Death Wish


eileen_icon.gif felix_icon.gif

Scene Title Death Wish
Synopsis Somebody has one. It isn't really clear who.
Date February 11, 2009

Staten IslandSea View Hospital

His neat cap of brown hair is covered by a dark watchcap, and he's in a drab parka, worn jeans, and dark clothes. All the better to not stand out among the residents of Staten. He's in the rubble of Sea View, moving with more purpose than the usual looter or scavenger. None of the shuffling one might expect - Fel's quartering the parts of the ruins he can get to, as if looking for something.

Two weeks after the flames engulfed the hospital, the pungent scent of smoke still hangs heavily in the air, burning Felix's nostrils as he navigates his way through the maze of charred wood and twisted metal. Sunlight filters in through the patchwork remains of the roof and casts the federal agent's surroundings in a hazy orange glow ominously reminiscent of the fire that consumed them, but this — unlike the destruction — has begun to show signs of fading; as the sun begins its evening descent toward the horizon, the shadows start to lengthen, making his search increasingly difficult with every minute that passes.

On the bright side, he isn't like likely to be disturbed — only the foolish and the exceedingly brazen venture into Sea View after dark. The one soul he risks a chance encounter with is the one who was there before him.

Somewhere deeper inside the ruins, a bird explodes into flight, its clapping wings like the crack of a gunshot.

Jumpy? Why, yes. Fel's got his gun in hand and out before the echoes have even begun to fade. And then laughs at himself, embarassed and sheepish. The smile fades swiftly, however, and he scans for further signs of birds. Just in case.

No further sign of birds, though this might not come as the relief Felix was expecting. Silhoutted in a nearby doorway, gray-green eyes standing out from a pale face covered with soot, is Eileen Ruskin.

It appears as though he wasn't the only one who came here in search of something tonight.

Luckily for Felix, the former Vanguard operative is as surprised to see him as he probably is to see her — the only thing she has in hand is the tattered remains of a child's doll, so severely scorched by the flames that it no longer resembles a human being, and even though there's no feasible way she might be able to use it to defend herself, she's holding it to her chest in a protective fashion just the same.

It's not a large gun. But it's amazing how much of a cave mouth the muzzle of a .45 appears, when you're face to face with it. Fel swings it over, but doesn't fire. The pallid winter sun glints off his glasses, as he looks at her. "You," Felix says, sounding resigned, rather than angry or exultant over finding her. "You did survive."

"Sorry to disappoint." There's no ire or wrath in Eileen's voice. She's sounding rather resigned herself. Her gaze flicks up to singed support beam overhead and settles on the large black bird that now perches there, peering down at Felix with eyes that are just a little too intent, a little too bright to belong to an ordinary animal. "Don't shoot him," she says, tone clipped in anticipation of what she believes he might do next. If experience has taught her anything. "He's old. He won't do anything to you."

It's tempting to do so. But there's only a flicker of his eyes behind his glasses, before he looks back to her. Something of a Mexican standoff - he can hardly arrest her. Imagine trying to lead acuffed prisoner through the wilds of Staten, back to the Ferry. But nor does he dare turn his back on her. His scowl deepens, fractionally. Medal aside, it's been a bad few weeks. "Who else survived? Gray?"

There's a moment's hesitation as Eileen studies Felix in much the same way he watches her, though she seems to relax when he returns his attention to her and lets the bird's presence slide. "Zhang Wu-Long is dead. I don't know about Gray or Holden. I haven't seen them." Or heard from them. It isn't a lie — the rueful note that enters her voice when she speaks their names is proof of that. "Everyone went into the water, and they were worse off than I was. They probably drowned."

Felix lowers the pistol, fractionally. "Good," he says, with all the empathy of a concrete cinder block. Man, they removed some very vital parts of his humanity, when he graduated from police academy. Or they were never there to begin with, and that's why he's a cop. And then he grins, and it's even uglier.

Revulsion creeps its way onto Eileen's features. That grin makes her skin crawl and her belly twist itself into knots — her grip on the doll tightens, fingernails dimpling what's left of the fabric and exposing a burnt clump of stuffing beneath the stitches. Good? "If that's how you feel about it," she murmurs thickly, voice low, "why not pull the trigger, tie up the one loose end that's left running around? No American jury will ever convict me of anything in your courts. There's no evidence, and even if there was… what would the government think if it knew about your merry little allegiance?"

