Coming Armed


eileen_icon.gif teo3_icon.gif

Scene Title Coming Armed
Synopsis Teodoro and Eileen return to her apartment in Brooklyn several hours after their meeting with Peyton to discuss strategy. Rest.
Date March 2, 2010

Fort Greene: Eileen's Apartment

Eileen's apartment smells like fresh paint and spackling paste. Let it never be said that the Company doesn't clean up its messes; apart from the scratches in the floorboards and some minor discolouration on one of the walls where a bullet hole has been filled with liquid plaster and smoothed out using a rough piece of sandpaper, there are no physical signs that Feng Daiyu or Sasha Kozlow were ever here at all.

An empath might pick up on the ones outside the spectrum Teodoro and Eileen have access to. The fight that tore through her living room and kitchen has left a strong psychic impression, and although neither of them can sense it, the fear exuded by Paulson has he lay bleeding on the bathroom floor continues to linger alongside the fainter aromas of bleach and antiseptic.

The Englishwoman's bloodstained coat and shirt hang in the shower on hooks, leaving her dressed in her dark jeans and black silk brassiere as she picks through an open box on the kitchen counter in an attempt to take an inventory of what little paperwork she keeps in her bedroom crawlspace. Some of it is obviously missing, and so is one of the fingernails on her left hand — the one not bound in gauze. Her midsection is wrapped in more of the stuff and held in place with a metal clasp and clear matte medical tape that has a texture like the ribbed mat she keeps on the floor of the shower.

If she doesn't want to go to a hospital, she could probably benefit from a second opinion. Francois and Abigail would both be appropriate picks.

Maybe the Company owes her a layer of new paint, some cleansing chemistry, and a few resurfacing details. Teo looks at the apartment first, then at the denuding girl a second before he thinks to shift his gaze away for decency's sake, were 'decency' is as much Catholic prudishness as the realization that those wounds aren't what Eileen opts to market at the Burlesque.

He sets himself on the couch. His cast-stiffened ankle is propped out a few inches further than his good one, and his shoulders slouched slightly over his knees, elbows bent outward at praying-mantid right angles. He peels his gloves off stiffly, in some hope that the exertion will get the blood flowing back through his fingers faster than the elasticized cotton's protection will.

She should really be lying down, but he supposes— he supposes she just got done doing that, so he doesn't insist. Instead, he takes out his painkiller packet again and lays that on her coffee table, this time. This is a nice apartment. You know, apart from the bullet scar in the wall, there, and the reek of cover-up thicker than the foundation on a pornstar's face.

"I have one-point-five roommates who'd be happy to look at your new war wounds," he says, glancing down at his flawed reflection, table-top. He listens to his pulse beating like a drum in his ankle.

Eileen makes a low, scratchy noise at the back of her throat that sounds suspiciously noncommittal. The woman Ghost remembers used to get like this too — double shifts at St. Luke's, long cab rides drifting on the eddies of rush hour traffic only to return home to an empty house and a bed with sheets that smell like someone she hasn't seen for more than twenty-four hours. Focusing on her work doesn't make the depression go away, but it takes her mind off it. Codeine relieves her of the pain.

"I broke into Danko's apartment," she says, placing the lid back on the box with a crisp rustle of paper. Whatever she was able to determine by sifting through its contents, it isn't as important as pushing the box aside and leaving the kitchen to join Teo in what passes for a den. She leans against the arm of an adjacent chair to take some of the weight off her feet and give her legs a rest without sitting down. If she does, she's not sure she'll be capable of summoning the energy required to get back up again. "Got caught."

If he still had Ghost's ability, Teo probably would have peeked. Spied. Wanted to know what was so important in that box that could hold her attention and keep her on her feet when she's missing— a Goddamn finger nail and survived a roll through what is apparently ten miles of bad road with Danko's fingers wrapped around her throat.

The woman Ghost remembers hadn't been exactly like this. Not exactly.

He is annoyed and displeased. Immediately and visibly, a scowl rewriting the lines of his face even as he lifts a rough-skinned palm to it and scores up and down with a vicious sort of exasperation. It could be more belittling. He so rarely stops people doing crazy, reckless, well-intentioned things until they go wrong. He's Abigail Beauchamp's roommate and steadfast supporter. He's just— "What were you looking for?" — pragmatic, or so's his sole excuse.

