25 December 2005 @ 02:33 am
"The Inside Man"  
Brad Chase finds his happiness in unexpected places

free hit counter"On the house."

"Why's that?" All other mornings, the barista made a point to eye his tip cup when handing Brad his change.

"In fact – "He pointed a finger to Brad's lapel as he switched to announcer mode, addressing his caffeine groupies in the small shop in the lobby of the firms building. " – you're not paying for another cup of coffee this year." A promotional smile tried to overshadow the fact there were only seven days remaining in his offer. "That kid you rescued. You're Charles Bronson, man. You're a hero. Hero's never pay. That'd be bad karma."

"Great. Thanks." Brad dropped the bills in the cup, unfazed, walked across the lobby and boarded the elevator.

Miss Hughes jumped in at the last minute, brushing at a significant wet spot on her coat. "I mean, this is ridiculous. Did he not see me on the corner? No, just go ahead and drive that stupid Mercedes through that huge puddle. Hello? Look at me!" Brad pursed his lips and looked at her coat. Silently.

"What? You think this is funny?"
"Nope. What d'ya want me to say?" She looked at him incredulously. Brad shrugged, matter-of-factly. "We live in Boston. It rains." He waited for her to get off the elevator first, then headed to his office, hearing Melissa sighing to no one in particular, “That man was busy writing mission statements when they were handing out the reaction gene."

He was hanging his trench coat when he heard Denny talking to a woman in the conference room.
"Brad’s the best."
"I want your assurance, Denny."
"The man served in the Gulf War. The one that turned out okay. He was top of his class at West Point and Harvard Law School. I’d put my own life in his hands."

Brad closed his office door and started going through the settlement documents in the Bridge divorce. It wasn’t that Denny’s words didn’t make him feel something. He nodded to himself, comfortably assured Denny was in his court when it came to partnership consideration. Denny’s loyalty was never in question. There’s no need to show emotions, though. What does it accomplish other than put a big fat target on you. Facts are facts. Simple as that. Brad wasn’t the most demonstrative litigator in practice. His crosses were more about reality than dramatics. The facts could not be in dispute and they served him well.

He did experience a sense of relief when the foreman read the verdict on his three felony counts. Denise had attempted to get him to express some kind of over-the-top alleviation. Her voice had an edge. "Are you always like this?" "Like what?" He’d gone back to work. Forward momentum. Next item of business.

There were times when he’d let someone in on his happiness. You couldn’t count out the occasional connection with the opposite sex, but those were hit and miss. Sally never got used to his stoicism. If the balance wasn’t right, if one had too much emotion, he’d take up residence to the opposite extreme. Not exactly the stuff erections are made of.

He'd been satisfied with the hand he'd had in Alan facing his clown aversion. It was less about happiness than about being squared. Not that anything needed to be squared with Alan. But if it did, then they were squared.

At the end of the day, Brad walked purposefully through the bitter cold, driving to his brownstone hours after dark. "Expect to see Father Time wearing his North Face Arctic Parka when he departs 2005. Boston's in for snow, with wind chill dipping temperatures to the low 20's..." Brad hated it when even the weatherman could be bought for product placement.

He climbed his steep icy steps, let himself in and dropped his briefcase next to the coat rack. He started a fire, twisted the top off a Sam Adams and picked up the Christmas gift Jamie Stringer had given him. For the first time that day, Brad felt happiness, the kind that took him back.

Brad slipped in the dvd and settled back on his couch in his sparse home. He drank half the Adams, a huge grin on his face, unseen by anyone but completely genuine, utterly Brad, as "The Inside Man", his favorite episode, began.

JOE: She's not the type to commit murder...
PEGGY: When it comes to love and murder there is no type.
JOE: Stop quoting some half-baked philosopher.
PEGGY: Joe, I'm quoting you.

Brad’s role model did a slow burn. He raised his bottle to the cliche-ridden dialogue that poked fun at itself. For the next hour, Brad lost himself in shootings, car chases, crashes, exploding Roadsters, fist fights and dead people, digging the adventures of the hard-boiled private eye - in the classical tradition - Joe Mannix. And he was unequivocally happy.

[Cross posted to Theatrical Muse: "What are you happy about right now?"]
 
 
 
( Read 153 commentsLeave a comment )
Alan Shore: two-faced?alan_shore on December 27th, 2005 04:04 pm (UTC)
I'm honored to have been granted a supporting role in the sweeping drama that is your life. So long as I won't be needing to make use of any prosthetics.

