Peep and Pincer


amato_icon.gif nick_icon.gif raith_icon.gif

Scene Title Peep and Pincer
Synopsis Nick is questioned concerning his identity and his soul, but the newly transplanted Brit is reluctant to cooperate with the two wolf-hunters, Amato and Raith.
Date August 13, 2010

Staten Island Boat Graveyard

Coming across the water from a delivery, Nick can't help but muse that Staten, already a hell hole, has now been promoted to the deepest, darkest abyss in the Inferno. And he has to go into it. The task he'd just finished, the more law abiding Interpol agents probably loathe — delivering weapons to low-lives and thugs who in turn will use them in acts of violence and crime. The more noble of his comrades hate the necessity of that evil — that to get in good with the smuggling rings, one has to actually deliver the goods once in a while, and in this case, that is often literally handing loaded guns to madmen.

Well, not quite literally. The ammunition is usually packed separately.

Nick couldn't care less. The gun ring isn't his target. He even believes some of the people who purchase the weapons might be up to some good, given the fucked-up state of the US Government. All it is for him is a means to another end — his true target. He has to earn the trust of the weapons traders to earn the trust of the human traders. In this case, they're the same folks, or so their research says.

He slows the boat when he nears the graveyard, picking up binoculars to search for anything out of the usual. He has to steer carefully here, picking his way through the floating "corpses," to find a good spot to moor the small speedboat. He eases between two larger vessels to help hide the actually working vehicle, then climbs over the front of the boat, and grabbing its mooring line to tie it off.

"Good evening, Mister Ruskin."

The voice is one that Nick will remember, even if it is a little altered by now minimal swelling and dosages of painkillers. That strange mix of Europe with the most subtle splash of Italian, audible in the cadence of the words.

A figure stands not more than 5 strides from where Nick has docked his vessel. He must have either stepped out from the shadows or the rusted hulk of one of the graveyard's corpses, or else he simply appeared out of thin air.

His stance is strangely casual. Dressed in a long coat to guard against the evening breeze, stronger near the water, the pale pseudo-priest holds his hands in front of him, his fingers laced and his thumbs pressed together. There's a smug smile clinging to one corner of his mouth as he holds Nick in his icy gaze.

The quiet 'chi-chik!' of an autoloading pistol's action cycling follows shortly on the heels of the voice- the all-too-familiar voice- when it announces its presence. It would be less unnerving, perhaps, if the voice had not come from one direction, and the pistol from another. Boxed in a pincer: The worst possible place to be when you're outnumbered. If he looks towards the sound, he will see that the owner of the weapon has not yet stepped out of the shadows. The only indication of their position is the tiny red dot hovering in the dark, its twin dancing with minute shakes across Nick Ruskin's chest.

Looks like the madmen found him first.

At the familiar voice, Nick glances up from where he ties off the hawser, and gives a incredulous shake of his head. "Are you fuckin' kidding me?" is asked in a near-whine of exasperation. "How's that jaw, Padre? You're looking for more —"

His words are interrupted by the metallic clicking of the gun loading and he freezes, eyes darting across the dim dock to look for the source of the sound before he notices the red bead of light on his chest. "I see you have back-up," he says a little drolly, though his heart begins to pound in his chest. "'The fuck do you want? I got like fifty bucks on me, it's yours, but that's it," he offers. This couldn't have been coincidence, he knows, but perhaps it's just a touch of revenge. After all, he's sure he never saw Amato in his life before New York.

'Padre' Amato simply smiles. It's beatific, in a way. He takes a step toward Nick, but otherwise does not alter his pose. "First of all," he says in very pastoral tone, "you are Nicholas Ruskin, formerly of London, England? We wouldn't want to waste our time on the wrong man, as it were." It's an opportunity for Nick to lie, to bail, to wiggle his way out of a hairy situation. After all, what undercover agent wants to be confronted with his true identity?

