f_edward_icon.gif teo2_icon.gif

Scene Title Executioners
Synopsis Between Edward Ray and Teodoro Laudani, one of them will eventually fill the title.
Date May 29, 2009

Textile Factory 17, Warehouse

The little green baggy of trail mix that Teodoro had retained as his sole companion for the night watch is a spilled heap at the base of the bricked wall. The diorama of this situation also includes a mazey warren of grimey alleyways, a textile factory, a fresh corpse, an approaching squadcar and two time-travelers residual to the scene of a crime like a clingfilm of dreck before the flux of circumstance and situation inevitably push them along and away.

Barring the little Shanghainese woman who sold him this and a bag of four tangerines earlier this morning, and the bit where his ex-lover tried to telekinetically smash him through some walls while a deranged sibyl looked on, it's been a full day since he last actually spoke to anybody. Had he not been accustomed to the vicissitudes of bitter quiet that characterize Hana while she's working (she is always working) he might have started to get a little bit lonely.

That isn't why he came here, though. No, it wasn't any woefully ill-conceived search for companionship took him to Brooklyn. These days, he is always working, too.

The scratchy scurry of John Doe's retreat had flattened him up against some clammy concrete bulwark. The transpiration of two minutes has dwindled away the report of Edward's gunshot to nothing, but Ghost's heartbeat is still racketing uncomfortably in his rented ribcage, the feedback of Myron's entirely forseeable death crashing reverberations through his skull with the impact from having his soul unceremoniously trounced out and crammed back into its socket. A little unsteadily, he wipes his hand on his cheek with one hand.

With the other, he pulls out a gun. Heaving an awkward breath out of his lungs, he eases out from around his disheveled shelter, steps across a forked rivulet of greasewater. His eyes spider around underneath the rumpled cowl of his hood. He sees Myron's car, first. No toxically bad-tempered iron men gallumphing at him on sledgehammer feet, which is nice.

High walls separate him from the buckled heap of a corpse he knows would be unsalvageable anyway. Still, Teo forgets to run away.

It's a bit brazen to take the front door out from the scene of a homicide, espescially when there is already an officer in pursuit. But when the front doors of Textile Factory 17's manufacturing wing open, and the shoulder-slacked form of Edward Ray steps out in short black jacket suited for this brisk springtime weather, his brazen move pays off for Teodoro's observation of the events.

Tucking the revolver he carries into one pocket, Edward barely misses a beat as he turns a sharp left, even as the sounds of a single siren begins to come closer. Around one corner, conveniently not looking in Teo's direction from his stealthy approach as he moves across the paved courtyard towards the shipping warehouse, passing through an open door and into the spacious, if not somewhat grimy building.

Legitimate business has not gone on here in ages, and the empty warehouse is devoid of noises entire as Edward makes a beeline towards a steel door left open leading into a small and dark storage room. The dark-haired man stares lingeringly into the room, then nods his head in affirmation. There's a pause, subtle, and Edward turns to stare at an open space in the warehouse floor, eyes not really focused on any one space, but a thought and a pattern.

"You can come out now, you know." He has no idea who he's addressing. Sure, he has ideas but nothing of those is concrete. All Edward can be certain of is that someone is there, and that someone is watching. Everything else is too broad in spectrum.

It occurs to Teo then, fleetingly, a fragmentary revelation, while the weather breathing humidity on his face and the siren on his periphery veering closer, one eye on Edward's face and the other one inside Edward's head, that from the perspective of a man who views things in terms of ranked and infrastructured probability, he really would look like a ghost.

He comes out anyway! Fuck it. He has a gun held up two-handed, a convincing face strapped onto the front of his skull, big blue eyes that blink lots as if he has something to clear out of his eye.

Shocky resent, maybe, stirred in with the dregs of sleep-deprivation. Not quite tears. Not even Teo. "Where is he?" the young man asks, somewhat louder than the decay of stone and distant approach of backup warrant talking over. "What the fuck— what— douching around people's abilities is one thing, Ray."

