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Tommy McConaugh

A paranoid taxi driver.

0 · 98 views · located in Present Day

a character in “The Other Kind of Roommate”, as played by Ten

Description

Name: Tommy McConaugh
Age: 38
Gender: Male
Bio: A taxi driver originally hailing from Brooklyn New York, he is of Irish descent and has a strong NYC accent. Sorta laid-back guy but he doesn't like freaks and psychos riding in his cab.

So begins...

Tommy McConaugh's Story

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Gwendolyn Stewart Character Portrait: Stephanie March Character Portrait: Tommy McConaugh

0.00 INK

#, as written by Ten
Stephanie's slender glass of sweetened milk jostled on the table just as she put another forkful of fluffy egg-soaked toast into her mouth. Looking at Jason levelly she tried to assess what was wrong with him - just more tremors from his withdrawal she supposed - internally rolling her eyes as he choked down more of the required breakfast she'd gotten for him. He could be such a baby. But so long as he was still obeying orders and keeping himself in enough shape to remain conscious and alert, she was happy. Well, as happy as she'd allow herself to be.

The mixed berries and whip cream swirling in her current mouthful, being savored on her tongue, were smoothed down her throat in a quick swallow as her partner spoke up. She drank from her glass of milk in an aloof fashion even as she listened intently, setting it down quickly and looking at the man sitting next to her with a hollowed gaze. He knew what? How? Stephanie's eyes fell on Benoit as his face bloomed with sudden euphoric comprehension. Within her deeper layers, she followed suit, understanding filling her with an urgent excitement as he went over the new plan.

"Brilliant," she said in monotone, keeping a firm lid on the electric energy now pulsing through her body. They had a plan and Alexander was headed for a specific location - somewhere they could prepare and wait for them to arrive. "I will be ready."

She knew exactly what she was going to think as well. Alexander the 'guest' had been an Agent - something she wasn't entirely sure Gwen knew yet, but no doubt she had some inkling - and it was only a matter of exaggerating the possibility that once he was returned to his original body, he would turn around and capture both targets and hand them over to the Agency. She wasn't sure if that was something he would do and after all he'd put the Agency through, it would take a lot more than just a show of good teamwork to get him returned to his previous position. After stealing from the Agency and killing his own people it was unlikely he would just be accepted back into the fold with open arms. Then again, because of his continued resilience there was a chance they'd value him just as much as they did their precious cases.

Nevermind. It didn't matter what he would do, just that the doubt she instilled was plausible enough for Gwen to fear him. If he was no longer safe, if he was no longer protecting her and it became clear he was only looking out for his own interests, she would not stay. Not only that but she'd be incredibly hurt by such revelations and doubts and most likely clam up again like she had this past year. Leaving her vulnerable and weak. A smile touched Stephanie's internal layers as her heart thundered in joy. Gwendolyn, you will be mine.

As soon as Benoit made the connection with the labs and Alexander wanting to get his body back, Stephanie instantly knew what he was talking about. She'd seen those containment chambers and the transfer units and had worked closely with a few others who were being trained on different cases to eventually make the leap into a target's body. In her mind, the rooms full of storage tanks were beautiful and she envisioned her own form held in suspension within one of them, her body left an empty shell, sleeping peacefully in life that wasn't life. Leaving behind this old form to control the body and powers of another. She could not wait. There were of course cases where the targets did not mesh well with those who entered the body and both were lost, but she had every confidence in the program's validity. She wanted that body, no matter the sacrifices she might have to endure. She'd already given everything to this case and the Agency itself. There really was nothing left for her to lose.

Thinking of the labs made Stephanie glance at her partner, even as Benoit finished detailing to his right hand about what to tell the Agency and where to move the target's body. How did he come by this sudden knowledge about where the targets were heading? Surreptitiously, her eyes followed the movement as he removed his sunglasses and tucked them away and she narrowed her gaze a little. It was definitely his specialty to gather and analyze information but this new direction had a predictive element that they hadn't had before. Had she missed something in their conversation that would point to Alexander going to the labs? And why out of the blue would he try and return to his body now? What had changed?

