The Winning Side


gabriel_icon.gif raith_icon.gif

Scene Title The Winning Side
Synopsis Raith tries to find out which side 'Eyebrows' was on, before asking some pointed questions to do with getting the band back together. Gabriel is more of a solo artist.
Date May 7, 2009

Ruins of Midtown

It's the heart of New York City, Manhattan getting punched right in the face and breaking its teeth in the form of skeleton buildings with blasted windows, blacked iron and steel, and crumbled cement. Left to rot, now, unhealed. Not even his doing, which would be more ironic for Gabriel if not for the fact he's done plenty enough to need to hide without this destruction on his record.

It's also a good place for that hiding, which is its own kind of ironic. Maybe.

The sound of wooden creaking and metal scraping is sucked into the void of silence that the ruined Midtown provides, leaking out into it and traveling further than it would have otherwise. No buffer of traffic or people, general ambience to muffle it. This place is like a graveyard in its silence, save for the sound of Gabriel jamming a crowbar between wooden slats, and prying it off the otherwise gaping mouth of the doorway.

He's dressed in a coat against a colder spring evening breeze that whistles through the streets, over plain clothes. A sweater. Jeans. Boots. Gloves that encase his hands wrapped around the cold metal tool. More surprisingly than a signature black woolen coat is the fact he is alive and walking around, all things considered.

Something snaps, something gives, finally, and there's a clatter of metal against cement as Gabriel abandons the crowbar in favour of prying back the broken wood with his hands. It's the entrance way to some office building, and he half expects to see blue, glowing eyes staring out at him from the darkness. The fact that it has been— it was boarded up is a good sign, however.

No eyes, glowing blue or of any other color or luminescence. Gabriel's luck is treating him well tonight; whatever used to be in the offices on the other side of the boarded doorway, it's only occupied by shadows and dust now. Shadows and dust and silent.

And that quiet is all the worse for Jensen Raith. At least if there was traffic or people, he could casually walk up to Gabriel without being noticed, politely ask him for a cigarette, or the time, strike up a conversation or do any number of other things. When it's dead quiet and no one else is around, trust is a difficult thing to earn. Sadly, he must resort to less elegant methods. If Gabriel hears any warning of the attack, and given the current nature of his surroundings, it would be surprising if he didn't, is the distinctive 'cha-chak' of a shotgun being racked across the street little more than a second before a muffled gunshot and sharp sting in his left leg.

It's not buckshot, or even birdshot, because a millisecond after the sting comes the high-voltage crackling of a taser round discharging its battery into his body. It's a high tech trick. Whoever opened fire isn't messing around, and that's bad news for anyone in Gabriel's shoes. Especially Gabriel

A hitched breath that could have been a cry of surprise is swallowed up when electricity spikes through his body, making him convulse once, hard enough for his body to connect against the half-broken wooden slats on its way down, a shudder of wood and then the fleshier thud of a body hitting the ground.

It happens in all of three seconds, and only once that moment passes does Gabriel have room to think: what?

Hands having been flung out in some higher instinct to make sure he doesn't totally faceplant brace against cold concrete from where the tall, darkly dressed man has neatly folded up out front the mostly broken into building. Fingers curl, nails scrape against pavement, and a hand whips down to grip his leg. Finally, rather belated, a growling grunt of pain echoes across the road, where Gabriel is throwing out a wild look for whatever just attacked him, heart jumping in his chest.

It's a miraculous little device, that taser round. But it doesn't last forever; the instant he saw that Gabriel was hit and affected, he bolted from his hiding place, one hand holding his shotgun while the other grabbed the syringe he'd been carefully holding between his teeth. He's fast, and by the time Gabriel has recovered enough to take stock of his surroundings, and even put up a fight if he must, Raith is already diving down on him, plunging the needle towards his quarry's neck like a thin knife filled with sedative. Just enough to keep him from exploding Raith with fire, freezing him and preztelizing him with amazing psycho-flexitive powers. Probably. It's hard to get these dosages exactly right when you don't have a body weight to go with. No good if he knocks him out, but possibly worse if he doesn't actually disable him. "The tramp hunter strikes again!" he exclaims, more to provide himself with dramatic narration than anything else.

The sound of foot steps catch up to his ears too late before Gabriel can focus on the pair of legs coming running at him. His lips pull back to bare his teeth in some primal gesture of aggression, trying to roll away, to scrabble to his feet and— probably run by the time the man is all over him, Gabriel's back hard against the ground and hands only having time to grip clothing before—

A grunt is expelled from deep within his chest when the needle's point sinks into his throat, Gabriel's eyes going wide in the darkness before hooding with drowsiness, the sedative quick to disperse its chemical through his system, to cacoon him in a tight trap of drowsiness.

Which fails to make him any less pissed off, even as his hands slacken and the back of his head connects against the concrete and his heart's racing beats to something a little slower. Mouth parted, his draws in a breath, and numb hands try to find purchase on the ground. This month sucks.