"That's a colorful way of putting it, Teo." Edward notes with one brow raised, turning around with both hands tucked into the pockets of his slacks, posture relaxed and head canted to one side as large, pale eyes survey Teo's expression and the position of his gun. "Exactly which who are you asking about though, the man I just let out of that cell behind me," there's a jerk of his head towards the open room, "his jailer, or perhaps a half dozen other people I might well know."

Edward has an edge about him, one that was not present when he helped fight the Vanguard. Ten years and a lifetime later, Edward has become a sharper, crueler individual and it shows in his face. Teo himself knows something of the way the future can change a man. "You and I both know you're not going to shoot me, so why don't you put that down and focus on putting your questions into full sentences?" There's a hesitant smile there, and Edward motions with his nose towards the warehouse door. "Close that, if you would? The detective's partner will be here any minute, but he won't go further than the body."
Teo's face is a colorful way of putting things, too. It's scrunched into a great and formidable scowl now, his eyes almost blacked out by the severity of shadow clotted in under the stoop of strong brows. He looks into the apparently empty cell. Has no bloody clue, honestly, reallytruly, and the nozzle of his gun starts to skew away from Edward to track the eddy of empty air even before the man requests he lays the thing down.

"Myron. I was following Richard fucking Myron." Frustration trounces his brow; less fear than there probably should have been. Ghost angles the firearm faintly downward after an instant, backs up, two steps, neither of which smears into the oil tracks that had strewn across the concrete below. Sends a thought out, swift and silent as the swoop of a paper plane, a psychic finger tip-tapping a search for a telltale resonance of hollow in the great wall of blank space around Edward.

"No." Full sentence. It fails to carry the mellifluous ring of accomplishment.

There's a tired sigh from Edward as he closes his eyes, bringing one hand up to rub at his forehead. "Richard is in the fabrication building, presumably bleeding out from a gunshot wound to the chest as we speak. In about…" Edward glances up into the air, then back down to Teo, "six minutes his partner is going to storm in here and find him laying face up on the concrete floor in that building, and every cop in New York City is going to converge on this building."

Narrowing his eyes, Edward watches Teo with a marked level of interest. "Exactly why were you following the detective in any case? Is this about— " he cracks a smile, "Is this about John, and what he did to your little friends?" Little friends. Absolutely everything Edward says is layered with this tacky coating of sarcasm an inch thick.

It's an ugly tone of voice to listen to, pushes the corner of Teo's mouth down into a scowl. In the bright future, everyone is meaner. A precious few get to be happier at the same time. Two exceptions circle and clamp their tails down over their fuzz-rimmed sphincters to dissuade the other of getting any funny ideas. Nobody has any friends here.

Least of all, Richard Myron.

"Yes," he says. "No. It's about what you're doing here. Shoving Catherine into reuniting with her parents, and Pinehearst— when you say you're siding with the fucking Company. You didn't have to drag my people into this, and even if you seriously fucking think you did— I want to know what you think you're playing at. With Tyler Case," is his real name, isn't it? "And killing that poor old bastard in there." Myron again. He jerks his head over at the door ajar.

"Your analogue was supposed to've been a Company prisoner." It doesn't make any sense, but Ghost doesn't have to say that aloud. Telling Doctor Edward Ray that his stated purpose and intent carries no rhyme or reason is like bitching aloud at the inscrutability of God: a straightforward admission of the simple human limitations of one's own intelligence while simultaneously demonstrating a basic understanding. 'Yes, and?'

Tilting his head in a nod of acknowledgment, Edward turns and begins to walk a bit deeper into the warehouse, even as the sound of a siren and screeching tires stops outside, followed by the slam of a door and a young man's voice screaming out for Myron. "You always were the brains of Phoenix, Teo." Moving just out of line of sight from the courtyard from the doorway, a calculated pacing of steps and posture. "What you're failing to realize is what Catherine's already surmised, that I'm playing the middle against both sides. I have important work to do, Teo, work that you couldn't even begin to understand the minutae of. I'm trying to prevent the future I left from ever coming about, while at the same time trying to prevent the new future here from becoming worse than what I intended."

