About A Rat


elisabeth_icon.gif teo_icon.gif

Scene Title About A Rat
Synopsis Elisabeth warns Teo that Phoenix has one in the nest. He's quite cross.
Date April 22, 2009

Dorchester Towers: Elisabeth's Apartment

This is a pretty standard two-bedroom apartment, although the occupant has gone to some effort to make it her own. Although the carpet is the ubiquitous beige, the walls are painted a soft rose-gray mauve shade, giving the main living space warmth. A dark gray sectional sofa sits in the living room facing an entertainment center that contains a state-of-the-art stereo system and a less upscale television setup. A coffee table sits in the curve of the sectional, and floor lamps bracket the ends of the furniture. The dining area hosts a four-seater square oak table and chairs, with the table generally host to a slew of mail and papers. An oak sideboard against the wall has candles on either end of it and a glass bowl with a fake arrangement of flowers. A small wine rack sits next to the sideboard, home to no more than nine bottles. The kitchen is small, but functional, painted a soft yellow color with a transparent blue glass backsplash. Off the living room are two bedrooms, one of which has the door closed and the other appears to be a home office. Its walls are a soft shade of green, and it contains a desk with a high-end computer setup and a bookcase stocked with textbooks.

She is so not looking forward to this conversation. In light of the fact that their friends are still missing and such, most of us are having to get back into the swing of everyday life while we struggle to find the people missing from Moab. And there's one situation that's been left hanging quite some time…. Elisabeth has decided it's time to update Teo on the matter. So she told him that she needed to talk to him, told him it was going to be complicated, and asked him to stop by.

As such, Teo stops by. He's a fist knocking the door, and then a fleeting flash of a smile that doesn't quite hold but didn't lack for sincerity, either. 'Complicated.' It's better than doing nothing.

Probably. That's the sort of statement a baby terrorist would come to regret if he said it out loud, so it's probably just as well that Teo doesn't. He had merely accepted the invitation on simple terms. And on equally simple terms— "Buona sera, signorina," he says, entering when granted ingress. He takes off his shoes. He always takes off his shoes, even though there's nothing of slush and little of mud to have to worry about tracking over the woman's immaculate floors.

There's no hood attached to the back of his sweater collar this time, but there's something extraordinarily commonplace about the look of him, still. It's like Moab, the Kalahari, none of it— had happened at all. "You look good."

When she answers the door, it's with a faint smile. "C'mon in." Elisabeth's preparing for the worst with this one. "Beer?" Definitely. "Thanks… I guess knowing that all of you are scattered through time is easier to deal with than some other things. Or maybe I'm just growing too jaded to be that stressed by all the insanity." She rolls her eyes, gets him the drink if he says he'd like it, and then gestures for him to join her on the couch.

"I'm sorry to just dump an extra piece of bullshit on your plate, Teo… you've got plenty going on. But…. it can't wait too much longer, I don't think." Liz offers him a faint grimace. "Don't have a stroke on me, okay?"

This disclaimer thingy makes Teo squint at the other blondie for a protracted moment, before he reaches over and accepts the beer that he'd said he would like and plants himself squarely on the couch. The cushions whuff a faint breath of air out from under his weight. He takes a long pull from the beverage, out of deference to her ominous wordsmithing, before saluting at her wiht a nozzle.

"Takes more than a fucking viral apocalypse to make me stroke," he points out in his Most Diplomatic voice. "Come on, spit it out. You're freaking me the fuck out. Somebody die without me noticing? Ygraine and the little squealer at it again?" He's throwing guesses out there, wryly facetious in an effort to calm the woman down. Really, the absence of immediate disasters as of late has left Teo just short of bored.

Shaking her head, Liz smiles faintly. "Well, it's nothing quite as drastic as a viral apocalypse, but it's a bit more personal," she admits quietly. Then she looks at him, resting her elbows on her knees and says straight out, "I got involved with a guy, and well… we all know my taste in guys can run to the not-so-straight-and-narrow. It started out simply enough… Cat asked me to check into him for a project for the safehouse, so I did. He came up mostly clean. I got Hana in on it, and she didn't come up with anything raising red flags either. There were a couple of small things that didn't quite add up, but I followed up on them as well as I could, and it didn't seem to be anything major." Elisabeth grimaces. "Not like him being a thief is anything that should bother ME, right? But it turns out that the thief is also extremely well-trained in the art of turning the tables. And extremely paranoid. Merely because I was a cop, he decided to check into ME — didn't know if he was being set up for a sting. And he bugged my apartment. Back a little before we raided Staten."

The humor drains out of Teo's face like water out of the bottom of an unstopped tub. He stares at the woman in blank surprise for a protracted moment. "Hana generally has the whole bug thing in hand, ever since the clusterfuck with the Vanguard and Abigail last year," he says, slowly. "So I'd like to be fucking optimistic and assume that anything that could really hurt you or Phoenix was scrambled before it got through to Alec's thick little head.

