The Legacy of Edward Ray - Part II


amato_icon.gif astor_icon.gif eileen_icon.gif ethan_icon.gif

Scene Title The Legacy of Edward Ray — Part II
Synopsis Ethan brings Amato to the river house in search of answers but yields only more questions instead.
Date January 26, 2011

Staten Island: River House

About four hours of travel, a whole hour of an early breakfast. And then another hour of travel. And finally Ethan and Amato have arrived at the riverhouse. In all of this time off sharing each others company, Holden has yet to strike Amato one time. So it's a personal success on that point at least. Yes, they were in a rush, but you can't interrogate a little bed-wetting boy on an empty stomach, can you?

So after a healthy dose of a Waffle House that looked like it met its own mini Midtown Man, Tyr and Fenrir set foot before the tiny cabin. Holden goes first, shouldering the door forward. Stepping in, Holden waves the man in affter him. Once Salucci steps in, Ethan shuts the door behind them. "'e's upstairs." The murmur goes out quietly, breaking the early dawn silence inside the cabin.

In all their years together, they have seen their share of abandoned buildings and ramshackle structures. At one point in time, they were as commonplace as the chintzy hotel rooms, though the latter bore the risk of attention. Still, Amato's pale eyes move to take in the house as he steps across the threshold and into the living area before they finally peer up toward the second floor at Ethan's direction. To say it's been a long night is an understatement.

But when you're this far in, it's almost silly to stop.

The images brought on by the dark lock of Astor's hair still haunt Amato, like the shadowy memory of a nightmare. To see it again, to see the source and be able to question the meaning of things like busses, balloons, corpses, and chaos might just be the only way the pale man might get any decent amount of sleep tonight. With a nod to the other man, Amato steps toward the staircase, his boots thumping on the old floorboards despite his efforts at stealth. He drops his shouldered duffel at the foot of the stairs, but he retains his tattered and stained wool coat.

They should have eschewed the Waffle House if they wanted to catch Astor and his protector unprepared; dawn is when Eileen rises to put the tea and coffee on while she fixes breakfast for the others, and this morning she's fortunate enough to have come into possession of some offal from one of the Rookery's butchers. The kitchen is empty now, but there are signs that someone has been working at the counter, including a fat, greasy spiral of blood sausage on a wooden chopping block and the smell of livers cooking up in the oven below the stove. A kettle billows steam, its reflection distorted in the thick metal wedge of a knife left discarded on the chopping block.

"Who is?" asks a voice from the top of the stairs, and it's really a rhetorical question. Eileen knows who's sleeping in the rooms on the second floor, and until a few minutes ago, she'd accounted for everyone except the two men shadowing their way inside. Her hand glides smoothly down the banister as she descends, dressed in her nightgown with one of Gabriel's heavy sweaters worn over it for additional protection from the cold.

"W'need t'check a bit more on th'boy." Holden says roughly as the man walks by him. Making sure the door is secure, Ethan moves through the bottom of the river house quietly. Fixing the little girl/woman at the top of the stairs with a stern look. Ethan thins his lips, as he looks up at her. Crossing his arms over his chest. He tilts his head back some.

"Salucci found some disturbin' memories on our boys 'airs." He motions with his chin. "'e wants to touch you and 'im, again." The Wolf says quietly. "He'll do it all soft like, won't wake 'im."

Caught between the man who brought him here and the young woman who guards his quarry, Amato looks slightly wide-eyed between Eileen and Ethan, visibly fighting for words, if only for a moment. He fusses with removing his gloves, then smooths his hands over the lapels of his coat. "I would like-" he starts, but he quickly stops and shakes his head. Something has Amato, who even in his lessened state is a dependable picture of calm, rattled to the point of fidgeting. "I may need to speak with him," he edits before continuing, focusing his supplication on the blind woman above him. "I am glad of what he did for you, but there are things to be sorted out. Pieces that…that don't fit."

"I don't see what touching me has got to do with it," she says, and if she was speaking louder then her tone would be sharper, more accusing than the breathy whisper she's using to address them. Astor is not the only one Eileen is worried about waking. She stops halfway down the stairs, perhaps to take advantage of the fact that the steps put her up higher than Ethan and Amato, allowing her to look down at them for a change instead of the other way around.

Amato's fidgeting does not go unnoticed. Somewhere in the exposed rafters, there is a little bird watching with eyes that twinkle and miss very few details. Her grip on the banister tightens, pale fingers forming a loose clasp. Bare feet and slender legs exposed below her mid-thigh are more skin than she'd show around almost anyone else, but most of the men living under this roof are family, and the one who isn't has yet to leave his bed as far as Eileen is aware.

"Exactly what sort of memories, Amato?"

