Smoldering Hearts


eileen_icon.gif eve2_icon.gif

Scene Title Smoldering Hearts
Synopsis Two passionate women have an impromptu summit amongst the smoke.
Date July 21, 2018

Flying Fish

Lynette Ruiz found the woman Eve seeks at a gambling den on Staten Island, so it probably isn't a coincidence that Eve finds her at the Flying Fish casino beneath the labyrinth that is the Red Hook Market. She's just one of hundreds of people drawn to the call of the establishment's sultry red lights and implicit promises, shapeless and unidentifiable at a distance through the veil of cigarette smoke roiling in the dense, humid air.

There's no air conditioning down here, and New York City has hit the height of summer. Sweat forms wings on the backs of dress shirts that had been pressed and pristine at some point earlier in the day, or gathers in naturally occurring folds of skin, where it stagnates, mingling with cologne and perfume — both expensive and not.

It isn't entirely unpleasant, as far as smells go. Not when most of the people in the room still remember the odor of dead bodies fat, blackened, and bloating in the sun.

Although she's in possession of Kazimir Volken's ability, Eileen is not immune to the heat, or the stifling mugginess that accompanies it. Eve finds her with a borrowed silk fan in hand on the fringe of a poker game that the Englishwoman seems content to watch rather than participate in. Her dark hair, tied back, away from her face and neck. might fall in greasy ringlets if unpinned. A black sleeveless dress and plunging neckline expose her too-pale skin to the air, including half of a V-shaped brand tucked between her piano key ribs. Sweat makes the fabric cling to her thighs and stomach, but her discomfort isn't reflected in her expression, if only because her focus obviously lies elsewhere.

Smokiness and the sweltering heat are a discomfort but for the oracle that frequently hot boxes her home and any room she’s allowed too really, it feels like home. Like the Oracle Room. It’s in this instance as she exits the ladies bathroom that Eve wishes she had a joint but cigarettes will do. Sharp, precise as a needle. A voice she ignored as she surveyed the room for the equally pale woman before she spots her just out of the corner of doe brown eyes that squint and then widening of the pupils as she takes in her profile. A hand slides up the side of a crimson light, flowy dress that billows out around her with every movement. The click of her metal staff is muffled by the flooring but a light thud resounds when her flats enclosed feet stop a few feet from the side of Eileen.

She had to see her for herself first. Her form and face taken in with a curious eye.

“You look just like her, ha.” Shaking her head she rummages around in the front of her dress to procure cigarettes and a lighter, promptly lighting the thing and her gaze on Eileen over the flame. As smoke wisps upwards to join the chorus of it’s other smokey friends, “Bird. Do you know me?” Her tone is husky as if the smoke of the room and her cigarette clings to her vocal chords, wine colored lips part in a mischievous smile. Eve had only met the children of the future that was a Wasteland and those weren’t really.. Doppelgangers. This was a sight, her eyes travel to that V brand just out of reach and her smile falters just a little. “Or do I speak with the Old One?”

Eileen's attention flickers, birdlike, from the poker game to the voice with a familiar, muted air of disdain that can only mean she recognizes the other woman after all. She considers Eve from behind the fan, all blue eyes and thick arched brows, for precisely the amount of time it takes her to decide denial isn't a worthwhile tactic in this particular instance.

The fan snaps shut.

"Do you think Volken would ever be caught dead in clothes like this?"

“Yes good point you have better taste, I’m now imagining you in a suit… powersuit boss bitch status. Standing on top of the mountain,” before her rant can carry her away the seer focuses her mind and that calm gaze returns though the smile remains, “Clearly you’re the toughest of the pack, I like you already.” A twinkle in her eyes that she just can’t seem to dampen. Though locking eyes with Eileen, the older woman frowns, “Not so much like her afterall. And it’s not just the icy blues,” puffing on her cigarette Eve regards the birdlike woman with a raised eyebrow, “I’m not here to scold you for trying to kill Otter Eyes. Lynette did that enough.”

