Inside Out


deckard_icon.gif teo3_icon.gif

Scene Title Inside Out
Synopsis Something that looks at least vaguely like a reconciliation is better than none at all, right?
Date April 10, 2010

The Garden: Basement

The ceiling and lampshade take their time resolving back into useful definition from the fat-pixelled mire interpreted by optical machinery that seems to be malfunctioning slightly. Only slightly.

The old man needn't worry that his eyes are really gone again. The outline braces in after a moment, the detail of the light's twinkling ball-chain, the crack going up through the Northwest corner of the rectangular plaster and then the stain in the shape of Australia that marks off the spot two feet to the left of the inexplicable plastic bucket abandoned on the rooftop, several feets' worth of masonry and rafters away and above.

He smells better now. Like Dove bar soap and some flavor of men's shampoo that is commonly named 'sea' or 'ocean spray' or whatever and, fortunately, doesn't actively remind anybody's olfactory memory of anything like the great flotsam-choked body of water that skirts Staten Island. Chapped and chafed skin around his wrist stings slightly where a brief interval of anti-bacterial nipped into his scabs between long hours spent dragging against handcuffs— which are now back.

His clothes smell better, too, but less because they were cleaned than because they were replaced. He would have been naked as a babe somewhere in the process, no doubt, and there's a dirty joke in there somewhere.

The punchline is sitting on the floor a few feet from his bed. Teodoro Laudani's broken cheek is angled into view, if mottled by shadow, and he's using the light to look at a map and two photographs. It's difficult to tell, between the scar and the scruffy frame of his beard, but he seems to be frowning, his over-long bangs and pale eyes downcast, paper pieces sifted deftly between the flickery long bones of his fingers.

Ocular focus isn't the only malfunction in Flint's smeary field of awareness. His uncuffed hand lifts unsteadily to feel numbly over his face. Scruff. Two eyes. Nothing in his mouth. Hooked fingers pry without real aim or purpose, calluses and fading cigarette stains fumbling past his collar only to give up before real progress is made towards checking the state of his bandages. Or his junk. Someone's been fucking with him.

A groggy lift of his head confirms that everything's still physically where it should be once x-ray vision's toggled in like a worn out projector slide. Black and white. Blue fades in after, halos around flesh and bone indistinct as they are unnecessary. Kind of like the pain creeping its way back into his core past a nest of variously replaced bandages and stitches repaired out of their pops and pulls.

It takes him several seconds to figure out that he had to have been naked at some point for his current state to be humanly possible, and irritation hardens into the hatcheted length of his face with a private kind of galvanized intensity. Uneasy resentment. Self-conscious dislike. The price of being caught and dubious privacy. It's all there in a belated rake of his eyes after the culprit, who turns out to be closer than he'd assumed. Also, more familiar.

A few degrees of hatred drain deliberately into griffon indifference through the tension plucked taut into his neck, and after a loaded beat he settles back to stare through the ceiling instead.

'Ah, you're awake,' says the spider, slanting one of far too many eyes up to find the origin of that cobwebbed rustle. I vant to bite you again. Teo does show teeth, briefly, but they're harmlessly human. Squared-off, white, a nice row of them irregardless of the superfluous window scarred into his face and the overexposure they tend to receive because of it. It's a smile or a cat's hiss or something soundless in between.

"You're healing okay," he says, in his most informative tone of voice. It isn't true neutral, but it's close enough. Teo shuffles photos and papers together like a deck of playing cards, flattens the edges up against one palm then tips the thin pile over his other. He looks at the window to gauge the time, by which Deckard may take to mean, that it's been awhile since he was washed. "But you have a lot of healing to do. I'm going to tell Ayers I caught you, soon. I don't know what he'll do.

"I think he might not know what to do; sometimes a guy's compass gets kind of jacked up after the love of his life gets assassinated." He glances up, squaring his effects away into his jacket's inner pocket. "So I figure I should note down any ideas and preferences you have."

"Love's a bitch, I guess. Stop being such a pussy," is Deckard's inevitable suggestion, voice worn down to a sawdust mutter once he's swallowed some moisture back into his mouth. It's hard not to be angry. About being touched. About being chained up down here. Same four walls, same ceiling. Same bed and same bucket. It's enough that the effort shows in his profile — narrow jaw clamped and brow furrowed away as if after some detached and unrelated source of ire. Maybe the stain on the ceiling, or the bottoms of Gabriel Gray's boots beyond that. "Tell him where I am."

His toes splay bare. Long monkey toes on overlarge feet less scarred than his hands, the left of which is looking worse and the right better every day. A glance up along his bicep confirms the former's been cleaned up some and his ribs lift out like gills under clean cotton. All disjointed animal parts and a sigh spent too thin not to be the aggressive steam whistle that it's trying hard not to sound like. If he'd woken up sooner.

