Line of Questioning


eileen_icon.gif raith_icon.gif

Scene Title Line of Questioning
Synopsis Raith and Eileen disagree about how truthful to be with Liette.
Date May 5, 2010

Old Dispensary

It's mid-morning when Raith tracks down Eileen in the dispensary's kitchen, still bundled up in his arctic gear. Or maybe it's early afternoon? Between the miserable skies and the difficulty that everyone is doubtlessly having going to sleep, it's getting difficult to tell. What isn't difficult to tell, however, is the reason why Raith is bundled up in his arctic gear: Held in his hand is a small, dead and perhaps slightly frozen rabbit, the latest victim of the snares that the Remnant has taken to setting up around their home on the off-chance they should happen to catch something to augment their stores of food.

"Look what I found this, whatever time it is," the ex-spy remarks as he pulls his snow goggles off his face, "Not a lot of meat, but still tasty. Probably."

For the past few days, breakfast at the Dispensary has consisted of warm rice porridge with ribbons of honey stirred into it, hot coffee off the stove and poached eggs with stale rye bread to conserve oil and fat. This morning is no different except for the fact that portions are smaller than the day they were before; although they have enough supplies to last them a few more weeks, Eileen intends to stretch them as thin as she can without making any unnecessary sacrifices. Fresh fruit and meat, with the exception of small boons like the one dangling lifelessly from Raith's hand, were two of the first things to go.

"Put it by the sink," she says as she sets a steaming cup of coffee down by Raith's place at the table where a bowl of porridge is already waiting. Dressed in a heavy sweater, denim jeans and a pair of thick wool socks, coat hung over the back of her chair, the Englishwoman doesn't appear as though she intends to stay at the Dispensary much longer now that breakfast preparations are out of the way. "Do you mind bringing something up for Jenny when you've finished?" she asks. "Gabriel can help himself to the pot."

"Yeah, I figure I can handle that," Raith replies. Unceremoniously, he drops the dead rabbit where he has been requested to, and begins to peel off his outer-most layers. Although it's cold inside, it's not the subzero wasteland that it is outside. "So, I noticed that you stayed out in the truck all night, not long ago," he adds to the end of his last remark, "It's going to take weeks at least to get the cigarette smell out, if it can be done at all. What was that about?"

Eileen's response to Raith's question is to unsheathe the hunting knife he wears at his hip on her way past him, metal gliding smoothly over leather, and move the rabbit from the counter to a wooden chopping block reserved for butchering the chickens they sometimes pick up during excursions into Chinatown. "I didn't think you'd mind," she says, rolling the carcass onto its back so she can sever the tendons at its knees and elbows. She punctuates her next statement with the wet crackle and pop of a leg snapped off between nimble hands. "You smoke in the cab."

"Forget the smoke. What were you doing out there at all?" Raith doesn't cushion this question in anyway. It is direct, blunt, and just a bit forceful. It's clear that he, at least to some extent, has decided that this particular action is worthy of his undivided attention. "In this weather?"

"I needed to clear my head." Eileen repeats the process with the rabbit's remaining upper limb but isn't able to completely separate it or its mate from carcass without assistance from the hunting knife. She's done this a handful of times before and completes each step with the precision Raith has come to expect; he was the one who taught her how to do it.

Two incisions identical to one another are next and follow the shape of the rabbit's hind legs from the inside of its knees all the way down to its genitals. She peels the skin off its small, wiry frame and finishes the first half of the job by lopping its head into the sink. "There was nowhere else to go."

That's not exactly the answer that Raith wanted, but he's learned enough to know that it's probably the only one he will get. "Couldn't go to the basement?" he asks, still pushing for something a little more than what Eileen has given him. His coat, he deposits onto the table, generally unused anymore. No gun today: It's cold enough that the lubricants inside might freeze and make everything useless. It's gotten that bad.

