Very Dodgy


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Scene Title Very Dodgy
Synopsis Joy is delivered a piece of bad news while being reminded that it's all but impossible to run away from her past.
Date February 5, 2010

Vacant Home

There's always a silver lining to every situation. New York City going to hell means a lot of families are taking vacations and spending time with their loved ones in other cities and states. For extended periods of time. This makes for some lovely vacant homes in which a struggling junkie and her cat can hide. A sunny yellow bicycle, complete with streamers, a basket, and a bell, is parked in the living room. The bathroom trash is home to discarded needles and empty vials. A band of rubber lays by the sink, a fresh syringe prepped and ready for the morning.

Blonde hair forms a halo against a black satin pillow case, creating a deceptively angelic visage for the woman laying there. Long lashes flutter against pale cheeks in tandem with a dream. At Joy Saint-Jacques' feet, the calico persian cat named Schroedinger lifts her head when her owner stirs.

A cat seems a strange pet to keep for someone who is on the move as often as "Joy" is — independent, flighty and lacking the unwavering loyalty that make canines so popular, it probably says something positive about the woman sprawled out across the bed that she's been able to keep ahold of it for so long. The same cannot be said of the state of the home or the mess by the sink, and it's with a critical eye that her uninvited houseguest sizes her up from his position in the doorway, filling it with his tall build and broad shoulders.

He'd heard she was addicted to morphine. He'd also been under the impression that she'd managed to kick it. Life is full of disappointments.

"Odessa Knutson."

One moment the bed is occupied, the next moment it's empty with only the telltale rumple of sheets to suggest the woman - or her cat - had been there.

Now, across the room with the comforter wrapped around her body, held in place by one tightly clutched hand, the blonde points a small gun at her unexpected vistor. A few responses ran through her head while she was making herself decent, such as Who? or Not anymore. Instead, she opts for silence, hedging her bets that whoever's come to call is more than willing to fill her in on what he wants.

"That's an interesting ability," Joy's visitor observes, seemingly unperturbed by the young woman's abrupt jump between bed and the other side of the room. He does not move from his position in the doorway — either he's waiting for permission to set foot in her bedroom or he's waiting for an opening to neutralize the threat she's presenting him with. "You can put that down," he says after a short pause dominated by the sound of the blonde's breathing. "If I meant to hurt you, I'd have already done it."

"My name is Joy." It's a half-hearted sort of response, but it is accompanied by the lowering of the woman's gun, though it isn't set aside. "What's yours?" Pale lips purse and the grip on the blanket is adjusted anxiously in a flexing of fingers. What do you want? will come in good time.

"Fenris," her visitor replies, and although the name is one letter off from Ethan's Vanguard call sign he does not resemble the balding Briton that once shared Joy's bed. For one thing, he's older. For another, he has a silver head of hair under the fedora he wears, its brim caked with a snow. He removes the hat, gives it a brisk shake to dislodge what's accumulated there, and holds it to his chest as he takes her lowered weapon as an invitation to move deeper inside. "It's a shame that I apparently have the wrong address. I'm not looking for a Joy."

"You went looking for and found someone who didn't want to be found. Congratulations." Joy's lips twitch upward in a momentary smile. Or perhaps it was meant as a grimace. "You don't mind if I ask you to keep your hands on that sharp hat of yours, where I can see them, while I get dressed, do you? I can sense you've got business with me, and I'd really like to be dressed if we're going to talk business, Mister Fenris." Dark eyes focus first on the man's hands, then sweep his entire figure dubiously, despite the polite converational tone she maintains.

Fenris' reply is a slight tilt of his head as he watches Joy move, all dark eyes and calculating stare. Whether he's more deserving of the name than Ethan is a subject that can be debated at length, but there's definitely something wolflike about his focus and the steely way that his concentration refuses to let it waver while he somehow maintains a relaxed posture and a face lacking emotion. "Very well."

"Thank you," the blonde chimes almost pleasantly. A show of good faith, she tucks her gun away in the top drawer of the nightstand before approaching the wardrobe. What Fenris actually sees is more like the broadcast television edit of a woman changing clothes, thanks to her ability. A glimpse of her backside, a strategic profile, and eventually the finished image of the woman in a pair of black leggings with a silver tunic with sparkling sequin-covered platform heels in the same colour. Not what one expects from a business meeting by far. "Would you care for some coffee?"

"No," says Fenris, and he does not appear to take any real interest in what Joy is wearing. Detachedness renders his body language impossible to read, tone listless and flat. "I've been led to believe that you used to work for Kazimir Volken and were once close with another individual in his employ — a man named Sylar."

"You have my attention, Mister Fenris." There's no change in Joy's stance, her stride doesn't break as she approaches the doorway, gesturing for the man to follow her toward the dining area. The telling change, however, is the way she cannot quite keep her parted lips from curving upward at one corner, or the slightly too-wide gaze she gives the wolf. "Have a seat."

Rather than take a seat, Fenris moves behind the chair, resting his hands on its back. "I'm sorry." He has her attention. She has his— condolences, apparently. "This would be easier to hear from a friend, but as it appears that you have none," except for a cat, "he was killed last month in a government-sanctioned operation targeting a stolen nuclear weapon being held by the remains of the Vanguard. Although I never met the man personally, I have a difficult time denying my respect for his work. He was very— efficient.

