On Second Chances


eileen_icon.gif magnes_icon.gif raith_icon.gif

Scene Title On Second Chances
Synopsis Magnes consults the Vanguard Remnant on what to do about James.
Date July 31, 2010

Southern Brooklyn

Small, dingy restaurants in poorly-lit neighborhoods aren't the most desirable of dining destinations unless you're like the Remnant, operating on a paltry budget and dislike drawing attention to yourself. The little Moroccan place in Southern Brooklyn that Eileen has chosen for their meeting with Magnes is exactly that, but the food is savoury and the portions generous; a spread of lentil soup in a deep copper pot, couscous, mutton and hot pastries filled with cheese, ground lamb and vegetables leaves little room at the table for anything except flatbread and bottles of disgustingly cheap beer.

Eileen favours a glass of green tea infused with mint and a hearty stew that smells of honey and almonds. She hasn't spoken much during the course of the meal — hasn't needed to. The Englishwoman has Jensen Raith with her, and if there's one thing that Jensen Raith is good at, it's talking.

Having worn his best for the meeting, black sneakers, a pair of blue jeans, and a black t-shirt with white letters that say, 'I Tried To Date The Woman Sitting Across From Me', Magnes is hunched over his food, taking a close look at some things. He's apparently unfamiliar with this particular cuisine. "So, don't freak out or anything, I haven't made any real decisions, but I've been thinking of leaving the Ferry. Not because I don't like you guys, but because I'm afraid of putting you in danger with the stupid things I do sometimes."

Then, he points at the mutton, "And what the hell is this stuff?"

"It's sheep," Raith replies plainly, "Cooked and spiced, yummy yum. It's good, you'll love it." Unlike Magnes, Raith has been happily attacking his food, mixing bits of everything with bits of flatbread as if it might be the last meal he'll eat. Maybe he thinks it will be. He is Jensen Raith. "Just, be careful what you chase with beer, or you could be in for a very bad surprise. Now-" Just briefly, the ex-spy pauses from eating- "What was that before you asked about the mutton?"

"Alternatively," Eileen suggests, "you could make an effort to change." She places her fork on the edge of her plate, rests her hands on the edge of the table and laces her fingers together, silver rings glinting under the restaurant's washed-out lights. She's apparently eaten her fill, and although there's still half a glass of tea left to her right, she gives the man sitting across from her — who did indeed make an attempt to date her at one point — her full attention.

Magnes sticks a fork down into the mutton, then slips it past his lips and chews. He makes a bit of a face, but otherwise swallows and goes for another. "I try, I really do, but when I stop making my old mistakes, I go and make a new one. It's like I'm a prodigy at making mistakes. I don't know what to do. I'm not even allowed to see the kids anymore. And there's this whole James situation, my girlfriend's crazy ex. If I turn him into the cops, or the Company, he could sell out Gun Hill. I can't risk that, and so far the only solution I can think of is just giving him a full memory wipe and sending him on his way to some new life, or at the very least, making him useful to the Ferry."

"There's a solution to that situation that hasn't been brought up yet, trust me," Raith says before taking a swig of his beer. The look on his face is indication enough that, yes, the stuff is disgustingly cheap. "But you listen about your mistakes, listen good. The problem you have, the reason you keep going on to make bigger and bigger messes, is this. You want to be a rock star." A sagely nod. "Think about that for a second, mull it over. And if you can't quite make sense of it, I will go on to explain."

Magnes doesn't drink the beer, the last thing he wants to do is barf up a bunch of mutton. He starts trying some of the other dishes, some he likes more, some less. "If you mean it's the attention I want, that's not it. I don't want attention. I put on the mask because I don't want Magnes J. Varlane to be a public figure, but I know I'm always gonna be going out there and saving people, I can't avoid it. That's the part most people don't understand… how can you understand unless you can fly and lift heavy things and… do everything I can. Do you know how it feels to sit around letting things happen that are fully within my capability to stop?"

