Sharp Edges


kain_icon.gif munin_icon.gif

Scene Title Sharp Edges
Synopsis Amato sends Munin on a mission to Rapture. Kain acts as the gatekeeper.
Date November 6, 2008


The pulsing beat of bass throbs through the walls of Rapture, a high-class nightclub in the heart of Harlem. Rows of expensive cars line up out front of the exclusive club and a crowd of would-be patrons wait outside, cherry-picked by the bouncers to have only the cream of the crop on the interior, while leaving just enough eye-candy outside to entice other patrons. The club serves as a respite for the trendy and the influential from the grind of daily life.

On the inside, Rapture is as much a spectacle as it is a structure. Multiple dance floors in tiered balconies overlooking an enormous central dance floor ringed by plush leather-upholstered booths. Pale blue light shines on the wrap-around bar that curved around the back of the establishment, and the entire building is filled floor-to-floor and shoulder-to-shoulder with the pulsing, flowing sea of people dancing to the rythmic beats of electronic dance music piped through the expansive sound-system.


Time holds no meaning at Rapture, not once the music is playing the lights are down. With the pulsing beat of the rhythmic and electronic music throbbing against the walls, this high-class nightclub is not entirely unlike the Rave scene in Europe. An endless party that knows not where it began or where it will end, fueled by a myriad of vices that urge on the struggling survivors in New York City to forget their past, forget their present, and give in to a blurred future.

One engineer of this dystopian revelry is just as guilty of running from his past as the people he surrounds himself with. Kain Zarek is nothing, if not the business heart of Rapture. While he may not own the club, he certainly carries himself with the cocksure swagger of a man who pretends to. Though there's one difference in Kain than most club owners, he prefers to find himself within the thick of it, within the heat and sweat and noise of the club's floor.

Where most people of importance in a nightclub would be hidden behind closed doors, Kain spares no expense in making his presence known loud and clear. The ring of circular booths surrounding the raised central dance-floor near the DJ's stand is where Kain pulls his strings, a reserved booth surrounded by overstuffed red leather cushions, and guarded by a mountain of a man owned by one of the most powerful crime syndicates in the country.

This is a place where law holds no sway, and a place where money buys release from the pains of life. In so many ways, it is exactly where Kain belongs, and exactly where one young woman shouldn't be.

War veterans have flashbacks, and while Munin never served in the military or traveled abroad until she met Amato Salucci and Kazimir Volken, she's a survivor of a different kind of battle — one that's fought every day in almost every major city of the world with a needle and a spoon. The moment she sets foot in the combat zone, she's confronted with a pulsing sea of bright lights and booming sounds that wastes no time spilling over her, pulling her out into a human riptide awash with sweat and cheap booze. Triggers, all.

Rapture is the type of place that Amato has always warned her to stay away from, and being the obedient young woman that she is she wouldn't even be here if he hadn't decided they needed to make a one-time exception to the rule. What a man of God might want with a potentially lethal dose of heroin, Munin doesn't know and doesn't want to ask. Instead, she does as she's told, gaunt and pale, her skin taking on a fearful pallor as she makes her way through the crowd and, desperately, hopes it's as easy to get ahold of a ten cent pistol here in New York as it was in London.

To someone who is to this warzone, a seasoned veteran, Munin knows the signs to look for, the people to talk to, and the right things to say. Even given the continental divide, there's a certain quality that these individuals keep, and her subtle negotiations of one face to another leads her inevitably closer and closer towards the heart of the club, the writhing sea of dancers in a sweat-soaked, flesh-bared, surging mass of bodies seeking to pretend that the world isn't crumbling down around their ears.

One name eventually falls to Munin's ears, the man to talk to who knows all of the other men she should be talking to. She knows the type, self-important and wealthy, a man who ruins more lives with the flick of a bill-fold than most men can with a loaded firearm. Kain Zarek looks the type, though more well groomed than Munin is used to dealing with. The lone bodyguard positioned outside of his booth fits the stereotype to a fault with his shaved head, pale skin and impossibly large girth. He looks like some Frankenstein's Monster stuffed into Armani.

The man behind him though, is a bearded devil. Head cocked to one side with a cigarette in one hand and a martini in another, Kain Zarek looks as though he's trying to emulate the appearance of a wealthy mobster in his pin-striped suit that seems to glow under the colored lights above his table. Munin's waifish form isn't given much heed by his lumbering guard, most women are allowed to approach Kain's booth without so much as a second glance — it's policy.

It's not the first time the name Kain Zarek has reached Munin's ears. When you command an army of beady-eyed little spies like she does, you end up with lots and lots of pieces of information that don't make much sense when you look at them on an individual basis. Figuring out how they fit together to form the bigger picture isn't her job, it's Kazimir's; Munin didn't know what she was expecting, but it certainly wasn't this. Somewhat taken aback by the lack of security surrounding Kain, she approaches him cautiously, the colour beginning to return to her cheeks now that she has confidence in her ability to navigate the crush without losing herself in the process. Her gray-green eyes are bright, and though her skin shimmers with sweat like almost everybody else in the club, her small shape stands out against the crowd — a waking dream amidst a hundred sleepwalkers, the one idea that can clearly be defined in room full of thoughts without meaning.

