Catchup Over Cantaloupe


cardinal_icon.gif eileen4_icon.gif ethan_icon.gif raith_icon.gif

Scene Title Catchup Over Cantaloupe
Synopsis Cardinal swings by the Garden to ask a few questions of the Vanguard remnant just in time to catch Ethan returning from a hunt with Raith close at his heels.
Date August 2, 2009

The Garden

Situated in a copse several miles away from the nearest stretch of asphalt, the Garden is accessible via an old dirt road that winds snakelike through the woods and dead-ends at the property's perimeter, which is surrounded by stone wall plastered with wicked coils of rusty barbed wire to keep would-be intruders from attempting to scale it. Those with a key can gain entry via the front gate.

The safehouse itself is a three-story brickwork cottage over a century old and covered in moss and ivy. It slants to one side, suggesting that the foundation has been steadily sinking into the wet earth; incidentally, this may be one of the reasons why its prior occupants never returned to the island to reclaim their property when government officials lifted evacuation orders and re-opened the Verrazano-Narrows shortly before its eventual destruction.

Inside, the cottage is decorated in mismatched antique furniture including a couch in the living room and an armchair nestled in the corner closest to the fireplace that go well with the safehouse's hardwood floors and the wood-burning stoves in some of the spare bedrooms. A heavy wooden table designed to seat eight separates the dining area from the rest of the kitchen, which is defined by its aged oak cabinetry and the dried wildflowers hanging above them.

Shit: it's what Eileen's mouth tastes like. Her body feels much the same, and not just because she's still recovering from the effects of the drug Feng injected her with. Dressed in a night shirt that hangs off her slim frame like an oversized pillowcase, she descends the stairs on bare feet and limps into the kitchen to brew herself a kettle of tea at the stove without so much as a glance at any of the other safehouse occupants she might happen to pass along the way. Rimmed pink, her eyes are downcast and slightly puffy around the edges. So are the contusions and welts that spatter her legs, back and neck, varying in shape, size, shade and severity.

It's been a long night and an even longer morning spent clutching at the lip of the second floor toilet with pale hands as she dry-heaved into the bowl for close to an hour. What she wants more than anything right now is blood on her hands and Feng pleading into her ear, but she'll settle for something hot to drink and a crust of bread to nibble on in the interim.

The door to the cottage swings open, black boots thudding heavily against the planks of the building. The footsteps aren't just loud because they support a large person, they're loud because they're angry. Angry footsteps. A black mask is flung to the side in an agitated manner as Ethan immediately begins to undo the thick vest over his shirt. Since the minute word was heard from Eileen, Ethan was out on the prowl.

Finding nothing that would take him to Feng, he eventually surrendered the hunt and returned to tend to Eileen. Nevermind that he might be a crappy caretaker in his current mood, he walks into the foyer, undoing one of the holsters around his waist. He's in a safe place, he only needs one gun on his person. Gathering up his discarded possessions, Ethan calls over his shoulder. "Princess, you up?"

It's a party at the Ferrymen safehouse, and the Vanguard Remnant is here to crash it. Ethan is, at least. Raith, coming up to the door several steps behind Ethan (especially considering they weren't really traveling together), is markedly more discreet with his entrance, quietly wiping his boots before he steps in, and otherwise making as little noise as possible to avoid furthering upsetting 'Papa Bear.' The fact that he really isn't supposed to be here is also aiding his attempts to keep quiet. The last thing he wants is a gunfight out in the corral, as everything absolutely would not be O.K. if that happened.

Well, almost as quiet as possible. "If she wasn't, I'm sure she is now," he says in a low whisper, directed at Ethan, "And so's everyone else. Shh."

The creak of wooden stairs under booted feet heralds the arrival of another on the scene, although in this case it's someone that most definitely didn't come in the front door. Recently arrived as the pair of men are, likely the only one that might know that would be Eileen - and she's a little distracted right now. Richard Cardinal's head ducks down a bit so he can avoid striking it on the ceiling as he steps down to the lowest floor, jacket thrown over a grey shirt, black pants, his usual look when he's not about to carry out a covert op.

"Good morning, gentlemen," he greets with a wry smile curving his lips and one hand raising in a casual wave of palm and fingers through the air, "Glad t'see you all survived Pinehearst."

At the stove, Eileen keeps her back to the front door as she goes through the familiar motions of filling the kettle with water from one of the kitchen's many plastic jugs while she waits for the coils to glow tangerine pink. She turns her head just enough to catch a glimpse of Cardinal's reflection in one of the pots that hangs from a hook above the cupboard, but does not offer any of the new arrivals a greeting with anything other than her somber silence and the dour expression she wears on her dirt-smudged face.

Either she does not trust her voice or she does not trust herself.

