hana_icon.gif teo_icon.gif

Scene Title Alike
Synopsis Teo asks questions and draws conclusions. Hana shares another slice of her life's history. No one gets hurt, for once.
Date January 9, 2008

Staten Island Boat Graveyard

Exactly where land gives way to water at this point of the island's edge is uncertain - first because of the saltgrass growing everywhere, both on dry earth and in the shallows, giving the illusion of solidarity; second for the structures visible in the distance, drawing the eye away from the deceptive ground, suggesting its reach extends beyond its grasp. Even if the structures are still recognizable as ships, and nothing that ever belonged on land.

There are a multitude of them, abandoned hulls of salt-stained wood and rust-pitted steel, dying slow and ungraceful deaths as wind and water claim their dues. Some still appear to rest upright, braced upon the debris of older, lost relics below; others list to one side, canted at an odd angle like someone who just struggled to the surface in search of a desperate breath. There are no hands to pull these hulks from the water, no ropes to save them from drowning; each has been surrendered to the sea, left to the ravages of unmerciful time.

At low tide, some of the closer ships can be reached - not without getting soaked, but such is the price of daring. Never mind that the rotting metal and splintered wood are the stuff of nightmares for any germophobe, definite hazards to the unwary. The more distant ships are distant indeed, beyond the reach of all but the most bold - and are all but submerged besides.

Morse code by visual cue is definitely an unorthodox method of communication. I need you. It works, though, when the intended recipient is Wireless; more difficult to not reach her.

No matter where she is.

It isn't until a few hours later, a few hours of silence leading into the lightening predawn twilight, that Teo receives a reply, in the form of a text message sent to his phone. For once, there is neither time nor date nor sender specified — just a bare duo of utterly unadorned words.

Boat graveyard.

A blanket of heavy marine fog has been cast over the collected corpses of ships, a pearl-gray veil screening them from the first rays of sunlight. The nearest of the rusting relics, the one most easily accessible at this hour, is Hana's current perch; the Israeli woman stands on its slanted, decaying deck, one hand resting lightly on a length of intact rail. She gazes out towards the glowing east, watching the layers of fog ripple and drift in an endless random dance. She wears the leather jacket and heavy black jeans that go with the motorcycle parked out of sight; nothing in the technopath's appearance suggests she has just returned from a jaunt to the Arctic, except perhaps a trace of buried weariness from the recently-completed long drive.

But on one of the rust-stained protrusions nearby sits the completely incongruous form of a white paper crane.

Teo likes reading books. He has read a lot of books. He knows a little about symbols because of that, as well as sympathetic weather. The malignant bird's eye of the sun and parched desert heat mean something to the protagonist of the story, as would the mysterious inland shipwreck and the jungle humidity so heavy the air strains to move under its weight. The fog works here, in this case. The crane might also.

Maybe. He doesn't know enough about symbols to know, straight off, what that one's supposed to mean.

He is pleasantly blinded by the former before he can see her, and he glimpses the latter— its white geometry in odd relief to the bulging curlicues and eddies of cold water vapor— after. Inevitably, she saw him before the vice versa became true. It's hard to tell how he got here, other than that he's been walking awhile. Telltale, sea salt and snow are smeared like dandruff over the toes of his boots and his hands are shaking from caffeine, eyes raw with something that isn't light.

Zia Lucrezia had been out. He'd released the moth in the hallway outside her suite, watched it fall more than it flew, down to carpet he had sank ankles-deep into, a translucent reflection of its wings falling down the glossy surface of the wall that its fine-furred legs sought futilely to find purchase and cling to.

Teo's breath shows white with exertion, the steady huff and heat of his second wind. The reek of marine water hangs off him in lieu of cigarettes or beer. He says:


The crane is, and nothing more; Hana is in no hurry to explain herself to the newly arrived Sicilian. Neither, however, does she seem to be in a great rush to interrogate him — or to chastise Teo for the summoning plea that intruded upon her self-indulgent reminiscences. His arrival is accepted as the wisp of fog that floats by, a thing that merely is, to be dealt with or endured or ignored as circumstance decrees. She asks no questions, not even what do you want.

The Israeli woman merely turns her head to look at the protege who will probably again exhibit lese majeste even at this early hour; always questioning, always curious. What, when, where, and — most of all — why. But it takes more energy than she currently has to forestall such things, a vitality not dampened by a long trip that bore no good fruit. It isn't Hana's way to explain herself unprompted, so she forgoes the many possible comments that could be made — about the crane, about her disappearance, about her history with Bennet — in favor of a single statement.

