Job Offer


eileen_icon.gif gabriel_icon.gif teo_icon.gif

Scene Title Job Offer
Synopsis Remnant has one for Teodoro.
Date October 23, 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 lays, foam-rimmed and bellying in the vespertine surf like a sick dog on blood-matted blankets awaiting injections and sutures. The boat has been refurbished before, but there's enough of its rudimentary parts to salvage that someone was willing to pay for it.

Makes sense, if you know anything about boats. Hefty horsepower engine, only a few holes left ridging through its hull where they haven't gone over the recaulking, new windows intact and only faintly mottled with dust. It's not for him, and the spare sets of tools left scattered on the deck correctly imply that he hasn't been working on it alone. Not the Ferry, nor John Logan. Somehow, the Sicilian who formerly bore such taglines as white knight and Phoenix co-leader has been assimilated into the population of Staten Island's faceless menial workforce. Drifters with nowhere else to go, shy of commitments but hungry for cash.

Or, at least, for something to do instead of sleeping. Teo's a squatted silhouette below the railing, a skewed shadow on the jetty, backlit by the ribbed acid blue fluorescence of a nautical lamp hanging off the port door behind him, an inexplicable tiny, portable television pleating the droning wind with a staticky chatter of broadcasted voices from the recesses of the room.

Four days now. Five? The most human contact he's gotten in the last has been with John Logan— who may or may not count— and the leather-faced electrician guy who spent most of the six hours they within earshot of one another with his head underneath the wheel. His cellphone has gone steadfastly ignored, disconnected except for sporadic check-ins with voicemail which told him, more than anything else, that the cattle-rustlers had accepted his resignation in fluent accord to the terms in which it was written.

At this time of night, social visits on Staten Island usually involve blood in some way. Already gushing or about to.

The meander up the coast portends no such excitement, two dissimilar figures with boots sinking into sand and scraping over broken up stony terrain. To guard against the chill, Gabriel Gray's silhouette is swaddled in a woolen coat, grey at the lapels and otherwise black, over ordinary swear and jeans, with his hands caught in gloves that expose at least a knuckle, the hooks of fingertips.

It's certainly not a coincidental stroll. There'd been a conversation, and decision, and then he'd asked her to check the docks, maybe. And then she had.

When Teo chooses to notice them is entirely up to him. The sound of foot steps certainly makes that easy enough, especially when they inevitably hit the jetty, strides lazy, though Gabriel's slow in approach. Good food, a place to sleep consistently, and other factors all contribute towards him looking as healthy and whole as he has in a long time. Evidently, he can see again.

"You look like a man who needs something to do."

Sometimes Eileen does the talking. Other times, like tonight, she leaves the tete-a-tete to her companion and shadows him instead, visible to Teo only as a vague outline in the darkness with twin pinpricks of green where her eyes should be. The moon's glow reflects of her skin and hair, giving her reed thin figure the appearance of something straight out of an impressionist painting, all feathery brush strokes with an emphasis on light in its changing qualities and the way it underscores her most recognizable features. A petite mouth curves around pearly teeth in a smile as one small hand slips bone white fingers into the interior pocket of the peacoat she wears over her clothes, including a dark gray sweater made from angora wool and a pair of jeans tucked into leather boots designed for the encroaching winter.

The fire engine red head of a match cracks against its designated striking strip, and in the next instant a flash of white hot light illuminates the young woman's austere features for the time it takes her to bring the flame to the cigarette she holds pursed between her chapped lips. Nearby, a cormorant with feathers the colour and texture of an oil slick sits perched on a buoy and regards the Sicilian with one ugly black eye.

He couldn't hide forever. Not really.

Fucking bird. Teo doesn't throw a wrench at it, though he couldddd and blame it on Thai traditions, maybe. Maybe. Maybe not. He stops douching around with his handful of nails, is looking up, at the brown-winged bird even before he swings his head around to track the origin of Gabriel's voice, and then the one of Eileen's silence. Last but not least, Ethan Holden dropping off the ceiling with limbs splayed, in tactical blacks on a strapped harness. Or that could be a misremembered film.

