Of a Feather


eileen_icon.gif des2_icon.gif freyr_icon.gif

Scene Title Of a Feather
Synopsis Des holds true to her word and arranges a meeting with Eileen. Freyr gets more than he bargained for.
Date August 26, 2018

Ruins of Staten Island

Evening has begun to cast long shadows over Staten Island. There’s a dimly lit bar in the Rookery that’s not necessarily Desdemona’s favorite place to stage a meeting, but it’s one that was amenable to both parties. Neither liked the prospect of the other preparing an ambush in an abandoned warehouse, so a public house seems an elegant enough solution to their justifiable paranoia.

Having staked out a table in the corner, Des sits with her back to the wall and watches the entrance. An empty glass sits off to one side and a full one in front of her, one hand wrapped around the tumbler, nail tapping out an irregular rhythm as blue eyes scan the room from behind large red glasses. She’s nervous, and she feels it in the pit of her gut even if she’s tried to drown it with beer. Nervous her associate won’t show. Nervous about what will happen if they do.

Well, she has an incredible ability and a knife in each boot. She has some advantages if things should go sideways. If.

Admittedly, bar is a generous term. It certainly used to be a bar — licensed and inspected — but the date on the yellowed health certification behind the bar reads 2005. The liquor served here is distilled on-premises. It's not bathtub moonshine, but the flavor is inconsistent between batches and everything tastes a little bready. There's only a handful of people in here today, the two men handling the bar, a pair of smugglers that Des knows are on Alister’s payroll, and two greasy-looking and tattooed men sitting by the door, guns on the table between them.

One of the two faces by the door is Alexi Popov, an illegal Russian immigrant who sells services as a hired gun, stranded in the US since some time during the war. The other is Nahuel Aydin, a Turkish smuggler that's run everything from guns to cadavers before and after the war. Neither are known by Staten Island’s criminal underworld as business partners, but they seem to be sharing a drink tonight.

The man of the hour that Des is supposed to be setting a meeting for hasn't arrived yet.

But her associate is right on time.

There’s nothing flashy about Eileen’s entrance; if the establishment was more crowded, it might even be missed by those who are watching for it. She enters through the back door rather than the front and hugs the room’s periphery as she weaves her way around and between the empty tables and chairs closest to the moldering walls.

A scratchy radio in need of repair struggles to fill the bar with the dulcet but somewhat dated notes of a song that Desdemona recognizes as Brandy by — of all the popular bands of the 70’s — Looking Glass.

The universe apparently has a sense of humour.

It may or may not be kind.

Judging by the slight tip of her head in the radio’s general direction, this coincidence hasn’t escaped Eileen’s attention either. She joins the brunette at the table and sinks down into a chair at her left, bringing with her the familiar smells of earthy perfume, damp hair, and tobacco.

Des lifts her head when Eileen enters her periphery. There’s a rueful snort of half-hearted laughter for the jukebox and the universe’s sense of humor. She may not quite understand exactly how close to home it hits for the other woman, but she’s aware enough to have a reaction.

“Good to see you,” she greets genuinely, lifting her glass in her hand along with her brows. “Can I buy you a round?” As opposed to just helping herself which… to be fair, is not likely to go unnoticed with the place as sparsely populated as it is.

Eileen’s first thought is that she doesn’t know how Kazimir’s ability interacts with poisons, and perhaps she shouldn’t be putting anything into her body that Desdemona has potentially handled — whether that’s smoke pulled from the filter-end of a cigarette or a glass of gin, neat.

Her second thought is that she has nothing to lose except her life if she tries, and the fact she’s agreed to meet the other woman here at all suggests she doesn’t place much value in it to begin with.

“Surprise me,” she suggests. That’s a yes.

The smile that had been threatening breaks out wide across Des’ face now. “I can’t promise it’s gonna be a good surprise,” she apologizes in advance, her head tipping toward the wall as she stands, encompassing everything that goes along with this place. One doesn’t go to Staten Island for top shelf offerings.

Unless you pal around with Margaux Maxwell enough, maybe.

Giving her back to Eileen is a calculated risk, but it’s a fair enough exchange for trusting her to buy that drink. If Eileen wanted to kill her, Des expects, she wouldn’t have picked somewhere public to do it. There’s a twinge in her stomach from another time and place that reminds her that public setting isn’t always a deterrent. But her associate is no Hiro Nakamura.

