Laugh Before You Forget How


cat_icon.gif felix_icon.gif francois_icon.gif teo_icon.gif

Scene Title Laugh Before You Forget How
Synopsis Felix and Cat's pre-dawn various experiments in dwelling are spontaneously interrupted by Teo, crotch-sore, and enthusiastic to move house. Francois brings edamame because the store's out of peas.
Date December 10, 2009

Ryazan, Russia — Outside the Spektor Home

She's alone, or at least thinks she is, as the images from memory play out in her mental view. The house is quiet, most people likely being asleep at this hour, but Cat is awake. More than that, she's gotten dressed in all her cold weather gear and ventured outside the Spektor home, wandered to stand near things constructed for a snowball battle she'd not been part of.

It's 02:13, and she's speaking to the open air. "It was stupid of me to open the door, and even dumber to let them in."

Since it's not actively snowing, it's hard to tell the age of specific tracks. But Fel's worn Docs - those bootprints are recent. There's the acrid scent of those cheap cigarettes he smokes, preceding him, the sound of feet crunching on snow frozen and refrozen again. She's clearly not speaking to him directly, so he doesn't greet her. Merely eyes her as the ebb and flare of the cigarette alternately illuminates his face and casts it into shadow. He's even without that old fur hat - just in his greatcoat.

"You were right," she comments some seconds later while still seemingly oblivious to man and cigarette, "we should just have called 911 and stayed in with the door locked. In this case, curiosity didn't kill the Cat. It murdered you instead."

She can see the whole scene before her, the apartment in readiness for Christmas together, see the glass of wine she'd been holding, the person who shared that place with her. Then she hears the disturbance in the hallway, and sees her hands opening the door to look out with Dani recommending not to and being unheeded. "I'm so sorry." That the people she let in might've had a backup plan if she hadn't opened up and invited them in isn't even considered.

For all of that, she doesn't move. Cat is stock still, her eyes focused on a spot as if watching something play out; for many it's a sign of being in a panmnesiac reverie.

It makes him feel all the more ghostly, really. She doesn't see him, doesn't hear him, and it lends the whole thing an air of voyeurism that's intensely uncomfortable. Felix coughs, and it's not merely testament to the abrasions he must've put on his lungs since he got here, it's the throatclearing of someone trying to draw attention to himself.

That's a sound which doesn't fit in with the event she's watching play itself out, and as such it draws her away from the hold it's taken. Cat stiffens a bit more, then turns slowly toward the source of that sound to identify and rate it. "Felix Ivanov," she remarks. Poise is quickly taken on, she turns her eyes again to regarding some spot which isn't part of him, and behaves as if she wasn't just witnessed holding that one sided conversation.

The only evidence on her person is the single tear coursing down one cheek, one she doesn't acknowledge for existing with the simple expedient of wiping it away.

Felix nods, looking obscurely guilty, even though none of this was deliberate. He ashes into the snow with a flick of a finger. "Yes, sorry to have disturbed you." And his contrition does seem genuine. He, being what he is, can't leave well enough alone - and Cat will find that tear dabbed from her cheek with a neat motion of a clean handkerchief.

"It's not a disturbance," she replies, eyes moving to alight on him as that motion with the handkerchief is made. "It's an anniversary," Cat provides, "of things best not dwelt upon." She doesn't explain further, it seems being spotted observing it is enough, but it's not a long stretch to conclude what the anniversary was, from the words she spoke.

"It'd've frozen, given you a frostbite scar," Fel explains, though no explanation was demanded. He nods his understanding with a jerk of his chin, a little spasmodic motion, as he steps away like a child playing Red Light, Green Light.

"Perhaps," the woman allows as her eyes track the agent in his stepping away. "You and I haven't spoken at length," Cat remarks next. "We've not really had occasion or opportunity, it seems, despite having at times finding common cause." Her feet shift, placing her body angled a bit more toward whatever remains of a crystalline fort of frozen water built by Team Charlie in the first nights of their tenure in this place.

Felix nods. He looks uneasy, shoulders hunched within his coat, glasses gleaming dim in the moonlight. "Yes," he agrees. "I've not had much to say. I….." He trails off, awkwardly, coming to a halt. "Have felt too shattered to be of much use," he finishes, in a rush, after sucking in icy air like a diver about to take the plunge.

"Shattered by what?" she asks calmly. Cat's eyes move away from him partly, as if to allow him comfort of not feeling or seeming under a microscope. She has ideas, knowing some of his history and being witness to some recent events at firsthand, but still the question bears asking. His take on it, what he's willing to discuss, could speak volumes.

"Humanis First," he says, simply. She's really the first stranger he's spoken to it of - Liz knows, in so many ways, and Lee….never really was willing to hear it. Nor was Fel willing to tell him. "I was in their hands for all of September. If you heard about the church burning, the bodies being hung, I was one of them." His tone is completely flat, asif he were giving a report about some minor traffic accident he was at.

