A Lean Wind Flays


hana_icon.gif teo_icon.gif

Scene Title A Lean Wind Flays
Synopsis Hana and her padawan break the speed limit, go house-hunting for their little nest of burning birds, delete Goodman from their buddy lists (oh) and quietly reassure themselves everything is — at least for the moment — okay.
Date March 6, 2009

Staten Island — Coast

The coast of Staten Island is as much of a presence as its inland, with rivers that invade right into its heart as well as cutting off the circulation of transport from the rest of New York City. The coastal regions reflect a lot of this borough's rural nature, with rough shores and plantlife, broken brick, and general abandonment. The harbors are left to the devices of those that freely come and go, a conspicuous lack of official presence - a number of them notably overrun by the developing crime syndicate, but there are still quite a few, particularly on the coasts nearest to Brooklyn and Manhattan, that are accessible to the lawful public.

The wind is throbbing against the outside of Teo's helmet, implying two of two things: first, that he's wearing his helmet, in vast improvement to the circumstances he liked to travel in last year; second, that he's probably driving too fast, given his stitches aren't out yet. It feels better to go fast, though.

You know. If better could fully circumscribe the feel of atmosphere splitting from resistance into slipstream, neat halves that fall away invisible but tangible behind him, cold rather than numbing, unequivocally exhilerating. It's dawn, though hard to tell: the cloud-cover diffuses the sunlight even as it dilutes it, painting the expressway's serpentine spine in an even shade of gray and inking the conifer and skeletal trees in gappy black-on-white. The coast smells like— well, coast, or would if the buffeting of air didn't replace scent with this odd nasal funnel.

Of course, he wasn't trying to race Hana. That would be dumb. Super dumb. Embarrassing, also. They have a specific destination, real estate to investigate, because the Old Dispensary can't certainly remain uncompromised and it's always better to have two places to bolt, anyway. Occasionally, whenever Teo isn't putting his foot through a television screen because his friends just arrested his other friend, he attempts at practical.

And then he merely began to go fast. The Harley's engine betrays only the faintest hint of weakness to the practiced ear. Nothing, as Elvis had said, dramatic, but an excuse to sit and break things down, learn the parts, understand the mechanics, put them back together better, later. Later. For now, the boy nosing around the asphalt just ahead of the ex-Mossad operative is just short of letting his canine tongue loll out of helmet's window, the featureless sky reflected convex across the black varnish. It feels better to go fast.

Hana would have insisted on the helmet. Fortunate for Teo that issue didn't arise. Speed complicating stitches, however, is his problem and not hers, if that detail even comes to the woman's mind. Her attention is split between the backdrop of digital noise that is nearly constant in the technopath's life and translating the murky tones of cloudy dawn into road, lines, and landscape. There's no one else out here, in the empty stretches of Staten Island's coast; empty, now that the Island is under interdict and much of its populace has found other places to live. While Teo is playing in the wind, Hana follows; practicality is usual rather than the exception in her worldview, and the motorcycle a tool to go from back there to over here.

Crashes complicate stitches. Teo would be deeply remiss in his obligations as a petulant show-off were he to start wrecking himself on the edge of the expressway anytime soon, however. He doesn't. At the very least, excess of speed is balanced out by getting there sooner. It isn't much further past dawn that they turn off and into the trees.

All the damn trees. Scratchy green and brown copses have given away to the proper thickness of a wood. In midst of it, the shape of the derelict private school is fended off by iron railing, no longer complete. The paved path that technicolor brochures once boasted led down to the canoe docks is no doubt completely overgrown by hazel brush, ivy, and brambles. The stretch of carpark is, however, clear enough to find a spot for a lean-to.

In a moment, Teo is pulling his helmet off his head with both hands. He doesn't have enough hair to make a mess of, still: the buzzcut has grown out into an uneven, porcupiney fluff and bristle that's is dedicatedly brunette without managing to make him look any more or less serious than it usually is. "Bring back any memories?" he asks, fetching a glance over at the chapped remains of the front sign. The Perkins School.

