nick_icon.gif raith_icon.gif

Scene Title Reliable
Synopsis Raith keeps using that word. Nick does not think it means what Raith thinks it means.
Date September 20, 2010

Port Ivory Walsh's Warehouse

One month since a small part of Staten Island was brightly lit by a small star on earth. One month of healing and tension and strangeness since Nick York last saw the King of Swords. And truth be told, the lack of that contact has been, perhaps, all the better for his health. But the only really to really know would be to test it, and there might in fact be no better test than when the king himself strolls into the warehouse that is Nick's office, exactly as he had when they first met. Right down to the cheap suit without a tie, the sunglasses, and the travel-sized cooler hanging from his shoulder. Because, of course, getting him shot wasn't enough of an insult. Raith has to bring Natural Lite to really rub dirt in that wound.

"You in here, kid?" he calls out, pausing just inside, just after closing the door behind him, waiting apparently for permission to enter the 'office' proper.

Nick's head pops out cautiously from behind the shelving unit housing the supplies he's currently counting out to run to someone across the water, and his eyes narrow when he sees the man inside the door. His hand drops to his waistband to pull the gun there, though he simply holds it at his side before he steps out and into sight. He looks much better than the last time Raith saw him, though not quite as well as their first meeting. Somewhere in between the two, rather, which suggests he's on the mend from the nearly fatal shot to his shoulder.

"Walsh ain't here," he says a little irritably. He doesn't really remember Raith or the river house, the memory lost to delirium caused by infection and blood loss, but he does remember the man peeping at him with the priest. "You got shitty timing. You want more guns?" He's not trying to be as charming as he was the last time, and he sure as shit isn't going to drink any of that cheap excuse for beer this time around.

"Fine that Walsh ain't here," Raith replies, stepping across the warehouse floor to approach Nick. "See, I'm not interested in talking to Walsh right now. I'm here looking for you, so I'd say my timing is perfect." Perfectly irritating, maybe. Or, perfectly ominous, when he starts to unzip the cooler suspended from his shoulder. "Glad to see you're still alive, at least. Last I heard, it wasn't looking so good for you. Thirsty? Of course you are."

It's not a can of Natural Lite that comes out to greet Nick this time. Natural Lite doesn't come in dark bottles, either. No, today is a special day, because what comes out to greet Nick is a single, large bottle all ready to change his outlook on life: Arrogant Bastard Ale. Maybe the day is looking up. "All the way from California."

Nick's jaw sets, angry and tense and just a little crooked from the time he broke it as a child. His blue eyes are flinty as he glares at the cooler, waiting for the cheap beer to come out. The name on the label gets an arch of one dark brow and he snorts derisively. "Nah, I ain't thirsty, buddy," he says coolly, his eyes coming back to rest on Raith's.

"Look," Nick begins, his voice even, though there's a hint of fear in his blue eyes as he glowers at Raith. "It's just coincidence that my past apparently got here before I did, but I didn't mean nothin' by it. I came here to do some work, not … not mess with anyone you care about. And even if I did, she's dead, right, so just let it be, all right?" There's a slight dip in his tone on the word dead, and he glances away, swallowing hard. "Did … what's his name, Benjamin, send you?" It's perhaps telling that he doesn't call Amato 'the priest' or something less pleasant, but instead the name the man gave him.

The bottle in Raith's hand hovers in the air for a moment before he moves and sets it down on a worn work bench. Whether he wants it now or not, apparently this bottle belongs to Nick. The calm on the surface masks the flurry of thought in the ex-spy's mind as he processes the new information that Eileen is, apparently, dead. Good. "I come here on my own," Raith clarifies, turning to face Nick fully, "Like I said, last I heard, the outlook wasn't so good for you, and not for nothing, you're reliable. Reliable people are hard to find these days, so I'm making a point of keeping on good terms with them. That's reasonable, isn't it?"

The blue eyes narrow a little as Nick regards Raith, then apparently decides to be polite enough to tuck his gun back in his waistband. He shrugs his good shoulder, the gesture noticeably one-sided, and nods.

"Sure, as long as you don't try talking in peeps again," he says easily enough, sticking to his American accent lest any Irish men come walking through the door. "I'm not a hundred percent, but I'll live." He watches Raith and narrows his eyes again. "Thanks for helping get me to a hospital. I'm not too sure on a lot of things after getting pulled out of the water, but I vaguely recall you being around."

He scratches the back of his head absentmindedly, watching the older man with guarded eyes. "So, you just comin' to see if I'm alive and bring me beer, or…?"

