Battered Angel


elisabeth_icon.gif xiulan_icon.gif

Scene Title Battered Angel
Synopsis Xiulan may have contacts that Liz can't touch…. but there's a friendship there too.
Date Sep 9, 2009

Green Dragon Tattoo

The interior of the Green Dragon is cramped, at best. No larger then eighteen by thirty in total, the space has been divided in half by the presence of an ornate blanket hung on clothes line. Upon stepping through the door, clients find themselves in a modest waiting area, the walls and ceiling all decorated with samples of the artist's work, the majority of the work displayed from Chinese myth and legends. A low slung, dark blue loveseat is arranged before the picture window to the left of the door. A view of the street, however, has been blocked by a rendering of a massive Chinese dragon. Over head, the single bulb lending light to the area has been draped with a red scarf, creating an almost eerie crimson glow that just barely manages to penetrate the room. Needless to say, numerous shadows haunt the nooks, crannies and corners. To the right of the door, an end table boasts a coffee pot, styrofoam cups and a basket with creamer, sugar packets and stirrers.
Beyond the hung curtain, the space is even more cramped, boasting just enough room for a reclining tattoo chair and the shelves of inks, needles, guns and cleansers required for safe working conditions. Upon the far wall, rickety bookshelves paly host to numerous bodywork texts and magazines, a goodly portion of those in Chinese. While the workspace is most assuredly cramped it is still immaculately clean. Of course that could just be because of health regulations, hard to say.

The Refrain situation has gotten far more personal this week, and Elisabeth knows of only one person in Chinatown who might actually talk to her. So she makes a point of stopping in to the tattoo parlor and looking around for Xiulan. "Hello?" she calls from the doorway of the place. She looks… tired. Worn down. Struggling to keep it together and somewhat nervous, since she keeps glancing back over her shoulder to look outside. "Xiulan?" she calls.

"In the back," Calls Xiulan's voice from beyond the curtain. "Sec!" After a bit of rustling and a bit of thumping, Xiulan appears in the storefront with a wry smile on her lips and greasy hands being toweled on a rage. "Sorry about that, the water heater is older then Buddha and twice as fussy." Tossing the towel aside, she cants her head as she regards Elisabeth, dark brows furrowing faintly. "Have a seat, I'll get us some coffee." The order is coupled with a gesture toward the worn couch before she makes a beeline toward the coffee pot. "….You okay?" Cause she certainly doesn't look okay.

The offer of coffee is met with a grateful smile. "Poor water heater," Elisabeth replies. "I'd love a cup of coffee, thanks." She skirts around the shop toward a seat that has a view of both the front and the curtained door. "I'm…. surviving," she says, running her hand through her hair. "That's about all there is this week."

"Should I not ask what is going on?" Slanting a glance over her shoulder, Xiulan pours two cups of coffee before heading back over to perch on the arm of the couch. Extending one of the cups to Elisabeth, she takes a sip of her own before asking curiously.

Taking the cup carefully, Elisabeth says quietly, "I spent a few days in the company of Humanis First." The words do nothing the convey the horror there, but the sheer lack of expression or emotion as she says them may give Xiulan an inkling that it was Bad with a capital B.A.D. "Not too long before they grabbed my partner, who is still missing." She sips her coffee a bit, her hand shaking just the smallest amount.

"…" Blinking once, Xiulan's cup halts midway to her lips, her head giving a faint shake as she leans forward and sets it down on the table. "Humanis First? God, Liz, I'm sorry, I had no idea." Moistening her lips, Xiulan slips off the arm of the couch to curl on the cushions next to Liz, one hand reaching out to gently touch her arm. "Card has a plan to get your friend, yes?"

Elisabeth's body language immediately goes tense when Xiulan slips into her personal space. Though she tries not to be obvious about it, she scoots sideways on the couch cushions — trying to make it look like she's giving Xiu room to sit when she's really trying to put some distance between them. "The only plan we've got right now is to try to fucking find them," Elisabeth says quietly. "So far, we've had exactly zero luck, too. And they've had Ivanov for a week already. We dont' even know for sure he's still alive." Liz grins a little, with no amusement at all. "And one of my other friends has been grabbed by the fucking Evo serial killer I've been trying to track. So… it's been a pretty stellar week all the way around," she comments very dryly.

