Pay It Forward


eileen_icon.gif grace_icon.gif

Scene Title Pay It Forward
Synopsis After calling in a favour to Kazimir, Tamara brings Eileen to a Ferrymen safehouse on the Upper East Side so she can meet with Grace and discuss a tentative future.
Date January 25, 2009

Upper East Side — Ferrymen Safehouse

The Ferrymen have a wide range of facilities available to them; this building, a narrow four-floor townhouse located in Upper East Side, is not one of the poorer examples thereof. That it was and is the operator's house is clear; though most items of sentimental value have been removed from public spaces, there's still definite remnants of a personal touch, including a few family photos scattered here and there. The top floor belongs to the operator and her husband (presently away at church services), and is the only place off-limits to their guests. The kitchen is on the second floor, as is the dining room; there are a couple of rooms with stores of things like spare clothing, toothbrushes, and other details fugitives are most likely to lack.

The operator, a tall blond woman, is currently standing with Grace by one of the kitchen counters, where they're conversing over several pieces of paper. It's not a secret conversation, but seems to be focused on repairing something — some building, more than likely — and the what of it is so familiar to both women that they never actually raise that detail. Tamara sleeps somewhere upstairs, out cold. There are two other 'guests' in residence, each to their own room, with Eileen having been loaned a third.

Eavesdropping comes naturally to someone who has spent most of her life listening in on conversations to which she isn't supposed to be privy. Tonight, however, Eileen forgoes her usual methods in favour of something a little less subtle and a lot more honest — although her footsteps make almost no sound on the floor underfoot as she descends the stairs and ventures into the dining area, she doesn't make any extra effort to go undetected by the women in the kitchen. If they catch sight of her spindly shadow in search of a glass of water, so be it. She didn't come down here just to spy, tempting though the urge may be.

She lingers on the fringe of the kitchen in the half-light, either waiting to be noticed, or waiting for Grace and her companion to vacate so she can fill up at the sink without having to endure any uncomfortable silences or awkward glances — either way, she's patient.

Grace being in position to view the kitchen entrance, she doesn't fail to notice Eileen's approach. Blue eyes flick to the young woman, a hint of lopsided smile greeting her appearance. 'Awkward' doesn't seem to hold much standing in Grace's vocabulary at the moment — but then, she's used to the sudden appearance of complete strangers by now. "Hey," that rasping, broken voice says, interrupting one conversation to possibly open the door for another. "Come on in, don't mind us."

The other woman half-turns to face the door with some surprise, which itself morphs into a similar but slightly less self-confident welcome. "I —" The sound of a (cell)phone ringing in the other room cuts short whatever she had been about to say, and the operator rolls up the papers with a twist of her hands. "That's Hana. We'll finish this later," she assures Grace, before ducking out of the kitchen.

Left now at loose ends, Grace just chuckles quietly, the gravelly rasp of stone.

Grace's smile is returned, though there's a hint of hesitation in the creases at appear near the corners of Eileen's mouth. Guilt too, though this is more apparent in the way she never quite seems to meet the other woman's gaze. Instead, her gray-green eyes look past her, appearing to take interest in something else only she can see. "I was hoping I might bump into someone I know," she admits with a small chuckle of her own, though it lacks any real mirth. "So I could apologize. But I suppose he isn't the only one I owe it to. I didn't get the opportunity to thank you earlier — for what you're doing for me."

Grace raises one dark brow at Eileen's remark. "Well. The odds of you just bumping into someone around here are fairly slim," she points out, raven's voice dryly thoughtful. "If you're really interested in it, give me a name and I can point you in the right direction." Her tone is casual, sincerely light; if Eileen doesn't want to give that bit of info up, Grace won't push for it. The other brow arches, and the woman promptly shakes her head. Oh, no, not more gratitude. "Don't thank me," she says, a bit abruptly but not in an offended fashion. More like the words are getting old. "It's what we do. You get your feet under you again and then pay it forward, if you feel like you have to do something."

"I should be out of here in the morning," Eileen says as she arrives at the sink and turns the faucet, fingertips held under the water's flow to test its temperature, "whether I have my feet under me or not. Big things are happening, but you probably already knew that, given the company your people seem to keep." She glances back toward the stairs as if half-expecting to find Tamara standing there. When she does not, a more genuine expression creeps into her eyes. "I'm Eileen, by the way. I'm afraid I didn't catch yours — Arianna hadn't told us she was expecting anyone."

