He Left Us


joseph_icon.gif teo3_icon.gif

Scene Title He Left Us
Synopsis Rifling through Deckard's dragonless treasure, Teo invades privacy and Joseph recoils with epithets.
Date April 29, 2010

Ruins of Midtown — Hotel California

Hotel California is not actually a hotel. But you can find it any time of year.

This time of year just happens to be incredibly unfortunate. It's freezing up here, the wind sounding mournful somewhere far above Teo's head and the entire building a softly groaning riot of building decay and sagging snow. Icicles sparkle on the edges of things that have gone untouched sometime after Deckard's departure from the Ferrymen, after Colette had stopped keeping it up, after the severe cold had made Midtown practically unbearable to travel through. The sprawling office space turned shelter is empty of life — the pastor had said he'd be just a moment before disappearing up one floor.

Various footsteps, thuds, and one case of very mild cursing have since transpired as sharper punctuation to the distant sound of sleet pelting against the ragged walls of the desolate skyscraper, until Joseph's winter-jacket huddled frame comes cautiously moving down the staircase, replacing his gloves over his hands. His eyes are bright and black when he looks up, and holds up the sliver of silver key he'd been digging around for.

"You wanna do the honours?" he asks, chin tucking into the build of scarf around his neck, and tilts his head towards the locked, walled off supply storage in the form of converted office rooms.

"He gave it to you," is Teo's answer, indisputably clear despite that he has his scarf wadded up, walling off the bottom half of his head like a castle's battlements, the ramparts coming up just below the gargoyled hook of his nose and hiding the snarled crack formed by the rift in his cheek.

If the eyes are the window to the soul, Teodoro has something to worry about for that moment, staring at the door through frosted panes of benign and silent nothing.

It doesn't last, of course. Even a monster who warrants as much resentment from his fellows as Deckard the Serial Killer must, eventually, blink, particularly with the dearth of humidity offered by Manhattan's weather these days. Separately, Teodoro trends toward being a relatively mannerly monster.

He steps back with a faintly fawn-like delicacy, out of deference to the probability of treacherous footing. Bobs his chin above the level of the wrapped cotton, freeing his mouth a little belatedly. Articulates a polite invitation with his hand and arm, ceding the pastor said honors. "Thank you for letting me come along," he adds, conversationally. You didn't have to.

Teodoro isn't sure if Joseph does so knowing where the old man is, now, and that would be the beginning of a discreet and judiciously-applied litmus test to determine whether or not the pastor does.

To outsiders of little backstory, it might be surprising that Joseph doesn't like Teo that much, with rigid pastoral politeness repeatedly knocked down over the course of the year making sure that it's worn more plainly if perhaps, in his view, not unnecessarily so. Teo isn't missing out on too much — the world won't end if Joseph skimps on smiling and general warmth, or exudes some amount of chilly reservation at the thank you he's offered. That he's managed to congeal himself more of a spine over the past few months doesn't mean he can't add, anyway, "You're welcome.

"I didn't see why not." So, yeah. Ducking his head, Joseph heads for the doors, his foot steps cautious with respect to uncertain ground, eroding damp, creaking wood and groaning metal skeleton. There is no building in all the world that represents Deckard better, this brittle spire of gappy darkness, reluctant shelter.

Scraping the key in the lock, it gives stiffly and rustily, Joseph needing to use his shoulder and his weight to get the door to jerk out of its frame. "Get the lamp," is casual instruction before the pastor disappears into darkness, his flashlight shining a moment later. "Looks like 's all still here."

Not even the Ghost version of Sicily would have been particularly surprised at people dropping out of his fanclub. Or never signing up. Or the manager quitting on him— anyway, it doesn't take a macabre, unwieldily epic poetry of Catholic self-loathing to which one's entire life is attuned and syncopated to be free of silly illusions that one ought to be liked, with murder and exploitation of individual tragedies and, you know, never checking in otherwise being one's modus operandi.