Derelict School

Trees are trees. They get in the way of lines of sight (and lines of fire) but are good cover, also. Hana pulls over in the shadow of a cedar, shaking her hair out once it's free of the helmet. Dark eyes flick across the overgrown grounds, the neglected building behind them. Then the woman looks sidelong at Teo. "I haven't been here before," she points out, presenting a literal interpretation rather than a more figurative one. Hana stopped being a child a long time ago, and while she hasn't outgrown some form of nostalgia, it is in no way associated with schools. The Israeli woman walks past Teo, striding down the weed-ridden pavement. "Have you been through the buildings already?"

"Briefly. Structure's sounding, plumbing is okay." Teodoro doesn't treat the answer as if it's a rebuke. He's incited rebukes before; he can tell the difference. He kicks a loose piece of shale out of his way, pockets key and installs his helmet hanging loosely off the fingers of one hand. It doesn't surprise him in the slightest that they're talking shop. It hadn't surprised him at all that she had required a reason to come out, and he didn't indulge a sense of affront at that, either. Every time he started along that progression of thought, it aborted with the wry notion: and you think you're busy. They had skipped the hugs and shit. He hadn't asked about where she'd been.

Not yet. "D'no about the tactical implications, though," he says, squinting up at the board-lidded windows. The building kind of looks like it isn't dead, but merely sleeping.

"Tactical? Windows are the biggest problem," Hana supplies offhand, skirting around a raggedly grown-out shrub and moving down the breezeway along a building's edge. "Cinderblock's not bad as long as no one brings it down on you." There's a mental image to inspire confidence. "Windows are weak points." Boarded over, though, they might be slightly less-so. Hana pauses to study a doorway, gaze glancing off the chain keeping it fixed shut. They can deal with that later. Turning away, moving on, course plotted unerringly for the path to the docks. "Let's see what the water access looks like. If it's restorable, that offsets the rest."

These days, Teo studies mental images that inspire confidence the same way that he studies people who have good reason to lie to his face. He follows the Israeli woman, looking up at the windows when she does, picks up his heels to trot after her as diligently as she had followed him on the motorcycle.

"Okay," he offers, acquiescence as simple as the cadence of his bootfalls. The corner of the building blocks his view of his motorcycle, but that only brings him a brief instant's waste of hesitation, before necessity stings him forward. In the shade of the western wing, the path begins with a tongue of pavement peeking out underneath a thick, snarled lattice of vegetable limbs. No tree roots, only vines and matted leaves, thorns, stray bushes; nothing with enough erosive force to have done real damage to the underlying walkway.

"So." Teo swats at a thistle flower with the inside of his gloved palm, apparently unafraid he might cut himself up on nature's defense system. "We got to Homeland Security's Agent Carmichael. Went off pretty smooth. Cat has all the information up on PDF, if you haven't seen it yet." He brushes fragments of cellulose off on his pant leg, sticks his toe underneath the ragged interweave of foliage. Lifts it, an inch, more of a fidget than a motion inspired by practicality.

"Heard he was the one who caught you."

Nothing on the path has sturdy enough stems to pose much hazard to the Israeli woman who tromps indiscriminately over them. The possibility of thorns is given about the same weight as Teo's words regarding Carmichael — or at least the operation. "I did see," Hana affirms.

She steps over a section washed-out by some past storm, fails to supply the ritual watch your step most leaders of exploratory processions give those who follow. That Teo has taken up the conversational lead with unpleasant subjects once more isn't the reason. Hana glances back over one shoulder, just briefly. Not long enough for Teo to get a solid gauge of her expression. "He had help."

Lead, follow. Teo is left to assume that the results of the Carmichael operation are old news, because— because that was supposed to mean something, he's pretty sure. Not entirely certain, but pretty sure. They're closer to getting Phoenix's people back, and that matters. Of course, inflection and hands-wringing do not. He doesn't need to be told in order to watch his step; his eyes are angled steadfastly downward for the most part, lifting his gaze only when she speaks.