As they all finished breakfast, Stephanie continued to turn it over in her mind, chewing on it even as she chewed the plump and meaty sausage links that she'd ordered. She tried to remain positive and to cultivate the official lies she would be mentally feeding Gwen, while also going over the process of body transfer as it had been taught to her - just in preparation; something she did when she was bored and not thinking fixedly about Gwendolyn - but the wondering thoughts about Jason would not leave her alone. It was only after they'd paid the check and settled back into the car that it finally clicked for her. Seated in the plush leather of the backseat she looked up front just as Benoit got into the car. The glasses he'd loaned her had fallen onto the floor where his feet were and as he got in he picked them up and looked them over to assess the damage. Since they were okay, he handed them back to her and she took them with a murmured "Thank you" looking them over herself before tucking them thoughtfully into an inner pocket of her red suit jacket.

Then of course she remembered the last time she'd put them on and why she felt a measure of dread to return them to her face. And then, she looked over at Jason, remembering how he'd taken his own off after that big reveal at breakfast. She'd contacted him, hadn't she? Of course! Alexander had most likely used his powers a few times by now and released Gwen from the block Stephanie had put on her. And for whatever reason, she must have tried to spy again. Finding Stephanie inaccessible at this distance without the glasses she'd been wearing, she'd jumped and made a connection with her partner instead. They still were not close enough for Gwen's maximum distance of 1 mile while using her powers - a gap which she could breech with help from a communication device linked directly to another human being - so it was very plausible that she'd invaded Jason's consciousness and gone digging for something. Depending on what she had been looking for and how well Jason was with hiding things mentally, he would be able to infer where they were headed.

The more Stephanie thought about it, the more sure of it she became. Satisfied with the conclusions she'd reached, she leaned in close to him to whisper conspiratorially in his ear. "When they first assigned you to this case, I originally scoffed that they would select someone without an ounce of mental training. You had no experience with the type of work the others on my team had done and you stood out because of it," her lips drew nearer to his ear and despite the emotionless tone she adopted as always, there was an underlying pleasantness, an almost musical quality to her whisper. "But your reputation preceded you, and I was told you were an expert in covert operations. And I'll admit, even having very little knowledge of what it was or what it did, I was impressed with your proficiency and record regarding use of the technology you wear. I thought, 'if anyone could get her without a hitch, including all possible scenarios that could go wrong, this guy is it.' She would have been plucked from her life in the cleanest most efficient way possible. So, I accepted the application with high hopes and absolute confidence that when I sent out the order for her collection, in a few hours I'd have completed my mission and gotten what I wanted."

She paused and licked her thin, darkly lipsticked lips to wet them, the slender, pink appendage moving awfully close to Jason's neck where her mouth currently hovered just below his ear. Her voice when it came, held a bit of smoky tone to it, tantalizingly lacking emotion but enough that there was something audibly there, flittering from between her lips. "And you have done nothing but disappoint me. Every chance you get, you shove in my face how foolish and utterly stupid my decision to accept you was. I will admit, there have been minor redemptions where I felt my faith in you bolstered by a display of knowledge and skill. But when it mattered, you failed, again and again." Her body was closer now, just barely touching his arm through his power suit, the warmth of her presence felt more than any real physical contact. If anyone looked into the backseat, she merely appeared to be sharing a private conversation with him and there was nothing untoward in the way she was currently positioned - from an outside party observing, that is.

"However, for once, Fate shines her grace upon you, as your most recent failure," yes, she was letting him know- She KNEW. "Has proven incredibly instrumental in what we are going to accomplish. For once, your ineptitude and lack of training has given us an advantage to plan ahead and catch her by surprise, and will be the deciding factor on whether we succeed." A minuscule twitch curled the edges of her lips upward in the hint of a smile and the energy she felt broke through for a moment as she shifted in her seat to draw closer to him, rubbing her bosom against him lightly before retreating just an inch. Her breath, sweet with the light tang of berries and powdered sugar could be felt upon his neck and her voice came out slower, pronouncing each word with delicate care so he understood. "For that, I am most grateful...to have made that final decision... Despite the fact that you have holes in your defenses and you are weaker than what I would have preferred you to be... I feel it was meant to be..."

And suddenly she was gone, having drawn back to her side of the car, smoothing down her jacket and her mask fitting firmly back into place, looking straight ahead without another glance at him. From the way she'd spoken to him and the overt hints in her posture and gestures, he would have to be a complete idiot to not know that she was at least very pleased with him - if he was even more observant, he would understand that she was not only fond of him but even attracted to him. The whole conversation and the way she'd spoken was incredibly inappropriate for a lead to speak to a subordinate in such a way, but she just couldn't help it. She was so very happy - ecstatic about the current plan of events - she didn't care what he thought of her anymore.

