Fiat Lux


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Scene Title Fiat Lux
Synopsis Finishing off an exhausting day's work on one of PARIAH's new hideouts, Alexander and Teo goof off.
Date October 18, 2008

Derelict Tunnel

An abandoned subway tunnel, one of PARIAH's future retreats.

It's been something like twelve hours since they started to work. After it was purchased and driven back to the island, getting the generator down the grille hadn't been difficult, but a little nerve-wracking, levering and handling the fat chunk of machinery down the service entrance without gonging metal against metal like Big Ben, injuring the thing, or themselves. The old wire-work was still intact, fortunately; splicing more yards of cable in to hook that up with the new power source was exact and tedious, but not hard. Same with sweeping out the dead rats and stopping up the handful of leaks marked by old rainwater stains.

Keeping hydrated was an ordinary priority, as was taking occasional breaks, eating sandwiches, moving themselves, the tools, and the lamps with enough slowness for precision, but the eye-strain, muscle-burn, and quiet gradually wore in. The tunnels' constricted walls and close spaces don't seem to smell anymore, which means either the pesticide's killed a few helpful nerves, or they've acclimated. And finally, after the disel's been poured in and the electrics have been checked, rechecked, the possibility of fire either minimized or inevitable, it's time to throw the lever and give this hole some real light.

Teo sits on the ground, tired, past caring about the state of his pants, a bottle of water in one bare hand, his other still stuffed into the protective bulk of a glove. He's lit from underneath, a flashlight pointed upward, resting on its handle. Alex gets the honors, of course. He's got seniority, and… stuff. "You could quote God," he remarks blearily.

Not, perhaps, as hard as oen might think. Since Alex is absolutely delighted to Yoda his way through as much manual labor as he can…the generator drifted down like some minion of the sorcerer's apprentice. But even that takes it out of Al, and he's also limp and weary. "I am become Death, the Destroyer of Worlds?" he asks, quizzically, before shaking his head like a pup coming out of water, and nodding in dim understanding. "Fiat Lux," he says, throwing the switch.

Lux. Light. Instantaneous, it flares through the labyrinthine coils of the abandoned subway, puddles yellow on the ground and laps up the grimy walls, striping corners with shadows and prying infinitessimally thin photonic fingers into the men's eyes. Which is sort of what it feels like, at first; getting poked in the eye. Teo blinks a lot, eyes going round, squeezing shut, opening again, like a deranged goldfish. "Whoa," he says, intelligently. He turns his head this way and that, fails to muster enough disappointment to frown when one lamp — weak filament — dies out with a buzz and a flare a little ways down from the generator's alcove. He squints. "It looked like less of a dump when you couldn't see it," he notes. Tosses the water bottle at Alexander, overhand.

He catches it, just like any ordinary human, and pops it open to take a few swallows, throat working. "No shit," he says, accent turning the obscenity into a multiple syllable word. But he seems pleased, glancing up and down the corridor, and putting his hands on his hips. "Not bad, if I do say so myself. Not real posh, but it'll be workable. A good backup and secondary base…"

Well, Jedi are supposed to be able to live without luxury or superfluity. Alexander's assessment makes sense for Alexander, and hey, beggars can't be choosers, and PARIAH's coffers haven't exactly left a lot for rent. "Yeah," he agrees after a moment. Ducks his head to glance past the other man, this way then that, one more time. "Probably isn't a bad idea to make it literal if we have to go to ground some point." After a moment more spent sitting on his ass, he decides to get up. Lurches up onto one foot then the other, muttering a lazy Sicilian curse. He wipes his grimy nose on his grimy arm. The net effect isn't much of an effect at all. "You calling it a day?"

Al pulls a worn pocketwatch out of his fatigues, clicks it open, eyes it, and whistles. "For damn sure. I feel like one of the Seven Dwarves. Man, you wanna crawl out of here, have a beer? Though let me sit a spell, first," he says, dropping down into one of the filthy benches, and half sprawling. "Man. I am gonna take such a long bath," he says, drooping.

"I couldn't move you with a lever, and that wasn't a fat joke at your expense," Teo replies amicably. Crooking the other man a downward grin, he lopes around the generator's squat, grumbling shape, giving it a pat on its screwed-steel shoulder as if it were a particularly good guard dog. He stoops just long enough to snag his flashlight, switch it off to conserve the battery. At least, until they shut down the new lights to conserve the diesel. "Beer good." He walks about— shuffles, really, squints when he finds the light that had blown. "Merda economica," he concludes, poking at it with his gloved hand, arranging his face into a scowl that's as earnest as he can summon the energy for.

Not very. Fortunately, annoyance comes easier to him and his kindred than it might others. He turns a dismissive shoulder to it and stumps back. Too tired to focus on any one thing, his mind tips and slides onto idle curiosity: "Did you learn how to do this shit in the military?"

"I learned how to do this shit 'cause I was fucking poor, but yeah, the Army helped to. Helped build and work on bases and camps all over Iraq," Al says, sprawling back on the bench, and going utterly limp, like a sleepy dog. "Least we got a lot less fuckin' sand here," he says, blowing out a slow breath.

