2010-05-03: Hello Darkness



Date: May 3rd, 2010


"Always nice talking to you, Jacob."

"Nice talking to you, too."

"Hello Darkness"

The Cornelia Street Cafe

The Cornelia Street Cafe is, quite appropriately, placed on Cornelia Street: a culinary and cultural landmark, or so they say. The red decor is certainly lovely, and the cabaret below worth the pennies to attend. But there's no current show, there's only the sunny Sunday brunch. There are enough people around to prove the place is popular, but it shies short of being crowded right now while others enjoy the shops nearby or just finish up a cup of coffee.

Seated on his own, towards the back, Laurie has an omelette bedded with tempting garlic potatoes in front of him but they only share the steam of cooling into the air. The consultant's attention is captured by the newspaper folded and gripped in one hand, held off towards the window of the restaurant to catch the light from outside. This way the sun also reflects off a shiny cartoon band-aid stretched across the man's temple where still some damaged skin peeks out underneath. It resounds oddly with his crisp lined dress-shirt— the matching jacket slung over the back of his seat— nice slacks, and a thick yellow scarf dashed around his neck.

Snapping the paper and adjusting against the seat, his legs crossed under the table, he scans the page, finds the horoscopes.

Sagittarius: If things are chaotic, don't panic…

A soft bell rings out through the restaurant. A sound the employees are accustomed to, as it announces the arrival of another customer. For those inside the restaurant and eating, sipping their coffee, and merrily enjoying their day, it's simply another sound buried within the cacophony of sounds that is New York City. The door closes behind the latest arrival, who gives a single, quick nod to a man standing just outside on the street. The arrival turns to face the detective in the back, an annoyed look settling over his face, but only for a moment. It quickly passes, and the man presents nothing but stoic confidence as he strides forward, his expensively tailored suit only making the slightest of ruffling noises as he passes by the other occupants of the establishment.

Once he nears the other man's table, he gently pulls his fedora off of his head, setting it down on the table directly across from Detective Miles. Taking a seat without being offered one, he rests his forearms across the edge of the table as he folds his hands in front of him, studying the man's features. Nothing escapes critique. His crisp dress shirt, perfect slacks, the way he holds the paper up to allow light from the outside, even the shiny cartoon band-aid across the man's temple— which may or may not be the reason for the small smirk tugging at the corner of his lips.

Finally, as if he had been waiting and preparing for this moment for many, many years, the newly arrived man speaks, smoothing the folds of his suit before folding his hands in front of him again, head tilted slightly to the side. "Hello, Laurence."

It's a Spongebob patterning across the squeaky material that flexes with the way the consultant's forehead creases the instant that distinctive hat crosses into his periphery and then onto his table like it belongs. Beyond a slight tensing in the neck, there is initially no reaction from Laurie — not a single physical movement acknowledging that particular person sitting down across from him. First, eyes pan over the rest of the horoscope sections, reading and unnecessarily rereading each one before his gaze flits across the top of the paper to find eyes watching him.

Carefully, deliberately, he snaps the paper with another crackle while pulling away from the table's edge. The article is laid down to the side, patted idly with a hand before those fingers draw in front of him, raising to thumb a nose as he sniffs and then falling into his lap to clasp with others. Surely the visitor is regarded with as much absorbing of details as he was, but the consultant's bright blue eyes don't even consider drifting from staring into those opposite. Behind blues, something barely contained. In his voice, nothing but pleasantries. "Hello, Vincent, old friend."

Tilting his head to mirror the other man's, Laurie stretches forward slightly, hand raising to nudge the plate of omelette forward openly. As his back hits the seat again, he comments, "Help yourself. You don't look like you've been eating well where you've been. Maybe some fish—" He turns to the side of the restaurant where the other tables are, two fingers starting to come up by his shoulder as though he'll summon a server.

When he is called friend, there's no visible reaction from Vincent. Even so, a myriad of emotions begin to rise up inside of him, threatening to get the better of him the longer he sits here across from the man he used to trust most. Hatred, betrayal, anger, the desire to leap across this table and end his life, all of them boiling up to the surface… yet he manages to keep himself calm. Even. Steady. "Thank you," he says, waving Laurie's signal off as he pushes the plate back in the other man's direction. "I just ate."

