Cut Out For It


deckard_icon.gif eileen_icon.gif

Scene Title Cut Out For It
Synopsis Two Ferry operatives who did not know they worked for the same employer exchange words after hours at Burlesque, and the rescue party assembled by Kaylee increases by one.
Date February 12, 2010


Sedate is not a word that most people would pick to describe Burlesque, but after hours when the lights have been dimmed, the music switched off and the drunkest of the club's clientele ferried home in the yellow cabs that circle the block outside like sharks after the sun has gone down, the main room is so quiet that you can almost isolate the sound of each individual bristle scratching across the floor as one of the cleaning staff sweeps up, gathering pieces of dirt, hair and debris into the dust pan he clenches in his opposite hand.

Although Eileen has already checked out, she continues to sit at the bar with a lit cigarette dangling between her fingers and a watered down Midori Sour on the coaster at her elbow. She's dressed in her own clothes rather than the costume she spent the last few hours in, which would normally set her apart from the other dancers — but now that the club is closed, everyone is taking off their stockings, hanging up their feather boas and pulling on their coats in preparation of the journey home.

Not yet deeply interred in local affairs enough to feel entirely comfortable drinking from the bar's stock, when Deckard lowers himself down onto the stool next to her with excessive care, it's to produce a beat up old flask. The likes of which he's been carting around for God knows how many years and will continue to for many an alcoholic year to come. Hard to tell if the cigar is his too. The one he's smoking, that is, and has been smoking for a while now — the dry end is worn down to its stumpy midpoint while he wincily adjusts his sit and looks Ruskin over sideways from behind dark shades.

He looks like he could work here. Simultaneously decent and…not. He's taken care to shave the wiry muss of his hair off into a vaguely scuffy buzz while leaving his stubble collection to bristle as it will. His suit is darker than his usual. Pinstriped. His boots are snakeskin, and probably more expensive than the suit. He's healthy save for hidden bandaging and a pair of stitches clipped into some bruising at his near temple.

More than anything he looks too old to be working security in a place like this, but he doesn't look all that much like security period and maybe that's part of his appeal. Also, nobody got in through the door with a gun today that wasn't supposed to, which those without bullet holes in them might find appealing. "How long?"

Eileen's head turns toward the voice, exposing a pale sliver of cheek through her hair's tangled veil. Like Deckard, she appears healthier than she has in some time in spite of her wan complexion and the stitches above her eye, glossy black sutures camouflaged by one arching brow — for the first time in many months, there are no bruises visible on her face and no cuts scabbing over exposed skin. She does not make an attempt to hide the fondness that creeps into her expression when she recognizes his voice, either. A few weeks ago, she might have given him a perplexed look and found an excuse to remove herself from the situation, but being back in New York City has been restoring more than just her health.

She remembers who he is. More importantly, she remembers the things he's done for her. Some of them. "A few days," she answers around the filter of her cigarette, plumes of smoke curling from the corners of her mouth. "You?"

"Actually," says Deckard, who manuevers his cigar out've the corner of his mouth long enough to daub a clod of ash off the end into a tray, "I meant until we wish we'd listened to the voices that tell us not to do things and were bagging groceries instead."

Someone else's mostly-empty glass is pulled over from further down the bar, whiskey poured amber over melting ice and foreign backwash without much thought given to contaminants. One, it's been a while since he's been sick. Two…alcohol kills germs or something, right?

"You look good." A long sip and a press of the glass to his battered temple later, cigar ajut from the knuckles of that same hand, Deckard sighs. "My balls are so blue."

There is no point in trying to maintain something that resembles a straight face. Eileen would only pull a muscle if she tried, and although she knows it's rude to laugh, she's choking back a harsh sound that's as full of mirth as it is grating and abrasive. Coughing into her arm, she holds her cigarette away from her face, head bowed and lashes guiltily lowered as she forces her throat to contract and swallow — the first step to recovering her composure.

When she does, she sucks another drag from her cigarette and holds it in until she's sure that she isn't going to start laughing again, then lets it shakily out through her nostrils. "I'm sorry," she says, and her apology at least sounds genuine. Her eyes are a little too bright for her delivery to be entirely sober. "Are you being serious?"

