amato_icon.gif raith_icon.gif

Scene Title Toasted
Synopsis Amato tracks down Raith to discuss a dream he had, and finds it might be more serious than "just a dream."
Date April 4, 2011

Bannerman's Castle: Living Quarters

Two separate corridors, both on the ground floor, compromise Bannerman Castle's living quarters and are dark, skinny stretches of hallway with stone walls and floors interrupted by heavy wooden doors without numbers. Those who live here know which room is theirs by the grain of the wood, the shape of the smooth rock in the walls and other identifying features that are visible if the person looking knows what he or she is looking for.

The rooms themselves vary in size, most so small that the space is appropriate for only one or two people, but there are larger rooms for small families that can fit up to five or six if people are willing to share beds, and if they're desperate enough to have come to Pollepel Island, they almost certainly are. Wooden cots, some with tall posts and cheap sheets strung between them for additional privacy, are standard, and like most of the castle there's no electricity for luxury items like televisions, but some of the island's residents have furnished their rooms with battery-powered radios on footstools or wooden nightstands. Some of the rooms are even lucky enough to have battered old dressers and the occasional writing desk. Most have windows, and those that do also have window coverings made from white canvas heavy enough to keep the light both out //and in, depending on what is required. //

Bathrooms are shared and unlike the bedrooms themselves, are wired to allow for flushing toilets and showers that run hot water even if hot water is only made available for a few hours a day.

Even with a full infirmary, the residents of Bannerman Castle are a busy group of a morning. It's likely a product of the number of sick, leaving less people to do the necessary chores and tasks that keep life in the Ferrymen fortress moving with any relative ease. A layer of spring fog clings to the island, as if the castle were built on sky rather than a scrap of land in the middle of the Hudson. Fires in stoves keep the stone structure relatively warm in the early hours, stoked by those bleary-eyed but determined enough to get a head start on the day ahead.

He could knock, probably.

But there's something about waiting at the end of the hall where the man he's set to effectively ambush is sure to pass as soon as he wakes. He leans next to the stone windowsill where he's rested a tray loaded down with a pot of tea and enough accouterments to service the two large mugs that sit with it. There is a considerable distance between the edge of the window the lankly man dressed in amount to pajamas - a sweater thrown over his lean torso and thick jersey-knit pants, with feet shoved into sneakers without taking the time to tie them.

It's probably a fair bet to say that Amato has never been so underdressed.

The way of life on Pollepel Island is a simple one: Things get better somewhere, and get worse somewhere else. There's no way to win. When Amato's mark does appear, it's clear that things got worse somewhere very recently. Although dressed properly, it would be fair- and accurate- to say that he looks like he did not sleep well the previous night. Or perhaps slept at all. The latter may well be the more likely scenario, because when he does appear, and does move down the hall, the most he manages when reaches Amato is a gruff, "Morning." It's plain from the tone of his voice and his body language that he is so tired, and seemingly distracted, that he does not realize exactly who it is that he is passing by.


Amato's equally rough response comes with an edge sharpened by time and his own incessant mulling. He wouldn't be here if it weren't for the mulling that's reddened the skin around his eyes and kept him from putting real clothes on, providing physical proof of his less-than-firm grip on sanity.

Any normal person would have just shrugged it off.

"Turn to your left, Jensen," he adds just as the other man moves past the windowsill bearing the breakfast tray. The commanding words are odd coming out of Amato, despite the fact there is only a thread of insecurity in their delivery. He lifts a hand to scratch at his chin as he chews his lower lip, icy-eyes darting.

"I-" he stammers before collecting himself to stand a little straighter. "I didn't know how you like your toast."

When Amato tries again to get Raith's attention, he succeeds, even if he really only succeeds in getting Raith to look at him with irritation. He looks to his left, to the tray on the sill, and then back to Amato. How does he plead? "I like it toasted." Of course he would say something like that. Why would he have said anything else? "You aren't in the habit or profession of waiting on others," the ex-spy adds, "What is it?" Gruff, short, irritated. And given how sunken and three-quarters lidded his eyes are, the truth is plain: Jensen didn't sleep at all the previous night, and more likely than not, didn't even try to.

Mental note: toasted.

Amato looks to be admonishing himself for a that moment, then shrinks back when he returns to the present. The present where Raith is annoyed and lacking breakfast and seeming to be uninterested in the hot beverage. "Not as such, no," he wheedles with a shrug. "But…" but it all sounds so silly now that Raith is here and Amato's script of oh hey, I had a weird dream and you were in it sounds like the worst way to start one's day apart from being missing a few bits of self.

"Well, there's tea," and Amato gestures to it again. "And…you look like you need tea." He pauses, and his eyebrows furrow.

"You've never been to Mount Moriah, have you?"

Raith blinks a few times, and although he does not suddenly appear less tired or irritated, he does look more interested. "No," is the plain answer to the question. The ex-spy reaches for the tea, hesitates a moment, and then decides to go all in and pick it up. It's good for him. "You need a guide, or something?"

"No," Amato says with a frown and shake of his head. "I have lived there on more than one occasion." He ventures forward, looking over his shoulder before slipping in to retrieve the other cup of tea. He shrinks back, holding the ceramic in two hands close to his chest before he continues in a lower voice. "I just…it is foolish. The mind is odd, but… you are not supposed to remember them so vividly. And you were there. But you have never been there, so why would I put you there?"