When Hana affords him a wedge of her severe profile, bent around an indeterminable sentiment, he pauses a moment. His knee jigs up, scrapes past a blackberry bush; he leans into his next stride, hands in his pockets. "You're not talking about how many grunts he brought with him, are you?" He manages to avoid getting punched in the face with a tree branch.

Numbers carry weight. Ten against one are very poor odds. Not, however, the worst Hana has faced. She doesn't give the Sicilian a direct answer as they approach the bottom of the path. The woman studies the dock without yet setting foot on it. Wood has this habit of picking up rot when neglected. "Almost slipped past them. Got hit by… must have been an audiokinetic, or something similar."

A lot of man-made things have a habit of picking up rot when neglected, lacking the subtle chemistries of life. Hana seems to be one of those few exceptions to an otherwise reliable generalized rule.

When she bends and slides around the question set to her, it doesn't imply structural weakness, compromise of integrity, or inroads made by age and decay. Teo knows this. It bends his face with confusion and concern as he looks at the wooden pier when she looks at it. It shows gray under the gray sky, dry, flat, splinters worn down by excellent craftsmanship rather than long use. Private schools. "The fuckers were ready for you," he observes. A beat. "I guess that's not too weird."

The fact that she's out now, perfectly unscathed, on the other hand—

Not weird at all, given that Carmichael was expressly bidden to seek out Hana, Noah, and Claire. She walks out onto the pier, footsteps sounding hollow on the boards; mindful of where she places her feet, any potentially suspect areas. The school hasn't been closed long enough for much damage to have settled in. "Goodman had," Hana allows, tone frosted by a scorn whose object is too distant to be threatened by it, "an offer for me."

It might be guessed, from the way she says it, exactly how the ex-agent replied to that offer. Just possibly.

Though she's hardly the most animate character nor Teo the most difficult person to deceive, he has no trouble reading that through loud and clear. He steps onto the dock after her, his boots sending barely discernible reverberations through the grain. The smooth green hue of water doesn't change its chop because of his tread, however, instead showing his reflection back to him tinted, distorted, but unbroken. Not that he's looking. His eyes have gotten stuck, turned sideways at his companion, incredulous more than fearful.

Wow. Somebody in the bureaucracy is stupid. "Like— the one Brian got? The abduction and psychic punch in the brain approach to recruitment?" His thumb grates restlessly up and down the helmet strap at his side.

"Not exactly." Her dry reply fails to convey the specific details — the restraints, the sedation, the deafening silence. Psychic punch is actually fairly descriptive, to an extent. "He thought if he told me he was working to bring down the Company I would side with him." Given Hana, this isn't actually a poor tactic. However, when the speaker is known to be a Company employee, does the talking in the ambiance of a Company holding cell, and hangs out with Company Founders… it falls rather short. Folding her hands on one of the posts that dot the pier's sides, Hana looks out over the water. "I think we can work with this. You're sure the structure's sound?" Meaning the buildings above, not the dock.

Perkins School For Boys, then. Always hysterical good fun, the part with the knocking in a bathroom stall through the floor to see where the sewer network goes. Not that Teo is really thinking about the school or the implications it holds for Phoenix's future at this point. He leans his hip into the opposite wooden piling, doesn't tumble into the water. The water smells like a mixture of algae and brine. He's sure the structure's sound. Walked around, climbed down, inhaled a lungful of dust doing it. The structure's sound. By now, Hana probably knows better than to think that when Teo opens his mouth he is going to give her the appropriate or desired answer, either.

"What if he's telling the truth?"

Of course not. The question is taken in stride; it would be far too much to expect for Teo to follow the change in subject. Hana straightens, turns, treats the Sicilian to a dry glance, one dark brow arched. You ask me this? "He is," the woman states, "a Company employee. He spoke with me in the presence of a Company Founder. Works for another." Three strikes. Goodman is not on the technopath's list of possible allies. "Even if he intends to do so?" Hana doesn't believe that; doesn't make even the slightest attempt to conceal the sentiment. "It is not the extent of his intentions, and he cannot be trusted."

