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Scene Title Hybrid
Synopsis Two bodies, multiple souls in varying states of harmony, and insanity is highly subjective. Teo also got spoilered about the surprise sentient benevolent power thing.
Date October 7, 2009

A Ferryplace in Queens

Some safehouses are homes. Full-functioning family-style living situations with kitchen area, living area, multiple bathrooms with tubs and showerheads, bedrooms mapped out across a floor that shapes all the way out to a back door. Fire escapes, a kerchief of a garden or balcony area where you might find laundry lines for the children to tangle in. This isn't one of those safehouses.

One floor in the block. Exposed balconies constitute the interconnections between residences, slabs of flat-faced concrete that seem to crush down one over the next, flattening the next one out like sedimentation, giving the naked eye the implication— correct— that the cells inside are suffocatingly small too. They are. The sinks scaled down to half the size of an ordinary unit, windows boxed tight between thick frames, even the floorspace seemingly squeezed small by the fat coats of paint lazily replaced over the years. The wallpaper scrolled down over the surface, the most recent addition, has the coarse consistency of brown packaging paper and is peeling off at the corners.

The water runs, though. There's heat. Makes it bearable, keeps the cheap ceramic clean after the three or four times Teo's gone back into the bathroom to wash out the grotesque rubbery-lipped gash Minea's firearm had raked through the muscle of his bicep. There's still dirt under his fingernails from carrying and dumping her body, the expensive detergent off the seat of her SUV hanging onto the leg of his trousers as spitefully insistent as memory. He's gaunt around his eyes, sat by the front door, cellphone in hand. There's a Blackberry disassembled on the misshapen little spool table.

It's intuition, and trust, and memory that sees Flint Deckard's gaunt frame sidle up to the front door of the safehouse. The gaze of water-pale blue eyes is cast over the sad front of the Queens building, but honestly, it could be worse. If you've ever seen the industrial bunkers in France, the underground mines storing food and water and human life, then you would think so too. And at least something in this particular man has.

He's dressed in alligator cowboy boots. Jeans. A faded t-shirt. A leather jacket. There's a bristle of stubble on his face that hasn't been allowed to compete with the bristle of his hair, and he rubs his knuckles against one side of his narrow jaw before wrapping fingers about the handle of the door.

For all the speed with which he'd gotten here, it's with a certain sense of caution that the healer steps inside. His other hand is wrapped around a cellphone in his pocket, and he searches out the semi-familiar figure of the man he's come to see.

The man that Flint Deckard came to see is on the floor. Legs scissored loosely into a V, heels in a sprawl, gauze slapped onto his arm, sticking by virtue as much of the slow ooze of blood pushing its way to the surface underneath as because of the skinny, slimed strips of tape webbed haphazardly over it. He has a gun on his hand, which shortly becomes a gun pointed with reasonably precision up at the healer's head. Two healers' head. Brain-matter, skull chamber, the physical seat of the soul, so they say. "I've been debating with myself," he says, his voice rough with dehydration, "about fifteen, twenty minutes now, about whether I should do this now or after you fix me.

"Figured Deckard would appreciate the gesture." That he didn't wait, he means. Despite the saucy rhetoric, the charismatically gravelly register and haggard sincerity with which he delivers these lines, there isn't the gunslinger's cocksure audacity or machismo that one might expect from Teodoro Laudani, fresh outta murder in the park, movin' on to laying down justice on the creature that has his friend in its psychic chokehold.

His voice is thin from mental recitation, and his regard— though baleful— carries no fervor, his affect flat, his conviction programmed, the weapon steady with the subtle wrongness of a cyborg. "And I hear you're an egotistical son of a bitch, so maybe you like that I'm not going with the self-entitled assumption. Francois, right?"

"Pas tout à fait."

The response is denial and confirmation all in one. It's been some time, now, since Deckard's eyes have flared with bright ice of neon blue, but they achieve it on the more mundane scale upon the sight of the gun leveled at his head. A hand lifts, an open palm, and it's not fear, really, that writes itself into the lines of another man's face. "There is a woman, Helena Dean, who Flint had the pleasure of meeting today."