*******

The proud smile on her face was replaced by a more serious expression and she was up even as Xander turned and headed out the door, following quickly after him like a slender and petite shadow. He definitely was more on edge now, planning ahead and thinking aloud about the possible pitfalls that awaited to trip them up. Finally, it wasn't a completely cool veneer, but a detectable anxiety that she could sense from both his words and as an undercurrent of the emotions running through him right now. Instead of feeling satisfied that the "great Xander" actually worried about something, she felt even more apprehensive than she had when he was constantly cracking jokes and rolling the constant threat off of his back.

And of course, the way he described what they were going up against didn't boost her confidence either - blinking at him in dismay when he turned to her with that cryptic warning. What the hell? So, she didn't have the Agent 'skillz' that he had. As long as she kept a handle on her powers and didn't lose them again, she would provide enough of a compliment to his abilities to matter. She was sure of it. Thanks for the vote of confidence, Mr. Perfect. Guess you'll be doing this dance alone then, right? And no doubt any help he DID get would not receive any gratitude because he was so awesome, he wouldn't need it.

Alex, as usual, was worried as well and he brought up a lot of the same concerns she had thought of but again, Xander brushed it off like he was barely listening - and he wasn't. There was a lot going on in his mind - all of it suggested at and hinted through a mental wall she still could not push through - and the current conversation, namely Alex's concerns, were not the first thing occupying the man's mind.

Her senses were open as they entered the ground floor and proceeded through the lobby, feeling the shock and nervous curiosity from not only other guests who occupied the main floor but also the staff as well. Nervously, she pushed the goggles down so they were resting on her neck again, offering uneasy smiles to anyone who met her gaze. It didn't help much and these people would remember them. So by the time they reached the taxi cab, she was more than relieved, an uneasy shiver running through her, about the same time as it did through Alex when Xander shoved the unconscious kid into the car first.

Again, she found herself standing beside a taxi, being handed money by Xander and given instructions about where to go. She knew even just from this that he was probably not going to be conscious in a few minutes and would need her to keep track of things and protect him. Although this was the part of their time together that she hated the most, being expected to know what to do in a situation where she pretty much knew only what was in front of her, she accepted it with a sigh and got into the car next to him. She could do this especially now since she in fact DID know where they were going and what they were doing. Sort of.

"Where to?" the cab driver asked in a heavy Brooklyn accent. The man had a thin, long face, short, salt and pepper hair, thick, dark eyebrows and small eyes and lips and from what she could tell by his mental landscape, this guy was a lot more different than Sal had been.

Drawn out of the current conversation between Xander and Alex, she leaned forward across the seat and asked him, "Have you heard of the city, Elmira?" It had been one of the nearest locations nestled deep in Jason's memories, and she wasn't entirely certain that Xander's body would be there, but it was worth a shot.

"Yeah, I her'd of it," Tommy McConaugh said with a shrug. In his mind a sketchy mental map appeared - even more rough and less detailed than the one for Vestal that Sal had thought of - and he estimated the distance between the two cities to be about 39 miles. If this broad thought they were going there, she could forget about it. Tommy wasn't going to go that out of the way unless there was promise of a job out there to take him back. It was just the way he was - although he liked money, he was extremely lazy and rarely if ever went for these long distance jobs.

"Well, I need you to take us near there. I will pay you double the owed amount when we get there," she said, knowing before she even offered that it would make up for the trip being so long.

But Tommy wasn't the sort to be easily placated and turned back around in his seat begrudgingly. "Yeah, a'right," he said with a sigh and pulled away from the curb in front of the hotel. The bitch better have the money, he thought to himself. At least she looked like she might be able to afford it, otherwise he woulda just said 'no' and kicked her out. And like most cabbies, he peered into his rearview mirror to look over the occupants of the back seat, finding both guys sitting with her to be asleep or something. Looked like, for a while at least, this would be a quiet drive.

With that dealt with, Gwen finally settled back in her seat, turning to Xander to find him leaning back with his eyes closed. For a moment, she felt that familiar fear from the last time she'd been in a taxi with him, but when she reached out, she realized it wasn't the same. He actually was sleeping this time. Looking over at the other body in the back seat, she wondered anxiously what she would do if David or the other one inside Nathan's body woke up. How would she convince him to not blow the car up?