Oh Xiulan notices the distance being made but she makes a point not to let on that she's aware. Instead, she draws one leg up to her chest and frowns as she settles her chin atop her knee. "I can ask around in the Triad if you want me too? Someone might know something about Humanis First." Nibbling her lip, she wrinkles her nose and exhales a quiet sigh. She'd ask Hiro to look into it, but well… He's vanished into thin air, so. "I'm /sure/ Cardinal will find him, Liz. One way or another, Card'll make it work." He's just good at things like that, it's a gift.

Elisabeth rubs her forehead absently, not really realizing that she does it. "Richard's looking," she admits quietly, that knowledge seeming to calm her only slightly. "If you have anyone who had Humanis First knowledge, that'd be fabulous, honestly. Emile Danko, William or Bill Dean, and two guys — Butch and Doug — with no last names are all I can give you to go on," she tells Xiu quietly. "But actually, it wasn't Humanis First I came to pick your brain about." She looks up to meet Xiu's eyes. "I was wondering if you'd had any luck with street noise on Refrain. That shit is….. God, Xiu. It's not illegal, but it's dangerous. I found a friend yesterday strung out on it, and she's… not doing well. I'm not even sure she'll survive the withdrawal."

Xiulan actually looks slightly sheepish for a moment, her shoulders rising and falling as she shakes off a residual surge of jealousy revolving around Richard Cardinal. Instead, she opts to focus on the last question. "Honestly? I'm completely out of the loop, Elisabeth. I had to cut a deal to get Liu Ye to hunt down Logan for me and I've been doing nothing but counterfeiting money for him since then." Wrinkling her nose, she lightly moistens her lips, her brows furrowing faintly as she considers the matter. "There might be someone I can ask both about the Refrain and Humanis First. I had this guy," this /really/ gorgeous guy as a matter of fact. "Come in for a tattoo. He's some kind of law enforcement, I know. I… um… I got his number, so I /could/ give him a call and pick his brain."

Elisabeth is not blind to Xiulan's reaction…. and she studies the Asian woman quietly. What to say. What not to say. Sometimes a situation is best left alone. And in this case, perhaps it's best ignored — the women seem on friendly footing and sometimes a woman just has to deal with her issues herself. She grins faintly at the subtext of 'this guy' — cuz there's always a tone when a woman says 'this guy' and she means 'this really honkin' drool-worthy chunk of a man' — and says, "Do tell me all about this piece of eye candy. Though I'm leery about having you pick the brain of another cop."

Whether or not it is intentional there is a fair measure of relief in Xiulan's face when Card isn't addressed. Yes, she is dealing with it on her own. Fortunately, she likes both Cardinal and Elisabeth so it is that much less stressful to deal with. She does, however, crack a smile at Liz's last, lightly clearing her throat as she rolls her cheek onto her knee. "He's probably married," she advises before the insinuations can go any further then they otherwise might. "But he is very easy on the eyes," she admits with a hint of laughter in her voice. "His name is Len, big old black cowboy from Texas. He was a Texas Ranger," she adds in tones that make it clear that /that/ is about the sexiest thing /ever/ in her book. "Seems like a real steady guy… I'm assuming he's cop." She's not really sure, frankly. "Could be FBI," she admits. "Whatever the case, he's gearing up for something big happening here soon."

The blonde goes very still and ….. stares. And then she starts to laugh. It's just a faint giggle at first. And it becomes literally a howl of laughter. So much so that Elisabeth has to put her coffee cup down to laugh. Hard. When she finally manages, gasping, to pull it together, she says around a slight wheeze, "Yeah… he's a cop. He's Homeland fucking Security… slash Company!" She wipes at the tears on her face. "He's … helping wiht the Humanis First thing, but I doubt he'll have more info than we do. Since what he DOES have, so far as I know, *I* gave him." She giggles again. "Oh…. God, sometimes coincidence is entirely too much to be borne."

"…" Yeah.

"Seriously?" Moistening her lips, Xiulan exhales a quiet snicker, her head giving a faint shake. "So, do I have to start adding 'Have you slept with Elisabeth' to my list of interview questions for local males?" Smirking wryly, Xiu clears her throat, looking suddenly sheepish. "Not that I.. You know… I mean, he just gave his number, so. Not that that means anything other then he thought I might be the type to get into trouble." Pausing a beat, she blinks once. "Company?" Are you friggin serious. "Wait, you give him information?" And without a warning signal or missing a beat, she adds. "He has the best biceps I have /ever/ seen on a man."

