When Inevitability Comes Knocking


vf_kain3_icon.gif ff_silas_icon.gif

Scene Title When Inevitability Comes Knocking
Synopsis Following a meeting with Asi, Silas goes to Kain for help about his timeline counterpart.
Date June 28, 2019

Sheepshead Bay

Sheepshead Bay isn't far from Bay Ridge, but the difference between the two is night and day. Bay Ridge is a nice place. Sheepshead Bay… isn't. Not really. Especially with night coming on. It reminds Silas of some other places he's spent time in. Running a package, perhaps. Or standing lookout while some other individuals conducted business of dubious legality.

But tonight, he's not up to any shady business; he's just looking for someone to talk to. Someone specific. Someone who knew him once, or at least a version of him. He's got a bottle of good bourbon as an offering, and an address…

…which turns out to be for a houseboat in Sheepshead Bay Marina. Silas can't help but smile a bit despite himself as he approaches the houseboat that Kain Zarek calls home; he finds a sort of dry amusement in the fact that he and Remi aren't the only ones who ended up living on a boat. It's not something he lets himself linger on too long, though.

"Hello the boat!" he calls, raising the bourbon bottle. "Permission to board?"

It’s right about then that Silas gets a strong whiff of

Hot dogs?

There’s a light plume of smoke coming from the deck of the boat and out from behind what it turns out is the upturned hood of a grill cover is none other than the Kain that Silas is looking for. His small ship has a portable grill hauled up onto it, and judging from the smell of things Kain is barbecuing in the middle of June on a boat. It isn’t retiring to Hawaii, but it sure beats the alternatives.

“Well shucks, ain’t never been raided by good-natured pirates before. Been a while, Smiles.” Kain says with a lopsided smile, leaning over the back of the boat where the designation PRAWN STAR is stenciled in black on white. “Yeah,” Kain belatedly consents, waving a hand in the air, “come on up, Ah’ll throw on another dog.”

Barbecue? It smells like barbecue. It looks like barbecue. Well. Grilling, at least. There's more to barbecue than grilling, of course — choosing the type of meat you're going with, picking the right ingredients for an ideal sauce to complement it — but still! Roasting meat over charcoal, cooking the way man's been cooking since man invented cooking! God. I haven't gotten a chance to grill in months. What am I doing with my life? Kenner. He blames Kenner for this. He's not sure exactly how, but he'll figure it out later. That bastard.

"Much obliged," he says, stepping onto the deck. "Gotta admit, didn't expect that you'd settle down on a boat too." He takes a deep breath and grins a broad, honest grin. "God. It's been too long since I grilled something. Smells great."

Kain makes a non-committal noise, glancing over to Silas as he comes aboard the small boat. “Beers’r in th’ cooler,” he says with a motion of tongs over to a blue plastic cooler by the tail end of the boat. “It’s local, but it ain’t total shit.” He seems to disregard questions about his boat life for the moment, returning his attention to the hot dogs cooking on the grill, turning them with the tongs.

“Gotta admit Ah’ didn’t expect your sorry ass t’track me down. Ain’t nobody gone and done somethin’ so dumb yet, but Ah’ figured it’s only a matter’f time ‘fore somebody goes and does somethin’ dumb. Might as well be you,” Kain says, looking over to Silas and flashing him a somewhat sarcastic smile, “pal.

Silas barks a chuckle, that sudden burst of good humor fading just a bit at Kain's words. "Glad to see you, too," he says, returning Kain's smile with a slightly sardonic grin of his own. He heads over and grabs a beer from the cooler, depositing the bourbon inside in its place, then heads over and leans against the railing, watching as Kain grills.

Silas remains silent for a moment, taking a drink of the beer — not bad, just as advertised. He nods appreciatively. "I was hoping to catch up. Shoot the shit for a bit." He pauses, just a moment, then lets the other shoe drop. "And I wanted to ask you for some advice, maybe."

Now it’s Kain’s turn to laugh. “Ya’ll must be in a right state t’come lookin’ t’me fer advice, Smiles.” Turning to look at Silas over his shoulder, Kain raises one brow. “We ain’t never did much small-talk back in Boatworld,” Kain’s nickname for Silas’ home timeline, “so Ah’m wonderin’ why it is you came round… “

But as Kain finishes flipping the hot dogs, he turns his back to the grill and sets the tongs down. “Tell me this ain’t got nothin’ t’do with that bullshit you saw when we were fallin’ through Wonderland.”