After a few moments at the bar - it’s not hard to get the tender’s attention - Des returns to the table with a glass of beer for the other woman, setting it down on the table top in front of her before she reclaims her seat. “Enjoy.” As much as you can. Des is decidedly not picky about her drink. It’s the right kind of warm going down that spreads out when it settles and it takes the edge off of I hate literally fucking everything.

Does it?

Eileen rubs the tips of her fingers together either for lack of anything better to do with her hands while Desdemona is placing their order, or because she’s having a difficult time resisting the urge to light another cigarette. Desdemona can see the yellowed stains under her fingers, sans gloves, and smell the last one she smoked on the boat she chartered to get here.

“I suppose this is the part where I ought to tell you I’ll kill you and everyone you care about if this is a setup,” she says, hefting the glass, “but that seems needlessly dramatic. Also: Untrue, and I’m tired. So.”


She drinks.

“It’s a short list,” Des admits with a shrug and a frown. She takes a drink. “Wouldn’t take much energy. Or you’d just get bored fast. Either way, it’s not worth it.” A baleful look is given to her own beer, but it only lasts a moment. No, it doesn’t quite take the edge off after all.

Darker blue eyes roll up toward the ceiling as Des rocks her brunette curled head to one side, then the other, back and forth. Dithering. She glances around the bar again, eyes narrowing for a moment as she considers. “Maybe you’ll humor me a moment. I’ve seen where you come from.” The world that looks so bright compared to the one they’re currently residing in. “Did you get recruited for Arthur’s defense force?”

She doesn’t know. In that year she spent in another world, her exit was just days before Eileen’s world came crashing down.

Eileen barks out a hoarse laugh around the rim of her glass that isn’t entirely voluntary. She tries swallowing it with a mouthful of beer and waves Desdemona’s question off with a vague but still somewhat aggressive gesture of her hand.

That’s a no.

“I didn’t imagine so, but… He’s slippery.” That’s to say stranger things have happened. Des doesn’t linger on the subject. She has the answer she wanted. Instead, she gives her companion a concerned look. “You okay there?”

There’s an instinct to clap her hand gently on the other woman’s back, but Des has since been told what she suspected. Touching Eileen is ill-advised at best. “Sorry. I didn’t mean to… I don’t know. I guess I did mean to pry. I’m sorry.”

Eileen reaches up to wipe the foam from her top lip with the curve of her thumb. “Here’s the truth, Odessa,” not Desdemona, “it doesn’t matter where I came from, or why. The way back is closed.”

She sets the glass back down on the table’s surface and steers a look toward the two men lingering by the front door. “You ought to talk to Richard about putting a lock on it though,” she suggests. “He has no fucking idea what else is on the other side.

“It isn’t Petrelli.”

Across the bar, Alexi Popov rises from his seat and walks outside, fishing a pack of cigarettes out of his jacket while his accomplice Mr. Aydin leans back in his chair and nurses his drink. Alexi makes it outside, lighting up the cigarette and walking to the front of the bar where an oil lamp illuminated the bar’s signage. He reaches up and dials the lamplight down slowly until it goes out, then continues to silently smoke his cigarette in peace.

Inside, Nahuel looks out the front window, noticing the lamp gone dark, and tips back his drink with a sharp gasp. Settling the glass down, he rises up and ambles toward the back door of the bar. There, outside on the otherwise empty back porch lit by a pair of oil lamps, Nahuel dials one lamp down until it goes out, then walks to the edge of the porch, unzips his fly, and pisses off the back.

The way back is closed. Of that, Des has very little doubt. “I guess what mattered to me,” she admits, “is why.” But with that answer given - the reason she would have expected eliminated - she can make a few guesses as to what would make someone want to leave that world behind and come to this one. None of them are cheerful reasons, and Des feels a pang of sympathy.

It also pleases her genuinely to hear her own name, rather than her most recent alias, even as it sends a jolt of melancholy through her. If she’d made different choices, the way her otherworld counterpart did, maybe she could have managed a friendship with Eileen. Things could have been different. Better.

Odessa swallows down her regret with another gulp of beer.

