Fluid Arrangements


eileen_icon.gif walsh_icon.gif

Scene Title Fluid Arrangements
Synopsis Eileen meets with Walsh, intending to bait a trap, and narrowly avoids falling into a different one.
Date January 7, 2011

Staten Island: Outside the Happy Dagger

There are streets in the Rookery, like this one, that resemble Warsaw at the end of the uprising. Snow gathers on gutted ruins, still and silent, muffling the sounds of nightlife elsewhere in the neighborhood where the lights are still bright and electricity courses through the lines strung between squat buildings with dirty windows covered in grime, some of them with fluttering blue tarps nailed to their frames to keep out the cold where glass has been shattered, either by bullets or hurled stones. It's fifty-fifty, these days, and although soldiers aren't an uncommon sight, they travel in small packs and abuse their authority only where they know it can be abused.

There's nothing for them here except sodden wood support beams, soot and char, and the tinkle of broken glass under leather boots.

It's how Daniel Walsh knows that his contact has kept her appointment even if he can't see her through the gloom, and if he has any lingering doubts they're banished by the barn owl that alights on the tallest point of what used to be the Happy Dagger, letting out a low call that demands he show himself before the Englishwoman does.

In that hanging snow set atop the broken brick walls that once former the perimeter of the Happy Dagger the distant light of streetlamps glitters goldenrod, turning the snow a jaundiced shade of mustard under the dingy lighting. The block that the Happy Dagger once resided in has seen better days, seen fuller population too. Few people live in this region of the Rookery any longer, with its neon glow having long since faded, giving way to the staunch tenants of flop-houses and crack dens insinuated in the abandoned residences.

One such homeless man is asleep amidst the dagger's ruins, or perhaps is dead. Laid out on his side, blankets wrapped around himself and back towards Eileen's owl. His thick layers of jackets make his figure look fat, the makeshift lean-to made from charred lumber, newspaper and cardboard surprisingly helpful in blocking out wind, but does nothing for the cold.

"Don't mind 'im, I'm pretty sure e's been there for a week," comes a crooning Irish voice from beyond the crumbling skeleton of the formter brothel. "I see you your bird an' raise you an Irishman." The black wool of Walsh's long overcoat blends in to the dark of the alley wedged between the dagger's ruins and the adjacent tenement building on his emergence, makes him seem to bleed out of the background with the crunch of freshly fallen snow underfoot.

It's obvious that he's been waiting out here in the cold for a long while, from the rosy hue of his cheeks to the stiff shoulders-hunched posture the Irishman has adopted. Curly red hair is kept hidden by a black watchman's cap tonight, though unruly locks of it still curl out from beneath the folded rim.

"You can come out now," Walsh implores, the ambient glow of the distant street lights making the shadows beneath his eyes even more prominent. "Or— y'know— keep fuckin' about, whatever suits yer fancy."

Coming out must suit Eileen's fancy, because she does. A wool scarf in charcoal gray covers her dark hair, pinned back at the nape of her neck, and is paired with lambskin gloves and a black coat with two rows of burnished buttons done all the way up to her chin. Although she undoubtedly came to this meeting armed, no moonlight reflects off the barrel of her pistol, which is probably tucked into the holster she wears beneath her coat.

The owl pays the homeless man about as much attention as Walsh suggests that she should before its large black eyes are focusing solely on the Irishman and searching him for signs of injury or weakness. There's a difference between meeting him at the Dispensary and meeting him on neutral ground, and while Eileen doesn't like people invading her personal space, she's much more at ease knowing that Gabriel or Raith are only a short shout away.

This is a different kind of risk than welcoming a former enemy into her home. "I was told by a Nicholas York that you wanted to speak with me."

"Ah, e' managed to get that out 'fore I strapped a big sack a'clay on him did'e?" Walsh purses his lips and rolls his shoulders, "didn't much think it'd actually get t'you. But I guess every useless Limey cloud has a silver lining, no offense t'present Limeys in the vicinity." For all that he is now a wanted man, Walsh does his best not to lose his sense of humor.

"Wanted t'check up w'you an' see if any'f you or your boys needed their respective toys replenished. Originally it was just doin' my due dilligence in regards to loyal, long-time clients," and former kidnappers, "but now as you may've heard, business ain't quite jumpin' and I've got a traitor t'me nationality lookin' t'collect on me. If it wasn't 'im what fingered me t'the feds I'd be surprised."

Glancing up to the owl, Walsh wrinkles his nose. "I guess this might also be a good time t'ask if you an' yer friends 'ad anythin' what they needed getting done as of late? I have something of a surplus of free time and… merchandice I'd rather move 'fore it gets confiscated, as well as a few odd hands that need t'be occupied now that I'm completely freelance."

