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Scene Title Becoming
Synopsis Two disenchanted residents of Manhattan see about reenchanting their respective Christmasses, asking for help and granting it. Which is one definition of grace, probably, but catastrophically awkward in every other sense. Directly follows Like This.
Date December 24, 2008

Cathedral of St. John the Divine

The largest Gothic cathedral in the world, the Cathedral of St. John the Divine remains partially unfinished to this day, despite its construction having begun in 1892 - true to form for buildings of its type. Nonetheless, it is a grand and imposing sight; possessing the characteristic grand arches, pointed spires, and beautiful stained glass windows, including a large and striking Rose window. Where the walls aren't covered with old and meticulously preserved tapestries, they are often ornamented.

Guided tours are offered six days out of the week. Services are open to all. Since the bomb, the main nave is open at all but the latest hours, though the smaller subject-specific chapels close in the evening. The cathedral is also a site for major workshops, speakers, and musical events - most especially the free New Year's Eve concert, which has been held without fail each year since the bomb.

St. John's has long been a center for public outreach and civic service events, but since the bomb, those have become an even greater part of its daily affairs. Services include a men's shelter, a twice-weekly soup kitchen, walk-in counseling, and other programs besides. These are open to everyone - non-Evolved, unregistered Evolved, registered Evolved… the philosophy is that they're all children of God, and that's what matters.


With the way in which she profusely apologizes, there's a small wonder if she isn't related to Teo.

"I — I didn't mean to…"

She's nor apologizing about making him carry the box of canned goods, though.

"I was scared."

She's apologizing about turning someone's life on its ear, and making her live in fear of incarceration.

"I… I saw you that day."

Winding down the double-wide stairwell, it's clear that renovation is a constantly active process. The interior halls of the Cathedral lack that certain opulence that the main prayer chamber does. And while the old stone walls and marble floors give it some semblance of grandiose appearance, the stacks of folding tables, cardboard boxes filled with canned goods, and the constant through-traffic of transients makes it seem more like a well-built relief shelter than a place of worship.

"I just… I — It's hard to explain, b-but… I just…"

These double-wide series of old stone stairs with anachronisticly new looking metal handrails wind down beneath the central floor of the church. The muffled sounds of prayer and orgel music echo through the halls from above. Downstairs, there is even less of a sense of old-world charm, as exposed water pipes and unfinished ceilings give the expansive basement a very worked-on feeling. Makeshift walls have been put up to separate a portion of the basement for the living quarters for the homeless that spend time here, looking quite like a disaster relief shelter, lined with rows of cots and privacy curtains.

"I didn't mean to hurt her, I— I don't know why I'm apologizing to you…"

It is past the living quarters, though, that she takes the courier. Bringing her to a large and open room filled with folding tables and long bench seats, the kind used in highschool caffeterias. The beakfast crowd has already thinned out and moved on by this time, most of the long tables empty, save for a few wayward souls. Serving areas serve as partitions for the kitchen in the back, and a long area of counterspace features tall coffee pots and stacks of cardboard cups.

"Um…" Stopping in the doorway of the soup kitchen, Colette wraps her white-sleeved arms around herself, lowering her head and letting her dark bangs fall over her blinded eye. "You… you can just, you know, um," One hand raises to motion indirectly to the room as a whole, "P-put it down wherever. I — I'll be fine." Because she certainly sounds it.

A little girl with mismatched eyes fits well into a gutted house of God, rambling rather than ruined, all parts lost and having found their right place, if not their ultimate destination. Whatever the fuck that entails. There's something terribly damaged about this place. About her, also. And Teo, with one shoe missing, a secondhand burden, and snow still turning to water on his clothes, feels disturbingly at home here, the kinship he feels with the displaced and lice-ridden in the Ferrymen's safehouses doubled in — or by — the sanctity of this place, where Providence and wasted human sweat are interchangeable.

