Jesus Walks


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Scene Title Jesus Walks
Synopsis Tavisha recommended this water cab company to Teo. To his credit, he had no idea that the owner and driver is gunning for him. D- for fighting a hydrokinetic in sea.
Date February 25, 2009

Staten Island — Coast

The coast of Staten Island is as much of a presence as its inland, with rivers that invade right into its heart as well as cutting off the circulation of transport from the rest of New York City. The coastal regions reflect a lot of this borough's rural nature, with rough shores and plantlife, broken brick, and general abandonment. The harbors are left to the devices of those that freely come and go, a conspicuous lack of official presence - a number of them notably overrun by the developing crime syndicate, but there are still quite a few, particularly on the coasts nearest to Brooklyn and Manhattan, that are accessible to the lawful public.

It's dark. It's always dark when Jack picks people up. Not only is he usually asleep during the day, it's much easier to dodge inspections and docking fees at night. As he's only got one passenger scheduled for this run, the Casino Royale has been left at the Kills dock in favor of his speedboat.

The Dirty Deeds is a slim, sleek craft that's far faster than her rough exterior might imply. Though she's a dirty beast, she's well cared for in the spots that matter most. The only break in the boat's lines is the rough sheet of canvas that's been tied bulgingly over a small area at the stern.

The pilot is as unkempt as his transportation. His dark hair is mussed, his t-shirt is wrinkled (but not enough to obscure the words 'GO FUCK YOUR MOTHER' printed on the chest) and he's wearing rust-colored polyester pants with frayed cuffs. As if the cold doesn't bother him, his red jacket is folded and slung lazily over one shoulder. With one foot on the dock and the other propped on the rail of his boat, Jack uses the butt of one cigarette to light another. The spent filter is tossed over his shoulder and into the water. And why should he care? After all, it's not his water.

Feet move along the jetty, thump-thump-thump, long strides unwary of the precarious proximity to the edge of the planks and the drop into the sea, the arrogance of some experience and youth. It's dark. It's too close to curfew for him to wait for the Ferrymen's boat to finish loading up, if he wants to pick up some shit on Manhattan before he gets back to the apartment, so Teo decided to shell out for a private ride. This guy comes well-recommended. By an erstwhile sociopath and serial-killer, maybe, but he picked up a few corroborating stories from a reasonably random selection of people so he was reasonably confident to say. The Dirty Deeds is as good a ride as the next one.

The young man who fades in out of that backlit silhouette has very short hair and pale eyes, wears numerous layers of old clothes in concession to the cold and stands only a few inches shorter than the vessel's master. He's also inimitably familiar to the man who had been privvy to as much of the Happy Dagger's video footage and Mr. Logan's pointed instruction as Jack has. He puts up an arm and a white-toothed smile. "Buona sera," he calls out, never one to be rude.

Half-finished, Jack's second cigarette is sent spiraling into the water with a flick. His hands fall to rest on his hips and he cocks his head to the side slightly as he fixes the newcomer with an appraising look. Unabashedly, he works his way from toes to top. There's a flat, dissonant moment when his grey eyes fix on the younger man's face. Then, slowly, he rubs his thumb against his first two fingers. "Hundred bucks," he says simply. "And a hundred more on the other side. Savvy?"

Schooled to a stop like an unruly pup, Teo presents himself for inspection somewhat inadvertently — seeing as how he wasn't going to climb on uninvited, squinting up haplessly against the Dirty Deeds' white lights. He looks at the guy looking at him for a moment before thinking better of it, and his gaze falls away, occupied sweeping over the wrinkling black surface of seawater by the time Jack's regard makes it to the front of his head. He renews eye-contact when the terms of service are mentioned.

"Okay, no problem," he answers, his internal Scrooge stifling an inward grimace. That's groceries for how many weeks? Pushing a hand into the interior of his jacket, Teo locates five twenties and closes the distance between himself and the edge of the boat on a few steps. The bills end up poking out between thumb and forefinger, awaiting permission — or instruction to board.

