(2018-10-11) Job Talk
Bianca meets her new boss and they discuss the importance of the job.

Late afternoon on a Thursday. The news broadcast is only an hour away and Heather is in a production office upstairs looking over the stories. Scribbling some last minute changes that get the autocue operator flustered. A last flourish of her pen before she hands the pages to a runner. "Go. Should be the last ones" she promises before asking, "Is Bianca here? Send her in."

"No. For the last time, Pumpkin everything is G-R-O-S! …S!"

This wonderful argument is brought to you from the little waiting area outside of the offices, where one of the college interns earning some school credit is attempting to influence Bianca Malice's opinion on pumpkin lattes, donuts, and virtually everything else. But she is having precisely zero of that shit.

"It's just dog-nasty, and it doesn't stop coming out like /two months/ before Thanksgiving. Every year it gets earlier, and earlier, like goddamned Black Friday, which is like a whole week long now! Its not 'Black Friday' if it's a week long, and I'm tired of seeing Starbucks pumpkin spice seasoning in August!"

"Miss Malice?"


"Er… She's ready for you now."


Cue the blonde-haired young woman walking into Heather's office wearing a leather jacket over a sensible, if informal blouse and a pair of distressed blue jeans. She knocks on the door as she opens it, forcing a smile on her face that carves dimples into her cheeks. Her eyes flash around the office, taking in a few things, before she uptilts her chin towards the woman behind the desk.

Bianca half-turns, pointing at the door. "Open or closed?" Regardless of the answer, the door is put in the status indicated before the reporter shoves her hands into the back pockets of her denim and bounces her shoulders in time with her eyebrows. "You rang?"

"Closed" is the curt response to that question, Heather gesturing to a seat once Bianca has dealt with the door. "Pumpkin soup is about the only thing I can handle, and I can have that any time of the year." It was hard to miss Bianca's opinions. "And they have Christmas decorations up after Labor Day. What's with that. Drink?" The production offices of KCC1-TV all seem to have liquor available.

"Sorry we haven't had a proper chance to get to know each other" Heather continues as she pours herself a vodka and ice (hold the ice), and whatever, if anything, Bianca would like. "So, first, I'd like to formally welcome you to KCC1-TV. I think you will be a great asset to the channel."

"Yeah, people are terrible. Those lights should be down by January 3rd, at the latest." Bianca quips as she eyeballs the seat she saunters around, before oozing down into it like she's slowly losing the rigidity of her skeletal structure. The blonde slouches into the seat, enough to curl one leg upwards and rest her knee against the edge of the desk. One arm hooks over the back of the chair, the other drums her fingertips on her thigh.

Those plucked yellow brows raise as she considers the row of liquor. "Bourbon. With the ice." Probably best not to ask for a mixed drink. Besides, she's here in hillbilly land, home of the rednecked cowpoke. Might as well start getting used to things that aren't martinis and sweetened cider.

Her eyes fixate on Heather for a moment while the owner fixes their glasses, the set of her shoulders, profile of her jaw, whether she's tense or relaxed, attempting to gauge how this meeting is going to go.

"Thanks. I try to make an ass…" She leans forward a bit, lifting her hand for the proffered glass. "…set of myself everywhere I go." Big smile again, an impish grin. "I'm guessing you already read my resume, got the lay of my land, so to speak. I'll dig my teeth into whatever I have to, but I was hoping to start with a story about why the blue balls there seems to be a crazy level of crime here in this teensy little town."

A wry smile at the pronunciation of 'asset' as she hands over the bourbon. "I thought you'd be more of a cocktail girl" Heather shrugs as she sits herself down, totally relaxed. "Yep, I read your resume. I know what you did. How you upset a couple of self-important people." Pause. "Maybe more than a couple. But that's why I wanted you for this job."

A sip of her vodka brings on a pout; she really needs to get some better stuff in. "I wasn't born a television station owner. I was an investigative reporter too. Up in Denver. All set to join the networks when I fell afoul of some bad people. Looked too hard. Sound familiar? I also had the pleasure of being shot by corrupt cops." She shrugs that off before she continues. "I want a reporter who isn't afraid. Who will dig those immaculate teeth into the things that matter. You're not here to report on dog shows and Miss Snow Bunny, you're here to find the truth."

"We live in a world where the media are mocked and insulted by those in power, because they don't like what we can do. But if we're not around, free to report, then there is no democracy. And that matters to me. You're on crime, Bianca, and you bring me stories based on proof and I will support you two hundred percent. I don't give a shit who you upset, I will back you." Heather seems to be on a bit of a tirade at the moment but, thankfully, she realises it and calms down with a smile. "Sorry about that. Any questions?"