"Not purely a social call, no." Well, that's good at least, since it brings in steady revenue. "I figure it'll be good to let you know, for one, that the past is the past, at least from where I'm standing. But in the event other people don't see things the same way and start giving you problems, I've still got some of her old contacts on file. Any problems you have with other people, they'll take care of. Also, certain elements on the island, they're starting to make me a little nervous. I don't like it when elements make me nervous. Accordingly, I am now in the market for TNT."

Nick arches a brow at the fact that other people might not feel the same way, and he's tempted to ask how many people know his business, but the only response is an angry tensing of his jaw.

"I'd appreciate it if you keep my name from making any more rounds. Too many blood people know who I am on this continent already, and it's starting to piss me off. It's not good for business, you know?" he asks — either the fake smuggling or the real Interpol work, as one relies on the other. He isn't sure if Raith knows what the real gig is — Epstein was around, after all, that night, but his memory is too foggy to make sense of who knew what.

"You wanna tell me what's making you nervous? And how much TNT do you need?" he asks, back to business.

"Well, just the little things, really. Mostly, it's Uncle Sam trying to move the fence out." It's either not a serious concern, or just one that Raith isn't allowing to bother him much, because he reveals the information very casually. "There's not a lot I can do about that, admittedly, but there are also some possessions of mine that I'd rather stay in my hands or nobody's. And what better way than by blowing them up? Two hundred pounds should be enough, or however many you can get up to that number. I know that's a lot, but I'm trying to save the plastique, and I really don't want to start making my own, you know?"

"Those're my problems. Yours is a little easier to deal with. I'll see what I can do about keeping your name from going around. I can at least try to keep it in small circles, but bigger than that's up to you. Or, like I said, I can call up some old friends and see what they can manage."

Another brow tics up at the number given, but Nick gives a nod. "Should be manageable," he says, though the mention of the old friends gets another narrow-eyed glance. "So far, as far as I know, it's you and this Benjamin bloke, along with this chick Melissa he dropped my name in front of, who know that I'm here," he says.

"And whoever was … when I got shot. Epstein, you, some … blonde?" Eileen he's written off as either a ghost or a hallucination. "I don't think bringing more people into it's a good idea, you know? Epstein knows, but — wait, what d'you know about Epstein? I —" (or is it Ei-?) "Someone told me he ain't to be trusted sometimes." It's probably not the smartest place to be talking about Epstein, but there's only two doors into the warehouse, and they're close to one and fifty yards from the other.

"Epstein married my sister." But that's all Raith says about that. "The blonde might be a problem, a little bit. She's a good girl. Can't keep a damn secret, but she's got a good heart. Long as nobody asks, I don't think she'll be a problem." Another hand into the cooler, and this time it does come out with a can of Natural Lite. Fortunately, the popping of the tab indicates that Raith is keeping this one for himself. "Still, might want to keep an eye out for her. Can't keep a secret, so if she bumps into you, the whole world is going to know about it." A long sip provides a break in the ex-spy's thoughts, and provides the currently-employed spy a segue to begin voicing his.

Nick nods. "Must be something about blondes," Nick says wryly. "I'm surprised it hasn't been on the 5 o'clock news, then, that I'm here." The fact that Avi is related to Raith is a little worrying, given the warnings Eileen gave Nick. Which Epstein seems like an impolite question, so he just nods, then swallows.

"Someone told me there's more than one of him. The real him, and a shapeshifter type, who kills other Evolved. I ain't Evolved, but, you know, if your sister is or you are, you might wanna be careful, mate," he says lightly, something conciliatory and apologetic in his tone, and his British accent slipping in on the last word as he lets up his guard ever so slightly.

He shakes his head at the beer. "Do you actually drink that because you like it?" he adds, a slight crooked smirk tipping his mouth upward. "Or did you spend all your cash on the bottle?"

"Ha, yeah, shapeshifters," Raith replies, raising the back of his hand to his mouth on account of a small burp. "I'll let you in on a secret. If you see Epstein dressed up in a suit like, Epstein tends to do, be careful how much information you give him. That's the fake one, and he's got his own plans that don't involve reporting to his bosses like he should. Think of him like…"

For a few seconds, Raith's gaze drifts upwards as he thinks about what he will say. "Think of him like Bud Lite. It's shit beer, but the commercials and the price try to convince you otherwise. The real Epstein is like this can of Natural Lite. A real son of a bitch, but at least it doesn't pretend to be something its not. You follow me?"

"Fuck, what if he's coming to me from some meeting or some shit? He got a safeword or something so I don't end up shooting him just 'cause he came from his grand mum's funeral or sommat like that?" The Yankee accent is gone, now that they're actually sharing information that might mean his life. There's something that wants to be straightforward and honest in Nick, despite his ugly past, and it's yet another of the myriad of reasons that he sucks at this job — as the "real" Epstein is wont to tell him.

