Coliseum Diplomacy

Participants:

deckard_icon.gif logan_icon.gif muldoon_icon.gif rico_icon.gif teo_icon.gif

Via Bird:

eileen_icon.gif

Scene Title Coliseum Diplomacy
Synopsis The Englishmen have a proposition. The Sicilian is very surprised. Deckard despairs. The Puerto-Rican offers coping advice and favors involving explosives.
Date March 4, 2009

Shooters Bar and Bistro

A place that used to be a cafe and is making a slow progression towards being a dive bar. During the day, the balcony and a good portion of the sidewalk is taken up by outdoor chairs and tables, where people can enjoy a beer as well as a sandwich or whatever else is on their menu - a decent, if simply array of bar food. During the evening, unless it's a warm night, these are taken inside, and the kitchens are closed. A wide variety of beer is available, along with hard liquor and maybe a few wine labels, but nothing fancy. The interior decor is similar to traditional British pubs, with a hardwood bar and brick wall. There's an old pool table towards the back, along with a dart board. The building is actually two storeys high, but whatever is upstairs is inaccessible to the general public.


Shooters isn't busy this time of night, but isn't like something out of ghost town either — cigarette smoke wafts through the air in thick, silky tendrils, forms an ugly layer of smog over its patron's heads and clings to hair, skin and clothes with a stench that rivals stale cat piss in its tenacity.

While it's not an ideal place to undergo negotiations by any stretch of the imagination, it is at the very least safe for all parties involved. The pseudo-bistro's bartender keeps a shotgun behind his counter and if things get out of hand, you can bet the guilty parties will be marched outside at the point of a double-barrel.

James Muldoon sits at one of the tables closest to the rear exit, half-swathed in shadow, his attention divided between the front door and the slightly-leaner, wirier shape of his present companion and long-time business partner, John Logan.

A tall glass of lager sits in front of Logan, half-drained and now mostly ignored as they await their guests. He's dressed very much for a business meeting, it seems, with perhaps the extra flare of both his cane and the silk of his black shirt, but then again, that's how he often dresses. The silvered, scratched tip of the cane, its metal blade of bright white to Deckard's invasive gaze sheathed in polished black wood, rests against the less than clean wooden floor of the dive bar, clean hand covering the wolf's head as the other reaches to ash his cigarette into the ashtray. He's not really watching the door.

He has other men to do that for him. They're discreet presences, almost shadows in the corners, and Eloni will be one familiar figure nearest the bar, chatting amicably to the bartender and dressed down for the evening.

For politeness' sake, Teo pushes the hood backward off his head when he reaches the door. Politeness' sake. Overall, however, he remains starkly under-dressed compared to the other participants in this peculiar and small clandestine meeting, in his characteristically uncouth mix of jeans, boots, and cotton kept dark more in the interest of concealing expected stains than preserving some modicum of dignity.

He looks like a thug, mostly, from the uneven buzzcut and down to the makeup, or garish lack thereof: subdermal haemorrhages fading cloudy green and mustard yellow from his angular face except for the festive daub of purple off one side of his chin. The only real inconsistency is the bird sitting on his shoulder. Literally. A bird.

She's a house sparrow, moderate weight for her kind. Tucked in between Teo's neck and collar, tiny bill, white bib, and licorice-dot eyes, docile as you like, tiny candy-pink feet gripping the line of bare skin to no evident discomfort. A good thing. Teo recognizes Eloni, Logan, and Muldoon by description. He gets the sense bursting into tickled hysterics would be a bad move.

He's wryly, inwardly pleased he at least didn't come alone. "Good evening," he calls out, never one to be rude.

Deckard is relaxed. Alcohol has that effect on people, and this isn't the first bar he's ventured into in the time between this afternoon's meeting and right now. No longer aiming to impress and/or please, he's wearing a grey suit that's more comfortable than anything either gent has seen him in before. Comfortable as in, it looks like it's survived at least one explosion, and may or may not have been trampled by stampeding horses at some point in the last decade. More practically, it clearly belongs to someone who is fascinated with fire and not very good at doing laundry. It's faded in irregular patches around the joints, singed near black across the back of the shoulders and up the right sleeve. No blood stains, but the day isn't over yet.