"How can you understand unless you're sitting behind the scope of a rifle, able to save a girl from being beaten to death by her father, and you don't because the people in charge told you it's a bad idea? To be fully capable of stopping something horrible from happening and not, because you were told not to do anything about it?" It might not have been the best question to ask an ex-Delta Force operator. "What I mean, Mags, is that rock stars do their own thing. The rock star is the one out of stage, in makeup and costume, getting the attention because that attention allows them to connect with people. Whether or not you want Magnes J. Varlane to be a public figure, you want to be a rock star, just using super power instead of star power to try to stop horrible things from happening. Rock stars make mistakes and get into trouble. It's what rock stars do. It's the price of admission. You follow me?" And abrupt turn of his head to the side, to face Eileen. "You follow me?"

Eileen is quiet. Her eyes seem to be studying Magnes' face, but at least one other person at the table knows that this is impossible. The only view she has is the one provided to her by the pigeons perched on the other side of the window, raindrops clinging to their ruffled feathers and distorting the vague shapes on the other side of the glass pane. Her white cane rests against her thigh. It's the subtle change in the inflection of Raith's voice that informs her she's being addressed.

Yes, she follows him, but if he's seeking affirmation then he's better off looking elsewhere. "I'd like it if we could start from the beginning," she tells Magnes. "Who's James, and what has he done to Elaine?"

"Yeah, I guess I get it. If I'm gonna keep doing this costume thing, I need to be prepared for the consequences, right?" Magnes makes an educated guess, then turns to Eileen so he can explain. "James is the guy from the video, the fight I had so I could get him caught on tape being crazy, which I was going to lead into him getting arrested, but that won't work anymore. He's her ex boyfriend, thinks he can just come and take her away, a super stalker that can't let go. He has some crazy ability that I can't figure out, he can take anything I dish at him, then dish out just as much to me. It's not gravity, it's… something else, I don't know. He's very dangerous, he cut her, and he broke Sable's hand. He gut punched me into the sky."

"Sounds like a class act," Raith deadpans back to Magnes, "He could be a pretty serious problem, I'll give you that, since it sounds like you're lucky you're even alive right now." Rock stars, feh. "Magnes, all three of us know that as soon as he started causing trouble at Gun Hill, he became our problem, too. Maybe our problem more than yours." But Raith is not in charge. Eileen will have to field the answers. Raith simply ladles himself a little more soup.

"Removing both yourself and Elaine from the safehouse was the correct decision," Eileen says, "and I won't fault Doyle for refusing to give you access to the children until the situation is resolved or Gillian returns and says otherwise, but there's absolutely no excuse for confronting him in public." Outside, the pigeons flick the water from their feathers and shift their focus from the restaurant's interior to the opposite side of the street, empty but for a few parked cars and a rusty bicycle someone left chained to a wooden lamppost. The mainland isn't the safest place for either her or Raith to be, especially in light of recent events, and while she appears relaxed, there's tension threaded through her voice when she speaks. "I understand that you don't want to take his life. Know, though, that if you don't, then Jensen and I will."

"How do you plan to fight someone who can't even be hurt? He stopped a punch that was at least five hundred pounds, with his fist. I fought him in public because I wanted him on film being dangerous, then when I beat him I could send him to the cops, but I can't do that anymore since he's a security risk." Magnes returns to the mutton, apparently starting to acquire a taste for it rather quickly. "I'm trying to get in contact with the Haitian. I could call Claire, but I really don't want to talk to her. I only know two other people who could contact him, but I have the number of that one guy, too, Claire's father, the guy from the comic. HRG. He doesn't have to die if we can mindwipe him, right?"

"No promises," Raith says. It's not the joking sort of 'no promises' that he sometimes offers as an answer, either. This matter is entirely serious. "Erasing the memories doesn't erase the personality. We give him a blank slate and set him free somewhere, and he just picks up where he left off, finds a new Elaine to torment. And the next one, well, she's not going to have angels like us watching out for her. Worse still, there's no guarantee that a mind wipe will even be a permanent operation. Eileen's memory was erased-" There is a brief hitch, Raith pausing to consider whether or not he should go on. The answer is 'yes'- "And it wasn't permanent. All those memories came back, like she never lost them." Not exactly true, of course. "What happens when his memory comes back, and then he comes back, even more pissed off than before? Where does he stop, then?"