Needing comfort, she reached out for Alex just as he turned to talk to her and she smiled a little that they'd thought of that at the same time. She didn't even glance at the taxi driver as she spoke in a low voice towards his ear. "The nearest facility is just outside of Elmira - and it will take us just under an hour to get there. I don't think we'll need to stop--"

"Excuse me?" Tommy's loud, accented voice interrupted, causing Gwen to look up at him. "Wazzat you say?" Looking at the guys in the backseat with her, neither had responded when either she or Tommy had spoken, so he naturally assumed she was saying something to him.

"I'm sorry," Gwen said with a nervous smile and tucking her hair behind her ear. "I guess...I was just sort of...talking to myself." An embarrassed laugh escaped her throat and she shrugged. "You know...how sometimes people do... Just to work through ideas or...comfort themselves when they're alone."

Tommy cocked a thick eyebrow at her in the rearview mirror and shook his head apathetically. "Actually, I don't know that. The only people I know about who talk to themselves are crazy folks. Are you a crazy person?" Even though his tone was light, there was something very antagonistic about what he was saying and the vibes she got from him were somewhat threatening and making her nervous.

"Um, well..." she stammered, but Tommy wasn't waiting for an answer and spoke over her.

"Because I don't rent my cab to no loonies. Ain't enough money in tha world to pay for that kinda pain in the ass." The way he was looking at her now through the rearview mirror made her swallow thickly. Even sensing that he was really just more scared of her and the possibility of insanity than any real threat to her, it was very uncomfortable to be within view of that penetrating gaze. All he wanted was for her to shut up and stop acting weird. He didn't like people who acted weird.

"I'm sorry," she finally said, nodding her head apologetically, hoping to placate him. "I just thought my friend was still awake, but he's not..." Immediately, his expression relaxed and he was no longer watching her as intensely as before, accepting that answer as an easy mistake to make. Turning to look at Xander, she was still lamenting over how she was going to communicate with Alex when Tommy invaded her thoughts again.

"Late night, huh?" he asked in a conversational tone. "Guys got tuckered out, yeah? What was ya doin'? Big party in the city? My girl and I like to party late too, so I know how these guys feel..."

Now that he was set at ease, Tommy was in a talkative mood and since it was going to be a long drive he was getting a head start on keeping himself occupied. "Yeah, listen, I've got a bit of a hangover from it - the party we were at - so if you don't mind..."

"Oh, yeah, sure! No problem. I know what that's like." Realizing his mistake, he waved at her nonchalantly with a small understanding laugh and turned back to the front seat to leave her alone. But she wasn't. Pressing her lips together, she started to lean towards Xander's body, thinking that if she could get close enough and whisper to him, that it would escape the cab driver's notice, but as soon as she started to lean, Tommy's eyes were up in the rearview, casting a smile in her direction. She gave him one back and sat back into her seat with a sigh.

Dammit! What was she going to do? With Tommy feeling uneasy about nutjobs as his fares, she wouldn't be able to get away with as much as she had with Sal, who'd been much more willing to accept that people were weird if it meant he got the money to make up for the trouble. But she needed to talk to him. It was then that she remembered the weird thing that had happened in the hotel - Alex hadn't reacted to it when it occurred, so maybe it had been nothing, but she'd felt like, for a split second at least, she'd made a connection with him mentally.

But she still didn't know how she did it. In the hotel, it had been a burst of excitement in realizing she could hear Alex again and the moment had been a slip where she'd spoken but hadn't spoken aloud. How was she suppose to recreate that here? Under Tommy's constant scrutiny and threat, she didn't really have a choice.

Watching Xander's form from the corner of her eyes she tried reaching out and thinking at the same time. Alex? Alex can you hear me? Nothing. That wasn't it. It sounded hollow like normal thoughts inside one's head normally were. Letting out a breath, and running a hand through her hair, she decided to try again, reaching out even deeper this time and practically clinging to Alex's consciousness. But apparently that wasn't it either. For 10-15 minutes, she sat there trying again and again, doing different things attempting to reconnect with him somehow, but every time she was left with her internal voice bouncing and echoing inside her own head.

Finally, at the 20 minute mark, with the car speeding out of the city and onto the highway, she focused on Alex but didn't put pressure between them, allowing his thoughts to flow into her and not fighting to pin them down. Since she'd just about given up, she wasn't really paying attention when her voice echoed inside his head,

Alex. Alex. Alex. Alex. Alex. Are you there? Can you hear me? I've been calling all day. Can you hear me?