“Do you like it here?” Eyes flick upwards to the ceiling of the underground casino, imagining the world above and beyond this den of sin.

"It isn’t exactly what I envisioned," Eileen answers. She has no pockets to conceal the fan, which she holds loosely in the clasp of her fingers instead. "For myself, or the others."

Iago. Danko. Lang. There are other silhouettes nearby, some tall and broad-shouldered, who look like they could pass for Ramirez or the Butcher of Mandritsara. Others slimmer, squatter, more compact with sinew like muscle: potential Emiles. None of them, however, belong to the men whose names implied by the silence that follows.

Because she is alone.

“All of the other rivers are polluted,” in reply to this world not being what they expected. They gets a fraction of a finger twitch and Eve stares at the table where the game rages on and her eyes slide over to the booths beyond, “To a booth?” Her pale face turns towards that direction and she walks slowly passing up the other game tables. There is a pause halfway to her destination and she pivots to look over her shoulder at Eileen, her expression all but saying come on coaxing a bird out from it’s nest. They’re both alone here, no back up. Eve likes to think they are in a neutral place but being amongst the type like the Triad give her feelings of unease, Adam isn’t here she tells herself. Once both women are comfortable and Eve is resting her leg the seer leans back in her seat with her almost finished cigarette, “I see intentions.. Actions.. Sometimes both.. Sometimes just one.” Gaze sliding over the sedated crowd, drunk on greed and various vices. “Intentions, what are yours?”

Eileen’s reluctance to abandon her post by the poker table suggests that she hasn’t come to the Flying Fish to try her own luck; like Eve, she’s looking for someone, but it seems unlikely that she’s located the individual in question yet, otherwise she wouldn’t join her at the booth.

Opposite Eve, she flags down one of the servers floating the casino’s floor and places a hand clad in an elbow-length opera glove on his arm. She sees her mouth move around a drink order, voice lost to the other ambient noise: Chinese zither music, cheerfully ringing slots, and the occasional peal of far-off laughter from an adjacent room. When the server returns, it’s with a crystal tumbler of gin and lime.

“I want to build a dam,” she says, to continue with Eve’s previous analogy.

The oracle opposite stays with water though tequila calls her name but she doesn't indulge, staying clear headed has been the goal for the last month and she has had success in that, sobriety. Not in the way that Lynette needs it but close. Eve sips from her water and gently sets it down.

A dam. That causes Eve to smile, “We are aligned then.” There's a moment of pause, how much does she want to divulge to this ghost of a woman she knew. Tapping her fingernails lightly on the surface of the table, “There is an Entity. Trapped between the boundaries of our rivers. I'm working to keep it that way. But it's getting closer even me telling you causes it to get stronger. But.. it is necessary.”

Eileen’s goal might also point against one of Eve’s, “Otter Eyes is no trouble he can't help what gift he was bestowed. Neither can you.” Another gulp of water and Eve lays another card on the table that she's kept close to the vest. “There is another Otter. The Other Otter hopping between rivers.. he needs to get here. I believe they are important to stopping the Entity.”

The embers of her cigarette alight as Eve puffs more, “So are you.” … “How would you go about building this dam?”

It’s a lot of information for Eileen to process in relatively few words. Eve’s unique manner of speaking has her deliberating over her response longer than usual, and she fills the silence with a measured drink of gin. The Eileen that Eve once knew was better at maintaining the mask, her true emotions concealed behind either porcelain indifference or a front of icy anger; this one, whatever parallel world she’s from, has either yet to master this particular skill, or has assigned it a lesser degree of importance.

In other words: It isn’t difficult for Eve to see that she’s conflicted in her answer, or that this conversation is causing her physical pain in her chest and constricted throat.

Her voice, at least, is steady.

“I’ve met him,” she tells her. “Your Other Otter. Ruiz. Where I come from, he and Gabriel used his ability to open a portal, hoping it would give Harrison and Varlane passage back to this world.” She might stop there, except:

“It didn’t.”

