Apollo Spat


tamara_icon.gif teo_icon.gif

Scene Title Apollo Spat
Synopsis Tamara comes to give Teo a Christmas present. He ambushes her with an unspoken query. She drops Volken's name in the context of a trade, much to his horror, and things get twisted and blurry and begin to bleed. Title notes down there.
Date January 4, 2008

Columbia University

A member of the Ivy League, Columbia University was one of the first colleges established in the United States. Its buildings and greenswards occupy over 32 acres in Morningside Heights; the university offers a number of quality degrees, from law to nursing, and is also the home of the Pulitzer Prize. Its student body is very diverse, and active in myriad pursuits, from student-run WKCR, what may be the oldest FM radio station in the world, to the Columbia University Organization of Rising Entrepreneurs. It is home to thirteen fraternities, four sororities, and several multicultural organizations.

It's been awhile since Teo stepped off the University's stone courtyard and it's an experience which he doesn't think he'll miss too much. Not because he doesn't like the stately sight of the old administrative block, with its severe shoulders and columns, or Earl Hall frilled in the boughs of trees, or the weird-looking glass facade and over-exposed organs of the newer building he'd never really had to make use of, Butler library, or the endearingly awful cafeteria food that chases all the boys to Barnard at least once a week. He likes all that stuff.

But he's yet to really miss any given part of Manhattan while he's in other parts of Manhattan. Might be because everything's so close together, it's hard to really leave. Either that, or he's merely heartless, incapable of romanticizing the significance of a bit of earth and the walls erected on it or even the times they represented.

He is walking horizontally along the library stairs with a green messanger bag stuffed with completed paperwork under his arm, shifting up and down the steps to avoid trodding on the handful of students who have braved the weather in order to revel in the early evening. There are only a few. The bite of the weather at least guarantees that nobody's going to come up and convince him to save the whales or Mesopotamian architecture on his way toward the gates and Broadway.

The bite in the air doesn't appear to guarantee Teo solitude, even if no one will be exhorting him to sign petitions or accept informational pamphlets anytime soon. Though such messages might have been easier to understand — and to discourage — than the figure that does appear at his side. If the presaging pitter-patter of smaller feet on the sidewalk, the sounds of someone trotting up behind Teo to settle in and walk at his side, can be said to accompany something so supposedly sudden as an 'appearance'.

The steps don't do a thing to slow Tamara's pace, and neither do the few human obstacles adorning them. The teen's hair has been cast in thorough disarray by the wind of her own motion, and she gives the Sicilian a broad and cheerful grin as she shoves stray bits distractedly back behind her ears. There's less energy to her eyes than Teo usually sees, a hint of lingering fatigue, but it doesn't seem to have dampened the girl's mood in the slightest. "Shouldn't be walking out here all alone," she comments. The phrase has the flavor of a statement some other person said to her once upon a time, parroted back in a superficially similar context.

There's a subtle start. Which Teo isn't too embarrassed about because, at least according to his ex-girlfriend, they used to separate gladiators from ordinary slaves by checking the violence of their startle reflex. At least he doesn't climb three feet into the air and yowl like a cat. It isn't something one gets used to, however. Barren sidewalks or chiselled staircases sprouting little girls. This wouldn't the weather or the soil for growing those. He scuffs to a halt after a moment, his tall frame seesawing slightly on swept ice, arm and bag strap disengaging before he accidentally pulls or snaps something, turning to match Tamara's face to her voice.

"I have a gun," he says, by way of assurance. Realizes that might not have been the most reassuring thing, the next moment, but since he's talking to Tamara instead of — any other nineteen-year-old girl in Manhattan, he doesn't instantly implode into apologies. Then, "You should maybe take some of my own advice, ragazza. Don't look quite right." His head stoops and he squints in the half-darkness.

"I know." Saying Tamara is reassured by Teo's rejoinder is perhaps overstating matters just a trifle; she is disturbed in equal measure, which is to say not at all. It's the reaction one might expect from a nineteen-year-old girl if every individual in Manhattan carried a handgun as a matter of course. Which is not completely far from correct even as it stands. She tilts her head as Teo continues, brow wrinkling in bewildered noncomprehension. "How do you look quite wrong?" Tamara inquires, as she peers out over such of the campus as is within her field of view.