Removing the edges of his fingers from the plate, Vincent pauses for a moment, as if he were about to strike the detective, that burning, acrid feeling of wanting to kill him nearly rising to the surface again, like a snake poised to strike its next victim. However, the moment passes, and he leans back into his own chair, once again folding his hands together over the table in front of them. "So," he begins, an eyebrow arching ever so slightly over his left eye, "how have you been enjoying yourself for the past six years, my friend?"

There must be a zen tape playing in the background somewhere, keeping both men speaking so civilly. Laurie, for his part, lets his raised hand drop casually to his side, brushing along his stomach and ending at his hip where he leaves the fingers splayed. The movement, innocent enough to everyone else, is more telling for the man across from him as to where the hand first ended up. Now, if he were still a sanctioned cop, there might be a gun at his side; but there's nothing there. Visibly. "Unfortunate," he comments, "It would've been on me."

Blue eyes cut up from the plate to Vincent's face. In that moment, dark line of his eyebrows over his eyes, body slipped forward and undefended: he's daring the man to make a move, telling him to go ahead and try it. Only a slow blink is the transition between threat and calm. In the quiet after Vincent's first word, the consultant slips fingers around a fork and… just slightly more intensely, a knife. Blunt, rounded— a restaurant knife, not even for steaks. But with enough force—

"Oh, you know. A little bit of work here and there. Keeping myself busy in this ever-changing economy. I don't know if you know, but it isn't easy to find steady work right now. Things have changed from our day."

Walls are grey and damp here, most steeped in the shaky but impenetrable shadows created by a mass of low-hanging fluorescent lights that are organized in a luminescent rectangle towards the center of the rooms. Whatever this place's purpose, good lighting is clearly not required. The atmosphere is further set by strings of thick loose chains hanging also from the bars across the ceiling, metal constructs here and there with gears attached to rusty handles. If anything's been running in here, it's not well, and it's certainly below code.

Yet, it is not empty of people. In the center of that bitter path of light, a raised platform. And bolted to this platform, a chair.

And in the chair: a man. His wrists rubbed raw by the set of cuffs clasped to them, he's since stopped fighting his position. Once a crisp blue shirt, his clothes are open at the collar, dirtied by the same as the rest of him. No trace of blood on his person, but his eyes are rolled high to the unseen shadow-filled ceiling to pray to some blocked out heaven. The fear alone could tell of what's to come, unlike him; his mouth is forced apart and yet silent by a thick, unwashed rag.

And he waits.

The scrape breaks the silence, the sound of the heavy steel door grinding against the concrete echoing throughout the dark, damp room, the sound reverberating off of the empty walls and making it sound much louder than it actually is. A hint of a squeak emanates from the hinges, the small whine just loud enough to pierce the sound of scraping metal against concrete.

That is not a sound the man in the center of the room wants to hear.

Through the door enters three figures, each one's outline determined by the harsh light coming in from the outside, connecting room. Their features are shrouded in the room's darkness, never clearly defined— two of them, quite obviously the subordinates in this situation, each move to one side of the door, glances exchanged between them as they do so. The third slowly steps forward into the room, the door pushed shut behind him, a large, echoing SLAM cutting off any exit to the outside world.

Slow, calculated steps ring out throughout the room, until finally the man comes to a stop just outside of the light. "Mikhail Bakunin. Born November 12th, 1961 in Kiev of the Ukraine. At age four your mother left your father and brought you to the United States of America. Your childhood was a rough one, composed of nothing more than petty crime. As you got older the stakes got bigger and bigger, until ultimately you found yourself working for the mob. A dream job, one might say, for a petty thief."

Stepping into the light, the man finally reveals himself to his low-level employee. Tossing a manila folder full of photographs on the floor at Mikhail's feet, Vincent sits down in the chair opposite of him, dusting his expensively tailored Armani suit off in the process. He slowly reaches up to take his hat off of his head, resting it across his knee as he leans forward, hands clasped together in between his knees, a serious look on his face.

