At Arm's Length And Holding


abby_icon.gif elisabeth_icon.gif munin_icon.gif teo_icon.gif

Scene Title At Arm's Length And Holding
Synopsis After a bad week, several pigeons, friends, acquaintances, and unbeknownst enemies get a look at each other at a safe distance. Despite the obvious injuries and a lot of secrets, everybody looks okay.
Date November 30, 2008

Little Italy

As she walks through Little Italy heading to meet Teo for a mug of coffee, Liz has a thoughtful look on her face. She's got a lot of things on her mind, but she was glad that Teo had time to meet. Still, especially now, old habits die hard. She's aware and watchful of her surroundings, perhaps moreso than usual with last week's attacks. Even as she walks, she's looking for Teo in the people walking past her.

Fortunately, Teo has an insatiable appetite for coffee. Particularly when his bio-clock is going around and around like a carnival ride every day, without a job or classes to force him to hammer his ratio of awake and unconscious into anything approaching normal. If he slept more, he'd probably have more in the way of nightmares, but he can tell the head medicine the hospital set him up with is doing its job. He isn't nearly as jumpy or anxious day-to-day as he otherwise knows he would have been. He's still jumpy and anxious enough, but it's buried neatly underneath casual airs, dense layers of clothes, and the bruised-busted nose in the middle of his face. "How do you know Elisabeth, anyway?" he inquires, glancing down at his faux-redhead companion.

"She came into the diner a few times. Usually with a.. cop? Norton Trask. The other time, with that fed. Save that she left before Helena and Brian decked him. She got pretty mashed up in the school thing. I was going to call her and… do my thing. But after Felix.. I don't know whether it'd be a safe thing to do or not." She's out of coffee too, and not anywhere near jittery enough, though she's finally getting rid of the headache. Abby's hands are deep in her pocket, red hair whipping around as they walk the little gold cross escaping confinement and glinting in the sun.

With her one arm still in a sling and confined beneath her coat, Elisabeth feels rather at a disadvantage. She leaves her jacket open in spite of the cold, her good hand shoved into her pocket. When she spots Teo, she alters her course to intercept… and when she gets close enough to note his companion, her eyebrows shoot upward. Well, that's terribly bizarre, isn't it? But then again, maybe not — they did seem to know one another at the diner. "Hi," she says mildly as she draws close to the pair. The glass scratches on her face are healing up, scabbed over by now; the stitches in her forehead are still there, although the brilliant black and purple of the huge bruise around the laceration are fading to more purple and a bit of green as her injuries slowly heal.

Cops. That makes sense. Teo nods. "She used to be one," he says. "An officer of the PD. Alexander used to work with her, I think from a dist… there she is," he brakes on the sidewalk slightly, spotting the dash of bright gold locks against the sea of black suede and blue wool that comprises the vast majority of pedestrian outerwear. With the exception of a few garish pink marshmallow jackets and things. That girl is wearing metallic silver moon boots, too, and Teo has to shake his head briefly to make him stop staring and return his attention to his friend. The sun isn't quite done setting; there's hours for coffee yet.

"Buona sera, signora," he calls, an arm up in an expansive wave that manages somehow not to beat anybody over the head as they draw nearer. His eyes go immediately to the bruises on her face, before dropping to her cast. "Found out we have a friend in common. Hope you don't mind."

"Hi Elisabeth. I should have realized that you both knew each other once you mentioned the school. Pleasure to see you again. I was going to call but I got distracted with other things," says Abby. Namely running after the people who punched your Fed friend's stomach out.

Elisabeth smiles slightly. "Hi, Abby. Not to worry — I meant to call you yesterday and had a problem of my own to sort out." She shrugs her good shoulder slightly. No need to elaborate on the fact that she's not sleeping and had to show up to a couple of counseling sessions that were unexpected and very necessary. "Hello, Teo. No, I don't mind at all. How're you holding up?" She looks him over with a concerned expression, as if she asks because it matters.

Munin has arrived.

"I'm angry enough to throw up whenever I wake up, or that might be the alcohol I drank the night before," Teo says, but he does it with a rueful half a smile. He'd rather not lie, so he volunteers the truth in unceremonious terms. At least they're alive, eh? "Long, short, pretty good. Kind of enjoying my vacation, to be honest. How about you?

