Eighth Plague


joseph_icon.gif teo_icon.gif

Scene Title Eighth Plague
Synopsis A certain infestation of bug is discussed over dinner, and other things like break ins, feelings and paintings are thrown into the conversational mix also.
Date August 3, 2009

Old Lucy's: Upstairs

Teodoro brought groceries. This invites scrutiny for the precise same reason that it dissuades that: it's two-thirty AM in the Goddamn morning. Nothing's open, not under curfew, unless you might've forced it so with whatever required cavalcade of lock-picks and crowbars and ninja-black grocery baskets are necessary to the task. On the other hand, sneaking groceries passed armed National Guard checkpoints is probably less the thing than translocating a former fugitive, and Pastor Joseph Sumter had received due notice via cellular technology. That Teo was coming. And, victim of a self-immolating metabolism, hadn't eaten for hours.

Whether because there was a note off in the pastor's tone or because he was being blondly inattentive, Teo hadn't asked why he was still awake. Life operates at unconventional hours and through exigent circumstances, for the Ferry and its sundry satellites. It's been said. Life is hard. Fraught with tension, hard on the human heart.

So's high-carb comfort food, on the flip-side. Low-spoken salutations and ten minutes later, Teo's actually tossing shrimp in with the white wine, the butter long since reduced from its stumpy stick state to a simmering lake of imperfect translucency, a constellation of parsley popping around between iridescent yellow bubbles and mushrooms rolling around like buttons. The pasta's nearly done boiling, currently subject to the speculation of Alicia's wrinkling nose.

Joseph's not tired at all, which— perhaps he should be. Circadian rhythm thrown off its beat, having slept away most of the afternoon and earlier evening upon Phoebe's departure and his getting his dog back. He couldn't actually tell you where Flint has disappeared to, either, but this seems to be the natural order of things for now - he's not being monitored by the man, after all.

Not only did he bring a Newfoundland back with him, he also brought a Bible, currently resting upon the table top, blue leather and gold lettering, cover side down for the meantime. It would be rude to read while someone is cooking you dinner. It's also rude to stare, which Joseph is, a little, but only when Teo's back is turned, boring holes through his shoulder blades in thoughtful eyeing. Cop killer, and all that. Although at the moment, Joseph's occupied in feeding the dog - a hygienic distance from where Teo is cooking, Joseph shovels dry dog food into a plastic bowl. If they can have dinner at bizarre hours, so can she.

"'licia, c'mere," Joseph says, rattling the biscuits around, in an effort to tempt her away from the scent of cooking, and there's some heavy pawed reluctance in her trot on over, when the bowl is lowered down. A firm pat against her side has Joseph moving to clean his hands once he's done, to the sound of crunching behind him. "Flint mentioned you'd be able to help out, though he never said you'd cook too."

The pastor's regularly-scheduled staring is duly interrupted, then, if not by the dog's grudging acquiescence then by the Sicilian peering back over his shoulder. "I wanted to see if I could remember, mostly," he admits. Scratches his chin across the top of his shoulder, once, before turning it back. Metal clinks, scrapes, cast iron shuffling cast iron, effacing away the fleck-a-fleck stains residual from the dishwasher that currently sits quiescent below his knee. "I've never cooked with or for Dex before.

"The whole, 'Ahi ahi accidenti, there's a random psycho threatening to put hurt to my people' thing is more our style. You might've guessed." Heat transfers between mass, entropy botches protein beyond all hope of recapturing the subtle chemistries of life, and all of the strandy grain and the seafood that used to kick around in a sea, or at least a prettily laminated glass facsimile thereof. Abruptly, the stove's click-clacking off, and the pasta is draining water out down a swirl at the bottom of the sink, and steam up toward the low gray of the ceiling.

"Right." That word comes out stilted, abashed in some ways, not the least of which due to a conversation in which he was soundly lectured in front of a male friend. Joseph shuffles towards the fridge, opening it with the sound of the seal reluctantly peeling itself away, and inspecting the contents not for the fifth time tonight, but more specific - skimming over the box of cold pizza, the notable lack of left over Chinese, the milk still yet to go bad, before landing on the row of brown glass bottles squirreled away into the corner. "Want a beer or anything?"

Joseph himself is taking out a bottle of water, twisting off the cap in a fidgeting motion as he goes to add, "I feel like I should apologise, up front. I didn't intend to lead the wolves to your door or anythin' like that— that would be the last thing I ever intended." In case anyone thought otherwise.

