Harlem Hoops


simon_icon.gif mallory_icon.gif teo_icon.gif

Scene Title Harlem Hoops
Synopsis Mallory meets up with Simon after basketball practice and the two run into Teo in the gym.
Date October 16, 2008

Washington Irving High School

To all appearances, little has changed about Washington Irving High School, although it was closed for 20 months after the bomb exploded in Midtown. The windows broken and walls graffitied by mischievous teens during that interval have been restored to their original appearance; the hardwood floors have been recently waxed, the walls are clean, and row upon row of lockers line the halls of all eleven floors. The entrance hall remains elegant in its wood paneling and fireplace, as if nothing untoward ever happened.

Even when school is in session, however, there is a quiet atmosphere unusual in most public schools. Many teachers and students alike did not return when Chelsea was reopened; what faculty there are struggle with too-large classes, at least on those occasions when most of their enrolled students attend class. Some have to teach subjects not their forte, filling in the gaps left by the departed. Before the bomb, this school offered excellent instruction in fashion design and photography, along with an International Baccalaureate degree; now, it's just another example of Manhattan's fight to make ends meet at the most basic levels.

"It's way after school hours and basketball practice is winding down. The team is still out on the court, though, dribbling and shouting nonsense at each other. Go over there! Wing formation, boys! Eye's on the ball! And whatnot. Simon is all smiles as he tosses the ball to one of his teammates, who catches it and dunks it. "Nice shot, Ronny-G! Holla!"

Mallory makes her way into the gym, a dark shadow along the wall. Or kind of an unwelcome one, anyway, because she's really not the type to sit around and watch practice. Which a few girls and a couple of guys are; they're sitting against the wall, talking amongst themselves. Mallory goes wide around them, waiting on the other end of the court.

When "Ronny-G" gives Simon the finger instead of "Holla-ing" a frown forms on the latter's face. He was just trying to be nice. The coach blows a whistle and announcing that practice is over and for them to get the hell out of here. While most of the team runs off to the locker room, Simon approaches Mallory,

"I thought this was where the cheerleader tryouts were being held," Mallory drawls, stuffing her hands in her hoodie. Like many a rebellious, iconoclastic youth, she's pulled the hood up. Nevermind that cheerleader tryouts were a long time ago; she may not, in fact, be serious. She's probably not. Yeah, that ws a joke. "I met a girl in the park the other day who was pretty outspoken about burning reg cards.”

"Yeah, right. You're not peppy, though." Simon drops down on the piece of bench next to Mallory, but not too close because he probably smells bad. They're both in the gym with a few other wayward students and basketball fans who came out to watch the team practice. "That's cool. What's her name?" He pauses, and then adds, "And when are girls going to get back to burning bras? Aren't those things just *so* restrictive?"

"I'm not discussing bras with you," Mallory tells Simon, nose wrinkled. She remains standing while Simon sits. "Didn't really get her name," she says quietly, voice pitched low. "She asked me what I'd do if my parents tried to get me a card. Said your magic words, too."

Predictably, Teo wound up proctoring a detention. While some part of his brain complained that six years at Columbia University warranted something better or more challenging than that, the other part of his brain grudgingly concedes that it's taken him six years at Columbia University to get this far. After an hour of cold, fungal, numbing silence broken only by the occasional reprimand and a titter from an eyeliner-heavy girl or three that he decided against investigating too closely, and he finally broke free to stretch his legs.

Wound up at the gym, invariably, driven indoors by the slight chill about six minutes after he was driven outdoors by restlessness. He steps in through the swinging doors, hands in his pockets. Exchanges polite nods with the coach, watches the team configure itself on the court for a moment, before turning his head to see who else is around.

Practice has more or less ended, so those kids on the court are probably going to be heading away soon. Simon should be doing the same thing because the jersey looks funny on him. He gives Mallory a stupid look and blink. "What magic words?" Simon honestly has no idea what his sister is talking about. For the moment, he doesn't spot Teo, which is a very good thing for everyone in the gym.
Mallory raises her eyebrows and murmurs to Simon, "Fortis et Liber." She takes a quick glance around; Teo's given a raised eyebrow, because dude is too old to be here. Unless he's at the school regularly. Is he?

As the team breaks up, the coach sends them away with a few words before waving Teo over to speak briefly. The older man refrains from pointing or nodding at any of the young men trotting back into the locker room, keeps the conversation brief, recapitulating some teacher conference Teo wasn't eligible to sit in at but ought to know about anyway: bullying's been a problem, hazing a recognizable subtype. Teo is asked to keep an eye out. Choosing not to inquest into the why-mes or staff politics too far, he merely nods, claps the older man on the shoulder.

"Okay. Take care." The men part ways. He catches Mallory's look, glances down at himself to make sure he doesn't have a piece of glass or a stain staring out of somewhere conspicuous, before craning his head to see who she's with.

"Oh. Those words. I wish I was there." Simon really does, but he was probably doing some homework or something at the time. As Mallory's gaze floats out onto the court and lands on Teo, Simon's follows. When he spots the substitute or whatever Teo is, Simon jumps to his feet and leans in to whisper to Mallory, "Oh, man. That guy there is crazy. Watch out or he'll punch your face or call you names. To the extreme."