"Shall we?" The latter question is clipped out quick, in the tone of a foot note, as he gestures toward on of the various cafes that line the street. The one he's indicating with his gloved right hand has weather-chapped orange walls with red window frames and a sign: Bambino's Italian Cafe. Even in the blue light of an extremely wintry dusk, it looks bright, warm, inviting and, though not in a way that would make you concerned about catching something, cheap. Teo doesn't look where he's going as he angles toward it, Abby at his shoulder; his attention is still on Elisabeth, compelled by the same sincerity with which she'd asked how he was doing. "Besides the obvious." He motions at her arm. Vaguely, as if concerned it is impolite.

Sympathy crosses Elisabeth's features. "Yeah…. 'angry' doesn't quite cover it," she replies to Teo. 'Enraged' and 'infuriated' might start to come close. Of course, an agony of sadness for the loss of life and regret for her inability to do more to get the kids out is also twisted up in that. "Aside from the obvious," she smiles sardonically, "I'm fine… I guess." And then she shakes her head at Abby. "Nah, I don't talk to Felix much — I know him to chat with sometimes, but only when I run into him. He's…. an interesting guy, actually. I feel bad for him — being an Evolved on the fed's payroll isn't terribly easy. I know he made you nervous the other day, but seriously… he's a good guy."

Seated by an old space heater in one of the lonelier corners of the cafe, a heavy winter coat draped over the back of her chair, is a young woman with a tangle of dark hair and a half-finished basil, tomato and mozzarella sandwich spread out on the table in front of her. Green eyes shadowed by black bangs shift, glancing over toward the trio as the door swings open and, with a cheerful jingle of the bell positioned above it, admits them inside. There's nothing about the newcomers that catches Munin's interest, however, and her attention soon directs back to the pocket watch she holds cupped in the palm of one of her gloved hands — slivers of silver glimmering faintly between slim, leathery fingers. Likewise, there isn't anything particularly unusual about her either. Not unless you count the dozen or so pigeons crowding around the window nearest to her, their ruffled bodies pressed against the glass as they jostle for the best view of her food.

It crosses Teo's mind that he probably should have gotten more background on how much his erstwhile co-worker knows about his other erstwhile co-worker — uh, Elisabeth about Abby — before embarking on this meet. That whole 'unregistered Evolved' thing mingling with friends in the Federal Bureau of Investigation makes him somewhat nervous, a visceral wrinkling of unease that is still somehow preferable to dwelling on other things. The other topic is concluded without comment, a nod.

The Felix stuff elicits a frown, characteristically protective or merely nosy. He would be: his beezer is huge, even when busted up and bruised. "So he scares bartenders by accident?" he asks, bluntly, even as he drags himself up a chair a table away from the solitary girl and her sandwich. "Nice."

Practically interrogating me at the bar, about my accident" Abby grumbles. "He may be nice, but he doesn't seem to be able to separate someone who's not trouble from someone who is. It's like everyone's guilty about something, right off the bat with him. That, and his incessant belief that I'm being beat up by a significant other" Abby drawls, her own nose not big, but colorful. They're all a colorful trio. The girl next to them and the pigeons are given a look, and a hint of a smile creeps up onto her face. "I think they WANT your food." Commented to Munin. "Wish I had some bread or crackers to throw to them."

Elisabeth looks puzzledly between Abby and Teo. "Scares bartenders? What on earth….?" She glances at Abby, not sure what Teo's referring to. "I thought you were just exaggerating a bit and that he was being nosy. It was more than that?" She listens and then says mildly, "Hell, Abby…. *I* thought you were being beat up by a significant other too. In point of fact, it was something I was specifically going to ask you about when we met for coffee…. you said you weren't, and I believed you because you didn't sound like and don't act like the usual abused woman, but….. gotta tell you, you wind up with a whole lot of bruises from what I've seen." And then she offers a brief smile to Munin when Abby speaks to the girl, shutting up.

