Welcome Home, Carmine Eddings


brian_icon.gif logan_icon.gif samara2_icon.gif sasha_icon.gif

Scene Title Welcome Home, Carmine Eddings
Synopsis Getting Sam into Eltingville Blocks leaves more than one person on edge at the checkpoint
Date April 24, 2011

Eltingville Blocks

The Eltingville Blocks comprises three main areas of suburban territory, divided further into smaller districts. Formerly a simple neighbourhood of suburbia pre-Bomb, the Eltingville Blocks still contain the stink of abandonment and neglect for all that new structures are clustered here and there, such as new residential units, public facilities and retail outlets.

Many of the homes and buildings remain closed down and abandoned, but squatting and homelessness is circumvented by the fact that the Eltingville Blocks are heavily patrolled around their borders. But while the military can sweep through the territories themselves, the policing within is light-handed, neglected, and left to the devices of the people inside. As the population steadily climbs through the Resettlement Project, so does crime.

Graffiti of various kinds, old and new, mark grey and brown brick. Wire fences don't have razors on them until you get to the borders. The traffic is minimal, with cars mostly heard on Hylan Boulevard, which seems to have a near constant trickle of military vehicles perhaps on their way to Miller Airfield to the east. Weeds grow in anywhere green. Old businesses - a bias towards Italian names and restaurants, echoing of its culture prior to a mass exodus and re-population - are boarded over and left to rot, but there are corner stores, liquor stores, a few bars and a small, functioning economy, even if it spills out into the form of street markets, both daylight and legitimate as well as not.

The cusp of curfew settles within a night already gone black, but the checkpoint is lit up as bold as daylight in oranges and yellows, which might make Samara feel a little more exposed than she already is. From the waist down, anyway, the chill of the air nipping at skin through sheer tights, highheels cutting and unforgiving. Warm, though, is the fur coat draped about her shoulders and folded loose around her, heavy and luxurious in white fox that looks stained beneath the vibrant flood lights of the Eltingville checkpoint. Dark hair left loose, slightly curled by the expert fingers of a woman who had also applied enough makeup to her face that she might not recognise herself in the mirror anymore.

Which is something of the point. The Registration card she holds in her hand, a woman named Carmine Eddings, is not her. Roughly her height, the same colour of hair and eyes, but too fleeting a reference to the same bone structure for anyone to feel very secure. Samara Dunham is prettier, actually. But it's impossible to tell beneath dark purple lipstick, silver-blue eyeshadow, a layer of orangey foundation that feels like it could be an inch thick and had rubbed off, a little, on the sleeves of her fine jacket.

"You next?" asks the checkpoint officer, barely looking at her.

A few of the other women have already been herded through, carefree in giggles and conversation, flirtatious comments to some of the soldiers who mill around. Six in all, Samara included, sometimes known as the Poor Clares of the church brothel not a block and a half away from the checkpoint — one can even see the white tower from here. It's been a long (and slightly painful) walk from the docks, stepping off the ferry and headed up for where the residents and guests of Eltingville Blocks herd through the gates.

She can see them now, the tall wire fences, the savage coiling razor wire that rests atop them, as if pinning in animals. The automatic rifles that the soldiers on duty are carrying. She's second to last in line to get through — John Logan is already cleared, and he shoots a glance back at her that only reads as anxious to people who know him well. Sasha Kozlow, the only other male accompanying the group, might be among them. It manifests in the tension of his shoulders beneath a suit of black wool and silver pinstripe. He is almost as garish as the women he cat-herds along with him, his shirt of red satin, cufflinks bright gold and set with glass mockups of red gemstone.

He isn't the only one who glances. The women surely know what's going on too, and send little feline glances back at her. The one in line behind her watches with predatory fascination, the back of her head.

They need to stop looking. This is Sasha's assessment, anyhow, though there's not much he can do about it except to engage the women closest to him in low conversation to distract them from Samara. Like Logan, he's already gotten through the checkpoint much to his relief — every time he crosses the Eltingville border, the wolf in him has hackles that go up, bristling with the quiet but clearly agitated kind of anxiety that only wild animals have, especially ones that have either been hunted or spent time behind mesh or bars.

Sasha is unfortunate enough to have experienced both.