"You disappoint me, Mikhail. You've been selling secrets. Trading information. "Losing" shipments. I am not pleased. Yet not all is lost. You may very well escape with your life tonight." He reaches down, grasping a picture of Mikhail's mother in between his fingers. "Your mother might live." Another picture. "Your sister might live." Another. "Your wife might even live to see your children graduate college. But it all depends on what you can give me tonight, Mikhail. I want to know who you were working for." He reaches out and removes the rag from Mikhail's mouth, tossing it on the floor nearby. "Speak."

Those eyes briefly squeeze shut at the sound that is more like a sentence to him as it heralds the entrance of the three persons. When the steps come closer, he dips his head down, opening eyes to face his accuser, his boss: Vincent Salvatore. Sweat has already formed along the sides of his temple and it slides down a cheek, leaving a streak through the dirt of his imprisonment. Through the recitation, he remains still in the chair, the muscles in his neck occasionally tensing or assisting in a dry, difficult gulp as he struggles to not react to a situation he's seen from the other side; he knows how this goes, how it's going to play out. From here, it would seem he has two choices… but one is only an illusion.

As the rag is pulled from his mouth, he automatically works his jaw, gasping and spitting off to the side to try and relieve even an ounce of the ache from hours of forced positioning. It's an ultimately futile gesture, and one he abandons in order to toss his head back and stare Vincent in the face. The handcuffs clink awkwardly against the chair as he stretches out, puffing up rather like a tiny fish about to be eaten — an odd imagery associated with his otherwise bulk, the strict cut of hair off a high widow's peak.

"The women have nothing to do with this," he sputters out the instant he feels like his throat is up to it after so long in abused silence. "The children less. I needed more money — you had plenty. It's just business, Salvatore."


The noise is strange in a room that's been quiet but for the drip of water off the piping system running through it. But now one of those pipes rings out like a clock striking time, echoing accusingly. Mikhail forces a look in the direction he thought it came from, confusion marring his attempt at strength, but finding no reason for the interruption, turns cautiously to the judge in the chair.

With a quick snap of his fingers, Vincent aims to direct Mikhail's attention back to himself. He does not look happy in the slightest— in fact, he looks ready to go in for the skill and end Mikhail's life right now. All in due time. For now, he has information to get… and he doesn't need the other man distracted. "That isn't something you should worry about. Answer my questions, and you'll live a long, happy life without ever having to worry what that sound was. Trust me when I say you don't want to find out what it is."

Eyes follow Laurie's hand as it makes its way to his hip, the gesture fully comprehended. Vincent's eyes remain there for a few moments before he looks back up at the man across from him. "I don't need anything from you now, and I'll never need anything from you in the future. I'm not here to have a meal with you."

"Six years," he begins, knuckles of his hands white as he grips them together, resisting the urge to reach out, take the knife, and plunge it into the man's jugular. "Six years I was locked up in that prison, unable to escape, simply biding my time, waiting for the day I would be able to meet you again. The man who put me there." A glass of water previously set down by one of the waiters is grasped; sipping from it, he sets it back down on the table, adjusting it slightly with the tips of his fingers so it is perfectly in line with the rest of the dinnerware before looking back up at the man across from him. "Six years to think, to plan, to ready myself… waiting for the inevitable day to come when I would be able to end your life. Snuff it out of you like you were nothing more than a discarded child's doll left out in the rain."

With the smallest of sighs, Vincent leans back into his chair. Even the objects they sit on are an indiciation of the two different classes they come from— Vincent's a solid, polished, rather beautiful in its simplicity oak chair… while Mikhail's is of the worst kind, an old, rusty, nasty folding chair that would have you afraid of infection should you cut yourself on it. "Who do you work for?" he repeats, letting the words hang in the air as he considers the man across from him. "I am not an unreasonable man, Mikhail. If you had the need for more money, you could have simply asked… and that would have been 'just business.'"

