Precious Little


eileen_icon.gif richard_icon.gif

Scene Title Precious Little
Synopsis Richard attempts to offer Eileen a deal with little to no success.
Date November 17, 2009

Homeland Security Holding Facility

A bucket of water is the sweetest alarm clock.

With the swing of momentum, silver water arcs soundlessly through the air only to impact against the drowsing face of Eileen Ruskin, a pale moon in the darkness of the cell. It's shockingly cold, clinging to clothing, hair, dripping and harsh against bruises and skin oversensitised from the abuse the body has gone through. Sleep deprivation, hunger, general battering, although nothing intentional nor needless since her initial arrest.

It's still dark. The cold water was something like a half an hour ago, and they never released her from the chair in which she stands. Negation drug flows through her blood stream, deafening her to the creatures that inhabit the sky somewhere far, far above.

When the door opens, it fills with the form of a man who is significantly tall. His black clothing, conservative, is indistinct in the darkness, even when he switches on the low light above them both. His skin is tan of some ethnicity difficult to pick out from his features, brown eyes peering through fashionable glasses towards the young woman, before he's stepping aside with the help of his cane for someone to come in with a chair. This is set down opposite her, and a quiet, polite 'thank you' is given before the nameless employee is quick to depart, leaving the imposing gentleman and his subject be.

The light buzzes with electricity, and Richard doesn't say anything at first.

Antagonism sets Eileen's jaw in a clench and makes visible the tendons in her neck and shoulders. She hasn't been given the opportunity to change her clothes since being brought in, and the water only dampens the sticky smell of sweat, cigarette smoke and wet tobacco that clings to her stringy black hair and sodden clothes like a perfume for the destitute. The man sitting across from her now is not the same one who came a few hours ago to inspect the bandages she wears on her shoulder and declared they were not yet in need of changing, though the experience Eileen accumulated working for Constantine at the Filatov Clinic makes her inclined to strongly disagree.

She's not so arrogant as to believe that Richard is waiting for her to speak before he does, though green eyes in sunken sockets rimmed pink from exposure to CS gas study him vainly from beneath dewy lashes still dripping with moisture the same way an animal caged in a private menagerie might.

"Thank you," is what she says eventually, and does not elaborate on the train of thought behind that statement except to ask in a clipped tone: "What do you need from me, and if I give it to you will you go away?"

The cane comes to rest between his knees, which clasps it upright as his large hands come to lay across the curving handle. His long fingers are ringless and slack, and what little light there is catches in glare on his glasses. "I don't intend to stay long," Richard says, his voice mild but full of a maintained authority. "Has anyone explained to you what you're doing here, Miss Ruskin? That is, ah, other than reading you you're rights, which— I'm going to guess they did. Hope they did." Richard's smiles are quick between his words, a slice of white teeth in the darker countenance of a face drawn in odd shadows from the scarce light.

What Eileen is doing here is sitting in a chair, her hands bound, bloodstream saturated with chemicals that make her feel like she's drowning in pea soup fog. Her exposed skin is clammy and prickling with gooseflesh while her mouth tastes as though something crawled down the back of her throat and died. None of these answers is the one she ultimately offers Richard after running her tongue over her front teeth behind her lip to clear out some of the blood that gathered there during the time she spent unconscious. She isn't surprised to discover it has the consistency of syrup.

"Eileen, please." Catherine calls her Miss Ruskin. She hates it. As she speaks, her slender wrists rotate in their bindings and her fingers flex, several of their lacquered nails cracked down the middle and sides, fissures crusted over with dark fluid. "The only thing anyone has told me is to be quiet."

"Well, I don't want you to be quiet." Sitting back in his chair, even at this level, Richard fairly towers over Eileen - but he makes a good effort to try and not. "You can call me Richard. I'm a psychologist, and I work for the American government, when they want me to. I'm not going to ask you to trust me, or like me, but you can rest assured that I'm entirely comfortable in being perfectly honest with you, Eileen, and it's probably a, uh, a good idea that you're perfectly honest with me."

There's a hair-breadth pause, before Richard continues to speak, at his slightly stop-start but continual manner. "You're a terrorist without a future, here in this room. The people you have chosen to associate with are the same, except most of them are over thirty with substantially problematic backgrounds. That's not entirely the case for you, and doesn't have to be at— at all. All we ask is for your co-operation."