"Didn't have a lot of time for it, did we?" Silas responds, looking mildly amused. "We'd only just met when we got jumped by dread pirates, and then I was trying to recover from the dunking, and then we were in Cap'n Don's Underwater Cult Compound and everyone had a lot on their mind," he says sardonically; forcing a chuckle.

He falls silent for a moment, his expression turning a bit pensive. "Maybe it does me good. Knowin' that some of the others who made it through that crazy-ass ride are doin' alright. You know?" he asks with a shrug, taking a drink of his beer.

That last question elicits a momentary pause; his lips curl up into a faint grin at that turn of phrase — falling through Wonderland — but it's absent-minded; Silas is weighing how to answer that question. "We already hashed that one out, 's far as I'm concerned," Silas says at last, looking Kain in the eye. "I ain't never been one to try and beat someone over the head with… well, with whatever. God knows, I made enough bad calls myself, and I left 'em in the world I made 'em in. Everyone who made it here deserves a chance at a life." He nods once, resolutely.

"But. I did some diggin' into this world's version of me; I was a little worried that past messes might… well…" he trails off, shrugging awkwardly, and takes a moment to take a drink of his beer. "I learned some things… and I drew some conclusions. But… one thing I know about people: sometimes they surprise themselves. So… I was hopin' to ask for your thoughts." He shrugs. "Hence, I came bearing bourbon."

The humor drains out of Kain’s expression. For a moment it seems as though the normally loquacious cajun is out of things to say. He looks past Silas, out to the water, then down to the small barbecue grill and sighs. “Ah’d hoped you wouldn’t go’n do that…” and now it’s Kain’s turn to walk over to the cooler, hunching forward to pull the lid off and yank a bottled beer out of the ice.

“Ya’ll’ve heard that whole sayin’, ignorance is bliss right?” Kain hammers the cap and neck down at an angle against the side of the boat, popping the cap off. “Cause lemme tell you, th’ less you know about whatever your double was up to on this side of the funhouse mirror, th’ better. ‘Cause…” Kain looks down at the bottle, “Silas,” then back up, “it ain’t pretty.”

Silas nods and takes a long drink of his beer. He'd suspected that Kain knew a lot more than he was telling; this confirms it, or at least strongly implies that he was right. He's not particularly upset that the Cajun didn't say anything, though; hell, he might've done the same, had things been reversed. A kindness of sorts…

…or maybe Kain had been worried that Silas would take it badly. That thought sends a prickle down Silas's spine, but seeing some examples of Hometown Silas's handiwork… that's… maybe that's not unreasonable. See the mummy's tomb, turn around and walk the fuck away rather than risk waking the monster. Ugh.

"Yeah, well. I've already run afoul of one guy who looked like he was thinkin' hard about ventilating me on sight; might've been bad if I hadn't known what kinda shit other me'd been up to. 'Cause if that guy'd been certain it was me… it mighta been bad," he says, shrugging. Then he glances back to Kain, giving the Cajun a lopsided smile, one that's equal parts of gallows humor and tiredness. "'Course, I'd probably have lost a lot less sleep if I hadn't looked down that particular hole, admittedly. There's bodies down there," he says, the humor fading and leaving only exhaustion. "A lot of 'em."

He takes another drink of his beer; he'd been hoping to ease into this, but it seems Kain's the sort who'd rather deal with bad business sooner rather than later… maybe not unlike Silas himself, come to that. "I ran into this world's version of my best friend right off the bat. Danced around a little bit, got her to do some digging for me," he says, and even in the face of what she found, his lips twitch up into a ghost of a smile for a moment.

It's gone as quickly as it came, though. "It was a sordid story. Other Silas lurked around Vegas for awhile, made some bad investments, turned mole for the feds. 'Danny' finally caught his trail in 2008, twisted his arm, shuffled him over to 'Public Relations'," he says drily, with enough sarcasm to make the air-quotes almost audible around that last phrase. "He worked with this world's version of you. Also someone by the name of Kaydence Damaris, who's apparently currently a bigwig over at Yamagato Park. The place I landed a couple of my early catering gigs."

"Anyway. Apparently this world's version of me is wanted at Albany; they had an investigation going on him. Nearly two hundred murders they've tied him to, just from 2008 to 2010. 2010 was the red-letter year for my evil twin, though. Linderman bit the big one… and in the riots, his wife died. Same as this world's version of you, as it happens. After that… he apparently dropped off the face of the earth." He takes another pull of his beer, staring up and out at the sky.

