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Scene Title Inconvenience
Synopsis Eileen faces the consequences of her stunt back at the cage, but someone intervenes before things can get too out of hand.
Date March 4, 2009

Pancratium — Lockup

"— in here you little pain in the ass."

The words are only audible as the steel door swings open, sending the matchstick thin young woman first through the door stumbling forward, thrown down onto cold tiles. It is the two burly men that enter after her that give this otherwise simple room its grim potential.

Long has it been speculated what kind of facility the Pancratium was before it became a fighting ring, with so much space of cages and wide open warehouse floor. It's obvious now, only when Eileen is thrown into one of the back rooms, knocked down onto dirty brown-red tiles, staring up at chains hanging from the ceiling on aluminum runners, chained tipped in hooks.

The door slams shut with some grave finality as the second man enters, buttoning up his jacket. It's this motion that makes Eileen feel the cold ink the floor, the cold coming off of the walls, dry and clinging to her small frame. "Mista' Truman is going to have words with you, gal." The first thug spits out, stepping around one of the chains and an old, faded poster showing the various sections of a cow and what cuts of meat from them are called.

"The shit did you think you was doing, running at the cage you stupid kid?" Clearly these two upstanding members of Truman Adler's security team are unaware of Eileen Ruskin's prior employment, or her prior associations, or perhaps they might well use more caution with their words and actions.

It's hard, though, to bring up that toughness when she's presented with the cold reality that the Pancratium was — and ironically still is — a slaughterhouse.

The grime and grit wedged between the meatlocker's weathered tiles comes as a surprise to Eileen — she expected to find herself back out on the street, discarded on the curb outside the club like a sack of misbegotten trash. Metal tinkles in her ears as the chains swing, wicked hooks clinking against each other, the sound amplified by the frigid chill in the room's stale air.

She doesn't immediately rise to her feet. Instead, she straightens her arms and pushes herself into a sitting position, tiny frame heaving with a fierce combination of revulsion and aggravation that pushes the breath from her lungs and out her nostrils in condensed form.

Fury intensifies the severity of her face's austere features, dark brows cambering into a livid arch. Eileen isn't sure what makes her angrier — the way they manhandled her into the room at gunpoint or the fact that she's being mistaken for someone younger and greener than she really is. "Back off."

One thug looks to another, and both laugh. "Back off she says," the one in the knit cap notes, turning to look back to Eileen as his boots scrape across the cold floor, "Look miss, you ain't much in a place to bargain', if'n you know what it is I mean?" His head quirking to the side, he stops a few paces outside of arm's reach — used to the fiesty ones. "We ain't been given much specifics regarding people who run up and shake the cage, an' since you was either yellin for the Midtown Man or our lil' caged dog," his head cants down, lips pursing into a difficult to read expression. "Means we has to have words."

"'Less a'course," his erstwhile partner slips around from behind the shorter man, removing gloved hands from the pockets of his leather jacket, "You an' us might be able to arrange some sort'a payment for this ah— " he searches for the right words, eyes turning up to the ceiling.

"Inconvenience," his erstwhile partner chimes in.

"Ah, yea that's a good one — inconvenience." Folding his arms, the thug looks to Eileen with a furrowed brow, "Maybe you and us could arrange for that payment in here, hmm?"

Everyone on Staten Island is a little less than magnanimous. What did Kazimir say about the filth she used to associate with? Eileen takes to a knee, bracing one nimble-boned hand against the wall, and hauls herself up while the other curls into a fist, thumb pressed over her index finger without extending past the knuckles — just like Ethan taught her.

There are two of them and only one of her. Pitiful odds. But if the men back in the cage can come out of this in one piece, then so can she. "You want to fuck me?" she asks, watching the pair from behind the tangled black veil that is her hair. "Come on, then."

"Oh shit Sam, she's got spunk," the one in the hat notes, reaching inside of his jacket with a crook of his head, withdrawing a revolver from an interior holster, "Jesus, we might have t'make an extra hole for this one right?" The hammer is clicked back, but the gun is left down at his side. "Come on there, gal, we ain't needin' to do this, right?"

The taller, broader thug — Sam — lays a hand on the other man's shoulder, then looks over to Eileen. "You just relax, right? Come on now, you're all bones, girl, ain't no shame in admitin' when you're beat." His hand slips off of the other man's shoulder, taking a few heavy steps towards Eileen. "We jus' want t'be paid back for all'a this inconvenience, ey? Ain't that much to ask is it?"

