avi_icon.gif robyn3_icon.gif

Scene Title Risk
Synopsis Robyn ambushes Avi with something unbelievable.
Date October 2, 2018

Ezzy's Restaurant

Rochester, New York

If there is any one thing Robyn Quinn likes about Rochester, it is distinctly that it isn't the Safe Zone. Her contentious relationship with the place she calls home is well documented amongst her friends and acquaintances, but what makes Rochester really special is that, well.

She doesn't have to worry about seeing anyone she knows, unless she wants to. There isn't the chance of someone stumbling into the diner where she's having dinner, the office while she's trying to finish work, her door looking to make her leave her house, or by her table in Red Hook as she tries to unwind.

It's a sacred relationship she holds with the place she holds as her second home.

It also makes for good meeting spots.

That's the case tonight. She's gone the extra mile this afternoon, wearing slightly oversized sunglasses and a short, dirty blonde wig - her old Alice Roux getup as she waits for someone she hopes will heed the note she left asking for a meeting with little to know prelude. Picking out a small restaurant next to the local music studio might have a bit more on the nose than normal for her, but she's a fan of it - and no one would look for her here anyway.

Which is good. It's long past time she talked to Avi Epstein privately.

The one-eyed old man that limps into the restaurant looks put out. Avi Epstein’s presumption of covert is measured in caliber, rather than threadcount. As he surveys the establishment, still dressed in his street clothes with a jacket bearing a Wolfhound patch on the shoulder, he isn't precisely discreet. He is, however, not armed in any visible way. So there's that consolation prize.

What,” Avi says the second he closes in on Robyn’s table, “in the name of fuck are you wearing?” He brandishes a hand at the wig, as if it just said something crude to him. “You look like an undercover cop dressed up like a hooker.” Epstein drags out a chair and awkwardly levers himself down into it, making concerted effort to keep his bad leg kicked out and straight.

“The fuck is going on?” Avi asks, tugging off his sunglasses. “I swear to Christ if this even smells like a prank I'm dropping you out of an airplane without a chute.”

Robyn eyes Avi for a moment, before lowering her sunglasses just a tad - dramatically, as she does. "Well," she remarks in a low voice with gray eyes focused on him, "I couldn't wear an eyepatch, now could I?" This is certainly a good foot for them to start out on. "Besides, if I wanted hooker I'd dress like I used to on stage." With a shake of her head, she settles a bit into her seat. "Though, It has been a while since I was undercover at all. I deserve that. But I still have professional concerns about being seen out with people I am for some reason still supposed to be evaluating."

Before Avi can respond, she raises a finger in an attempt to stop him. "But… I didn't want to have this conversation at the Bunker." She drops the pretense of amusement, seriousness falling over her face as her hands fold into her lap. Luckily, the place is mostly empty - which is part of why Robyn picked it.

"You're probably going to think this is a prank. It's not." She takes in a deep breath. "So, a simple question: do you remember Nathalie LeRoux?" It won't stay simple from there, so she'd rather just jump right in.

Whatever glib comment Avi was going to make in light of Robyn’s explanation dies when she mentions Nathalie LeRoux. Avi’s brows furrow, lips press together in a thin line, and he blinks just a few times before looking down at the table. “Yeah,” is his heavy, monosyllabic response. “I remember her.”

Whatever happened, happened.

Avi’s throat tightens, a grimace spreads across his face. “Somebody track her down?”

Robyn notes Avi's reaction, studying him for a moment. The way she leans back in her chair feigns relaxation, but really she feels the opposite now - just teetering on the edge of visibly tense. "No," she admits in a low voice, her disappointment filtering through just a bit. "Tried for a while, but…" The Ferry lost her doesn't make it out at the end.

"Been trying to build some leads, and…" There's a moment of hesitation - when she had decided that she was going to talk to Avi, clearly she hadn't thought through what she would actually say. "I ended up speaking with Donna Dunlap. Assuming she can be trusted - which I believe, at the moment, she can - I know why the Institute had her locked up in the Arc. It's a long explanation that boils down to one bullet point."

Gaze moves back to Avi, steadily focused on him. "She had been observed having an ability that is - or at least is similar enough to - Kazimir Volken's moving to her. When they brought her in- she wasn't the original target."

Always a fan of dramatic cliffhangers, Robyn lets that one dangle, knowing full well it's not even the main point here.

Jesus Christ,” Avi says in a sharp exhale, scrubbing his hands over his face and then… brows furrowed, slowly raises his head up and looks to the side, then down to the floor, then over to Robyn. “A fucking kid with Volken’s power. I…”

Squinting with his one good eye, Avi fails to be able to put the pieces of his memory together. “Has anyone told you about Eileen yet?” All the color drains out of his face.

