Two Favors


nick_icon.gif walsh_icon.gif

Scene Title Two Favors
Synopsis Nick's return to work is met with a less-than-warm welcome, and a much dreaded to-do-list grows by two.
Date November 30, 2010

Port Ivory

Freezing cold is the late of night on Staten Island. Freezing so cold that sand and gravel underfoot lumps together in one unrelenting clump of solid matter. On the west coast of Staten Island, the abandoned cannery on the auspiciously named Muldoon Ave is just spitting distance from the Angry Pelican. But what this rusting warehouse riddled with bullet-holes and its adjacent, crumbling brick factory have to offer are more than sordid secrets of past endeavors. They offer an inset to the underground, to a world of organized crime, illegal gun running, and admittedly a black eye or two.

Nicholas Ruskin doesn't know that part yet.

Ten fourty-three PM is a dark, cold time to come knocking at a job that think you've gone awol. Nick's face is recognizable enough around the warehouse that the night shipment workers don't bat an eyelash when he comes in through the guarded side entrance. Forklifts roll past, engines run noisily, and trucks fill the warehouse. White box trucks from moving companies, each with loading ramps down, being stocked to the gills with every last ounce of contraband in the warehouse. That this place is busy at this ungodly hour of night speaks of how busy the Post-Riots gun business is, or perhaps it speaks of just how huge this upcoming move is.

Because that's exactly what Nick sees in the warehouse full of thugs and guns, a move.

Walsh is picking up stakes and moving the operation.

Nick's blue eyes dart around looking for the Irishman. The Brit-turn-Yank is wearing a peacoat and a tuque, looking a little more filled out and happily more clothed than the last time he saw Walsh, though he's still underweight — Pollepel fare is heartier and more filling than Treblinka's, but hardly enough to return him to fighting weight within a few weeks. That and he's spent most of the nights shivering it off again.

"Oy! Ramos!" he shouts to a familiar face, nodding toward the other man. "Where's Walsh? Did you miss me? Where we movin'?" His voice is amiable and confident — as if he'd been gone on an expected vacation and returning with a suntan and souvenirs, rather than being AWOL for the third time in about as many months.
Ramos' reaction is the same as Carl's outside; silent, nervous, wary. It's like an animal that can smell sickness and infection in another, the way they take a wide breadth and circle uneasily. Ramos continues wheeling a dolly with stacked metal ammo cases atop it up into the back of one of the trucks. The metallic click sound that Nick hears isn't the dolly's tires hitting the metal loading ramp, though, too soon. It's the sound of a clip being loaded into a handgun.

The clack afterward is a round being chambered. By the time Nick's head is turning in that direction, the noisily report of a gun being fired indoors has everyone ducking for cover, some close to where Daniel Walsh is standing covering their ears as they duck and move away, others reaching for stowed guns of their own, hesitating when they see Nick the only one to drop to the ground.

The pain is intense, but not enough to have been a slug. No, while blood is weeping up from Nick's pores it will be around a purple and black bruise the size of a silver dollar where a rubber bullet smacked him square in the left pectoral, a charlie-horse sensation that will last for hours.

"Nicky," is noisily offered from the man holding the smoking gun, a smile spread on his lips as he starts to walk across the concrete floor towards where Nick now — rather abruptly — is laying. "Y'know I just hired some south-west tex-mex broad t'find you for me an' put a heel mark on yer face! Ain't that a lovely coincidence."

For a few minutes, Nick finds he can't breathe; his hand moves to his chest, groping to cover the hole that isn't there. Finally he manages to groan, rolling over and then up onto his knees, not quite trusting himself to stand.

"Fuckin' A, Walsh," he spits out, before gasping for breath again. "I knew I might be outta a fuckin' job, but shooting me is just plain uncalled for. A pink slip'll do next time, yeah?" he tosses finally, swallowing as he looks up at Walsh warily, not reaching for his own weapon just yet, but there's a tension in his posture that suggests his fight or flight instinct is kicking in — that is, once he can manage to run or fight without fainting from pain or throwing up his lunch on the grungy warehouse floor.
"Where the fuck'f you been, Nicky?" Both of Walsh's brows lift as he continues to storm over, his patent leather shoes clicking on the concrete. He stops, abruptly, looking around to everyone else paused and staring. "An' who the fuck said you lazy fucks could go'n take a goddamned break?" Awkward silence turns into awkward murmuring as Walsh's crew nervously resumes work all together. Walsh, however, takes his time circling Nick with a gun pointed down at him.