She didn't even realize it but the next moment she was sighing and singing in both of their heads, the rest of the lyrics to the song she remembered. â™Ē I'd wish they'd fix the wires cause my baby don't know, that I'm leaving in the morning and I'm ready to go. Can you hear me? Can you hear me at all? Gotta get the operator make a telephone call...â™Ŧ

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Gwendolyn Stewart Character Portrait: Stephanie March Character Portrait: Tommy McConaugh

0.00 INK

#, as written by Ten
Sitting with her hand supporting her head with her elbow caught in the window, she was going through the rest of the synthesized beat and melody in her head when she heard Alex's echoey voice overlap it. Slowly turning to face him with a cocked eyebrow, she got a curious expression on her face as she wondered if that was what she thought it was. The audible air in the cab was silent, all except for the small noises - the hum of the engine, the hushed whisper of the tires over the miles of road, the little creaks of the metal bracers that held the seats together, etc. There wasn't anything to hear...except what was still going on in her head right now.

It was finally confirmed when she felt a blossom of toe-tapping recognition from Xander's consciousness and his lips opened to emit his murmured voice. Oh my God! They both heard me! I made contact! Even as a sense of triumph filled her at having achieved what she was trying to do, embarrassment followed quickly after as Alex addressed her about the cab driver playing the radio. She couldn't believe she'd been playing that song in his head and he'd heard it! But thankfully, he didn't realize it had come from her and thought it was the radio playing, so as he argued with a practically sleep-talking Xander she took the opportunity to let the song in her head dwindle down in volume until it disappeared completely. Enough of that. At least Xander shared her tastes. Born in 1985, Gwen grew up listening to the music her mother liked and in her moment of hopelessness, the song about a bad telephone connection from her youth had popped into her head to comfort her.

And of course, with his eyes fixated on the road, Tommy didn't even notice that Xander had been speaking, the car jerking slightly to smash David's face against the other window as the cabbie swerved through the traffic. The blare of the horn followed the quick change of lanes, along with Tommy's angered voice, "Eh! Come on! Outta the way, fruitcake! Yeah!? Your mothah!" And every new exemplary phrase was followed by a very visual gesture in response to whatever else the other motorists were doing. Gwen only probed deep enough to know that Tommy was feeling impatient driving behind soccer mom vans and geriatric Volkswagens, so she left him to continue being diplomatic with their fellow drivers to lean toward Xander's slumbering ear.

"Yes, Alex, I can hear you," she said in a hushed whisper, wincing as Tommy put a bit of pressure on the breaks and glared into the rearview mirror.

"Don't you ride my ass!" he said, his eyes not even focused on the people sharing the taxi with him, but looking beyond out the back window as the soccer mom van inched closer to his bumper, trying to pressure him to move faster. Tommy of course responded by slowing down. "See what happens when you ride my ass? Yeah!? Shake it, ya crazy broad!" And then he was driving normal, the tragedy having been averted and he glanced down at Gwen in the rearview. "Sorry, Miss. The nutjobs is tryin' ta take ovar tha road today. I gotta tell ya, these batshit crazy Vestal drivers--ya know?"

She cast him a chagrined smile but he missed it completely as his attention was diverted elsewhere. Even so, from his mental map, she could tell they would be at their destination in about 10 or 15 minutes. With him properly distracted she leaned towards Xander again and spoke in a low voice.

"We're almost there. I really hope he has a better plan than just storming the place, Alex. I mean, with him, it'll either miraculously work out for no sane or plausible reason or everything will expectantly fall apart with us running away by the skin of our teeth. Again. And I know he'd argue that last time that wasn't his idea, but he did it at Roasters too. They were following us before that, but still Mr. Big Shot decided he needed his coffee."

The engine roared loudly as Tommy sped up a bit, looking aggressively out his right side window at someone trying to pass him. "What!? What!? Huh? You want to be first? I say, you wanna be first!? Tough titty said the kitty when the milk went dry! You wanted to go slow when I was behind ya! Now ya gonna stay at tha back a' tha line toots!"

Gwen drowned him out with a sigh and turned to look the sleeping body next to her over. As relaxed as his facial features were right now, she could almost imagine that when his eyes would pop open, it would be Alex filling that space. It had been too long since she'd seen his anxious eyes and uneasy, lopsided grin. It was becoming too normal to expect to see that cool gaze regarding her with the ready and sarcastically charming grin instead. Ignoring the further drama that Tommy was having with the other drivers and forgetting her earlier embarrassment, she relaxed and pulsed at him,

I really hope this works. Getting his body back, I mean.

