When the Violence Was Mindless


bing_icon.gif carlisle_icon.gif joy_icon.gif sasha2_icon.gif

Scene Title When the Violence Was Mindless
Synopsis Joy receives a mission briefing at an abandoned florist's shop in the Bronx and is introduced to two of her new teammates.
Date February 25, 2010

Somewhere in the Bronx

Much of the Bronx still lies in ruination, making it the perfect place for Carlisle Dreyfus' people to operate out of on a temporary basis. The only downside to the abandoned florist's shop chosen for the site of today's meeting is that it lacks both power and heat, forcing the small assembly to congregate in the greenhouse attached to the back of the squat brick structure.

Years of neglect and stones thrown by vandals have knocked out many of its windows and peppered the concrete floor in gritty shards of broken glass that would be a lot more hazardous if heavy winter boots weren't the most popular choice of footwear for people in their line of work at this time of year. Sasha Kozlow has his up on the folding table Dreyfus set up in the advantageous corner of the greenhouse lit bright by the streams of late afternoon sunlight streaming in through the vacant gaps where some of the windows used to be. Those that are still intact are covered by a thick layer of ash-coloured snow and provide cool, contrasting shadows several shades darker.

The Russian's hands are working apart the peel belonging to a blood orange he has cupped in his fingers, which are wrapped in dirty strips of white gauze in lieu of gloves, giving him a more disheveled appearance than the immaculately-groomed doctor that Team Charlie was introduced to in Ryazan. Light brown curls made wet by a combination of sweat and melted precipitation have been slicked greasily back prior to his arrival apart for a few stray strands stuck to his forehead like stubborn pieces of spaghetti at the bottom of a drained pot.

He doesn't look like he's giving Dreyfus any of his attention, but Joy knows better than anyone that looks are often inherently deceiving. As the orange's juices stain the gauze red and run sticky rivulets of citrus down muscular forearms, concentration knits his brow and causes the corners of his mouth to fold into a quietly contemplative expression that betrays a split focus. He's listening, just— hungry, too.

Spread out across the table's dusty surface is a map of New York City sectioned off by borough. It's nothing Joy hasn't seen before. More interesting are the glossy photographs that accompany it, some of which depict faces she recognizes and others she does not. More than forty-five minutes have elapsed since he brought her here, and in those forty-five minutes she has been meticulously briefed on Dreyfus' operation and what role he's paying her to play in it. Over the course of the last ten, the topic of conversation has shifted from addressing the what to addressing the how.

"You've done some reconnaissance work for us since last we met," Dreyfus is saying to Joy. "Let's hear about that."

Like a giant cat mutant of homicidal disposition but situational contentment, Bing is in the back, hunkered down and roughly comfortable. His hunchback makes sitting against flat surfaces — somewhat less relaxing than repose probably should be. The bulge of contorted spinal column and excess tissue presses against him more than it does the glass, and it's annoying even for a man of his characteristically supernatural durability.

The place is down enough windows and doesn't particularly need to lose another. "Zaogao." It's at best a mutter under his breath. The Chinese giant cuts loose a good-natured sigh, and reaches back to straighten the dense weave of his sweater. He turns his head against the ashy light of the sun unevenly distributed through cold air and glass, squints in the relative clarity of his own shadow to study the temporal manipulator for whom this conference was called.

There's something to be said for funding. Really.

It's been a while since Joy's had to sit through something anyone could classify as a briefing. It leaves the small blonde woman restless, alternating between sitting and standing with little to no care as to whether it bothers the men gathered. The ache behind her eyes doesn't make the task of concentration any easier, but the cup of coffee clutched in her hands in a size referred to as jumbo at least keeps the throbbing at bay. To her credit, she seems to have kept up with everything she's being told.

Pacing a couple steps so as to get a better look at one of the pictures, Joy's foot slips on a broken piece of glass. Stiletto heels sound loudly as she catches her balance. Unlike her male counterparts, her shoes are rather ill-suited for… well, most everything. The time of year, the location… "Christ, I miss Eagle Electric," she mutters under her breath. She never thought she'd catch herself saying that. Dark blue eyes flit once to Sasha and his orange. Did his portion suddenly get smaller? The pad of one finger brushes over the corner of her lips.

"I've been following Teodoro Laudani," the blonde begins, looking momentarily at the photograph. "I've made contact. I told him I'm looking for allies." She leans over the table, "He tends to bounce between here, here, and here." Her index finger points out locations on the map, though the way she swirls the tip over the surface suggests she has more of a general idea of where Teodoro spends his time, rather than specific locations. She doesn't seem concerned with her own lack of detail.

"I know he's still in contact with Munin, which could cause her to cast some doubt on my motives, but I think she would be apt to believe that I'm merely the lost junkie, looking for a friend." Joy wraps one arm across her body, tucking her hand under her arm, bringing the cup of coffee to her lips with her free hand. Over the white plastic cover, delicate brows arch as the woman makes eye contact with Dreyfus. Satisfied?

Sasha flicks an annoyed glance in Joy's direction, followed by a very pointed one at Dreyfus that the Briton steadily returns. Neither man is a telepath, but they don't need to be; they're familiar enough with one another that intent can clearly be conveyed using their eyes alone. Their argument is as brief as it is silent, and ends with Sasha lowering his gaze to the orange again, lips peeled back into a sneer as he pushes a segment into his mouth from behind the curve of his thumb.

Joy doesn't get reprimanded for flaunting her ability or stealing food. This time.

