Nothing To Show For It


aviators_icon.gif gabriel_icon.gif raith_icon.gif teo3_icon.gif

Scene Title Nothing To Show For It
Synopsis After Eileen's last escape attempt, Avi Epstein does what was asked of him and gets punched in the head. Maybe his mouth is partly to blame.
Date July 7, 2010

The Rookery

What a night for the weather man to have no idea what he's talking about.

Staten Island is bad enough without a torrent of rain falling down, but what can be done? Struggling with barely visible roads on account of windshield wipers that are barely working (electrical short, most likely), one Jensen Raith navigates the Remant's aging pickup truck in the rain and thunder and lightning with one Gabriel Gray in the passenger seat and one Teodoro Laudani sandwiched between them for no reason other than one Avi Epstein maybe knowing something about the location and/or fate of one Eileen Ruskin. It's exactly as irritating to deal with as it is to hear someone describe it using those words.

The truck comes to rest at a vaguely pre-determined meeting point and idles for a moment before Raith kills the engine. Even with full rain gear, he is not looking forward to stepping outside the cab. "Ready to get wet?" he asks himself aloud. If Gabriel or Teo chance to answer, hey, bonus points. At least he'll know he's not alone in being simultaneously worried and pissed off.

It's fortunate that Teodoro is of a relatively lanky build, or the three of them probably wouldn't have fit in here at all. As it is, the contouring of seats and cab are poking him in odd places, and his normally easily garrulous manner has rusted down to an awkward nub. His eyes are blank on the liquid distortion of the windshield, callused hands on the dash to stop him from bouncing headfirst into a concussion or anything like that. His tongue is between his teeth, the scarred side, which means he's either distracted or being compulsively vain about an unwonted degree of salivation of late.

He cares about stupid things, sometimes, even when it would be categorically stupid on the grand scale of things. "Yep," he scrapes out, finally.

The only answer Raith really gets from the serial killer part of this equation is the squeal of the car door levered open, Gabriel letting himself fall out of the truck to land both feet on rain spattered ground and free up Teo's clearance to exit. Yes, of course he's ready to get wet, pulling up the hood of his jacket as rain comes down as hard as thrown pennies. He's a long-limbed figure of black in all the silver haze of rain, hands tucking into his pockets and pacing away from the pickup.

Neon lights on the edge of his seeing and ramshackle buildings otherwise — this would be the Rookery, and it pisses him off that he'd half-heartedly loitered down here just a night or so ago and got distracted making nice with terrorist friends. But it's a good thing that Gabriel is a moody, taciturn fucker for the most part — this kind of company is usual, for Teo and Raith.

This stretch of the Rookery is a particularly desolate one, one entire length of street with no streetlamps to give even a semblance of light. The heart of the Rookery, the part of this neighborhood most people know, lies on the glowing neon horizon thorugh the haze of heavily falling rain. This peripheral ghetto is a run down and abandoned hole, a border between the Rookery and the industrial parklands of Port Ivory.

Standing out in this torrential mess, Avi Epstein looks decidedly unhappy to be out here. Rain cascades off of his umbrella down to the sidewalk at his feet. He's — at best — haphazardly dressed. Wrinkles slacks, snakeskin cowboy boots and a white tanktop look oddly incongruent together. That he has a spare pair of sunglasses on in the dead hours of four in the morning and in the middle of a rainstorm is more to hide the unfortunate quality of his missing eye than for any other reason.

Behind Avi, a phone booth is something of an anachronism these days, its doors wrenched open and crooked, frame bent in one place at an odd angle. The phone inside is destroyed, ripped not only off of the back wall of the phone booth but the receiver is simply missing entirely.

Broken plexiglass litters the ground around the booth from where the glass of the doors is smashed open. Unfortunately for Gabriel, he's both the first person seen and the least favorite person of the three that Avi could see. "How fucking long has she been gone!?" It's a raucous shout from Avi as he starts moving away from the phone booth.

"What the fuck happened!?" Livid to the point of being red in the face, Avi's blood pressure is likely through the roof right now, and a man his age has to watch that sort've thing. Behind him, the warm pavement steams from the cold, battering rain. But at least he thought to bring an umbrella; if not for want of a proper shirt.