It takes Teo a few seconds to switch out of the grimly diligent mode of clawing intelligible bits out of Side B on his psychically encoded memory map and pay proper attention to what's going on. He sniffs. Rubs the cuff of a shirt sleeve up the side of his nose, squints sidelong, back at the pastor, having turned in a tiny circle on his sneakers like a cat. "Water's good." It isn't exactly a lie, or if it is, it's one that comes from a good place. "And I think— from the sounds of it?

"We brought the wolves to yours. Or at least— got teeth out of them. Uncomfortable kind of technicality. I'm sorry too." Click. One heavy bowl of sauce, before a splay of kitchen tongs is racking against the ridgy texture of the strainer's curvatured inside. "You're handling it really well, all things told. My ex went on crying alcohol binges the first few times shi— bad— things hit," he stumbles, catches his balance, finishes lame but roughly righted out, grins a little, foolishly.

Crying alcohol binges. Joseph has his back to Teo, reaching into the fridge at that point, a wince crossing his face directed at no one but the magic refrigerator light. Well, he didn't cry. So. There's that. "I dunno." He nudges the fridge closed, holds out the bottled water for the other man with a nod of 'here you go', before he's moving to retrieve the appropriate cutlery for the food, making his neat but slightly unfamiliar way about the kitchen, a few false starts with wrenching the wrong cupboard door open.

"Not sure if he found out about the Ferry before the church or the other way around. Regardless. I shoulda been more careful. I dunno in what way, exactly— hopin' to find that out."

The continual crunchcrunch of dog food continues to underscore the conversation, Alicia's large muzzle nudging the bowl accidentally across the kitchen tile, slowly moving with each attempted bite of food. Apparently a normal occurrence, Joseph isn't rushing to help her out, simply stepping around the massive dog as he moves for the table. "But thanks. Flint reckons I should get used to it if I'm gonna be— stayin' with it."

Teo's hands are propped up on the shoulders of one dining chair, until Joseph sees fit to proffer him a water bottle to use. He cracks it open like teeth, and cracks a smile to go with it. "Thanks." In the style of one unused to having much assistance with — or company for — eating, Teo ends up hanging around uselessly on his feet, just off the corner of the table, looking slightly enormous and out of place, though his enormity and oddity is greatly reduced by the great furred companion to his right.

"Flint's probably right about that. Water's getting pretty h… uh— metaphors aside— unregistered Evolved are becoming a bigger political issue every damn day. You're probably going to get a few creeps like the one who showed up at the church.

"There are precautions you can take, sure. To keep your place safe to speak in," a stilted pause, pale eyes darting into the drawers Joe's hands are fishing through. "Bug-sweeps, probably for starters. For the radio stuff, you can crap together an oscilloscope relatively cheap to scan rooms by hand— or ask Wireless real pretty. Optical bugs, you can detect by setting a digital camera to infrared and snapping the windows. Point of contact with a laser mic will show up as big red blob. Then comes the funny, awkward process of talking casually all through the search process so potential listeners don't catch on what's up" not a task you'd recruit your husband Flint Deckard for, maybe, unless maybe, you had him pinned particularly good and were trying to stress some spectacularly difficult questions out of him. Not that Teo would've— "and figuring out how to feed them misinformation afterward…

"Stuff you should probably know. If," a slight duck of his head, uncertain whether he ought to be apologizing for the assumption or whether he's running the risk of affront by implying otherwise, "if you're going to be staying with it."

There's a rustle of metal as Joseph rifles through the drawers for two forks that match, out of an unconscious sense of order, glancing towards Teo and politely silent throughout the explanation. To say he takes it all in would be a lie and an exaggeration— kids and their toys these days— but he nods, understands, looks relieved as to what such procedures might imply. Curing whatever plague of electronia, bugs of radio feed rather than the locust kind, has descended on his church.

His church. Speaking of which— "Most days, the senior pastor doesn't come round, not unless there's a service going. I haven't exactly enlightened him 'bout the Ferry, so— I can probably set somethin' up so the place is empty, after hours maybe," Joseph explains, setting out the cutlery and stepping back so Teo can take it from there, a hand up to scratch the back of his neck, fidgety.

"I do. I mean— " He eases out a sigh. "I wouldn't be fulfillin' my duties as a pastor one way or another, if I was too scared to do anythin' effective that'd help my flock, or puttin' 'em in danger. Kind of a no win situation, but…" But, you know, when is a situation ever win-win?