Giving a grunt at Raith, Ethan nods. "You're right, and 'ere. Got something for you." Going through the bundle in his arm, after a moment he gives a soft 'ah' of victory before pulling out said present. The gift is a middle finger, waving in Jensen's general direction. Putting his middle finger away he glances up at Cardinal. "What're you doin 'ere?" And for that matter, "What're you doin' 'ere?" He rounds on Raith this time. Though it doesn't seem he cares that much, not too long after asking his questions of the men he heads for the kitchen.

Finally finding Eileen, Ethan looks like he might yell her at first. Though his features soften after a moment, stepping towards the kitchen table he unloads his superfluous gear. Stepping in behind her, he goes to embrace her from behind. One arm slinks around her wait and one around her neck. He does not use words again, since those failed they're on timeout for now.

Raith takes Ethan's insult in stride, and as soon as the Brit's focused his attention back on Eileen, the American rolls his eyes and shakes his head. The very model of a modern mature gentleman. Looking to Cardinal next, he provides an illuminating answer of, "We made it out with all our bits attached, sure, not for everyone else's lack of trying to make that impossible. Good to see you made it, too, apparently in one piece, but seriously. You need to tell you buddies that when we say, 'bring down Pinehearst,' we're speaking figuratively. Can you do that? It would be a big help."

"I love you too, Holden." The 'affection' drops from Cardinal's lips as sarcastic as anything writ by Bierce, stepping across the room to glance after him into the kitchen. The scene between him and the slender young woman kills any further comments on his lips, and he pulls back, turning to step along over to a chair and sprawl out in it, legs stretched out ankles one atop the other.

The 'King of Swords' is regarded next as he speaks, admitting in tones painted in rue, "They didn't tell me they were planning that either, not until I'd taken Arthur down. The firebirds can go a little… overboard sometimes. Probably would've been better in the long run if they didn't demolish the place, but, che sara, sara, y'know?"

To her credit, for someone who has all the sociability of a half-drowned cat trapped at the bottom of a soggy burlap sack, Eileen does not sink her nails into the arms around her neck and waist or attempt to twist away from the man pressing up behind her. Instead, she sets the jug aside, shifts the kettle onto the stove and places one of her hands on his bicep as the muscles in her small body grow fraught and tense. It was not so long ago that Feng had her pinned in a similar position with one knee digging daggerlike into the small of her back.

When finally she speaks, it's in a crow's hoarse croak, raw and tentative but somehow still soft. "Does anyone want something t'eat?"

Reaching up, one burly hand loosely drapes itself over the top of her head. Leaning forward he kisses her cheek lightly, squeezes tightly for just a second before releasing. "No sign of 'im." He growls quietly. "But we'll get 'im soon, love. We'll get 'im very soon." Ethan assures, taking a step back from her he takes a few steps to get Cardinal and Raith in his line of sight. Once Eileen asks if anyone wants something to eat he gives the pair of men a very stern look then nods his head two times. Yes they do want something to eat. Even if they weren't aware of it.

"I would love something. Wouldn't you boys?" Angryglance.

It only takes Raith a moment to realize just who Ethan is glancing at. He exchanges his own glance, briefly, with Cardinal, and then to Eileen, and back to Ethan. "Yes," he says flatly, as if reciting poorly rehearsed lines from a script, "I would love, to have something to eat. Wouldn't you? Cardinal? Love to have something to eat?" No sane person would talk like this, and while Raith may not be 'all there,' it should still be apparent enough that he's joking, or thinks Ethan is joking, or some combination thereof. "And maybe also some tea, to wash it down? The thing that you would love to eat? Cardinal?"

"…sounds great, actually. I've been eatin' kind of scarce lately," comes the admission from the one man present that doesn't have a past with the Vanguard. Unlike the other man, he actually sounds rather sincere and mildly grateful about this particular offering. Then again, he's got a rap sheet a mile long, and there's probably some charges of fraud in there if one looks closely— so who knows if it's honest or not.

A roll of Cardinal's eyes answer the further questions from Raith, one arm folding behind his head as he makes himself comfortable in the chair and awaits the blessing of breakfast. "So," he asks casually, "What've you all been up to?" Apparently, they've been doing more than just tea and cookies, from the state Eileen's in.

Eileen occupies her hands and mind by fixing the men something to eat while they converse. She isn't a girl of fifteen anymore, and when Ethan attempts to bully someone into something — she notices. This time, however, she opts not to reprimand him in favour of rummaging through the kitchen's cabinets in search of food that's both comfortable and familiar.

Unfortunately, the usual breakfast fare here in the United States isn't the same as it is back home in the U.K., so she and Ethan will have to go without their black pudding, baked beans and grilled tomatoes. Though perhaps this is just as well — she doubts Raith and Cardinal would be quite so appreciative if she were to throw together a plate of some of her favourite English foods.

