Dinner Party


abby5_icon.gif cat_icon.gif carlisle_icon.gif elisabeth_icon.gif felix_icon.gif francois_icon.gif katarina_icon.gif

Scene Title Dinner Guest
Synopsis A surprise visitor drops by the Spektor home, expected by Katarina and Ivan but nobody else. Ethan is mysteriously absent.
Date December 4, 2009

Spektor Home, Ryazan, Russia

She's been busy, both from continuing efforts along the lines of what took her and Francois to the University the day they saw the office of Dreyfus and its contents and puzzling over what may have happened to/with Wireless. It concerns Cat that such a valuable ally has suddenly gone dark, and at such a critical time.

But at the present moment in time, she's seated before Abby's laptop and reviewing information contributed in recent days. Notably: the report from the Ironworks.

Abigail's parked in one of the bedrooms, bodysitting the Sicilian with a cup of tea and her bible out. It's been a bit frankly, since she actually read it and even then, she's not really reading it per se. Heavy woolen socked feet up on the bed, leggings, long sweater, slouched in a chair, she watches Teo with interest as he skulks around the room. Brown hair is swept off her face by an elasticized headband. "I could get you tea? You sure you don't need anything?"

Upstairs, Elisabeth is grabbing a quick shower and getting into some warm winter clothes before she joins the group.

They're coming toward the end of the first twenty-four hours of astral surveillance on Dreyfus, which means Teodoro's been alternating between short circuitous walks through the bedroom he shares with Francois, then the bathroom he shares with everybody, mumbling assurance that Abigail can go and get herself something to eat, and no, he's fine, or sitting stonily on his ass for hours. He's had nothing of interest to report. Not to the medic-cum-bodysitter, nor to any of the house's residents below, his spine leaning slack on the wall, legs crossed, eyes disfocused, features quiescent. It seemed likely about time to start rigging terror-inducing E-mails for Professor Dreyfus to read.

Until he pauses. Blinks pale eyes wider, almost, it seems, succeeding in focusing ink-point pupils on Abigail's face. "He's coming," he says, a note of incredulity distinct in his voice. "Carlisle Dreyfus- I can see our house. He's coming here."

Idle time spent when he isn't outside is otherwise very boring for someone displaced by both geography and time, while Cat is busy on an alarmingly small computer, Teo is seeing beyond himself and Abby is looking after him. Which leaves Felix and Ethan, neither of which are two people Francois is intent on seeking out for company. He hasn't been home awful long, long enough to set aside his coat and scarf, drink something warm in the kitchen, and it occurs to him that Elisabeth might be home as well.

He's moving from kitchen to stairwell by the time Teo is saying something critical, unheeded by Frenchman, as he beings his ascent. His feet are in socks from where his boots dry by the front door.

The now-familiar sounds of Katarina busy with housework drift up the stairwell; easily ignored as so much background, after all the time they've spent here. It's around the time she usually sets up dinner for the visitors who probably don't quite count as guests still — for all that Katarina happily treats them as such. "Wait a bit," she tells Francois, as she comes up to the base of the stairs behind him. "Dinner is ready," their hostess calls up towards the second floor, not loud but carrying. "You will all come down, yes? We have a guest tonight, a good friend of Ivan's. He will be pleased to meet all of you."

The voice reaches her in the sitting room where the instruments rest, and it causes Cat to rise. Keys are tapped, her fingers move over the touchpad, and sensitive material is closed. From there she exits, headed toward the dining room, with curiosity registering. "Spasibo," she begins, her voice in that same language as she continues and a smile forms. "«Is it permitted to ask who, or is this to be a pleasant surprise?»"

Wait, wait, say what? "He's coming here? For real and not some blasted illusion?" Feet thump to the floor as the former female healer jolts up out of her seat. "You have to be kidding me, what the heck is he… Is he alone?"

Abigail makes for the door even as she's asking the question, putting down tea and bible, anticipating that Teo will be following. "Guys! Professor Dreyfus is outside!" She bellows, thumping down stairs. "Teo says he's outside, can see the house!" Danger Will Robinson, Danger Will Robinson. Maybe he's coming to pay a visit to a fellow educator at the university? Maybe he's come to implode the house and solve that pesky problem. Maybe something.

Abigail freezes on the stairwell partway down, gaping at Katarina. "You have to be kidding me. He's Vanguard." Abigail babbles to the woman. Though, on one hand, she was right. One educator coming to the house of another. And then there's Cat, talking in Russian again.

Fel's too damned mean and prone to bitchery to make any kind of Tiny Tim, time of year or no, but he comes stumping down from the bedroom where he's been sleeping, dressed in sweater and jeans and boots. He looks….unperturbed, other than vague grumpiness.