He's a tall and unsmiling stack of crooked shapes at Teo's back, classier overcoat lifted onto a rack near the door. He does not call out, 'Good evening,' or wave, or give any indication that he recognizes Logan or Muldoon past a single-eyed stare that's cold enough to burn. His eye patch is black.

Blue eyes study Teo and Deckard without words of greeting to accompany them. It's difficult to read Muldoon's face or the expression chiseled into it, but the lines that compose his brow are deep while his lips are pulled thin and tight. With a slight tilt of his head accompanied by a rolling shoulder, he gestures for the newcomers to take a seat at the table where there are not two but three empty seats.

If he notices the sparrow, he doesn't comment on it — were he to chide Teo for bringing an animal inside, he'd only be throwing proverbial stones in an equally proverbial glass house. Perched haughtily on the edge of the table is auburn-furred squirrel monkey whose tail looks as though it's been dipped in a bottle of ink. Unlike its master, it takes an unhealthy interest in the bird at Teo's shoulder, large eyes as cruel and hungry as they are bright.

"Good evening," Logan says, when they approach and Muldoon gestures for them to join the table. Teo's presence is a predictability, Logan quickly glancing over his face as if to distantly and subtly inspect some measure of handiwork, before he looks to Deckard, meeting that cold one-eyed look without remorse. This man's presence is more of a surprise, and that much shows. Logan's gaze switches from bright blue eye to the blank wall of black that is his eyepatch, and just manages to keep reaction off his face, even if it takes some looking away, a hand out to grip his drink.

Both men bearing scars of his sins - if this phases Logan, it doesn't show. But it might be the reason for the revolver under his jacket. "Thank you for making it, gentlemen. The venue's appreciated too. Please, take a seat."

The monkey probably wouldn't be the first premise of complaint to come to Teo's mind, were he to complain. Bringing little birds out of the cold and into disreputable establishments, now, that line might conspire with his tendency to overthink words to bring an awkward end to his otherwise carefully maintained manners.

He exchanges a short-lived stare with Muldoon's pet and avoids waving a hand in the air between his companion and Logan.

Halting at the table, he drags one chair out over the scarred floor, then another out for Deckard with one arching push of his foot. Slinging one long leg over, he drops himself into his seat. The sparrow catches herself with a minute flare of pinions. His elbows meet the table, shoulders hiking, and he glances up to confirm — politely rather than out of any sort of paranoia, surely — that Deckard's making it down safely.

"Glad you like it," he answers. He looks back. Muldoon first, Logan second. "Where's our girl?"

Deckard hasn't had so much that he can't find his way down into a chair, the problem of depth perception managed with a hand braced casually upon its back while he lowers himself down into it. The stink of whiskey about him is little more than a bitter tang on the slow breath he pushes out of his lungs once he's settled. Aaaand…

There's a monkey on the table.

The line of his glare traces over the skeleton beneath ruddy fur with medical precision, long bone to joint, to bone again, to socket. Sharp simian fangs fixed elongate in jaws slung forward under a low forehead and wide, empty eyes. It's interesting. But not interesting enough to keep him from looking flatly back at Logan when Teo asks what he asks.

"I'm sure you'll both understand when I say I'm not yet comfortable with the idea of you being privy to that information," Muldoon replies as he removes the cigarette dangling from the corner of his mouth and smothers it in the ashy basin of the glass tray at the center of the table. "You want your friend back, and I want the Pancratium's reputation to remain intact. If someone were to somehow find out that we simply let someone go because we were asked politely, then we'd have people knocking on our doors day and night, demanding for things well beyond their reach."

He leans back in his seat, drums his fingers against the table's surface, pauses to survey the faces of the two men sitting across from him before he shifts his attention over to the one beside him and lifts one prompting eyebrow. "Logan?"

