Everything In Its Season


raith_icon.gif amato_icon.gif

Scene Title Everything in Its Season
Synopsis Raith asks Amato to perform a bit of "fact checking" for him.
Date August 19, 2010

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..

It's a big difference from 'the old days,' really. The days when espionage and gun fights were the norm. And really, that's not necessarily a bad thing. For Amato Salucci, it's a chance to try things a second time, see how they could be different. Of course, if it were that easy, everyone would be able to start over. But the past, sadly, is doggedly persistent in providing reminders that it is always, will always be there.

Early morning on Staten Island sees Amato at the Garden, one of the bastions for Ferrymen activity on the island, tending to the needs of the equine tenants. Feeding them and, just as importantly, turning them out to run and exercise. It's necessary. Just as necessary as repairs and maintenance of the property. Just as necessary as remembering that the past- in the form here of Jensen Raith- is never very far away. It's not uncommon to see Raith at the Garden: He has his own rounds to make, now that his membership in the Ferrymen, and directorship of Special Activities is official. But he's not at the Garden, walking the grounds and moving towards the fenced arena where the horses are free to run in, to make his rounds. He's there to see the man keeping the water clean and their stalls tidy to stave off disease. "Different sort of routine, isn't it?" he asks, round-lensed sunglasses serving as a compliment to a near-nod to Amato's own history: A dark suit jacket and slacks. The difference is that Raith wears no tie, doesn't wear his collar or jacket buttoned, and doesn't buy suits costing more than $30. And still mismatches the whole thing by wearing combat boots.

"How's your jaw doing?"

In contrast to Raith's nod without being a nod in turn, Amato is dressed to work. Sweat has yet to mar his white tank, but the chino pants held up by suspenders are stained at the cuff. Amato watches Raith approach from under the jawline of a horse he leads to the gate of the pasture, but he waits until the other man address him before speaking. By then, he's on the other side of the fence, working at unbuckling the well used harness on the bay's head.

His face still carries the marks of his encounter with Nick Ruskin, though the bruises have taken a turn toward the duller greens and purples of healing tissue and the swelling has gone down significantly. "Different or not, it's the routine part that's comforting." And it is a very different sort of routine for the usually immaculate Amato. If he had been told three years ago he'd be spending his days tending to horses and vegetables rather than interrogating potential allies and enemies whilst wearing crisp, expensive suits, he wouldn't have believed it.

"Everything in its season," he murmurs in answers to both questions. "Time passes, and with it, change blossoms."

A moment passes, and Raith gives a nod of acknowledgement, head canted just to the side. "Sounds like a positive change, overall," he remarks, "It's good to have the extra help, too, with how crazy things have been. Not enough hands to go around, and all that." But, of course, that's not all that Jensen Raith has dropped by to say. "I know you probably do have your day mapped out already, but I have to ask. You're still in the business of gleaning information about people, right? Maybe from things that were, until fairly recently, in their posession?"

"For you?"

Amato raises his eyebrows as the harness falls off the horses face, leaving the beast to join his brethren who are already picking at the summer grass as if they hadn't enough oats and hay already. He turns and leans his forearms against the top rail of the fence, his pale eyes glued to the man in the suit beyond it. "It is what I signed up to do in your little outfit, isn't it?" Regardless of how he may feel these days about his right to judge others. "I assume this object has some bit of the person you obtained it from still on it?" Surely Raith knows the limits of Amato's ability.

"There is an excellent chance of that." And still, Raith doesn't sound terribly thrilled about the idea. Reaching a hand into the outside pocket of his jacket, the ex-spy extracts a small bundled of torn cloth, although this is not ultimately what he passes to Amato, carefully moving strips aside to reveal the item they were, apparently, protecting: An ordinary steel spoon. "I've seen where this guy lives," Raith states as he holds the spoon out, "For the love of God, wash your hands before you touch anything else, or you're going to really regret it."

Resigned to the task at hand, Amato reaches for the spoon, only to hesitate when Raith comments on the scene in which he found the item. Amato looks at the man once more, waiting for more explaination. When it doesn't come, he lets his hand fall and straightens up. "You have to tell me more than that, Jensen," he almost sighs. "Am I likely to encounter some horrific blood pathogen or something?" Perhaps there should be a sanitation clause in his agreement as a member of the Remnant.

