Good On Paper


cardinal_icon.gif teo_icon.gif f_teo_icon.gif

Scene Title Good On Paper
Synopsis Reciprocity in back-scratching, what with everybody abducted and hiring assassins.
Date December 6, 2010

West Village: Maison d'Allegre

The brownstone home, number 57 on West 11th Street, is three floors tall, all old brown brickwork as the name implies. A curving stepped stoop leads up to the door, wrought iron barring it off from its neighbours, with the building's number in brass nailed into the painted wood without any glass inset to give a glimpse of the space within.

Once inside, the immediate hardwood foyer offers space to hang up coats and set aside shoes, with a wooden, open flight of stairs curving up into the second floor. The first opens up into three designated areas — a spacious livingroom with a rug of earthern tones thrown in the centre, a generous hearth set into the wall with traditional log-burning capabilities. The walls are exposed brickwork, lined with shelving of a slowly growing book collection. Next to it is a dining area defined as such by an oval dining table, generous and able to expand to sit up to eight people, and usually littered with too many things to be good to eat at until cleared. The kitchen is barred off from the rest with a counter, all stainless steel appliances and a sliding door that leads into a modest backyard. Tucked away to the right is a laundry, cramped but sufficient.

The second floor has more walls, closed off areas — a master bedroom with a connecting bathroom, a hallway that slides between the stairwell and said bathroom, into unfurnished open space that provides linen closets and such storage. The third floor is similar, if reversed, and almost designed to be its own separate apartment, with a bedroom and bathroom at the back of the house, an open social space with a squat coffeetable, and an open, unfurnished space with a balcony hanging off it, street-side. The stairwell spirals all the way up into rooftop access.

When the shadow slips in under the door, the first thing, likely, that strikes him is that there are two of them.

Teos, that is. Which one had sent the message is perhaps difficult to determine, just from looking at them. One of them is older than the other, evident faintly in the lines around his eyes, the greater bulk in his shoulders, a sinewy grace in the hands he uses to steer his knife through his steak and fork to slice through lined-up peas, and the edge of an unfamiliar tattoo peeking out of the cut of his jacket collar. Across from the dining table, below the poster of the brassy red rooster, there's another, his features unmistakably of the same cast.

He cuts his steak apart in the same order, though, assembles his vegetables with the same economic swipe of stainless steel teeth. Their beers are reduced to the same level. It's the strangest thing to come in on, but no doubt, they were expecting him: there's a third bottle waiting on the other edge of the dining table, defrosting gently in the meager warmth of the unheated brownstone.

The shadow takes a few moments to regard the pair, as if trying to figure out which of them is which. It's more difficult to tell than he'd expected, but he figures it out after a minute or three.

The shadow sweeps up a wall, then, and Richard Cardinal steps out. He looks tired, bruised, and his arm's in a jury-rigged cast of fabric and plaster that leaves his hand mostly free but is nevertheless harnessed across his chest.

"Laudani," he greets, then pauses. "Laudan… is?"

"You can call him Ghost," says the younger one, straightening slightly. He wipes his mouth with a napkin and then, adorably, stands up to greet their guest, extending a hand toward the adjacent chair, there, that Cardinal may have himself a seat right there with the beer that has his name on it. Just not. You know, written on a label or anything— but it's his. The specter in question doesn't apparently see reason to argue with this assessment. He waves his fork Hello, before going back to eating with steady voracity, leaving the hybrid to preside, head craned, carefully assessing the comfort of his guest.

The injuries of his guest. "What the fuck happened to you?" He doesn't look one hundred percent either, admittedly. A little raw and shadowed around the eyes, like he's been running on caffeine and prescription stimulants too long, but anchored here by them, awake and game.

"Got into a li'l bit of a brawl, is all. Ducked out just before the hit team showed up to kill me, apparently, so hey — it could've been worse," Cardinal banters easily, stepping over to the chair and dropping himself back into it, leaning back with a faint creak of the wooden bit of furniture. He reaches over to take hold of the bottle, twisting off the cap, "You two look like hell too."

That, the ghost evidently takes issue with. He raises his buzzcut head and squints. "The fuck?" he asks. "I look great." He looks healthier than his counterpart, at any rate, but the hybrid doesn't answer, merely twisting his mouth into a frown that has very little, if anything, to do with the friendly insult at all. Cardinal's here, now, and his food is more or less entirely forgotten.

He remembers to sit, but that's all, before he's pulling a long, narrow envelope out of his coat and pushing the flap open with his thumb, pulling a letter free. "Francois got punted into the dusty chapters of prior history thanks to some dink with a ponytail," he says. "Trying to figure out where before we get this other dink with a ponytail to give us a lift. We already have a when: '54.

"First problem is, back then there'd be fucking two of him." (An ironic curl to the corner of Ghost's mouth, but the hybrid ignores that.) "Figure the one we want has to be the one in the States— there's a couple notes about the area mixed in with shit about France and a few Cajun families named. One of them I remember he'd talked about using as an alias.

"Second problem is, all the fuckin' records from then are paper and shut up in a fuckin' filing cabinet somewhere mildewy and moderate-security but fucking guarded. There's ancient yellow boat logs I need, specifically. So I was wondering," a deep breath pulled in, and pushed out again, and perhaps a nervous gesture: the hybrid roughs a palm down the angle of his jaw. "If you'd be able to help me out and steal them."

The beer bottle's brought up to Richard's lips, and he takes a swallow of it before tilting the bottle towards Teo, his lips pursing into a frown. "I was… starting to wonder about that. Hiro returned everyone else before too long passed… I don't know why he hasn't brought Francois back. I haven't seen him since," he admits, one fingertip tapping to the side of the bottle.