She’s not so wrapped up in her own thoughts as to not notice when the other two patrons get up from their seats. She falls quiet, gaze roaming the room. One more regret for the mountain. “You say the word,” Des glances back to Eileen briefly, “and we’re gone.” Even if they have to fight their way out.

Eileen tips a skeptic look at Desdemona, but it’s not the sort of skepticism that entirely rules out truth. Her suggestion to surprise her could have referred to a number of different scenarios.

The Englishwoman’s clothes are plain: dark denim buttoned just above her navel and a loose-fitting cotton tank top worn beneath a snugger leather jacket. Although the ability reflected in the pale blue of her eyes means she probably doesn’t need it, the cross-strap belonging to a lightweight holster peeks out from behind the lapel of her coat and serves the same purpose as a rattlesnake’s tail. The boots on her feet look practical, worn.

She dressed for trouble.

“Remind me again what’s in this for you.”

It isn’t a question.

In this world or any other, Des would be disappointed if Eileen hadn’t dressed for trouble. Des seems to be a walking magnet for it, after all. She, at least, didn’t wear a skirt to this meeting. Skinny jeans disappear beneath boots, a tank top hides beneath a navy blue hoodie. She isn’t carrying a gun, but she’s never liked the feel of one in her hand as well as the hilt of a knife.

“All I agreed to was a meeting.” Des shrugs and mutters, “Probably should have expected the muscle.” Probably. What she actually gets out of all this remains to be seen. All she might get here is a little further down the rabbit hole.

Something peculiar comes over Eileen in the moments after Des stops talking. A sense of unusual emotion stirring in her chest; a tightness and shortness of breath that comes with the sense of surprise. But there's nothing to elicit that reaction. With a moment's consideration it's clear there's a feeling of both nostalgia and palpable relief, as though she were suddenly greeted by a long-lost yet familiar and missed face. A reunion.

That's when it hits her that the feelings aren't her own. That they’re coming through the link usually reserved for such simple, primal thoughts. It is not she who is familiar at all.

The door to the bar opening awakens her from her momentary distraction. It isn't Alexi who is coming back, though, but someone else entirely. Tall as lean, hair as white as snow and groomed immaculate and short. Now the familiarity is for Eileen as well, for this man walks out of a window of memory deep in the back of her mind. A memory of rainy days, warm tea scented with lilac, of game hens roasting on a spit over a stone hearth, of family and kinship; like a distant cousin not seen since childhood come back into her life.

Odessa recognizes Freyr as well, though he's forsaken suits and sport coats for something more locally-sourced. His jacket is black canvas with copper buttons, the gray shirt worn beneath homespun wool but loose and breezy for a summer evening. His boots are well worn, glasses reflecting the multiple lanterns burning inside. He stops right after entering, turning knowingly toward the table shared by Des and Eileen, and brings a hand up to his mouth with fingers closed. The reaction is palpable in its disbelief.

Munin.” Freyr says as if the breath had been taken from his lungs, and he doesn't seem to even see Des any longer. He is transfixed on the adult seated in his vision where the ghost of a child lingers in memory. Freyr was a decade younger when last they saw each other, but he has changed little.

Eileen, on the other hand…



Eileen doesn’t make an effort to flatten her voice. There’s no concealing her surprise behind a mask of indifference, or contain the surge of energy that propels her body to standing before she even realizes it’s in motion. Chair legs scrape hard and abrupt across the soiled floorboards. Her hand grasps the edge of the table, either to steady herself — or anchor her to the furniture before nostalgia sends her wandering thoughtlessly into Freyr’s orbit.

Suddenly: Caution. Her shoulders shrink fractionally back in a shift so subtle that only Desdemona will see it by virtue of their proximity. The stunned expression bleeding the colour from her face transforms into something more guarded and opaque.

She isn’t any taller than he remembers. More angular, definitely. Harder in the same way that wood petrifies over time.

Des watches the door with a hard expression as the man she was expecting makes his way inside and calls Eileen by the name she first knew. That look shifts to the woman in question when she stands from the table.

She brings her glass to her lips for a long drink as she looks between them.

Remaining seated, she sets her glass back down, face softening some. First, she was here to lure Eileen. Now, she’s determined to protect her. (As if she needs protecting.) She waits silently, allowing her companion to drive this ship.