The weather doesn't improve when Raith climbs out of the cab, rain cascading off the poncho keeping him largely dry. It doesn't improve when Epstein starts yelling, either. "Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, what do you think happened?" Raith shouts back, not only to be heard over the rain, but also to sound just as indignant and angry as his former partner, "Been about a week." His boots crash wetly onto the pavement as he moves towards their contact, the whole bunch a mismatch of ex-military camo, casual urban and more business appropriate attire. Another time, another turn of events, and Avi Epstein might be 'Mr. Johnson' instead. "It hasn't exactly left any of us in good spirits, either, so let's cut to it, huh? I've glossed over the potatoes you gave me with everyone, so get to the meat." Those 'potatoes' being general information given over the phone. The 'meat' had better be something more concrete.

Teo has a raincoat and a jacket and a shirt. As such, he's soaked in a wide brand straight down his front in the space of three seconds, once he's runging his long legs down from the cab of the truck. His fingers streak greasily down the inside of the window, then the handle with an air-sealed vacuum pop of his damp palm. He slams the door behind him, with enough force to send a hiccup of movement through the entirety of the lightened vehicle, sliding his boots a half-inch against the tarmac underfoot. Christ, it's wet out here. Like Palermo in Spring.

More angry old men once he's outside. "It was the clusterfuck at Central Park," he adds after Raith. "You probably know more than we do." Which is to say, barely anything, if there is anything, and most of it is irrelevant anyway. Whatever Samson had taken Eileen from had been a cesspit of kill, and capture had rather obviously been somewhat less than the objective. Still, it's a little nod at Avi's, um, presumable helpfulness, at least before Gabriel blasts him into the phonebox and puppeteers him into punching himself in the dick, or whatever.

Teo would advise the cyclops hurry the fuck up, personally. His scarred face is tilted a degree or three downward in the crumpled fabric of his hood and, angled upward, his eyes catch light like the tapetum lucidum of a hyena caught on night-time camera.

Not to be unhelpful, but Gabriel says nothing. Despite being the first thing Aviators sees and subsequently brays at, the older man gets a dark look and stony silence as Raith is immediately onto it. There is, maybe, sliiight warning in the way Gabriel has his left hand lifted a fraction higher than his right one. It's the left that he pens things down in, as well as send ex-spies flying through the air (or punching their own dicks).

But he can do it with the right one too. If need be. Rain makes a racket in his own hood, but he's listening.

"How the fuck am I supposed to know!?" Avi shouts over the noise of the rain, closing distance on the three. "It's real cute that you brought your girlfriends along," isn't directed at any one of the three in specific, but could likely be lobbed at all of them at once, "but whatever was out here is fucking gone." Avi's dark brows crease together, one hand sliding out of his slacks pocket, holding up a bright red feather.

"I found this in the phone booth with the broken glass, really fuckin' helpful. Any blood might've gotten washed off. She told me to call you," Avi notes with a jab of the feather brandished towards Raith. "Heard her screaming at someone to let her go, crashing sounds, then some kind've whistling. What the fuck happened to her?"

Avi's eyes narrow into a squint. "Homesec took over the Central Park case, it got kicked three floors above my head on day one. What the fuck's going on because somehow I'm #1 on her call if kidnapped list and I really didn't sign up for that!"

Raith gives a brief look to Gabriel, figuring he might know more about whistling sounds than the rest of them. "Whatever happened in the park was big," he says, "So it's no surprise they left you out of the loop. The leash they have around your neck doesn't work so well anymore. Now calm the fuck down, I don't want to give you CPR. Tonight." And that's the end of banter.

"Long story short, bad news has Eileen captive. If you want to know more than that, talk to the Tallest-" A quick nod of his head towards Gabriel- "It's his business if he wants to let you in the loop. All I want to know is exactly how long ago she called you. Exactly."

"It's okay," Teodoro adds, his voice cinched somewhere in his throat by something wry, possibly the physical repression of the urge to otherwise punctuate Raith's nice words with vivid foreign curses. "We get that you're feeling emotional about this.

"Consider yourself humanized. It gets us right fuckin' here." He bounces a fist off his own chest, the left side, and then his hand hangs empty and taut in the wet air beside him. His eyes blink cold, and the ring of fabric around his neck is getting darker and heavier by the moment, a saturated yoke. His tongue ropes thickly down the ruined wall of his mouth, and he twists his head aside, bites back the automatic urge to spit. "Please."

