A\N: Racial language is indicative of the times and not my thoughts.
FIC: Pulp Faith (7/?)
“Rasputin?” Faith’s brow furrowed as she peered at the Shadow. “My history’s a little rusty, but didn’t he die like twenty years ago?”
Faith was gratified by the mystery man’s slight nod. “He was reported as dead, but rumours surround him and his mastery of the occult. Rumours that he faked his own death to escape the coming revolution, rumours that he had treated his body with foul spells that ensured he survived the assassination attempt, and even a few rumours that he was no longer truly human when killed.”
“He was still human,” Xander broke in. Her friend reddened when both her and the Shadow’s gaze turned on him. “I read a biography by a Watch-, academic,” Xander quickly changed at her warning clearing of her throat. “He was human, but rumoured to live to some twenty-years after he supposedly died, actually dying a year or so before the sec-, the 1940s. But this book postulated he was one bad-ass mystic and an occultist whose breadth of knowledge had few peers.”
The Shadow nodded. “Even the mystics of the east that I trained with both feared and revered Rasputin as one of the most powerful and twisted mages in living memory.”
“Oh goody,” Faith flashed the mystery man her dimples, “I always like a challenge, keeps life interesting.”
“Well he’ll be that alright,” the Shadow paused. “If you still wish to accompany me?”
Xander and Faith exchanged looks. “Rasputin might not be a vampire, but I don’t hold with him giving Amara’s Mask to any vampire,” Faith replied for her Watcher. “Sorta professional pride.” Faith paused. “So, our next move?”
“Rasputin is a man of power, but he is still a man, and a notorious one at that, to get into the US., he must have had assistance in the Russian community getting into this country,” the Shadow replied. “I happen to know Oleg Sayan runs the crime gangs for the Russian communities throughout the eastern coast.”
“Then I guess we know where our next lead is,” Xander commented.
Shadows swirled around Oleg’s mansion, the rain coming down in a torrential downpour, the winds battering his house so intense they rattled its window grilles. Many quailed before such torrid weather, but he luxuriated in it, reminding him as it did of his mother Russia.
He’d only been a child when his family had fled the Marxists, bringing as much of their small fortune as they could manage with them, money he had used to purloin stakes in as many émigrés’ businesses as he could manage. It had been a bloody, dangerous climb, but now he stood at the peak of the Russian underworld, a rival and peer of the likes of Lucky Luciano, Bugsy Siegel, Vito Genovese, Frank Costello, and Meyer Lansky. And yet for all his evident power, he had little doubt that one day soon, the yids and wops would move against him, just like they’d moved against the micks and the Moustache Petes, and combined would crush him.
Sometimes, in the quiet, he could almost hear his life ticking away.
Oleg shivered involuntarily then forced a laugh, the gaiety sounding forced even to his own ears. Shaking his head, he downed the rich Cognac in his glass, rose and made his way over to the drinks cabinet.
Then froze, his blood icing when the lights went out. Could it be the storm? Or could it be the Families had come to finish him?
“Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows! And a good deal of evil lurks in yours.”
“Nyet.” Worse than his worse nightmare, Oleg spun towards the voice, his hand dipping inside his jacket for his shoulder holster. He gasped as a fist crashed in his back from the other direction and a hand grabbed the wrist of his gun arm and pulled it back, a knee swinging up to crash into his shoulder, popping it out of the joint. His senses reeling and legs rubbery, he fell to his knees, his attacker’s hand reaching in and pulling his gun out of his holster.
And then he was stood over him, hovering like the grim reaper himself, terrifying enough almost to make Oleg’s bowels and bladder loosen. “I know you run crime in the Russian community,” the Shadow shook his head as he opened his mouth, “don’t bother to deny it, right now I don’t care about your grubby little dealings, all I want to know -.”
“Is Rasputin?” Oleg squeaked out a guess, his entire body trembling. He’d long thought of himself as a man to be feared, but that opinion had been shaken in recent days, first by the scowling mystic that had so bedeviled his parents’ generation and now by the mysterious hero so lauded by the people.
The Shadow grunted what he supposed was an affirmation. “If you tell me what you know I might be persuaded to temporarily forget about your operation while I deal with him. Otherwise,” the Shadow’s shadow seem to stretch ever further over him, encompassing him in darkness, “I could take your organisation apart piece by piece, starting with you.”
“I own some properties in Olneyville-.”
“You’re a slum-lord.”
Oleg ignored the contempt dripping from his attacker’s voice. “So I moved some tenants out who owed me rent and put Rasputin in there, together with several men to guard and look after him.”
“Several men?” the Shadow pressed.
“Five,” he finally gave up any pretense at resistance. “Armed with tommy guns and knives, under his command for as long as he wants them.” Oleg shrugged. “It’s far enough out of the way not to interfere with my day-to-day business, but near enough that I can keep my eye on it.”