The money is snatched, rifled through, and then wadded up and stuffed down the front of Jack's pants. He nods approvingly and swings his thrift-store coat around himself and slides into the sleeves. Once the familiar, comfortably-worn garment is settled on his shoulders, he hooks his work boot in the rail of his speedboat and hauls the craft in until it's nestled against the dock and safe to board.

"After you," he says, waving toward the passenger bench at the rear of the open cabin. The accommodations promise a swift, windy ride across the river.

That'd be good. Might have time to cook, or otherwise participate in civilian life as if he actually has one. "Grazie." Hands emptied, Teo spiders across empty air, black sea, and onto the boat like he was born sailing — which he wasn't, but close enough. His boots percuss the deck and his hand skims the railing as he journeys down to the bench to sit. He squares his posture there, bracing against the expected lurch from the engines up. The fact his money went into Jack's pants made him blink, but he doesn't mention it. "You mind me asking, how long you've had her?" he asks, gesturing generally, stern to starboard.

"Long enough," Jack replies. There's no offense to his tone. He's simply not interested. Like a cabbie, he's here to do his job. No more, no less.

Jack boards with a single, long-legged stride that betrays a level of comfort and confidence that wasn't visible when he was lounging on the dock. He steps up beside the pilot's seat, kicks open a wooden chest, and flips out a battered floatation vest for Teo. "Put that on," he instructs. "And do up all the buckles. None of that lazy shit."

Other cabbies find small talk part of their job, though it isn't this particular passenger's business to make noise when it isn't invited, so Teo just turns up the corners of his mouth in complicit good nature. He catches the thrown vest across his hands. His brow finds a brief knit of consternation when it isn't immediately obvious that Jack is about to do the same, but that's a minor enough wrinkle to be waved away as shipmaster's rules. Jack's boat. He sticks his arm through one half, fidgets his way into the other, and seals up the buckles.

Jack is already in the process of firing up the engine and pulling away from the dock. No vest for him tonight. Perhaps it's not considered stylish for the captain to wear a floatation device. Like a motorcyclist with his girlfriend on the back, she wears a helmet and he doesn't.

A sunken, rusted cargo container is navigated around more by memory than sight. As soon as the bow of the boat is in clear water and pointed toward Manhattan, Jack fixes the tiller in place with a heavy lever and whirls around to face Teo.

All pretense of a friendly business relationship is gone. The pirate has an enormous, highly-polished revolver in one hand that proudly reads 'Webley' on the side of the barrel. Unsurprisingly, it's pointed at his passenger.

With no apparent concern for their course, Jack props one foot lazily on the pilot's seat and reaches to the side to snag the loose end of a coiled rope and throws it to Teo. "Tie that to your vest," he orders.

The phase of the voyage is entirely predictable. The second phase is profoundly not. For a moment, Teo thinks he's getting robbed. The moment ends when the rope hits the floor near his right foot with a resounding thump, drawing his gaze for a moment, though he doesn't move the rest of his head, as if concerned that perhaps being shot in the cranium is worse than being shot in the face. His eyes flick upward the next moment, narrow from something approximating sincere dislike. "Uhh," he says, intelligently. Then, almost experimentally, he says, "No." Then, as if to make some small concession to the pistol levelled at him, he inquires, "Why?"

"Wrong answer."

Jack reaches behind himself and cuts the engine abruptly, allowing the boat to coast out its momentum. Then, sighing heavily, he glances back over at Teo and stoops to pick up the rope. It's as if he feels wronged despite being on the more friendly end of a high-caliber firearm. "This could've been a tidy thing," he mutters. "Fucker. I'll remember this."

When his attack comes, there's no subtlety to it. He drops his revolver to the deck and tackles Teo, carrying them both out the back of the boat and into the water.