"Hello, Teo."

Nosy. The size of Teo's beezer is never an adequate excuse for how nosy he is, but as long as it's turning ruddy from numbness on the middle of his face and failing entirely to relay any sense of smell to him whatsoever, bad puns are all it's good for. Fortunately for everyone involved, he stops walking before he walks right off the pier: drowned padawan might have been awkward to explain, if Hana was in the business of explaining herself to anybody.

From here, the ships look flat, featureless, fake because of the intervening layer of fog, like cardboard cutouts erected for a movie. There's no wind, he realizes after a moment.

If there was wind, the crane would be flying — falling — not here anymore, the mist likely shredded with it. "Hel said you weren't leaving." As conversational segues go, this isn't tactful even for Teo, blunt as head trauma. "Then you were gone. You've never been gone before.

"And you've never been that fucking — pissed off." Never; as if their acquaintance, of less than a year, frames the right to invoke that term, despite the choking shadow that her history with everybody else casts down on it. "I didn't—" think you'd come; mean to fill your time with waste; want you to be alone; know what else to do. He finally remembers to look at her. "I think I'm trying to apologize."

'Never' is far too long a timeframe to describe the period of Hana's quiescence, but from Teo's perspective it serves. Her lips press into a grim line at his incorrect choice of word, but she lets it pass uncontested. It doesn't matter.

For her part, the woman continues to regard the endless perturbations of earth-hugging clouds, the rolling transitions from highlighted curve to smoky shadow. "What, I'm not allowed to take a vacation?" The words have more bite than she intended, but Hana doesn't know how not to be alone, and she doesn't even think about trying to take them back.

If a jaunt of just over three days that leaves her travel-weary and just as heartsore as she started out can be given so grand a name as 'vacation'. After a few moments more, Hana lowers her gaze to look at the solitary paper sculpture, the bird whose inanimate wings do nothing to enable the possibility of flight, the crane which might mean peace, regret, sorrow, solitude. "You have nothing to apologize for." Except in that he is Teo, and sorry might well be Teo's favorite non-curse-word.

It's declasse to admit your favorite word is a curse. Though Teo rarely pretends to greater sophistication than he has, he tends to try to avoid that sort of vulgarity. The unrepentant and telling kind. Swear words and stupid jokes are for daytime, peace-time, play-time.

'Sorry' seems to fit better, with the weather, with the hour, with the other shit, with the strange and subtle lines that have instituted themselves in the steel geometry of her ordinarily military-perfect posture. He manages to avoid apologizing unnecessarily for having apparently apologized unnecessarily, but there's a telltale twitch of his jaw, a note to his next breath, signs what nearly happened.

"I didn't think so," he answers. "You're your own boss, so." It isn't prying, but it sure as shit isn't letting go. Teo might be better off falling into the sea.

By now, his own gaze has abandoned the sky, ships, the indistinct horizon: he's looking into the water, watching wrinkles fold and smooth, roil along, the individual sources of those reverberations impossible to trace in the deranged complexity of wave action and interaction despite the absence of the wind and its distortions. Edward Ray has a plan. Teo remembers remembering that before he it slips from his attention gain.

The quiet of the boat burial grounds around them is echoed in the silence that is presented in exchange for Teo's words — a silence not quite offended, not quite withdrawn, but reflecting the muddled complexity of Hana's internal state.

What does it mean that he was bothered by her departure?

Her expression eventually acquires a dubious, skeptical cast — is she her own boss? Such really doesn't seem to be the case. Not anymore; it disappeared somewhere along the line, lost in the passage of time. But Hana's features are the only thing to speak on that subject. Her words outline another. "Clearly you did think so." Since it bothered him enough for Teo to reach out and attempt to figuratively touch her. The woman turns her face just slightly, enough to look at him from the edge of her vision. "What is it you need?" Now she asks, as though the summons carried with it a request for action, was something more complex and yet less significant than a request for the presence of the person Hana.

Were he to think about it, Teo would probably decide that it means — to him — that he's a yellow-belly, coward, useless child, and the ex-Mossad, cyberpath, eye in the digital sky is his safety blanket, safety net, safeguard, other things that begin with the same four letters and leave the Sicilian feeling a little more frightened or, perhaps worse, more reckless without.

That same part of Teo insists, with tiny starfish hands balled up into tiny fists, and chubby tot face screwed up with stubbornness, that no one's the boss of Hana, too.