He reaches back to click the door shut. "He made a promise to her, and I am sure he would be disappointed that he could not keep it. Or perhaps not. But you see, my point is, you are not pointing your weapon at an enemy. Put it down."

There's a tipping of Teo's head on its axis, considering, his eyebrows darking down over his eyes with considerable severity. He studies the stranger with his friend's face wrapped around the front of his head. He pulls that answer apart, finds its individual constituent parts, puzzles meaning into them. Who Flint had the pleasure of meeting. Today. Flint was here, today. Abigail said he wasn't there, yesterday. Why—

"Seems she was right about the egotistical son of a bitch thing thing," he observes, finally. Last but not least, of course: that the man he's pointing the weapon at is not afraid. Further categorization and identifying traits, as 'not enemy' seem to be rather up in the air despite his argument.

He doesn't put the gun down, but he does let his elbow fold, skew outward, set down on top of his knee to rest. It takes some of the urgency out of the threat. "Pourquoi est-il parti? Pourquoi— " Something strikes him then, visible as dirt on the wan complexion of his face. The light from the streaky bulb above, prone to shadow, exaggerates the revelation rather than obfuscating. "He came out for her." Oh.

Teo doesn't put the gun down, and Francois' brow wrinkles in a critical kind of annoyance, standing with his shoulders slack. He can't approach him, with a gun between them. His long fingered hands stretch, and clench into bony knuckles. "Maybe." The non-committal agreement is pitched to something encouraging. "You will have to ask him. You see, you are under the mistaken impression— or so it would at least seem— that Flint Deckard is at my mercy."

He takes a step forward, with a scuff of cowboy boot. "You are also under the impression that what I am is whole enough for a name. But I will be an egotistical son of a bitch for long enough to appreciate having one, so." His smile is small, kind. "No harm.

"Did Abigail call you, desiring that you kill me tonight?"

Disagreement adjusts the knit in Teo's brow, bunching the zag of all-too-frequent frown lines in, gravening deeper over the normal wear of thought. The gun tilts back when Flint— Francois— the other hybrid takes a step forward, following the new trajectory to the man's head. It puts his wrist at an incrementally more uncomfortable angle, but he doesn't adjust his knee or his shoulder to compensate for it or the difficulty that the weapon's kick would impose on his aim if he actually planned to pull the trigger.

If he weren't bleeding out of the shoulder in slightly excessive demonstration that he does participate in firefights of fairly serious consequence, one might begin to wonder if this were all quite facetious on some deranged level. "I can't even tell if that question's rhetorical," he admits, after a moment. "No. Of course not. Right now, I'm actually under the impression that he isn't coming out because he doesn't want to talk to me. What are you?" The question relates back to the statement, somehow, but there's a connective thought missing, scratched away by the coarse grind of mingled blood loss, imaptience, and subjective distress.

Flint's pale gaze slants downwards with a tip of his head. "Memory. Healing. Simple, which is perhaps the only defense against the complex." Once more critical, he observes Teo's position on the ground and then, a little tentative although not without difficulty, he lowers himself down. One denim clad knee meets the ground, leg folding, hand bracing. He doesn't look up to see if the gun tracks his movement.

"I also cannot fix your wounds with a gun in between us. Or— I suppose, I will not. It wasn't rhetorical. Please, Teo." Teo. The name is spoken with a misplaced familiarity, with the memory that does not belong to Francois and the earnestness that does not belong to Deckard. "I don't mean harm."

This supplication— or facsimile thereof, surprises Teo despite that it comes with a certain ultimatum as well. He stares a moment longer, the gun even for its ticking, fungally cold duration, until it angles down, his hand in a loose, wet-fingered knit around the grip. He breathes in, out again. The feverish sheen of rancid perspiration across his tattoos leaks sporadic adjustments of color across gauze, and the end of the row of crude stitches in his shoulder from the other injury.

