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Realistic or Modern LOVE, LOSS, REVENGE

SquigglyWiggly

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Damien's self restraint is commendable. From the proximity, Finch can feel how tense Damien is, like a spring waiting to snap. Counteracting that anger is the careful, persistent working at the tie. It could be his imagination, but the plastic chewing into his wrists and making his fingers go numb seems to loosen ever so slightly.

Gene rubs her head with the gun, humming to herself in thought.

"The High Rise?" She scowls, glancing between them both. The gun thuds as she puts it down, perching her hands on her hips instead.
She bites her lip, staring.

"No, I wasn't taking contracts like that back then. I was- fuck I was like, seventeen? Maybe?"

She walks, circling. Kaden believes it's more in an effort to jog her memory than it is to actually intimidate anyone.
She doesn't need to. There's no answers to squeeze from them.

Gene's playing with them.

Damien's also playing her. As long as he can hold it together, they can learn what they need.

"He was a fucking slut if I remember, like most men are," she murmurs, no hatred in the word this time, as if she's speaking simple fact.
"A chick paid me to fuck him up for cheating on her, or something. It was just a random lady, a little older than his usual. No big secret gang wanted him silenced, if he was onto a breakthrough it had nothing to do with why I did what I did."

She's lying. She has to be, or the High-Rise contractee had lied about their reasoning or who they were when they made the hit, which was very possible.

Genevieve's squints at Damien, stopping in front of him.
"Your partner died because he couldn't keep it in his pants."
 

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The zip tie slips out of Damien's shaky grasp.

How utterly stupid would it be if Michael got killed because he kept chasing tail and got burned by a heartbroken ex? The idea attempts to take root in Damien's mind, but he yanks it out and crushes it instantly - if the High-Rise had not been involved, he wouldn't have been framed. He wouldn't have spent the last 15 years in prison plotting revenge.

Genevieve is lying through her teeth and he's aware of it, but her words can't help having an effect on the ex-cop. Especially not when she talks about Kell in that way, as if she knows close to anything about the man. The words are not all false - it's true that he couldn't keep it in his pants - yet coming from her they make Damien's blood boil. His friend was not perfect, far from it, but she doesn't get to reduce him to just another philanderer in a long list of people that have seemingly shaped her hateful worldview.

Damien leans even further back, as far as the chair will permit - not because he's afraid of the woman, but because if she keeps standing in reach like that, spouting bullshit, he might just snap. Teeth grind against teeth.

Who fucking hurt you? The question is nearly spat out into existence, but fortunately, Damien manages to hold them back at the last moment. Ironically, spite is the only thing keeping him from getting visibly angry - it's probably what she wants, like Kaden had warned, and he'd rather die than play along with her plans.

The ex-cop exhales shakily, hands back on the zip tie. His nail finds the right groove more easily this time around, continuing to make progress. He feels around Kaden's wrist - a bit longer and there should be enough space for a finger to fit in between flesh and plastic.

"Who was this woman that paid you? Damien completely brushes off the blonde's comments, as well as any claims of the underground not being involved, "What was her name?"
 

SquigglyWiggly

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"If I give you a name will you go after them instead?" She sounds genuine, blinking at Damien.
"That's how this works, right?"

"I mean- Wight fucking... Gave me away too, didn't she?" she asks, leaning on the table with one hand and rubbing her eyes with the other.
"She could have given you anyone else's name, but she gave you mine. Just when I thought..." Genevieve's hands clench tightly, before letting go with an exhale.

The name of Damien's next target comes out in a clear whisper.

Siren's aren't supposed to give away a client's information. Medusa isn't supposed to give away the name of her Sirens. It's all backwards, and this woman has to scramble to compensate for it.

Genevieve sighs, looks at Kaden. Arrogantly, he had expected to have her attention first. It's a surprise, and an unwelcome one to have it now with his hands so close to being free.
"You've been quiet."

"This conversation doesn't involve me."

"So you're being polite." It's a question, but Finch can't tell if it's rhetorical or not.
He side eyes her, draws his legs together. Any moment now she'll expect him to barter their lives for something else. The, I'll give you anything if you let me go, routine.
Gene goes back to her bag and Kaden keeps expecting her to come back with a knife.
It's what he would've done, but only if he was cutting for information. He's never tortured someone into making them beg for something they didn't want. The whole thing seems counterintuitive. He understands this game, but the rules he's familiar with are nonexistent.

She won't be able to pull enough teeth before he's free.

But it's not a pair of pliars she has. Instead it's a needle, one of his own by the distinct look of it.

"Your boss stole this."

So, not his. Only identical.
Finch inhales, holds it in. The words nearly rip their way out of his mouth.
He hides his interest behind a deadpan expression, but it can only do so much.
She is negotiating, she always was.

"You'd think a guy like you would be excited to have the promotion to top dog just open and waiting. You could have anything and everything you ever wanted," she says, giving the syringe a toss and catching it in the opposing hand.
"You called me Delilah when I gave you mouth to mouth."

Finch lowers his head, looking away. It's all she needs to smell blood in the water, but he can't force himself to maintain eye contact.
A certain degree of shame makes him wilt inside, even if he knows it's based on nothing.

Gene produces Kaden's set of poisons. It's with great irritation he watches her shake them out of their organized sections onto the ratty table.
Some are color coded, some he'll regretfully be throwing out. If he can't tell which is which, they're worthless.

"Wait," he says, when she grabs the single substantial lead he has to mix in the pile of needles. Gene poises the syringe over the mess, smiling.
He can very nearly get his hand free.

"What do you want?" If he can keep her talking... That's all he needs. Just a few seconds more.
He's actively pulling against Damien, struggling to rip his hand free.

Like the conniving little bitch she is the Siren drops the needle.

Multiple things happen at once. Time does that funny thing where things happen alarmingly fast, but seem to take forever to happen.
The poisons are capped. When Gene ferrets her hands through the pile, she does it carefree and to great malicious effect.

She only does it for half a second before Kaden's grabbed her, slammed her against the wall with a hand at her throat.
The tile behind her cracks.

He scowls hard at the spaghetti pileup of his inventory before dragging his eyes back to Gene.
It was one second, even less, but it was enough.

The Siren's eyes are wide open, her hands digging into his damp sleeve. The delicate fingers can't wrap around his wrist, much less his forearm, but they squeeze to the best of their ability and it's more irritating than she'll know.
He's so sick of people touching him. Why must everyone touch him?

Finch gives her one last meaningful squeeze before dropping her.
She wheezes, half doubled over to suck in air.

"I reiterate," he says, surprised by his own smooth tone of voice when he wants to grab her by the head and slam her face into the moldy sinks.
"What do you want?"

She rubs at her throat, swallowing. Kaden clenches his hand shut at the slowly forming red print there.

"Money to get-"
"Done."
"And a-"
"Yes."

She looks up at him, and then at Damien.
"Keep him from killing me. I die and you don't have shit."
 

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Thomas Moore.

Genevieve gives up the name of her employer surprisingly easily, without any further need for questioning or threats. So she had been lying - it hadn't been some jaded lover. Much to Damien's horror, it hadn't been some faceless, ruthless gangster either.

The confirmation of police corruption is not surprising, not at all, but this specific name is a tough pill to swallow.

Captain Tom J. Moore of the NYPD, the man that'd welcomed Kell and Blumenthal into his precinct and taken the two rookies under his wing. Boisterous, kind, with the type of magnetism that made people hang onto his every word. A model father figure if there ever was one. He'd seen the passion and promise both officers carried and supported them in their drive to become detectives, claiming that one day either could be capable enough to inherit his position.