When your side is the one that holds all the cards and the electronic bugging equipment or clairsentients and can get away with roughing up priests and big cuddly wuddly doggies, maybe. From where the Sicilian is standing around, it looks like they hold all the cards and are being belligerently callus about balancing the stakes.

Locating and dislocating the bugs will be one thing. What the bugs are going to indicate about the listeners is another. Suppose there aren't any? Audiokinetics— an Evolved ground team— ?

Or suppose there are, and they're the latest engineered for the People's Liberation Army of China— and — and. "It'll be fun," Teo reassures, or wryly tries to. He lays out cutlery with the plates. "Gadgets are fun. Make you feel like a Godda— a ninja. I'll work something out for round one, if you like, but it's something that might actually make you feel better to get to do yourself, eventually. Hands on and stuff. Y'know.

"Please sit." He flattens a pointer out of his hand, inviting. Finally remembers to take a sip of water as he's settling down, himself, his posture not quite as ramrod straight as the ghost's sort of pathologically was, but a cut above the cagey hangdoggish slouch that Teo never quite grew out of. Button-dot mushroom caps show out of the pasta, and there is a pleasant redolence of sage. Mice move in the bones of the sewer below the blacked-out bar. This is all very weird, somehow. "May I ask what happened?"

Joseph sits. It's been a weird past few days. This is a certainly heightened patch of surreal but not quite a departure. As if getting smacked around in your own living room only to tag along after Deckard a few hours later in the wee hours is akin to falling down the rabbit hole. In this production, Teo could be the Mad Hatter, except that makes Joseph into Alice, so never mind. He's only read that book once, anyway.

"Yeah," Joseph says, and picking up a fork, though not immediately attacking the food, rotating the utensil around a little as he thinks on how to go about explaining. It's not comfortable, for him. A balance between downplaying it to make sure people don't worry without making himself out to sound more heroic, more competent than he really is. "Alright. I got home late, and— mostly nothin' happened 'til I found my dog," the one currently peering over at them, now that her dinner is eaten with a few snaps of her maw, "unconscious. He used a tranq, or somethin'."

Bastard. "Then he wanted to talk about you, actually." Surprise. Joseph glances across the table at Teo, apology not something that needs to be voiced. It's in his expression and tone of voice. "He knew about— that time when I brought you to the church. Knew what you— " Oh hey, awkward. The next words come out mumbled. "What you were doing. And about Flint. I figure he was splashing around information, tryin' to make a point about what he knew."

Intimidation and menacing! Of dog and well-intended pastor. Teo scowls at this notion, his shoulders coming up like a dog— if only one that isn't Alicia, would shove up its hackles in affront. "Shit," he says, this time without hyphenated interruption.

Bastard is right. It offends Teo somewhat less that he was a topic of interest, what with his other analogue's rather gratuitous use of his reputation in weeks prior. Really, psychotic animal abuser staking out a church is the least of his issues. "Nasty fucking piece of work, whoever he is.

"Sounds like he knew what he was doing. Surveillance," Teo squints down at the shelled parts of the shrimp, tries to keep his voice factual, as if he were commenting on the objective merits of a painting. Composition, rule-of-thirds. Palette, use of complementaries. Less with the screaming terror of abstractions, which Joseph seems to have an admirable hand on, honestly. "Handling himself. You get a look at him, or find out what he— wants? Doesn't sound like any cop I've ever heard of."

"He wore a mask, like one of those— ski mask, things," Joseph says, with a shake of his head, fork stabbing a button sized mushroom with most restlessness than hunger, although yes, he is eating too. It's less of a priority than talking, fork tangling in pasta as his brow furrows in recollection. Most of it being a moderate blur of shadow and tipping gravity upon the few times of falling to his knees. Deeper bruises than the fainter marks on his face twinge beneath his hair.

Getting knocked out is lame. He takes a sip of water, then shakes his head. "So, didn't catch a look at 'im, no. I dunno— what he wants, not exactly. Not in practical terms, anyway." He spares Teo the melodramatics, cuts to, "He mentioned the Ferry." Regret returns in the tone of his voice, that he has to admit that the Guiding Light's become a gate not only for those that need it. "Not sure what that portends, but, I figure you should know."

