The Most Dangerous Thing on the Table


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Scene Title The Most Dangerous Thing on the Table
Synopsis Raith delivers some of Eileen's belongings to her from the Dispensary and asks if she'll lend a hand with Joseph's liberation. Spoiler: The answer is Yes.
Date February 6, 2010

An Abandoned Office Building, Brooklyn

There are a number of apartments in New York City that aren't being actively used and make excellent places to hide out in. But those apartments are well-sheltered, and have heat, at the very least. They are not hiding places that Jensen Raith wishes to lose. This is why his instructions for Eileen including a strong recommendation to 'dress warm.' The address provided to her leads to an empty law office near Midtown that hasn't been moved into or even rented yet, though the door has been rather conspicuously unlocked and cracked opened, even. If Raith has been using this place for hiding, he's clearly not intending to continue using it after today's meeting. He may have even picked it specifically for this meeting.

Most curious of all, however, is the apparent absence of Jensen Raith.

It's early February in New York City, the streets are choked with snow, and if this wasn't a good enough reason to follow Raith's advice, they're also in the middle of a cold snap. Anyone who sets foot outside in this weather without dressing warm isn't going to last very long in it. Eileen even made adjustments to her modus operandi to account for the plummeting temperatures and shelled out money for a cab rather than taking the bus or the subway like she usually does. She's cautious when entering the office, silent and furtive, careful not to make any more noise than is absolutely necessary as she edges the door open the rest of the way and steps inside.

Small and slim, defined by its feminine shape, diminutive waist and the gentle flare of her hips, the woman's silhouette is instantly recognizable to anyone who knows her. A pair of leather gloves, skinny denim jeans and a cashmere headscarf knotted under her chin to protect her ears and keep the wind from tugging at her hair all supplement the heavy woolen pea coat she wears, its collar turned up.

Most importantly: she is alone. "Jensen."

"Shut the door." It's not the typical 'command from an unexpected direction' that Eileen might be expecting, in that it comes from behind her.

Raith is in the corner to the far right of the door, amazingly perched by the ceiling, bracing himself against the perpendicular walls and supporting his weight with a hook that he's firmly embedded into the ceiling. He can't have been up there that long, but the reason for it is obvious enough, evidenced by the Glock in his only free hand. That she will, in fact, close the door is seemingly assumed on his part, as is her being alone, because he drops from his perch down to the floor before holstering his weapon.

Raith and Ethan are both more athletic than the majority of most men half their age. That doesn't make it any less disconcerting to find him bunched in the corner above her head like some sort of hairy, masculine spider. The door clicks shut behind her a moment later and she does not lock it — old habits die hard, and although she trusts Raith enough to be alone in the room with him, she always feels more at ease when the nearest escape route remains immediately accessible.

For the same reason, she does not venture too deeply into the office, circling around the lone piece of furniture in the room: a dusty old table that the previous tenants neglected to remove from the premises. "How long do we have?"

"Long enough," Raith replies, "At least for the important bits, I hope. I have something for you." He doesn't elaborate on what he has, not yet, instead approaching Eileen and, perhaps happily, walking past her to the far left wall, along which is a door leading to more office. With seemingly practiced precision, he presses his finger against part of the wall, and a small section swings out, which he grabs and then pulls. A larger section- a hidden door- swings out, revealing a cleverly disguised coat closet. Handy trick for keeping space uncluttered and impressing clients. It also means that Raith has been here before, when he had time to look for it.

When he turns away from the closet, he's carrying in his hand a large, cardboard tube, like the kind used for transporting posters or perhaps some types of artwork. "This is yours," he says of it, "Stuff from, back then." Strange, the way he refers to it as if it were something not to be spoken of.

"You need to be a little more specific." Then could mean a lot of things. Still, Eileen closes gloved fingers around the circumference of the tube and twists off its plastic lid in the palm of her opposite hand with an audible pop.

Hesitation gives her pause; green eyes move between the opening to Raith's face and then back again before she allows her gaze to drift toward the adjacent window and the city lights blushing white on the other side of the glass. Falling snow obscures her view of Manhattan's skyline and the distant shape of the Statue of Liberty rising stalwartly up from the Hudson River. "Why give this to me now?"

"It was important," Raith replies, "That's the sense I got, at least. You need to have it, and if not now, then when?" The sense that he got. Raith doesn't know what's in the tube, or at least not the complete contents of it, if that's all he has to say about it. Maybe the less he knows, the better off both of them will be. Otherwise, all the ex-spy has is a shrug. "Damn important, really. Didn't feel right just keeping it around when you might actually need it."

Eileen gives Raith a dubious look, dark brows lowered over eyes that have taken on a diffident quality. She hooks one thumb over the lip of the tube the same way she might hold a fish by its mouth and slides its contents out onto the table with a starchy rustling sound. The sheets of paper stored inside have conformed to the shape of vessel, making it difficult for her to spread them flat and even harder to keep them that way, but the warmth seeping through the material of her gloves helps iron out the edges under the slow press of her palms.

An initial inspection yields nothing overtly remarkable. The topmost sheet is a map of New York City with notes written in its margins and small portions blocked off with swift strokes from a ballpoint pen bleeding black ink. Beneath that are several pages of cramped scrawl that Eileen recognizes as her own handwriting. It isn't until she starts reading that the muscles in her neck and shoulders grow tense and she loses the softness around her mouth.

