Cat and Mouse
Simon stepped out of the sub-level elevator onto the medical research floor of Duibne Industries. He spent most of his time there now with Ellis flittering about, doing whatever it was she did with her time. It was getting to the point to where he barely noticed she was gone when she'd reappear again, if only briefly.
Walking down the hallway, he passed his employees who acknowledged him and then looked away. It was a quiet existence, but he preferred it that way. It was time to check on his newest rehire who, surprisingly enough, showed up to work without her armed guard of werewolves in tow. That was a lot of trust in Simon that he did not expect from the Pipers, but if Simon was anything, he was true to his word.
Caitlinn's office was a nondescript, mid-level space with two dollar view. Her heartbeat softly hummed as he walked closer to her. He opened her door and found her staring at her wall monitor with her back to the door. Quietly he closed the door and was directly behind her within two seconds. She smelled clean and fresh - her attire not as professional as he'd like, but her clothes were new. Blue jeans, shoes with a decent tread, and from her reflection, a v-neck sweater under her white lab coat. Her eyes were moving left and right, reading the code in front of her, too focused on that to see his reflection.
"Good morning," he said softly, making her jump and cover her mouth as she yelped loudly and backed away from him.
"God...fu-...WHY?" she yelled and then backed up to her desk, sitting on it. "Shit, I think I'm having a heart attack," she said bending over.
Simon smiled and waited for her hysterics to end. Giving her a few moments, he walked up to her, forcing her to almost cringe away from him.
"You really are too skittish, Miss Conrad."
She lifted her hand and pointed to the monitor, then him, started to say, what sounded like ten different things, and then finally sighed rather put out.
"Where is Dr. Hammond?" he asked, getting to the point.
"I don't know - they had some...thing. I didn't ask, he didn't say."
Simon put his hands in his pockets and made a face. "So...you're all alone here?"
Her look was priceless.
During moments of extreme terror, Caitlinn liked to fall back on her ironic sense of sarcasm, taking solace in the fact that - if she were about to die, at least she was funny while doing it.
"Did I forgot to initial something in HR, Mr. Huntington?" Simon's face relaxed into a blank look and he just stared at her, not particularly impressed with her sense of terrified humor. "Something specific you needed?"
Simon turned and looked at the code streaming down on her large monitor. If he understood, he made no pretense, but he did ask, "What is it you're working on right now?"
"Nothing in particular. Just--"
"Snooping?" he offered.
Clearing her throat, she tried to maintain a reasonable space between them, but he apparently had no concept of respecting a person's 18 inches.
"Being nosy isn't stealing, so I'm well within the rules of our agreement."
She avoided looking directly into his eyes - not for fear of being enamoured but because she had a thing about vampires and they seriously creeped her out, even before she came to work for DI. The other female employees liked the way Huntington stalked around the department, speaking softly and oozing confidence and sex, but that was not her bag, baby. It made her uncomfortable - the whole 'not really dead but not really alive and drink blood to live' vibe.
"What is it," he asked again, this time with less sex.
"That specifically is from the notes Dr. Hammond gave to R&D regarding the extractor."
Simon nodded and looked back at the monitor again. "The research Mr. Kearney procured for him without authorization, right. Any help, was he?"
Cait shrugged and looked at the code again. "I'm starting to tread on stuff above my pay grade, to be honest. He's big on theory but," she shrugged again, not sure what Simon wanted to hear.
"What are you good at...Miss Conrad?"
And there he goes again, she thought to herself as she kept her eyes on the code. Simon was smooth with his double entendres, but she ignored it. Completely.
"I'm pure research. Just going over what R&D has done with some of the information provided by him. I was going to run some of it by Charlie again just to get further input."
Simon was watching her, his hands slipping out of his pockets slowly. Cait moved away from her desk and past him to the monitor, trying to regain her personal space.
"Did you want me to tell him you're looking for him?"
"No, I'm here to see you."
Cait gulped and looked back at him - well his general area. "My hand isn't in the cookie jar, not without prior authorization, at least, Mr. Huntington."
"Meet Vivienne yet?"
She looked directly at him and searched his expression. "I did."
A large smile spread across his lips. "And how did that go?"