His hands sit in the pockets of his leather jacket, collar turned up, and paired with jeans or a wifebeater it might give the soldiers on duty more reason to scrutinize him — which is probably why it isn't. He wears slacks, instead, and a wifebeater beneath a pressed white dress shirt that supplies the Russian with a more professional appearance. He keeps his beard trimmed for a reason.

The game of pretend paints like one of Samara’s more noir dreams, save for the colours, and, oddly, the colours put her on edge, eliciting that little rush of adrenaline that has the happy side effect of keeping her cheeks pale rather than a somewhat crimson hue, or, perhaps more accurately, yellow under the checkpoint lights. Naturally, her arms long to cross her chest, but instead, they hang somewhat awkwardly in front of her, an uncomfortable appearance, of course, that could be from just being under the lights like this. Maybe.

It takes a moment after she’s addressed to have her straightening, her hands retreating into the folds of that luxurious coat. Nervously, her teeth toy at her bottom lip, but she manages a twitch of a smile that eases some with the knowledge of how important all of this is. Silver-blue eyes lid a moment as she collects her composure and flashes the man a half smile, nearly flirtatious as she takes onerather hobblystep forward. “H—” her ankle wobbles once, prompting her eyes to widen momentarily as she holds out a hand to rebalance herself. Fortunately she manages not to fall.

”Hi—” she smiles nearly shyly. She quickly recognizes she probably shouldn't be playing this role shyly, prompting her to flick some of that curled dark hair over the shoulder. If flirtation is the expectation, she intends to do the best she can. “Carmine,” she gives the man a small nod. Her eyelashes flutter fiercely while she slides forward again, her ankles still wobbly with those high heels; her balance these days leaves something to be desired. “Carmine Eddings,” she quips with a brighter grin. And then, as a kind of afterthought, her head tilts some, “And what’s your name?” The sentence itself and very poor flirtation becomes awkward with the addition of one word relayed later than it should, “Sugar,” prompting her cheeks to flush considerably and her chin to drop to her chest. Just focus on the make-up and outer appearance.

The prostitutes are at least wise enough not to giggle — there is no comment, no smirk for Samara's attempt, although the woman just behind her lets out a cynical exhale through flaring nostrils, vaguely equine in conjunction with clipclopping highheels scraping on the asphalt ground.

Wobbly steps are noted, mostly because the soldier is checking out her legs even as he takes Registration card from her and flicks a look over her name, her listed Evolved ability. A pyro, and it makes his mouth twist a little in discomfort. "You won't need to call me anything, Ms. Eddings," he says, noting something upon clipboard, pinning the Registration card there with his thumb. "You girls get your friend home safely, won't you? Looks like you've been burning the midnight oil."

"She's in more than capable hands. Can we hurry this along, by chance?" Logan says. It's a slip, really, and he regrets it by the glance he gets, pushing up a shrug and turning his back.

The soldier takes his time, in this case, viewing the little mugshot-like image of Carmine Eddings, glancing up at Samara's made over face, and the glimmer of hesitation there is as quick as it might take to blink. But ultimately— "Step through," sounds impatient, card pushed back into her hand, and the woman just behind her nudges her forward with a gentle push to the padded small of her back.

Others are already beginning to break away and head along the trek home, the women who Sasha had engaged in conversation gripping his hand by the knuckles and attempting to tug him along after. There's a small fan following in the way a couple of the soldiers— the ones without rifles, slouched up near the checkpoint building, talking— begin to trail along with the group like hounds trotting alongside a truck, tempted by glances beneath fake eyelashes and glinting smiles.

Brian Fulk, meanwhile, knows the time and the place. The checkpoint or, alternatively, the entrance of Saint Clare's — or some midpoint in between. The time being just before curfew, the last of those headed through the brightly lit checkpoint for the day. From where he'll watch, in the shadowier portions of the hedging suburbs, he'll see the long legged creatures of the brothel (and Sasha) herd along, the trailing men in uniform.

Soldiers mean business for Logan, but they can also mean trouble. Sasha knows because he's been on the other side of this equation — there was a time when he'd be the one skulking after with intentions as dark as the night. It's difficult not to focus on the fingers attached to his hand — it's so nice to have physical contact with another human being — but for Logan's sake more than the sake of the women in their company, he keeps the soldiers in his peripheral vision, watching them for the warning signs: predatory idiosyncracies in gait and body language.

