The Ones You Have


eileen_icon.gif raith_icon.gif

Scene Title The Ones You Have
Synopsis Eileen and Raith discuss new developments surrounding the Epstein Situation and agree on a course of action.
Date February 16, 2010

Fort Greene: Roof

The view from the roof of Fort Greene apartments isn't anything special. Although it faces the Brooklyn Bridge, the landmark itself is obscured by taller, more statuesque buildings than the one Eileen lives in and appears at night as an interrupted string of brightly-coloured lights straining to be seen through the fog. A silver haze cloaks the borough in a cloud of mist so fine that moisture gathers as frozen beads on window panes and in the flimsy strands of the young woman's flyaway hair.

Dressed in her nightgown and a heavy woolen coat for warmth, she stands near the edge of the roof with a lit cigarette pinched between the knuckles of her right hand as she takes a long drag from it and then releases the breath through her nostrils, expelling thick tendrils that bleed pale from her nose.

She's not supposed to smoke in her apartment, which is why she comes up here to do it whenever she gets a craving for nicotine and the taste of a filter pursed between her lips. There's a joke somewhere in here about Sigmund Freud's psychosexual stages and Eileen's apparent oral fixation on cigarettes, but she isn't going to be the one to make it.

Time has not been kind to the door that separates the rooftop from the rest of the structure, and while it's completely intact, it takes a bit of work to get it opened and shut again. The hinges are sticky on their own, and creak loudly when the door is opened and shut, and the sound only gets worse in hot summers- when the metal expands and tries to lock together- or in the winter- when the metal becomes more brittle and really cries out when it's moved.

So it's no secret when Eileen stops being alone on the rooftop: The door is kind enough to scream at her when someone opens it to join her. Just her luck that that someone happens to be Jensen Raith, coat and sunglasses on as always. Out of the ordinary today is the package under his left arm, bundled up with brown paper and string.

"Nice night for a walk, eh?"

Eileen turns her head to direct a look over her shoulder at the door when she hears it opening. That's another benefit to coming up here — even Epstein can't sneak up on her without going through the gauntlet first. Her mouth takes the shape of a smile around the cigarette, and rather than greet him with a softly spoken salutation, she does it with her eyes instead. They move between his face to the box and then back again, meeting the gaze behind his glasses with quiet affection.

Lamplight reflects off damp cheeks and makes her lashes shine. She isn't crying now, but this and the puffiness around her eyes suggests that she might have been earlier. It's too dark for him to make out the splotches on her collar where tears of frustration have temporarily stained the charcoal fabric black.

If Raith notices that she's been crying- and since it's Raith, he almost certainly has- he doesn't call attention to it. Rico Velasquez, in some small way, is present in the city night through the markedly less-eyepatchy Raith, for as the latter comes alongside Eileen, he prepares to join her in smoking, withdrawing a half-finished cigar and a book of matches from inside his coat. "Here, hold this," he says, only half shoving his parcel, slightly rectangular and blocky-feeling, into her arms, freeing up both his hands to work a flame from a match and relight his cigar. Is that the one he'd had since Antarctica? Who can really say? "So, pretty lady," he says, "Come here often? I don't mind the decor, but the service is abysmally slow."

Eileen removes the cigarette from her mouth when Raith gives her the package, mindful not to burn herself as she turns it around and clasps the fingers of her opposite hand around the edge to keep it from slipping. Bare feet crunch in the snow, toenails painted dark carmine red. It's cold — even though she hasn't been up here for more than a few minutes, her legs below her mid-thigh are undoubtedly numb to the misting rain and the frigid nighttime temperature, which hovers around freezing.

She takes a seat on the concrete lip at the edge of the roof so she can rest the package in her lap and resume smoking her cigarette, one elbow bent, the other dangling her forearm over one corner wrapped in twine. "Epstein was here."

"Good ol' Cousin Avi," Raith replies, dropping his used, burned-out matchstick to the ground, "He's always around when you really, really need to have a bad day. So what was his deal, this time?" Even though both men wear sunglasses at night, the experience is markedly different. Epstein's aviator frames give him a decided 'G-Man' look, while the round-lenses hiding Raith's eyes look more at home on a criminal, a terrorist, or perhaps even a guerrilla rebel. How much of this is coincidence, one might wonder.

"'Quit hanging out with those no-good Ferryman kids,' or 'You should quit smoking,' or maybe even, 'Waaah ha ha, I'm so alone?'"