The pocket watch snaps shut and Munin swivels in her seat, tucking it back into one of the interior pockets of her coat, presumably where it belongs. She gives Abby a small smile and pushes the remains of her sandwich, separated from the table's surface by a thin layer of old newspaper, toward her. "Soggy greens probably won't interest them much," she says, removing one of her gloves so she can pick off the basil and place it aside on her napkin. "The cheese, though — they'll go mad as a box of frogs for that. The roll too, so have at. My eyes were bigger'n my mouth when I picked it out."

Teo had been referring to Elisabeth's earlier phrasing and little more. 'Gave her a scare.' Hadn't actually expected there to be more to the story than that, so when there is, he looks surprised. Then, as the situation is puzzled apart between the two, amused if not pleased. "Sounds like a righteous man, for a Fed," he says, leaning an elbow on the table. He picks up the menu standing half-open to his right, diverting his attention instead of making testosterone noise about killing the face off of any douchebag who'd even think the thought.

His eyes scale the columns of neatly printed text, only to flicker toward the stranger before he finds something appealing. "Pigeons are like aliens," he announces, intelligently. "I've never heard of another omnivorous bird that can survive on such a backward diet." He does not exactly consider himself an expert; he's just talking anyway.

"Ones eyes are often bigger than our stomachs when there's something good looking to eat. I'll let you feed them the cheese though, they've taken a liking to you. Be a shame to deprive you of that fun activity. But I'll make sure to order some extra cheese and bread for them though for when I'm done." Munin's flashed another sincere but small smile. There's a glance to teo. "Aliens? no, I think they're beautiful. The way their feathers just seem to have these other little colors tucked away, waiting for the light to shine and suddenly, they're not just gray."

Abby's attention reverts back to Elisabeth. "Same as I told him at the bar, repeatedly and other times. I was in an accident. First time I tripped over someone rollerblading, second, I had an accident with my scooter. I swear on the bible, that I don't have some boyfriend tucked away who takes a keen delight in ensure that my face is properly accessorized in black and blue." There's a pause. "I wasn't exaggerating. he couldn't let it go. I don't remember doesn't seem to be in his vocabulary and It was very.. discomforting while I was at work to have him keep asking."

Elisabeth nods emphatically. "Yeah, I can see that." She smiles a little. "I'll see if I can get him to lay off a bit, okay? Cuz yeah… that was inappropriate. Even if your heart's in the right place." She smiles at Abby, and then looks at Teo, wrinkling her nose. "Pigeons are the hyenas of the bird world — avian dispose-alls." She shakes her head. "Hi," she offers to Munin. Because hey, the girl's right there. And given how the three of us all look like Suzy Bruisey, well…. may as well include someone half-normal looking.

Munin, in spite of her unique gift, isn't exactly an expert either. Teo's assessment elicits a short, lilting chuckle from the girl that threatens to crack into a full-out laugh when Abby responds. "Thank you," she murmurs. Then, to Elisabeth, "Hi." Her greeting — like any echo — is softer than the one that spawned it, and a little more subdued. Now that she actually pauses to look at the group, something cloudy enters her otherwise bright expression, pale eyes growing dark with uncertainty. "Ran into some trouble, did you?"

"No, no I don't need you to talk to him. I'll deal with him myself. I have a coffee date, not a real date, but you know, just a meeting, over coffee. Hopefully we can work it out over that." What can someones heart be in the right place about when it comes to explaining how they got a black and blue face. "School, school, scooter," Abby proffers, in simplicity. "We make a sight, I'm sure. Just don't go running off and doing something to try and join our club, the perks are definitely… definitely not worth it" Abby offers her hand to Munin. "Abigail."

Feeling no need to relate his own experiences with socially-challenged Federal agents, Teo's attention is with the birds for the moment. Conversations with veterinarians about appropriate Christmas gifts probably primed him for this association a few hours ago. He's on his elbows, the ordinary brightness of his eyes shaded with eyelids hooded with the weight of his intent. Of course, the pigeons ignore his steadfast regard completely. There's mozzarella. The Sicilian can go hug a freight train; he might have remotely edible parts after a few seconds, then. "Aliens can be beautiful," he says, after a moment, zoning back into the conversation in time to thumbs-up at Abby, albeit without raising his head. Keep him in the loop?