At the call, Elisabeth heads for the stairs in her stocking feet — she's wearing a pair of sturdy, warm slacks and a heavy cable-knit sweater, her blonde hair just a bit damp. She hears Abby's words and raises both eyes at Katarina, joining the group at the bottom of the stairs.

No jokes. Teo opens his mouth to say or ask something else, but he's stalled out where he's seated, suddenly aware that Abigail turned heel and ran to warn the others. Which was wise, of course, but now he isn't sure whether he should be following or staying camped out in Dreyfus' head, his trance delicately balanced like a ballerina mid-pirouette.

He gets off the bed slowly, if not precisely clumsily, leaves linens dented in the shape of his posterior and he uses a hand to guide himself to the bedchamber doorway like a blind man groping his way. He doesn't move further than that, for the moment, not out to the hallway never mind down to the landing where he could properly participate in a huddle. Twitches a brief wave at Felix as he passes by.

Caught around the bottom of the staircase, politely waiting as Katarina rings the dinner bell, figuratively, up the stairs, Francois steps back a little to await following the woman back to the kitchen, help put out plates, all those polite gestures that he wasn't necessarily brought up with, but learned about by becoming a perpetual guest. When Abigail comes stampeding down, crying her warnings—

"Stop," he appeals, raising a hand towards her. Sea-green eyes dart from where Elisabeth is making her descent, shadowed by Felix. He can't see much of Teo in the hallway. "Quiet. Katarina?"

No real time to wonder where Holden is, in all of this, a slight flush to his features as a result of a heart rate uneasily rising in response to what seems like impossible news. He fixes his attention towards their hostess, quiet confusion.

The Ukrainian woman frowns up the stairs at Abigail — even if Francois is standing between them. "Vanguard?" she echoes, tone nonplussed. "He is philosopher. Professor." Apparently Katarina disagrees with their calamitous furor and the inspiration behind it; her voice takes on a stern edge, as does her expression. "I will have none of this noise and stomping about my house, Abigail. He is a guest — same as all of you. You will conduct yourselves with proper, civilized manners in his presence. If you cannot do this, then it is best you stay upstairs." Katarina looks to Francois, then steps away from the bottom of the stairwell and back into the kitchen, allowing those who are joining them for dinner to file down to the first floor.

"This will be an interesting meal," Cat muses as eyes track across Katarina, then the nearby non-statue with a brief check for the presence of any developing side-effects on him, and forward to the stair-pounding Abigail. But there's no further commentary as she resumes course for the dining room. Enlightenment, she's often found, comes in curious and unexpected ways.

Ponder the Devil, and one of his apparent minions shall come to dinner.

Pink lips clamp shut at the verbal barrage from Katarina and Abigail looks appropriately chastised. It's as if it came from her mother herself and not some Russian Company woman. Can't he be Vanguard AND a philosophy Professor? The youngest of the group just stands to the one side of the stair, one hand curled around the banister.

They do say that you need a long spoon to sup with the Devil. Here's hoping there are a lot of them in the Spektor kitchen. Fel's just tired, still blurry-eyed from sleep - still refusing to sleep in a room with someone else, he's found himself what's more or less a cot in a storage closet. He doesn't presume to argue with their hostess, as he crutches his way down the stairs. He's got his pistol under the back of his sweater, no more can be done. Teo gets a nod as he passes.

Elisabeth draws up short at Katarina's response, waiting silently at the very maternal tirade. Her reply to Cat is dour. "In the Chinese definition of the word. Why do I get the BOHICA feeling again? Like we're about to get fucked up the ass with no Vaseline," she murmurs very very softly after her hostess walks away, just barely loud enough for the people nearest her to hear. Given that we've been given orders to behave, however, in a tone that few people no matter HOW old they are would dare argue with!, Elisabeth reluctantly descends the rest of the stairs. "If he were a Company plant inside Vanguard, I'm guessing they'd have far more intel on this cell than they do. So… if we gotta take him out, then I guess we'll have to mop Katarina's floor with bleach," she says grimly. Oh look….. Liz has become Chicken Little once more.

"Incoming," Teodoro shares, helpfully, proportioning still more of his weight into an uneasy settling against the wooden doorframe. His eyes go faintly crescent-shaped with amusement as his comrades systematically fall into line. "I'll stay up a bit if you don't mind, Mrs. Spektor. Feel like I've sprained my brain. Sorry for any inconvenience." Pushing his hands into his pockets, he seesaws upright again, begins to block his strides back to his bed.