Double-negatives. Teo knows these. His eyes go slightly crescent-shaped with a smile that he suspects the rest of his face is too stiff to foster in its proper proportions. "That way," he says, curling a gloved forefinger toward her face, set in all that blonde hair like the middle of a daisy. "Tired. You look tired, signorina. More'n usual.

"It isn't that late, is it?" Of course, he wouldn't have too clear an idea on that; he's up at noon as often as he's going to bed then. He casts a glance around, sees the cluster of three at the base of the stairs, a professor in a shapeless woollen overcoat beelining down the other end, none of them particularly within earshot. Caught between polite overture and a tactical interest, his jaw twitches around the beginning of another inquiry, before he does smile. He could guess that she knows what he's going to ask before he does. Even if he doesn't.

She wriggles her nose at Teo as his finger appears in front of it. "Ti-ired," the girl echoes, lingering on the syllables of the word as though it's a stranger to her. Or perhaps just mulling over the concept behind it, the question it's rooted in. "Maybe. Didn't sleep — the river kept moving, but it pushes. The edges got a little fuzzy." Tamara offers her companion a decidedly nonchalant shrug, as though neither this nor the precise hour is of any great concern to her. Time has an entirely different meaning to the seeress.

So do the verbalized thoughts that aren't quite spoken, but might as well have been a shout in her ear. The girl twitches a bit, in keeping with such a nonexistent happening, then gives the Sicilian a sidelong glance. The good cheer bled away somewhere between her last look and this one, replaced by a mingling of abstracted curiosity and a prophet's peculiar wisdom. Yes, she knows. "Is that really what you wanted to know?" Even Tamara's voice has dropped its youthful timbre; this question belongs to more properly to Cassandra.

No prickly caterpillars, mirrors, or nines or zeroes, this time. She answers his question with a question, but it's one that even a mortal as ordinary as Teo is easily capable of wrapping his lobes around. Understandably, this surprises him. Enough that he doesn't answer for a moment, forgets to blink, the wind stealing the film of humidity off the surface of his eyeballs as he watches her watch him. He discerns the shift in her demeanour easily enough; notices the new quality to her voice a moment later.

"It's what I want to know first," he answers, after a protracted moment. "Afterward, I figure I'll probably be nosy as fuck. It looks like a good answer. Whatever you have rolling around in your head in place of sleeping dreams." His gaze lifts, fractionally, drifting to and fro of her fair-skinned crown, before settling on the spot that would mark her third eye. He ducks his head low again, and breathes fog.

He doesn't seem scared. Obscurely, he suspects — maybe — he ought to be scared of her.

In the quiet of the campus, wind-scoured clean of nosy students, self-absorbed professors, and otherwise the vast majority of distractions and hazards the world presents to Tamara, clarity is not so difficult a mantle to assume as it might otherwise be. The transition of her expression completes itself, blue gaze darkened by knowledge, sharpened to a piercing clarity. "Probably," the girl agrees, with a pale but gentle smile.

The answer doesn't come immediately, however, as the pair walk down the way, Teo's further words striking some transient chord. "Dreams," Tamara echoes, with even less recognition than she had for the word tired, though that word describes her tone of the moment quite well. Weary. "I remember those."

Silence stretches, not overlong, not long enough to indicate hesitation or dismay or reluctance. Its duration is just sufficient to mark a turning point, to draw the line beyond which there is no return. "I don't know," Tamara says softly, dark eyes gazing unfocused, unseeing — at least of the present moment — into the distance. "But when we met before, it was in the presence of Kazimir Volken." The name carries no extra weight in her voice; the girl might as well have said the postman or the next-door neighbor. She could've spoken any number of circumlocutions, danced around the question in a way that baffled Teo beyond all recourse — but instead, Tamara gives him the words he'll understand, and a part of her self with them.

Such words warrant sitting down and remembering how to breathe, or a step backward. But you can't trust ice, and Teo can't trust his legs; he goes nowhere, says nothing, his brain crashing end over end of a thousand panicky notions, shock, alarm, should call someone— he's always calling someone, no wonder Eileen was afraid, who else is here— the word 'dream' spawns the thought of a nightmare, conjures Eve's colorless eyes, Ethan walks across the peripheral of his vision and he almost has to look to realize there's more than one bald white man in the States. Eventually, he remembers to blink.