"We're fast friends," she said without a hint of fear or humor. Boy, she thought, what a dick.
"That's great," he said moving next to her in front of the monitor.
"I'm curious, though," she started, "if you don't mind me asking you a personal question."
"Please do," he said looking down at her.
"Why do you even fucking care?"
Simon was taken aback but the ferocity of her question and his usual cold facade faltered. Even her heartbeat, which had been fluttering like a rabbit on crack a few minutes ago, was steady like a rock. He stepped closer to her, his mouth hovering over hers as he stared down his nose at her.
"Not so skittish anymore," he said almost wistfully and then let the surprise drain out of his face. "She's a very good friend of mine, Miss Conrad. I'd hate to see her hurt."
Caitlinn held a finger up and seemed to think something over. "So, question then...what does that have to do with me?"
Simon tipped his head to the side and smiled at her. "So tell me about Kyle Evans."
Simon continued to stare at Cait silently.
Turning, she rolled her eyes and reached for her tablet off her desk and found the information he asked for. Pointing to the screen, they both looked back up as she summarized the research.
"He's fucked, to be very honest."
"Do you always curse in front of people you don't know?"
Cait paused and looked at him. "Did you want me to finish...no start telling you about Evans or are you really sidetracking me?"
Simon's confused face was hysterical, but Cait pointed to the monitor and continued.
"Kyle Evans," she pointed to the screen and put up an old picture of him from his days with the Nachton Times. "This was taken about 2006 or so, after that warehouse raid by the water he was involved in."
Simon raised his eyebrows and nodded. "I remember."
Cait paused and looked at Simon, waiting for him to finish his thought. He looked at her and shrugged.
"It's a long story," was all he said.
"K. From what I found, Evans started using Starburst back in 2005, but what everyone didn't know was that he never stopped taking the Eternity. He was about 35 or so back then and a long time alcoholic. Apparently he was on the wagon for a couple years, but fell off something hard. A lot of the information I found was buried in Nova Pie...Pies...stewa...."
"Right, ok, was buried in Nova's research for Starburst. Since that drug's development, there hasn't been any indication that the effects Evans started to manifest has happened to anyone else."
"You think it's the alcoholism?"
"I have no idea what is causing it and why it can't be duplicated." Cait called up another picture of Evans and did a side by side. "That is the most recent picture of Evans."
"No, it's not." Simon took her tablet and then another picture came up on the screen.
"God damn," Cait swore as she looked at the screen capture of Evans in what looked like the very floor she was on. "When was this taken?"
"About six months ago."
Cait looked at the three pictures and shook her head. Kyle was probably a healthy 210lbs in the picture from 2006, but in the most recent picture he looked barely 150. He was emaciated, his skin pale and gaunt, with blood shot eyes and shaggy long hair that was combed back. The suit he was wearing barely fit him, but looked like his trade mark black suit and tie.
"He should be dead. He has zero appetite, drinking god knows how much, and is taking more Eternity than humanly possible."
"How is he doing it?"
"You mean manifesting the abilities? It's from whatever strain of Eternity he's using."
"How did you do it?"
Cait looked at him and shook her head. "No, nonono, I didn't do that. I gave him the Starburst, yes, and took blood samples, asked him some questions, but I didn't give him the Eternity."
"Well then who did?"
Cait shrugged. "He must have a delivery system as well. Which means someone has access to vampires with certain abilities and the technology to create Eternity. Could very well have been Randolph."
Simon stepped closer to the monitor and looked up at the pictures of Evans. She wondered how the reporter had even gotten involved with DI and the vampires. He was a tried and true conspiracy theorist with rabid tabloid like fans.
Simon looked at her. "Why what?"
"Why him? How do you even know him? Why...Kyle Evans? And why would someone do this to him?"
"Long story, yeah you said." Simon looked back over at Catilinn as she slid onto her desk and crossed her legs. "Ok, I'm comfortable. Continue."
He felt his face pinch up in confusion, making Caitlinn smile. She shrugged and waited patiently. Shaking his head, he looked back at the screenshot of Kyle.
"He did me a favor once. I gave my word."
Suddenly Caitlinn interrupted asking, "Are you 'Golden Boy'?"