She looked down at his hand resting limply on his leg and she wanted to hold it and have Alex feel her comforting touch, but she knew he wouldn't.

I really miss you...

It was hard being a babysitter constantly, especially when Xander did all sorts of ruinous things to her emotions.

"Criminy!" Tommy exclaimed as he turned off the main highway and the blare of another horn zoomed past the taxi as the other driver flew by. "What I tell ya? It'll be about 5 minutes to drive through Elmira, lady. Jus' lemme know where ya wanna stop."

She nodded silently and made a mark on her own mental map where she'd seen the facility in Jason's memories. They were so close.

****


After her little heart-to-heart with Jason, Stephanie had gone back to obsessively cultivating the lies she was going to feed Gwen but it all came to a halt as Jean spoke. In favor of Jason's propensity for asking the right questions, she was silent as the conversation unfolded and Benoit explained the new situation to them. Even as the plan was redirected successfully, she found herself locked within an internal struggle deep beneath the flawless mask she constantly wore. The plan made perfect sense and would most certainly ensure a greater chance of success - rushing things now would not only fail but backfire horribly on them.

But the obsession raged deep within her and she felt herself struggling with the extra time weight it put on them. Even just the few added minutes drove her insane. She was so close! So close she could almost feel what it was like to be GWEN! She needed it more than anything right now. After all the years of preparation of molding herself to be the best tool to use against the psychic, of letting her own personal life and relationships dwindle to ash, she was hungry for the final result to come to fruition. She was hungry for a new life and new body. For deeper human connection again. It was too late for her now in her own form without jeopardizing everything she'd worked for. The only way she would ever get the love that Gwen wrote about, that Gwen was capable of feeling was if Stephanie became her.

With a heavy sigh, she shoved these tumultuous emotions deeper inside and looked around the car in a bored fashion, her eyes falling upon her partner. Well, since they had some more time on their hands... Leaning close but not as close as before she spoke in a level monotone, her hand coming to rest on the seat between them and supporting her weight. "So, the goggles," she started, keeping an eye out the windows and not even really looking at him. "Without them, what happens? How long do you have - do you know? I only ask because I think it would be important for me to know if there was a certain time-line when I can expect you to become completely useless - or insane, or whatever - just so that I can act appropriately and remove you from duty at a time when it does not hinder me to keep you around. Unless, I can expect you to do so for yourself..."

Alright, so she was being a little bitchy to him now because she was feeling grumpy about her own issues. Even so, leaning in close to him like this felt almost like a magnetic pull that she could not deny or fight against. "She contacted me using the goggles... Does that hinder things? Will it help you if we re-unite them with the suit?" As she uttered the last word, her hand on the seat beside him moved slightly to brush a slender fingertip against his leg. It was a flirtatious gesture while still indicating the suit he wore in a gentle way. See? She could be...friendly...or whatever.

"Or now that she's used them, would it just be better to put a bullet in your head?" Okay. So, maybe she just enjoyed threatening him as well. Even so, her finger, with a long, well groomed fingernail, did not stop it's gentle caress. "I need to know these things, Jason. For the benefit of the mission."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Gwendolyn Stewart Character Portrait: Stephanie March Character Portrait: Tommy McConaugh

0.00 INK

#, as written by Ten
Stephanie might not have been psychic, but she could feel the emotions moving through her partner like an undecided storm just from the small bit of contact in her finger still lightly brushing against him. She would have liked to look directly at him and see them all playing out across his features, but she refused to face him right now. He had this way about his eyes that brought out a sense of empathy in her and right now she was enjoying unsettling him too much.

It was hard to say if the fear he displayed was a normal reaction to her being a lead Agent or if it had to do with her specifically - and not having the complete suit probably had an affect on his reactions as well, although she'd detected a measure of anxiety from him before he'd lost the goggles. Either way, the sense of power it gave her was exhilarating. Although on the outside nobody would be able to tell she was feeling anything other than bored, inside she was like a live-wire, pulsing with every pause in his voice to swallow thickly or nervous glance at her from the corner of his eye that she caught sight of peripherally. She'd found a new, interesting toy in Jason.

