Be a Rat


eileen_icon.gif deckard_icon.gif

Scene Title Be a Rat
Synopsis A paranoid man takes paranoid action, and someone enlists his help.
Date February 9, 2009

Staten IslandOvergrown Cemetery

What to do with an urn that supposedly contains the esteemed remains of Congressional Gold Medal recipient Felix Ivanov? For a while Deckard kept it on his coffee table. Only he doesn't have a bed yet, so he's been sleeping on his couch right next to it. The first few nights passed without incident, but it only took a few hours of feeling like someone or something was watching him last night to drive an already paranoid man to take paranoid action.

So here he is tonight, shovel in hand, urn-bearing backpack slung down into damp soil while he digs out a fresh little grave a couple of feet from the foot of the neighbor of Felix's pre-existing one. It's an obnoxiously improbable place for it to be, should anyone — especially Felix — decide to mount another search for it.

He looks the part of the grave digger, which has a weird tendency to stave off some of the thieving advances of similarly-minded criminals, all lengths and angles even from afar and in this dark. His overcoat is wrapped solidly about him, gun made temporarily less accessible by the buttons of his coat. And he's wearing sunglasses, which is just wholly unpractical.

Deckard may get an inkling that someone or something is watching him now. He'd be right, too — for the last ten minutes, he's had company in the form of a slim silhouette clothed in a heavy winter coat, long black leggings and ballet flats that, like Deckard's sunglasses, are better suited to warmer climes. Eileen doesn't approach until she's fairly certain the pair is alone, and even then she takes care to make the minimal amount of noise as she weaves her way around eroded limestone markers and family plots sectioned off by warped tangles of wrought iron fencing, the soft soles of her shoes whispering against the fresh snow underfoot.

Not wanting to startle the man, she begins speaking to him when she's still a safe distance away rather than sneak up on him at point blank and risk a serious accident just for the sake of stealth. "I didn't expect to find you out here again so soon," she says, "not with Ivanov prowling around."

The bite of shovel into earth ceases at the sound of Eileen's voice. It's not as easily placed as the diminutive arrangement of her skeleton — the price of limited conversation. A sharp glance aside is enough to put a face (in a manner of speaking) to the greeting, and with a deliberate push of his shoulder, he sinks the shovel blade in another several inches to finish out the scoop in progress.

"He'd need bigger balls than he could fit into his government-issue underoos to try and stay the night here." Or so Flint clearly opines, lacking the patience necessary for eloquence when it comes to this particular line of subject matter. Dirt heavy with runoff from the latest melt is flung carelessly aside. The shovel is driven stiffly down into the same spot. "He's probably busy celebrating."

"Can you blame him?" Eileen asks. "He has a lot to celebrate. The man helped avert the apocalypse and he's the only one of us whose efforts are being recognized by the rest of the world. If you let him have anything, it should be this." Slender arms encircling her upper body, she hugs her clothes to her small frame in an attempt to keep the heat from escaping her sleeves or the neck of her coat. It doesn't exactly work, and as she breathes it leaves her nose and mouth in form of a fine, silvery fog.

She watches Deckard continue to dig, her mouth pursed into a speculative expression, lips so cold they appear almost blue in the faint light of the moon — with her stringy black hair, the dark circles under her eyes and her skin's flat sheen, she bears a striking resemblance to something that should be sealed below ground rather than walking above it. "Where exactly do you two stand? If you don't mind me asking."

"Who says I helped?" It's a real question, earnest in its simple curiosity despite the harshness of the breath around it. The fog of his breath is more robust in its buildup behind the effort digging requires, quick to thicken and to fade when he turns to look back at her more critically.

He's made it about two feet down, boots braced around the makeshift grave's border at shoulder-width when he straightens up out of his stoop. Not too much farther to go before an urn might be considered adequately unlikely to resurface via natural means.

Something in his back pops. Must be the good kind of pop, because he doesn't drag or wince. Just stands there and catches his breath a little while he eyes her. "He's already given me a few reasons to regret not shooting him. What's it to you?"

"Teo and Brian risked everything to protect you from my people, and you seem like a decent man — I can't imagine you turning your back on them." As for Felix, there's an almost imperceptible widening of Eileen's nostrils as she blows a snort out through her nose. "I don't like him sniffing around here. Whether or not he has good intentions, a fed is a fed, and the last time I checked I was still playing the mouse to his cat."

She crouches down in the snow a few feet away from the grave, one hand on her knee, the other brushing bare knuckles across the dirt-speckled snow. Eileen picks up a rock and rolls it between her index finger and thumb. "Elias once told me you were a go-to man. I need paperwork. A new identity to hide behind in case Ivanov picks up my trail again. Can you help me?"

"Do I?" Strange to think so. Suspicion shows briefly naked in the open slack of Deckard's mouth, echoed more mildly in the furrow of his brow. The hole is deep enough. Shovel tossed aside, he crouches down after her. Well. He crouches down for his backpack, but she happens to be down there as well, with her rock. "Turning your back is occasionally the smart thing to do if you like being alive. Given your prior alignment I'd think you would know that better than most." Zzzziip. A significant look later, he races the zipper wide from one side of the pack to the other and palms out an urn. About as heavy as it looks, it's elegant in its grim simplicity, as urns have a way of being.

