Knitting Needle Stab Wounds


claire_icon.gif teo_icon.gif

Scene Title Knitting Needle Stab Wounds
Synopsis Teo meets with Claire to confirm some details of PARIAH's supposed dirty deeds.
Date November 25, 2008

Abandoned Overpass

Meeting in a public area during the daytime seemed like the intelligent way to do the thing with PARIAH now that PARIAH has had its brand name printed on hundreds of corpses of children and a rubbled high school. Naturally, Teo thus picked an abandoned bridge off to the Westernmost edge of Midtown's ruins in the darker part of the evening.

Meeting in a public area during the daytime seemed like the intelligent way to do the thing with PARIAH now that PARIAH has had its brand name printed on hundreds of corpses of children and a rubbled high school. Naturally, Teo thus picked an abandoned bridge off to the Westernmost edge of Midtown's ruins in the darker part of the evening.

Teo's standing on the pinnacle of the overpass' curve. He has one boot-shod foot lifted up onto the barrier-hemmed edge and he's stooped over his own knee, looking over into the darkness of the depth. Over his right shoulder, the sole functioning street lamp for fifty yards glares down, balefully yellow.

Claire's approach isn't quiet, but it isn't excessively noticeable either. She simply makes no attempt to mask her presence. She jogs along the overpass and stops at the edge of lamplight. "Hey," she pants softly, two fingers up to press against the pulse in her neck. Apparently she's using this meeting as an excuse to get some exercise.

Exercise is nice. Explains the fact the cheerleader still seems to have rock-hard arms and a second wind that operates with the efficiency of a machine. Teo straightens at the sound of running feet, glances over. Recognizes her with something like pleasure, albeit dulled slightly by the recent circumstances. She looks healthy. Physically. Catching himself thinking like some old asshole or something equally unpardonable, he actually registers a smile, then. "Hey," he gives a football thug's chuck of his head in greeting, glances over her shoulder at the long and dark way she'd come. A runner himself, he asks first: "How many miles?"

"Three or four?" Claire speculates. "I just kind of go sometimes without thinking about how far it is." She wipes the back of her hand over her brow and moves to the side of the overpass to begin stretching. "You look well," she comments. "Hope I didn't keep you waiting long."

Motivated by habitual altruism or comraderie, Teo essays a step backward, watches the stooped line of the younger woman's lean back with practical caution, just in case she loses her balance, starts to fall, or give herself a scare. The probability is low, but he wouldn't be himself if he ignored its existence entirely. "Brava, bambina.

"That's a good stretch," he remarks, not without sincerity. His mind is, however, elsewhere. Of course, it would be: he's left her alone for weeks since PARIAH and Phoenix split, and kept a tenuous acquaintance for the preceding months, at best, so this would have been a fairly weird if not inappropriate reunion without other topics than exercise regime. "Thanks. You do, too. Nah, it was fine. I like it out here, despite the fucking cold." Reminding himself, albeit inadvertently, he tightens his hands in his pockets. Breathes in, then out. And then, as blunt as a Sicilian is eternally doomed be, he says, "Why would PARIAH nuke the shit out of Washington Irving high?"

"We didn't," Claire states just as plainly." She plants both feet back on the ground and stretches one arm up over her head, leaning toward the side opposite. "We're all about sending a message, but that isn't the message we're trying to send. When I find the fuckers that did that, Peter and I are going to take them apart piece by piece."

Blue eyes hood slightly, as close as Teo ever really gets to a non-expression when he isn't too tired to move his face. He studies Claire for a moment, blanched as she is by the light. Even with that, she looks healthy, young; the same. "I'm sure you must be sick of my equivocation," he says, offering the collective 'my' this once out of deference to the rift between their respective factions, "but I'd like to know for sure. Erim, Karl, Melinda. Not even them?"

"Not even them," Claire assures. "We don't know what's going on. Someone's acting in our name. I… I don't know why." She shakes her head, brunette hair tousled about her shoulders. "I wouldn't be there still if they were a part of that, I promise."