It's a little like glancing back over his shoulder and catching a glimpse of himself in the mirror. He hopes that Fulk isn't too eager to embrace the Dunham girl and will at least be patient enough to wait until there are no soldiers watching.

It takes little motivation or encouragement to prompt Samara to move forward. The plastic of the card in her hand almost feels like freedom. And her pacing echoes that same freedom, changing considerably as she’s told to step through. The very weight of the steps changing to something lighter, even as she wobbles in the heels.

But even in the freedom, the nerves remain. Underneath that coat, she trembles, but not visibly. Not yet, anyways. A little more confidently she traipses along with the rest, she passed the test, it seems.

The bright ember at the end of the cigarette glows brightly as the man sucks in the cancer inducing smoke. The black clove cigarette is plucked out of his lips and brought down when a fluid stream of smoke is exhaled from his nostrils. The smoke billows and obscures his features for a moment until it dissapates in the cold night air. The cigarette returns to Winters lips, another inhale being drawn out. When they met, Samara had discouraged Brian from starting smoking. Obviously in her absence, her words have fallen flat.

Gray eyes watch from behind a pair of aviators, despite the darkness. He didn't want her to see the fogginess in his eyes. A beanie is pulled low to disguise the towel that is generally wrapped around his head. A light jean jacket over his scarred body, a pair of black gloves obscures the conspicuously missing finger on one hand.

At the sight of her his breath catches. Which causes him to cough a few times. Glove immediately tossing the cigarette to the ground. Boot moving to stomp on it. Reaching into his jacket pocket a small bottle of spray-cologne is taken out and sprayed over his chest before a small container of tic tacs is dumped into his mouth. Quickly tucking them away he takes an instinctual step forward, but lingers. Glancing at the soldiers.

The test is cleared. The big one, anyway, the one where a fuck up might have meant people laid on their stomachs and fingers laced behind their skulls, the indignity of military boots crunching by and radio back up called in.

But no, Samara is upright and walking, more or less, and as the last woman is slipped through the gate, they head off into the darker territory of Eltingville Blocks, and the phaser gets her first look up close at where Brian has been living, where Koshka has been living. Most of the houses that crouch along the edge of the streets are dark, some lit behind thick curtains. Graffiti sprawls on naked brick and painted wood, and enough streetlamps burned out and neglected to cast whole sections blind in the dark, save for the taint of light pollution.

"Carmine's a pretty name."

The voice is unfamiliar — a young soldier, maybe dared to approach by his more experienced comrades, doggedly brings himself to level with Samara's cautious pace. "Had a nice night?" His smile crooked and his proximity close, elbow nudging near her's and eyes glinting to roam over the disappointingly obscuring shroud of thick white fur, ignoring where Sasha is wolfishly watching the approach of the other predators. The women are, in fact, off the clock— Samara quite determinedly so— but it's difficult to tell whether this is so. Or how much the soldiers care.

Logan doesn't see the exchange, however, chin lifting as he walks and glancing in the general direction of cellphone signal. In the next second, Brian's one beeps, or vibrates, or tweedles Friday as set, to read:

be good
and follow quietly

The sending number is 56426.

"Her night is finished," says Sasha who, although several paces ahead of Samara, catches what Logan does not. The transgression is not so serious that he feels the need to untangle his fingers from the teasing female ones, but tension can be felt in his hand — he's prepared to do that, and more, if the need arises. "Try again tomorrow," is the suggestion he offers the other man then, his tone cordial if edged with a friendly sort of warning.

Get lost, he means. He might have put it in exactly those words if he had the press of a holstered weapon beneath his coat to lend him confidence.

He doesn't. At least not tonight.

The trembling that had been so well concealed edges along the while fox fur of her coat at the sound of the voice. Sam had thought herself out of the clear. Carefully, her tongue rolls over her lips as she turns around to catch the speaker addressing her, shooting him a now-strained smile while she shrinks a little further into the fabric.