From some other thing. If his Madre could see him now, she'd be either outright appalled or perplexed at this parody of television America he's playing at. Guns, baby Teo? Grit and salt cupped in his pores like dirty dishwater, and him biting his lips shut against the urge to insist on what Francois already knows: his injuries aren't the point he's trying to make. They're the point that Francois is trying to make, though. His throat works a swallow down. He bends the weapon away, clicks it back on safety with a saccadic shuffle and shift of fingers on gunmetal. Acquiescence.

The lack of relief confirms the lack of fear. He smiles at Teo, a little wider, but no less tiredly, and pushes himself closer with the heels of his palms. Then, a hand is extended, thin wrist from the rough hem of the leather sleeve, tendons standing out against skin that seems too thin. Open palmed, the hold promises to be a gentle one despite the roughness of a hand made up of paper-flesh and bone.

There's still work to be done getting his strength back, but from the brightness in his eyes, he is not the emptied man he could be. "Perhaps he wanted me to talk to you," is offered from the left field, musing, and a rough, dry chuckle accompanies it.

A question about where the Hell Lilah's gift of fucking fudge went dies on Teo's lips when that question lights the air. It is too late to draw back by then: his hand's already out, flumped down on the flat of Francois' palm as sullenly as a teenager might throw himself down on a mattress, back boldly turned against the concerned parent in the door. You can't take back a gesture as potent as that. Well, technically, you could, but to do so is counterintuitive to the original point. You can't very well point out how indifferent you are to someone's opinion while snatching back reeling into the defensive.

He isn't really indifferent to Francois' opinion. Abigail Beauchamp has it that this man's saw everything as it happened. Remembered. His invocation as a defense mechanism makes all too much sense in light of that fact. Teo looks at him askance, the gun in his hand hanging listlessly down against the inside of his ankle. There's a smudge stippled into the pattern of the underside of his shoe where Flint's knee winds up. It's brownish. "Maybe he should've thought of the possibility there's something he needs to hear," he offers, finally, wearily. Their exchange thus far has managed somehow to wear the worst of the friction out of his voice: he doesn't sound as parched, as rough, only tired. "But that isn't really an argument."

Flint's fingers cage around Teo's hand, gently, and almost automatically there is that feeling of warmth. Smarter, though. No discredit to Flint, but healing warmth does not bash itself blinding into every corner of Teo's body, fill up with all the discrimination of water in a sponge. Their clasp is cold. But Teo's wounds begin to tingle in a familiar sort of clamminess, not uncomfortable, not euphoric, just healthy.

"There will be a time when he will be prepared to hear," Francois states, head canted to the side. He doesn't look away, eye contact maintained with all the confidence that eighty-odd years cultivates. "Perhaps it is just not this evening. What he did for Felix Ivanov took much from him. Body and spirit. He will be alright. I want him to be alright."

His hand clasps a little firmer, a reassuring grip, or an attempt at one despite Teo's— despite Teo. "I had hoped to make a better impression than Abigail's disappointment," is an added observation.

"With me?" Pale eyes shade a glance toward Francois' Flintface, showing the long jowls and skinny scooped-out cheeks back to him in high-contrast averages of topographical shadow and bleak bone, tinged in a lifeless glacial hue of blue iris. Teo blinks. He doesn't comment on the discernible departure from the healing he's used to receiving, but there's a shift of ligaments underneath the skin, speculation momentarily turning focus inward, before he's back again, picking at the dangling thread of the conversation he almost dropped. "I'm biased.

"Probably." He's reassured, in some small way, by the wielding of Deckard's gift in greater finesse. Health has never been the old graverobber's strong suit. Having somebody aboard that's better at it may not necessarily be a bad thing, however much or little stock one puts in engineered declarations of well-wishes for the host.

Squeezing one last trickle of pusy blood out from between its ragged lips, the stab wound from days earlier finally welds itself shut over the freshly adjoined bone beneath, leaving surgical thread to inch like a caterpillar, unspool from the perforations in his skin. "My prior experiences with bodily possession, shared memory 'nd so on consists of Kazimir Volken and Azrael at a distance. Up close and personal: me. Kind of shitty precedents you're stuck working with."