There's a bit of a smile at Munin as Elisabeth reassures her gently. "We were in the school last week. It was … rough." She shrugs her good shoulder, her left arm still hidden inside her jacket in its sling. "We'll all be fine, though." She looks at Abby thoughtfully. "So…. you said you wanted to meet too…. did you have something on your mind? I can catch up with you tomorrow, if you're free." She means for a private conversation. She has no idea what Abby wanted to meet her for, so….

Munin lifts both her eyebrows at Abby. School? As in, Washington Irving High School? The young woman presses her lips into a thin line, obviously concerned now that Elisabeth has provided her with confirmation, but this doesn't stop her from taking Abby's hand and giving it a delicate shake. Her skin is cooler to the touch than might be considered normal, and its texture is a little chapped as well — most likely from the onset of winter and the blustery weather that comes with it. "Eileen," she returns, voice soft in comparison to the shallow cracks in her palm. "I'm sorry. That must have been— horrific." It seems like an understatement, especially to her, but no other words immediately spring to mind. "You have a club?"

"No, I just.. with Felix being so 'abused wife' I just, wanted to make sure that you didn't think that, and maybe stage an intervention. That's all" lie, but she's inwardly realized that what she wanted to do wouldn't be feasible, not in the least. Helaing bruises as opposed to healing… well Elisabeth would provide some strange and hard logistics as to why she's whole. Abby shakes her head at Munin's question. "Was a joke. that's all. Club for the black and blue." a motion to the trio of battered faces" as to whether it was horrific, she glances to the two who'd actually been in the explosion. "I'm sure it was," spoken quietly.

Giiirls. Teo finally swivels one bright eye from the mobbing pigeons. If they aren't laughing at him— and he had heard that corvine giggle from the dark little fairy of a stranger, there— they're murmuring about exclusive meetings for secret conversations. Seized by the charming mediocrity of the day, Teo finds himself raising a hand up near his purpled face, fingers flattened, a flimsy screen as if for privacy between himself and the women at his table, offering Eileen a mouthed whisper in conspiracy: 'I didn't want to join anyway.' The hand falls the next moment, naturally, along with some things that are less tangible when last week's tragedy is invoked again. He nods: it was that. Horrific. Reminds himself to breathe. "You should let me sign your cast," he says to Elisabeth, afterward.

Elisabeth's face is definitely glass-damaged — mostly small cuts and such, though there's a good laceration with stitches and a big bruise on one side of her forehead that look like she hit something real hard. "No intervention," she promises Abby. "I'll happily get him to lay off, though." To Munin - Eileen - she replies mildly, "Horrific…. yeah, that'll cover it." She shakes her head. "We're just working on…. checking up on one another, I guess. Making sure we're all coping and not…. eating our guns or something." She smiles at Teo a bit. "Sign my cast? What are we, like twelve?" It does, however, bring a smile to her face and a chuckle out of her, though. "You're silly," she tells him, appreciating his ability to find something fun in the day. It's hard to do — it's something she has to work at every day, finding something to smile at.

Beneath her clothes, Munin's skin is also mottled yellow in some places and light purple in others — gifts from her last encounter with Peter Petrelli back in the condemned tenement where, perhaps ironically, Phoenix once made its home as PARIAH. The name 'Felix' causes a frown to tug at the corners of her mouth, though the creases are just as soon smoothed over thanks to Teo, a man who's more charming than she thinks he has a right to be. Not wanting to get too comfortable in the presence of strangers, she begins wrapping up the remains of her sandwich, gaze downcast as she listens to Elisabeth speak. There's something attractive about them — all three of them, no matter how battered and beaten up they appear — that's difficult for her to ignore. It's even harder to pinpoint, and this makes her feel more vulnerable, more susceptible to exposure than she likes.

Teo gets a gentle elbow to the ribs. "I'm getting drinks, since I'm the least beat up of this group. When I come back I expect to be on a different subject of conversation, hmm?" Abby offers up, spotting Munin wrapping up her sandwich. "Nice to meet you Eileen. Maybe we'll see each other again?"

Elisabeth's smile eases to a more serious expression, though she nods to Abby. "Sure," she replies mildly. She kind of wanted to talk to Teo, but she won't do that with company here. "Eileen…. it's really nice to meet you," Liz offers instead. "Don't feel you have to leave on our account or anything." She's not sure if the trio is driving the other girl away. "Thanks, Abby," she offers, since Abby's getting drinks.

