I Am Not Quite Myself


eileen_icon.gif teo_icon.gif

Scene Title I Am Not Quite Myself
Synopsis In which Eileen, with a bullet in her leg, and Teodoro, covered in Felix's blood, circle like hissing cats underneath an exceptional veneer of politeness.
Date April 24, 2009

Long Island City — Ferrymen Safehouse

100% Fed-proof, does not work vs. terrorists.

The Ferrymen safehouse in Long Island City is an ideal place to slough off dirty clothes, slip in a shower and nab a few hours of restless sleep before the sun rises, lifting the curfew with it. Evidence of Eileen's bloody excursion into the ruins of Midtown hangs unceremoniously in the bedroom closet, discarded in a heavy duty garbage bag for the time being. There's no point in running her woolen coat and jeans through the washing machine — even with copious quantities of bleach, no amount of tumbling or scrubbing is going to remove the stains from the fabric now that they've had the opportunity to set and sink in.

The same cannot be said of Eileen's skin and hair, and while the tiles in the shower might still bear some sign of wrongdoing come morning, the majority of the blood — some of it hers — has been diluted by water and washed down the drain. When it's safe, she'll venture over to Staten Island and see Dr. Filatov about removing the bullet wedged between her femur and the wiry muscles in her right thigh, but until then she's stuck waiting out the pain as she towels off at the foot of the bed, movements ginger and somewhat laboured.

It really fucking hurts.

Getting over to Long Island City was an equally irritating task for a young man covered in Feeb blood, Midtown's grit, and only half the clothes he should have been wearing besides, but not impossible. Where there's a will, there's a way. Particularly when you're an enterprising baby terrorist who knows cyberpaths, teleporters, and an underground railroad dedicated to a cause to which one's made great and visible sacrifices.

"Hear you have a new superpower." Teodoro is ever an absurdity of contradictions. On the one hand, his voice comes in on a dieselly register that sounds as fucking pissed off as he ought to, given the evening he's just had, and the matted residue of crimson scabbed in his torn sweater, jeans. On the other hand, he has his eyes averted sharply to the right edge of the door, his shoulder against the dingy hallway's wall, the whole of him the picture of good Catholic deference to female decency. "And almost killed Felix Ivanov with it."

Whatever new superpower Eileen might be in possession of, it isn't superhuman hearing because her ears fail to detect the Sicilian's approach, feet on hardwood, floorboards creaking beneath his weight. It's the familiar cadence of his voice that seizes her attention in two clenched fists and turns her head to the side. She can see his vague outline in her peripheral, all murky shadows and piebald patches of light and dark, easily recognizable despite being partially obscured.

"When ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars, be ye not troubled," she quotes, careful to keep the defensiveness from bleeding into her voice's rasping inflection. Some of Salucci ended up rubbing off on her, after all. "Who told you that?"

The bullet hole in Eileen's thigh is making eye-contact with Teo despite his best effort to treat her like the lady that she would probably sneer and insist it is not. It's odd to him that she doesn't— snatch back and cover herself, despite that he's conducting himself so that she won't have to. He turns away further now, swiveling to profile behind the funereal pall of shadow, his back meeting thin plaster at a roughly even distribution of weight. Give or take a few ounces of cloth or gunmetal here or there.

"Felix. I tripped over his forming carcass and called an ambulance. Which is something people should probably stop doing at some point, or he won't learn." It's a terrible joke to make, and not one that Teo is the type to, but it's been a weird week. Without the lassitude of depression to leave him rotting under a heap of blankets, he has entirely too much energy to expend toward being actively angry and restless by turns. It's like being thirteen again. Except, you know, at thirteen he would have peeped. Laughed. Devil may care.

Teo wiggles his right foot, grinding the sole of his shoe into a disruption in floor texture. "He said you reopened old wounds all over him. And then he went comatose."

"If he's as bad as you say he was, maybe he was hallucinating," Eileen suggests as she wraps the towel around her body, toga-like, cocooning her otherwise bare torso in Egyptian cotton. Its fibers are several shades deeper than the young woman's skin — the tag reads "Old Lace", but it appears richer than that in contrast with her pallid complexion, gaunt and sunken from loss of blood. "Anyway," she adds, "I've had my hands full all evening with Vanguard-related business. Got a bullet in my leg to prove it too, in case you came all the way here to interrogate me."

It occurs to her, somewhat belatedly, that she might feign some concern to defer Teo's suspicion. She turns to face him, clothed in bath linens, and arches both her dark brows into a mild expression that's difficult to read but still manages to convey some small compassion, however bogus. "Do you think he'll live?"