Francois leans with his back to the wall as the majority of the group goes trickling towards the dining room, indecision written on his face before he looks up the ways towards where Teo is retracting, and where Abby stands as still as he'd been for a day or so. "If he were armed, or carrying the Vanguard nuclear missile on his back, Teo would know," he offers to really no one in particular. A reason not to immediately strike out, perhaps, and ponder bleach for the carpets, or bar the doors. Possibly, he's talking to himself.

With a start, Francois abruptly follows the pack, as if making some sort of decision about how he will have a nice dinner after all, as if its enjoyment will be an adequate litmus test as to how Vanguard versus how professor this man happens to be.

Setting out plates — eight of them — on the table as the guests file in, Katarina adds the silverware and then busies herself with moving the actual dishes containing food. Salted herring under shredded beets, carrots, and walnuts; eggplant stewed with carrot, onion, garlic, and tomatoes; a cabbage, potato, and onion soup; dumplings with ground pork and a sour cream dip flavored with green onions and dill. Rye bread is of course present in abundance, and in addition to non-alcoholic beverages there is a shot glass at every place — to go with the bottles of vodka. The woman has just enough time to lay all of this out before the much-foreboded guest knocks at the door; she disappears from the kitchen to greet him there.

Taking her seat after also assisting in the preparation of places (if Katarina will permit such acts), Cat remains quiet. Eyes trail from person to person, her expression neutral, as the mind behind them remains active.

In behind Cat, Liz, Francois and Felix goes Abigail while Teo opts to go back upstairs so that he can get his bearings back mentally. There's a glance back over her shoulder to the Sicilian, then to where Katarina disappears, but eventually, Abgiail takes a seat at the table, eyeballing the vodka and the shot glass at her spot.

Elisabeth takes her seat politely, waiting for Katarina to bring the guest back to the kitchen. She isn't sure this is exactly a great plan.

Francois lifts out a chair for himself, taking a seat with as much stiffness and nervousness as someone preparing to grip a gun rather than enjoy a nice meal. He looks towards where Katarina is retreating, leaning a little as if to make sure they're alone, before he glances to the others. If doubt is detected, it could be a reason why he speaks quietly, "If we do not greet an ally tonight, perhaps we can turn him into one, oui?" But there isn't a lot of time to collect such thoughts, a hand toying with the shot glass in front of him.

"Time will tell, and tell soon," Cat remarks in a voice kept to low volume, "in our previous action versus the Vanguard we found allies among their ranks who played a role in defeating Kazimir, and since then in other operations. This may turn out to be the same, and in practical terms we must hope it's so, for without someone on the inside to feed us information, perhaps to open doors when the time comes, our goal is much harder to achieve."

"Evidence does to some degree support optimism, given his link to and invitation from the Spektors. He, I believe, knows critical things given that map on his wall and the black pins."

"That he has the map," Abigail points out quietly, "would lead one to think that he is in league with them still. What are the odds of there being those specific area's marked out on the map?" She glances between the others present at the table. "But Nuclear bombs do have the persuasion, like apocalypse, of making people rethink their membership in certain affiliations."

Elisabeth murmurs softly, "Considering how quickly we found out certain things in this town, I can't imagine that an entrenched Company man couldn't find out the same intel, including Drefus's name and occupation. I'm game to listen to him — just worried, as always." She slants a look toward the door.

"Me too," Francois agrees with Elisabeth, speaking quietly and quickly. "And oui, he does have the map — but perhaps he is only keeping up his own intelligence. Teo's findings would suggest he isn't…" There's the sound of foot steps, then, and Francois' back straightens like a guilty student, switching a glance around the table. They simply don't know. But will likely find out very shortly.

Team Charlie will hear Carlisle before he comes into view in the kitchen doorway. "Katarina," he's saying in a deep, smooth voice that sounds like polished gravel. "Privyet. It is good to see you, always." The picture Teo pulled from Ryazan State University's website must be several years out of date, because the man who steps into the kitchen in the process of taking off his overcoat only vaguely resembles the headshot attached to the Department of Philosophy and Modern Languages' faculty page. Age has further exaggerated his face's features, its hawkish nose just a little too big for eyes that have been drained of their light and vitality, faded like the gray hair receding on the top of his head.

"Ivan will be staying late," he informs the lady of the house as he hangs his coat over the back of his chair and adopts his seat at the table without so much as a glance at the faces gathered around it. That comes later, and a good thing too, because when his eyes find Francois there's an abrupt crackle of tension that turns his body almost as stiff as the Frenchman's had been after Anya had finished with him. If he'd still been standing, he might have needed to clasp a hand around his chair's back to steady himself; instead, it's the edge of the table in a much subtler gesture that can be passed off as an old man just trying to get his bearings.

"This is quite the assembly you have here." One callused hand complete with a gold band glinting on his ring finger — the one not clutching the table's edge — reaches out in offering to Catherine, seated at his right. "Dr. Dreyfus. And you are?"