By the time there's a gigantic, self-righteous ex-soldier knocking the wind out of his lungs and his person into the water, Teo's managed to get one buckle loose on his vest. Which leaves, exactly one other buckle to cut an odd burning sensation across his torso when he slams into the surface of the see and finds the buoyant stuff of the garment hauling him in the opposite direction that gravity compels him. He has the peevish and unattractive urge to offer sarcastic apology, but he doesn't have enough air to do so; winds up bobbing around like an ill-tempered cork, trying disorganizedly to peel the other man off him using whatever combination of elbows and knees is available.

What the fuck? is the question he's trying to ask. What occurs instead, amid thrashing and burbling, is far less intelligible than his desired outcome, but probably gets the overall idea through on tone of voice alone.

The flurry of blows from Teo is accepted stoically. Expected, even. When a knee strikes the pit of his stomach, the air is driven explosively from his lungs. Grunting, he spreads his fingers into a flat blade that's parallel to the water.

Immediately, the waves cease and Jack rises to the top of a surface that's now smooth as glass. He stands atop the river as easily as he would sand or gravel; feet shoulder-width apart and a grimace on his face. "You," he accuses, pointing with one finger. "Are far too curious. Consider this a polite request to stay the fuck in Manhattan where you belong." The vague threat is punctuated by a very large work boot sailing toward Teo's chin.

Jack is better at sailing boats than he is at sailing his boots.

Insofar as that he probably doesn't crash his boats much or with that much force. Teo's head snaps backward on the stem of his neck, spitting a few drops of crimson into the mirror-like stretch of sea out of the new cut in the bottom edge of his face. Holy Christ. The guy is walking on water. Holy Christ. The guy's balance on water is so good that he can snap-kick Teo's head around like a soccer ball, or such is the reality that the Sicilian is scrambling dazedly to piece together behind the ringing in his head.

The nerveless grasp of his hand twitches once. Fails to loosen the second buckle to his vest, which is probably just as well. Strong swimmer though he is, he is apparently somewhat of an undermatch on his favored terrain. "Who?" Bad idea. Talking was a bad idea. His jaw isn't inoperable yet, but it hurts to talk around. He blinks uncomfortable in the sting of salt.

"My name is Jack," the pirate replies. "But you can call me 'Jesus.'"

With Teo mostly submerged, it's wisest for Jack to use his boots. At first he does. They're effective, after all.

In the end, nothing compares to the crunching, nerve-numbing impact of bone on bone. He drops down to kneel on the surface of the river and lashes out at Teo again and again with his fists. Every so often, he knots his fist around a handful of bloody hair and dunks his floatie-vested prey completely underwater. "I piss in this river," he comments blandly. "Just so you know."

For the duration of Jack's fancy footwork and even the beating of his hands, Teo's busy trying to figure out how to breathe and not drown at the same time. The vest does most of the work necessary for basic flotation, fortunately, leaving him to swallow seawater — and apparently Jack's urine — and breathe blood, trying to form an intelligent or coherent reaction. Unfortunately, he doesn't have a lot of resources to distribute, between making himself stay conscious and the gulf of concussed confusion that's eating up more and more of the faculties required for thinking. There's too much noise, sound, pain, his arms are stuck, and—

Oh, that's almost better. Now everything is very dark.

Teo feels fat bubbles escape through his nose and roll up, up, up against the battered skin of his face, the gasp of an instant before he feels the shape of the switchblade in the narrow gap of his jacket. Though he can see underwater, he can't see in the dark. His free hand grasps for something — anything, easily mistaken for a drowning man's agonized plea (if not mistaken), but there's no real aim behind the tip of the Microtech blade that follows it, upward, piercing.

Piercing Jack's body. It's low and to the side on his torso. Non-lethal, but bloody and godawfully painful. "Shit!" he groans, falling back on his ass and fingering the new hole in his clothing. "Shit…" he repeats, dragging the word out and letting it roll over his tongue. "You just fucked up, kid. You made Jesus bleed."

