(2018-03-21) Shouldn't Be Telling You
Shouldn't Be Telling You
Summary: Sydney drops by Eddie's apartment for some more of that open dialogue they've been having.
Date: 2018-03-21
Related: http://darkwater.wikidot.com/log:2018-02-14-open-communication
Player Characters: Eddie, Ida, Sydney

---| Eddie's Apartment - Old Tenement - Baker St. |

This apartment has gone long unloved, uncared for, even actively abused by previous tenants. The scent of mildew and dust lingers. The floor is a once-varnished hardwood that alternates between scarred, pitted, swollen and distorted. The window panes are darkened with dust and smoke to the point where they almost blend with the moisture-spotted beige wallpaper. Allegedly a studio, there is little room even for the scant kitchenette and half bath, both of which are graced with faux stucco walls the color of freezerburnt chicken to go with the mustard colored cabinetry. The appliances are several decades old, mixed off-white, off-pink and hospital green, with rusting "stainless" sinks. Above the stove a previous tenant has carved "SMIEL (:" so deep into the drywall that no patch job can hide it.

Whomever currently lives here might be actively on the run. The only seating is a drab futon on top of an inflatable mattress, both sagging with age, shoved into a corner furthest away from the apartment door. A rolled up blanket offers questionable protection from the sticky wall. Re-used plastic milk crates are incongrous bits of bright color, used next to the futon to hold a crooked light and a collection of third-hand poetry, as well as below the windows for a portable battery powered lantern and a wheezing radio.

It's not a very nice building, but then again it's not a very nice part of town, so at least it fits in with all the other not very nice places on Baker Street. Anyway, social workers have to go all kinds of places, and it's probably safe enough in the middle of the day, especially on a warm bright day like this one. Probably. A little asking around reveals that Eddie's in number three, a recent arrival. Everyone here is a recent arrival, mostly. People don't stay long. Either he's in right now or something very strange is going on, because the steady roar of an air compressor can be heard throughout the building, shaking flakes of stucco off the ceiling. The sound of two people trying to talk over it can also be heard once you're right outside the door, but it's hard to make out what they're saying over the racket, maybe by design.

One of these days, Sydney will learn to dress in all black, and wear dark, dark sunglasses to fit the mold of the scary Men-in-Black. But no, she's not there yet. She is still sporting a nondescript gray overcoat, sweater, gray slacks, sensible shoes, shoulder purse and minimal makeup.

No, intimidating, she is not. But if she's going for average and non-descript, she fits the bill.

How she found out Eddie lives here is unimportant; what's important is that she is here. Knocking on his door. Even the ramshackle state of the building doesn't faze her much, but that's hardly surprising for a social worker who's seen what the slums are really like.

One of the voices is clearly female, all sultry torch singer style, bits of words making it through above the roar of the machine when Sydney gets closer to the apartment. "…. darling, … … no idea … … punctures …. … … the strangest thing. … … return … … … subject, … … … to do … … poor detective? … … liable … … … … … … trouble … … … … …. … don't know … … … … … … … grown rather fond … …. … … … … … sort of character, … … most refreshing."

"… know what … … … a crooked … … you need one?" The other voice is more familiar, the distinctive low rasp of a certain private detective. Eddie must not hear the knocking, at first, over the conversation he's having and the noise of the compressor. "… worry too much. … can't prove … … .. nothing to … … … a career … … running rings around of … … … when I … … … public sector. … hear someone knocking?" The door cracks open and he peeks outside, then swings it open the rest of the way when he recognizes the face outside. "Sydney," he says, nearly inaudible as the noise in the hallway goes from insufferable to probably assault, legally speaking. "SYDNEY," he tries again, then looks back over his shoulder to the lady he's been talking to, "SHUT THAT THING OFF!"

She did catch bits and pieces of the conversation through the door, and hesitates momentarily. After all, what if she were intruding on a… private moment? That would be AWKWARD. But business before pleasure, right? She continues to wait with a slight adjustment of her shoulder purse, although she does wince when the door opens and she gets the full blast of the noise.

"MISTER BRUNDLE." She calls back, trying to be heard over the loudness. One hand comes up to cover her left ear, her other hand turns up in a 'what the hell' gesture.

ROOOOOOOOARRRr— sudden silence. Ida is crouched elegantly next to the air compressor, the inflatable mattress that it was working on next to her. The mattress immediately begins to deflate again. "Good afternoon. How are you?" She rises to her full six feet plus, wiping her hands clean with a delicate little lace handkerchief something. "Darling, you did not tell me you were expecting company. I would have brought tea with me." Her smile and posture all belong to a genteel lady welcoming someone into her graceful abode, not the … environment that is around them.