Box of cans in arms, he stomps after Colette, down stairs, past curtains and scarred masonry, dwarfing her with his misshapen shadow like an idiot lumberjack following some cinnamon-skinned fairy into the sinister, stilted darkness of the wood. He doesn't know what to do with apologies either. Might not have even if he'd known why she was giving him hers. The fact that he doesn't is a good excuse. "No, no: it's fine," he assures her. And lamely, "I saw you too." Everything is hard to explain. He knows. "Yeah."

When he finally understands what she means, his gaze drifts and his face achieves a cheap and rather unconvincing facsimile of blank.

There comes a crossroads in every terrorist's life, when he must choose between pretending not to know and admitting otherwise. Failing to choose makes the choice for you. He lurches to a halt, just short of tripping on his heart-strings and a crack in the floor as wide as a fish-finger. Uncomfortable church-time thoughts. "Is your friend okay?" he asks. With difficulty, either because he isn't sure she should know he knows or because he'd traded your friend in for you a synapse before he spoke. His fingers tighten around the corners of the box with insistence. "The one who was healing."

"He'll live." It's Colette's form of a half-answer, and the mis-matched eyes downturn to the tiled floor. From across the soup-kitchen, a pair of familiar faces catch Teodoro's eyes. A young man named Stephen, seen around the Hangar where Grace and Hana work for the Ferrymen, and an equally familiar man giving a steely stare at Colette — Trent, the young man Helena rescued from the Flying Dragons, and the man Abby healed. The one partly responsible for this whole tangled social mess.

"I don't think he's ever going to walk right again." She isn't sure why she's confiding in Teo, perhaps it's the vulnerability given to only having one shoe, maybe it's the same reason people like Helena confide in him. There's just something about Teo. "But you don't want to hear that, and — Just — " She sighs through her nose, thin shoulders slouching forward as she presses one small hand to her face, letting slender and pale fingers reddened on the tips from the cool air rake up through her hair. "You… can set the box down anywhere." Her gaze meets the socked foot for a moment, and then looks away. Is she this much of an inconvenience on everyone?

No! Definitely not. Teo remembers the true culprit well: it was round and gray, peppered with black and veined a chalky shade of white. Heavy carbon content. Rock. It had stabbed his foot. Contact with the stone floor, mediated by the fabric of his sock, would be quite refreshing if he thought about it. He doesn't right now, of course. His memory freeze-frames Stephen's profile and attaches a jumbled theory to Trent's glare, and he has to blink at Colette a few times to put her back into focus, discomfitted by her isolation in the bustle and noise of a place built to make a person feel at home.

"He might," he says. "Walk right again, and sooner than you think. He's a cop, right? A good cop," clumsily redefined, as if to revise what Colette might otherwise have construed as an insult. "Word will get to the right people." It should have already: Trask was looking into Judah months ago, as he recalls.

Of course, these days Trask is Swiss cheese, sucking in his plasma through his wrist. "I don't mind hearing it. Really. Onesto. I have a friend who got all fucked up recently and I've been so freaked out I could throw up. Not on your cans," he adds, hastily, giving the box a light rattle, which reminds him he's still holding it. "Are you sure anywhere is okay?" He casts about for similar boxes of stuff by which this one might look less out of place.

There's a furrowing of Colette's brows, and she shakes her head slowly, "Good cops don't necessarially get better," the scowl crossing her face is followed by equally sour words, "They get killed." She grows silent for a moment, arms folded across her chest before she exhales a soft snort with a shake of her head. "The…" She eyes the socked foot again, then Teo with a weak smile. "The boxes go over behind the steam tables, so Stephen can sort 'em out."

When her mis-matched eyes track down to Teo's socked foot again, the girl's smile grows a bit more, "You… You're a lot different from her. I — I kinda'… I dunno. You're… friends with her and Mallory?" She jumps to some rather incorrect conclusions, but her voice stays quiet and conversational rather than obtusely conspiratorial like the last time. "I — Um, so… So you, n'Grace, and… Alistair, all of you are like, what?" Her eyes narrow slightly as she moves around Teo, pointing to a low table stacked with boxes behind one of the steam tables.