An irritated glance is given to Raith while an appreciative one to Cardinal. He offers the faintest of smiles to Cardinal before delivering Raith a sharp 'nobody thinks you're funny, and I'm the only one allowed to be funny' look. Walking back into the kitchen, he watches Eileen for a long moment. Bringing one hand up to his mouth he lets out a long breath.

Cardinal's question, of course, goes completely ignored. He's above such questions. Or below them, whatever. "Did 'e say anything to y'love?" He asks, leaning against the counter and giving her as sympathetic a look as he could muster.

Typical Ethan. Thinks he's the HMFIC, and then does the exact opposite of everything a strong leader would do. That's Raith's take on it, at least. "Been up to the usual," Raith says, giving Cardinal a more definite response, "With the added not-so-benefit of getting jumped by an enemy operative. I imagine that fills in a bit for you. What about you? Still hanging on, staying out of trouble? Better be, or the Meat Man will get you, and then you'll be in worse shape than she is." Clear and cryptic at the same time, as per usual for Jensen Raith. "I'll talk to you more about that later. More important things in front of us right now."

"Enemy operativ— ah. Feng Daiyu finally caught up to you all, then…" Cardinal's free hand scratches under his chin a bit, rubbing there in thoughtful consideration as he looks back to Raith, "I knew I should've pointed him in Monroe's direction. Maybe he could've figured out a way to kill the sonuvabitch. I was worried he would've actually given up Holden's location, though, if I did…"

A faint smile twitches to his lips. "Me? Staying out of trouble? Hell no… you think all that bullshit at Pinehearst was an end? There's more loose fuckin' ends than a B-movie, your Majesty of Blades," he says dryly, the last title a hint painted with sarcasm, "Ray's work isn't close to finished yet, and it falls to me to finish it." The hand at his chin lifts up, edging the shades down to fix Raith with a serious gaze, hazel eyes reddened from strain, "Which means I need to ask what's left of Kazimir's people some questions." Oh, that's why he's here.

Paper-thin slices of dried salami are wrapped around leftover cutlets of cantaloupe that Eileen found in an unmarked tupperware container on the topmost shelf of the fridge and set aside, one by one, on a small dish fresh from the drying rack. Just as Ethan ignored Cardinal's question, she brushes aside his — mostly. "Best ask while you've still got the chance," she tells Cardinal as she uses a steak knife to cut slivers of parmesan off the communal block and plates them along with the fruit and meat. "Government's putting together a task force to eliminate us so we can't be brought to trial. Daiyu's just the tip of the iceberg."

Frowning deeply at Eileen, he takes a step forward to her but then pauses at the other men's talk. Since the fall of Kazimir and the Vanguard Ethan has spent a lot less time worrying about being a strong leader, and more about himself. And a few select others. Cardinal's recent state of favor seems to suddenly disappear. Just like that, he dropped to Ethan's temporary shitlist. Dark eyes swivel over to the man as he brings up Kazimir and 'questions'. The Wolf folds his arms over his chest and practically glares at Cardinal.


And like that, the dynamic of the situation changes. Raith doesn't say anything, but he's ready to leap in front of Cardinal in the event Ethan goes off the deep end. Like it or not, the thief has proven himself to be valuable. At least valuable enough to justify keeping around.

The news about the task force curves Cardinal's lips into a slight grimace, his head shaking ever so slightly as he looks back in the direction of the kitchen. "…FRONTLINE? Or did Petrelli decide that you all rate something extra special?" The name's spoken with no small amount of scorn. No love for the President on Richard's end.

One can probably guess that he voted for the other guy. Well, would've, if he wasn't a felon.

The flat glare from Ethan draws the thief's gaze to return it calmly, before he asks ever so amiably, "I was just wondering if any've you knew where Volken's power originally came from… or if you knew where it was now. If it survived Abigail, anyway." He phrased that oddly.

"Where it came from? Where did any of these fuckin' powers come from?" Ethan growls, staring daggers at Cardinal. "'e was old as fuck. But yeah, 'is power survived. Didn't it, love?" Ethan asks, sending a sidelong glance Eileen's way. "It stayed in the body." He mutters bluntly. Then gives a shrug. "Where it went after that." He gestures to Eileen. "She knows, but you can come back and ask another time." He says sternly.

Eileen places the knife down on the cutting board and pauses to run the very tip of her nail along its razor edge before trading it for the plate. Her bare feet whisper against the hardwood floor as she crosses the kitchen with the dish of food in one hand and the now piping kettle in the other. "We might not be here another time," she observes in that same gravelly tone. "If you want to know about Volken's ability and the things it does to people, Gabriel Gray's the one you ought to talk to."

