Two Minutes


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Scene Title Two Minutes
Synopsis It's the amount of time Raith gives his visitor to make his pitch. The work that the Remnant does is very expensive and needs to be supplemented somehow.
Date January 31, 2010

Somewhere in Long Island City

Things could have gone better when the fire started. Could have gone a lot worse, too, but definitely could have gone better. For instance, if things had gone better, Jensen Raith would most likely be back at the abandoned dispensary on Staten Island plotting his next move against the underworld of New York City. Instead, he's in a run-down apartment not far from Roosevelt Island- one that he knows still has heat and electricity, even though no one is officially living there- keeping an eye on Eileen Ruskin as she lays unconscious on the sofa left behind by one tenant or another that the building super decided to keep around. She might have a concussion. So far, she's been pretty responsive, even unconscious, but then, he did hit her pretty hard.

He never really did understand the apparent allure of watching people while they sleep. Necessity, he's always understood, even if the necessity was to make sure no one slipped a knife between their ribs while he wasn't watching. But allure, he never understood, and while he still doesn't, it's certainly not uninteresting. He's found the watching Eileen rest, bundled up on the couch is almost a kind of meditation, and chance for him to focus entire on the features and the tiniest definitions of her face and forget about everything else for a little while as he sits nearby on the floor. Soothing.

And maybe just a little creepy. Just a little bit. Devil be damned is that's going to stop him from doing it.

It will be Monday before Eileen has to report for parole. She can safely stay at Jensen's borrowed apartment until tomorrow morning, concussion or no concussion, and although she might not like it, she understands the necessity of laying low until the smoke has cleared, both figuratively and not. It's been several hours since she was last awake, and that was to take a cup of tea and a pastry procured from the bakery at the end of the street — for whatever reason, she hasn't been interested in eating very much. The number of words that she and her companion have exchanged since she came to can be counted on the fingers of his left hand.

He won't be expecting the knock at the door, so soft that the young woman buried beneath the blankets on the couch doesn't even stir. She's a very light sleeper.

Raith certainly is not expecting a knock at the door, no matter how light. It's for this exact reason that he doesn't immediately spring up and go for the door, but rather sits still watching it for several seconds before he stands up, carefully unsheathing his combat knife. He's SOL when it comes to firearms here. An automatic will make too much noise when he cycles the action, spooking whoever's on the other side of the door. A revolver can't be suppressed. It's knife or nothing.

His first concern is who it could be. No one should know how to find him without asking him first, meaning that somehow, there was a security breach. He'll deal with that later. For now, Raith takes a chance and glances through the peephole. With no camera set up outside the door, what else can he do?

The man standing on the other side of the door is not an individual that Raith recognizes, but neither has he taken any measures to disguise his identity. Tall and broad-shouldered with a proud face and sculpted features, he carries himself with the regal, almost distinguished air of someone whose confidence might potentially exceed his capabilities. He lifts a gloved hand and knocks again, dark gaze leveled with the peephole, though his eyes themselves are shadowed by the brim of the fedora he wears on his head of pale-coloured hair.

It is entirely possible that he has the wrong address, however unlikely.

Raith may not recognize him, but he seems to be here on business. And if he does, in fact, have the wrong number, it'll be that much easier to make him go away. With a shrug, Raith quietly undoes the door's chain, lest he wake Eileen and, holding his knife of out sight, opens the door just enough to stick his head around it. "Yes?"

"Vithar," the stranger says in greeting, dispelling whatever hopes Raith might have had for a case of mistaken identity. He does not, however, wedge his hand or foot in the gap between the door and its frame — whatever business he's here on, and his choice of address suggests it's related to his work with the Vanguard, it's clear that any violence he has on his agenda isn't directed toward Raith himself.

A smile crinkles around the corner of his mouth. "Or is it King of Swords now that you're no longer in Volken's employ?"

Translation: May I come in?

The expression that Raith now wears on his face would melt steel, had he the ability to do so. For a few moments, he simply stands behind the door, saying nothing. Finally, he does step back and open it, tossing his knife into the air and then catching it. "Two minutes," he says.

Translation: No, really. Two minutes.

The stranger's shape fills the doorframe when he steps across the threshold and into the apartment. He's taller than Raith, though not by much — whether or not he's thicker is impossible for the mercenary to determine as long as his visitor is wearing the clothes that he is, which include a heavy woolen greatcoat that comes all the way down to his mid-calf. He tips a glance in the couch's direction, and Raith may detect a slight narrowing of his eyes when he spies the woman sleeping there, face obscured by her thick tangle of dark hair.

He's polite enough to keep his voice down, at least, even if there's nothing he can do about the creaking of the floorboards underfoot. "I've heard that you're looking for work."

"And if I am?" Raith fires back. He is all too aware of the notice his 'guest' pays to Eileen, and his strategy for dealing with it appears to be to keep the conversation focused on himself. "You want me to quote my rate structure? I hope you're not thinking that throwing around an old nickname will get you a discount. It's more likely to get you a Colombian necktie than a discount."