*raises eyebrows* You hold sway with grounds and filters? Why Brad, you grow more impressive by the minute.
Brad Chase: sportbrad_chase on December 27th, 2005 05:43 pm (UTC)
False modesty is not a good look on you. You're above the title - my antagonist. I know you'd prefer Deus ex machina, but there you go.

Are you missing that body part?

*walks toward the elevator* Aren't you coming? There's a whole new crowd you've yet to mock me in front of.
Alan Shore: look upalan_shore on December 27th, 2005 07:05 pm (UTC)
A billing. I suppose someone had the sense to realize your name lacked box-office clout. How's about you're Victor Laszlo and I'm Rick Blaine?

If I say no, are you going to propose an inspection to be sure?

*takes his time in catching up* The percolator and the fridge? My wit is lost on them. I think the percolator's still harboring a grudge from my last attempt to wrest coffee from it.
Brad Chase: sportbrad_chase on December 28th, 2005 05:00 pm (UTC)
That sounds about right. We have shared women.

Try me.

The shop in the lobby - and what drugs are you on, Alice?
Alan Shore: matters of grave importancealan_shore on December 28th, 2005 05:51 pm (UTC)
I wouldn't call it sharing. I'd say you leased.

*looks him over* Do it yourself.

*raises an eyebrow* The usual suspects, and not in sufficient quantities for me to answer to any pet names.
Brad Chase: sportbrad_chase on December 28th, 2005 06:27 pm (UTC)
While you rented.

What?

Let's see if we can't accelerate the effects with caffeine, Al.
Alan Shore: 0:)alan_shore on December 28th, 2005 07:05 pm (UTC)
I liked it better when we were in Morocco.

Perform your own inspection of yourself.

Are you under the impression that plying me with stimulants will somehow result in increased affability?
Brad Chase: what's wrongbrad_chase on December 29th, 2005 06:06 pm (UTC)
So be it. We'll go to Rick's Bar - but you know I'll have to turn you in for fraternizing with the Nazi's.

I know what's there.

*rolls eyes* Don't take away my hope.
Alan Shore: outlinealan_shore on December 29th, 2005 06:29 pm (UTC)
It was a cafe, meaning there was room for a roulette table. And there wouldn't be anyone for you to turn me in to, other than the Nazis themselves.

Are you asking that I verify?

I was going to suggest you give depressants a try.
Brad Chase: what's wrongbrad_chase on December 29th, 2005 06:57 pm (UTC)
Then it's a good thing we're in Boston in 2006. How do you ring in the new year? Is that where Lizzie comes into play?

Alan. Step away from... *furrows* Just what is it you and Denny are involved in, anyway?

There's a Young Republicans Christian Coalition meeting if you think it'll help.
Alan Shore: outlinealan_shore on December 29th, 2005 08:35 pm (UTC)
*grins* You know Lizzie. How did that encounter come about?

Nightly slumber parties. Stop trying to wrangle an invitation.

Have they assembled to defend Christmas?
Brad Chase: what's wrongbrad_chase on December 29th, 2005 10:33 pm (UTC)
I took a message for you. Miss Hughes seems to have a rather low opinion of her.

I hope you're not taking advantage of Denny's state of mind in order to get your little thrills.

This from the man who prosecuted the United States.
Alan Shore: outlinealan_shore on December 30th, 2005 07:03 am (UTC)
They met under fraught circumstances. What was the message?

I'll be sure to convey that concern to him.

The United States was asking for it. Is there coffee in our future?
Brad Chase: We hold these truthsbrad_chase on December 30th, 2005 01:23 pm (UTC)
Right. Coffee. *punches the elevator button* Seems this Lizzie has, uh - *searches his memory for the words as he steps into the elevator* - she said she has a solution to your situation. I dunno, though. I think she left a fake number. What fraught circumstances?
Alan Shore: outlinealan_shore on December 30th, 2005 09:12 pm (UTC)
*joins him in the elevator* Well, who wouldn't, when faced with you? *sternly* I hope you were civil. The things she can do with her tongue alone--
Brad Chase: warybrad_chase on December 30th, 2005 11:25 pm (UTC)
I took a message, not challenged her to cage fighting. *starts to press 'L'* Whatdaya mean with her - *dawns on him - and he presses the uppermost floor by mistake* Oh.
Alan Shore: is there even a word for this expressionalan_shore on December 31st, 2005 08:21 am (UTC)
*hits the 'L' button, but by that time they've already begun their ascent* Perhaps from now on all button-pushing should be left to me.
Brad Chase: We hold these truthsbrad_chase on December 31st, 2005 08:51 am (UTC)
*They endured the detour in silence, Brad considering Lizzie's specialty. The elevator stopped, the doors opened and - *

What the hell - ?
Alan Shore: outlinealan_shore on December 31st, 2005 09:57 am (UTC)
"It was your button. Be grateful we didn't burst through the roof."

