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Scene Title Incite
Synopsis A single spark can incite a riot, and Teorodo Laudani is holding all of the matches.
Date May 6, 2019

Manhattan, Teodoro's Hotel Room

Sometimes, the littlest secret, if left to grow for too long a period of time can become something monstrous.

The flickering flash of neon lights floods at a steady interval through three tall windows into the dark expanse of the Hotel room. Flashing in alternating blue and pink, changing the shade of the white painted walls and drab furniture as an oversaturated study of color and darkness. Outside, the muffled din of cars passing on the street below and the noise of the bar across the alley from the hotel carries on into the night air.

What, then, when a secret that could destroy lives when it is first learned of, is kept overly long? What kind of damage could something like this do once it is finally revealed?

The distant honk of a horn falls prey to the doppler effect, fading in and out as the speeding vehicle passes by the hotel. These are the sounds of New York City's urban life, one that threatens to drown out the far closer sounds of snoring from the halfway ajar door to the hotel's bedroom, snoring belonging to Alexander Knight. Having been spared the intermittant flicker and flash of those neon signs, it is Alexander's companion that finds himself cast from two different perspectives of color. One side of his body painted a neon blue for a moment befor ebeing shrouded in darkness, the other burning a fiery neon pink before falling to that matching gloom.

How can a secret that dangerous be told? How long is too long for such a thing to be kept? And most importantly…A rush of air fills the living room, a displacement of air-pressure that sends the curtains by the open windows sucking towards the screens that keep whatever horrible night bugs might crawl out of the Unity Park from getting inside in the springtime. At the center of this pressure change, a slim and ink-black silhouette stands with slouched shoulders and a bandaid on his cheek. Peter's jaw sets tightly as he looks around the room, forefingers and thumb rubbing together as he looks from one window to the next, not even noticing Teodoro Laudani's form halfway shrouded in Neon lights; He never knocks.

…can we ever forgive ourselves for keeping the secret in the first place?

The laptop's monitor had long since idled into darkness, leaving the neon outside the window to do whatever the fuck it wanted with Teodoro's complexion. Makes it look paler than it actually is, as if he has no actual pigmentation of his own, only the secondhand palette of blue-yellow-fuschia silkscreened over the ink-edged reliefs of his nose, aquiline brow. Teo closes and opens his eyes at the man that suddenly appeared in the middle of the room.

He stands up, of course. No need to be rude. Squares himself across an even distribution of weight across his feet, studying the band-aid stretched over the edge of Peter's face and the telling stoop of his shoulders.

"I was told you don't know how to do that anymore," he says. There's something a little weird about his voice. Scratchy, like— like he's— taken up smoking again. Only when Al's asleep, though.

Teo doesn't use the edge of the table pull himself upright. Leans forward, slides up onto a shuffle of bare feet. His trouses and long-sleeved tee shirt are black, as is the gun holstered around his midriff. As of 2019, he has also somehow adopted the mirthless monochrome that Peter and Gabriel have long since appropriated into their respective wardrobes. The world out here is awesome, but all the Spice Boys are permanently dressed for mourning.

He tracks a fraction of a circle around Peter, maintaining a radius that one can construe as either standoffish or carefully civil. "According to your wife."

Peter jumps, it's a skitish response that is unbecoming of him, and when his eyes focus on Teo as he peels himself out of the alternating neon watercolor he was sunken into, there's a mild look of relief as Peter relaxes. "She— " Goddamnit Gillian, those words are plastered all over Peter's face. "Yeah I— this isn't Hiro's power. It— belongs to a courier named Kent who works in the building, it's just teleportation, I— it doesn't work the same, or as far in distance."

This is such a casual conversation to have, too casual really, for old friends who havent' seen one another in far too long. "I— talked to Gabriel and Eileen not too long ago." His head hangs, a sigh blown out, giving perhaps an indication of just how well that went. The neon colors in the room shift to blue, blending that bleeding cut poorly bandaided on his cheek into his pale complexion more.

"How did…" eyes narrow, and Peter lifts his stare up towards Teo, "you guys talked, obviously. You and Gillian?" Whatever misplaced idea brought Peter here, it's derailed by the idea of Gillian and Teo having had words, something he seems to linger on for far too long.