"Do you have a death wish?" Felix enquires, politely. Paper or plastic? "And what do you mean? Everyone seems to think I'm the kind of cowboy that'd go haring off on some damn fool idealistic crusade. I had my boss's blessing for what I did." He flicks the safety back on, tucks the gun back under the jacket he's wearing. "No. You're no threat by yourself," he says, musingly, grin fading away.

"Everyone I've ever loved is dead or lost. What do you think?" Either Eileen does have a death wish, or she thinks she knows Felix well enough to gamble he won't shoot her. "You've a shiny new medal now, but how long until people start asking questions? You're one lucky fucker, Ivanov, but to be in the right place at the right time just as shit starts going down? Either kill me now or stop asking questions around town. Pick."

He eyes her, clasping hands lazily behind his back so he can rock weight from ball of foot to heel, and back. "No. You're not so much the target. People've gone missing her. One of whom I owe and want back. A healer. Help me find her, and I'll remove everything I can. It'll be like the government never knew about you." He's apparently utterly serious. There's a rather equine snort. "Questions, huh? That's taken care of." He might be lying. Or just deluded.

'Deluded', at least in Eileen's mind, seems like the better bet. "Your healer wouldn't happen to be Abigail Beauchamp, would it?" If it is, she wouldn't be surprised. Her brow knits into something of a puzzled expression, tension beginning to fade and smoothing the worry lines from her face. "If you want my help," she says, "then your deal extends to the rest of my family as well. Holden. Gray. The others. I know you can't wipe their records, but agree to drop any follow-up investigations that you might've been thinking about spearheading and I'll do everything in my power to track her down for you."

"Holden, possibly. I don't know what he's wanted for. I can't do anything about Gray. That's not officially my case, and it's up there on the list of Most Wanteds. You talk about questions, if I heeldrag on that, I'm in jail, myself." He nods gravely. "Yes. Abigail," he says, simply.

Eileen glances down at the doll, thoughtfully turning it over in her hand. Her eyes lid shut, mouth pursing into a slight frown. "You're not the only one who owes her," she observes softly, but doesn't pursue this train of thought any further. Instead, she reaches up and wipes at her forehead, smudging the soot there. "How long ago?"

"How long ago what?" he asks, with a faint cock of his head. A rather raptorish motion, in fact.

It's fortunate that Eileen's eyes are closed. If they were open and she'd seen Felix's gesture, she would have undoubtedly drawn the comparison herself and would be a lot less at ease than she is now. "How long ago did she go missing?"

Felix's expression smoothes out, into that polite absence. "Approximately a week," he says, calmly. And then he's giving her a patient looking over. "You've got somewhere to stay. Landed on your feet, huh? Did you need help?"

"If you intend on keeping your end of the bargain, then the less you know about me, the better." The bird on the beam takes flight with a surprising amount of power and grace for an animal of its size and — if Eileen's earlier statement is to be believed — age. With a few powerful beats of its wings, it rises into the air and disappears through a yawning gap in the ceiling, black feathers blending in seamlessly with the darkening sky above. "How do you want me to contact you?"

Felix inclines his head to that, gaze gone opaque again. "Easiest way - leave a message with the bartender at shooters. Or, if you need, call my office directly. I won't give you my card - that's the last thing anyone needs to find on you in this place." vog.ibf|vonavi_F#vog.ibf|vonavi_F. Oh, that'd go over like a lead balloon.

Eileen offers no verbal response, only confirmation by way of a small nod as she turns, hesitant to show Felix her back, and begins heading back the way she came, picking through the rubble in a way that's more befitting of stray cat than the bird whose company she normally keeps. Shooters. She can do that.

He has that disturbing habit of watching people out of sight, intently. Perhaps equally reluctant to turn his back, or unable to entirely restrain the urge to chase. No farewell, only the faintest of those smirks glimmering in his eyes.

February 11th: God Touch

Previously in this storyline…
God Touch

Next in this storyline…
The Origin of Second Lieutenant Planet

February 11th: You Can Run
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