Officially His Own Island


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Scene Title Officially His Own Island
Synopsis He's not quite there yet, but "two more bridges" and he will be. Agent Epstein meets with Eileen to give her some information and receives a letter from an old friend in return.
Date April 6, 2010

The Nite Owl

The Night Owl isn't open for business, hasn't been for three days since the blizzard got serious about burying New York City under a mountain of snow and ice deep enough to freeze away all the sin and suffering. Maybe that's why this place is just strange enough to be a meeting grounds for two wayward mercenaries standing on opposite sides of governmental fences.

Dirty light from an aged street lamp colors the black and white tiled floor of the diner a urine shade of yellow, casts long horizontal shadows where the light spills between partly drawn Venitian blinds on the big picture windows. Seated by himself at the bar near the entrance, Avi Epstein looks like the kind of man that would be hanging around a diner like this after dark.

Seated with his back to the mar, elbows up on the bartop and one leg crossed over the other, he's the picture of relaxedness in this odd hour of night. Outside, the snow's piled up so high that the snowbanks reach the middle of the windows and the temperature is cold enough to front the interior.

His mirrored sunglasses sitting slouched on the bridge of his nose reflect that sickly color of light and the diner's door. In a diner like this, in a city like New York, there's only one young woman who could walk through that door; especially since he called her in advance and gave her the meeting details.

But that's neither here nor there.

Eileen did not wake up this morning, pop open her steamer trunk and select the sleeveless red dress that Ethan bought for her in Amsterdam with tonight's meeting in mind, and although her favourite films were produced during the time period when stylish Hollywood crime dramas were popular both in America and across the pond, she has yet to make the connection between her choice of dress and the classical images that Epstein's choice of location invokes. What's on her mind instead is a Chinese myth she read recently about how women who die in the colour red have the ability to come back and haunt those who wronged them in life.

The bell positioned above the door springs to life, filling the diner with the sound of tinkling metal as a slim figure clothed in a heavy wool overcoat, angora scarf and a black cloche hat covering a head of dark brown hair pinned back steps inside and shuts the door behind her with one small hand gloved in soft leather.

She trusts him enough to have come alone. In this weather, neither Jensen nor Gabriel will be waiting outside unless they have a warm cab to wait in, and — at least from where Epstein sits — the street is empty.

"Any' buildin' in any town, and you had to walk into this diner…" Epstein notes with a crooked smile, lifting up one hand to point a single finger at the brunette on her way through the door, one finger out and thumb raised before it clicks down and a very childish "Bang," is stated by the agent, followed by a dry laugh. "Man I'd give my left eye to be able to do that." There's probably some sort of cynical humor in that, and as Avi lowers his hand into his lap, slides off of the stool and takes a step forward towards Eileen, she can smell the strong odor of Vodka on his breath.

He sways, just a little, then reaches inside of his jacket and produces a single two inch long and three quarter inch wide black piece of plastic that says in tiny print 8 GB on the front. "Here," he says in a hushed tone of voice, pinching it between two fingers and offering it out in silence towards Eileen, his single eye hidden behind the reflective lenses of his sunglasses.

He's been drinking, probably for a while.

Live almost exclusively in the company of men as long as Eileen has and you learn to distinguish between the different types of drunk. Someone who has been wallowing in cheap beer smells different than someone who has consumed enough vodka to pickle a small elephant. Determining whether or not someone is dangerous when inebriated is a slightly more difficult task and one that Eileen has been unable to master, which is why she's very cautious when she reaches out to take the drive and turn it between her fingers as if looking at its back could provide her with additional clues about its contents.

Rose perfume with notes of cedar mingle with the reek of vodka on Epstein's breath and the aromas of smoke and tobacco wafting off Eileen's skin, hair and clothes at such close proximity. He's been drinking. She's gone through half a pack of cigarettes in the past twenty-four hours. "I've something for you as well."

"Mmnh," Avi notes with an arch of one brow up higher than the frames of his glasses. He takes a step closer, breathing in far more aromatic scents than his own vodka-saturated breath and the smell of failure. Licking at his lips, Avi's hands move down to his hips, resting there comfortable as his focus drifts from Eileen to the thumb drive, back to Eileen and then to the floor — the latter of which mostly to steady his awkwardly managed balance.

"I didn't even have to ask?" the agent queries with a crooked smile, a bubbling laugh slipping past his lips in that languidly lecherous smile.

Eileen places her hand holding the drive on Epstein's chest, not to feel him through his clothes but to make sure he remains upright as she moves around him, takes his arm in her free hand and firmly guides him back to the stool at the bar. "Sometimes," she says with a wrinkle of her petite nose, "I think you forget that you have enemies." She can fathom getting drunk in the safety of the Dispensary all the way out on Staten Island where at night there are no lights. Staggering around Chelsea in his condition isn't just reckless — it's suicidal.

