cat_icon.gif dantes_icon.gif eileen_icon.gif

Scene Title Composure
Synopsis … is sometimes hard to come by.
Date December 24, 2008

Little Italy

The day has gone along since she was at the cathedral and caught by Abby in a display of personal weakness, pouring out her grief into her hands while seated in one of the pews and having a mental conversation with the recently departed, asking if karma had come to get her in all of this, regarding something once done at Greenwich Village. Cat is still in that simple black dress with the short sleeves and knee length hem, her feet in one inch heeled pumps. A coat of a more formal style than she would normally wear is on her body over it now, she having parked a car somewhere nearby and begun walking toward Piccoli's. Her features are still somber, the eyes show a bit of disquiet, but she's very much making an effort not to let on about anything she feels.

She's not the only one. Not far behind her is a harsh-faced young man, dark hair cut brutally short. He's clad in a sober suit and overcoat, but both are rumpled as if worn too long at a stretch. Sonny's done amazing work, but even the doctor's power can't grant Edward Dantes the necessary human warmth. Only so much in a human face is purely physical, and beyond that it is the spirit within that shows through, cliche or no. He still has that cop's watchfulness, even as he makes his way towards the restaurant.

Winter in New York City is a beautiful time of year; snow frosts the trees, transforming skeletal branches into twisted sculptures of silver and white. A fresh layer dusts the sidewalks, not yet ground into the pavement by Little Italy's foot traffic. It's Christmas Eve, and most of the neighborhood's residents are safely snuggled away in their homes where it's cozy, warm and — above all else — safe. Like Cat and Felix, however, Eileen Ruskin is not so lucky. With nowhere else to take shelter from the brutal chill, the dark-haired woman makes her way along the sidewalk with her scarf pulled up over the bottom half of her face and her pea coat pulled tightly around her body, her weathered leather boots leaving faint tracks in the ice and snow. She passes Piccoli's without so much as a glance at the window — no use lusting after things she can no longer afford.

Ed doesn't -quite- doubletake. Nothing so crude and obvious. But Eileen's obviously not merely a passerby to him. He hesitates, visibly…and even that is too much of a telltale. Apparently Piccoli's might no longer be the choice for dinner, as he pauses, glancing up and down the street, as if looking for somewhere else to dine.

As Eileen's eyes sweep the street in search of the voice's source, her gaze skims over Dantes and does not linger. She's no Flint Deckard, and does not recognize the undercover Fed for who he really is. It takes a moment or two, but she eventually picks out Cat's black-swathed shape amongst the shadows, and — slowly — a frown begins to creep across her lips, so pale that they appear only a shade or two pinker than the rest of her skin. "What do you want?" Although softly-spoken, the question is pointed — almost accusatory.

"I hoped we could talk," Cat replies quietly. Her eyes rest on the younger one, she seems perhaps a bit puzzled by the frown and accusatory tone, but takes it into stride. Her face, being looked at, shows the traces of loss she can't always manage to hide. There's just the briefest of glances at the area around her to determine if anyone is close by.

Dantes doesn't really dare loiter. Not close. But his pace as he resumes walking is aimless and slow, as if contemplating the various restaurants here and there.

There's a slight curl of Eileen's upper lip, exposing a pearly sliver of tooth before she catches herself and smooths her expression back out into something more neutral. "I don't think we have anything to say to each other," she responds, tone even in spite of the fury she can feel bubbling up in her blood. "And even if we did, your people have proven I can trust you about as far as I can spit."

For her part, she's solemn. There's some traces of anger in her eyes, but it's muted. She speaks and looks generally calm, Cat's voice kept quiet to avoid being overheard by anyone in the area. "You helped. despite your ordeal," she answers. "In doing that, we see you can be trusted, by others beyond those you met. Did something happen, beyond the ordeal, to make you feel this way?" To some degree Cat expects hostility from her, she was abducted, but cooperated afterward. And she has all her digits, at least apparently.