Eileen sets her glass back down on the table’s surface, condensation beading on its rim and the tips of her fingers. “The Entity, the Voice, whatever you call it— it murdered my husband, and transferred Volken’s ability to me. For two years, I watched, I mourned, I waited for an opportunity to take my body back.”

She traces a knuckle along the glass’ rim without looking. Her eyes, pristine and blue, have yet to leave Eve’s face as she studies the other woman for a reaction. “I cast him out and came here. Looking Glass and everything associated with it needs to be destroyed, and Ruiz— either you find a way to strip him of his ability, or he dies.

“Your choice.”

“Oh Eileen,” Eve’s expression twists into one of sorrow for the other Gabriel, her friend. “Jazzhands..” bottom lip quivering as Eve looks down at her own hands that begin to shake. No wonder Eileen is how she is and though there is an ultimatum there hanging in the clogged air between them Eve doesn't bite at all. Not yet, “I'm one of his only friends here. Most think he's dead.” Pale hands go to drag the water glass to her, condensation trails in its wake on the table.

“Devastated. He is, are you. I..” the seer closes her eyes and shakes her head, their pain she cannot feel but she knows. She sees. “Will you meet with him sometime soon? He's around when I'm around. Samson threw me down a well and he even came to help me,” he's a good man. Eve wants to say. Maybe Eileen could be a good woman.

Now, that thread hanging there in the air. And for most people they might have just waited for Eileen to reply but therapy or not Eve’s focus on conversations and tangents varies, “Killing Otter Eyes doesn't stop the Entity. And if you've failed to notice,”

Eve takes a sip of her water. “The Dark One here.. is no longer in power. Unless you've found a way.. to make sure your brain is the brain in charge if your Dark One is driven out from that body of yours.” Her mind going to the painting she had just seen at the Padilla’s, the description at least. And a small smile plays on Eve’s lips as if she knows something she shouldn't, “Don't threaten the people on this world who have defeated the thing inside you before.”

“You are confusing to me, the old crone Sibyl running around with the version of you here inside of her. You running around creating chaos in a world you’d like to call home. I'm worried Eileen.”

“So am I,” Eileen says. “I’ve read your books, and I’ve seen into my other self’s mind. I know all about this world’s Operation Apollo, the Ferrymen, Pollepel Island— the litany of mistakes she made I won’t repeat.”

She mentions nothing of Sibyl herself.

“Your Gabriel is not my Gabriel.” On this subject she is equally firm, although she’s lost the clarity in her eyes; her expression has gone cloudy, increasingly difficult to decipher or interpret, as too many opposing emotions vie for control over her actions and words the same way Eve might imagine she must have fought Kazimir for the body he seems to no longer inhabit.

“A person’s soul, their consciousness, their identity— it’s nothing except for a collection of life experiences, assembled into a particular form or shape. He isn’t the man I exchanged vows with, even if he looks and acts the same, any more than I’m the woman he lost. Seeing him would be too painful— for both of us.”

“I don't mean to repeatedly poke the beast but are you sure you aren't making her mistakes? Ones that are close?” The water glass is almost finished and Eve frowns over towards the equally too pale woman. “Creating an army on.. foreign.. other worlds? Attacking companies here… antagonizing Richard of all people Bird. He cannot give up a grudge, it's a thing. It looks more like you're trying to invade us.”

There's a pause, “From an outsider’s perspective. It could look like that. But that is not the goal, hmm?” Poking around in her bra again she whips out three plastic wrapped cookies, chocolate chip, “Cookie?” As she bites into one but leaves the other two in the center of the table. “You need a PR person because right now you've got a mountain of people who just survived a war with PTSD and if people thought I was trigger happy?” The seer frowns more, “It's going to get way too messy. Besides there's someone else that you need to focus on,” besides Richard Ray or Mateo Ruiz.

