To Put It Bluntly


ethan_icon.gif felix_icon.gif madeline_icon.gif munin_icon.gif

Scene Title To Put It Bluntly
Synopsis Munin heads to the Nite Owl to pick up some food for the men staying at Ethan's flat, only to have a run in with Felix Ivanov and the girl who was almost mugged in Long Island City.
Date November 3, 2008

The Nite Owl

The Nite Owl is a survivor from ages past — one of those ancient diners with huge plate glass windows, checkerboard linoleum floor, and a neon owl over the entrance that blinks at those entering. Inside, there's an L-shaped main counter, complete with vintage soda fountain and worn steel stools. All of the cooking is done on the ranges ranked against the rear wall. The outer wall is lined with booths upholstered in cracked scarlet vinyl, tables trimmed with polished chrome. Despite its age, it's been lovingly maintained. The air is redolent with the scent of fresh coffee, vanilla, and frying food.

The Nite Owl is….as it usually is, in the bitter watches of the night. It still looks like a Hopper painting, with only a couple of rather grim-looking habitues, a weary-looking waitress on patrol, and a chef going through his cleaning routine behind the counter. One of those habitues is Felix, who's half-slumped in a booth by himself. His glasses are off, and he's rubbing wearily at his eyelids - his usual reserved expression is gone, replaced by something akin to despair. He's got a menu in his other hand, a cup of coffee in front of him, but most are ignored in favor of whatever point in the middle distance he's gazing absently at. The fluorescent lights are kind to no one, and it leaves him looking aged and drawn.

The bell above the diner's entrance springs to life — a jangling, jarring cacophony that lets the owners know another customer has just stepped inside. The door swings shut behind Munin, and she pauses on the threshold to wipe off her shoes on the welcome mat before she braves the distance between it and the counter. Like the last time Felix saw her, she's dressed more or less unremarkably; coupled with a pair of black leggings, an oversized gray sweater acts as a barrier between her body and the chilly November weather outside, though it plainly isn't quite warm enough. Her cheeks and nose are a bright shade of pink, and as she waits for one of the waitresses to attend to her, she rubs her bare hands together in an effort to work the cold out of her fingers. She hasn't noticed Felix yet. If she had, she probably would have turned around and walked right back out the door instead of perusing the menu as she does now.

Let's see how long it takes her. That bone-deep weariness is in its turn replaced by that almost predatory expression, after an experimental squint and then a rather hasty scrambling for his glasses has confirmed that he's not hallucinating the return of his long-lost neighbor. No greeting from the Fed, nor any attempt to seize either her person or her attention. And then he's feigning sudden and great interest in the menu.

It takes Munin a few minutes to settle on what she wants, but she eventually orders — in a quiet voice — several sides of fried zucchini and ranch sauce, two Cobb salads, a bowl of clam chowder and a whole key lime pie. There's no way one person, especially not one person of her small size, could consume that much food in one sitting. She must plan on having it bagged and bringing it home — wherever home is. With nothing left to do but wait, she takes a seat in an empty booth across the aisle from Felix, briefly glancing in his direction. Although all she sees is a man with his nose in his menu, there's something familiar about his profile that causes her pause and, wary, lift her chin, trying to get a better look at him without standing back up again.

Which is when Fel feigns taking note of her for the first time. "Miss Ruskin," he says, politely, tilting his head down so he's looking at her over the edge of the lenses, rather than through them. "I'm so glad to see you unhurt." His voice is as close to cordial as it ever gets. Which is to say….not very. Who wants to bet it was his partner who was always the good cop?

The blood drains from Munin's cheeks, so rosy just a few moments ago, leaving them so pale her skin has the same pallor as a corpse's. Which is, incidentally, exactly what she'll be if Kazimir finds out she's sitting in the same diner as one of the men investigating him. She sinks a little lower in her seat, hugging her arms close to her chest, as though slouching enough might render her invisible.

"Join me?" It really isn't an order, honest. Fel waves her over with a lazy flick of one hand. "I'm terribly pleased to see you alive. Turns out there was a man wanted for multiple murders living down the hall from the both of us," he says, tone all innocence now. "He attacked me, and I was lucky to escape with my life. I was afraid he'd gotten you, first, since I hadn't seen you."

