deckard_icon.gif teo_icon.gif

Scene Title Cross
Synopsis We all have our own to bear. It's one thing to finally reforge an injured 'friendship' over: the soul-crushing guilt of losing Abigail Beauchamp.
Date February 12, 2009

The Rookery

After the bomb, Staten Island grew to become a haven for undesirables. If the Island is their home, then the Rookery is their playplace. Equal parts gritty and decadent, it boasts dark alleys, bright lights, and every pleasure that one could imagine. Provided you know where to ask, of course.

Some areas have fared better than the rest of the island; some have fared far worse. For each well-tended brothel or gaming house, there's at least one creaky, crumbling structure left over from the days of pre-bomb suburban glory.

The population is considered universally distasteful, even by much of the rest of Staten Island. Criminals, refugees, victims of radiation poisoning… Those who have nowhere else to go often end up here. The most common method of getting out is to have your body dropped in the river, followed closely by being left wherever it is you got killed.

Good luck.

Tar and gravel, gravel and tar. It's hard to be quiet up here with damp rock sifting underfoot. Toxic brown cloud cover blotches a night sky that barely manages to pass for sickly purple. Nevermind blue. It's cold but not freezing, windy but not uncomfortably so. The apartment complex that stretches beneath this particular roof is sparsely occupied. It's a shitty part of town, even for the Rookery. People come here to take care of their business, then leave again. They don't live here.

Across the street outside of a makeshift bar, three or four stories down, a couple of hefty looking guys in ski masks are kicking the shit out of a third guy that stopped moving about five kicks ago. Deckard watches with his hands pushed deep down into the pockets of his coat, hazy white kicked up by the building's heating unit obscuring the rooftop around him. Another guy has had the same idea the next block over. His shorter shadow can occasionally be seen moving against the lights on the buildings beyond him.

It's probably better that it's hard to be quiet. Sneaking up on a rat isn't the recommended course of action for most people who want to end the day by transitionining through time into the next one. Fragments of gravel tumble away from Teo's toe, and his heel grinds down a rucked-up seam in the tar.

GPS tracks horizontal vector locations, not vertical altitude. Somebody else's superpowers did most of the work; the rest was equal parts luck and skill, by his understanding of things. He's wearing stuff not unlike the men who Deckard is watching, canvas, denim, socks, boots, weapons, cigarettes, lighter getting into the last dregs of its butane. Unlike those other men, however, he's up here.

Back there. "Buona sera." There's neither click of gunmetal nor a pre-emptive request that Deckard not shoot.

Head tipped after the faltering sag of one distant, miniature lung while the other struggles to compensate for the abuse its companion has suffered, Deckard is swift to whip around at the first scuff of boot over gravel at his back. No sunglasses, tonight. Paranoid blue zags immediately to zero in on Teo's intrusion, right hand in his coat without actually drawing anything out of it. The bristle about him doesn't fade when his hand falls away, which doesn't seem very promising, even from afar.

His silhouette is tense, suspicious, uneasy. This isn't the first time Teo has dropped in on him unannounced, theoretically with no way to find him, and here he is playing voyuer while some idiot gets beaten half to death. Or all the way to death. Depends on when they stop.

It's difficult to discern in the dark, but there's swelling over the bridge of his nose, and a black-scabbed split that intersects his brow. Bruising marrs most of the left side of his face, pooling unevenly to fill the orbit of the eye on the same side. Someone fell face first into someone else's fist, looks like.

It's only the second time Teo has dropped in on him unannounced, seemingly with no way to find him. If it galls the wee white knight that there are potentially innocent men being bludgeoned half or to death so close by, it doesn't show on his face, which changes only when he registers the clouds of discolored hemorrhage on Deckard's skin through the obfuscation of night-time darkness and silhouettes blotted up by street light below.

