Behind the Shed


eileen_icon.gif danko3_icon.gif

Scene Title Behind the Shed
Synopsis Not all apparitions are figments of the imagination.
Date January 22, 2009

Brooklyn — Outside Gray and Sons

It isn't uncommon to find abandoned bouquets in New York City, especially at intersections where people have lost their lives, either on foot or behind the wheel of a car — to those left behind, it doesn't particularly matter how they went. Only that they did. No one will glance askance at the flowers Eileen intends on leaving at the front steps of Gray and Sons, its drab exterior like so many other derelict buildings on the same stretch of block: windows covered in sodden plywood and a plastic sign riveted to the front door that's supposed to discourage trespassers but in reality only invites further temptation.

She's dressed in a heavy winter coat that's either very dark gray or black, and a headscarf knotted under her chin to protect her hair from the same droplets of rain that gather in the petals of the offering she carries in her gloved hands. The combination of frosty baby's breath and dark red poppies are likely symbolic of something that isn't meant to resemble blood splashed across snow, but she has a difficult time not drawing the comparison as she approaches the storefront, booted feet crunching through the fine layer of ice forming on the pavement now that the sun has disappeared behind the cityscape and the temperature is steadily angling toward zero.

If there existed any potential for dispute over the color of the pea coat approaching Eileen from behind, it's solved by the identity of the man wearing it.

It's black.

Hard lines frame Danko's shoulders out stark against halo'd street lamps and the icy cling and drip of winter rain, militant precision echoed in every cut and stitch through the double-breasted design. That the coat's long fit and regal military bearing have the unfortunate side-effect of making him look exactly as tall as he really is are likely worth the overall air it provides him — especially in the fog and the rain and the insidious, creeping cold.

More familiar leather shows through in glimpses underneath, never any further away than it needs to be, and that's where there's a tell-tale creak before it comes apparent that the stride at six o'clock is drawing up behind here and not merely passing peacefully by. He stops before he's in arm's reach. Or leg's reach, for that matter, and there's a loaded pause occupied only by the patter of rain and the slush of sparse traffic through salted streets before he announces himself with a mild:

"Sorry for your loss."

Those are four words that Eileen grew tired of the first time that she heard them. Instinctively, she turns to face the speaker, showing him her face's pale profile and the familiar shape of her mouth as it curves into a frown — her lips part around the first syllable of what's meant to be a terse, clipped reply, but in the end only a sharp, hitching breath hisses past her teeth.

She's just recognized his voice.

Rainwater carves snaking trails down Eileen's cheeks, following her jaw and the patterns formed by what stray curls of dark hair it plasters to them. It gives the illusion of tears even though her green eyes themselves are bright and clear, baleful in the way they search out Danko's face through the misty drizzle. Lashes blink away the beads of moisture clinging to them as though the wet is responsible for the apparition standing in front of her and not the unknown forces that spared his life at Amundsen-Scott.

There's water in her eyes, mouth, nose — all of a sudden, she doesn't particularly mind. Instead, one word: "Who?"

Likely no amount of rainwater could provide Danko with the convenient illusion of remorse. In this case, he mostly looks wet, greyed out buzz alternately spined silver and plastered thin against his skull. Runoff drizzles in an uneven drip across deep set eyes and off his chin; hooks cold 'round the crooked corner of his mouth when it slants into an upturn at her expense when recognition strikes at a hitched breath and a hiss.

He looks pale. Haunted. Maliciously unapologetic.

Pretty much par for the for the course, really.

Hands tucked deep into pea coat pockets, he rocks his insubstantial weight into an easy roll of his hips under her scrutiny, coolly confident as an anaconda in muddy, waist-deep water. "Who's next?" His misunderstanding is too blunt to be not be intentional, but the smug cant of his brows immediately sets aside any doubt she might've had anyway. "…Guess that's up to you."

Mere meters from where Eileen and Danko are standing, pedestrian foot traffic continues unabated. Women pass by in fur-lined coats, designer purses clutched under their arms. Rain glances off umbrellas made from nylon fabric stretched taut between spindly sticks of bent metal that cause the material to sputter and pop in the breeze. A ratty little bichon frise, fur stained shit-brown by the slush, strains at the end of a leash as its owner chatters loudly into her cell phone in a language that neither understands, one fat hand smooshing her hat down onto the top of her head to prevent a gust of wind from claiming it.

To everyone on the street except each other, they are no one — a wiry cadaver of a man who probably wouldn't look out of place sitting behind the desk at the local mortuary, and a rumpled little thing hiding under a babushka that makes her look like somebody's Russian grandmother.

"Who gave you the order?"

"…Order?" It sounds like an earnest question, and it well could be. Brackish amusement at her expense for drawing an incorrect conclusion is approximately identical to that her drawing the right one would likely inspire. He never really makes it to a full on leer, but there are subtle lines etched in around colorless eyes that savor all too transparently in her intensity. She's upset. Naturally.