Lost in his self-righteous fury, he draws himself to his feet and spreads his arms out to the sides. When he claps his hands together, jets of water accelerate toward Teo from all sides, formind an hydrokinetic iron maiden.

Suddenly, Teo can breathe again. Breathe better, at any rate. The gurgle and roar of water coming up and out of its natural sines and lunar tides is almost lost to the sensory load of renewed air and a super, super bad headache. In retrospect, he probably did fuck up a little. After all, Jack had put down his gun. There are faster ways to kill an annoying punk kid from Italy, and apparently he hadn't meant to, so giving him a reason to get truly belligerent may not have been wise — but drowning tends to engender an instinctive, irretrievable sense of panic that is hard-wired into the human psyche. It's the principle that waterboarding was founded on.

It's not the kind of soul-crushing terror that engenders wisdom.

The next minute, the ocean bites down on him. Fluid in consistency, the spikes don't stab, but they do cut. Razor through his clothes at a dozen different points and grinding in toward flesh. By some convenient virtue of wearing way too many layers against winter's clothes and the vest, Teo is spared a blade of water in the heart or lung, but finds himself hacked into by a full-body set of needles. He tries to comment; it comes out in a hacking whimper. It hurts a lot. Probably kind of like how he hurt Jack, except everywhere. Plink is the sound of switchblade number three dying at sea.

Frustrated and wounded, Jack grabs Teo by the collar and hauls him through the water toward the Dirty Deeds. Though his boat has long since coasted to a stop, momentum took it far enough that there's plenty of time for cursing, swearing, and holding onto new holes that leak.

"Fuckin' asshole," he grunts as he reaches over the stern of the boat to retrieve the rope he'd 'offered' earlier. The loose end is looped through Teo's vest.

The other end is tied to the boat.

"You can keep the other hundred bucks," Jack calls out as he climbs over the side and settles himself into the pilot's chair.

Back to square one. Teo is just awake enough to process the raspy, scratching passage of the rope threaded through the vest. Dimly, it occurs to him he should like. Go for a gun or something. He conveniently forgets that he's considered this before and found himself incapable of logistically handling such an exercise, never mind the probability of shooting himself rather than Jesus. Jesus. Thoughts ricochet back and forth off the inside of his skull. Back and forth, back and forth.

Goin' nowhere. He makes himself stay awake, although he isn't sure why. To get himself out of the vest if he needs to, maybe. Then he'd be free. And drown. Awesome. He isn't saying anything, but he's making noise anyway, a thin, wet wheedling, a pathetic syllable every time he tries to breathe out through the structural ruin of his jaws or nose. Feels just like home, he thinks, wearily. His heels dangle into a void of cold water.

The engines are fired up again and Jack slams the throttle all the way down. The speedboat is light and responsive. It positively skips over each wave as it sails toward Manhattan.

"How you doin' back there?" Jack calls out. "Comfortable, I hope?"

Merrily, merrily, merrily. Ever skip of the speedboat is syncopated to a violent jerk of the vest around Teo's frame. The single strap around his stomach folds under the brunt of velocity and threatens to fold his torso in half over it. Makes it hard to breathe. Not that it wasn't already, with white water pounding into his back and his legs skipping and bouncing and tangling over the surface of the sea with spraining force, and—

In the end, it's blurry cowardice rather than any real progression of logic that closes his numb fingers on the final buckle. He wasn't going to reply, but there's a deeper, whistling silence when the percussive rhythm of the younger man's body cuts short, cuts out, gives way to the vacuous whisper of wind, surf, and the tether snapping empty in the cold sea air. Teo might be more comfortable now.

Wherever the fuck he is.

February 25th: Monsters

Previously in this storyline…
One Finger, or Two

Next in this storyline…
I Know Him

February 25th: I Know Him
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