Proposals of Preparation and Marriage


delia_icon.gif eileen_icon.gif

Scene Title Proposals of Preparation and Marriage
Synopsis With doomsday rapidly approaching, Eileen talks to Delia about making a few preparations (there might be a wedding ring too).
Date October 16, 2010

Gun Hill — Delia's Apartment

The sun hangs in a slate gray sky, a pale disc of silver-white halfway to setting. A misty haze makes it difficult to distinguish the clouds from one another — that there are even any clouds at all is debatable, but the pavement outside Gun Hill is shining and wet, and droplets of residual moisture still cling to the windows, a reminder of the last time it rained. The woman in the hallway that leads to Delia Ryans' apartment doesn't have an umbrella, and apparently doesn't need one; her clothes are dry, and so is her hair, which she wears pinned back into a twist at the nape of her neck beneath an old-fashioned cloche hat that matches her wool coat and soft lambskin gloves.

Eileen raps the knuckles of her left hand against the front door. Her right is folded across her midsection as if injured, but this isn't the reason for her visit.

Dressed in a pair of flannel pajama bottoms and an old rugby shirt, Delia crawls out of bed. She's still holding her book in hand, the latest romance on a box of over fifty that she picked up with some of her winnings. It was a good investment.

As she reaches the door, she opens the locks but not the chain so she can peek out into the hallway before actually opening the door. Spying the petite woman on the other side, she furrows her brow a little and closes the door again. The sound of the thin chain being unhooked can be heard before it opens again, this time much wider. "Uhhmm… hi?" She was never told the other woman's name but Delia's eyes immediately drift down to the hand clasped against her torso. "Come in, Miss… Uhm… Or Missus, I don't…"

"Eileen," says the Englishwoman, and as she crosses the threshold and steps inside the apartment, a small gray face with glittery black eyes like pieces of polished jewelry peers out from behind the cashmere scarf at her throat, only to disappear again a moment later, huddled against Eileen's neck for warmth. The rosy tint of her cheeks suggests that she's come a long way, and although she hasn't attempted to make physical contact with Delia yet, there's something very cold about the texture of her skin and its almost marble-like appearance.

"I hope I'm not interrupting anything?"

"No, no, not at all… I was just doing a bit of.. uhm… light? Reading?" The romance novel in her hand goes behind her back as she ushers the other woman into the livingroom and toward the futon. The furniture in the place is sparse; a futon, a kitchen table with four mismatched chairs, a book case overstuffed with medical journals and romance novels, and a round rag rug.

"Eileen, have a seat.. I'll make some hot chocolate? Or do you — " The young woman winces as she plays into the stereotype of English people, " — tea?" The tall redhead shows her toward the sofa, "You look like you just went to the north pole or something."

Delia's observation draws a low rasp of laughter from Eileen and a smile that curls feline at the corners of her mouth. As she takes a seat on the futon, the bird in her scarf climbs out and hooks claws around the collar of her coat, claiming a perch on her shoulder with a flick of its tail that briefly exposes the rusty-coloured feathers on its rump. It's a songbird of some variety or another, unremarkable in almost every way, and the same can be said of the glance it darts toward the shelves of medical journals, its long, slender beak parted around an expression that only vaguely resembles Eileen's.

"If it isn't any trouble," she says, "some tea would be lovely."

Nodding once, Delia stalks into the kitchen her socked feet making barely a sound as she moves. Pulling a little pot out of the cupboard, she fills it with water and places it on the stove to boil, she doesn't have a proper kettle.

On her way back, the redhead grabs a chair and carries it to the living room, placing gently on the floor near the futon. She takes a seat, the book has been forgotten on the counter in the kitchen in favor of the visitor. "I'm uhm… What can I do for you? Did you find a doctor for the clinic already?" The sheepish manner in which the young woman poses the questions lends to some uncertainty about her own status. "There haven't been many visitors down there, a few, but with Gun Hill closing its doors and stuff… There hasn't been anything lately." So the requisition of supplies that has dropped dramatically within the past few weeks would suggest.

"We're as short-staffed as we were a few weeks ago," says Eileen, "which is what I wanted to speak with you about." On the futon, she removes her left glove but not her right, a gold ring winking in the light. The bird on her shoulder fluffs its lead gray plumage and tracks Delia's progress through the kitchen and back into the living room with a swivel of its narrow head as Eileen reaches up to stroke her knuckles along its downy breast. Her right hand remains where it is, elbow bent at a shallow angle.