Eileen doesn't have any. Excuses, that is. The reedy rasp of her breathing fills the space between them, its hiss make shallower by the apartment's strange acoustics. Teo's blatant disapproval would have more of an effect if her attention wasn't divided between the man in front of her and the war her body is waging against fatigue.

"I was following up on a lead," she says, and there's nothing prickly or defensive about her tone, but neither is it a complacent statement of fact that sounds so cool that it should be coming out of Catherine Chesterfield's mouth. Her body language takes responsibility for her actions where she herself does not, guilt conveyed in her guarded posture and the way her fingers clench at her side when she lays her hand across the knife wound in her back.

She fucked up. She knows. "Gabriel bailed me out. Epstein. I woke up in the back of a car in Midtown, broken glass and dead birds everywhere. Can't remember using my ability."

'Gabriel bailed me out.' 'Gabriel bailed me out.' Sometimes, Teo really wishes other people were constructed as simply as he is, and yes, that's even counting the fact that he's constructed out of two discrete minds that had been crammed together by a violent clash of near-sentient psychic energies. He takes no pleasure in the guilt that riddles her posture. How can he? All those bruises, those scars, that haphazardly-applied bandaging.

Gabriel bailed her out. Another thing he can't bring Felix, despite that it would illuminate something undeniably positive about the old killer's personality. It would also, unfortunately, illuminate that the monster is alive. "Is Danko—" You know.


The question's got the register of an aside to it, a footnote, prioritized below something else, even as he extends a callused hand to her, a squirming request to meet fingers. Tug her away from the furniture against which she's propped up, his features corralled back to a neutral, animalistically bright, blank focus. Maybe more for her sake than for his own. Let's have a look at you, is what the gesture says.

"I don't think so." Eileen gives Teo her good hand, sans one fingernail, and allows him to pull her weight off the armchair, her body easily maneuvered into a sitting position beside him on the chaise. Her injured one remains cradled against her midsection with the tips of her fingers curled inward.

"They spoke over the phone," she says. "It rang in the middle." What she and Danko were in the middle of receives no further elaboration. She rubs her thumb along the edge of her damaged finger, caked with dried blood where the tip of his knife carelessly dug out the nail from the cuticle in his haste. "It didn't sound like he knew who he was really talking to. Told him he had ten minutes to come pick me up, and if Gabriel's been in contact with him this whole time—"

She doesn't finish that thought. Probably won't need to. Pushing out a sharp breath through her front teeth the next time she exhales, she offers him her bandaged hand. "I don't understand."

Girl's made of steel. She'd nudged a hard white shoulder into his arm at the Burlesque the other day, and still, that hits him with no small amount of surprise. He's offered her the dosage of painkillers for his sprained ankle, and here she is, tottering around with a fingernail missing and a hand run through.

Bandage peeled back, he looks at the hole in her palm. Teo's mask of stoic examination chips, cracks, manages not to shatter entirely. "I think you should lie down awhile.

"There's this— I mean. If you don't mind having him over, my— friend Francois who I'm dating used to be a doctor," which is only as confusing a juxtaposition and omission of the expected terms as one might predict from Teodoro Laudani. He doesn't remember if they had met. "And he could take a look at you. Or I could call Abigail. Get you some proper antibiotics, look into slings or sutures that would scar prettier than anything I could out of my ass."

He stands. It doesn't put more distance between himself and the diminutive Englishwoman, but up here, it nevertheless smells less like spilled blood, brittly-dried pus, antiseptic and soiled linen and hypoallergenic adhesive. She looks about as badly off as this apartment must have before the paint rollers, bleach, and bodybags had come in. He should be glad he missed that.

He isn't. "I'll hang out here, maybe bring my laptop and shit over from Lucy's, and wake you up when something happens."

The only place closer to home than Fort Greene is the Dispensary; Eileen had refused to spend the night at Peyton's, but she has fewer reservations about drawing her legs up here and resting her head on her shoulder, her shoulder on the arm of the chaise. Like a nesting bird, she tucks her chin into her collarbone and closes her eyes, one side of her face draped in stringy curls of dark hair so oily they even resemble the feathers of the raven that has come to perch outside the living room window at some point during the brief course of their conversation.

