Beric couldn’t remember the last time he was able to leave the building when night hadn’t yet fallen; even when times were not as precarious as they were now and when he wasn’t working as the leader of the Brotherhood, he had a busy schedule that didn’t allow such luxuries, working from dusk till dawn. This time, however, as he crossed through the second gate, he found, amused, that it was barely 6 PM.
A prank, truly. But Thames House had seen something different. The Brotherhood was testing their new system of attacks and apparently it worked. Now Thames House was under alert of an inexistent threat, an intruder that was most certainly not there. In some other times they would never imagined the possibility of such thing, of someone bypassing the headquarters of the MI5; but these days the government lived under fear of anything and everything, the memory of their dead Prime Minister lingered, so they didn’t take changes.
He decided to pay a visit to his other headquarters, to the real ones. He fancied looking through this new system that had worked so well today. It would do him well, to see the Founder’s Arms again. His steps were followed by the s01 as he stepped into the secured front lot when he heard a familiar voice.
Too familiar perhaps. He unintentionally sharpened his eyes at his sight. They had been working close, as they always had, boss and direct officer, yet Varys had kept his distance lately and Beric could only imagine why. He wondered what he wanted now then.
Perhaps it had to do with that undersecretary. The thought amused the minister, had he come crying to him? That would be an image. He regarded him carefully. Should this be some trap, however. He smiled. He had been into greater traps lately anyway and he did want to know what was up. He knew how important it was to keep matters quiet when it came to the director, he knew too much.
"Of course", he replied quietly before his lips curled up in a grin, "You may drive me home". He had noticed his lack of courtesy, maybe this would show him some manners when addressing his foreman and in any case, whatever this was, they could talk over the car. And now his whole security knew that he was with him, in case anything happened to him.
Beric didn’t lose time and looked back at the head of his security to dismiss them, “It’ll be fine”, he said, keeping the smile on his face, “The director of the MI5 will be protecting me”. He didn’t wait for a response of said Director, he took the few steps left to the car and got in the back seat.
Varys had lived long enough to remember betrayal in the government, such as a few spies or a maybe some lower ministers. But nothing so treacherous and coming from so high up in the government. He wondered who else might be in on it, even if the very thought felt ludicrous. Was the entire government in on it? Was he the odd man out? He liked to think that he didn’t know how it had all come to this, but he saw the worst of the government. He’d like to think that the things had done were to make it better.
That grin that spreads on Beric’s lips and the words that came along with them felt reminiscent of Aerys’ regime; that sense of entitled arrogance. But Varys is merely smiling, though so much more than that courses through his body. He nodded, as if he wouldn’t dignify it with words. Beric should remember who he’s dealing with. Bitter men did impulsive things. He glanced over to Beric’s head of security, finding a chuckle wanting to escape his lips. “He couldn’t be in better hands than mine,” he said as Beric walked off.
After having the keys passed off to him by the head of security, Varys weaved around the car to the driver’s side and got in. He put the keys in, turning on the ignition, driving onto the street, casting a look to Beric, “So, where am I driving you to?” An innocent enough question, as if he was just asking for Beric’s address (not that he didn’t possess the information). However, there was the possibility that Beric had… other matters that he needed to attend to. Ones that he should be technically included into.
He nodded, leaning back. Silence fell between them as he thought and mulled the possibilities. Perhaps it was not too far fetched that the terrorists were also more traditional murderers. He wouldn’t put it past them- if they could kill three thousand innocents in a single blast, what were half a dozen lives? No- keep an open mind, he reminded himself for the last time, this could be another political or business killing as that possibility is not ruled out yet.
But it was rare for terrorists not to declare themselves- to make an explicit statement. He half expected one of the hostages to be filmed reading out a message and demand or a threat. But nothing of the sort so far, only half vague messages broadcasted on hacked television stations. Yes, he knew that there was this Anonymous Brotherhood- a bunch of hacktivists, and those were the ones who sent those tv messages. Yet he also knew that while most doubted that they were the same people who blew 3000 people into the air, there was nothing to definitively say that they were not responsible for the Olympic stadium. They could be terrorists, and they very well could not be.
If there were two groups- potentially three-
And with Scotland-
How did the world get so insane?
He blinked and looked back up to Varys, giving the man a polite smile, “ Okay i need to stop thinking before i hurt myself- at least until i get another round of coffee,” He pushed himself up onto his feet, “ I’ll speak to Liz and keep looking for leads and evidence. I’ll keep you updated, sir,”
“ Thanks for getting my head unstuck, by the way,” He said lightly, cheerfully as he stepped out of the office and back into the flurry of madness.
