Code Words


eileen_icon.gif teo3_icon.gif

Scene Title Code Words
Synopsis Teo reports on Joseph's condition.
Date June 16, 2010

Somewhere in New York City

The sun hasn't set yet, but it's hard to tell with the rain coming down in hard spikes, glassy needles, leaking through the gutters and bubbling in the streets like pneumatic fluids. Teodoro inside the boothe of a payphone that is no longer operational, not because he thinks he could get the fucking machine to work or anything, of course. Just to get out of the rain a bit, while he paws his hands dry on his pant legs where they've been shelted by the lapels of his coat.

Digs out his cellphone, next. He has Eileen's phone number memorized and coded under a meaningless alias in the contacts book, but the quickest way is to start typing in the digits until autofill yanks the rest of it out under Mary Ann. He thumbs connect and closes cold eyelids as he listens to the tingling of the ringtone against his eardrum.

Give Eileen a mourning dove, a slip of paper she can roll into the width of a pushpin and something she can use to secure one to the delicate pink leg of the other and you have a method of communication safe from the influence of technopaths. Unfortunately, it's also slow and antiquated, which is why she answers on the third ring with a quiet, "Bonjour."

Either she's practicing her French or sincerely thinks that speaking in another language might, however fractionally, reduce the chances of a third party gleaning sensitive information from their conversation. "«Will we still see you tonight?»"

Why else would he be calling?

"Eh oui. Absolutement." Teo's left eyebrow ticks down with slight consternation and he opens his eyes, which have long since acclimated to the burny itch of compression. He has to blink another couple times before the rainspatter on the far side of the glass defines itself in glistening pointillism. He flattens a palm against the scarred transparency of the wall and taps a thumb on it thoughtfully.

Enough seconds for Hana to guess at who they are, if Hana deigns to investigate. "Joseph's back. Doesn't remember anything before the hospital he woke up in. I didn't tell him about the scanner you have in case he's bugged with something subliminal, but he seems clean. Healthy." A half-beat, and she hears the background whop-whop of drumming fingers. "He already knows about Catherine's theory."

Teo can sense the rain crackling on the other end of the line above the noise it makes when it lashes against the booth's exterior less than a foot away from his ear. Wherever Eileen's at, she's out in the same wet gloom that he is. In English this time, "Take him to Anastazy. If they've done anything subliminal, we'll know."

There's some audible disappointment in her voice, but it's reserved for the news that Joseph's memories have yet to return to him and tempered by Teo's assurance that the pastor seems well. "Nothing on Gillian?"

And Teo's answer is darker with regret. "No. Kaylee asked before I did. Nothing: not a damn thing, and he's as disappointed as anybody else, but he thinks it might come back. God willing, this doesn't mean a Refrain phial. Not on him." His voice thickens when he says so, goes slightly scratchy around the bulge of new contours. Sentimental, maybe, but not because the historical circumstances were merely evil and tragic, but because he thinks that Joseph would do it if asked.

If pressed, maybe. "I'll take him, and be back in time to see you guys tonight. Anything you want me to tell him? From," he attempts to clarify in a nice way. Something polite. Another piano-key descent of fingers on glass, and then he finishes, "Eileen, I mean."

Eileen's silence serves as her answer — or it would if she allowed it to stretch on for more than the time it takes her to strip the last week and a half down to its bones and then select the best pieces to polish, put under glass and display. The exhibit can be called: Things Joseph Sumter Needs to Know.

"Tell him I was afraid of moving forward without his guidance," she says, finally. "He'll understand."

"Code words, bambina? Well, I never." Teo's answer is humorous, accepting her answer, accepting his own ignorance of its true meaning. He lets his hand fall off the glass and disturbs the finger-sized furrows he had raked through his sodden hair with another set of finger-sized furrows at a slightly different angle, squeezing moisture and an errant wind-tangle or three out of it. "All right. You got it. Oh," he adds, a little more blankly. "Did you know Deckard is back in radio-contact?

"Joseph called him too. Don't move on that, if it comes up in any way, shape or form. Please." His nose creases briefly around a big, long, doggish snuffle, but mostly from the rain. His voice is light. Quick. They have things they need to get done in the next few hours. "I'll talk to the three of you about it tonight."

On the other side of the city, Teo's Catholic God knows where, Eileen is drawing in a sharp breath that hitches at the back of her throat and comes out thin, serrated, and overlaps his request not to move on it. It. She makes a soft sound with frayed edges like she might be laughing, but it degenerates into something strangled.

No. She did not know. When the Englishwoman speaks again, her voice is very tight. "I won't," she promises, "I'll see you then, mon petit oiseau bleu," because if he's allowed to tease her about code words, then she's allowed to tease him, however mirthlessly, by using them. "Stay out of the rain."

Easier said than done, when the rain isn't wont to stay out of him. Teo's mouth twists a wry smile on the side that isn't permanently furrowed into one from scar tissue. "Huh," he says, irreverent on the line with her like he rarely is with anyone: "Gay.

"Take care, ladies." Click.

The door opens when he pushes it with his knee and toe, lets him back out, perhaps a little ill-advisedly, before he's even done texting Sumter. Into the rain, although it's more of a drizzle by now. He measures the distance back to the Angry Pelican and wonders whether the disgruntled pastor that he had left inside of the Angry Pelican is a little less disgruntled by now. He hopes so. He squints his eyes against the weather. Rounds his shoulders out around his shoulder-holstered pistol like a thug, and pushes his tongue through the gap in the broken wall of his mouth to underscore the point at the couple of scavengers who started lurking around outside the box a couple minutes ago.

Vultures, ugly bastard ones even for their kind, with optmistic malice in their eyes. They balance these factors against the initial vulnerability presented by solitude and begin to meander into dispersal. Teo starts off on foot.

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