The fake Epstein might tell him so, too, if he doesn't just kill him first.

"Man. It's kinda cool people with powers exist and all — don't tell Walshy I said that — but sometimes it'd be fuckin' easier to go back to when we didn't know about them. I'd feel less paranoid, wonderin' if every shadow was a person lookin' to kill me or whatnot."

His brows knit together, the lines in his forehead making him look older than his 23 years. "That blonde, she got a name? I won't seek her out, ya know, but if I hear her name, I can steer clear of her, yeah?"

"Those days are gone, son. And we're never getting them back, so just appreciate the memory of them. And seriously, pick an accent and stick with it, okay? I know it's me, but you need to stay in character." A sternly pointed finger emphasizes the importance of this.

"The poseur's being kept tied up in D.C. right now, so you probably won't see him around town. Real Avi's going by 'Camden' on the street, so if you see him, you better make sure you call him 'Major' when you're in polite company, if he indicates that he knows you at all. He's got a cover to keep too, don't forget. Blondie goes by Beauchamp. She's a paramedic, so stay away from meat wagons and you'll minimize your chances of bumping into her. And like I said otherwise, anyone starts giving you too many problems or the blood variety, let me know and I'll take care of it. Capice?"

Nick offers a slightly wry and chagrined grin. "Yeah, sorry, thinkin' in Yankee gives me a headache." It's back to American, and a rather good one, too. Maybe in another life he could have been an actor. "But you're right. Gotta train it better so I don't lose it when someone shoots me again, right?" Unfortunately, he's fairly sure it will happen again.

"Paramedic. Beauchamp," he echoes, nodding to show he's listening. "Got it. And where do I get a hold of you, if that happens? I don't think King of Swords is listed in the phonebook, right?"

Calmly and plainly, Raith reaches into the inside pocket of his jacket and produces what, to normal eyes, might look like a business card from a distance. In reality, it is blank with a phone number and e-mail address written on one side. "Don't call that number if it's an emergency, it could take me several hours to get the message, but I'll get back to you." Clearly, the delay number, rather than one that will connect them instantly, is a trust issue. And surely, Nick's been a spy long enough to understand why. "The e-mail, I might reply faster, but it's e-mail. Up to you which one you like better."

Nick reaches for the card, glancing at the number and the email address before nodding and shoving the card in the back pocket of his faded jeans. "Thanks. And you got a name? I don't wanna just call you King, no offense, and Swordsie sounds just a tad too personal. As for me, York works, like I said, or Nick. Keep it simple enough, right?" He frowns, a little. "You expecting anyone else to try to kill me? You keep offering help if it happens. The guy on the docks, that was just a fluke, wrong place at the wrong time."

"Raith." He's keeping it simple too. "And I don't know what to expect anymore. Like I said, you're reliable. Reliable people are hard to find. That's means we have to keep each other alive, because that's how we roll. The Reliables." And with a 'zip!,' the cooler is closed up and Raith hammers back more of his beer. "You take care of yourself, Yorkshire. Dangerous world out there, and all that. And remember. I have a lot more experience working with the government than you do. You cannot trust anything they tell you about New York City, except when you can. And you will know when they're being straight with you." One last sip, that drags out and out and on and clearly lasts until Raith polishes off the rest of the can.

There is a furrow of dark brows as Nick regards Raith. That reliable word is an unusual one, one that has probably never been used to describe Nicholas Ruskin in his life. Even his Interpol file notes that he is useful because he's manipulatable — he's only an agent because he'd rather work for them than go to prison, and because it satisfies some part of him that needs to be useful.

"Whatever you say," he says lightly, happy enough the man doesn't seem to want to kill him. "Thanks for the beer. You sure you don't want to take that with you? Wash down the taste of that piss?" he says lightly, with a nod toward Raith's cooler.

"You got shot last month," Raith replies as he turns to leave and starts walking, "I should've given that to you last month. Sorry about being late with that." Better late than never? If there's one thing Raith is not about to be late for, it's making his exit. Already, he's swinging the door opened. "Once again, take care of yourself, and watch out for the Meat Man."

"Cheers," Nick says, frowning just a touch though it's out of confusion rather than anger, sitting down on the table that serves as a desk as the other man makes for the exit. Once the door shuts, he shakes his head, unsure if Raith's really looking out for him, and just what that means, or if he's getting information on him — if it's the latter, for who?

Questions without answers. He pushes off the table to head to the boxes of ammunition, going back to counting out for the order he needs to run later in the day.

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