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Scene Title Errata
Synopsis Finding himself remarkably difficult to live with, Teo tries to correct a mistake.
Date June 14, 2009

Staten Island — Inland

You've made a mistake.

The first time Teo told this to him, he had been right and a woman died by way of error correction. Based on this, it is difficult to tell why Ghost is patently ignoring it now. A faultline of conscience? Heartsick about love, loss, or the fact that Salvatore Bianco fucking hates him? A sudden priority of sentimental sensibility over practical brutality? Did Peter's— probable— death touch a nerve? Teo can't tell, precisely; it is self-evident that none of these people mean to him what they mean to the ghost, even if he protects them fiercely. He had sort of been lying, the other week, when he said he could hear Ghost's thoughts and watch his dreams.

Sort of. In truth, the man spends enough time counting ceiling cracks and sulking in deserted nightscapes of urban ruins and shorelines that the shape and color of his moods are painfully visible to one who has to live with him during all of their available lucid hours. Shape: hunchbacked; color: red or blue, depending.

This evening is decidedly blue.

Okay. Ghost says, rousing himself upright from whatever misery or murder had occupied his thoughts. He rubs thickened fingers across the unfamiliar feel of his resculptured face and does not wince at the snagging lines of age. Blinking his eyes clear, he looks out of the window's charred again. They are on the seventh floor of a building whose former purpose is not immediately clear from its skeleton without further archaeological study than either Sicilian is interested in. Outside, the other buildings look very tall and the sky very, very far away. I'm going to try and flip us around now. For the most part, this body seems to register both our minds as owner, so it should be fine.

However, he rattles these words off like he is reading a medical journal in FDA-approved terminology, you may experience nausea and disorientation, which were symptoms I experienced recorporealizing the first few times I projected. If this goes okay, we should pay Deckard a visit. I know he's worried about you. Ready?

Teo doesn't answer, this time. He does that a lot these days; pretends that he is not in. Partially, this is a subterfuge, collating data about his analogue's activities when he thinks he is alone, the better to gauge his internal life. Partially, there's just nothing to say. He plays a waiting game, counting the seconds until he can breathe again.


Age-scarred dust fishtails, swerves, lurches up to meet the skewed and thumping crash of his knee-bones against mold-eaten carpeting. Nausea. Disorientation. His hands smear starfish-shaped prints into the sterile filth, palms roughing a burn out of the coarse weave of wool underneath. His center of balance sloughs off to the left somewhere, overturns; he careens one shoulder into a shallow sleet of scurfed plaster before his back collides neatly with the wall. The air is cloyed with the taste of thickened aseptic nothing. He gasps like a fish, before sealing his lips over the pungent bubble-slick of bile, and squeezes an oily blink out of his eyes.

Bodies are disgusting, aren't they? Ghost asks, distantly. I think so a lot. I wonder if that's why I got the ability I did.

Teo has to use the wall to get to his feet. It takes him a few seconds to realize that he is probably doing this too soon, as double-images and pain and visceral rolling fears crowd in against the shaking periphery of his vision, but he is seized now by the same urge as before, as he has always been slave to; the urge to move perpendicular to weakness. A scratch opens up on his wrist when he scrabbles past a gutted power outlet and slams upright against a vent grille. Stupidly, he finds himself confusing the scent of rust with blood. The windows parallax a third of the way through an imaginary spin, snap back into position dizzily, then start sliding again.

Teo closes eyes and then spikes his hand into his jacket, faster than he can think, jerks the gun out from under his arm and throws off the safety, shoves the muzzle into his own head—

Bullet shrieks out, punches a hole in an unlikely corner of residual window pane. Ghost drops the gun and swears, splendidly, wipes sweat from his nose with a thumb. "Fuck." It's been hours since he last spoke a word aloud: his voice is harshened.