"Doesn't improve on your looks, signor." In Teo's voice, the remark projects as sympathetic rather than critical, but that undoubtedly suffers something in translation once it hits the filter of Deckard's auditory cortex. His brow furrows slightly, concerned, wary, unhappy. He steps forward, closing the seven yards of distance to a little over six and a half. His jaw drops half an inch, closes again, jigs in empty air. Looks like he's trying to make up his mind about what to say.

"Abby's missing," he offers, eventually. "Someone took her."

One blue spark narrows to match the forced squint of the other. Teo is displaying inexplicable ninja tracking powers. And he's making fun of his face. Possibly. Deep-seated annoyance overturns anything that might be funny about the fact that he can't actually tell, his sense of humor evidently suffering from some soreness of its own.

Whatever the case, Deckard doesn't snipe or snarl — just dips his head away a little at the forward step that follows, like he doesn't want him looking. Or getting too close for other reasons. The movement is too limited to be easily read past its general air of reactionary displeasure. He's unhappy too. Not a lot of places to run away to when there's only one way up and down. Next time he'll pick a better place.

Whatever malice and mistrust he's feeling vacates pretty abruptly at the news that follows, leaving blank bafflement in its wake. Abby's missing. "What do you mean, 'Someone took her?'" The question comes on a delay, and with just the slightest, slightest abrasive hint of blame.

He may be Catholic, but Teo is also young. The hint is taken, instantly unscrolls a defensive scowl down his own expression, though he's restraining himself, carefully, visibly, the cords of his jaw tight. This isn't his fault. How could this possibly be his fault? He isn't going to blame himse—

Inevitably, his eyes fall. He isn't long picking his gaze up again, though. "I mean what I said," he answers, with only the slightest strain of emphasis on the verb there, chagrined if not sullen. He doesn't come closer, as if having finally recognized that words alone— this transmission of information— forges connection enough to elicit discomfort on his end, and that he doesn't have to push it, this grating, hitchy, circling, pointless desperation.

He is standing close enough. "Last week, the day she was supposed to take off back home to Louisiana, some fucker took her. Into a light blue van. 'Periwinkle' blue. And brought her here," he flings an arm out, to generalize 'here' to the visible kerchief of vapor-addled roof view. "Somewhere on this island."

They were living together, weren't they? With a bird. Deckard remembers. His eyes narrow again, slitted accusation that scrapes mercilessly after Teo's downturned gaze while the worst of his frustration boils itself off to the tune of one last fleshy 'whump' from whatever's going on down below. By the time the younger man looks up again, Flint is looking elsewhere, the frigid line of his glare searching across the nearest rooftops for any other sacks of bones that might be trying to get an ear on on the conversation so far. Paranoia is shaded bleak into the hollow of his jaw and across the tension in his neck. Maintaining any kind of status quo with these people is impossible. Something terrible is always happening.

"What kind of informant knows periwinkle is a fucking color// but doesn't have the common sense to take down a license plate number." Aimless irritation forks off his tongue at the sketch of the moron in question he's carrying around in his skull, brow furrowed and mouth downturned into an even more distinct frown. "If there are cameras outside of the bridges in Jersey they might have picked something up. Assuming they didn't just sling her onto a goddamn boat."

They were— past tense. This isn't Teo's fault. She left.

And he let her — and thus — this must be, in some obscure way, his fault. While he's busy ruminating about that in brooding silence and a thunderous scowl upon his brow, the old man is asking questions. He has to catch up on them, retroactively, a slight shake of his head to flatten out the self-flagellation into something remotely useful. "They did," he starts to defend himself. Or them. Or s— "The cameras — I don't have the plate number.

"But the cops do." His lips find a white line severe enough to measure Autocad constructs off of, brows yanked down to acute angles. "I don't know. It wa sa bad part of town, so it wasn't as easy as that.

"When is it ev—?" Hana would have put him in a wall by now, prying that note of complaint out of the gravelly register of basic annoyance. His cheeks round out, puffing a sigh into the cold sky. His fists end up plunged into his pockets, shoulders creaking up high under his ears.

