A Gray Area


eileen_icon.gif magnes_icon.gif raith_icon.gif

Scene Title A Gray Area
Synopsis Magnes visits two members of the Remnant on Staten Island while they're away from their den and receives a spontaneous lesson in auto repair and vehicle maintenance.
Date March 24, 2010

Staten Island: Abandoned Auto Shop

When Staten Island was evacuated in the wake of the Midtown blast, businesses were casualties just as much as anyone or anything else. And for the scavengers left behind to pick over the borough's carcass, this is the best possible news. Among the now empty shops are a number of automotive garages, and while the tools and anything of value has long since been cleared out, the structures remain, and so do the pits, making them ideal places to perform maintenance. And if there is one thing that some of the vehicles on the island need, it's maintenance.

Maintenance is exactly the reason that Jensen Raith and Eileen Rus… Spurling have come to one such garage today, bringing with them a beaten up, distended pickup truck that barely runs with them. Sure, the Remnant has a truck that runs well enough already, but it never hurts to have a secondary vehicle. And as far as vehicles go… the less said about this one, the better.

As per usual for the recent times, it's freezing cold out, not at all the right weather to be working essentially outside at a facility that doesn't have working heat. Bundled up for protection from the climate, Eileen is getting a crash course in what makes up the guts of an engine, from the mechanical parts, to the electrical components, to the fluids to the belts for as long as either of them cares to stand it before retreating from the bay at one end clear to the other, easily fifty feet away, where a small camping stove with hot water and packets of instant coffee and tea await them. It's the only place they can set it up without running the risk of igniting some flammable vapors. The same vapors that mean they have to work with the garage opened so they get enough air. Although the original owners have long taken their tools away, Raith has furnished several of his own. Maybe in different circumstances, this is what he'd be doing with his life rather than the whole terrorist gig. What might have been.

Having had to debate a bit about if he really wanted to go to Staten Island, Magnes decided if it was to see Eileen, he'd just bite the bullet. Hopefully not literally. He's wearing a simple thick black coat today, hood pulled up. On his legs are more jeans he designed himself, the bottom half black and the upper half white, with both colors spiraling around the knee area where they meet. And he has his black snow boots, which seem to be wearing down pretty quickly with their constant use in this weather.

He lands directly outside of the door opening, coughing at the smell of the fumes, then slowly enters. "Hey." he greets, though shoots Raith a bit of a look, before smiling at Eileen.

Eileen prefers tea to coffee and with food usually takes it straight without any milk, cream or sugar, which is just as well because they didn't bring any with them. Just a pair of ceramic mugs from the Dispensary's kitchen and fish paste sandwiches the Englishwoman packed for them while she fixed a breakfast of fried bread and poached eggs several hours prior.

Denim skinny jeans tucked into a pair of ladies cowboy boots made from worn leather and a sanded sole insulate her legs and are coupled with a black knit top, heavy gray sweater designed to button up the front and wool overcoat in a charcoal shade similar to the solitary smudge of engine grease on her chin and the motor oil that blotsmnk the handkerchief she's using to wipe it away when Magnes makes his appearance. "We were beginning to think you weren't coming," she says, raising her mug to her lips.

"It's been a while since I've been here, and when I was flying over the water, I'd never seen it look like that before and had to go a bit closer to see the ice." It's certainly colder than usual, which is probably doing all sorts of things to the water. Magnes' eyes drift to her pants, probably getting flashes of stripper clothing before he quickly rips his gaze away and re-establishes eye contact. "I'm sorry about the other night, I was just a bit shocked, I mean you're the last person… well second to last person I would expect to… well… do that." he awkwardly words, cheeks bright red, which could be attributed to the cold, but… it's him.

"Times are strange, chulo," Raith says, pulling his attention away from the chunk of steel and wires in front of him and casting it over at Magnes, "You never know what you'll find in the world anymore. Ever expect to find a guy up to my shoulders in a machine?" Whereas Eileen has gotten away with a single smudge on her chin, Raith's hands are practically covered in a thin layer of grease, dirt, grim and other engine grit, halfway to his elbows, where the cuffs of his black sweatshirt have been rolled up to, foregoing gloves because he has 'to feel the touch.' A heavier, proper winter coat rests a short distance away on a flimsy folding chair, a half-eaten sandwich and pair of sunglasses resting on top of it, while a mug of coffee on the floor, next to one of the legs. "Only brought the two mugs, but you can share mine if you aren't squeamish."