Simon snorted, having only heard that reference once and it was from Kyle. "Suppose so, but I'm sure Mr. Evans did not mean it in a favorable light. He, rather inadvertently, saved my life that day at the warehouse raid. He's been under Clan protection ever since. He had taken a rather lethal dose of Eternity, to help me, and we put him on the Starburst to help him with the side effects of the addiction thinking he was weaning himself off the drug. As you say, he was not."
Simon gave him an unusually warm smile. 'I just wanted to thank you for what you did. I know you didn't have to, but I appreciate it...all things considered. We'll talk more at the charity ball, there are clothes in Nova's apartment waiting for you.'
He held his hand out to Kyle, wondering if he'd actually take it.
"So that sealed the deal?"
Simon blinked and then slowly nodded, recalling the moment but not realizing he had said anything out loud.
"So to speak. He's been free to walk where ever our territory was within the city ever since. We had no idea he was still getting a hold of that much Eternity. It's-"
"Impossible, yeah. And such a variety." Caitlinn paused and then slipped off the desk holding her tablet. "Have you really looked into Evans' past? I mean...really...looked?"
"Born in Las Vegas, raised by a single mother, spent some time in the military, came to the city about ten, fifteen years ago after the Editor, his suedo-uncle, got him a job."
"So no, you really haven't looked."
"There's nothing in his military files, he only spent a four year enlistment in the Navy."
Caitlinn gave him a narrowed but humored squinty grin.
Simon rolled his eyes. "Show me."
Caitlinn hopped the several feet from the desk to him in a single bound and raised her tablet with a large smile.
"Actually, I did."
"Well you didn't mention it before so therefore you don't get points for that, however, both marriages resulted in annulments ultimately due to extenuating circumstances." Cait held up her fingers and mimicked drinking. "Parties involved were tanked beyond belief, so boom - annulled and forgotten.
"But let's get all past that, let's get to the gravy."
"How far back did you go?" Simon shrugged at her, making Cait give him a disappointed sigh. "You of all people should see the value of a person's lineage, Mr. Huntington."
"Why, because I'm a vampire?"
"No, because you're old."
"Your thing is descendants, right? Jacob Steyn. Marthinus Steyn."
"What about them?"
"They're your relatives, right?" Simon turned fully and gave her a rather suspicious and terse looking glare. "I told you, I do pure research. My bread and butter. Of course Randolph knew that about you, knew almost everything probably."
"But what do you know?"
"You'd be amazed at what people throw away. This is where Matthew and I completely agree."
"Piper Kearney. Lewis. Information is power, even the little bits you throw away in your garbage." Cait pointed to the screen again and pulled up ancestry.com. "This is a really useful tool that people don't realize. Modern technology is making everything digital, which is a little scary really - what do you do with the hard copies except burn them?" Cait continued without letting Simon comment. "It's sacrilegious if you ask me - you should never toss anything."
The monitor shrank the picture of the ailing Mr. Evans to a small thumbnail and branched out to show maternal and paternal lineages. The computer began to populate certain empty thumbnails maternally, but the paternal side pulsed a golden amber.
"What's so special about his paternal side?" Simon asked pointing to Evans' empty father thumbnail. "His father was the senior Kyle Evans, died in Vietnam saving the Editor of the Nachton's Times life, which indebted Thorpe to him."
"Yeah, I read that, too, only that wasn't Kyle's father."
"Kyle Evans, Sr died a full year before Kyle Evans, Jr was even conceived." With that nugget of gold, Cait populated the thumbnail with a name.
"Who the hell is that?" Simon asked in a rather high and excited voice.
"Meet 'sperm donor' and Vietnam 4F reject. Did you know there are a crap load of designations, including 4F from back during the draft? 1-A-0 is conscientious objector. 2-D ministerial students, deferred from military service. 3-A is a hardship deferment - you know, like an only son providing for a family. 4-C alien or dual national. 4-D for ministers, deferred from military service. And then 4-F - not qualified for military service due to medical reasons."
"Really that's interesting, but what medical reasons prevented Sampson from serving?"