He leans forward again, eyes narrowing as he scrapes his chair across the floor, closing the distance in between them. "However, the moment you betrayed me, the moment you left my wing and found someone else, then it was my business. My business that you risked. My business that has been taking losses because of you. My business to find you, and if I have to, beat the information out of you until you're nothing more than a quivering mess on the floor. So don't you dare tell me it was 'just business'— the only business you have to worry about is your life, and the lives of those you love. Do you really want little Anatasia to grow up fatherless, motherless, and with no brothers or sisters to help look out for her?"

"I am not a fool as to how this works," Mikhail responds, treading the wavering line between defensiveness and begging to create a tone that is just spat out, desperate fact. What else does he have? "I get money from you and then I owe you forever. Selling a few secrets was nothing — these other guys, they won't be able to touch you, not really. So let them play at having shipments. It was nothing, except to me."

Infection from the chair would probably be a nicer and easier death than the man can truly expect, so he writhes against its uncomfortable shape without restraint but the ones keeping him locked to it. Further chafing attacks his wrists, but again, it's all trivial to the future's promises. "You said you're not unreasonable," he grasps for, falling just short of having the guts to be actually accusing, "Prove it by telling me you'll leave the family out of this. It's only — it was only — " But he's been warned not to use that phrase and he swallows the rest of it down despite his clear intentions. "Look. I can get you some of it back. The money. If that's the important thing. It's like you won't even feel the loss!"


Despite already once hearing it, Mikhail jumps at the mystery sound reverberating once more against his skull. Perhaps it's the context now attached: you don't want to find out what it is. Some indescribable horror in the dark… counting out his strikes.

Now there's two.

While the other man may be daring him to attack, Vincent isn't nearly that stupid. He may have let this man get the better of him once before in the past, but he never will again. Killing him here means witnesses. Witnesses mean he can go back to jail— and there's so much he needs to do now that he's finally free. Killing the man across from him may be one of those things, but… good things come to those who wait. Even with as calm as he manages to keep himself, Vincent can't help the small smile that cracks the otherwise stoic look on his face. He turns his head to look outside into the sunny street, the smallest of chuckles escaping his lips. His eyes only remain on the outside for a moment— he turns his head, looking Laurie directly in the eyes, his face a mask of restrained anger.

Standing from the chair, Vincent moves around it, so that it is now in between him and Mikhail. Resting his hands along the back, he leans forward, studying and surveying Mikhail, looking for any sort of little tell. Anything to use. He wants this to go quick. Spending time in dark, dank places is not something he enjoys, even if it is a necessary evil of his job. The clang that rings throughout the room again doesn't affect him the slightest, but he can most definitely see how it affects Mikhail. "Again," he says, eyes moving about as if he were unable to track whatever it is making that noise, "you really do not want to know what that is."

"Now," he continues, keeping his position at the back of the chair, "what kind of corrupt business man would I be if I didn't let my employees dip their pen in the company ink, so to speak? I've never asked more than what I felt was owed to me. Granted, your job may have risen up the company ladder a rung or two, should I have given you more money… but there certainly wouldn't have been anything owed, and most certainly not 'forever.' Not when it comes to money. I have so much of it that one of my favorite past times is finding something new to buy my wife that she doesn't already have. That's not what this is about."

He begins to pace around the outer edge of the circle of light, coming around behind Mikhail, so that the man can't always keep him in his vision. He repeats this a few times until he finally comes to a stop behind Mikhail, leaning down close and speaking directly into the man's ear.

"Do you have any idea how badly I want to end your life?" he says, his voice quiet, barely more than the whisper of a soft breeze through the trees of a forest.

Laurie, utensils in both hands, yet spreads them in a palm-showing display suggesting that it's a pity that isn't what he's there for. It does, after all, look to be a good meal. He makes the first deliberate cut to the sound of 'six years'. Scraping of the knife against the porcelain accents the pointed talk, the wield of the blade… and the point of which one of them is currently in control of it. Beside the glass Vincent sets down, one of orange juice, a cheerful dab of colorful reminding of the way the rest of the world goes on around these two men oblivious and blissful.

