Old Business

Participants:

hana_icon.gif teo_icon.gif

Scene Title Old Business
Synopsis Hana has a long-overdue errand (or ten) to run. Teo is invited to tag along.
Date July 29, 2009

The Foxhole

The stretch of tunnel leading up to the Foxhole looks like any other part of the system beneath Midtown — neglected, unused, full of dust and multicolored graffiti. Inhabited by few things, given the desolation of the blocks above — a few rats, a few stray dogs, the occasional human imitating a goblin, all glimpsed in fleeting passing at best. Perhaps not glimpsed at all, but only heard, the furtive sounds of solitary creatures avoiding company.

The Foxhole itself, however, begins with an expanse of pristine concrete, cleaned of dirt, grime, and graffiti; the walls are seemingly a solid piece of concrete, as if the entire length of reclaimed tunnel was poured and set as a single cohesive whole. Metal supports bolster the arched ceiling, not out of need, but out of redundancy; they too appear to have been created entire rather than pieced together. Evidence, perhaps, of Evolved abilities applied in the renovation. Evidence too in the fact that the Foxhole's air is never damp, always seems as close to fresh as the air of the city outside; somehow, this space is well-ventilated indeed.

The two walls press close against the tracks, providing room (probably) for a train to barrel past but nothing more; ledges atop each hint at space for people — but at over ten feet from the tunnel floor, they're not readily reached. A single door set into each wall seems likely to provide access; they are not directly across from one another, but separated along the length of the tunnel by perhaps fifteen feet.

Behind each wall is a series of small, cramped chambers — storerooms filled floor to ceiling with stashed supplies, empty rooms for later use, some that look like they are occupied by one or more residents. Some have features identifiable as original construction; others appear to have no connection with the original tunnel at all. Each side connects to the maintenance halls behind the original tunnel, offering additional storage space — and, at desperate need, the potential of an escape route.


It is possible to get onto the ledges above the walls; the space is lit by a string of small lights set into the wall, invisible to the tracks below save for the soft glow they emit. It isn't ideal illumination, but the lack doesn't perturb Hana any; cleaning this particular rifle is an old and familiar process, something she might even be able to do in complete darkness. Every disassembled piece has its designated place, defined by habit and custom; there is an order to polish in, on top of the sequences for taking apart and putting back together.

She isn't going to use this one, but it's not about the firearm; it's about the ritual. Centering, grounding, fixing the mission in her mind and releasing all else. Even the nattering flow of information that never stops moving through the back of Wireless' head, messages written with an often complete disregard for grammar, words compressed and abbreviated; messages written in languages she never learned to read; messages of which the vast majority have no significance to her. They stopped giving her headaches a long time ago. Other things still do.

The Israeli woman is focused on her task, seemingly but not truly to the exclusion of most or all else. She is well aware, for example, of the slim file folder that sits just beyond the array of machined parts and pieces. The one that isn't quite in her reach, isn't quite turned as though for her own use. And she is well aware of the others currently in the Foxhole — of Darla, on her way out of the small sanctuary for sake of anything interesting to do; of Teodoro Laudani ascending the narrow flight of stairs at the back of the ledge. She doesn't turn; doesn't need to. Doesn't voice a superfluous greeting, either; he knows she knows he's here, and Hana has slightly more pressing matters to address.

In an echo of both one time past and many that may now never come, she begins to put the rifle back together.

Well. Well, well, oh well: what's an echo without origin? These, and other important existential quandaries, the Sicilian (or at least the product of a psychic and psychological amalgamate of two) has considered at length for going on a week, now.

Freedom is a pretty notion, and carte blanche a likely fantasy, when the sheer constructedness of one's entire personality and role in the world has been shoved in one's face on such unromantically dry terms, the cogs and screws and duct tape reparations labeled in Sharpie. Neither freedom nor carte blanche explain why he's here, crawled down into the claustraphobic and paint scrawled bowels of the Foxhole. This would maybe be the opposite in every iconic circumstance to freedom or blank spaces. Wholly understandable, then, that he'd find Hana here.

He was looking for Hana here, but he doesn't really realize that until he's clapped his own eyes on her and dropped back inside his own mind, ceding the babble of wireless transmissions back to its mistress and the conduct of Darla's hands dark and personalized breezes to the other woman where she's walking. A headache of his own starts. A small one, that hurts behind his eye. He closes the left, and regards Hana through the other. Underneath the hoodie, the sanguine health of his skin is belied by the trouble fading from the rhythm of his gait and his breathing. He's young. Just healing, that's all.

"New mission," Teo asks, "or old?"