Actually, they haven't yet reached the top floor, which Alan vaguely suspects functions as a mental ward, housing the likes of Edwin Poole. The doors open on floor thirteen and before them stands a blonde in a severely cut suit.

She steps aboard, studies the buttons in confusion. "Are we going up or down?"

"There was a difference of opinion," Alan says.
Brad Chase: We hold these truthsbrad_chase on December 31st, 2005 06:00 pm (UTC)
*Brad nods at the woman and glances at Alan, bewildered he restrained himself from the innuendo*

"Up." *shrugs* "Sorry." *Brad had caught an unsettling glimpse of the floor. He wondered if Alan saw anything but the woman, then turned to her* "Didn't know there was a thirteenth floor. It looked - . What kind of business operates there?"
Alan Shore: outlinealan_shore on January 2nd, 2006 12:06 pm (UTC)
She's on the tall side and not entirely comfortable with her height, ducking as she enters the elevator. She carries, rather than a briefcase or a purse, a small collection of papers rolled like scrolls. She stands to the side of the elevator, possibly in order to keep an eye on both her fellow passengers. Her fingers look long and nimble. The nails are painted bright orange.

Brad's asking about the floor?

"Benzaiten Design. We're an architectural drafting firm." Looking from one to the other and not finding them particularly engrossed, she adds matter-of-factly, "I'm Benzaiten."

"The Japanese goddess of eloquence," Alan says, eyebrows raised. "Do I owe you an oath of fealty?"

She laughs, rolls her eyes. "It's a pretentious name. Most people don't catch that." It takes only a glance at Alan and Brad for her to pronounce, "You're lawyers."

Alan leaves Brad to field that. He makes the more convincing attorney.
Brad Chase: We hold these truthsbrad_chase on January 2nd, 2006 01:06 pm (UTC)
Brad watches her, then Alan, then her, knowing he was the only one in the elevator representing 'most people'. He nods once. "Correct." Then, because he couldn't let Alan win the room: "The top civil litigation firm in Boston."

The woman barely glanced at him, turning slightly in Alan's direction. This was nothing new - s.o.p. around the firm - but it was an endless source of irritation to Brad. He grinned and gestured:"Whatcha got there?"

"Drafts." Brad pocketed his hands and looked up at the floor indicator, enduring. Waiting for Alan to reel in his catch, sure the release would follow.
Alan Shore: outlinealan_shore on January 2nd, 2006 05:04 pm (UTC)
Judging by Brad's expression of resolute stoicism, he expects Alan to at any moment begin conversing with the woman in fluent Japanese.

Alan knows precious little Japanese, so instead he says, "Speaking for the top civil litigation firm in Boston, most of us have mastered--"

"I know you," she says, suddenly turning from Alan to Brad. "I saw you on TV. You're the guy...shit...you did something."

"He attacked a priest with an axe," Alan says. "That's why we're headed to the top floor. It's his armory. We also happen to be the top vigilante justice firm in Boston."

Of course, she's (somewhat) interested in a real answer, so she's still looking at Brad.
Brad Chase: We hold these truthsbrad_chase on January 2nd, 2006 10:45 pm (UTC)
Brad patiently let Alan run through his stand-up, the priest-chopping having entertained all at the Christmas party, the recent International meeting and assorted clients.

Her look actually made the small room feel hot - or maybe it was him. "No." He directs this to Alan. To the woman: "Mr. Shore sees my action through Wes Craven-colored glasses. There was a little coverage on a boy who was kidnapped. I had something to do with his recovery." She inhaled, about to speak, when the elevator dinged and the doors opened onto an empty floor. Not just empty. Bare. No walls. No fixtures. No color. Alan and Miss Benzaiten followed his gaze, all three momentarily absorbed in their own curiosity. The doors began to slide shut, when Brad held out his hand, restoring their view. "Whatdaya know. Heaven is in Boston."
Alan Shore: outlinealan_shore on January 2nd, 2006 11:30 pm (UTC)
Forgetting their guest, Alan stares openly. There isn't much to stare at, but leaving an entire floor empty makes no sense. He expects a portal into John Malkovich's head at the very least.

"This is your idea of heaven," he says, not taking his eyes off the distinct lack of anything of interest. "Somehow I'm neither surprised nor impressed."
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