Judge, Jury, Executioner


eileen_icon.gif rue_icon.gif

Scene Title Judge, Jury, Executioner
Synopsis Eileen passes down a sentence.
Date December 19, 2011

Pollepel Island, Bannerman's Castle Holding Cells

Gabriel Gray has taught Eileen everything she will ever need to know about masks. He’s not only an expert at pretending to be someone he isn’t, but is also an accomplished magician with the ability to make his emotions disappear, and to keep people guessing at his intentions like the location of a small red ball hidden beneath one of three cups.

She is envious of him, sometimes. As much as she would like to believe otherwise, her actions are ruled by her heart and not her head; she as at the mercy of her own emotions most days, even when she forces her mouth flat and irons the passion out of her voice.

In the darkness of the corridor adjacent to the castle’s holding cells, there is no one except the sparrow nestled in her hair to witness her rubbing the heels of her hands along the sides of her face, or hear the slight hitch in her breath as she struggles to regulate it.

For Special Activities' plan to ferret out the traitor to work, her performance needs to feel real. This is what it's like, she imagines, to play the villain.

(It helps that she’s not entirely convinced of the younger woman’s innocence.)


Rue Lancaster stares at the ceiling, laying on the mattress in her cell. The swelling in her face has started to go down, but the coloration is still a sickly purple, green, and red mess. Someone finally brought her hair tie so her bushy mane could be pulled up into a messy bun.


There's a radio on a stool just outside her cell, playing music quietly. She's not really listening to it, or studying the ceiling for that matter. Her eyes are infocused in their staring match with the stone overhead.


It's about this time that her concentration, such as it is, is broken by the sound of footsteps. She's come to recognize by now the purposeful strides or those who come to visit.

And she's forgotten what number she was on now. Damn. Rue sits up and stares toward the door, looking more exhausted than expectant.

Rue knows the silhouette in the doorway before its owner steps into the light, not because of its small size or build, but by the shape of the wolf's head cane carried in its dominant hand. Unlike Kazimir before her, Eileen doesn't need its assistance to walk; instead, she holds it relaxed and aloft, close her side.

Her footsteps carry her past Rue's radio. Gloved fingers trace along its edge, examining its make through touch in lieu of eyes. The sparrow at her collar fixes its flinty black stare on the girl in the cell like the world's tiniest gargoyle — or a very inventive brooch.

"I'd like to apologize," she says, "for Richards' enthusiasm."

"You can tell him I forgive him, Miss Ruskin," Rue says quietly. Her heart has already dropped and the room feels even colder than it was just moments ago. She follows Eileen's movements. Tension causes the muscles in her neck to coil, Rue has to remind herself not to let her shoulders creep up to her ears.

"He was scared." Like she's scared now, but too smart to say so. And she isn't about to ask what the other woman wants. In her guts, she knows what's coming. She'd sobbed about it to Quinn just the other night. Rue closes her eyes, and waits for Eileen to continue.

"Don't you ever get angry?" Eileen wants to know. She takes a seat beside the radio and stool on an equally plain chair carved from some sort of dark, sturdy wood. The cane rests across her thighs.

The package she produces from her coat pocket is down to the last few cigarettes; they may even be some of the only left on the island with the last few weeks as stressful as it's been for anyone who calls Pollepel home (whether or not they want to). "All that cloying sweetness and light must be absolutely exhausting for you to radiate all the time."

The prisoner shifts in her seat on the bed so she can slide her feet into her ballet flats, bending down to hook a finger into the heel and tug the elastic in place. "I believe in the good in people." Rue's voice just sounds tired. "That's why I joined in the first place. It's why I fought," along side the councilwoman even, "to protect everyone here."

She stands then and approaches the bars, slipping her hand through in a deliberately slow fashion so as not to appear threatening, and switches off the radio. "I didn't hurt anybody, Miss Ruskin. And I know you either don't believe that, or you don't care." Rue swallows down a lump in her throat and rests her forehead against the bars, her fingers hanging loosely from one of the horizontal cross sections. "Would it make it easier if I were angry?" For the people, she means. Eileen, she expects, couldn't care less whether Rue wants to show her teeth or not.