When it happens, it happens fast. One moment Eileen is leering, incensed, her wiry body coiled with the tension of a cobra beneath its ornate hood, readying a strike — the next, her knuckles crack against the underside of Sam's jaw with enough force to split skin and fracture bone. She lacks the finesse of a boxer, but a well-placed punch doesn't need much to dislocate the joint that anchors the mandible to the rest of the skull.

Apparently, it is too much to ask.

When Sam woke up this morning, odds are he didn't expect getting laid up by a wee thing with bird-thin arms.

When the back of Sam's head smacks against the tile floor, sending his vision a shock of white to match the pain in his jaw, he has to tack it up to things he never thought he'd be humiliated with.

The click of a hammer and the raising of a revolver, however, nearly brings an end to the scuffle as Sam's confidant trains his gun on Eileen. Somewhere between Sam's head hitting the floor and the astonished shock of his friend, they both missed the door to the meat locker opening, and the disapproving growl of the bald mountain of flesh making its way through the doorway.

It's the snap of forearm bones like Twix candy bars that snaps his focus back to reality, back to the gun falling out of a spasming hand to clatter down on the floor. To the pale, meaty hands bending his arm in directions it should not, and the blinding pain of fractured skeletal system that is only compounded by the knee places against his shoulder ones he's down on the ground.

If there is one thing you could describe Manny Calavera as, petite would not be among them. The mountain of a man twists the broken arm, kneeling down on the thug's shoulder blade, squeezing his wrist and elbow in a fashion that //finally/ dislocates the limb and brings a howling scream that floods the room.

The Linderman enforcer's eyes flick up over the tops of his round sunglasses, looking to Eileen with a feverishly exasperated expression. Then down to Sam on the floor, and the way the thug cradles his face in his hands, "Nice hook." He mumbles, casually, as if this happens on a daily basis.

A hot, sticky sensation trickles down the back of Eileen's arm, and when she raises her hand to wipe the hair from her face it leaves a vibrant smear of blood in its wake. Sam's earlier assessment was correct; for all the time she's spent in Vanguard's company, she lacks the build of a fighter or the musculature to support it. Her frail structure simply isn't built for combat.

The fingers of her uninjured hand close around the other and give it an experimental squeeze, gingerly testing for damage — in return, she's rewarded with a sharp twinge of pain, the result of microscopic fissures splintering through busted knuckles. It isn't a serious injury, but it's an injury just the same, and Eileen cannot help but let out a maddened hiss through her teeth when she experiences the extent of the damage. "Thanks."

"'Ey no problem," Manny murmurs, finally letting the busted arm go as he rises up to his feet, lightly nudging his victim in the head with one wingtip shoe as a form of wordless warning. "You alright?" He looks down to her hand, making a slow advance over, "These assheads don' know when they should cool off do they?"

The "son of a bitch," that calls out from the door is neither the thugs, nor Manny. Instead it is Kain Zarek's well-dressed silhouette leaning in the doorway, one hand smoothing his palm over his forehead as he looks down at the two men groaning on the ground, then up to Eileen. "Jesus Manny, y'almost tore his arm off…" Kain slithers out from the entrance, eyes wide as he surveys what the pair did.

"Almost." Manny notes astutely, as if disappointed. He stops just short of Eileen, one huge hand reaching out towards hers, then hesitating, making eye contact with the small young woman. "You wanna' tell me why you ran up to the cages, an' made me have to take a man's arm off?" Manny asks politely, brows raising as if he's asking her why she cut class.

Eileen doesn't take the proffered hand, though this isn't to say she doesn't visibly relax when Manny makes the gesture. Gray-green eyes sweep across the room, lingering briefly on dispatched men sprawled across the floor, then settle on Zarek's familiar profile. She hadn't seen him in the audience during the fight, but finding him here makes sense in retrospect — he has investments to watch out for.

"The Wolf," she says in a voice that's deceptively calm and level considering what could have happened if Manny and Kain hadn't intervened. "Holden. He's a friend of mine. I couldn't just sit there and watch Sylar tear him to pieces."

"Y'all got some pretty funny friends, girl." Kain steps over Sam, looking to Eileen, then Manny. "Funny that, after your little hootin' and hollarin' Mister Midtown decided not to carve your boy up like a Thanksgiving turkey." Kain slides his hands down into the pockets of his slacks, looking down at the two men on the floor. "Jesus this is a mess."

"They were attackin' her." Manny clarifies, as if it weren't blindingly obvious. "I jus', you know, did my job." His gaze finally meets Kain's, "You think Truman's gonna' be upset? We could buy him new goons." There's a crooked smile there, though Kain isn't quite reflecting it in his dour expression.

