2010-09-22: Playing the Piper



Date: September 22, 2010


George fills in Evette on what he can do, and what he was trying to do during his first term. In turn, she fesses up about her approach to strikebreaking— but she still thinks he's a jerk.

"Playing the Piper"

George's office, New York City

The work week continues on. Evette was more than a little annoyed at the missed meeting. However, she has yet to grill him about it. Yet. For now the day seems relatively calm as the evening hours are creeping up upon them. Workers and assistants are fluttering from desk to desk while coffee cups are refilled and projects move forwards.

It is this time that Evette walks into George's office. She has a calendar in her hand and a smile upon her features. Yes, a true smile. In this moment, she's even quite nice to look upon. "You'll be happy to know that we are up in the polls." She might even offer another of those celebration booty wiggle dances, but sadly she is reserved enough not to.

He's been taking the opportunity to review some odds and ends that have mostly been running on autopilot for a while. Like the Special Projects department - officially listed on paper as a handful of unassociated interns and consultants, and its floor space allegedly split between a computer server room and a utility closet - but still quietly maintained, in case there's ever another large-scale issue involving the Evolved that he needs to throw them at. The regular staff would ask too many inconvenient questions.

Slipping the hanging folder back into its drawer, George nods to Evette as she approaches. "I thought I heard something like that in the break room. I'd rather be hearing it at T minus one day instead of forty, but…"

Evette blinks for a moment and drops into one of the chairs across from him. "Hey this is good news even at forty days. I mean really, you never want to be behind in the polls." Her hand lifts to make sure her hair is perfectly in place. It is. Then she looks over his desk. "Soooo…"

That is the first of the words to pass her lips before she looks him up and down. "About the meeting that was scheduled and then oddly unscheduled. What did you do during that time?" Her eyes study him as she waits for an answer. There is something about that study that seems too intense. It's almost like she's trying to read something.

Of course she was going to grill him about it! She grills him about everything. "I took some personal time," George replies without hesitation, "so I wouldn't have to argue with you about fitting some in later on. Nothing you'd need to spin-doctor, if that's what you're asking." Which it probably is; if she's started buying his claims of not being a serial womanizer, then she's kept up a good poker face about the subject.

Evette rolls her eyes. "We talked about this and you agreed after the election." She doesn't raise her voice. Afterall, they are in the office. She does stand up to close the door and the blinds. The music should play for a crime drama is about to get taken to task. She slips back into the chair. "Or is it that I can't depend on your word any more?" Her blues look up at his, but they aren't angry. She's just observing him. It's almost like she's trying to read his mind or something. You know, if she had those powers.

On the up side, no one else on staff will get to listen in on the rest of the argument. On the down side, if the gossip mill is feeling particularly creative, it might suggest that the two of them aren't actually arguing behind those closed doors. He'll have to keep an ear out.

"I agreed to give you advance warning if I was planning to take some," replies George, leaning back in his chair. "But this— They canceled on us, and it was seven in the evening before they found out they needed to. Who else were we going to schedule on one hour's notice? It was dead time, plain and simple. And I didn't see any harm in taking advantage."

"Damnit George!" Evette offers as she puts her hand up between her eyes. She's getting a wrinkle. She can feel him giving her, her first wrinkle. Soon it will be gray hair. Then she'll be rocking in a corner. Her eyes move up to his after closing for a moment. Yeah, saying your bosses name behind closed doors isn't good for rumor mills. Luckily, she's not screaming it. Then she breathes out.

"Look I get this is hard for you. I get that. I'm giving up all my free time for this. We are in push. How do you know what I couldn't schedule? You didn't even tell me. Someone else on staff did. Enough. Suck it up and stay on schedule until November." Evette comes to her feet to pace. "I'm not going to fail at this. I get you don't like me but stop sabotaging me and my position here."

