Apologies Anger And Audacity


elisabeth_icon.gif teo_icon.gif

Scene Title Apologies, Anger, and Audacity
Synopsis Elisabeth stops by the library to tender her apologies to Teo for outing him … and learns her own attempts were useless anyway. Additional information is exchanged, rage diverted into public safety concerns, and light teasing.
Date January 14, 2009

New York Public Library

Five hours of sleep probably wasn't enough hours of sleep, but Teo couldn't make himself stay down so he gave his butchered bioclock a pat on the face and pulled the toothbrush out of his jacket to take to the bathroom, unisex.

One of the library's many. He's stooped slightly over the sink now, the sleeves of his sweater pushed up past his forearms, foaming minty from the mouth with the handle of his dental hygiene implement protruding from the corner of his mouth, the fluorescent strip lights painting the scene as cold as the tiled room actually is.

Fuzzed from sleep and recently unearthed from his mountain of woollen blankets, he's barefoot, for once having forgotten his Mediterranean sensibilities. The brush saws noisily against his teeth, frenetically industrious, tiny circles.

Stepping into the library today might be a mistake. Elisabeth's day yesterday was sort of a haze of pain and drugs, the latter still having to work their way through her system even after Abby healed the injuries the medication was supposed to help with. So she slept a lot after they finally released her in the late afternoon, after their tests were all finally run and there wasn't a thing wrong with her. The nice part is that it gets her an extra day off work… and she has some amends to make.

Looking around the cavernous library as she makes her way through, Liz mourns the fact that so many books were merely left to sit here. It's kind of like walking through a modern-day Library at Alexandria, she has to think. Abandoned knowledge, sort of hidden from the world. When she finally gets to the rooms that Phoenix have been using, she pauses to listen closely and see if anyone's still here. After all, they could be at the dispensary. She didn't call ahead or anything. Hearing the water running in the bathroom (and even hearing Teo's toothbrush scrubbing at the film on his teeth!), she heads that direction. And when he steps out of the bathroom (cuz it's not nice to bust in on someone!), she's leaning against the wall across from it just waiting for him.

Teo spits. Not angrily. Foam out into a blob on the sloping wall of the sink, before he rinses his mouth out with one hand full of water, the other waving the slimy mess of toothbrush at the officer at the door by way of salutation, serving also as a gesture of one second. The waving part ends promptly, when he realizes there's slimy mess involved. He wasn't trying to be gross. No, seriously.

Two mouthfuls of water, a handful of soap slapped over one wrist then the other, and Teo hastily assembles himself into some semblence of conversationally prepared. "Buongiorno.

"It's cold as a well-digger's ass today, isn't it? It's good to see color in you, signora." For all that the sentences string together without pause between, the easy cadence of Teo's voice is typical, nothing like a barrage or assault. He smiles even as he stuffs the toothbrush back into his pocket.

Well, she *was* trying to wait til he didn't have a mouthful, so that was good. Elisabeth chuckles at him softly when he waves, her hands shoved deep into the pockets of her black wool coat and her blond hair still covered by a hat. The color in her red cheeks comes from the frigid wind out there. "Cold does not *begin* to cover it. Damn, man… move to the dispensary! You're gonna lose body parts if you keep staying in this place." She studies him quietly, blue eyes troubled. "Teo…. " She bites her lip and then says quietly, "I'm sorry."

When she mentions the cold, Teo feels it. He's left wishing that she hadn't, a subtle shock going through his frame, from the bare feet up to the ginger twitch of his shoulders. Fucking A. It is, isn't it? "You're probably right," he admits. "Just thought it would be better if I…" The ginger twitch of shoulders gives way to a shrug.

It isn't a Gallic shrug which discloses nothing; Teo isn't very good at being unreadable unless he's doing it on purpose. He'd merely cut himself off just now, before he finished that sentence with laid low. He doesn't want to remind, isn't one to guilt trip. In this case, unfortunately, his prudence turns out to have been for nothing.

"Aw, signora," he says, looking at the mortar between his toes, then up again, blinking, still insipid from sleep. Helpfully, he concludes: "No."