The Ferry. Teo lets dismay register on his face, although he doesn't pull the corners of his mouth all the way down past his jaw and rope a huge snarl of holyshitohmygod teeth out or anything. The pastor probably already figures he's being coddled, a little, between the elliptical questioning and the gratuitous application of food. Only one bite of which Teo's actually managed to eat, between sitting himself down and this point in the process of listening. It doesn't portend anything good. "Okay. I'll let the higher-ups know there's someone looking."

Hana's going to be delighted. He can hear Grace's irritation now, scratchy out the ruined line of her throat. "Unless you've warned them already? Or anyone else who was mentioned? Deckard said— a little about Abigail," Teo ties off rather lamely, hooding his eyes down into the bowl. Mind you, the old graverobber had made it quite clear (eye-watering) that his concluding question had been far more personal in nature, but the topics got kind of muddy and Teodoro Laudani is kind of pathologically wont to be conerned about the Southern girl.

"No, no. I mean— Flint said to talk to you or Grace." So. A mild gesture with his fork, designed to indicate, this would be me warning 'higher-ups'. Or a shortcut to them. Good enough, or perhaps not - there's some nervousness in the glance away that there are things Joseph should have done quicker, or smarter. But. That's also a given. "He mentioned Abby's name, and I think he called her. I don't know why but one moment I'm out like a light and then I got Alicia tryna wake me up and the cops at my door, and that Abby called 'em. I'm just glad she's in Louisiana. Otherwise— "

He shrugs once, gaze tracking away in thought. "I think that's the only names he mentioned. You, Flint, Abby. But he— he wound up talkin' to a friend of mine too. Phoebe Thornton," he adds, in a tone that suggests maybe it's not a totally anonymous name. Rich people, and all. "She's been helpin' out with the Guiding Light, got involved in the Ferry too. I don't know who else he got a hold of, if he went through my things, my phone."

This would be him waah-ha-hawh—oh. Teo stops looking down at himself, reassured that there was no accidental batter splatter on his sweater or anything, and nods his head to show that he understands, a sympathetic curl to the corner of his mouth, hapless in a tired sort of way, when reminded that Miss Beauchamp is far away and safe from localized clusterfucks. For now. Give him a few minutes, he'll start worrying how far these unseen enemies' have their feelers stretched.

His eyes snap down toward the likeliest location of phone, for a brief moment. Thoughtful. Alarmed. "Appreciate it if you'd go through your phonebook, last and missed calls with me after this?" he requests in his most politest bestest good Catholic boy voice, a small V of a grin tucking the corners of his mouth, briefly, before he looks down at his plate again. Phoebe Thornton. Sounds familiar, but he can only place in his head the vague impression of blocky headline print, no details, not a photograph.

"D'you've…" He drags his head upright, leans forward a fraction of a degree, elbow on the table, the focus on his face and posture refining to a point that he presses as far as politeness possibly allows. "Do you have any enemies? Does the Guiding Light Church? 'S anyone given your people trouble before, that you can think of— anyone at all?"


"Flint doesn't count."

Well hey that gets a flicker of a smile, crinkling amusement. "Well. We got vandalised a couple of months ago, but otherwise it's been alright. Nothing vocal. Just some— " A vague handgesture to indicate the front face of the Guiding Light church, which isn't present to gesture to, but it's a good effort. "Humanis First, anti-Evolved grafitti that we got cleaned up pretty quick. It's the nature of the beast, I guess— the Light's got some attention on it. It's the only pro-Evolved Baptist church in the area, so there's bound to be backlash.

"This ain't what I had in mind." Another shoveling mouthful of food, and then Joseph nods to him. "I checked through my phone— he didn't make any calls from it, or anythin'. I figure if there was anythin' he did, it was take some details from it. I'm gonna be callin' up anyone who seems likely, an' make sure they're okay. This is good by the way." The food, as Joseph gathers another fork full. "Guess you remembered how after all."

The Janus thing has yet to leave his mind, but it seems impolite to ask: are you one person now?

"Whatever more he did, with callin' people or whatever, he'd knocked me out before the fact. He sort of— " There's a shy head duck, and guilty satisfaction that feels far more shameful than anything else they've discussed so far. It doesn't carry too obvious in his voice, however. "He was going to put me down like he did the dog, but I kind of— you remember what it was like, when you got a vision?" A gesture. Fill in the blank, in the story. "I think that may have pissed him off some."