Kain dropped his beer somewhere between Silas’s words. The bottle rolls to the side with the pitch of the boat against the gentle surf. Kain’s face has gone ashen, blue eyes wide, at a loss for words for a moment. When he realizes he'd dropped his beer he shakes himself and bends down to pick it up, taking too long to get back up. Silas can hear him breathing, heavily.

Yeah,” Kain says exasperatedly, trying to pretend everything is fine. “Yeah he— Ah’m sure— he did” is not a proper response to literally any of the things Silas said. It's not even clear if Kain has heard all of it, or just enough, before the ringing in his ears started and the world got blurry. There's long, awkward pauses between Kain’s thoughts. Seagulls try to fill the void with inquisitive calls from the shore.

Si,” Kain manages to say, breathlessly. “This— this is all ancient history t’me…” can't be why he's so shaken. “Th’— uh… World Ah’m from it… split from this one ‘round 2009, according t’Liz. Ah’ knew you, an’ — Danny he… made me put a bullet in you not long after the virus started killin’ folks.”

The hot dogs are burning.

“Maybe there ain't no more of you here.” Kain hadn't been fully listening to the dates.

He also doesn't notice the smoke.

Silas doesn't let the bleak amusement he's feeling show in his face; Kain's reaction pretty well sums up how he'd felt after he'd learned this whole sordid mess, too. Me too, buddy. Me too, he thinks. Mind, he's not sure what in particular's thrown Kain for such a sideways loop — Kain strikes him as many things, but being someone to waste good beer is not one of them. Maybe it's just getting all of it dumped on him at once; God knows it was a garbage truck of bad news to get dumped on him in one wallop. Or maybe… hm.

Well… further conversation should probably wait until Kain's had a chance to chew on things a bit, and right now there's something more important to deal with, anyway. When it becomes apparent that Kain's not noticing the smell of burning starting to come from the grill, Silas clears his throat. "Your, uh. Your hot dogs," he says diplomatically, deliberately looking over to the grill.

Whatever it was that shook Kain so hard goes unspoken. Once he’s composed himself and picked up his tongs, he’s quick to snatch the hot dogs off of the grill and set them aside on a cheap plastic plate. There’s a few long rolls near Kain, more like grinder rolls and they look fresh from a bakery rather than plastic-wrapped from a grocery store. He sets the plate of hot dogs over there, making a help yourself gesture to Silas.

Exhaling a shaky sigh, Kain bends down and picks up the beer bottle and just — whips it overboard with a sploosh into the water. “So what’d y’come out here for, Smiles? It sure’s shit wasn’t mah sunny disposition. Y’come t’see if’n Ah’ve still got the itch t’put a bullet in yer’ brainpan? Because Ah’m just as blind as you are on whatever went down here. Them See-Saw folks ain’t told me nothin’ about th’ other me. Ain’t surprised they said nothin’ about th’ other you.”

Silas snorts. "I don't think you even had an itch to do it last time, so no," he says drily, deftly putting a hot dog on one of the rolls — good bread, point to Kain — while hanging onto his beer with the other hand. "Glad to hear I wasn't the only one kept in the dark, at least… but that's not it, either." He takes his hot dog and moves to take up a position against the railing again, taking a bite of his hot dog — crispier than he likes 'em, but free food is free food and it'd be rude to complain. He washes the dog down with some beer, and now he's out of stalls — time to say what he's come to say. "You're not the first person I've spoken about this to. Elisabeth, Amelie… the friend who dug this up in the first place. And every one of 'em's asked me the same question at some point," he says, turning his gaze to Kain. "Every one of 'em's asked me if I thought this guy might come after me."

"Now, personally? I don't think so. Guy's been quiet since 2010. There's no death certificate, but he could be holed up in… hell, South America or something, staring down the barrel of a gun every night and wonderin' if tonight's the night he puts a bullet in his own brainpan. Or maybe he's just a set of unidentified bones in a drainage ditch somewhere," Silas shrugs. "That's what I think, at least… but all these people askin's got me second-guessing myself."

"So I figured I might as well get a second opinion," Silas says, giving an offhanded shrug… then a brief grin. "And I didn't think showin' up in Yamagato Park to ask Kaydence would be a good idea. Awkward questions and all," he says drily, eyes crinkling with momentary amusement as he regards Kain.