Unh. Broad-footed clopping, and then a grumble of metal tossed down on wood. The Sicilian pulls himself up onto his feet, finds his shoulders automatically set into an artless huddle against mama duck's scolding or Eileen's reproach. He doesn't remember a lot of what he ran away from, but he does remember running away, and the two former Vanguard operatives. He wipes his nose with his arm, glances out across the various buoyant shit-heaps of maritime projects, unraveling hemp cables, tarp-covered barges as likely to be carrying valuables as more heaps of shit.

It's embarrassing, somehow. Being found here, amid incomplete projects, shipwrecks, vessels that were invariably driven off-course, somehow, and other forgotten things, on the bristly coast of an island that breathes in the dark like a dying animal. He doesn't know what he says, so he answers: "Buona sera, Gabe." Gabe. "Eileen."

Eyebrows go up at that particular name. It's not the first time and it won't be the last, and there's no energy spent on correcting it, either. Gabriel's approach slows to a halt around the time the mess of nautical tools begins, a look cast out towards the sunken and floating vessels alike. "You're not answering your calls." He edges closer to the edge slated edge of the jetty, away from Eileen and her shadowy. "Not writing. Not visiting. You're not trying to make us worry, now are you?"

Coyness is played straight, as it were, with an undercurrent of mocking, prodding. Either just to break the ice or bleed wounds anew, it's hard to tell with Gabriel. Maybe Eileen should have taken point after all.

Eileen flicks the spent match to her feet, and even though the jetty's planks are too sodden with moisture and too dense to catch, she grinds it under the toe of her boot and treats the wood creaking beneath her weight like paper kindling. After narrowly escaping the Midtown fire back in May and watching flames consume the Guiding Light just last month, she's adopted a more cautious attitude toward all things combustible.

"We are worried," she clarifies for the tall, hawk-nosed man standing beside her. Smoke uncurls from her nostrils in thick tendrils to match the pea soup that hangs over the water. In the distance, a foghorn belches its low warning, accompanied by the Fulk lighthouse blushing gold through the haze to ward off vessels that aren't as faraway from the crag as they should be. Dewdrops cling to her hair and exposed skin in the form of tiny silver pearls, all that's left of the drizzle she and Gabe — sorry, Gabriel — had to walk through to get here. "Is this what you're doing for a living now? Fixing boats?"

That doesn't sound precisely discriminatory. Not even nasty in tone. Either of them. Teo remembers how Gab—riel likes to poke, with small, prying implements, determining the shape of parts and the speed at which they tick and pull against one another. Teo remembers because Ghost did, mostly, and like the ghost, he can discern the subtle difference between a poke and sawing, cutting malicious intent. On the other hand, it's his younger analogue to whom he owes the largest part of his understanding of Eileen.

When she says she's worried, she is. That's the end of it. It's embarrassing anyway. 'Fixing boats?' There's nothing wrong with fixing boats. "There's nothing wrong with fixing boats," Teo points out, presently. "I was going to do something else— I was gonna leave. But I think I made a mistake. Some mistakes. Anyway," irritated with his own failure to articulate how far off-course his own course has gone, Teo shrugs this amorphous concatenation of recent events off. "I didn't crap together a Plan B. Working on it. You two look good." Together, he doesn't add aloud, but he means that as well. Of course he does: he's Teodoro.

Gabriel doesn't hear the implicit 'together'. It's just not the way he's wired. This is a familiar setting, the last time he came to circle around and poke at baby duck, although the confidence scale had been something slightly more even. Gabriel's hands shove into his pockets, a shimmer of a shrug. There's nothing wrong with fixing boats. There's nothing wrong about breaking his back regarding the Old Dispensary. Speaking of which—

"Do you know anything about wiring?"

His weight rocks back on his heels a little. "We have a building that needs some fixing up. Electricity. It's patchy at best, and we could use the help. Furniture, too. Trying to get Peter to do any kind of heavy lifting is a task in itself." As if maybe they were all apart of the same soap opera of mundanities, Gabriel's voice is purely casual.