"Well, I'm still not convinced that you should be," George counters. "If you're planning to take a few months off after this contract— but you aren't, are you? You're going to jump right on your next gig and ride that one at 88 miles an hour. I've seen it before, and they always burn out sooner or later." He leans forward across the edge of the desk, setting another folder aside as he continues. "And even if you and I can hold it together for that long, there's going to be someone in the office who can't. So don't sabotage yourself, all right? Build a little more give into the plan than what you think you need."

"I don't care about the rest of the office, I can handle that." Evette is one of those types. She leans in towards him to use his own advantage move. It is as if she's trying to tip the power scale back on her side. "I won't burn out. So you don't need to worry. I'm sure you will be happy to send me on my way. I only have to worry about you keeping up through the contract." She shakes her head a bit to that and forces herself to keep her eyes on his.

They could keep this up all season, and go prematurely gray together. Or he could fire her, and a dozen other problems could land in his lap all at once. Or he could go along with her playbook— but he's not about to. He's all for delegating when it makes sense, but this is his life she's treating like the proverbial square peg.

It's time to go to left field.

"I like playing cards in my free time," he says, apropos of nothing. "I haven't had all that much free time except on the train, even before you came along— Do you play at all?" He actually takes a pack out of his desk drawer, too, so apparently he's not completely making this up. Where's he going with it, though?

Evette lowers her brows at this bit of a change. She can handle being at his throat, that part is not new to her. This one might be. There is an opening of her eyes before she narrows them. "I am not going to gamble for your time, so you can stop that thought right there." She shakes her head. "I only know a few card games. My brother is the card player in the family. I never took the time. I'm more.. driven." Her eyes study the cards and then move back up to his.

George shakes his head. "Furthest thing from my mind!" That much is true, too; it would be way too obvious, there are plenty of sleight-of-hand tricks available to anyone who bothers to do the research. "This one's pretty straightforward - not like bidding code in bridge, however the hell that works - we can play the first round face-up, anyway." As he speaks, he deals a couple of piles in quick succession, pushing one over toward Evette and fanning it out.


Evette watches the cards as they are dealt out. "We don't really have the time to play cards. I could be doing something other than this." Behind closed doors. She gives him an annoyed glance, not that he's not use to it. Then her eyes fall on the cards as he deals them. "What is the name of this card game anyways?" She watches the first card go down and thinks nothing of it. Followed by the next and then the next. This continues until…


Evette's face starts to go a bit white as each of the cards are laid out. The woman starts to sit up a bit in her chair a bit more as they are. In total there are ten cards before her. Ten cards that capture her breath and have the girl frowning. Ten cards that speaks the man knows too much about her. But how? Her lapis blue eyes lift up to his and hold there.

Six - Ace - Nine - Seven - Ace - Seven - Deuce - Five - Deuce - Four

Evette looks up at him. "How do you know my father's phone number?"

Those few seconds could be time enough for any number of paranoid theories to run through her head. What George says next, though, probably doesn't fit any of them - unless she did read his mind, but then she wouldn't need to ask.

"I didn't." He lets that hang in the air, waiting for her next reaction.

Evette just stares at the numbers laid out before her and then at him. "Strange things seem to just happen around you sometimes, George." The words are given with a blink or two as she looks at her father's number. Instead of being joyous at the occassion, Evette looks like she wants to throw up right there on the spot.

"Mmm, I've noticed." Setting the rest of the deck aside - he really did have a game in mind, but it can wait for another day - George leans back in his seat again. "If you consider that a hostile work environment… well, I can always arrange a severance bonus. And a letter of recommendation, not that you need one but everyone will expect it anyway."

Evette looks up to that. "You are firing me?" Her brows knit together to that. Then she pulls her head up as if she's been slapped. Whatever moment of true emotion was in her features is gone in a blink of an eye. She just stares at him for a few moments and then comes to her feet. "You could have just said so without all the card tricks."

George stares back. "What? No, I'm offering you an out. On the other hand, if you do want to stick around… well, now you understand why I probably can't keep a perfect schedule, even if I wanted to." Even if he wasn't a stubborn son of a bitch, he really means. "But I'll try to keep it from getting too messy."