A vein bulges on the side of his head, pulsing softly. "If you're going to shoot, now would be the opportune time, otherwise perhaps you might be able to put that over sized cranium of yours to good work and see if you can perhaps figure out where my younger counterpart ran off to?" A dark brow rises slowly, it's an odd request, even more odd to be making one at all while at the point of a gun. "I tried to kill him, but he— is a bit more unpredictable than I figured."

Even for a temporally-dislocated mutant hit man who isn't treating his earlier self all too kindly, Ghost thinks that's a little bit out of line. His eyebrows go up, which looks like Teo's eyebrows going up. He putters off in Edward's wake as haplessly as he had in the belly of the derelict theater, once. The nose of the Glock jerks to and fro, twitches in his grip, a hapless dog's paranoia. Though reduced by distance and barriers, the slam of car doors and screaming make him wince.

"What Cat surmised is that you're lying to her. What we know is that you're fucking with us, and— now it's come to murder. One success, one… why would you try to kill him?" It's obnoxiously easy to fall back into old habits. Sentences chopped up and hyphenated with uncertainty, knots of perplexity darkening his forehead. "Unpredictable?" Bizarre. He finds himself-at-twenty-six woefully explicable most days, and sort of— loud, the rest. "I— he helped save the world once. Made a better future than a viral apocalypse. Why do you want him fucking dead?"

"Because he's a wild card, and because there can't rightfully be two Edward Rays living in this world, now can there?" Blue eyes peer across the divide of empty floors to Teo's frame, even as the sound of slamming footfalls echo in the courtyard outside, and the panting form of Oliver Wilson sprints across the yard with gun in hand towards the open fabrication building doors, shouting out Richard's name.

Edward looks away from Teo, to that scene, and then back to the possessed man. "Catherine can postulate whatever she wants, because right now what's happening has to happen, or fourteen friends of yours are going to die in a ball of fire and glass." Dark brows lower into a furious expression as Edward takes a few steps towards the man with the gun, "or would you rather they die, instead of the people I'm sacrificing now. An eye for an eye isn't the law of time and space, Teorodo. Or did you suddenly grow a conscience?"

That wasn't supposed to happen either. An oft-repeated theme in the course of Teodoro Laudani's life. Teo always has a conscience until he abruptly grows out of it, anyway. The Old Testament's vengeance, his own conscience, the finger tapped on space-time. These sentiments, so-expressed, grind him to a halt, his gun pointed. In this moment, he is struck by a pang of visceral surprise— rather than fear— that Edward has figured out that he isn't quite himself.

He is not, however, struck by a particularly passionate conviction that Edward really has his little companions' best interests at heart. That is not the best con ever.

Confronted, the gun doesn't turn away, but it does stop twitching and quivering, at what might be construed as an inconvenient time. Instead, the minuscule movements transfer themselves, dangerously, to the hollow of his cheek. Seeing the importance of preserving the impression of sanity— or however much sanity Edward was originally impressed Teo has, Ghost tells himself not to laugh. He has to tell himself twice.

The anger in his voice surprises him when he locates it somewhere in his knotted stomach: "The Hell. I'm not soulless. Where—" Teo's lips thin out, constrict as if bitten. "No offense, signor, but you're an asshole and a liar. Talking about keeping the Columbia 14 alive and killing your kinder and gentler analogue doesn't really make me feel better about not shooting you in the face." There's a quaver-beat. Then, blankly, "Or you not shooting me."

"If you really think my younger self was any kinder or gentler, perhaps you should re-evaluate the mission I sent Flint Deckard on that had a very high chance of taking his life?" Edward's brows slowly rise up, "or was that convenient fact lost amidst the bleary haze of moral reletivism that you keep spouting off." A scream rings out like a gunshot from the direction of the fabrication building, a horrible, pained cry of something unthinkable being laid to bare.