He closes and opens his eyes once, twice. Thrice. "If I get the plate number, will you look around?"

"If the number wasn't attached to a name, there's no point. That is…if you're like me and operating under the assumption that a perwinkle van will stand out enough on its own." Irritation pulls lips back away from teeth, puts ragged edges on his speech. Jesus fucking Christ, Abby. Save the world, end the Vanguard, get kidnapped by some fucko in a hippie van.

Both hands go to the back of his head, long bones pushing through dusty grey while he tries to get his blood pressure down to a level that doesn't beat at his ears and pound at his already abused sinuses. Doesn't she understand he already has kind of a lot to deal with right now?

"How do you know they brought her here? Is there some kind of ongoing investigation? How long have you known she was gone?" Getting finger-pointy again on that last note, though he hasn't actually pointed anything.

It's there, though. Like, with a fucking talon on the end, and twitching with the urge to rip Teo's eyes out. He isn't hackling, because he's Teo, but even Teo feels the urge to waste a little blood and adrenaline on that right now. It's a warm buzz washing through him underneath the wind-chilled canvas and cotton, somewhere between or including annoyance and relief. At the very least, this means—

This must mean that Deckard's going to help. Right?

The last time Teodoro asked him to look for somebody who was taken from him, Deckard did it. It sets precedent. Doesn't lift his heart, but at least weighs down the mindless flutter of scaley wings in his gut, a little. "I've known two days. I spent one of them figur—" His face is all screwed up into a scowl now. He takes a moment to flatten it out into something reasonably polite. "Traffic cameras say they brought her here," he grinds out. "There's— I don't know about the investigation, that's all I got from them. The Manhattan precincts know fuck-all about Staten Island, right?

"And the cops here are crooked as they come, non? You—" Too many questions. He has no time to ask any of his own. He exhales with a hiss through his teeth. "They could repaint the van, I guess, but I don't think subtlety was their suite to begin with. It stands to reason they wouldn't have picked it up since. You'll look?" He hazards a glance down at the knot of ski-masks and blood. Or what's left of it on the pavement.

Forty-eight hours is a lot of time to kill for even the most procrastinatory of candy peddlers.

Deckard closes his eyes, electric blue forced out of its rending and tearing at Teo's skull for a few precious seconds to ease off the pressure building around his brain. Holding Teo accountable is stupid. Everything about this is stupid.

When his eyes slide open again, they've lost some of their manic intensity to unhappy reason. Teo doesn't know where she is, or why, or who took her. One after the other, Deckard's hands drop slackly back down to his sides, shoulders sloped lax and chin tilted back a few degrees. Maybe if he focuses hard enough he can glare at God.

"If they took her because of what she does, she's probably still alive."

It's worse than that, of course. It generally is. "She's been missing for a week.

"I only found out and started looking the other day." Teo isn't much reassured by the sudden cessation of radioactive light piercing his face as if he owes it money, but it at least it affords him a moment to look away without coming off overtly rude. He still doesn't like doing that very much. Coming off overtly rude. He finds himself exchanging solemn stares with the bristly underside of Deckard's jaw, next.

"They always take her because of what she does. I believe she's alive."

It fails to occur to him, at least temporarily, that Flint Deckard isn't some twenty-something-year-old over-idealistic terrorist-vigilante in dire need of reassurance, blinkered optimism, and whatever he can hack together for leadership. That line is not unlike the ones about Norton Trask that he's fed his comrades, along with assignments, busy-work to stave off certain despair or the awareness that it ought to be corpses they're searching among. Somehow, he refrains from repeating his request.

"There are other things I have to do," he says instead, measuring the syllables out with the difficulty of hating to have to admit it. "Some Phoenix members are missing, too. We're being hunted. Abby isn't part of Phoenix. I…"

A week. Of course, a week. Forty-eight hours isn't really a crisis so much as it might be a point of strong concern in the case of a kidnapping of someone less potentially useful. Why not let out some slack and kick it up a few notches on the bad-news-o-meter?

