2011 06 25: The Promise

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Mission report found.

Mission Name: The Promise
Date of Mission: Jun 25 2011
Locale: Birkhoff's apartment

Birkhoff is permitted to show Alex the place where she'll be staying during her first mission. The two have a surprisingly deep conversation and a promise is made.

Alex Birkhoff

It's Alex's big day out. For a recruit confined to HQ, any day out is a big day out, to be honest. After waiting for Birkhoff to finish … whatever he needed to finish, she has ventured out into the city with him, to the apartment in question. As they make their way inside, the teen follows along at a slower pace, taking in the details of the neighborhood and residence. "Thanks for giving me the nickel tour yourself," she strikes up conversation as she follows him along into the building.

"You're welcome." Birkhoff says to her rather dryly, glancing at the recruit in a sidelong manner before he starts up the flight of stairs that leads to the apartments. His is on the third floor and Birkhoff keeps up rather well as he jogs his way into them. In fact, he's not the stereotypical nerd that most people peg him for, it would seem. He barely breaks a sweat as he jogs up the steps, his breathing growing harder and faster. "This is the only real downside. That and the lack of a view."

"Bet your view is better than mine," Alex points out wryly as she follows him up, keeping pace easily what with the intense recruit training she gets these days. "You even spend much time here? I always see you at work," she says in a conversational tone, choosing her words carefully while they're in the stairwell. She actually seems like she's trying to be almost nice — being on the outside must have her in a good mood.

Birkhoff shakes his head a little bit. "…No, not really. I guess I feel like it's important for me to be there in case anything I need to know about happens. It's also nice not to have to be called in constantly because someone can't figure out how to run my programs or they have a question…" Birkhoff trails off there before turning back to smile briefly at Alex. It looks like he's in a scarily good mood too. "But it's nice to be able to go out sometimes and do what I want, be somewhere by myself. So I come here." When they come to the third floor landing, Birkhoff takes a set of keys out of his pocket and unlocks 213.

The living room of the apartment is spotless. There's a blue loveseat without any throw pillows, a short coffee table, a nicer HD TV on the wall nearest the door, a few current video games systems with a plethora of video games, tons of DVDs, and some books (which thankfully are not about programming — or the ones that are have been hidden). It's not a large living room, but it does open up into a nicer kitchenette. The floor looks to be hardwood throughout, with beige colored walls.

"That has to take a lot of dedication," Alex says, as though with very grudging respect. "They must need you a lot. That stuff is crazy complicated." Emphasis on the 'crazy', perhaps — but her computer skills have surely improved since those days when he used to have to force her to keep practicing. She follows him into the apartment, standing a little ways inside the door, but not exactly rushing to make herself at home either. "Nice. If I had a place like this, I don't think I'd want to leave. What are you working on that you'd rather be-" she pauses with a glance towards the door, but then still decides to err on the side of caution. "-at work?"

"Nothing, right now." Birkhoff responds with ease. He closes the door behind them and reaches to run his fingers up through his hair. "I won't bother to explain how to run all of the electronics. You're the top student in your class, Alex. And besides, it's a digital era. Everyone should know how to at least work the power button and flip the channels, if not use the DVR." He moves into the kitchenette and opens up the fridge. Inside there's a plethora of fresh fruits, vegetables, lunch meats, cheeses, yogurts, and sodas. "I had to restock for you, but I tried to get stuff you wouldn't have to really cook. So you can have sandwiches and whatever. There are some TV dinners in the freezer, but I didn't really know what you liked. And there's ice cream, too." By God, is Birkhoff actually trying to please her? He does seem to have gone the extra length for the recruit. "There's bread in the cupboard… and if you prefer, ramen, cereal… I figure you at least know how to use the microwave."

