Walks And A Radio


raith_icon.gif astor_icon.gif

Scene Title Walks and a Radio
Synopsis Raith meets with a still recovering Astor to attempt a second- and better- first impression.
Date February 11, 2011

Bannerman's Castle - Eileen's Chamber

Time passes on Pollepel Island. It passes slowly, and it passes with infrequent punctuations of excitement from its current inhabitants, but it passes, for all the good that it does Astor. There are things to do, of course: Books to read, even some paper and a small lump of charcoal should an artistic mood strike him. But he's still a prisoner, even if he's being keep in fairly good surroundings.

What is not, perhaps, so good are the glimpses of people and activity visible to him through the windows that look outward from his quarters to the outside. Whatever is happening outside of his own (temporary) world, it has at least some of the population on edge. A dearth of visitors who aren't Jensen Raith or the nominated doctor for the day haven't provided much insight into anything that might be interesting or useful to know. Being confined to a single room hasn't provided much insight into anything that might be interesting or useful. But the past does not always speak for the future. When Raith does pay him a visit, it is always on an interval, the same time everyday. Or as close to that as can be guessed without a clock.

The heavy-handed knocking on the chamber door does not come on the usual interval this time. It's early.

He isn't well. It's been enough weeks that he should be 'over' the hole in his shoulder, insofar as that he should be recovering gradually but steadily, but he hasn't had much energy, looks like he's in pain, despite that he never talks about it. Sharp words and a cold stare are what he turns on the world whenever the world happens to knock, though and—

That's precisely what the older man is greeted by when he steps in. By now, there's a shaggy black beard growing on Astor's jaw, and his hair is stringing down to touch his shoulders, the fabric of the sweater there, thickly bandaged gauze peeking out of the collar. He hasn't fought the bars of his cage very hard, as far as Raith or the others who occasionally check on him can tell. A peculiarly docile prisoner, seated on the bed with a book open on his lap, a white-knuckled grip on his glass of water. Maybe he'd been about to throw it.

If he had been about to throw it, Raith doesn't seem terribly bothered by that possibility. His expression has shown that he has plenty of other things to be bothered about instead. "Every time I see you," he begins before stepping inside the doorway, "I can't decide if you look better or worse than before." Just like every time before, he leaves the door opened behind him. Maybe it's a promise of freedom for good behavior, or maybe just a taunt. Who can say? "I freely admit, the amenities here are pretty shitty. ANn apology for that is partly why I'm here, but just partly. Mainly, I'm here to ask you embarrassing questions about your past and make fun of your weight and hygiene. You're cool with all that, right?" At least something about the island is familiar.

"Or, maybe I'm not. Maybe I'm here to tell you you're free to leave and go frolicking happily away through a field of green clovers and poppies." Too familiar, maybe. Hands in his pockets, Raith leans against the wall next to the door and, as he so often does, waits for something to happen, whether that is receiving an answer, or Astor finally having enough and actually throwing that glass of water at his head.

"Maybe, maybe," Astor parrots back, irritably, but as usual— peculiarly bereft of curse words. After a moment, he almost visibly comes to the decision not to throw the cup; instead, he tips a long mouthful of water back into her throat. By some subjective measure, he looks less fucked up than he did two days ago. The circles around his eyes are shallower, more Buscemi, less tanuki, and he pushes a black tangle of curls back from his forehead with his knuckles. "Do you have television or newspapers or something?

"I keep forgetting the rest of the world is out there." That probably isn't true, considering how normal human psychology responds to prolonged captivity, and for all that Astor is terribly handsome and exceptionally cantankerous, he seems to be little different to the average solitary bachelor. Drinks water, loiters in bed, retreads the exciting parts of books and makes half-hearted attempts at exercise using the doorframe, seems unconcerned about turning his boxers inside-out to get an extra day of wear.

"You might get something on a radio, if the weather's good and you have batteries. Which you of course do not." And, in what might be a change from the norm, Raith adds a follow-up that is not an insult: "I'll see what I can do about that. You've at least earned a radio." The ex-spy ceases to lean against the wall, opting to stand up instead, although he doesn't immediately show any sign of otherwise moving. "The amenities here are shitty, but this is the best anyone can hope to get. It's a small thanks for keeping Eileen out of a body bag, but I hope you don't mind it."

