Easy Objectivity


francois_icon.gif teo_icon.gif

Scene Title Easy Objectivity
Synopsis Francois and Teo look for places for Team Charlie to stay, plot a little on how to keep Team Charlie together, and compare mornings.
Date December 10, 2009

An Apartment Complex, Ryazan

Soap and smog quarrel at the open window. Soap's closer, so it dominates for now, but Teo's under no illusions: spend another ten minutes in this room, and your senses will adapt to the one thing as quickly as to the other. The fact one can't smell smoke anymore hardly mean the regularity of the traffic has no influence on the color inside one's lungs. (Also, he's smokin, but it's been a few weeks; he's allowed.)

The factory isn't exactly in the apartment complex's backyard, but close enough that a supply truck and the concierge (Ie., underpaid part-time rotation of college students from the nearby university) seem to be sharing the same kerchief-sized slab of frost-rimed concrete that constitutes the parking lot. Parking lots. The balcony is roughly the size of a flower pot— the sort of flower pot you'd pot a sizeable Jurassic-style hotel lobby fern in, that is, and ergo big enough, but just big enough for him and perhaps two others to squeeze out and enjoy the 'view.'

Parking lot. Factory, sort of a giant monochromatic fire hydrant squatting between bunched warehouses, cheap restaurants. It's really only a stone's throw to the nearest tourist spot— a handsome church with its bouquet of cross-topped onion domes, or lukovichnaya glava as they're called here, paint and copper vibrancy and photogenic towers. It's nice to think there's something nice nearby. It's nice to know, to see more people around because of it.

For all its quaint charms and quietude (and the salted herring), the Spektor home's suburbs had yielded Teodoro only short-lived comfort. He had always been a Palermo city boy, even before wide spaces, uncurtained windows, and stationary addresses began to concern him for other, less aesthetic, more barbaric professional rather than personal reasons. Y'know. Even Zhukovsky's spying eye in the ceiling aside.

"What do you think?" he asks over his shoulder. Ash drips off the end of his cigarette at the bob timed to the syllables of inquiry.

The Spektor house isn't a home, as generous as it is. He'd been quick to agree to Teo's wanderlust, in that Francois is prone to restlessness as well, migration coming natural, whether it be moving across Ryazan or across the United States, Louisiana to New York - he drove it or the same approximation once, teleported another time. He'd only ever written in
journals when traveling, and he wrote a lot of pages.

"I once stayed in a building with two separate families. I shared a bed with three strangers, and our coats did more to keep us warm than the linens or the hearth downstairs. You perhaps don't want my opinion - I am easily pleased."

His voice echoes a little at the start, becomes more grounded as Francois moves towards the balcony and away from whatever room he'd been poking his head into. Now, he glances past Teo towards the view, with its huddled up industrial shapes rubbing shoulders with the tourist attractions, ornamental baubles of buildings. "It is fine. We won't be here long, regardless. They've all agreed this is a wise decision?"

"Ambivalence is setting in," Teo answers, grudgingly, his mouth sealing itself in a line nearly as straight as the cigarette he'd had to fix between his fingers, it'd been squashed so long in its neglected box. It's getting hard to talk with it in his lips, though, whatever facetious obscenities one might draw from that. He pulls it out between dense-knuckled ring-finger and middle, rubs cold out of his nose and heated particulate out through his teeth. Turns around, hip still skewed lazy against wrought iron.

"I think Abigail feels safer under the fucking Company's watch. Not sure about Cat. Felix, I think, would be a fan of moving because of his hangups on roommates. And various other topics. Don't know about Liz…

"I d'no; they seemed amenable I was making statements the other night, but," a shrug rocks through his jacketed shoulders, and an errant gust of wind flips his overhanging hood up against the back of his bristly skull. He could probably use a haircut, soon, but he's either growing it out or distracted by something about their recent calendar of activities. "Soon as they turn into questions, there are other considerations."

Francois folds his arms, the stiff denim of his jacket lined tight with wooly fabric beneath making that awkward to do around the elbows, hood lying flat against his shoulderblades. "Oui, Catherine and Felix agreed." Elisabeth, Francois doesn't know either. Ethan is his own man. Abigail—

Is presumably her own woman, but he tilts his chin up some in a subtle show of displeasure, making a throat sound that's supposed to be neutral as he scuffs a heel against the cheap carpeting underfoot. Not quite as itchy as stubble left behind from hasty shaving, hand up to scratch his jaw as he talks. "I am not used to working in groups, but reason says we should stay together. There is no reason Abigail cannot feel safe under our watch, non? I can talk to her."

Could you? Teo's grin is wholesome and bright but is accompanied with a significant, lifted eyebrow that snags slightly like the sleeve of a sweater on a nail. Nothing sharp or infectiously tetanus. Only, there's a playful question that hearkens back to a somewhat less comfortable conversation. What with all the snow. And the territorial boundaries pissed around the girl in question. Teo doesn't even mention it aloud, though. "If you could? I'd rather not, for some reason. But I'm with you on that one.

