A Dollar Saved


eileen_icon.gif peter_icon.gif raith_icon.gif

Scene Title A Dollar Saved
Synopsis While discussing the Remnant's food stores, Raith and Eileen are interrupted by Peter inquiring after Gabriel's whereabouts.
Date October 8, 2009

Old Dispensary

The smell of wet paint has an acrid, nauseating quality to it; even with all the windows flung wide open to help air out the Dispensary's ground floor, it still manages to permeate every room, including the kitchen, which is where Eileen has set up her workspace and continues to knuckle down well into the late evening after the sun has set, plunging the building into shadow.

Illuminated by candlelight, her face is relaxed in an expression of quiet contemplation as she reviews the notes laid out in front of her from behind a small fortress of textbooks on loan from the Brooklyn Public Library. Arithmetic is not her strong suit, and neither are the culinary arts, but this apparently hasn't stopped her from taking responsibility for the Remnant's food stores. A small bag of black granules sits to her right and a bag of multicoloured lentils to her left, both unlabeled. The tip of fountain pen taps against the edge of the table once, twice, three times, and she reaches up to remove the cigarette she has tucked behind her left ear.

The woolen cardigan she wears only provides so much warmth, even when combined with her peacoat and the cashmere scarf that covers her hair and protects the tips of her hair from the nighttime chill. With no fire in the fireplace and no working radiator to circulate warmth through the room, lighting up is the next best thing — and light up she does, using the same wax candle that allows her to see.

Work is always more tolerable when you have someone around to suffer through it with you. As Eileen sits working in the kitchen, Raith makes his way up from the basement level and in to join her, pulling an old gas mask off his face as he does. Elsewhere, the smell and fumes are clearly a lot worse, but at the very least, Raith is ready for it. "Well, that was a bust," he says, "Buying that generator used wasn't such a hot idea, after all. All the flies aren't helping, either. Bzzt." Dipping his head to one side and then the other, eliciting a 'pop!' from some of his joints, he tosses the mask aside and sweeps a half-full water bottle up from off the floor before sitting down across from Eileen. He's not wearing any of his nicer clothes; just some jeans and a t-shirt he picked up cheap. It's definitely a different look for him. "Flies bothering you any? Sure hope not." The fact that there are no flies around anywhere seems to indicate that maybe his mask isn't working as well as it used to.

"The hell you doing, anyway?"

"Trying to save some money," Eileen explains, lips moving around the cigarette's filter as she studies what she can see of Raith's shape in the absence of proper light. If it wasn't for the familiar rumble of his voice, she might not have recognized his hulking figure at all. "We don't have to completely eliminate luxury items from our diet, but by scaling back and being more frugal about the what we purchase and who we purchase it from, I think we can support ourselves until next February with what's left of the allowance Kazimir gave us. And that's just the funds I know about. I'm sure Ethan has a couple thousand in a cache somewhere."

She sets the pen down on the table's wooden surface, removes the cigarette from her mouth and uses its burning tip to gesture to the bag of granules. "Black rice. Generally, it's more expensive than white, but it's more nutritious too, and I've found a shop in Chinatown that'll sell it to us at a discount if we buy in bulk. The cost averages out."

"I see." Really, Raith finds that tidbit to be terribly interesting. Except for the fact that he doesn't. "You know, if funding starts running low, we can always rob a bank." Leaning forward and with a (mostly) deft swipe of his hand, Raith acquires the sheet of notes that Eileen's been making for herself. They might be more useful if they were a little bit easier to read. "Christ, I hope Gabriel was right about getting this dump on the grid. Let's see…."

The back door opens with a quiet creak and a click of the knob, and only upon entering does the darkly clad man who so briskly walked in notice the shotgun suspended by the door with a wiring mechanism armed to mechanically pull the trigger to fire a blast roughly point blank and at head level. Thankfully for Peter — and presumably the next person to walk in — the weights for the string dangle freely and the trigger isn't pulled.