Part of this trip Ethan spent in complete worry. Now able to rest once he is ffully convinced that Eileen is in fact alive. But for some reason he's not rushing to cover her with hugs and kisses. It might be that she's climbing up to be King of the Hill and glower down at them. Ethan takes a few steps forward. "Y'don't 'ave to, love." He growls quietly, also accutely aware of the other sleeping men. "Does it matter, 'e's seen all y'done, anyway." Holden waves a dismissive hand. "Just let 'im."

As to the question, Holden allows Amato to field this one. Instead he brings the gloves off his hands, throwing them down on the counter.

When Eileen descends, Amato looks away from her, fingers fiddling with the buttons on his coat. "Like a dream," he says after a moment of concentrated thought. "It is one thing to see too many memories for one person to hold," not unlike Kazimir's sordid lifespan, "or horrors one might have thought were impossible for one person to have committed," not unlike one of the sleepers beyond Eileen.

Slowly, he lifts his narrowed eyes to her again, only darting them sideways briefly to look at Ethan. "But these images were nonsensical," he continues, thin brows furrowed. "Either this man who saved you is the strangest I have ever seen, or else he has come from a place where reality is bent so far that is becomes unrecognizable."

"Perhaps you're losing your touch," Eileen suggests without moving from the stairs. Gray eyes look through Amato, through Ethan, her small mouth tight, saying nothing, but eventually she arrives at a decision and takes a step to the side, making room for Amato to pass.

"The last time we tried to speak with him," she says, "he had a seizure. He's sick. Under no circumstances are either of you to antagonize or threaten him. He's my patient, my claim, my kill — if it comes to that.

"I sincerely hope it doesn't."

Glancing up at Eileen then back to Amato, he gives a wordless command and a snap of his head. Get to it. He turns some to face Eileen, motioning for her to come down the stairs while Amato goes up. He'll ignore that Eileen is telling him not to antagonize someone. Bitch. I'll antagonize the fuck out of anybody I—-

Anyways, Ethan steps back towards the door of the small house, allowing Amato to go his own way. He himself waits quietly for Eileen to join him.

Amato stiffens at the veiled insult, but it quickly turns into a wounded cringe as he slips to the far side of the stairs to slink past the slight woman guarding the way. The line of his mouth twitches toward a frown on one side and he keeps her fixed in his peripheral vision until he's passed her, nodding his strained acceptance of her ruling. There was a time when she was the pawn - but even then, she held power. Now she is simply and irrevocably aware of its force. With not much care with the fall of his booted footsteps, Amato rushes up the remaining stairs and into the dark halls of the second storey.

There, he is skeptical of doors, peering through cracks before he finds a room housing a man he doesn't recognize. He pushes the door open slowly, trying his best not to let the old thing creak on its hinges.

As Amato moves up, Eileen moves the rest of the way down. At the bottom of the stairs, she's a little less imperious, arms coming to wrap around her middle and chin tucked against the weave of the sweater. She would press her mouth into it as well if that wouldn't look ridiculous — fog leaks from her nose like smoke from a slumbering dragon's snout, her eyes half-lidded and feline.

Her bare feet carry her across the hardwood floors, past the kitchen, enveloping her in its strong, earthy smells. The sizzling liver and sausage, stuffed with barley and oats for filler. Bitter coffee grounds. Winter mushrooms cleaved from dead stumps and covered in red-brown velvet in a woven basket with wiry bundles of onion grass.

"If I didn't know better," she tells Ethan, "I'd say that you have it out for him."

Ethan's lips open up as his chin dips, glancing up to make sure Amato is out of earshot. Tracking that he indeed is, Ethan's tongue starts to move, but his whole body stops. Once she accuses of him having out for the young man staying in their prison slash guest room. Which apparently has him changing his mind about what he was going to say. "Well if you're going t'be a bitch. You don't get to know secrets." Holden growls.

Maybe it's best that his daughter doesn't know that Amato saw Eileen, dead. Looking down at her feet, he frowns deeply. "Why're you up. You're gonna catch frostbite and die." Because that's what happens. His brows furrow some, "'e saved you. Just because I pulled a knife on 'im, doesn't mean I want 'im dead. I was just tryin' to get Salucci involved. You know 'e's been feelin' so left out lately." Ethan gives Eileen a somewhat dark look. "Why would I 'ave anything but grattitude to 'im, until 'e proves me I need t'ave somethin' else?"

And there is a boy on the bed. Well, young man really. Coal-black curls and an anemic wash of undertone to his skin, but his breathing's regular and there doesn't seem to be anything too pinched about the skin around his eyes. He could be worse off. His shirt gaps open far enough for the thick white of gauze taped around his shoulder underneath to be visible, evidence of the wound which rendered him helpless enough to require the assistance of the Remnant. Or else, you know. Weak enough to be taken down? Not that most able-bodied men are anything approaching a match for them.