Some knot loosens in Teo's chest and kills the butterflies in his stomach. Leaves only a retching, incipient projectile-vomit of poisonous hate in his throat. He knows he's being a little quick to believe her, which is probably why he's a little slow to answer, the pause heavy with distant considerations. He can't remember the dynamic they had held with her. Karl, Melinda, their fedora-topped pimp, whether they had deferred to Peter or acknowledged Claire. Still, the colossal weight of the atrocity committed in their name insists on bearing its own weight.

When he finally does reply, it's: "They're cunts." Unhelpfully, as far as the rationale behind the work of these faceless saboteurs goes. "And every fucking one of them is going to burn for a good while before they get to Hell." He raises a hand, scraping fingertips down the stubborn line of his own jaw, distracting himself from the unpleasant taste of the bile he swallows. Then, "Hel misses you all crazy."

"I know." The former cheerleader raises the opposite arm and starts stretching in the other direction now. "I miss her, too. I miss all of you, but…" Claire sighs and refuses to give more voice to the topic. "How is your little knitting circle coming along anyway?"

Another man might have divulged a flicker of injured pride at his thing being referred to as such. Teo answers with a shrug: amused or annoyed, he's capable of answering in kind. "I'm working on a pair of socks but they aren't coming out the same size and I don't know what's really going on with that. Al and Abby were working on something together, and stabbed themselves with the needles a few weeks ago. Kind of a clusterfuck. Hel keeps giving everything we make away to the poor and needy. I think we're going to switch to poetry reading in a few weeks.

"Your father will be a big part of that." Like an owl, Teo tilts his head on its axis without moving his shoulders, following the axis of her head as she bends to and fro, stretching; he half expects Claire's expression to change at the mention of Noah, and half expects nothing from her at all. "And PARIAH? Needlestick assassinations and CitySoft, I take it?"

Claire chuckles softly as he responds in a manner she didn't quite expect. However true the words may be on some metaphorical level. "It's why I couldn't stay," she says quietly. "Sure, I heal it, but after a while I get tired of being stabbed by my cohorts." The comment about Noah Bennet does draw a reaction from the young woman and she narrows her eyes very faintly. "My father's doing are no business of mine, nor are they of any interest to me." The frostiness is automatic now. A demeanor once born of intent and difficult to keep up with is now just her nature. "We get by," is all she'll offer in response to his queries about her faction. "Karl will tan my hide if he finds out I've been here, talking with you. Keep this between you and Hel', okay?"

A strange metaphorical level, he'd be the first to say. Another shrug rolls through Teo's shoulders, left to right, not the diffident empty gesture that most make out of it but expressive of something oddly like regret. "That sounds like bullshit to me, the little I've seen of things, no offense, ragazza. Unless you were referring to something before my time," he demarcates the possibility with words as succinct. His face had gone hard for a moment, but it softens to neutral even as Claire's temper shows on her own. "It was Sylar doing the stabbing, if that brings you some form of relief.

"I don't think he liked the combination of orange and puce they were using." Despite that he's running cheerfully forward with the same joke, there's a dry edge to the statement, if not the tone. One doesn't invoke Sylar lightly — and nor ought one dismiss him as so, as far as Teo understands. The next moment, he's reassuring her. Softer, now. "Karl won't hear about this. Do you think you'll speak to her some time soon?" He means, Helena. "None of my business. Tell me to fuck off if you like, bella." A hand out of his pocket, upraised: no offense.

"I mean to." Claire glances to her waist as her cell phone buzzes in its holster. She holds up one finger and flips the device open to check the message. She nods once to herself as she puts it away again. "Yeah, sooner rather than later." She lets out a slow breath, a trail forming briefly before her. "I miss Texas sometimes," she mutters, rubbing her arms to ward off the cold. "West said to tell you hi, by the way. And Hel', too."