There is no hesitance or uncertainty as Greg closes the distance to Eileen, but nothing so informal as a movement to embrace. They weren't that close. “I'm relieved to see that rumors of your death weren't factual. I knew he trained you better than that.” There's a look past Eileen to Odessa, but Greg says nothing otherwise to the organizer of this meeting, for now.

“When word reached father about your alleged passing, we were crushed. He is in good health, as is the rest of our family,” which has considerable implications, “and he will be so relieved to know you're well. I hadn't dared raise his hopes in the event that this turned out to be a dead end.”

As Greg talks, Alexi and Nahuel come walking back in. Alexi ambles up to the bar, settling down on a stool and talking quietly to the bartender, while Nahuel returns to their table and indirectly watches the exchange in the reflection of one of the bar’s windows.

Nightingale,” Greg offers over to Des. “You've upheld your end of the bargain beyond expectations.” He looks back to Eileen, then, one brow raised. “But I am left to wonder, are the other stories true? Is Thor alive?” The others, the detritus who weren't ever really Vanguard go unasked after.

Desdemona recognizes the protective rankle of Eileen’s posture presenting itself as indecision. Her instinct is to lie, to guard Iago and the other former operative new to her circle whose code name Freyr hasn’t yet mentioned.

She doubts it’s because he considers that particular individual detritus, so she can at least take some small comfort in the assumption that he hasn’t heard all the stories. Yet.

“I work with a man whose name is Iago Ramirez,” is the answer that she settles on instead, reframing the truth rather than be caught in a lie further down the road. “We don’t belong to that pantheon anymore.”

The correction is gentle, probing, mistrustful. Here is a man who claims to have been crushed by the news of her passing which, by most accounts, was in defense of a resistance group whose mission diametrically opposed everything Kazimir ever preached.

Say nothing of the unfortunate sequence of events that ended on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in January of 2009.

At the use of her code name, Des dips her head in gracious acknowledgement. She did hold up her end of the bargain and there has yet to be a knife in anyone’s back. This is going remarkably well so far.

She begins to cycle through the other names she remembers, knowing Thor is more immediately familiar to her than it otherwise should be, given her lack of contact with most other members of the Vanguard. Eileen sheds light on the mystery quickly and allows Des to recall the conversation she had with her brother. Her chin lifts a fraction as that correction of the situation is made.

There should be popcorn for this. Now it’s getting interesting.

It takes a while for Greg to form a response to everything Eileen says. Not out of speechlessness, but of considering. She recognizes the look, though with less wrinkles than on his father’s face. The Sharrows are shrewd, patient people. Thoughtfulness has saved their lives thus far.

“I suppose none of us are, with Odin gone. But we misinterpreted his message for a very long time, so perhaps we’re not deserving of being a part of that echelon either?” Greg motions to the table Odessa and Eileen were seated at, taking an unoccupied chair with one hand and inviting himself over to sit just so within close conversational proximity to Odessa, then indicating with his eyes to Eileen’s seat.

“Things have changed,” Greg echoes by agreement. “We heard of Lord Volken’s change of heart, what happened in Antarctica. My father spent a long time contemplating what that meant for us, for our beliefs.” Greg spreads his hands. “Things have changed. We’ve seen, I suppose what you might call a new gospel.”

Greg’s eyes alight to Eileen and he smiles in that way a person with a secret does. Knowingly. “My father would like to discuss it with you, in person, at a date and time of your leisure. He has not forgotten that you were one Lord Volken’s favorite daughters, and he had not forgotten that while you betrayed his spirit, you honored his heart in the end.”

Greg folds his hands in his lap. “People change, ideas transform. But you're right, the Vanguard is dead. He would like to speak to you of the Sentinel, and what Lord Volken’s new legacy could be.” It's clear, now, that Greg doesn't know. Couldn't know, what is inside Eileen.

She’s thankful for the dim lighting in the bar’s interior, and that Volken’s blues are kissing cousin to her baleful gray-greens. As Greg sits, so does Eileen.

Her focus shifts past his familiar silhouette, past Desdemona, to the light reflected in the bar’s windows and the vague shadows that lie beyond her sight. She’s thankful, also, that they’re having this conversation inside and not among the trees where the two white ravens waiting for her return might overhear.

Lord Volken’s new legacy.