Once she's sure he's sitting down and not about to lean too far to one side, keeling over off the stool, she reaches into her coat's silk-lined interior and trades the drive for an unmarked paper envelope sealed with a dab of red wax that matches the fabric of her dress beneath her heavier outerwear. "This is from Jensen."

"Pfsh," such a refined sound. "Kid I've had enemies longer'n you've been alive." Avi dismissively states with a wave of his hand, tongue sliding across his lips slowly. "If I started worry'n about who's where with what gun and— look when you get rescued from the middle of Antfuckingatctica by the people I got rescued by, your life's on loan anyway. I'm just waiting for one of those split peas to come looking for me."

Opening his mouth and letting out a noisy and acrid smelling yawn, Aviators brings a hand up to his eye afterward, rubbing at the missing one beneath the lens of his glasses. "That shit there wasn't easy to come by, so these better be naked pictures of Jensen show'n his ol' love tunnel to make up for it. The guy I was going t'get this all from got his apartment broken into, so things were a little tight."

Furrowing his brows, Aviators reaches with a fumbling touch of fingertips towards the envelope in his pocket, then stops and shakes his head before looking up at his fingertips and over to Eileen. "It's… it's not naked pictures of Jensen is it?"

"It's a letter," Eileen says, and she's not saying it because she opened the envelope, examined its contents and then resealed it. Photographs have a certain kind of stiffness and the envelope lacks the rigidity she associates with them. Rather flimsy in comparison, it flexes, flutters and bends between his fingers as he maneuvers it into his pocket. Force of habit has her touching the back of her hand to Epstein's forehead and checking him for a fever. It's fleeting, though, and soon she's looking back over her shoulder at their reflection in the glass windows as if expecting to see Sylar, Feng Daiyu or someone equally unwelcome perched on the snowdrift piled high on the other side, but there's nothing. Not even a stately black raven with a metal band clasped around its foot.

"I'm checking you into a hotel," she announces in a soft voice. "The Inn on seventeenth still has vacancies."

Leaning away from Eileen with a severely delayed reaction to the touch of a hand on his forehead, Aviators lets out a grumbling noise of discontent. "I still have shit to do tonight," he grouses with a frustrated tone of voice, "you aren't the only person I do dirty work for." Swallowing dryly, Avi lifts a hand up to touch his forehead where Eileen had, as if checking to see if he actually does have a fever. "I've got to talk to a girl about a thing."

There's a dismissive shrug of Avi's shoulders as he pushes himself up to his feet, wobbles for a moment and then slaps a hand down on the countertop, head shaking slowly as his tongue works around inside of his mouth. Blinking repeatedly, Aviators hiccups out a breath and then snorts at the air. "Alright… maybe— just for a little bit."

"Whatever else you have to do tonight can wait until you're sober." Eileen drapes Epstein's arm over her shoulder, fastening it in place below her neck with her hand, and circles her arm closest to him around his waist to help steady his frame. He's roughly Ethan's size, maybe a little heavier around the middle, but she's done this enough times to know where to provide support without emasculating him. "It's only a few blocks."

Unfortunately, a few blocks in this weather may as well be a few miles, and Eileen is glad she opted to wear flat leather boots that lace up the front with her stockings instead her more flattering heels. She leads him toward the door, tracking snow across the diner's floor and leaving a series of diminutive footprints in her wake that shimmer when the light bleeding in from outside leaks through the windows and reflects off her tracks. "Did something happen?"

He was content to be manhandled up off of the stool he was leaning against and led across the floor, the question of if something happened seemed just a little more harsh and a little less forgiving. "Nah…" Avi murmurs in response, exhaling a shuddering breath as he tries to find a way to hook an arm around Eileen's shoulder that doesn't make it seem like he's trying to cozy up to her, it's a somewhat awkward gesture. "Just burned a few more bridges is all…" rolling his tongue over the inside of his cheek, Avi has to wonder when his gums went numb from drinking, and when he got exactly this close to the bottom of the barrel.

"Two more bridges and I'm officially my own island," Avi offers with a croaked laugh, looking back at the wet prints her boots have left on the checkered floor. "Let's just… get this embarrassing walk over with, an' in the morning I can pretend you weren't really that helpful," he swallows dryly again, "an' go back to un'erestimating you."

Avi smiles at that, even if it is a bit dubious in content.

There are lots of things Eileen could say and of those that spring to mind, very few of them are kind. She's content to let her silence speak for her instead, broken only by the hushed sound of her breathing, rustling fabric and the crunch of compacted snow squeaking under her boots as she pushes open the door, steers Epstein out into the blustering winds and allows the laws of physics to dictate how it shuts behind them: abruptly, and with a loud clatter caused by the inharmonious jangling of the bell.

She'll stay with him until his face is washed, he has at least one glass of water in his belly and his head is resting on a pillow. Maybe even longer than that. It's what she feels Jensen would do if put in this position.

And Jensen, Epstein's old brother-in-arms, isn't here.

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