"Lacking that," lacking optimism, "I figure you have some kind of punchline that makes 'turning the tables' sound a little fucking less—" The Sicilian fades to pause for a moment, picking a word out of the vocabulary accumulated from months of maneuvering around Ethan Holden's cell and Homeland Security, besides. "Threatening."

There's a long sigh and Liz says, "Well…. so far as I can tell, Hana can't intercept laser bugs. Which is apparently what he had to be using, because she intercepted nothing on this. And…. due to the nature of a conversation Abby and I had in this apartment when she was staying here, he's got names and names and names." She shoves a hand through her hair. "And believe me, I wish to hell I was joking. Here's the rub. He's a thief. He works for a benefactor, and he and his benefactor decided, after hearing some of what Abby and I were talking about, that they like what Phoenix stands for. They've offered their…. assistance. Alec's also a very highly skilled engineer, as you recall — he's offered to build Cat's safehouses and escape routes for the cost of materials alone. His benefactor has offered to be a…. procurer, I guess. For a stepp discount on his usual rates. But I wasn't going to make this call."

Nice. Not as horrific a stinging humiliation as Teo might otherwise have expected. Lazer bugs are a little ways up there. Not even Homeland Security has thought to use those yet. "Who's his benefactor?" he asks, allowing the bottle to swing side to side in his fingers. He still looks annoyed as fuck, guileless in the absence of his actual poker-face, but there's a thinking portion of his brain turning wheels behind the surface canvas of simple expression and reaction.

Helena might have been less willing to consider forging an alliance on such shaky terms, but Elisabeth— and her beau— might well be fortunate that it's the kid who played pattycake with actual Feds during the Vanguard debacle sitting here on the couch with her. "And how do you keep in touch with this guy?"

There's a shake of her head. "He won't tell. He told both me and Cat that it wouldn't matter if we had a name, the guy's a ghost anyway." Elisabeth quirks a brown. "With Alec? I don't. He's goddamn lucky I didn't fucking shoot him in the face the night he confessed or resonate his fucking brains into tapioca paste." Remembered rage and embarassment color her face — that she was so thoroughly taken in by the bastard still has the power to mortify her. "But if you want to talk to him, he lives two floors up. It's as easy as knocking on his door or picking up the phone."

Rage and embarrassment are appropriate reactions, as far as Teo's concerned. His sentiment go similarly. "He'll have to tell," he says, pulling his mouth from the beer bottle once more. His eyebrows lift fractionally. "There's a rich and powerful ghost of a man who knows the identities of the people I swore to Helena I would protect. If he's the end-all your boy makes him out to be, I want a lot on him.

"On the best days, trust goes both ways. Alec's going to have to meet us a lot fucking further than halfway if he wants us to take his invitation politely, and even if he'd sooner drop it, we can't. Not now." He studies Elisabeth's features in frowning silence. "You pissed him off, or he's just paranoid?"

She considers the question seriously, and when she finally answers, Elisabeth sounds tired. "Honestly, Teo? I think he's just that paranoid. He had a bad childhood, came up through the system. He's a thief — and a damn good one, based on his financials before everything crashed in 2006. He wouldn't have made the kind of money he had by stealing unless he was damn good and really careful. His explanation rang true — though I gotta tell you, I'm going to do some studying on how to use things like heartbeat and respiration rates and such to determine if people are lying. He says he only checked me out because I was a cop and interested in him personally."

She hesitates and then says, "And it rings true too that if he'd wanted to burn me, or burn all of us, he could have done it at any time. Or he could have just vanished with his information and sold it to the highest bidder. He's got me, Cat, you, Abby, Parkman… it was actually Parkman's name that tipped me off to WHEN he was listening. He doesn't have all his facts right, so he's definitely extrapolating from only a couple of conversations Abby and I had in what I thought was the sanctity of my own apartment. And maybe tailing me. He was very good at ditching a tail, so it's highly probable that he's equally good at being one."

A quizzical expression flits through Teo's brows and he lets his weight sink to the left, his shoulder coming up in a shrug under his ear. "It also rings true, that if we let him any closer, he'll have more fuel to add to the little fire under Phoenix's imminently flammable ass.

"He sounds like good material for us to work with, sure. But so did Minea, Felix, Christian, Edward, Deckard, and any number of other independent fuckers who are now working elsewhere and might have to stab us in the fucking back without a little practical dissuasion now and then. I get that he probably means well. Most people who come to us do: we're the fucking hippies of the pro-Evolved movement and I like having that street cred to camouflage the machineguns. But business is business.

"I'll talk to him some time," he proposes, glancing up at the ceiling which supposedly conceals the mechanic somewhere above it. A half-beat. "And that isn't a euphemism for anything that means he won't have a face afterward."