The touch of the elbow against hers causes her own to tug closer to her body, further away from the man beside her. “Th-thanks,” the word sticks in her throat while those feelings of insecurity spread too easily. His question receives a nod and a tighter smile, “Y-y-yes?” And then more firmly, “Yes.” And then with Sasha intervening, she breathes a little easier, managing a somewhat sheepish, more apologetic smile for the soldier.

A finger-missing-hand slips into his pocket. Pulling the phone out he goes to read the text. Baring his teeth lightly at the sender of the message. Follow quietly. Be good. His eyes leave the phone and lead back to the posse of prostitutes (and Sasha). (yesthatmeansloganisoneofthem). But when he looks back up to Samara, there is a soldier flirting with her. The flash of electricity around his hand may forever ruin that phone. It is shoved back into his pocket. Way down deep, the movement a little exaggerated. He shoves away from the building he had been hiding behind.

Despite his current spike of anger, the young Winters decides to follows quietly regardless. Slinking into the darkness, he keeps a close gaze on the troupe whilst following.

The young soldier shifts his attention from Samara's face (and her covered boobs and her not covered legs) to flash a look of pure and unbridled disdain for the Evo male speaking instruction to him — he has better training to let his hand wander to his sidearm, especially over a little thing like this, but he seems more or less prepared to challenge it. "'ey," is Logan's bark from nearer the back of the group, after hearing Sasha's words towards the soldier. "Bar's closed anyway, mate. But the ladies'll see you bright and early, won't they?"

"Maybe I'll look for you," the soldier says, to Samara, with a press of a shy smile before he gives both males in the group a look beyond ignoring them, before breaking off from the herd. The others follow in his wake, some pressing both kisses to knuckles and promises to ears before they depart.

One of them sees Brian, but the most he gets is a bark of laughter. If they can't get any game, what's the chance of Brian getting any?

"You don't fancy a job, do you?" is a little joke for Samara, from Logan. Designed more to calm her nerves, but without his usual powers, he can only do so much. The chapel is in sight, now, lit white against the night sky, but quiet as well, with a couple of the women sitting on stoops and sharing a cigarette, one getting up to greet the ladies. The territory clear of soldiers, only residents.

As far as senses of accomplishment go, Sasha has experienced better, but since his arrival in Eltingville, he feels as though his sense of purpose has been partly restored. That it may never be as intact as it was before Ethan Holden threw him out of the window is something that he's recently come to tolerate. He might even accept it eventually.

He was able to help Logan safely shepherd a group of women from Point A to Point B, and tonight that's enough for him. When he arrives at the stoop, he disengages from the group and begins climbing the steps as if to move away inside, but the knowledge that there's still one last thing to be done before he can consider their mission completed has him hanging around outside the brothel's doors without any cigarette of his own.

He will wait for Fulk for as long as Logan does.

Samara Dunham would never feign to encourage a John in his question, Carmine Eddings, however? Well that’s her meal ticket. Three equally shy fingers waggle at the disappearing soldier while that strained smile continues on Sam’s lips.

With a ghost of a nod and a small gasp, Samara expels a breath she hadn’t realized she’d been holding. Her shoulders relax when the soldier disappears, and the trembling eases some at the joke, giving way to a more genuine smile, although it’s still not her usual fare. With an exasperated chuckle, more weary than humoured, she notes in a very weak joke of her own, “I somehow don’t think I’d like the working conditions,” and with a shrug of her shoulders, followed by an even easier smile. Now further passed the soldiers, her steps have found her confidence, that little bit of bounce returning to them with each.

Another quiet crackle of electricity travels over gloved fingers as the soldier suggests he might look for her. But then he's gone. And they have arrived. His throat is dry. Just the sight of her has his eyes becoming moist behind the aviators. Precisely why he had decided to wear them at night. Hopefully he'll just be looked at as the douche who wears unnecessary sunglasses rather than the crybaby. Brian steps out of the shadows he had been more or less stalking in and out into the light. Staring at her back he tries to wet his lips, but finds his tongue is oddly dry.