"Doctor Chesterfield," she replies with her own hand extending to shake his once and release. "Catherine, or Cat, will do, however." A slight smile is flashed to the man as she completes the greeting; to the perceptive her hand is warm, smooth, and soft except for calluses near the fingertips such as one of musical pursuits might have. The grip is firm, but not crushing. "A pleasure to meet you, Doctor."

"Abigail Beauchamp" Abigail offers when it's her turn to introduce herself. It's after a few seconds that she realizes she had probably better shake his hand that Abigail offers it. "Pleasure to meet you" All spoken in the southern honey tones. "Professor Dreyfus"

Elisabeth merely nods to the man politely and offers softly, "Elisabeth Harrison." Because after all, Ivan and Katarina can tell him her real name.

It's about the time that Francois should be making introductions, his attention unabashedly focused on the older— in appearance, anyway— man coming to stand on the opposite side of the dining table. He doesn't offer out his own hand, both of which are braced against the edge of the dining table. When there's silence on his end to be filled, he offers, "Francois Allegre," in all his perfect enunciation, voice betraying very little of what makes his eyes bright with intent and focus. Other than irony. "But we've met already."

Katarina does not reemerge from the entryway. Somewhere in the Spektor home, a phone is ringing, and although it's probably only Ivan calling to tell his wife he'll be late for supper in case Carlisle hasn't yet arrived to pass along the message, she does not risk letting it go unanswered. The professor, meanwhile, having finished his introductions and shaken hands with both Catherine and Abigail, is pouring himself a shot of vodka and watching Francois through the steam billowing up from the plate of stewed eggplant positioned between them. "We have," he concedes, his tone likewise neutral and cautious. "You look good, Francois. Much better than the last time we kept one another's company."

To the rest of the table, he lifts his shot glass. "We should eat. If Katarina returns and we haven't started on the schi, she'll insist on feeding it to us by hand."

Silently she observes the interchange between Francois and Dreyfus as her fork poises to take on food. Cat has chosen to partake of the dumplings with ground pork, and to for the present imbibe one of the non-alcoholic selections.

Somewhere up above, there's a Sicilian facedown in a pillow, gun in hand, looking more like an oversized tot with a toy than a discombobulated ninja assassin. He tracks the wavering deceleration of Carlisle's heartbeat in Carlisle's ears, percussive and hollow, allows a faint curl at the corner of his mouth at the professor's understanding of his hostess' attitude toward stuffing her guests. There's a squint at a brief cloud of static, before he recognizes Catherine's dedicated silence.

The youngest is leaving the Vodka for everyone else to consume, she herself is eyeing Dreyfus and Francois, ready to intervene if she has to. "Of that, Professor, I have no doubt that she would," Feeding it to them by hand or at least stacking their plates with food. The Brunette nudges Francois with her foot, passing her plate to him so that he can heap something, anything, onto it. "Katarina says that you teach philosophy now? And are a friend of Ivan?"

Trust the Frenchman to go for the vodka when the ladies decline, not meeting Abby's eyeing as he fills a modest serving into his shot glass, before serving himself food. "Oui, professor," he agrees, tone next to saccharine. The smile lines at his eyes deepen. "Tell us about your life here, in Ryazan. Is it very pleasant?"

"Friend, co-worker. My son is enrolled in one of his classes." Carlisle downs his shot of vodka, with some difficulty, and sets the glass aside, following Catherine's example. He favours the salted herring and shredded beets over the cabbage soup, and helps himself to several slices of fresh-baked rye bread from the basket closest to him along with a sliver of butter shaved off from the communal stick. "I've known Ivan as long as he's lived here. I helped him get his job at the University, as a matter of fact."

He slathers a generous portion of the butter onto the bread, folds it in half and uses his fork to scoop some of the fish inside, creating a sandwich of sorts. "In spite of its reputation," he says to Francois, "Ryazan is quieter than Moscow or St. Petersburg. I enjoy the country. What brings you and your friends to Russia?"

The most recent mouthful of her meal has been swallowed, leaving her mouth empty and thus allowing for conversation befitting a polite dinner guest as she's been trained to be. Cat speaks up then, with eyes resting on the man called Dreyfus, to reply "We're on something of a research trip, looking for a rather rare artifact. It proves elusive."

If he could quite scrape together the physical motivation to do so, Teo probably would have been startled into sitting bolt upright by this sudden line of questioning. He is not surprised that Catherine opts to be more cautious here than with Kozlow, of course, but nor did he find that entirely predictable. He could feel the look on the Professor's face, when his eyes locked on Francois', and the realization that the man came as close to killing Abigail, too, is far too near. He scowls fiercely into his pillow.