Raith even puts in the extra effort to fake-rub at his eyes to really drive home the whiny crybaby implication. "It was that last one, isn't it? The real reason he's always hanging about when you don't need him to be."

Eileen taps ash from her cigarette over the edge of the roof and watches it filter down to the street below as a large black bird with a thin band of metal wrapped around one of its legs swoops down from a higher windowsill built into an adjacent apartment complex and comes to land beside its mistress.

It's been awhile since Raith last saw Bran. Only a few years younger than Eileen, the raven moves great care and the kind of deliberate slowness that betrays the aches and pains in his crooked body — his chances of lasting the winter are considerably worse than they were this time last year, and if he survives will be worse still the next.

"He knows about my involvement with the Ferrymen," she says somberly, reaching out to stroke her knuckles down the length of the raven's back. "He also knows about our operation in Midtown and the Refrain addicts staying at the Terminal. I thought I was being careful."

The information gives Raith pause, although his focus does not appear to be on Eileen and some perceived failure of hers. "The Ferrymen, I can see," he says after a moment, pausing to draw off his cigar, "His job is to keep an eye on you, no surprise there. Midtown… if he was following you, or has someone following you. Someone good. It's unlikely, since he shouldn't have the time or resources for that. Unlikely, but not impossible. But the terminal…."

That sentence nearly dies a natural death in the air as Raith allows it to hang, giving Eileen a moment, it seems, to digest the implications there. "I believe you're being careful, Eileen. But someone isn't being careful. Or, they're being exactly as careful as they're supposed to be. You know I hate to say something like this, I really do, but there are two scenarios that you and your friends need to consider. The first is that somebody's been compromised and SAD is watching them, although why the CIA cares about the Ferrymen enough to go to that trouble is anybody's guess. The second scenario… let's just call it the Cold War Contingency." The definition of that is delayed as Raith takes another draw from his cigar.

"You should entertain the possibility of a mole in the ranks."

As Bran settles on the lip, his wings disturb the loosest snow and knock a clump over the edge that falls to earth much swifter than the waste from the tip of Eileen's cigarette but has largely disintegrated by the time it hits the sidewalk and sends granules skittering across the pavement.

Although he's classified as an associate of the Ferry, Raith doesn't number among its official operatives. There's a pause as Eileen considers how much she should tell him. "We're putting together a counterespionage team," is what she settles on after another brief pull from her cigarette. She releases her breath as she speaks, the smoke flowing freely from her nose and mouth. "I already volunteered your name and Bennati's. If there's a mole, we'll sniff them out, but I don't think that's how Epstein is doing it. I took a job so I'd have a source of income he couldn't track, never breathed a word to anyone except Flint Deckard, and you know as well as I do that Deckard wouldn't talk. He found out about it, too."

Once again, Raith is given pause. He often he forgets that the world he is living and spying in now is not the one he was living and spying in five years ago: The rules are completely different now. "He has a clairvoyant, maybe," he suggests, "Or perhaps a telepath. He's not figuring all of this out for himself, I can tell you that much. I'm pretty sure he's never figured things like this out for himself, not once in his life." Another draw, another pause. This one, however, lasts longer than the rest that Raith has given thus far. This is a slightly more distressing issue, and requires slightly more thought.

"We have to find out how much he knows," he says at last, "What he knows, and most importantly, how he knows it. Do you happen to know what his schedule looks like? I haven't cared enough to follow him for an entire week, yet.

"He used to keep things in his living space. Records, documents, so he could check on things that bothered him right away, and didn't have to waste time going anywhere to get them. He called it efficient. I doubt he's changed all that much over the years."

Eileen's hand drops away from her face and she rests it on the concrete, a thin stream snaking from the smoldering tip of her cigarette. Bran's attention, meanwhile, turns toward the street below, his glossy black feathers rumpled and eyes like flecks of obsidian set in his narrow head. His hooked beak parts into a low croak of reassurance that rattles in his chest, harsh and rasping. If Epstein is still hanging around, then he's hiding very well.

"The Linderman Group is holding a fundraiser gala at the Corthinian Hotel's grand opening on Monday," Eileen says. "Given Linderman's ties to the government, there's a possibility Epstein might be in attendance. Kershner as well. Autumn. I have a contact who should be able to get me a copy of the guest list. Base our strategy on that."

"Do it." Short and to the point. "If it's an open invitation, no problem. If not, then we need to know to get tickets, or to bring enough money to bribe our way inside. If you bump into Thatcher before I do, tell her that her evening just became clear, unless you happen to know another scanner." It's clear that Raith already has at least half of a plan worked out concerning the gala. Six days is surely enough time to work out something that will accomplish what they need it to without inviting unnecessary risk.