Moore would later testify at Damien's trial that he and Michael had had a career rivalry spanning years, constantly vying to get ahead of one another. He'd only ever seen the young men's ambitions as a healthy dose of competitiveness, but with one of them lying dead... Thomas was saddened, devasted at the tragedy that would doubtlessly leave a permanent mark on his station, but most of all he was regretful not to have noticed any warning signs earlier.

At the time, the ex-convict couldn't blame the Captain for the conclusions he was reaching, given the rest of the doctored evidence. Human minds have a predilection for connecting the dots to fit a logical narrative, regardless of its veracity.

In hindsight, this revelation changes things.

Damien glares at the Siren. She could be lying again. But the way the woman speaks is completely different from earlier - she's being truthful. It's with honesty that she throws Damien such a familiar name, like a piece of meat, hoping that it will get his teeth away from her throat and towards this new target.

She's wrong. This doesn't make her any less guilty of the role she played in his best friend's murder.

The way she moves on to antagonize Kaden only reaffirms Damien's resolve to deal with her. He can't see exactly what she's doing, standing behind his back, but the way the Black Dog starts straining against the zip tie tells him it's nothing good. If Michale was his weakness, Delilah is Kaden's.

It's a relief when he finally manages to get the cuffs loose enough for Finch to spring up from the chair, rushing Genevieve into one of the shower walls with a satisfying crack. Damien heaves a long sigh. He doesn't have to pretend to be level-headed anymore.

Unfortunately, this repose is short-lived when Kaden starts negotiating with Gene, agreeing to her requests.

"You're in no position to make demands!" Damien's voice is a growl as he struggles in place. It's frustrating, to still be bound like this after he helped Finch escape. He forces the chair beneath him to shift, scraping against the tiled floor to half-turn towards the two people in the room.

He's looking at Kaden in bewilderment - why is he negotiating, why has he not untied him yet?

Keep him from killing me. I die and you don't have shit.

"Kaden, don't!" Damien's tone breaks, losing any and all steadiness he had been holding onto earlier. He's begging. The plastic feels like it's constricting the more he pulls against it, digging into his wrists. He doesn't know if what he says next is true, but it comes out in a rush past his lips anyway, "Are you really going to listen to her when she's probably the one responsible for what happened to Delilah?"
 

SquigglyWiggly

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He has nothing solid to rely on. Up until now most everything has been words and hearsay. Wight could have lied about Genevieve, Gene could have lied about Moore.

Cade could have lied about the photos.

This is too tantalizing a lead to let slip between his fingers. In fact it's the first tangible thing that could physically, actually slip between his fingers.
Yes, it could be a lie, but he can't take the chance that it isn't.

Damien is struggling, desperate. Seeing him from this angle, tied to a chair is disturbing.
He begs Kaden again.
And Kaden has to say no. Again.

"I can't let her be killed until I know for sure, Damien."

Gene takes that for what it is, rushing to the table to gather all the syringes in a flurry. Finch has to remind himself organization doesn't matter when she dumps the lot inside, clicking the case shut.

Inside is the key to Delilah's disappearance.
In his own pocket case is the potential key to ending this nightmare.

"You would do the same. You want to do the same."

Genevieve hikes the bag onto her shoulder, heading to the door. Kaden plants a hand on Damien's shoulder, the way someone might with their dog when a rabbit's sprinting off into the brush.
He should have held him a long time before this. Before it came to this.

"I gotta pack a few things. And... And say goodbye," Gene mutters.

She leaves and Kaden considers the possibility of having her killed after he's gotten what he needs.
But he knows even if she came gift wrapped to Damien, it wouldn't fix this.

"I'll let Wight know you're here. When it's safe to do so she'll free you."

The plastic of the cuffs has whitened where Damien's pulling has stretched it.
Kaden picks up the zip tie he was freed from, painstakingly loosened but not broken.

Avoiding touch as much as possible, Kaden crouches to secure the second tie around Damien's wrists. The cuff makes a scratchy ticking sound as it tightens.

"Or... I could come back for you," he suggests quietly, "if that's something you would find tolerable."
 
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Genevieve is retreating out of the room, carrying away not only Finch's case of poisons, but also years of Damien's planning, of imagining this moment over and over again - what he would say to Michael's killer, what he would do to them. Nothing is going as he'd envisioned it. He's biting so hard down on his lips he's starting to draw blood, fruitlessly staring after the woman, as if that would stop her from going away. Or maybe it would strike her down dead if looks could kill.

The capo's hand is heavy on his shoulder, holding him back in what feels like an oppressive, crushing grip. In this one instance, Damien feels like he can relate to Kaden's distaste at being touched - he thinks about shrugging the other man off, but that wouldn't really change anything.

To make matters worse, Kaden has the audacity to speak as if he knows what Damien wants.

"I want her to pay for what she did. If you were in my position, you would want the same," he hisses from between clenched teeth, "Not that you care about that, though, do you?"

The corners of his eyes tingle, not with tears but with resentment. Damien wants to scream, and he thinks about doing so. He thinks about shouting and trashing and throwing a tantrum. Useless.

Instead, the ex-convict's head drops to his chest, staring at the filthy tiles below - yellow and grimy. The sight is familiar. Unbidden, a sardonic grin creeps onto his face and he scoffs, despite there being nothing even remotely amusing about the situation. Well, except maybe one thing.

"So much for 'I'm right behind you', huh," the words are quiet, nearly a whisper, meant only for Damien himself, but in the echo of the shower house they carry farther than intended. Not that the ex-cop particularly cares if he is heard.

A part of Damien (a very small part) understands why Kaden is doing what he is doing - it's rational. Not only that, but the Black Dog had warned him beforehand that if forced to choose between the two investigations, he'd go after his own. This is not the ultimate betrayal. Moore's is, if what the Siren said is the truth. However, this still hurts, more than Damien would want to admit. Guess he is still naive, ignorant, and sensitive.

Kaden didn't untie him. No, he added another leash.

Damien is numb all over, somehow in an even worse state than how he ended yesterday. He doesn't answer Kaden's last offer any which way. The only thing he can manage is, "Fuck off, Finch."
 

SquigglyWiggly

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Damien has a lot of sentiments to get off his chest. Kaden can understand them more than Damien realizes.
But at the end of the day no matter how cruel the fact is, it remains; Michael is dead. Delilah still stands a chance.

He draws in a a breath at Damien's final words and considers the merits of coming back and throwing Damien into the trunk of a car himself regardless of what the man wants. It'd make Kaden feel better, maybe.
But then again any, 'fuck you', phrase has always made Kaden want to fuck around a find out.

"I like your Ruger, I'm taking it," he says coolly, standing up to take the weapon where Gene left it on the table.
"If you want it back you'll have to come to me and ask for it."

When he leaves, he doesn't look back.

---

"You don't have to leave, you're safe here," Wight is saying, hugging her arms against the cold. Finch is absolutely frozen out here, but at least his clothes are drying faster.
Genevieve finishes tossing two bags into the back seat before she looks up. From the sounds of the screaming match he heard, this isn't round two. Or even three.

"Safe is outside of this country. If you actually loved me you'd know that and you'd of let me go. Or come with me and leave this shitty house behind." Genevieve slams the door. The bloodhound who followed Wight outside has alternated from sniffing and licking at both women, whimpering for the arguments to stop. She bops her wrinkled head into Gene's thigh, whining away.

Kaden feels very out of place. He's not sure if he should get into the driver's seat to give them a modicum of privacy, or not.