There's a gentle smile at him, and she says quietly, "I am. It doesn't matter that you don't blame me." She can tell that he doesn't. Hell, she knew he wouldn't blame her, but it still needs to be said. "But I blame me. Maybe if I'd turned her in from the start, or turned her in when she got too close to Abby… cuz the girl's a walking, talking security risk." Elisabeth shakes her head, and looks down at her feet. "The bottom line is that I gave you and Alex up to her to buy myself a little more time. And logically it was the right thing to do to save myself… but I feel guilty for it." She looks back up at him. "The best I can offer is that I believe that I gave her the impression that you're low-level…. but maybe that's worse instead of better, since she'll see you as expendable." Clearly she hasn't been updated on the rest of what's gone on.

Clearly. Teo clamps down on the urge to interrupt with the updates in question, languishing instead in a gentle conversational silence as he watches the woman's own gaze sink under the weight of private remonstrance. He's been on the other side of that fence often enough to know it's not a comfortable place to be. Isn't meant to be, but all the same, he's capable of empathy enough that he's frowning.

Frowning more, the more she speaks. He nods his head once. Shakes his head next. "Jessica caught Abby after she was through tearing you up. She knows I lead Phoenix now.

"She doesn't know about Helena." By his tone, he thinks that is important. It is. Thus far, Phoenix has been pretty lucky: none of their enemies have managed to determine who both co-leaders are, but Teo isn't sure what that means, isn't entirely certain how valuable that is, except in the general sense that knowledge is power and he doesn't plan to and over the bullet that gets him in the end. "We had a phone conversation.

"There was name-calling, kinda," he says, squinting an eye shut, a touch self-deprecating, entirely unrepentant. "We're trying to get HomeSec or the Company to do something about her. Al and I can take care of ourselves. Thank you for staying alive."

Teo's first words make Elisabeth nod slightly because she knows Abby healed Jessica, but his second words — that Jessica knows Teo leads Phoenix — make her eyes go wide. And then anger darkens her expression. "Son of a *BITCH*!" She clenches her jaw, biting back the rage… or trying to. "Well, I guess it's all fine and dandy that I answered her questions and stayed alive, because sure as fucking HELL, me keeping the secrets and dying for it would have been a fucking waste of my life, wouldn't it? Abby just would have fucking told her anyway. Hell, I don't even know why the bitch BOTHERED to come at me to get what she wanted when Abby'll sing like a fucking nightingale at every turn!" She pushes off the wall and rips the hat off her own head to run her hand through her now-staticky hair. "SHIT!"

Nothing better than learning basically that being the next best thing to tortured for information was an exercise in 'just because I felt like it' on the part of a sociopath. "Well, if HomeSec or the Company won't, then I goddamn well will. "I'll take Trask and Darius and go arrest the bitch myself."

It is like standing very close to a fire. Better than being very far away from it, when you're freezing your feet off, like Teo is. He's pretty good with anger — or very bad it, depending on one's point of view. There's a wan smile in response to her shouts, the black humor of the gallows or the foxhole. Either or.

"It was pretty fucked up. And fucking stupid," he offers, by way of agreement. "Jessica said she wanted to provide us a channel of communication with the Company. Pool resources to fight Volken, save lives. I've never seen so much convoluted, masturbatory bullshit in my life, and I've met a few cops and Feds. No offense to your ilk, signora." The sleep is burning off his face slowly like haze in sun.

"I think we were seriously considering having her killed," he notes, neither relevantly nor irrelevantly, glancing across the bathroom mirrors. He jams fists in his pockets, deep, and curls a foot so that the blunt flats of his nails catch in the rifts between floor tiles.

Elisabeth looks at Teo, rage still darkening her features into a scowl of epic proportions. "The *only* thing that would stay my hand on the killing question, quite bluntly, is the fact that her innocent alter ego pays the ultimate price. Then again… Niki doesn't even know what's what, she'll just die peacefully and never wake again. Hell… if she's lucky, she'll wake in heaven with Micah and DL. *OH!*" The last is just an incoherent shriek, really. And truth be told, she's really losing it… because the glass of the bathroom mirror cracks when she does it. Which means Liz is forced to rein herself in. She gestures out of the bathroom. "Go," she orders him. "Get on some socks before I gotta run you in to the ER for frostbite and they cut off all your toes or something," she grouses. Fussing over him gives her something to do with all the pent-up emotion. The other thing she would normally do with it…. well, not exactly an option at this precise moment in time. Take care of Teo first. "Are you and Alex both holing up somewhere? C'mon, I'll take you over to the dispensary. I think Con's got it about habitable by now. At least, the quarters he's in are. You can stay there with him even if the rest isn't' yet. At least it's heated." Yep… subvert it all into fussing over Teo because he's a convenient target. Because if she goes after Abby right now, all hell's going to break loose.

