Operation Paraguay, Part I


eileen_icon.gif raith_icon.gif

Scene Title Operation Paraguay, Part I
Synopsis Also known as Operation June Second. With the weather back under control and no immediate threats looming on the horizon, the Remnant finally has time to plan something for one of its own.
Date May 23, 2010

Old Dispensary

If there is something Jensen Raith does frequently, it's planning the future. He's gotten used to it. He's gotten used to doing it quickly. And for a change, planning quickly is exactly what he is not doing. The long winter is finally over, and for the first time in months, he is able to make plans that stretch beyond ensuring he will not freeze or starve to death the very next day. He is able to make plans that don't immediately concern Lorraine or Liette Fournier, and what their roles in the larger scheme of Ferrymen trickery is. He is able to take a moment and work on a plan that has no immediate rush, that has simple logistics, and perhaps most importantly, isn't about himself.

For a change, Jensen Raith is enjoying the day he has, sitting at the dining table in the dispensary that is his home, the stove finally enough to make some difference in warming the cold kitchen without needing to be right next to it, even if he still needs a coat indoors. For the first time in months, things are looking up, and nothing short of the 'worst possible case' can ruin his day, or his morning coffee.

One of the benefits to having stone steps is that it's difficult for someone to create a lot of noise when thundering down them, which is what Eileen is doing now. He won't hear her until she's exploding from the archway at the bottom of the stairs, two fistfuls of tattered fabric clutched in her hands. It was a dress at one point — Jensen might remember — but has since been reduced to frayed strips of vibrant red cloth with the Englishwoman at one end and two snarling bundles of downy fur latched onto the other.

The other puppies aren't far behind. They come waterfalling down the stairs at Eileen's heels, which wouldn't be a problem if Eileen's heels and legs weren't bare below the knee, her pale body shrouded in an even paler night shirt that she was probably in the process of changing out of when his charges got a hold of her dress. "I'm finished," she announces to the Dispensary at large. "My patience has limits!"

It's a very bizarre scene that has unfolded in front of Raith, this fact reflected by the long, measured paused as he carefully assesses the situation from a distance, looking first to Eileen, then the remains of the dress, the puppies, and finally back to Eileen. "You aren't supposed to feed them stuff like that," he says seriously and nonchalantly at the same time, "I don't care if you're finished, you can't feed them that." He finishes his admonition with a sip from his mug, as if everything was somehow Eileen's fault entirely. Cheers.

"Three pairs of panties, one set of leather boots, my goose down pillow, a bottle of perfume from Marseille and now this." Eileen gives the dress a sharp tug in an attempt to dislodge the pair, but the only thing she succeeds in doing is widening one of the rips. The other puppies, who don't seem to recognize the severity of the situation, continue their assault on her legs and feet, leaving raw pink marks where their claws and teeth nip and slash at her exposed ankles and calves without drawing blood. Whenever she roughly pushes one aside, another surges clumsily forward to take its sibling's place.

More than six but less than ten — she lost count at some point, and apart from a few variations in size, colour and the shape of their ears, they all look more or less alike to someone who's eager to stuff them back into the burlap sack Raith brought them home in. "The weather's on the mend, Jensen. You have until Wednesday to find them new homes, or I'm going to start dipping my things in the rat poison you keep in the cellar."

"Well, then I guess you'd better hope I don't replace that rat poison with anise." A threat for a threat. But that is exactly where Raith leaves it. "Wednesday, got it," he concludes, returning to whatever it is he has laid out on the table, "I'll take care of it. In the meantime, close the door to your room."

"It was closed when I put out the candles last night and open this morning when I woke up to one of your little monsters trying to fit my left foot into its mouth." Surrendering her dress to the horde, Eileen takes advantage of the distraction created by the fluttering fabric and retreats to the table as the puppies descend upon it, but rather than pull out a chair, she climbs onto its surface, draws up both her legs and encircles them in her arms.

"Gabriel didn't let them in," she says pointedly, tracing the outline of a raised battle scar with the edge of her thumb. "And Teodoro hasn't been by for weeks. You tell me."

Raith's gaze returns to Eileen and he considers this for a moment. "It sounds like," he begins, "I need to rehang your door. That's what that sounds like." And that's all Raith has to say about that, rising up from his chair. "Here's a trick," he adds, clapping his hands together three times before opens one of the kitchen cabinets. Most of the puppies immediately forget about the dress and scramble across the kitchen floor, barking and jumping at Raith's legs, only to forget about him when he tosses a handful of small lengths of rope, each knotted at both ends, through the air and onto the floor a short distance away. The puppies occupied with the dress likewise forget about it in their scramble to get a toy, and for the moment, likely one that won't last long, the sound of tiny barks dies into the low growls of many games of tug-o-war. "Just take them away before you stop watching them to prevent accidents."