"Amato," Raith begins, pausing to sip at his tea, still a bit too hot, "I've had six hours sleep in the last two days. Two concurrent ops had seemingly perfect intel, both went horrifically wrong, and we don't know why. And if you haven't seen the news since before yesterday, shit with FRONTLINE and Evolved Affairs, and by extension, us, is fucked up. So, I am therefore sure you understand that you will need to talk straight with me if you want to get a point across." At least now there is a reason for essentially everything about Raith's mood.

Amato visibly shrinks, his shoulders hunching. Compared to the stress of sweat, toil, and sleepless nights and the state of the world beyond the island fortress, Amato's concerns of strange dreams and too much imagination look miniscule. When he speaks again, his voice is a slightly hoarse whisper. "I dreamed you came to Mount Moriah with a girl and… someone else. But you were different."

Deciding not to waste the other man's valuable time in a moment of clarity, Amato shakes his head and backs up another step, apparently content to leave the tray on the windowsill. "It doesn't matter. It was just a dream." But the words lack conviction. Then again, that is a quality that has been absent from the would-be priest's words for awhile now.

It was something Amato said. Maybe what, exactly, is unclear, but something that he said has completely changed Raith's demeanor in a heartbeat. "What did she look like?" is asked in a way that sounds less like an inquiry and more like a demand. "Do you remember?"

Amato turns slightly back toward Raith at the question, unsure if he wants to answer, scared at what that might mean at the same time he's eager for the chance to share the dream that's stuck to his brain as firmly as the other strange images he's seen in the last month. "She was young. Blonde. Longish hair…she had a child with her."

Amato squints, moving his head to one side so as to look at Raith out of the corner of his eye. "You…you wanted to leave someone there. At the monastery. I…I don't know who, but I don't think it was her. It might have been."

When Amato speaks, Raith listens. When Amato finishes speaking, Raith thinks silently. "No, it wasn't her," he finally says, interrupting himself to sip his tea. "It was the kid I was leaving. Had to be." That is itself an unusual thing to say. Especially it was a dream Amato had, and not some special he saw on television about children who get left at monasteries.

"What do you mean?" Amato says, his squint drawing his eyebrows into a deeper furrow. "It was a dream, Jensen," he adds somewhat incredulously, "that's all." His voice is pinched with a plea, wanting it to be true. Wanting it to have been just a dream and not something more - something worse.

"I don't think it was just a dream, Amato. If it was, then how would you explain me knowing it was the kid getting left and not the girl?" It's a fair question, but not where Raith stops. "Or how do you explain that I had a dream, where I was driving in a truck with that same girl, to take the kid someplace he'd be safer at than with me? Go on, try. If it was just a dream, explain that."

"I…" But the thinner, paler man cringes again, cradling his tea closer. "I can't." And there is real fear in his voice. "I do not like it," he adds in a slightly stronger but no less fearful tone. "But maybe…maybe the others had the same dream. Or maybe other pieces." Fear is replaced by tentative eagerness, and Amato's eyes widen. Do you know the child? The girl?"

"Eileen's been having problems sleeping too," Raith replies. Whether he's intentionally ignoring Amato's query about the girl isn't clear, but it sure seems intentional. "Up at odd hours. I found some sedatives in her room. Nothing dangerous, I don't think, but she's never needed them before. She always seems a little cagier than usual, too." For the moment, Raith mimics Amato's tentative eagerness. "You think there's a connection, maybe?"

Amato scrapes the fingers of one hand against the ceramic, clawing at the finish as his mind tumbles with the possibilities. "Maybe," he says after a moment, pausing to take a sip of tea and steady himself. "I hate to worry her with it though." He'd worry Raith, but not Eileen. At least that hasn't changed. "And if we were made to dream it - why that?"

"You're asking me? I can do signals intelligence. Dreams are a whole different sort of thing." Raith pauses to take another sip of his tea. Seemingly a good call on Amato's part, after all. "Look, we don't need to start getting people worried on account of dreams that may or may not mean anything. Let's play this one close to the chest but, maybe you could try to get some more information out of Eileen? Maybe there is a connection, maybe not. Either way, I'm busy making sure our network isn't compromised, because two traps in one night at the same time, both targets of high interest to us, is not a coincidence." For a moment, just the shortest, briefest of moments, Raith looks like he might fall over.

"And a nap," he adds, pinching the bridge of his nose between two of his fingers. "Somewhere, I need to sneak in a nap."

Amato slips a bit closer to Raith before he gingerly extends a hand to the other man's shoulder. "You will succeed," he says, confident in something at last. "I will reason out the rest." Then, with an odd serenity, he places his mug back on the tray and lifts it, turning to shuffle down the hall as if they had discussed something no more complicated than how Raith preferred his morning toast.

A method of departure that suits Raith just fine. Amato has become complicated enough for both him and his morning toast.

Shaking his head vigorously to wake himself up a bit more, the ex-spy resumes his walk down the hall. There's still the matter of what went wrong, and the implications that it brings as well. That's life on Pollepel Island.

Except that now, things might finally be getting worse faster than they're getting better.

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