What's a Little Interrogation Between Friends?
Roleplaying Log: What's a Little Interrogation Between Friends?
Participants
IC Details
Synopsis:

Eddie faces the music with Phil after plugging a mysterious thumb drive into Rami's computer.

Other Characters Referenced: Rami, Seneschal
IC Date: January 26, 2019
IC Location: Interrogation Room - The Trike
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 29 Jan 2019 05:05
Rating & Warnings: Mild language
Scene Soundtrack: [* ]
NPC & GM Credits:
Associated Plots

* * *

It didn't take long for Eddie to get escorted right out of Phil's office. She's taken to an interrogation room. It's plain. There's a two-way mirror. There's a table. She hasn't been cuffed, but she's been relieved of weapons, her phone, and anything else that could be a problem. She was given a few bottles of water and a sandwich. But she was left to cool her heels for an indeterminable amount of time. There's no clock in here, and there's no way to tell. There's a plain grey table with two grey chairs.

At some point Coulson arrives. And it's clear Eddie has succeeded in doing something all of SHIELD hasn't been able to do for nearly two months. He's back in his suit and tie. It's one of his sharpest ones, the one that conveys authority, that makes him into a G-man once more. Whether or not he is fully comfortable in this skin is impossible to say. He certainly looks it.

He comes in with a huge file folder. He gives Eddie a thin-lipped smile. Then he sits down across from her and starts going through the contents of the folder. Occasionally jotting something down, or making a note.

And saying not a word.

* * *

Eddie barely touched one of the bottles of water, and the sandwich wasn't an option. If it doesn't come from a package and inserted by a machine, she doesn't eat it on the best of days. Today certainly isn't one of those.

She paced a good deal of the time she was left waiting, counting the steps to one wall and then the other until her limbs felt heavy. Now she's taken to one of the seats, gloved hands shoved into the armpits of her thermal shirt, and slumped down with her head tilted forward so it doesn't touch the back of the chair.

She knows the 'let them sweat it out' game, but that doesn't mean she's impervious to it's effects. By the time Phil enters, she's bouncing her leg and her bottom lip is sucked between her teeth. It's one thing to act cold and calculated in the face of an enemy, it's quite another when you're sitting across from Phil Coulson, her mentor and pseudo father figure.

Finally she can't stand the silence. "Let me guess. It's my file, peppered with blank pages and random reports to make it look fatter than it normally would. The note taking is meant to make me nervous, wonder what conclusions you're drawing in the margin. Phil…just talk to me."

* * *

"Just talk to you."

Phil closes the file and tosses his pen atop it. He leans back in his seat and regards her. His hazel eyes are hard.

"Are you going to try to stick to your story about jibjab videos? Because if so, you're wasting your time. We already know what was on that thumb drive. Rami got it dried out, the techs are all over it, and while I don't understand a good 90% of it, hey, I'm in my 50s and I don't have to. That's why we have tech guys. All I have to know is it is a bunch of crap that has no business sitting on SHIELD's servers. So where'd it come from, Eddie? Why'd you plug it in?"

* * *

"Sorry for pasting your face on an elf, I just thought Rami could use the cheering up. She's been stressed lately." Eddie isn't lying, the second thumb drive did have the video on it. "How is she?" The question honest, a touch of worry for her friend and the ordeal she made her go through making the corners of her eyes crinkle. Right now, she's not admitting to anything, as it could just be a tactic, but she answers the safer part of the question. "I requisitioned two thumb drives from supply. One ended up in the tea because I lost my cool, and the other was given to her willingly."

* * *

"She is feeling betrayed and pissed off. She's not alone in that."

Coulson pulls out a tablet and calls up a video. It's an angle that shows all the files opening and closing, the password requests flashing across Rami's screen. He slides it over and lifts his eyebrows.

"The angle isn't great, but it's just enough.

"The thumb drive ended up in the tea because you didn't want us to know what was on the thumb drive. The other was a decoy."

He taps the folder. "You're not fooled by Interogation 101. Fine. I'm not fooled by Spy 101. So. Wanna try again?"

* * *

Eddie leans forward, hands dropping from their tuck only to press together between her knees. This really isn't the place she wants to accidentally touch anything, but the urge to reach across and try to take Phil's hand is great. "You already know why I plugged it in on Rami's computer. Why I chose her. Why I chose then. An agent's computer, with the agent still there. In the cubicle farm where there was surveillance cameras even back when I was first with the Company."