Varys was aware of how his hypothesis might have sounded like a far fetched theory, perhaps even peculiar enough to sound like a conspiracy theory, but he knew that he was on the right track. Things were too precarious for him to produce on any evidence, as his little personal project couldn’t yet see the light unless he wanted all of his work to blow up. It went further than just putting his own life in danger (which he could firmly say was a certainty at this point), but putting the lives of others in danger. Not that Arthur was unaware of the dangers of his job, but what about the other people he knew?
But he supposed it was too much of a stretch to say that he had a circle of friends that either group could go after. For him, friends had always been in short supply. But if there was anyone that Beric might go after, he would go after Lester. And Lester had told him he was willing to lay down his life for justice, but… words were easy to say without knowing exactly what it felt to have brush past death.
Varys chuckled, though he feels that there’s nothing much to laugh about. “I understand it’s a lot to digest. It was the same for me.” How he had felt when he had connected Beric to all of this. “Thank you.” Then, he added: “And I’d appreciate if you keep this particular theory between the two of us.” Arthur would understand the need for discretion, considering how this theory sounded.
Then, Arthur was on his way out of his office. “Don’t thank me.” He grinned, but there’s the foreboding feeling of worrying about whether he’s sent another person towards the lion’s den.
Relief floods him and he knows it’s silly (Varys would hardly just abandon him at the first sign of trouble) but the very really threat of homelessness had been nagging at the back of his mind, even with all his other very real, very pressing worries. At least now he knows he’ll have somewhere to go, rather than just guessing. ”Thanks, Varys. Thank you so so much.”
This conversation has drained him. It seems everything lately drains him, makes him feel like less himself and more some paranoid, unhappy creature that can’t stop moving and can’t ever be satisfied. He used to be, well, not happy, but content with life, but now everything’s gone so wrong and he can’t even feel like himself anymore.
He wonders how Varys feels. It’s deeply unfortunate that he knows so little about someone he considers his friend—and his closest friend if he thinks longer about it. He still wonders if Varys has any other friends, and he can’t imagine them. Who else did he have? Coworkers? Enemies? Not family, surely, and probably not friends either.
But he can’t really talk about any of that with him. It seems too…private for one thing, and he’s pushed enough for today. If Varys wanted him to know anything about his life, well he would tell him. ”Where will I move to? I would like to be somewhere close to work… Unless that’s impossible, in which case, I’ll go wherever I can.”
Varys is pleased that Lester appreciated his help, though he felt it selfish to indulge in the sentiment. But in his job he was seldom thanked for the things he did, and even less so when it came to things done outside of Thames House. He may be a servant of the country, but he is still human. Nonetheless, it was the least he could do for his friend who had managed to get himself entangled in all this wretched business.
"You’re welcome," he said with a certain effortlessness that could be interpreted as that Lester wouldn’t have needed to thank thank him. Varys can see on his friend’s face that this conversation and the situation itself is wearing him down. But no normal person could be expected to become a spy overnight, not when it took years of training — that was to become even moderately competent at it. Some parts just couldn’t be taught.
He nodded, “I can certainly find a place for you that’s close to work.” He tried to think of off the top of his head where he might place him, but he needed to consider the matter with great thought before he decided. “For now, just continue on working as if everything is fine. Can you do that for me?”
“ Well, one body is not yet found,” The word body tasted bitter in his mouth. He was already giving up, but was it so far fetched to believe that Wylde was still alive? These murders were done with every sign that the people behind this were professional killers, skilled and able. What were the chances of one ageing old aid to the PM have against them?
Professional, not a crazed bunch of serial killers.
“ We know that these murders were done by more than one person,” Arthur ran his fingers through his hair, “ Can we take that because not all the bodies were not found means that they are a loose band? And not like a football team united sort of thing?”
“ The differences in killing styles, poison, hanging, immolation, all point to a wide set of skills within the group,”
He sighed and tapped the arm rests on his chair, “ We need to get a proper profiler for this shit,” He gave a chuckle and shifted in his seat, “ My brain is hurting just trying to put myself into their shoes,”
“ Or maybe that’s due to the lack of sleep,” He looked up, to Varys, “ I’ll check with Liz, see if she can see if there’s anything to connect the terrorists with this. But i doubt there’s gonna be much proof- I mean, i can’t see any,”
Varys nodded, and although it might be pessimistic to think so, he didn’t expect that he would find the man alive. “I think it will turn up, unfortunately.” He didn’t take Beric’s group for kidnappers and he couldn’t imagine what they would do with him, anyway. Any sort of ransom attempt would be a risky endeavor. He wondered if there was any particular significance about those people, like if they knew anything about the group or the people. He couldn’t forget that his own life was hanging on a fine line.
