Good News For People Who Like Bad News


felix_icon.gif harlow2_icon.gif

Scene Title Good News For People Who Like Bad News
Synopsis Harlow comes to give Felix a little looking after.
Date September 19, 2009

Somewhere — A Rotted-out Residential Home

It is absolutely amazing that he's still alive. Let alone conscious. But he's swum up from the dim depths. It's a new jail, a new cell, but what does it matter? He's got his hands cuffed firmly behind him, but not chained to anything in particular at the moment. He's on an actual bed, or at least a cot, and still hooked up to an IV. For convenience's sake, he's turned to the wall, and it's at worn concrete he blinks. There's a little rattle from him, that might be incredulous laughter.

"What's so funny?" Her voice is half-familiar: the one that had coaxed Joseph running out from his cell some indeterminable length of time earlier. Her shadow is, too, hard and lankily-boned as a man's but narrower, the long ropy mesh of hair cast down her shoulders, triangling up from the athletic breadth of her shoulders. Her hand is less familiar. A grip vised on his shoulder, hauling him over to rest on his back, with little mind for the cuffed digits compressed underneath his back.

Blond, blue-eyed, angular features, makeup too minimal to discern with any specificity. Her canvas jacket and jeans look absurdly casual for the setting, but anything would look absurdly casual for the setting short of a warden's uniform or tactical gear. There's a backpack hanging from one long hand.

He's emaciated - never much flesh to spare and it's long gone. He hasn't eaten in days, and the fast leaves him curiously lightheaded, especially when mingled with the drugs pumped in through the IV. There's the dark growth of three weeks' beard on his jaw, and his eyes are sunken deep; skin drawn tight over the bones. The skin under her hand is red and hot with fever.

Her motion has him making a little stifled sound of pain. "I'm still alive," he tells her. There's a funny tinge of giddiness and annoyance to his voice, like this is a joke that has palled with repetitition.

An astute observation, and though she is occasionally the quarrelsome sort, Harlow isn't going to argue with that. "Yes, sir, you are," she replies instead, wry and bright as if she were talking over a tot a little too dense to note the former. The bag hits the floor with a thump and slither of canvas against concrete, and she sets herself down on the mattress at his shoulder, stooping to unzip her carrier in a few deft motions.

Zippers scratching, plastic and metal clinking one against the next. "Remember any dreams?"

"Some," he says, vaguely, frown graving lines into his brow. He's aged ten years, it'd seem….but they aren't the lines of battles won, of smug middle age that Future Teo knew. If this is what it does to you, no wonder no one recognized Edmond once he escaped the Chateau. "You're new," he adds, puzzled, rolling his head to look at her more directly. "What do you want?" He can't even muster up the energy to be afraid. It's all been done to him.

She could probably show him otherwise on that point, too, but she doesn't. "From you?" Plastic tubing reels out in her fingers, sterile transparent white: another IV. Its needle fixed at the end remains capped as she digs out the bag that goes with it, thick with transparent fluid. "Nothing you aren't giving me already.

"I guess interesting conversation would be too much to ask." Click-click. Tubes connect between her gunsure fingers, are snapped together at watertight junctions. "I dreamed about losing all my teeth the other night. I think that means I'm in for some financial difficulties, according to the books I've read." She loosens his shirt with her free hand, button by button, jerks it down one sketally pointed shoulder.

The exposed shoulder is rayed scarlet with lines of infection, from underneath the bandages. One of the wounds Douglas dealt him, and Danko mutilated further. The shirt is faded and old, oversized - that and a pair of plain boxers are all he wears. Not cold enough o kill him, though he hasn't warranted a blanket. "I keep dreaming I'm at Baba Yaga's fence. She hasn't come home yet. I guess I'm there for the fire, like Vasilisa. Or maybe her counsel," he murmurs, vaguely, eyelids fluttering.

The needle pricks the artery on the inside of Felix's upper arm, slides in with only the brie~fest moment's pause for consideration, is taped flat with a quick application of tape. She lifts the bag. Sets it on its hook, adjacent the drug supply that flows steadily into the Russian's veins in polite obedience to gravity. A squeeze of its plump, plastic-skinned contours sends fluid into the drip, filing down the new IV line, moving rapidly into the man's supine body.

"I don't know Baba Yaga. What does the fence surround? Who's it meant to keep out, or in?" Idle curiosity leaves her voice colorless in the dull dusk light of the cell. She's pulling a syringe out, next, its contents equally deprived of any telltale labeling or lurid pigmentation. She smells of soap, leaning over. No flavor, a deliberate absence of perfume. The needle pricks his neck.