Probably just as well Joseph doesn't ask. Teo wouldn'tve been entirely sure how to answer. There's enough of one man in him that he'd feel bad about lying to a priest, enough of the other that he'd see some necessity in doing so. "'S what I meant," he answers, a rueful half a grin on his face. "I'm wondering who he might have checked out. Even if he hasn't called or made contact with them, he might. I don't know what he was doing, giving you— this heads-up," Teo adds, a pensive frown lining his face. He lances a shrimp through the banded plumpness of its midsection. "But it might be something we should use while we can."

Naturally, the negative effect that Danko's unwanted vision apparently had on the man himself is directly proportional to the lift of Teo's mood.

"Huh." He grins. Stops grinning. The hollows below his cheekbones twitch dangerously, zoom in before he catches himself with a deep breath. Last time he got a terrible vision, it came true. Quelling that moment's malice, Teo settles down, his shoulders hiking above the edge of the table. It's bad manners, propping your elbows up, but his mother would complain about other things first. Another beat, and his throttled mirth fades out proper. "You could be more scared to go back, after a threat like that."

Malice is bad manners too, technically, and so Joseph attempts not to share in mirth, and it's not too hard. A rueful smile in the younger man's direction, gaze ducking back towards his pasta. Appetite having dispersed like smoke some time ago, he's not quick to take another bite, his elbows resting against the table as well, hands clasped over his bowl, thumb rubbing circles against his palm in a continual fidget.

"You kidding? What do you think I'm doin' here, if I wasn't scared? Or scared enough, anyway, to count as 'more'. You know the girls dance on the bar down there and everythin'?" This, apparently, adds to the dire nature of his stay. Joseph is meant to be a church leader, and all.

A nod, more of a chin up. "If you want I can give you the names an' numbers of the people who might've got in touch with, but I figure it'd save time if I did that myself, let you know if he had. Don't get me wrong, it ain't like I couldn't use the help, clearly, but— I can't go just shruggin' off all the responsibility onto all y'all."

Can't… he-all, though? Struck by the passing similarity of the notion Joseph had just dismissed to the one that his other analogue had been entertaining, Teo says nothing and does nothing for a moment, besides sit with a shelled crustacean protruding off his cutlery. "Thanks," he adds, after a moment, reminded by a peripheral glimpse of the crustacean in question. "Yeah, I know the girls dance on the bar," he admits. "But there's no one holding a gun to your head, making you stay.

"That's how I started out." And that might even be a twinge of embarrassment, squinting Teo's left eye as he peers out across the table. Down again. Always one for sheepish optimism, he concludes prettily: "No wonder you and Flint are friends." Altruism, unrealistic courage in the face of defeat, nobility, half-naked chicks on the bar, honor among old dudes. Teo gets it.

Joseph doesn't! For two seconds of a quizzical head tilt. Cluelessness is becoming on him. Gun? And then; "Oh. I thought you meant— "

An amused smile writes itself across his face, partially flattered, and uncomfortable for it. There is prettiness to Teo's words, in the face of ugly guilt. "I guess 'go back' means more like a strategic retreat in my mind than stayin' with the Ferry, or the Guiding Light." He takes another sip of water, another stab of shrimp and mushroom.

"You know. Goin' back to something normal. Back to Tennessee." And don't think he couldn't! He knows a speedster who owes him and everything. "And I'm half expectin' this to pan out that it was more've a liability than worth it, I guess, but I'm— I'll leave that in others' hands. Yeah, I'd like to keep doin' this still. Sort of seems like he'd win otherwise." Which might count as unrealistic courage.

Mostly just because getting shot in the head definitely counts as losing, unless you ask… uuuh. "Staying, then," Teo offers, with an inoffensive bob of shoulders. "English is my second language. Sometimes I get mixed up fitting words of the proper shape and size. It's fu— pretty weird." Possibly too strange to be the actual cause and proper, but it's harder to explain sleep-deprivation or general confusion, the merging of personalities, and birth at the lobes of a skull-sawing serial-killer. Baby-steps with the new guy, and all that.

Nom nom. "Been thinking about going back— like," you know, "going back-going back, myself. Last week I was thinking about it, 'least. I'm from Italy." If that weren't painfully obvious and over-advertised, but Teo has to bring a piece of it with him, somehow. "I've never been to Tennessee. I don't even know what's in Tennessee."

