Finder's Fee


hagan_icon.gif teo_icon.gif

Scene Title Finder's Fee
Synopsis After muggers steal Irish Hagan's wallet, Italian Teo comes to return it. $50 and coffee subsequently change hands, and institutionalized/commercialized America receives equal amounts of love and hate over the course of the conversation.
Date December 17, 2008

Upper West Side: Hagan's Apartment

The address on the permit would lead Teo to a nice building on the Upper West Side. Not doorman-nice, but not far from it. 'O'Sullivan' is by a buzzer that says '402' on the listing inside the first set of double doors.

In actual fact, Teo knew exactly the building where O'Sullivan lives. He picked up a distraught healer from its lobby, once, with a stolen car, what felt like hours late, snuck in after some other man who walked in through the doors ahead because he's various sorts of appropriate like that. This time, however, he does stop by the buzzer and looks up O'Sullivan not only to determine whether or not he's at the right place, but to get at the right guy. After a moment, he squints up the facade, almost blinding himself under the fierce eye of the sun. Blinks, and pushes the button. Possibly more than once.

Bzz, bzzz BZZZ. The sound cuts through Hagan's hungover brain like a saw. It takes a minute for there to be an answer. When it comes, the speaker crackles and a familiar Irish voice on the other end says, "-What?!"

Bzzt. Bzzz. Bz— oh. "Buongiorno, Hagan," Teo's voice comes through more metallic, tinnier when channelled through yards of wire and speaker. "'S Teo. I have your wallet, signor."

"You're my what? Who?" Hagan's voice comes through loud and clear, even through the crackle. "Oh. You do? Right." There's more buzzing, but this time it's the door so that Teo can enter the lobby and take the elevator to the 14th floor.

Which Teo does so at an expedient pace, trying not to look as out of place as he feels between the mirror-glass and brass mouldings of the escalator and the thin layer of varnish that seems to cast a spectral glow over the entirety of the complex structure and its furnishings. Doorman-fancy it may not be, but it's enough fancy to make him realize that he's more susceptible to the insults of socioeconomic differences than he was once. There is a knock on Hagan's door and an Italian in the peep-hole, convex distorted and bundled up against winter.

It may be a shiny, well-kept building, but when Hagan opens the door, it doesn't precisely reveal a penthouse.
Hagan's place is a decent sized bachelor apartment, but still a bachelor. One wall is entirely windows that look out over the partially ruined city. There's a large covered balcony that currently has all the windows shut. The patio furniture out there is covered in a thick layer of frost. It doesn't smell all that smoky, suggesting he takes his chain smoking into the balcony-area at least. There's an LCD TV that hangs on the wall, a small brown leather sofa, a galley kitchen and a door open onto a rather large bathroom with modern fixtures. One corner of the room is taken up by a large desk with an expensive looking computer set up with dual widescreen monitors and a drawing tablet. There's piles of colour swatches and glossy ad proofs.
The room is l-shaped and around the corner on a partially raised section is an unmade queen bed with a ruffled white duvet. The furniture doesn't exactly all work together, but it's all good quality. There's a few dishes in the sink and a few dusty surfaces, but other than that it's not in horrid shape, especially for a bachelor. Especially for him.

The man in the doorway has hair that's ruffled worse than usual, has a shirt he looks like he hastily buttoned up (and missed a few) and a rather wicked shiner. He looks like shit. "Top of the fuckin' mornin'."

Just out of college and characterized by frugality, most of the things in Teo's own apartment look kind of like shit. Or did, until two other people started living in it. He spares everybody the indignity of staring around the L-shaped living space, its fine electronics, scattered workshop and jumble of brand name wares, and settles for peering owlishly at its owner instead. This is, admittedly, not what he had expected. Not that he'd had expectations. Somehow, that doesn't get in the way. "Few tabs of Advil and a good breakfast, and you'll be right as rain," he offers, diplomatically. Awkwardly, his hand claps down on his jacket lapel. In a moment, Hagan's wallet is held out on the end of a straight arm.

Hagan looks down at the wallet, then up at Teo. He hesitates a moment, then takes it from him. "You want a coffee or something?" Whether he says yes or not, the Irishman moves inside, leaving the door open. He pulls down a mug and dribbles black coffee into it. The dual monitors in his office-area show an ad for cheese on one and Photoshop controls on the other.

"Oh— no," Teo says, never one to impose, a sheepish smile and fingers up and loosely splayed in denial. Hand and expression both fold into something sheepish, if not fretful. "Or if you're having some." Relieved of wallet, callused hands go into his pockets and he hazards a step further into the apartment before realizing he has on shoes that are dingy with slush. Looking at the computer monitors and their dairy product, he mentions distractedly, "Everything should still be in it."

"Yes, I'm having coffee. If you're having some too, shut the door. My neighbors are nosy." Hagan doesn't look back to Teo as he adds a tiny bit of milk and sugar into the mug, then sips it. He opens up the wallet, then finds a fifty. This he hands out to Teo. "Call it a reward. Finder's fee. Whatever."

