How Many Periwinkle Vans Could There Be?

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teo_icon.gif zoe_icon.gif

Scene Title How Many Periwinkle Vans Could There Be?
Synopsis Teo contacts Zoe and begs her for a favor.
Date February 11, 2009

Linderman Building - Archive


So of course the first person Teo gets is a genero-receptionist to the tune of, "Linderman Group, how may I direct your call?" He's then promptly routed to the right location. There's ring, and another ring, and then the phone picks up. A cheerful, feminine voice comes on the line. "Archives! Zoe Porter speaking."
Roleplay> Jezebel lurks, lying in wait for the unwary on Staten Island.

"Buongiorno, signorina." The voice on the other end is distinctly male and unmistakably Italian. Also, the next beat, a little rueful: "Good afternoon." English. "My name is Benito Moretti. I heard about you through the Internet. I have a rather strange request to make — my friend went missing about a week ago, and the police are hesitating to move on it because she was planning to leave state around that time anyway.

"I was wondering if you would be able to use your Evolved ability to help me give them something to go on." Despite equivalent mixtures of truth and lie, Teo's tone is all sincerity.

Zoe blinks a little bit. Not that he can see it. "I - I'm sorry," she says. "I'm not sure what you've heard about me sir, or how you heard about me for that matter, but my ability doesn't involve recent occurrence. I doubt highly that I could help you." She rolls her chair over to the computer and starts typing the name, Benito Moretti, into the Linderman database to see if a reference comes up. The call is, to say the least, mildly disturbing.

Civilian. Twenty-seven years old, naturalized Italian, no significant criminal activity— or at least, not insofar as the Linderman Group would have taken interest in. Teo looks almost as ordinary as outlinied by Hana's imagination as he does in real life. "I'm sorry to bother you," he admits, his tone audibly crestfallen. "I just — her name is Abigail Beauchamp. She's Registered Evolved, Tier 0 — blonde, blue eyes, a hundred pounds soaking wet and sweet as spun sugar.

"She's a good Christian girl and she works at a bar she's too young to drink at, and she knows how that sounds. She's— if you'd try," there's too much air in his voice, now. "I'd appreciate it. I'm sorry, I just had to try."

"How did you hear about me?" she insists. "I'm sorry, but my uncle is a very powerful man and there are people who'd like nothing better than to place him in a difficult position using his family. So I might be willing to help you, but I need to know a bit more."

There's a beat's moment of surprise. Teo isn't particularly sure he wants to deal with implications like that; the powerful uncle came to her mind entirely too quickly, and the last thing he wants to do is be caught dundering around on the curb, waiting, when a limo full of former Black Ops specialists and Linderman's princess pop out. "Registration," he says, finally. "And reputation. They say you use your ability for work. I think, if you caught something, it would stand up in court.

"I — don't want to place anybody in a difficult position or, frankly, make a powerful man feel concerned. If I should go somewhere else, I'll try—"

Zoe is silent for a few moments, letting it hang. She sounds awkward, and embarrassed. "Your friend…I can try. My ability, it really doesn't work well for recent occurrences, not at all. If you'd like, I will set an appointment with you here at the Linderman Building and I can give it a try."

"I—" syllables hyphenate with hesitation. Not a uniquely strange reaction, Teo is pretty sure. Most girls, when you call them, don't mention their very powerful uncle and his considerable enemies. "The truth is, I don't have a lot to bring you," he finally offers, by way of partial acquiescence. "Or I'm not sure what I would bring. There's her scooter here, outside where she was living. A hole in the tire. I'm not sure I could get it all the way over there. What would you advise? How much do you need to work with?"

Most girls, when they're called, are solicited for dates. Zoe's never been on a date in her life. Well, maybe once or twice. "Just an item that was in her presence when she disappeared. Something that belonged to her. Her scooter? I could work with that, especially if it was there at the time." There's a pause. "I could meet you, but I'd be required to bring someone." Linderman would undoubtedly insist if she told him, and though she probably doesn't plan to, it's still a good idea.

Possibly, Zoe would be out on a date or two if she didn't mention her very poweful uncle and his considerable enemies third thing off the bat. Her phone voice is appealing enough. "I think it was there at the time," Teo replies, sounding approximately as hapless as he feels.

