How It's Going to Be


eileen_icon.gif ethan_icon.gif

Scene Title How It's Going to Be
Synopsis Ethan Holden returns to New York City.
Date June 24, 2009


Though it's less than two miles square, Chinatown is home to some quarter of a million residents. Cramped, ancient tenements are the norm, though the fourty-four story Confucious Plaza standing at the corner of Bowery and Division does boast luxurious accommodations by comparison. Mulberry Street, Canal Street, and East Broadway are home to streetside green grocers and fishmongers, and Canal Street also boasts an impressive array of Chinese jewelry shops.

The Xinlu Tea House and Coffee Shop in New York City's Chinatown shares a poorly-lit alley with the butcher next door and fills the warm evening air with the intoxicating aroma of sizzling beef skewers and the steamed pork buns that are sold outside on the curb from gaai bin dong — literally "street side stalls". It isn't food that brings Eileen Ruskin to this part of Manhattan, however; it's the promise of information on Daiyu Feng from one of the Vanguard's old Triad contacts, an older gentleman by the name of Ping Lan who works as a bookkeeper for one of the local cockfighting rings.

Dressed in a pair of low-rise jeans and a brown leather jacket that conceals the shoulder holster she wears beneath, she rounds the corner and completes a visual sweep of the alley with her eyes before stepping fully inside. It isn't that this neighborhood is particularly dangerous as far as gang-activity is concerned, but it pays to be cautious wherever you go when you have more enemies than you do friends.

Ping Lan isn't smoking behind the graffiti-tagged dumpster like he said he'd be. A quick glance at the pocket watch cupped in the palm of her left hand confirms that Eileen is fifteen minutes early for their meeting. She'll just have to wait.

After fifteen minutes, a puff of smoke announces the arrival of a man. His steps are silent, as his features slink in and out through shadow and light. But a glance could indicate that this is not the man Eileen is awaiting. Or at least, not the man she thinks she's awaiting. Skin far too white, and far too lean and muscular, this is definitely not Ping Lan.

"Do me a favor and don't run off this time." Comes the distinct growl as the Wolf emerges into the light.

Fifteen minutes can be a long time. Especially when your name is Ping Lan. It took a full fifteen minutes for him to give up the details of where his meeting would be. And finally, after a few days of tracking, Ethan's trail had finally led him to the older man. Which in turn led him to this particular alley. His features are stern, eyes unforgiving and his whole aura is menacing and intimidating as ever. But after a moment of looking at Eileen his lips slip into a smirk over the cigarette.

"Allo Princess."

Click. The pocket watch snaps shut and Eileen drops it a second later, not to the asphalt underfoot but instead to dangle from the long silver chain she has wrapped around her wrist. It swings back and forth, pendulum-like, in perfect time with the sound of her staccato footsteps as she walks forward. Gray eyes sweep up and down the man's body before settling on his face and the familiar curve of his quirking mouth. There are a lot of things you can fake. Eileen likes to think that Ethan's smile isn't one of them — not this time.

"You're not supposed to be here," she rasps in a guttural voice, hoarse with an overabundance of raw emotion that weighs heavily on her chest. "It isn't safe."

"When 'as any part of our lives been safe?" Ethan retorts, going to tend to the cigarette for a moment. Taking it out he lets out a puff. "If I wanted to be safe I should have re-evaluated my life a long, long, time ago." Placing the cancer stick back in his mouth the man takes a step forward. "You going to tell me why you ran off? It's not exactly easy finding you every time."

He's dressed in a black peacoat, and a pair of jeans. Slick black gloves cover his hands that eventually find their way into his coat pockets. It's summer, but he still wears a jacket. "And anyway, where am I supposed to be, if not 'ere?"

Eileen comes to an abrupt halt a few yards from where Ethan is standing when he steps forward, rigid lines of tension appearing at the corners of her mouth, shoulders stiffening. "Wait." One hand comes up, fingers splayed, the leather of the glove she wears limned in the lamplight oozing in from the street outside.

Thinking back on the last few weeks is like wading through a hazy maze of smoke and fog with no senses to guide her except for touch; it takes her a few seconds to remember the last time they saw one another, to pinpoint the underlying meaning of his words. "Tell me something that only you would know."

"You tried to sleep with me." Ethan mutters over his cigarette, giving a very disappointed look through the puff of smoke. "Not like that's something only I would know. Fairly predictable I suppose. Anyone could guess that." A little shrug is given. "Why? Is there another me running around somewhere?" A hiss of disapproval is let out. "Hope he's dressing well, not making me look bad."