It might be beginner's ignorance that 'getting shot' hasn't entirely occurred to Joseph as a realistic option. A shrug at it, maybe. No really, pastor. Really. It could happen. As for Tennessee— "There's mountains," Joseph says, with a half-smile. It's not entirely wistful, just affectionate.

There's a shudder from the table - that would be Alicia's shoulder gently but firmly connecting with a leg of it, as the too-large dog tries to insinuate herself underneath it and sprawl out amongst legs and feet, rest her heavy head on one of the latter. Joseph, nonplussed, only move a hand to steady his water bottle. "And less people, least where I'm from," he adds. "I don't know much about Italy, either.

"What's keepin' you?" Assumedly, terrorism, but you know what happens when you assume.

"Don't really want to lie to my mom." Teo answers benignly, after processing the next mouthful of food with a staccato connection of molars. He droops his head briefly over the corner of the table to find Alicia's great round face studying him with mournful whiteless eyes glistening the dark of polished ebony from below, much to his disconcertment. Uneasily, he crawls his other hand out to his side, grasps his water bottle. Distracts himself by a sip of that, and begins experimentally to shift the plastic receptacle to and fro, checking for the smallest tilt or twitch of the dog's ears or nose.

Eerie. Except, you know, not really. "I know that sounds kind of ridiculous, in the relative scale of… uh, darkness." There's just an immature bratling of a boy on the other edge of the dining table, playing with the dog because he's feeling guilty about having fallen out of touch with his family for so long, in both his lives. "I'd have to lie to my mom. It's been a long time since I talked to her. I wouldn't even know where to fuckin' start, you know? A lot of our family got sucked into this stuff, and I don't think she knows the first thing about it."

Yeah that's not anywhere near 'terrorism', really, if indirectly related, cause and effect. Joseph's eyebrows go up at the starkly frank answer, a sympathetic upturn at the corner of his mouth before his fork is digging back into pasta. Slightly more at ease. Petty worries as earthly as that helps. And reminds Joseph in a far gentler way than Phoebe's acerbic, needling words, of his own age. "I'd be the last one t'tell you much about family, an' lying to them. But I know it doesn't help much. Ignorance— it ain't bliss. Not in the end, it'll break you apart just as much as the truth might."

Joseph cranes his neck a little to check that his dog isn't rudely drooling on his guest, settles again. "Mind, not that I'm encouragin' you either way. Every instance is different. Mostly, though— lyin' to your parents is sinful."

Lots of things are, really, but if you want a blanket statement on the matter. There's a scrape of metal against cutlery, the dregs of pasta and buttery smears glistening on the plate. "You know, I'm sure you got better things to do than to make sure I'm alright. I am."

The baby terrorist's grin is crooked, states in almost universally recognizable terms that that's good to know, if hard to believe. Someone who knew Teo real well might think it wasn't quite deep enough around the eyes, but this is both more sanguine and less bloody than the half-dozen row of serrated fangs that a shark would show, so it isn't Ghost, neither. His face is kind of tired. Hands, also. Teeth would be, but he's hungry. "No offense meant, signor. I'll be out of your hair whenever you like.

"Appreciate it if I could crash on the couch or something just tonight, though. Or today. If you don't mind. Been a long way around today— yesterday?" The pause wedges itself in here like a mean prank through the spokes of a bicycle's tires. Very blurry. "I feel like my feet are gonna fall off." If it occurs to Teo that he's asking the wrong person for permission regarding this thing, it isn't in Teo to make that much of a ceremony of politeness. He opens and closes blue eyes hopefully in Joseph's direction.

Joseph shakes his head, of course he does, at this notion of offense, and stands with chair scraping against the floor as he collects up his plate, doesn't rush the hungry Italian in front of him - only moves to tidy up the kitchen as is fitting of a freeloader of a freeloader. "Yeah, sure," is the easy permission given. Hell, if Deckard can permit people to stay in a place he doesn't own, then Joseph sure can, and besides— we're all friends, here. "Pretty sure the first bedroom's free, if you'd rather not settle for the sofa."

No mention of mainstream weirdness. Maybe Joseph politely forgot about that warning. "Thanks for dinner, too." The sound of running water, tap splashes draining into the sink as he loosely rinses off a plate. "Haven't eaten proper in a little while."

Which leaves Teo caught between mainstream weirdness annnnd walking into a trap unsuspecting. It's the fun part about being unsuspecting, however: easy on the heart, simple for the mind. "Yeah, no problem. Me neither." Listening to the faint hiss and susurration of faucet water, he's sitting in his chair and peering down into the bubbles caught viscous-skinned in the remainder of sauce at the bottom of his plate, watching one travel slowly toward the round edge of the dish, compelled by forces too subtle for any of his senses, sapien or psychic.