When the first slice of omelette comes away, Laurie's leaning slightly to the side, regarding Vincent and blindly tucking the food into his mouth. "Mmm," he says around it, "Mmm, no, you missed out. This is quite good." Callously spoken over the tone of that planning, and the inevitable being lauded to him. He allows his gaze to drop to the plate, away from stalking Vincent's every move, when the other decides to look his way out the window to the sun and the streets. One bite, another. Underneath, it's the repetitive action of eating that's relaxing.

It's when he feels those eyes again that he meets them, still somewhat bent over the plate, jaw working through the final bite, swallow. He holds the moment a little bit longer. Then: "Yes."

"This is about betrayal. Your betrayal. It isn't as simple as getting some of the money back. This is about you willfully betraying the man who's enabled you to have the life you have now— it is not my fault that you got greedy and decided to take your own route. That's what this is. Dealing with a traitor."

Vincent rises, pacing further around the chair until he's finally in front of Mikhail again, one hand coming to rest on the back of his chair as he gazes out into the dark corners of the room. "I must admit, however, I'm at a dilemma. Do I kill you now, sparing me the trouble of having to beat the information out of you…" He moves around the chair, finally seating himself in it once again. He leans forward, face deadly serious as he speaks to Mikhail. "Or I sit here and literally beat the life out of you until you tell me what I want to know." He leans back, hands held out to his sides in front of him. "Or we make it easy, and you tell me who you work for right now. You have one more chance. Do not disappoint me any further."

Squeak of the knife. It's set aside, but Laurie's fingers continue to hover over the instrument, tapping something nameless into the tablecloth. "You know," he adds, casually glancing away before continuing with a pointed gesture over that knife at the other, "You've tried that before. Ending my life once. How did that go for you?"

Dangerous territory to tread, however, as Laurie's mask of indifference cracks briefly; again, the flare of that tensing in the neck, the way his shoulder rotates back. Underneath a fancy dress shirt, he's completely tense as something old seems to whittle its way to the surface of skin. It's easier to exhale long and plow forward breezily, "Speaking of which, I got your buddies' little 'hello'. I'm afraid they caught me at a bad time; I was regretfully somewhat attached to that bike."

The man across from Laurie takes his actions as nothing less than disrespect. With their varied and storied past of crime together, ultimately up to his betrayal, every little thing that Laurie has done, including this moment right now, is starting to come to a head. White knuckles get even whiter as Vincent clenches his hands together, resisting the urge to pop his hand out and slam the fork right down the detective's throat.

He could, very easily as a matter of fact, and perhaps even make a getaway before anyone could really identify him. His empire may have crumbled to nothing more than dust when he was taken down, but he still has his contacts and friends scattered throughout the city. Alibis can be made, a safehouse to lay low… even if he were caught, the satisfaction of killing the man who ruined his entire criminal career would be more than enough.

Mikhail's legs are becoming restless with nerves and lack of movement; he watches Vincent move around the room with both fear and envy as constantly tense muscles begin to systematically rebel against all this pent-up anxiety and uncomfortable positioning. He doesn't give the circling leader anything the man doesn't already know: fear is a palpable scent, making this den of dankness even less pleasant to be in. But with some clinging futility, his jaw stays clamped shut on what the other really wants to hear. It's almost reflexive; he's been called a rat, a seller of secrets, and now he can't seem to eke one out to save his own skin. It can't be loyal, only ironic. His gaze, when it can't find Vincent, tracks the room instinctively, trying to squint through that darkness — for what? He isn't even sure. It's just beginning to eat at him. Goose-bumps have joined droplets of sweat along his trapped arms.

"If this is ego…" He attempts to cough out, his head naturally wanting to turn away from Vincent's so close there. Hands stretch against handcuffs, so near to his boss standing there behind him. What would he do if he could reach him? It hardly seems worth a thought. "You didn't even know who I was until this happened. We're all just dispensable minions, right? I wasn't really betraying you, Salvatore, how could I when we weren't even acquainted. I mean, come on, you won't even notice the damage in a week. I mean, what damage. You let me out of here, you'd forget about me, too." There's a lack of confidence in his words, as he's only using them as a shield anyway. Maybe a common thief never had much of a place in a mafia family after all.