Her nature isn't violent, but everyone — even the smallest, most timid, mousiest of girls like Eileen — have a breaking point where their composure cracks and splinters, falling away in pieces to reveal the uglier thing beneath. There's no audible snapping sound when it happens — the only warning that Cat receives is the pop-pop-pop of Eileen's knuckles as she balls her right hand into a fist and and swings it at the other woman's face. It isn't her first time throwing a punch, but she's no experienced brawler either; as lithe as she is, her movements are slow, clumsy, weighed down by her heavy woolen coat and the stiffness in her joints.

She sees the fist coming, and easily sidesteps the clumsiness of that blow, but doesn't move to throw one of her own. Cat instead, somberly, just looks at the angered girl. The voice, as before, is kept at a volume for Eileen alone to hear. "I've got no fight with you," she offers, "you're not the one who took her away forever. Whatever has you so angry, was it just that you were with them for that time?" Clearly she doesn't seem to have full information.

Perhaps he's merely calling to confirm his dinner date. Dantes is apparently lost in contemplation of a dinner menu posted in a deli's window, as he slips his cellphone out of his pocket, and dials. C'mon, pick up, pick up. All the while, he watches the little altercation in its reflection in the window.

Eileen's momentum carries her forward several staggering steps. She's as quick to right herself as she was to take a swing at Cat, though she's only half-listening to what the other woman is saying as her hand shoots out, one gloved hand clasping around a nearby lamp post for support. Ice and gravel crunch under her boots. Dantes might as well be a part of a nativity scene for all Eileen cares — his face is strange and unfamiliar to her, and if he hasn't interfered yet, she doubts that he will. "I stick my fuckin' neck out for you lot," she hisses under her breath, "and you repay me by acting with all the finesse of a quadriplegic in a triathalon!"

Her head tilts to one side as she listens to the girl speak, barely making out her words as they're hissed in that way, but Cat picks up enough to get the gist of it. One hand reaches out in offer to steady Eileen, in the process possibly leaving herself open for a punch that could be coming. She seems puzzled just the same, by the spoken objection. "What were we supposed to do? How did you expect things would go?" A quiet glance around the area is made, she spots the lingering Dantes and tracks him for a moment, before returning attention to the girl.

"I have a problem, buddy. I've run across someone I used to know in my old job," Dante's tone is good-humored and contrite, as whomever it is on the other end picks up. "This girl I used to be totally after, y'know? I'm just afraid she'll remember what a complete prick I was. I'm out by Piccoli's. I could use some advice, if you wanna come down and get a beer." He's apparently utterly oblivious, just some yuppy fuck yammering on his cellphone.

"There were a thousand different ways you could'a stopped it, a thousand different ways that wouldn'ta cocked things up and turned them into a game of cowboys and fuckin' indians." Eileen doesn't try to punch Cat again, and not just because she's still reclaiming her center of balance. Instead, she roughly shrugs her hand off her shoulder and lurches away as if scalded by her touch. "What did you think would happen when you showed your faces where you weren't supposed to be? You used me!"

She's still calm, watching the girl, at least outwardly. Cat's hand drops when the girl pulls away, she doesn't make any effort to try again. "I don't know how we got spotted," Cat replies, "but there was no other way than to be present. We don't have photographs or anything to go by, anyone we told to look for them would be hunting needles in haystacks. I don't know anything about you being used. I just know what the stakes were, and are." She pauses, drawing in a slow breath, then letting it out. "I also know you and I never spoke before, so I've no idea what you've been told." Silence again, she glances back in the direction of Dantes, then to the girl once more. "I'm willing to hear you out. Hopefully you'll hear me out too. Your choice, you name the place and time. We're exposed here. That guy could be anybody."

"I'm already doing that," Dantes' tone is almost petulant, as if his counterpart had suggested something onerous. "But I understand." It's almost irresistible, the temptation to get involved. He paces impatiently along, towards the door of the next bar. "Some other time."

Presently, Eileen has no intention of hearing Cat out — now or later. "Go sit on a spike, Chesterfield. I haven't got anything to say to you or Teo, but you can tell him he won't be getting shit-all from me anymore." She shoves her fist into her coat pocket so she won't be tempted to knock Cat's teeth out — assuming she could even hit her if she made a second attempt. "Vanguard's through with me, and I'm through with Vanguard."