"That's the thing, data processing back then was, for lack of a better term, fucking horrible and slow. Daniel Sampson had serious mental defects, but he wasn't diagnosed until two years in service, long enough for him to do a tour in Vietnam, but more importantly - to knock up Kyle's mother and then go coo-coo. He had a bad case of schizophrenia. Platoon leader with emotional handicaps and found guilty of an Artical 133 - "Any commissioned officer, cadet, or midshipman who is convicted of conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman shall be punished as a court-martial may direct." "
Simon closed his eyes and shook his head. "How...."
Cait held her arms out and chuckled. "I asked."
Cait typed on her tablet again and shrank the digital tree down to center around Daniel Sampson's thumbnail, expanding his life, including his military service.
"His platoon. Other than Thorpe, who's not talking, let me tell you, there is one surviving member. Basic existence - old home, dying breath, all that jazz. This Sampson guy was plum loco and this old guy remembers the whole deal that Thorpe set up with Evans' mother. Evans SR wasn't involved with Thorpe - Thorpe was hooking up with her, but she had gotten pregnant by Sampson right at the height of his court martial and she hid Kyle from him. I don't know why Thorpe just didn't marry her, but that's how this all went down."
"Sampson is dead?"
"Oh long dead, yeah. Mental hospital, he really made a name for himself doing the rounds down south when those homes were big and mental issues were still taboo, especially for Vets. Dishonorable discharge and he died a vegetable."
Simon took a deep breath and looked at the picture of Daniel Sampson. Same nose, beady blue eyes, but roguishly handsome like Evans. Caitlinn was practically chewing on her tablet standing next to him, so he flicked a look in her direction.
"LOTS!" she practically yelled.
"You really like this sort of thing?"
"Information is power, Mr. Huntington."
"And you're good at this?"
"I am the mother fucking queen."
"You really shouldn't curse in front of people with whom you are barely acquainted."
"You shouldn't threaten to bleed people for a millennium."
Simon made a face. "Show me the rest."
"Then why are we power walking?"
Charlie looked down at his legs and slowed. He and Red were walking through the Lobby of DI with Charlie walking so fast that Red was having to almost jog. The security guard half waved as he rushed to the elevator down to the sub levels.
"I'm not worried," he repeated again, pressing the call button about a hundred times.
"The Commander didn't say he was pulling everyone out of here, but I guess he didn't think it was a big deal. Simon did give his word," Red said in a reassuring voice.
"I'm not worried," Charlie said again, barely waiting for the doors to open before slipping in and pressing the button for sub-level 4.
Once they reached the lower level, Charlie was out the elevator doors and trying to force himself to slow down as he moved toward Cait's office. He had left her in DI while they were out at the airport picking up the Jamesons and spent hours getting them settled into the Den before realizing that Cait had returned to the Den like she said she was going to. He let it go for an hour, but when he called her phone, he found it ringing in the nightstand in his bedroom. Calling DI was even less help since her calls were going directly to her voicemail. So, he started to worry.
They entered the Lab that connected all the offices and Red stopped a scientist, making Charlie stop. "Miss Conrad around still?"
"She's been in a meeting all day."
Charlie felt a sigh escape his chest and Red gave him a knowing look.
"What conference room?" Charlie asked.
"She's in her office."
"Oh that can't be good," Charlie heard Red mutter when he turned and half ran to her office.
"Charlie! Charlie it's a meeting. Just a meeting!" Red called out.
Rounding a corner, Charlie walked up to Cait's door, knocked once, and then let himself in. Cait was standing in front of her monitor, pointing at it, and Simon was sitting behind her desk, eating out of a take out box.
"Cait?" he said breathlessly. "Um...you left your phone." He pulled out her phone and showed it to her as proof.
"I gotta thing about phones, babe," she said making a face.
"She has a lot of weird quirks, Dr. Hammond," Simon said talking around his food.
"Yeah." Charlie paused and looked at Simon and then back at Cait. "Uh...are you...you're good, then?"
"Little hungry. You?"
Simon chuckled from behind the desk and closed the box. He lifted the box toward Cait who shook her head and then he tossed it into her garbage can. Cleaning his hands with a napkin, he tossed that in, too, before moving around the desk.
"Thank you, Miss Conrad."
"Ayup," she said and gave him a half-hearted salute while still looking at the monitor.