Elisabeth rolls her eyes and comments, "Now you sound like Abby." She shrugs. "I've had my share of lovers, but Len Denton is not one of them," she tells Xiulan with a grin. "Go to town, girl. Cuz I can't fault your taste in the slightest. Just…. be cautious, okay? He's…. Denton has struck me as a good man; he and I have some differing views on how to go about protecting people, but he doesn't have the information that I do. And vice versa really — I honestly think that he and I walk just barely on the opposite sides of the line from one another." She shrugs slightly and merely quirks a grin at the biceps.

"Well," Xiulan admits. "Really, it isn't going to matter one way or another. I mean, I'm not likely to actually call the guy, so." It's just not something she's likely to do. "Besides, he just came in for a tattoo, not a date." Nibbling her lip, Xui resettles her chin atop her knee, absently reaching for her cup of coffee. "I can ask Liu if he has any information on either." Course, that could, and is likely to, turn unpleasant for her, but she's getting to used that at this point. "I'm really sorry," she admits. "I've had my head in the ground for so long now I am almost completely out of the loop." She'll dig around though.

Shaking her head slightly, Elisabeth says quietly, "Don't put yourself in hock for it, Xiulan. I doubt any information you glean from that kind of hock," and yeah, she remembers exactly what kind of comments were made about Liu Song and Xiulan's involvement with the man — and he's a sick freak and she will not as this woman she's begun to think of as a friend whore herself for information that proves worthless, "will be worth the price you pay for it. If you come across something, though, that doesn't require blood…. " She'll be grateful. She reaches out, tentatively, to touch Xiu's arm this time. "Hey…. think I can ask a favor?" She changes the subject. "You said you could tweak the tat if I wanted."

"It's not a big deal," Xiulan begins to argue. She lets it go, however. Really, she'd rather not go into debt with Liu Ye if she can avoid it. "I'll keep my ears open, though," she admits readily enough. At the last, one brow arches faintly, her lips twitching in a wry smile. "I can remove it, alter it, or completely change it without much in the way of effort, Liz."

"Tatter her," Elisabeth asks in a voice gone very soft. "She's… fallen. Broken." She drops her blue eyes from Xiulan's, fully realizing that the request may give the perceptive woman far more insight than words have conveyed.

Whew. Yeah. Xiulan makes an attempt not to let her concern show on her face. Even so, it is definately there, hovering in that dark eyed gaze. "I can do that," she answers quietly. So saying, she just barely brushes her finger tips over the edge of Liz's wrist, the contact as gentle and non-invasive as possible. "Just, when you are ready to change her back, you let me know, alright?" Even as the question hovers out there, there is a warmth over the tattoo, the colors of the flesh shifting and changing to present a more haunted, tattered image. And, while there are tatters, there is far more of the haunted in that visual expression then there is Fallen.

The blonde looks up, her eyes reflect entirely too accurately the expression that Xiulan chose for the angel-fairy. "Someday," Liz says quietly. Because it will come. But for now… the point of that angel was to remind Elisabeth that being a guardian is a higher calling. Now more than ever the angel at her shoulder is that — broken or not, she still has a job to do. "I should get out of your hair." And then she smiles a bit. "Will you let me pay you for her?"

"Pfft. No." Xiulan won't take money from her friends. It strikes her as morally wrong. Instead, she flashes Liz a wink as she rolls to her feet, her arms swinging up to engage in a slow, spine popping stretch. "I should get back to that water heater anyways." She does, however, flash Liz a wink as she turns and heads back toward the curtain. "If you -really- wanna pay me, drop a good word in with tall dark and handsome for me." Cause if he don't call, Xiu sure as hell ain't.

There's a flash of true humor there. "You know what? I think you're nuts, but I will." What a woman dealing with the freakin' TRIAD wants with a Homeland agent gracing her bed is not Liz's business. She'll just mention oh-so-casually that her friend asked about him. She can't wait to see Len's reaction to that. It'll amuse her for days to contemplate. "Later, Xiu. And… thanks." For if she does happen to turn up something helpful.

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