Medusa narrows her eyes at the Siren.
"I always knew you'd leave! I didn't expect it'd be with a prick, but I knew. Your type are all the same. Gotta have a man in your pocket."

The woman who never broke when she had a hand around her throat, winces. This hurts her, more than any beating ever could.

"All I needed was you."

Genevieve gives Betty one final ear rub before she gets into the passenger seat, slamming the door shut.
The quiet that proceeds it is the kind that makes ears ache.

"So..." Wight looks to Kaden and he knows beyond a doubt he should have waited in the car.
The old woman slowly let's herself fall into an old garden chair, sighing.
"Like a good boy you've taken everything I have. Is there anything else you need?"

The gravel beneath Kaden's feet crunch as he shifts his weight.
"My... associate is in your old shower house. If you could free him in approximately two hours I'd be grateful."

Wight smiles, then laughs. She bangs her cane on the ground in lieu of slapping a knee. It doesn take long for the laughter to morph into a quiet sobbing.
"I really like him," she smiles through the tears. "If you're not keeping him, I might."

It's an odd thing to say, considering Damien is clearly the tipping point in Genevieve's multiple attempts to leave her life behind.
Not to mention, Damien wants to have her killed.

"Genevieve kept me alive so she could leverage my position and resources," Kaden starts, and feels stupider the longer he goes on. The answer must be obvious, but he can't decipher it from these events.
"You have more than enough power to do that yourself. Pardon me, but...why didn't you just let her go?"

"Because I'm selfish, Kaden," she says, like it's the most obvious answer in the world.
"And I'm scared. No one prepares you for what a monster loving someone makes you. If I could do it again I would've kicked her over to Canada before I felt a thing."

It's not a satisfactory answer, but he's not in the position to ask for elaboration.
Loving Genevieve made Wight incredibly unintelligent. Had she simply lied, rather than trust in a false better nature, Gene and Medusa would be having tea and cookies now.

If this is what love does to a person, then maybe it's for the best this happened.

Leaving the old Siren household, Kaden watches it grow small in the rearview mirror
His anticipation of the day's events did not unravel the way he expected. Or wanted. He can't help but feel like he's forgotten something, and that amusing thought would make him smile if it didn't make him feel so hollow.

He glances more than once at the passenger seat, but he doesn't find what he's looking for.
 
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Damien sits in limbo for what feels like ages, running the last several hours through his head over and over again - pondering what he might do differently if he could go back. It's a pointless exercise in futility, but it fills the empty void of the room with something besides the sound of his own heartbeat. For variety, his eyes do occasionally skim over the ratty table in the corner - it is mostly empty after Genevieve ran off with her bag. Except for Damien's waterlogged phone, which she must have taken off of him while he was unconscious. Considering the fact that it's a Nokia, maybe it'll work again if he buries it in rice for long enough, but the cost of the rice is not worth it to recover the device. Better to break and discard it - he'd been thinking about switching out the burner soon anyway. However, the item next to it elicits a lot more vexation from the ex-cop - his Marlboros, the carton soggy and signaling that the cigarettes inside (which he'd barely smoked any of) are thoroughly ruined.

It's with such thoughts that Damien "entertains" himself while he waits.

Eventually, the door opens, and from the sound of a walking cane hitting tiles, it's not Finch that stands in the doorway. Good. Damien's not sure how he would have reacted if the consigliere had come back to retrieve him. It's much easier to look into the eyes of the mistress of the house. Wight has been crying, that much is evident. Not because her cherished person is dead, but because she escaped. Would Medusa have been happier if Damien had killed her favorite Siren?

"Hey," he licks his chapped lips, voice low and soft, "Can I still take you up on that puppy offer?"

---

"Yeah, I know who Thomas Moore is," Sargeant Montesano sighs, her elbows sinking into the side rests of her armchair.

Damien is seated on an identical piece of furniture on the opposite side of the cozy living room, sharing a drink with his friend after dinner. Natalia had been delighted when the ex-cop took the initiative to come visit - it's a rare occurrence she has to explicitly ask him for usually, only to get rejected most of the time. Which is a shame. It's healthy for the man to socialize with other people, and her family seems to like him, so such get-togethers are pleasant. The same had been true of this evening, until Damien started asking questions again.

Natalia takes a long sip of her beverage. She's drinking red wine. He's drinking apple juice, the same kind her kids had had earlier. Damien hates himself for it.

"He's not a Captain anymore, though. He's not even on the force. The person you're trying to convince me had something to do with... that..." the policewoman's tone drops conspiratorially, even though there's no one around but the two to hear.

Sujin had excused themself from the table early - they are in that terrible teenage period where school and one's life within its walls feel like the most important things ever. For his contribution, Kim had diligently taken the twins up to bed as soon as his wife signaled she needed to be left alone with her friend, and though the boys put up resistance at having to sleep so early, the promise that the new puppy could spend the night in their room was all that was needed to make them capitulate. Droopy - they'd named the bloodhound Droopy. Damien reckons it's as good a gift for the Montesano household as he can manage.

Nat finally continues talking, "Well, he retired from his post a couple of years ago and has been enjoying his life. A very private life, I might add, after years of commendable service as an upstanding member of the community."

Damien's eyes narrow, "You talk as if you know him personally."

Nat bristles slightly, "No, but, he was the police chief, a damn good one. He got promoted a little after... you know what."

"Yeah, that's not suspicious at all."

"I don't know, Damien. My boss only ever said good things about the guy. Everyone only ever said good things about him. Are you sure you're not mistaken?"

"I know how Tom comes off, Nat. But the only way to find out for certain is to get to him."


Natalia sighs again, rubbing at her eyes, "Like I said, he leads a very private life now. Most of the year."

Damien's eyebrow quirks up in question.

"I've heard he's a bit of a philanthropist. Apparently, he organizes this annual charity ball for the winter holidays. Pretty exclusive event. I don't know exactly when it takes place, but it's around the second quarter of November, and then the money gets donated to a different cause come Christmas."

Damien is leaning forward in his chair now, but before he can get a single word out, Montesano catches onto whatever he was going to say and shakes her head fervently in refusal.

"No. I can't help you get in. Even if I wanted to. Which I don't! I probably shouldn't have even told you about this. Are you fucking insane-"

The ex-cop clicks his tongue with a grin, "Language."

Natalia's mouth hangs open, eyes wide like this is the most offensive thing anyone has ever said to her. In lieu of calling him an asshole, she gestures for him to go fuck himself.

It's only a moment later that she can't hold her laughter back anymore. It's loud and pleasant, the type of laughter that sweeps Damien up with it and makes him chuckle. It has Natalia wiping at the corner of her eyes, "You should come over for dinner more often."

The ex-cop smiles, but it doesn't quite reach his eyes, "You know that's not a good idea."

"Hmm. So, how's that investigator you introduced me to doing? Fleischer. He seemed... nice enough. Is his investigation coming along? If you two need any more help, you know I'm here."

"We're working on it,"
Damien takes a sip to conceal the way his expression involuntarily morphs into a grimace. The apple juice tastes sour in his mouth. He's been trying his best not to think about Kaden, with mixed results. There's a lot there he doesn't really want to ruminate on - getting drugged (twice), getting saved, getting Michael's murderer taken from right under his nose. And now, of all things, Finch is holding his firearm - the sergeant's firearm - hostage.

Damien puts down the glass, "Also, you need to report your gun as stolen."

---

Damien is back in front of Black Dog's building. He smokes a cigarette again, stomps it out again, then walks up to the "doormen" again. It feels like Deja Vu.