"That," she adds gently, "and any vision you might've had this past June during the blackout."

Delia's breath stops for half a minute when the second request is presented. Swallowing audibly, she fidgets on the chair for the other half of that long moment before the water in the pot starts to bubble. "Tea." She announces quite abruptly, as though it's the answer to everything. A little habit she picked up from a former employer. "I'll go get it."

The rummaging sounds in the kitchen and the clink of mugs as well as the rattle of dropping dry bullets into their bottoms is all that can be heard. The redhead pours the boiling water carefully into the cups and then sets the pot into the sink. When she returns, one of the mugs is handed over to her guest, her eyes falling to the ring on her hand.

"I uhm — I had one and I saw another one…" She admits in a low tone, "how long have you been married?" The other woman doesn't look older than Delia herself, her elfin features seeming too delicate to show age. There's a flash of jealousy in the redhead's eyes as she considers that she might not age as gracefully.

The bird's attention shifts between Delia and Eileen's hand, gaze gravitating toward the ring. Tentatively, she covers it with her opposite hand after she accepts the cup of tea, the dark leather material of her glove contrasting with the paleness of her skin and the network of veins visible on the inside of her wrist. Her brows go up, a fractional lift: the guilty expression of someone who forgot she was even wearing it. It's nothing, she's tempted to say, but the words stall before they can leave her mouth.

"I'm not," is what she settles for instead, quietly and with rueful sincerity, "though I like the look of it." Her mouth curves around the cup's rim as she pauses to take a sip, nostrils flaring around the steam rising from it. Lipstick smudges the porcelain red. "Do you mind if I ask you what it was you saw?"

Taking her own seat again, Delia's hands tremble as she hugs her mug with both of them. "The one that I saw… the one that wasn't mine… this woman that I used to work with at the book store, she got shot. In my vision, I was on a boat going from Red Hook…" There's another audible swallow as the redhead tries to calm the tremor in her voice. "I was alone, I couldn't find my dad or Huruma… or Lucille. She got brought on and she was unconscious, a man said that she'd been shot trying to protect some kids that were being shot at."

Pursing her lips, Delia looks down at the floor for a while before lifting her mug for a first sip of the black tea. She winces as she searing liquid burns down her throat, almost causing her to drop the cup. "I don't know what I was doing there, except my boyfriend lives in that area. But I hardly ever go to his place any more, I usually stay here. Why are you asking about the visions?"

"There are some people who believe they're a precursor to something that's going to happen on the eighth of November," says Eileen, "and others, like myself, who are hoping for the best but nonetheless preparing for the worst. If it becomes necessary, the network will have to evacuate not only Gun Hill but all of New York City, and there aren't very many ways to do this effectively, or without being caught."

She rests the cup in her lap, fingers curling around its side. Her ring tinkles against the porcelain. "I'm in negotiations with some of the local fisherman and smugglers operating off of Staten Island. Boats, I think, are our best option, with the Red Hook serving as a rendezvous point, but none of this concerns you, and it's not where I need your help. If these visions come to pass, we're going to lose a lot of people, and many of those who survive are likely to be injured. How much do you know about triage?"

Pressing her lips tightly together, Delia squints and her eyebrows furrow into a worried frown. "I — " The word comes out in a choked whisper as Eileen relates her plan, everything according to her own vision. "I used to work at the ER in St. Lukes, I can do it but if it's going to be as bad as in my vision, I'm going to need more hands."

Leaning down, the redhead places her mug on the floor a foot or two away from her chair. As she straightens, there's a quirk to her downturned lips, as though she's trying to formulate some sort of coherent thought into words. "I-Is there anywhere else that the boats can be? Can't we start evacuating sooner? If we're preparing for the worst, wouldn't it make sense for the ones that can't be out in public to go on ahead to help where we're going to end up?"

"The most I can do is summon the council and hold an emergency meeting to discuss whether or not we should begin evacuations now." There's remorse in Eileen's tone but little apology. It is the way it is. "I'm sure there are some who might be persuaded, but for every operative who agrees to go, there will be two or more who dig in their heels and decide to stay either because they don't believe anything is going to happen, or because they're too attached to their safehouses to abandon them until they have no other choice."