Dreyfus mirrors the young blonde's expression, lifting both his brows. "If I told you that I wanted you to ask Abigail Beauchamp if you could stay in one of the rooms above her bar until you're back on your feet, how would you feel?"

Bing gets the impression that the little lady spy is not subject to the same behavioral restrictions as he is when he's on-duty. Living above a bar, fraternizing with the locals. She probably gets to drink. He drops his heavy boot off the sill and to the floor, clasps meaty fingers together in a hang between his splayed knees. His small, dark eyes close and open again speculatively. Of course, she can probably have a round and then borrow a few minutes of the world's time to sober up.

Unfair. Ah, well. He isn't really one to talk, anyway. It's probably nicer to be able to get away with wholesale slaughter than it is with stealing oranges.

Joy reclaims the seat she'd been occupying off and on through the meeting, sparing a glance to the behemoth of a man nearby as he shifts himself. Crossing one leg over the other, she acquiesces, "If that's what you want, then that's what I'll do."

She's back in the game. There's a thrill that surges through Joy and it's visible in the way her eyes open just the tiniest bit wider, and her lips are curved upward like the cat who's swallowed the canary. There's something to do. A game plan. A reason.

It leaves her feeling bold, evident in the way she locks eyes with Sasha and then subtly licks her lips. Your snack was delicious. Maybe you might be, too.

Giving her attention back to Dreyfus, Joy's eyes half-lid in an expression of mild curiosity. "So why go after the families and friends? If we're just going to make them all a bloody smear anyway, what's the point?" Seems like a lot of extra, and unnecessary work, if you ask her.

Chewing with one's mouth closed seems like a lot of extra and unnecessary work to Sasha as well. He holds Joy's look, unimpressed, until she breaks it, then tips something slyer in Bing's direction as if to ask him whether or not he just saw that. The thing she did with her tongue? The amusement crinkling around his eyes is not kind.

"People are much more likely to mistakes when their actions are being ruled by their emotions," Dreyfus tells Joy. "They start taking risks they might not otherwise, and there is no better way to drive someone to recklessness than to threaten what they love the most."

Titty joke, hooker joke. Chauvinism is so European. Bing smiles back at Sasha without turning his head, slouched over his gargantuan windowsill perch. Having a hunchback makes slouching easier, anyway.

Her question isn't a bad one, though. He remembers asking it once before, too. When he was younger. Women weishenma yao ba tamende qingren, airen, douyao sadiao? 'Family' in Mandarin means 'close ones,' but the direct translation of 'loved ones' is almost the same. He had asked Gong this.

Another squiggle of thought unravels in the back of the operative's mind like ink in water, and it almost dissipates entirely under the cold stir of Dreyfus' question. He isn't paid (meagerly as he is paid) to talk, so he almost thinks the better of it for the moment, watching the old professor out of the corner of his eye. Then he smiles, sudden as a hyena's mirth. Adds for Joy, jovially, "It's like you have never destroyed someone before. Hao keai."

The look Joy flashes in Bing's direction is nothing short of annoyed, offended, and warning. It takes great effort not to insist that she could destroy him here and now without any terrible difficulty. That would be an arrogant presumption on her part, she realises, and not a good way to endear herself to her new colleagues. A slow, deep breath that makes her nostrils flare seems to be all it takes before the blonde is calm once more.

Rather than address Bing and his comment directly, Joy directs her response to Dreyfus, "You'll have to forgive me. I'm rather new to this revenge business. Things used to just be so cut and dried. Frame him, kill her, destroy the world because it's broken." The tone is flippant and accompanied by a roll of her eyes. The good old days, when the violence was mindless. "What you say makes sense, of course." She pauses to mull over her next question, taking a long drink from her coffee. "What else would you have of me, then?"

"If you can," because like Joy, Dreyfus is attempting not to presume too much, "I'd like you to determine whether or not Holden is presently in New York City. Who we have to contend with will dictate the steps we take next." He draws himself up from his lean against the table, the fingers that had been curled around its edge now resting their tips on its surface. "Let me be clear: I'm not unsympathetic to your history. This is information I expect you to obtain through Laudani. I don't anticipate any trouble from Ruskin or Raith at this stage, but if I'm incorrect then you are to tell one of us immediately so the problem can be remedied."

Dreyfus doesn't see how his request has affected Joy. Except in the way that one moment she's sitting in her chair and the next she simply isn't. She's pacing the area in front of her chair like a tiger stalking something just beyond the bars of her cage. Out of reach. She seems to realise after a moment that her grip on time itself has loosened, because she has the good grace to look sheepish as she retakes her seat.

"And if he is in New York…" Long, pale fingers reach up to brush over a blue gemstone choker at her throat unconsciously. Darker blue eyes flicker up, narrow faintly. "How do you intend to remedy that?"

"How do you think?" This from Sasha, his question punctuated by the wet slap of his orange peel hitting the table's surface. He's picking some veiny white skein out from under his thumb nail with his teeth as he speaks, mouth curled around a wolfish smile. Kazimir made an apt choice when he assigned him the codename Skoll.

Dreyfus is strangely silent.

Dreyfus' silence is more telling and Sasha's blunt words. It takes Joy several long minutes to formulate a reply that isn't a sneer or tears. To the men, her response takes only seconds. "Understood." Her face is passive, as though she's quickly gotten over the emotional turmoil that Ethan Holden can still throw her into.

"Good," Dreyfus says, and that is all except: "Dismissed."

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