Before Dishonor


jack_icon.gif tavisha_icon.gif

Scene Title Before Dishonor
Synopsis Two men bond over boat-stealing and nonexistent pasts.
Date February 10, 2009

A Dock In Manhattan

It's late, it's raining, and it's bitterly cold. With the exception of a stray dog, two slinking, man-shaped shadows are the only presence on the docks. Everyone else is smart enough to stay inside.

With one palm upturned like a miniature umbrella, Jack uses his hydrokinetic ability to keep the worst of the freezing downpour away from he and his companion. They've both been outfitted with simple, dark clothing for this expedition. In the dim and drizzle, they appear as little more than vague outlines.

A single, quick nod and a low whistle in the direction of their target is the signal they've agreed upon. The pirate unslings a silenced submachine gun from under his arm and checks the action. Though it's far more high-tech than he's used to, for a night operation, silence is golden. "You ready?" he whispers.

This is wrong. Stealing is wrong. And the gun in Jack's hands is probably wrong too. But Tavisha would have to be very slow on the uptake not to acknowledge that this is how the world is, or at least, this corner of the world, and besides… he has no room to talk if a slightly nagging truth is to be of any indication. So he follows, drawing his coat around him tighter, and doesn't quite recognise the irony in someone like him wondering about the ethics and morals behind stealing a vessel.

They're on the Manhattan side of things, and in a sense, he hopes this expedition of his doesn't travel back to Muldoon. If the man thinks he's been taking these journeys, he might think they're for completely different reasons, and this time, at least, Tavisha is simply doing his job. He tries to ignore the impulse to just take off, knowing his future and fate is tied, inexplicably, to Staten Island.

Dark eyes find Jack's and he nods once. "I'm ready," the younger man says to his companion.

Jack nods his grizzled head and leads them forward. This has all been carefully planned. None of the scant crew of the Casino Royale would dare brave the weather abovedecks on a night like this, a fact that makes their job that much easier.

At the rear of the enclosed-bridge craft, he cuts the mooring lines and sets a small explosive against the anchor chain. The sound the chain makes when it splits is muffled in the crash and spray of waterfront noise. Once he's satisfied that the Royale is no longer tethered, he leaps aboard and gestures for Tavisha to join him. "Don't worry, lad," he murmurs as they duck into the companionway. "This'll be quick and clean. Shouldn't be more than two or three people on board. We'll scare 'em off and take our prize. C'mon, this way." He gestures toward a ladder that leads to the lower decks.

He tries to move quietly, simply nodding to Jack at his reassurance, attempting to keep his own nervousness off his face. And he Listens, reaching out with that preternatural hearing of his as they enter the boat. It's an impressive thing, built for speed and the accommodation of a decent crew. Exactly, he's been told, what's needed. Tavisha was wise enough not to ask what it's needed for - he's learning through living, it seems. And Jack was correct - three heartbeats sound from within the vessel when he concentrates to cut his listening through the continual sound of water and his own footsteps. The sound of conversation is quiet, words hard to make out, but it sounds calm, pleasant, and unsuspecting.

"Sounds like they're just playing cards," Tavisha reports, quietly, the corner of his mouth turning up in a half smile. "Three of them. All men." His hands clasp the rungs of the ladder, feet navigate himself down it, the whisper of his coat barely audible, the new, shining metal of the ladder making no sound, not a creak, as he quietly moves.

The trek down the ladder is a short one. As soon as Jack's feet are settled on the lower companionway, he claps Tavisha on the shoulder and swivels his head around to inspect every inch and detail of what will soon be his new boat. Shimmering, tear-laded eyes and a wordless, appreciative murmur are the only praise his has to offer.

She's beautiful.

"Eh?" Jack jerks out of his reverie and glances over at Tavisha. "Only three? Oi— can you lean back a second?"

Without waiting for a reply, he pushes Tav aside and gesture to another pair of feet that are rapidly descending the ladder. As soon as a groin comes into view, Jack reaches through the ladder's rungs, latches onto a scrotum, and uses it to drag the crew member down. A fast, vicious punch later, the man is unconscious.

"Make that two."

Tavisha stands stock still for a moment after the brief scuffle comes to a quick close, blinking, and then— "Ow," is all he has to whisper. That had to hurt. Moving on. He waves his hand, and the man's unconscious form merely rolls onto his back. Another wave, a little more concentration, and the unfortunate soul is telekinetically shoved aside with a decent amount of force, colliding with a flesh-muffled thud against railing and wall, to be dealt with later. "Alright," he says, adrenaline easily spiking through those tricky, moral dilemmas, flashing a smile to Jack in the darkness, just a glint of white teeth. It's turned into a game.

"Next stop is the crew quarters." With no show of remorse for the man with mangled testicles, Jack leads them onward. By his calculations, it takes at least two people to play anything but solitaire. Add the one he knocked out, and that should cover the opposition.