Edward's brows dip down, hard to see as they are, the look is not entirely becoming of him, but somehow his older iteration manages to pull of perturbed while looking less like an irate marsupial. "Columbia 14, did Helena share that little bit of information with you? Somehow I had a feeling she might not have told everyone close to her that the impending suicide bombing of her and her merry band was approaching. What with the difficulty there is in changing the future, why, someone might have to actually hurt someone else to do that!" Edward's eyes and mouth drop open as he clasps a hand over his mouth in an overly dramatic feigning of shock and surprise.

Then, as if the expression were made of mud, it begins to sag and fall off of Edward's face with all of the sincerity that it was made of as well. "I haven't shot you, Teo, because you're still useful. Revenge," he pauses, as if listening for something unsaid on the wind, or looking for something unseen, "is a powerful thing. So, tell me, why haven't you shot me yet? Because the only answer I can come up with, is that some part of you is horrified that I might very well be right."

This whole thing makes Ghost feel like he's coming down with something. He doesn't sigh in relief because that would be super dumb. He looks faintly nauseous from the sentiment instead, which probably passes for nausea at other things. Man. James Bond never had to put up with this shit. He can't remember the fictional Englishman getting run over by cowardly polizia, either.

After a moment fraught with tension that is only partly choreographed, he swings his gun down. Acceptable terms, apparently. Usefulness; also, Helena not becoming dead. Insults tend to land on Teodoro Laudani at age 2009 like white-out landing on blank paper, so he merely creases his brow at that, irritated, some objection, some nitpicking detail to the contrary teetering on his teeth, but it remains unvoiced.

It's true. Teo owes Edward a smack upside the head for Stultzman.

"Arthur is looking you," he says, instead, with different annoyance. He watches the direction from which the gunshot came and put his gun away. "He has an ability that's supposed to help him find people— anyone he wants. How is it that he hasn't? And why do you give a fuck about my friends, anyway?"

"Odds are Arthur's having a little bit of double-vision right now, which is another reason I wanted to undo that problem, but…" Edward brings one hand up to his forehead, massaging the side of his temple. "Arthur Petrelli is a very dangerous and very detestable man, I don't feel that I need to clearly enunciate the reasons why any more than that to you. As far as your friends go," and he uses the term with a layer of sarcasm that seems to imply something untoward, "they're necessary. Specific people, specific connections, specific actions leading towards a desireable outcome."

Edward takes a half step back and away from Teo, then a step to the left, getting just out of sight as the sounds of more sirens just barely touch the edges of hearing, so distant now that it could take them some time to reach the building. "I'll ask you again, Laudani — Why haven't you shot me?" Large, expressive eyes settle on the Sicilian. "Because if you're just here to talk about things I'm already aware of we could do this in Midtown." A slip up? An intentional lead? Everything with Edward Ray is such an exercise in second-guessing.

Personally, Ghost likes the sound of those odds. They suit him; he doesn't like the idea of Arthur Petrelli knowing where he is, either. He watches Edward's small hand squeeze and pinch at the corner of his head, finds himself thinking— and not for the first time— that the magnitude of the microcosm possibilities contained within that skull must be responsible for the bulge of the little man's skull and eyes.

It's terrifying.

"Helena told me about the Columbia 14," he says, his voice unaccountably dry underneath and around it. Hazed by other disorientation, Ghost wonders if Edward knows, too, or how much he knows— about the Columbia 14. Ghost lapses into a brief silence as he sends his mind's eye around on a brief circuit, checking the incoming officers, assessing the number of corpses that have accrued now. He looks nervous: he is.

Grows light on the balls of his feet, the shape of him tensed, on the crumbling edge of flight. Terrorist protocol number one tells him to get the fuck out. His throat moves. "And I'm no fucking executioner, Doctor Ray. You're empty-handed and unwilling. If rude."

There's a shade of uncertainty that very, very briefly crosses Edward's face as Teo talks, some ghost of nervousness created by either too many possibilities to a single outcome or too few that were satisfactory. But it's navigated around, managed, changed and kept calm under an impassive mask of calm, emotionless certainty like usual. "What, then, does that make you, Teo?" Edward never pronounced the name right, he never had a knack for languages and even now it's more of a tee-oh than it should be.

