Call It Vanity


amato_icon.gif eileen_icon.gif raith_icon.gif

Scene Title Call It Vanity
Synopsis Raith brings Amato to the Dispensary to treat his fractured jaw.
Date August 6, 2010

Old Dispensary

A new face is something that the old dispensary on Staten Island has not seen for some time. Not since Colette's visit, and when that happened, emergency surgery had to be performed. Good times, all around. When the old Dodge pickup belonging to the Remnant comes to a stop in the garage and its occupants move from outside to inside, it's with one new face and one familiar one. Amato's known how to find the dispensary, known who lived there, sure, but never been before. Never had a reason to. The times, they are a-changing.

Raith enters first, and shuts the door behind Amato just in for them to hear the 'click-click-clicking' of nails on the hard floor, from the wing off to the right of the entrance. "Just pups, don't mind them," the ex-spy says, "We always meet by the fireplace, that's on your left. Go ahead and find yourself a seat. I'll be right along." 'Right along' because he turns his attention towards the sound and drops down to one knee, just in time for a pair of dogs older than puppies but not yet fully grown to come charging into him and slather his face with kisses. "Hey boys, you miss me?"

Amato is lucky to get out of the way of the devoted pets in time. He cringes slightly as he turned on his heel, squinting with a scowl at the dogs. He's never had a problem with them, but neither is he overly found of the toothy beasts. And in certain contexts, he can be downright intolerant of them.

Silently, the new visitor to the Dispensary does as he is directed. Down the hall of sorts and to the left. The hearth - the traditional center of any home - lies bare of fuel or even a healthy layer of soot. Amato stops behind the armchair that has been pulled to one side of the stone structure and rests the hand that isn't cradling his jaw on the chair's back.

"Okay, that's good," Raith says as he stands and moves his face safely out of reach, "You eat yet? Let's go eat." Turning and walking quickly after Amato, it's still no surprise that the canines, both filled with the endless energy of youth, beat him there, immediately scampering to the dispensary's newest visitor sniff-sniff-sniffing away. Yay, new smell! But it's short-lived before the black-furred, mutt, really, promptly ignores him and runs back to Raith as he enters, with his companion following suit soon thereafter and giving a short hop into the air. "We keep things kind of Spartan around here, but it's not without supplies. What'll you have with that jaw of yours? Coffee, tea, bottle of aspirin?" Raith attention is split, nonetheless, between listening to Amato and prying the lid off a large plastic bin, pulling out a green plastic 'hand-shovel' that he uses to dispense solid, small-bite kibble into two metal bowls on the floor.

Once the canine squad has foregone their investigation in lieu of food, Amato relaxes a little more. "Water'n asprin'll be fine," he mumbles, staring into the empty fireplace. "Troubling to know I won't be able to take another hit like that," he adds, more to himself than to Raith. He rubs his jaw lightly, thoughtfully. "Still. One punch is better than…" Well, better than the last time he took any sort of beating.

"We'll toughen you up." The lid goes back onto the bin, and Raith's attention goes to the cupboards, coming back with a small bottle of generic aspirin and a jug of distilled water from one, and a short glass from another. "Must've been one helluva punch, though. Or else you have a glass jaw." And bump. the ex-spy saunters over to Amato with one glass of water and three tablets of medicine. "By all means, take off your coat. You're staying a while, ain't ya?"

"Drugs first," Amato says with a wry smile that exists in his eyes alone. He takes the pills without any more ceremony than a simple nod, sighing once he's swallowed them. It's then that he shrugs off his sport coat and drapes it over the back of the armchair. "It wasn't always this way. Ethan didn't break it, but paved the way, in a sense. You'll forgive me if I decline your offer to toughen me up - I'm not a fan of being bruised and broken."

He looks from Raith to his coat, then to the hearth again, the empty glass still clutched in one hand. "She wouldn't mind if I did, would she? Not that the monks aren't hospitable. Call it vanity, but part of me misses not smelling even vaguely of sheep."

The figure that floats down the spiral staircase leading up to the second floor is familiar to both Amato and Raith, as is the caution with which she moves. Fingertips trail over smooth stone as bare feet tentatively navigate the steps — Eileen was not expecting company and in her sheer cotton nightgown and a lightweight wool coat pulled over it to cover her gossamer-pale skin and the gentle swell of her breasts beneath the fabric, she isn't dressed for it either.

She does not announce her presence when she arrives at the bottom of the stairwell, and at this distance, neither her rose oil perfume nor the soft sound of her breathing will advertise it.