"You see," and Amato takes another step forward, splaying his palms outward while keeping his fingers loosely laced, "we have an interest in you, if you are, Nicholas Ruskin. If not, well. Then there are other issues to be dealt with."

"Plenty of other issues." It's doubtlessly another familiar voice. The firearm's owner takes one, two, five steps forward out of the shadows. Jensen Raith, the man who just days ago was happily giving Nick all manner of alcohol simply by virtue of being helpful, looks out from behind the sunglasses covering his eyes (even at night? Is he insane?), down the barrel at the man they may have mistaken for someone else, and flashes him a wide, toothy grin. Perhaps the sort of grin a shark might give to a seal just before it lunges in for dinner.

There's a slight twitch of his upper lip at his name — Nick really does need to learn to have a better poker face. He can lie and cheat but when it comes to people knowing a name he thought he'd left behind — it's not something one can really train for. His blue eyes narrow at Raith when he steps out of the shadows, and he gives another incredulous shake of his head. "What the fuck, everyone on this fuckin' island sleeping together or what?" he asks, his voice still very American, no slip ups today. "You, him, that blonde nosy bitch," he mutters, giving a nod to Amato and then Raith and a shrug to indicate Melissa.

His eyes glance at his chest and his hand twitches as if considering grabbing his own gun, but common sense says that would be a losing fight. "Which answer's going to keep me alive longer?" he asks. "I'll be anyone you want me to be for the right deal." He gives a little wink at Amato, lips quirking into a smirk.

"Eventually, I'm sure the patterns of liasons ultimately link most of Staten Island's unfortunate denizens to one another." It's not unlike Amato to be overly academic in situations like this - at least, in situations where the gun is trained on someone other than himself or one of his comrades. "But no, it does not apply here."

He takes another step toward Nick, letting his hands separate and slide to the small of his back to undoubtedly lace again. "You called me a priest once, Nicholas. You were wrong, of course, but not far off base. I like to think of myself as a shepherd. And you, ragazzo, are a wolf come to plague my humble flock. There's only one thing to do, really, and that's put you out of your bestial misery." Amato nods toward Raith, the other man's smile making his own grow fractionally. "All in a day's work.

"That is, of course, unless you are Nicholas Ruskin."

"Nine by nineteen millimeter Parabellum, full-metal jacket." Raith can be academic too, when he feels like it. Nick, however, will know that that certainly spells bad news for him, because 9x19mm Parabellum, FMJ is- "NATO standard issue. Awful lot of Guardsmen around tonight. Two rounds in your center of mass because you wouldn't follow their instructions. Real tragic. Walsh'll buy it. If he even cares that you're missing." Perhaps to go along with Amato's note of 'unless,' the red dot on Nick's chest sinks downward, finally coming to rest just below his belt-line. "You know. Unless."

"Fuckin' hell, a wannabe priest with a god complex. You're worse than I took you for," Nick mutters at Amato's soapboxing, watching Raith's hands careful for any hint of distraction that would give him time to grab his own weapon and discharge it before Raith could fire. But luck has never been on Nick's side, and clearly America is no kinder to him than England.

He shakes his head. He could die here, and it wouldn't really matter. "And if I'm Ruskin? How are you going to be sure? I could just say I am, just to get your fuckin' gun off me, and what would make you know any better? I can guarantee you you'll find no proof of that name on my person, and no one here but you two seem to fuckin' think that's my name. So sure. What the hell. I'm Ruskin. What d'ya want?"

"What makes you think I am not already certain that you are, Nicholas Ruskin?"

Amato tilts his head to one side, his eyes narrowing as he loooks at Nick in his desperate attempt to save his own life and lifestyle. "God complex," he muses. He tsks, then shakes his head. "No, I've gotten over that. I think helpful is a better adjective. Don't you?" But the question is aimed over Nick's head, to Raith.

"And I wasn't lying before when I said I wanted to help you." Amato lifts his shoulders in a slight shrug, his head rolling back so that it sits straight once more.