Lacking ordinary self-consciousness, Teo follows the girl's abbreviated gaze down to his foot as if somehow expecting that to be a tactful nudge that he'd put it down in the middle of some pet's poop. Seeing no such discolorations, he puts his head back up with no visible shift in sentiment, and obligingly starts over toward the steam table, assuming there is not so much intervening traffic that the possibility of sustaining a conversation over the distance or returning is impossible. "It's different here," he answers. "Sometimes. People get what they deserve. It's what — uhm. 'She' is all about, isn't it? And her kind." Teo has no idea if Colette doesn't know Abby's name or if her diligently avoiding its use is some function of remorse.

The table's steel dimensions blots his voice out briefly as he sets the box down. Emerges, watching the floor between the intervals of watching her. "Passion actually is power. Uhh. That probably doesn't make a lot of sense." Then he's close by enough for politeness again, sleeves hanging past gloved hands and his shoulders squared, as if physicality might somehow reinforce the lack of structure his brain words are making. "I used to be a teacher. Mallory was one of my students. I… Grace? You mean the Ra—? We…" Are not all that much alike, quite frankly!

A fact which makes lying less necessary and the truth harder to convey with carefully choreographed ambiguities. He turns his head, looks one way then the next, searching the soup kitchen for inspiration. Apparently, he finds it. "I guess they're like you. Doing good work for free. Cops aren't the only good ones who get fucked up sometimes, I guess." He begins to scowl before he catches himself. Brain words.

Colette's brows skew at an uneven angle as she looks Teo up and down, assessingly. "I…" She's not sure if he's feigning awkwardness, or if he really is this goofy. "I'm just…" She looks over to Trent, who has since turned his back on the young girl, speaking in quiet conversation with Stephen as the younger of the pair goes over a clipboard list, checking items off as he looks thorugh other cardboard boxes. Colette closes her eyes for a moment, reaching one hand up to brush fingers at her temples, rubbing them up and down before she looks back to Teo.

"Is she… um, Abby, is she your leader?" Her nose wrinkles, "I mean, you guys do have one, right?" It can't possibly be Teo in her mind, I mean, he only has one shoe! "I want to, uh— I need to talk to someone about… I… " The young girl swallows awkwardly, looking down at her hands, a picture-perfect mirror now of Teo's inability to string words together with any level of coherency. "I screwed up." She'd at least gotten a confirmation out of Teo of some connection between the two, and as much as she wants to adhere to Judah's wishes, right now she can't. "I don't know… how to control what I do. I…" She's embarassed, anxious, nervous, awkward, everything that a teenager has to deal with compounded by some freak genetic expression that she never asked for. "I've burned a hole in my bathroom wall," her voice drops to something far more quiet, "I almost blinded myself because of a mirror, and…" She closes her eyes, "I think I'm going to hurt someone. I… I wanted to register, l-like Agent Ivanov b-but…" She clicks her tongue, shaking her head repeatedly. "I need help."

To be fair, Teo has no idea that he's being goofy. He isn't good with teenagers. It's probably wise he switched career tracks: a little bit of insight into what it is to be one isn't enough to make you a good teacher. He'd barely been able to teach language, and he could easily claim to speaking a dozen. The Ferrymen, Phoenix, and Abigail Beauchamp are another matter entirely, and to spin it without getting anybody in trouble has never felt like such a precarious prospect than when a legion of genocidal psychos has joined the Triads in hunting them. Really: wrecking a restroom and breaking seven years' bad luck seems like a relatively… Wait. What?

He had started following the girl's gaze again, picked Trent's cold shoulder out of the various and sundry figures in the soup kitchen. His head snaps upright, and he levels a stare of tactless surprise at her. "You… you can burn a hh— you're. You're gifted. I didn't know that." Nor that she knew stupid fucking Ivanov, for that matter, so that must mean she thinks stupid fucking Ivanov is dead. Teo halts to silence for a protracted moment. "I'm sorry, I don't mean to equivocate."

There's nothing else he could possibly be doing, though. In asking, "Did you change your mind about registering, or is that a thing for…" He indicates the passage of time with one gloved hand. "Later? After you learn?"