"I'm always serious about my balls." That Deckard manages to say so quite seriously may or may not help with laughter at his expense, but he is in turn a masterful manipulator of the straight face, what with his being particularly long and angular and difficult to hide things on all around. There is a twinge of earnest misery to it that makes his honesty that much more uncomfortably honest, and he sighs again, more steeply and smokily this time.

He is sober, by contrast. Decidedly too sober for his own liking, so that his second swallow of booze is longer than the last and in no time at all he's having to pour a refill for himself over slivered panes of slippery ice and wet glass.

If it's rude to laugh, then it's even ruder to inquire about his relationship with Abigail. Eileen refrains. Instead, she flicks ash into the same tray Deckard tapped his, scattering fine flakes of charcoal and white across the glass lip. There are bent toothpicks in its belly, crumpled cigarettes with shit brown filters stained red and fuchsia pink with smears of stay-on lipstick that did not — contrary to its glossy advertisement in Voguestay on.

Her eyes move down Deckard's wiry frame, politely evasive as her gaze ticks past his crotch, and come to settle on snakeskin boots before she flicks them back up to his face. She decides not to ask about Teodoro, either. "I bet I've gone without longer than you have."

"Probably," allowed without shame or much of any other feeling, Flint finishes pouring with a flick of a flourish and sets the flask back down without recapping it. He could elaborate on the precise circumstances of what or who went down in his car after he signed John Logan's contract two nights ago, but he's either too sober or too unsure of how she'd take it to bother with crossing more lines. Also, addressing burnt out relationships even indirectly is kind of a buzzkill. Or so he's heard.

"But you don't work in a club designed specifically to push you to that end." Unless there's something about the flexibility of her sexuality that she'd like to share with the rest of the class, suggests a lift at his brow. "Also, women only want to have sex some of the time. I want to have it mmmost of the time," he illustrates this with a turn of his left hand, fairly unhelpfully, "and even more when I'm in here."

Eileen responds by crossing her legs, clad in skinny denim jeans, and swivels in her seat to face Deckard at an angle rather than watch his reflection in the mirror behind the bar. For one thing, it's obscured by the drink specials scribbled across its surface in what looks like more lipstick but is actually removable marker — for another, he deserves the closest she's capable of coming to giving him her full attention.

"I work in a club that makes me feel sexually desirable," she corrects him gently, "which I haven't since sometime last November. What's your excuse?"

Deckard watches her cross her legs with a flat slant to the line of his mouth, salt-and-pepper grizzle fuzzing at the lines there. She turns to face him; he lets fall his cigar and pours his peripheral focus onto drinking, preferring for now to maintain the convenient barrier of his dark glasses between them. "I'm a wanted felon and I have no marketable skills." Not everyone gets government pardons for saving the world, Eileen.

He'd be hard-pressed to summon actual bitterness to that effect, and so doesn't even try, content enough with his crappy life and crappier luck. That he's running out of ice doesn't bother him overmuch either — he pours another round carelessly down into the watered down remnant of the last without care for how luke warm it's going to be on the way down.

"Since November's a pretty long time. Three…months?"

"Three months," Eileen repeats. She studies her shape in the lenses of his glasses, face indistinct and its features made misshapen and malformed by the refracting light. For a few moments, she says nothing else, focusing on what she imagines are his eyes behind the frames. They are blue — it's very easy for her to picture them edged with their waxen glow.

A wanted felon with no marketable skills is a difficult thing to be. Less so in New York than in a smaller, less diverse city, but that doesn't adversely affect the twinge of guilt she feels sliver through her chest when he answers what she meant to be a facetious question with blunt honesty. "If I could fix the first part, would you want me to?"

"Contract's signed. Fuckup's a fuckup; Deal's a deal. And while we're really being honest, I'd rather spend my workday in the presence of booze, poles and girls to go with them than file cabinets and desktops." There is perhaps a touch of something inhuman behind each lens — a difference in light that shadows tell-tale blue against the black while Deckard paws fingerprints deliberately across the bar's glossy polish and breathes deep against whiskey's warming influence. Finally.

"Maybe if I make enough mistakes and suffer enough setbacks, eventually I'll learn from one of them." He angles his face away to watch the trip and smudge of philanges finding friction against nothing at all, squat whiskey glass eventually bumped again and recollected. "Sorry. Since it sounds like the sexually desirable thing works I'd join you on stage, but John made it sound like I wasn't really cut out for it."