Eddie watches over his shoulder as the mattress deflates, heaving a sigh and mimicking it a little. He turns his attention back to his visitor. "Just doing a little renovation. Come on in, mi casa es etcetera etcetera. Can I get you anything? Water, soda, tetanus shot?" He steps back from the doorway and waves her on inside, nodding over to Ida by way of introduction. "Meet my lovely assistant. Ida, this is Sydney. She's one of Tom's friends."

Stepping into the apartment for a very brief (non-judgemental) look around, Sydney's attention is focused on Ida immediately. "I'm fine, Miss Ida. Sydney Rae, Social Services." She even steps towards the tall lady and offers a hand, privately suppressing her Wyrd sense that is tingling like crazy right now. "No no, nothing for me, thank you. But I hope I'm not interrupting too much."

That last sentence is offered towards Ida, but also extended to Eddie as the blonde woman turns her head towards him. "I thought I'd drop by for a quick visit, since I haven't heard back from you since our last chat." Beat. "Plus, a couple of other things popped up on my desk that might be best discussed face to face."

But wait. She glances back towards Ida. "Since Miss Ida is your assistant, I assume we can all speak freely?" Because… good to doublecheck.

Ida's hand shake is pleasant though brief, almost delicate seeming. She smiles. "As mentioned, merely doing a little renovation. A friend of Tom's is a friend of mine, of course." She purses her lips, looking a little concerned. "As the assistant to my knowledge I have access to all of our current cases, but I will of course take no offense if this is a private matter. Eddie?"

"This is liberty hall. You can spit on the mat and call the cat a bastard," Eddie says, waving a hand dismissively as he turns to kick a few milk crates into a good place for sitting, playing the good host. "Speak as freely as you want. As for me, no promises." He nudges them around a while longer with his toe, then gestures invitingly down once he's satisfied with the arrangement. He takes his own seat on the futon, completely blowing out the ducttape patches on the air mattress beneath it, sinking slowly closer to the floor.

So yes, Sydney gives Ida another lingering, appreciative look — and no, she doesn't swing that way! Maybe just distracts her enough for a delayed look-back at Eddie. As for seating arrangements, she glances around the place: futon? No. Air mattress? No. She's not going to sit on somebody's bed. Milk crates it is. Unhurriedly she bends down and puts one in a good spot, before turning to take a seat.

"As I'm sure you're already aware, your business cards showed up on a couple of murder victims, Mister Brundle." She states matter-of-factly. "And one of my colleagues had a run-in with you… at a trouble spot." Beat. "Should I be concerned that you're drawing a bit too much attention?"

Ida does what assistants do best - she sort of vanishes into the background, as much as her looks allow it. She sashays over to the kitchenette, pulling a thermos out of the fridge and there is the clinking of cups. "Would you like some coffee, Sydney? Or bottled water?" Clink, clink. "How about you, darling? I have a nice little jar of honey from our other friend here. Would go excellent with coffee." It sounds like she is making some no matter his answer. Briefly, the air smells of nice things, of coffee and honey and cloves and cinnamon.

Eddie smirks perversely at that look the blonde gives the Fairest, clearly amused. What is it with Ida and government employees? He shakes it off and puts on thoughtful face as he ponders that question. "Well, I certainly am, now that you're here," he admits. "But it's like I told Malloy, the cards are a professional hazard. People call me when they're in trouble, and they can't get you people. Sometimes trouble gets to them before I do." A shrug, like it's as simple as that, and he looks off over to the kitchenette. "Coffee's good, thanks."

Sydney glances over to Ida's offer briefly. "I'm fine, than…" She trails off since the tall woman is already going to fix a drink regardless, and changes her mind. "…Well, coffee would be great."

Back to Eddie goes her attention. "And that's why, as I mentioned before, I'd like to open a dialog between us. So that we can get ahead of these things." She takes a deep breath and straightens up where she sits. "I assume both victims were… your people? Once the bodies are checked into the coroner's office, it's… difficult to move them elsewhere." Administratively, that is. "And neither of us wants an autopsy to reveal anything that shouldn't be revealed."

"Wait, both?" Ida returns, bringing an air of surprise and confusion along with the coffee. It's nice columbian, smooth and dark, served black to Sydney with a little saucer of half'n'half and one with honey on the side of the plate, along with a few packets of brown sugar. Eddie's concoction is syrupy with sugar and honey, swirled with cream. "Perhaps I missed something. Detective Malloy only mentioned a Wendy." She looks inquiringly towards Eddie, while claiming her own seat of brightly alarm red plastic crate. She has draped her trench over it for comfort, legs crossed. All that is needed is some spot lights and a camera crew and this would make a great advertisement shoot for something, with those legs of hers, and the skin and the hair and… The smile lights up the room on its own. "Please, do enlighten me?"