"If you are, then I'm prepared to offer you a job." The stranger circles around behind the couch and comes to rest behind it, one gloved hand on its back. His attention has shifted from Eileen's prone form back to Raith's face, which he continues to scrutinize from under his fedora's brim. "Five grand per head is the price I was quoted," he continues, "or five heads for twenty. With the field as competitive as it's become these last few years, that's very shrewd of you."

"Thanks," is the reply growled by Raith. Not even thirty seconds have passed, and already his patience is wearing thin. Whoever this guy is, he doubtlessly knows something about Raith. He knows he was Vithar, which means he probably knows that Raith could likely throw that knife from anywhere in the room and hit him with it. Hopefully, it won't come to that; it would be a terrible mess for both of them. "Who?"

The stranger's grip on the back of the couch tightens just enough to dimple the fabric and make the material of his gloves groan as it stretches around his fingers. He has very large hands — a distinct advantage in Raith's line of work. "Her name is Abigail Beauchamp," he says. "She owns a bar in Greenwich Village called Old Lucy's and is due back in New York City this evening after an extended visit south of the border." As he speaks, he reaches into the pocket of his greatcoat and produces a photograph which he then displays to Raith, light glancing off its laminate surface.

The young woman it depicts appears to be about Eileen's age, but unlike Eileen her hair is blonde and her eyes an attractive shade of blue that compliments her skin tone. There's something about the bone structure in her face that's strangely familiar to the mercenary even if he can't put his finger on exactly what that something is.

When the photo is displayed, it doesn't take Raith more than a second to deftly grab it by its corner and yank it away. After a moment of scrutinizing it closely- hasn't he seen her somewhere before? She must have one of those faces- he turns his attention back to the other man. Stuffing the photo into his pocket, he extends his hand, palm facing upward. That's a pretty clear message, too: Pay up.

"Your reputation has suffered in light of what happened to your last employer," the stranger observes. "I'll be honest: I have reservations about paying you in full before completion of the contract. It would be very inconvenient for me if I left and you started having second thoughts. How do you suggest we remedy this little problem?"

"I suggest we remedy it by you paying up," Raith retorts, "Because you were Vanguard, meaning you know who I am, meaning you know that I won't do anything you don't care for, like asking questions. I will just take your money and then make your problem go away. Now, are there other people around who will take your money and not ask questions? Sure there are. Will they do it for five grand? I'll answer that one for you. They will not. So, way I see it, you have two choices." Raith raises his outstretched hand an inch and then snaps it back down to emphasize his point. "You can fork over the money, and rest easy knowing the job is in good hands, or you can walk out that door, find someone else who will do the job, pay more than five grand, and give your little problem a chance to become a big problem.

"Which one sounds like the better deal?"

Raith has either sufficiently proven his point or made a serious misstep. At first, it isn't clear which. The stranger reaches down with his free hand to move a curl of Eileen's hair across her cheek, his knuckles grazing her exposed skin, and then tucks it behind her ear. Instinctively, she turns her face against the touch but does not wake — instead, she lets out a small sound that isn't quite a sigh and lifts her chin, baring her throat.

"I could go to Fenrir," the stranger says. "He'll do it for three if I tell him he's taking a business opportunity from a rival." Which is maybe not the best word for what Ethan and Raith are to one another. But then again — it isn't entirely inaccurate, either. "Or perhaps Sylar. I don't think my options are as limited as you're making them out to be, Jensen."

"The big, bad man doesn't think his options are as limited as I blah blah blah." Who needs Ethan when Raith can be just as rude, mouthy and irritating? "Fenrir's MIA, probably dead. Sylar's definitely dead. And the girl-" He gestures towards Eileen with the point of his knife- "Is mine. No touchy. Now are you going to pay up or ain't you? I don't have all day."

The stranger gives Raith a dubious look at his assessment of the situation. Still, he moves his hand away from Eileen's neck and straightens his back, rising to his full height of six feet and some change. Of Sylar and the girl, as Raith calls her, he says nothing. "How very unfortunate," he laments in a voice more gravelly and sardonic than remorseful. "I would be more saddened to hear it if I believed it was true. Holden is alive — he's simply a very difficult individual to find."

Just ask Feng Daiyu.

He pushes away from the couch on his way back toward the door. "I'll give you the benefit of the doubt this time," he says, fishing into his pocket again. This time, he pulls out an unmarked envelope made from brown parchment paper too thick to see through and offers it to Raith as he passes him. "We both know that you can't afford to keep running your operation in this political climate without help from people like me. For both our sakes, don't disappoint."

Raith snatches the envelope away, slicing it open and dumping the contents out before his guest can leave, thumbing through the bills inside as he follows the other man to the door. Five grand or close enough to it. "Don't overestimate your importance," Raith cautions, "And don't let the Wolf's name fool you, if he's still around. He's a dog, just like me." As he begins to close the door, separating the two once again, he adds one final touch to his half-analogy.

"Dogs'll find a new master if you stop feeding them."

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