpha Protocol."

"You may call me Agent Lansing." The response is automatic after using her first name, the redheaded Julie receiving a dull, flat stare of disfavor for trying to use her given name. Regardless, she maneuvers herself towards the bench, dusting off part of the seat before deigning to place her rear on it. She balances the coffee in her hand on her thigh, crossing her legs at the ankles to help conserve body heat.

"If you're really in my head, then you could at least make me think it was warm. And you'd already know that my answer is, quite predictably, 'I've never heard of Alpha Protocol.' If such an organization did exist," She reaches up, brushing aside a few stray bangs that the wind had pulled loose from her bun. "Then it's members would have all signed non-disclosure agreements, which would make them very, very prosecutable should they ever discuss their agency's business."

There's a minor pause. "Now did you have anything for me, or were you just hoping I would commit hypothetical treason for free?"

Julie smiles, and indeed, the area starts to warm up. It goes from winter to balmy summer temperatures in a matter of a few moments, as if this is her way of proving that, yes, she's in Tammy's head. "Tsk-tsk, Tammy. I've already /got/ the list, with you on it. And everyone else. Besides, if this is all in your head, then the only person who's ever going to disclose anything about our little conversation is you. Now…you're a smart woman. Which means that since we've proved I'm in your head, then you realize I could make this a lot more unpleasant for you. In short…you're not bargaining from a position of strength. You can give me what I want…or you can suffer. A lot. Now, if you play nice, I'll play nice too, and we can try to figure out why someone from Primatech is involved in this little debacle?"

"You have a list, which, by itself neither proves nor disproves anything." Despite the warming conditions, Tammy doesn't remove a single article of clothing, not willing to risk frostbite back in the real world for a bit of comfort in this one. Instead, she simply settles in for what could be a long afternoon of imagining herself sweating through the layers of coat, overcoat, sweater, and shirt she had on.

"Primatech Paper Corporation was shut down due to the death of it's CEO and it's eventual connection to something called the Lindermann group. Anyone with Google powers can tell you that. Beyond that, it's not the CIA's policy to investigate corporations, or mobsters. If you'd like to find out more about that sort of thing, I'd recommend talking to the FBI. Specifically the Organized Crime Bureau."

"As for the other name you mentioned, this 'Noah Bennet', apparently he was an employee of this group, but beyond that, there's precious little I can tell you of him. I certainly don't know the man. I'd wager you know more about him than I do."

Julie looks annoyed. She had to pick a name off the list, and it looks like she chose poorly. "So, it's just coincidence, then." Her eyes narrow. "Tell me what you do for them, Tammy." She walks closer, moving up to the woman there. "Why does Alpha Protocol need a CIA psychological analyzer?" She looks like she's less smug, more angry now, as she realizes there are road bumps in her little scheme.

Watching as the woman stalks closer, Tammy remains calmly seated with a serene expression she did not feel, wondering all the while why she ever bothered to leave her nice little office and leave the field work to the freaking field agents. She clears her throat with a small murmur, before offering a benign smile.

"Besides recruiting from the same pool of agents, the CIA, BCA, FBI, and NSA all share one common thing: they are high-stress jobs which place a great deal of mental and emotional strain on those who make them a career, whether out in the field or behind a desk. I'm a licensed psychiatrist, so I'll give you three guesses what I do for them, but I think you're only going to need one. I'm a therapist, Miss Julie, and I give periodic evaluations into the mental stability of agents within my division. Basically, after traumatic events, I offer counseling and then advise their supervisors on whether they are fit for their duties, they should be given paid leave, or politely asked to retire from active service."

Julie is wiling to go out on a limb here, and take a guess. "So, no more tag-and-bags, then? You're not there to investigate the latest captive of the week?" She's referring to Primatech, but she's betting that there's SOME connection between these two. You don't hire Noah Bennet for something that isn't black ops. The ground under the bench where Tammy is sitting bursts into flame at that, starting to crackle under her. "Because if you're a therapist, you might recognize an unstable, sociopathic type of gal." Narrowed eyes look back. "Tell me what. I. Want. To. Know."

"Tag and bags? If you're implying that I- Ah!"

The ground under her bursting into flame prompts Tammy to jump to her feet, tossing the coffee aside in order to hasten her panicky departure from the bench. She holds up her hands, backing away from the girl, licking her lips as she looks around, half-expecting to find writhing snakes, or something similarly weird, crawling across the ground at her.

"I can indeed, and you're certainly showing some classical symptoms. I'm guessing from your entitled attitude that you either had indulgent or wealthy parents. But I'm not here to offer you counseling, ma'am." She backs up another step. "I'm not a field agent, so I don't have the kind of answers you want! If you were looking for a spy, you've found one only in the most vaguest of senses. You might as well have pulled a data-entry clerk out of the compound at Langley and interrogate her as squeeze these answers out of me. Even our PR reps would know more about captives than I."

Julie glares, and starts over towards Tammy. No creepy-crawlies…at least not yet. "I ought to kill you." She says, voice venomous. "Or else just pull on a couple strings here and a couple strings there, and leave you so batshit insane that you'll spend the rest of your life babbling to people just like you." Oh, yeah. She's lost her shit. Unstable girl is unstable. "I could do that, you know." And her hate-filled gaze that she's got turned on Tammy right now is suggesting she might. "Goddamn it. Anyone I might have gotten, and I get a twerp from the psych department."

"Look, let's be reasonable. If you do something to me, others at the Agency will know, and they'll come looking for the person that did it. It'll also end all hope you have of finding answers, with all of our agents out looking for a murderer instead of answering strange phonecalls. There's no reason for this to get out of control."

She holds up her hands and backs up a step for every one the redhead takes closer to her. "What happened to playing nice, Julie? I've given you what I can, and pointed you in the direction of the FBI's OCB. They'll have more information on anyone or anything connected to organized crime than anyone at the CIA or NSA combined. Our jobs are foreign threats, the FBI handles the domestic ones. Now this twerp has given you what she could, just as you wanted, and would really like to get back to the real world now."

Tammy knew just how tricky the mind could be, and someone who could tamper directly with it wasn't exactly high on her 'want to meet' list. "We can still part ways amicably, I'm glad to have been of service."

The redhead looks back. "You're useless." she practically spits back at Tammy. "I'll go with someone else. Not everyone is going to be as useless as you are. And such a bitch to deal with, either." With that, the redhead turns, and she starts to stalk away from Tammy. "Enjoy your uselessness. While it lasts." And with that, it's like someone turned the channel back to "real world". Sounds return first, then sights, as the people of Times Square return, even as the redhead seems to melt away. It leaves her there, in the crowded city center, with no more answers than she started with. But at least the redhead is in the same boat.

She doesn't argue her 'uselessness' with the other woman, as that's exactly what she'd spent the better part of her time convincing her of since this whole ordeal started. She just gulps and nods her head dumbly while the other woman walks away. And then the real world fades back into view, with people, noises, and others bumping into and all.

Not wasting any time, the agent turns and begins making her way out of Times Square, pulling out a different cellphone from the one she had been taking the strange phone calls on, scrolling through her phone book until she found the name she wanted. The receiver is placed to her ear as soon as she presses the 'send' button, looking around suspiciously as she quick-steps back in the direction she had left her car, six blocks away.

"Hey, it's Lansing. Yeah, meeting's over, and we have got a problem…"

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