The syringe empty, Raith cleanly withdraws it from Gabriel's neck and sets it aside. "Hi 'brows," he says, actually sitting on top of his fallen prey during what will hopefully be a short conversation, "I'm sorry about this whole zapping thing and the stabbing in the neck and all, but you see, I know some thing about you. Can't be caught off-guard and mangled by your telekiwhatsis powers. Are we cool, 'brows?

"I really hope we are, because if we're not, then we probably can't be bros anymore, and that would make me really sad. Just thinking about it make me sad face." To illustrate his point, he uses his index fingers to pull down the corners of his mouth in a satire of misery.

Oof. As Raith's settles more definitely atop of him, Gabriel's attempt to scrabble away is quickly aborted, eyes squinting shut in some willpower-based attempt to maybe ignore the sedative out of his system, but no dice. Content to open his eyes just enough to glare up at the man, distinctive eyebrows for which he is named furrowing into a look of tense anger.

Nothing he has an outlet for, currently, the heels of his boots scraping a little against the ground as he attempts to judge how much he can use his legs. His words come out slurry, as if drunk without the fun part. "Who're you?" he grits out, all the growl in his voice he can muster, predator turned captured prey for the evening. The other question of what do you want battles for importance with why are you sitting on me.

"Me?" Raith asks before launching into his explanation. "I'm an old ghost, although maybe not to you. In fact, no, definitely not to you, but I think maybe you can help me out anyway. See, I'm trying to get ahold of an old buddy of mine, Ethan Holden. Went to college, matching tattoos, started a band, all that good stuff. Heard he was back in town from a little black bird, figured maybe you could help me out with that."

As if trying to find some button to push, Raith dips his face perhaps dangerously close to Gabriel's. "What d'ya say, 'brows? Think you can help me? Or do I have to go sulking back to my lair to weep and eat delicious raven all alone."

A tremor of aggravation manifests in a slight wince, twitching his head away from Raith when the man leans right down, hands curling into loose fists. Such small, needle-prod reminders of how powerless he is both now and in general are hard to swallow. Matter of pride. Gabriel's jaw sets in that wordless irritation, not the least of which at the constant nickname he's been assigned.

"Holden," he spits out, gives a strained huff of laughter. It sounds bitter, but the smile that goes with it, lazy and slack as it may be, seems genuine in some respects. "If Holden's got 'ny sense he'll be long gone…" The slowly spoken words trail into blurry nothing, brown eyes focusing on Raith's face, as close as it is, uncertainty making that smile flicker, his throat work down a swallow. Trying to make sense of some keywords and phrases. "What… do you want with them?"

"Me? Obviously, I'm trying to get the band back together," Raith answers, sitting back up again, "Can't have a band without a drummer, and Holden's a drummer, so can't have the band without Holden. Vanguard's not Vanguard without Holden. But he's not the one who really made it Vanguard. That was all you-know-who, and you know who, don't you, 'brows? I heard there were some real pretty fireworks the day the old man went down. You help set them up, by chance? Can't have a band without pyrotechnics, either."

Vanguard. Past mistakes have such a habit of leaping back up at him, and Gabriel blinks rapidly up at this man. The sedation is a help and a hindrance in masking emotions, because while feeling anything to an extreme degree, of the physical reactions, are blanketed by the drug, they still flit nakedly across his expression. This time fear. Guarded fear.

"You'll fail," he finally croaks out, bleary eyes trying to focus a glare up at the man. "You'll fail like Kazimir failed. Vanguard is dead. I dug the grave myself."

A bit of an exaggeration, but we all get to bluff. Rather abruptly, Gabriel's hand comes up in a clumsy but still sharp snake-speed motion, and grips a hand onto Raith's arm. It's weak, still, only clinging onto a fold of fabric, attempting to lever himself up to sit and getting, perhaps, a couple of inches. "Where is she?"

"Wait, I hear that right? You dug the grave yourself? You mean that literally, or just to suggest that, yes, you got some sense into your brain and fought on the winning side? Which is it?" Raith asks with a degree of urgency that could be genuine or completely faked. "Seriously, this is an important question. Like, 'don't leave mayonnaise out in the sun' important. Either choice is a good one, but it's still important. I'll make you a deal, even. You answer the question and I'll tell you where the little chickadee most probably is not. Dig?"

Good one. Gabriel's hand easily slackens from Raith's sleeve, slumping back down against pavement, throat working down another swallow, unshaven skin becoming clammy. Well. If he dies on the pavement tonight, maybe it will be for something he actually did, as opposed to the ruins around them. "Winning side," he growls out, a little dully. His lip curls a little. "Team effort."

"And now, I am happy face. Winning side, yes, but more than that, the right side. The one that didn't want to just annihilate everyone." Clearly, Gabriel's answer was a pretty good one, because the moment Raith finishes speaking this particular, he climbs off of Gabriel and elects to sit on the ground next to him instead. Not a bad deal, overall, since this is likely much less humiliating. For Gabriel, at least.