"I am, but… when in Rome." The blonde takes her drink and holds up in a mock salute, before she brings it closer, running the rim under her nose to smell it. It's just something you do in the city. She tastes it with a small sip, then a larger one, her throat gulping a single time. Apparently she likes it.

"I'm very good at upsetting people." Bianca murmurs through a squint just over and past Heather's shoulder, as if looking into another time and place, before she smiles again. "It's how I get the best sound bites." Another long sip. "Well, as much as I hate to miss out on Miss Snowbunny…"

As Heather continues, laying out how things will work 'round here, the affable smartmouthing falls away, replaced by a bit more attention sitting up just a hair straighter, holding her glass in both hands, cradling it just under her chin as she finally nods in agreement. "I'm glad we see eye-to-eye on that. Reporters on a tight leash aren't really reporters. I had this one station manager, and he was just…"

A shake of her head, a run of her hand through her long, blonde hair. "It doesn't matter. Can do. Just two questions, though." One finger is held up, and then tipped over, limp-wristedly to point at Heather herself. "Can I have my own intern? And do we get reimbursed for travel expenses?"

"Your own intern? What do you need an intern for?" Heather replies with a curious expression before waving out in the direction of the closed door and all those beyond. "This isn't a big station, Bianca. We might have one intern for everyone. If you just need someone to grab your coffee, then 'no'. If you want a researcher, I'm afraid you'll have to share for now."

"As for travel expenses." Heather muses on this for a while. "If it's to do with a story, then you will be reimbursed. Put the request directly to me rather than through HR." A pause. "Jeff is HR if you didn't know. If you're on a shopping trip to New York, then no, you will not be reimbursed. This isn't a network station or Netflix with money to burn. Most of the costs are coming out of my very bare pockets. That sound fair?"

"Have you made any contacts yet?" Heather turns the conversation back to the juicy stuff - investigative reporting. Oh how she misses it. She will be living vicariously through Bianca.
"Well, not just grabbing coffee. To rest my feet on when they're feeling a little tired or fetch me things that are just baaaaarely out of reach." Bianca lifts a hand, waggling her fingers dramatically. "Miscellaneous other evil things. …That was a joke, I don't actually need an intern. They mostly complain and mess things up, anyway. That's what makes them so fun to abuse."

She pauses for a beat. "That was also a joke. …Sort of."

Both hands come up in a motion of surrender, Bianca's neck swanning back just a little bit, the non-drink-holding hand palm outward. "I'm aware not to go on massive spending sprees on company dime. I just wanted to know if I have to drive out of town for a lead or spend a few nights in a hotel chasing someone down that I'm not going to go bankrupt trying to get something juicy. This town has quite the history, and with rumors of some cartel starting to move in? A bit of travel may be in order."

The blonde tosses her head back, the drink along with it, slamming the rest of her alcohol like a trucker about to hit the road, before leaning forward and setting the glass on Heather's desk. "I… Ssssssort of. I met Tessa Chen. A very frightening and… sturdy woman in such a tiny package. Had the pleasure of witnessing her chase off a bunch of teenaged vandals before they could paint up a local convenience store. But, mm, not so sure she's a fan of the press."

"Possible source, if I can finesse it just right, but I highly doubt she'd go on record with anything that isn't a prepared press release."

"Other than that, I'm still getting settled in. Haven't met too many locals yet, aside from the guy who works the Coffee Hut next to my building."

"Oh…a footstool. Why didn't you say? Of course you can have an intern for that" Heather replies solemnly. "And I'm kidding too. If you're traveling for a story, you will be reimbursed." A quirk of her brow about the cartel. "So trips to Mexico then?" She drains her drink before nodding to Bianca's empty glass. "Another? I can try to make a cocktail."

"What have you got on the cartel so far? Are we even sure they are Mexican? Could be Russian. Could be old school Italian Mafia. Could even be home grown thugs" Heather muses before looking impressed at Bianca's new friend. "The Chief of Police? Nice work. I'm sure you could get a life story out of anyone if you put your mind to it. You could even start with a piece on how the Chief of Police cares so much, she will even hunt down teen vandals. Get yourself on her side…for now."

"And I don't really care about 'on the record', but I want to be certain it is true. Not because I worry about being sued…been there, done that, got the t-shirt and the embroidered panties…but I don't want to contribute to the lies that fill the airwaves. You have a place to stay already? You're lucky you got here before tourist season."

"This is a test, right? You're trying to see if I'll get sloshed on the job." The blonde lifts a finger and wiggles it in the glasses direction with a sly smile spread across her lips. "Or you have another nefarious plan that involves me getting shitfaced at the studio. And all I can say is… vodka martini, please."