"Hey, you're asking me to look into a crystal ball, here," Raith replies, "That's something you'll have to clear with her, not me. I say it, and mean a couple hours, maybe. Stuff on the mainland's got me a little shaky, you know? Stuff here on the island isn't doing much better for me, really. There's been a lot that's happened since you've been away, you know. You sure you don't want anything else?" Raith wasn't raised to be impolite, that much is certain. But it could be that he's looking for something to listen to other than the crunching of dog kibble in the background."

"Ice, if there's any to be had," Amato half-grunts. He wants to talk, but the pain in his jaw is still hindering that, and the bruising and swelling are starting to take their toll as well. "I'm sorry to worsen it," he adds as he steps around the chair and lowers himself into it. The chair is a blessing, and Amato leans back in a slouch to rest his head and extend his long legs before him.

"If the road to hell is paved with good intentions, perhaps all this tribulation in your path is a good sign."

Eileen pulls away from the stairs, pulls her coat a little tighter and moves toward the sound of familiar voices. The Dispensary is one of the very few places she feels confident enough not to need her cane whenever she leaves her bedroom — or in this case, the attic that occupies the entire third floor of their shadowed sanctuary.

"You'll wake him," she cautions the men by the hearth in a sleek whisper, "and with the way Kazimir left things, I don't think that's what either of you want."

"His hearing's not that good anymore," Raith says to the new voice after a momentary pause. He sends a glance over his shoulder to the entryway where Eileen now appears. "Besides, if you're down here, I suspect he's not in any condition to wake up for anything that's not gunfire at this time." his gaze lingers on the entryway only for a moment before he's moving back towards the cupboards. "Tea?" he asks.

Amato is slow to open his eyes once they've been closed, not that the sight of Eileen isn't a comforting one. "Buona sera, agnella," he says with a sigh. "My apologies." With a sharp if soft grunt, Amato straightens himself in the chair enough to lean forward. "If I promise to keep my voice down, could I extract a favor?" Even in the dim light and with his hand still held protectively close to his jaw, the bruising and swelling are clear enough.

Whether or not it's true, and with the way she's clothed it may very well be, Eileen does not appreciate Raith's implication. Glassy eyes grow sharp and a tightness enters her jaw that wasn't there before. "Make yourself useful and open a window," she suggests, coming around the back of Amato's chair to lean her hip into its arm.

The tone she uses with the priest is only marginally softer. "We have not drifted so far apart that an extraction is necessary."

Raith doesn't offer Eileen a vocal retort. If she doesn't want tea, then fine. Instead, he does indeed 'make himself useful' and treks across the floor to the windows, opening one up. Maybe a stiff breeze will come in and flick up her nightgown. That'll show her.

The tension seems odd to Amato. He looks from Eileen to Raith and back again, but he doesn't ask. At least not with words. Instead, he suffers a smile up at her. "That's good to hear," he answers, his tone gentle, as if he could make up for her sharpness with his own voice, as stilted as his injury may make his words. "Have you set a jaw before?" Not that it matters. He's sure Eileen is capable of the work.

"If it needs setting, the most I can do is send you to someone more equipped than we are here." That someone is either Constantine Filatov or Francois Allegre — Eileen isn't yet sure which, and won't be until she can assess the damage. A dark shape with long, pointed wings flicks inside and alights on the hearth within moments of Raith opening the window, easily mistaken for a large bat in what little light the gas lantern burning on the table provides, but closer inspection reveals that the creature's body is covered in feathers instead of velvet, its plumage like strips of bark peeled from a downy tree.

"Let's hope it doesn't come to wires and screws," she says, scrutinizing Amato's injuries through the nighthawk's small black eyes. "What happened?"

'What happened?' is an interesting sort of question, and one that Raith does not leap forward to answer, even after he's gotten over his momentary surprise of a bird entering the room. Rather, he returns to the cupboard. Tea will be some time off yet, since he'll need to light the hearth or the iron stove in the kitchen, boil water, et cetera et cetera. A glass of water, however, will do nicely, and he withdraws two more glasses, just in case Eileen asks for some.

"Did a bit of preaching in the Rookery," Amato admits with as much of a grin as he can muster, his eyes downcast. He does glance at the bird when it flies in, but Eileen without birds near is like a flower without sunshine or some other trite metaphor. If it does require more, so be it - but at least he's getting the initial diagnosis from someone he trusts. "One man didn't take very kindly to it, and let me know with his fist."