"I'd feel better if she was with us." His eye flits along the oblique angle of Francois' jaw, judging the length of the inchoate beard from the shade of the gradient it forms down the lilt of the older man's cheekbones. There's harmless curiosity in Teo's eyes that Francois has seen before: on him, on other women, perhaps other men; a half-formed thought about texture that almost warms the icicled striations of his irises. "Though I wouldn't recommend bringing up the whole one bed and coats thing when you do."

Yes, he could, is a response to the unspoken question with a slightly cool look sent back the Sicilian's way, if one above a small enough smile. Warms again soon enough, gaze ducking if from the prickle of a curious look or shyness about what he should and shouldn't bring up. "Ah… perhaps she will be convinced if I say that she will feel better if we were with her," is relatively good humoured, one shoulder shrugging up as he paces forward, paces back.

"I cannot promise she will listen, only that I will say something."

Teo drops his head, his most agreeable agreement. Takes another drag, huffing a translucent mushroom of smoke out around the side of his hand, squinting slightly when the familiar sting of errant tendrils sneaks into his eye. Neh. "I might say it again if she doesn't.

"After that, I guess— we'll have done what we could. I think I'll come out here anyway. Here, or—" He vagues a gesture over his shoulder at Ryazan's skyline. "Somewhere around. I'm sure she'll feel better if you stay with her. Won't be surprised if Liz and Felix do too; she has that effect on people." Not one he's about to bemoan, evidently; he saves drawing lines in sand for different kinds of decisions, and his ego's made of sterner stuff than that.

"Did you hear?" Teo is apparently in no rush to come back inside for once. Possibly has something to do with the smoke detector installed against the ceiling. "Kozlow caught a rusalka by the toe. Or vice versa."

Francois tips his head a little to the left, easy concession that no, likely not the only person who might have a stake in keeping an eye on recent most healer. There's not much heat in the building anyway to be let out through the perpetually open window, and Francois isn't complaining, as much as a temporary distance is maintained either from the chill or the curls of acrid smoke leaking from burning embers and nostrils.

They discovered it was bad for you pretty late. He was around for that revelation. Still, that doesn't stop him leaning his body forward a fraction at that last comment, bafflement open and honest on his face for a moment. "Pardon?" is an automatic query, but Francois shakes his head a moment later, dismissing the idea that he misheard.

"Grigori?" is a guess, a question. "What happened?"

Good guess, practically answers itself, judging from the wrinkle that bridges the long nose Teo had inherited off part-Finn daddy, may son somehow resent father yet retain vanity forever. He shakes his head and fans ashes with a splay of ring and pinkie fingers. "Kozlow wanted to meet at the ironworks, God knows why. Blond bitch came out demanding help and grabbing hands at him, wearing this— flimsy white shit. Felix said 'rusalka,' suddenly everybody was saying 'rusalka,' throwing snow and crosses around. Kozlow and Fel tried to protect Abby.

"I got in close to her. The homicidal mermaid. Got in with no problem, but there was something— fuckin' weird going on. I could see and hear through her, but nothing else. Olfactory, gustatory, tactile, nothing exactly like that, though there was— I don't know, something else floating around. Anyway: suddenly a blizzard came out of the sucking sphincter of Hell," he illustrates with a wave of a long, callus-notched hand, maps the fluency of the wind with fingers curled around the swipe of talons. "Even the rusalka couldn't see a thing. I found Felix, Felix found Abby, but Kozlow got dragged out. Afterward, the car's tires were gutted.

"Neither of ours got hurt, but Abigail's in a mood now." Teo's hand falls to his side, and he examines his cigarette briefly, checking the progress of its burning. "Think the adrenaline might have kindled the fuse on Ivanov's tampon, too. Which is preferably to the sodden alternative." It's not a bad joke; a needless one, maybe. "D'no about Kozlow," he adds, growing gruffer in doing so; Teo's eyes slant across the wall. "Didn't want to get separated from the others."

Good guess, if only because it's a subject turned fresh in his mind. Francois stands and blinks owlish as if in silent communication of are you fucking with me?, if inevitably politer, but he shuts up and listens, and doesn't bat an eyelash at colourful additions to what would otherwise ba reasonably surreal briefing all on its own. He relaxes a little when there's news of no one getting hurt, lifting a hand to rub at his forehead.

Drop again, revealing that he'd hidden a smile behind sleeve, and mirth manages to trickle out in a weary chuckle. "They threw snow? A bad idea - it would have made her more powerful. I was reading folklore on the rusalka just this morning, and I made Ethan come with me. I look forward to telling him we were only late, not foolish."

Not that they weren't Francois wasn't foolish too. "The woman at the clinic, Lyuba Kolosova, she said that Kozlow has seen a rusalka. I thought it might be worth seeing why Grigori would choose this for him."