"You did him a favour," Eileen says, this time without meeting either man's gaze. "Took a pair of rapists off his payroll." She drags her lower lip over her teeth and, finally noticing the blood on her face, rubs it out with her coat's sleeve. The adrenaline-induced high is fading, ebbing away, replacing the feeling in her arms and legs with something numb and alien. Letting out a slow, rattling breath, she moves past Manny and attempts to maneuver her way around the bodies, around Kain.

"I'm sorry if I cost you any money," she adds, voice beginning to lose some of its former strength as it grows husky, unraveling at the edges. "You can add it to whatever I already owe."

"Hey," Kain turns, reaching out to take Eileen's shoulder, not considering what she did to Sam's jaw — or what's left of it anyway. "You can act all tough s'much as you want, kid." He takes a step to her side, hand still firmly resting on her shoulder. His face doesn't display so much anger as it does confusion and, perhaps in some misguided way concern.

"Where th'hell d'you think you're goin'?" His dark brows lower, pale eyes focusing on Eileens as he tries to figure out the inscrutable processes going on behind her eyes. "You don' owe me shit yet, so why don' you hold on a minute."

To her credit, Eileen doesn't react to Kain the same way she reacted to Sam. She tenses at the hand on his shoulder, but the way her muscles bunch up beneath his fingers is more reflexive than it is an exhibition of aggression — much the same as blinking or breathing.

Looking into her eyes is like looking into two pools of clear green water without a bottom. There is no silt or sediment floating in it to obscure his view, but at the same time it's impossible to perceive what else her gaze contains. As he studies her face, so too does she study his, shadowed by dark lashes. "But I do," she states. "For Mr. Calevera. You said we'd discuss payment when you made the offer at Tuck's, so. Let's discuss."

"Yeah, well…" Kain's hand slowly slips away, "Look, Ah' don't know what it is you're wrapped up in. You come t'mah club askin' for bad smack, then yer out here on the island, workin' for Doc Filatov an' sittin' in on some grimy gablin'. Ah' seen you talkin' t'Logan, an' that ain't no man you wanna' be dealin' with, girl."

Looking to Manny, Kain makes a motion for him to drag those two somewhere out of sight, and as if this is his daily job, Manny withdraws a handkerchief from his pocket and wipes up Sam's face, then grabs him by the arms and starts hauling him across the floor. "All Ah' want, is t'know a kid like you ain't gettin' in over her head here. Ah've seen what this place does t'girls like you, an' if Tweedle Dumb and Tweedle Dee here are any indication, it was gonna' happen t'you."

Kain hisses out a breath through his teeth, turning to peer out the partly open door to the floor of the arena, then back to Eileen. "What business do you got with that caged dog anyway?"

The corners of Eileen's mouth curl up into the slightest of smiles, small and rueful, almost sympathetic in the context of the rest of her face. "I'm a lot older than I look," she says in a tone that, while soft, also contains a mildly rebuking note, "so try not to lose any sleep. It's been a few years since I was a child."

She monitors Manny's progress in her peripheral vision, though her attention never really leaves Kain. "Like I said, your caged dog is a friend of mine. We go a long way back. How much is he worth to you?"

"Everybody likes the underdog." Kain says quietly, peering out the door before looking back, "Ain't sure why he's here, he sure as shit ain't paid, which means Johnny Logan or his Limey buddy must've brought him in. Ah ain't seen Truman here doin' more than collecting his fat stacks." One hand stroking over his stubble, Kain looks back over to Eileen. "Ah' ain't gonna' be able t'clean this up sweetly, these two boys're either gonna wind up missing," he nods his head towards where Manny went, "or they're gonna talk."

Swallowing, Kain looks back out the door, staring in long silence through the open crack before finally speaking again, voice low and quiet. "What's he worth t'you?" is the parroted question, blue eyes settling on the young woman again.

"John Logan?" Eileen asks, raising both her dark brows as she adopts a skeptical expression that's a lot kinder than it could be, given the circumstances. "That's funny, Kain. I could've sworn I heard you bragging about how you rolled him up in a carpet for snooping around."

She looks down at her hand. Her knuckles might need stitches, but the blood has already begin to coagulate and dry, hardening into an ugly scab that will probably suffice until she received proper medical attention back at the clinic. Tentatively, she flexes her fingers as if to reassure herself they still work — in reality, the movement is a byproduct of quiet contemplation along with the thoughtful murmur that accompanies it. "I've heard that you lock some of your people up afterhours. As a precaution. But accidents do happen, don't they? Maybe someone forgets to shut the door all the way, maybe the deadbolt doesn't click into place." Her eyes wander back up to Kain's face, steadily meeting his gaze in a somber, stony stare. "I don't have a lot of money," she says. "I don't have any money. But you deal in more than just cash, don't you?"