"The cartel? I have no clue. Yet." Bianca leans back in her seat, crossing one leg over the other as she steeples her fingers in front of her chest, briefly looking down at the floor. "Just rumors and hearsay, some shit you overhear, some people talk about. Could be nothing. Could be Guatemalans or Albanians setting up a sex trafficking ring. I do know from the public records that this town has a ridiculously-high crime rate for its size and that I have unsubstantiated rumors about things passing through Calaveras."

"Drugs? Money? People? Guns? You got me. Don't think it's money, the banks aren't big enough and the wrong kind of people usually come sniffing around if they start moving large amounts of cash. If it's not just bullshit, my bet is on contraband. Town like this, people are bound to notice some new faces. I'll keep poking my nose where it doesn't belong. Might be able to get something out of my new bestie, even."

She lifts a hand up and to the side, her shoulder following suit in a half-shrug. "You want a fluff piece on Chen? I can do that. I can write about her vigilance in her off hours, how well she holds her liquor, and all about a small-town girl growing up and taking over the police force as well as her family ranch. Very heart-warming, salt-of-the-earth, Middle-America stuff. But it's not really going to get people watching."

"Everyone wants the tabloid journalism these days. Not to say I'm not above playing paparazzi from time to time." Bianca quirks her lips, glances away, then back at Heather. "You might be right. Couldn't hurt to give her the warm and fuzzies. Might get us an exclusive one day."

"What they want and what they need are two different things" Heather smirks. "Wow, listen to me; Little Miss White Knight. Everyone who knew me at high school would be surprised I'm not into the gossip." She rises to make them both a vodka martini. "Shaken or stirred? You're a reporter, Bianca, I have a feeling you can hold your liquor pretty well."

"Odd place for a cartel to come into if you think about it" Heather notes. "As you say, small town and people will notice new faces. No huge population to provide services to - whatever they may be. So, most likely, being used to bring stuff in to transport elsewhere. Ergo, it must be easier to bring illegal goods here, or take them out, than other places. Why would that be so? The authorities are more…malleable…to looking the other way? If they look at all. Yeah, keep tight with the Chief of Police. Might get us some good stuff."

"You'd be surprised" Heather snorts about the popularity of the puff piece. "People round here are still pretty proud when a local makes good. They're so reliant on non-locals to survive - tourists especially - it's actually a bit of a self-esteem boost to see one of their own in a position of power. Parochialism still has its place."

"Your White Knighting secret is safe with me. Until I need blackmail material, anyway. Oh, uh, stirred. Doesn't really matter. I can't taste the difference and I mostly drink them for the olives. Nutrition AND inebriation."

"Too many nights drinking with the 'big boys'. It's disgustingly simple to get powerful men to talk with a smile and a low-cut dress if you get them a little tipsy first." Bianca rises up out of her seat to take her martini glass once it's made, pacing around the back of the chair, towards the windows. Moving gets her brain-blood flowing, and she's always hated sitting still for too long, as if afraid she might spontaneously sprout some roots. "Exactly my thought."

"Not a big enough town for any serious operation looking for clientele. But big cities have FBI field offices, and that means a local OCB, people specially trained and on the lookout for exactly that sort of thing. Getting lost in a crowd in a city is one thing, but moving a bunch of merch is highly visible, no matter how you do it."

"But are the locals really going to notice if, say, trucks roll through town and some boxes move in and out? The last source I had in the DPD, not really in contact anymore, said small towns are perfect for that sort of thing. People tend to be too polite to go asking much questions, and, in their minds, things like that 'just don't happen around here'."

The reporter turns towards her boss as she raises her glass, downing half of her drink in a single go, before flicking her free hand out to the side. "This is all wild speculation coming out of the furthest corner of my ass, of course. Like I said, all I know is what I've heard so far, and it's not much."

"Right. So. Puff a piece right up the Chief's ass. I'll try to get a few soundbites out of her soon. Somehow, I don't think she's going to want to give me any. Seems like the kind of person that's going to hate this story, now that I think about it. But maybe I can at least try and ooze a comment about any suspected organized crime concerns out of her."

“If it’s only about the olives, I’ll just soak them next time and keep the vodka.” Heather smirks about the ‘big boys’. “Too true, and I’m pretty sure you’d get their attention way better than I ever did” she notes as she hands over the drink before listening to Bianca’s theories. The glass raised in return, though she only sips at hers. “It’s a pretty smart ass, you should listen to it more. At least you have a story to work on. Should I make sure we have a camera crew on call twenty four seven for you?”