The only difference this time is that he's made Kaden wait - 3 days to be exact. Enough time to gather a folder of any news stories he could find on Thomas Moore, and to settle his feelings about what had transpired in Wight's mansion. The former he'd been successful at, the latter - not so much. But he couldn't afford to wait any longer. Plus, he hopes he's managed to make the capo at least a little annoyed.

"I'm here for Finch."
 
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SquigglyWiggly

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Without the surplus of buildings, the wind cuts like a knife out on the open runway. There is one upside and it's that it lets the eye see far into the distance.
New York is a grey blurb on the horizon. The rest of the world is all around him, sitting far, far away.

"The jet will take you wherever you want to go," Kaden yells over the gusts of November air. He hands her a duffle bag, weighed down with a more modest amount of money than he had expected her to gouge him for. It's respectable, in a way. But stupid.

Genevieve trades him with the syringe.

"What's in it?"

"I appreciate how much help you've been, but I couldn't tell you. I just know she took her needle from the same case as that one." The Siren shrugs apologetically and Kaden considers having her waterboarded.
It's really not worth it, not after he's already gone this far.

"Stick it with someone you don't like. See what happens."

Kaden nods his head in the direction of the plane.
"Before I change my mind."

She looks at him funny, then. A tilt of her head, an unusual smile. Not a nasty one, like the day before in the shower house. There's curiosity and genuine softness in her face.
It makes the Siren look alarmingly strange.

"You're not like how I thought you'd be."

Before Kaden can even begin to decipher that, Genevieve is skipping up the steps of the jet.
She must have known some truly despicable men to be surprised by him. It's a bad sign, actually.

The dog with the softer bite is the one who loses the fight. Wight was proof enough of that.

Kaden's hand tightens and loosens around the needle, twisting it in his palm.

---

When Kaden interrupts the fight, Cade's already bleeding from his nose and a busted lip.
Jackie jams his foot into the man's ribs, punching a coughing yelp from Cade.

Feeling like an animal Finch rips Jackie away, slamming him into the wall.

"What did I say about infighting?" He says, voice ice cold, staring down at the last person he expected to see in this position.

Jackie isn't a saint, but Finch has never seen him thrown a punch that wasn't order. Unless Cade sneezed on him, he can't imagine the man beating him this badly.

Jackie won't look Finch in the eye.

"You do it with me." The capo grits his teeth before offering a hand. Cade looks at it, then up at Finch. He gives a small smile, smearing his wrist with blood before taking his hand.

And Finch wants to believe that's it. A build up of testosterone venting in the form of some rowdy violence.

"The boss is gone."

Kaden freezes, feels his blood run cold.
Nothing changes on his face, but it's like being dunked in an ice bath.

"Don't bother fucking denying it." Jackie brushes his blonde hair back, straightening his jacket.
"You've taken us off the streets, right when we need to be out there! She'd never have done that. Not in a million years."

"Watch the tone you're using with me," Kaden warns.

Cade licks his lip, sucks on the blood there. It makes his smile pink.
Like a child watching a sibling get scolded, he looks very smug.

"Or fucking what?" Jackie dares, finally meeting Kaden's eyes. "She's been gone fucking days and you haven't done shit."

Finch knows now is not the time for am emotional outburst. Several of his Dogs are present, they're all watching.
He knows this, but it breaks out of him anyway.

"I am doing the best that I can!" He says, slapping a hand to his chest.
"I don't know where she is or what happened to her. That woman could kill a man with a tea spoon and she's just gone without a trace.
I don't want you pushing on the street right now, Jack!"

He feels the stares like ice cold daggers in his back. Kaden swallows, glances from man to man.
Their hungry looks stare back. Even dogs will eat their own, these ones especially.

And these men look at him like they're starving.

"You've gone limp dicked, Finch, but you don't have to make the rest of us look weak too." Jackie stands to his full height, challenging Kaden when he doesn't know what kind of week he's had.
In this moment, he hates Jackie. He hates him more than anything else in the world.

Jackie doesn't see it or anticipate it.
The needle's stabbed into his chest, plunger down. Dumbfounded, slack jawed, Jackie looks down at the syringe sticking out of his chest.
"Finch..." He mutters, grabbing at it with a shaking hand. "...Kaden."

Jackie's knees buckle and he falls to the floor. He pulls the needle from his chest, but the damage has been done.

"Where's Markus?" Kaden asks, watching Jackie squirm on the floor.
"He's out. Moving merchandise outside of the zone you specified." Cade seems all too pleased to rat out the other Dog.

"Keep him out," Finch orders, "If he sees Jackie, shoot him."
"Aye aye, captain."

Jackie finds the awareness to glare at Finch, but it breaks into a desperate frown. He's pale, sweat building on his temple.

"Have Jack taken to my workshop," Kaden says, watching one of his lead dogs grow weak when he needs everyone to be strong.
"I want him under observation while he dies. Have it recorded. I'll be there momentarily."

At that Jackie makes a half hearted attempt to crawl away.
Cade grabs him by the hips, dragging him back. Frantically, Jack bats at him, but Cade knocks his hands aside like they're nothing.
The man's short, but he's not weak. With a grunt, Jackie's over Cade's shoulder.
"Someone get the doors for me," he says, walking away.

Kaden won't be the dog with the weaker bite.

---

Upstairs in the privacy of his penthouse Kaden lies in bed, still dressed, shoes on.
He holds Delilah's jacket tightly, burying his face into the leather. The darkness shrouds him like blinders on a horse prone to anxiety.

He's not the weaker dog. He's not.

---

The men posted at the door don't snort or smile at Damien's arrival this time.
One nods at the door, eyes shifting.
"Go right up."

It's worth noting no Dog dares escort Damien to the Butcher's quarters.

---
The Ensure doesn't mix well with caffeine, but it's better than drinking it directly. The seniors of the world should know Kaden plans on improving their drink of choice with a smoothie next time. He's thinking something chocolate, maybe some mint.

Unhappy with his obstinance, his stomach cramps at the foul mixture.

Pawl is sitting on the couch, licking her whiskers of any remaining quail egg and turkey breast dinner she enjoyed.

He should lie down, shut his eyes. Set an alarm for fifteen minutes and just pass out here on the couch.

Kaden sets his cup aside, scrolls through his emails, finds another one that needs replying and starts typing again.
The words blur together, and he offers his tired eyes another rub. It does little to clarify the paragraphs.

Sleep deprivation is like a natural high. The world is filtered, like he's under water. Nothing seems quite real and he feels distant. This must be what well cooked spaghetti feels like, boiling away.
It's oddly relaxing, in a torturous kind of way.

Unfairly, there's a knock at the door.

He wills himself from the couch, smoothing his hair back. It's greasy from product he didn't wash out last night.
Right, he's still wearing yesterday's clothes, he reminds himself in a dull voice.

Under no circumstances can he answer the door like this.

Kaden cracks the door open an inch, standing hidden behind it.
"What part of 'do not disturb' was confusing to you? I'm working."

He checks the peephole, out of idle curiosity and feels his heart leap out of his chest.

"Damien?"
 

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The reception this time is surprisingly cold as the Black Dogs simply allow the ex-cop to wander onto their turf. No escort takes him to the rec room, and neither Cade nor Jackie nor Markus are there to keep an eye on him while he waits. He's not even instructed to wait in the first place, simply directed up to the penthouse. If he wanted to, he could just go snooping around the building before anyone noticed. What's with the sudden lack of security? It feels... off. Did the doormen even alert the capo that he has a guest arriving?

Based on Kaden's present reaction, they did not.