“Sentinel,” she repeats, but refrains from commenting on it even though her clipped syllables make her initial thoughts on the proposition painfully clear.

“Two questions.”

Freyr takes a seat and Des shifts in her chair ever so slightly as if to accommodate the space he requires. He speaks with authority about Volken and this new gospel. She’s had too much beer for this. Or maybe not enough. She takes another sip and casually lets her eyes wander to keep an eye on the others not participating in this conversation.

One hand abandons the glass on the table to rest on her thigh instead. Absently, she scratches at an itch just above her knee and turns her attention politely to Eileen. Two questions, she says. Des silently hopes that one is simply what the fuck.

“Sentinel,” Greg reiterates, folding his hands in his lap and crossing one leg over the other at the knee. “We aren’t what he imagined for that title, but based on the personal changes he himself made…” Greg tilts his head to the side, “it feels better. Cleaner.” A slow look is leveled at Odessa, then back to Eileen as he continues to carry on this conversation in front of her.

“But, your questions,” Greg motions toward Eileen slowly. “I promise to answer truthfully, and to the best of my ability.”

The words that come out of Eileen’s mouth are not what the fuck. (Although maybe they might as well be.)

What she asks instead is: “Was your father the one responsible for negotiating the lump sum Kazimir paid my mother to carry me, or did the old man haggle that one himself?”


Odessa sputters in surprise, a hand coming up to cover her mouth as her eyes grow wide. Oh, holy shit. She takes a moment to compose herself, eyes staying fixed — fixed — to the surface of the table instead of looking between the two others seated there.

Lowering her hand, she murmurs softly, “That seems like a very fair question.”

The look Greg gives Odessa comes with one raised brow, as if the help chimed in at dinner. But he says nothing more to the point, instead settling a look back on Eileen. “Lord Volken was a planner. I believe that particular stratagem was his design. My father is an accountant, and while he may have discussed the particulars of that arrangement, neither was much of a negotiator.”

Greg spreads his hands and raises his shoulders into a shrug. “I was, however.” There’s no pride in that revelation, though no shame, either. “That was one of my first transactions, I was twenty-six years old, and eager to prove myself. To be fair,” Greg notes with an incline of his head, “it didn’t require much negotiation at all. If it helps, I didn’t know until now that it was you. But, the year, the location…” It tracks.

“Fifty thousand pounds.”

Closest to Eileen, Desdemona senses the fine pale hairs on the back of her own arms and neck stand on end. There’s an energy in the air that wasn’t there before.

It’s not long before Greg feels it, too.

Even in the shadows of the bar, the edges of Eileen’s shape, from her tapered jaw and throat all the way down through her slender shoulders and torso, are suddenly darker. Wisps of what look like ink dissolving into water churn around her face and in the tousled nimbus cloud that is her hair.

“People pay more for racehorses,” she says.

Des could take her chances. She isn’t the one who wronged Eileen in this. But that power she wields… She all too vividly recalls what it can do to people when there’s enough raw emotion behind it. One moment she’s seated at the table, the next Odessa is sitting on the bartop. She’s abandoned her beer.

From her perch, she continues to watch the scene unfold with unguarded interest. She told Eileen that she would give her the out on this meeting if she wanted, and while her help certainly isn’t needed, she’ll hold up her end of the bargain anyway. Simply disappearing is always a fantastic way to make an exit.

Greg didn’t react much at first, playing up a more passive and less reactionary posture that is a typical strength-play in negotiation tactics. But this isn’t a negotiation, and what Eileen is doing isn’t a tactic. As the black nimbus begins to build around her pale figure, as Greg’s fingertips prickle with a familiar numbness that harkens back a sensory memory from years ago, he practically falls out of his chair.

Stumbling backwards and scrambling away from Eileen, Greg is quick to throw out a hand toward his evidently hired muscle. “Don’t even,” he warns them, even though his voice is a tight rasp when he does and lacks the usual smug air of authority he commands. Confusion fills his angular features, creases his brow with wrinkles that belie his age. Adjusting his glasses, Greg stares at Eileen in abject uncertainty, and then…


In his mind, he and the others had been looking in the wrong place all this time. How else could Eileen Ruskin have survived an alleged death on Pollepel Island, how else could she present that familiar pricking of extremities. They couldn’t find Kazimir, because he’d gone somewhere else entirely.