"Now listen, are you going to give me a 'ug or wot? Fucking ridiculous how much I do for you and all you do is ask stupid questions and run away after making bad ka-ra-te impressions." The cigarette is cast out to the side, and his arms held out slightly to the side as if expecting an embrace.

For a moment, it looks as though Ethan is more likely to get a fist in his stomach instead of a hug, but as he speaks the stringency gradually begins to melt away, softening her features and shaving a few years off her age. She's fifteen again, all big mouth and dove eyes, curls of glossy black hair plastered to pallid cheeks tinged with pink. A series of brisk but halting strides closes what little distance remains between them, her arms swooping around to encircle Ethan's waist and clasp her hands at the small of his back. She buries her face in his chest, smothers her nose and mouth against the stiff cotton material of his peacoat.

"You're an asshole."

For a moment the man is rigid, muscles tensed as her arms encircle him. But that moment only lasts so long as his body slowly melts under her embrace. Relaxing, giving into her touch. His arms encircle her, one hand going to secure the back of her head against his chest. His chin going to prop itself atop her head, a sigh that might pass for content were he not Ethan Holden escapes his lips, brushing past her hair. His eyes close for just a moment as he holds her there before they open back up.

"I know."

Eileen pulls back enough to tip a glance up at Ethan's face, careful to ensure her skin does not brush against his. The smell of tobacco clings to her hair, mingling with the more subtle scents of woodsmoke and its natural oils — there's a hint of earth as well, burnt, ashen. "Daiyu Feng is in New York City," she tells him as she reaches up and places one gloved hand on his neck, just beneath the slope of his jaw. "I've been staying with the Ferrymen on Staten Island with Wu-Long's boy. He shot Sylar."

It's a slow trickle of information in comparison to the deluge she'd been planning on emptying onto him; now that she has Ethan where she wants him, her fingertips scratching idly at the stubble on his chin, she finds that she has a difficult time weaving her thoughts into coherent sentences. "I don't know what I'm going to do."

"Wu-Long's boy shot Sylar?" Ethan asks with skeptical arch of his brow. "I've 'eard some Chinaman was after me. Feng." A slow shrug is given, "I'll deal wit' 'im soon enough. Don't you worry." The Wolf says as if talking about taking the garbage out, or remembering to get pickles while at the grocery store. "Easy, love. No need to 'ave a panic attack. I'm 'ere now, everything will get taken care of." His hand slides up to her shoulders, slowly and methodically rubbing her back soothingly. "Any other burning articles of news you need to tell me?"

"Feng shot Sylar," Eileen clarifies, her face adopting a rumpled look of annoyance that fades almost as quickly as it takes hold. "This isn't something that's going to go away if you wave your hands at it, Ethan. I don't know if he's working alone, or if he's brought other Vanguard operatives over with him— He's not just looking for you. Elias. Yvette. He's already killed Velasquez." Her muscles tense beneath his hand, growing taut and rife with strain. She's not as easy to placate as she once was. "Sylar can help. I can help."

A little smirk works up his lips. "Sylar survived, must not be a very good shot." Ethan states simply, giving a light sigh at Eileen's words. "I'm not going to wave my 'ands at it, Princess. I'm going to wave knives, bullets, and explosives at it. They usually do the trick. Give me some credit love, I've been killing people for a very long time. I can take care of it." Ethan assures her, tilting his head at her for a moment. "You can 'elp, so long as you stay out of 'is way. 'e killed Rico, did 'e? That boy was an annoying motherfucker anyway, maybe I'll like this Feng."

"So this is 'ow it's going to be? All, 'he shot her, and she killed 'im' business. No 'ow 'ave you been? I miss you! Really. You're a very ungrateful girl." The Wolf states with a grin, letting his hand drop from the back of her head.

Eileen can either be honest or she can tell Ethan what she thinks he wants to hear — the indecision is plain in her eyes. "This has got nothing to do with gratitude," she mumbles, but even as she speaks, she's adjusting the collar of his peacoat and finicking with the buttons. If he had any dirt on his face, she'd be smudging at it with a dampened corner of the shirt sleeve she wears under her jacket. He has no hair to smooth or tuck behind his ears. "And even if it did— I'm not." Ungrateful, that is. "Where the hell have you been, eh? Off having a grand adventure without inviting the rest of us?"

"Killing people." Is all Ethan will say about his grand adventure. His eyes follow her hands as she busies herself cleaning him. Finally he pulls his lips back into a grimace. "I 'ad things I 'ad to do. I'm sorry I wasn't 'ere for you, Princess. I figured if I wasn't around, no one would come pounding on your door. Suppose I was wrong." He admits, obviously not liking that fact. "And now I 'ave things I need to do 'ere. Need to find a woman. Then find a place, for the three of us to stay. After I kill whats'isface and company, that is."