"I already have a ticket and an escort." Eileen thumbs at her cigarette, green eyes downcast and watching her cigarette burn. "He donated some medical supplies to the Ferry last year and I feel like we might be able to get some more mileage out of him if we're careful. Thatcher—"

On the subject of Kaylee, Eileen hisses out a sigh past her front teeth, jaw clenched. Her hand on the package reaches up and tangles fingers in her hair as she lifts her eyes to halo of light created by New York's ambient glow reflecting off the cloud bellies above. "I can cover the cost of Thatcher's ticket if you need," she says. "As for other scanners, there's Petrelli. Two telepaths would be better than one, especially if we're also looking at Autumn and Kershner, but I don't know whether or not he'd be willing to help."

"And we will be." All things considered, Eileen still knows Raith well enough to know that his plans never stop at what is immediately in front of him. "I am very, very interested in knowing what FRONTLINE will be up to in the immediate future, if we can work that information out. Especially anything concerning Staten, since I'd like to know if we should start moving our operation somewhere else. Or at least if we need to put up a front. Be a shame to have to move, after all the work we put into establishing ourselves." One final draw, at least for now, and then Raith is grinding out the glowing tip of his cigar on the concrete. "I think it was the Chinese who said it first. 'May you live in interesting times.'"

"Jensen." Eileen's voice is suddenly very quiet, made hoarse by its low volume. When it hitches, it's because of her irritated airways rather than her emotions, which she's been steadily subduing ever since she stopped crying. She moves her hand from her hair to her face, skin cold and clammy, and wipes some of the moisture from her cheek with her fingertips. "If we decide to move on Epstein and dig deeper based on what Thatcher turns up at the gala, what are we going to do when we're finished? We can't kill him. It's too clumsy."

"Suppose we do move on him," Raith replies, placing his cigar back into his coat pocket, "We move on his apartment first. If he hasn't changed, and he never was quick to change, there may well be something he's keeping there that could prove to be rather, 'incriminating.' Or useful, at least. We'll cross that bridge when we get to it." And that, as they say, is that.

"Bored now. But that-" He points at the package he's left Eileen holding- "Is not so boring. Happy birthday, Eileen."

Eileen snuffs out her cigarette in the snow and leaves it crumpled and upended as she reaches into her coat's silk-lined interior, fingers hooking around the Batangas knife she keeps in one of its pockets. A flick of her wrist snaps the blade into being, and a moment later she's using it to cut through the twine and then sliver its tip under the paper with a scratchy tearing sound. She could use her nails — this is easier, more precise.

As is typical of Jensen Raith, the parcel contains absolutely nothing fancy, and has practicality at its core. Everything inside comes wrapped in a simple woolen scarf, heavy and tough- the scarf of an adventurer. The blockiness of the package was caused by two items. The first is a simple, and small, maintenance kit for a Glock pistol. The second is a book not in the least bit practical. An illustrated guide of sorts for the supernatural, although this may be something that is beginning to seem more and more practical as the days go by. Lastly, a small bottle of steel polish and a roll of athletic tape. Every one of them something that Eileen Ruskin might actually use.

Eileen loops the scarf around her throat and digs her chin into its rough wool weave, her head bowed and dark hair floating loosely about her face. There's a breeze on the roof, so slight as to be almost imperceptible, but Raith can feel it tickling his face and observe the smallest grains of snow being lifted up into the air, too fine to catch any light except for the same residual luminosity that seeps through the fog and paints Eileen's skin moon-pale.

She smoothes her palm over the book's cover and turns the bottle between her fingers to read the label before deciding to run the tip of one nail along the maintenance kit's edge. Sometime during the course of their conversation, the muscles in her face grew too cold too smile. Eileen engages him with an imploring look instead. "Will you sit with me for awhile?"

'No' is certainly the expected answer, and expected immediately. Instead, Raith leans his head left and then right a few times, as if tossing the idea around in his head to consider its merits and flaws. "You don't happen to have any scotch, do you?" he asks, "It's a bit cold, I'm sure you can tell, what with not wearing shoes and all that." It's fairly clear, however, that scotch or not scotch, he's intending to stay a while and listen, for he takes a seat on the concrete next to Eileen and even drapes an arm around her shoulders on account of the weather. Friends in these times are hard to come by.

Cherish the ones you have.

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