Good Dogs


deckard_icon.gif teo_icon.gif

Scene Title Good Dogs
Synopsis Either that, or 'cat herding.'
Date January 23, 2008

The Cellular World

From: Teo
To: Christian
Time: 0300

Text: I hear you want to kill F.D. bad enough you ordered your partner to hunt him down and you're still willing to do it yourself. Means you're out of this game, unless we talk before 6 PM tomorrow. I'm sorry. Good-bye.

Ruins of Midtown

Standing in the ruins of Midtown, it's hard to believe New York is still a living city.

There's life enough around the fringes — the stubborn, who refused to rebuild somewhere else; the hopeful, who believe the radiation is gone, or that they somehow won't be affected. Businesses, apartment complexes, taxis and bicycles and subways going to and fro — life goes on. Perhaps more quietly than in other parts of the city, shadowed by the reminder that even a city can die, but it does go on.

Then there is the waste. The empty core for which the living city is only a distant memory. Though a few major thoroughfares wind through the ruins, arteries linking the surviving halves, and the forms of some truly desperate souls can occasionally be glimpsed skulking in the shadows, the loudest noise here is of the wind whistling through the mangled remnants of buildings. Twisted cords of rebar reach out from shattered concrete; piles of masonry and warped metal huddle on the ground, broken and forlorn. Short stretches of road peek out from under rubble and dust only to disappear again shortly afterwards, dotted with the mangled and contorted forms of rusting cars, their windows long since shattered into glittering dust.

There are no bodies — not even pieces, not anymore. Just the bits and pieces of destroyed lives: ragged streamers fluttering from the handlebar which juts out of a pile of debris; a flowerbox turned on its side, coated by brick dust, dry sticks still clinging to the packed dirt inside; a lawn chair, its aluminum frame twisted but still recognizable, leaning against a flight of stairs climbing to nowhere.

At the center of this broken wasteland lies nothing at all. A hollow scooped out of the earth, just over half a mile across, coated in a thick layer of dust and ash. Nothing lives here. Not a bird; not a plant. Nothing stands here. Not one concrete block atop another. There is only a scar in the earth, cauterized by atomic fire. This is Death's ground.

It's a cold day in hell, all ice and snow and twisted metal in the stretch of ruined landscape this side of the scar Sylar ripped across Manhattan's face. Lingering ash muddies would-be white drifts into a sloggy, miserable shade of grey beneath the vacant gape of broken windows and a hazy sky. A wan blur of chilly light is the best the afternoon can manage through the clouds, with scattered shafts occasionally breaking free to grace Midtown with more glory than it deserves. The wind isn't bad, but the absence of its howling makes the silence about the street all the more oppressive.

It's a good time to avoid trouble out here, really. Or, better than most other times of the day. Crepuscular creatures of early morning and late evening are content to do their scavenging in lower light, and there are hours to go before their more thuggish nocturnal counterparts start doing their rounds.

Deckard walks the street without making much of an effort to conceal himself accordingly. The dusky grey of his overcoat blends into the generalized grey of everything else well, but the movement of his lean figure past empty shops and masses of snow is easy to discern at a distance. He walks with his head down and his hands tucked into his pockets, watching the passage of debris along the side of the road for anything interesting enough to stuff into the backpack slung over his shoulder.

All metal zips and sturdy canvas as green as the accelerated foliage that lays claim to Midtown's gutters and cragged walls when spring rolls around, the messenger bag is knocking rhythmically against its owner's hip. Briskly. Whatever emotional melodrama has given Teo temporary invincibility against the elements, habit still frequently compels him to confront winter in that way he usually does: by running away from it, even if there is nowhere, out here, for him to go. The critters would understand. Rooting around the garbage, incubating tumors in the warmth of its rot, for the sheer unadulterated Hell of it.

Deckard can hear him before he arrives within conversational distance, about ten-second warning constituted by ten footfalls crunching the frost-rimed sidewalk behind him. And, optimistically, either to pre-empt a gun in his face or to discourage its going off: "Signor."

Crunch crunch crunch. Predictably, Deckard reaches into his coat with all the subtlety of someone who has none at all when it comes to being ready to shoot random assailants in the middle of Midtown. Teo's voice catches him in the act of retrieving the semi-automatic stored therein, Italian prompting hesitation enough that black composite is shoved back down into place before he turns.

He looks decent. Wind-ruffled, a little tired, and mildly suspicious about the fact that Teo has found him in the middle of this shit hole, but as clean-cut as he can get without losing the scruff entirely. Abigail has seen to most everything physical that ails him between last night and the graveyard incident. "What?"

"I feel like I should let you off the hook." The wind is running laps around Teo's voice, bending it around the normal tone he might normally use to address the petty criminal, who was once an informant, might now qualify to some definition as a friend, makes him sound bleaker than normal. He looks okay, though. Washed, a recent change of clothes, hair long enough to maintain its usual state of semi-recalcitrance, his expression defaulting to pleasantly attentive give or take that diaphanous graying pall that being in a public area or ugly place would normally cast over a guy.

The next moment, he looks — down.