"That depends," says Eileen. "I seem to remember that when my friends and I agreed to turn you and Mr. Sadaka loose, one of the conditions of our arrangement was that you wash your hands your involvement with Humanis First." Up on its lofts perch, the owl shifts its weight from foot to foot as if preparing to open its wings and swoop down to rake talons across Walsh's face when it turns up toward it, but what Eileen might want to command the bird to do isn't what she actually does, and not because it's the only pair of eyes she has in the area capable of penetrating the darkness.

"You can imagine how distraught I was to turn on the radio and learn that the government has placed a one hundred and sixty thousand dollar bounty on your head, Daniel." And yet, there are no other shadows stepping out of the fog. No broad-shouldered shapes with eyes that burn like coals in the imaginations of people who still have nightmares about Kazimir Volken's Vanguard. She came here alone, and she isn't pointing a pistol at him. "If I can't trust you to fulfill a bargain as simple as the one I made to save your life, how can I trust you to do anything?"

"I like t'think that it was a fluid arrangement, quite capable of bein' adjusted and changed as the political winds did go." Walsh admits as he takes a lazy step towards Eileen. "I ain't never truly gotten over what inspired me t'work with them, and when one of their big boys on Staten Island, feller named Wallace got 'imself killed by Messiah— well— they came lookin' t'ole Danny-boy here t'help them get things back on track. So, I tracked down Khalid and we got t'work… Part'f it's personal, but most'f it's business."

One of Walsh's brows rises slowly. "See, the boys in Humanis need guns as much as anyone else. I'm a businessman, first an' foremost. Just because I'm willin' t'play both sides doesn't make me a bad man, it just makes me one of loose moral value. Frankly I'm surprised I didn't start doin' it sooner. Did'ja hear 'bout the shootout on the night'f the riots?"

Walsh leans to the side subtly, angling his head in the opposite direction. "Some Triad slants got in a bullet-flinger with me an' a friend. Now admittedly I didn't mean t'be in the crossfire, but lordy were those my guns they were packin'? They sure were. I say, what's good for my business is bloodshed. If I kill a few'v you in the process… so be it."

Walsh's brows furrow together, creasing deep wrinkles across his forehead. "Humanis asked me t'do some errands, I do in order t'keep business goin' good. An' in turn they keep the heat off me, ah— well— reasonably. Only reason I ain't dead or in cuffs right now is because they look out for their own." Though how much the upper echelon of Humanis First would appreciate to know that Walsh is arming Evolved rebels is a matter of uncertain outcome.

Consideration makes Eileen's eyes as misty as the fog drifting around them. Crystalline flakes of snow glitter on the pale surface of her skin and the darker wool of her coat. When she breathes, warm air leaves her nose and mouth as a fine silver vapour, and if it wasn't for the flush of colour the cold adds to her cheeks, she could be mistaken for one of the few Walsh has killed in the process.

He talks enough for both of them, and she has no guilt about responding curtly, clipped and succinct. "I'd like to see what you've got left before I make any decisions about whether or not I'm willing to continue doing business," she says. "That includes your personnel as well as any guns and ammunitions you have in your possession. I'm sure you understand why a copy of your inventory isn't acceptable and that we'll need to arrange an actual viewing."

"Nnno can do, missy. Nobody gets t'see what'f got under these dire circumstances, y'see. Were it not for the ATF breathin' on me short and curlies, I'd maybe be willing. But I was in the process of some, ah, consolidation when all this went down, and y'could say there's some pants which ain't yet back up from 'round me ankles. You want t'place a specialty order it'll get filled, if I ain't got it I can tell y'up front that I ain't got it… there's no bleedin' way that you're gettin' within a mile'f the goods such as they are."

Lifting a gloved hand to his chin, Walsh brushes the scruffed leather over his jawline slowly. "Y'can give me an order now, or we can arrange for another meetin' later when y'gone an' fig'ered out what it is y'want. But beyond that there ain't no force on God's green earth that'll get you what y'just asked for."

"I'm beginning to doubt that the goods, as you put it, even exist." No mistake: that's an accusation, even if it isn't a very heated one. "What's next? Are you going to demand half of the money up front?" Asking herself what her dziadzio might do if placed in a similar situation only gets Eileen so far; reducing someone to ash is not an option that's available to her. What she does instead is mask her anger and smooth the edges of her voice so that only its icy tone and the tightness of her mouth betray her obvious displeasure.

Walsh is smarter than she initially gave him credit for, and she does not like to be outfoxed. "I'll place an order using one of my birds after I've spoken with the others about what we need. We can discuss payment when you can provide me with the proof."