The most fascinating thing about it all was that she could tell he wanted nothing more right now than to move away from her, to break off contact of any kind. If he did such a thing, of course, she'd react with anger and punish him severely, but he wouldn't be wrong. Instead, rather than risk her more violent wrath, and despite it making him uncomfortable, he stayed put. More importantly, he said nothing. She had to admit that getting his heart rate up was very intriguing, but she also liked her ability to push him around. How far would he let her go before he decided to smack her hand away and demand some space?

Not that she let her new entertainment distract her, his reactions to every little gentle scrape of her nail and the pleasurable feeling she got as a result of it, occupying about 1/3 of her attention span. The rest she devoted to listening and planning with the information he provided. 6 days? She'd been right in her original estimates then - he and Gwen were operating on the same time-line. At least until he got back what was his. Her attention was diverted back to him right around the time Benoit was intruding upon the conversation as well. So, Jason had hidden talents that made him even more useful. Internally she grinned, pleased with the information and practically dreaming about what it would be like once they arrived to engage the targets again. It felt like this car ride had been going on forever.

Once again, they found the Frenchmen joining the conversation as Jean decided to input a possible solution to Jason's current problem. The soft scratching of her nail against the fabric of his suit slowed somewhat as she felt beneath her fingertip the muscles in his leg tense with a pulsating jolt as he responded to the other man's barbs. Yes, they had mentioned that there were drugs available for dealing with his condition and they'd said before that Jason's refusal to take them was the reason why he was experiencing such a severe withdrawal.

It was a very stupid thing for him to do - if there were safeguards in place to keep him from suffering the more detrimental effects, then not taking them, even with the supposed addictive qualities of the drugs, was not a smart move. But there was a part of Stephanie that admired him for standing strong against weakening himself in such a way. An addiction in and of itself was a weakness and although the suit acted that way in the first place, he still had enough mind not to get himself tied up in more knots than he could handle - if you could call his 6 day limit "handling" it. Anyways, it was still really foolish.

When Gwen came up in conversation, Stephanie's finger had returned to it's more repetitive stroking, almost in a comforting and calming gesture for him as she heard the dismay enter his voice and fill the silence that followed as he trailed off uselessly. Poor baby. Not only had they stolen his toy but Gwen was playing with it and making it hers - that brought up an interesting question, didn't it?

The fight at Elmira was going to be grand, she could tell. Not only would Stephanie be more prepared this time with all her walls in place, but Gwen would also be a little more used to her powers as well. Not enough to threaten Stephanie, but it might be hard to unsettle her with the consuming effects of her mental blocks. At least not at the level she'd previously employed them which Gwen had only gotten a taste of what Stephanie could do before. Trying to read Stephanie's mind would be like landing and skidding face first on asphalt at 90 mph. She couldn't wait.

Her attention was diverted back to Jason briefly as he finally grew silent and she could feel the placation coming off of him in waves. There was still a sense of anxiety about him, but she suspected it had nothing to do with her caressing finger. He'd grown at ease with her threatening/flirtatious touch. Time to step it up.

Scooting over so she sat right in the middle between the two front seats, she put her hand fully on his leg about mid-thigh to give her leverage and push herself forward so her head poked between Benoit and Jean. As she intruded upon their conversation, she kept her hand where it was, merely resting on his now tense leg.

"So, let me get this straight, just to make sure I understand the whole plan as it stands now - I do apologize if I've gotten anything mixed up, but your accent tends to make things difficult," she said in monotone. "His body is at Elmira but we're moving it to Charlton and clearing Elmira out of all security so they have access to the labs and computers and will probably figure out what we've done and where to go. But we're going to meet them at Elmira anyways and cause some moderate trouble - hopefully get them both if we can, but not force it if it's not in the cards - and try and get the goggles back from them," at this point, her hand curled around his thigh putting a bit of pressure and digging her nails into him, the muscles in his leg instantly jolting tensely in a very satisfying way. Her body obscured any view of her hand and the leg it was on from the sight of those in the front seat, so if he made any noise, no one but she would know why.

"But we're hoping for them to proceed to Charlton, where the body is going to be along with the equipment for a transfer, and we'll follow them there where there WILL be security and opposition for them to fight. And we're going to wait until Alexander is in the process of reversing the transfer before we make our final move. Is that right?"