Lord Volken,” is Greg’s mistake, but an honest one given the black conduit’s history. Rather than explain himself, rather than circle the details of that messy, personal moment, he instead takes a knee with eyes cast down to the ground. “I knew— we knew. We’ve been searching…”

Humbly, Greg concludes that prostration with a more fervently stated, “I am your servant.”

“Oh for fuck’s sake.” Eileen forces herself to deflate, pressing out the surge of emotions through her nose and mouth in the form of a slow and thin but even breath.

The darkness recedes. Her shape regains its angles. By the time she’s taking her next breath in, the air is back to being stale and damp, absent of any sensations except for its natural humidity. A promise of the coming autumn, too, but that won’t fully manifest for another few weeks.

From Desdemona’s vantage point, she looks— embarrassed, although it isn’t clear whether for herself or for the man on the floor. “Get up, Gregory,” is the first command she issues him, which is strange because it doesn’t sound like a command at all. It sounds like there should be a please tacked onto the end of it, if she hadn’t bitten it off behind her teeth.

“It’s just me.”

There’s all manner of sarcastic comments that spring to Des’ mind as she watches the spectacle Greg makes of himself on the dirty floor of the bar. Part of her silence is rooted in not wishing to make the situation worse. The other is lack of an appreciative audience.

With the conduit’s power receding, Des slides forward until she drops down from the bar, her boots hitting the floor with a quiet slap of rubber soles on wood floorboards. She makes her way back toward the table and pauses, offering a hand out to the Vanguard man to help him to his feet.

Greg’s eyes track to Odessa’s hand, then up to Eileen. Then, maintaining at least a small semblance of dignity, pushes himself up to his feet and brushes off the palms of his hands on the back of his slacks, offering a look over to Odessa that is somewhere between mortified and disenchanted. Clearing his throat, Greg looks back to Eileen and looks her up and down with an expression that is absolutely in disbelief. When he finally closes his mouth, he lifts a hand to smooth over the side of his head.

Looking back to Odessa, who he only now realizes isn’t surprised by any of this, Greg presses his lips into a flat line. Briefly, he checks on his two bodyguards, both of whom have backed to the edges of the room with wide-eyed horror. The bartender and the other client have evacuated out the front door in the interim, and Greg motions for Alexi to find them. He obliges, gladly hustling out the front door in pursuit.

“I imagine you… have quite the story.” Greg’s throat tightens as he looks Eileen up and down, now uncertain as to whether he should have stood or not. “I… meant no offense, discussing your surrogate. It was a business transaction, and… some time ago. I apologize I didn’t give it the appropriate weight.” Brows furrowed, Greg looks away to a discarded can on the floor, and then back to Eileen.

There’s so many things he wants to ask, but Greg can’t seem to find the voice for it.

Being seated at a table while everyone else around her stands is one of many things on a long list of awkward scenarios that make Eileen uncomfortable. She pushes away and then up, stepping around Greg’s overturned chair. Fingers drag through her hair and draw it off her face, smoothed behind ears and slick at her nape.

“Can we— act like the human beings that we are,” she suggests, “because I’d very much like to just…” However she intended to end this sentence, she apparently changes her mind halfway through because she waves the second half off it off at the same time she turns away, showing Greg and Desdemona her back.

She breathes in again.

Then out.

“My second question was about Yvette.”

When that recognition seems to dawn on Greg - that she was in on this little surprise - Des offers a smile even as the hand up is rejected. Not so clever now, are you? Moving the rest of the way to the table, she reclaims her seat with an ease she has very little right to. Her smile fades.

Recollections of Yvette are vague at best, but Des knows her by reputation. She shifts in her chair, reaching forward to wrap her left hand around her glass again, but doesn’t lift it just yet. So much talk of family. Odessa has all the stigma that comes from having been a part of it briefly without any beneficial balance. Not, she considers, that she deserves it. But try and explain to anyone that she may as well have been in charge of the dry cleaning for all that her reputation within the organization is.

Straightening his shirt and clearing his throat, Greg casts a look over to the front door of the bar, then exhales a slow sigh as he rights his chair, brings it back to the table, and settles down in it with an attempt at regaining some measure of civility. In spite of the pretenses, however, he can't shake a certain haunted look when attention drifts back to Eileen.