He jacks upright when he hears the sink squeak off. Gets up, finally, pulling himself limb by limb out of the chair, dragging his clothes straight with a haphazard rake of hooked fingers. He comes bearing emptied plate, fork, and knife. "I'll let the higher-ups know. You mind if I do the bug check tomorrow? 'Bout nine?"

"In the evening? Yeah— I mean, no, please do." Joseph takes the dishes off Teo with vague, if insistent movements. You clean when the other person cooks, it's how married couples are meant to do it. He lets the tap run again, his sleeves have already been rolled up around his elbows, and he only avoids his watch getting splashed. "Need me to keep the door unlocked, or check in, or— " Heh. He briskly shakes his head, lets it go. The ninjas know what they're doing. "Well, lemme know what you need, and if you find anythin' after all."

Detergent squirts like some other unimaginable metaphor, webs translucent blue viscosity over the plastic, before Teo makes bleary note of the other man's insistence and cedes the plate over, however reluctantly. He was going to clean up after himself, of course! His mother had taught him a few things right, once, not all that long ago. "Absolutely. You can just go 'bout your business. I'll figure it out."

Honestly, he's more diligent with dishes than he is with maintaining his guns; if he spent more time in kitchens rather than waiting bored between safehouses, he'd have more sparkling dishes and malfunctioning firearms. As it is, fiddling Glocks and Para-Ordnances apart and back together is now a blank-eyed subroutine. He props himself up by the hip against the counter, watches the membrane of running water off the edges of Joseph's hands and the round faces of the plates.

"That it, then?" There's no spin in Teo's tone to imply that he hopes so, no strain of exasperation or impatience betrayed. He washes his hands when the sink is free, only to stoop and ruffle the dog.

Well Joseph does, and he states as much— "Sure do hope so." A tea towel is collected up to dry his hands once the dishes are mostly dealt with, breathing in to let out a sigh, about to wish Teo a very late goodnight— "Actually." The tea towel is tucked over the handle of the oven once more. "There was this one other thing— you know much about prophetic paintings?"

Boy, does Teo ever. Not that Joseph would know, eyebrows going up in innocent inquiry, as he continues with, "Phoebe Thornton happens to have one. Not anythin' I'd like splashed around too freely, for her sake, but we both sort of want— the people who might want to know about this kind of thing to know. I get the feeling that might be you and yours. I was gonna mention it to Grace, too—

"It's a painting of a flood. Here, in New York? An' no," Joseph is quick to add, with his own crooked smile. "I don't have the faintest idea."

Unhinging his jaw seems like too much work, so Teo just stares at the older man out from a squint of faintly raw-rimmed eyes. Opening those any wider seems like a lot of work, too. Remind him to sleep again, someday. "Fuck," he says. He puts his hand on his face with enough concussive force that there's a smap of impact. He spares Joseph the graphic visual of smearing the cartlidge and elasticity of his mug downward, but there's a rub of callused thumb and forefinger into his eyelids, a rough blink or three.

"Brill?" he asks. "'F you know it's one of the Brills, that would be really helpful, 'nd if or when your lady-friend feels comfortable about it, I think there are people who could make wise use of a photograph of it. I could probably set up a meet between her and the relevant parties, too.

"If she'd be okay with that." He already said that, Teo knows, but between Ms. Thornton's fame and her apparent importance as a figure in Pastor Sumter's life, it probably can't hurt to butter in a lot of disclaimers, appease the other miniature guardian that sits on Joseph's shoulder. He got Deckard a burger, pot, and a shrink.

There's a polite wince as Teo smacks his face in that universally world-weary gesture, Joseph waiting patiently for words to come with it, hand fidgeting with his watch. And then; Brill doesn't ring a bell, no, Joseph's face carefully blank and even more carefully blank at lady-friend which is a fine descriptor if one were to simply look at the parts that make it, but there's a problematic hyphen there that has Joseph shaking his head and making the start of a protest that dies in his throat.

Never mind. It's very late, and Teo is tired. Joseph can't quite summon up the obligatory pointed glance at the f-word either. "I'll ask her," the pastor settles on instead, with a kinder smile. "You go and get some shut-eye, you look like you could use it."

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