"Ivanov was talking about them before," Teo says, his brow creasing slightly at the recollection. "Pissed off dead girls, in want of vengeance— doesn't seem like a bad way to antagonize a man untimely bereaved and incapable of confronting the ones who did it. That roughly what you picked out of the library, or..?" A beat's pause.

Determining that his cigarette's finally had it, he drops the yellow stump down onto the snow beside his foot. Squashes his boot heel down onto it, squirming the rubber sole against it until the slow burn is roughed to sooty nothing. Everybody smokes in Russia, so Teodoro isn't honestly concerned about incurring a fine; won't give it a second thought unless he catches a blink from Francois upon lifting his gaze. "Holden in a library. How'd you manage that?"

No blinking, at least nothing deliberate. "That is about the most of it. Murdered women, or suicide victims, but so many stories— there is no point in confusing them. The simplest explanation is the most correct, often enough. But it is as you say - you don't know about Kozlow." Smile at his eyes, again, mildly facetious, and Francois shrugs his shoulders as he wanders forward a step. "Holden reads. But I suspect he came with me so he could tell me I was wasting my time."

More exasperation than resentment, aged amusement. "I told him, as long as I am doing so constructively. I am sorry that I missed the excitement."

With a pause for thought and a pang of ~facetious~ realization, Teo remembers. The Englishman does read. More than Twilight, even, which is— better than just Twilight, according to his understanding of the text. "You're right.

"Probably about both those things. No need to apologize," he adds, offering the older man half a smile. He places his left hand back into his pockets again, reminded that his fingers are cold now that they're unoccupied. He points his feet toward ingress and steers them in on an arrhythmic arpeggio of strides on snow, pauses to drag the plateglass shut with his other hand.

It's suddenly quiet. Very quiet: the sealed-in kind. The walls aren't particularly thick, just traffic has that way about carrying itself, ostentatious until it is so abruptly gone. Teo floats his gaze somewhere around the region of Francois' ankles, his brows in a riddler's knit. "I feel like a dick talking about Kozlow. I didn't like him, now he's probably dead."

"He made it difficult to like him," Francois agrees, mildly, his voice taking on a new level of unobstrusive, with the sliding door shut to the outside noise. Still, lilting syllables fill the room easily, sandpaper dry to hear if not particularly rough. The past tense doesn't even have to support the theory of death. As ever, about everything, they don't know. "I could have, I think, beyond what he did for me."

Head tilt, as if trying to pick up blue eyed gaze with his green, sympathy suddenly settling its presence upon his forever carefully constructed expressions. Which makes it deliberate, but not necessarily insincere. "You believe you could have saved him?"

Teo did not actually expect this from the Frenchman, who undoubtedly owed — owes — the missing man more than all of the other operatives in Team Charlie together. If stone petrification hadn't been enough to bring Francois peace and silence, or at least final darkness, God knows what could have spared him an eternity of shouting in his dungeon. Abby's horrified and terrified for Kozlow, of course. Felix has given him up for dead. Danielle is so near to Catherine's thoughts, these days, grief or fear will come easy to her, too.

Even that aside, it's awkward admitting to disliking a dude who's probably dead, and Teodoro grows ungainly under the weight of self-awareness. He chugs his shoulders once: a shrug that's altogether too readable. "Could've tried to follow him. Orlova, too, after the attack in town.

"I pussed out. Both times. Now we have less than a fortnight left, and we're one POI down. It just kind of sucks, you know?" Teo lifts his brows briefly, making light of underexaggeration. A moment's idle silence is a moment he spends making a brief walk through the surrounding apartments. All's still: chicken noodle on a hot plate, a gardening television program burbling in the local dialect, baby napping in its pram. All's safe; all's well.

"Nothing about any of this is good." Understatement, spoken with some of the gravity it deserves. Francois peels his feet up off from where he's been standing as steady as when he'd been a statue that one time; paces across the room. "You could not have saved him, without risking the others." It's a soldier's reassurance, similar to something wolfish too, pack mentality, and nothing Teo won't already know if he hasn't already accepted it.

Easy objectivity. "Besides, missing is better than dead. Uncertainty and possibility. We should find him if we can, if there is time. If not because he needs rescuing, but to retrieve what there is left to retrieve."

That'll be fun. Peeling the slimy bits of ruptured Kozlow off the asphalt. Teo makes a face, closes his eyes briefly, squeezes them, reopens with a lopsided grin exposing incisors and bunny teeth along the left side of his mouth.

They are in agreement. Had been, even before the Sicilian had opened his mouth to explain. Easy objectivity. Knowing it is easy, but certainty is a luxury as much as wondering about it is a waste of time. Somehow, his younger and somewhat more flagrantly guilt-prone analogue had understood that better than this Teo does. "Si.

"Though until then, I think we need to get you a razor and an audience with demoiselle Beauchamp, eh?" He swivels and aligns his head to point pale eyes out of the doorway.

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