The bird on her shoulder flutters down to the Delia's discarded mug and alights on the rim, bending at the middle to examine its reflection and seems to debate scissoring a tongue's worth of hot tea into its beak. "How many hands will you need?"

"Without any real doctors?" Delia pauses and chews on her lip for a long time as she considers. Her eyes flit to the bird on her mug and she studies it for a half a moment. "Ideally, one for every ten injured people. Without knowing ahead of time, I can probably just recruit from the people who aren't injured."

Folding her hands together and tucking them between her knees, her gaze falls on the dainty woman again. "If you do summon it.. the council.. The people who end up going will be safe, pretty much guaranteed." She hesitates for a moment, picking at a few of the pills in her flannel pajama bottoms before speaking again. "I think, I think that if you can at least stop one vision from happening, a lot of the rest of them will unravel. I met a doctor once that told me that if I just stayed away from water and boats that day, mine wouldn't happen. It sounds like I won't be able to… but the kids that were being shot at? Maybe they were the orphans at the Lighthouse. I'm supposed to talk to Mister Doyle about getting things ready… Maybe if we could move them."

"You'll want to speak with Gillian and Brian as well," Eileen suggests. "The difficulty with moving the children at the Lighthouse has to do with the amount of press it's gotten in the past, and how closely the government watches what goes on there. Move them and we'll have the DEoA breathing down our necks.

"That said, we've done business with Praeger's people in the past." The bird, as if sensing Delia's eyes on it, twists a sharp look over its shoulder at the young woman. "There are a few badge carriers who may be able to cover for us if they agree with what we're doing. Provided that Gillian consents, you're looking for Vincent Lazzaro. Tasha Oliver and Colette Nichols might help you arrange a meeting with him if you can't manage on your own. They have connections."

"I'm uhm.. I talked to Gillian before… with Hokuto. I'm supposed to talk to Mister Doyle, to convince him." Delia's voice cracks as she answers the other woman with a small protest. She's nearly torn all the skin off her bottom lip from chewing it, it only gets worse after hearing that name.

With a rather guilty expression, Delia grimaces and shakes her head. "I— I can't talk to Mister Lazzaro. I have a warrant out for my arrest, because I didn't follow through with my registration." Her face smooths suddenly and she takes a deep breath in, "Actually… I can't talk to him in person… I — If I knew where he was, I could find him in his sleep."

A crook of Eileen's wrist summons the bird back to her as she rises from the futon, and like a miniature falcon, it whips through the air with the swiftness of an arrow and latches onto her, wings mantled until it's certain of its balance. She sets her cup aside. "Tasha will know where Lazzaro makes his bed, but you may have some convincing to do there as well."

There's no reproach in her voice or her posture; either dodging registration is something Eileen approves of or she's sympathetic to the position Delia has found herself in. Maybe both. The Ferry exists to help people like her — not to judge them. "I'm recommending your father to Special Activities," she says. "I'd like the two of you to come with me next week so I can show you what it is we have to work with. Even if we don't start evacuating now, we can begin preparations by stockpiling supplies and arranging the space to best suit your needs and Ms. Young's."

Standing just after Eileen does, Delia gives her a little smile as she picks up her chair again. This time, she doesn't duck wildly to the side when the bird passes. "Alright, I'm usually not doing much anyway," she grins, blushing sheepishly at the same time. "Did you want me to tell Dad? Or did you want to do it? I'm sure he's home… Maybe. If not there, he'll be at Lynette's apartment, I think." Not Miss Rowan, something odd for the redhead.

Taking the other woman's sudden rise as a signal she wants to go, Delia carries her chair back to the kitchen. Walking back, she stumbles to the side in order to avoid the mug of tea she left on the floor earlier. Though it'd probably be a good time to pick it up, she opts to leave it there. "I guess I'll see you next week then?"

"You will." Eileen lifts her chin to allow the bird to tuck itself back into the folds of her cashmere scarf. As it settles, she pulls her left glove back on, fingers flexing for maximum snugness. "I'd rather he hear it from you than from me. I've not met Mr. Ryans personally, and he deserves more time for introductions than I have this evening, but if either of you need to speak with me sooner— I'm never very far away, and Gillian knows how to contact me.

"Thank you, also. For the tea. I feel warmer already."

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