He'dve had to misjudge the sleeping pills a whole lot, in that hypothetical scenario! Fortunately for everybody involved, Teo can count. Pills, dosage in grams, weight-to-dosage ratios, fingers. Even though he's seated all the way over there, he can tell that Deckard is coming to kind of okay. Probably, he should've brought a stethoscope with a pen light attachment and verified by examining the old man's pupils, but for lack of that…

"Yeah — I'm going to."

It is a retarded moment to sound impatient, but Teo does, faintly, ridges that italicized insistence with bickering. "As far as self-fulfilling prophesies go, Genesis 4:14 is a pretty gloomy one. Do you want some water, uomo?" Teodoro hunts his gaze leftward, restlessly, scoots his heels in underneath himself. Gets up in a slightly ungainly seesawing of his weight across boots, tugs the heavy wool of his sweater flat, an automatic twitch of afterthought like a bird settling its pinions properly around the folded feathers of its tail.

"Ca s'arrangera." Adam's apple bobbed thickly under uneven bands of grizzled neckbeard and ill-established scarring where Francois's fingers caved clean through his throat, Flint reaches to feel again after the same uneven swath. Not quite awake enough not to be dully preoccupied with the lack of full sensation there.

In answer to Teo's question about refreshments, he pulls taut the tension in his (infuriatingly short) chain and sets to rolling himself stiffly over onto his belly. More like a gorilla at the zoo than the most bedraggled grackle. Intelligent enough to be surly about his predicament. And to give the observation deck his back.

There is a low rushing of liquid, of generous quantity brightly drubbing the bottom of a cup. By default, a cup being filled in the bathroom. It isn't until Teo makes it back across the hall that he notices that the gorilla is being obtuse, and he furrows his brow and his mouth widens around reproval that Deckard could probably picture okay in his head if he weren't trying to forcibly implode his molecular structure, disintegrate the matriced energy of his soul and summarily erase him from existence.

But Teo is still here, verified by the tactless whapping of his shoes on the floorboards near Deckard's head, the loud evacuation of a si-igh through his mouth. "I want to keep you alive," he says. "I don't know how to make that mean more than basic survival but sometimes, I think, time helps.

"Call it— gratitude for not killing me the other week. You aren't Cain. You didn't—" kill the way the Biblical figure had, but the Sicilian finds himself shying from the ominous weight and shadow of that analogy.

He opens and closes one fist at his side, then sets the water down on the floor near Deckard's head, straightens to shade a glance at Flint's scraggy neck, the bumpy keloid-bunched line of throat. Teo addresses the back of his shaven pate, prods at the gorilla: "Jail would be conventional justice. Maybe you'll like it, this time. You're practically inside-out and ass-backwards from what you used to be."

Maybe for lack of true literary learning, Flint's had it sewn into the scruff of his neck for eternity. Which may not be all that long for him at this rate.

Skin too loose for forty-three years old wrinkles at his neck and puddles under the flat turn of his face into the skimpy mattress of his cot while he stares at the wall. There's stuff going on upstairs, but there's been stuff going on up there all week and every day of it is less interesting than the last.

Scapulae tented bony against the lax rest of a shirt fresher than he'd like, he ignores the water and probably a lot of the words too. But he doesn't reach around and try to ram Teo's head up his asshole while he's within reach either, so. Maybe that's progress. Whatever the case, his voice is muffled by the way he's lying there hating everything, but especially himself.

And Teo.

"I'm sorry."

Uncomfortable vengeance to be the target of. The words die in Teo's throat. This crop of words, anyway, wordy fucker that he tends to be. He retracts his branch through the gorilla's cage and then drops his tall frame into a crouch, loosely origamied above the cup of tapwater like maybe he is considering peeing in it. He isn't. 'It's okay,' comes to mind. Don't worry about it. Me too?

Lacking the desire to have his head shoved up his asshole, Teo opts not to go that route. "Do you remember your dreams?" is what he asks instead. Restlessly fidgety, he draws his fingers across one of the floorboards he's seated on, ridging nail against the grain. "That isn't just a fruity question for the sake of fruity questions," he adds.

Like qualifiers will help. "A lot of people had it out for Ichihara. Changes what you'll mean to Ayers." The wood is old and scarred, but stubborn enough to have retained its texture after decades of use. He feels the bump-bump-bump of the callused digit jumping across the uneven topography of wood, until he runs out of distance unless he moves his elbow. He is suddenly too tired to move his elbow.

Sometimes. Is the answer. Unfortunately, answering in the positive insinuates a willingness to elaborate. And he has none. Not about dreams to do with sex (which one might safely suppose enjoy a majority share of the market), or Abigail, or sex and Abigail. And definitely not about any involving murder.

So he stays quiet, still drowsy enough that his eyes are inclined to lid heavily shut after another minute or so staring at the fade of dirt and pipes and burrows into the black abyss that eventually defines the far reaches of his ability in every direction. The awkward hump of his right shoulder has little to say and the low-buzzed back of his skull isn't much more helpful. He doesn't smell great. He just doesn't smell bad either.