The small compassion, being bogus especially in light of the last and only shouting fit she'd ever seen out of him, but is no reason to be alarmed in and of itself. It's just like her, and Deckard, and Fedor, and the rest of the bizarre, barely-strung-together alliance of… whatever the fuck they are, to pat Teo on the head whenever he's up in arms about something. Either that, or bring missiles. He frowns where she can't see it, before noticing that she's pulled up the terrycloth.


"But someone fucked up his old injuries. Doesn't make any fucking sense that it was you, but there's trouble if he thinks it was. He was already balancing out excuses for and against throwing his honor out the window and you under the fucking bus." Teo's head cants forward slightly, prelude to his center of balance tilting forward. He finds his feet in a scuff of shoes, turns to put his face in through the bar of bedroom light. He looks tired. Scuzzy, ragged at the jaw and hollow-eyed under the stubborn, still-beating, machine-like mania that got him all the way out here; that will get him back to where he needs to be before sunrise. "I'm sorry you're hurt and I know you must be tired. I won't pry."

Teo's features tense a moment, creases, digs crows-feet in at the corners of his eyes. Reminding himself that he has a face, or trying to wake the fuck up, maybe. When they relax, however, he studies the young woman with a mangled, watercolor-blurred mixture of incipient apology, residual suspicion, and grindstone bad temper that she probably has nothing to do with all tangled up in the lines of his forehead. "If you'd call some birds for me right now, just up to the window or something— I'd appreciate it."

Eileen allows herself, of all things, a smile. "You won't pry," she murmurs, "but you want me to call some birds for you. I see." It isn't a yes but any stretch of the imagination, but it isn't a no either. Not yet. She elects to take a seat on the edge of the bed, wincing when she does, and pulls her good leg up onto the mattress with her. "You're right. I am hurt, and I am tired. Give me a few minutes to focus. I'll— try. For you."

Because trying is all she can do. It won't work. She's spent the last few days struggling to get in touch with her center again, only to be rewarded with the return of old aches and pains, a soreness in her lungs that won't leave and aggravates her breathing. "Have to admit, making people bleed sounds like a pretty fancy trick. I know a couple people who'd kill to have something like that as part of their personal repertoire."

She humors him, smiling as she does it. Humored, Teo fails to, though there's a twitch of the hollows of his cheeks "One of which spent up to two months in jail not far from dozens of nutcase assholes. Has control issues, and tried to kill you once, if I remember right. I think he'd do a shit job pretending to be anything like you, though." And even when he's bumbling around amid his haze of amnesia like a Down's syndrome retriever puppy, Felix is good at reading people.

"I don't believe Gabe would. Hate to think there are others. I went over it on my way here."

Teo's colors aren't all here, but it's difficult to tell whether he's feeling faded, restraining himself, or some mix of that and distracted by the heel Eileen has planted squarely in his conscience. He's looking at the window by the time he figures out he should shut up and let the young woman concentrate. He puts his hands in his pockets. Any moment now, a drove of spectacularly nocturnal pigeons will crowd the pane with the flashing silver down of the undersides of their wings.

He'll get to go— home, or to a reasonable facsimile thereof. Wake up in time to drive-by growl at Felix's window, that he has the wrong woman. Monster. Thing. Leave her alone. Go hunt a shifter. She's one of mine now. And I have a vacation to pack for, five or six other displaced operatives and ability swaps to ignore.

Any moment now.

"If you don't think Gabriel would go after Ivanov, then you don't know him very well." Eileen avoids looking directly at the window or her distorted reflection in the glass, aged ripples making the pane appear like something straight out of a carnival funhouse. If she's lucky, there are pigeons already roosting on the ledge outside, their bodies huddled together, heads tucked under wings in a cozy show of solidarity. "He had him arrested. Shipped off to Moab. It wouldn't be the first time, either."

His assessment of Peter, on the other hand, is spot on. Better, she can use it. "You're right about Petrelli, though," she says, gaze shifting from the sill to the towel's lowermost hem and the pink spot that has begun to soak through the weave. "He doesn't know me, couldn't pass for me, and last I checked he couldn't take anybody's shape but his own. Gabriel— Gabriel has everything that I am. My thoughts, my memories. Carries it around in his pocket like a whole lot of loose change. What's he been doing since you two got back, do you know?"

A pale eye swivels toward the young woman, the eyebrow above it arching higher than you'd expect on his forehead. It might be naivete that inspires Teo to say so, but honestly, if that were to come from either of them— it might as well be the one who sat under the stars of Botswana, swigging grain alcohol, and talking about innies and outies and the various and sundry difficult conundrums attached to the personalities attached to the nethers.