The amusement is all too brief, though; he sighs as it passes. "Which… leads me to you. You know what my deal is as far as how I got here… and you knew a version of me that was… closer to this guy than I am, I think. A version of me who worked for Linderman." Silas raises a hand — still holding his beer bottle — to forestall the objections he foresees Kain making. "And I know that all of this is ancient history. I know that this guy isn't the same as the one you knew, and that this whole world is different. I know it."

"But it's not like there's a lot of people I can ask about this, are there?" he snorts, taking another bite of his hot dog; it's better towards the middle. "So I'm askin' you. Why not? You've got a good head on your shoulders, Kain; we worked together to bust Magnes and Michelle Cardinal out, and a lot of people are better off for it. And if you're wrong, well, it's not like I'm gonna hold it against you, one way or the other," he says with an exaggerated shrug, another momentary hint of sardonic humor showing through.

His expression turns earnest. "So… based on your experience. Do you think I should be worried here?"

Kain is distracted in ways that show plainly on his face. There's frustration because of that, the way he double-takes when Silas asks him a pointed question, then exasperation that manifests as a sharp sigh and a look out to the horizon behind the harbor. When he looks back to Silas, he's compartmentalized the things gnawing at his conscience.

“It ain't that easy,” Kain says with a slow shake of his head. “Th’ Silas Ah’ knew — an’ it wasn’t like we were close — was an employee through an’ through. Ah’ know he had family, but fuck if Ah’ know if they're still out there. The thing is, he's a curious guy who ain’t much keen on unanswered questions.

Kain looks over to the barbecue grill. “Now if you've kept a low profile, maybe you ain't a question he needs t’ask. But if you’ve done gone an’ made yerself… public,” Kain said with a worried tone, “then you're a puzzle he's gotta solve.”

It's plain as day that something Silas has said has lit a fire under Kain; he has a suspicion as to what it may be, even, a suspicion that is becoming more and more solid as Silas gets a chance to observe Kain's reactions… but even for all that Kain is clearly wrestling with something of his own, he's able to put it aside to consider the question Silas has put to him — another point in the Cajun's favor.

Silas says nothing as Kain ventures his answer; he remains stock still for a few moments afterward, staring off into the middle distance as he considers Kain's words. Even though he's not saying a lot, Silas feels like he's starting to get a pretty good glimpse of his other self… or maybe it's just that Kain's sketching the lines and Silas has a good idea of what colors to fill them in with. It wasn't like we were close, and he was an employee through and through… okay. So then… he sounds like the kind of guy you might exchange quips with, drink a beer with, count on to get the job done… but also the kind of guy who strove to keep his work at arm's length. Understandable, given the nature of his work… but Silas suspects that even before that, his counterpart would've kept his cards close to his chest (har har — one-time casino dealer, keeps cards close to chest). It's the last bit, though, that strikes closest to home, because he’ll be damned if Kain isn't right on the money. Ain't much keen on unanswered questions — isn't that exactly what's brought him to this point?

Even if Silas's Hometown double had been lurking at the bottom of a bottle for these last few years, even if he'd been teetering on the edge of oblivion… knowing that there was someone out there with his face would draw him out. It would be, exactly as Kain had said, a puzzle that needed solving… just as it had been for Silas himself. He nods slowly, his gaze coming back from the middle distance he's been staring into, settling on Kain. He raises the hand with the half-eaten hot dog in it, pointing to Kain. "This. This is exactly why I came to you," he says, nodding gravely.

"I hadn't even considered it that way, but you're goddamn right," Silas says, offering a nod to Kain. And he remembers, too, the warning that 'Rene' had issued him. "I think it's too late to lay low… not that it would've mattered to start with. It was always a matter of time…"

On that note, Silas chows down on the last bite of his hot dog.

Making a noise in the back of his throat, Kain looks over at his grill, then over to Silas. A warm breeze is coming in off the water, mixing with it the smell of low tide and too much air pollution from boat engines. Kain focuses on the horizon, the way it’s an orange-red smudge fading to a blurry heat mirage, the way pollution can make the sun look gorgeous. The way beauty can hide behind an ugly mask.

“Ya’ll know what they say ‘bout inevitability, Smiles?” Kain asks as he peels his attention from the sunset to his unlikely friend. “If y’know somethin’ is gonna happen… that just means y’get t’be in control of things…” He looks back out to the water.

“…when inevitability comes knocking.”

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