The smile takes work, even for Teo. Vengeance, justice, and second-guessing the motives and future maneuvers of Feds come easier, but those aren't the kinds of things you can share in a cafe, so he does the good that he can with the materials available. Elisabeth's arm is rather obvious material. It's like three times bigger than it used to be, after all.

"Si, signorina," he answers Abby, politely, upon being stabbed by her elbow. "Thank you." Eileen's impending departure kind of sucks but is, he thinks, understandable. The three of them must be hard on the eyes, and hers are large. He inclines his head at her; won't volunteer a salutation until she does.

"I could do something fancy," he's saying to Elisabeth, instead. "I could put a poem on it, if you don't think it's too morbid. It's by Ryokan. 'I lost myself to wildflowers,'" the syllables slow slightly, the cadence of his English faltering as he mentally translates it from Japanese. "'And forgot to return home.' I bet a twelve-year-old wouldn't know that one."

"Maybe," Munin agrees with Abby, rising from her seat at the table and pulling on her coat. New York City is a big place. Under normal circumstances, her chances of running into these three again anytime soon would be slim to none. "It was nice meeting you too." She waves Elisabeth off with a dismissive flip of her hand that, while curt, isn't impolite. "Don't worry about it," she says as she slips the sandwich inside her coat and picks her discarded glove off the table, "I was already on my way."

No one at the counter, makes for quick gathering of drinks, plus some bread. But the look on the other two's faces, and as Abby sets the appropriate drinks in front of the right people, she makes her apologies. "I should probably go, I'll meet you another day, Teo. Same for you Elisabeth, when we run into each other. I think I'll go see if Eileen wants to feed her hungry friends. deal?" A look to Munin to see if this okay or not.

"Ciao." Teo lifts a hand in salutation, five splayed fingers gloved in scratchy black cotton. Though Abby's enthusiasm concerns him slightly, that's only really because Munin's sensibilities look somewhat troubled by their collective presence; not his business. He accepts his coffee and nods at Abby, farewell with a half a grin. "Tired of me. I get it. Liz and I'll hang out. Take care of yourselves, don't— catch rabies, I guess," he recommends after a quaver-beat's awkwardness, a glance fetched back at the rabid pigeons, who've shuffled along the window. When he turns his head back, he realizes he had forgotten: "I'm Teo."

A glance at Abby, and Liz nods slightly. "All right, Abby. Call me in a couple days, I should be wide open for the rest of the week except Tuesday." She looks at Teo, amused that he forgot to offer his name. She slides into a seat. "Thanks for picking up the coffee, Abby." And when the girls get ready to slip out, she turns her attention to Teo for a slightly more in-depth conversation.

Munin nods to Abby. Of course it's all right. She's already so far behind schedule that another ten or fifteen minutes lingering outside the cafe isn't going to make a negative impact on the rest of her evening. "Only mammals carry rabies, Teo," she assures the man on her way out, gently teasing. "The only thing Abigail has to worry about is losing her fingers."

As the two younger women slip out into the lamp-lit blueness just outside Bambino's, Teo's gaze stays until the door clicks shut behind them, his expression indeterminable from a dozen amorphous concerns and a little fatigue beside. Liz brings him back, more than the coffee. "Sorry, spacey today," he apologizes instantly, the corners of his mouth up. He curls two callused fingers through the handle of his mug and drags it closer to himself, looks for sugar to dollop in. No milk. "Ryokan wrote good poems. Makes sense: I think it was all he did. I have a Sharpie. I could make it happen," he says, quiet despite the inherent brightness of his sincerity. He stirs the sugar in and takes his first sip.

There's a shake of her head, and Elisabeth replies mildly, "If you wanted to, I have a feeling there's very little you couldn't do." She sips from her mug with her one good hand. "So tell me the truth this time… how are you really doing?"

"And that's the reason you're a teacher," Teo answers, a facetious argument based on self-deprecation and framed in sincere flattery. "You believe in the potential of youth." He lets his face go solemn the next moment. Her question deserves that much. "I'm not aware that I lied if I did, signora. I'm angry. Sad. Leaning on my friends." Baying for blood, managed to cry once, enjoying the fresh layer of survivor's guilt to the old one. It would be dramatic to say so. Honestly, angry and sad seem to cover it. Honestly. "Those kids didn't deserve what happened to them, and I've been praying that those responsible will get their due. Whatever the fuck that is. And you?" He sits his coffee down and looks at her eyes.