When they hit the crew cabin, Jack boots open the door unceremoniously and brandishes his SMG. "Hello!" he chirps. "Would you guys kindly fuck off and jump overboard? I'll be takin' your vessel.

It's a decently sized boat, but it doesn't stop it from being crowded when two grown men turn into four grown men in the same space. Tavisha ducks his head as he enters, and it's— chaotic. The two crewmen leap to their feet, one of them reaching for his own belt before he can quite register the automatic weapon taking up even more presence, the table only staying upright because it's nailed to the floor. "The fuck do you think you're doing!" shouts one, the other more quietly reaching for his radio— and with a swipe of the hand of the man flanking Jack, the comms device goes telekinetically whipping out of the crewman's grip to smash into pieces against the wall, Tavisha's eyes wide and bright.

Jack glances over at Tavisha and grins widely. "That's a neat trick," he murmurs with an appreciative nod. "We'll make a pirate outta you yet."

"AS FOR YOU GENTLEMEN," he continues, raising his voice and brandishing his weapons at the crew members. "What do you make? Five hundred dollars a week? Six? You want to die for six c-notes, be my guest. Me, I'd just tell my boss I put up a valiant fight before I was overwhelmed. There were at least… what say, ten men? Twenty?" Now his grin borders on a leer as he winks over at Tav. "I think we qualify for ten-to-one odds."

His gaze shifts back over to the crew. "Jesus. You're still here? Will you fuck off already?" The 'request' is emphasized by a spray of automatic gunfire aimed at the deck. A gentle push, we'll call it.

It works. They don't try to push past the intimidating figures of Jack and Tavisha— they find a whole other exit to scurry through, and Tavisha takes several steps in their direction, over the ruined floor, tilting his head to Listen. "They're going," he reports, a smile breaking through. It doesn't take too much superhearing to note the sound of footsteps leaving the deck and onto the jetty the boat is sidled to. Now with only one unconscious man left, the boat is theirs. Jack had been right - quick and clean.

With the intent to say something celebratory, Tavisha turns back to the other man with an easy smile— but it disappears in an instant when something catches his eye, and he shouts in warning, "Jack!"

Two things happen.

One, the shadowy figure of the first crewmember looms in the doorway, a weapon of some kind in his hand brought up to come down on Jack's head, a night stick that flashes from the shadows. Two, Tavisha's hand lifts to bat it away from a distance, but it doesn't. Instead, needle-thin streaks of green-blue light pierce soundlessly through the air, barely missing Jack as they slice through the metal of the weapon, and an agonised scream fills the room.

"What the…" Jack dives to the deck, flops over on his back, and brings his own weapon to bear. It seems the situation has been handled, though. The lights that barely missed him have also saved him from a squashed skull.

Growling, Jack staggers to his feet and grabs the crewman by belt and collar. A quick march through the side door and he's been heaved overboard into the chilly water. "Fucker. Serves you right for tryin' to brain me."

He's dusting his hands off when he returns. "If I'm not mistaken, you just saved me life," he murmurs gratefully to Tavisha. His respectful nod is deep enough to be a brief bow. "Thanks, kid. I owe you one."

In the moments it takes Jack to get back, Tavisha's picked up the fall baton— the pieces of the fallen baton, and he looks up in time to see the bow-like nod he's given, and an eyebrow raises at his own actions. "I didn't know I could do that," he says, almost apologetic sounding, and lifts the two pieces of the weapon, a sliver of metal lying forgotten on the deck. "I'll— get rid of these. You're welcome." Yes, distracted in thought as he's sometimes prone to being, the sentiments come out of order, and he quickly ducks past Jack to throw the ruined weapon overboard.

"You're full of surprises, that's for damn sure," Jack calls out to his newest friend. "One thing's clear. You're a natural when it comes to this pirate biz." Grinning, he follows Tavisha out and slaps him on the back in a comradely fashion. "Why don't we get this baby home, and then I'll cut you out your pay? You earned it."

The weapon, or bits of it, is thrown into the shallow waters of the Manhattan coast, and Tavisha allows an awkward smile to creep over his features as he's clapped on the back. "It's not so bad," he says, resting his hands on the railing, and nods his affirmation. "I hope you're not counting on me knowing how to drive this thing already. You weren't kidding when you said you were a pirate, were you?"

"Me? Kid? Never." Grinning roguishly, Jack takes up a leaning post next to Tavisha. "Don't sweat it, it'll be easy. Crews keep these things in pristine shape. We'll just turn the engine over and drive off. We'll be back on Swinburne havin' a nightcap in an hour."

Now that their work is complete, he shrugs out of the SMG's sling, sets it aside, and digs out a battered soft pack of cigarettes. He shakes one out, plugs it between his lips, and offers the pack over. "You want?"

Tavisha's gaze dips to the pack of cigarettes, only drawn to it out of the want to be similar and fit in, really, so he declines with a shake of his head and turns his back to the water. In a lithe, unconscious movement, he shifts up to sit on the precarious railing, long legs locking appropriately so as not to tumble back. "Kind of strange to think that this might be all I'll ever know," he says, in a half-smile. "That's what it was like for you, wasn't it?" Pause. "Do you regret it?"