"If the merch weren't round, I wouldn't be hawkin' it, sweet'eart. You'll place an order, you'll pay half up front like y'always did an' you'll see the bloody goods when they're delivered an' then you'll make last payment. I ain't givin' no girl with a penchant fer bein' too many eyes than is right access t'a place I can't readily move everythin' out of. Besides, you ain't exactly swimmin' in arms dealers in New York…"

Walsh's eyes narrow slowly, chin lifting upward. "You wanna' snub me, you'll be takin' a long ride t'try an' find anyone what can outfit yer little militia worth a damn. I'm the best there is now that Zarek's gone, an' unless you expect Flint fuckin' Deckard t'handle all'f yer needs— if that sad sack's still even alive — yer' in fer a sorry surprise."

"So get me a list, leave it here," Walsh waves his hands around, one brow lifting slowly. "An' we'll make nice. Then I'll be n'touch with you about a delivery and we can set up times and locations."

"If the best there is can't even hold his own against an overweight, overstuffed government patsy ten or fifteen years past his prime then there's no hope for any of us." Eileen's lip curls. Teeth flash in the gloom. "One fourth up front. I'd give you the benefit of the doubt, but if the way you handled York is the way you handle people in your employ, I'm loath to think about what you might do to me the next time I show you my back."

On wings that make nary whisper, the owl sails high above Walsh's head. Only the snow dislodged from its perch and the shadow it makes when it crosses what little moon there is indicate that it's even in flight. "There will be no sorry surprises," concludes Eileen's half of the conversation as the owl's wings slice through the fog and it disappears. She moves to follow.

"No sorry surprises," and it is with all of Walsh's energy that he does not emphasize the word sorry. "Scout's honor," comes with an obfuscated hand-gesture that implies knowledge but in truth Walsh knows little to nothing about the boy scouts. "One fourth up front, the rest on delivery. As fer ol' Nicky, that little nancy was tryin' t'fuck me over. Filled me full'f some bullshit story about how he'd gotten 'imself captured by Nazis in World War fucking two after he bailed on me during a shipment week."

Walsh's brows furrow and eyes narrow slowly. "Nicky got what he deserved for that load'a shit, nobody fucks about with me an' my business like that. I liked the kid, good enough, but when we needed a stand in for tha' little planned eruption back on New Year's, well— " the Irishman's smile becomes a bit coy. "I couldn't think'f a better bitch t'blow t'smithereens than that dumb sack'a hammers."

Eileen stops.

The air is frigid, and so is her posture. A fractional narrowing of her eyes turns them to silver slits, and the next breath she lets out Walsh can not only see but hear. She's a deer turning to move deeper into the cover of a thicket but has just heard a twig snap under something that isn't her hooves, though there's no fear or panic in her expression, and she does not dance away at the next opportunity.

It's impossible for her to draw herself any further upright than she already is. Her owl is ahead of her, and to pull her pistol and take a shot at Walsh now almost guarantees that she'd miss. The only thing she has to aim for is the sound of his voice, and the smothering winter weather does strange things to it, and so does the alley's acoustics.

Still, she hesitates. Flexes her fingers in wanting.

"Looks like my Cajun still might get t'take a shot at his ol' useless twat," Walsh admits with a crack of a smile, wholly unaware of Eileens crisis of emotion and physicality at the moment. "You keep yourself an' your green money nice'n safe 'till y'get me that list, then we'll see what can be done t'fund the good fight, yeah?" His shoes scuff on the snow and ice, a half-step taken to the side, then one backwards.

"Yeah," Walsh echoes to himself with a rub of his fingers over one button on his coat, viewing Eileen's paused silhouette out of the corner of his eyes. "Nice doin' business with you, kid."

That may be something of an optimistic assessment on Walsh's part.

Reason wins out over emotion, and before Eileen has the opportunity to regret this decision, she takes the step that seals their encounter in silence rather than blood. Walsh does not have to look or listen to know that he's alone again in the moments that follow.

He can feel it in his gut.

It's what keeps his stare focused out in the direction of where Eileen disappeared. Breathing in through his nose, Walsh exhales a misty sigh in foggy breath, alighting his pale eyes towards the vagrant laid out on his side, partly curled up beneath the blankets laid there. One brow rises on Walsh's head, and the arms dealer looks expectant for too long. Finally and impatiently he asks, "Well?"

The homeless man rolls over, taking the blankets with him. Sliding from beneath the newsprint facade of his lean to, the bundled fugure takes a knee, them another on his way to standing upright. Dark eyes scan out over the direction Eileen left, then alights to look up to the burned framework of the building.

"I think we need to talk," is something of an understatement as the homeless man levels his eyes down towards Walsh. Feng Daiyu is many things, but liberal with information is typically not one of them.

"About Ethan Holden."

There's always room for exceptions to rules.


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