At the mention of rolled up in a carpet, Kain's brows raise and he hisses quietly, looking away with a guilty expression as one hand rubs over his mouth slowly. The questions, ones that eventually transform into pointed suggestions draw a wary look from Kain, his eyes closing as he rubs one hand slowly across his creased brow. "Maybe accidents happen, maybe."

Looking up to Eileen, Kain pushes the door shut all of the way, leaning his hand on the knob. "Exactly what're you talkin' about?" One dark brow rises, his view of her showing the skepticism in his voice with clarity on his face. "Because Ah' ain't th' kinda' guy who does what them goons were gonna' do t'you, ain't no matter what none'a the girls down at the Dagger say."

"You're right," Eileen agrees, unperturbed. That the door has shut and Kain is still holding the handle doesn't appear to bother her, or at least not as much as the implication he's deliberately manipulating her into something.

She squares her shoulders and arches her back, pulling her body into a curvilinear posture defined by the gentle bow of her spine. "They were going to do it regardless of whether I wanted to or not," she points out as she lifts her chin. "This me, consenting, offering you what I feel is a fair trade between adults."

Kain's face suddenly takes on a disgusted look, brows lowering, "Ah'm old enough t'be your daddy!" He shouts out, stepping away from the door with one hand raking through his hair, "No— " his head shakes repeatedly, despite half of the girl's he's brought back from the Dagger being the same age. "No Ah'm— " snorting loudly, Kain looks back up to Eileen, brows lowered. "You wanna' do a favor for me?" He reaches inside of his jacket, fumbling around for something before removing a torn and crinkled piece of paper, holding it out.

"You get yourself t'this address, an' you ask for a fella' named Brian. You ask him for a job, an' you get yourself the hell outta' the Rookery. You want your bald Limey buddy outta' Thunderdome," he waves around himself flippantly, "Then you get yourself outta' here, an' you make sure you ain't needin' someone like Manny to watch yer back anymore."

Looking down to the ground, Kain stays still for a moment, eyes halfway falling shut. "Ah' ain't…" he scowls, "Ah' ain't that kinda' guy."

"Of course you aren't." Eileen doesn't sound too convinced. "You'll conscript people against their will for the sake of profit, but you won't climb into bed with someone who's half your age because it makes your skin crawl. Got it." Still, she takes the scrap of paper, turning it over between her fingers. "If this 'Brian' of yours is Brian Fulk, then you can forget it. We're already well-acquainted."

She tucks the address safely away in one of interior coat pockets, lips twitching into a frown when her hand also brushes against the antique pocket watch she keeps there. "I appreciate your concern, Mr. Zarek, but I already have a job, and I'll work wherever I damn well please. It's a free country, or so you Americans say."

Shoulders sagging, Kain reaches up and rubs his forehead with one hand, "Look, you think you got me all figured out, Ah' got that." Closing his eyes, he moves further away from the door, massaging one hand at his temple. "Just… stay outta' the Rookery for a couple'a days, damnit. Ah'm tryin' t'do you a favor, Ah'll…" He breathes in slowly, then exhales another breath. "Ah'll see what Ah' can do 'bout your buddy." Pausing for a moment, Kain's brows furrow, and he looks back to Eileen with that same look on his face he had before.

"Y'remind me a'someone, s'all… just— keep away from this place till' the show calms down. Ah' ain't sure what'm gonna do with these guys, but people've been up an' disappearin' left and right lately." He folds his arms, teeth pressing down into his lower lip. "Ah'll see what Ah' can do 'bout your friend…"

It's impossible to tell whether Kain's rejection has left Eileen feeling insulted or relieved — it certainly isn't the first time she's been turned down by someone old enough to be her father, and the expression she wears on her face remains carefully guarded as she closes the distance between herself and the door, the bloodied fingers of her injured hand wrapping around the handle in what may be an attempt to make a point. There isn't a flicker of anguish in her eyes or so much as a hitch in her breath as she turns the knob, opens the door, and steps out into the hall.

She leaves without a word, not even a thank you, the sound of her footsteps gradually fading away, blending in with their resounding echo.

And the eventual thunk of Kain's head gently slamming into the door. Just once.

March 4th: Playing by the Rules
Previously in this storyline…
Playing by the Rules

Next in this storyline…
Coliseum Diplomacy, Part II

March 4th: Values of Consequence
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