"I see. And how's the work been going? Found out anything interesting?"

Found out anything that could have been worth letting Genevieve go?

Damien banishes the last thought away, schooling his expression into one of indifference. He's grappled with these emotions enough that he's ready to move on. At least for now, as infuriating as all of it might be. What's done is done, and he still has a goal to pursue. Regrettably, on that matter the ex-cop finds himself once more needing Finch's help.

"My own work has been coming along pretty smoothly," Damien produces the manila folder he has compiled, raising it above his head so that it can be seen through the peephole, "But I've run into a bit of an obstacle."

"So, what? Are you going to let me in or should I just go home?"
he glances off to the side - the door is open only about an inch, and though he just offered to leave, Damien leans towards the gap to take a peek inside.

The sight causes his eyebrows to furrow. He can't see much of the other man, but what little is in his field of view is surprising. Damien is supposed to be the scruffy ex-convict, yet after a delicious dinner cooked by Kim (bonus some leftovers) and not getting beat up or drowned in several days, he feels better than he has in a while. Unlike him, the consigliere tends to take care of his well-being. It's a difficult fact to ignore, as much as Damien has been trying not to focus on it. Sure, there were always the dark circles, but the ones that meet his gaze now are so severe they remind him of bruises. Kaden looks... disheveled, and while it doesn't necessarily take away from his appearance it is distressing.

Combined with the behavior of the Black Dogs out front it makes Damien very concerned. More than that though, this reminds him of how Kaden had been when they nearly crashed the Mercedes - scarily human.

Damien cringes. He mentally chastises himself for being sympathetic toward the man. Again.

He retreats away from the door, closes his eyes for a second, and states evenly, "You look like shit, Kaden."
 

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Three days is an eternity. A whole world of things can change in half a week.
Case in point himself. He had everything in his hand the last time he saw Damien, save for Damien himself.

Found out anything interesting?

Kaden rests his head against the door, listening to the sound of Damien's voice. The man's surprisingly civil despite their last altercation. Finch can almost pretend it never happened at all.
He blinks, slow and hard resting against the cool surface. They can't be called micro naps because he never shuts his eyes. He simply doesn't consciously exist for a handful of seconds, but it can't last.

He whips the door open, scowling in disapproval at the other man and his rude remarks.
"In," he demands curtly, pointing to the floor on his side of the door.

As soon as he can, Kaden's closing it on the rest of the world.
Unlike previously, Pawl's comfortable enough with Damien to stare at him from around the corner of the foyer. It's an intense stare, potentially psychopathic. She must be shocked by her owner's sudden 180 degree turn in social butterfly-ing
The same man in just a few days? Inconceivable, who has he become? This isn't the capo she fell in love with.

It's a new rock bottom to be judged by his cat, let alone Damien, the urban dictionary definition of disaster.

Finch snatches the folder, turning away to open it and run his eyes over the contents. It's either poorly organized, very possible considering it's Damien's work, or he's dying of dementia at the ripe age of thirty-six.
He wants to believe the former, but Damien was an impeccable officer and he has retained that professional workflow. These would be done with care, even if nothing else is in the man's life.

"Do you... want to tell me what the obstacle is verbally?" He asks, clearing his throat and glancing at Damien.
"Only so I know we both understand."
 

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Despite the rude invitation to come in - if it can even be called that - the first thing Damien does on the other side of the door is to take off his shoes. The second thing is to stare at the cat. The man was hoping he'd get to see her.

He isn't particularly bothered when Kaden yanks the folder out of his grasp, instead crouching down and extending the now-free hand in the ragdoll's direction from a distance, slowly and carefully - offering it up to be sniffed at so that the two can have a proper introduction.

"Hey Pawl," Damien says softly, the hoarseness of a habitual smoker sneaking its way into the tail end of his words.

His hand hangs loosely in the air, not expectant in any way. He doesn't know if the cat will take him up on the offer, but even if she rejects him today, that's fine. Though if she accepts now, he's more than willing to provide a pet or two. His smile tries to communicate this proposition to Pawl.

This expression morphs into mild confusion when Finch speaks. Damien glances up at him - the capo hadn't even spent that much time with the documents. Was he too lazy to go through them or something? No, that can be it. He isn't that kind of person.

Nevertheless, Damien tries to summarize his conversation with Natalia as quickly as possible - how Thomas Moore had been his captain and had been a witness at his trial, only to promptly get promoted to chief of police after his subordinate was thrown in prison. Then he'd gone on to have a great career till his retirement a couple of years ago. Now he lives a closed-off life, except for when he makes an appearance at the Winter Charity Gala.

"He's one of the organizers. The others appear to be a lawyer, two businesspeople, and an actor. Their names and any details I could gather are also in the folder. The event is supposed to happen a little over a week from now. It's pretty exclusive, from what the press has reported - dinner, dance, and an auction at the end of the night to raise money on top of donations. You know, the type of thing obscenely rich people go to to make themselves feel better."

The man means to say more, but stops himself. The obstacle mentioned before is obvious to infer, yet that's not the reason he quiets down. He gives Finch a once-over - the mess that is his hair, the wrinkled clothes. Hopefully, Kaden has been listening to the ex-cop's findings, though given his state Damien is genuinely not sure how much information has actually gotten to him.

"We've established you look like shit, but I still don't know why," Damien rises from his spot. While his words are harsh, his intonation is kept matter-of-fact, "When was the last time you slept? Did something happen?"
 
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No sooner is Damien through the door does he attempt to ingratiate himself with Kaden's cat.
He's gentle with her, patient. Very rarely does he hear Damien speak in that tone of voice.

She mews at him, the friendly kind and takes a few steps forward before initiating the flop prematurely.
Stretching and showing her soft underbelly is cruel manipulation at best. The ragdoll isn't ready to be touched, but she does like Damien.
Teasing his guest and acting coy is how she shows love because actually trusting someone is out of the question.

Kaden himself has to refrain from crumpling the folder hearing Damien's explanation of its contents.
Back at the mansion, Thomas Moore had very little meaning to him. With context, the name is tarnished.
"I'm aware of the type," he says, and makes a note to pour over these files later.

Saying he can't remember is too embarrassing so Kaden lies.
"A couple days ago. I've been making strides in my investigation, but I also have a criminal organization to run. I've...never done it by myself for this long. I'm handling it well."

He stands there, feeling awful. Moore's betrayal makes him sick. A man in that position is supposed to look out for the people beneath him, particularly if they're good people.
Does Damien feel the same sting from what Kaden did to him? Finch would deserve no less.
"I can get you in, if that's what you want. I feel that I owe you, Damien."
 

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"I get that you're juggling a lot, but if you don't rest you won't be able to deal with either duty," Damien speaks plainly, drawing from personal experience even if he hasn't ever been thrust into an identical situation to the gangster. It's a practical, universal kind of advice he hopes Kaden takes before the weight of it all crushes him.

Pawl is still sprawled out on the floor, a soft ball of fuzz with sharp murder claws that peek out as she stretches. She hadn't approached the man fully so no petting yet, but this was a stride in the right direction and it makes Damien happy. He keeps staring at the cat, and her calming presence is especially appreciated after what the consigliere says next.

"You do owe me," his words come out more bitter than he intended. It's embarrassing to admit to a sense of betrayal in front of Kaden, but hiding the fact that he still holds a lot of animosity over what transpired proves impossible.