"I think I can figure it out, yeah," Alex replies with a wry grin as she moves further into the unit, trailing behind him towards the kitchen to lean up against the counter while he shows her the fridge and its contents. That's enough to get her eyebrows up in surprise and she actually seems … impressed. "Wow, thanks. It'll be a nice break from what they call food at that place. You're gonna spoil me," she informs him with a grin, apparently not really minding being spoiled. "This mission mean a lot to you or something?" She can't help but think he's not being nice just to be nice to a mouthy recruit, but she phrases it more diplomatically.

Birkhoff smirks. "It's not a bribe, if that's what you're thinking. The mission is a little important to me, yeah. That kid that you're buddying up to is a smart cookie. Even if he doesn't get recruited, I'd love to contract him sometime in the future. I think that if anyone could hack me, it's him. I'm still hoping he doesn't… for his sake." Whether or not Birkhoff seems to realize that he's insinuating cold blooded murder is better than a life in Division is debatable, but not much. Birkhoff isn't the type of guy to throw those things out there without thinking. "Yeah, well. You go back to HQ having gained ten pounds, don't point the finger at me. Someone might get the wrong idea." He makes a hand motion for the hallway, walking into it. There's a door on the left side of the hallway, which he opens, flipping on the light. "Here's the bathroom." It's an average bathroom, also done in hardwood but with rugs near the toilet, sink and shower/tub combo to prevent slippage. It's not very big, but it's a personal space — something any Division agent or recruit treasures.

"I know it's not a bribe because you don't have to bribe me. You're an agent, I'm a recruit. I do what you say or I get cancelled. Why would you waste your time bribing me?" Alex points out with her characteristic deadpan cynicism. "I just meant that it seems to mean a lot to you. The mission. Like it's nerd solidarity or something," she drops ever-so-casually. Of course, her words are always extremely carefully chosen, but it's to her benefit that he doesn't know that. She straightens up and follows him down the hallway, smirking faintly at the idea of gaining ten pounds. "Wouldn't dream of pointing the finger at you," she says dryly, before quieting to take in the bathroom. A proper homey bathroom is remarkable enough after all that time in such an institutionalized setting. "Cute."

Birkhoff seems to ignore Alex's comments about her being a recruit and having to follow orders. He instead turns the bathroom light off and motions toward the doorway at the end of the hall, leading her down it. "It gets dark in the hall at night, so you might want to leave the kitchen overhead on or the bathroom light on, just so you don't fall or something." Clearly that hasn't happened to him ever. He opens up the bedroom door and shows off a sparsely decorated bedroom. In front of the door against the wall is an oak desk with a laptop on it. There's a closet directly beside it, currently closed. Across from the desk and closet is a queen-sized bed in a Japanese style. It's low to the ground but it looks comfortable enough. His motif is once again blue and beige. "You can use the laptop if you want. I wiped it. The bed sheets are clean and the closet, should you need it, is empty." It would seem he's also ignoring her comment about nerd solidarity.

Alex follows him down towards the bedroom, casting another glance into the living room as they pass it. "I think I can manage not to fall, but thanks," she replies a little flatly as she looks around the bedroom. "What did you do with all your stuff? Take it all back to Division?" she can't help but wonder as she looks at the closet door, and then gives a cursory glance to the desk and computer. "And the printer's almost out of ink, right?" she confirms — not like she doesn't trust that he'd forget such an important detail, of course.

"There wasn't much stuff to begin with. I guess that once you get used to not having it, you don't see the need for a lot of it. I left most of the stuff here." He doesn't directly tell her what he did with the rest of it, though. Or what the rest of it was. And that's probably all for the better. "It's almost bone dry. Don't worry, I didn't forget. I spent all night printing out bad Star Wars fan fiction to laugh at later. I'm thinking about organizing a fan fiction burning in Central Park. It would be glorious."

"Fan… fiction," Alex replies, looking at Birkhoff like he's gone off his rocker — or that she'd managed to forget how much he was off it to begin with. "That, uh, sounds fun?" She crosses her arms loosely over her chest, giving another look around the bedroom. "I guess it's good you don't spend all your time at work." But she maybe doesn't want to know the details of what he does in his free time either. She frowns thoughtfully, quiet then for a moment while she takes in the room that will pass for hers. "I guess it would be strange. Going from having nothing to having, well, more than nothing, anyway. Not that I need to worry about it for awhile, I know."