Elisabeth nods a bit. "Pretty fucking pissed, frankly," she says softly. "Keeping a good face on it, but…. I feel guilty that I had a whole hallway of kids running for the fire door and I couldn't get them out. I couldn't even really get myself out — the explosion threw me clear." She sips her coffee and adds quietly, "I see them when I close my eyes. And if I ever get my hands on them… I'm sure I'm not the only one who has fantasies about exactly how much I'd like to hurt them and make them pay."

Teo breathes in translucent steam and exhales nothing. Once, twice. "Yeah," he answers. It is a brief reply, as monosyllables tend to be, but it carries all the weight that Elisabeth had deposited on it. His eyes flit restlessly across the surface of the table's laminated surface. Slowly, as if the syllables are stones, he offers: "The second floor came down on one of the ground story classrooms while I was waffling about stepping off the stairwell to help. I have kind of a hard time explaining how I feel about that." He straightens slightly, running a thumb nail down the line of his jaw though there's no stubble or itch there to catch on. "The branding said PARIAH," he adds. "Half the people I know think that's bullshit."

"Yeah…. I know," Elisabeth replies softly. "I was standing under it when it started to fall." She wasn't kidding when she said the blast threw her clear — it was literal. "I don't know *what* to think, Teo. They showed up at the memorial and declared war, so…. is this really out of the realm of reasonability for them? I've been off the streets a long time, so I don't really have a good feel for what's going on now sometimes." She pauses. "But I have to admit that on some levels… it seems to me awfully convenient to run about using rocket launchers and stuff when you have POWERS that could do the same thing, you know?"

A few more gulps of coffee settle Teo's stomach with liquid heat, leaving a stable leaden thing sitting there unaccompanied by cold or nerves. He'll just have to wait until the caffeine kicks in for the latter. "I don't think many things are out of the realm of reason, but the incident doesn't seem to match what happened in the Financial District the other week. One hundred children dead at Washington Irving, whereas they pulled the building alarm in CitySoft to get everybody out before dropping that cross-section of Manhattan through the pavement.

"A big colorful sign that says 'Love, PARIAH' at the high school. In contrast, an angry man in a leather trenchcoat explained the entire rationale behind destroying CitySoft on YouTube, blow by exquisitely-articulated blow: hitting Homeland Security where it hurts. I've never been out on the streets," except to buy wonton, experiment with flour as a detonation substance, trawl for Triad rumors, stalk prospects, "but I can see how that looks kind of weird."

Elisabeth nods slowly. "Yeah, well. Here's hoping that people are paying attention. Because the fact of the matter is… whoever it is just handed any member of PARIAH that the public gets their hands on a death sentence. They'll get lynched in the streets. And when things like that come down, there's no stopping it. They're too mad to ask the question 'who benefits if the whole city — the whole WORLD — is chasing PARIAH?' And as pissed as I am, …. something's niggling at me about it." She shrugs. "But I'm just a suspicious ex-cop, you know?"

"I know," Teo nods his head. The lynchings coming, the paranoid ex-cop here. He also happens to know that Trask and Conrad would rather not see her get mixed up in more than this, coffee, speculation, visceral hate. Of course, their druthers are just that and probably rather chauvinistic besides. "I actually have a cop friend who made a similar observation. He thinks it's probably those Humanis guys trying to fuck over the pro-Evolved cause. That makes me pretty angry," he says more because it's true than a leading remark. "The kind of angry that makes me surprised I had any angry left over." His tone's gone wry, leaning lazily on the caricature of Italians that persists throughout popular culture. They are angry people.

Elisabeth shakes her head and admits solemnly to Teo, "I'm giving serious thought to going back to the badge. My lieutenant's been calling for months. I need to *do* something, Teo. Sitting out was a reasonable choice right after my mother died, but it's not anymore." Her jaw is tight. "I want justice. And I want vengeance for those kids. I want to be able to sleep at night. And if they manage to kill me the next time, I want to be able to face those kids and tell them it wasn't for nothing, you know?" She looks down then, and says, "And I'd really appreciate it if you'd chalk everything I just said up to the same pissed off ravings of every other person in this town." Because she realizes that she's telling him too much.