"I expect Genevieve's somewhere far away by now. You know, I had plans for her. I was going to make her describe exactly what she'd done to Michael, and then-"

Damien clenches his mouth shut. He doesn't want to talk about it, there's no point. It would only undo the amount of work he put in over the last three days, rationalizing that the Siren had been little more than a child when she was hired for the job, or that Finch needed her for information to find out what happened to Delilah. Now, he's hurt by the fact that the capo left him tied up more than anything else.

He looks at the consigliere, "Forget it. I hope you at least got a lead out of it all. Get me into the gala, and I'll consider the matter... settled."

The ex-cop almost says forgiven, but he's unsure if he could proclaim such a thing, not yet. He does appreciate it, though - the fact that it sounds like Kaden is trying to make amends, even if simply driven out of what he assumes to be guilt. In that case, Damien will meet him halfway.
 
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Kaden scoffs lightly at Damien's offered advice.
"Yes, I'll have to consider that," he mutters, feeling like being difficult again, but knowing it will get him nowhere.
Damien's right; something so simple shouldn't be so hard. The one thing he should theoretically have control over is how much he sleeps and eats.
It's pathetic to be seen like this.

Kaden frowns at Damien's description of his dreamed revenge on Genevieve. The words don't sound like they belong in his mouth. They're revolting.
Finch doesn't believe him, but admitting how he feels about Damien's nerve did not improve their relationship last time.

Kaden hates that he has to have a matter settled with some guy he found on the street. What he hates more is the clear disappointment and anger Damien has for him.
Kaden could make one phone call and never see Damien again, and yet he finds the prospect wholly unattractive.
For reasons beyond his understanding, he wants it settled.

"It will be done," he says with a nod.
Somehow, Damien has found something of worth to barter Kaden with and it's not a tangible thing.

"Come in," Finch orders, and when he looks down to hand off the folder he adds,"Assuming you have nothing else on your schedule, I have something I want to do to you. It's possible the activity will allow me to vent some frustrations."

Kaden is already walking further into his home, shedding his wrinkled waistcoat.
"I'll return your firearm if I'm satisfied," he says over his shoulder.
 

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Damien stands motionless for several seconds in the foyer, clutching the folder as his narrowed eyes trail behind Kaden. That had sounded either very ominous or very suggestive or both.

He clicks his tongue before his mind can drag him further down into the gutter of misunderstandings. The memory of the cocaine-flour is still too fresh, too humiliating and it causes him to get flustered all over again. He clicks his tongue once more in annoyance.

"Fine, what do you have in mind?" Damien acquiesces with an exhale. It's sad to admit, but the ex-convict doesn't have any other plans on his schedule today. The one thing had been coming over to see the Black Dog, and so far their meeting is going surprisingly well in his favor. He's gotten what he wanted and could just leave, but instead his footsteps carry him further into the penthouse, mumbling "Whatever it is, you really could have worded that better."

"Speaking of the Ruger,"
the man has caught up with Finch, "You can keep it if you want, but it's better if you discard it. I had the Sergeant report it as stolen." He should have done that the moment Montesano gave him the weapon. She thought it was for self-defense, but Damien fully intended to make use of the firearm registered in his friend's name. It's surprising he hasn't had to so far.

Looking at Kaden, he proceeds, "I could use a new gun, though. One with the serial numbers filed off."
 

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Finch pauses at the new information about the firearm, tilting his head in thought.

"It's only value to me was that it was yours. I'll have it disposed of immediately."

Maybe he's tired, maybe he's insane, but he feels like if he can accomplish this one small thing at least it will be done. One piece of the avalanche of his life with be put to rights.
He offers Damien a seat, setting his laptop and coffee aside.

"It won't hurt," Kaden reassures, "though I suppose that will depend on how badly you need it."

Kaden heads for his bedroom, leaving Pawl and Damien to stare at one another. One side of the capo's home is wall length window. Normally it shows off the vast beauty of the city, but today with the weather covering all but the tallest skyscrapers it looks as if the penthouse is in the clouds.

If Damien wanted to make a break for it, his window closes as quickly as it opened as Kaden returns with a small jar to take a seat beside him.

He gazes at Damien, at the mellowing of the bruises on his face. They've healed well, even the cut on his temple. The man's eyes have notably more light to them. Any life Kaden had, this man has instead. In some cruelty of the universe, they've switched places. It's not fair, not when Kaden got what he wanted and Damien didn't.
Kaden perses his lips before reaching out for Damien's forearm. The buffer of his sleeve makes the contact tolerable, but it's still strange, intimate.

Does no one else acknowledge how bizarre it is to touch someone? The moles, freckles, hair, scars and callouses all making each touch completely unique and overwhelming?
Damien is solid underneath that thin piece of cloth. There's a person of flesh and bone under Kaden's hand, and it's someone he knows, but not really.

He glances at Damien through his lashes before pushing back his sleeve to see his wrist.
He has a ring of deep purple, matching Kaden's.

"Doing this with you has been in the back of my mind since we separated," he says quietly.

Kaden proceeds to screw the top off the jar, collecting a portion of Shea butter to plop on the back of Damien's hand.

"I didn't know if you were coming back," he says, taking Damien's other wrist and pressing the back of his hands together.
They're still as dry as they were before. The moisturizer makes the grey tint disappear, replacing it with red cracks. The knuckles look particularly irritated.
Kaden could ask Damien how he lives like this, but he's in no position caught in his current status of self neglect.
 

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Ignoring the anxiety in his stomach telling him to bolt, Damien takes the seat offered to him and patiently waits while Kaden goes to retrieve... whatever it is he'd claimed wouldn't hurt. The ex-cop is acting like an obedient fool, and maybe it's just his imagination but the stare Pawl gives him feels like one of judgment. Can't blame her. He runs a hand through his hair, pulling at its short strands several times. At least the sight outside is beautiful - the clouds make it seem as though the rest of the world has ceased to exist, swallowed up in a sea of vapor. The penthouse is isolated, set adrift somewhere outside of space and time, and Damien thinks he finally understands the appeal of living in such a place. It's serene.

Finch's approach makes his muscles tense up once more. Whatever Damien was expecting the other man to return with, it definitely wasn't a small jar - the notion briefly crosses his mind that it might contain some poison or another, but he pushes such suspicions down.

It's even more unexpected when Kaden sits beside him and reaches for his forearm. His hold is not aggressive or insistent. No, it's surprisingly gentle, and though Damien is taut in anticipation, he allows his arm to be handled and for his sleeve to be pushed back, exposing his most recent bruises. The ones Finch himself is partially responsible for.

Doing this with you has been in the back of my mind since we separated.

Much to his horror and entirely against his will, Damien's face is heating up again. Did he really just hear those words, in that tone? He flinches when a dollop of shea butter connects with his skin, not because of the product itself - because Kaden is touching his hand, and even if it's through his sleeve it's way too sudden and way too intimate.

Worse than that is the man's voice, causing a shiver to run down Damien's spine, the same as the time in Wight's study when he'd referred to him as his "partner".

"I'm back," his own voice comes out unconsciously, breathless and uncertain. It almost sounds like reassurance. Inconceivably, the man finds himself feeling bad over making Finch wait for three days. There's no reason for it, but looking at Kaden the way he is now, he can't help it.

Damien shakes his head, not that it alleviates the muddle that is inside it. His eyebrows furrow wrinkling his forehead, and with some trepidation, he leans forward, searching Kaden's features. To call the Black Dog confusing would be the understatement of the century.

"Why?"

Why are you helping me? Why did you save me? Why did you call me your partner?

"Why are you doing this?" it's not all that he wants to ask, not even close, but it's all he can muster.
 

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I'm back.