"Four," Eileen corrects Ethan gently. "I can't leave Bai-Chan, and we owe it to Wu-Long to take him with us. His father is dead, I don't know where his mother is — Brian's lovely, and so are the people he works with, but the boy needs a family." Her hands fall away from his coat, satisfied with its straight and lint-free appearance. It's as polished as he's going to get. "You took me in when nobody else would. He's only six."

"Anyway. Whot is Sylar up to these days? Still 'ave a fucked up mind and all that?" The Wolf asks, not a criticism, just a question. "Whotever, first thing's first. I need to get you off that fucking island. I'll find us a place to stay soon enough. We'll get everybody there, be one nice little dysfunctional unit again." Ethan says with a broad smile, it's the best idea in the world.

On the subject of Sylar, Eileen's tone remains carefully neutral. "No," she says, "he remembers who he is. Still furious over Kazimir, I think — things really haven't been the same between us, but that's more my fault than his. He still keeps Gillian close. Spends the rest of his time alone, far as I can tell. He'll want to speak with you, now that you're back again. There are questions I was never really able to answer."

"Good for 'im. Fine. We can talk. " He smirks a little bit at Gillian's name. "She's gonna find out one day 'e killed 'is sister, she's going to be very put out." The man says with confidence, "Whot 'appened anyway, 'im losin' 'is mind? Whatever, doesn't matter anyway. What does matter, is you're getting off that island. You got anything you need to wrap up there? Because I'm getting us a 'otel room until I find a place." The Wolf states matter of factly.

"You been alright, love?"

Apart from being beaten within an inch of her life by a man wielding Kazimir Volken's trademark cane, having her ability switched for one that disallows physical contact with other people and spending a little less than two weeks on her back in that same man's brothel— "I've been fine." As far as lies go, she's told Ethan much worse. He may recognize the way her smile does not quite reach her eyes; a quaver beat, too, calls the truthfulness of her statement into question. "The island is the best place for me, really. Until we've got Feng sorted, at any rate. The government doesn't dare set a foot on it, and I have connections there. I feel like I'm doing good."

A frown settles on Ethan's features at her statement of how fine and just how good she's doing. "Do I need to kill anyone?" Ethan growls quietly looking down at her. "Fuck the island. No place for you." He states sternly. "You can get new connections. Now listen, I'm gonna be needin' your birds to find this woman. Her name is Delphine, I think I can get a picture for y'if y'need it."

"Delphine Kuhr?" There probably aren't a lot of women named Delphine in New York City. There are even fewer coincidences. Eileen resists the urge to bite out something unkind through clenched teeth. Puffed up and bristling, the very picture of everything tremendously unhappy, she's a cat with a long string of tin cans tied to her tail. It's not that she disapproves of Ethan's choice of— whatever it is Delphine is to him. Her irritation has more to do with his choice of words and the tone he uses when he speaks them.

Somewhere, Gabriel Gray is smirking.

"I'll see what I can do," she promises, more grudgingly than Ethan probably deserves. "A picture would be helpful."

"Now what's crawled up your bum?" Ethan asks in defense, taking a step back to put a little bit of distance between the two of them so he can get a full picture of said bristling. "You know 'er? Not a fan?" He cocks his head at her. "Well obviously you know 'er, Princess. So what the fuck do y'be needin' a picture for? I don't 'ave any naked pictures if that's what you're gettin' at. And fuck me if it puts your panties in that much of a twist I can find 'er meself."

"But really, you don't like 'er?"

"I've never met her," Eileen insists, some of that anger and exasperation taking a back seat to sincerity. "Sylar knows where she is, if you can track him down — she helped restore his abilities after he lost them a few weeks ago. Last I heard, she was staying with the Ferrymen on that fucking island." In other words: no. She doesn't need a photograph or her birds. "Do you still think so lowly of my connections now?"

"Fine. We'll go to your fucking island and track 'er down. Get 'er, get the kid, 'ave a chat with ol' Sysy, kill Feng and whatever band of merry men he may 'ave brought along and then come back and get a safe place. Not on the island. Deal?" Ethan asks, extending his hand to her as if to seal the deal. "You'll 'ave to introduce me to these Ferrymen."

Eileen takes Ethan's hand and interlaces her fingers with his. It's the closest thing to a bargain she's willing to strike. "Let me take you home."

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