Deckard's breath shudders out into a shoddily ventilated ghost of a laugh. The kind that keeps him from using that breath to do something else, like suggesting that they might both be better off if they hold hands and jump off the roof. Teo's optimism, if that's what it's supposed to be, has about as much chance of making an impression as a runaway shopping cart headed for a parked tank.

His head lolls forward again, chin nearly to his chest. His neck is failing to provide adequate support one way or the other, leaving the demon light of his eyes to cast aimlessly through gravel's grain and on into the architecture below. "I'm sure there are," he agrees at long last, brows rising too high in their faux acceptance of the idea that Teo has bigger fish to fry. "A terrorist's work is never done."

It should have been impossible, according to natural laws of physics, for Flint Deckard to guilt anybody about anything. It makes sense that Teo's brain operates under a completely different and inversed equations and rules of causation. He feels terrible. Deckard's making him feel terrible. His scowl, when it comes, is half-hearted at best, folds too swiftly into misery that huddles and whimpers in the cold.

They aren't bigger fish. He hates the insinuation, unspoken though it is. They're just different fish, ones that school with him, and because— bebecause of that, they "I can't fucking change this, okay?" He's talking too loud, and he knows he's talking too loud. "She isn't Phoenix. I've probably already — I shouldn'tve…" his throat moves uncomfortably above the line of his sweater's collar.

Irritation lances his face with color. "Are you going to help or not?"

It's probably physically impossible for Deckard to see Teo's bones moving under the shadow of his skin when he finally looks up, as vivid blue to him as his vision is to Teo. And yet!

His scowl is heavier, more contemptuous. There's no pity on his side of the roof, for Abby, or Teo, or himself. All of the above could probably stand to have a 2x4 taken to the backs of their heads. He's well aware, but the rising volume of on the part of current company is enough to inspire a rankle at his damaged nose all the same. Maybe Teo deserves it more.

"You're right, she isn't." He can get loud too, the inhumanity of his glare lending more of a threat to the step he takes forward than he might actually intend. "Just like she's not my fucking daughter. She's some random insane person that's always there to patch people up and keep them from dying until she isn't because she gets kidnapped and you have other things to do."

And Teo isn't his son, either, but there's an unmistakably childish aspect of petulance to the jut of the younger man's jaw as he's chastised on terms that he doesn't intellectually understand. His heels swivel outward a fraction of an inch, widening his base of balance as if expecting some physical assault he could bear up under if he just dug his boots in.

It's all crap. Being linked to the fucking FBI in a whorehouse and the Angry Pelican, and losing the girl he loves and the stupid boy he was in love with and trying to chair a terrorist organization by himself when Homeland Security has its telepath operating out of the same room as his only remaining mole because the other one is dead or caught and his sex life is confusing so why is Deckard yelling at him? "I said.

"I said I'd do my best. Okay? Don't answer: that was a fucking rhetorical question.

"I'll— I had airport security checked, I got the fucking cops. I got a fucking psychometrist to crap a lead together because there were no fucking witnesses, and — I'm trying." Teo doesn't know what disgusts him more: the fact that he was pushed to constructing a defense that sounds plausible to his ears, or that he constructed a defense that actually sounds plausible to his ears. "What the fuck?"

"Your best sucks." Crosstalk — the coarse sneer of Deckard's voice cuts across Teo's assertion that it wasn't a rhetorical question. Abigail's still missing, he didn't even notice for five days, and now here he is enlisting the help of Flint Deckard on a rooftop in the middle of the fucking Rookery. His advance halts almost as soon as it's begun. As soon as Teo shifts his weight. Maaaybe not that interested in starting shit after all. Not with the damage he's already dealing with.

He listens to the rest angrily, but without opening his mouth again save to breathe, fog spilling past his teeth at a huffing, irregular pace. His look hardens still further, but Teo doesn't explode or burst into flames. The instant bone starts to peel away from itself into nothing, there's a reversion — a quick, automatic backstep that leaves Teo with less dignity than he'd probably like right now. He's trying, he says.