"You know that I can't do this, right? That I can't just… have someone killed. We help Gabriel through his problems, right? You give me chances despite my mistakes, I hear Doyle used to be into some dark stuff. What I'm saying is that, before you decide to just kill him… let me beat him, somewhere the public can't see, I already know how to get him there, then when he's weak enough, you take him and the Ferry can evaluate if he can possibly be changed or not, to be an asset." Magnes suggests, trying his best to somehow find a solution other than murder. He's clearly adamant on this.

"Magnes." That's as far as Raith gets before he pauses a moment to think. "Okay, so maybe you're right. We did give everyone a chance. Even Gabriel got a chance, que batard." Raith suddenly gives a quick look around, obviously double-checking that, yes, Gabriel is not watching them before he addresses Eileen, in French, his voice only pleading just a little bit. "«We should give Gabriel a chance to 'evaluate' this James.»" It's likely that Magnes can pick out the two names given, but without a good grasp of French, well. It's just another of Raith's quirks. "It's only fair, don't you think?"

"Oui," is Eileen's solemn agreement, "«but before we do, I want to see how this one handles himself. Don't forget why we're here.»" There's a note of apology in the Englishwoman's tone when she switches back to her native tongue, remorse for consulting with her companion in a language that the third person at their table doesn't understand. "Two weeks, Magnes. Will that be enough time?"

"Huh?" Magnes is suddenly snapped back from trying to somehow comprehend French, then quickly nods. "Oh, yeah, two weeks is enough. I have something resembling a plan, I just need to get everyone together so we can get on the same page. The last piece of the puzzle is a location. I had to hold back because we were in public, we'd have destroyed that entire street. I need somewhere I won't have to worry about people getting hurt…"

"How about the Greenbelt?" Raith suggests, "Blood Root Valley, specifically. Get right in the middle of it, and there's no one and nothing around for at least a half mile in any direction. Besides-" The ex-spy raises up his hand as if to say, 'duh!'- "Blood Root Valley. Middle of nowhere, menacing name. It's perfect."

"Yeah… I think that'd work. I could let go and not worry about destroying things. Daphne could get everyone to a safe distance once I lured him out." Magnes gives a swift nod, then goes back to digging into the food. "This will definitely work. We're living at Siann Hall now, by the way, room 404. I'd really like it if you'd talk to Elaine, Eileen."

She isn't so quick to return to hers. Instead, she reaches into the pocket of her silk-lined coat, brushes her fingers over the chain attached to her antique pocket watch, and produces a small clip of cash folded in half and held in place with what looks like lightweight silver clasp with flower engravings, which she then offers to Raith. When it comes to selecting an appropriate amount to cover the cost of their meal, this is a task best performed by someone capable of reading numbers. "Is there a particular time that you'd like me to come by?"

"Maybe around 5PM some time? We're usually off work by then unless Miss Strauss is hammering me with work, so we usually take that as 'us' time until it's time for band practice and everything." Magnes reaches into his pocket for a wallet, holding it up. "Let me pay some too."

The sound of dollar bills sliding through Raith's fingers is as much as indicator as anything that the mean, if not the conversation, is at an end. "You want to pay for some, you can cover the tip," he says to Magnes, "Or then again, don't worry about it. Really, don't worry about it. You have enough to worry about already. Buy your girl something nice, instead." An appropriate amount of currency is placed on the tabletop, and the rest is placed back into Eileen's hand before Raith stands up from his seat. "We'll be seeing you around, kiddo. Finish up whatever you like. We've got places to be and people to hide from." Once Eileen is up and ready to go, that's that. The two Ferry operatives move to the exit, out onto the street, and disappear into the crowd like ghosts, leaving Magnes alone to 'finish up,' and ponder just what, if anything, he's going to buy his girl. It's still, on top of everything else, one more thing to worry about.

Thanks a lot, Raith.

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