"It surrounds her house. It's made of human bones, and the tops of the gateposts are skulls," he says, in that depthless whisper, like the feet of mice passing over dried leaves. "I don't know that it keeps any out or in. Well, it warns passersby away from her house. And maybe it keepsthe house from walking away," he suggests. "She's a witch," he adds, as if realizing that she might not know this.

No, Harlow hadn't known that. She makes accents of surprise with her brows and settles back, empty syringe recapping with a quick nip of her thumb. The equipment, what's left of it, is shuffled back into the ragged-toothed bag from whence it came, shut up in a swift jerk of skeletally long hands. "So you didn't take the warning to heart," she observes, curiously. "And you're on her fence. Or are you one of the skulls?"

"No," he says, simply. "I'm just waiting for her." Presumably to be devoured, and made part of the landscaping. "What are you doing?" Despite the question, his tone is flat, incurious. He can't stop it, so what point is there in protesting?

Not much, but the question is understandable, met with the dignity of a small, impersonal smile. She lifts herself off the bed. "I'm feeding you through TPN and giving you something for the infections. That shit will kill damn near anything. I had a man with a bullet in his ass-cheek septic for three days, once, and a few rounds of that—" she snaps her fingers crisply. Sounds like a small animal's neck going in two in the clutch of her digits. Her lips pull flat against white teeth: her grin shines.

It has Fel closing his eyes against its light. He doesn't bother to note that no antibiotic is proof against rot, and that left foot is clearly gangrenous. If it's the two bullets in the back of the head or the noose on the town square's oak, what difference does it make? He makes a little noise of acknowledgement, but that's all.

"It'll buy you a week, maybe two," the darkness behind Felix's eyelids translates, helpfully. "You're scheduled for a bath in a couple days, too. Won't be too long." Plastic buckles and canvas snick and catch against one another, rubbing contours against the line of her spine as she reconfigures herself as if cleaning up after a picnic. There's a beat's pause and she turns a circle, considering.

"Did they tell you what they did to the girl?"

He can't help himself. Can't will himself back into the dark of the forest fast enough. Fel opens his eyes, and looks at her. They're oddly clear, at least for that moment. "No," he says. There's dread in his face, and uncertainty. If BJ's caught, dead….well, they still have Joe to use as leverage.

Faint surprise etches itself into her features, her eyes shifting out through the front of the Fed's kennel, into the bleak cold of the aisle. "That's odd," she says, after a moment. "Seems like something they would've tried to…" two small lines tuck themselves in, at the corner of her mouth and at her brow, the disapproval that a lady would show boys. "Gloat about. You can tell Joseph, though, when he wakes up:

"His dog's fine." She steps away. She's shod in combat boots and there's a gun outlined faintly in the cuff of her pant leg. "I'm bringing her to live with my daughter for at least a few days."

He spits something in Russian. The venom doesn't need translation. "I don't believe you," he adds, bitterly. "They'd've shown me the body. What happened to you that you'd do this to another human being? That the death of a child doesn't grieve you?"

"She's not dead, Ivanov," the woman responds, in a voice too choreographically comforting to serve its purpose. She's not dead, Ivanov. She's not dead, Ivanov.

Good news for people who like bad news.

Her fingers close on the curved metal of the handle, her palm folded. She pulls it back against the grating rumble of hinges, scraping the floor. She slings her rangy body out, breathes the air where Felix and his organic filth doesn't diffuse streaky vapor in to tar the delicate membranes of her nose. Her back is turned. Emptily, she says, "I was raped."

"That's no excuse," Felix says, each syllable cut off short. And there's that hundredweight of self-righteousness in his voice. Nice to know that wounding, infection, torture….there's some iron core of sheer arrogance that nothing can dent. They may have to prop him up to put the noose around his throat, may have had him sobbing and begging before, he'll go into the dark sure he was -right-.

Her heel locks on the base of the door's edge, and she shoves it shut with a crash and resonant singsong of scarred wood and a stuck lock. Secures it with a grinding click of a key that she finds in her pocket, keeping door aligned in frame with a knee shoved up at the fractioned inch's gap where they meet. "No," she agrees, her voice muffled by the density of the wood. "It isn't."

He's too tired to curse her further. Merely weakly rolls himself on to his side, again, as best he can, to face the wall and sleep.

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