"Funny how that works out, isn't it? You're a lot more helpful than anyone else has been so far, and I really appreciate that. Do you know how much I appreciate that? I appreciate it so much that I won't think too heavily about why you're breaking into a place that's already broken, in the dead of night, with those eyebrows, instead of just magicking up the keys to a hotel room with your telekiwhatsis powers."

He breathes a little deeper when Raith gets off him, eyes shutting for a moment and trying to simmer down burning emotions of anxiety, irritation, anger. All that good stuff. Feeling heavy, Gabriel shifts against where he'd fallen on the pavement, attempting to roll onto his side and mostly making it, bringing an arm down to prevent the temptation of collapsing into something more comfortable rather than trying to get up.

Gabriel lifts his head a little higher to look at Raith and his carefully chosen words, mouth thinning into a line and is, for a moment, silent. Then— "Maybe you got the wrong guy," he suggests, wryly. Too late now for such a facade. His fingers make claws against the ground, trying to get himself up to sit. "Where is she?" His eyes slide shut. "Isn't she."

"Well, she's not in the cemetary," Raith begins, "Probably. She's not in the butcher shop. She's not in the bay." With each statement, the man enumerates the number on his fingers, although whether this is to help Gabriel or himself keep track, or simply for dramatic effect is not clear. It could well be a bit of both. "She's not hanging off the bridge. She might be skulking around Eagle Electric, but I haven't checked recently. Um….

"Well, I think you get the idea. No delicious raven for me. Now, about this grave you dug…."

A baleful glance, less amused by Raith's shenanigans than Raith is, that much is clear. But something is confirmed, so there's no hurl of verbal abuse, not even slurrily. Mouth strangely dry, Gabriel considers this question. What grave did he dig? Really? A watery one, at the very least. "I tried to kill him," Gabriel mutters, voice coming raspier beneath the slur. "I saw what he would do to the world and turned on him."

His head tilts, angling a more studious look on Raith, eyebrows furrowed. "If you're on the winning side, what do you want with Vanguard?"

Raith simply looks at Gabriel for a few seconds, before answering, "Can't speak for you, but why I joined up? The chance to keep another living A-bomb from appearing. That's a great idea, you know. Turned out to be a total fucking lie, but it was a good idea. You with me so far? Face it, good idea. Bet it would've sold you on joining. Sold me."

A harsh bout of laughter wracks Gabriel's body, cynical but genuine. No need to put on acts. "Yeah, it sold me," he sneers, head bowing, hand lifting to clasp at his throat where the needle had gone in. "Some of them. Lots of them. Simply hate Evolved." But he has the right list of people, perhaps. Gabriel draws in a shallow breath. "I don't know where Holden is. Last I knew, he was on Staten Island, but he's too smart to stay there. If you find him…" A soft snort. "Tell him hi."

A harsh bout of laughter wracks Gabriel's body, cynical but genuine. No need to put on acts. "Yeah, it sold me," he sneers, head bowing, hand lifting to clasp at his throat where the needle had gone in. "Some of them. Lots of them. Simply hate Evolved." But he has the right list of people, perhaps. Gabriel draws in a shallow breath. "I don't know where Holden is. Last I knew, he was on Staten Island, but he's too smart to stay there. If you find him…" A soft snort. "Tell him hi."

"I will," Raith says, giving Gabriel a friendly pat on the cheek before he stands up, "Thanks, cupcake." But he doesn't leave right away, not even after he picks up his shotgun. A thought crosses his mind, and he can't help but share it. "You know," Raith begins, once again looking at Gabriel, this time from a much higher vantage point, "A band can do a lot with a drummer. But it can do even more with a drummer and a guitarist. Suppose then we had someone who could play guitar, drums and bass, too, and even do vocals and mixing. Band like that can do a lot. Make a real difference in the world, stomp out the bad bands and back up the good ones. You get what I'm saying?"

The expression on Gabriel's face is one that suggest he might bite Raith's hand if he tries that again, eyes sliding closed again during the metaphor being spun for him. "I think I'm catching on," he growls out. He's not feeling entirely rock and roll, right now. Or maybe too much so. "I have enough problems on my own without saving the world right this moment but thanks for the offer. Maybe I'll have an answer for you next time we meet." Tone of voice suggesting, that oh, there will be a next time.

"Suit yourself," Raith replies, "Just remember. A solo career is great, but sometimes, sometimes, things are just better when you've got someone backing you up." And with a definite nod, that's that. "Nice meeting you, Eyebrows. I'm glad we had this talk. Keep your eyes open for tasers, and if you ever need a couch to crash on, well, I don't have one, but with a little help, I could easily steal somebody else's. You take care." And back into the night and shadows, Raith makes his exit, no more well known to Gabriel than 'Eyebrows' is to him. Doubtlessly, they will meet again, although under what circumstances, no one may know.

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