* * *

"Right now I don't know anything," Coulson says flatly. "There's surveillance, but you also know we don't really check every last minute of that unless there's cause. It's all just data until someone actually needs to look at the thing. The security guys aren't watching the cube farm."

He clicks the video off.

He finally sighs and looks down. When he looks up he just looks weary, and so, so disappointed.

"My judgment really is slipping these days. You were always a little wild, but I was sure, at the heart of you, there was a person I could trust. I've tried to look out for you. It's not everyone who can crash a car into SHIELD while hopped up on heroin and get both medical treatment and a job offer."

* * *

"I'm not cruel, I could try and soothe that sting by coming up with something clever to say, Phil. But that would be adding insult to injury. The truth is I knew how you felt about me, and I exploited it. You weren't going to turn away a damsel in distress. If you didn't reinstate me, you would have at least protected me at the Trike." Eddie's head screws to the side, forcing her gaze off Coulson's face as she makes the admission, attempting to stamp down that feeling of guilt and rise of bile in her throat. "At the time, the pros outweighed the cons."

* * *

"And why did you do that? What were the pros and the cons?"

The weariness is still in his tone, though it's a little gentler. "It must have been a hell of a reason."

He folds his hands in front of him on the table, leaning towards her just a little bit. His eyes are steady, if pained. The lines around those eyes are deeper than usual. The set of his shoulders are tight, tense.

But after asking those questions he just waits. He's not the one who he wants to hear talking right now, after all.

* * *

"What do you think, Phil? Money. That's what it boils down to, right? Zeros in my bank account. But it's not just that, it's what the money represents. A cure." Eddie's bouncing leg is just a representation of her simmering emotions, but they finally come to a boil with the confession and she stands abruptly, pushing back the metal chair with the back of her knees, causing it to screech against the floor as she passes away again.

"I found a doctor who said he could finally get rid of this…" Eddie shakes her gloved hands in front of her, and though her words are impassioned, they never raise above the conversational tones that have already been set out.

* * *

"You wanted to get rid of your abilities?"

There's genuine surprise in his tone. And on his face. Or it at least sure looks genuine. With Phil it's damned hard to tell what is real and what is theatre. But in this case it might very well be absolutely genuine.

And then he asks, "Why didn't you just— We have doctors, Eddie. Many of whom have certainly been studying abilities. Don't you think if you'd just come to see me and told me what you needed I'd have helped you? Why sell out?"

* * *

Eddie turns around and thuds her back against the wall, arms crossing again but this time it's to hug herself as her stomach clenches. "Do you know what it's like? To not be able to…go out to restaurants without knowing exactly what happened in the kitchen the second you take a bite out of your steak. Have friends that you can hug without learning more than you should. Hell, to be able to have sex without being blitzed out of my mind on drugs so the visions don't take over. Sure. Great, SHIELD is doing studies, how far out are those, Phil? I'm sliding down the wrong side of thirty five, and I can't remember the last time I slept without worrying about my cheek touching a pillow and ending up with nightmares."

She shakes her head and rolls her eyes to the ceiling, fighting back tears again that she should be able to keep at bay with all their training, but for some reason just won't be quelled. "The original plan was to take off as soon as that money hit my account. Walk away from the job for the first time in my life and just…disappear. And then I got here. I started going to those NA meetings at first just to keep up the ruse, but once I was clean and listening to those stories…I don't deserve the happy ending."

* * *

"Of course I don't know what it's like," Phil says. He's so quiet right now. "But I also wonder what proof you have that this doctor of yours can do a damn thing for you."

He rubs a hand over his face. At other times he might have engaged with the other. What she deserves, or how her perspective has changed. But not right now, sitting across from her in a cold interrogation room with important questions still hanging in the air between them.

He drops his hand.

"Who are you working for? Who made you this generous offer with so many zeroes at the end of it?"

* * *

Eddie seems to have nothing to protect now except one thing: "I'll tell you on one condition. When you send me to the Raft, I want to be put in a Pod. At least let me live out the rest of my days without needing to wear gloves, or be clothed head to toe. Hell, it's the only way I won't die of starvation." She gives a humorless little laugh as she stares at the overhead lights, waiting to see if her deal is accepted.

* * *

"I can make that deal," Coulson says. "Consider it done."