"Fffuck." Flint's head snaps aside, emphatic behind the lash of a word used more aptly here than is usual for him. "The cops have been a great help so far, Teo. Good thinking. Is Felix on the job yet? Maybe if he plays his cards right he can get another fucking medal out of it."

Five days. No— /four. It was four. Four fucking days. Teo's counted them enough times to have it down to an approximate count of hours. He opens his mouth to point this out, but his jaw clacks shut the next moment and his head jerks away to direct his eyes across rooftops rusted and weather-worn. He beat a forty-year-old man with a busted face into a hasty retreat back to the edge of a roof. He's a regular Goddamn hero.

His eyes are too dry for crying. The best alternative seems to be crumbling into dust and blowing away, but Deckard's gaze seems to lack the strength, so he's left installed on his feet and steeled for a fight that isn't coming, that's already passed, an opportunity missed, countless mistakes and oversights accumulated over the course of ninety-six hours, overflowing his available err margin and staining the page.

He knows where it started, give or take a few hours. "She said she'd call," he grates out, finally. "I had her flight itinerary. She was flying home, she said she'd call when she landed. So…

"I fucking forgot. I just forgot. I know I fucked up. I'll do better. If we can get her back, I'll — what the fuck can I say, Deckard?" Nothing! Nothing. He supplies the answer in a pointless fling of arms, outward, expansive, a pointless paroxysm of humiliation and exasperation that ends with his hands tight around his buzzed-short head, a long breath that burns white in the black of evening.

Sounds like the people downstairs are done dying or whatever. Not quite enviable but, Teo thinks to himself, dramatically, close.

Deckard is losing steam. He's had his bluff called on the physical end of things and he's running out of ways to inform Teo that this is a shitty situation, in case he didn't already know. Mostly it's becoming rapidly apparent that yelling isn't actually doing anything aside from making him feel tired. And kind of old. The tylenol he took a couple of hours ago is wearing off to make things even better.

What can he say? Deckard shrugs a shoulder, the gesture oddly lax in the context of so much tension and generalized hate. Profound, truly.

"I dunno."

He really doesn't. Confusion knits between his brows, familiar lines lacking the furious energy that defined them five minutes ago. His mouth hangs open, breathing slowed back to a steadier, smoother rate of operation. "I'll keep an eye out."

Teo, on the other hand, was getting progressively more and more worked up the more and more the old man was grinding his heel in and now that it's ground in all the way, some loathsome, fetid and discoloring infection is spreading, under his skin, and probability seems thin that he's going to get it out in time to go to sleep tonight. His eyes are shiny raw and his hands are knotted into fists that have nothing to swing it.

He's off in his own little world for a moment that would be awkward by the measure of normal conversational pauses. Misses it, when Deckard shrugs, but the verbal response serves well enough.

It's good to be young. When you run out of adrenaline, there are plenty of other biochemicals to start burning, and then Bible pages when you're out of those. It doesn't escape Teo's basic intellect and perceptive powers that this conversation is approaching a conclusion. He can't physically or mentally organize himself into moving away or a new destination, just yet, but he parses enough cues and emotional flux to assemble something that functions as a salutation.

"You still have my number?"

"Yeah." He still has his number.

It's hard to look dull-eyed when yours glow in the dark, but Deckard manages it in the hazy lack of direction they take on when he gets tired of looking at Teo and opts to look a few feet to the right of him instead. There's not even anything over there worth looking at. It's just, you know. Valuable on account of being space that isn't occupied by Italian.

Abigail's missing. Mystery people whisked her off in a hippie van.

A rapid flicker centers Deckard's gaze back on Teo long enough to check him over one more time. Once he's determined that the younger man's heart hasn't exploded or anything, he turns his back on him to peer blandly out over the roof's edge. Maybe the guy down there is still breathing.

February 11th: Spill
February 12th: Routine Stigma
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