"I promised you the other month. I'd get your name cleared, your life would go back to normal after you left. I don't think I can do that anymore. The guy that was riding on—" the guy that everything was riding on, though somehow Teo had never gotten more than a broken half an egg in that basket, "he's gone. You don't have to help us anymore if you anymore don't want to.

"You've already done a lot. Bombs, intel on Ethan, breathing in the stink the Feds breathe out. So…" Intelligently, his voice skews into an ellipse. He raises his head and his eyes rove, automatically, in search of a tic to focus on sooner than meet his eye.

Deckard watches Teo because he's the thing to watch, being the thing that followed him all the way into a sneak preview of the end of the world to talk to him about promises and hooks. It's not a flattering study, really. Puzzled and at a remove, the way he might eyeball an insurance salesman if one happened to clamber out from under a pile of debris on the same stretch of vacant street to tell him about floods and how horrifically costly they are to the unprepared.

A cursory glance over the landscape over Teo's shoulder is enough to determine that there's no one else in pursuit, acting as back up or an imminent problem. The slate line of his glare sharp and sober, he refocuses on a delay, hangdog aura shrugged off somewhere between last night and this morning to leave him at his usual disembodied slouch.

"Teo…when you told you me could clear my name and make everything fine again, I didn't actually," he pauses a beat, the thought crossing his mind that there might be a less assholish way to say this, "believe you." The knit between his brows twitches briefly skeptical with an uplift at the corner of his mouth, rather as if he's only just now realizing the offer was genuine. As ever, the humor inherent in that realization is at Teo's expense.

"You think I'd sit down with a bomb someone else made in the hope that someone with the law might do the right thing? Scratch my back?" Cynicism taints skepticism now, black and bitter enough to straighten his spine while he looks Teo over, coat and all.

"No," Teo answers, after a protracted quiet, underlined by the absence of wind and further underscored by the conspicuous void of company that came with him on this magical and uncharacteristically unannounced ninja appearance. "I thought you'd sit down with a bomb someone else made in the hope that I might do the right thing." If he were ever to run out of rue in the face of skeptical criticism, this wouldn't be the time. Irrespective of how much sway visible evidence has over the train of Deckard's thoughts, there is no visible evidence that he sees anybody's belief in him trying not to fuck people over as particularly awesome. It does not, apparently, guarantee trust or anything practically useful.

Again there is a pause. Skepticism is retained with a touch of something softer — maybe sympathy — but it's pretty fucking quick to pass. Flint Deckard and all. "You're just…some guy." Not one of the most profound things he's said. "Some Italian guy half my age moonlighting as a terrorist and a nanny. You can't make people do things. Especially not those people." Not without a gun and a ski mask at the very least, anyway.

Still a little openly baffled by the fact that he is having to say these words, Deckard is in remarkably high spirits against a backdrop of skeletal tragedy.

Their conversations are prone to pauses, repetition, like some scratchy audio track, either overworn or not practiced enough. Teo's eyes open and shut, refreshing the mucus glint that had been dulling out of his eyes. "Technically, Minea saved your life because Chris is out to kill you. She had a stupid plan to 'teach you a lesson' — throw you in jail for a night then take you back out. She's thought better now. I'm bringing her in and leaving him out. Felix is coming too. You don't fuck with them, they won't fuck with you.

"Vice versa should be true." A quaver-beat. Blankly, "I wouldn't be doing any better if I was your age."

"Technically," says Deckard, repetition for the purpose of intentional irritation this time, "I would have gone to prison forever and ever, and maybe been placed on death row for stealing a purse." He can't help it. Just has to tweak that in there, one eye narrowed into a squint without ever really blinking while he watches Teo talk. "Chris can get in line."

The rest takes a little more consideration to answer to. His jaw hollows while he mulls. What if they have to stand next to each other? What if they have to say words? What if he looks at one of them funny and gets jacked in the face for it? What if what if what if?

"I can keep my hands to myself if they can," is his eventual determination, made at a mutter. "I'm my age and I'm doing worse. Don't do any backsliding and you're already ahead of the curve."

It's a good enough show — or contrivance — of reluctance to convince Teodoro. Who, admittedly, doesn't ordinarily require a lot of convincing. One day he will stub his toe on his compassion and fall onto somebody else's samurai sword and enough people will be deluded about the nature of his altruism that he will posthumously be passed off for an honorable man.

"You're not doing that bad," Teo says with all the sincerity he is physically capable of, foregoing the urge to throw his arms around the lanky old grave-robber and squeeze until his lambent baby blues pop out of his face. His snowboots smear a fan-shape on the snowy sidewalk as he turns toward the closest edge of civilization. Either he expects Deckard to take a hint, or he wants to put some distance between them before whistling out like a dog-owner and capering off at a windmilling run. "You just need to be nicer."

"For a forty year old grave robbing innocent fugitive terrorist?" Deckard inquires with a falsely optimistic uplift of octave and brows, hands pushed deeper down into the warmth of his coat. When Teo turns, he waits half a step before following. It's a change of direction that occurs on a disconcertingly automatic trigger, long strides measured a notch or two slower than usual to keep pace.

No whistle necessary.

January 23rd: Confusion and Dismay
January 23rd: Migration
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