"Maybe if he didn't die, I would've given a shit about registering, maybe… maybe if Judah still believed in it." Colette bites down on her lower lip, and she finally parses something said earlier, mis-matched eyes darting up to Teo with a stern stare, "It's not a gift, a gift is something you can return if you don't want it, something you can pawn off on someone else when you're done." Her words come out hissed and sharp, wanting to raise her voice but struggling not to. "This isn't a gift, this— " She raises one hand, then closes it tightly and holds it down at her side, her motions jerky and uneven, like she's not thinking them through before doing them, and hastily correcting. "It's a sickness. I've got fucking superhero cancer or something. You — "

Colette's eyes narrow slightly, and more pieces start to fit together, "Grace didn't tell you?" Suspiscion fills where trust might have been forming as she takes a half step back, "Fuck, I — Jesus, don't — I didn't — This was a joke, I was kidding. Testing. I'm not — " She stutters and stumbles over her words, and her expression belies that she now assumes Teo is something like a glorified janitor in the heirarchy of things.

If nothing else, that says something for her sincerity. Nobody likes to think they've sunk as low as confiding in the janitor if they think there's something worth keeping in confidence, and superhero cancer— there's enough vehemence in those two words to star a war, if not exactly rally a specific individual to join the proper side. Teo watches retreat seize her and drag her backwards in a skitter of heels and matchstick limbs. His weight eases off his socked foot and onto his boot, elevating his heel a fraction of an inch from the floor.

She isn't the only one with an over-developed flight instinct. "Look, don't— don't freak out. Please?" His eyes do their best to compel her. They are his father's shade of blue, and have his mother's depth. Sometimes they're good for that. He ducks his head and seals lips for a brief moment, as a woman toting a sack of potatoes totes the sack past him.

"There's a lot of people who could — would help you. We're just not all that close, and we don't tell each other about every girl, gifted or bigoted, that we meet." Despite the one adjective insistently repeated there and the less kind one jabbed in second, there's a lack of specific heat in his voice; he likes to think he ran out of that about a knife-swing ago. He breaks line of sight, following the bob of potatoes. "I can talk to somebody. Get you someone who could teach you how to clamp down when you gotta, and hit targets if you want to."

Colette's blind eye closes a bit more than her green eye, looking somewhat like a scrutinizing squint were it not for the way her opposite brow is raised, making her look like she sees Teo in a more incredulous way than he may prefer. She does halt her panicing, though, at his words. The teacherly side of him, and that still-present vulnerability of a missing shoe throws her a bit off-base. How harmful could a guy this out of it really be?

"Don't waste your time." Colette shakes her head, threading fingers through her shaggy bangs again as she takes a step back, "I — N-nevermind." After all this conversation, nevermind? "I just — I fucked over that girl, bad. I — I'm a screw up. I'll figure it out on my own," The panic is gone, but she recoils emotionally back into herself like hastily tugged blinds. "Thanks for, uh, carrying the boxes." The girl's brows lower, then furrow as she focuses on that socked foot one last time, "N'go get your shoe."

Colette's stare has a lot of weight, considering it has half the contents most people's do. Teo's toes twitch visibly under her scrutiny. His mouth finds a line and his brow caves under a furrow of consternation. He's smart enough to know that he isn't doing this right, even if he's dense enough to equate that with full responsibility. "My brother is like you," he blurts, suddenly. Yes. To show a teenager one is earnest, grab the book of bad fairytales and brain them with it. Not the ETS' recommended strategy, but— "He was just a little younger than you when… shit went tits-up. And a girl died. Ins… Instead of someone else."

It isn't his story to tell, which is why he tends not to. Fisted, his right hand chugs aimlessly at his hip. His eyes blinks quartz in the half-light between renovated chambers. Awkward with self-aggrandizement, he clears his throat. Clarifies, with some difficulty: "Instead of me. So I kind of understand. At least about fucking someone over. And about not understanding what it's supposed to mean, when there's magic everywhere, but no dragons or unicorns, just assholes and cowards and political bullshit. So. Signorina, it wouldn't be a waste of time," he concludes, watching her eye.