The jumpiness is certainly noteworthy. Makes Teo's face contracted around a hard squint, before relaxing fractionally as he automatically, instinctively ping-pong-punts his mind out and around a quick scan of the immediate area. People walking, dozing, fornicating in their rooms, a janitor smoking a cigarette on the roof and adjusting his foot in his shredded shoe in a hapless effort to unroll the back of his sock wedged down under his heel.

Don't get a lot of assassins around here, these days. Or shadowmorphs, or phasers in the walls. It's peculiarly disconcerting.

"Si." He pours himself back into the bowl of his own head after a moment, exhaling slowly. "In person, even. It's been awhile." For a conversation between himself and Gillian, he means, though it's only a juddered instant before Teodoro remembers that those words are applicable also to this moment, here. He drags five fingers over the shorn roof of his skull and steps closer, studying his dispirited companion's dispirited face. "Kind of surprising she and Helena didn't launch themselves at each other from across the room, manicures windmilling. Come for gossip?"

If anyone could ever make Peter laugh, it was Teo. Something about misery loving company, and the two of them having more than enough to share between each other. If the snoring in the other room didn't make sense at first, it's when Teo says Helena's name that it all pieces together, and probably explains why he hasn't seen Alexander at all since his supposed return from the dead. "No I— " he took too long to answer, "No I wish it was like that…" brushing his thumb over his chin, Peter's eyes scan about the hotel toom, to the glowing neon signs outside, to the newspapers draped lazily over one table, then back to Teo again.

"I don't know how much Gillian told you— or Helena for that matter. I've been trying to keep everything…" his eyes fall shut slowly, "I can't be around them too much. I— Helena's going back, I'm going to send her— somehow. I just— " there's a hissed breath, and Peter slowly paces around the apartment, folding his hands behind his head.

"I'm going to need your help, Teo." It's like asking for him to take a bullet at this point in their relationship, for whatever kind they have. "My dad's hell bent on sending a taskforce back in time, to round up Edward and— " brows knit together, "Christ, did anyone tell yu about Edward?"

"I heard a thing," Teo says, nodding his head with a crumpled Kleenex grimace on his face that probably does not give Edward Ray traveling back in time with a small legion of homocidal Evolved lifetime convicts to disrupt the timestream the proper recognition. Hard to figure out where exactly he's supposed to fall on that one: after all, it isn't his problem. Not supposed to be. It's Helena's, once she leads her own forces back through time for a thrilling clash of forces—

Or so the general consensus goes. Teodoro is incredibly bad at not meddling, though, so it is probably also entirely predictable when he slaps the newspapers up off the edge of the table, shifting them back to a less precarious configuration, and motions Peter at the couch. Sit, sit. An expansive gesture. Generous. Bullets: Teo's thought about feeding himself those more than once over the past decade. Granted, the metaphorical ones tend to hurt worse than all the things they say about final darkness, but—

"G'wan. Spare me the Hitchcockian suspense. Far as anyone's ever made clear to me, the more trained and educated people out to collect Ray's head, the better. Ergo," there's a vague gesture of his free hand. Teo is using the other one to drag over a chair. "This gets in the way of what other concern? Don't worry."

He angles his head over at Alexander's room. "I'll tell you if he wakes up."

Peter can hardly place the last time he came to see Teo, when the two weren't blindly drunk, trying to forget the day they heard about the deaths of so many friends, by ironically reliving the first thing they did together once they stopped crying. Sulking down onto the sofa, Peter runs his hands over the top of his head, raking fingers thorugh his hair slowly as his eyes upturn towards the ceiling. "I don't know who's going to be doing what… I just… Edward, he— there's a bunch of people missing. Nobody in Pinehearst can locate them, and— " he's blown this all so hard. Placing a hand over his mouth, Peter exhales a deep with and closes his eyes.

"When they first got back, my dad insisted that they stay here. He— he ordered me to have Hiro Nakamura— our Hiro," the one who refused to believe in the beneficial nature of Pinehearst, one who went into hiding as if nothing in the world ever changed. "He had me send Odessa after him, and— fuck— for all I know he's dead. I— I found out a day later," perhaps an exaggeration, "that— Eve— she wasn't able to see the future anymore. I— I might've fucked us all, Teo— I— I don't know what the hell to do."