"It's true," Raith says, "If we were here just to off you, you think I'd be wasting time letting him monologue like a super villain? I'd listen to the man, if I were you. Unless, of course, you don't want your danglies anymore." At this point, Raith would pull back the hammer of his pistol to emphasize his seriousness. It's too bad that Glocks don't have external hammers. "I'll be more than happy to take those off your hands. Someone'll buy them."

"Helpful," Nick intones, glancing from one man to the other with a disbelieving quirk of his brow. He still keeps up the American accent. He can later claim he only claimed to be Ruskin to keep his blood pumping, after all. "Fine. So let's say I am Ruskin. What sort of help you think you can give me? I wouldn't have taken you for the kinda person I'd normally do any sort of business with, though your buddy here, Parabellum, he's maybe more the type that might come in handy. Walsh get back to you on that order, there, buddy? I left him a message, but he's pretty crap about getting back to people. I'm not his secretary, though."

"Normally? Perhaps not." Amato gives Nick part of his shoulder as he turns, looking to the ground rather than the man they came here to confront. "But the status of a man's soul is certainly a business that needs regular attention. It's a shame you have neglected it for so long, ragazzo." Looking up again, Amato gives Nick a genial smile. "I know, were I you? Had I a puzzle I'd be slaving to figure out for years? I wouldn't turn down the person who offered to show me where one of the pieces was hiding."

But he frowns then, his eyebrows lifting in an expression of apathetic dismissal. "It's up to you, really. Or she can stay a mystery. In a way, I can't say that I'd mind that."

There certainly is a degree of, well, certainty that Raith is exhibiting about the situation. Enough certainty that he doesn't feel it necessary to actually aim his firearm at Nick any longer. Either he's certain that Nick is now more interested in what Amato is talking about than trying to kill him, or he's certain that even though he's probably two decades older, he's still the faster gun.

"My soul," Nick repeats, and gives a derisive snort, but there is a sadness in his eyes that the attempt at a laugh doesn't touch, his brows rumpled with a weariness far too heavy for his mere 23 years. "If you're calling salvation or something like it a mystery, buddy, well, it's not one that's gonna be solved by me. I'm sure there are plenty of people who spend their entire lives chasing that dream, but for me? It's not going to happen."

He glances at Raith's hand lowering the weapon, but he makes no sudden moves. "Good thing I ain't religious," he adds with another humorless smirk. "Now, how about you tell me how the hell you know the name Ruskin?" His voice holds a hint of danger in it.

It's rare that a grin cracks Amato's face even now, when the mask he wore to hide himself from the Vanguard shattered long ago. It grows slowly, spreading over his features and even wrinkling the beginnings of crows feet near his eyes. Those icy eyes, now lit with inner amusement stay trained on Nick for a moment longer, but the laugh within them doesn't spill out, save for as a thread in his voice as he turns back into the shadows.

"A little bird told me."

"Peep," Raith adds mockingly, taking a single step back. "Peep-" Another step- "Peep, peep, peep." One step for each peep, as he too begins to return to the shadows, although he sees fit to keep his eyes on Nick in the event he decides he's had enough of their douche baggery.

Nick's eyes stay on the two retreating shadows before he reaches up a hand to scrape through his ever-mussed hair. "Bloody fuckin' 'ell," he mutters, the American bled from his words as the blood has drained from his face. "Fuck me." He has no idea what the hell is going on, but it can't be ignored any longer. He pulls out his gun and begins to move in the opposite direction once he feels it's safe, heading back to Walsh's warehouse. Not that Raith doesn't know where to find him there.

His cell phone is pulled out of his pocket next, and he really wishes he had three hands, because he needs nicotine to clear his mind, but the gun is a priority. He presses the speed dial for Avi Epstein, giving an angry shake of his head. "Someone knows me 'ere," he mutters into the phone, glancing once more over his shoulder as he walks.

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