Jack pauses with a match flame halfway to his cigarette. For a moment, it illuminates his face in stark contrasts of shadow and light, emphasizing the inner turmoil that the question provokes. Then he lights up and tosses the match overboard. "I used to think about it all the time," he replies as he sighs out a cloud of smoke. "Never knowing what I might've done before all this. Who I was, or if I had a family somewhere." He pauses and shakes his head as he takes another drag. "Either it'll come back to you or it won't. Torturing yourself won't help, you can trust me on that."

"I know," Tavisha agrees, gaze breaking from Jack and lifting his hand to look at his own palm. Angling so his fingertips point harmlessly at the sky, the same light from before flickers impotently a moment, merely hazy lines of light without heat, dying like a shoddy neon sign, before they beam up towards the clouds with brilliant danger. "Do you— remember anything?" he asks, studying the lights from his fingertips rather than the other man. "Voices?"

"Get on your feet, Corporal!"

"They're dead! Sir, They're all FUCKING dead!"

"Oh God, why? Please, please make it stop. Make it stop!"

Jack gives his head a sharp, abrupt shake. "Voices? No, no voices. Trust me, kid. The past is best left in the past." He lifts his cigarette to his lips and takes a deep, shaky draw. "I have a tattoo. Dunno what it means. Sort of afraid to find out, y'know?"

The lasers cut out, and Tavisha looks at Jack for a moment in surprise, before giving an uncertain smile. Without explanation, he undoes the buttons of his jacket's cuff, and shoves the sleeve and shirt beneath it back, right back, to reveal his forearm, starkly pale in contrast to his black clothing, and shows the even paler underside of his arm from wrist to elbow. Even in this light, it's easy to see the heavy ink of a black tribal tattoo imprinted into his skin, the pattern circular, asymmetrical, abstract, and utterly not forthcoming with any kind of meaning.

"I don't know what it is," Tavisha says. "I don't— feel like I'm the kind of person to get tattoos." He also doesn't feel like a murderer, despite his occasional temper, but that's neither here nor there.

Jack has seen a lot of ink in his day, but nothing quite like this. It defies classification, even amongst other tribal designs. He spits his cigarette over the side of their stolen boat and unabashedly takes the offered arm for closer inspection. "Nnng," he mutters, looking away after a few seconds. "Never seen anything like that. If I look at it too long, my eyes start to cross."

When Jack slides back his sleeve and exposes his own forearm, he does so far more slowly than Tavisha had. There's an obvious reluctance about the way he unwinds the strips of spotless white linen that cover his own tattoo. It's in the same spot as Tav's, but couldn't be any more different. It's of a stylized dagger thrust through a heart and surrounded by clusters of leaves, possibly ivy. A tri-wrap banner around the image boldly reads 'DEATH BEFORE DISHONOR.'

"Don't know what mine is either," Jack explains. "Though I bet mine'd be easier to figure out."

"It has words," Tavisha agrees, not quite jealously, peering at the tattoo without recognition, the reference lost on him, as lost as the circular, eclipse-like tattoo on his own arm. He pushes his sleeve back into place, doing up the buttons again to protect skin against the bitter cold. Hey, at least it's stopped raining, although the heavy scent of water and ozone in the air indicates this is a temporary reprieve. "Muldoon's told me that if I do as he says, he's going to try and find people who could help me," he says, looking back at Jack. "Maybe he could help you too." One thick eyebrow raises a little. "That is, if you want it."

"They're all FUCKING dead!"

"Maybe," Jack agrees vaguely. His eyes dance across the dark, shifting surface of the water that surrounds them. "Just remember," he continues quietly. "Nobody can tell you who you are except for you. Not even if they know who you used to be." He pushes away from his lazy, leaning perch and turns to meet Tavisha's eyes squarely. "I don't know who you used to be, but I like who you've turned yourself into since we met. Don't follow Muldoon blindly because he says he can help, okay? I don't wanna have to worry about you."

The words are listened to, taken to heart, and at that last comment, Tavisha gives a low, rich chuckle, head ducking a little. "No, I don't think you have to worry much about— "

A screech of tires in the distance. It could be anything, this is New York City after all, but all the same, Tavisha's back straightens and his head turns towards it. There's nothing to see, but there's a car, and it's approaching. His boots thud heavily against the deck of the boat as he hops off his perch. "I think that's our cue," he says, casting a look to Jack for affirmation.

"Aye," Jack agrees, and this time there's nothing vague about it. He tags Tavisha and waves him inside toward the bridge. "This thing might look like a fat girl, but she handles like a prom queen. You'll see. We'll be ghost before you know it."

February 10th: If It's Not One Thing...

Previously in this storyline…
The Dying Warm

Next in this storyline…
How Many Periwinkle Vans Could There Be?

February 10th: Fe-Fe
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