Eileen navigates the rabbit's underside with the edge of Raith's knife, careful not to puncture its stomach or intestines as she works. Gutting is the most difficult part, and even one wrong move has the potential to spoil the catch. "The basement doesn't have a heater," she says, splitting cleanly through the carcass' ribcage. Most of the organs slosh into the sink along with the discarded head, but its hips have to be pried apart with her fingers so she can manually untangle its intestines and coax them out. "Is there an end to this line of questioning?"

Raith moves past Eileen and takes his place by the stove, sitting in one of the chairs that seems to have been permanently moved away from the table to where it's warmer. His response to her question about his questioning ending or not is a simple one: "Sure."

"Good." Eileen hangs the carcass on one of the hooks above the sink and towels off her hands, which do not lose their pink cast even after the blood has been wiped from them. Her face, too, is paler than Raith remembers it being; even her lips are washed out and cheeks ashen. Although she isn't shivering thanks to her proximity to the stove, there's an uncharacteristic stiffness about her movements that's more apparent up close but easy to ignore if he chooses to. "Have you been with Fournier to see Liette yet?"

The slight pallor that Eileen has taken on does not go unnoticed by the ex-spy. Neither does the apparently strange condition of her hands. Not looking healthy. Who among the Remnant is looking healthy lately? "I have," he answers, "I'd say it went well."

She reaches up and pushes away several strands of flyaway hair from her face with the heel of her hand, no smudge left on the marble white skin of her brow. If the Dispensary had running water, she'd wash them but will have to make do with one of the jugs in the bathroom inside when she takes her leave of the kitchen and finishes getting ready to go wherever it is she plans on going. That Eileen hasn't said anything to him about her plans implies more Ferry business. "Did you tell her?"

"That she has a mother now? Yes, we did." It's a casual reply to a less-than-casual question. Par for the course coming from Raith, who is only now taking his gloves off and repeated curling and uncurling his fingers. Protection or not, it's still cold enough to make them feel stiff. "She took the news well," he says, before adding, "We need to try and get some more heat packs, just in case."

Disapproval chisels Eileen's features into something harder and more taciturn, less sphinx and impassive. She leans her hip against the counter, tosses the towel onto the cutting board and seeks out his eyes with hers.

It probably isn't the heat packs that she takes issue with.

What begins is a stretch of silence that lasts for an uncomfortably long time, accompanied by a staring contest between Raith and Eileen that lasts just as long as the silence. It falls to one of them to resume the conversation they were having moments ago, and as a testament to his frayed nerves, caused by a combination of the weather, the situation with Liette and a building falling on him, the ex-spy blinks first.


The look Eileen is giving him tells Raith that he knows what.

After another moment, Raith's face brightens up with obviously false- mocking- understanding.  "Oh, I get it," he says, "Omitting the part about her father.  Her real father.  You don't approve of this, muffin?"

"You shouldn't either," Eileen says, and her voice is suddenly very hard with an almost brittle texture like her fingernails, pink and swollen around their cuticles, but sharp enough to sting if she were to strike him. It's also very quiet. "You were with him in Baltimore."

"Yes, I was.  And fortunately, I know better than to let something like that cloud my judgment."  Just as Eileen's hardens, Raith's too changes, taking on an edge he normally reserves for when he has someone cornered.  Maybe he thinks he's got her cornered on this particular issue.  "We know everything we need to know about Liette," the ex-spy adds, "We know that she believes another man to be her father.  We know that she throws temper tantrums when she doesn't get what she wants.  And we know that she's capable of destroying a safehouse, should her powers get out of her control.

"So, you tell me Eileen.  If I were to challenge her entire world view by claiming the man she believes to be her father in fact is not, don't you think there's a very good chance she might have a hard time believing that.  A good chance that she might throw a tantrum and kill several people who don't deserve it, along with leaving you one safehouse short and possibly even crippling your network's ability to maneuver?  You did consider that possibility, didn't you?"

