amato_icon.gif scott_icon.gif

Scene Title Penance
Synopsis Teodoro Laudani sends a murderer and psychopath to Scott Harkness' doorstep — thanks Teo.
Date March 19, 2009

The Hangar

A wrought-iron fence borders several small garden beds and the stone stairs leading up to the house's front door. The house itself is a structure of old stone - not even concrete blocks, but quarried stone — with natural-color wood doors and window frames. The windows on the ground floor are barred.

Inside, the level is divided into only three rooms. The first is the foyer, with polished hardwood flooring, a freestanding coatrack on either side, iron-dark against soft-amber interior walls. The main staircase spirals up from one corner of the foyer, girded by a wrought-iron railing.

To the right from the entrance is the kitchen. The walls just off from white, the floor tiled in dark gray. In the center of the kitchen is a black-topped island, matching the counters that line the room. One wall is dominated by an eminently modern stove framed by an anachronistic brick hearth. Cabinets above the counters have glass doors; the windows above the sink are framed in light-colored curtains, the illumination they let in adding to the expansive atmosphere.

The dining room takes up the back of this floor. The far wall is brick and stone, with a facade of a fireplace mantle in the center. Interior walls have been painted a tone intermediate between amber and ivory, which is also the accent color in the dark rug beneath the long dining table.

The old house in Chelsea that looms in front of Amato isn't that much different from the houses around it. But for the man that stands on the sidewalk, nervously rubbing a piece of paper between thumb and forefinger, it is a lighthouse. A beacon of hope.

Sometimes, the path before us is shadowed by oppressive woods, darkened by doubt and the unknown.

With a heavy sigh, Amato moves from the sidewalk to the door, swallowing as best he can with the muscles in his neck and throat wound as tight as drum.

But periodically along that road, there is a light that illuminates the way for a moment - long enough to check a landmark or a sign.

It is with no small amount of hesitation that Amato slips the bit of paper into his coat pocket and raises his hand to knock on the door. The series of sounds is short and sharp, but it isn't particularly loud.

But just as quickly, the light is gone, and the darkness envelops the way once more.

A few moments go by on the rather quiet street, wind blowing through the stick-bare trees that lie in untended beds along the sidewalk. Some time ago, it wouldn't be hard to imagine this place being a nice neighborhood. Now, with half of the houses boarded up and the others spray-painted with graffiti, most of that is a fading memory.

The man who answers to door remembers what this neighborhood used to look like, but for Amato, his countenance bears ghosts of a whole different variety. When the stoic and broad form of Scott Harkness answers the door, the way the light plays on his scarred face and the serious cast to his expression matched with his penchant for functional and dark attire briefly reminds Amato of another paternal figure with similar scarring on his cheeks. One whom he once called Master.

"Who're you?" The Brooklyn accent dispels much of everything else that might have associated Scott with the late Kazimir Volken. Peering up and down the street, Harkness leans his shoulder against the door frame, looking at Amato with an expectant expression, the reaction expected of greeting a stranger on the doorstep.

A stranger, at least, for appearances sake.

Even if the resemblance is a passing one, it is enough to catch Amato's breath in his throat and tighten something deep in his chest. There is only a slight relaxation when the man speaks, being as Amato himself is a man of many voices. Even auditory appearances can be deceptive ones.

"I.." Amato, the once-megaphone of Kazimir Volken's dogma, Lucrezia Bennati's sacerdote, is without words for a moment. But at least the voice that speaks them is his own. "My name is Amato Salucci. Teodoro Laudani said that…" and here Amato gulps, trying his best to get the words out, despite the fear that his name alone could get him turned away if not turned in. "That you and your people could… be of assistance to me."

There's a long, silent stare in response to Amato's words. Scott takes some time in that silence to regard the slim Italian standing on his doorstep, the very spot where Amato's former master murdered Cameron Spaulding so many months ago. Rolling his tongue over his teeth, Scott finally steps aside from the door, motioning Amato inside. "Come on, get in before someone sees you lingering on the stoop." Beyond him, a few young men and women quietly move cardboard boxes down a flight of stairs to a basement, the boxes filled with canned foods.

Stepping inside the relative safety of The Hangar should feel good, like entering a brightly lit, welcoming harbor and knowing that you're out of harms way, clear of the rocks. But it isn't so when Amato steps in after Scott. He only swallows again, looking about him like a cat in a room full of rocking chairs. "Thank you," he mumbles softly, finding a moment's solace when his view is obstructed by the other man's back, though it doesn't last long. The men carrying the cardboard boxes are eyed warily, though there is no suspicion or underlying threat in Amato's stance or countenance. It is clear enough that his unease is a product of nervous fear.

Scott closes the door soundly, sliding several locks in place before making his way through the living room, military-issue boots clomping on the hardwood floor with each heavy footfall. The young men and women here give him a wide berth, not troubling him with their day to day tasks as he wanders on a slow path through an arched doorway into a linoleum-tiled kitchen of considerable size, a large and round dinner table filling up most of the space, cluttered with envelopes, boxes and newsletters that look hand-printed.

"Lemmie' ask you a question, Salucci, before we get down to the brass tacks," he motions to a chair at the table, then makes his way over to the refrigerator, cracking open the door to peer around inside. "You know a woman by the name of Theresa St.John?" Reaching into the refrigerator as he speaks, there's a clinking of glass and a rattle of metal racks as he retreives two bottles of beer from inside, slapping the door shut as he makes a path towards the table.