Walking past Charlie, Simon paused and then said quietly, "I see why you like her. She's different than Viv." Then Simon gave him a pat on his shoulder hard enough to move Charlie forward a bit and then left.
Charlie looked at the closed door trying to decide whether to be insulted or not when he felt Cait's fingers entwine his. Turning he looked down at her - she was smiling up at him.
"Let me guess - your LT thinks that I'm not just working for Simon, but that I'm working," Cait air quoted 'working', "for him now, right?"
Charlie searched her face. "Are you working-working for Simon?"
"Baby I'm lucky if he doesn't eat me. I had to pull out all my good tricks today. It's exhausting keeping a check on my backside and making sure he's not back there chewing on it."
"You were in here all day with him?" It was early evening and the night had claimed the day hours ago.
"He was asking about Kyle Evans."
Charlie nodded. "What did you find out?"
Cait walked back to her desk and pulled out a thumb drive and then connected it to her tablet. After a few moments, she pulled the drive out. Charlie walked over to her desk and took the drive when she handed it to him.
"That is one fucked up individual. And his family," Cait whistled and followed it with a snort. "His father's line is beyond interesting. I need Matthew's help to go further back, but wow...seriously."
Charlie looked at the thumb drive and then tucked it into his slacks pocket. "Do you think his lineage is important? That it has something to do with why the combination of drugs affected him the way it did?"
"Oh, I don't know. I just wanted to know who Kyle Evans really was. Someone's got their hooks in him, someone with ties to Eternity and enough money to move that much. I mean, the drug is priceless almost. Takes some serious coin to distribute that much to one person. It would have to be a vampire - so maybe if we look back far enough. Who knows?"
Charlie made a face. "Now all we have to do is find him."
"I'm still not sold on Simon not knowing where Kyle is."
"He controls the Eternity production in the city. He has access to a myriad of vampires with abilities, granted clan only, but who's to say what he's harvesting. If not Simon, then who else?"
"Why does this feel like a bad thing you're doing?"
Cait held the tablet against her chest and made a face. "Aw crap, I didn't think about that."
Charlie rolled his eyes and circled the desk, walking right up to her. "Now I'll have to be with you every waking moment," he grumbled.
Smiling, he kissed her softly, letting it progress deeply until he felt her arousal ebb out of her like a warm blanket. Slowly he broke the kiss but stayed close to her.
"Were you worried?" Cait asked, teasing his lips.
Charlie held up his fingers, holding his thumb and index finger apart two inches.
He pinched his fingers closer to an inch, making her punch him. "Only a little because I know you can run really fast."
"Staying and fighting is so over rated."
"I know, right?" Charlie said incredulously and then pulled her in for another kiss.
"OY! We out?" he asked loudly.
"You seriously cannot do anything quietly or with restraint, can you, Red?" Caitlinn said disengaging from Charlie and grabbing her jacket off the hook on the wall by her desk.
"The amount of energy required is equal to the amount of energy expended. I could, in theory, light a small town! Roughly five to ten thousand population. Give or take."
"Did Lewis figure that out for you?" Charlie asked following Caitlinn to the door.
"Yes, but that's not the point. Are we done here?"
Caitlinn began to slip on her jacket, to which Red responded by stepping into the office and helping her with it. Charlie watched with narrowed eyes.
"I'm a little hungry," Caitlinn said as she fixed her collar.
"That's ok, we'll grab something on the way."
"On the way where," Charlie asked as they stepped out into the hallway.
"Charlie. I am hurt and dismayed. It's Friday night."
"What's Friday night? I mean besides a poorly sang song by a 13 year old girl?"
"Ooooh. I don't know, Red," Charlie said knowingly.
"Pish posh! There's time enough to go back to the Den, shower, glam your doll up," he pointed to Caitlinn who looked down at her clothes and began to squawk, "and still be on our way. The night doesn't start until midnight anyway."
"Where are we going?" Caitlinn asked grumpily.
"You'll see, you pretty little brown thing. You'll see."
Charlie made a disgusted noise but did not object, especially when Red reached out and grabbed Caitlinn, hoisting her, yet again, into his arms.
"Let's take the stairs!" Red yelled out over Caitlinn's loud protests with Charlie following behind.
((OOC - All out))