"Since when have I needed orders to drag one of you out behind the shed?" Brake lights haze out all in a row at his back when the light at the corner turns red; dirty snow sloughs heavily off wet tires and yellow paint. He swallows and breathes in deep, congestion stuffing inevitably at his sinuses. Truth be told he doesn't look so good. Even on a scale adjusted for the bias of him being himself.

"I don't know what the standard protocol is for handling people who gun down their teammates in cold blood, but I'm willing to bet it doesn't involve a free ride back to New York City unless that ride is a reward for a job well done." Eileen's voice is steady; what's trembling are her hands, gloved fingers curled around poppy stems just below the length of black ribbon holding the bouquet together in lieu of the plastic wrap and white tissue paper combination that's so popular with florists this time of year.

She grasps it tighter in an attempt to conceal the display of emotion from Danko. Unfortunately, all this succeeds in doing is spreading the shakes all the way up and through so the petals quiver and twitch in her place, shedding raindrops. "You were operating on our SatCom frequency. Someone briefed you. Who?"

Predictably, deliberately, Danko's impassive study drops the necessary degrees to rest upon the dewy tremble of poppy and baby's breath. There's a sleek invasiveness to his eyeline that increases exponentially with the shudder of every second that ticks by, detail traced delicately on through the wind of tendon from the backs of her hands around her wrists. It makes the chilly probe of wide pupils across her face all the more uncomfortable once they've found their way back there.

All in all, his cold-blooded indifference refuses to be shaken. He can't even be bothered to feign intentionally irksome apology in the hoarse drawl of his voice when he replies with a simple, "I'm afraid you lack the security clearance necessary to expect an answer to that question from anyone. However," however — the edge of his mouth twitches back into a cynical slant, "if you'd like to file a complaint, I can save you the trouble right now and tell you no one gives a damn what happens to any of you."

He takes a step back as he says it, smugly self-assured as ever.

Magnetism is one of those words that has positive connotations associated with things like raw sexual attraction and charismatic personalities, politicians like Nathan Petrelli with porcelain veneer smiles and twinkly little devil eyes, quickies in stalled elevators, public restrooms or the backseat of a taxi, knees bent and groping hands smearing glass. Eileen wants to close hers around Danko's neck and squeeze until she hears something break. The desire to kill someone is sometimes just as strong as the need to fuck them, and although the Briton has experienced both during the course of her short life — simultaneously at least once — it's bloodlust that she's wrestling in the shadow of the derelict watch shop.

Gravel and salt crunch under her feet as she pursues Danko, maintaining the distance between them rather than closing it. Breath curls from the cavities of her nostrils and her mouth, lips slightly parted. There was a time when she used to wear a pistol under her coat in a shoulder holster adjusted to fit her petite frame, but today the only weapon she carries doubles as a utility knife and cannot be wielded in combat except as a last resort. He hasn't pushed her that far.

Yet. "I'm going to come for you where you sleep," she hisses, "and when I do, there won't be any Pastor Sumter to speak on your behalf."

Takes one to know one. So intimately familiar with that same homicidal compulsion that its influence has worn as thoroughly grey as everything else about him, Danko stands tall (figuratively speaking) and impassive in the face of her pursuit. There's something very near teasing to the slower traipse of his second backwards step, and recognition of like-minded passion reads like gratification in its limited hold over the steel in his eyes and the crook of his mouth as he draws her out towards the stream of traffic at the sidewalk.

"You're right," agreed too indifferently, he twitches a brow into a tip in place of a shrug. "If I find him first — there won't be."

Up in their roosts high above the roof's concrete lip, gutters choked with melting snow, the pigeons are growing restless and agitated. Danko can hear them murmuring discontentedly at one another in their throaty little voices but cannot see their eyes tracking his progress across the pavement as Eileen's do. The last time she came after him, she commanded a murder of crows, carrion birds with slashing claws and beaks like fat bayonets stained black — out in the open, he has little to fear from common rock doves unless he's afraid of mites or fungal diseases. She would not dare set anything with feathers on him where there are witnesses.

Eileen does not draw any closer. The pull is difficult for her to resist, and if Danko is looking for it he may notice her throat contract around a bulge as she swallows something back, languishing in the bitter taste their conversation has left in her mouth. "Don't come here again."

Danko doesn't dignify her with acceptance. Or denial. Rain runoff's biting cold traces lines down the side of his face in uneven stops and starts. What doesn't drip off soaks into his collar, and what doesn't do either lings damp on his brow and in the hollows bruised and sunk deep into his face. Now more than ever — one foot crossing over the other into a turn through which his eyes stay fastened to her person — he looks the part of preternaturally immortal opposition.

It's hard to kill things that are already dead.

He's leaving. Under different circumstances, Eileen might be able to call this a victory, but her wounds are still too fresh — too deep for her to feel anything except a profound sense of sadness and growing despondency as she watches him go. There may well be tears mingling with the rainwater running down her face, neck and the sliver of collarbone visible where the topmost button of her coat meets the bare skin of her sloping neck.

She'd driven him off his kill at Amundsen-Scott too late. Here, there's nothing left to defend except a memory.

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