Grace waves a hand dismissively. "Take your time. You're always welcome to come back, also. Have Ari give you a list of contact points." She follows Eileen's glance over to the stairs, sees nothing; looks back to the younger woman. A subtle, rueful smirk alters the lines of her expression. "Sure, we know. Whatever happens, happens; we'll still be here." A moment's pause; shifting of mental gears. "Grace," the woman offers, extending her hand politely. "She wasn't, exactly. But I'm just passing by anyway. Tumbleweeds don't often merit such notice."

Eileen sets her glass aside, freeing up one hand so she can take Grace's and give it a sincere if small shake. "Grace," she repeats, for her own benefit rather than the other woman's — it helps her remember. "That suits you." What is probably meant to be a compliment falls a little flat. She releases her light grip on Grace's hand and returns it to the glass, maneuvering it under the tap. "You're very discreet. How long have you and the others been doing this?"

A quiet, rasping chuckle meets the attempted compliment as Grace shakes the younger woman's hand. "Not the remark I usually get," she informs Eileen, tone of her ruined voice bone-dry. "Hm. Thanks. Blame it on the service time," is her nonchalant response, before she turns to fetch down a glass of her own. "I've been in the Ferry for about a year," Grace supplies. "Officially. It's run since not long after the explosion." Twice as long as she's been a part of it.

Eileen squeaks the faucet off again. "Two years is a long time," she observes softly, using her sleeve to wipe stray rivulets of water from the side of the glass. "The people in charge must know what they're doing." They managed to stay off Vanguard's radar, after all — and to Eileen, once a member of the Vanguard herself, this is nothing short of a miracle. "If there's anything I can do to help that you'd be willing to trust me with, I'd like to."

Grace crosses the kitchen to raid the fridge, opting to pour herself a glass of orange juice. "They seem to. 'Course, it's a bit like herding cats. Mostly they just make sure we can all talk to each other." And know where to go when things go pear-shaped. She pauses to take a sip of the juice, then raises a mildly surprised brow at the younger woman. "We always need help," is her oblique reply. "And trust— " Grace shrugs; it isn't a casual gesture. "— It's a risk we take every day. We've been compromised before. Lost houses. Lost people. The network isn't going anywhere." Not even taking out Bennet and Hana would stop it. Cripple, yes, but the foundation won't be so easily pruned.

"Then leave me a number or an address so I can contact you. With the situation as it is, I can't promise it will be any time soon…" Or ever, if Kazimir has his way. "But I think I have some skills I might be able to bring to the table." Eileen does not elaborate on what these skills might be, though she does pause to take a sip of her water and gather her thoughts. A moment later she's using two fingers to dab a few droplets away from the corner of her mouth. "Disposable cell phone. Drop box. Anything."

Grace inclines her head to the younger woman. "Fair enough." She glances about the kitchen, then confiscates half an envelope from a basket and scribbles a number down on it. "This is my number — right now," is the quickly added qualifier. "You shouldn't have any trouble reaching it, but if it takes long enough that you do, direct a text or email to the Ferry instead." Her lips quirk in a small, wry smile. "It'll find its way to me, if you mention my name somewhere." Courtesy of the friendly neighborhood meddlesome technopath.

"I'll keep that in mind." Eileen takes the envelope from Grace and folds it neatly in half so the paper is small enough to fit inside her sweater's interior pocket. If this method fails, there's always the tried and true approach involving birds, but she prefers to save that as a last resort. "It was good meeting you, Grace — I'll spare you the embarrassment of singing your praises again before I go, but please take care of yourself."

Lips twitch in a rueful, lopsided smile. "If you sing better than I do— " Everyone sings better than she does. "— that might be worth hearing sometime." Grace inclines her head to the younger woman. "You too, Eileen." She finishes the juice, setting the glass down beside the sink. "You need anything, just send word." Then she starts out of the kitchen; after all, Grace came here with errands to do, originally.

January 25th: Twenty Questions
January 26th: Strings Attach Themselves
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