Concentration is starting to define the angles and planes of Flint's face, as if perhaps healing were not simply a matter of laying your hands on a warm body and letting go of everything you have. Despite himself, his head tips this way, tips that in a gesture that is not Deckard's, acknowledgment. "I know. I suppose I do not feel like I am possessing him. He does not scream in torment at the back of our head. I am not Volken, or Volken's gift. You can feel that much."

Indeed, if there is anything purely opposite to the needle-like bite of Kaizmir's life-drain, it's this - restoration. Healing is something of a limiting phrase. "But like I told Abigail, and like I will tell you. I am not here to convince you of the truth, save when it serves me." A head tilt to the gun. You know.

The warmth dims. "How do you feel?"

Better. Less disgusting. Or like the grit and grime and sickness were external now, a patina carried around on the surface of his skin instead of insidiously crawling its way through his limbs, a physiological difference that doesn't quite address the whole crippling depression thing he's dealing with lately but nevertheless has the perverse benefit of lifting the mood. There's nothing wrong with feeling better until there is. Teo flattens a sticky hand on his face, unmindful of the dead cells and organic residue wicking in the spirals of his fingerprints. He breathes easier. "The screaming is usually a pretty good tip-off," he agrees, presently. It takes him another half minute to remember, but he's prompt as soon as he does.

"Merci." Boots shift on the floor, transitioning his weight to mitigate the uncomfortable sensation that his pelvic bone is about to puncture through the mass of his butt cheeks and into the floor.

He pushes the gun into the floor, steels his weight against it in an ungainly fashion, starts to push himself back up, upright, stiffened and anemically dizzied as an old man, but this already a vast improvement. He isn't looking at Francois with consistency. He says nothing. It's disconcerting for any mountainous array of reasons. Not the least of which: he and Flint don't tend to be the most talkative of people when left in a room together, anyway.

"De rien." It's not with equal wooziness that Francois gets to Flint's feet, but close. All the same, he puts out a hand to grip Teo's arm in such a steely grip that it could not have forcibly come from the same healer with his gentle fingers, but it does. Matter of fact, he helps Teo up the rest of the way in the same style as stone-face nurses. "Perhaps— " He steps back, tilts his head musingly.

Perhaps, Abby was right. This is a separate thought, not spoken out loud. Not right about everything. Right about Teo. What's done is done, though, and Francois lifts his brow, smiles. "Perhaps we could go home?"

The chimera of memories in Deckard's body is not using Deckard's face properly. It's peculiar and uncomfortable, being on this side of that fence, all of a sudden. The temptation to criticize rises again, is quelled, framed by the sharp and humbling awareness of personal insecurity. Instability. Insanity. His lips tighten, self-discipline warring down the cindering sting of his own temper, a reasonable facsimile of decency. Deckard doesn't mean it when he calls Chelsea 'home.' Not really.

He stops staring at Francois because that's becoming rude, releases the man's hand when the timing seems right. "No problem. I just need a drink of water, and I'll get my shit together," he says, finally. The construction of the sentence is segmented, hewn out like it were coming from a sawmill instead of a young man acquiescing to be docile to his roommate's perfectly reasonably proposition. He moves toward the bathroom. The first three steps require conscious effort, not to drag his boots across the level of the floor.

In stride, Teo pulls the gauze off his shoulder unthinkingly, because it's beginning to pinch, the tape and the brittle clinch and torsion of skin underneath superfluous scabs. He doesn't notice it, not yet, but underneath the runoff adhesive and streaky haemoglobin, the skin's new and clean pink, and the bullet trail that Minea put through him has, with astonishing accuracy and the winking courtesy of someone else's gift, stricken the line of text from the cross-shaped tattoo that once marked his right bicep. It used to say Never Knows Best.

It only takes him a few minutes. Ten. Then they go home.

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