Two bags of frozen peas later, Teo wants to die. He wants to die somewhat less so than he did a few hours ago, at least, but there's still a certain ghost of reverberating soreness and an uncomfortable memory of where a certain can of shaving cream connected soundly before a squiggle of froth was laid down to mark its territory. There's a slight gingerness to his gait, now, but mostly because of the snow; the noise of his grumbling restricted to the clouded space under his breath.

Given the state of the world, of life as late and the various conundrums that have beset Team Charlie, it seems inappropriate that Teodoro should be concerned, of all things, by the chances of conceiving Walter. Which isn't to say he's consciously worried about that, above the other things that have driven him outdoors for this lengthy, if hobbled walk, but it's easier to complain about that to himself than about Holden's secrecy, Zhukovsky's belligerent uselessness, Dreyfus' head in the sand.

He stilts into view around the haggard silhouette of a conifer, well out of earshot, but approaching.

"I was there when they took you, Felix," Cat replies. "We were interested in Frontline, so two of us attended the ball. It was quite the gathering, and I have to say I was surprised, even hopeful, when Minea Dahl arrested Emile Danko. I saw what came next, when it turned out he had backup. Which included you jumping into the truck with them. You're quite the tenacious agent."

"I could admit something about that encounter, yet I'm not sure how you'd view it."

"People confuse it with courage. It's a physical compulsion - no braver than a grayhound following a plastic rabbit around a track," Felix says, simply. "I wish with all my heart I'd shot Emile Danko in the head right there." Again, there's that peculiar lack of bitterness in his voice - still matter of fact. He notes Teo's approach with a birdlike cocking of his head. "What?" he says, gaze slipping back to Cat. And now she's woken his curiosity.

The Sicilian's ungainly trudge continues, at a companionable pace between the wind and the slow progress of frost crystallizing within wood grain. It takes him a few seconds to notice Felix and Cat in the distance; he puts up an arm, a bar of shadow, waves it back and forth thrice in salutation.

Teo is spotted, and an incline of her head acknowledges his approach, but her conversational tangent isn't broken. Eyes soon rest on Felix again, to observe and record his reaction as Cat speaks again. "I asked the person at the ball with me to call lightning down from the skies and immolate that infernal ice cream truck," she provides without batting an eye. "I didn't expect to see you again, given their habits, and from what had been learned of their methods that would've been merciful. Sadly," she adds, "it wasn't a practical shot to take. Too much chance of hitting things other than their vehicle."

Now he's the one lost in contemplation of his past, expression wan behind his glasses. "It would have been a mercy," he agrees, after a long moment, before he lifts his hand to wave at Teo, rather tentatively. "Like the Hand of God."

"I don't think I can ever have sex again," Teo announces, always the epitome of grace. He arrives in his odd hitchy gait, hands jammed deep in his pockets, features pushed down and contused into a petulant frown. Facetious, of course: of their problems, having a roll in the hay is the least of them. Even for Teodoro, who arguably gets into more trouble with that sort of thing than most.

He flips a long-fingered hand up, this time less in salutation than apology. "Sorry to interrupt. I was just heading inside. You two all right?" They don't look all right, he means. Intact, but in poor spirits; the small hours of the evening rarely draw people outdoors otherwise, especially not in the suburban armpit of Ryazan, Russia. Still, the question is casual, gently delivered; Teo is characterized by meddling as often as he is by fucking of and minding his own business, depending on how personal the situation looks.

He squints in the dark. Determines: pretty personal.

There's a thought formed, about to be given voice to, as demonstrated by the opening of Cat's mouth and the shift in facial muscles which accompany it, but the sound fails to emerge as she had planned when Teo's statement reaches her ears. "Are we all right?" she inquires, "one would rather ask that of you, given the greeting. Did your balls freeze off, or the other part? All of them?" A slight smile appears, it seems perhaps a fitting joke to make given their presence in Russia and local weather.

Immediately following that quip, however, is the recognition she left herself open to questions of if her nipples are permanently extended for the same reason, a thought she doesn't express.

Moments later, her mind has turned back to the previous subject. "We're all survivors here, except for Ethan, whose habits are more geared toward capturing and sadistic torture. Despite Mr. Holden's oft-stated low opinion of anyone other than himself, we're not a bunch of green idiots."

If Cat weren't standing right -there-, there'd be an extremely obscene retort out of Felix. Instead, he just stands there, blinking at Teo past the smoke he's emitting, like an owlet in a smouldering nest. "Fine," he says. It's a lie, it has been since August 28th, or thereabouts. Equinox, solstice, equinox again before that's a true word, if then. "Just talking," Amazing how someone so built and bent to pursue the guilty can look so transparently so himself. Felix would've made a terrible criminal - he can't lie, he's got a face as revealing as plasticwrap. He blinks at Cat. "I know," he says, simply. "I don't really know you. I know Liz and I know Teodoro." Both of them in the biblical sense, he does not add. ""Abby's saved my life more than once. I owe her. Francois…." he shrugs. "I've met before. I think. It's confusing. I thought he was both the healing loa who was riding Abby, but apparently he's also a real person?" His lip curls at the mention of Holden, but he shrugs, keeps the venom behind teeth and forked tongue.