Left hand braced against the cold cold ground, he avoids looking at Eileen as he lowers the urn down into its new resting place. The effort is spared more care than it's probably worth, but the ashes inside deserve a break after being jostled along across Deckard's shoulders all the way here. Or something. He has more than enough bad mojo stocked up without putting some kind of voodoo exclamation mark on this whole ordeal.

"I don't do paperwork. But I know people that do."

"See, I don't trust other people." The rock drops into Eileen's palm and she closes her hand around it like a venus flytrap curling slowly shut. "I don't even trust you, really — but Teo does, and for as thick a skull as that boy's got, he's a good judge of character." She rises back to her feet, legs unfolding and neck craned, presumably to get a better look at the urn and tosses the rock aside. It glances off a nearby tombstone with an audible clatter, then falls away into the underbrush with a soft rustling of twigs and dead leaves. "If you're willing to play go-between and be my middleman, I can make it worth your while."

"Assuming the best of everyone all the time doesn't make him a good judge of character. Just a permissive one." He's buddies with Felix too, after all. Long face currently as unfeeling as the beetle black of his shades, Deckard rises less gracefully, and to greater heights, dragging the shovel's length up along with him as he goes.

He doesn't get to covering the urn just yet, back to staring at her again, almost as if he isn't exactly sure what to do with her. She doesn't seem to care about whatever he's up to, so. There's that. "What's your real name?" There's a pause, then:

"It'd be embarrassing if I went through the trouble and accidentally left you with the same crappy identity that you already have."

Eileen dusts the dirt and grime off her hands, then wipes her palms on the front of her coat. "Eileen Ruskin. If you don't believe me, you can get Ivanov to fact check that for you — he's done his homework." Deckard's remark about permissiveness brings a small, fleeting smile to her lips — Teo is, if nothing else, lenient when it comes to other people. They're living proof. "But there's something else you should know, too. The last time we met? Before the other night? We had him backed into a corner, the barrel of a gun pointed right here." She places the tip of her finger right between her eyes, smudging earth across the bridge of her nose. "I asked him to tell us where you were, on pain of death, and he wouldn't talk. If you really want a reason not to pull the trigger, there's a good one."

"He never knew where I was. …And when he eventually found out," Deckard winks behind the black of his glasses, "I moved." Eileen's fleeting smile is echoed less genuinely, and in goes the shovel again — this time to start the process of plowing dirt in over the ashes of a man who isn't Ivanov.

"I'm not having him fact check anything." Not giving him the pleasure of being helpful. Needed. A shovel-full of black dirt is sifted clumpily down over the urn, and Deckard rankles his nose over at the liar of a gravestone that stands nearby. "A feeb's a feeb, Ruskin. Pig's a pig."

"Rat's a rat," Eileen adds, not quite as an afterthought. "I'm not sure what that says about me." Despite her solemn choice of words, her tone isn't without mirth or a little good-natured self-depreciation. "If you need to find me, I'm staying at the Filatov Clinic in the Rookery until I figure out what I'm supposed to be doing with myself. If I need to find you…" She trails off as she turns, pivoting in order to dart a glance over her shoulder at Deckard. "I suppose I'll just look here."

After everything he's been through, after all the pain and hurt inflicted upon him by the people she calls her family, Eileen can't expect Deckard to tell her where she might be able to reach him. And so she doesn't ask.

"Rats rule the world. Lions and tigers are the ones who'er busy all the time being fucked. All the way down to wolves, even." Mirth and self-deprecation are met with more genuine good humor on Deckard's part than anything prior. Not that he actually smiles, but it's there in the twitch of a brow and a tug at the corner of his mouth. "If you want to be successful without being domesticated, be a rat."

Rob graves, tattle on your friends, live forever. It doesn't even manage to sound good in theory.

"I've seen it. I'll…drop in once I have the ball rolling. In the meanwhile, I hope you weren't kidding about the 'worth my while' thing, because I'm way bigger than you."

"You had better not be implying what I think you are," Eileen murmurs as she retreats from the graveyard, furtive-footed and almost feline in the slinky way she navigates the obstacles that stand between her and the nearest exit. "I'd hate for our relationship to be nipped in the bud before giving it a chance to bloom."

As far as threats go, this one is thinly-veiled and — drawing a comparison to the woman who spoke it — lacks real weight. "You can name your price when you have something for me," she says by way of farewell, "and I'll match it in cash. I try not to deal in personal favours unless I absolutely have to — it never ends well for anyone."

"Nothing more sinister than my superior ability to give piggyback rides and lift heavy objects." It would be harder to get any more insincere, but even with the shades and the black coat and the size and the bristled scruff, Deckard is hard-pressed to paint a threat of himself at a girl who's probably young enough to be his daughter.

"Fair enough." The thought crosses his mind (and face) that it's not the wisest method of doing business in his part of town, but he fails to comment accordingly. "I'll be in touch."

February 9th: Taking The Piss
February 10th: Good Point With The Telepaths
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