Arthur was making the connections that Varys wanted him to. “Yes… I suspect that’s the case, but those are only my own thoughts.” He wished that he knew more that he might be able to give some further hints, but for the moment he was mostly in the dark as well. He smiled ever so slightly, even if there really wasn’t much to smile about at the moment. “I hear you. That’s how I feel about the bombers that I’ve been looking for,” he said, and he was completely genuine.
He wondered what else he could articulate that could help Arthur out. “I would say if there’s any proof it lies in their motive, rather their cause. I think the messages from both murders seem like they could be compatible. I know it’s a long shot, but…” He wondered if his obsession with the bombers was coloring his vision and that he was just hoping to see things where there might not be any. As it stood, he had no actual proof that they were responsible.
"Yes. Yes of course." He needs to calm down. He needs to trust Varys. If there’s anyone he can trust with this work, it’s Varys. He knows far more than Lester ever will, about everything. Varys is the calm one, Varys is the smart one. He’s the one that Lester needs to trust. He can hardly trust himself to get anything done.
Lester knows so much about politics in theory, and even a good amount of it in practice, but he was never prepared for any of this. He was never anything close to prepared for dealing with terrorists, with spys and complete governmental control, and everyone turning completely against you even when you’ve done nothing wrong. His life has turned into an adventure novel and he’s some stupid minor character who’s going to get himself killed for snooping around too much.
"I can do that." Lester thinks he has perfected the art of acting normal in front of others. With the exception of a few (terrible, emotional, humiliating) exceptions, he thinks he is fairly well at keeping his emotional state in check in front of most people. Despite how his defenses have been eroding away, he still thinks he has a handle on himself enough not to completely disregard his sense and let everyone know what he and Varys are doing.
His eyes widen. ”Of course you won’t tell him. I know you wouldn’t. I never meant to imply anything to the contrary.” He’s not going to accuse Varys of anything, and certainly not of working against him. Not again, at least. He’s done with that.
"So." Lester closes his eyes, before they flick open again. "We say…nothing. We do…nothing." It’s the only logical thing for them to do. Nothing. Nothing until they have to act. "You do what you do and I do what I do." Lester presses the heal of his hands to his eyes. "Varys, where am I going to stay?’
Varys is aware that this isn’t an easy job, but he can’t let Lester be stressed up. When people felt under pressure that was most often when they made mistakes. It took a very high threshold to resist getting rattled, which Lester would need to learn. Evidently from his incident with Beric and the way he’d snapped at Varys, he had awhile to go. No matter; Varys would be there by his side to help him.
He smiles at Lester’s renewed faith in him, and he says that he would never falter again in it. It was nice to have someone who would not doubt him. And out of the people he knew, Lester did in fact have the most reason to trust him, since he was now aware of everything that he was hiding from him.
Accordingly, he nods to Lester’s words, though they do not sound very productive. They are not yet in a position to go forward with any action, not without jeopardizing their operation and putting at risk innocent people. It might sound strange to Lester to this, but Varys knows that biding one’s time was usually a crucial part of any operation. It was a misconception to think that everything happened in one fell swoop. Then, he answers the question that has more immediate implications, “You can stay at one of my safehouses in the city.”
He let the corner of his lip pull downward, ” At least share information with us about this, in exchange of us sharing what we have on this with them- If they really want to get these people,” He shakes his head and rubs his palm against his jaw, feeling the prickle of his stubble, ” Unless they don’t want to. Unless they want war,” He glanced up at Varys, wondering what he thought of the situation between the two- well, nations.
He wondered if in a month, he will find himself placing bugs inside the apartment next door. Would Baratheon go that far though, to stop the Scots from endangering England? It was bad enough they had terrorists and murderers and kids with molotov cocktails running amok.
He listened to his friend, frowning, ” I’m keeping myself open to anything, so far, theres… nothing to link the Olympic stadium and the Old Bailey to these murders,” He paused a moment, mulling on it. He had to be careful not to allow this influence his decision and what he sees. People see what they wanted to see, and he was not supposed to expect to see anything to see everything. But evidence is nothing without interpretation.
But its been two months since the bombings, then dead silence. It was likely that now, these people have decided to work quietly now. Or it could be two different sets of people, with this one wanting everyone to know who they are. Those coins. Those coins suggested a foundation and an ideal that they worked around. The killings were quick and precise. While the bombings were nothing but mass murder, but also a loud speaker, to get a message out. But what message did blowing a stadium on the night before its opening send? If these terrorists wanted to kill as many as they could they should have waited another day. Why didn’t they?