Raith gets a glance only out the corner of Gabriel's eyes, his posture as tense and ready as it was beforehand and no change in demeanor in sight. Added tension, maybe, as Epstein makes his exasperation known on the last front, and his nostrils flare with a huff of a breath. Whether he recognises what the whistling means doesn't quite matter, to him — he already knows who has her. His chin tips up a little more, which mostly proves to get errant drops of rain in his face, squinted away.

There is water soaking into his boots. It's going to slosh around when he starts walking. "I don't know why she called you either," is an unhelpful kind of denial of being more inclusive than the DHS when it comes to matters of kidnapping. "But you did the right thing — we can take it from here. Tell us what we want to know and we can all get out of the fucking rain."

All of this spoken with bridled neutrality, of tested patience. The fingers of his left hand splays a fraction.

"Ten past three," is Avi's reluctant answer, "she called almost a fucking hour ago." Dark brows squeeze together and Avi's head shakes slowly, one hand rubbing through his dark hair, dry thanks to his umbrella. Swallowing only because of the lump in his throat, Avi takes a few more paces closer to the trio, then looks around the darkened street, eventually finding his focus back to them.

"She's gone, what, two weeks?" Avi's mirrored lenses reflect Raith's rainsoaked countenance, "she calls me up, screaming, and none of you have a fucking clue where she is?" Teo and then Gabriel are both slowly considered before Avi's attention settles on Raith again. "I expect that kind of amature bullshit from your boyfriends, but you?"

There's a scowl crossing Avi's lips, brows furrowed. "You'd imagine he'd have trained us better than that." For the barest of moments, Avi looks to be ready to leave it at that. "Fine," he abruptly interjects over his own silence, "fine, you go back to your nice warm, dry truck. I'm gonna go play in the water and maybe find something more useful than a fucking feather."

Perhaps Raith does have an ability. An obscure, psychic ability that only works in the presence of Avi Epstein, and only under the right circumstances. An obscure psychic ability that doesn't do anything other than make the air seem a few degrees colder.

"Oh, I get it," Raith says, taking a tone than cannot be possibly taken to mean anything other than that he is simmering with rage. "I'm supposed to feel bad about not finding her, because now you care what happens to her. You had her memory wiped and replaced with a complete forgery, but it's okay, because now, you care. You used her as a bullet shield in Madagascar, but it's okay, because now, you care."

Raith breaks ranks with Gabriel and Teo, slowly advancing towards and around Avi, moving to flank him between his partners. "You've been perfectly content to not take any action towards anything until we asked you to, even when you knew shit was wrong, but that's okay, because now, you fucking care!"

Peculiarly enough, Teodoro really had meant it when he'd said 'It's okay,' pretty much exactly about this absurd wrinkle of hypocrisy and too-little-too-late. He doesn't particularly give a fuck about being yelled at. Aviators is a one-eyed fat old dude occasionally impersonated by a sociopath whose is the preferred version to an increasing number of residents in New York, including at least two of his old tarot-code military buddies, so his opinion fails to puncture the initial few layers of Teo's ego.

On the other hand, he understands the urge to take out one's frustrations on a one-eyed fat old dude nobody likes. So. He is suddenly holding a gun that may or may not have some expanding rounds in it, pointing it at the tarmac near Aviators' vague legs-feet area, to illustrate that he is not the one who's overreacting here whilst keeping it clear whose side he's on. "Don't have to apologize," he says, "just don't— move, either?"

Except that presumably Aviators will find reason to move or at least stagger around, as on the back of Teo's instructions, Raith's fist suddenly curls up tight and goes launching with all the force in the attacker's arm (and then some) directly for that patched over missing eye. It's too bad that Teo doesn't already have puppetry — this is almost exactly like Mortal Kombat. FINISH HIM. It brings a small smile to Gabriel's face and a complete lack of apology Raith's way as his arm is released from that gripping, psychic control, his own hand having only made a fist, and now loosening.

He's pacing around the periphery of this scene in a fraction later, brown eyes wandering down to where his feet make ripples in the puddling rainwater on the ground. Coming closer and keeping his distance, he at least makes it a little more difficult for the one-eyed man to keep his gaze on all three of them.

A fifty year old man's reflexes are nothing to write home about. Even with all his training, Avi Epstein is — as Teo put it — a fat old man that nobody likes. When Raith — RAITH — punches him square in the face, Avi jerks back with a shatter of the right lens of his sunglasses, kiltering entirely off balance, umbrella out of his grip and yanked away by the wind. Landing on his backside with a splash on the middle of the otherwise empty street, all Avi can do is stare up vacantly at Raith.