She sets the plate on the table and then begins to move around it, filling three cups with hot water before retreating back into the kitchen in search of some tea to steep in it. "Just try not to nettle him. Please?"

"It was a older than he was. A lot older, if my source is right, and it is," Cardinal replies evenly, meeting the protective bull-dog gaze of the other man with neither apology nor trepidation, leaning forward ever so slightly to rest both forearms on his knees. The words spoken by Ethan create obvious tension in the shadowman, his gaze sharpening over the edge of his shades and brow tightening in lines, "…Holden, if it wasn't destroyed…"

Then Eileen speaks, bringing his attention away from the killer to the mistress of birds, and he hesitates a moment before nodding, once. "Alright. You have a number or a place I can contact him at?"

Ethan glances at the ceiling. Then motions to the staircase out in the foyer with his chin. "'e stays 'ere. Not in now. Try back later." Though he pauses for a moment, staring at Cardinal. "'oo's your fuckin' source?" The Wolf asks, irritation melting away and being replaced with curiosity. Not that he expects Cardinal to reveal his source, "Wot did this source 'ave to say? What proof?"

"Be cool, gents," Raith says to no one in particular, "We're already here outside of regular visiting hours, and the last thing we want is to get the boss' attention. That being said, yes, what about your source? We need every leg up we can get right now, so tell us what you can."

Eileen returns to the table with a wooden container and takes a seat in one of the chairs, saying nothing. She uses the same nail that traced the edge of the knife to pry open the latch and carefully opens the lid with the care a toddler might show an ornate music box painted in silver and gold. Inside, divided by a series of identical compartments, are enough teabags to slake the thirst of a small county. It takes her a few minutes to decide what she wants, but when she does she settles on something strong and dark, removes it from the container and then gently folds the lid shut again.

She doesn't even glance at the food.

Against the other man's assumptions, Cardinal surrenders it without argument. "Hiro Nakamura," he replies without missing a beat, "The time traveller. He was trying to find out where the Formula came from… ended up following a trail that led him back, to Volken's experiments in Germany." He brings a hand up to push his shades higher upon his face again, then reaches out to pluck a meat-wrapped treat of cantaloupe from the plate, popping it into his mouth, chewing, swallowing.

"S'pretty good," he murmurs, "Thanks, Eileen." The edge dulled upon his hunger, he claims, "They found him torturing the one man who was immune to his powers, this guy named Francois. He's the one who carried the power that Abigail had, see— apparently, whatever they are, they've been moving from host to host for— fuck, who knows? Could be centuries, milennia, for all th'fuck I know. Volken was trying to understand it, apparently that's what all his experiments back then were all about."

"Listen, Jensen. Per'aps there's a fight outside you could break up or some idiots you could order around. But neither of those are in 'ere." Ethan growls over at Raith, watching him coldly for a moment before turning his attention back to Cardinal. "You should talk to Gabriel." Ethan offers with a thoughtful scratch at the stubble on his chin.

"Come back later tonight, I'll let 'im know you're lookin for 'im." The Wolf declares before taking a step forward. A amiable pat on the shoulder is given to Cardinal before he looks at the food finally. a huge smile raises on his lips. "Looks beau'iful love." Will it taste beautiful? Only one way to find out.

Raith offers a half-shrug of compliance. Ethan's claimed this gig as his own. No sweat. "I'm sure I can find a fight to break up," he says, grabbing his own piece of cantaloupe. Apparently, however, he's taking his cantaloupe to go. "Or one to start, if that's the way things have to go. And I'm pretty sure they will." Without so much as a 'thank you', he's off to the door to get himself out into the city, again. "Iceberg, right ahead."

Eileen drops her selection into her cup, silver spoon tinkling against porcelain as she idly taps it against the rim. No farewell for Raith, but that isn't so unusual — even when she isn't feeling like she wants to burrow under a rock and die, the two very rarely have anything nice to say to one another. That includes good byes.

"Kazimir Volken was a man who made a lot of mistakes," she tells Cardinal as she sets her spoon aside, curls her fingers around the cup and lets it bleed warmth into the palms of her hands. "He wasn't a monster, so let's not build him up into one. His ability's got nothing to do with it — Gabriel had it for months and he didn't turn sour."

"Also," Cardinal adds in self-depreciating tones, "Jesus Christ when did my life start sounding like it was written by Ray fucking Bradbury. I swear to fucking god, I never want to say the words 'the time travellers told me' ever again."

Another bit of food's lifted from the tray, as he regards the woman across the table with a somewhat dubious expression… though he doesn't challenge her beliefs on the latter. "Did he," he murmurs, thoughtfully, "Well, I'll just have to talk to him, then. Thanks, Holden."

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