Astor's feet move under the blanket and he watches them go, his fingers curling on the surface of his book and flattening out again. Animals go crazy from boredom, like the orangutangs slamming their heads against the walls of Chinese zoos or goldfish that snap their spines going up the wrong end of an aquarium filter tube. "No good deed goes unpunished," he observes coldly, besides. "I would appreciate a radio, I guess. Thanks for seriously considering helping me pass my time in captivity." His tone falls somewhere between smack-worthy sarcasm and chilly resignation. He turns pages restlessly with hsi fingers.

Raith takes Astor's backhanded compliment in stride, only offering a shrug at first. "The situation didn't allow for a very good first impression," he comments, shifting his weight to one foot, "And with dome-y there, there's no way even an 'okay' impression was going to happen. Can't promise I'll do much better here, either. Things are, crazy right now. Just trust me when I tell you that you're safer in here than you are outside." Trust isn't something that's easy to come by in the modern era.

"Eileen asked me to give you something." With that, Raith reaches into the confines of his winter coat, and for a change, it's not a weapon that he brings out. "Don't know why she picked it out in particular, but if you've gone through your library already, it'll give you something new to read." The item that the ex-spy does bring out is a book, small enough to fit under his coat, paperbacked and worn with age and use. Generally unremarkable outwardly, and perhaps unremarkable inwardly, if it does, in fact, only contain poems as its title would suggest. The only feature it has that might be considered remarkable is the tip of a feather jutting out from between its pages. At one time, it may have adorned the body of a hawk or falcon, but seems to work just as well for bookmarking as it did for flight.

The book is taken without so much as a blink. There should have been at least a blink. Whoever Astor is, he's been trained or conditioned to not blink, and that means something, probably, or maybe he's just very tired and exsquisitely arrogant. He's good-looking enough for that, maybe. He drops his eyes to study the cover for a moment, then shifts them to look at the bird feather.

"I'm not good at poetry," is the first thing he states, flatly. "But thanks. I have a friend or two who visits here sometimes, and he'll probably know what to do with it. Is there someone who can take me out on walks?" He sits up after a moment, as if belatedly, kneejerk defensive about the fact that he doesn't look quite like he's in a state for walks, out in the belligerent ferocity of white winter weather. The book finds itself stacked on the other in a pragmatic manner.

"Like I said, you're safer in here. But you want to go on walks? We can probably work something out." It could be that the prisoner gig Astor had going for himself is almost at an end, with him being promoted to perhaps 'barely trusted guest.' Which is better than nothing. "And like I said, can't promise I'll make a better impression here than I did before, but I'm actually going to try. Walks and a radio.

"Anything else that you need?"

No answer for a second or three, then the boy in the bed lofts a brow. Sets the books aside, decisively, and sets his hands on the bedspread instead, squaring his tall frame even if he remains seated. "I guess you could answer a question," he answers. "This whole situation is pretty strange. I help your girl out, and have to pay for medical care in prolonged imprisonment and random strangers coming up to my bedside grabbing at my hair. I'm at a lot of disadvantages, so I'd like to know where you think the real lines fall.

"What would I have to do to make you and yours kill me now?" Astor's off-green stare is steady as the passage of time itself, inexorable and inscrutable, lacking real animation or quiddity or motivation in itself, more a dimension or a force of physics than an organic, living thing. Eventually he remembers to blink.

"That's a pretty good question. And until the boss says you are no longer off-limits, I don't have an answer for you." It's an honest answer, or at least an honest-sounding one that Raith delivers. His body language don't give away that he might be lying, and the smirk on his face probably doesn't belong to someone who was making up a story, either. Apparently, the 'boss' has decided that Astor is important enough to keep alive for an extended period of time.

Convenient. Inconvenient? Lacking in details, obviously. Astor stares for another few minutes longer, then accepts that with a shrug that wads up his sweater and his bandages. "Okay," he answers. "That's all I needed, thanks. I look forward to the maybe radio and the walks." He levels his stare on the older man for another few minutes longer, humorlessly, then flicks his stare away, back at the window, the dismissal of a particularly bitchy and frigid Rapunzel locked up in her stale tower.

There is a moment or two of silence that passes before Raith does anything to follow up on Astor's implied request to be left alone. Shifting his weight back to center, the older man steps back to the opened door, step though, and adds his final, parting remark as he closes it behind him: "As you wish."

And again, as before, Astor is left alone with his books and his feet.

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