Munin hesitates. She's always been under the impression Felix knows more than he prefer to let on, but bolting now would only confirm whatever suspicions he might have about her. With a heavy heart and even heavier feet, she rises from her seat at the booth and takes a seat across the table from Felix while anxiously watching the front counter in her peripheral vision. The sooner her food is ready, the sooner she can get out of here. "No," she says, her tone careful as the neutral expression she wears on her face, "we decided we were better off breaking our lease." It isn't a lie. Not exactly.

You've got a big 'Guilty' sign hung right around your neck, angel. There's a flicker of something like pleasure, albeit a grim version of enjoyment, in his face. At least she didn't run. But her lack of reaction is curious, in and of itself. "Why?" he asks, tone very mild, taking off his glasses to meet her gaze more directly, folding his hands before him on the worn formica.

Luckily, what Munin says next has been well-rehearsed. She couldn't discount the possibility of running into Felix again. "Landlord wanted to raise our rent, an' the husband just took another job on the other side of the city," she murmurs, forcing a smile onto her pale lips. "It just wasn't convenient to stay there no more."

"Did you ever meet the dark-haired man on the floor below?" Fel wonders, reaching for his glasses and a scrap of paper napkin, lazily wiping smudges from the lenses. "Called himself Gabriel Wilkens, but went by 'Sylar'?"

"I remember Mister Wilkens. Real friendly." The name 'Sylar' causes that smile to disappear before it gets a chance to take hold on her face. "I thought— " There's a pause as she bites down on her lower lip and begins to worry it between her teeth, rethinking what she was about to say. "Isn't— Isn't Sylar the one responsible for…?" As much as she tries, she can't quite bring herself to finish that thought. Hopefully the direction she was taking it is obvious enough.

"He's a serial killer, to put it bluntly," Felix says, raising his gaze to hers, blinking a little. "He targets Evolved, specifically. You're lucky you're not one," he notes, with a faint sigh, as the waitress comes by with more coffee. Fel leaves his glasses to dump an unholy amount of sugar and cream into it. "Please, anything you can tell me about him may prevent more deaths."

There's a lot Munin could tell Felix that might prevent more deaths — not by Sylar, but by Kazimir Volken and Ethan Holden. Still, she knows better than to say something that might incriminate those closest to her. She's already made that mistake once before, and she's lucky things turned out as well as they did. If they hadn't, she and Felix wouldn't be having this conversation right now. She'd be in several different garbage bags at the bottom of the harbor, her body weighed down by cement blocks to keep it from making the morning news. "I'm sorry," she replies, shaking her head, "I don't think I can be of much help. We hardly ever spoke."

"Well, if you remember anything at all, do let me know," he urges. "The birds….they've been much rarer since you left," Fel's voice is almost mournful now. It's an apparently random change of subject. "How did you attract the corvids, really? I mean, it's easy enough to put up a seed feeder and get a few sparrow, handful of pigeons." He takes a sip of his coffee, and dumps another spoonful of cream into it. "That reminds me. Colette's been wondering what happened to you. We had to move, as well, courtesy of Mister Wilkens. But this is my new phone number - Colette herself doesn't have one, yet. She said you two'd talked about hanging out sometime," He scribbles out a residential number on the back of one of his business cards.

The likelihood of Munin picking up a phone and dialing that number is slim but not entirely nonexistent. She watches the tip of Felix's pen scratch across the paper, saying nothing until he completes the final digit. "Thanks. I meant to put a note under your door, but I guess it must have slipped my mind." She makes no comment about the birds. Keeping silent is much easier than coming up with a story that sounds like it could be plausible.

It's not so much Munin herself as the erring Mr. Wilkens. He vowed to find the speedster, didn't he? It may be a dead end, but no harm done, right? "Of course," he says, smoothly, proffering it between two fingers. There's something odd in the blue gaze, an unspoken question.

Munin takes the card, folds it in half and tucks it into the satchel purse she wears slung across her left shoulder. "If Mr. Wilkens is as bad as you say he is, maybe you ought to think about looking the other way." It isn't a threat. It's a warning, thinly-veiled though it may be.

The mask of amiable reserve cracks, and Fel looks momentarily puckish - it takes about ten years off his apparent age. Like Munin's made a really funny in-joke. He takes a sip of coffee, and makes a face at it. "I don't have that option," he says, but he still looks amused.

