The Shit Keeps Coming


avi_icon.gif nick_icon.gif

Scene Title The Shit Keeps Coming
Synopsis Nick keeps true to his word and debriefs with Avi after his debrief with his boss regarding #VanguardProblems.
Date November 1, 2018

Rochester Turning Point Park

A chilly damp mist that seeps through clothing makes meeting on the picturesque of Rochester’s Turning Point Park boardwalk both a good idea and an irritating one. Very few hikers, bikers, or runners are likely to be out this early in the morning on the remote edge of Rochester, even if the view of the trees dressed in their autumnal finery is a hard one to beat.

Nick stands, a familiar figure in his black peacoat, arms resting loosely on the rail. A plume of silvery smoke rises from a cigarette in one hand, joining the vapor that rises from his breath in the cold air. One benefit to standing on the boardwalk is he can see, hear, as well as feel anyone approach — at least, anyone not using powers to obscure themselves in some way.

He glances at his watch. He’s not sure if Avi will come — if the man’s cancelled on him, he has no way of knowing it, as he’s not carrying his cellphone nor his satellite phone. He’s also searched himself, his car, his apartments daily for any bugs. No one but Avi knows he’s here. Or shouldn’t, at least.

Avi can't sneak up on people like he used to. He's getting old, and it's showing. Instead, he's decided to walk the length of the water in a slow, ambling gait from the end of the boardwalk. Bundled up against the cold air coming off the water, Avi’s shoulders are hunched as he makes the long and obvious approach to Nick. By the time he gets out there, a flock of geese have come and gone by Nick, disappearing south over the tops of the trees laden with fall foliage.

“You pick shit meeting sites,” Epstein grumbles once he's close enough to be heard. “For a guy. With a bad. Fucking. Leg.” Avi levels a stern look over the frames of his sunglasses, one that turns incredulous quickly. “The fuck is this cloak and dildo shit about, Ruskin?”

Nick’s mouth curves up in a half smile. He looks too tired to properly banter back, and the weight of the topics he’s asked Avi here to discuss bear down on him relentlessly.

“Nice to see you too, asshole,” is about all the younger man has in him. He bends to pick up two coffees resting on the boards by his feet, handing one to Avi before he looks back out at the water, taking another long drag of his cigarette.

“The shit keeps coming,” The Brit says after a moment. “I told you I wouldn’t keep shit from you, and I won’t. Nazan’s got me paired me with the SESA agent who was Lowell’s partner. Guy named Sandoval. And she’s decided I’m the guy to look into this shit because I’m the fucking common denominator.”

He turns to look back at Avi, brows lifting. “Sharrow’s alive. What d’you know about that?”

A low “Fuck,” slips out of Avi as he paces away from Nick and comes to lean against the water-facing boardwalk railing. “You're in some deep shit now, Ruskin.” Avi looks over at Nick, over the frames of his sunglasses. “Deep.”

“Lowell was CIA before SESA, you might've already known that. Operation Apollo, deep cover black bag shit. When I was pushing pencils at Langley I got a report from Lowell that he'd killed Sharrow and his family and cleaned up.” Avi shrugs. “I found out not that long ago that Lowell more than likely flipped. Probably working for Sharrow, who apparently is keeping company with Yvette fucking Volken these days in a search for some fucking messiah.”

Avi’s head hangs, both of his hands come up to scrub at the back of his neck. “You know I put Lowell in the ground because he was coming for Sibyl.” Avi looks back to Nick. “Add all that up, and it doesn't paint a pretty picture. I've got people telling me Sharrow’s more than likely in the States, based on all the bullshit going down.”

Most notably: “Like Eileen.”

Avi looks away, down to the water. “The only messiah someone like Sharrow would want to look for is that dark lord Voldemort bullshit. It's gotta be her. Because of…” Avi shakes his head. “Fuck me.”

Nothing Avi says seems to surprise Nick; he nods, once or twice, before lifting his cigarette to take one last drag, the ash eating up paper from the long pull, before he lets it drop into the water for some duck to nibble at later.

“All right. That explains why he’s alive. And his kids, most likely,” he mutters. “Doesn’t explain how he knows Eileen’s gone Slytherin though.”

He reads. And he’s British. There’s no escaping the references.

“Or what the fuck he’s doing with my rubbish excuse for a mother,” is added a little more flaty, before he turns to look at Avi. “He was seen with Sophia boarding a ship in Portugal, probably headed here. I didn’t know Sophia had any conscious connection to Vanguard, other than whatever you call what she had with Holden.” There’s no question at the end, but there’s a lift of brows and the weight of expectation in the pause that follows.

“Sugar daddy relationship?” Avi replies without even thinking twice. Then, in a rare moment of self-awareness closes his eyes and shakes his head. “Sorry.” Even rarer.