Raith doesn't bother trying to pick out bits and pieces from the pages of handwritten notes. But the map is hard to miss. Notes and blocked areas could mean any number of things to anyone, but the shapes of the areas don't conform to any predefined geographic or political boundaries (none that he knows at least). The style is telling for anyone with the proper experience: It's a tactical map, but not one that conforms to anything the Remnant had been working on, either. Whatever it's for, it's something of a pet project for Eileen. Even then, a tactical map by itself doesn't mean much, but a tactical map accompanied by pages of notes?

"I'm beyond curious," Raith says after a moment, "But I think you should keep what all of that says a secret from me, at least until it goes into action. If it goes into action. Unless, of course, you think not cluing me in might result in friendly fire."

Eileen doesn't know what to think. Conflicting emotions wage a war in which the battlefield is her face and its austere features. The shape of her mouth changes between bullet points in constant metamorphosis and at one point winds around a curled lip resembling a grimace. In the end, it smoothes out to a flat plane with tight corners that effectively communicate the amount of effort she's putting into maintaining a mask of neutrality.

She lifts her eyes to Raith's and locks her gaze with his for an unknown count. The pocket watch in her coat ticks off the seconds, barely audible if either of them are listening for it — which they aren't. "You weren't helping me with this?" she asks finally, her voice low and somewhat threatening.

"No ma'am." On this point, Raith is absolutely truthful, or at least sounds like it. What would he have to gain by lying about it? "I mean, sure, you probably asked about hypotheticals now and then, but anything you find in there? First time I've seen it."

Eileen reaches into her coat, but it isn't to cup her pocket watch in the seat of her palm or check the time. When her hand comes out again, the knit of her knuckles are clenched around a pistol's grip. Rather than level the weapon with Raith or even point it at him, she places it down on the table between them and splays her fingers, using their tips to push it across with her wrist cocked.

What this has to do with the contents of the tube, if anything, is not immediately made clear by the gesture or the conflicting emotions she keeps in check behind her eyes. "I need it fixed," she says. "There's something wrong with the slider. I don't know what else."

She needs it fixed, and Raith simply picks it up off the table, running through SOP before he even thinks about putting it into his coat: Make sure there's no magazine in the well, and then verify that the chamber's empty, which proves to be more difficult than it should. It's broken alright. But when that pistol goes inside of Raith's coat, into some hidden pocket, his hand comes back out holding the Glock he'd been brandishing earlier. This one, like Eileen's, goes down on the table and is pushed towards her. "This saves me the trouble of meeting a deadline," is the reason given for the gesture, "You'll like the Glock better, anyway. Comes apart into five groups, easy to hide that way." The gesture is more than simply a way for Raith to save time. For all Eileen knows, this leaves him without a working sidearm.

A gesture of trust.

Eileen doesn't need to tell Raith that if she's a dead woman if Epstein catches her with this. He knows as well as she does the conditions of her parole — what he doesn't know is that the Glock isn't the most dangerous thing on the table. Her eyes fall back to the map and her fluid penmanship but do not linger there for any longer than the time it takes her to begin rolling the papers back up again. The words Armia Krajowa and ┼╗egota are briefly visible to Raith whether he's looking for them or not, then swallowed up as she maneuvers the coil back into the tube and secures the cap.

"You tried to kiss me once." Eileen's tone lacks the animosity Raith might expect given the circumstances. At the same time, she isn't looking directly at him either — while she might not be angry anymore, other residual emotions make it impossible for her to watch for his reaction when she says, "I forgive you."

And like that, the rift between the two of them….

Well. It's smaller, at any rate, although doubtlessly still there. "Thank you." What else is Raith going to say to that? He files the words he catches away for later research: The names, for he's certain that they're names, are frighteningly familiar, but just out of his grasp for what they mean. Of course, nothing can ever be that cut and dry, not with Raith.

"The Company has Joseph Sumter, plus others in a warehouse in Midtown. Experiments, near as any of us can tell, not sure what with," he says, "In one week, I'm going in with Teo and some Ferrymen to get them out, grab any data we can, and fuck their shit up. If you want to join the party, I've got a carbine with your name on it. Just putting it out there."

Her chin dips into the slightest of nods and dark lashes eclipse pale irises that are distinctly virescent even in the office's low light. "I used to feel like I was two different people," she says. "Eileen, and the woman Gabriel wanted me to be. Sometimes I still catch myself thinking maybe the memories belong to somebody else, but the more that comes back to me, the angrier I am that I was separated from myself."

The tube is set aside, traded for the Glock on the table. Ensuring that the safety is engaged, she tucks it into her coat and fastens it in the holster she wears beneath the wool. "I'll do it." Then; "I'm going to ask Kaylee to use her ability on Epstein. I think he knows something about what happened at Amundsen-Scott, and I don't trust the government not to pick the rest of us off while we're preoccupied with making it look like we're playing by their rules. Gabriel's dead, Ethan's missing. I can't lose you and Teodoro, too."

"You won't. Not without one hell of a fight." If there's one thing Raith is good at, it's fighting. "He's dangerous enough when he's not cornered. If you're going to ask her, let me help. Unless he's got a brain tumor, I know how he thinks. It'll be that much safer if he can't assault her while she's working." Something catches his attention, something internal, and he glances at the watch on his wrist. "Not sure it's safe to risk much more time here. I'm going to split, and you should too. Get back home before your babysitter starts to speculate. I have logistics to work out in the interim. Remember, one week, after dark, we drop the hammer of God on them."

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