It's hard for him to tell where the crime scene was, exactly. It's been a fucking week, but the deductive logic does hold. "Ummm. Like a bodyguard? That's… I feel like I'm putting you through a lot of trouble. I could— possibly pry off a tire and bring it to the Linderman building. I would break a bigger piece off, but I don't think Abby would appreciate that.

"What would be quantifiably less bizarre for you?" There's an audible smile at that.

Possibly, Zoe would be out on a date or two if she didn't dress like a frump and hide in the archive every day. Her situation as Dannyboy's niece is par for the course. "You can bring a piece to me, or I can come to you, with umm, yes, bodyguard. Who'd more or less just stand back and keep an eye on me and give me an assist in case I need it, and exactly how ties into my ability so I'd need an assistant anyway. If this scooter was at the crime-scene at all." Damnit. She's not even finished cataloging the new Russian pieces and this is starting to become far too complicated for even her samaritan sensibilities. "So why don't you give me an address and a time to meet you, Signor Moretti?" she prompts, trying to expedite things.

The first few weeks Teo played terrorist kind of felt like that too. Out of gen math, and out to help with bomb building. A sociopath followed him home the first night. "All right, that sounds fine— I'll drag the scooter out to…" A park, he decides, studying the paper map before him, squaring it against recollection. On the curb, not too far from Confucius Plaza. He proffers the address. "There's a row of little purple unicorns and griffins and shit for the kids to bob around on. Can't miss it. Is today good?"

Another pause, checking her calendar. Oh wait, she hardly ever goes out, except when Daniel makes her put in a fresh faced appearance for the company, or she's offering kiddie tours at the museum. "Sure, that sounds good." She'll snag one of the lugs on the security team, and he can drive her at the appointed hour. "I'll see you soon, Signor Moretti."


Chinatown


The road is two lanes wide and each lane is wider than strictly necessary, marked on either side by shops, an elementary school, a row of apartment buildings, each of which seems to be stretched skinny as if to reach their full height on tip-toe. It's a good area. That is— good enough to warrant basic traffic surveillance, if a somewhat less than stellar police presence.

The park in question is more of a playground with a crooked swatch of trees and brush growing on one side, still sparse from winter. There is a scooter there, amid the unicorns and griffins. Despite scratches and fading from over three decades of age, it still shows a bright green that shimmers, a subtle glitter on a deeper layer, gold scripting along the right chassis that reads: Lazarus.

Its front wheel is perforated and there's a man with it. Six feet tall, shaven head, he'd look more the thug if he weren't clad in cotton trousers and a wind-walloped button-down shirt underneath a denim jacket. Teodoro Laudani. Sorry— Benito Moretti. As dressed up as he ever gets, these days.

The car that pulls up stops at the curb, allowing a thicknecked, large man with a crew cut to get out so he can then open the door for Zoe. She's bundled up in a coat with faux fur trim, her hair in a dissaray of red as she gets up, looks around, and furtively pushes her glasses up her nose. She confers briefly with her Lindy-thug, and the pair walk toward Teo. Lindy-thug scowls, Zoe smiles, and she offers him an awkward, "Hello, there!" It's a little too bright, like she kind of missed the social cue calling for solemnity.

It's freezing out here, according to Teo's admittedly Mediterranean biases. Three shirts and a jacket are not enough. Nevertheless, he produces a smile that's bright enough to weigh in reciprocation, tinged with very genuine relief. Refraining from staring over-much at the accompanying thug, he offers the woman a hand to shake. Across the street, a small drove of Chinese children scatter into a flock of pigeons. It's an odd mix of privacy and none at all. "Good evening. Thank you for coming out here. I realize I caught you during your work day."

Zoe shakes his hand - for the moment, hers are gloved. "Well…you're welcome, but I have to tell you, I don't know how much I can be of help. If you handed me a sword I could tell you the name of the general who owned it and his favorite pair of pants and what he had for breakfast one morning, but recent events are very cloudy for me."

"If you can get anything, that would be great," Teo reassures her, dropping his own bare palm back to his side. "I'd just like something to go on. Even if you wouldn't feel like speaking to the officers themselves, at least maybe they'd have cause to send someone of their own.

"They say they're completely swamped." Understandable. Despite that this corner of Chinatown is the picture of dishevelled urban peace, it probably isn't far — in terms of time or distance — to the nearest knifing or inchoate riot. He steps back, ceding the woman and her bodyguard enough space to maneuver around the Lazarus.