Eileen can't fault Gabriel for his approach; asking Teo for help with the dispensary is a better pitch than the one Raith gave them. As he speaks, her eyes rove over the Sicilian's face with more feeling than the cormorant's did, though her emotions remain guarded behind a porcelain fine veneer of neutrality on the verge of cracking. He's not just a potential recruit — he's a friend, and there's something perturbing about his behaviour that she can't quite pin under her thumb.

There's a moment where she looks as though she might say something to further Gabriel's suggestion, but before her tongue can wrap its way around the words, she clamps down on her cigarette's filter to keep from speaking too soon. For now, she simply studies him and awaits his reaction to the invitation.

Sensing scrutiny, or worse, concern, Teo keeps his face stiffly sober. Thinking about this, contemplating the offer and its denotations while he fights the unsettling distraction of its implications, the stubbornness of a career kamikaze pilot. One does not fall into such occupation, undergo such self-engineering, and then proceed to take easily to the prospect of a Plan B. Still, there's no harm in telling the truth. "Yes." Which he does, after a moment. "Yeah, I know some stuff about fixing a place up.

"It isn't—" of course it isn't, but as long as the erstwhile serial killer is being purely casual, it's easier to set this query down on the colorful toy blocks of the others than to admit to the presence of battlements, siege engines, armies and war glowing like an ember the size of a whole country on the horizon.

"It isn't Covert Street, is it?" He turns his eyes down, as if to relieve the Vanguard remnant of the unkindly pressure of his stare. Drags a glance back, over his shoulder, at where snowy static is blowing over the screen, disrupting the sight of tuna steaks stewing fatly in the chef's cast-iron.

Gabriel shakes his head in serene correction and denial. "No. Someplace different. Staten Island."

A hand goes out, goes up, slinging loose fingers over the railing of the boat set beside the jetty, hanging his weight off it in a subtle shift, watching Teo and what he's doing more so than Eileen and other surrounding factors. "You'll know it, too. Old nesting place for the burning birds that we," and there's a tone, there, that implies a bigger we than the two Staten Island residents taking up space on the jetty, "decided not to let go to waste."

A beat, and he releases the railing to stand on his own, shoulders hiking up beneath his coat as hands tuck into its pockets. "There's more work for you there, if you want it."

Food and a dry place to sleep as well, but Eileen lets this go unsaid in favour of inhaling still more smoke and then blowing it back out in a singular stream. "Petrelli, Holden and Raith are already onboard," is what she tells Teo instead, and for the sake of full disclosure. Let there be no mistake about who that we includes. Like Gabriel, her focus remains on their mark, seemingly unconcerned with the gloom rolling in from the ocean or the possibility that someone unseen might be overhearing their conversation.

Without warning, the cormorant launches off the buoy, creating a loud clamour usually reserved for the movement of waves, and skims wingtips and feet over the water as it flees the jetty. There aren't a lot of things that would entice it to abandon the illusion of food simmering over the stove, but the Briton is one of them and probably has something to do with its abrupt departure.

There's an irritating prickle and coil of a knot forming in Teo's shoulder just under the skin. No one's fault. Just— he wonders if he'd already known that, about the Dispensary and its now occupants, or if he wasn't supposed to, and knowing that now is another exploitable and culpable blot of information on his clean slate. Covering his ears and shrieking 'la la la' would be just kinda immature, and worry them that he'd lost his mind, among other things. Full disclosure is an act of trust, though, and he recognizes that and can appreciate it even without regarding himself as particularly trustworthy.

The cormorant's sudden departure sparks a blink of pale eyes, almost but not quite a flinch. Teo glances after the way the bird had gone, but his night vision falls short of marking its course with anything like accuracy.

"Like a Ferry safehouse?" he asks, finally, despite that conventional wisdom would recommend a different tack of conversation. Teo's compelled by more than politeness, something too ginger and wary in its circling pace to be comfortably defined as curiosity, outright. "That doesn't seem like the preferred industry of the gentlemen you just named." Wryness makes the remark almost polite, even if none of them would have taken it as an insult, likely.