"Okay." It was just a question. Teo backs off, insofar as that he'd carefully avoided being particularly forward, if not careful enough. Admittedly, that sounds like a lot of strikes. Some part of him can't help but think that inside the Company's a pretty good place to start tearing it down, but he can understand errors in presentation. God knows he's made enough of them in his time.

Wears the marks to show it, too. Teo watches a long-legged insect skim over the top of the water, the pinched dimples of surface tension spreading out from underneath its filament feet. "I looked over it. For rot, measured for sinkage and that shit. There's a small mould problem going on in a few of the rooms but the structure's sound."

Inside would be all but idea, and in that, Goodman would have a selling point — if not for the complete lack of all others. Hana turns towards the building, padding past Teo up the dock, back onto the vine-strewn pathway. "It seems like a decent choice," the woman allows. "The docks can be expanded for somewhat larger boats." Canoes don't carry very many useful things. Plus, motorboats are faster; speed does have its uses. "How quickly are you planning to work on it?" Is this something to be done as soon as possible — or a longer, slower, quieter project?

A shrug seesaws through Teo's shoulders, and he turns to follow on a tick-tock, clompy cadence of strides, not on-center nor off-balance.

Off the wooden planks, onto the vegetable,strewn path. "Over this month, maybe into the next. I want somewhere on Staten Island for Helena and Al to go once they come home." Despite the inherent optimism of his words, his features are quiescent as he speaks them and his tone is uncharacteristically enervated despite being light, as if he suddenly can't be bothered to have tone at all.

Planning requires at least going through the motions of cloud-watching, finding the silver lining in things. "I'll pitch it to Catherine and Brian, too," he remembers, an audible touch belated. "See how the lieutenants weigh in."

Hana glances sidelong at Teo, then inclines her head in a brief nod. Optimism, along with its lack, elicits no comment, merely the simple acknowledgment. "Let me know if you need anything." He will, of course, but some fashion of verbal reply seems warranted, and so she makes the easiest one. "I'll see what I can do about satellite observation." Water traffic is always under some level of observation.

And Teo would prefer her eye in the sky than most people else's. The helmet swings in Teo's hand, claps to a stop against the hollowed curve of his other palm and twigs break underfoot, replacing the susurration of water behind him. "I will," he answers promptly, easily as whatever passes for professionalism between him requires him to.

If he needs something, he asks. Phoenix asks. Weapons, electronic espionage, a gun arm, medic, safehouse, tactical advice or cost estimates. It's the way things have always been, where always encapsulates only the timespan of a few months and the foundations of permanent habit, if loyalty has anything to do with it. Loyalty has everything to do with it.

Teo feels a little stupid offering, but he does, in the end, as gravel begins to crunch underfoot and his thoughts leapfrog between existential lily pads.

He looks at her back, then the ground. "You, too."

what if a much of a which of a wind
gives the truth to summer's lie;
bloodies with dizzying leaves the sun
and yanks immortal stars awry?
Blow king to beggar and queen to seem
(blow friend to fiend: blow space to time)
-when skies are hanged and oceans drowned,
the single secret will still be man

what if a keen of a lean wind flays
screaming hills with sleet and snow:
strangles valleys by ropes of thing
and stifles forests in white ago?
Blow hope to terror; blow seeing to blind
(blow pity to envy and soul to mind)
-whose hearts are mountains, roots are trees,
it's they shall cry hello to the spring

what if a dawn of a doom of a dream
bites this universe in two,
peels forever out of his grave
and sprinkles nowhere with me and you?
Blow soon to never and never to twice
(blow life to isn't; blow death to was)
-all nothing's only our hugest home;
the most who die, the more we live

— e. e. cummings

March 6th: The Right To Remain Silent
March 6th: Only A Bad Girl Lies
Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License