Evette sighs softly as she paces the room. She suddenly wishes she smokes. Maybe she could go bum one off of the staff. The thought occurs and causes her eyes to move towards the door. "I am not known to be flexible. There is too much riding on this for me to fail. Look.. I.." She stops and pinches the bridge of her nose. Then she looks back towards the man. There is a tip of her head. "I'm not going to quit. Quitting is one of the worst forms of failure." She comes over to slink into one of the chairs. "I could use a drink."

And now it's his turn to arch a brow. "Huh. I was wondering what this was about—" Leaning down out of sight for a moment, George sets a bottle of Rey Sol down on top of the desk. "Guy from a think tank left this here this morning, seemed to think he was buying something for his trouble. There should be some glasses in the break room…"

Evette stares at him and mutters. "If you tell me the color of my panties, you are going to really make me wonder." She shakes her head and then steps out of the room for a moment. Oh this looks just great. She's frazzled walking out of the closed office. Then she goes to get glasses before coming back to that office and closing the door. Let's face it half the people are waiting to see if she's fired by the time she leaves today. One fourth is waiting for a death. The other fourth is waiting for.. well the opposite side of things. She sits back down and offers up the glasses.

As weird a night as it is, it could be worse; she could have taken a drink before stepping back out. As it is, George waits till the door's closed again before pouring a couple of shots, gesturing with his once the awkwardly fancy bottle is safely stowed once again. "And don't worry, I left my X-ray specs back at the apartment," he adds.

Evette smirks and crosses her long legs as she sits back down. "You want to take a shot anyways? I mean you have a knack for saying the right answers." The cards are pushed to a pile as she waits for the tequila. There is a momentary smile. "Besides, I'm sure I'm not really the type you want to use them on."

George waits till she's picked up the drink before he says anything else. "Not really, it's probably a trick question and you're not wearing any at all." God help him if that is the right answer. "And— well, I'm sure you're someone's type, but I don't think we'd get along that way better than any other. And I am seeing someone."

Evette picks up the drink and just stares at him for a moment. She does not say yes or no to if that guess was right but she looks mildly uncomfortable. There is a nod of her head. "You are seeing someone or someones?" The question is poised as she takes that shot. Then she chuckles. "No. I am not anyone's type and I'm fine with that. I don't expect you to understand this, but… I'm horrible at relationships." She gives him that who'd have thunk it look.

George takes a sip - "Mmm." - and sets the glass aside. He's going to vote against them anyway, but he won't complain if it takes them a while to figure it out. "Really, now. If it were 'someones', don't you think I'd jump all over the idea of you covering it up?" To the other part, he merely shrugs: what sort of relationship advice could he possibly give her? And even if he could, she probably wouldn't want to hear it coming from him.

Evette shakes her head. "No. Trust me. I've seen men and what they do with power." She pushes the glass forwards for a bit more of the tequila. Then she stops talking. Her head tips to the side. "Right. Employee. So tell me of this person you are seeing? Is she legal? Does she have her head on straight? Are you going to propose in a press conference after only dating her for a short time?"

Oi, this again. Yes, mommy, I hear you. "Five months is short?" George retorts, still pretty defensive about it: hindsight, sure, but it seemed like a great idea at the time. "But— yes, comfortable margin on both fronts. And we've been taking it slow, not that either of us has had much choice in the matter."

"Well then you can thank me when you have a successful relationship." Evette offers to that in her sultry tones. They aren't being used as flirtatious though. Her eyes lift up to him for a long moment. It is as if she's considering something. "Is she willing to hold off on the relationship until after November? Or is she the one you are sneaking off with when things just randomly fall into place?"

At first, there's no answer, just a quiet stare. "I don't get you at all," George finally admits. "I mean, obviously someone you've worked for in the past was a complete jackass - these opinions didn't just come out of nowhere - but why stick with it? Do you just feel like you've painted yourself into a corner or something?"