Hell, it's probably one of the most reasonable deals he's ever heard someone offer on her side of the interrogation table. And if there's a flicker of sadness in his eyes in response, he nevertheless doesn't indulge it. And now, just as she waited to see if he'd take her terms, he waits. To find out who exploited this desperate young woman, and set her on a course of betrayal.

* * *

Eddie just gives a numb little nod, not even waiting for it to be put into writing as a guarantee, she just seems desperate to get this part over with when seeing Phil like this is its own special kind of Hell. "Benjamin Palmer." She says the name simply, with no emotion attached to it or loyalty, it seems.

* * *

The name drops like a bomb right into the center of the table.

The color drains out of Phil's face, and now it's his turn to get up, to walk to the opposite side of the room.

He is a man who up until very recently has kept his cool in all manner of situations, held on to his poker face when all seemed lost. But now there's no doubt he's not feigning anything at all.

"Jesus," he whispers.

"Jesus. Eddie, he's— among other things, he's the guy who— "

He swallows.

"He's the one that plunged the knife into my heart."

Literally and figuratively.

His fingers move absently over his chest. He can feel the reverberations of his mechanical heart beneath his fingertips.

He swallows. "Did he want anything else from you, Eddie?"

* * *

Eddie's eyes snap back to Phil the moment Jesus enters the picture, brow knitting in momentary confusion until it becomes clear. All too painfully clear. "Shit. Phil…Phil I had no idea." She starts towards him out of instinct to comfort the man, but stops short a few steps away. "You have to believe me, I didn't know. If I had…" What would she have done? Refused the job? There's no real way to know, besides a time machine.

The only consolation she can give him is to tell him all she knows. "He approached me at one of my flop houses. I don't know how he found me, I usually cover my tracks faultlessly. But he just showed up. Out of no where. He was clear that I was to get back into SHIELD and on your team. Besides plugging in that thumb drive, he wanted me to stir the pot regarding Registration. See if I could split the divide further."

* * *

This has nothing to do with alien tech at all. It's a distant observation, one that says his whole strategy of tracking more items like Item 444 to develop a target list may be so much crap.

He nods a few times. And a few more beyond that. As if each nod is meant to pull himself back together. "When and where is he supposed to contact you again?"

Despite the fact that he's reeling, he's still thinking, still trying to find a new maneuver in this chess game. This chess game where the other side seems to have advantage both of position and of piece. He's never been one to tip over his King before the whole game played out, after all.

* * *

Eddie is still a little shaken that the man who is responsible for Phil's 'death' is the one that contacted her. Her lips are twisted with the sour taste it leaves in her mouth, and now she's sharing information without even thinking of what implications it has on her. "Last time we met it was at a burlesque club in Gotham. I believe he has a way of knowing whether or not the drive was destroyed. Whether or not I was able to complete my mission. I don't know how, but he just…knows things. Hell, he can make things appear out of thin air like he's conjuring them with just a thought. I call a number when we're supposed to meet, or he said he'd be in touch if I didn't get a hold of him first."

* * *

Phil's eyebrows shoot up. "He certainly couldn't do that years ago. I wonder if he's gotten ahold of some tech, or manifested abilities of his own."

He narrows his eyes. But it's a narrow of thought, not of anger. His eyes land on the sandwich, and he figures out the problem right away.

"I'll have some more tightly packaged food sent up," he says. "I'm going to ask you to remain in here just awhile longer."

Here, and not the Raft. Not yet, in any event.

* * *

Eddie's bottom lip is pinched between two rows of teeth as she nods again, glancing to the table as if following his glance if not his train of thought. "Whatever you need." She murmurs and then presses her luck, "My uh, chopsticks and and straw are in my jacket pocket." Which they took when she was placed in custody. "And I could use a trip to the loo. Look, Phil…" But the sentence drifts away, because 'sorry' just isn't going to cut it.

* * *

Look, Phil…

Phil doesn't seem ready to engage in the emotions at all. In any of it. He's slowly shutting down. He's not shutting off, or cold, or angry. He's just sort of retreating into thought and professionalism. Compartmentalizing. "I'll have those returned to you and have a female guard take you," he says. "It may be several days. I need to have a few conversations."

And then quickly, he logs into the security camera feeds himself. And wipes the audio and video for this interrogation. It should just look like he had both turned off, not so unusual for interviewing someone who he had a personal connection with.

He's definitely up to something.

* * *

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