Finch's eyes snap up to Damien's where they had been resting on their hands.
It's nothing, it should be nothing. The sentence builds pressure in his chest, makes his jaw hurt from how tightly clenched it is.

It's not fair for something so small to hurt this much.
It's not a promise he'll stay, and it shouldn't be.

It's somehow all and everything he needs to hear.

His hands grip the fabric of Damien's sleeve. He doesn't know if being touched is at all pleasant to the man, or if it is, how to hold him in a pleasant way.
Damien's not a gun, knife or a cat named Pawl.

Kaden has no fucking idea what he is.

Damien's never been this close to him before, not face to face. The elegant cupid's bow of his upper lip is distracting.
With the overcast sky shining into Damien's eyes they're almost blue and that's the beauty of them. The man has every color there is to have, it's all a matter of where he is and the concentration of light reflected.

"I don't know," he whispers, squeezing Damien's hands together.
"You make me... Not me."

Heart rattling around in his chest, it jumps when Pawl leaps into the space between them. She mews, sending her feather tail up like a flag.
Kaden releases Damien, retreating to his side of the couch.

"Stay with me today."
Kaden rubs the remainder of lotion into his hands, feeling the ghost of Damien's heat sink into his skin.

"You'll need a suit tailored, and you need to specify which firearm you'd prefer."
 

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Damien can't breathe.

For the amount of trust he has put into Kaden and received in turn over less than a week, the man remains barely more than a stranger, yet he's certain it's true that he makes him act unlike himself. Not that he knows what this self is supposed to be. He's not sure Finch knows either. So far he has shown him violence, and mercy, and now this. It puts Kaden in a new light. The ex-cop is forced to accept that any preconceived images of the capo he had before seeking him out have been thoroughly shattered, revealing something much more... contradictory. And like any good detective, Damien can't help but want to solve the case that is Kaden Finch. Even if it might not lead anywhere good.

The Black Dog's grip on his hands tightens, not at all uncomfortably. Damien traces Kaden's line of sight - he's looking at his lips. An intrusive thought bubbles up from his subconscious - what would happen if he simply leaned further in?

Whatever spell the intricate ritual of applying ointment on bruises had cast over the two men gets broken as soon as Pawl interjects, jumping in between them. Air returns to Damien's lungs and he looks gratefully at his feline savior, ignoring the tiny pangs of disappointment in his chest.

They speed up at Kaden's request to stay for the day - or more so the way it's uttered - sending a final jolt through Damien's system, but with the loss of proximity it's somewhat easier to get his heart rate back under control. He's 38 damn it, not 18. Nevertheless, he nods in silent agreement.

Damien tries to get his expression back under control and going back to the topic of his mission aids in that immensely, "I'd prefer a handgun, something that I can carry concealed. The Ruger is an old reliable, but if you can find me an S&W, I won't turn it down."

"Are-"
he doesn't know how to communicate his next question. Are you coming to the gala too? No, that sounds pathetic, but the ex-convict would appreciate having someone that actually knows how to navigate the high life.

"Are you going to need a suit?"

Damien groans internally.
 

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Kaden retrieves his phone, tapping in Damien's limited requirements for a weapon, amongst other things. His old one was drowned beyond repair, but you'd never guess because his replacement is the same model, same color.

The couch is dimpled where Pawl stands. The ragdoll places one tiny foot on his knee. Distracted, Kaden grabs and gently holds the paw until she learns her lesson and pulls her beans free with a squeak.

"I already have several," he states, staring at the small screen which is the only safe place in his entire home.
He dares a glance at Damien, giving him a once over. The man is still intensely red.

"Oh," he says intelligently. It's not fair he's this run down when they're doing whatever this is supposed to be. He simply doesn't have the mental capacity for it.
"You're inviting me."

An exhilarating fluttering runs up and down Kaden's being. It's a thoroughly repulsive feeling.

"Yes, I will be there," he says plainly, practically. It makes good sense for someone who knows high society to accompany Damien. When probed about who he is, what he does, Kaden can supply those answers convincingly.
It makes sense.

Kaden leaves the couch, shifting his head to give his neck a crack.
"I am adequately motivated to bathe. The tailor will be here within the hour. Make yourself at home, Damien."

---

There's an undeniable oddness in being in someone's home when they're not around to supervise you.
It's quiet, for one thing and the idiosyncrasies of someone are laid bare if you look deep enough.

The coffee table is a kinetic sand table. Slowly, a steel ball rolls through the sand protected by a sheet of glass. It must make a long, endless pilgrimage to draw over the intricate design it only just finished. In an hour when it's new piece of art is finished, it will only be able to rest half an hour before beginning anew.

The sequestered silence ends prematurely at the distinct sound of the door opening.

"I know you're going to get pissy I'm breaking in, but you've given me no choice-" Cade's words meet an abrupt halt when he turns the corner of the foyer and sees the ex-cop.

Pawl trots up, mewing in welcome. The cat can't comprehend all the people in her living space. She seems to want to show the gangster Damien, introduce them as if they haven't met previously. Look at this fellow studying and touching all her things, she says.
Cade scoops up the animal and she obligingly finds her place on his shoulders. When he enters the penthouse he does it without taking off his shoes.

"I didn't know he had company," he says, going to the kitchen to dump a bag of groceries and grab a Pepsi from the fridge.
He returns and he still seems mildly surprised to see Damien.

He takes a long sip before leaning his shoulder into the wall. Pawl is a designer scarf cascading over his shoulders.
He didn't know the crime lord had company because he never has company.
"What're you doing here, brother?"

He smiles grimly, gesturing to their surroundings. "Playing fucking house?"
 

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Damien's eyes don't dare to follow Kaden as he disappears again, the ex-cop nodding only once in response from where he sits on the couch, staring out at the clouds. He's glad. Given the fact that the gangster has agreed to supply him with a firearm and has found the motivation to wash up, he supposes that their "activity" has successfully vented some of Kaden's frustrations.

In a flurry of movement, he doubles over as if something's punched him in the gut, elbows on his knees and hands on his face. This time around with the capo not being present, Damien's groan of embarrassment is audible, if muffled by his palm. The suddenness of the noise makes Pawl jump down from her place.

What the fuck just happened? What the fuck does he think he's doing?

Remain calm. Remain professional.

Damien takes a peek between his fingers at the kinetic table. Of course Finch has a kinetic table. Not that the ex-convict is aware of the name of the technology, but it's an unsurprising piece for the penthouse among the rest of the art on display. Kaden had told him to make himself at home, but Damien is finding the task to be unusually difficult.

With a sigh, he finally rises and goes over to the kitchen to pour himself a glass of water from the sink, taking a long, merciful gulp of the liquid before turning to properly take in the capo's abode. It still feels excessive and artificial, but in the light of day signs of life can be found strewn over the space. He begins slowly walking back to the living room. On his way, Damien's eyes sweep over the cooking equipment, the luxury furniture, the laptop Finch had set aside upon his initial arrival. They linger there.

Unfortunately, this cursory investigation gets interrupted by the front door opening. It makes Damien go on alert before he recognizes the boisterous voice of the new arrival - Cade strides into the apartment, shoes and all. He seems surprised.

From where he is standing in front of the windowed wall, Damien crosses his arms in front of his chest, still holding onto the glass.

"Brother? Is it because we're both ex-cops, or do you call everyone that?" he speaks in a monotone, not wanting to showcase any strong emotion under Cade's question, "I'm still working on my investigation, that's what I'm doing here."

He gazes at the ragdoll draped over the shorter man's shoulder and instantly feels slightly jealous, before a realization sets in.

"You got her for Kaden, didn't you? Pawl, that is."
 