"Mr. Zarek?"

Kain's head tilts to the side, setting down his martini as eyes narrowed just enough not to be able to tell the color skim up and down Munin's slight frame. The hand holding the cigarette motions towards a space of empty bench seat adjacent to him, "In the flesh darlin'." The southern accent isn't expected, for someone as chic looking as Kain, it almost seems like a jarring juxtaposition to put his appearance in mind, and then hear the drawl of a hick cajun coming out of his mouth. As one brow raises slowly, his eyes open enough to make out their pale blue color amidst the shifting colored lights. "What wonderful misfortune do Ah' owe t'have a pretty little thing like yourself come up walkin' towards mah' ol' table?" He reclines back against the leather cushions, both arms now draped over their backs.

There's something comforting about Kain's accent and his relaxed manner of speech that makes it easier for Munin to take a seat at the bench. It doesn't make him any less of a devil, but she'd rather deal with this incarnation than many of the others she's met. Although her outfit isn't nearly as skimpy as some of the clothes the women here are wearing, she picked her cobalt blue dress, leather belt and matching knee-high boots with the intention of showing off as much skin as she can without Amato or Ethan accusing her of looking indecent. Her arms are bare, all the way up to the curve of her shoulder, making her limbs appear only slightly longer than they really are as she folds her hands and rests them on the edge of the table. "A little birdy told me you were the man to ask if I was in the market for something special."

"That'd be right," Kain notes, bringing his cigarette to his mouth, pinched between two fingers. His brow tenses as the ember on the end glows a little brighter, the smoke issuing from the end fading away for a moment. He lets that breath hang before blowing two lines of smoke out of his nostrils, letting the hand holding the cigarette paint a line of smoke through the air, "You want or need somethin', Ah've either got it or know somebody who does." He leans towards Munin, head tilted to the side with a stringy lock of sandy blonde hair falling down his brow. "Wha'cha need an' how much of it?" He nods over to the people dancing, "Most girlies your age come lookin' for a little bit to take the edge off, and it's a world with a lotta' sharp edges, darlin'." He raises both of his brows, leaning away as a crooked smile crosses his face, "Ain't gonna blame no one for wantin' t'feel better 'bout it."

The corners of Munin's mouth tighten into a faint smile as she looks back toward the dance floor. Once upon a time, she could have been any one of those other girls, so drunk, so high that the only kind of awareness experienced is an acute awareness of self. Nightclubs were never really her scene, but she wouldn't have turned down an invitation if one had ever been extended to her. "I'm not interested in taking the edge off'a anything," she tells Kain, honestly enough, "but maybe a friend of mine is. Permanently." Asking for drugs is one thing. Asking for tainted drugs is quite another, and though the request itself might not seem entirely strange, it sounds that way coming from someone as softly-spoken as she is.

There's a discernable shift in Kain's expression, enough to give that waif seated next to him another look. His eyes scan her up and down, and he turns to look over his shoulder and around the club, then back again. His arms come down off of the back of the booth, and one hand quietly snuffs out his cigarette with a twist of his wrist in the ash tray. "Well," he tips his head as he speaks, brows raising in mild surprise, "you sure do know how t'get a boy's attention." Once the cigarette has been put out, he moves his hands to fold in his lap, one leg crossing over the other as he leans at a slight angle in the booth. "Why don't you go on and stop bein' all foggy and cut straight to the black n'white?" Kain's pale blue eyes stare past Munin, towards the other side of the bar, then around. He's sizing up the other patrons, as if something about the meeting has set him on alert.

Munin reaches into the purse she wears on her shoulder and pulls out a rolled up bill that, at a glance, might as well be a joint to anyone watching their conversation from elsewhere in the club. "I'm not asking you to make a sale," she tells him, "and I'm not asking for a favour. All I want is some information. A name. An address. I don't care what it's cut with. Fentanyl. Morphine. Whatever. You give me what I'm looking for, and I give you a token of my appreciation in return." She taps the tips of her fingers against the edge of the table, the bill still pinched between them. It's difficult to know for certain in the club's lighting, but it looks suspiciously like a Benjamin Franklin. For Munin, a hundred dollars is a lot of money; she wishes she didn't have to resort to spending the allowance Ethan's given her on this sort of thing. Unfortunately, her birds don't fly at night and she and Amato are working against the clock — she's running out of options.

There's a bit of a strained look in Kain's eyes as he looks down at the bill in Munin's hand, then up to the girl. Something in his gaze changes, that sly confidence replaced with something that might actually resemble concern, though hardly anyone would believe Munin if she said as much. He looks down to the table, then lifts blue eyes back to Munin, "How old are you?" The words aren't said judgmentally, but rather with a tone that almost indicates that he's disturbed. It's especially not a question condusive to business, and with the way his lips are pressed tightly together, there's a look in his eyes, one of hesitance and anxiety. "Girl, do you know what you're actually askin' me for? Is that what you really want?" He looks down at the hundred dollar bill again, then back up to Munin.