Birkhoff shrugs his shoulders at Alex. "You said it had to be out of ink. You didn't specify how I needed to do it." he grins very briefly before shoving his hands in his pockets and moving to sit down at the edge of his bed. He glances up at Alex, taking in a breath and letting it out as a long sigh. "Take it for what you will, but Amanda and Percy seem oddly fond of you. Not always a great thing. You could be out in the real world on your own, moving on to bigger and better things in no time at all. Especially if this mission goes as planned. You're smart, Alex. You're… good at this, as much as you don't want to be. Very few of us do. You resist it at first but then you realize… it's your last shot at something close to a life. It sucks, but it's there. So you reach out and grab it and you hold onto it because you know what being nothing is like."

He manages to surprise her with that moment of honesty. Alex looks down at him for a long moment, her expression almost vulnerable for a fleeting second before she covers again and offers a shrug. "Yeah. I know what being nothing is like," she confirms in a quieter tone. Letting out a sigh, she moves to sit in the desk chair, turning it to face him. "And I really do appreciate all your help in making sure this goes well. It's … different than I thought it would be. I feel sort of bad for the guy, you know?" she admits, casting a glance towards the doorway, still in a mindset from being inside HQ, where every moment might be overhead by someone you don't want overhearing. "But at least, if I do this right, I get to help him out of a jam. That makes it easier."

"If only all missions were this pain free. There's a lot of things that you're going to have to do that you won't like doing. But I know you've figured that out already. I wish they could all be this easy, in theory." Birkhoff says, his eyes perhaps betraying the fact that he too doesn't feel really great about this mission, despite it's relative easiness. His eyes stray to the floor for a few moments before he looks back at the brunette recruit. "This kid doesn't know what he's gotten himself into. He doesn't deserve this. I guess we're going in a roundabout way of protecting him, but it's the only way that Division ever really protects anyone. You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours. Etcetera. He seems like a nice kid. I don't want to see him get recruited. I don't." With his guard down, it looks like Birkhoff is almost a decent man. One who might not totally agree with the things that Division does, no matter how excited he is about his own work.

Alex watches him closely, like the good little student she's occasionally capable of being — especially when it's something she wants to be learning. "I know it's not always going to be easy. And I don't know if I'd say this is easy exactly. It's hard lying to him," she lies. "But it's for the best, right? We are actually helping him, aren't we?" She looks slightly worried that maybe she's been lied to up to this point, or at least not told the whole truth. "I'm guessing you don't get a lot of choice about who to recruit though. If he breaks through your security, that's it, isn't it."

Birkhoff nods his head to her before he takes his keyring out of his pocket. It's fairly sparse, but one of the keys he peels off of it is offered to Alex. "If I have anything to say about it, we'll try to help him without recruiting him." There's no reason to believe otherwise coming from Birkhoff. "If he breaks my security, I might have to. But I'll try to avoid it." Birkhoff glances to Alex a little more seriously. "I promise you." There's no telling how good Birkhoff's promises are yet, but she's seen him at his most vulnerable today. Slowly Birkhoff stands, nodding toward the door. "Well, we should get you back to headquarters before they get suspicious. They did give me a curfew with you…" There's a bit of annoyance in the man's voice at this restriction.

Alex gives him a thoughtful look and then nods, leaning forward in the desk chair to take the offered key. "Then I guess I'm ready as I'll ever be," she says, drawing in a deep breath that makes her seem more nervous than her smile would like to suggest. She looks down at the key, and then closes her hand around it, moving to stand herself. "Yeah, they wouldn't want to give you too long a leash with me. I might get in trouble," she says, right back to that deadpan tone, even rolling her eyes as she starts for the door.

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