"Well," says Eileen, "you'll be pleased to know he's not stopped you from being able to put the fear of God into your fellow man. You can still talk — that's something." She shows Amato her hands and holds them in his periphery for a moment as if asking for permission to touch him before she takes his chin in her fingers and steers his face toward hers. The nighthawk flutters down from the hearth and hooks its feet into the fabric of her coat, steadying itself with tail fanned and both wings raised.

Her opposite hand follows the curve of his jaw, mindful not to apply any more pressure than is strictly necessary for her to gauge the swelling and identify any obvious breaks.

"What an age this is where men live in fear of saying what they will on the street because they might be assaulted," Raith remarks, filling one glass with water. "Water for anyone else?" Water for someone else, at least, the ex-spy jaunting off to the edge of the counter with the jug to pour some liquid into the dogs' bowl, the black-furred one happily dunking his face into it.

"And they say there is freedom of speech in this country," Amato muses with another sigh, looking back toward Raith for a moment. He notes Eileen's hands with some wariness before closes his eyes and takes a deep breath. Centered, her feather-light touch brings no visions of her latest indiscretions to his already pain-addled mind. Amato is quiet for her scrutiny.

From the way the bruise has spread, it would seem the blow came from below. There is a bit of dried blood at the side of his mouth, but it appears to be from an external source. Amato was lucky enough to spit out most of his own before seeing Raith in the first place, and what little is left from his wound is just enough to stain some of his teeth.

Eileen feels Amato's teeth through he cheek with the edge of her thumb, and although she cannot count them all this way, she has a fairly good idea of which may be loose and which aren't. "Jensen, there are a few bottles of Demerol in the infirmary. The liquid, not the tablets. I need you to go and fetch one of them for me."

She releases Amato's chin, absently tucks a stray strand of hair behind his ear and moves away from his chair, toward the kitchen. "I can give you something to help with the pain," she says, "and to be on the safe side, the address of someone who'll sell you some antibiotics without a prescription so your mouth doesn't become infected, but if you notice it getting worse, see Abigail Beauchamp. She's friends with a professional physician and shares her apartment with another healer."

"When did we get Demerol?" The jug is capped and placed back onto the counter, while Raith does not wait for an answer. Demerol, morphine, vicodin, in the end, they are all do the job one way or the other. The ex-spy makes his exit from the kitchen, and perhaps fortunately for Eileen (and maybe Amato too), both of the dogs decide they would rather follow him, rather than hanging around the boring people.

Demerol? The good stuff. But if it doesn't require setting, all the better. Hopefully it's just a hairline or something similar - something that with rest can heal on its own. "Thank you, Eileen," Amato says with a nod of his head. A frown settles across his brow then, and he narrows his eyes at her. "Tell me, what have you been up to lately?" The fact that the Dispensary is on Staten Island is a worrisome one, especially now.

"My work with the Ferry keeps me occupied," is a neutral answer, Eileen decides. In the kitchen, nighthawk at her shoulder, she reaches up and swings open the cupboards above her head. Knowing where things are has always been essential, but with her new disability it's more important than ever. She has little difficulty locating the cloth bag she keeps rice in, and although differentiating between the jars of flour and sugar poses more of a challenge, she selects the correct vessel, confirms its contents with the bird's assistance, and sets it aside with the coffee as a reminder to start preparing breakfast in a few hours.

"You're lucky," she says. "My brother broke his jaw once when he was hit by a lorry. He was a sight for weeks."

Amato swallows, and immediately winces. "Was he now." The words are almost coughed - tossed from his mouth as if they were foul. He repositions himself in the chair so that his head is back against the cushion once more, but turned so that he can watch Eileen. There's something odd about the way she moves in concert with the bird. Odd, but not necessarily new. "Believe me, I'm glad it was his fist and not a bullet. But I'm sorry to have wakened you."

"We're used to it," Raith says as he reenters the dining area, bottle in hand and dogs in two. The two balls of fluff lose interest in the other in the kitchen when the white-furred one tackles his sibling and the two begin wrestling. "Midnight emergencies aren't as uncommon around here as we'd like them to be." Paying the pups no mind, the ex-spy deposits the the bottle on the counter next to the glass of water he'd poured earlier, leaving it there for Eileen to handle or to provide directions for the administration of.

Eileen fills the kettle on the stove with water, one hand held beneath the jug to steady it, and goes through the familiar motions of warming the coils and selecting the best leaves for tea. It's less complex to make than coffee is, and with rations the way they are she'd rather leave the stronger stuff for Gabriel and Raith who are more partial to it. "I wasn't asleep."