"Funny. He told me I was too wee to work security." Eileen can feel the heat of the cigarette licking at her knuckles, paper slowly peeling away as the orange ring slowly consumes its contents and continues its steady creep toward her mouth. She doesn't have more than a minute or two left on it. "For what it's worth," she says, "I think you're very handsome, and you'd attract more women if you didn't hide behind those."

There can only be so many things that Eileen might be referring to, but if there is any doubt about what those are, she dispels them by reaching across the space between herself and Deckard with both hands, moving to lift off his sunglasses by their rigid bows. She can't have too much liquor in her system, or she wouldn't be as mindful not to singe his ear with the tip of her cigarette as she does it.

Flint humors her with half a smile, politely skeptical without going so far as to actually protest the removal of his glasses at her tar and tobacco wielding hand. He's had enough to dull paranoid reflex away from a duck or flinch and merely glances down after the drag of the retreating frame, demon eyes maintaining their intensity only for as long as it takes contact with ambient light to wash them clean of their own projected color.

"Maybe it hasn't occurred to him that he's not really in a position to talk about weeness," muttered once his pupils have constricted into normal focus amidst a very normal shade of slate, he clicks his attention over onto her from the glasses and then away again almost as quickly. As long as he went without them, old insecurities have been quick to reinstill themselves. Also, he doesn't have a cocky French cock in his brain to play backup base anymore.

"I'm sorry I left," is back at a more private murmur, apologetic on a rusty edge of near shame. "I had to sort some things out."

"You needed to be by yourself." Eileen folds the bows, turns the glasses over between her fingers, and then sets them down beside the ash tray with the lenses facing up to avoid nicking or scratching them on the counter. It's only a guess — she can't even begin to fathom what might have driven Deckard all the way to Mexico. Neither is it her place to ask. Her name isn't Isabella Sheridan.

"It's good that you're back," she says. "I don't know if you've heard, but the network's in a spot of trouble. Government officials nosing around where they shouldn't. Joseph Sumter and the Nichols girl are being held at a private facility in Midtown by a third party. We could use some extra hands pulling them out."

One of Flint's hands up on the bar twitches automatically after the release of his glasses from her custody only to stay itself before it can make contact. Won't kill him to leave them off for a little while, even if there isn't much else to look at in here aside from her and some guy whose name he hasn't learned yet sweeping feathers and lint into a metal pan. A tip of his head acknowledges the truth to his having needed time by himself, indirect as it is affirmative while he tips his flask over one last time nad dribbles the last of its contents dismally down into his glass.

"I'm glad you're back too," is an unusually cordial and socially relevant thing for him to say, even if it is on an awkward delay where further explanation for his crappy behavior might go.

News of Joseph and Colette's status doesn't get an immediate reaction either, almost as if it's meeting unseen resistance in the process of being assimilated into his understanding of Recent Events. He sips his whiskey and fumbles his cigar up out of the ashy tray, detritus not his own flicked off with an absent frown so that he can set it back up for a drag that he hasn't actually moved to take yet. "How long have they been in there?"

The man with the dustpan and broom remains largely oblivious to the conversation happening at the bar. A coil of white wire connects the bud in his ear to what looks like an iPod knock-off sticking out the back pocket of his jeans. He's somewhere between them — older than Eileen but younger than Flint, a wiry thing with dark hair, a scruffy jaw and tribal tattoos visible on his bared on bared arms and through the sweat-soaked material of the wife beater he wears on his slim torso.

Even if he was listening, Eileen's voice is too soft for her words to be picked up by anyone except by her fellow Ferryman beside her. She snubs out her cigarette in the bottom of the ash tray, grinding it into nothing, and rubs the tips of her fingers together to dislodge some of the residue stuck to her skin. "Colette since the third. I don't know how long they've had Sumter — more than a month."

She opts to eschew further explanation for the time being. Deckard does not need to know how the younger of the two came into Rusk's possession. Just thinking about it makes Eileen's lip start to curl, exposing a wedge of incisor before she's able to catch herself and pull it back down over her teeth again. "Teodoro and Raith are already onboard. The puppeteer, too."

Something that looks a lot like guilt crowds in under the lines furrowed flat across Flint's forehead. Not long after he left, and it's not like this is the first time he's heard Sumter might be missing. Stogie stumped into the corner of his mouth, he studies the damp sheen of his glass and puffs without elegance or effort, class left to those who actually have it to spare. If, if, if. Always a list of those to consider.