Teo's startle reflex jostles him a half-step away from the mirrors, a wide blue eye taking in the image of himself riven in two by an arc of broken glass that would cut his fingers off if he was sleepy enough to try and touch it, probably. He manages not to look overly dismayed at the loss of of a bathroom mirror. Nevertheless, his decision to follow her instruction is probably informed as much by her burgeoning temper — and its sonic runoff — as by sound logic.

"Yes ma'am."

He marches toward the door, minty fresh and quite awake. Lacking shoes, his big boy-feet nevertheless manage to drub a reasonable amount of noise out of the floor. "Al's holed up somewhere. I've been holing up other places. Having more places to hole up sounds like a good idea. I really like the dispensary.

"D—on't forget, signora. You're gonna have other work to do, too," he adds, with intent to distract rather than overburden. Casting a look backward, he beelines down the hall toward the tiny room that serves as both temporary bedchamber and workshop, when he's making stuff that explodes. "Anne and I found bombs on the bridges. We got through seven of them, found detonators and camouflaged payloads on each one. Wireless thinks we should call in SWAT or Homeland Security to deal with them."

Elisabeth stops dead behind him and says, "You found what? Where? Darius and I've been out there on those bridges for a week, and we didn't find *shit*." God*damn* it. "Where are they? I need detailed locations." Her hand is already going to her belt to pull her cell phone out of its small holster there, on the opposite side of her waist from her gun. Which is in its accustomed place, for all the good it did her the other night. "Why didn't you guy call it in already? Or just call me?" Yeah, sure, she's been in the hospital and shit. "What other job? And we're going to have to keep the dismantling of it quiet somehow. SHIT. That's going to be a challenge." Her mind is running a million miles a minute at this point. Distracting her onto the business at hand is likely to be a good idea. At least she'll have to put her anger at Abby on the back burner.

There are reasons, which Teo counts off on his fingers, raised over his shoulder while he's busy preparing his feet for outdoors with his other hand. "They're timed for the apocalypse, which isn't yet. It takes time to find them, even with a teleporter and enough time to monkey around the structures. I was busy — and not just about Jessica. Called in some associates.

"One of them goes by the name of Felix Ivanov. Be cool if you could keep that on the down-low, for now.

"We haven't found them all," he adds, the unhappiness audible in his voice even despite the distortion of the distance inserted by his crouch. "Anne has photographs. I'll get them sent to you within the hour. I'm also not sure the Feds won't fuck it up. Or if we want Volken to know we know." Feet jammed into socks squished into boots, he teeters upright, his jacket skewing across his arms as he shrugs it on.

If Teodoro is aware that this information dump is a little catastrophic in proportions, he doesn't look it.

Elisabeth visibly pales, though Teo may or may not notice. There is dead silence from her as she stares at his back, though. "Iv….. Felix Ivanov is alive?" she asks quietly. It's good news. They weren't best friends, but she has quietly mourned his death in the midst of all of this. And now… he's not dead. That's good news. She's just … not exactly sure how to respond to it.

"I'm not sure we won't fuck it up, either. And letting Volken know is bad, sure enough …. but it doesn't outweigh public safety, Teo. I can't just sit on the knowledge that the bombs are in place. As soon as I have the information in hand, I'm turning it over to the bomb squad. I'll give very explicit instructions to keep the removal on the down-low. The bridges will probably need to be closed while they disarm them, but … I'm sure they can come up with SOME kind of explanation for it."

"That's what she said." It isn't a mom joke. Teo's features adopt a weary cast. He must mean the bridges, and Hana; the words make little sense otherwise. He drops his head a fraction of an inch, partly in agreement, and partly to steer his hand into his pocket, bypass toothbrush in favor of phone. "You're right. I'll text Anne and Helena now." The reasons for both recipients are, he imagines, equally obvious.