Bah. It was the same question he asked himself over and over again. What did the bombings mean? What was the message they wanted to announce to the world? Revolution, some said. Mindless murder, others told him. If it was revolution, what kind of revolution- a revolution against Baratheon? And what has that got to do with the reminder of death, inscribed on the coins? And the murders themselves… what has killing these people got to do with revolution? If the terrorists were revolutionists, then it was unlikely that they are related to these murders. However, if they were just mindless killers, they fit the bill.
" I came here for a new opinion and i’m rejecting it- I’m sorry ," Arthur mumbled. Fucking tunnel vision. Then, he glanced back up at his chief, ” Why do you think it was them?”
"It’s what I would like, at the very least." Varys wanted cooperation among the governments, especially with situations like this. But to some, a few murders seemed insignificant when one considered the entire political chessboard. He merely shook his head, "It is difficult to say. I am sure that some do." It would be a terrible decision for such a thing to happen, and he is not sure that Stannis would be able to handle it well, considering what he’s already seen.
Varys nodded along to the logical statement, and there was not necessarily any hard proof to link the two crimes together. It was still difficult to even say who was behind the bombings. But it didn’t mean that he could not have his suspicions. Plus, he was working with more information than anyone else investigating these crimes was. That was not to say he was certain in his deduction, but he did not believe that Beric would let up in his vision. Or, as he suspected from that first night they talked, that there was another terrorist group as well lurking about.
Arthur went on to ask him his opinion, and he wondered exactly how to word it, because he was not so sure of his thoughts himself. “The coins certainly seem to suggest that there is some sort of foundation of an ideal. It’s peculiar enough that one might think it was a serial killer, but the chosen victims are rather high profile people that suggests the killings are political in nature. These bodies were meant to be found and were not hidden away, and the terrorists from their previous actions have shown themselves to be bold and out in the open,” he explained, and hoped that it all made sense to the other man.
"I do not mean to give this conclusion merely because it would make these cases a priority, but because I do not want any possibility to find the terrorists overlooked." Varys was in a tricky situation where it concerned Beric, and he needed more people to be digging deep into the matter. He trusted Arthur and found him to be very bright. Perhaps he was the one whom he should after the terrorists personally.
Rhaegar remains quiet for a while, twisting the tea cup, one finger rubbing against the daint, white handle. What is he supposed to say then? How exactly should he react? He lifts his gaze, looking carefully now at the other man.
He takes the teacup against his mouth and takes a small sip before settling it back down on the table. “Inherited the Prime Minister?” he smiles. “Of course, right.” Rhaegar takes whatever Varys tells him with a grain of salt. He can never be too careful. He hardly knows the man, but knows enough still that he can’t trust him and certainly anything he says.
… that I could perhaps look to you.
It rings too closely to flattery that he’s chosen over Stannis Baratheon; it’s flowered, honeyed words and phrases to praise him for — for what, he wonders. Still, Rhaegar knows that Stannis Baratheon is the greatest obstacle sitting between him and Downing Street. He can’t be too quick to forget, however, of the other two.
"Have you looked to Greyjoy yet? Mance Ryder, perhaps?" he asks, raising an eyebrow. He stops, and takes a brief look at his watch. "Look to me as the most fitting candidate for premiership… You sounds so certain, and yet you don’t know even know of my politics." You don’t even know me.
Rhaegar looks down at his watch before clearing his throat. “Stannis Baratheon will remain in Downing Street so long as martial law remains. Fact.” He lowers his voice. “If you think you can help me win, I’m sorry. There is no campaign as of right now, unfortunately.” He pushes himself off the chair and stands up. “Until next time —” He offers his hand towards Varys, before turning around to leave.
It’s always an uphill battle. Varys’ reputation always precedes him, and in most cases it’s not a good thing, at least when he isn’t trying to threaten or spook someone. It was always hard making friends. But he knows that he has to take things slowly and that considering he’s been thinking on his feet here it could have gone much worse.
He says nothing on the matter of inheritance, though it was true. Varys hadn’t campaigned behind Stannis. When Robert had died and the power had shifted, he’d merely continued on doing his job. What did Rhaegar expect there? It was hardly sensible to quit.
He cocks his head when the other candidates are spoken and he supposes he should have expected that. Not offended, he replies, “I do know your politics. It’s why I’m here talking to you and not them.” He’s followed the Targaryens all these years, especially Rhaegar.
Varys is aware of the obstacles, but that does not deter him. He’s always believed that with enough effort and strategy any problem can be solved. He has to think that way, especially in these dark times. He gets up and nods his head slightly, “Don’t hesitate to call if you need anything.” That’s all he can do right now: offer his help and hope that it is taken.