Oh my God, he's trembling, she thought with a small inner squeal of delight, her fingernails digging into his suit so tightly there was no doubt he could feel it on some level and a slight tremor rippled beneath her fingers through his muscles. How much does it take, Jason? she thought airily as she scraped her nails like claws further up his thigh towards his groin, only stopping inches away when they made an offensive noise on his suit. Move. I dare you. Better yet, say something, you big pussy. Cry out for your French friends to save you.

"Like I've mentioned before, as soon as I'm within range, she will be able to detect me - if she's not overly preoccupied - and will no doubt attempt to read my thoughts if she thinks she can catch me unawares, in an attempt to get a head start on anything we might be planning."

No longer was this a quiet gesture with a way to explain it away as something innocent or misunderstood. He may not be able to feel the full pinch of her manicure - she knew the suit gave him some level of resistance - but he felt something and there was no ignoring it. It would be easy for her to silence him quickly if he said anything, but the question was, would he? Or would he keep quiet...like a good boy? Either way, this was the most entertaining car ride they'd all been in together and the lust for battle raged through her veins even as she awaited confirmation of the plan as she assumed it was going to play out.

To further exacerbate things, she turned back to Jason briefly and asked, "I do not know much about the suit, so I'm not really sure what resistance Gwendolyn has against them. Since she seems to have a natural skill for using them it appears they have not harmed her. But will it have any other affect on her?"

Her dull green eyes stared at him from over her shoulder full of emptiness and her face revealed nothing. She did release the pressure and stopped digging her nails into him so he could answer her however, she did not take her hand from his leg.
****


Xander was speaking long before his eyes were open again and she was relieved to have him here and not lost to the deeper sleep when the exhaustion took him over. His input thus far had been minimal as far as usefulness until he finally opened his eyes and Alex asked him more directly about what they were going to do. Through all of this thus far she wasn't distracted by his light banter and was fixated on getting an answer. When he admitted that there was no plan, she was not as disappointed as she thought she should be. Had she really expected anything less? At Xander's question, Gwen nodded her head lightly with a resigned quirk to her lips. Yes, she'd pretty much known he probably didn't have a plan.

Okay, so not storming the place, and he was still going to kill people. Got it. Wait...where did that leave her? At the mention of the building on the hill, she saw the place in Tommy's mind before she actually turned her own eyes to look at it. Jesus, where was Obvious Man when you needed him?

"Whoa, this is some freaky shit," Tommy uttered as he drove steadily towards the tall building. "Are you guys on the X-Files or sumethin'?"

Gwen gave the guy a look. What an idiot. Why did everyone who encountered Xander - including her - associate what he was involved in with movies or television? It really was too insane to be truly happening and it had only taken her a little over 24 hours of being immersed in his world for her to start taking it for granted.

Then Alex and Xander were busily talking about coffee - a sentimental moment of almost goodbye between them - as she started to reach out and mentally probe the place. The circumference for the entire building was about a mile wide, so when she reached into it, she could feel just about everyone inside and thus had a clear map and idea of every inch. Her attention was drawn back to Xander when he addressed her and she listened to what he had to say patiently. She...could stay here? What? That hadn't even occurred to her as a possible option and now that it was available, she wasn't sure whether she would take it or not.

With how heavily her heart was beating thinking about how vulnerable she'd be walking into this lion's den, her heart nearly exploded when she thought of Xander and Alex going in there alone and possibly not coming back. She sat in the car for a few minutes longer going over it in her head and idly playing with the goggles still strapped loosely around her neck, before she made her choice. No. There was no way she was going to let them go in there alone. Not that they really needed her help, but it wouldn't hurt to have an extra set of hands around.

Reaching into her pocket, she handed the credit card Xander had given her to Tommy and said, "Charge double, remember?" He nodded in a chagrined way, feeling uncharacteristically flattered by Xander's praise and wanting to stick around to find out what these strange folks were up to, but charged her double just like she'd originally promised him. As he handed the card back, he looked at her like he wanted to say something and she probed his head impatiently to find out what it was.

Tell the Smoking Man ole' Tommy said 'Hi'. He licked his lips as he reached with the card across the seat barrier to give it back to her and he was going to say it before Gwen shook her head.

"Oh, my God. For real. Just shut up." This wasn't the X-Files! He looked somewhat deflated by the tone she took with him, but he said nothing as she slipped out of the car and quickly caught up to Xander.

"Sorry, I couldn't do it," she said as she caught up with him, watching as Tommy drove off back down the hill. "Somebody would have died by the time you got back. This way, at least people you DON'T like can meet the end of my jujutsu wielding fist."