The sound of the glass bottle clinking against the counter draws her attention to the medication, and while the water in the kettle is boiling she measures the appropriate dosage into the glass of water that Raith poured earlier with the eyedropper provided. "Jensen will make up one of the rooms on the first floor," she says, "and can take you back across the water as soon as it starts getting light. Where are you staying?"

"It doesn't matter," is Amato's answer. He stands then, only to make his way into the kitchen proper and lean against the doorframe. Being catered to while he sits in a chair by a hearth, even if it isn't host to a blazing fire, isn't something he's used to. "I've considered…staying here for a time. Brother Ian and Brother Samuel can handle the sheep while I'm away. A phone call will take care of it." The idea of leaving Staten Island now is simply out of the question. Amato looks to Raith while Eileen busies herself, his expression grave.

"But I won't impose here too long. I can find other arrangements." Either on Staten Island or in the city. Preferably the former.

"The Garden has horses," Eileen offers, "and only a few hands to tend to them. Their mares are larger than your sheep, but I imagine the basic principles are the same." A long silver spoon stirs the concoction, which she then pushes across the counter to Amato. "One dose every four hours for the pain. You'll want to dilute it first so your tongue doesn't go numb and wean yourself off after a few weeks rather than just ending the regimen."

She wipes the spoon clean on her coat and sets it down in the sink. "You can thank Walsh for the Demerol," she informs Raith.

"I'm slightly surprised that place is still standing," Amato hums, remembering the expedient exodus from when he last lived there. He takes the glass and nods his thanks to Eileen before drinking it down, his face contorting with the effort. "I'll see if they need an extra pair of hands, but I'll have you know there's quite a difference. Sheep are mindless. Horses are like," and Amato looks to the dogs on the floor, their play muted now. "Horses are more like dogs. Bigger."

"Big dogs is one way of putting it." And speaking of dogs, Raith decides it's time, apparently, to break up the wrestling match occurring between them when a high-pitched yelp signifies that one of them has had enough. "No more of that, you little hellions. We have company." Separating them requires, it seems lifting up of them off the ground, one under each arm. "If you don't keep quiet, you're going to wake up the Tall Man, and he's going to be so mad at both of you. So mad."

"Like dogs or not," and the withering note that creeps into Eileen's voice at the word dogs suggests that she thinks more highly of the Garden's mares than she does the two pups tearing at each other's ears on the kitchen floor, "they still need to be fed, watered and turned out, and I don't think the cottage's operators are in any position to refuse the help."

There was a logic to staying in the chair. Amato will see that soon enough. For now, he's content to stay braced against the doorpost. "I'll drop in on them tomorrow," he assures Eileen with a smile that stays in his eyes rather than cover his whole face. Raith and the dogs have him confused for a moment, and he lifts his eyebrows. "Tall Man?"

Raith looks to Amato, and then turns his gaze briefly up towards the ceiling before again bringing it level with the other man. He gives a nod upwards with his head, unable to point on account of holding a canine under each arm. "The Tall Man," he says again, with another nod skyward. Either God or Gabriel Gray. And really, when you're a dog, what's the difference between them?

"Gabriel," Eileen provides, because Amato is not a dog, and to him it does make a difference.

Indeed it does. Amato's eyebrows lift still higher at the information. It's either the beginning effects of the drug or the news that take some of the strength out of his knees, but Amato has to move his hands against the post in order to keep himself steady. "Where's the room again, Jensen?" he asks, his voice a little distant. "I think I need to lie down."

"There's a lot of doors, so maybe it's easiest if I just show you." The dispensary doesn't have a guest bedroom set up at the time, and Raith knows it. but he also knows that one of the extra rooms had extra bedding in it. Enough of that thrown together might double for a mattress. And even if it doesn't…. "Might be a little hard on the ol' spine, but at least it's not outside."

They could put him in Teodoro's room, but the thought has Eileen's fingers curling in on themselves. Like a mother whose youngest child has recently passed away, she's preserved the rumpled state of his unmade bed and what few possessions the Sicilian has chosen to keep here with them. It had been the same with the attic when they still believed Gabriel to be dead, but this time her reasoning is different.

He's going to come back, and when he does, she wants his things to be exactly the way he left them. As Raith leads Amato down one of the darkened corridors, she turns back to the stove and holds the flat of her palm above the kettle, testing the temperature of the air around it rather than risk touching the tips of her fingers to its copper surface.

It's just as well. She'd have been up again in a few hours anyway, and if she starts her preparations early then she can make enough food to comfortably feed all four of them. Moods are often better on full stomachs.

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