”Yeah, the Chief may hate it.” Heather thinks a moment. “But the people will love it, and she’s here to serve the people. They want to know their cops, not be afraid of them. Give her that kind of spiel if she complains. And, maybe, in your subtle way, point out that if she doesn’t want more stories like that, she should give us harder information to work on. We want to work /with/ her. We can help clean up this town. Of course, if she doesn’t want to help us, then our investigations could lead to police collusion with the criminals since we have nothing concrete.” Another sip of her drink. “Am I bad person, Bianca?”

”Oh, and there is also the entertainment aspect of this channel that I want to meet with her about. Calaveras own version of ‘Cops’. You think she’d be down for that, or is she a total ‘Dirty Harriet’?”

"I don't know about twenty-four, seven. I do like take weekends off, on occasion. And it wouldn't be the first story I've ever had to shoot from my phone. Not the best high-def pictures, though."

Bianca flashes a brilliant smile, before taking another long pull of her drink. She knows she should probably sip it, but there's just something about alcohol being set in front of her that makes the blonde want to kick the throttle up to ten and guzzle away. Maybe she likes the taste. It's better than admitting that it dulls the ache of past regrets.

She tilts her mostly-empty glass in Heather's direction. "I'll try that tactic. Clearly, I should be coming to you for diplomacy advice, because if you need subtle, I'm about as subtle as a two-pound hammer coming down on a tiger's balls. There's just something about smooth-talking and tact that I seem to lack. I think it's a city thing."

Big smile again, brief roll of her eyes as glances out of the window. "You're a terrible person, Heather. We all are. That's why we're reporters." The smile vanishes into an almost startled expression as a seeming lightbulb goes off over her head. "Oh, right! I keep forgetting this isn't CNN. You have the soaps and the House Hunters to air, too."

A hip is leaned against the window sill, her arms crossing over her middle, one hand cupping an elbow, the other holding her drink. "Even in the little time we spent talking, I learned enough about Chen to tell you she will abso-fucking-lutely hate that idea. It'll be a tough sell if it's not a direct benefit to her department. I don't know, maybe if I can sweet-talk her with the people being more open to police they see and trust on TV, community spirit and all that garbage, but…"

"Ugh." Bianca hangs her head. "I'm so fucking bad at 'sweet'."

“How about I handle the sweet, and you handle the street” Heather suggests before draining her drink. “That wasn’t too bad. Probably only the tenth martini I’ve ever made…this year.” The glass is placed on her desk as she watches Bianca. “Yeah, sorry, we’ll get to CNN one day, but for now I have to keep the masses amused /and/ educated. I’ll work on Chen about the entertainment show. You never know, you could use it as a bargaining chip – ‘Tell me abut the cartels and I’ll get my boss off your back’. People who say ‘no’ to me, tend to not enjoy their life.” High school Heather is still close to the surface. “Not that you would ever say such a thing so directly. Nor I.”

”Sometimes the world needs hammers to tiger balls. Unfortunately, it seems to need them more these days. What definition is your phone? Make sure anything you shoot on it can be broadcast. No blurry shadows in a dark room which could be anything” Heather notes. “Easiest way to disbelieve a story is to not be able to tell what is on the screen. Makes it easy for the bad guys to get away with it too if there is ambiguity.”

A sly smile slowly forms on Heather’s face. “I like you, Miss Malice. I think we’re gonna work together just fine. Though I have the feeling I need to get another lawyer on retainer.” Her smile becomes warmer. “This is a good thing.”

With another toss of her head, Bianca finishes her drink, managing to make it look posh by flicking her hair over her shoulder as she does so. "I can definitely handle street." She quips with a pucker of her lips as the last of the drink vanishes down her throat to land warmly in her stomach and spread all tingly to her outer extremities. "I'm at least a suburban street tough."

"I'm not going to promise anything about the show, but I'll find a way to bring it up in the positive light I can." Shoving off with her hip from her leaning post, the blonde-haired reporter slinks back towards the desk to set her glass down. "Thanks for the drink, boss. Don't worry about my phone, that's only for emergencies. I usually carry a handheld mini with plenty of zoom and high-def."

Then comes the shot about a lawyer. Bianca's face is the picture of perfect, angelic innocence as she backs away slowly, towards the door, all sunny smiles and choir-girl, like she's practiced that exact look before. It's the one the camera loves. For the fluff pieces, anyway. "No! No, no. Maybe. I should get back to it before people start thinking I'm the teacher's pet."

Bianca reaches for the door, turning to exit through it with one finger raised up and moving in small circles in the air. "I'll see you when I have something on Chen or those rumors!"

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