“She is well,” is Greg’s simple answer, given as he smooths his hands over his pants, then crosses his legs once more. “Not in the US, either. But safe at Father’s side.” Folding his hands in his lap, Greg’s brows furrow and his chin alights just so. There's a quick look over at Odessa, furtive and yet inspecting, briefly attempting to gauge her mood and disposition, before attention returns to Eileen.

“Was there…” Greg hesitates, reconsidering his approach as he searches up and down Eileen with a look. “Can I be of any further assistance? Or should I tell my father you're interested in meeting face to face?”

“I’ll speak with Iago,” Eileen says, and while she might not mention Danko or Lang, it’s a fair assumption — at least from Desdemona’s point of view — that she’ll confer with them as well before she makes any firm commitments.

She turns her head enough to show a sliver of iris and white. “Depending on where your father and Yvette will be coming from, we can either arrange to see him here or back west. He has more enemies in New York, even if most of them don’t know who he is yet.

“Or who you are.”

Des meets Greg’s stare with a subtle lift of her eyebrows. She seems perfectly content to listen to the negotiations without interjection. The pad of her forefinger taps soundlessly against the glass in her hand as she turns her attention back to Eileen. The corners of her mouth fold down at the notion of the snake hiding in the Safe Zone grass. She resembles the implication, after all.

The last of her beer is drained, the glass settled back on the tabletop with a quiet thud. Her hands fold in her lap. She draws in a deep breath, holds it for a count of three, and then lets it out slowly.

“Here will do, he's coming from Vanaheim in Turkey.” Greg’s mention of a Vanguard installation Eileen isn't familiar with stokes memories of interrogations about secure facilities, sessions with Agent Epstein where she would betray her former family. Such as they were.

“In the interim, I'd recommend we keep… minimal contact.” Greg offers a look askance to Des, then back to Eileen. “My father and I are… both very interested in your future, Eileen. Even more so now that you seem to…” his composure falters some, “to have taken on His mantle.”

Looking at the floor, Greg seems to have lost his sense of elevation, the detachment that allowed him to treat Eileen as others had: a child. Though it says nothing good of his character that it took seeing the conduit to change his behavior. People have great difficulty changing. As those in the room can attest.

“As for you, Ms. Price,” Greg levels a look at the brunette, “we will discuss your future after my father has arrived. We will honor my promise to you, as you honored yours.” Greg looks back to Eileen, one brow raised. In the distance, two muffled gunshots chime out. There would be no witnesses to today’s meeting. This all feel so dreadfully familiar.

“I look forward to serving you,” Greg says with a slow incline of his head, “when you are ready to be served.”

Eileen startles at the gunshots. Her focus veers from the man at her back to the world beyond the door. Small perching birds that had been settling in for the night explode from the trees and dense tangles of ivy covering nearby buildings. Even from inside, Desdemona and Greg can both hear their shrills of alarm rippling through the flock as they scatter in different directions.

Two white ravens are left behind, stoic and unimpressed.

The corner of Eileen’s mouth tugs into an expression that’s difficult to read because it doesn’t have the opportunity to fully form. “There is one thing you can do for me,” she tells him, then.

Whether or not she approves, this small act of barbarism reminded her.

“There’s an— asset I need disposed of,” Eileen says. “It needs to be handled in a very particular way for my safety, and for the safety of the people around me.”

Des tilts her head to one side as she’s addressed, waiting to hear if their agreement remains. She nods once to signify that she accepts the terms. She will have to continue playing the waiting game, but she may yet see returns from this risk.

The gunshots only cause her to flinch. As soon as the triggerman had been ordered to pursue, she’d been expecting the noise. She remains detached because that’s how she continues to survive. Protesting that no one would believe them… It wouldn’t have served anyone.

Whatever reverie Des might have been inclined to sink into is interrupted by Eileen’s request. There’s a brief vice grip in her chest as she wars with herself over how to respond, including whether to respond at all. So much for detachment. One hand slides from her lap and curls around the seat of her chair. Nostrils flare, but Odessa remains silent.

Though this was a day he had hoped would come true, it has taken a shape and form he could never have anticipated. Greg straightens himself and folds his hands behind his back, and there is pride in his eyes behind the frames of his glasses when he is able to say, “I am at your service.”

This is where he belongs.

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