Never was the wrong word. He hasn't known her nearly long enough, and he knows as little about her as she does of what he, his actions, his decisions regarding her are supposed to entail.

"Doctor Ray has a plan." His tone is mechanically conversational; if it weren't for the nature of the information he's sharing, it might be hard to discern he's started answering her question, or trying to. "He's started dividing people into teams. I don't know if his plan is good. They're saying fucking HomeSec might burn down Manhattan to stop the virus from spreading. The artist formerly known as Felix Ivanov cut off Kazimir Volken's head and he didn't die.

"Abby's supposed to help us, so she's asked Sylar not to kill her for a few more weeks. Hel and Brian got shot investigating a truck-load of prisoners the Vanguard was keeping in medical comas. They're okay now. We're going to look at the bridges for bombs, and I don't know how to — or whether we should clear the bridges if we find any to disarm.

"I fucked up my personal life," he adds, after a moment. That part, the last part, goes hastier, like tearing off a scab, flung in there just for completeness: the last little sin spat to confession, nudged in last-minute under the umbrella of absolution.

Tonight, his fluency is suffering for stress and sleep deprivation. He summarizes last instead of first, disjointedly: "You." Soon, it will be too bright for him to meet her eye saying these things, but for now, the paper crane bears witness to something painfully like intimacy.

She listens in a silence somehow equivalent to Teo's mechanical recitation of facts whose dryness belies their very importance. A plan. That statement, nothing new, elicits a stony mask that could be offense, ire, pride, disdain; the puppet declaring, if only to herself, that she no longer dances to any tune but her own. "Don't clear them," Hana instructs in clipped tones, leaving the rest of the subject of 'plans' to flop on verbal ground like a dead fish — so much fertilizer. "Call in HomeSec, SWAT, someone official." Someone expendable in Hana's scheme of things. "If you're going to prevent armageddon, you can't afford to die from a stupid mistake." And amateurs trying to defuse bombs placed by a group determined to bring about said cataclysm definitely qualifies for the label of 'stupid mistake'.

Personal life. Her head turns a little further, the glance cast towards the Sicilian becoming more direct, less oblique. The woman's expression is faintly surprised, beneath its stubborn facade of neutrality; you have the luxury of a personal life? Hana might envy Teo if she thought the phrase personal life still had any bearing upon her own existence; it is a foreign, alien concept that has significance only in the context of other people.

"I'm sorry" is an inadequate and nearly irrelevant phrase leavened by traces of honest regret. Hana doesn't wish a solitary existence on anyone who has more sense than to volunteer for it.

'Stupid mistake' covers such a broad spectrum of Teo's activities, he has to refrain from laughing or punching himself in the nose or something similarly inappropriate. That makes sense. About the bombs. He thinks. He opens and closes his eyes to make sure that is the product of actual thinking, and winds up thinking so. "Are you sure? Telling Homeland Security about the bombs might be a mistake, if HomeSec wants to cut Manhattan off too. Maybe SWAT.

"But Volken's people would sooner notice the Feds than us. If we don't want him knowing we're messing around with his toys. Not that I know we don't," he adds blankly. Do they care if Volken knows? He doesn't know. Thinking isn't going very well right now; he sticks to constructing questions and offering theories, rather than statements of fact. "I think Hel and I would prefer if you were the one to clear them."

Personal life. He isn't surprised she's surprised; finds himself registering the same thoughts that characterize her expression. It is that. A luxury, one barely excused by the fact that business keeps mangling his friendships just as often as it protects or founds them. Exhibit A is idling on a derelict dock, besieged by fog and dawn. Exhibit B is too recent, too cripplingly awkward to explain.

Exhibit C is closed up in Hana's head, or heart, maybe her fists, unwilling to make itself available for examination. Words find him eventually. Only a few are necessary, cut from the template of commonplace propriety, thickened by sincerity: "Thank you. Me, too.

"And for…" he motions vaguely in Bennet's direction, despite having no idea where the former Company agent is currently located. Or he might be indicating her history with terrorists, or the vacation destination which left her spent instead of healed. Or his nerves are screwed too badly to finish sentences. He stares at the crane, whose pristine plumage seems to be darkening as the sea behind it brightens.

"Have they said they want to?" Not in her hearing, and the technopath's range is rather expansive. But then, paper or person or even landline phone is beyond her ability to eavesdrop upon. One slender, dark eyebrow arches at Teo's request. "That's a lot for one person to do." Not a 'no', it doesn't close the subject with the steel-wall finality Hana is perfectly capable of bringing down when she cares to employ it.