When the erstwhile cheerleader glances downward, Teo follows her gaze down before pitching his head backward an inch and averting his gaze. Right. Reading somebody else's cell screen uninvited, entirely impolite. "I'll let her know," he promises, tucking his cold hand back into the recesses of his coat. It doesn't go overlooked, that she had nothing to say about being called or pegged for bullshit, nor about Sylar. If he thinks it's odd, it's not worth remarking on. Her well-wishes, and those second-hand, are accepted. "Thanks," he says, courteously as his mother taught him. "Give him my regards, please. And I hope things are going well between you two. It's a shitty time to be alone. I'll see if I can't get a queen-sized for you when we move on to quilting." Exhalation mists translucent, brief, before shredding away with the wind. "I miss Sicily all the time."

Claire actually blushes at the mention of a queen-sized quilt. "We don't- It's… not that kind of relationship." Yet, perhaps. "Better make it two singles." She lowers her blue-green gaze to the ground. "Shitty time to be alone, and a shitty time to be away from home. The world's just a shitty place to be right now. And sometimes I worry that nothing will change in my lifetime."

The silence lasts for the tick and change of one clock digit on the face of Claire's cellphone, and whatever faint delight Teo had indulged himself at the pink that had risen on the girl's face dims slightly. "Nothing lasts forever," says the least reliable source on the planet, in a tone low with something that resembles verisimilitude. Either that, or he's just a little tired. "They built a whole religion around that. Buddhism. It's big on the whole concept of evanescence. Sometimes, knowing the wheel will spin is the most soul-crushing inevitability there is.

"Other times, for other people, it's the best news you could ever get. Me, right now, I'll take a little optimism anywhere I can find it. You're young," he tacks on, a little awkwardly. The next instant, he probably should have pointed out You're fucking immortal, but that isn't what he meant. Not that she'd outlive the last of the shit to slop off the fan, but that she has years and spirit in her, yet, to be part of cleaning it up. Making it right. He doesn't know how to say that, so he ends up saying nothing.

Claire is one to doubt her own immortality anyway. Indestructible, yes, but perhaps not truly immortal. She'd like to take some small comfort in this thought. "And you're incredibly old?" She smiles and cocks her head to one side. "I should get going before someone figures out where I've gone. West suspects they have a tail on me. I should book it before they catch up to me. You'd be wise to do the same."

"Not incredibly," Teo answers, hunkering his shoulders up around his jaw, a moment. Grins, coyote-bright, momentary. "I'm old in that pedestrian, garden-variety, infinitely mediocre kind of way. Case in point: the knitting club." She tilts her head one way, and he cocks his in the opposite direction, by the same fraction. Birds study each other this way. "They won't have an electronic one on you, if that's any reassurance, or some shit. Wireless has been watching for bugs.

"You're probably right about the hounds, though." Which lapses him into a momentary silence, pitching a glance down one pitted, sloping half of the bridge, then a squint up once at the sky, as if the depth and brightness of limitless stars stings as much as the sun does during the day. "I'm probably one of the less qualified people in your acquaintance, but I don't think it's a bad idea. Waiting, with West.

"Some things are what you make of them, and it's nice to see somebody think it isn't nothing." Long fingers sift air, splay around an offered handshake that means good-bye.

Claire glances first in one direction, then in the other. "Take care of yourself. I'll see you around." Her handshake is firm before she claps Teo on the shoulder and offers him a cheeky grin, backing up a few steps. "Shortcut." She takes a running start toward the edge of the overpass, using the momentum to vault herself over the side in an expert manner that speaks to her years on the cheerleading squad - and why she made captain. The grunt when she hits the ground beneath carries in the air, but if Teo should happen to look over to check on the woman, she's already snapping her legs back into their proper positions. Hitting the ground running, so to speak.

November 25th: Think Outside The Box

Previously in this storyline…

Next in this storyline…

November 25th: The Radio Star Is Dead Again
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