The name may bear no extra weight with Tamara, but to Teodoro, Kazimir Volken is no postman and only the most uncomfortable of neighbors.

He isn't going to pull his gun, of course. That would be retarded, in this place. Not nice, also. He's still nice, despite the wear of work. Noah Bennet wouldn't approve. "What did you do with Kazimir Volken?" he asks presently, after he's located his voice somewhere in the bottom of his throat. Scraped it out with a cough. Perhaps absurdly, he tacks on: "If you don't mind me asking."

Tamara's feet still as Teo freezes, and she turns to face him. Her expression is a peculiar blend of impassivity and wistful regret. I'm sorry it has to be this way. The smile that precedes his final statement, born in the moment he chooses to make the addendum, contains the same melancholy sentiment. "You don't need to be afraid, Teo," the young woman says softly. "I won't hurt you." Not here and not now.

"I'm not his." She looks away, dark gaze drifting south. "I'm not anyone's," Tamara adds, softly. Her voice reaches in a way her arms do not; expresses the regrets she lives with. When she remembers they exist.

Dark eyes flick back to Teo, the regret set aside. "A trade. A step forward for a life intact." Then. There. And the other one… her gaze is weighing, assessing, considering; it sits heavily upon Teo — through Teo — for the few moments before Tamara continues."You would judge me; maybe rightly so. I'm not… like you. Not even like Eve." Someone she's never met, but the twisting paths of Teo's possibilities yield this information to the seeress in this moment.

"He is the forge; I remember this. If there was no fire, the bridges would not have been built. The pieces could not possibly have come into place." She gazes into the distance past the Sicilian's shoulder, pupils dilated to their greatest extent; a glint of red hovers at the bottom of one nostril. "You can't see it," Tamara whispers, perhaps to herself, perhaps to the air, perhaps to Teo. "He doesn't always win. And if he doesn't…"

Unequivocal horror is a rare visitor to Teo's face. Might have trod there when he pulled bloated corpses out of the Hudson three years ago, and surely the night Gia died, but this— sort of amazes him on a visceral level, the way sentiment coagulates in his gut and strangles his throat with transparent hands. He'd known she was an odd one, a little fae in her, tacitly implied less human. He'd never really held her anywhere near the category of monsters over which Kazimir Volken reigns, however. Never. His hands jerk at his sides, spasming in and out of fists, the urge to grab her aborted by a mixture of the agonizing subterfuge that must be kept and, finally, fear.

He suspects he'd know a few people who would have buried the nozzle of a handgun in her neck by now. Or tried.

Hard to say whether it's the faltering saint or the logical being in him that induces Teo not to flip his shit right here. It might merely be inertia, of all things. They've been talking awhile now. They've talked before. Though he's never regarded words as his strong suite, they are the most obvious recourse of action. He swallows hard. Reaches one hand over the other, giving his sleeve a hard yank and jostle a blink out of himself. Pay attention. Talk. There's hope yet; that might even be what she's saying. "What did you trade him?" His voice is coming wrong. Hitchy, disjointed, an old man's barnacled rasp.

Those fey eyes look to Teo, and the girl smiles sadly, the twist of her lips a crooked one. There's strain gathering behind her features, a stiffness creeping into the normally expressive muscles — fatigue, concentration, pain. "Wrong question," Tamara murmurs. She captures the Sicilian's hand, drops something into it with deft haste. Metal, the consistency and weight of a chain. A pendant.

"Look forward, Teodoro Laudani." The girl steps back, automatically wiping the scarlet bead that begins to fall from her nose as she lowers her head. "The past is constant; the future, forever changing." Another step, tension sliding its clawed grip into her shoulders, arms pulling in closer to her torso, a defensive gesture made against something intangible, impossible to evade.

Tamara lifts her gaze again, even as she moves to disengage. "I will always pay the price," she promises him, solemn beyond her years. "Though you… don't understand. You don't… have to." The words begin to crumble; the girl with them, her hands pressing desperately against the sides of her head, blood kept from staining her sweater only by a flick of her tongue. "I will… never let hope die… first."