Silence envelops them again, as intangible as the mists which only slowly yield under the pressure of strengthening sunlight and do very little to blunt the sharp edge of winter chill. They're far better at muffling the sounds of quiet conversation which the Israeli and Sicilian intermittently produce. Teo's gesture causes Hana to look in the direction indicated, a direction that has no meaning in absolute terms and a questionable significance in the mind of the person observing it. She considers the fog-wrapped distance for a moment before blinking at the Sicilian. "For what?" Yes, you have to finish that thought.

The Sicilian's range is less expansive. "No. It's a theory: drastic times call for drastic measures." He puts his palm against his other, matching his fingers up, feels two layers of scratchy cotton bulking out the space between them, adding to the numbness of cold and incessant insensibility of fatigue. The idle fidget looks prayerful. It isn't. "I'll tell Hel and Elisabeth. They have the contacts."

It is a lot to ask of one person. His agreement to that is nonverbal, his head jigged with a nod, dumb acknowledgment of her eyebrow.

Even in this state, he can tell the difference between that and a no. His ability to discern between the other subtleties of Hana's mood is less reliable, mostly because he isn't used to finding her in a mood. He steeps in silence for a moment that would be measured long in conversational standards. Either considering how to answer or hoping he doesn't have to.

"Ummm." The monosyllable emerges clumsy, distended by a ragged breath, evacuating out of his lungs hard enough that they're left with the slight sensation of burning. He has to inhale again to finish, looking away from artificial bird and toward the conspicuously human woman. The cold renders his ordinarily sanguine voice out in pallid shapes. "You seem… you seemed like your heart was broken." For that.

"If the virus is released with those mortars," the erstwhile analyst points out in a fairly dry tone, "cutting Manhattan off on the ground won't help at all. I think even the government would recognize this." Because the subject of disarming bombs is left along the wayside, Hana lets it remain there. It'll rear its head again later, no doubt.

Heartbroken. It's a word that applies to the ten-year-old girl who lost mother and grandmother simultaneously and herself remained unconscious until long after their funeral. Hana wouldn't admit now that she ever vested so much in someone she knew (should have known) could only disappoint. But her gaze flicks away from Teo, unable to meet his eyes, looking into long-ago memory. "I should have shot him the first time I laid eyes on him," the Israeli woman comments softly. "But I didn't." And that lapse is something she hasn't forgiven herself for; may never do so, just as she's failed to forgive so many other things.

This doesn't look like the wrath of a woman scorned, and Teo has met a few scorned women. This looks— less facetious than that, maybe, not that he has any right to talk at this particular moment. Scorned. It's a bad look for him. He doesn't imagine that's why Hana finds herself unable to meet his gaze. "I don't know anything about him," he says. "Besides that he's a father. Some kind of spy." Good enough to hack Homeland Security.

Good enough to deceive Hana Gitelman into trusting him, up until a point she utterly exploded when she found she couldn't any further. "You and him," he says, a halting choice of words, a query in the process of being scraped together, ginger with the distinct awareness that he's done this before. Gotten nosy. It's kind of different this time, less intellectual, perhaps more self-interested. "Before."

Not that there's anything really selfless about wanting to understand someone who so often seems she would rather not be. "Did… you two used to be like — us?" Falling out of the configuration of supplication, his fingers interlace, a black tangle, and he lets them drop in their loose knot in front of him. It's bright now. He isn't looking at her, either.

Some kind of spy. It's such an… incongruous statement, so simplistic a view of their troubled reality that Hana's lips first pull back in some semblance of a bitter smile, then let spill forth a brief, sharp bark of ironic laughter. "No, Teo." The words are almost gentle, so much as anything about Hana ever is, in spite of the darkness laced underneath her tone. "We were never… like you." Phoenix. Helena. Teo. If Helena bears some resemblance to the girl Hana was, or whom she might have been, Teo and Noah have nothing in common at all.

Some impulse, not recognized until she's already begun to follow through on it, brings the words of explanation to her lips, spills them into the fog-dampened air. "You know I was Mossad." To kill terrorists, she once said, never having explained why that should be so very desirable a life's pursuit. "An analyst. Never off base. Never in the field." Where she wanted to be, needed to be. "I was patrolling the perimeter one night, when a stranger offered me a position with the CIA. Doing what I wanted to do." Hana continues to gaze into the distance, remembering. The words are so neutral they could be spoken by the computer she sometimes emulates; her expression is only a little more revealing.

