Questions of Intent


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Scene Title Questions of Intent
Synopsis While the rest of Team Charlie is busy entertaining a surprise dinner guest, Ethan Holden meets with Grigori at the illusionist's request at a cafe at Ryazan's snow-choked heart.
Date December 4, 2009

Ryazan, Russia

Ryazan is known for its boisterous nightlife. Local clubs and bars host euro-dance and hip-hop parties catering to the city's upscale youth and foreign students studying at the University, but it's at neither Maska nor Planetary — the focal point of Ryazan's rock scene — that Ethan Holden finds himself after the sun has gone down and the streets outside are illuminated by fluorescent lamps and their glow reflected off the snow and ice that coats the pavement.

It's a small, intimate cafe on the corner adjacent to the Art Museum, its lights dimmed and its interior sparsely populated by a handful of patrons immersed in either conversation, food, drink or whatever reading material they brought along with them. When Grigori asked "Fenrir" to meet him here, he assured his former ally that he'd have no difficulty picking him out from the crowd. True to his word, situated in one of the cafe's darker corners, a small, pale woman with dark hair, silver rings glinting on her fingers and eyes like a cat's sits alone at a table with a half-eaten croissant, a steaming cup of tea and a copy of Mikhail Shishkin's One Night Befalls All of Us spread between the fingers of her right hand.

If it was up to him, maybe they would be at Maska or Planetary. Or maybe they would be in the bathroom of a restauraunt. But he didn't get to call the shots so…

"I would 'ave preferred larger breasts."

Nothing is said about the age of the mask, as Ethan settles down, adjusting his peacoat. The man eyes the woman across from him for a moment before scooting his chair in. "Did you order for me?" Dressed in dark colors, and thick black boots, Ethan has made it obvious that he is armed, accentuating the parts of his clothes to tell that there are weapons concealed on his person. Perhaps it's a threat, or maybe just a friendly reminder. Whatever it is, it is likely Ethan has more than what he is showing, in any case.

"You know I never liked that name." He indicates stoically as he rests one elbow on his chair, examining the other. "The old man was always a fan of tying in his books and theatre to 'is plans. I think 'e thought that implied intelligence. A sort of grander mastermind type delusion. And since I watch porn it must mean I am a simpler mind, roight?" The simple-mind reaches over and thuds one finger onto the book.

"Y'smarter than me too now, old friend?"

Eileen — or at least the illusion of Eileen — lifts her eyes from her book and curls the corners of her mouth into a feline smile that shows slivers of pearly teeth. "No," she says. "You have a kind of animal intelligence that I am actually quite envious of." The book is carefully folded shut and placed down on the table's cloth-covered surface with Ethan's finger still trapped inside. "Would you prefer I take a different shape? I had assumed this one would provide you with some small measure of peace, but if I was mistaken—"

She lets the question hang, apologetic, and shifts her attention from Ethan to the unfinished croissant on her plate, which she begins to peel apart using the tips of her fingers to expose its warm interior to the open air. "I would like us to be honest with each other, Ethan. I also know what role you and Salucci played in Volken's downfall, and I want you to know that it does not bother me in the least. He was, as you have so aptly pointed out, delusional."

"Kind of like a thin little knife stabbed into my arse and jiggled around rapidly." The Wolf explains in a quiet growl. "But you made the decision, and maybe you 'ad good intentions. Keep it." He dismisses. To 'Eileen's' hanging question. He smirks a little bit. "So I'm assumin' you didn't order me anything." His lips turn into a frown, "Do they 'ave fuckin' waitresses 'ere or do I 'ave to get up and do it myself?"

He shakes his head, deciding it doesn't matter. He'll just stop at a shop on the way home. With major concerns out of the way, he can get back to the conversation. "There's those out there that don't share your sentiment." Ethan points out quietly. "Especially after my display of… Dedication. You were never a true believer, I ever kill any of your friends to send a message?" He asks, genuine in not being able to remember. But then a slow grin. "You were never one for friends though." He pauses. "But there's others. 'oo would love to see me cut into tiny pieces and fed to an African cannibal society." They have societies, right? "Loyal to 'im or not." He splays his hands out. "That's neither 'ere or fuckin' there." He glances up at the ma—woman.

"What do you want?"

Eileen picks up a butter knife from the table, scoops a generous helping of blackberry preserves from a jar small enough to sit in palm of her hand, and slathers it over the shredded croissant. Ethan's assessment of the situation earns him a low chuckle that sounds nothing like the woman Grigori is impersonating. "Ramirez and Rasoul are much too busy running themselves into the ground to worry about you, Ruskin or any of the others — rest assured. There are only a few individuals here in Ryazan who take issue with your handling of the situation, one of which Volken was very fond, but I suspect I can convince her to set aside her grudge for the sake of moving forward. How would you feel about working for me?"

"You didn't like working for me, eh? Want to get revenge, 'ave me runnin' around cleanin' the skid marks off your undies, drycleanin' your imaginary pants?" He lets out a laugh in return. "Last man I worked for met a very nasty fate." The Wolf reminds, leaning in a touch to speak a little softer. "You sure you want me to work for you?"

"Unlike Volken," says Eileen who, rather than lean back to maintain the space between them, leans forward to converse with Ethan in conspiring tones, "I have no intention of separating you from what you hold dear. I am by no means a controlling man. I do not give orders so much as I make requests and expect them to be followed. If at any point you decide that what I am trying to achieve here in Ryazan no longer fits in with your world view, you are free to leave at any time you please."