"I know you still don't believe me," Teo says, "but I'm pretty fucking sure that whatever Gabriel's been doing, it's something other than hating you enough to let Felix live thinking you had a new ability and will to abuse it. On the other hand, I guess I can't believe that without wondering why you'd turn around pin this on him. You know—"

For lack of wingbeats and a wild flurry the likes of which tore Alexander's face apart and made a ruin of a dozen government employees at Moab Federal Penitentiary, Teo deigns to walk across the floor in A Helpful Fashion. His ankle pops as he goes, staring out of the pane. There are pigeons there, he thinks; the round, feathered bulk of their clasped wings and hidden faces limned faintly by the light of the bedroom at enough distance to imply safety.

His profile is bent by a scowl. The thinking kind. "What really fucking throws me? If either of you did go out to skewer Felix with some brave new ability— why you didn't finish the job. You can stop trying," he adds, unable to tell if she still is.

"I never said he hated me," Eileen points out, and she realizes she hasn't said much of anything since this conversation started. There's been a lot of sidestepping accompanied by gentle nudges in the direction she'd prefer Teodoro's brain to wander, but nothing solid, nothing tangible, nothing truthful. "And even if he did, framing his enemies for crimes they didn't commit isn't exactly his M.O. Using people as tools so he get closer to others? You've experienced that one firsthand, haven't you." It isn't a question, lest he forget that meeting in Central Park prior to Vanguard's subsequent disbandment.

If there are birds, there are birds. If not—

If not, Eileen will just have to face that inevitably, won't she? "Go ahead," she says of the window. "Open it and take a look for yourself."

There's a grunt of disagreement, factual: "You did. Last time. We had a long conversation and half a dozen cigarettes between us." Teo leans the heels of his hands against the window sill. It doesn't make a sound underneath his weight though he leans forward until his breath fogs the glass, veiling the sight of the avian shapes slumbering below. It does not seem entirely likely that she would have answered his request by dragging up a drove of birds then ordering then to sleep en masse. He doesn't have to open the window. Doesn't— want to.

Eileen has turned his help away more often than she's accepted it. History has shown.

Granted, Gabriel hasn't, as of late. The whole world's gone crazy, and the erstwhile serial killer seems to be the only one prone to prudence: keep his head down, out of Felix's way, under HomeSec's radar. "You might want to let Abigail look at that leg," he says abruptly, straightening, angling his frank regard at the Englishwoman. "Vanguard business. Sounds like you'll be needing it again soon."

"Unless Abigail knows how to safely dig out bullets, I think I'll pass." As for her earlier remark about Gabriel not hating her, Eileen wants to tell Teo that's just wishful thinking. She refrains. Never mind her physical condition — emotionally, she's in no shape to get into that particular argument again, not unless she wants to lose control, prove the Sicilian and his suspicions correct. "She's got enough to worry about as it is."

She doesn't like it when he looks at her. Through the gap in the door was different. Circumstantial. Having him level a stare makes Eileen feel even more naked and exposed than she did when he first revealed himself.

Teo's temples are beginning to throb. A headache. And after tonight, is it really so surprising?

"I'll see Constantine in the morning," she concedes. "He'll look at it for me."

It isn't. Teo has no way of knowing that's brain damage revisiting, either, or else: he would rather not know.

"She's good for the rest of it. I can get you some painkillers for tonight," he offers. There's a beat's pause. A hard blink of his eyes, his face swiveling away and then, despite that this would probably be the least recommend course of action from anybody in their collective circle of acquaintance, he closes a hand on the edge of the window and slams his forehead into it.


After the resounding thud of his skull cavity meeting wood, there is one sharp intake of breath and then a stumbling series of three, four steps backward, his knuckles coming up the line of his profile. "I can stop by the pharmacy and then head out of here," Teo continues conversationally as if he hadn't— just— done that, blinking his vision back into focus. Clearing his sinuses, that's all.

Eileen could have been anticipating any number of things, but that wasn’t among them. She jerks abruptly back as she'd been the one struck and not the window frame, the muscles in her body growing tense and rigid beneath the towel, bunching up like an injured cat crowded into a narrow corner. A few days ago, the sound alone would have startled her into losing control over her ability — now it’s taking all of her restraint to keep it reigned in and at bay.

She can't understand why anyone would want to do that to himself. And yet, like Teo’s reluctance to actually open the window at her request to get a better look at the birds, she opts not to press the issue. Or even bring it up.

"Thanks," she says instead. "I'll owe you one."

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