Turned Around


eileen3_icon.gif raith_icon.gif

Scene Title Turned Around
Synopsis Eileen finalizes her employment with the King of Swords over dinner.
Date July 29, 2009

Sheung Wan Kitchen

It's not just the large selection that makes Sheung Wan Kitchen special - it's the quality, the sights, the atmosphere, and the friendly service. This is a very small restaurant with only a handful of seats in front of a large, flat counter where meals are prepared in full-view by some of the Rookery's more knowledgeable chefs. Stacked high against the far wall are wicker baskets full of dried sea creatures, mystery animal parts, deer antlers, wine with whole king cobras, heaps of herbs and twigs and tree barks. Although these are meant to go into the dishes that are served here, it is not impossible to haggle for them.

A large chalkboard behind the counter advertises the kitchen's special menu, though some items are more difficult to read than others. Most popular is the Tree Lizard Soup - cooked with yams, Chinese dates, ginseng, medlar, and something called tragacanth, which is reported to be good for asthma, colds, lungs and the heart.

Between the cacophonous clamor of pots and pans, ambient chatter and the occasional explosion of drunken laughter, the Sheung Wan Kitchen isn't the ideal place for a business meeting between two old associates, but it's also fairly low-key and provides the kind of chameleonic anonymity to which Eileen Ruskin and Jensen Raith are accustomed.

The younger and slimmer of the two appears more interested in her meal of hot and sour soup than her conversational partner, and anyone with even a passing familiarity with the pair would know why. They don't like each other. "Let's talk benefits," Eileen is saying as she maneuvers her spoon between her fingers. "Apart from the stipend we've already discussed, what am I really getting out of this?"

Soup may be the order of the day for Eileen, but for Raith, barbecued pork is the ticket. His immediate reply to the girl's question is a half-shrug. "Depends," he says, taking a short break after swallowing a bite to get a few words out, "You get to stop hiding like a small rat, and start living like a clever fox? What do you want out of this?" Raith is content, clearly, to run his operation less like the military and more like a business. Compensation is, to a point, partially negotiable.

"A vote." It's a point of contention that's come up between the two at least once before, and if Eileen's insistence on bringing it up every time they discuss Raith's business model is any indication, then she isn't likely to let it slide tonight either. "Volken didn't discriminate, wouldn'tve made a distinction between the dangerous ones and those that were beyond help." She lets her spoon rest on the edge of her bowl, metal tinkling against aged porcelain. "Innocent until proven guilty — do you understand what I'm saying? Unless there's evidence, unless the majority of the operation is on board, we let them go."

For a brief moment, Raith simply looks at Eileen, as is considering what she's said. He lifts up his hand as if to say, 'What else do you want?'. "Did I, at any point, give you the impression it wasn't going to work that way?" he asks, "Because, you know, the difference between this gig and the last one is that we actually have things like, rules and guidelines. Volken's tactic was carpet bombing. Kill 'em all, and you're bound to get the right ones in the mess. This time, we're using a guided missile. Separate the right ones from the larger crowd, hit hard and fast and get out, when it's practically beneficial to do so. Otherwise, wait for the opportune moment."

Eileen flags down a passing server with a vague gesture and a few softly-spoken words that are lost to the restaurant's din, not to ask for the check but to request an item from the tray the server is carrying. A moment later, she's handing Eileen a bowl of glutinous rice steamed with coconut milk and topped off with a conservative helping of what looks like ripened durian for dessert. When Raith told her that meeting him at the Kitchen would secure her a free meal, she promised to take advantage of his kindness, and she's well on her way to making good on that threat in spite of her small size and tiny stomach.

"I think you're deliberately misinterpreting me," she says to the him as the server pauses to refill their teacups. "How do you intend on picking out the right ones?"

"Are you serious?" Raith asks, although it's clearly a rhetorical question. "How would you guess? You take the facts into consideration, all of them, and make the call based on evidence. Here, I'll give you an example, just a second." His pause is as much to think as it is to allow the server to finish what she's doing and move away from there table. "Say, for instance, we have a guy in our sights, sells drugs to make money. Same time, though, he pours half his earnings back into the community. Fixes up the schools, tries to keep kids out of gangs, Good Samaritan shit. But he sells drugs. We have to look at all the facts, and then decide if offing him is worth the schools breaking down and the kids getting into gangs. You follow?" Raith has his sights still set firmly on dinner, setting back into what's in front of him; dessert isn't even an after thought yet. Soon, perhaps, but not now.