“I.. I understand your position on Jazzhands. I can't say I don't disagree but sometimes good things can come through blinding pain. And if you aren't allowing the other you to live freely in this world.. you're all each other have. On that level.” This is a messy topic, this whole situation is. “I'm sad for you both, truly. I admire your strength, pushing the Old One out. Taking back control on your body.” Props must be given where props are due. “I don't want to see you dead though, not if we’re going to stand a chance against Adam Monroe.”

Eve’s use of the word army raises both Eileen’s brows.

The cookies on the table go untouched.

“I hate to be the bearer of bad news,” she says, “but all I have to lend to your cause is a few dozen men, most of whom are loyal to Ramirez. The rest are out West, where they’re going to stay, because that’s where their families are— where their home is. Sedro-Woolley is a settlement, Mas. Not a militia.”

She spreads her hands as if to reiterate her position, which is across the table and alone.

“Tell me about Monroe.”

“Drat the armies were a metaphor,” snapping her finger she makes a mental note on that and slides her water glass back and forth between her hands. Mulling it over, “Well, the hearts of few can be as mighty as an army. PARIAH wasn't much but we dealt a lot of damage.” A settlement, “I'd like to see your settlement sometime, I haven't been out west since the war days.” And a time afterwards that she doesn't talk about.

Monroe. Ugh, Eve is unhappy with her blonde biblically named counterpart and it shows in her expression. “He's tied to the Entity in a way I am still piecing the puzzle together on.. he also wants genocide of everyone that doesn't have a gift like you or I.” There's a frustrated glance to the ceiling at her own words. “I imagine you have people in your life and settlement that that news wouldn't be good for. Adam has resources through the company Praxis Heavy,” another issue but one that Eve glosses over.

Placing her chin in her hands she looks over at Eileen, “Help me. This is all interconnected. Us, the Entity, Adam.”

“Tell me..” Eve leans forward, “How you plan to stop Looking Glass.”

“If I knew,” Eileen replies evenly, “I would have already.”

Now she rises from the table, taking her glass with her. “I’ll look into Monroe’s connection with Praxis for you,” she says, “as a gesture of good faith, but I won’t pledge any of my people to whatever war it is you’re looking to start next. Not Ramirez. Not his men. Not Danko, or Lang.”

They can make their own decisions, is what she means, although she doesn’t verbally extend an invitation to speak with them either.

She steers her attention back toward the poker game on the other side of the room and feels an involuntary frown shape her mouth when she sees that the man she’d been watching is no longer seated in the chair she left him at.

“You’ve asked me a lot of questions,” she says. “I think it’s fair I be given the opportunity to pose one to you. Will you give Elaine Darrow a message?”

“I'm not starting shit. But I'll finish it.” Eve watches Eileen stand to go and she straightens her back, “Thank you thank you Eileen,” in answer to her help with Praxis, the first step to getting everyone to chill out is to begin to work together. The oracle is pleased at this development. She's starting to reconsider that tequila in celebration when Eileen poses a question of her own.

“Well I'm a curious cat but of course you can Bird, it's the least I can do.” Her mind going to the redhead, what would Eileen want to say to the language wiz.. “What shall I tell the lovely Elaine?” Because she is, lovely.

“Tell her I’m sorry our paths never crossed while I was with Yamagato,” Eileen says of the lovely Elaine, the language wiz, “but that I’d like to speak with her, at her leisure. There’s a wrong I’d like to set right.”

“You continue to surprise and delight and that's saying something for me.” The oracle nods her head, “I'll let her know right away.” She’ll probably need to go through Red first. As Eileen retreats Eve waves a hand, “Be Safe Bird, we’ll find each other again soon.”

Watching the birdlike woman walk away Eve takes a look at her empty water glass and hums as she raises it, catching the reflection of pale skin and dark hair in front of her as she hums, turning it over and over in her hands she examines her face and winks.

Doe brown eyes are cold and unlike the gaze that was previously on Eileen, “You see what happens when you let me handle this?” Said to nobody but herself. Her whistle follows her all the way out the door and back to the Benchmark.

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