Careless footsteps ramble around in Alexander's hearing before the younger man invades his peripheral vision. Teo strips off his glove and ditches it besides the box of tools currently sitting on the concrete adjacent to the telekinetic, before dropping into a monkey's crouch, arms hanging over his knees. He gets along well with dogs. Mostly mean ones, when he was young, but that was more a side-effect of his lifestyle than personal taste, and life's changed since then.

"Just rats and roaches," Teodoro replies, under little illusion that the poison will keep those at bay for too long; it'll be on those who live here to clean up after themselves. "If you don't move, you'll fall asleep right here," he notes, splitting his face with a recognizable fragment of a grin. His teeth show conspicuously white, picket-fence perfect against the dirt patina. "Don't make me do something cruel and unusual. I want beer." It's almost a threat.

Alexander sits up, obediently, and scrubs at his scalp. It leaves grubby streaks in the bright hair. "Ah hear ya," he says, mock grumpily. "Let's go get a beer," he says, pulling himself up. He's moving rather creakily, though it'll be tomorrow when the real soreness sets in, right?

It's true. And tomorrow, they touch up what broke and start working on getting water in, because Helena said Sunday. God they might have quoted, but God they aren't. "Here," Teo says, underhanding Alex his jacket, snagging his own, protection from the inevitable bite of cold that will displace the burn of fatigue once they walk it off, get above-ground. The generator shuts down with a moment's review, a clunk of controls. Flashlight beams slice through the darkness, and then it's the haphazard business again of adjusting to the light— lack thereof again, finding their way out. And it might be because he's looking at Alex's back, momentarily free of scrutiny, or his mind is too numb to keep its grip on what light conversation covers, but the question slips out as they walk: "Are we doing something for Cameron?"

He doesn't turn back to answer. "I….don't know. I haven't heard. We should have a service. Something," Al says. The line of his back is very weary.

Belatedly, Teo is aware of how stupid that question was. No one's talked about it, though. Him, not it: Cameron. It popped out, insipid, irrelevant, pointless, and not exactly an upper after the day spent trudging around the clammy concrete viscera below Manhattan's scarred skin. Who would know? No one yet. He makes a noise, an unworded apology. Watches Alexander's back, fostering his characteristic trace of annoyance at the other man's characteristic exhaustion, despite the ache in his own feet and arms. Doesn't speak again until they reach the ladder up to the grille. He stops under it, glancing up. "Turn around," he requests abruptly, inspired by nothing greater than the static in his head. "C'mon. Girarsi."

Alexander doesn't argue, trusting Teo to have his reasons. He obediently faces the other man, brows arched curiously. "What?" he wonders, tone still mild, rather than bothered. He's sweaty, despite the cool, blinking in the dimness.

Teo looks very serious to be entirely serious at the moment. Bold eyebrows are stooped down toward the middle of his face, forehead furrowed, mouth clamped down around a pensive scowl, silent and dark in as many meanings of the word as are available. Someone who knows him well enough would recognize he's hesitating, a little. Trying to read something on Alex's face that can not be read on Alex's sooty face. The next moment, he gives up trying, casts caution — and maturity — to the wind. He reaches out with a long right hand, snatches at the air in front of Alexander's forehead.

He retracts his arm the next moment, pulls it far back behind his head, even as he slides one foot back into a playfully defensive stance. "I've stolen your mojo," he announces.

Of course, he suspects he's being tremendously stupid. "And you can't teek or legally drive a car in the state of New York without one. So whatcha gonna do about it?" He realizes this is completely inane. The worst thing that could happen, he figures, is Alexander will turn around and climb away without saying anything. But he had the sense they were about to drink beer in soul-crushingly depressive silence anyway, so he thought he'd put some effort into… uhh.

Cheering them both up. Wise man, there. Unable to help himself, Alex's face crumples into a reckless, amused grin. "I don't know," he says, thoughtfully. "What do I need to do to get it back?" he wonders, cocking his head at the other man. "i'm too tired to fight, so I guess I can ask nice, and we can bargain. Or I can just plead," he suggests.

Though Teodoro can take a punch, he's happy to not have to. "He's back," he observes, when Alex's face breaks rank. Smiles, unbelievably. "Guess you didn't learn that in the fucking army." He's young enough to allow himself to feel a fraction of smugness once the lukewarm wash of relief seeps away.

And then, intelligently, he answers: "Uhhh."

Sadly, he hadn't honestly thought up any terms for the mojo's return besides a sluggish and ill-advised bout of mock-violence. He blinks almost audibly, his fist still curled protective behind him, keeping the prize out of reach. "First round's on you. You have to skip all the way to the bar. And— sing along to the first Madonna song that comes on the jukebox," which he'll personally program, if must be, "annnd… pleading could help. Fuck, I'm the worst terrorist ever," he mutters. Really, there needs to be a manual on hostage situations. His leg is cramping up.

Scene faded. Madonna later. Alexander promised.

October 18th: An Informal Request

Previously in this storyline…

Next in this storyline…

October 18th: Not a Pizza Person
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