For a moment, Raith's gaze travels back to the engine, and then back to Magnes once again. "Know your way around an engine, son?"

"No, a woman's teaching me about cars, since we're fixing my Impala. I've got one of those Impalas from Supernatural, umm, a 1967 one." Magnes walks in further, pulling his hood down but not unzipping his jacket. "It's a complete junker, doesn't work at all, we're refurbishing it so it'll look just like the one from Supernatural. And I don't know, I just wish she was doing something else, but if it's what she wants…" He shrugs his defeated shoulders.

"I thought about other jobs," Eileen tells Magnes around the rim of her mug. "There's a florist with a shop just down the street from my apartment in Brooklyn who'd have taken me, but my work with the Ferry's more important than a nine-to-five and working part-time for what amounts to minimum wage isn't worth it when daylight's more valuable than money."

The steam billowing from the mug clears her nostrils and makes them run, but a sleeve scrubbed across her nose swabs the fluid away. Although she hasn't made any complaints to Raith about the weather today, her body is waging a silent protest against being outside in it when she'd rather be curled up with a quilt in front of a hearth burning sprigs of lavender and cedar firewood. "Logan lets me dictate my hours and I make more money at the club in one night than I would in a week almost anywhere else with my experience. I like the arrangement."

"Pragmatism. Good trait to have," Raith comments about Eileen's 'arrangement.' But his attention is right back on the engine again, attacking some part of it with a wrench. "Pragmatism will get you out of trouble a lot of the time. Help your work out your finances. Help you get your vehicle running again." It doesn't take Raith long before he is again finished with the engine, however temporarily, with some small part gripped between his fingers. "Come here a minute, Mags, I'm going to teach you kids something. You'll appreciate this."

"Like I said, if it's what you want… I'll just call Logan ahead of time so I can schedule stuff and not have to see you doing it when I meet with him." Magnes isn't at all happy, and his tone is one more of defeat than anger or anything. "For me, pragmatism would mean I no longer have myself to live for. My strong sense of altruism died with Apollo." Considering his secretly flying around and saving people having trouble with the blizzard, it's not completely true, but it's often what he seems to tell himself.

He walks over to the truck, peering down into it curiously to see what's happening. Nothing makes any sense to him, even after his minor lesson with Colby.

Eileen leans up against the side of the truck, hands warmed by the heat seeping through the mug, and watches Raith maneuver what looks to her like a spark plug between his fingers. A breeze blows in through the open doors and blows flyaway strands of brown-black hair about her face, sends crystalline flakes of snow with the consistency of sand snaking across the pavement under their feet in fine white waves.

"This, children," Raith begins, fighting off a shiver when the wind picks up. Terrible time to be doing work, "Is a spark plug. These ignite the air-fuel mixture in the cylinder and produce power to drive the engine. And as you can probably guess-" He pauses just long enough to give the device a few shakes, sending droplets of clear liquid splashing onto the engine block, mingling with the dark grey and black grim covering the metal- "They should not be covered with gasoline like this one is. Remember how rough this heap was running on the way over, Eileen? Engine was missing, meaning one or more plugs weren't firing the way they should have been. This one hasn't been firing at all.

"That's bad." As if neither of them could have guessed that on their own. "Your Impala is going to be a lot less complex under the hood than this truck, Magnes, so anything you learn here may not translate so well. But if a spark plug isn't firing, that's always an electrical problem, either with the plug wire or the plug itself. Rag." His hand is held out towards Eileen, relegating her, at least for the moment, to the role of assistant. "Listen, kid, what're you meeting with John Logan for anyway? Doesn't seem like the sort of guy you'd pal around with."

"Logan owes me money, and an eye. If he can't provide either then we have a lot to talk about." Magnes' mood is in a bit of a flux, something he tries not to show until the wind picks up. One particular gust pushes him forward a bit, then he just snaps. "Fucking damnit!" he exclaims, which is a bit of reaction for simple wind blowing. He swings his hand out behind him in a raw instinctive gesture, causing the little snow particles to drop from the air and hit the ground as a gust of wind is forced to the floor and past her ankles.

Breathing heavily, gravity returning to normal around that empty area, he turns back to face the engine. "Sorry, just cold. I didn't know cars and trucks were all that different inside." Pretend it didn't happen! Whee.