"I have," Eileen replies steadily, "and if she's as unstable as you say, then whatever she does now can only pale in comparison to what she'll do when she finds out that we've been just as withholding as Luis. She deserves the truth, Jensen."

One of the benefits of staying on her feet is the rare height advantage it gives her over almost anyone else who's sitting down, Raith included. For once, she's the one looking down and he's the one looking up. "If not from the man who claims he's her father, then from the one who is."

"Truth is such an elusive thing, Eileen," Raith replies, "An elusive, dangerous thing, and I can only assume that you have some sort of plan in the back of your mind.  What, I tell her what's what, and then we use her against Luis?  I'm sure she'll appreciate that just as much as being lied to, Eileen.  So, tell me again."  This time, the man leans forward in his chair, resting his elbows on his knees.  "If I were to challenge her entire world view, et cetera, et cetera, would the inevitable consequences of that be worth whatever advantage you hope to gain?"

"Advantage." The word comes out sounding hollow. Empty. Eileen places a hand on the edge of the counter and curls fingers around it, arm growing rigid as she straightens her back and draws herself fully upright. He might not have her cornered, but the position she's in clearly isn't the one she wants to be. "That's what you think this is about?"

"You don't know Liette any better than I do, hardly at all.  You don't know her sister at all.  You don't care for who she grew up with.  Her mother is just a face to you, and as it stands I have no emotional investment.  You have absolutely no reason to care whether or not she knows who her real father is."  Silencing himself for a moment, Raith leans back, perhaps for effect, or perhaps to give Eileen time to consider what he's just said.  "Unless you think you can gain some advantage over your enemies from it, you have no reason to care.  And since you're no bleeding heart, you won't without some advantage."

Eileen must be considering what Raith says because she lets him finish before she cracks her opposite hand across his face with the same ferocity and swiftness she'd used to handle the carcass but none of the precision. It's quick, sloppy, and she probably doesn't mean to split his upper lip with her knuckles by slicing them over his teeth; only when the back of her hand comes away bloody do the muscles in her own face grow abruptly tense to keep remorse from showing in its otherwise livid expression.

Raith reacts to the strike perhaps as expected, or perhaps not: He doesn't fly out of his chair to strike back.  Rather, he spends a second after his head jerks to the side to apparently collect himself, running his tongue over his freshly bloodied lip to confirm that, yes, he is now bleeding from his lip.  There is no spitting of blood and saliva onto the floor.  Rather, he simply turns his head back to look at Eileen with a slight and mocking smirk on his face.  Somehow, he's trying to turn, or has turned this event into a victory for himself.

"Oh, I've seen the light now," he says sardonically, "Yes, your unnecessary display of violence has convinced me of the error of my ways, and I want nothing more than to start a new life with my little girl."

Rather than wipe the blood off her knuckles with the towel or the sleeve of her sweater, Eileen rubs the pad of her thumb over and between them to thin it out, fingers coming away pink and wet with a mixture that includes saliva and threads in the gaps separating her fingers. "I don't know Liette," she says, tension in her voice that wasn't there before. She can't remember the last time she heard it waver, but it is now. "But I know what it's like to be a fifteen-year-old girl, and I know how it feels to be lied to by the people who I thought were my family. You have no idea what that does to someone. None."

"And you," Raith retorts, "Have no idea what it's like to try and fight fourteen years of brainwashing.  I admit that I don't either, but I don't imagine it's something you can just, accept and be done with.  So here's the deal.  You tell me how to undo fourteen years of brainwashing, and I'll tell her the truth."  Now, the ex-spy stands up from his chair, but it's not to approach Eileen.  "If you'll excuse me, I appear to be bleeding, and would like to stop."

Fin: That's all folks.  Raith is done, and he makes this point clear by turning and walking, very deliberately out of the kitchen.  Clearly, he wants to avoid saying anything else to Eileen, or hearing anything else from her, just as much as he wants to stop bleeding.

He gets his wish.

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