Abigail just settles into eating, little of everything and a bowl of soup when Francois has passed her back her plate. She offers up a small smile to Dreyfus as he answers her question. Blue eyes look between the others as she tucks into the soup using the best manners that her mother has ever instilled in her. Idly, there's wonder as to whether Teo's resting or watching in his own special way.

Francois swivels a look towards Cat, pale throat working around a swallow from where vodka had raked it upon stealing back his shot, somewhere in Carlisle's response, once he'd handed back Abby her plate. She, and the rest of them that happen to slice a glance his way, are witness to building tension made physical in his shoulders, his jaw. His own plate gets piled with fish and bread, very Biblical choices really, if overly seasoned.

"And I am looking for the Vanguard." His fork scrapes his plate, taking a mouthful of food and gesturing the silvery tool towards Dreyfus. Swallows, continues. "You should have guessed, monsieur. You should also tell me where I could find them - that is, if you have love for your family and your career. Not many men get to enjoy retirement, and I would see that you do, if you truly are."

There's the thumping cadence of the Fed finally emerging from his literal closet (having of course left the figurative ones behind long ago) and venturing down to dinner. All please welcome the skeleton at the feast - Fel's in jeans and shooting sweater, lips thinned out and face generally taut with pain; off-brand Advil is just not enough to cut it. He can't exactly slip, considering his more or less total lack of stealth, but he's as unobtrusive as he can be, as he takes one of the empty seats.

Perhaps to bide his time, Carlisle takes a bite of his herring, beet and rye sandwich, dripping with butter, and uses the corner of his napkin to wipe some of the juice dribbling down his chin before it can stain his lap. One of the nice things about conversing with old friends over dinner is that you can take as long as you need to reply as long as your hands are occupied and your mouth is busy chewing.

He washes it down not with vodka but a long sip of water drawn from a different glass. When he sets it aside again, his throat is clear, and so is his head. "It's a shame that Kazimir can't be here to see you now," he says. "With an attitude like that, he'd have welcomed you back with open arms."

Felix's arrival is noted, but largely ignored; Carlisle's attention rests squarely on the man sitting across from him rather than the one just getting to the table. "Since when do you threaten the lives of children, Francois?"

Her expression doesn't shift in light of the turn this conversation has taken; Cat doesn't seem at all to believe anyone's children have been threatened. Her voice is calm, the words spoken neutrally. "I don't believe he's done anything of the kind, Doctor Dreyfus. Rather I believe he means to communicate the Vanguard itself poses said danger to persons and families."

"I never met Kazimir," she goes on to allow, "all I know of him is from documents shown to me, and tales told by other persons." Some may find such tales dampen the appetite, but Doctor Chesterfield is somehow able to allude in that direction and seconds later take in food without batting an eye.

"Well, Kazimir's not, fortunately. Because I killed him almost a year ago." A hand settles beneath the table onto Francois's knee, giving it a squeeze. "But, Katarina is likely to be the death of us all for daring to break this topic of conversation, I predict wooden spoon to all of our heads." Water is the drink of choice for Ms. Beauchamp as she lifts a glass to sip from it. Yes, this was going to be an interesting dinner.

Francois sits upright and attentive, hands loose where they rest on the edge of the table, food in front of him quickly cooling. His shot glass goes empty, and he doesn't relax an inch. When Cat makes her quiet correction, however, that tension does stave off him, and he only nods once in affirmation that no. He doesn't threaten children.

"How long will it be, before the Vanguard know that you are friends with those who would seek their downfall? In all the years, have they found themselves to be merciful men and women, professor?"

His hand sneaks down to place over Abigail's, squeezing her fingers gently. "Would you stand idle and allow fate to come to you, or assist us in getting rid of them entirely? Rather than leave such things half-finished, as you did with me in Louisiana so many years ago." So many weeks ago.

Upstairs, Teo unplugs his face from the dent he burrowed into his pillow. His eyes close and open rapidly with surprise, his thumb and callused fingers craning awkward angles around the grip of his pistol.

Felix does not introduce himself or comment. He merely serves himself with what's nearest at hand, and while ostensibly shuffling his napkin into place on his lap, settles his pistol there as well. He flicks a quick look at Abby at that comment. Clearly, she's not seen Peter Petrelli lately, but that's a revelation for a later, better time.

"You'll forgive me if I don't appear particularly perturbed by your interpretation of the situation." Carlisle smoothes the wrinkles from his napkin, placing it back in his lap. "As Ms. Beauchamp points out, Kazimir is dead, and as for his successors, there are only three — two of which have more rope than they can hang themselves with. The third, rest assured, has no interest in continuing to pursue the mission statement. I've already spoken with him myself."