"Do you need a moment before we continue?"

The shattering of the mug Joy had just filled with ice coffee from the fridge signals that perhaps, yes, the woman may need a moment. She stares slack-jawed at Fenris with quivering lips, trembling hands and glistening eyes.

The moment needed, or several of them, are stolen and only revealed in the way that one second the kitchen is pristine, and the next it's covered in the debris of smashed dishes and broken glass. Joy is left standing amidst the chaos with her chest heaving and her hair tousled. "Who?" Eyes ablaze with fury, they fix on the man behind her (borrowed) dining room table.

Pieces of broken glass shine bright and on the floor like thick threads of liquid in comparison to the matte porcelain plates scattered around them. Joy has never been very good at using discretion when it comes to her ability — disapproval etches stark lines in Fenris' face, pale brows lowered over his dark eyes, lips drawn taut and level.

"I'm still in the process of determining who is the most at fault," he says, his voice continuously steady, "but I have a list of names belonging to those who actions all played a significant role in the events leading to his death. I take it that you might be interested in assisting me with their systematic elimination?"

Jutting out her lower jaw and taking in deep, steadying breaths, Joy wipes the wetness from under her eyes with the pad of her thumb. After a long moment, she finally nods. "Oh, yes. I'd be extremely interested in a venture like that."

Despite blinding anger, it doesn't escape the temporal manipulator's notice when her inquisitive cat starts to pad her way into the kitchen. A wave of the woman's hand freezes the persian in place. A substitute for rushing over to scoop the feline out of harm's way. "What manner of man are you?" Joy asks the stranger, "How did you find out about me?"

"As an old associate of Volken's, I have a global network of resources at my disposal. You needn't startle, mind — I'm well aware of the role you played in his murder. I'm also largely disinterested in whatever justifications you have to offer. He's not why I'm here." He remains still, without prejudice toward the cat. It isn't going to stop time and put a bullet between his eyes if it gets skittish. "You're familiar with Ethan Holden. Do the names Teodoro Laudani, Elisabeth Harrison or Catherine Chesterfield mean anything to you? Abigail Beauchamp? Francois Allegre? Felix Ivanov?"

Dark eyes narrow at mention of the name Volken. The other names, some have more meaning to her than others. A theme is sensed, however. "Phoenix," Joy mutters with no shortage of contempt. Finally, she finds the will to move from where she previously stood rooted, fragments of glassware and china crunching beneath her heels.

Schroedinger is released from the grip of her owner's ability only just before she's lifted into her arms. Joy takes a seat across the table from where Fenris is standing, absently stroking the persian's coat while maintaining a somewhat contemptuous expression. "Go on."

"Phoenix," the man repeats. "Somewhat." He tracks Joy's movement without shifting his own position, turning his head when necessary. "I don't have any special gift of my own," he says, "and while that hasn't ever posed a problem for me in the past, times change and I'm not the young buck I was once. I need the assistance to accomplish what I've set out to do here in New York — work for me and I'll provide you with an apartment, protection and a weekly stipend to do with as you please."

Joy studies Fenris warily, judging whether she should trust his word. The answer is of course no, but that's nothing new. The day that Joy truly trusts someone will likely ultimately result in her demise. "What's the catch?" Tear stains are wiped at again. "Kazimir may have given me purpose, but at a hefty price. You want more from me than just the demise of a few fools, I surmise." Nothing is ever so simple.

Except when it is.

"I want your cooperation and your loyalty for the duration of our arrangement. You're going to clean yourself up and make yourself presentable so I can introduce you to the men you'll be working with as soon as I return for you." Which makes it sound as though Joy has less choice in the matter than she probably does. If she's going to change her mind about this, there is not much time left in which for her to do it. "I'm leaving the city for a week or so to assist one of my people with a job in Louisiana. While I'm gone, I'd like you to consider my offer very carefully and understand that you are under no obligation to accept."

All of this sounds so very, very dodgy to Joy.

Which is of course why she accepts it.

"I suppose by clean up, you're referring to my recreational habits." She tips her head back, almost defiantly. She hasn't been able to completely kick her morphine addiction before, but there was never truly anything at stake then. "It won't be a problem," she assures him. The cold turkey will be hell - it was the last time - but it will be doable. Joy settles her cat down on the floor before rising to her feet and crossing to stand nearer to her prospective employer. She extends her hand without hesitation.

Fenris takes Joy's hand in his leather grip and gives it a firm squeeze that manages to convey assertion without applying more pressure than is comfortable. "Good," he says with one breath, then releases Joy's hand in the next, "if you want to make yourself useful, I wouldn't be opposed if you kept an eye on Chesterfield and Harrison for me. I haven't been able to draw up a schedule or observe their daily habits for any extended period of time. Find out where they're living, who they associate with on a regular basis and whether or not there are any additional factors that might make this more difficult for us than it truly has to be."

The grin the slides across Joy's face is decidedly wicked. "It would be my pleasure, Mister Fenris." Her hand comes up to rest against her shoulder for the moment after shaking on their deal as gentlemen do. "I trust you can find your way out?" Without waiting for a response, Joy and all traces of her possessions have vanished in the snap of her fingers, leaving only the destruction of the kitchen in her wake.

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