I should have shot him.

"I accepted. Moved to a facility in Alaska. Spent too long training. Until I manifested." A voice worn dangerously raw from the sudden shock of first exposure; weeks unconscious, learning to cope with a sudden flood of data never meant to have been human-readable in raw form, summarized in so simple a word. Manifested. "They trained my ability. Then he gave me a mission; a bioweapons lab in Tanzania.

"I got what he needed, and he left me there to die." That the bald statements carry no emotion only underscore the depth of that betrayal's scar. The worst of it was that she had been so grateful for the opportunity that had been nothing more than an elaborate lie.

Yet Bennet's somehow still alive.

It is the most absurd dichotomy of emotion, that Teo was vain enough to find no shame in thinking his recentmost personal plight a big fucking deal despite that the world is on the brink of ending. The last few hours were spent in a miserable haze that he could forecast as something doomed not to lift for days. Weeks. He'd go to war with it hanging spitefully over his head, he thought, this self-absorbed pity.

Yet, as he listens to Hana speak, he feels an odd tilting, shifting at the core of his discontent, lenses sliding into place, and the sickness of rage — petty or otherwise — settling slowly in his stomach, an inkling of self-reproach to frame the sudden and ruthless clarity of perspective. It's not an idea that is completely novel to the philosophical stage, of course, nothing that could propel humanity beyond the sludge of its context; indeed, intellectually he'd already known it.

Things could be worse.

He blinks a lot. Not because it's bright. "I think you were like us, then. I didn't mean — Phoenix, or Helena.

"I mean, he was to you what you are to me.

"Excepting the obvious differences," Teo says, without having a strong idea of what those 'obvious' differences are. Of loyalty? Of ruthlessness? Malice? Surely, if Hana had felt Noah had wronged her out of nothing but simple sadism, he'd be dead. Or, at the very least, alone and earlier. Teo doesn't know what a man like that is doing leading the Ferrymen. Then again, he didn't — doesn't know what Hana's doing here, either.

With the Ferrymen. With him too, sometimes. Maybe she's just doing 'the right thing;' more discernible to some than others. He opens his mouth to say again, because it bears repetition, I'm so sorry. What comes instead, "I couldn't kill you either." It's funny. Kind of. If Hana beats you up with aikido a couple times every week, it is.

Was Noah to Hana what Hana now is to Teo? Perhaps; another example of how times change, of how the world has moved on. Moved on and left her somewhere in the dust of its wake, clinging to the illusion of a child's dream, a gossamer illusion as intangible and binding as the breath of a fish or the sound of a cat's restless pacing.

Philosophy is not truly Hana's forte, and she can only set the matter aside for someone else's perusal. What does it matter, now? Similarities or differences, they are what they are, and what's done is done. Even if the wounds left behind refuse to heal under the balm of time. "You could," Hana allows; everyone dies. Everyone dies. "From a distance, or by walking away; that I survived owes nothing to him." And everything to her dead.

The world hasn't moved on. Moved, maybe, but she wasn't left. If Teo were capable of pitying her, the time to do so would be now. However, he thinks of her— and surely this is obvious, how he looks up to her, brow knit, baby blues all drama and seriousness— that she is every bit as fierce, great, and worthy of the influence she wields as the traitor she deigned to spare.

"Naw," Teo says. He looks at the water. It is light enough to make out reflections now. Sloppy, wobbly impressionistic ones soundtracked to a song that there is neither sheet music nor lyrics for, the tide and liquid susurration that defy winter's ice-locks. He clarifies: "I couldn't." Where he comes from, you are what you believe. Sometimes, more even than what you manage to do.

Maybe they are alike. There's no better explanation for why Bennet is still alive, no matter how Hana might justify her inaction. The words her imperfect mirror speaks carry some meaning, for she looks sidelong at the Sicilian, expression inscrutable, the weight of her gaze mild. The sleep deprivation, stress, caffeine-overdose jitters — these haven't escaped her notice, and it's these attributes that seem to spur the words the Israeli woman speaks to end that lengthy silence: "Go get some sleep, Laudani."

She steps away from the railing, the paper crane on its rust-spattered perch, the disintegrating relic of a ship. No further comment is offered on any of the morning's conversational subjects — but Teo should have sufficient familiarity with her to properly translate the one Hana did make.

Thank you.

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