Evette arches her brows to that that. "Did you just try to turn this around on me to avoid answering my questions?" Her long hair is shaken out a bit as she releases them from their hairpins. Eve leans back in the chair. "I've been shown them. I know it is hard for someone like you to understand. However, once you've been burned you make sure it never happens again. I like to learn from my mistakes."

Of course he did! He didn't expect it to actually work, but it never hurts to try anyway. "Tell you what," replies George, "I'll answer that question if you tell me what strings you really pulled with Daniel. Or did you think I wouldn't hear about his boss chewing his ass out as soon as he thought no one else was listening?" And now that Evette's been shown what kind of strings he can pull, she ought to be able to work out what he suspects about her.

Oh. That. Evette pauses and takes another drink of the tequila. Her eyes water a bit as that one goes down. There's a breath. "Fine, you tell me and then I will tell you what I did." She looks at him with open expectation in her eyes. There is even a bit of a challenge there.

"Fair enough. All right, I snuck off with her that once - the other time was the one you knew about beforehand." And the other other times were before they were dating. And also before Evette was hired, and therefore none of her damn business. "So—?"

Evette thinks this over for a few moments. "So, you are going against what you said you would do." She looks at him and then laughs a lot to that. In fact, she almost can't breathe. "You know, it's funny. You sit there like I should believe people and you give me this riot act. Yet you are just confirming my opinions with your dishonesty." She shakes her head. It almost looks like she's not going to say anything. "I can um.. persuade people to my path. If I wanted I could convince you that I was your best friend and you'd believe it. I alter.. realities, you can say."

A longer silence passes while George considers that one. It is what he suspected, but to have her admit it outright makes it more real, somehow. "Well, now I really don't know what to do with you," he admits. "Would you like to know what was really going on back in April? Why I suddenly felt the need to flaunt Hallis in front of all the cameras?"

It also means one other thing. She could have convinced him through her powers never to see a person again. Or removed the person from his memory (not that he knows that part). Yet, she's done none of that even when it means fighting with him. She looks up at him. "Sure, why don't you tell me? The fact doesn't change that you did. It doesn't change the fact that your break up from Hallis caused a political fall out. It also doesn't change the fact that you dating someone new in four months after an engagement will cause another scandal. Which is why you need to wait until after November." She's speaking calmly but might be eyeing the drink more. She looks to see if he's had any of his to drink. "If you are so in love, it will last not seeing her until after Novemeber. It will look better for both you and her."

"Well, let me put it in perspective for you." George's glass is still nearly full, but he finishes off about half of it before continuing. "Somehow - don't ask me how, I have no idea - the government got wind of people like us. Now we've all seen movies about that sort of thing, they panic and start locking everyone up on trumped-up charges, and it seemed at first that that's exactly what they were doing. Then it turned out that they wanted to use us instead… the next Iran-Contra deal wouldn't be about missiles, it'd be about human weapons. Hell, they tried to get the president under their thumb— using an ability a lot like yours."

"So, some of us did what we could. I managed to pull together a few people." Sliding that one drawer open again, he takes out the hanging folder and passes it across the desk to her. "Senator Petrelli's whistleblowing was really blowing the whistle on them, he asked me to run a distraction— I figured announcing the engagement then would fit the bill. And you remember how he got repaid for his trouble."

"So, this waiting-till-after-November business? Is small potatoes. I don't need the voters shallow enough to let the decision turn on something like that— if I can't win without them, then hell with it, I'll go back into the private sector for a while. I think they'll still have me."

Evette takes the file from him when it slides over to her. She drops her eyes to read it over and then looks back up at him. "It's not just you George. I moved. I altered my life to come here and work. You might not need those voters but I do. You can go back to the private sector. Go you. However what do you expect me to do? Or those people out there working for you? Why don't you try thinking of someone else besides yourself for once?"r

Evette pushes her hair back a bit more from her face as she reads over the paper flipping through them as she looks from one to the other. She doesn't make a comment right away. It is almost liks she's memorizing the information before her. Then she looks up at him thoughtfully.