He had a redhead to pat him while he cried, a weasel of a petty criminal to grill for intel, and knows the world's most powerful cyberpath just kneed the killers in the goolies, and he still doesn't feel right. He can only imagine what it's like for Liz. "'Ravings' imply you don't have the heart or the purpose to back it up," Teo says. "'Raving' implies nonsense. I'd never really meant it when I used to think, 'If I get my hands on you—' but I keep thinking it every day now. Maybe being a cop again is what you need to do.

"I normally don't like cops," he admits, his mouth going lopsided with a grin: makes him look young, and as scrappy enough to accessorize his wounded nose properly. "But mostly because I was a stupid kid and didn't meet many good ones. I hear Manhattan's a little short-staffed right now." An understatement. He doesn't mention it'll be dangerous. She has enough men thinking the obvious at her.

There's a chuckle. "Well… my options seem somewhat limited," Liz admits. "It's go back to the force or become a vigilante. And so far…. I'm straddling the line." If only because Norton hasn't seemed to take her very seriously. And if he doesn't start soon, she will go back to the cops. The need to step back in and protect people is in high gear and if it means exposing herself to Registration, well…. maybe she will. Something about the thoughts in her head can be seen in her expression. There's a set to her chin and a glint in her eyes that indicates determination on her part.

It might suit Phoenix just as well to have an agent on both sides of that fence. Or something. Too many things for Teo's brain to do at once and he's also well-aware, it isn't on him to plan anybody's life out— merely offer opportunities when they arise. Or something. Something, something. Later, though probably soon. "Things have improved since my childhood. I've met cops that are good. If you don't mind me saying so, I would feel better thinking you had others sworn to protect and serve watching your back, than out there alone in spandex. And that isn't one bit insulting for your figure, signora," he says, tapping thumb nail against cup ceramic.

Elisabeth mmms softly. "It's funny you'd say that. When my best friend, who's also a cop, would probably prefer just the opposite." She sounds somewhat saddened by the idea. "Guess we'll see how it plays out, right?" She smiles at Teo. "You're listening to me ramble, and I don't even know why you are. But thanks. Sometimes it's easier to vent your spleen to someone not involved in your problems."

"It's interesting!" Teo protests immediately, before wincing at his own choice of words. He gestures with his coffee mug, which now lies at a level low enough that he isn't worried about scalding her with a runaway splash. "Not in that bug-under-magnifying-glass sense. But you're at a crossroads. It's a Hell of a decision to make. You know. Whether to rebuild the house, live in the ruins, or chase the storm. You may not think you have many options, but I think you have more than— say. Someone like me or demoiselle Sagnier. We could go back to teaching. We could take up pottery. We could fucking curl up and cry for a year living on food stamps and unemployment. In short," the corners of Teo's mouth go up. "Thanks for sharing."

Laughing softly at him, Liz replies easily. "Listening to someone else waffle around about their life is… well,easier than worrying about our own, right?" She looks down into her coffee mug, which is still mostly full. "I don't think I can walk back into that school, whatever else happens. I don't think I can walk those halls, look at the other survivors, and stand in that spot again without reliving it every time. So…. yeah. I'm once again at the crossroads." She bites her lip and says quietly, "I'd like to think if I can find the right niche, I can actually be of some help out there. But…. the people I know who can put me in touch with the right people don't want me out there like that." And if that's not confusing Teo, he knows far more than he's letting on. She's not thinking of him as a possible contact, not thinking 'oh what if he knows someone'. She's thinking of him as someone who might actually understand that she has a need to help. "Pretty much at this point, it's become a question of …. do I lean on my friend and possibly lose his friendship because of the direction I want to go?"