It doesn't entice Eileen off the table. She picks up the mug of coffee he left unattended when he rose from seat and, only half out of spite, curls her lip around its rim. Although it's stronger, blacker than she prefers, it isn't the taste she's after — it's the heat. Restoring the city's climate is a slow, gradual process with no immediate results she or Raith can observe without consulting a thermometer, and even then the temperature outside remains so uncomfortably cold that the temperature inside is only marginally better away from the warmth provided by the hearth and kerosene space heaters.

Inevitably, her attention is drawn to the spread of papers at her feet that Raith had been perusing before her arrival, and she studies it over the top of the mug after she's drank her fill. "What's this, then?"

"Research," Raith says plainly, retaking his seat at the table, "See, it's Gabriel's birthday coming up soon, and I don't really want to tell you the amount of work that went into finding that out. So, I figured I'd get him a little something to commemorate the occasion. Sounds like a good plan, doesn't it?"

Eileen flicks a dubious look at Raith, searching his face for ulterior motives. Finding none, she returns her attention to the tabletop and flips through the paperwork, one page at a time, hoping to discover there what she couldn't see in the stupidly arrogant slant of his mouth (in her opinion).

She scowls. "When is soon?"

"June second." As if to save her time, or maybe just to rub her face in how apparently brilliant he is, Raith picks up and then tosses in front of her a folded news paper, opened to the classifieds, and tapping to one advertisement among the hundreds for different knick-knacks for sale, help wanteds, cries for help and who knows what else. "I'm getting him the good stuff," the ex-spy adds.

Between the two of them, not including the funds Eileen has set aside for the reconstruction of Bannerman's Island Arsenal, Jensen and the woman perched on the table in front of him have very little money for projects that fall outside the realm of maintaining the home the Remnant has made for itself in the Dispensary, and without Kazimir around to provide—

"It's not exactly in the budget, is it?" she asks, lifting her hand to scrub knuckles along the narrow curve of her jaw. "I've some money stashed away from Burlesque," she offers after a short and stilted silence that's broken first by the gentle clink of the mug being set back down on the table. She hasn't put much of a dent in it. "I was saving it for something special."

That is to say: Gabriel is.

"Eileen, what did I say to convince you I was going to pay for it?" Ah. Of course, that would explain it. Raith, however, doesn't seem to think that does quite explain it. "No, it's not how I acquire it that matters, although, all things considered, that is going to pose a pretty significant challenge for my not insignificant intellect. It's what happens after that matters. What he does with it. Whether he says, 'Oh, how nice,' and forgets it exists, or whether he… does something else instead.

"I admit, I am gambling here, but-" But what?- "But I think I know him, at least well enough to get a sense of some of the things he likes. I'm one hundred per cent certain he'll like this."

Eileen must think she knows Gabriel well enough to agree, because she doesn't argue with Raith's assessment of the situation. Purses her lips into a contemplative expression instead, pulls a pen from the man's shirt pocket — likely the same one he used to circle the ad in the first place — and leans over his spread of paperwork to write in ornate bold lettering:

Operation Paraguay

"Because you're going to need to call it something if it ever comes up while he's in the room." Eileen tucks the pen behind her ear, a spot she normally reserves for spare cigarettes. It would have one there now if she was dressed and on her way out the door, but she isn't. Yet. "You should tell Teodoro," she suggests. "You can't steal something like that by yourself, and you can't very well ask Gabriel for help."

"That's good thinking," Raith comments. "I mean, let's be honest, I probably could steal it by myself but, not in any sort of quick or stealthy fashion, and it sure would be an awful lot of heavy lifting on my own. You're right, I'll get Teo to help. I actually sort of miss his bookish dismissiveness. It'll be good to see him again." With a nod that is only a tiny bit sagely, Raith seals that particular discussion. "And what about you?"

At this, Eileen arches one sculpted black brow. "You'll need someone to keep watch, won't you?"

"Well, good, I'm glad to hear it," Raith replies, "Sounds like I'll have a few questions for you while we're at it." There remains one final touch before this meeting draws to a close, and Raith adds it by once again taking his coffee mug and raising it to, well, to them with a stupidly arrogant smirk on his face to wish "Operation Paraguay" the greatest success. And maybe, just probably, to Gabriel as well for, against all odds, having made it one more year.


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