Zoe removes her gloves, stuffing them in one pocket, then takes off her glasses, blinking a bit as her eyes adjust. "I hope I'm able to find something helpful." she says, and with a sigh, reaches out, bending a little to place her hand on the scooter. Her lashes lower, and then flick up again quite suddenly. Teo can see her eyes gone silver, like liquid mercury without irises or pupils.

Whooa. What the fuck? Teo's never acquainted himself with either the X-Men or prophetic painters, so this— this is new. Makes him gawk for a protracted moment, before he jerks his head upright and away with a slight twinge of his neck for its suddenness. He puts the bodyguard in his peripheral and carefully turns up the corners of his mouth, refrains from attempting to discuss the weather with the enormous man.

The thug actually shudders a little. "Hate it when Spooky does this…" he mutters. Someone sounds like they've picked up Kain's nickname for her. Gruffly he tells Teo, "Give her a few minutes."

For her part, Zoe is watching the scene, heavily shadowed and vagued. Her expression turns to a frown, but she still doesn't say anything as her head cants to the side, like she's watching something far beyond them. Which she is, really.

"I didn't expect that," Teo mumbles, by way of agreement, raising a hand to lace long, roughened fingers around the back of his neck, fighting down the sudden flare of soreness again. The titanium weight at the top of his head still reminds him of its absence now and then. Either that, or he's soaked in enough ambient tension to rewrite his entire muscular structure in knots. He expels a quiet sigh.

"It's creepy." supplies the Lindy-thug again, and after a few more moments, when Zoe starts making vaguely uncomfortable noises, the thick-necked man steps up and very gently removes her hand from the bike. She blinks a little bit, and the hand transfers to her elbow to make sure she stays upright. Her lashes flutter, and by the time she's sorted, her eyes are normal again, and she's putting her glasses back on. "Your friend got into a van." she says. "I'm sorry, it was simply too indistinct and recent for me to see more."

A furrow appears in Teo's brow, turning over that phrasing in his mind a dozen times before he realizes that the phrasing isn't what he should be thinking about. Was she at gunpoint? She got in voluntarily? He realizes — or at least has some amount of faith that the psychometrist isn't trying to give him the runaround with her vagueness, and it forestalls any temper from seeping into his tone.

That's more than he expected, in all honesty. "A van," he repeats. "I— thank you." He doesn't forget to say that; his eyes flit between her bodyguard's hold on her and the woman herself. "What kind of van?"

Zoe considers a moment. "I couldn't tell you make and model." she says. "But it was light….um, blue, I think?" Her nose crinkles in thought. "Sort of a periwinkle?" she offers tenatively, putting her gloves back on.

For a moment, the Sicilian's expression hardens over, as if to pre-empt the cruel punchline. When none is forthcoming, at least over the course of a three-second conversational lull, his eyes go round. "Oh. You're ser— oh.

"Ah, I'm sorry — grazie. Thank you. Thank you. That's an enormous help. How many periwinkle vans could there be?" It is quite possibly the most stupid question in the world, but at least it accompanies completely unambiguous gratitude, his mouth bent around a vast grin. Teo offers his hand again, to receive her gloved one. Should it be granted, it warrants a kiss.

Zoe's face now matches the color of her hair when Teo kisses her hand. "Oh, I, umm..uh, thank you." she says. Behind her, the Lindy-thug rolls his eyes. "Well, um. Yes. Good luck, finding your friend." She gives Teo a nervous smile as she tries to recover from her blush, and starts heading for the car.

"Thank you." Never one to be rude, Teo watches them go, one arm upraised briefly in farewell before he lets it drop. He is unaffected by the bodyguard's obnoxiousness and by the woman's somewhat exaggerated reaction, also, elated by this small and somewhat bizarre lead. "Thanks," and then, however absurd, "I really owe you one, signorina."

He waits. First, for Linderman's duo to pull away. Second, to finally yank his gloves back on and wheel the bike away, back to where he had found it; to switch the card in his phone out, get his normal costume of scratched up jeans and flyaway canvas on.


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February 11th: Make Love Stay
Previously in this storyline…
Before Dishonor

Next in this storyline…
God Touch

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February 11th: Blind Spots
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