"I'm game."

He has to talk around the cigar, voice muffled when he finally wagers to spend another, longer look back her way. He's buzzy — even warm after a fashion despite the stark cleave and jut of cheek and brow bone over his narrow jaw. Probably fortunate he ran out when he did. Another round and he'd start trending towards less repentant shades of inebriation. "You holding up okay?"

"Keeping occupied." Which is neither yes nor no but implies the former. The stage make-up she wears on her face hides dark circles under her eyes, the only evidence that sleep has been elusive for the past few nights and possibly longer than that. "I have time to work on projects that I didn't before," Eileen says. "Things are still tight, but I'm managing."

Slim fingers curl around her own glass, cupped in the seat of her small, pale palm, and lifts it to her mouth so she can drain it. Her lips leave smudges of muted colour similar to the more vibrant examples discarded in the ash tray, and rather than abandon them there, she uses the sleeve of her coat to wipe them off the rim so there is no evidence where her mouth came into contact with it.

"Thank you."

Blurry absence of sensation around Deckard's face prompts him to feel blandly over it while he watches her, long fingers scuffed against the grain of grizzled stubble and loose furrows around his mouth. The sit of his skull on his neck is oddly thuggish without unkempt hair to balance out the length slung down into his jaw. His ears stick out and there's a hoodlum rectangular boxiness to the overall effect that doesn't necessarily flatter the dullard way he's staring at her while he tries to suss out whether or not she's telling the truth. She doesn't look like she is.

But women are mysterious and his name isn't Sheridan either. At length, he exhales a furl of oily, yellowish smoke and rubs at one of his own buggy eyes. Less shadowed, maybe, if no less preoccupied. "For what?"

"Everything," sounds like a cop-out as far as responses go, and so Eileen does not leave it at that as she pushes her empty glass across the counter and rises from her seat at the bar. In comparison to the three-inch high stilettos that adorn her diminutive feet when she's on the stage, the flats she has on now give her no extra height — her heels lift off the ground as she touches a hand to Deckard's shoulder, raises her chin and presses a kiss to his left temple where the silver of his hair meets his skin.

That her lips are cold probably has more to do with the ice glistening in the bottom of her glass than it does her body's poor circulation. "You are my slow-growing beech," she mumbles against his ear.

Whatever that means. "Copper against white winter snow and deep blue skies — you and the oaks are the only ones resilient enough to keep your leaves."

Apparently, Eileen is drunker than she initially appeared. "I'm going to catch a cab," she tells him. "Will you be all right?"

Deckard is pathetically susceptible to such things. Nearnesses and small kindnesses and quiet words in his ear, where smoke and whiskey stink cling close to his collar. It doesn't matter that it's poetry, or. Something that sounds that way in that it doesn't immediately make sense. His pulse quickens through his neck and his cigar takes on a precarious tilt down out've the side of his mouth. The hand she has on his shoulder feels nice; a porcupine scuffed wrong ways up the ridge of his spine would probably feel okay right now.

"I'll be okay," confirms itself, voicebox triggered by superego in time to save him from embarrassment at the coarser grasp of id. "My phone's been reactivated." IE, he paid the bill. "Call if you need anything."

"You too." And with the same smoothness that Eileen had drawn closer to him, she pulls away, lowering her hand from her shoulder as she takes a step back, fishes into her coat pocket and leaves a crumpled ten dollar bill on the counter for the absent bartender to cover her tab before turning to walk out the door. Her feet do not make any sound — or at least not anything comparable to the echo a set of high heels would produce — and when she passes the man with the broom he does not so much as glance in her direction.

When the door closes behind her and the growl of the traffic outside has faded, he and the custodian are alone again, their only company the high ceilings and the hollow space between walls.

Blue eyes slitted to watch her on her way out, as Flints do, he drags himself back together enough to adjust the sit of his cigar while mundane vision bleaches into black and white, flesh to bone.

The fact that he glances specutively to the ten she's left behind is evidence that some beech branches grow even more slowly than others, but it's still there when he slouches off his seat fifteen minutes later, his glass clipped down over a corner to keep it from shimmying off the bar edge at air conditioning's gusty whim.

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