When Vincent is in sight, easing down and then coming even closer, Mikhail shifts his legs, pulling in towards him to sit up taller, his knees bent right against the fold of the chair. "I think you've already made up your mind," he accuses plainly this time, jerking his chin in the outer door's direction, "What else are the two drones waiting for, but a signal from you? You don't need two guards at a door for a guy in handcuffs."

He's flitting so easily between fear and bravado it's near manic, and it certainly doesn't lend an air of credibility to either sentiment. "I just — I can't — I don't… I don't got what you want. Boss — " he winces; can he even call him that anymore? "Salvatore. We can go on like this never happened, I'll send you everything you want to know when I'm out of town and outta your life, if you just… please…" Oh, there it is. The begging has broken out of the shell.

There's a preparatory wince — a certain expectation that scrunches up all of Mikhail's features as he waits in a blanket of encompassing dread…

Silence. One eyelid peeks out cautiously. The clang — gone — was it nothing? What is it waiting for?!

That is not his plan, however. As much as he would like to end the detective's life right here, right now, there is so much more to it. With another small chuckle, he takes a sip of water, placing the glass down and nodding slightly at Laurie, as if agreeing with something in his own head. "It's all just a beginning," Vincent says, relaxing in his chair. He takes solace, comfort, in what he's about to tell Laurie, and what he's going to do to him. "The beginning of six. The number put on my life, wasting away in that rotten hole. However, I'm not so evil of a man. I have no intention of condemning you to six years of pain and suffering."

A long moment is held between Salvatore and Bakunin, the former's eyes boring into the gaze of the other man. Face passive, eyes just slightly narrowed as he stares at the other man, letting the silence— and most importantly, the fear —begin to settle in even more. Finally, with the smallest sigh of disappointment, Vincent stands from his chair. "You disappoint me," he states plainly, as if he were reading the instructions off of a bottle of aspirin. "I don't let filthy betrayers who disappoint me off of the leash so easily."

He smiles again, opening his hands out over the white cloth of the table, palms up, as if offering the other man his own condemnation. "I'm only giving you six months. Six months is how long I'm going to spend— no, how long I'm going to enjoy tearing your life apart, my friend. I'll move my way up… torturing and killing your colleauges, your friends, your family.. I'm going to tear every single inch of you down until nothing remains. Until you're no more than something disgusting on the sole of my shoe, something to be scraped off on the side of the curb. I'm going to make sure that you beg for death, beg for it, until, ultimately, I'll give it to you. At the end of these six months, I'll finally kill you. Your motorcycle, the one you were 'regretfully' attached to? Only the beginning."

Another sip of water, and he once again clasps his hands together, leaning forward, his voice low as he continues to speak. "But I think I'll save the pretty blonde for last." Another smirk as he leans back, eyes boring into Laurie's. "I'm going to make sure the last thing you ever see is her lifeless corpse."

With an action that's rare for him, Vincent raises his hand, and in one, quick motion, delivers a staggering backhanded fist to Mikhail's right cheek. Sweat and blood spray across the floor, smearing across the back of Vincent's hand. He raises his left finger, a signal only the two associates would recognize, and the smaller of the two moves forward quickly, delivering a handkerchief into Vincent's open palm. Wiping the excess sweat and blood from his hand, he turns his eyes to the darkness behind Mikhail, seeing something that only he can see… and with a nod, he turns away from the man who betrayed him, the man who betrayed his own family by leaving them to die… if only he had told the boss who he was working for.

"There's nothing left to do here," he says, sparing one last glance at Bakunin. "I'll be sure my… associates send your love to your family." He pats the man on the shoulder, the last time he'll ever touch him. "Do not fret. I will make sure their deaths are quick and painless. They have no need to suffer like you will." He straightens his suit once more, plucks his hat from the chair, and lights it atop his head, looking down at the man, the light from overhead casting strange and bizarre shadows over his face, almost as if it were made of smoke. "Be seeing you."