"What, Irish-American?" Eddie grins. He can't help himself. He stows that and chews on his tongue a while, studying Sydney from his increasingly lower vantage. Wondering how much he ought to say. When Ida comes back with the coffee he accepts it with a 'thanks', and after a sip of the sludge his mood brightens visibily. Maybe that's what finally gets him talking. "As near as I can tell," he says, carefully conditional, "Mrs. Johnson was just some poor old broad who found something she shouldn't have had. I wish she'd called a little sooner. My life would be a little easier, and hers would've been a little longer. The other one…" he trails off, and look away. "We had some things in common. I wouldn't call her 'my people.'"

Sydney accepts the offered coffee (complete with honey and sugar? How thoughtful) with a nod and a polite smile. The Irish-American question isn't even acknowledged; she'll just go about mixing the coffee and pretend she didn't hear it. Eddie's explanation should, hopefully, also address Ida's question.

"Wasn't she?" Sydney asks pointedly towards the private dick. "Whether you consider her 'your' people or not, Mister Brundle, she's lying in a morgue right now, and an autopsy will be done. Best case scenario, they find nothing." Worst case? She doesn't elaborate. "I'm not willing to bet that every time this happens, the outcome will be favorable." There's a longer beat. "Speaking of which, I read reports of another public disturbance the other day."

Questions aren't the worst pointed things that Eddie's had thrust in his direction lately, so he doesn't seem too bothered by them. He sits and drinks his coffee and listens, projecting a practiced air of unconcern. "An autopsy is already done, if I don't miss my guess," he says, "and if it'd turned up anything, I wouldn't be dealing with poor dumb Detective Malloy. He's not one of your people, I get the impression." He pats himself down for a cigarette and finds one and leans out to catch a light from Ida, then holds out the pack toward Sydney, not really expecting her to take one. She doesn't seem like the type, but you never know.

He takes a slow drag and lets it out and lets his head tilt back to watch the smoke drift up toward the ceiling. He relents, a little. "But i guess I owe you one, already. Your man with the mustache could have jammed me up pretty bad, at the Johnson place, and he let me skate. So let me give you this one on the house: there's not much difference in my people and your people, on the coroner's table. O dark dark dark, they all go into the dark. The captains, merchant bankers, eminent men of letters." He leans forward and drops ash directly onto the floor. There's little piles of it all around the bed, and he hasn't even been here a week yet. "That is to say, you find somebody with gills or wings or anything really interesting, that isn't one of us."

He takes another drag, and leans back against the wall, scraping flakes of ugly pink paint off the wall and into his hair and shoulders and bedding. He makes a face, and starts wiping them away. "But don't let me interrupt. I'm always curious to hear about a public disturbance. The public seems pretty disturbed, these days."

Sydney declines the cigarettes with a simple shake of her head. The coffee is infinitely more to her taste, evidently, as she finishes mixing it and brings it to her lips for a nice, long sip. And it is to Eddie's last statement that she responds to first. "I only read a second-hand report; no CCTV caught anything this time, curiously enough. As if they knew better than to leave behind evidence." She explains, with a curious glance at the P.I. At least she doesn't continue on with that.

"If you are not concerned about the bodies of your people being autopsied, then maybe I won't either." The blonde woman allows, taking a second sip of the coffee. "I suppose I understand your reluctance to have an open dialog with me." Or us. "But consider what I am asking: only that your people keep a low profile, and when they absolutely cannot, give me a heads-up when something is about to hit the fan. Even the kids in school know the saying, that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."

"The intolerable wrestle," Eddie mutters to himself, still picking paint chips out of his hair, "with words and meanings." After a while he gives up. He's never going to get it all. He flicks the last one he managed to find petulantly onto the ground, and sighs. "You don't understand my reluctance. If you did you wouldn't be here. You'd be living on a steppe somewhere, under the sky, in a place with no doors. But you've been square with me so far, so I'll try and return the favor." He goes to take a drink from his coffee but finds it full of pink floaters, so he sets it aside, making a disgusted face. "I try to keep a low profile, as a general rule. Puberty didn't leave me much of an option. But what we're dealing with right now doesn't care about any of that, and it doesn't call ahead to let it know it's coming. So, heads-up, I guess."

Sydney cups the coffee mug with both hands, her gaze a bit more focused, more intense at Eddie… now that he's talking a bit more openly. And what he says makes her think. "And your willingness to talk to me… is appreciated." She notes with a slight nod. "Whatever it is you are dealing with, this thing that doesn't care… is it after your people? Or is it a threat to the rest of the civilian population?" Ultimately, that's her main concern, in her job description. "It's one thing for me to say, keep your people's business under wraps and we don't have a problem, and another to say, this is a threat to everyone and we need to deal with it too."