There are worse reasons to be pussy-whipped than because your co-leader in the faction that's trying to save the world carries ovaries of steel. "Felix Ivanov is alive," he repeats after her by way of confirmation. He steps out of his room to rejoin her in the hallway, unconsciously shortening his stride to match hers without looking up from his cell's small screen. "Pretend to be surprised when he gets around to telling you, eh?

"He and his cohorts know I'm with Phoenix. I think they think I'm low-level."

Elisabeth is forced to smile, reaching up with the hand that's still holding her woolen hat to brush at tears that she's surprised to realize have popped up, and nods. "I'll be surprised. I can't decide if I'll hug the asshole or hit him. Maybe both." Cuz Felix *is* a complete asshole — she's known that a long while. But hey… he's *ALIVE*. In the scheme of things? She'll get over the other, it's not like she's on Fel's confidante list. "Not sure that's a bad thing. I think we should be obscuring who the leadership is with everyone, at all costs. We're getting bigger, Teo." She's still holding her cell phone in one hand. "The bigger we get, the more we're going to need to compartmentalize information. Technically, I've been here all of a month. I shouldn't KNOW that you and Helena are co-leaders, that Alex and Conrad are the top lieutenants, and who all the members are. We're going to have to start taking security precautions." Her expression turns hard. "Abby's actions are case in point — she can blow us out of the water. And no, I don't fault her for telling Jessica …. if I faulted her, I'd have to fault myself too." Although to be fair, Liz took a good bit more damage before speaking up. "But at the same time…. allies of the group should NOT have the kind of access Abby has to places and faces." She grimaces. She's the new guy… and she's telling them to stop trusting each other. But she points out, "It's not just safer for the leadership, it's safer for the members too. Knowing only a few people's names means they can only compromise a few people… and an emergency number routed to Wireless would take care of the 'what if I can't get hold of the few people I know?' problem."

There's no twist of objection or offense to Teo's features as he listens, and not only because he's distracted by the process of blabbing words across cellular service. It makes sense to him. It may well make sense to her that it makes sense to him. As far as he's aware, she hadn't known his position in the faction until that whole Eileen clusterfuck became subject to her analytical eye.

A whole other can of worms. "It couldn't be helped. The way things went. Hel had to make official decisions on the phone with Ethan, and you had to be there: it was your area of expertise, and she didn't have time to waste pretending to go-between with a superior. We're getting bigger and we need to be careful, I'll grant you that: I hate how Hel's name is all over Chinatown. And the Vanguard, though at least they're under the impression she answers to someone.

"I hate that Jessica knows who I am. But shit happens, and we aren't big enough to restrict access for long. Every single fucking body we get is too useful not to cast out there with a fair amount of responsibility. Taken under counsel," he notes, belated, and with a bit of a wince, apologetic. He didn't mean to argue her down, only they have limitations. Perhaps more rides on the vetting process than it should.

Teo wedges his cellphone back into his pocket, and slouches unconsciously as he walks, hangdog, a figment of the football thug he used to be re-emerging in his posture. "Speaking of.

"Ethan wants to talk to Hel again. He might be turning against Volken. I'd prefer that to remain limited to a phone conversation if it goes down at all, but either way— or in that case especially, I'd appreciate it if you were available to back her up."

Elisabeth listens to his thoughts and has to concede with a sigh, "Well… you're probably right in that we're bringing in people who have specific skills we need and we can't restrict them very well. It's a pretty open structure. Perhaps instead of that, we can bring them in for an interview prior to just plain bringing them in. They deal with the person who brought them in, and they deal with one other person — someone who understands that if the person *hasn't* been vetted well enough, they could wind up in jail." She shakes her head, having to think on it while she watches him pass the message along the cell phone that the pics need to hit Elisabeth's email and such. When Teo asks her to back Helena up, she nods readily. "Anytime. Just let me know when and where. I wish this hypnosis ability that I have actually came with a compulsion attached that I could use on people," she admits. "I can use the ability to try to get Ethan to tell the truth, but if it's completely against his moral ethics, it won't do a lot of good. Hypnotic suggestion is only as good as the desires of the subject."