George meets her gaze once again, once she does, and continues. "Well, yes, there is that… and, seriously? I don't think there are as many of them as you think. There's always a few loudmouths, but more people are worried about who's going to take care of the economy or the crime rate or actual important things. And as good as Dennis is about his image, there's still a big question mark over his head, and everyone knows it— business sense isn't always enough to cut it."

Evette smiles to that and then leans back. "So what you mean is that you are taking back you agreement from after the rally not to see her until after November?" She shakes her head to that. "Yeah, George, you are just like the rest of them. You like to sit here and lecture me that you aren't but you are." She shakes her head and pushes the cup back towards him. "I had higher hopes in you. I almost believed you different. Damn. You prove I can still be an idiot."

"I don't remember promising not to see her at all. Not dragging her out into the spotlight, yes— and neither of us have any problem sticking to that one." George leaves the drink alone, leaning forward into the desk instead: yes, the stuff is kicking in at full strength by now. "Besides, as long as we're nitpicking, I asked you about your ability that same evening and you played dumb. How do you expect me to get anything done when you were throwing around that kind of hand grenade behind my back? I can come up with a dozen different ways that could've blown up in our faces."

Evette pushes his drink towards him. It's hard to read if she's being affected. "Drink up. As well, I said to not see anyone until after the election. You responded, Yes Dear. It's like two months. Seriously George? I mean really that's too much to ask of you?" She doesn't look like she wants to argue anymore, but damn if she's going to back down. She shrugs out of her jacket and leans a bit cloeer. "If something happened. See that's my job to clean up. That means I will be able to spin it. However, I haven't been using any abilities. You realize, if I wanted. I could end this whole fight right now. I could make myself the victor, but for some reason, some stupid reason. I'm not willing to play that with you. I've been using my abilities since I learned of them and correctly. I am asking you for a few months. That's not a lot in the grand scheme of your life with her. Then you can fuck her until your heart is content. You can marry her the next fucking day. You'll be elected."

They don't have sarcasm on Evette's planet, it seems. Rather than drag the argument on for another round, though, George merely finishes off his drink and heads toward the door. "Go get some rest, Evette— we both need it. Oh, and the personnel in that folder?" Yay for changing the subject. Again. "Under no circumstances treat them as a group. They're under the radar and I want them kept that way. But if a problem involving abilities does come up - God forbid - then as soon as you get off the phone with me, round them up next. Meetings are held in that extra conference room we don't have." It's not directly mentioned in the paperwork… but there are two sections of office space that are, and they're right next to each other.

Evette comes to her feet and for a moment she considers it. She seriously considers playing with his mind. THen she just takes a breath and moves with him. So that they can leave the office. Her coat hanging from her arm as she does. "You are heading home?" There is a pointed look before she picks up her phone. "You've been drinking, so I'll get the driver and everything to have …" She smirks a bit. Something causing her to trail off.

He's had all of one drink - not that that would help matters any if a cop happened to pull him over. That'd be a fine way to end the day, wouldn't it? "Something else on your mind?" His voice echoes through the office, mostly deserted by now: just the two of them, a janitor, a security guard, and an assistant computer tech playing games while the backups run.

Evette shakes her head. "No. Have a good night, George." She offers lightly. "Oh! I'm planning that visit to your parents in mid-October, does that work for you?"

George rubs his chin. "Mmm, as long as it's pretty short. More than a couple days, and it tips over from 'cares about his family' to 'ignoring his district'." Yes, he's fine with being calculating when it's only the minor details of his personal life being affected. "I need to make it back to DC at least once that month, too, we can still fit that in?"

Evette nods her head to that. "Do you have a residence there as well?" Evette is typing notes upon her phone. She really does seem to do that faster than most people write. Then her blue gaze lifts up towards his and holds there.

"Yes, it's in the department directory— my usual schedule's a week in each city at a time, but that's had to give over the past few months. I'll see you in the morning." Entirely too early, most likely, but that's nothing new.

Evette nods her head to that and makes a few notes. "We can start going back and forth if you want. It wouldn't hurt." She moves for the door. She means it when she says she'll only argue with him when away from people. If possible.

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