He nods, then, "Logs. Medium security. Easy-peasy. Tell me where and what, and I'll go dig 'em out. Shouldn't be a problem."

"It's in there." The folded paper taps down on top of envelope, pushes across at the man. Text laddered down inside, public records laddering its surface, changes of address, cataloguing, a few phone numbers, but all of it in California. "You could probably just yank whatever you can carry and— we'll consider returning them later. I seriously doubt anybody's going to notice them going missing." There's obscure worry they'll all be eaten up by fungi or moths, or fires or floods, an endless litany of things that can go wrong in fifty-six years. Given the last two to eleven that 'Teodoro Laudani' has experienced, that seems all too likely.

And only the tip of the 'berg. "I can give you money for the air fare, unless you'd rather do it like," he pauses, sort of bumbles over words a little; he isn't sure how to phrase this, precisely, winds up slipping and falling onto something casually facetious, at odds with his pinched pallor, "—a ninja."

The envelope's taken up from the table, beer bottle set down as he goes through the papers in a brief flip through it… and then Cardinal glances up over the edge, brows raising slightly. "No need for the money," he murmurs, looking back down and then setting the envelope - closed - back down on the table before he leans back in the chair.

Reaching for the beer bottle, he adds, "There's a favor I'd like to ask in return, though. Not that I won't help unless you say yes, I mean, Francois's one of my people, I'll help regardless. But it'd be nice."

There's a mumbled word of amusement from Ghost, but it's discreet enough, for Ghost. The older Sicilian stands up and starts to collect his plate, fork, pausing to look at the untouched meal in front of his cohort. His brow quirks, and he turns his head to study Cardinal and his beer, the envelope posted with them, no manifest interest specific to the new stake on the table— maybe because it isn't ruthlessly conditional.

Of course, the hybrid is already leaning forward, head at a slight tilt. "Yeah?"

"John Logan." Right to the heart of the battle. Cardinal tilts the beer bottle towards Ghost, "Casper over there was pretty buddy-buddy with him for awhile. The man keeps throwing money at asian people to murder me. I'd really appreciate it if he stopped, I have things to do."

Casper in question smiles suddenly, and it goes all the way up to his eyes although they shade downward briefly the next moment, almost bash-ful. His gaze cuts up again without blinking, irises striated pallid blue like the infinite needles furred within a soulless block of ice. This time, it's the older one interjects before the hybrid can ask, despite that the question probably stands for the both of them:

"Why do Mr. Logan and the Triads want to kill you?" There's the weight of expectation behind it, his presence larger than the hybrid's in a way that's almost exactly proportional to their physical sizes, despite having nothing to do with that.

"The 'Shadows want to kill me because Logan and his friends threw money at them," says Cardinal with a shrug of one shoulder, the beer bottle swirled around in his hand as he notes dryly, "Does John need more reasons? Him and me aren't exactly best buds. It's possible that he found out what I was doing with Zarek — someone killed Kain, after all. Maybe him."

The ghost concedes this point with a shrug of his shoulders, and lifts up the plate full of cutlery to take to the kitchen. The hybrid watches his older counterpart go, and then shifts his attention back to Cardinal.

"I'll see what I can do," Teo promises. In the background, the sink starts. "How long do you think it'll take you to fly out there, get all that shit," he juts his scruffy chin at the envelope, and then passes a callused hand wearily over his face, "and back again?" It's a little disjointed, but he's evidently tired. His hand falls to fork automatically, starts to pry at the meat again, but there's no real joy in it.

"Thanks." Cardinal's chin dips in a tired nod of his own to Ghost, "God knows I've got enough fucking shit to worry about. I don't need to be watching my back for knives on top of it… well. More knives'n usual."

A swig of beer, and then he considers the matter, his lips pursing in a brief frown. "Coupl'a days, at the most. Less, if it goes really well. Technically I could be in'n out in a day. I'd be jet-lagged as fuck, but, y'know."

A twitch at the corner of Teo's bearded mouth. The nearer one, that is. The one in the kitchen is clicking and clacking around and all they can see of him is his shoulder, except maybe if the hybrid can sneak a peek, and God only knows how that works. "You don't have to strain yourself that far," he answers. "I mean— time's probably 'of the essence,' but not like that. You know how it is." He folds the fingers of his left hand tightly into the hollow of his palm, and there's a peaking, whitening of his knuckles, a cartlidgenous pop, and he takes a deep breath.

"Anyway, I appreciate this. No matter what happens. Francois didn't talk a lot about your group, but it's good to see there's… some shit that can go unspoken."

"He might've agreed to follow me for his own reasons…" The neck of Cardinal's beer is tilted in a subtle motion towards Teo, the man's voice quiet and serious, "…but we take care of our own. I might not be a saint, but, yeah, there's some shit that goes unspoken." The last of the beer flows down his throat as he tilts it back, his eyes closed for a moment, and then he thumps the bottle down. Gloved fingers - the good hand - sweep over the envelope to pick it up, and he moves to rise.

The Sicilian rises with him. Pushes his chair in, and lengthens his stride to get the door for Cardinal. When it opens, there's an inward gust of cold black wind, rifling through Cardinal's hair and snapping chilly at Teo's bare toes. Despite his legendary dislike of chill weather, however, Teo barely seems to react to the push of weather at all, blinking blearily in the half-light of the hallway. "Anything goes," a beat. "Awry," his vocabulary's still ridiculously not-quite-conversational, however, "you have my number."

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