Some confusion marks Teo's features as she begins this track, only some of it fabricated. People who can help? With… lean on her friend, and. With just the latter part, he would have assumed… "When most women talk about taking their friendships in a certain direction, I assume they're wondering whether or not to ask a guy out on a date. I get the sense that that isn't what you're talking about." His gaze thins slightly, as if squinting through a bright light, obfuscating darkness, or something very far away. Lacking any real knowledge of Trask's civilian identity, he has only the vaguest suspicion that she could be talking about his little knitting circle. "Are you in trouble?" he asks, with a figment of genuine alarm; the natural leap of a paranoid mind.

Offering Teo a smile, Elisabeth shakes her head. "No. I just… " She pauses, trying to choose the right words. "I'm at that crossroads, and I have a LOT of options. And I have a friend who's leery about the fact that I want to get back into the thick of it because he cares about me. He's been my best friend for a couple of years now, the person I could tell anything to…. and pretty recently, it sort of took a romantic twist that has me …." She pauses. "off balance. Trying to find my way through a land mine of things when I never really felt like I had to watch what I said to him before." She shrugs her good shoulder and looks at him. "BUt you know what? I appreciate that you just asked me that more than you can possibly know."

"Maybe he can stop treating you like you're a fucking eight-year-old," Teo volunteers the next moment, his voice flat with the private conviction that he knows who this is. It's a 50-50 tossup between two gentlemen, one who would have infantilized her as a function of being a jolly kind of jerk, the other who carries himself like a joyless Christ underneath the scarf, trenchcoat, and painful accent. "If he's doing something that could put you in danger, then staying involved with your life and lying to you about it doesn't seem like a good way to keep you safe.

"I'd feel kind of jerked around. I— should probably mind my own business," he realizes aloud, folding slightly on his seat, abashed. It occurs to him now that she's talking about Phoenix the way he's learned not to talk about Phoenix; the way you talk about Phoenix when you need to say something to somebody and don't yet realize you shouldn't. Can't. It occurs to him, also, that if she can't get this thing through with whichever contactperson she's thinking of, she probably shouldn't be on the force or working among categorical terrorists. He has lapsed into silence by now.

"On the other hand, I'm very bad at romance," he adds, a disclaimer accompanied by some red in the face: he realizes he has no right to say anything.

Liz looks startled by his vehemence, and she sits up straighter suddenly. "I never said he lied to me about anything," she says quietly, her eyes on Teo. "BUt you know what? It's … enlightening that you asked me that. Now I know why I've been feeling all kinds of weird lately. Not jerked around…. just stupidly girly." She looks at him with a grin so bright it could light up a stadium. "Oh, Jesus, Teo…. that is what the problem's been. I've been…. Oh my god, why didn't I see it?" Shaking her head, she smirks. "I know exactly what I'm doing. And now that I can stop acting like a ridiculously pathetic GIRL, maybe I'll actually get where I need to be." She bounces up, winces because it's painful to her shoulder, and then gives Teo an impulsive kiss. "I don't need him to protect me, I'm not a damsel." She might have fallen into that role briefly, trying to figure out what to do next, but bygolly….. Teo's demand of 'what are you, eight?' put words to the feeling of weirdness she's been having about her own actions lately.

It is advice from his mother, sort of. Teo took after Amadora in a lot of ways, even if he always identified closer with Lucrezia, of the two sisters. That being said, he does have already have a mother and is thus mildly flustered about how to interpret the kiss; in the end, he accepts it as a token of gratitude. "I never thought you were pathetic," he mumbles abashedly, hiding the rest of his blush— or at least, the middle section of it— in the dregs of his coffee, as he downs the rest. Empty then, mug touches table and his complexion evens out, after a moment, forgetting his own foolishness in favor of words that ought to be said. "In all honesty, I hope it doesn't come between you two. It's a good time to have somebody. Buona fortuna," he says. "Dio ti benedica." He drops a kiss on his own thumb and reaches over to press her brow, light as the fingernail moon that's creeping out overhead.

Elisabeth replies softly, "He was my friend long before anything else popped up… and if he's REALLY my friend, he already know I'm acting weird and it'll jump back into place soon. If not…. then he wasn't my friend, was he?" She smiles at him as he makes the soft gestures. "Thanks, Teo. For everything, especially the kick in the pants. I'll call you soon." And then she heads for the door with a new sense of purpose.

November 30th: Colin Farrell Can Probably Skate

Previously in this storyline…

Next in this storyline…

November 30th: That's What I Said
Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License