Sitting forward, Peter rests his elbows on his knees, cradling his head in his hands. "I fucked up, so much… I fucked up so hard since she died, I— " his head hangs lower, hands now folded at the back of his neck, trying to work out the tension there. "Helena— everyone— they all need to go back." It's like he's trying to convince Teo of the fact, and it can't be easy — Peter imagines — for him to want to let go of Alexander. "I just don't know how I'm gonna' do it."

The younger man's face goes too still at that, like someone had cut some of the string that connect it to the hardcoded human sentiment, machinery that is supposed to provide direct translation from emotion to motion without the e. The timing on that whole thing is pretty fucking unpleasant, isn't it? Arthur says the word, and Hiro's dead. The Columbia 14's only way back to 2009. Arthur says the word, and the future drops into a yawning gulf of darkness.

Arthur says the word. Obscurely, Teodoro wonders how much more rebellious he would feel in the face of losing his redneck again if Peter's father were actually in favor of the idea. He looks at the floor briefly. Listens to Al snoring.

"Hel says jump."

The neon outside rolls through a shade of yellow that makes both of them look like their kidneys are failing. Yellow from uncycled waste, an accumulation of organic filth in the blood, bleeding. Yellow's the color of cowardice, too. The corner of his mouth seizes downward and inward, a frown, halved from something a little like gentleness. If only a little.

Blunt fingers scuff down on the back of Pete's head, a brief ruffle for hair that hadn't suffered from the aerodynamic passage of normal movement. Teleportation is a styling method of transportation second only to overstepping. "Can you get Hiro's ability back from him?" he asks, quietly. "Gillian seems to believe you can. Or that you'd die trying." —As if that would be the worst part of defying Arthur Petrelli. As if.

Hel says jump. It bites through Peter's dour expression, makes him look up to Teo, take in more of what the Sicilian is saying than just dismissing it into the pile of angst he's balling up between his hands. But the inevitable question about how to get them back, it just falls flat, and so does Peter's expression. "He has the Haitian's ability— even if I wanted to take it from him, he— I'm no match for my father. Not anymore, not since he took my power from me."

Rolling his tongue over the inside of his cheek, Peter sighs into his palms, then looks down to the floor squarely between his feet. "I've been racking my brain, trying to— I don't know— think of an alternative, but I haven't been able to. I— even if I tricked him into letting me snatch it from him, I— I don't have any idea what other abilities he has, there's no telling what he could do. Once he knew what was up, there's not even any way to hide from him…"

Smothering his face in his hands, Peter growls out a frustrated sound, pushing up to his feet as he steps away from the sofa, enough to pace back and forth across the floor. "I— it's the only option I have, I guess. I— in theory I could take it from him. I can hold five abilities if I really focus on it, and I've got a handful right now. Maybe— if I just sneak it from him now, try and… I don't know. He's still my father, and he's wrong about this but— I still love him. He's— I can't just hurt him, everything he's done— it's been in the best interests of everyone. I just— I worry."

Dark eyes look to the floor, then up to Teo, "Are you in? On this? Gabriel and Eileen they— they think Helena and everyone else should stay behind. I— there's no telling what they're going to do. I'm worried, Teo— I'm worried that they're going to do anything if they think it'll save their kid. I— I know I worry about doing that myself."

Their kid? Teo's face does that thing again where the inside gets close to switching off but not quite. That changes things, if Peter can't have Gabriel at his back. In a bad way, if you're a time-traveler. Less so, maybe, if one is enjoying the fruits of their presence here, and when the conversation circles around to that again this time he doesn't keep the chagrin of his face.

Flinches, slightly, twisting his shaven head away and rubbing a callused fist down the side of his head hard enough to break the skin of somebody who wasn't as used to getting hit in the face as Teo is. "Hel says jump," he repeats, dully, his breath settling into a hiss through his gritted teeth. "I'm in. It's what she wants, and it's what she needs to do whatever the fuck it is she needs to do back in 2009. She'd always had a long view for a twenty-year-old— and better than that, the Devil's own luck.

"What are the fucking odds? Thousands of people— infants, ignorants— die every fucking day, and it's Helena Dean who gets a Goddamn do-over.

"If there's a way I can help her, I'll do it. Even though all the precogs I've heard of, bar one, think it spells the end of our world. Even though I just found out I have a fucking kid—" He's haggard staring at Peter this time, and it doesn't last; his gaze diverts back to the television. It's off. All he has to see is their glassy reflections, dimmed down and distorted by the faint convex bulge of the screen. "Ah, shit. You know I'm probably not the one you should be looking for sane rationale on this one. You pulled the rubble together and built a home after Helena died.