"If I'm not the executioner, is it you?" There's a hesitant smile that creeps up on Edward's face, "because one of the people in this room has more blood on his hands than the other. So if, perhaps, you'd rather not answer me question again, I'll ask another, better one. Can you find my other self?"

Again, he's dispatching orders.

"That is your answer," Teo replies, in a cantankerous voice befitting a white knight errant, his gaze threading downward unhappily when his conscience is poked at. "I won't just fucking murder you.

"And if you can save the Columbia 14, I want you to. It wouldn't fix any of the fucking damage you've caused, either." It seems that saying the words aloud solidify his intent from the flighty tilt of probability and aforementioned moral relativistics to something somewhat that resonates with more conviction. Yes. Yes; for these reasons, he isn't about to shoot Edward. They're good ones, surely.

Or else, Ghost is playing wait-and-see. Aren't they all? "Helena— says she saw him palling around in the belly of the beast. At Pinehearst. That he's thrown his lot in with Arthur Petrelli. More problems for you, si?" Pallid eyes travel the curve and point of the topography of Edward's face; after an instant's hesitation, he launches a brief astral inquest into the other man's mind, wondering what the probability predictor is studying now.

Edward's brows crease together, his lips part and he looks abjectly horrified for a brief moment. "Arthur… No— no there's no way I would— Arthur wouldn't— " he splutters, loses his composure and takes a few steps back, jaw clenched and dryly swallowing a few times as his adam's apple bobs up and down to the motion. "If I'm at Pinehearst than something has gone terribly wrong, ir I'm trying so hard to stop my own plans that I'm throwing causality to the wind to— " he looks aside, cursing under his breath. It's a side of Edward Ray that Teo hasn't ever truly seen before.

"You need to get him out of there, whatever reasons he's there for— you need to make sure he's not. If Arthur takes his power and by god if he learns to control it, there won't be any stopping him. I convinced him in the future that it would drive him insane…" there's a part of Edward that believes it as well, "but — things have changed. Teo," an imploring tones replaces what was once biting cynicism, "Get him out of there." Suddenly, he's concerned. "I promise you, what I'm doing will prevent the Columbia 14 from being the ones who die, but I can't prevent death. You tip the scales one way, and they go another, it's cause and effect. All of this— it has to go somewhere. There's no happy medium. They live, others die, it's how it works."

After the decade he's experienced, Teodoro Laudani can live with that. It reassures him, in a strange sense, knowing the tacit implication that all of those doomed to suffer and die and leave their corpses and existential tragedies to weigh against the fabric of his conscience in this continuity had had analogues somewhere in the future that everyone else had found so bright. Other dead, other miseries. Merely concealed by coincidence or Arthur Petrelli's public relations department.

"Well, shit," he responds, helpfully, scowling with mingled disbelief and simple frustration. Squaring, Teo's shoulders hike up, defensive like a cornered dog.

He wends his way along the wind-chapped ground, his gaze flitting between his shadow and the wall. "How the fuck do you expect me to do that? You're the one with the small army of Tier 3 Evolved convict escapees— one of whom completely fucked up the abilities of the first people I'd think to go and ask for help from."

Casting a crooked stare to Teo, Edward holds out both of his hands at either side of himself, then shrugs helplessly. "They're not the most loyal or competant individuals ever. John only listens because he thinks I can solve the riddle of his identity, and Allen only listens because he feels he has nothing left to lose. But I will not send John Doe into the heart of Pinehearst right now, and Allen Rickham would fold under Arthur Petrelli just like he did in the future."

A few stalking steps are taken towards Teo. "Did you know I worked for Arthur for a time? Back before he threw me into a deep, dark hole that he said I'd never escape from? I did his dirty work for him, predicting events that he had to arrange in order to better Pinehearst. I was the one that told him to turn Rickham into a martyr for the rise of FRONTLINE. It was because of my guidance that he eventually warped that poor man's mind so badly he went on a blind rampage through northern California and was put down by Gabriel Gray and Eileen Ruskin. I was— I was trying to build a better future, and he turned on me because he was afraid of me!"