Of all the people.

Steeling himself, Avi's lips twitch, sunglasses slide down the bridge of his nose, fingers splay against the wet pavement, and everything in his posture tells Raith that he's going to pull a punch of his own. But Avi doesn't just slug people, not all the time, especially not when there's a gun out that isn't his. Sure, sometimes words call for a good smack across the face with a few white knuckles, but Jensen has known Avi long enough to know that he goes below the belt whenever he can, figuratively.

"She wanted to forget," is Avi's hissed counter-attack, "she asked for it, and can you blame her?" Maybe he does feel bad now, maybe the Grinch's heart is growing eight times its normal size. Maybe he just hates being woken up at 3 in the morning for what amounts to nothing. Such is the mystique of Avi Epstein — maybe he's a huge heartless asshole, maybe he's only a little heartless asshole.

If nothing else, there is at least some clue to Avi that what just transpired was not planned. Avi speaks, and the entire time, Raith stares at his fist. Avi stops, and Raith drops his arm back down to his side. "Maybe she did want that, Lieutenant-" Apparently, we've fallen back to ranks now- "But I was with the agency long enough to know that whenever someone wants something, it's only true half the time. But you know what? I don't care about that right now. All I care about, is you clearing your head and straightening your priorities the fuck out. You're pissed off she's missing? Fine. Be useful, you sanctimonious prick. Help us find her instead of whining about how upset you are with us that we apparently let her vanish.

"When have I ever let one of my own vanish?"

Teo's contribution to this exercise is not shooting Aviators. It isn't the hardest thing he's ever done, but ought not be underappreciated. That wasn't even a particularly convincing taunt, to a man who nearly got a glass in his face for having Deckard psychically remodelled when he went all serial-killer on the relative innocents of New York City's underprivileged. "I don't think we fucking need him," he remarks aloud.

A half-beat, and he punctuates this with the relatively diplomatic noise of his gun going back on safety. "Just saying."

Thrown barbs fail to land on some marks, but it's yet undetermined whether this one went just whistling by Gabriel's ear or hit home, because his logic works differently than Teo's, or even most people's. There's a twist of a deeper scowl at Epstein's claim, but also no immediate retaliation, no jaw twitched closed hard enough to sever the tip of his lying tongue, not trigger pulled on a pointed sidearm.

This is the Rookery, they coulda gotten away with it — likely some folks caught the sight of four reasonably big guys gathering in the rain and tried to get somewhere where stray bullets wouldn't miss marks and land in peeping tom eyes.

He probably agrees with Teo, but doesn't voice his agreement. Watches Aviators instead of looks at him.

"Commander," Avi mutters as he pushes himself to his feet with one pavement scuffed palm. Brows knit together, thick fingers lift up to pull his sunglasses from his face and whip their broken frames aside. "I got promoted for losing an eye," he says with a sarcastic sneer. Looking back and forth from Jensen to Teo and Gabriel, Avi tries to find his umbrella, spotting it several feet away wedged under a car stripped of some parts and up on cinder-blocks.

"Find her yourself," Avi grouses bitterly, looking down at his scraped up palm, wiping it in a pink streak across his white tanktop now soaked through with rain, "and when you do? Tell her not to fucking bother me again." With a little bit of a limp in his step, which defeats most of his dramatic bravado of turning around and leaving, Avi Epstein takes what little dignity he has left, and goes home with it.

Admittedly, that home is a car three blocks away. But eventually, eventually.

"Lieutenant!" Raith shouts at the retreating Epstein, "You're not a Commander until you act like one!" And that is, once again, that. The ex-spy turns and starts stalking back towards the truck. "Get in the truck. He's keeping her on the island. Start thinking where you'd be."

There's a moment, there, with Epstein breaking from the group and Raith turning towards the car, the slant of Teo's glance away rendering the world unwatching and very still, for Gabriel. The rain freezes in the air, the dance of flinging droplets from each connection of falling water into puddles, and remarkable silence of a timestop all make up an abruptly alien landscape as Gabriel takes a minute to consider his options.

Two minutes.

He's already walking by the time the world is put back into motion, doggedly following the path Raith makes towards the truck.

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