"I sired bastards. And choke Palestinians for a living. And spend the hours between Alexander-time pouring over the last decade's worth of newsprint and wondering how well power negation darts would work on your old man. The Grays are probably rel-atively sane," Teo says, a droll, disconcerted singsong to the second-last word there, relatively, the syllables exaggerated around consonants as if he's trying to scrape off some other bad taste from his tongue with the teeth of them.

The smile that's threatened to cross Peter's face finally emerges there, a smile that threatens now something far more dangerous than happiness — hope. One shaky hand reaches out, clamping down on Teo's shoulder in some show of solidarity. "I— I knew I could count on you, Teo. You've always been there, no matter what." But then all that hope changes to something else, something twisted up in confusion and dsibelief. He jerks his head towards the room Alexander is sleeping in and— no that doesn't make any sense, because Alexander's a guy.

"You— a kid?" There's a palpable sense of shock there, he wants to ask about the mother, about the circumstances that could even make something like that happen, but the points to address keep on rolling in like some conversational tsunami. "Hey I— my life might look fucking normal on the outside but— Teo— none of us really ever recovered from— " he just shakes his head, slowly.

"We all do shit we're not proud of— God knows this cut on my cheek is the least I deserved from Gillian. She— I'm not a saint— you're not a saint— we killed people to get where we are, Teo. One of these days, that's all going to come back around, it's gonna' come around like a fucking hammer and hit us square between the eyes… but everybody's gotta pay for their sins eventually, right?"

Finally, Peter lets his hand slip from Teo's shoulder, lips pressed together, nostrils flaring from a breath that turns into an aborive noise of confusion as he finally turns to look up to his old friend. "What— Why do you have such an axe to grind with my father? I— I know you two never really got along, but— I mean— I just never understood it."

Some kinds of bitterness don't make you pinch or pucker, leave your face looking hale and handsome as you were back when things were good.

Yeah, yeah, as far as fortune goes, Teo still 'gets lucky' in all the ways that people make stupid jokes about; in all others, he's had an uncomfortable amount of highly privatized misery to deal with and ten years in, the world has still failed entirely to displace love, honor, and a commensurate return in investment into the aching void that his losses had left.

"I'll help you figure out what to do about the Grays," he had said, nodding his head a little mechanically. "Whatever the fuck that entails— I don't know. There's always something. As for your father—" He thinks about Nakamura's recording. Wonders if Peter's seen it. Probably not.

This is the wrong time for smiling.

It is really the wrong time to smile, but Teo does anyway, a ruin of a grin showing its even, symmetry-perfect arrangement of teeth in the middle of his face, a chuff of laughter whistling out into the air an instant before the neon swap-clicks to viscera-bright red. "Sounds fucking ridiculous, I guess," he acknowledges, lifting himself up off the chair. "I get along with damn near everybody." Former serial-killers; their FBI nemeses. "Why would I want to grind an axe with the man who saved the fucking world?"

Well, I'll tell you. Though not before Teo first shuffles off to snag a beer out of the minifridge and drag the door shut over the thin, visible margin of Alexander buried underneath comforter.

Can we ever forgive ourselves for the things that we have let go unsaid for too long? The little words of praise, or scolding, that could have made all the difference.

Watching the way Teo moves, Peter's head cranes in the way a dog's would when following something interesting. There's this subtle tilt to his head that makes him seem almost like a hopeless puppy, taking a few steps around the hotel room as he watches Teo move towards the minifridge. Dark eyes narrow and Peter's brow creases together, something about the smile that comes over Teo just feels wrong, in the same way that there is something wrong with Teo's mother, in the way she's everything that's wrong with snakes and spiders.

It will ultimately come to those who must suffer the repercussions of our decisions to give us that absolution, and should we not find it, then we would have no one to blame but ourselves.

Swallowing tensely, Peter moves back to the sofa, slowly settling down to sit, seeing the posture and body language in Teo that all but screams his intentions, that he plans on answering Peter's question, but in ways that aren't going to be satisfying — espescially to the both of them.

Sometimes though, the difficult choices must be made, and words that could undo lives and families, must finally be spoken…

"Get me one too," Peter finally says, motioning to the minifridge, "I— have a feeling I'm gonna' need it."

Absolution or no.

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