Shunted back into his corner, Teo jarrs against confines that fail to acknowledge his effort with even the smallest dent and answers, finally, words arrayed in bristling hostility. Listen to me. It didn't happen. If you want to fucking save people now, you do that but it didn't happen. You're not Hana. You're not like Hana— don't you fucking dare disgrace her loss by asking sympathy for what you're doing. You help John, hurt Richard, pal with Minea, leave Sal, abandon Tanner, torture children, and all those fucking lies— because of what? Arthur's lost his fucking mind. This isn't your time and this isn't your fucking life. You know you can't keep treating it like a toilet for the evacuated diarrhea of your toxic rage or whatever the fuck. You know you're wrong.

Nothing that made you like this has happened and you're only fucking everything up more by operating under the idiotic delusion that it has.

Certainly, the words get through even if the gunshot hadn't. Ghost's eyes close and open with surprise and then, just like that, a moodswing of whiplash-inducing violence or splitting swipe of knife through human canvas, red spurts over the blue.

Don't tell me it didn't happen! The ghost kicks something. Drywall: caves an ill-fitting mesh of polygonal cracks into it. Malicious intent sharpens the knuckles in his hands, but Teo isn't anywhere that he can get his hands on. Don't you fucking tell me it didn't happen. Jesse died.

Jesse died— and your brother finally forgives me because now I understand. Your brother holds your sanity hostage for half your life because he's waiting for somebody you love to die, and that is the guilt you allow to determine your moral decisions for fifteen years. Arthur executes the Company. Arthur assassinates the Phoenix. Arthur exterminates Humanis First!. Hana kills Palestinians. I butcher corrupt cops who didn't get theirs in the world I came from and break a few hearts. Not because good must triumph over evil, but because even keeping the peace requires violence. Yes, I make mistakes. Yes, I've hurt the wrong people— and you have no fucking// idea what I've done to be here, but I'd do it all again.

Ghost breathes in, lips fitting the shape of a snarl. I attended Gillian's wedding, did you know? After I found out what Pinehearst did. I proofread Peter's fucking vows, suggested Arthur try the fucking canapes, took a few gay jokes, and I smiled. Don't think I've forgotten which world I'm in.

They stand together in incompatible silence for a few seconds, two men in one body in the decaying armpit of a carcass city. A bat blows by the window like an errant scrap of confetti from somebody else's party, and more glass falls out from the shattered irregularity of the crystal that encrusts the frame. Ground level is too far below for either of them to hear the colliding tinkle and bounce of shards on concrete.

Teo grates out, Your mistake is thinking that you've already experienced the worst fate there is. I do it, too. More than anything, that is what you have to stop.

A sneer hitches the ghost's lip. Stands to reason, Teo would find the considerable costs to his own reputation and sanity acceptable losses and focus on abstractions of moral cost and the temporary bruises sustained by the egos his friends and associates. Ghost looks down at his empty hands. The whorled striations of skin and delicacy of fingerprints are etched out, emphasized in dust inlays. Blackened by the patina of sticking sweat and dry scum around the stark creases of life line, love line, the round nocks of calluses. He's thinking it to himself even before Teodoro thinks it aloud. What else are hands for? Teo asks, and he doesn't hardly agree, of course, not exactly, but he isn't lying when he says: I get it.

Disconcerted, Ghost wipes his hands on his pants. Do you want to die or something, kid?

No, he answers, distinctly dry despite that his voice lacks expressive quality, as ever. But I guess that's why self-sacrifice looks good, doesn't it?

Disconcerted and annoyed, Ghost stoops to pick up his gun. Its weight is heavy in his hand, unambiguous, but as thin an explanation as his analogue's words had been, squeeze the switch back to safe. There is a shuffle and clicking of the firearm returning to holster, a raptor smoothing its plumage and redistributing its weight across the balance of talons and empty air. Adrenaline takes its time percolating out of his veins. He starts across the carpet and the wind pricks a chill into his neck, under the shirt, needles gooseflesh out of the distorted mark at the base of his neck.

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