“Uh,” Avi mumbles as he bunches over the railing and stares at the water, sunglasses precariously hanging off of his face. “Actually… wait.” He looks up to Nick. “You fucking Ruskins.” Two fingers slide his sunglasses back up the bridge of his nose. “Whatever Nazan has you on it isn't about you. It's about the one fucking thing the Vanguard’s upper management was always good at.” Avi taps his temple with one finger. “Control.

Sliding his tongue over his teeth, Avi feels like he's finally locked on to something. “What's your sister’s relationship with your mom like? Because if I had to be a guessing man? Your Sophia is getting dragged across the pond by a genocidal banker as a bargaining chip.”

“I don’t give a fuck if you make ‘your mom’ jokes about Sophia,” says Nick. “But Sharrow could do better.”

The faint but humorless smirk fades when Avi’s thoughts coalesce into something he’s able to articulate, and the younger man shakes his head. “As far as I know, she hasn’t seen her since she ran away. And I can’t imagine that she’s more inclined to be forgiving now than she was then, but fuck, it’s Eileen, who the hell knows?”

He pulls out a box of cigarettes to pull out another, then tips the box toward Avi. A moment later a lighter is produced and he takes a drag from that cigarette.

“Nazan thought it was to get at me. Maybe try to use Sophia to get me to get them to Eileen. But they’d have to do a lot more than dangle Sophia at me to coerce me into doing anything, and I’d guess the same goes for my sister.” Nick’s brows draw together and he stares out at the bank across the water. “Do we have any idea who Sharrow’s kids are? Who else might be in this new Vanguard cell?”

“Not a fucking clue. If you believe that fucking book,” Avi say with a curl of his lip, “there’s no Vanguard left. But it did talk about contingency plans. How the whole bomb-flood thing wasn’t his endgame. Don’t think she knew what she was talking about, don’t think the people she interviewed did either. But…” Avi’s hands go up in the air helplessly. “I know their names, but that’s fuck-all helpful. Gregory and Irina Sharrow. They’d be in their… fifties? If I’m remembering right. One was non-evolved, the other was evolved. I forget which was which.”

All of this seems to be a distraction to Avi, who looks back out over the water. “What about your dad?” He asks with some reluctance. It isn’t a rhetorical question, either. Avi sincerely doesn’t know much about Nick’s father. Eileen’s, sure. But Nick’s? “You’ve never talked about him, so he’s either dead and a non-issue, or he’s not and…”

Nick takes another drag from the cigarette, his eyes narrowed as he turns to look at Avi. “My dad walked out on me before I was ten. I don’t fucking know. He could be dead.”

That he doesn’t know is a shit answer, and he knows it. He’s in the intelligence business, after all. Still, it speaks volumes, that he hasn’t looked him up in all this time. With all his resources — first as Interpol and now as CIA.

“I’ll look into it,” he adds, breathing out a plume of smoke, silent for a moment, before he speaks again.

“If they think they can use me to get to my sister… or Sophia to get to my sister, maybe we let them,” he says suddenly, staring up at the sky for a moment, watching a plane in the distance. “With a decoy. Someone that could pass for Eileen, at a distance, maybe. One of the Wolfhound girls could do, maybe. Claire in a wig could work. They’d be planning a trap, yeah, but they might not expect a trap from us in return. Maybe we can extract what we need that way.”

There's a sound in the back of Avi’s throat, deep and rueful. He looks out to the water like it said something shorty to him, corners of his mouth sagging down into a frown. “Yeah I bet one of the Wolfhound girls could,” sounds maybe a little bitter. But Avi doesn't dig any deeper into it than that.

“Some shit’s going down, Ruskin. Deep, bad, wet shit and it's clinging to my fucking nostrils.” Avi pushes away from the railing, angrily, and frustratedly scrubs a hand at the back of his neck again. “Call me the minute you learn anything about this. I've got great coverage,” is mildly tongue-in-cheek. “I'm going to tap somebody who owes me a fucking favor to look into this on the side. I'll let you know if I find anything out.”

Then, quieter, he adds. “And… Ruskin. Seriously. Don't get yourself fucking killed.” Avi looks down for a moment, then back. “I've buried enough people I care about.”

Nick is quiet, but for a huff of something approximating a laugh at the inelegant metaphor Avi offers, taking another drag of his cigarette that takes it down to the filter. He lets it drop into the water before turning back to the older man.

“I guess I’ll see if I can nail down where good ol’ dad is these days,” he says, tone flat. He loved his father, once. Before he was abandoned by him.

The request not to get himself killed seems to have taken the place of farewell in recent months, and Nick’s smile is rueful, but sincere. “I think I’m only on the seventh or eighth life, so I got one or two left,” he says, reaching out to clasp Avi’s shoulder. “I love you, too.”

He pats Avi’s shoulder before turning to head in the opposite direction of the other man’s approach.

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