Guided by his head turned briefly over his shoulder, Teo obligingly shuts the door with his elbow. Doesn't lock it — or won't unless asked, rallying to the cause of polite social interaction with all the gusto of a particularly awkward teenager. Which he isn't like, usually, but it's been a weird few weeks. And when he turns back around, he finds himself confronted with money. "Grazie, but no thanks. Al did all the work, and I'm pretty sure he wouldn't. I think he got his return in investment with the scrap. You understand." He indicates Hagan's black eye with a look and half a grin.

"This was from the cabbie when he found out I didn't have any money to pay him. He wouldn't believe that I was just going to come up here for some cash. So he took my watch instead." Hagan holds up his bare wrist, as if Teo knows what used to be there. A cup is put towards the Italian and the cream and sugar motioned to. "Take the money. Drop it in a Salvation Army tin, I don't care. I need to do something to pull myself out of a fecking embarrassed pit."

Oh. Oops. Less the war trophy then. Promptly, Teo moves his eyes away from sensitive territory, moving toward the coffee in the same clompy gait that somehow manages to shed his shoes off his feet along the way. He takes the cup with long fingers and a smile of gratitude; considers the money for a protracted moment before accepting that as well, albeit with greater hesitation. "I'm sorry. Your watch?" He sinks his gaze to Hagan's wrist again. "You didn't get it back," the Sicilian observes, uncomfortably. Distracts himself by dumping sugar into his coffee.

"No. But it doesn't matter. It's just a thing." A 'ting' in his accent, naturally. Hagan sips the coffee, then eyes Teo, eyebrows arched. "Why do you look like you're in the fucking principal's office? Relax. I'm not going to bite you." If he's worried at all about the shoes, he doesn't show it.

Without a wallet in hand, Teo settles for jamming the money bill into his pocket with his thumb. When the older man makes his observation, he has his nose in coffee, so grinning smudges the rim of the mug and he has to bring it away before he laughs and bubbles a mess everywhere. "Sorry," he says. Explains: "You have a nice place. Not really used to those. You're an artist?" He indicates the cheese spread with his thumb.

"Artist? Fuck no. I design ads." Hagan puts his fingers through his hair. It kind of goes flat on the top and flicks out to the left. Like duck curl. He starts to edge out of the galley kitchen, because the space doesn't leave a lot of room for polite distance between them. The computer is motioned to as he drops down onto the couch. "That's just some freelance shite for someone who actually cares about selling cheeses."

Though habit would seat Teo on the floor, he decides to forego that. Drinks his coffee, in some hope that this will help him seem more awake in the later hours of his biological timer; his biological clock has been completely insane lately. "Not the American shit, I hope," he says, as the cheese goes. Naturally. "You seem like you're doing better for yourself than most of the starving artists I know. I translate shit. Pays a little better than the teaching I used to do. I guess practical implementation gives a financial foot-up over the art and principle of things."

"Oh yes. It's American shit. What, you think I actually design ads for good products? Rarely. Because the good products need to be quality. And if they're quality, they can't afford my rates." Hagan says this all matter-of-factly. It's not boasting. "I'm doing fine. I used to make shitloads before the explosion. Had a nice place. In Midtown."

Unfortunately, that makes all too much sense to Teo. Cynicism tends to depict the world in accurate colors. Albeit in less saturated color and weaker gloss than Hagan's actual designs do. He drops his gaze and his head slightly, a nod akin to agreement accompanied by a minute hnh like laughter, a short-lived disruption in the falling surface of his coffee. Then, "Hadn't realized you'd lived here for so long.

"In New York. Most expats don't retain so much of the home country in them so visibly, far as I've been able to tell. Not that I don't appreciate exceptions." Loose-jointed and casual, he parodies a bow; well-aware that he wears his own ancestry like a three-striped flag turned into a cape, wherever he goes. "I guess that makes sense. Most people wouldn'tve moved here after the Bomb."

"Fuck no. But I wasn't here that long before it all went to shite. About a year. Maybe a little more. It'd take a lot more than three years to beat the Irish out of me. About the only thing that's changed is that I don't call these…" Hagan lifts up a pack of cigarettes and drops them down, "…fags. That got me so many looks and nearly punched one night when I asked a half-drunk biker if I could bum a fag."

A blue eye swivels at the cigarettes, acknowledges them with a blink. Teo grins again. "I have a few friends from England who get that, too. I guess after the novelty of rubbish bins, flats, loos, and lifts wear off, the accent is more cumbersome than anything else." He parks his shoulder against the bit of wall that defines the doorway to the galley kitchen. "You mind me asking why you didn't go back to the Eire after everything went tits up?"