"You make it sound so straightforward, but it isn't really." Eileen lifts the bowl of soup to her lips and drinks what's left of the broth. When she lowers it again, there's a piece of tofu skin clinging to her upper lip which she quickly wipes away with the back of her hand. "Not all the facts are always out in the open. That Good Samaritan shit. Sylar, for instance," because she sure as hell isn't calling him Eyebrows, "has a reputation worse than a Staffordshire Terrier. He's killed people. Innocent ones. Enjoys it, even — if you believe what men like Felix Ivanov tell you. Why isn't he at the top of your kill list?"

"Have to consider all the facts, chiquita," Raith replies, interrupting himself with a swallow of his tea, "And the facts tell me that he got turned around. Did some less than nice things while he was trying to find his place in the world. And you and I both know that his place isn't killing six billion people. He knows it too, so let's think for a second. Is there a chance that, maybe, I'm willing to let that slide because he might be willing to help out? The answer is yes, because even if the future is going to be built by calmer and nicer people than us, we have to build its foundation, because we're still willing to get our hands dirty."

"Six billion people isn't the only difference between Sylar and Kazimir," Eileen observes mildly from across the table. She didn't come here to engage in philosophical discussions with a fellow terrorist, even if said discussions are occurring behind a thin veneer of politeness. They may as well be a cat and a dog sitting down together for plated biscuits and a pot of PG tips rather than a man and a woman negotiating over some of Staten Island's most sought after cuisine — all that separates them from the animals is a curled lip and a snarled warning.

She doesn't like the turn this conversation has taken. "All right," she says finally. "I'll do it. One last condition?"

"We'll see," Raith replies, "Depends on what it is. So, what is it?"

Eileen leans back in her seat and reaches into her coat without removing her eyes from Raith's face. When it comes out against, she's holding a folded piece of glossy paper between the tips of her index and middle fingers. One raggedy edge suggests that it was torn out of a magazine or some sort of catalog, and as she unfolds it this theory is confirmed. "I want one of these," she says, holding the paper up so the mercenary can see.

Raith observes and scrutinizes the paper, considering what he's seeing for a moment. "Never figured you for the type," he says, "But, oh, I guess it's 'for a friend' of yours and not you, isn't it?" Any teasing that may have come forth never quite materializes. "Sure, sure, fine," the man adds, "No sweat, that's easy."

"Good." Eileen tucks the paper into her front pocket for safekeeping, meanwhile. "Now then, what's the next step? I haven't got to sign my name in blood anywhere, have I? Spit into my hand and give yours a brisk shake?"

"Is that what you want to do?" Raith asks sarcastically, "Because I'll do it, if that'll get you on board."

"How about I just give you my word," Eileen suggests, pushing aside her empty bowl of soup as she trades it for her durian and steamed rice. "I'll see what I can do about Sylar, but you ought to know he prefers to work by himself. Don't hold me accountable if he tells you to sod off."

"Hey, I'm not asking him to put on a suit and tie and show up at the office every day," Raith replies, "Go to all the company picnics and put on a plastic smile for customers. I'm just offering him a job, and I will expect him to do it while staying within reasonable guidelines. He wants to be a big baby about it? Fine. I'll find some kiddy stuff for him to do, and if he decides he wants to play with the adults, no problem. I'm flexible."

It's Raith's turn to flag down a server, but unlike Eileen, he opts to ask for the check instead of dessert, which is presented to him in short order along with a pair of fortune cookies. It's a benefit of it not being terribly chaotic. "Not too bad for the damages, chiquita," he says, "Right, you're free to go. Just try to stay out of trouble." Dropping a shirt stack of assorted bills onto the table and standing up, Raith gets in the last laugh of the meeting: he grabs both fortune cookies before he moves for the exit.

Looks like Eileen's meal wasn't completely free, after all.

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