Simmering with anger, Edward takes a few steps back, shoulders rising and falling. "That's— all in the past now. Hopefully permanently. But you— you've gotten this far without playing the schmuck to someone else," the sentence is phrased almost like a question that he isn't expecting an answer from. "So you've got to have something up on the rest. Why not you?"

No. No, despite all of the footwork and research he had done behind Hana's back, stolen from the police, and all those aggregate years spent watching, waiting, and listening in disbelief as the truth assembled itself from disparate parts— Teodoro hadn't known that. Too busy with personal drama to note the crumble and self-combustion of Edward Ray's little world. It happens. Or Edward's lying.

Either; both. The anger is real. Teo has told enough lies and spun around in enough inconsolable rage to be able to distinguish the nasal flute of counterfeit rage. He finds himself taking a step back. One that is not by any means choreographed or tactically pertinent. His eyes close and open with surprise and sympathy threatens to leak into the heterogenous stew of his thoughts. He forgets to even quirk a brow at Edward's application of that term— 'the past.'

"I don't have much of an ego to exploit, signor," Teo says. "I'd appreciate it if you stopped trying. I played the schmuck to you, once, or a closer thing to that than anything I'd care to repeat. At the same time— I'll see what I can do." Grudging, suspicious, confused, the words escape through caged teeth like the vaporous substance of a soul exhaled with a prisoner's dying gasp. His head jerks upright, and his glare scales Edward's face, frame, for any vestige of a tell or even a sign of sincerity. One as unlikely as the other.

"You didn't see it coming. Arthur— turning on you." It isn't a question.

"No." Edward notes obliquely, "I never saw the Haitian coming either when I went to assassinate Nathan," there's a steely look in Edward's eyes as he watches Teo. "I think you can do the math there and connect the dots." When it comes to offers taken and offers rescinded, the business deal this has come to seems to be ajourned, and the crying wail of approaching sirens of what sounds like every single squad car in Brooklyn drws Edward back in slow steps, hands held up in placating posture.

"I'm going to leave now," he notes with a tilt of his head to the side, "so if you're going to shoot, you'd best do it now Teo. Otherwise, I think we know where our agreement begins and ends, yes?" How much of this does he ever see coming? How much of this is guess work? How much of this is he bullshitting entirely? That, at its core, may be the one question about Edward Ray that is never answered.

Reminds Ghost of this other guy he knows. Haphazard best guesses, surgically brutal output, and dead people everywhere.

He tightens Teo's fingers tighten on the Glock cold at his side like he is seriously considering it, but in the end, it's more the carrot offered than the role he's playing that stays his hand. The fact that Helena and his friends are dead to him, hopelessly, despite all his efforts to think and pretend otherwise, somehow does not negate his awareness that they are still alive in this world.

"Try not to kill so many fucking people?" he requests, a little foolishly but with that earnestly grim, stubborn-jawed game face that Teodoro is wont to carry around on his head when he is trying to make people be better about things. Apparently unsettled, but at a loss for words, he turns around and begins to walk away in a hastened, even cadence of strides. Which jarrs, slightly, a quaver-beat's pause. He speaks again before he looks over his shoulder. "Your ability is pretty fucking powerful, signor.

"Why haven't I heard about a future where you're emperor of the world?"

Edward cracks a smile at the request, brows going up in response. "I'll try," he notes, though it sounds a bit more accusatory than compliant. But as to the last sentiment, his eyes wander down to the floor, head tilted to the side in thought. "I don't know, maybe I'll get back to you on that when there's a world worth being emperor of…" His hastily tacked on smile comes off with all the sincerity of a smiley-face in a text-message.

Slinking motions urge him away from Teo, and then slowly towards one of the rear entrances to the textile warehouse. One last, vacant look is given to the Sicilian, its expression inscrutable only in its awkward length, before he slips out and into the pit of stalking police offices just on the other side of the wall.

For the second time now, Edward Ray has stranded Teodoro Laudani in a hostile environment, and made him find his own way out.

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