"I, and indeed we, would be most interested in whatever you could share regarding the Vanguard, Kazimir's mission statement, and his three successors, Doctor. Indications, strong indications, are that something is afoot. This concerns us greatly." Cat's tone remains civil, she perhaps finding it the best way to engage this man in constructive conversation, and in any case judging it lies within the dictates of their hostess.

She doesn't, however, yet find it fitting to move beyond crypticality in what she says.

Civility is not on the tip of Francois' tongue. He does, however, deliver a curt, "The mission statement is being pursued," before he's picking up the vodka bottle and refilling his shortglass. And then, with an easy tip, he refills Dreyfus', eyes not quite as stony as when they seemed made from granite, but getting there as he regards the man opposite him.

"There's no need for him and his infernal powers," Felix says, calmly. "Merely human weaponry and destructive potential will do just beautifully." He's buttering his bread deliberately, eyeing it with a thoughtful expression.

Carlisle's lips twist around a mirthless smile as Francois refills his glass. "Rasoul, Ramirez, Zhukovsky," is the answer he offers in response to Catherine. "Fafnir, Thor, Regin. There are others, of course, but they lack either the intelligence or the resources to pose a credible threat. I lack both the time and inclination to elaborate on Kazimir's vision — if you're here looking for the Vanguard, then you already know enough to understand what the man stood for. Or claimed to. The last few years were a descent into madness, as anyone who was close to him will tell you."

His dark eyes don't break from the Frenchman's face until Felix speaks up, and then it's as though he's noticing his presence at the table for the first time. He scrutinizes him cautiously, and with no small amount of circumspection. "You're talking about the ravens."

"Munin and Hugin," Cat provides quietly as she seeks a slice of the rye bread and butter which to spread on it. Her expression shifts now, seeming a bit pensive, and she continues on. "Zhukovsky we've learned about, as we have Edmund Rasoul who now rules Madagascar. Ramirez, though, isn't a name I've heard in connection with this. Please, do share about this man, Doctor."

Abigail remains as ever, quiet. Dutifully eating food and listening to the conversation that has struck up at the table.

It's fortunate that Teodoro wasn't overly sold on the E-mail operation, or he'd regard the use of either raven's name at the dining table a considerable detriment to the credibility of the ruse. Silent, now, he leans his back into the bedroom wall and finds himself straining his ears, both the physical ones and the psychic connection to Carlisle's hearing, fighting to gauge the cadent thunder of heartbeat under clinking flatware. He swallows.

Felix meets Carlisle's gaze with that wolfish directness, pale stare levelled at him. He inclines his head once, in assent. There are the ever-present lines of strain in his face. "The threat is very credible. It doesn't need to be worldwide. Just preventing Moscow becoming a smoking crater is a worthy goal, I think," he says, tone curiously flat.

"You needn't concern yourselves with Ramirez." Carlisle pauses to drink from his glass, and unlike the last time this isn't a tactic he uses to stall what comes next. Rather than place it on the table when finished, however, he continues to cradle it in the palm of his hand, studying the way the light reflects off the glistening rim. "There was a girl," he says. "He named her after the bomb, or the bomb after her— damned if I can remember which, but it was Munin first, then Hugin. They recovered one when they raided the compound in Berlin. I don't know what became of the other, and neither does Zhukovsky or the mole who helped the Vanguard obtain the weapons in the first place. It isn't here, if that's what you're getting at?"

"We know the one he named Munin," Cat admits, "but not the one called Hugin. It does stand to reason he'd have named a human operative with that call sign too. And no, we don't believe the weapons are in Ryazan at this point, but we do believe information as to where it might be located is." His comment about Ramirez is filed away; while Cat has curiosity on this point she opts not to pursue it.

"You've been tracking this matter yourself?" she asks. And in the silence that follows, Cat's mind enters a flashback. One in which she asks what Arthur was after when he stole Eileen's ability and didn't kill her, and the reply came: Her memories.

His own refilled shot glass goes ignored, for now, but the Frenchman at least eventually picks up his cutlery and begins to eat again as Cat and Dreyfus have their exchanges, interjected with Felix's cheerless contributions. Spearing a piece of salted herring, Francois tips his head to the side as he pauses to look across at Dreyfus. Not with suspicion, only guarded distrust and dislike.

"You are sure Zhukovsky knows so little? Or knows no one would know more?" He manages to keep the acid out of his voice, as much as it's a struggle.

Surely Zhukovsky knows something since it's his foundry that Koslow says his girlfriend was killed at. Since it's pretty evident that an illusionist had a hand in the gun down that happened in the Ryazan Kremlin. Abigail's own consumption of food has slowed down, but her gaze shifts to whomever talking, occasionally taking a sip of water between bites.