Well, they're here. And Teo proves and awesome! enough companion to do as asked, when illumination is requested of him. He gets the lamp. In a moment, a glove-thickened knob twist, a lurid gas light has both of them haloed in wan, rust-colored, and he's lifting the thing by its skinny steel handle.

His own footfalls are slower, more hesitant despite that said light precedes him in, half because he's scooted the circumference of its incandescence beyond the immediate trample of his own boots, and partly because of some embarrassing suspicion that the residue of its master's soul will employ innocent objects and slick patches of ice to lash out like a poltergeist or, at least, an evilly mischievious gremlin out of remembered resentment. Best friends forever, Deckard!!

"Anything you need help looking for, in particular?" Always the helpful one. He crowds into the space to Joseph's right.

The more directed eye of Joseph's flash light catches itself on the glint of dusty glass, on metal shelving once possibly used for stacks of print paper and boxes of staplers replaced now with canned goods and water. It's a tiny, dark, dank treasure trove, and Joseph doesn't respond to Teo right away, just creaks a step in further. "I'm just— " he starts, hesitates, then continues, "just gonna try take inventory. Put aside anythin' personal, figure out what to do with the rest. What do you think?" The wobbling, golden eye of the light in his hand passes over the propane powered heaters that they might want to use for as long as they spend up here.

The pastor glances back at Teo, now, clicking off his flashlight out of the interests of conversation, now that soft bronze-coloured lantern light is flooding the room. "I dunno if he's coming back to this," he points out, bluntly. "I dunno if he gave me the key to this place to maintain it for 'im or scatter what he's put together. Not sure if he knew either."

"Sounds like him," is Teo's blank, blond answer, an initial agreement. Surely that warrants some agreement, however. He can't be wrong about that. Deckard putting something together, with no idea of what he meant to do with it. It's hard to know what to do with one's things, lovers, friends, one's nests— however shabbily constructed, when one's self-concept in its entirety is a misery of definitive destruction.

Teo's agreement lasts through a few long steps, toward said propane heaters, and then he's craning his head over their naked vertebrate-shape jumble of white metal parts. Of course, out of everything he could have bequeathed upon said friends, Deckard would have left a boneyard of found objects. Is there any food around here? is what Teodoro wants to know. Even the canned stuff goes bad, eventually, and the Ferry could use it.

"I have a notepad, in case you run out of pages," is his doubtful but polite and well-intended offer. He hooks a gloved thumb over his shoulder, angled at the opposite corner and the ramshackle doorway (doorless) inlaid into the plaster there. "Or I can start over here."

"Go ahead." And Joseph is off to start over here, turning away from Teo, and— yes of course Joseph brought a notepad, the shuffling of its paper sounding out a moment later, and the brisk click of a ballpoint pen sounding almost comically neat and out of place within the shabby interior of an eviscerated building. It's hard to write and turn pages with the gloves on his hands, but he's unwilling to expose them to the icy air that the building does nothing to block.

Numbers, keywords, are briskly scribbled down. Not so long after, he reports, "I found the guns." A beat. "Gosh," is Joseph's quieter assessment on the little stockpile of weaponry. Scribble scribble, hesitation over spelling uzi. Joseph doesn't look up from his task when he has a more pointed question to the man he dragged up twelve floors.

"So, where is he?"

Ooh-zee. Teo would have spelled it if Joseph would have asked, but instead the pastor has to ask that— instead. The lamp in Teo's hand doesn't stop squeaking its arrhythmic counterpoint to his step, or at least, not until he stops by the dishevelled stack of boxes that constitute 'the other end' of Deckard's shit-pile. He finds something cardboard-flapped acessible enough to pry at it with his free hand, under the glow of the lantern receded into the distant corner of Joseph's eye.