Eyes wide and staring up at the mounted shotgun, Peter exhales a slow and ragged breath before calling out to the interior of the building. "Jensen…" there's a hint of a tremor in his voice, "I think you left something back here." The door clicks shut, and hard-soled footfalls come rounding thorugh the expansive building, over the hardwood floors and finally through the doorway into the kitchen.

Unbuttoning the front of his jacket, Peter looks up to Raith, down to the gas mask, then up to Eileen with one dark brow quizzically raised the whole while. "Is that Jensen's idea of how to keep away unwanted solicitors?" Comes the unusually jovial response as Peter nods his head towards the back entrance, blue eyes tracking back to Eileen, then down towards her cigarette with a disapproving stare.

Eileen knits her brow at Raith, her lips pressed into a thin, unwavering line. He's disinterested; she's unimpressed. "My point is that we shouldn't have to rob any banks," she insists. "All we have to do is make some changes about the way we eat. Congee, salted eggs and fresh fruit or for breakfast. Light lunches. Smoked haddock. Preserves. Pickled vegetables. Soda bread."

She places one small hand on the cover of the nearest textbook, its title blanketed in flickering shadow, indistinguishable. "New York City's the biggest melting pot in America," she says. "You go into these little ethnic neighborhoods and the local grocers are selling things below cost or exchanging them for other items. We could barter our way through the winter if we had to. If you'll give me a chance, I can show you."

As Eileen rises from her seat at the table, she looks over to Peter, the expression on her face having transformed into something slightly more alarmed. "I'm sorry?" In other words: What's Jensen done now?

Peter has Raith's attention too, although it's much less concerned attention than Eileen has to offer. "Did it not work?" he asks. Obviously, it didn't. "That'll learn you," Raith continues, pointing his finger at the other man, "You should fucking watch out for that, walking into other peoples' house like that." Almost instantly, his attention is back on Eileen's notes. "Fix it later." And then, on to some of those books that she's got. This is pretty hardcore research….

A groaned sigh slips out of Peter, gloved hand rubbing at his forehead slowly. "Right…" he murmurs out, either in acknowledgement or remembrance on how dealing with Jensen Raith goes. Blue eyes divert back towards what Eileen is working on, considering her topic of food rationing with a quirk of his head to the side. "You're serious about this, aren't you? Living here— getting by?" There's something of a smirk playing at the corners of Peter's mouth.

"You know, there's something honest at least about having to scrape by like this." Said as he walks towards the chair he draped his coat over, turning it around and sitting down quietly. "Though I hate to distract from the topic, but have either of you seen Gabriel around?" Blue eyes flick between Raith and Eileen, "I'd been wanting to talk to him about a, ah… something unrelated I've been working on lately. He's got a unique insight that I've been meaning to tap into, but he's in a bit of a mood lately."

"You could try the attic," Eileen suggests, a note of apology in her voice. Her eyes lift to the darkened stairwell, though no sound echoes through the upstairs corridor except for the wind blowing in through the open windows. She should close them now that the sun has set, the birds are roosting and nocturnal predators other than the Remnant are on the prowl. The last thing she needs is to get bitten by a raccoon when she tries to curl up in her sleeping bag later tonight.

On the subject of Gabriel's mood, she offers Peter a small, rueful sort of smile and blows smoke through her nose. "I'd let him be, if I were you," which is why she's down here and not up there. "The work is good for him. He needs a positive focus."

"Not much honest about it, except not fooling ourselves with unlimited resources." Maybe Raith was wrong in deciding this research was 'hardcore.' That might not be a strong enough word. "You figured all this out yourself?" he asks, a slight note of incredulity in his voice. It's not that he doesn't think Eileen could have done it. He's just surprised that, apparently, she actually did do it.

Stubbornly making an unbecoming noise in the back of his throat, Peter stares up att he ceiling uncertainly. "I know better than to bother a sleeping bear…" Then, sighing quietly Peter nods his head in agreement. "I'll figure something else out, if he's got himself focused on doing whatever he can around here— I'll just have to look around more. It might be better not to get him involved anyway, I don't exactly know how much control he has over his ability these days."