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"A little bit of both," Cade answers, using two fingers to scratch the underside of Pawl's chin. The man likes to get close to people calling them brother.

He nods at Damien's explanation, looking down the hallway where the white noise of the shower is coming from.
Cade scowls, and if this is what worry looks on his face, it's an ugly thing.

"What? Oh, her," he says looking at the cat. He wraps his hand around her head and she freezes. Mews.
"Yeah, he seemed like he needed to get some pussy. I thought Pawl was funny because gangster. Ya'know like, hey Pawly what's a matta with you, eh," he says in an atrocious accent, pinching his fingers together in a way some people might find culturally insensitive.

"That was an Italian mobster impression, by the way."

He looks at Damien and adds, releasing Pawl's head to scratch at his own neck, "Looks like he's gotten something new."

He lets Pawl plop to the floor with a purring mew.
Cade sets his Pepsi down on one of the art pieces.

"Let's cut through some of the bullshit. Is your investigation in here somewhere? Or is it him? In my experience there's not a whole lot of reason someone stays around the guy. You want his money, is that it? Or this is the craziest long con there is and you're waiting until you know enough of us to send us all to prison."

Cade rests his hand on his hip, next to his holstered piece.
"It'd be some real pound me in the ass prison time, Dame. And I'm sure you know all about that."

He sighs. "I'm monologuing. Go ahead and talk. What's your deal, dude?"
 

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Damien covers his mouth, holding back a laugh. He nearly cracks up, not because of Cade's terrible accent - it's so atrocious even he with his zero Italian-American heritage feels offended - but because the damn cat has a mobster nickname. Or, well, name. It's too ridiculous.

"Yeah, I got it. Doubt anyone can misinterpret that impression," that's a lie. The only reason Damien recognizes it for certain is because of the gesture. He looks to "Pawly", smiling, "You could have just called her Pus, though. Like Pussy Malanga."

Damien's expression doesn't last long - it drops back into neutrality as soon as the Black Dog begins interrogating him. The ex-convict ignores the implication that he's this "something new" Finch has gotten, or that he's a gold-digger. He hasn't been called that one before.

"You say there's not a whole lot of reasons to stick around, but you have," he tilts his head in Cade's direction, no mockery in his tone, "Very kind of you to be looking out for your boss."

The ex-cop walks over to where the manila folder lies on the table, putting down his glass of water on top of it.

"I made my motivations clear back at the Moonlit, and they haven't changed. Nor am I hiding something, I have no reason to. I also have no reason or desire to rat any of you out to the police. As a matter of fact, the person Kaden is currently helping me look into is the ex-chief of the NYPD. In return, I still have an informant and have offered my help on the Delilah case if he needs it. That's the arrangement, Cade."

Another lie, this time by omission. He is technically kind of investigating Finch, but that's a personal curiosity his subordinate doesn't need to know about. When the shorter man rests his hand on his hip, in a manner similar to how Montesano or any other police officer does, the ex-cop feels acutely aware of how naked he is without his own firearm. The corner of Damien's mouth rises into a smirk.

"And yeah, I do know the type of prison time you're talking about, SK."
 

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The smile Cade makes is immediately followed by a soft 'dammit' because Pussy Malanga is a far superior name.

Nothing on the man's face shifts as Damien recites his motivation, but there is an intense scrutiny that falls over his blue eyes like a shadow. He cracks his mouth open at the nickname, giving the edge of his lip a lick and showing off the white of his teeth.

"I get why he likes you," he says, half to himself, "you're all..."

He gestures to Damien, finding the words. "Salt of the earth guy."

At some point during their encounter the gentle hammer of the shower stopped. It's only noted at the sound of the bathroom door opening.
Kaden strides out, looking more like himself. He abruptly stops in place seeing the two men together.

"Cade," Kaden attempts a greeting but the tone is too bewildered.

"Can I see you outside?" Cade asks, throwing a thumb over his shoulder.
Kaden looks to Damien before resting his eyes back on his number one.

"I'll be right back, Damien," Kaden reassures, following Cade out.

---
In the shower Kaden's being had hummed at the potential of spending a day with Damien.
He could question it, analyze it. It's what he would usually do, should do.

He knew he was definitely dying of dementia when the muscles in his face hurt from smiling.

He'd never gone to a special event with someone like Damien before.
Besides the pleasure of dressing nice and having women and men alike take him in when he entered a room, he'd never looked forward to an event before. Not like this.

He shortened his showering schedule by fifteen minutes so he could finish early.

He was blindsided by Cade, by two people in one of the few private and safe places in the world.
Cade saved Damien, and yet seeing them together seems unnatural.

It's a relief to take this outside, but a dread too.
Cade is reality knocking on his door.

No, not knocking. Barging in.

The door to the penthouse clicks shut and Kaden levels his breath, straightening his blazer. He's dressed down, compared to his usual.

Cade runs a hand over his prickling bald head, hissing a breath out between his teeth.

"You okay?" He finally asks, and the tone does not request sincerity. It begs the opposite.

"Naturally," Kaden says, looking back at the door to his home.

"Okay, because some fucked up shit happened downstairs and 'naturally' -" Cade uses his fingers to air quote, "you'd be biting at the bit. What's the matter, can you do this?"
"Yes, I'm fine. I'm taking a half day."
"You're hiding in your room!" Cade whisper yells, stabbing a finger at the door.
Kaden has no immediate response for such an outlandish accusation.

Cade coughs, taking a step away to equalize.
"You buck up, okay? We gotta deal with this, Finch."

Finch stares in silence at the polished floor. Is he really hiding? The concept hasn't sounded appealing since he was a child.

Kaden follows Cade's eyes to the door. The man gnaws on the inside of his cheek.

"You're the one who insisted I spare him," Kaden reasons.
"Oh, I know, believe me, I know."

There's something under Cade's skin. Finch has never seen him like this. It can't be from the cruelty downstairs.

What could unnerve a man like Cade?

"Just- downstairs you were so fucking..." Cade scowls into the air, clenching his teeth.

...So angry.

...So confused.

So lost.

"In control," Cade says. He looks up at Kaden, something different in his eyes the capo doesn't recognize. It's like admiration, but twisted in a way Kaden can't describe.

"If you can't be an emotionless bastard under these circumstances then be, fucking, angry. At least." Cade emphasizes each word by stabbing a finger into his palm.
His knuckles are still bloody, scabbed over.

Kaden wants so desperately to be angry like he was before. He knows it's there, under layers of denial and uncertainty.
He wants to be an animal for Cade, he has to be.

Kaden looks back at the door and he hears Cade sigh.

"He needs you for your teeth, and a guy like that is going to realize sooner or later he doesn't like the taste of blood when he bites."

He can feel Cade looking at him, cutting through him with his gaze.

"And boss, you're covered in it."

Kaden stares at that door and imagines the man with the every-color eyes and the cheeks that go red under the slightest embarrassment standing beyond it.

"Give me the day to recoup," he says, "I have to think about what happens next and before that happens I need to rest."

Cade's brows shoot up in disbelief. "Rest? I mean- yeah, okay."
"What?"
"...Nothin', Finch."

Cade takes a big breath, resting his hands on his hips. Kaden senses the disappointment but he can't be bothered.

"Keep your focus," Cade says, seriously and then adds with a smile, "Or I'll have to kill ya."

Kaden doesn't laugh. Neither does Cade.

Against his better judgement, Kaden turns away from his problems to step into the warmth of his home.

If he is hiding there's a comfort and an overwhelming and paralyzing fear Damien will find him.
 

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