"Contract," says Hagan. He holds up his wrists as if they had cuffs on them. "There was no 'the city explodes' clause. In order to get the ridiculous sums of money they were offering, I had to sign on for five years. It's only been three." He realizes belatedly that he's got his buttons all askew. So in a fit of embarrasment, he tries to fix them.

Cuffs, Teo's had some experience with, so the pantomime isn't lost on him. He winces; nods. "You'd think the least they could've done after shackling you to the wheel was to hold to the salary end of the contract." He sort of winces again when he realizes that the older man is trying to rescue himself — with whom Teo had been politely conversing, or his shirt — whose state of asymmetry Teo had been selectively ignoring, in that sympathetically cringey skin-crawling kind of embarrassment, and that he should probably be… Uuh. Adroitly, he tips back the rest of his coffee, and about-faces to put the cup in the sink. "Thanks for the coffee, vecchio."

"They did. But the money I was making before doesn't exactly go as far," Hagan motions around the room as he fumbles with his shirt. He looks up at Teo stands. Really. His threshold for embarrassment's higher than that, but there's really no reason to ask the Italian to stay. "Did you just call me some sort of bridge? Isn't there a bridge called that in Florence or something?" Hey, he knows 'ciao' and 'prego.' That's…about it.

Ciao and prego are good words. Useful. "Nah. I called you an old man," Teo answers as he reemerges. Grins, shows teeth. "I don't like Florence very much. Or I was bored there as a teenager. It's land-locked, so the only decent time to go is when there is football, and I think Berlin had better riots. Germans. Go fucking figure." His hands free, now, he installs them in the crooks of his own elbows, arms folded across his chest. "What part of Ireland you come from?"

Hagan finishes fixing the last button. "Born in County Meath, not that that's likely to mean much to you. But spent most of my life in Dublin, with a few years in Galway. I'm a Dubliner more than anything." Some people might take exception to being called 'old man' but the truth is that he's feeling like it lately. So he's not insulted. "Anyway. Thanks for my wallet. Still think it was a dumb risk over a scrap of leather, but that doesn't mean I don't appreciate it."

"It was a dumb risk over a scrap of leather," Teo acknowledges, as ordinary and decent in his agreement as he was in his name-calling. His malice tends to be characterized by the urge to cut somebody's face open, so. Vecchio had none of that, and the fact that Hagan doesn't even take offense facetiously to it makes the younger man frown at himself. "But it was fun for some, and nobody wound up dead. Around here, I think that means the debacle was practically light-hearted." The smile he volunteers then is almost mirthless, though obfuscated when he ducks his head to find his shoes.

"Nothing is light-hearted when there's guns and knives involved. Unless you've got a fucking death wish." Hagan drains the last of his coffee. "Now fists…that's a different story." As Teo saw firsthand the night they met. "Tell your buddy that he might want to keep his mind-tricks under his hat a little more. Else he might find himself jumped." Sounds like he's speaking from experience.

A long hand goes to the top of Teo's head, ruffling then flattening his hair in an absent sort of way, despite the fact that the only company present has no real grounds to comment on the crop of anybody else's skull. He pulls his lips closed over a smile. "Come on, uomo. You know better than that. If you've never seen a man die by the bare hands of another, you were covering your eyes." Scuff and a squeak of ridged rubber, and Teo manages to wedge his feet into his footwear. "Al's Registered.

"Everybody capable of stepping into an Internet cafe could know what he does, and he's generally pissed off enough about that to exploit that for what little benefit it comes with. But thanks. You're right. I'll try to make him listen. You probably did the smarter thing, I guess." Whatever that means. Yanking his jacket straight, he looks up to see what progress Hagan has made with the shirt buttons.

Hagan's shirt is fixed now, though it's still wrinkled as hell. And he doesn't seem inclined to get up from the couch. He rubs his face and the stubble that's sprouted along his cheeks. "Hah. Smart can't really be applied to a bloody thing I've done lately."

"Staying unregistered," Teo supplies, his voice skewing slightly remote as he turns to get the door by its handle. For all the words are casually chosen, he knows that there's something decidedly off about his saying them. "Might be me being too big a fan of not telling anybody anything about myself in the interest of paranoia, but in all honesty, I've yet to see those government stronzo do one fucking smart thing with what information they've been given. You're all right, eh?" Doorjamb parts from doorframe and he glances over his shoulder.

"Don't even get me started on fucking registration," Hagan sounds tired, suddenly. He stares up at the ceiling. "Fine. On with ya. I'm sure I'll run into you again, Or your fist. Or a fist meant for you." He waves a hand towards him in a dismissive motion.

Apparently Teo isn't the only guy in this apartment saying things that have something decidedly off about them. There's a slight furrow of his brow, not entirely at odds with the upward curl of his mouth. Okay. "Thank you very much for the coffee, signor. Don't forget the Advil." He pulls the door open against its hinges and slots himself out, casting up a sloppy salute by way of farewell.

December 17th: Spy Versus Spy
December 17th: Like The Odessa File
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