It's almost enough to send the less than dependable folding chair over, that rapid hit, but with the bolts it only shudders the same as the victim seated in it. The mask of fear becomes one of pain and then a wash of surprise. Mikhail's fate seems to sink in, finally, now that the boss has deigned to use his own fist. At first it seems like the signal will do it, but when only the handkerchief appears, the man gasps in a few more precious, last breaths. Alive, alive. He's still alive. In this moment. Just this one. Who knows about the next.

Tap, tap, tap. Then the fingers quiet and Laurie's hands come in front of him, resting against the edge of the table as he sits politely for story-time. Up until a certain point, things are even peachy as he, head tilted up and chin out proudly, fields every last word about the fate of his friends — none — family — never see them — and the colleagues who would as soon sell him out sometimes. He even grimaces more for the second mention of his dearly departed green motorcycle. There's not a single spark of recognition until 'blonde' and the reflexive clenching of fists it causes. They instantly relax again, but the damage may as well be done. Even as his voice remains alarmingly flippant, "There's a lot of pretty blondes around here, friend. You might want to trim your ambition some."

Having parted his betraying hands, he uses them to pluck at some imaginary lint on the tablecloth that he then deposits on the floor with a brush of fingers together. "You're selling yourself somewhat short; there were eight years put on your crimes. Your life wasn't worth bullshit."

… Then he hears it… or does he? In the echo of the assault from Vincent, there's a caroling suggestion of excited laughter. The rise of fall of manic merriment before it's gone. This darkness, the wet heavy atmosphere, and the driving panic is playing this perfect tricks with his mind.

"No— no, come on! Boss! It doesn't have to be like— " His protests, already pushing underneath Vincent's own words that he knows the meaning of even while blubbering beneath them, are cut off.

Cut off by a CLAAAAAAANNNG that follows right up to Vincent's declaration like punctuation. It was waiting. For that decision.

Three strikes.

Now there's little ones, a dink here and a series of softer, idle hits in a row. And always, always they're getting closer and louder. That thing — that unspeakable horror he was so warned about drives itself closer and closer with every second. That breath he clung so desperately to sticks in Mikhail's throat. In one final near plea, his gaze jerks to the two men at the door — let them come over here. Let them punch him; hell, let Vincent do it — he knows those dangers. What will happen to him then.

As a truly Lovecraftian terror falls over the man in the chair, the truth becomes known with a lot less poetry. Breaking the shadows to the side of the wall is not at first a man but only the curving blur of his motion as he takes two hop-skipping steps at the end of his stride and, mid, swings a long silver golf-club straight into the hard center of Mikhail's left knee-cap with a cheerful shout of: "FORE!"


Already pressed into the chair edge, the leg can't even buckle but only epitomes club and hard place as nerves and arteries explode with a guttural cry of agony from their former owner. In complete contrast, his blond attacker levels back a step with a whooping noise of enthusiasm, the golf club swept up to tap against his shoulder. "He never said all of you in one piece," Roscoe informs the man with a toothy grin.

Throat clearing preambles the laying down of his clasped hands on the table, plate shoved aside by an elbow just short of the point where it would knock Vincent's water glass over entirely, now only nudging it away. "Now I'll tell you something. You're nothing right now. Cut off at the knees, empireless. Fair to say— castrated. You may have men who can drive a vehicle off a road by sheer muscle, who I will find and put away, by the way, but everything else you ever dreamed of building is poof— vanished." His hands illustrate this point grandly. "So here's what I'm going to do. I'm going to take those two extra years, months, you carelessly forgot, and I'm going to give those to you to use to make yourself think you're getting back on your feet. Right now," shrug, "It'd be almost pathetic to take you back. So go ahead, play King of the Hill for two months and get yourself all nice and ready."

Having been idly staring at the tablecloth, playing with bits of things here and there, Laurie looks up. Fierce and terrible rage is reflected in those eyes the likes of which they only see in those who have taken lives, knows the feeling, the release it brings for all that burning anger. "And when you do, when you are—" he lays out, meditation calm outside of that stare, "I'll be right there."