"Twenty-five." Munin's answer is immediate, succinct. Practiced. "And yeah. I do. It is." She's a little disturbed herself; when she speaks, the voice coming out of her mouth sounds strange and alien to her ears. On the inside, she's as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. On the outside, she's as cool as the colour of her eyes, her gaze continuing to steadily meet Kain's own. She's not doing this for herself. She's doing this for Amato. "I'm not a cop either, if that's what you're really worried about."

"Ah' ain't worried 'bout no cops, not here." Kain leans to one side, resting his elbow on the tabletop, that hand coming to gently massage the bridge of his nose between his eyes. "Kid, look, people might go'n call me a merchant a'death, but there's lines ah draw." His blue eyes flick over to the young girl, head tilting to one side slowly. "You want somebody made t'disappear, Ah ain't got a problem with findin' somebody to do that for ya. But what you want," his eyes divert down to the hundred dollar bill, then back up to Munin, "Ah'm not gonna' give ya."

With that said, he finally leans back and lays his hands in his lap, looking at the girl with an expression of mixed emotions and mild distaste, not so much in her but perhaps in himself. "Girls like you, they come in here lookin' for a fix. Sometimes they come in here lookin' to slip away from what hurt's 'em. Sometimes I get people in here, scared ones like you." His gaze levels squarely on Munin's, able to see the tension in her as clear as the smoke that hangs in the air. "Whatever it is you got yourself in, it ain't none a'mah business. But Ah' ain't gonna sell you bad shit…" He purses his lips for a moment, looking like he was going to add something else, but he can't bring himself to, his eyes finally slipping away.

Only when Kain looks away does Munin close the rest of her hand around the bill, swallowing it up into her tiny palm. She can see he isn't going to budge, and perhaps it's just as well; she may need all the money she has to purchase what she's looking for as soon as she finds someone who's willing to give it to her, someone whose conscience isn't quite as in tact as Kain's. "Thanks anyway," she says, rising from her seat at the bench and slipping the money back into her purse in one smooth motion. "I'll show myself out."

Brow scrunching up, Kain tilts his head to the side and flicks his eyes up to Munin, watching her as she rises from her seat. He winces, slightly, then flattens his palm down on to the table, "Jesse Bartlett." He practically spits out the name, "Y'gonna get yourself killed if you just go askin' around about shit like this, kid." He slides out from around the table, eliciting a side-long and puzzled stare from Manny, whom merely steps aside to let Kain out of the booth.

"He's a slimy son of a bitch but he ain't gonna do to a pretty little girl like you what most guys in this part of the city will." Both of Kain's hands curl closed into fists, then relax as he edges past the table and over to Munin, giving her a worried look. "I ain't sure what you done got your head in, girl…" As if about to be preachy, Kain raises one hand to emphasize a point, only to let it fall slightly as he motions to a tall man with short-cropped dark hair on the other side of the club, seated at a table surrounded by girls Munin's age, and likely her real age. "That's him. Now get what you want and get outta' here before Ah' have a change of mind."

Munin glances over at the man Kain motions to, her green eyes narrowing to catlike slits when they settle upon him. "Bartlett," she repeats, rolling the name around in her mouth as if trying to get a better taste for it. "Mm." With a nod, she once again withdraws her hand from her purse, offering her white-knuckled fist and the contents inside to Kain. "Do you still want your money?" she asks and raises both her dark eyebrows at the man to emphasize the question. Like most young women, she has deluded herself into believing she's a pretty good judge of character; she doesn't expect Kain to take the bribe, but she isn't about to rescind an offer after it's already been made.

Staring at Munin for a moment, Kain rolls his tongue on the inside of his cheek as he looks her up and down. "Just get outta' here," he strains, trying to sound as gentle about it as he can, turning back towards the table with another, this time more concerned, look from Manny. The large gentleman turns his focus over to Munin, almost apologetically, but at the same time he's staring down over the top of his glasses at the bill in Munin's hand, head tilted to one side.

The giant takes a half step over to the waifish girl, leaning down and in towards her, "You's best be doin' as Mista' Zarek asks…" He starts to lean back, but hesitates, "I ain't neva' seen 'im turn down money, miss. Even a penny." He finally leans back, one hairless brow raised as he looks at her, as if silently speaking out, so what's so special about you?

Munin decides not to push her luck. She looks up at Manny, trying to ascertain the truth of his words by studying his face for as long as she can without seeming impolite. In the end, she sees nothing that either confirms or denies his statement, as so turns away and briskly plunges back into the crowd. As much as she might want to, she dares not chance one last glance over at Kain; if she ever needs to find him again the future, she now knows where the wolf makes his den. Tonight, she'll finish her business and be on her way, lest he follow through with his threat. She doesn't know what might happen if he has a 'change of mind', and she doesn't want to linger around to find out.

November 5th: If At First You Don't Succeed
November 6th: Gutterball
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