Monkey on the table— or on most other surfaces really— is not so unusual if you know Muldoon, and Logan is well used to it, reaching around the creature so as to flick more ash into the ceramic tray, pretending, perhaps, like he doesn't notice Deckard's stare. Except on occasion he meets it, just as flatly, even as he's urged to speak. "There's a way we can settle this," he says, lightly and almost pleasantly. "In all fairness. What passes for fairness around these parts, anyway." He rewards them both with a lazy smile, and now he addresses Deckard - he's more familiar with this man. They once did business, and all that. "What we'd like to propose is that we leave it in the ring. I asked you before, Mr. Deckard, if you were a betting men. I do hope your attitude's changed."

For one moment stretched out around several bars of conversation and a few kamikaze headbutts of a bottlefly trapped in the air vent below Muldoon's chair, the only ones not looking at the monkey is the one that the monkey's thinking about eating and the one wondering how many black widow spider bites it would take to tank the diminutive creature's body.

The next moment, the bottlefly whitters into a brief reprieve clinging to a blob of dust, and Teo is looking at — Flint, despite that he's the only one who hasn't said anything interesting, keeping his face very still.

Muldoon had asked him before, hey? That's news to somebody.

On the other hand, if the baby terrorist were to start haranguing his grizzled old comrade-informant-adoptee about his choice of friends, it probably wouldn't be the interval sandwiched between his accidentally sponsoring bloodsports and breaking Homeland Security in the nose. "'Leave it in the ring?'" he repeats, as if suddenly quite deaf or dense. He frowns, incredulous; sits forward an inch. "You want somebody to get in there, and beat up one of your — slaves, so we can get another slave out, and provide stakes for entertainment night in the same industry you fucking kidnapped all these people for?"

His jaw closes. Tightens. Fortunate, probably, that he's still using his indoors voice. "Are you fucking serious?" The sparrow tilts her head.

In the absence of a tie and any other effort made towards respectful presentability, the only type of business Deckard currently looks capable of doing would have to occur in alleyways too deep and dark for anyone here to venture into alone.

He doesn't flinch from the pimp's address. The lines around his mouth sharpen somewhat out of their fuzzy creases, jawline taut beneath a visible knotting of the muscles behind hollowed cheeks. The hand that he has on the table goes a little pale, both at the fingertips and knuckles, where pressure seeks to drill it silently into polished wood with as little movement as possible. He's not blinking all that much, either, single eye fixed hard on Logan's limey face. All in all he seems slightly off. So much so that he fails to notice Teo looking at him, and he's forgotten about the monkey altogether.

c"No." If he's suffered any kind of attitude change at all, it's clearly been for the worse. "While it be nice to think you guys are here because you'd like to give us a sporting chance, I'm more inclined to assume it's because you've realized you have a problem."

"I am being entirely serious," Muldoon replies evenly, and his level tone suggests that he is. "But let's not jump to conclusions. The majority of the people who work for us do so of their own accord. This is what I propose: one of my men against one of yours, and if you can't find someone willing to fight for Abigail's freedom, then you can have your pick from my person line-up."

The monkey isn't so bold as to lunge at Teo's shoulder, but the way it has begun to shift its weight from foot to foot is beginning to make the sparrow nervous. Don't sound too incredulous, Teo, Eileen's warning drifts through the Italian's head, voice disembodied and lilting. Try not to forget whose sandbox it is we're playing in.

Muldoon, meanwhile, watches Deckard with no small amount of fascination — no matter where else it wanders, his gaze always returns to the patch the other man wears across his eye. "I'll tell you what," he says, "if your man wins, we won't stop at the girl. We'll let them all go, no strings attached. That's what you want, isn't it?"

The sound of the door to shooters swings open with the force of someone being thrown into it isn't quite the response Muldoon was expecting.