His knees make two perfectly even, peaked bumps in the covers and his eyelids aren't moving at all. He's rather good-looking, if you care about that sort of thing. Assuming that Amato, as ever, doesn't, he is well-built too if not at his prime weight, obviously. There's a plate that either he or Eileen shovelled him food from at some point, its residue dry now and translucent. He has a thin bar of sunlight sprawled across his lap.

All the same, Amato slips into the room and keeps to the safety of the walls, eyeing the sleeping form as if it might, at any moment, leap up in a frenzy of menacing tooth and claws. When he gathers courage enough to approach the bed, Amato does so with one hand slightly outstretched. The other slides along the wall, serving as an anchor.

No more than six, seven hours ago, he saw into this man's past. His soul, as it were, or at least a fraction of it. He'd needed stability then. Now, in the face of the owner of those memories and experiences, curiosity is barely outweighed by caution.

Taking a deep breath in an attempt to steady himself, pushing aside as many mental distractions as he can, Amato closes his eyes and reaches down to curl long fingers into those dark locks.

"Wolves breed bitches," says Eileen. "Or at least that's what you call them when the puppies without dicks swinging between their legs get big enough." She wishes she hadn't left her cigarettes upstairs on the nightstand so she would have something to occupy her hands. "I'm quite warm most of the time," she adds. "Gabriel burns like a furnace and it's not that terrible as long as you stay inside."

She raises a wrist, summoning down her grackle from the rafters. Tiny feet hook barbed claws into the knit of Gabriel's sweater without unraveling it, and she presses a kiss to the top of its glossy head before sending it off to check on the food in the kitchen. "You're being more than usually surly."

"Per'aps it's because you're being more annoying than usual." Ethan counters. "Jesus fuckin' Christ, 'oo taught you to say dicks?" Probably him. It's not as if he's never heard Eileen talk this way, but for some reason, at this moment it bothers him deeply. At the furnace talk, Ethan bares his teeth lightly. He glances up at the stairs above expectantly. He then looks back at Eileen. "Would y'do me a favor? Be careful with this boy. Give 'im nothing. Alright? Don't tell 'im fuck about y'self."

Nothing, as the psychometer steps forward. Dust motes move in the air, and a bird wafts a meaningless shadow over the bar of light on his lap.

Not much noise from downstairs, either. Whatever Eileen and Ethan are doing, it's occurring at a civil volume, if nothing else.

There's a hand on Amato's wrist before he can blink. A thumb prodding deftly into the crease of his hand, the life-line. Eyes slit open, barely, a lot of green muddled in the feline sliver of iris there, and something dilated into the black of Astor's pupils that is not lucidity. It's the last thing the psychometer sees before the room implodes into a smudged blur of pixels and—

— the reek of offal is overpowering, hits Amato like going over rapids into the concrete face of a dam; the defecation of corpses, unnumbered hands and mortis-snarled toes, ribcages jutting like smashed piano keys, plastic tags flashing orange and then green. Steel squeals in the distance then gasoline in a sussurus, a fat, ring-necked hose swerving in something like self-direction to lake the putrefecation of the grave dump hole, whole, in gallons of flammable liquid. The flick of butane that comes afterward would be nothing at all to compare, except that there's a small tongue of flame through it. Methane particles catch spark. Flare, eats the air right out of Amato's throat; there is no more pain.

A man tells him, so close to his ear it's nearly lost in the rush and crackle of incineration eating its way down into the painful swell of the canal:

"It has to be done."

Astor's hand is falling away, the next moment. Brittle at the wrist as an autumnal leaf dropping off a beech branch.

It leaves Amato coughing as he reels back, and only after the third hoarse pull from his lungs and throat does he manage to cover his mouth with his wrist. His own mind whirls with the echoes of the images, smells, and sounds, but he catches himself from staggering with nails dug into the wallpaper threatening to leave furrows. "«What in God's name are you,»" he mutters in Italian, his voice ragged.

Amato fights the urge to reach out again, choosing instead to draw back, his free hand held against his chest as he stares down at Astor with accusatory scrutiny. He could loose himself so easily in trying to unravel this mystery. But the questions brought on by the images are more demanding than the images themselves.

But Astor isn't going anywhere. Not anytime soon, anyway. Amato edges his way back to the door, the rhythm of his steps irregular. When he slips through the door again, he pushes it closed with an easily audible thump before letting himself rest against it. He's tired. It must be because he's tired. That's the only reason that makes sense.

But that just means he'll have to try again.

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