Dark and overgrown bangs fall down over her blinded eye from a tilt of Colette's head. She pauses from what would have been the retreat away from him, an aborted series of steps. The girl's hands smooth down the sides of her skirt, anxiously, and her single viewable eye flicks around Teo's features, trying to take in more of who and what he is, trying to judge his book by it's very haphazardly arranged cover. "But you're not?" His words implied it enough, and Colette's spent enough time in the last few months staring through the bleary haze of Tamara's words to start to pick up conversational omissions.

"Look I— Whatever happened to you and your brother," Her brows furrow together in frustration at her own inability to articulate her point, "I don't think I'm welcome with whoever you all are. I've been told off enough to realize I don't have a place with you, I just — I'm all screwed up inside. The one guy I could turn to for this he — He's gone. Dead. Just when I fucking needed him, he lied to me, he told me he'd be okay." The venom in her words and the frustration in her voice, bordering on something more emotional that casual aquaintence would imply isn't directed at Teo, but the dead man who isn't here to yell at.

"I don't know why I asked you, I… I thought maybe — " Colette shakes her head, "Grace told me to do something. But, I just… It was stupid, I didn't think it through. Just forget about it, you— I'm just a dumb kid. I'm not…" She stares at Teo for a moment, vacantly, "Whatever it is you are."

Teo kind of hopes that the guy she thought she could turn to for this wasn't Felix Ivanov, because really, that fucking speedster seems to leave behind him a swathe of disappointment wherever he goes. Abby, Christian, Deckard. Disappointing Deckard is no mean feat: Flint probably counts at least twice, for all intents and purposes. "I would. I will," he corrects himself. "If you want me to. I'd find someone who'd teach you without calling HomeSec on your head.

"You don't sound like you want more than that. I…" They might even have managed to start talking about the same thing, now. Possibly. He has that feeling, a gratifying nudge that instantly prompts him to glance over his shoulder toward the incipient scent of fried meat. "Frankly, I could give more of a fuck about the problems you've had with whomever. You don't want… a… job, or a place in the headlines.

"You already have friends. Or family." Whatever Judah is to her. "The thing you're asking for, nobody necessarily needs to get close enough to smell your breath to give. And you don't have to smell theirs. Baby-steps, you know? If you want." Given that that whole trust thing has already gotten off to a shakey start, Teo decides against making a strong case for his own position as a dumb kid.

"Maybe." Colette murmurs, her lower lip drawn up between her teeth as she fiegets her weight from one foot to another, "Maybe." The girl's mis-matched stare levels on Teo again as she tucks one errant lock of dark hair behind one ear, letting that white eye be seen more clearly again. "If — If you think of anyone, who… who'd give two shits to help me, just…" She looks around, mulling something over in her head, judging from the pensive look on her face and the anxious tug to her lip. "Just… Don't call the number I gave Abby." It's an odd request, "Don't contact me at all through it, not ever." She can't let Judah know what she's thinking of doing, who she's going to be spending time with. "Just leave a note here, name and a number or somethin'. I dunno."

It is perhaps less odd a request if you weren't aware that the phone number Abby was given belonged to a detective on SCOUT's team. Teo files that tidbit away under 'parental consent,' or whatever header serves for similar in his mental categorization of contact information. He can't muster much ceremony right now: he is missing a boot. So he nods his head and says, "Okay. Figurati volentieri. No problem.

"I know there is someone." He has faith in people. And, technically, the ability to give orders which people roll their eyes or glare at but somehow generally wind up duped into following or otherwise live with, feeding their complaints into the appropriately marked box. He looks grim now: a young man's way of showing himself earnest. Missing footwear or no. "Do you have any idea what it is you can do?

"I don't mean 'have accidents,'" he says. Not to tease, but sort of— pre-empting further self-deprecation. For some reason, he thinks she might do that.