"I got him a new head doctor," he answers, after a moment that is weighty with diction considerations. How to phrase that? "I don't actually know all the details. We'll see him again, anyway. No less of an asshole, probably." He cranes his head down, lower to examine his findings. The yellow bulb limns his aquiline profile, the slitted curiosity of his eyes, and then he's prying out a rectangular object thin enough to admit translucency to the luminosity of his handheld light. A photograph. Despite the distance, it isn't hard to tell there's a face in it.

"Found something."

There's a rattle of metal in cardboard to accompany Teo's explanation, and it's for the latter than the contents that defines the former that Joseph's frowns down into the box of ammunition. He's not entirely sure that Teo is answering the question that Joseph asked, but the shrugging off of details has the pastor remaining silent.

Discontent but silent. Turning a page of his notepad, he twists at the waist to look over at Teo, seeing mostly silhouette, huddled shoulders, vague conspiracy. "What'd ya get?" is friendly enough, Joseph replacing the heavy carton next to the ones just like that might fill the weaponry kept and ordered in this Aladdin's cave. His footsteps fall heavy a second later, though his shuffle on closer is modest and distanced, finally coming up on Teo's left, black eyes curiously scouting out the slip of paper the Sicilian has in his hand.

It's a picture of a girl that Teo met only after she became a woman. She was kind of hot, Teo thought. Not that that's— you know, different, far as his brain tends to operate. The photograph turns slightly in his fingers, angles to show Joseph the face depicted without distortion. Strong-boned features from nose to the Selachimorphic jaw, dark curls, an ironic quirk to her wide smile. She doesn't bear overmuch resemblence to Deckard herself. "His sister," is the accompanying caption, aloud. "Her name is Leah."

He hands that off, mostly because he needs the hand free to fidget and grab through the rest of the box. Lays the articles out on the rickety shelf beside it. Keys, pewter shield— over which his fingers hesitate for an instant before they splay, release. Choppy vegetable matter, desiccated along the bottom of a Ziplock bag, and then a blond girl with an infinitely familiar smile on her candy-sized mouth. Pesos. Teo's teeth separate, meet again with an audible click, out through the scarred window in the side of his mouth. "His shit."

"Alright, well." Joseph wants to say stop touching, but ultimately just nods and sets the photograph down next to the weed that— is a total unsurprise. He imagines maybe that Deckard would like him to have that, and remembers an instant later that Deckard isn't dead or whatever. He also doesn't set the photograph aside without several moments of curious study, granted — the notion of a family that might care, or something. The glossy, faded photo waves between his fingers then, as noted, put aside.

A couple of steps carry him away, but not far, this time, keeping an eye on what Teo's doing as Joseph goes to peruse the metal shelves. "I reckon you can, uh. Maybe just hang onto that for 'im so it don't get mixed up with all this stuff. There's a lot of it," he adds, somewhat wistful. Mournful. "He had a nice thing goin' up here. I mean. Nice enough."

The Pastor doesn't have to actually say it in those words for Teo to get the message. Right. Yes. No that makes sense. Privacy— the next object slow-unearthing out of the shoebox's chapped contours exposes rumpled and wear-notched pages, slightly dog-eared covers, smudged soot and a glimpse of a Biro-blue scrawl of Deckard's hand on college rule. A journal. Fortunately or otherwise, Teodoro doesn't notice what it was he'd found until his arm has already begun to straighten, setting the unexpected and— debatable treasure back into the trove.

His eye shades downward at the box, and his mouth flattens out, except for the twisted scar up his cheek and the saliva-smudged glint of teeth within the keloid's contused edges. "Si," he acquiesces, with some difficulty. Biting back curiosity, swallowing it back. He flexes stiffening fingers uneasily around the lantern's handle. "Right." The weed bag is bunched in his fingers, dropped back in first, before the photos, shuffled like playing cards. Tapped into proper alignment with the edges flat on the table, before they're fitted back into the puzzle-pieced division of space inside.