She doesn't answer immediately, watching as her hands fit the rifle's pieces together almost of their own accord. There's an old grace in the movements, dating from before she ever knew — anything, it seems sometimes. One, maybe two lifetimes away, Hana's years in Mossad. In that sense, perhaps, the mission is not so old; not the first order of unfinished business. But it's the one available to be finished.

Once, she prepared for another mission, snarling all the while at the puppetmaster, the situation, which put her pride in danger; snarled at Teo, too, for going into that danger. Snarled at Company agents who threatened her student; at one of her people for the possibility of having sold them out. Hana's temper is a visible thing, bared teeth and claws almost tangible in the hazard it often presents. This isn't anything like that.

"Old," the woman replies, a murmur deceptively soft. There is anticipation in it, dark and deadly; but mostly a sense of relaxed ease, the tone of one grounded, centered, and focused. The lioness crouched motionless in the grass, the entirety of her environment discarded from awareness save the short distance between predator and prey. Tunnel vision at its most dangerous — to someone else.

This, this is personal.

"Have you ever been to Canada, Laudani?"

At twenty six years old, Teo was still pragmatically straightforward and dispensed with art enough that he would have heard and answered that question before the one underneath it. "Why are you hunting in Canada?" This Teo does not, which might even answer yet another question half-embedded between the subject-noun simplicity of the ones asked aloud. His head lists slightly inside the squashy egg-shaped frame of his hood, either avian or lupine in its curiosity, not quite human.

Mind you, he's aware that Hana doesn't have to be in New York to tend to the vast majority of the business that needs to be, but it's nevertheless significant when she chooses to move across the border from her fortress of solitude. There's something deliberate about it, as with most of the things she does between supper and Aikido, avoiding excess or waste of effort. He knows the assembly of that rifle like he knows his own hands, and he knows that look because he was sitting across or beside it for year after sun-beaten year in Israel.

And so it is, that Teo's train of abstract and edifying thought of the past week is jammed to a squalling halt by a penny on the tracks. Blankslawhat.

Why? Now she looks up, dark gaze sliding over to the Sicilian. Her hands pause in their work, her attention for the moment redirected; she doesn't mind it. Hana doesn't verbally answer, but inclines her head towards the out-of-place file folder — she, of all people, has little personal use for hardcopy. The gesture is tacit permission, less subtle than the mere presence of it and its contents. Go ahead; read.

She turns away, then, resuming her task; finishes reassembling the rifle.

Half of Teo is shocked, even alarmed. Half of him is, foreground to any other sentiment up to and including the bright keening sing-song of bloodlust, flattered. And yes, that's too many halves. An oft-repeated theme lately. He blinks down at the dossier, slides the documentation's laddered print in and out of focus.

It's the clarity of his compulsion, not the lack of it, that makes him pause, disquieted by this bizarre unity. Paper rubs paper, an audible riffle of grain like a miniaturized mimicry of the remorseless gunmetal click-clacking in Hana's hands. "This is one of the first things you ever explained to him. Teo," he says, as if that should clarify something. It probably does. "I'm not sure why he thought it would never come to this."

The stock of the reassembled rifle slides down to touch the concrete ledge with only a very quiet sound. The muzzle points towards the ceiling, no more than an ornament in this posture, this moment. A symbol in its fashion, but not a warning, because those few who would benefit from such a thing cannot and will not ever see it. Hana looks across at Teo, up at Teo, and the corners of her mouth draw back — not in a smile, but in its subtler, grimmer shadow. "It has." At last.

"Are you coming?"

'You,' she says, as if it's that or being party to assassination ought to be that fucking easy. 'Are you coming?' Where you, defined as it were, must necessarily be—

And it's a slow-whirling sort of sick that settles in the pit of Teo's stomach like a pinwheel dying with the wind, then, when he realizes that either of the men who became him would have said Yes, the ghost because he made his bets in the same blood currency and always laid his odds with her, Teo because he doesn't like to leave her alone; that he is going to say Yes, because— damn it— because someone should have been there, when she was a ten-year-old mummified and comatose in the recovery room, and someone should be at her back in Canada, and that's precisely why he came here today, wasn't it?

"'Course." He smiles. Mouth skews faintly on the bottom half of a face that continues to look like a stranger's to him, whenever he happens to catch a mirror with it, but the feel of this expression is familiar; pleasure without mirth. "When?"

Weight on the rifle, briefly, as Hana levers herself from the concrete. Standing, she looks sidelong at Teo. It's an easily answered question, one he should be able to infer himself, but she allows the verbal response anyway: "I'm leaving tonight." He can leave whenever he wants, but she's going tonight.

Israeli steps around Sicilian, moves towards the stairs he came up. "Bring the file down when you're done with it."


Previously in this storyline…
Beyond Today

Next in this storyline…
Alecto

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