"Alright Grigori. Get to th'fuckin' point." Ethan growls, making a hand gesture as if to speed up this process. "Whot is it you are tryin' to achieve 'ere in Ryazan?" The Wolf eyes the last bit of croissant enviously before leaning back in his chair to stave off temptation. "And of course, the obvious follow-up question. You can go 'ead and answer that as well, for the sake of time."

"Whatever the follow-up question, it either cannot be that obvious or it is you who is smarter than me." Eileen pauses to take a bite of her croissant, and as she raises a delicate hand to brush the crumbs from the corner of her lipsticked mouth, her shadow rises up against the brickwork wall behind her, wicked claws curving like hooked talons from its slender fingers. It cranes an impossibly long, incorporeal neck to peer out the nearest window and slithers serpentine across the glass as if surveying the street for any sign of Ethan's teammates lurking somewhere in the yawning darkness between buildings, under parked cars and in the space between lamps, untouched by light.

"I've resumed my operation out of the foundry," Eileen continues when her mouth is clear of French pastry, paying as much heed to the shadow's activity as anyone else in the cafe. That is to say: none. "Profit is my primary concern. Volken's vision had no money in it. He was, however, able to use his connections to acquire not one but two nuclear weapons. Munin and Hugin. Hugin has already been discovered at the compound in Berlin and seized. You would not happen to know where he was keeping its sister, would you?"

"The follow-up question, is whot do I get, old boy. Whot's in it for me? Why shouldn't I just shoot you and throw you at the idiots I am currently employed by." He gives a little shrug. He smirks at the last question. "Why d'you think I'm fuckin 'ere? Just seein' the sights of fuckin' Ryazan?" He looks dubious at 'Eileen'. "Whot, you want me to find the nuke too?" He rolls his eyes slightly, assuming this already. "Fuck me. Someone just get me a fuckin iPhone so I can end this." He gives her a level gaze across the table.

"If y'ave the nuke, whot th'fuck you gonna do with it? It's not like you want a genocide. And creatin' a nuclear holocaust just doesn't fill up the coffers like it used to." Ethan explains, frowning at her— him. Herm.

"I am going to do what any good businessman would," Eileen tells Ethan. "Sell it."

The shadow loops around, takes the shape of a cobra and snakes around the legs of chairs, between the stocking-clad legs of an older woman sipping coffee at one of the tables closest to the window before it winds its way back to where Ethan and Eileen are sitting. Like an oil slick moving through water, it glides smoothly up Ethan's back, tickling at his neck on its way over his shoulder and finally forms a pool on the table in front of him.

In its shimmering, iridescent surface, the Spektor home filters into view, followed by moving images of his teammates, including a smiling Abigail with a mouthful of flashing white teeth, a dour-looking Felix, his brows set into their ever-present expression of rumpled consternation, and Elisabeth's face anchored by baby blue eyes lit with the fury and indignation she seems to reserve just for him. Francois, Teodoro and Catherine are there too, interspersed between Ivan, Katarina and even Dr. Sasha Kozlow's bent shape hunched over Faina's memorial at the foundry.

"For the time being, though," Eileen says, "I want you to keep an eye on your friends for me so I no longer have to. It has been quite taxing, and my energy is better spent elsewhere. As for payment—"

She waves one diminutive hand over the pool, and the fluid begins a slow churn counter-clockwise. "What do you want?"

As things begin to change, the Wolf seems to get a hint irritated. His brows furrow lightly, and his eyes go directly to the illusionist, not bothering to hesitate on the masterful piece of eye candy hshe is creating. His hands fold upon each other, closing his eyes for a moment as to not see it. To not even allow himself a moment of deception. When his eyes pop back open he is back in the cafe, willing himself to see the cafe they were in moments ago. Even if the images are forced upon him, his mind strives it's hardest to deceive the deception.

Watching for a long moment, Ethan remains quiet even after the last question is spoken. One hand comes up to scrub at his chin. "I want a cut, obviously." Ethan growls, still a little angry about the illusion. "And I want a little… 'elp. Put me in position to kill a list of people. Back in the states. For one, our old friend. The one with the penis envy and the short man complex." He smirks. "Then a few others, man named Kain Zarek, I owe 'im a bullet, and a fellow I don't know the name of. Man runnin' this operation. Those're my demands."

The pool spirals up like a vortex in reverse, thins into a single thread and is sucked back into the palm of Eileen's hand. From there, it pulsates black in the veins of her slender arm on its way to wherever it's going, carried deeper into her body by its circulation. Mere parlor tricks as far as Grigori's ability is concerned, but if the Cheshire grin split across the young woman's mouth is any indication, he's enjoying these small exercises immensely.

"Very good," she agrees. "Consider it done. We can discuss percentages at a later date, mm?"

Eyebrows seem like they are set in stone as Ethan glowers across the table. It's not that he is angry, it is most likely that this is just default Ethan face at a cafe that is turning into a house and then into a cafe and then a Disney cartoon. His hands unclasp from each other, as he nods slowly. "You know me, I've never been a greedy bastard." Mumbles the greedy bastard as he shuffles his chair back. "Get me a fuckin' iPhone though. Sooner, rather than later. You can get a'old of me on that."

Going to stand, he frowns down at their little table. "And next time, be polite. And get me some food too, that is rude in no matter what country you are. Show some manners, girl." With that he's stepping away from the table and walking away from herm.

Eileen, Grigori, whatever it is that Ethan is dealing with— it does not get up, pursue or even move to follow. As he retreats from the table and then the cafe, the smile fades, eventually settling back into its neutral starting position. By the time the door closes behind him and he blusters back out into the snow, the chair is empty and the book gone, leaving only a sticky butter knife and a trail of croissant crumbs to indicate that someone was even there.

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