That comment is not quite a question, but the look delivered to Eileen is. How much control does he have these days. Though some of that query is lost in gauging the relation of Raith and Eileen, blue eyes drifting back and forth between the two in slow uncertainty as he watches them interact.

Eileen rakes her teeth over her upper lip, raw and chapped from the cold, and then takes another drag from her cigarette as though this might help her compose an appropriate answer. It doesn't, not really, but it provides her with the time she needs to think of a diplomatic one. "If Gabriel didn't think he had control over his ability," she says to Peter, "then he wouldn't risk sleeping under the same roof, and he wouldn't be eating at the same dinner table. There's a reason he brought us here instead of claiming it for himself."

Raith receives a brief glance, pale eyes glowing gold instead of green in the dying candlelight. Her skin, too, has adopted an almost otherworldly hue that has nothing to do with supernatural powers of any kind, though if either of the men listens closely, their ears might detect the faint rustle of feathers in the background. "What makes you think I didn't?"

Despite his usual talkativeness, Raith doesn't vocalize an answer right away. No biting remark, no witty but backhanded compliment. It's a few moments more before he puts the notes and books aside and settles on looking directly at Eileen. It's a different kind of expression than he normally shows to her. It's almost… impressed? "Not here, obviously," he finally says, "But in some future, somewhere out there, there's a platoon of Royal Marines that is very happy and luckily to have you for its Lieutenant." Eileen has done the impossible; worked out of Jensen Raith a compliment that has nothing backhanded about it.

The look of doubt on Peter's face is plain, accompanied by a shake of his head as he rises up from the chair and looks down to that gas mask again. "I'm going to be gone for a couple of days…" Peter finally interjects once he's out of the chair. "Tomorrow morning I'm headed to Manhattan, and I shouldn't be gone longer than the weekend…" the coat is left behind on the chair, and Peter affords Raith a quiet look before settling blue eyes back on Eileen. "If either of you need me for anything, it'll have to wait until I get back. If you need me to do anything while I'm over on the mainland, now would probably be the time to ask."

And that, pointed little question, is delivered towards Raith quite fully. "I'll have some free time, I figure, but with Feng Daiyu still on the loose I'm trying to make my comings and goings from here as few and far between as possible. The last thing we need is him finding this place."

There's a moment where Eileen is looking at Raith the same way she might look at someone who just swallowed a live frog. Whatever she might've been about to say next is interrupted by Peter's announcement and summarily forgotten when he makes him implicit offer. Her green eyes meet Kazimir's blue ones with some hesitancy, though her lashes do a fine job of exaggerating the shadows around them, making her emotions difficult to read.

"I'm going to furnish the den this weekend," she says, finally. "If you're over there and see something you like, bring it back with you. It can be anything as long as it doesn't take up too much space and isn't difficult to maintain. This is your home as much as it is ours, Peter. The space should reflect that."

Dark brows furrow as his head tilts down to the ground, fingers anxiously tug at the cuffs of his gloves to pull them on tighter as he considers Eileen's words. "I…" there's a subtle shake of his head, "I don't think I'm going to be making any long-term investments in furniture just yet." Furrowing his brow, Peter continues to walk towards the stairwell with heavy footfalls. "If I see anything the rest of you can use, I'll see what I can do. Otherwise, you'll see me again on Monday unless something unfortunate happens."

He slips out of sight around the corner of the doorway, no goodnight, no goodbye, just the end of his conversation. His footsteps are still heard, winding up through the building until they disappear somewhere on the second floor, leaving Eileen and Raith — for better or worse — alone with each other.

For better or for worse is yet to be seen, perhaps, but it will be seen quickly. "Well, Lieutenant," Raith says once Peter has left, "What say you?" He raises his hands up to gesture, almost as if he were about to try and sell something to Eileen. "Let's talk savings. After all, a dollar saved in here-" A nod of his head towards the walls- "Is a life saved out there."

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