"Wrong again." Wry, too, except maybe with a critical edge, one that accuses Teo of playing stupid. It's about as implicit as the offer being set out between them like the slow reveal of a card hand. A game, more than a trick. Gabriel's eyes glimmer blackly. "We got the impression you walked away from the Ferrymen. Peter isn't a remnant of the Vanguard either, but he counts."

Gabriel guesses, anyway. It wasn't his choice.

Eileen lowers from the cigarette from her mouth and taps burnt ash onto the jetty. For all her emotional intuitiveness, she's no empath; the knot in Teo's shoulder is as invisible to her as what lies beyond the fog on the other side of the water. City lights. Manhattan's skeleton rising up from a ruined horizon line scorched black where Midtown used to be. On some level, she knows these things exist and that they're there just as she surely must be aware of the disparity between the front Teodoro presents and the reality of the emotions it shields, but if she's consciously aware that something is wrong then it doesn't show on her face.

"Come be with us, Teo," she says. "Help with the dispensary, speak with Holden and Raith about their plans for the future. If you disagree with what we want to do, then you don't have to stay. Please?"

The bottom of Teo's shoe scrubs wood haphazardly, kicking to and fro along the grain. It looks kind of like a sheepish concession— to the accusation— and thinking gesture, or an idiot horse about to bolt. Both. Neither. Despite the shortage of light to work by, the nails Teo put in prove even, make the floor level and smooth enough to cross with bare feet even if the bacterial situation on the boat would probably suggest one only cross the deck whilst shod. Unless you don't like having feet.

"Yeah," he says. His gaze hazards closer to Eileen, retroactively, reflexively acknowledging her use of good manners. "Grazie. Sure. That sounds practical." That adjective has been previously used to describe abductions and soliciting the help of the closest terrestrial thing to a demon he's ever heard of, but it's an idea, falling in with the former terrorists, because they are his friends and the ones crucial to turning the tide against the viral apocalypse that came so close to sweeping the world away.

After all, even no decision becomes a decision after enough time, and reticence has never suited him. He roughs the side of his hand across his nose. Makes a joke out of it: "When should I stop by? Business casual, bring a fruit basket?"

"Peter might like it." That joke makes no sense, but it's something Gabriel is contractually obligated to say, ever since Peter bought/stole a table in malicious attempts to encroach on Gabriel's grandiose gestures, even if the scarred man has no idea. Making connections between Peter and fruitiness is at least healthier than all out war that explodes New York City.

He takes a step back that creaks jetty slats. "Come by when you're ready, although working electricity would be appreciated. I'll see you in a few days."

"No fruit baskets required," Eileen tells Teo. "Just bring yourself," which makes it sound like this is some sort of casual dinner party and not a plot to systemically eliminate individuals deemed too dangerous to be a part of New York City's society. She doesn't immediately step back to join Gabriel when he takes that first step to move away, either, though she doesn't linger on the jetty any longer than is necessary now that their conversation seems to arrived at it's conclusion.

"I'll turn one of the beds down."

Awful courteous way to treat one's handyman, Teo thinks to joke back, add a punchline to this adolescently awkward conversation with its commitment issues subtext and the benevolent concern of Mama Duck and his consort. The boat tilts gently and him with it. He watches the subtle ripple of imminent departure through Eileen's posture, and Gabriel already receding across the rickety boards. It occurs to him only now, belatedly, that Phoenix wasn't mentioned in this conversation even once, except in the context of things that Phoenix was done with and had, accordingly, discarded out of hand on Staten Island.


"Sorry for the trouble," he adds, either in lieu of or as his parting salutation. Farewell. Teo lifts a wave after them, though only Eileen's turned near enough to see it.

He waits until she swings her own gesture farewell at him, with her hair and a flit of Cockney, before he turns back to the boat's cabin, stepping over the ropey whorl of cable that links television to outlet. He remembers, for the first time in the past two hours, that he'd left the channel flipped to the Food Network, the one out of three stolen signals that work out here. He remembers, also, startlingly, that he is actually hungry for something of substance.

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