"It's always nice to be appreciated," Eddie says, deadpan. He takes one last savage drag off his cigarette, then deposits it into his ruined coffee. "I honestly couldn't tell you. There's a lot I don't know," he doesn't bother hiding how much he hates to admit that, which is a lot, "It's been after us, so far. I guess we made it pretty mad. When it finishes up with us? Who knows." He shrugs his shoulders, scraping more paint off the wall. He doesn't even seem to notice, this time. "If I can't talk you people out of staying away from all of this, maybe there's something you could do. You ever hear of something called the Feather Street Gang?"

Sydney furrows her brows in consideration, and it is to his last question that she nods to. "I have read reports of them. Uptown. Mostly minor misdemeanors, nothing particularly heinous that the police has felt the need to clamp down on them." How are they involved? Is the obvious question, one that Sydney doesn't feel necessary to even ask.

"I'm sure that's how they look to you," Eddie says, looking at his hand where there used to be a cigarette. How did that happen? He shakes loose another one and tosses the pack off into the corner of the futon and gets up. Sharing information isn't easy for him, and he needs to pace the floor a little to shake some loose. He's careful not to go out of view, anyway. "You remember that thing from the laundrymat." Not a question. "It had a lot of feathers for a microburst. That's not a coincidence. They're some kind of cult, or something, the hands it uses out here in the world."

He gets another light from Ida, who's been waiting patiently at the end of his pacing circuit. "They were behind that thing outside the grocery store, that disturbed the public so much. They tried to burn down that basement your friend Jim went into." So he knows about all of that, not to mention the first name of one of her people. He doesn't elaborate on either point. "Mostly they're regular people. Some of them aren't. They all work for that thing, though, whether they know it or not."

The naming of Jim Harris is noted, but not commented on; there are bigger fish to fry here. For all her lack of intimidating presence, Sydney remains calm and collected as she listens, while tasting that nice coffee that Ida fixed. Maybe she's willing to work at the Bureau office as a barista? Nah, probably not. Her gaze follows Eddie as he paces, gauging his body language — she has a lot of practice observing people and determining if someone is telling the truth, and she's evaluating him now.

Ultimately, she lowers the cup and saucer, but continues to hold them in her lap. "We will look into them." She states. "And we'll shut them down if they prove to be a real threat. It's not necessarily a simple thing, given a lot of them are rich kids, and you know how rich parents can be if the police arrest their kids."

Eddie's body has a lot to say these days, about sleepless nights and worry and pressure. He's usually pretty good at hiding these things, but now that he's in motion and talking, really talking, it shows. He's been through an awful lot since their meeting at the café. "I know," he agrees, like he's had some experience with the subject, "but you don't have to make it stick. Anything you can do to make their lives harder makes ours easier, and safer for all the poor dummies out there who might get in the way, the next time they show up to shoot at us. I wouldn't-" he stops and makes a face and corrects himself, "I shouldn't be telling you any of this, but this thing keeps getting bigger, and we keep getting smaller, so if there's any chance you're on the level-" He stops pacing and shakes his head. He hadn't planned on talking this much. He stands there and smokes and tries to collect himself. "I don't guess you ever found those seashells I was asking about?"

"The…." Sydney starts to say something, but swallows her words and purses her lips thoughtfully. "…seashells are classified evidence right now. Which means I also shouldn't be telling you this." Beat. "We have been examining it but haven't been able to determine anything physically special about them, except…. well. It seems to be associated with certain… sensations. Feelings. Feelings of joy, of flight." She watches Eddie, to see if that means anything to him, but continues nonetheless. "Like I said, we'll look into this Feather Street Gang."

Joy and flight. Yeah, that means something to Eddie, but obviously nothing good. "Well aren't we just a couple of blabbermouths?" He tosses his cigarette onto the floor. "I'm not going to ask for them again. Not yet, anyway. You check out what I told you, you decide how far you can trust me, and if you decide you miss cool wind and the smell of the Pacific, give me a ring and maybe there's something to be done about that. In the meantime just be careful. Too much joy can kill you." He grinds the butt out under his heel, and leaves it there on the hardwood. "I think that's enough dialogue for one evening, if there's nothing else."

Sydney nods again, lifting the cup for one final sip to finish the coffee. "I think you're right. This is a start, though, and a lot to process." Rising to her feet, she carefully puts the cup and saucer on the crate she just vacated. "Thank you for the conversation, and… thank you for the coffee, Miss Ida." She'll even flash the woman a smile. "I'll give you a call once we have things checked out, and maybe if we've done something about it. In the meantime, you have my number, if you need to get in touch." Then she's turning and heading for the door. "I should let you get back to your… renovations, Mister Brundle, Miss Ida. Have a good evening."

"Don't thank me, lady," Eddie says, walking her to the exit, all six steps or so, "this is about the meanest trick I ever pulled on anybody." He shuts the door behind her, and locks it up. There's a thud against it like a slumping body a moment later, just before the air compressor comes back on.

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