It's much like a scene out of a classic Western, when the body comes crashing through a door, sending it swinging wide as the victim of some unruly brawl comes tumbling in. But it isn't some man in a ten-gallon hat that comes bouncing across the floor, sliding to a bloody and pulverized stop next to an unoccupied table — it's one of Muldoon's private security team. The man looks like so much a raw side of beef; purple and red in most places, bleeding from the lip, nose and ear. From the sounds of his pained groaning, and the way he curls up into the fetal position, he's quite alive.

Following through the open door, as if that was a method of knocking comes a long man with a tired and lazy swagger. The smoke of a glowing cigar pinched between two fingers mingles with the smoke in the rest of the room, his boots clomping loudly on the rough, wood floor. "Buenas noches," the scruffy Cuban man lets the words roll off of his tongue, "I think you left this outside, he was playing with a gun — very dangerous toy." Not breaking his stride, the cocksure swagger of Rico Velasquez steps over the prone man, letting his eyes pitch in the direction of Teo, then Deckard with a nod of his head.

"Don't mind me, Gringos," he grimaces, moving over to the bar as his focus shifts to the man behind the counter that is quietly keeping his hands near the shotgun behind the bar. "A shot of Tequila for myself and my friend on the floor," he states with a crooked grin, pulling the cigar out from his lips before settling down on one stool, "please."

To little Teodoro's credit, he doesn't sink below the level of the table and mumble about not knowing Velasquez.

There's more and suddenly going on, and instinct — training — paranoia cue to cut this shit and fucking run. His left eye is squinted narrow, his right eye large, glancing askance at the Puerto Rican for a space of a few rapid heartbeats, wholly ignoring the floor-level companion. After a moment, his right hand rabbits up in the air. Waves. "Introduce you soon," he offers, neatly.

When he turns his head back, he has his face set to incredibly confused about hearing the bird — it must have been the bird — talk to his head in Eileen's voice. A little incredulity has apparently added sweetener to the pot, actually, but he understands the dangers of pushing that too far. He drags his elbows backward off the table's edge, settling with a creak.

And he still isn't looking at Deckard. Or speaking. It's the neon sign of nonverbal cues that the old man's answer doesn't go for both of them.

"No introductions are necessary," Muldoon assures Teo, not without a grudging note of respect. "If Mr. Velasquez is wise, then he'll keep his nose out of other people's business." He gives Rico a pointed look before glancing down at his man on the floor. Within moments, two more have rushed into Shooters from the outside, hot on the Puerto Rican's tail, and are crouched beside their companion, hauling him out of his fetal position and back onto his feet. The monkey is considerably more spooked than Muldoon is — sparrow forgotten, it has retreated to its master's lap and is clinging to the front of Muldoon's coat like a frightened child might to its mother's skirts.

"This is a one-time offer, Deckard, and it expires in twenty-four hours. I strongly suggest you take it into consideration before shooting us down. If you do, you'll be leaving us with no other choice but to take precautionary measures against whatever stunt it is your people have in the works." Muldoon rises from his seat at the table, hefting the monkey up onto his shoulder. "We'll be here this time tomorrow. If you don't show your faces, then I will have to assume your answer is no."

One would assume that Muldoon and Logan had discussed all of this at length before this meeting could take place. But as Logan's gaze wanders from Deckard and over towards the little bird on Teo's shoulder, there's a distinct line of tension along Logan's shoulders as Muldoon widens the generousity of the deal, eyes unfocusing a little perhaps as certain mathematics and thought processes go on behind cold, pale green eyes, but otherwise, there's no objection. Faint concern creases a line between Logan's eyebrows, and that's it, only staying quiet this round as he regards the two men.

And perhaps in a sense, Deckard's behaviour is beginning to put him on edge, although he's good at maintaining a poker face. Just, no more doe eyes across the table for the ex-con, Logan choosing to stand as Muldoon does, hand rested on his cane as he starts to move away. "Slave is such a strong word," he notes, softly, a quirk of a smile lifting one corner of his mouth, before he is headed for the door, casting an icy and curious gaze towards Rico as he moves. In sync, his personal hired shadows similarly make for out, Eloni casting a bright smile towards the two men.