Felix's abrupt change in demeanor catches Munin off-guard, and she tenses slightly, alarmed. "Of course you do. We all have a choice — every one of us. Is putting him in prison so important that you're willing to put your life — Colette's life — on the line?"

Madeline has arrived.

"And how many people will he kill if he's let run loose? He's not going to stop," Fel's sitting across from Munin in one of the booths, and at the moment, he's got this grin on like Munin has just made a really great joke. He flicks at the jacket of his suit, just enough to expose the gleam of the badge at his waist. "That's my job, Ruskin. I can't beg off. Normal humans sure as hell aren't gonna be able to take him. Colette….she's not at risk. Sylar doesn't know where we live, now."

Madeline heads into the diner. It's a place to get food at almost any hour, no matter how stupid, which makes it a good choice for the late-night crowd to get something to eat. She starts in; it's a seat-yourself at this late hour, and then there's a blink as she happens to spot Munin sitting there. Hey, it's the bird-girl! Madeline's curiosity never did get sated there, so she starts to pick a table that is conveniently close.

It isn't Sylar that Felix should be worried about, and the solemn look in Munin's eyes reflects this fact. "If he won't stop, an' you won't stop, you're both at something of an impasse, aren't you?" She catches sight of Madeline in her peripheral vision when she passes the front counter, but rather than turn her entire body to follow the other woman's progress across the diner, she simply glances in her general direction, green eyes widening just a fraction when she chooses a seat nearby.

Felix glances up lazily from his seat in the booth. But Madeline's not someone he knows, so he looks back at Munin. "No, not really," he says, quietly, sipping from his coffee without wincing, this time. "This isn't some personal thing. The Bureau will get him," His assurance is total. "Mind if I smoke?" he asks, hands already in his jacket for cigarette and lighter. There's still that impish gleam in his eyes, as he regards Munin from across the table.

Ethan has arrived.

She went off and left he and the others behind to pick up food. But he is free tonight, and even though he didn't think of it at the time.. He decided joining her would be a great idea. So the Wolf comes strolling on the sidewalk outside the Nite Owl. 'Make her comfortable' says the boss. So comfortable he will make her. Time to spend more quality time with Munin, and that's why Ethan has if a little belatedly followed the bird girl to this destination.

Though upon opening the door, the game plan completely changes. When being Ethan or someone at an equal level of Bad Assery, one must be completely prepared to change everything at a whim. And so he does.. Even as he enters through the man.. becomes a different person. Not in any supernatural sort of way, but his mannerisms noticeably change. He takes on the form of one of his aliases. Spotting an FBI agent next to his little girl says, time to become Jonathan Wells. So Jonathan Wells makes his way into the diner to pick up food for his 'kids'. Though an ear is discreetly directed towards the table that Munin and Felix occupy. Ethan makes a very polite smile at Madeline and gives her a bit of a nod.

Madeline takes out her menu, looking at it. While Felix hasn't really given her a second look, her lips curl upwards as she notices the slight eye-widening from Munin, since she was watching the other girl anyway. She remains unaware of Ethan's association, but then he's giving her a smile and a nod. She returns it in kind…hey, never a bad time to size up a possible mark.

First Madeline, and now Ethan too? Munin closes her eyes, retreating into the darkness to regain her bearings, and shakes her head in response to Felix's question. "No," she says, "I don't mind at all. That's what the ashray's for, innit?" When she opens her eyes again, they're a little more tired, a little more bloodshot than they were before — a sure sign she has a headache coming on. When the waitress next passes them by, she raises her hand and murmurs something that only the other woman can hear. A moment later, she's pouring Munin her own cup of coffee before she stops to refill Felix's on her way back to the kitchen.

"Mr. Wells, wasn't it?" Felix's tone remains positively jovial. Something has him grandly amused, though just what that might be is not readily apparent at the moment. He lifts a hand in lazy greeting to Ethan. His glasses are off, sitting on the tabletop not far from his elbow, and the waitress is just trudging over with soup and sandwich. He's in his suit, and looking rather drawn and tired, slouched in his seat, despite the grin. "Thanks," he says, to Munin, already cupping his hand reflexively around the Zippo's flame, one of those black cigarettes at the corner of his mouth.