Pursing her lips, Robyn's expression sours a bit - Eileen Ruskin was not something she was expecting to come up. "I've been told about- an Eileen Ruskin. Word is getting around." Her tone is flat, staring at Avi for a moment. "I had thought to reach out to her…" She tilts her head, turning her scarred cheek a bit more towards Avi, "But I thought better of it. It's a different world now." For Robyn, at least.

She's got that awful fucking old Nazi rattling around in her head.” Avi explains with a motion of his hands that is impossible to decipher the meaning of. “So how the fuck does— ” He grimaces “ — No, you know what? I don't want to know.”

Running both hands up and down his face, Avi leans back in his chair and exhales a breath into his palms. “Okay, what the fuck does this have to do with anything if Nat might be decomposing in a ditch somewhere?” He's desperately clawing for something, anything that makes more sense than the current world.

There's a long stare in Avi's direction as Robyn considers telling him what she knows about Eileen. She's still never told him about their encounter in Egypt with Magnes, something with only barely still lingers on the edges of her thoughts whenever something reminds her oh right time travel is real. "I could tell you what's up with Eileen," she settles on with a dry tone, "but then you're just more likely to think this is a prank."

It's not.

"She's not our Eileen, but she is still Eileen," is a summation that may be cryptic to most. "As for… Nat," she notes his more familiar use of her name, even after all this time. "If she does have something akin to Volken's ability, I doubt she's dead. Where she is, that's another bullet point on my list of shit to figure out."

Robyn furrows her brow, looking back up at Avi. "How much did you know about Nat? I knew very little. She told me very little."

Avi bristles, seeming to keep his own counsel with regards to the state of Eileen’s affairs. Instead, he has a succinct answer regarding Nathalie. “She was a name on a list,” he says plainly. “When I… went into the Arcology— before— Eileen gave me a list of people who weren't to make it out under any circumstances. Dangerous people the Institute was keeping locked up.”

It takes a moment for the implication to sink in. “Nathalie was on the list. I… I didn't know she was a kid.” He looks down at the table. “I got to her door, and before I could get in that… this girl showed up. Blonde, wild-looking in a way feral cats are. She knew way too much about literally everything, talked in riddles. She said… some shit.” Avi shakes his head and scrubs the back of his neck. “She convinced me not to put a bullet in the casket they were keeping her in.” Avi grimaces. “I didn't need much convincing.”

Exhaling a steady sigh, Avi looks down into his lap. “I hauled her out, dropped her off with Eric,” that's a name Avi hasn't thought about in a long time, and it gives him pause. “I uh, I don't know what happened after that. She wasn't in the…” Avi shakes his head, but he doesn't need to explain to Robyn where they all wound up.

“Next time I saw her was on Pollepel during the siege.” Avi slouches against his seat, not looking up. “Haven't seen her since.”

Something about all of this brings a rare sort of smile to Robyn's face - know what she does, that Avi spared a child in defiance - indirectly or directly - of Eileen Ruskin is a strange sort of satisfaction. "She and I stuck it out for the trip north," is all Robyn really has to add to the end of Avi's retelling of events. "Until- basically - they wouldn't let me watch over her anymore. I had other things to do, anyway." But, much like other details, Avi already knows this.

Robyn looks off to the side. "Sorry. This is relevant, I promise." There's a growing anxiety to her, chewing slightly on her lip before she sits up and looks back to Avi. "Dunlap knew who her parents were. Supposedly, at least."

This time, though, she doesn't let the cliffhanger dangle. "According to her? The adoption papers listed- Sarisa Kershner and you. I have no way of verifying it, but-" A short sigh comes out as she puts herself on guard. "I wouldn't joke about this, Avi. I wanted you to know, though, because I intend to find her if she's out there."

And maybe this will give more meaning to his decision to defy his list all those years ago.

“What a cunt,” is Abi's flat and unsurprised delivery as he looks up to Robyn. “Even in the fucking ground she's found a way to spit in my fucking Cheerios.” But it takes a second for Avi to parse the half of that which isn't about him. When it hits, he visibly winces and sets his jaw crooked. His mouth opens, as if to say something, but only a croak comes out.

“Dunlap’s— ” What, lying? As a joke to whom, specifically? Avi struggles to find reason. “That kid was— she was Sarisa’s— ” Epstein clenches his jaw, exhaling a rough noise before slamming the table with the flat of his hand hard enough to jostle the salt and pepper shakers.

Suddenly, Avi’s head is swimming. “Fucking…” his face turns red. “You took me out to a fucking restaurant to tell me— to— ” Both of his hands fly up into the air. “What the fuck is your fucking malfunction!?

People are staring.

So much for low profile, though… Robyn's eyes widen at the slam. Even as much as she had tried to prepare herself for some sort of- reaction, Avi's outburst catches her offguard - as does his very pointed comment about her choice of venue.