"Well, then, who -would- know? Kazimir forgot to tell anyone else, make any notes, scribble down something in his dayplanner?" Felix, on the other hand, is as full of acid as an ant. Just like usual. Someone let the bitch off the chain. "What about you? You quit, got out of the life, threw up your hands when Kazimir got the express ticket to hell. Too bad about that genocide, better luck next life, let's hope the freaks don't breed too fast while you're gone….."

His food unfinished, Carlisle rises from his seat and deposits his napkin on the tablecloth. "As well as it can be tracked," he tells Catherine. "I would sleep more soundly knowing what became of Munin, but as long as it isn't here in Ryazan or Moscow, I myself have very little to worry about. If Ramirez or Rasoul have managed to get their hands on it— well. I suspect they'd have used it already, but what do I know? It's been years since I was in personal contact with Kazimir." This, he directs at Felix. "I got old, outlived my usefulness and was put out to pasture as soon as he and his conscience found a suitable replacement. Perhaps you've met."

As he pulls on his coat, he lifts his eyes to meet Francois' stare, and arches one dark gray brow at the inquiry. "You could attempt to speak with him, though I wouldn't recommend it unless you're prepared for his ability. It's more insidious than it initially appears."

"Please, sit and eat, speak with us, Doctor," Cat requests. "There is still much to learn, and I have to confess an eagerness to learn it without hostility." She is, however, still not sharing that she and Francois visited his office and saw the map with the pins, the ominous black ones at each place where an Operation Apollo team went.

"Our information indicates the weapon is to be used sometime this month, and we simply must find it before that can happen. Have you, perhaps, any idea where Niflheim is? Or if there were another girl or woman taken in by Kazimir and given the name Hugin? Who might his conscience be?"

"There is," she entreats, "no reason you can't continue and enjoy your meal."

"Amato." Abigail can supply the name. "Amato Salucci was his name. That was his conscience, wasn't it? He was … religious. Religious types tend to be one's conscience." Abigail rises when Dreyfus does, proper manners even though he's a male and it's something you do for the women only. "Please. As much as there is history here at the table and despite my reluctance when Mrs. Spektor told us that you were attending the meal, she would be very upset as would Ivan I'm sure, if you were to leave before the meal is finished." She can't help but notice the absence of their host which makes her think that to some degree, they were all set up.

"Monsieur." Francois adds his voice to the chorus of protest, as much as it's chillier than the women. "Believe me, when I say that you do not want to leave this dinner table with information that could help us. It is cold outside, and darker, and the next time you see us, it will not be under these hospitable circumstances." He leans back against his chair, hands braced upon the table once more as he tips a proud look up to the professor. "And oui, that was a threat, if that is all a former man of the Vanguard can respond to."

"Knowing them, I'm amazed 'pasture' wasn't a pair of bullets, or Kazimir's loving embrace," Felix comments, sourly, with a lift of his brows. "And if it were in Moscow? Someone fancies giving the Citadel a smoking hole to match the Big Apple's."

Abigail's observation receives a short nod from Carlisle. Amato Salucci. That's the one. "I've told you all that I know," he says as his fingers work the buttons of his coat. "If you know about Zhukovsky, then it's likely that Zhukovsky and his people know about you as well. Leave Ryazan. Leave Russia. Whatever it is that you're looking for, Munin or otherwise, you aren't going to find it here, and your lives are worth more than the value my old allies will assign them should you decide to confront the Vanguard about their business. As for our host—"

Carlisle lifts his chin, angling a look out into the entryway to see if he can catch a glimpse of Katarina. He doesn't. "Tell her that I was regretfully called back to campus on an emergency. She'll understand."

"We don't have the option of leaving it all fallow, Doctor," Cat replies gravely. "If we do that, then whatever plot is hatching goes unchecked, and I can assure you it's more than a nuclear weapon's detonation. It was insidious, and intended to depopulate the entire planet when we faced them before. I expect no less now. So our choices, you see, are to risk death by seeking and confronting this, or wait, do nothing, and die anyway. Surely you, Doctor Dreyfus, are as interested in forestalling such a thing as we are."

Her mind, then, seizes on something the man said. "What was it you performed for Kazimir which he and Salucci found another to do?" Of course, if he continues in his insistence on departing, Cat may feel forced to raise her voice and cry out that the man is being uncivil in Katarina's home, not behaving as she expects a guest should.

There's a brief nod. She'll tell Katarina that. Abby wouldn't put it past the Russian hostess to know already, but she'll relay the mans regrets as she eases back down to sit, hand squeezing Francois's knee again.