Eileen tugs the stained handkerchief from her back pocket and offers it to Raith with one slim arm outstretched, the other continuing to cradle her mug to her chest. The look she's giving him is one of quiet concern, though it plainly isn't for the spark plug he's holding or the state of his hands; the relationship between Magnes' temper and the use of his gift is something they've discussed before, back when the Remnant wasn't called the Remnant and it consisted of only them.

It's an impressive display, to say the least. Raith regards Magnes' outburst for a moment, and then accepts the kerchief from Eileen and uses it to wipe the fuel off the spark plug. "Everything to do with age, Mags," he says, "There's a world of difference between a fifteen year-old truck and a forty year-old car, and almost all of it is technology." With the wrench in his hand, he actually gestures towards the floor where the younger man's victims lie. "Nice trick, by the way," he says, "You sure showed that frozen water who's the boss." And then, as if all this was nothing unusual, Raith begins to reinsert the plug back into the cylinder he removed it from. "Bet they won't mess with you ever again."

"Sorry, I'm just… Sometimes it's a little harder to hold in how I feel, sometimes I just wanna hit something because I'm so frustrated when I realize I can't do anything." Magnes looks to Eileen, not quite frowning anymore, but the look in his eyes pretty much says it all; he's still thinking about what she's doing and it's bothering him. "Used to have a therapist to work that out, but, well, you saw yourself why I can't see her anymore, doing experiments on Evolved." If either of them didn't know before, they certainly know now that Bella was his therapist. "I'll tell you one thing; having interests and hobbies doesn't do much for being angry and frustrated. Hitting someone, sex, getting revenge on someone who hurt you. It's those empty things people say don't help that make me feel better, and I can't do any of them due to everyone having a moral dilemma, well except the sex part, but let's not get into that."

"Kid," Raith says plainly, "Have you considered automotive school? Or karate? Or Yoga? Or maybe art therapy? Here, I know-" One last crank of the wrench, and then Raith is looking at Magnes fully- "Start a blog. Don't pin your name on it or anything, keep it anonymous, and use it as a sounding board to rail against whatever is pissing you off. That way, everyone knows what's pissing you off, and can acknowledge that you're pissed off, but they can't shake their fingers at you or whatever. Or have you tried something like that already?"

"Well, I've already got a lot of interests really, though never thought about officially taking up a martial art, except the practice I was taught to do… but a blog? I never considered that before, could be a nice experiment…" Magnes then raises an eyebrow, giving Raith an odd look. "How do you know about stuff like blogs?" He's calling Raith old.

As the men talk, Eileen eases herself away from the truck and moves around back to hook her fingernails under the latch and pop open the tailgate, which creaks open and fills the garage with the protesting squeal of rusty hinges. Raith, some forty-odd years her senior, knows more about computers than she does; the unintentional slight against him causes the corners of her mouth to turn up a ruefully derisive smile that shows no teeth at all.

She sets her mug down on the floor of the truck's bed, exchanging it for one of the rifles she and Raith brought along. Fingers clasp around the charging handle and pull back, verifying that the weapon is loaded before a loud crack sounds in the garage's rafters, caused by the component returning abruptly to its prior position.

This is Eileen's way of saying that she's going outside for a few minutes, probably to take a piss in the nearest ditch or check the property's perimeter to ensure they don't have any unwanted company. Likelier still: both.

"You think you get away with being a spy for ten years and not learn anything about the internet?" Raith asks, not sounding very hurt by Magnes' question. Just a kid, no need to get upset. He doesn't pay Eileen much mind, either. He knows she's savvy enough to handle a firearm. "You can learn all sorts of things from checking out somebody's blog. You can get a lot communicated, even in code, by using a blog. Don't think that me pushing fifty means I don't know about those magical 'internet boxes.' The fact that I know anything is about all that's keeping the one we have running, much less barely useable."

"You were a spy? I was a secret agent for a while, but I think I got kicked out." Magnes shrugs, not seeming to mind much that he was kicked out, and gives Eileen a nod as she leaves. "Sorry, didn't mean to say you were old or anything. But yeah, I think I will try a blog, that could be fun. Something that always bugs me is that no one listens or really understands me, as teenagery as that might sound, it's really true. I'd like to just get all my thoughts out." But after that, he turns around, facing the entrance while he leans back on the truck a bit. "What do you think Eileen would say if I asked her out on a date?" He asks while she's out… doing whatever she's doing.