Suddenly: Rico. There's a big man curled up on the floor, the monkey takes short-rage flight, and Deckard's searing stare is diverted sideways several degrees, though the rest of him remains quite still. His mouth falls open like it occurs to him that he should maybe say something, but he either can't think, or can't think of anything to say, and by the time his attention snaps back to Logan and Muldoon, they're moving.

Said movement strikes tension stiff into the cross of neck and shoulders, especially in the wake of an offer that's really not much of a yes or no kind of — thing. Breath escaped in a soundless rush of unpleasant emotion, he bites off whatever he was going to say with bared teeth and tips his head down to look hard at the table.

Leaning on the bar, Rico narrows one eye and looks down to the man on the floor, feeling the weight of the gun he stripped off of him occupying a holster that has gone empty for far too long inside of his jacket. The two men and a monkey at Teodoro's table earn a bit of a puzzled look, before he picks up the shot glass offered to him and tips it back with a swallow, settling it down quietly on the bar with an appreciative hiss at the burn.

Peering over his shoulder, Rico eyes the prone figure lying face-down, watching as the other two rush in and pull the poor bastard to his feet. The dark-haired ex-soldier tips his head in a nice to see you two again nod, keeping most of his focus on them to see how they react. With a wipe of his hand over his mouth, getting the lingering drops of Tequila out of his beard, Rico leans to one side with a creak on his stool, giving a cautious look to Deckard and Teo. Refreshingly, the rugged Italian has all of his head intact this time — that's always a good sign.

It's obvious the longer Rico sits on the stool that he's tense, making an obviously attention-drawing attempt at an entrance. He rests one elbow on the bar, looking to the empty shot glass, then up to the bartender again in a more wary manner before shifting his eyes over to Eloni's broad form. But he stays seated, perhaps in some attempt to make his presence clearly felt, for whatever misguided reasons he has.

Remind me to come up with alternative terms before I sit down with organized criminals, Teo thinks in the sparrow's general direction, without having any idea whether or not he's wasting neuronfire on a blank wall of purely projective telepathy. Aloud, he murmurs something low, automatic, comforting for the hollow-boned bundle of down and feather at his neck, even as he visibly quells the urge to rise, himself.

His white knight's sense is going off like klaxxons inside his head, over the background drone of ordinary fear. Even without the amplification of a metal plate or the acoustic hole in his head, there's a good bit going on in there; he figures, the more distance between Rico and the goons' owners, the better. "I get it.

"I'll talk to my boss." The reply is rote, empty of meaning, precautionary, not precisely a lie. He tilts his head at the Englishmen and, through some coincidence of trajectories, winds up blocking the tiny sparrow from view of Muldoon's pet with the oblique line of his jaw. He watches them progress halfway across the floor before squinting at Rico.

The door behind Logan and Muldoon doesn't immediately bang shut. The two men helping their injuried companion have to skulk out after them before that can happen, and when it does it's more of a gentle click that a slam.

You have a boss? Eileen asks, tone rhetorical and maybe a little bit teasing too as the sparrow presses her side against Teo's jaw, ducks her head and squirms under his collar in search of a warmer, darker place to rest now that the immediate danger has passed. She's never been very specific with him about how her ability works — this, perhaps, is why. Do what you need to. I'll be here.

There's not a lot of sound about Deckard's fourth of the table. He's quiet and still save for the scrape of his thick watchband against the table when the hand he still has there curls itself into a fist. It's a blank, hopeless, hollow kind of silence. And it's a long time before he finally looks up again — not at Teo, but past him, to Rico at the bar.

"They have Sylar." In the event Teo didn't know. He swallows dryly, never seeming to have enough spit in his mouth lately, expression still in tune with his earlier silence. "Have you seen what he does to people?"