Elisabeth shakes her head and says, "I'm not trying to persuade you one way or the other, Teo." She grimaces. "Hell, my objectivity on this one is totally shot. I actually liked the guy," she says quietly. "He was… good company. Liked a lot of the same things I did. Reminded me a good bit of Trask… a good friend, you know? Shows you what my fucking judgment of people is worth." She shakes her head. "Cat's already talked to him, and she's not sure of him either. He's offered a no-harm, no-foul walk away option — we don't tell what we know about what he's doing, and he'll stay out of our orbit." She shrugs a little. "I don't know which way to tell you to go, even."
I don’t see that here.

"That's sweet of him," Teo says, dryly. "Leaves his sugardaddy and assload of resources untouched and available to do with whatever the fuck he wants. I'll talk to him. Frankly, we might be able to use somebody like him. Complement to Hana's bugging abilities, more money to supplement what Miss Chesterfield contributes to our coffers. We're too many men down as it is." And maybe it comes down to that, in the end. It's a sobering notion, which not even another long pull of beer can really counterweight.

When Teo looks up again, it's obvious there's a transition coming. Alec is concluded, insofar as he can be. "I think we're going to get Hel and the others back soon, Liz. Precog showed me a thing. 'M glad. I can do a little in the way of logistics, but I've never had a vision for Phoenix.

"I'm beginning to think our take on the American government needs to be a little more even-handed. Not only demonizing the bullshit HomeSec pulls, but giving credit where due. SCOUT's work. That kind of thing. This country needs hope, and we can't do that by ourselves."

Looking thoughtful, Elisabeth says, "I know we'll get them back. It's just a matter of time." She tilts her head, though, and listens intently. "So…. what are you thinking, then? Because I have to admit, the primary thing that I think Phoenix has going for it is being able to go where law enforcement can't. Rescuing Abby and Trask and the others, for example, off Staten. No one wanted to touch it. And yes… I do think SCOUT and even Homeland's agents deserve credit where credit's due. People should not be afraid of law enforcement, those are the people they should turn to when shit goes south." She grimaces. "I don't know how to fix that, but if you've got ideas, I'm all for it."

A sigh blows out of Teo's lungs, cut into a whistle through his teeth. "Cat and Kinson were working on this video broadcast thing. We could probably use that to highlight the best and worst of the government's work. I don't know: maybe that's just selling the fuck out. I'll talk to Cat and Hana, and— fuck.

"Maybe wait on it until Helena gets back. Pick a date, and if she isn't back by then…" The level of Teo's voice seesaws into quieter, the look on his face turning inward, withdrawing from the outer parts of his facade; not quite neurotic, but the worrying sort of fretful. He snaps out of it with a hard blink of both eyes, then, and the heel of his hand grated over the roof of his head.

"We weren't supposed to be vigilantes. We weren't supposed to be criminals at all, barring a lack of registration here or there," he remarks at her, a half smile crooked on his face even as he leans forward, rises to his feet. It takes a moment for the expression to fade. "'Course, if shit went the way it was supposed to—"

Elisabeth laughs softly, getting to her feet. "And if wishes were horses, we'd all be cowboys or something." She shrugs and moves to hug him briefly, all that silly teenaged Italin boy squawking and waggling ignored. "Whatever you were supposed to be originally…. what we've become is one hell of a group, Teo Laudani. In no small part due to the fact that people are keeping sight of what we're supposed to be doing — making our own little corner of the world a better place if we can," she says as she draws back. "Talk through your half-formed thought with Cat. Use me as a sounding board if you want. I would …. really like to see us have a better goal than 'Homeland Security is evil, we shall stand up and fight them.' Because in truth… much as I hate her guts… Kat Marks and other like her, they're just doing the same thing we are, most of the time. They think they're fighting for the greater good too. Much as that galls me."

Much as it galls Teo, too. It's impossible to acknowledge Elisabeth's good and successful work during her day job without admitting that, potentially, the entirety of the government is not one giant steaming cesspit of civil transgression and moral failure. After Teo finishes doing his squawking and stuff, he finishes his beer. Salutes with it.

"I'll put it in the recycling bin thing downstairs," he says, moving through the apartment's clean-kept space to find shoeing. There's a beat's pause with his right foot halfway into the thing, and he glances up, one dark brow lifted. "Mind me asking if you're still fucking him?"

"Not just no, but hell no," Elisabeth replies, giving him great big anime eyes. "Fuck, Teo… I might have shitty judgment in people sometimes… and a taste for criminal men, but what the fuck do you take me for?" She looks mildly offended, but a bit wistful. "Hell, I don't even miss the fucking. I could go find that. What I hate most of all is that I thought of him as an actual friend." It's a betrayal that cuts deeply — she rarely lets people get that close. "Get outta here… go get laid or something so you aren't prying into my sex life alla time," she teases.

<date>: previous log
<date>: next log
Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License