There are so many names that rattle in Amato's head on a day to day basis. Some of them are of his own gathering. Others are names called out in memories. Names cried, screamed, whispered. Theresea's is one that Amato read on a list. He put it into his own mind, of his own volition. So when asked, Amato shuts his eyes tightly, lingering behind the chair rather than sit in it.

"I did not know her personally," he admits with a whisper, glancing back toward the open doorway. There are no blatant eavesdroppers, but that means little - especially to someone who has spent years being heard by birds and bees alike. "I can only pray she is…that she remains safe."

"She used to work here." One beer is deposited down on the table with a resounding clunk, and Scott finally ambles over to settle down into a chair with a tired sigh, one beer reserved for himself as well. "She volunteered taking care of some of the day to day tasks around here that — " he motions around with one hand, "they pile up. The list of people we work with keeps getting bigger, and that just means more ways for things to screw up."

Twisting off the top of the bottle, Scott deposits the cap into the clutter on the table with a flick of his thumb. "She disappeared," as if he needed to drive the point home he adds, "they found her four kids nothing more than ashy skeletons huddled together in a bathtub. The oldest girl — her name was Emily — she was trying to shield the others from whatever killed them. I got my hands on a copy of the police report…"

Taking a moment to sip at his beer, Scott looks beyond the kitchen from his seat and into the living room, where a man with wavy brown hair sits typing on a laptop set on the coffee table. He looks up, as if feeling Scott's eyes on him, then scrutinizes Amato for a brief moment before returning his attention to the computer. "The guy who killed those poor kids, probably killed her too… they never found her, or a body or…" one shoulder shrugs. "Apparently," because it's clear he isn't sure, "the guy responsible for her kids being killed, is the one who blew up half of New York trying to kill us all… you don't read about that in the papers." Another long swig from his bottle is taken.

"Can you imagine what kind of things you have to do, to make up for killing for little kids and their mom?" One dark brow rises at the rhetoric, "I spent a lot of time in the Army, seen a lot of things that'd make someone's skin crawl, but the idea of killing children," he tilts his head to the side. "What do you think a guy like that would have to do, to start making up for it?" Scott's eyes narrow slowly, "I'm always interested in hypotheticals like this."

There is a moment of silence on Amato's part, and he grips the top of the chair in front of him until his knuckles turn even paler than the rest of his skin. "I am sorry for your loss," he says, slowly, gingerly, stepping into an older role.

"It really depends on the perspective you'd care to take." Amato's voice is more a hollow whisper than anything, and he speaks as he stares at the cluttered tabletop. "The man who… the man who killed those children is either being dismembered, drowned in icy water, boiled in oil, force fed rats and snakes, or broken on a wheel. He was… a complicated man. As for myself… I will either be thrown into a pit of snakes, or left to linger at the gates of hell.

"He did not get to her," Amato reveals after a moment to collect his thoughts again. "It upset him greatly, but…he never found her." And he was soon distracted, that was for sure. "I cannot pay for his sins." The Italian is much more resolute in this statement, straightening his shoulders even as his head is bowed. "But I can pay for mine."

Three very long drags off of Scott's bottle drains it to nearly empty, his eyes locked on Amato's penitent form as the Italian speaks. For a time, Scott's eyes go distant, something lost in him that wanders away from Amato's words, only to be drawn back again by the grim finality of his denoutment. "Tomorrow," Scott's voice rumbles in the back of his throat as he rises up to stand, pushing his chair back with his legs as he does, "you start volunteering at the Cathedral of St.John's soup kitchen, taking care of the kids and the homeless who don't have a place to go anymore, feeding the homeless."

He makes a motion with the top of the bottle towards Amato, brows lowered, "I'll introduce you to a guy named Stephen who works there, he's a good kid. You don't talk about living here to anyone, you don't talk about me or anyone else here to anyone." There's a gesture into the living room to the man on the computer. "That's Alistair McKeon, he'll be your go-to man for whatever you need, and he'll introduce you to Grace later."

Rolling his tongue over his teeth again, Scott's strict and spartan mannerisms are something vaguely familiar to Amato, the formulaic and structured upbringing of a soldier's life that Kazimir seemed to exhude at times. "You volunteer Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at that kitchen, and I'll let you stay here as long as you need. The minute you bring trouble to my door, you're out. The minute I even remotely suspect you're even the least bit insincere with me, you're out." Scott draws in a slow breath, only to sharply exhale it as he circles around the table.

"Alistair'll get you hooked up with the Standard Operating Procedures here. Get to know the people around you, if someone needs a hand, you help 'em out. This is like a family, Salucci," Scott's eyes narrow, "an' I'm what they might call a strict dad."

It's more than fair, if not an easy penance in Amato's eyes. He nods, accepting the various and linked decrees with a tightened face. But when the analogy is drawn, Amato's eyes close and he suppresses a grimace. Still, as bright a red flag as it may be, such an environment is one that Amato cannot deny comfort in.

"Thank you," he says with another nod, "You've been so very gracious. I will not let you down - you have my word on that." He turns then to go out the door to acquaint himself with Alistair and the rest of the house, his hand slipping over his trouser pocket to feel the gentle outline of the discarded cigarette he still carries there.

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