Doesn't smell like much of anything, actually. Not even whiskey.

"It doesn't matter." More muffled dialogue and another slow breath. By the time he rolls his eyes back open again, some of the ill-temper's started to creep back in "Just let it happen."

This would be the right moment for the camera to pan in for Teo's close-up. Revel in the texture of his skin, the diamond pallor of his scintillating irises, the needle-jab acuity of his pupils and the relentlessly handsome contours of his face. Preferably shot from the right-hand side, where his half Chelsea grin won't get in the way.

"It matters to me," he grinds out, finally. "When I had my ability, I went in your… I checked in. While you were in Mexico. Letting shit happen doesn't get anything done. Letting shit happen cut you off. Put guns and money in your hands, put Ichihara in the ground, put— put you at that fucking pier before the Invierno and the fucking tugboat came up. Letting shit happen is what kept Arthur Petrelli out of his fucking throne, if he was the fucking Messiah you were all looking to. I had the Formula in my fucking hand, and I didn't give it to him.

"Wouldn'tve fixed your booze problem," and there's the grinding grit of defensiveness to it, barely suppressed. His voice gets louder, "given you your eyes back then, or twatted Edward Ray back to his home timeline, but maybe it would've been enough."

Teodoro roughs the back of his hand across his mouth, scrunches a grunt up his nose. It is not readily — audible, whether or not that was hard for him to say. He swallows, inches the apple of his throat down an ungainly fraction of an inch, then up again, and he starts to raise the rest of himself up to his feet to go with it. He yanks his sweater, this time, and a mutter that seems to stick sluggish and indistinct in his mouth like grit, "Sorry I drugged you."

"If I had died," tapers off without any real need to be finished, so. Flint doesn't work up the energy to bother. He wouldn't be here, and everything else that insinuates. The earlier he'd bled out the less he would have had time to do and the more human he would've been. Less the gimping mishmash of replacement parts and scar tissue that he is to be burned or buried now. Assuming he gets his way.

Glory days. Well, time slips away and leaves you with nothing mister. Deckard's knees and shoulders draw in from the scuff of Teo's stand, reflexive mongrel recoil resettled with his weight soon enough.

"Too late now," is an unkind riposte to Teo's tales of what Might Have Possibly Been, flat affect doing the croak of his voice no favors once he's face has been turned more fully into the cot. "How much longer do I have to be here?"

Well, the alternative would have been lying. Teo opts to try and appreciate that honesty, however brutally ugly it happens to be. Maybe the old man's imploded-souffle fatigue is a good thing, as well. It's been an obscure worry of his for a few days, now, that the bed was just this side of light enough that the man could drag it to the window and smash some glass to slit his wrists with. That's about as optimistic as it looks like their meeting is going to be.

"Few days. I'll bring you some books, if you want. Maybe you'll change your mind." Teo's dislocated voice gives way to the bump of a foot and the drag of a plastic bucket. Its edge nudges into a slightly pried-up nail on the floor, sticks momentarily, before rolling around to settle within easy reach of… of— of the prisoner. Someday, he'll have a best friend who doesn't seem predestined for either an early grave or hunter orange.

The first backward step he takes is thoughtlessly silent. Teo remembers in time to allow the second to scuff noise.

It's possible that the thought hasn't occurred to him, or he might have tried it earlier. But it's more likely that he finds the idea of dying on purpose to be more of an option than outright suicide. Less easy. Less damply pathetic. At least in his mind.

"I don't want any more books," is on the glum side of rejection meanwhile, sides lifting like rickety billows around a cruddy exhalation that doesn't quite manage to be a cough. Tar working viscous and black up out've his lungs, clagging at the back of his throat. That's how it feels, anyway. He hadn't planned on trying to quit again so soon and if his drawn face wasn't smashed the way it is against his shoulder and his cot he'd spit. At least he's stopped sweating.

"I need to talk to Joseph. If he's still here."

"He is. Made faces when he caught me carrying you to the bathroom." A thrown pile of clothy weight— probably a blanket— is slung through the air to land on the backs of Deckard's ankles, where he has them propped up at the foot of the bed. Teo has a jacket on, by now, and he closes his hands on the lapels, feels the bite of blunt metal zip teeth against the insides of his fingers. The despair in the room is making him feel cold. The weather seems like a lesser demon these days.

It would be a good time for Spenser if Deckard was in the mood to read, but he isn't. A pastor seems as much as Teo can promise, otherwise; he bites his lip, once, a tic of naked rue that the old man's turned himself too far away to see. Thinking about dead people, of fates worse than final darkness, of dues, Ayers, the dreams that Deckard forgot and the pestilent magnitude of all the bullshit he can't seem to make himself forget.

Unassisted, anyway. The cadence of the Sicilian's steps is putting him toward the door, a noise to nudge Deckard's ear like a forlorn dog before he's left alone.

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