And so, something that happens very rarely to her these days begins, as her composure utterly melts.

"I-I-" She stares up at him, shrinking down a bit in her seat. Eyes look around, and she attempts to swallow down the lump in the back of her throat. "Just- thought-"

Maybe this is why she never has done much undercover work.

She closes her eyes, setting the sunglasses aside. "I'm- sorry. You're right." That's what she leaves that - that this was horrendously bad form on her part.

“Outside.” Avi says with the same single beat pressure as a gunshot. “Now.” One hand on the back of his chair, Avi wrenches himself up to stand and looks around at the other patrons, brows raised and lips pursed. They awkwardly go back to their meals, and the waitress who was coming over just nopes right out and turns completely around and heads to another table.

Then, Avi just ambles over to the front door with a limping gait to wait for Robyn out front.

Robyn exhales a short breath and nods. All she can think about is how this would be a wonderful time for her to rediscover her ability to turn invisible, but alas, life isn't that convenient. She isn't quick to rise to her feet, but Avi's limp means she isn't that far behind by the time he reaches the door.

Stepping outside, she slips off her wig, and in the same motion that it's stuffed into her purse she retrieves a pack of cigarettes. As she lights one, she offers an apologetic glance towards Avi, but doesn't further speak up to defend herself. Instead, she just offers a cigarette out to Avi.

Squinting down at the cigarette, Avi snatches it up and makes a noise in the back of his throat as he takes out his own lighter. “Adoption papers,” Avi flatly states, bringing the lighter up and shielding it with one hand as he flicks the flint wheel in two clicks of sparks, then a jet of flame. “Had my name on it as the father.” He draws in a breath, head of the cigarette glowing brightly.

Exhaling a lungful of smoke, Avi shakes his head. “Do you have the paperwork with you?” Robyn’s seen this look before, a target-focused obsession on the minutiae. He sees something with his one eye that others might not.

This part of the conversation was something Robyn had been a bit more prepared for, at least before the preceding few minutes. "Working on it," she remarks in a low voice,. Trying to capture the cool tone she has when she's trying to feel detached from something - she's trying her best to adapt her approach after Avi's entirely understandable reaction. "Getting the papers," she clarifies as if it needed to be. She slips her cigarette between her lips so that she can do a big - well, the hand motion itself is hard to decipher on it's own.

"Part of a big web I'm untangling," she remarks as her cigarette dangles a it precariously. One hand pucks it out between fingers, as she exhales a slow breath. "Wanted to talk to you first so that you could hear this from me, and not- someone else who gets curious while I'm doing it. Get your take on it" When she looks back up at him, there's a cautious light in her grey eyes. "Considering the source, suspicion is normal and warranted, but-"

She waves a hand back and forth, trying to find words. "Big web," she settles on reiterating. "Too many connections to be coincidence. So, it's either truth, misdirection, or out and out lies, and I'm not sure about the latter."

Scrubbing a hand at the back of his neck, Avi draws in a sharp breath and then looks up and down the street. “You tell absolutely no one about this. Not about me, or about Sarisa, or that you were even looking into it. Not until I've had a chance to look at the paperwork. “

“Do I make myself,” he begins, plucking the cigarette from his mouth so he can gesture with it in a jabbing motion at Robyn, “absolutely fucking clear?” His brows raise, cigarette back where it belongs.

Robyn holds up two fingers, pulling her cigarette from her lips with the other hand. "Two people already know, from simple virtue of I couldn't speak to Dunlap alone," she responds platively. "Sebastian Waite and Rhys Blunther. Waite- I don't think paid attention at all to my interview and didn't seem at all interested. Rhys is- he'll keep it to himself."

She shakes her head, looking off to the side. "No one else besides that will know until- well, ever, really." Because she has no intention of sharing this information, and has thus far dodged it as it is. She takes another long drag of her cigarette. "Because yes. You do make yourself clear, and I apologize for not approaching this… better. More professionally." Or more humanly, whichever may apply. "I am not in the business of spreading other people's secrets, despite how that," she motions back to the restaurant, "may have seemed."

Avi stays silent for a time, just watching Robyn. It's hard to tell if he's listening for all that he doesn't react. Taking a drag off of his cigarette, there's a shift in Avi’s expression, a smoothing out of worry lines and an easing back from his anxiety earlier. Denial, probably, and a hell of an anesthetic for wounded emotions.

“Alright,” is Avi’s monosyllabic response. “Call Phillip Pressman in Kansas City, he works in DDI for the agency. He should be able to pull the records you need.” Then, stepping aside he motions back and forth with one hand. “Don't mention my name.” There's probably a list of people that Avi needs to append that statement to.

But he doesn't have anything else to add. No witty rejoinder, no smartass comment, just a vacant look to Robyn and then a slow step away from her down the street. Then another.

And another.

Until he's gone.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License