He doesn't question Joseph's dubious wisdom— or courtesy— in having automatically assigned him possession. "Not for the inventory, you mean," he says, benignly. Clumping it shut, he fits the thing under his arm. Glances up when the seesawing of the lantern squeaks a rust-colored clot of coat canvas into view, two shelves up and a few feet down. Teo's brow furrows, and he glances sidelong at the Pastor, automatically. They can take turns— having— things, in here.

And sure, there's a part of Joseph that thinks he should probably be the one to keep an eye on Deckard's things, reasons not the least of which being that he is probably just as nosy as the Sicilian is. Still, done is done, and he taps the end of his pen against the cover of his notepad as he glances along the wall of shelves. What he spies at roughly the same time as Teo has him returning that glance, before he's pushing his pen into the spiral spine of his book.

Moves on forward and tucks a hand onto the bundled fabric, immune to its unpleasant texture through his gloves. It's only by the time he's dragging the thing out— that's when the coppery, stale smell might register for them both, and that's also when a knife, heavy in the red-stained fabric and caked with the same dried stuff, slips innocently out and clatters on the ground between them.

Both coat and notepad are dropped too as Joseph starts back with a prim kind of jolt, hands restlessly coming to plant on his hips as if maybe he meant to do that— drop everything, that is. "Not for the inventory," he notes, nervousness not yet evaporated from his voice either.

"Maybe it ought to be." Teo's voice comes across carefully even. He has raised his lantern, which— doesn't actually improve the situation all that much with the process of helping him see, given the nature of the light. Doesn't have a beam. Disperses illumination evenly across the walls, spattering translucent shadows, too, where the glass of the bulb isn't nearly as well-kept as it should be. "It's a weapon. I can clean it up."

It's also evidence. Forensic evidence, possibly privvy to far too many partial or even complete finger-prints than a dedicated best friend forever! wants to have lying around available for the examination of CSI units. That sort. Teodoro has this bad habit of steamrolling over Deckard's tragically poetic exit strategies, whether kamikaze through serial-killing or the preservation of guilty tokens as this.

He doesn't have enough free hands to pick it up, but he steps toward it anyway, stooping, shrugging the box out from under his arm to make room for an awkward bundle. Maybe he will put the knife inside the box. "Or do you think we should destroy it?"

"No." Joseph's own tone catches him by surprise — the word leaps from his throat, some spark of life igniting in all the taciturn politeness in the way one gets a bright idea. And maybe he has. Does. He's already halfway down anyway, to collect back up his notepad, but he leaves it lying spine up in favour of his hands moving to claim the bloodied items he'd only just sent clattering. "I— I'll take care of it. Sorry," he adds, for his own awkwardness, and folds a tarpy hem of coat over the knife, carefully concealing spattered blade and handle.

The notepad goes on top of this bundle, clutching all three together as he levers himself up to stand. "I'll be careful," he feels moved to add, regarding the sharp object, and probably more than just cutting himself — leaving it to be found, for example. "I figure that some of the minor stuff can be taken — the food and the like. Lord knows the Terminal's gonna need it," he goes on to say, sidestepping both figuritively and literally, a creak in the floor as much as his voice is smooth. "Heavier stuff can be left, if we reckon he'll be comin' back to this."

Works for Teo. He'll keep the box of melancholically sentimental souvenirs and trinkets, photographs of lovers, family, Mexican pesos from a honeymooned parting, trophy casings and weed and car keys to an American classic. Joseph can have the gorily scabbed-over murder weapon and the responsibility of rationing out everything else. Fair trade. The Sicilian's mouth bends slightly closer to symmetrical, and then he's unfolding his frame again, stiffly returning to his feet.

"No need to apologize, signor. It's a little bit of a clusterfuck he got himself into, isn't it?" It's either a rhetorical question or the stupidest one that he's ever asked the pastor. There's nothing but acquiescence in the motion of his hand as he peels away, returning to the dusty sweep of floor that Joseph had just trampled over from. "I'll start counting cans."

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