Short of leaping across the table armed with his bread knife, there is little more Francois can do. Cat speaks for them all, as to what they cannot do, which is seek safety, and he remains seated. His hand doesn't seek out Abby's, which is all well and good as both his palms have gone damp. When Cat asks her question, Francois lifts his gaze up from where it had landed upon the light reflecting off the vodka bottle, to look at Carlisle as if he knows the answer himself. Which, likely, he does.

"It is here - the lead we need, if not the literal item," Felix says with complete assurance, eyes heavy-lidded, as he darts a look at Carlisle. "You may not know it," he adds, tone casual, dismissive. "They've kept you out of the loop, since you're out to pasture." He's devouring the bread in neat bites, watching the professor go with a faintly scornful expression.

Carlisle's train of thought must be running parallel to Francois', because when the Frenchman raises his eyes to look at his former tormentor, he doesn't have to seek out his gaze. "What I performed for Kazimir is unimportant," he says, and though he's watching Francois when he says it, his words are meant for Cat and Felix. "I do not do it anymore. If you are intent on seeking out Zhukovsky, do not trust anything that you see, and keep your heads clear of everything except what you want to ask. He digs deep."

"Do you know if anything involving the ravens is in or around New York City, Doctor?" Cat inquires. In her mind's eye is the map with the black pins, and the one in New York. "Or New York state, for that matter." It's a succession of thoughts and possibilities which pop up now. That Amato the psychometrist may know something valuable. That Lucrezia might, despite claiming otherwise months ago. That Eileen had something maybe even she doesn't recognize in her head which Arthur was after. That song scared her, and it refers to floods. Shores of the Empire State. Beaches of 34th Street.

Memories are pulled out and played, a bit about Vanguard intentions, the biblical link, how their intent had been called the Flood. And now Niflheim, the unknown place Munin is said to have been taken to.

Felix jerks his chin at that, but doesn't comment. Cat's asked the necessary question.

The look Carlisle gives Cat is painfully dull. He doesn't dignify her question with a response this time — presumably he feels that "I've told you all that I know," is a satisfactory response and he owes her no more than that. Without a formal farewell, he shows the table his back and exits the kitchen as passively as he came in, headed toward the front door at a relaxed, even pace.

She sees him leaving, and opts not to share even now that she knows he lied. Cat has seen the map in his office, and with the man at least seemingly holding back she elects not to share that they've been there. The less he knows, to her, about what exactly they've learned the better. Instead, she continues to peruse memories after his steps have faded, the voice kept at low volume as she commences speaking.

"It occurs to me that the plan, as members of the Vanguard termed it, was the Flood. Else's song speaks of flooding. Beaches where there aren't now. And the briefing taped about that aircraft carrier said the missile and warhead we're after were taken up the West Coast and into the US. Now, the decommissioned silo they mentioned is in Nevada, it was in the list of Vanguard assets Wireless dug up." A drink is taken.

"From there it was allegedly moved to Niflheim. Norse mythology says creation happened between that cold place and the hot place called Muspelheim. That base, according to Autumn and Sarisa, is in Madagascar. So a string of possibilities come to mind. What's halfway between Madagascar and the Arctic Circle? For that matter, given the precog tune's imagery, I have to speculate a nuke in the Arctic Circle would cause one hell of a flood."

The youngest brunette watches Carslile Dreyfus meander off, finishing off her water before she looks over to Cat. The pamnesiac starts talking, laying out her theory. Abigail however, just stares at her. "R…ussia?" Hoping it's the right answer.

Francois retrieves his shot glass, tips it back in one clean gulp. His hands brace against the edges of the table, and he levers himself up. It's rude, even - his plate is still full of food, and Cat is still talking. Regardless, of the nuke's whereabouts, of Else, of anything, it is nothing he can contribute.

"That it would," he agrees, with she who remembers everything. "Excusez-moi."

Unlike the professor, he offers no excuse for his early retirement. Nor does he follow Carlisle out, as fiercely tempting as that is. Instead, Francois heads for the staircase beyond the dining room.

Into her mind she calls that map up again, searching for apparent patterns in the pins which weren't black, and from there moves to consider the thing as a whole. To take a mental approximation of any extremely icy places which might stretch out to halfway across the distance from Madagascar to either pole. In doing this, Cat is silent.

"I'm going to go make sure he's okay, after I tell Katarina about the Professor needing to leave." Abigail pushes back her seat, opting to take the open vodka bottle and one shooter glass. Not for her, certainly not for her. She's going to see that a certain Frenchman's liver gets a good workout when all is said and done and that he has company, if he wants it, silent it may be. "Probably put your thoughts into the Catabase, Cat, so everyone can read it." She offers before simply slipping off into other parts of the house.

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