Long after Muldoon and Logan have left, Rico slowly slides off of the stool and makes his way over to where Teodoro and Deckard sit. His eyes narrow, looking the two over before he quietly adds, "I came here to ask a man about a helicopter that went missing." His dark eyes shift to Flint, finally noticing the eyepatch. There's a look of cognitive dissonance in his eyes, he obviously didn't expect to see it there. The comment about Sylar came just a bit too early for him to hear, and perhaps his interjection affords Teo with a moment to consider how best to approach Deckard's concerns.

"There were some men across the street, si?" He points with his nose towards the door, "Looked like they were waiting for some people to come out of the bar, they had guns, I don't think they were cleaning them." He half turns, brow furrowed slightly, "So, I instructed them on proper cleaning methods, they were not approving, so I might have showed them how the pavement tastes instead." He shrugs a shoulder, looking down to a few spots of blood on the floor where the man he had beaten was.

"You have some dangerous friends, those two. I figured — saving the world and all that — you might retire, no?"

Yes, Teo has seen it. Photographs, mostly. Some halfway bodge-job done on Helena's hand, the look on Felix's face. It's promising in that entirely horrific way. He wasn't going to reply, not yet, his brain racing away behind a slight grimace offered down to the sparrow in the crook of his neck, but Rico's arrival prompts him to cast the old man a misguided word of comfort in place of a plan.

"Don't forget to breathe."

Teodoro's young, after all; it's symptomatic of that and nothing more that he fails to greet completely abysmal situation reports with the proper recognition. Instead, he chucks his chin up in a hooligan's greeting to the approaching man. Whatever bit of Italian he was going to dribble along with it aborts promptly when Rico explains himself and asks questions. "Mi dispiace," he offers, in honest condolences. "I don't know what happened to your bird. I got shot. Lost track for a few days." A lot of people got shot; he imagines Rico probably had not noticed his one out of the dozens, plus bombs, capsizing freighter.

Some wilted facsimile of humor plucks at the corner of his mouth, part gratitude, mostly rue. He lifts one shoulder — the one the sparrow isn't attached to — and drops it again. "Did saving the world seem like it paid a wage?"

Cognitive dissonance is met with leveled brows and a scowl pulled long down a face that's already quite lengthy. Neither particularly pronounced, but certainly there enough to register as displeasure. Evidently Deckard hasn't been without an eye for long enough not to care when other people notice, though the aversion of his gaze stinks more of private unease than it does annoyance.

Having chosen to isolate a salt shaker for staring at rather than Teo, the old man scrubs a hand up over the unpatched side of his face, callouses scuffing over bristled stubble. He isn't one-hundred percent present. Other things on his mind, like if negotiations might have gone better if he'd shot the monkey or managed to get a knife up through the bottom of Logan's too-pretty jaw—

"I'm only forty-two." That's what he says aloud, rough voice muffled into the downsweep of his palm before it plants back against the table to push him and his chair back away from it. "I have at least another two decades of fucking myself over left in me." One deep breath later, possibly drawn in at Teo's suggestion, he pushes to his feet. "I don't know where your helicopter went. Try David Copperfield."

Rico manages a bit of a smirk, looking from Teo to Deckard, "It's amazing you might make it to forty-three, you are a lucky man." You know, not counting the eyepatch. Rico shifts the way his shoulders are positioned, resting his hands in his pockets. "There's a boathouse, down in Kills," the Puerto Rican nods his head towards the door, of all things. "If either of you find out about my bird," his eyes flick to the one on Teo's shoulder, one brow raising, "Come see me. You know, or if you need something blown sky high, there is that too."

As he turns, he adds as if an aside, "You know, as repayment for not shooting me in the fucking head." He may well have deserved it, all things considered. "You two, you have yourselves…" He stops halfway to the door, looking back at Teo and Deckard, then the bartender of all people, before back to the more familiar pair. "Something." Have yourselves something. Isn't that eloquent?

"Buenas noches." He echoes from earlier, one hand waving flippantly on his shoulder, point made, and offer spat out. He's tense enough for one night.


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March 4th: I Missed You
Previously in this storyline…
Tonight

Next in this storyline…
Playing by the Rules

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March 4th: Playing by the Rules
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