The word co-operation draws a small sound from Eileen halfway between a moan and a sigh. This is not a conversation she wants to be having on an empty stomach with grime under her nails, an aching shoulder and skin covered in a film of adhesive sweat. The only thing keeping her from attempting to shut down on Richard completely is the sneaking suspicion that all the reasons she doesn't want to be talking to him right now are the same ones that compelled his superiors to send him into her cell.

Mental fatigue contends with physical exhaustion for the spot at the top of her list of ailments with emotional fragility closely bringing up the rear. There is little point in trying to deceive him, either with her words or her body language, and so she has no compunction about drawing attention to what weaknesses she already has exposed. "Who else do you have in custody?"

"Jensen Raith and Ethan Holden have been apprehended, upon a failure to negotiate. Gabriel Gray has made contact but remains elusive, as has— " He raises one eyebrow, as if surprised to even be saying this. "Peter Petrelli." Richard smooths down the lapel of his jacket without much thought in the gesture as he peers at her. "Among others, but I can't guarantee you'd know their names, and any names you would like to give aren't for me to collect. I'm here to talk about you."

That hand goes out, a brief gesture, fingers splayed. "Your involvement in the Vanguard has made you valuable. Unique. We'd like you to assist us in tracking down the remaining members in return for a normal life. I want to know how this makes you feel."

Richard doesn't need to ask Eileen how she feels to recognize that she's conflicted. The first thing she experiences is warmth tingling in her extremities when she learns Gabriel and Peter are still out there. A stab of guilt is next, viciously eviscerating her relief the precision and swiftness of a butcher gutting a hare and pulling it out of its skin. What kind of a person feels better instead of worse upon the discovery that two of her loved ones are rotting in a hole just as dank and dark as this one?

Disgust and self-loathing are next as her throat contracts around a rising lump and forcibly pushes it back down into a pool of bile. "I'm not unique," she tells Richard. "I'm not special in any way except that I've already been given my second chance. I don't want another. I want a lawyer."

"You're not going to get a lawyer." The words come more clipped and brittle than before, but not impatient as he regards her. "Not for a long time, in any case. A fair trial isn't what's on the table here and I don't think that's a route you want to pursue, if you— if you don't mind me saying so. It won't work in your favour. I think you're, ah, going to have to accept the deal, I'm afraid. What do you mean, you've already been given your second chance?" There's no challenge in Richard's voice, honestly curious in a surgical kind of way.

Eileen falls silent for what feels like a very long time for her perspective but can't be longer than a few moments in reality because she isn't breathing. "I can wait," she says of the lawyer, the fair trial. "I'm not interested in any deals you or your superiors have to offer me. You can tell that to the man in the sunglasses, too, if he's the one who sent you to talk some sense into me. The only person I'm interested in speaking with is Agent Felix Ivanov of the Federal Bureau of Investigations, and if you can't arrange that, then this conversation has arrived at its conclusion."

"Ah, okay. Unfortunate." But Richard doesn't argue, not really. Standing up certainly isn't arguing, as he pulls himself up to his towering vantage point, hand resting heavy on his cane as he peers down at her. "Like I said, I'm only interested in honesty. We're not eager to hang the lives of Raith and Holden and eventually Gray and Petrelli over your head to strongarm you into complying, but know that we could. I'm also not interested in breaking you."

But know that I could. His cane taps once against the ground, fidgeting. "You know our terms, Eileen. I'm going to give you some time to think about them." And with that, he's sidestepping his chair, turning on a heel with more dexterity than his disability, age and lankiness would suggest, to make for the door.

There's no sudden change of heart, no burbled outburst when Richard shows Eileen his back, no plea to stop. She straightens her back in the chair and waits until the doorframe is swallowing up his shape before letting the muscles in her neck relax and her dark-haired head tip back.

She's not interested in having lives hung over her head. Neither is she interested in being broken. Whatever relief she might feel in response to being on the same page as Richard in this respect pales in comparison to the heat that had erupted inside of her when updated her on the Vanguard remnant's current status. She'd glowed not just for Gabriel and Peter, but Teodoro too, and although she isn't glowing now, she can at least rest her eyes in peace knowing that their number has been diminished by only half, not all.

The light is switched off to douse her in darkness once more, the door coming to shut not loudly, but the lock clicks abrupt enough to ring through the stagnant air of her cell that smells of human sweat and water. Richard's walk down the hallway is unaccompanied. Someone will come to take away the chair probably when they bring her food, but for now, he's more or less alone to the sound of his foot falls and cane, and then the beep-boop of his cellphone once he's extracted it from the pocket of his black jacket.

It's a question of tractability, but also a question of time. There is precious little of either.

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