"I don't think that you will." Raith can't do anything else at this point except offer the spoon a second time. "His apartment is filthy, and I wouldn't expect his hygiene is much better. Just make sure you wash your hands, and you should be just fine. There's a free dinner in it if I'm wrong."

Amato keeps a skeptical eye on Raith right up until his fingers close around the bowl of the spoon where whatever residual saliva is most likely to be. His eyes close as soon as his skin makes contact and the images that make up this mysterious man's sins flow into his brain like water through an open floodgate. Amato's brows furrow as he watches the snippets that flash before his eyes, through the eyes of this angry, vice-ridden man.

But the most notable of these vices has to do with flesh. Very young flesh. Innocent flesh. The sexual assault makes Amato cringe, but he holds onto the spoon all the same.

Forcing oneself to see such sin must me some measure of penance. Amato releases the spoon with a small shudder and a shake of his head. "Wolf," he whispers, but the word is as much spat as it is breathed.

"I figured." Although Raith's reply comes out much more calmly and evenly than Amato's, it is in no way casual or indifferent. Just as carefully as he unwrapped the utensil, the ex-spy wraps it back up and drops it back into his jacket pocket. "The photos were found made things look pretty grim from the start. He definitely deals drugs, maybe people, too. We're working on that." A beat, Raith's gaze cast off to the side in thought.

"I might be scarce around here, the next few days. The network'll get along fine without me until then, but…" Now, the harder part. "I don't know what this guy's deal is, yet, or what his ability is except that he probably has one. There's a lot of kids in the network, all of them move through here at some point. He's only been hanging around the lighthouse, from what we can tell, but keep an eye out. If he does start connecting dots, he could pose a threat to a lot more than just the kids at the lighthouse."

Amato listens, his own expression becoming more and more grave. "Have you considered relocating them?" It's not that safe-houses grow on trees, but the safety of the youngest the Ferrymen house - the next generation of Evolved individuals - has to be a priority, doesn't it? "Be well," Amato adds with a nod in reference to Raith's absence. He doesn't ask why, or even where he's going. It's undoubtedly something to with their investigation. Besides, details may only serve to make The Garden a target.

"Moving them isn't my call. Even if it was, there needs to be a more serious threat than one guy that we can probably take care of without resorting to violence." A shrug serves as the period for that sentence, and Raith seems to be willing to put the matter to rest, if just for the moment. "You know me. Put more thought into preparing for dangers than is really necessary. Whole thing could be old news by tomorrow morning. Just want you to be aware."

Amato nods, thankful for the news from Raith's own mouth rather than through the Garden grapevine. He moves to unlock the gate and step through it, securing it once more behind him. "Regardless of the threat, this man needs to be dealt with." Whether that is with a bullet or an anonymous tip to whatever authorities can and will bring him to justice is Raith's or someone else's call.

"If you don't need to run off immediately, you could hang your suit in the tack room and lend me a hand with the stalls."

"Unfortunately, I do need to run off," Raith replies. "We have a very limited idea of his schedule, but if it doesn't change much, we might be dealing with him today. At the very least, we should be able to figure out who some of the people in his network are, maybe clean up the island a little bit. Maybe get a new source for medical supplies to replace the one we just lost. We'll see."

Another brief pause, and finally, Raith manages to put his finger on what was 'off' about Amato today. "You're actually starting to look like you're enjoying yourself here."

A smile creeps onto Amato's face, and he looks out over the small pasture where the horses are grazing. "If I learned anything at the monastery, it was the peace that can be found in simple labor. There is the task at hand, and there are few risks involved should one fail. And if you don't, you earn the trust of one of the purest of creatures God put on earth." But he shakes his head to spare Raith the religious allusions. "You should try it sometime," he adds to close off the statement.

"I'll consider it." Raith offers up a smile of his own as he turns to begin making his egress to the next place he needs to be. "Take care, Amato. Hopefully, I'll see you and the horses again in a few days. Maybe I'll find the secret to ending war while I'm gone. Don't get your hopes up."

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