"Punch my face? In the middle of the gym?" Mallory mutters back at Simon. "Who the hell is he? The mugger?"

Teodoro recognizes Simon the instant Simon recognizes Teodoro. It helps that Simon pops up like he had springs attached to his ass and then they're doing that ventriloquist maneuver that high school students do when they're being furtive. It makes Teo feel pretty self-conscious for all of a few seconds, prompts him to look around and see nothing more than the bleachers emptying out sluggishly, before the confidence inherent to being twenty five-years-old and alive despite recent odds wins out. He mutters something at the ceiling as if God was hanging there, and starts to walk toward the teenagers.

"Maybe. I don't know. And, actually he saved me from them, I guess." Simon doesn't sound like he wants to admit that for some reason, probably because he should be feeling grateful, not fearful of the older man. "But still, he was all grabby and barking orders. Oh! Quick, here he comes." Simon takes a step away from Mallory as if it would make it seem less like they were whispering.

"Quick what?" Mallory demands, a hint of annoyance in her tone. She eyes Teo and just gets right to it: "What?"

Completely aware that he managed to arrive in the middle of a conversation, Teo doesn't really have a good answer to Mallory's question. Blue eyes shift to her brother for a beat, expectant, as if Simon was going to answer what the quick was about right then and there. Not that the boy is going to, of course. That would be absurd. They had separated on bad terms, as far as Simon recalls, and Teo suspects that knowing he'd been followed out to the edge of Harlem wouldn't make the kid feel much better, no matter what rationalization that might have had. The next moment, his angular features break into a smile, polite, neither superficial nor especially warm. "Wanted to apologize for scaring your friend the other day," he says.

Simon rolls his eyes and crosses his arms over his chest all at once. "Listen, man. You didn't scare me. You almost killed a few people or at least I'm sure you would have if things went down a little differently." Simon can't help but drop his gaze to the man's crotch, where he stuck his knee before running off.

"He did whatnow?" Mallory demands sharply, looking back at Teo and raising an eyebrow. "What the fuck?" She removes her hands from her pockets, wary now.

The man drops his gaze too. Not so much following a teenager's gaze down his own person this time, and nor is his own crotch the subject of his stare. No, he's contemplating his shoes for a protracted moment. Without adrenaline or death imminent, Teo lacks the will or impetus to argue the point, defend his actions, or insist on lack of capacity for muder; normally, he does like to think he's grown out of fighting. Covert terrorist support aside. "Okay. I'm sorry I…" he searches the word bank for a relevant emotion. "…grossed you out, then." That sounds adequately accurate, if somewhat juvenile. Imagine that. He squares his shoulders, glancing at the door out. "I think you should stay out of Harlem," he offers in a tone like salutation.

At Teo's choice of words, Simon's brows arch. Gross out? He prefers scared all of a sudden. When the older man mentions staying out of Harlem, he glances over at Mallory and shakes his head. "Oh, well," he turns back to Teo and lifts his shoulders in a lazy shrug, "I really don't care. Who are you to tell me

Mallory turns her incredulous look Simon's way now. "You were in Harlem?" she demands. "Seriously? What the hell were you doing in Harlem, dumbass?"

It would be exaggerating slightly to say that Teo had had no idea, or no hope that mentioning that out loud would've elicited a reaction from the girl Simon's with. He presses his lips together to quell a laugh or something equally unhelpful. "Dio," he answers Simon before wincing at himself privately. Also unhelpful. Straightening his features with effort, he considers his answer before saying: "Someone who would move further away from it if I could afford it." He refrains from throwing in anything more sentimental than that, looking between the two students, trying to parse their dynamic. The family resemblence is becoming obvious. Simon arches his brows, Mallory gives him an incredulous look. 'Don't care,' 'dumbass.' It's kind of like having the same smile.

Simon rolls his eyes and looks over at Mallory. "I was walking, alright? Sheesh, I don't remember it ever being such a dump before." Of course he knows how Harlem has gone to hell after the bomb. It was all over the news. He just wanted to see what it was like for himself. The teen turns to Teo and glares. "Get a job, then. One that doesn't involve being in this school. How about that?"

Apparently, Simon succeeded pretty well with getting to know what Harlem was like for himself. Teodoro looks at the glaring boy. He twitches faintly, an incipient reaction of temper that he cuts short before anything more than a murderous thought to bring to confession really comes of it.

Through some act of will, he sublimates his annoyance into a slightly frost-tinged smile. "Working on it," he says, flatly. "Take care of yourselves." He shoves his hands further into his pockets, giving his back an almost visible crick, and turns. His right shoe squeaks once as he steps back out onto the court, just once, before he's gone. The twins are left to their business — for all of three sentences, before the coach barges back in, keys jangling, and hollers: "Allistair! Get your ass in the changing room. You two go home."

October 16th: Out of the Jaws of Death
October 16th: The Way to Dusty Death
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