The Shadow peered down on him, brooding eyes boring into him. “The exact address?”
Faith broke the long silence that followed the Shadow striding into the gangster’s mansion. “So that book you read on Rasputin, was that written by a Watcher?” Xander nodded. “He was a real bad ass, huh?”
Xander shrugged. “Supposedly he was one of the great powers of this time.”
“Yeah, bout that,” Faith grimaced. “He couldn’t be the Sorcerer Supreme could he?”
Faith was relieved when Xander shook his head. “No, the Sorcerer Supreme isn’t just about being powerful, you have to be wise, to be able to put the concerns before others, to sacrifice. It isn’t Rasputin.”
“That’s a relief,” Faith paused. “We’re doing the right thing helping the Shadow?”
“Like you said, a vampire could do a lot of damage with the Mask, and we’re still a Watcher and a Slayer,” Xander broke off to peer through the window. “He’s comin’.”
Faith nodded then smirked. “For the record, duty blows the big one.”
Rasputin sat cross-legged in the unlit bedroom, his eyes closed as he ignored his surroundings in favour of centering himself. Nothing mattered, the men prowling around the house’s downstairs, the mould making its way down the walls, the winds and rain lashing the building, nothing mattered but his inner peace, conserving and building his strength.
For he sensed something was coming, something that would test the limits of his powers.
A smile lit up his face. And he welcomed the challenge, things had been going so well so far as to almost be boring.
“This is the building?” Xander queried as he peered at the two-storey building sat on the street corner. Shadows shrouded it, but failed to fully disguise its dilapidated condition, the porch looked like another strong wind might send it flying into the next state, the gutters were barely hanging in place, the dirty windows with cracks in them, and the ill-fitting doors. “Hardly the Ritz.”
“According to Sayan, Rasputin wanted somewhere out of the way that didn’t stand out, this certainly fits the bill,” the Shadow explained. “The only question is how do we get in?”
Faith smirked as she stuck her head between the two men sat in the front. “I know you got that mystic swami thing goin’ on, but why don’t you leave this to me?”
The Shadow glanced at Xander who shrugged. “It’s not exactly natural charm,” Faith snorted at that, “but Faith has a way of making guys see things her way.” Xander glanced at her. “How are you going to play it?”
“Drunk broad stumbles up to the wrong house yellin’ for her ex, get in close, take ‘em out, you two cling to the shadows and be ready to come in heavy after I make my move,” Faith glanced at the house. “You and me clear the downstairs, and the Shadow goes up. Whoever gets their hands on Rasputin goes in hard and heavy.”
Xander shrugged. “You’ll need a bottle.” Faith stared at her boy-friend, dark eyes uncomprehending. “To sell it, you’ll need a bottle.”
“Good point,” Faith pursed her lips then grinned. “We passed an alley with some winos in, couple of streets back, I’ll grab a bottle from one of them.”
The Shadow glanced at Xander the moment Faith slid out of the car. “Are you sure she can do this?”
Xander chuckled at his concern. “Worry about the thugs, worry about the thugs.”
Yuri Smiroff shivered as the winds rattled the porch he was stood upon, rain leaking through cracks in the roof. And yet he preferred this discomfort to being inside with him, the boogeyman for generations of Russians, the Mad Monk brought back to life.
Lightning flashed, briefly illuminating the swirling darkness surrounding them. “Hey yoose dirty rat!” he blinked as a slight figure swayed towards them, mostly-drunk bottle held triumphantly aloft, swinging jerkily around. “Youse think you can break promises!” the figure continued as it weaved towards the porch he and his companion were stood upon.
Yuri’s eyes widened as the lightning flashed again, this time illuminating a bedraggled but undoubtedly bewitching beauty. Shaking his head, he stepped on to the porch’s edge and tried in his best English. “You mistake, no-one here for you!”
The brunette stopped at the bottom of the steps and peered up. Yuri blinked as she cleared the four steps in a split-second, her knee swinging up and into his midsection. Yuri groaned as he doubled-up, the air gusting from his lungs as the woman brought her bottle down on the back of his head.
Seeing the other man bringing up his tommy-gun, Faith glided inside the man’s gun and caught him with a straight right to the jaw that snapped his head to the side, blood spewing out of his mouth. The man’s legs went rubbery, but to his credit he managed to keep his hands on his gun, swinging it up as he attempted to take aim.
Faith’s left hand snaked out, grasping the weapon around its black barrel and wrenching it out of his hands while swinging her foot up and taking a punt with the wanna-be hood’s nuts. The man greyed as she scored a field goal with his balls, his legs finally giving up the ghost and buckling beneath him.
“Your friend was right to trust you.”
Faith’s heart jumped at the Shadow’s ghostly utterance. Forcing a nonchalant expression, she spun to face the 1930s hero and nodded. “Thanks,” she looked to Xander, “are we getting this done?”