For a moment Ethan tries to listen in. But then his eyes survey Madeline. He knows her! His eyes remain on her for a moment, but then he glances over at his greeting. Munin goes ignored. "Oh!" He answers with a large smile crawling up his lips, "Federal Agent Ivanov!" The man says in an American accent as he approaches the man, raising his hand to shake the man's hand. He glances to Munin. "Ah, your daughter?" He asks of Felix looking at the young woman seated with him, smiling brightly.

And it's about that point when the recognition finally dawns in Madeline's eyes, when she's considering Ethan as a mark. It's the psycho-guy who was with the priest! Except…wait…that's not psycho behavior. And it's not the right accent, either. She looks about the room, rather a bit suspiciously, and looks to Ethan…then Munin…clearly, she's on her guard all of a sudden.

"I don't think Mr. Ivanov is old enough to have a daughter my age," Munin remarks mildly to Ethan. "An acquaintance, actually. We used t'live in the same apartment complex. I'm Eileen," she adds, "Eileen Ruskin. It's good to meet you." Amato, Ethan and Sylar are experts at pretending to be people they aren't. Munin, on the other hand, is still learning — but it helps that her chosen alias isn't an alias at all.

"Did you live in Cliffside, too?" Fel's expression is keen again, though that amusement is still lurking at the back of his gaze. "I had to move. Turns out nice Mr. Wilkens on the second floor was a serial killer," He's apparently completely serious, even though he delivers this in a pleasant tone, before exhaling, politely tipping his head up lest he blow smoke in Ethan's face. "And no, no kids," he adds, with a little moue of regret.

All smiles and politeness while the man is ready to kill everyone in the diner except for Munin. Several weapons are hidden all over his person, should his cover be compromised by a certain girl he happened to meet before.. Needless to say the waitress would have a bit more to clean up than usual. "Eileen? What a beautiful name." Ethan remarks as he reaches out his hand to give her a shake. "And such a beautiful girl, your father must be so proud of you." The way he says father is a tad odd, as if saying something besides that word while saying that word. "I'm Jonathan, Jonathan Wells." He releases and looks back to Felix. "A serial killer? You must be joking?! In Cliffside? I have not heard! This is terrible news, surely they are going to catch him soon." The man says as if terribly concerned that the man who works for him is on the loose. Oh no. "They are truly a joy, Mr. Ivanov, truly a joy." A joy that he only knew for a few sacred years. "But a serial killer, this is very distressing."

Yeah. That is decidedly NOT the right accent. And it's WAY too polite. But it's the same voice, the same face, the same man. Madeline stands, dropping her menu on the table, still looking about, only this time it's for the best exit route. She's mistaken entirely the wrong person for law enforcement, and Munin gets a vicious glare, since the next leap of logic is that it's the bird-girl who sold her out.

Munin gives Ethan's hand a tiny squeeze that's meant to be reassuring. As he speaks to her, she steadily meets his gaze and offers him her first genuine smile of the evening. It's easier for her to relax now that he's here, but the anxious knot in her stomach isn't going away. Not yet. While the two men are preoccupied with each other and the sordid tale of Mr. Wilkens, she rises from her seat at the table and turns her gaze toward the door. She doesn't like the way Madeline is looking at her. "I ought to check on my order," she says, excusing herself from the booth, "the service here isn't usually so slow."

"Yes, they are," Fel says, sunnily. He checks his watch, and makes a face at the time. "Should be going myself," he says, with no real contrition in his voice. To the waitress, he notes, "I'll have that wrapped to go."

Returning the genuine smile, Ethan returns his hand as he takes a step away as his eyes dart to Madeline for just a moment before returning to Felix. "Well it was so nice to see you again Mr.Ivanov, I truly wish you luck in catching your killer." He lies. And if he does catch him, Ethan would like to be there. That would be fun for everyone. "Maybe we'll have the good fortune of bumping into each other again. I should go get myself some grub." The American says with a grin as he moves away from the table to the cashier. Make a take out order.

Madeline, for her part, takes this opportunity to bolt out of the Owl. It's not quite a full-speed run. It's just a very-quick-walking. She heads for the door as if the place were on fire, or about to be, and out she goes.

November 3rd: Just the Beginning
November 3rd: Consummate Bitch
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