Eileen uses the edge of her thumb to open the package. "Not for me," she says, offering Rue her lighter and one of the two remaining cigarettes inside. "For you, maybe."

She waits for Rue makes her selection before she drops her hand, flips the package shut, and fixes the paper lid in place with a thin rubber band. It makes an audible snap as it springs back into place.

"Conforming to other people's vision of you can be a strength, or it can be a weakness." She tucks the package into her coat pocket. The final cigarette she'll save for later. "The Rue Lancaster that your friends are canonizing isn't capable of the crimes she's been accused of, so you make yourself soft. You act that part. Big, saucer eyes, and small, trembling mouth. Your hands shake but your voice is steady. Very compelling. How do you suppose that's working out?"

Sometime between accepting the cigarette and taking her first drag, Rue's found acceptance. Her eyes lid halfway and she stares down into Eileen's unseeing eyes without fear. "I die either way, don't I?" Rue is not much of a smoker, but the condemned's last cigarette is always the best, isn't it?

"Which way serves our people better, Eileen?" It's the first time she's used the woman's given name. "What makes them feel safer from the real killer?"

"No one on this island is ever going to feel safe again," Eileen says, and there's a strange sort of gentleness in her tone that she finds herself steering into rather than away. "Our people think I can't hear them, but my birds hear everything. They say that the Ferry isn't what it used to be, that the organization has lost its way.

"They're right, but for all the wrong reasons." The chair creaks under Eileen's weight as she leans back and squares her shoulders. "The world changed, and so did we. If you want to survive, Lancaster, you need to get angry. You need to be hard."

So now the little girl curls her lip in a sneer. "What do you want from me?" She keeps one arm slid through the bars and brings her fingers with the cigarette up to her bruised lips. There's the spark in her eyes.

There's the conviction growing.

"I have given everything to you!" Not the Ferry, but to Eileen. What she saw in her leadership gave her hope that the organization could survive against the government by playing on their level.

There's no chance of going back to a normal life for Rue now. Even if they get off this island alive somehow and avoid capture. Even if she continues to avoid capture, she'll never be able to have normal describe her life ever again.

The corners of Eileen's mouth are beginning to get sore from the effort required to keep from smiling. That's better. "Not everything," she corrects Rue, and she likes to think Kazimir — may he rest in peace — might even appreciate that one. It's dramatic enough to make a good story later, even if Eileen won't be the one who gets to tell it.

If she's going to destroy what's left of her reputation, she might as well do so with a flourish. "I meant what I said about Richards. You shouldn't have been made to suffer the way that you did. A firing squad would be quickest, but we can't afford to waste the bullets. You'll hang instead."

Rue's lips come purse together tightly and her eyes burn with anger. "I always knew that's what it would come to." No traitor could be simply shot. It would have to be a spectacle to make everyone feel better.

"I didn't do it." She's not bargaining for her life. "Tell me you know that." Because after all this, she'd still hate for Eileen to believe her a traitor.

Eileen rises from the chair, hefts the cane, and taps its tip against the bars of Rue's cell to punctuate her point. "No," she says. "I don't know anything. Let that be the lesson here.

"Neither do you." She swings away from the younger woman, cane at her side, and shrinks back into the doorway like a slowly extinguishing flame. The darkness of the corridor sucks her silhouette back up. Her distinctive footfalls follow not long after.

In her chest, Rue can feel hear heart breaking when Eileen confirms her lack of faith. Her arms withdraw back into her cell, cigarette burning at her side as she slowly steps away, shoes silent over the stones. Her shuddering breaths slowly become more ragged and her head bows, eyes closed.

Slender limbs shake like branches in a windstorm with the force it takes to keep control of her emotion. The smoke curls up at her side, leaving its scent in the fibers of her sweatshirt and her curls. Her chest is heaving from the great breaths she takes. Finally, her blue eyes snap open and she stares straight ahead. There's only one thing she has left.


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