"Where'f you been, Nicky? The answers you come up with right now are — I assure you — directly correlated t'your long-term survival prospects. Because the way I see it, you've dove off an' found somewhere else t'work, an' that doesn't sit right with me. So make sure t'form your response as clearly an' concisely as possible."

Walsh's frown creases wrinkles across his mouth. "You don' wanna know what gettin' one'f these in the side'f the head feels like."

Nick tracks that gun, eyes narrowing with pain and anger and fear. His Adam's apple bobs as he swallows hard, shaking his head. "I ain't workin' for no one else, Walsh," he says quickly, his mind tripping over itself as he stares at the barrel of that gun, knowing at close range a rubber bullet will kill him if aimed right.

The story he'd rehearsed has slipped from his mind, and all he has is the truth — or parts of it — to grasp at. "You saw I just appeared in the middle of the fucking street that day, right? In a fucking Nazi coat, yeah? This is fucking bullshit crazy talk, I know, but it's the truth, I swear to God, Walsh. Some fuckin' Evo time traveller fuck put me in a concentration camp. That's where I was, until the 8th, and suddenly I woke up in the middle of that fuckin' street with you and the Triads shooting at each other and me, and then suddenly someone grabbed me again and I was in Nineteen Ninety — Fuck, I donno, I think 1997 maybe, and then just this morning I ended up here."

Almost the truth. But not quite — and just insane enough not to be made up. Smugglers just don't have that kind of imagination.

"If I was workin' for someone else, why'd I come back?" Nick points out, finally looking up from the gun to Walsh. "You saw me that day — on the 8th. Like a fuckin' cancer patient or somethin', right? Think, Walsh. Think. I was gone like a week in real time. I was gone like a month in fuckin' time travel time."

"Oh mother of fuck— " Walsh looks down at his gun when it fails to drive a rubber bullet into the side of Nick's head, whipping an accusing look up and around the warehouse. "Which one of you dumb fucks packed this magazine the bloody gun jammed!" Rolling his eyes, Walsh grabs the slide on the pistol and tugs it back, trying to eject the jammed round to no avail before finally flailing the gun around in one hand and pointing it back at Nick, admittedly with less genuine threat.

"Nazis," is flatly stated in disbelief. "That's the fuckin' best you can try'n sell me, time traveling nazis?" He admittedly might not have been carefully listening to which parties were the time-travelers while he was trying to swallow his own tongue to spare himself the conversation.

"Do I look stupid t'you, Nicky? D'my fuckin' ears flap over m'goddamned head?" The pistol is pointed down at Nick again, waggled from side to side. "An' was it the time traveler what whisked you 'way again outta' that fire-fight, conveniently?"

His eyes clamp shut when the trigger is pulled, then open wide to see Walsh swearing at the jammed gun.

Nick Ruskin either has the best or the worst luck in the entirety of the world; he just isn't sure which.

The wagging pistol is pissing Nick off — knowing it has rubber bullets in it doesn't make the move any smarter, as Nick suddenly launches a hand out to grab the gun and wrench it out of Walsh's grip, using that leverage to help himself finally stagger to his feet.

"I know you aren't fuckin' stupid, but you know as well as I do there are freaks in this world, and I don't know why but they fuckin' sent me to 1941, all right?" he shouts back in Walsh's face. It's not often he tells the truth — and that part was the truth — so that fragile leash he has on stability starts to wear all the thinner, just a gossamer thread left. "There were two — two groups of 'em. One's trying to fuck up shit, others trying to set it right. I don't fucking understand it, all right, but it's true."

With the gun taken out of his hand and Nick with the advantage of surprise, Walsh is the one back-pedaling away from the Brit, shaking his hand that one held the gun from the ache of a pinched finger in that mess. There's a look of frustration, then a glance to the pair of workers who saw Nick take the gun from him, then the one sign that Nick recognizes and is loathe to.

A sharp nod of Walsh's head.

Boxes are set down, dollies are stopped, and suddenly Ramos and a lumbering gentleman who looks like his name should be a guttural grunt are closing in on Nick. "Show Mister York outta' our fine establishment," Walsh murmurs with a wring of one hand over the one he'd been shaking. "Then take 'em out back an' make sure your gun does'nae fuckin' jam!"