The first time he attempts speech, nothing comes out. Just a strange cracking noise before he is clearing his throat several times. Then eventually. "I'll pay extra." It's definitely romantic. And strangely quiet, unable to get much more volume out then that as he stares at Samara's fox lined back, shoving his hands in his pockets to keep them still. A wandering step is taken forward as he glances to Sasha then to Logan. A little nod given to both of them. The rest of the girls are ignored completely. And finally he stares at Samara, though she might not know it due to his aviators…


Done and done. The reason why Logan doesn't remind Brian in a no doubt witty one-liner that there will be a fee of kinds attached to this is that ruining the moment might cheapen his profit. So he just glances over at the sound of Fulk's voice, raise an eyebrow at the nod he's given, and dance a step around Samara so that she may do what she might. Instructions had more or less come down to be careful, and he offers no more cautionary words than he already has on the way here.

Fine shoes carry him the rest of the way of the church and convent, some of the girls trailing after him as if he were the Pied Piper. Slinks by Sasha and disappears inside. They can stay in the convent if they so choose. Or Brian can just order take out. Whichever one is chosen, it makes no difference to technopathic pimp.

Sasha brings up the rear. When the last of the women follows Logan inside the brothel, he tips a final glance over one shoulder at Brian and Samara, then looks somewhere past them in one last cursory search of the shadows.

Whatever it is his eyes are searching for, they do not find them, and he too takes shelter in the building. The doors he's tempted to pull shut behind them in case the soldiers decide to return — there is no clearer message than a barricade of wood and metal thay may as well read: Closed for Business — but he opts to leave them open until Brian and Samara make a decision about what they're going to do for the night.

Nerves that had been calmed start anew at Brian's image Sam's once-shaking shoulders tremble more as her own eyes blink back against the moisture forming within them. Her purple-stained lips press tightly together into a small line to suppress whatever emotion she can. The futility of the task becomes apparent when Brian speaks, yielding the smallest sob as two streams of orange-coloured foundation creep down the contours of her cheeks. Fiercely, she fights against the quiver of her lip and chin, as her jaw tightens against the duress.

Samara interrupts the trail of tears with the back of her hand while her head tilts to the side. Like Brian, words don't come easily; the hoarseness of her throat and dryness of her mouth let nothing come out when her lips part. But there's nothing to say. Or maybe there's too much to say. Whatever the reason, she says nothing, instead taking some very large, wholly unstable steps to envelope him in her arms.

His throat remains dry, and practically nothing happens about him. No movement. His arms remain sagging at his sides, hands tucked into his pockets. No words. Words are hard to come by. He remains mostly still as she approaches him rapidly. As she trots over to him, his hands slowly leave his pockets. Arms thrown up, going to lace around Samara's waist as she flings herself onto him. Gripping his arms around her he lets out a slow breath. It hurts. Badly. His burns still sensitive to the touch. But not so bad he has to recoil. He happily remains engulfed in her embrace.

One hand happily seeks out the back of her head, pressing her into his chest. Head bowed, his face goes to bury itself in the top of her hair. Eyes closed tightly behind his shades as he pulls her into him. Words are still hard to come by, glancing up to Sasha he gives a little nod and jerks his head the other way. They will be leaving. "Come on Sami." He croaks out. "We're going home."

Before she got there, it had just been a house.

The tears prompt more orange makeup to line the white fur of her coat as she sobs quietly into his chest, leaving an imprint there as well. Her shoulders bob as the tears fall unbidden while her knees balk, struggling to retain their strength and causing her to collapse into him more. Amid those quiet sobs, further muffled by the fabric, she manages a single word in greeting, whispered as lightly as the wind itself, "Hi."

Her fingers trail up to his cheeks in a desperate attempt to cling to this newfound reality. The red puffiness of her eyes and mess of her face provide easy indication of her current emotions. "Home," she repeats quietly, testing the word on her tongue. Staring into his face draws a slight curl of her lips, but prompts her to reach for his sunglasses; she wants to see his eyes.

When the aviators are pulled down, they reveal the moist, reddened and teary gray orbs that rest behind them. With the glasses pulled down all the way he sniffs quietly to silently affirm that he is crying. But only for a moment, before his hand is coming up to push his glasses back up. His good hand, the four fingered one is kept at her back. "Home." He mentions again, keeping her almost stuck to him completely as he goes to turn her lightly. "This way." He murmurs softly, leading the way back towards their house.

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