"Yeah…" Raith begins, leaning against the truck's frame, "Don't know what she'd say exactly, but now may not be the best time to ask her something like that. Her love life is in kind of a, Gray area right now and things are crazy. And also, you'd be putting yourself at risk doing that, and I'm not saying that just to steer you clear. Someone is trying to kill her, right now. Like, trying to legitimately fucking kill her. Why do you think she's been spending as much time as possible out her on the island? It's not because she likes the boat graveyard, I'll tell you that." Is that all she wrote? No!

"But if you wanted to get your foot in the door, as it were…." Raith half-whispers conspiratorially.

"Someone's trying to kill her?" Magnes asks in surprise, but keeps his voice low in case she's near. "Is there any way I can help? God knows anything's better than remembering statistics and getting coffee every day." Though Raith's last whisper causes him to lean in a bit. "Ah, you're helping me?"

"Yeah, see, the whole killing her thing? She hasn't had any problems here on the island, just on the mainland, so no worries there." About this, Raith is not really lying: So far, all of Eileen's murder-related issues have been on the mainland. "But what's really bothering her is the lighthouse. You know, where all the orphans live? See, one of the kiddies died the other day. Wandered off while everyone was playing outside and a big dog or something found her and ate her, no lie." If Magnes wasn't worried about things already, well…

"There's a pack of four or five, we're figuring. We'll get them soon enough, but in the meantime, you know how kids are. They want to go outside and play and all that, kid stuff, and they're always kind of short-staffed over there, so they can't always take them out. And they'll sneak off to play, or when they are supervised, one of them will get away and…." That sentence is allowed to die in the air.

"If there was someone else around now and then to help out with the kids, it would be a big weight off her shoulders, and would definitely put you on her A-list. And if you're going to ask her out when we get all this murder business sorted out, being on her A-list is a part of the path. A-list leads to B-movie leads to G-spot, and that's not a bad place to end up in, if you ask me."

"Huh, I see…" Magnes certainly heard about the murder, though he always forgets just how close to home the lighthouse is, as far as his friends are concerned. "Gillian invited me to the Lighthouse too, I'd been considering it, but I didn't know they were having staff issues. I'd have went a lot sooner. Sure, I'll go, I mean, for the kids…" He coughs a few times. He is doing it for the kids! Any side effects of that are purely the icing on the kid-helping cake. "With my ability, I could keep track of their gravity so they won't go too far away if there's a lot of them."

"Or, you know, keep an eye on them from the air, play fun anti-gravity games, you know, those kinds of things. Kid things. Don't want to give them a wholly negative impression of authority figures, after all." Raith sort of waves that away, quite literally: Who's he to talk about non-negative impressions of authority figures? "Maybe play it off like it was your own idea, though, don't mention me," he suggests, "Spin it however you like, but don't make it too crazy. Eileen's been a little incredulous lately.

"Listen, where is she anyway? Doesn't take this long to, do whatever. Not when it's this cold."

"Well, I don't wanna lie or anything, but Gillian did invite me first. Impressing Eileen's just, well, added incentive, she doesn't need to know. I'm supposed to be leaving girls alone right now, but who cares, really? It's healthy to court a girl once in a while." Magnes decides with a firm nod, then starts heading for the entrance to take a look around. "Wait, what if she's like… doing girl stuff? I don't wanna walk in on her or something."

"Hm, that's good thinking, son," Raith says in concurrence. It would be pretty awkward. "Well, don't worry about her. She's been through a lot worse than peeing in the snow. I've heard stories, I would know. She'll find her way back, no sweat." And this time, that is all there is to that.

"But you know what won't find its way back? Your Impala. Not without a lot of work, at least. So move on over here and I'll teach you something. Same way my dad taught me, by taking a wrench and breaking things." And that's obviously what Raith seems to intend for Magnes to try his hand at, because he follows up by tossing a wrench to him. Maybe soon, the youth will be adding 'gearhead' to his list of desirable traits.

Even after Eileen does come back, the lesson continues, slow and plodding, but that's what happens when you have to build from the ground up. Short and to the point is what happens when it gets too cold for any of them to stand it any longer and it becomes time to leave. The truck isn't running much smoother, but all of them can walk away knowing that they can take a fifteen year-old engine apart and put it back together without breaking anything. And that kind of accomplishment is worth more than a smoothly-running vehicle. Isn't it?

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