"You'll know as soon as I do," Teo assures her. Given his track record of, apparently, concealing dead FBI agents and stomping around bridges that threaten to explode for considerable periods of time before telling people stuff, those words might be suspect, but at least he means them when he says them. He will use his 'best judgment,' probably. Terrifying for everybody involved, no doubt.

"Interview seems like a good idea. A more strenuous vetting process. Conrad's good at telling liars, and your hypnosis stuff— that could come in handy too." His features empty out as he shifts between subjects. Ethan Holden always, invariably manages to make him go cold, which might well be personal guilt bent outward; Danielle's follows Teo around along with the ghosts of a dozen other girls untimely stopped in the processes of life. "Maybe we can see if Parkman would be on loan for Ethan." It's a mutter with We'll see graffitied all over it.

As they trot out of the hallway, his pace slows. He glances at her, sidelong. Her phone's going to ring those photographs in any moment now, and he figures being a good cop suits her mood better than playing mother to his oversized boy-self. "I can find my own way to the dispensary," he says, with a hapless, lopsided grin. "And maybe some work to do, if I'm really lucky."

Elisabeth nods to him about the vetting process, walking with him through the cold library. She glances at her phone when it rings, then looks at him and nods again. "Got it," she says quietly. And then she smiles at him a little bit, pausing a moment.

"I've actually wanted to say something to you for quite a while." Elisabeth's tone is soft. "I've been watching you retreat more and more into yourself, and seeing how low all of this is dragging you. I can't give you a rousing, inspirational ra-ra speech…. but I can tell you that no matter how much you might WANT to have control of some things that just keep blowing up in your face," like Dani, "what we do here…. what you do here… it's important. And you do it well. I know some things haven't gone the way you'd planned or hoped. And I know you're taking emotional responsibility for things people in your command are doing. It's what a good leader does, even when it's not the RIGHT thing to do." She hesitates and says finally, "It's a war that most people will only ever peripherally understand is being fought. It's not Evolved versus Human, or even Evolved versus Evolved. It's Right versus Wrong. And it's a war people have fought since the dawn of time, and will continue to fight long after we're gone. But in this time, in this life, in this place…. somehow *we* got tapped to be the soldiers on the side of the angels. Trying to keep mankind from wiping itself out." She shrugs a little. "I know you're tired. I know war sucks. And I know being the leader is far harder than any of you may have thought when you first started all this. When bodies start hitting the ground, leaders are tested. For what it's worth to you… I've already showed you how far I'm willing to follow you into this hell. You're doing good, Teo. Don't give up on us. And if you need to talk… call me."

Elisabeth offers a twist of her lips, almost a smile. "And here I said I didn't have a ra-ra speech for you," she quips softly.

What! What. Whoa. What. Something is going on here. Already parked, Teo rotates on his feet to study Elisabeth while she is saying these things to him, a little bit of a stare in his eyes, as if she's speaking Greek or he's suddenly gone deaf, has to read her through the eyes or the lips, taking visual cues because the words are too astonishing to be believable by themselves.

To him, they might be: he does this thing where he's pathologically modest until he forgets he isn't that good a Catholic boy.

He is left blinking his eyes at her, Morse for thank you or yes, his expression surprised, characteristically uncomfortable, a mingling of reluctant wariness and red around the edges. He coughs and, as if he weren't already laying it on thick enough, scratches the back of his head. It seems she knows something about him. "You're very good at those," he offers, by way of compliment, detaching his nails from his scalp. He smiles. "I… I'll keep that in mind.

"It's better that you're here."

With a faint smirk as he appears to wonder whether someone blabbed his mindset or whether he's just that transparent to his former partner in teaching, Elisabeth merely reaches out and touches his arm. "Not really… I just say it how I see it, and sometimes it works out to be a ra-ra speech," she shrugs at him. And then she moves to walk past him to head for the precinct, squeezing gently as she goes. "Just hang in," she comments quietly. "If you need to talk, I got ears. And I can keep my mouth shut, no matter what you say to me." She turns to look at him with a grin. "My suggestion is to get laid once in a while when the stress level hits the stratosphere. It's what I do." She winks at him, and the last sound he'll hear is her laughter floating through the empty library as she goes off to be a good cop.

January 14th: Try Somewhere Else
January 14th: Constitutional Crisis?
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