It's home to Bran, too. "Kozlow broke in while I was gone," she says, dragging her front teeth over her purpled lip as she settles into the cushions for the night. "Daiyu was with him. I don't know if they're still watching the apartment.

"May not be safe for Charlie."

"Charlie ain't fuckin' scared," is Teo's answer, no less matter-of-fact. Deprived of her smaller hand, his own falls to his side, scrunching callused fingers on a herky-jerky reflex of restlessness against the thigh of his pant leg. If this feeling had a sound, it would be crackling, dry enough to hurt just listening to it and proof against winter's ugly insurrection, a brushfire waiting to happen.

It occurs to him, a few seconds later, that that was a stupid thing to say. More recently, he probably did a slightly stupid thing leaning over and grabbing her bodily up in his arms, too. She's so pale tonight. It's like her legs are no wider than the piano-key bones she was built on, linens unraveling around her as fluidly and frictionlessly as if someone had drowned them in cold milk. The gun holstered under his arm bumps into her shoulder, but he's careful about her, overall. Careful as he can be, about a summary invasion of her space and his molars shut down with aching force on his temper.

Or maybe it's Ghost's temper. The distinction probably doesn't mean a damn thing. He knees his way into the likeliest door, moves on a short stride, slightly hobbled into the Spartan space of her bedroom, stepping over any Bulresque paraphernelia or guns that happen to be lying around. Al and Li would probably object to his use of his ankle in such a manner, but the cast takes the worst of the weight, keeps it from bending wrong, and he'd meant it when he said it. With better grammar: Charlie just isn't.

She goes onto her bed, and then there's a hand scooping the blankets down. "'Sides." His shaggy profile is darker than the gloom of her room, turned at an oblique angle, checking nothing's going to get in the way of her bared feet. "They'll come armed."

Eileen knows better than anyone that coming armed often doesn't make a difference. She came armed to Danko's apartment, and Veronica's team came armed to this one only to walk into what amounted to an ambush. Four Company Agents, two ex-Vanguard operatives — mathematically speaking, the outcome should not have been what it was.

The bedsheets are cool against the feverish skin of her back and neck, sticky with sweat both old and new. She hasn't bathed for at least forty-eight hours, and there's only so much that the diluted smell of her stale perfume can cover. Her left hand goes to his shoulder and clasps the fabric of his shirt between his fingers, her gratitude communicated in the form of a slow squeeze.

It's nice to be held, however briefly and by someone she loves, either passionately or not. Physical contact isn't something she's had a lot of since last November and it does not matter that Teo's touch lacks a lover's sensuality; intimacy between friends is more emotionally nourishing than anything that sexual stimulation has to offer.

"Don't have to be afraid," she mumbles into her damp hair and the cotton of her pillow. "Careful."

When she has energy, or— perhaps someone medically qualified to not come off like a giant Italian skeeze, she'll have a bath. He glimpsed the tiled room coming in, smelled white, unflavored soap and the chalky cool of unvarnished hygiene, a towel at some early stage between wash cycles. One thing at a time. One thing at a time. Sleep first, Francois second. A reassuring grip of hands first, sleep second. He'll just hold on here until she falls asleep.

Maybe they shouldn't have come here, but it's too late now, if only for now. They'll find somewhere else, later, if they have to. The Company won't be able to argue, not so soon after plastering over a high-caliber round in the wall. And if they do, he'll— curse a lot, stomp his feet, pitch a bunch of reasons at their heads and then rub his forepaws on Francois' shoe until Sarisa's best friend acquiesces to hit somebody else in the eye with her huge bureaucratic cock. All this and more, Teo thinks of. He has that face on, terribly serious, unironic, unself-consciosly earnest.

He thinks to himself, that this is the loneliest home he's seen since the rented apartment he had fled with the discovery of the Vanguard in 2008. Something about these unbearably modest studio, not pitiable because they lacked personality or even because— they lacked for numbers of personal possessions, but because what was there speaks volumes, of great and uncomfortable length, of who lives here. Teo tries to reassure himself thinking that perhaps this one, like his own niche eked out in the armpit of Harlem, this one feels better when there's a bird home in it. He had needed Pila more than she had needed him, back then.

"I'm that, too." Careful, that is. About Fengs, and Kozlows, and about finishing the covers just below the point of her chin.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License