A winning smirk slowly creeps over Vincent's features as he watches Laurie, the man's own reactions betraying him. There may be a lot of pretty blondes out there, but by own Laurie's own hands, quite literally, as a matter of fact, he now knows exactly which one to go after. Not that he ever had a doubt in the first place. He is a man without doubt, a man with a purpose— a purpose that will end the life of the man across from him. He won't rest until he sees him utterly defeated.

If he's honest with himself, Vincent is enjoying this. Even though he may be a criminal mastermind, someone cut of the most rotten-to-the-core cloth, bringing such travesty and pain to other humans is not something he always enjoys. He may lie, cheat, steal, and kill to get what he needs, but at the core of it all, he still remains human himself, and there are lines he would rather not cross.

But when someone betrays him, he will take pleasure in their dying screams, and he will do whatever it takes to exact his own twisted form of justice upon them.

The man known as Vincent Salvatore fades out of view, stepping back into the shadows as the soft clink of golf club gets closer and closer to Bakunin. One man enters, another man leaves. As the scream of pure, unfiltered pain bursts forth from Bakunin, Vincent makes his way towards the door, his two associates immediately standing at attention, tearing their eyes from the grisly sight in front of them. "Kill the family," he says, loud enough for the doomed man to hear— his last punishment. He cuts across his associate who is beginning to speak, already knowing the question that's going to leave the man's mouth. "All of them."

Even as the smirk grows, it begins to disappear, Laurie's own speech having just the effect he's sure he wants it to have, until there's nothing more than passive annoyance. While everything Laurie says may be true, he doesn't say a word until the other man finishes speaking, spreading his arms wide over the table, as if presenting the ashes of his kingdom to the other man. "Six years I served. I may have been sentenced eight, but being a good little boy does have its rewards. You never could get over the fact I didn't get what you thought I deserved, could you? They were never able to pin everything on me. They never will be. Do you think I made my rise to the top by being a fool? No. I covered myself. I covered my past. I did everything I could to make sure I would never be connected to my greater crimes… but even then, you were still able to present what you were. For that, I commend you."

He dusts the front of his suit off, more of a gesture than anything, as his suit doesn't even have dust on it. "While my empire, as you put it, may be in ashes… such a thing does actually works in my favor. You see, my dear old friend, now that I've lost everything, I have nothing to lose. You, however, have more to lose than you might think." Even after all of this, after their mutual threats, Vincent smirks at his newfound nemesis.

He takes another sip of water, carefully placing it back on the table and ignoring the fact Laurie's plate is in the way. He stands, gripping the top of his hat with two fingers and a thumb as he picks it up from the table, holding it near his torso in front of him. "Say hello to Miss Powers for me," he says, sliding the hat on and pulling it down snugly over his forehead, the brim just high enough that it doesn't completely block his eyes from view. "Be seeing you, Laurence."

Behind every man who would rather not take that step into violence, himself… there's a Roscoe. Humming between lightly pressed lips, he makes a strolling arc around the man in the bolted chair, that golf-club a'tap-tap-tapping always against something: in constant motion. Still groaning off the surprise of the first attack, Mikhail can barely relax when it seems like the next one could come at any time: constant motion, constant anticipation. But never the release that is it finally happening.

"Vinnie's a sophisticated kinda guy," the enforcer informs his victim airily, chewing at a piece of gum tucked in his cheek. As he swills it forward, he blows a distractingly cheerful bubble — a burst of color in that grey-walled cage that's insanely inappropriate. Pop. And then it's gone. "Never watches me work." He rumbles a noise of disappointment, then phbbs it out in an immature noise of dismissal.

Long strides have found him in that prime spot right behind Mikhail's chair and he lowers his elbows on the man's shoulders, casually resting. From here his eyes wander upwards to the departing Vincent, watching him comfortably as the instructions are given out — knowing that will be on his agenda too. But not right now. Now —

Bottoms of his hands sliding up to hook around Mikhail's jaw on either side, Roscoe tilts the fearful face up towards him with another pop from the game as his fingers secure the grip, leaving one thumb to come up around cheek and towards socket. He gives a light-hearted sniff.

"I'm going to crush your eye now."

And then there's only screams.

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