"Ah, fuck, man, I came back to work," Nick says, though there's a fierceness to the squint of his eyes as he stares down Walsh, affording the two goons nearly feral glances as they close in on him. "I can't help it that my story sounds fucking ridiculous. Some guy, Sullivan, his name was — he came out to the docks and said he could take me back to change somethin', and I went with him. I screwed it up — fucking shock, I know, right, but there you have it. Suddenly I woke up in Poland."

The words are spit out with vitriol, though they're honest, as honest as he can make them. "What'dya want me to say to prove to you I ain't been cheatin' on you?" he asks, talking fast to get out more words before Ramos and the grunt can grab his arms and tear him away. He nods to the boxes and dollies. "Someone snitch on you? It fuckin' wasn't me."

One meaty hand grabs a hold of Nick's sleeve, and Ramos yanks Nick back while the broader, more cromagnon looking fellow reaches out to grab his coat by the back of the neck, hauling him backwards in a struggle towards the door. Something seems to halt the impending execution, and when Nick's gaze squares on the Irishman he has one hand lifted up and brows furrowed. Ramos doesn't let go, but he does stop trying to drag Nick back, keeping his arm in a tight lock at the elbow.

As Walsh walks over to Nick, he looks him up and down, then breathes in deeply through his nose. "Alright," seems abruptly agreeable, "you wanna' work, I got a job fer you. I want you t'do me two favors." Blue eyes flick from Nick to Ramos and back again, and the thug relinquishes his grip on Nick.

"Can y'handle that, Nicky? Two small favors, t'try and get us squaresies again? Or are y'going t'cock these up too?" Leaning in towards Nick, the Irishman's brows raise as he holds out a gloved hand for his jammed gun.

The younger man's heart pounds audibly in the silence that follows Walsh's words, everyone else in the place still as they watch the drama unfolding before their eyes. Nick lifts his chin, swallowing hard as he shifts his shoulders beneath his coat, trying to get it to settle back where it goes rather than bunched behind his neck thanks to his manhandlers.

"Two favors," Nick repeats, his stomach sinking as he knows that nothing good can come of this. He already has one favor on his to-do list that he's reluctant to carry out. His eyes glance down at the jammed gun, then back up to the Irishman's face. "Yeah. Name it."

"Favor t'first," Walsh quietly begins, his tone smooth and calm the way someone who is neither tries to pretend to be. "I have a client what's gone missing, used t'live our here on the island but hasn't been 'round much after the riots. Goes by the name'f Ruskin, British girl, short, skinny, likes knives. I need t'know if she's alive or dead, an' if the former is true than I need t'know where a gent might be able t'find her, an' more importantly if she has any business." Reaching into his coat, Walsh produces a wallet, that he unfolds and slides out a ratty piece of paper from. "This is where I know she used t'live, it's an old dispensary on the coast, ain't far from here."

Looking over his shoulder, Walsh gestures to the men to get back to work, then dismisses Ramos and his friend. Once they're out of earshot, things get decidedly more uncomfortable.

"Favor t'second. You got your finger in'a lot'f pies, Nicky. But I need you t'do me one, dig 'round with what you know, whatever sources you can squeeze. I've been hearin' rumors, but I need t'know for certain… see if you can find out what happened to a feller named Emile Danko. Alo short, also skinny, also likes knives."

Make that the worst luck. Nick's eyes narrow as he reaches for the slip of paper. "Eileen Ruskin," he repeats, and gives a nod, glancing down at the paper and realizing it must be the building he'd been brought the first time he went AWOL on Walsh.

"Just information on both these?" he says after being given the second name, one he's well aware of — the name gives a thrill through his nerves as a bit of adrenaline spikes through his blood stream. Fear and nerves. This is why he's here. "And if I can't find one or both?"

Fear and nerves and a spike of adrenaline to match the pain in his chest. These are the things that has come to define Nick Ruskin's life. Whatever Walsh answers, Nick already knows how the song and dance is going to end. So, by the time the Irishman has closed the distance to be able to speak in his most intimate of whispers to the unknowing sibling of one of his clients, Nick's pretty sure he's clear on what's going to be said.

"Then you'd best not come back."

Yeah, that's about what he expected.

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