"They're not through with us," Cat replies quietly. "Do you know what they're up to? If we don't stop them, you're dead, I'm dead, billions of people. I'm not your enemy. I don't think you were involved with what happened to my friend. I don't know if you were even told. I could be as angry as you seem, and blame everybody by association, but I don't work that way." She doesn't make any move to approach the girl, nor does she turn and walk away. All options here are being left in her hands.

"I'm not so sure of that," Dantes notes, drily. "I mean, we don't know what they ultimately plan for their little dinner party, right?" He's just ambling now, taking up too much space on the sidewalk, now turning back towards the women.

"I know as much as you do, you frigid bitch." Eileen doesn't understand how Cat can stand there and address her so calmly, and doesn't want to try — it would only make her head hurt more than the cold already is. "If you go after Kazimir the same way you went after Ethan when he took his shot at the president-elect, the blood of all those people'll be on your hands, not mine. I was in a position to help you, and you threw it all away—" Before she can get any further, Dante's voice reaches her ears and she casts a sharp glance over her shoulder at the man, green eyes narrowed to catlike slits.

Dantes also gets a look from Cat, and is studied quietly as if to determine whether or not he's speaking to them. Calm is still on her features. There's no way Eileen can know how Cat focuses in the moment when she needs to and dissolves privately sometimes. There's no way she can understand how the grief has affected, and will continue to affect her. The girl's words are played again in her head, as she seeks to get an idea for whether or not Eileen knows the scope of what's planned. Not a word is spoken now, it's a time for contemplation and assessment.

Dantes' voice descends to an amused purr. "You're so impatient," he replies, almost teasingly. "I'll be along, soon, I promise," There's not a flicker of recognition in his face, nor any sign of any attention paid. Surrounded in that little bubble of obnoxious obliviousness, it'd seem. "I've been very good, and will continue to be so. You read me the riot act before," For all the world like he's reassuring a shrewish wife.

Eileen wasn't overly concerned about Dantes before, but one false alarm is enough to set her on edge. She readjusts her scarf without looking back at Cat, their conversation concluded. There's nothing about the pained way she tucks the accessory down the front her coat or the husky quality of her voice as she breathes heavily through her nostrils that suggests she knows more than she's letting on. While the other woman is busy dissecting the things she's said in her head, she pushes past her and continues her journey down the sidewalk.

With Eileen departing, Cat just shakes her head and tries to quietly decide if the girl is insane, unintelligent, deluded, clueless, or all of the above. How the girl, reportedly an Evolved person, could object to sparing Rickham, hope on two legs for all Evolved people, by any means necessary, is beyond her. Does she know about the plan to release a virus that would kill ninety percent of the world's population? Is she safe, does she have anywhere to go? It lasts a short time, though. People who won't listen to reason aren't to be worried over. What she does focus on is a new word. Vanguard. Organization name? Used by who? Volken himself? Ethan? Others?

It's only when Eileen is a good distance away that she turns toward Dantes and watches him, quietly.

Dantes is Mr. Unconscious Fuckwit. Just like 95 percent of Manhattan. Or the rest of the world. "Right on, honey, just gimme a bit, I'll be home," he assures, before snapping the phone shut and stashing it. Nothing to see here, just not the fed you're looking for, right?

She's still paying attention to the man for a few moments longer before starting to move along into Piccoli's and get that food she came for. A glance is given to him over her shoulder to see if he's following her, Eileen, or neither, just before she reaches to open the door.

Not apparently following anyone. He's ambling along, like there's nothing in the world more important than the daydreams in his fluffy head, hands in his pockets, world at his feet.

Food is ordered inside Piccoli's, paid for, and taken when she exits. It's on to yet another hotel or safehouse, maybe even the library. No consecutive nights in the same place since her release, the absence of pattern becoming a pattern of its own. The area is scanned for the man's continued presence, if he's gone Cat departs the area.

December 24th: In Thy Dark Streets Shineth
December 24th: Apr├Ęs Sylar
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