"I have no fucking idea." Colette says with a strained voice, looking around to the people gathered down in the soup kitchen before she rather abruptly takes a few steps towards the Sicilian, sidling up a little too close to him as she leans up on the toes of her shoes, letting her nose come precariously close to his own, enough so that he could almost see his own reflection in her glassy eye were his vision not straining to focus on her close proximity. But the uncomfortable invasion of private space serves only to shroud the hand held palm-up between them. She curls her fingers towards her palm, spread out as they are, and a disc of very faint light forms a circular lens over her palm, distorting and bending the image of her hand like the lens of a magnifying glass.

"I," She says with emphasis, but in a whisper. Though at this close, it comes off as uncomfortably husky and rather unlike the young girl, "have" he can already see where this sentence is going, "no" the light wells up in her palm, but it's dim and weak, like a flashlight with a dying battery, "no fucking clue." She closes her hand, and the lens of light disperses into tiny little motes of yellow-gold sparks around her fingers. "Sometimes it's bright enough to blind me, sometimes it's hot enough to burn paper. I don't know."

Her mis-matched eyes linger on Teo for just a moment longer, and then girl lands back down on her heels and takes a half step back, folding her hands behind her back with a level expression. "You tell me what that was."

Teo is doomed to lose all of his duels with miserable, battered little girls anyway. Personal space is one of the areas that are more affordable for him to cede. And he does so without complaint if not precisely gladly, watches the white of her eye and the bright of her hand out of sanguine features that don't lose much for color or warmth to the winter or the darkness, despite his infamous vulnerabilities to either. He stoops his head to help. The lines of his brow deepen.

It's nothing he's seen before, nothing greater. Nothing short of beautiful, he thinks, because it's his nature. He's a little enamored of teleology. Abby heals, Helena calls lightning, and Deckard sees through things — but not everything; now the half-blind girl with a handful of light. Of course, he can't say that, though. Of course. His gaze clicks back to her face, quiet with wonder. "Pretty fucking cool," he manages, finally, because she asked. He takes another moment to straighten back to his full height. "I'll leave something by paper. Your name is— Colette, si?"

His reaction isn't exactly what she expected, not from someone who's normal, like she used to think she was. Well, at least biologically. "Yeah," her brows crease at the notion, "Yeah, my name's Colette…" She's given falter though, brow creasing further as she seems to mull something over in her head before letting her mis-matched eyes focus on Teodoro again.

In her eyes there's a play of conflict that is subtle, a confusion of past and present that seems to only now be asserting itself. She's considered how to say these words, how to distance herself from where she was in life to where she is now. But on the cusp, here, of making the attempt to at least understand the thing she has become, it only makes sense to put aside the person she was. It makes her reply delayed, but clear.

"Colette Demsky."

"Colette Demsky." Teo makes his verbal confirmation in a way that implies he probably hadn't mistaken her moment of introspection for a last-minute crapping together an incredibly unconvincing alias for evasive purposes. "I'm Teo." Whether because he's suppressing his awareness of the inherent rudeness in failing to supply his full name, or having bought into the whole spy gig more than Colette otherwise would've suspected, he leaves himself identified at that.

And begins to segue, elegantly, into his pending departure by poking his head down to look at his woefully unshod foot. "I think I'm late," he says. Abby's waiting. "Keep in touch, signorina. Buon Natale." He starts an uneven pace backward without managing to body-check anybody or smack into masonry, a hand up, half a smile on.

With her head canting to one side, Colette regards the Sicilian's departure as unusual, much as his entire presence down in the basement was. She wraps her arms around herself again, only to look away a little before Teo manages to slip out of sight. Her eyes fall partway shut, and she has to think for a moment about just how wise of a decision she's making here. It's not something she would have risked doing a year ago, it's not the people she would've associated herself with a month ago. It's not the world she thought it was, and she isn't the person she thought she was either.

So in turn, that seems to be the crux of it. She's doing it because she isn't who she thought she was.

She's something else. And she needs to find out what.

December 24th: While Shepards Watch
December 24th: Different Kind of Christmas Dinner
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