Something's wrong with her, Teo realizes and, perhaps ludicrously, his first instinct is to help. His hand tightens on the smaller one tucked under his thumb, squeezing the metal trinket between their hands. Though the pressure he exerts is far from painful, he realizes the next moment it might have been overly aggressive anyway.

He could pretend there's precedent, maybe. Even with genocide looming at impossibly lofty stakes, he's yet to be able to brutalize little girls. Either that or, if you believe what he says, he had a better idea. He lets go of Tamara's hand, the pendant snared in copper chainlink between his rough fingers. He doesn't glance down at it, though he wants to. He's afraid that if he looks away, even for a second, she'll be gone by the time his eyelids part again.

She shouldn't know his name.

That's item 3829 on a considerable list and growing. "Please help me." This is pointless, probably, but urgency has seized him. He's a terrorist; paranoia is practical. The stars may be bright, but death never feels far away. "There has to be something I can use. Something you know I know that needs— finishing. What's going to happen? Where should I fucking go? Where should I send—" Phoenix. He trips over the burning bird, unable to say it though it seems impossible she doesn't already know.

She shouldn't know a lot of things. With each jerking tick of the second hand, more of them fall away. Even the seer can make a mistake; chance is always a factor, always in the end her bane. "Can't," Tamara gasps, the word pale and bloodless, bereft of both emotion and strength. "…much." Too much. She turns away, struggling to keep the pieces that remain together; if the girl leaves now and keeps walking, she can make it where she needs to go before they're all gone.

So she walks.

What gives you the fucking right? It's the last, infuriated, flailing spasm of Teo's thought, filtered from speech long seconds before he clamps down on everything. Well, second-last. A ghost of a notion haunts the one before, no less useless: Thank you. At first, it seems he would merely watch her go, her figure a bright watercolor dash against the sterile blue monochrome of winter falling. Four of her strides bid him follow one. Someone's shouting his name from behind, some frat boy's voice bright and hoarse with an invitation to beer, feet clattering on steps: old schoolmates coming.

They've been wondering where he's been. And Tamara's not quite gone. Wait. Wait. "Tamara." Another step, like trying to catch a speech pattern in cellular static summoned by a subway tunnel. You're breaking up. "You're bleeding."

Breaking up? Say better, broken. But even broken, it's not Tamara's wont to ignore people — some questions, yes, but those who ask them? Generally not so much. She pauses, still for a moment, for the span of three labored breaths. Turns, the motion a halting swivel, the stutter of failing gears. The girl is bleeding, and saving the sweater from its crimson stain has ceased to matter. She looks at Teo until even recognition fails, the mind behind those fey eyes fractured beyond all awareness of the present, surrendered in a gamble, a risk taken, an act of trust. Tamara crumples in a boneless heap on the frosted concrete walkway, blonde hair a wayward spill of color over gray stone and white snow. Teo is left again facing the choice: just what kind of paranoid terrorist is he?

The kind that gets a little better at lying every day, a little worse at staying asleep every month, and fails entirely to change on any fundamental level that Teo can recognize. A cry goes up, a fluster of machismo and man-panic: she's swarmed by them the next moment, do-gooder college boys. Teo is there first, plucking her up off the ground with a look of amazement and careful hands on her face, checking for breath before pulse.

Other hoodies crowd in the next moment, one boy proclaiming his EMT certification, another panicking in swear words. Questions spin in the air above her prone frame and white face. Who is she? Is she drunk? Is she okay? Should I call 911? This the woman been taking all your time, man? Yes— Teo stops and shakes his head a lot. No. Fuck. No. I have to take her to— I'm taking her to— Lies web, weave into enough of a plan to pass with some figment of honest truth. The Cathedral of St. John. She's a runaway. People know her there. I'll meet up with you guys later, and explain.

She needs help. That's good enough. Tamara's ghastly pallor, the hemorrhage crimson flooded down the center of her face, are enough that the words are like scaffolding slapped onto a fact already securely founded and built vast. She needs help. Terry and Derek will walk them there.

According to legend, the god Apollo spat in Cassandra's mouth when he chose to turn the precognitive ability that he had originally blessed her with into a curse, that no one would believe any of the prophesies she made.


A Christmas gift

(Teo was demanding gift boats from everyone)

January 4th: The Others
January 4th: Regular Everyday Normal Guys
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