Onto the discussion of lewd privates. Gotta love Russia. Teo can only hope that Alpha and Bravo teams are having as much fun. He grins, sudden, wide, and bright, unabashed as a tot turning the charm on for the candy store clerk. "Eh." He marches his shoulders up, a brief shrug. "Holden likes to haze me. Reminds me why I never joind a frat in college.

"That bad, eh?" Their lies are transparent! indeed, but he takes that in stride. Tragedy requires five phases, acceptance, commemoration, and eventually to be kept to itself again. He had been, always has been, the same way. "If either of you are going to start cutting or scribbling bad poetry on available surfaces, I think Katarina would appreciate it if you'd shrinkwrap whichever room you're going to use before going to it. Think we've brought enough crazy shit to the Spektor house.

"Speaking of which, I figure we should relocate soon. Looked at some real estate, apartments you can rent by the month, that kind of thing. The Company has a few decent guidelines."

"The Company," she mutters, "is something I'd prefer to keep as far distant from us as possible. But I don't suppose in this case it's very possible. In any case, money I have. My transactions aren't as secure as they were a short time ago, despite an essential contact having gone dark suddenly." Cat chooses not to elaborate on who that is, however. She moves onward.

"I'm not into displays of self-abusive behavior," Cat supplies, "so the hostess needn't worry. As for Ethan, well, things are what they are. He is who he is, my skin is thicker than his uselessly churlish behavior, and my agreement with Eileen regarding him still holds."

She does briefly mutter "I met him exactly a year ago," before moving on again. "What cause has you desiring to relocate?"

Felix snorts at that, ungraciously. "Yes, we should," he agrees, under his breath. Though he brightens a little at the idea of being able to sleep next to Liz.

Crunch, crunch. Crrrunch. Crunch.

The sounds of hesitant approach, Francois not meaning to eavesdrop, but boots in snow is making quick work of announcing his presence. He's pulled on a coat especially for this errand, wool-covered hands holding onto a plastic bundle of some kind, hard to decipher in this light, shiny green and white and making quick work of him being unable to feel his fingertips.

It's hard, being a good friend. "Removing temptation," he offers, catching those last few words. It's easy enough to know what they're talking about, with Teo standing here, and this being all they ever talk about. The situation that is Ryazan. The Frenchman smiles with his eyes as he halts a formal distance from the group. "Dreyfus' temptation. It would be better if we move anyway."

Also, potentially, that of the complicated Holden-Zhukovsky duo, but Teo had been relieved when the Frenchman had pointed out ample other sensible reason to move out that didn't require him to divulge Ethan's secret. He turns an eager circle, pleased to see Francois is back from his midnight errand. "I don't — generally like staying in once place too long, anyway. Wasn't how Phoenix did it, nor the Vanguard."

Or he in his private life, to the best of his understanding of combined timelines and their meanderings, over oceans, DC to Manhattan, Georgia, Panama. "We definitely don't want what happened to Kozlow's clinic to occur here. Welcome back, Francois." He picks up his boots, proceeds at an anticipatory limp over to the other man and his prize.

Eyes swivel over to Francois as he trudges up, then settle onto the plastic bundle he holds. Cat doesn't ask the contents, but curiosity is unshrouded. "Then we should shift quarters," she allows, "and I'll gladly foot the bill. I don't like taking anything from the Company." Then, under her breath, a mutter. "Better to leave the Linderman stooge here and not tell him where we went too."

"Yes," Fel agrees. ""I've got some money, I can help as well." He nods to Francois, politely, drops the last of the cigarette to let the butt hiss out in the snow. He mumbles something about trying to sleep again, turns back to the Spektor house. The nights are so long here.

The package is given freely, held up for Teo to take. "Edamame," Francois announces, both for Teo's information and Cat's curiousity. "Frozen. They were out of peas." There is a complete lack of amusement in his expression and his voice. He's a doctor. It would be wrong to take mirth out from another comrade's injury, especially one of that nature. It would take some study to detect the tiny smile that goes with it.

He nods to Ivanov, who's heading in where it's warm, but the Frenchman doesn't automatically follow, tucking his hands into his pockets. "I am sure Katarina and Ivan won't take offense," he adds, blandly.

Bag of frozen vegetable pips is greedily seized between Teo's hands. "You're saving my life," he says, with somewhat more feeling than is strictly-speaking realistic, but melodrama does tend to accompany injuries of such nature. He tosses the edamame up in the air, turns to catch them again with a sound pat of plump plastic, though he's careful to transfer it over to the pinch of forefinger and thumb to reduce cold loss when he waves Felix good night.

"It's a lot cheaper to live here than Ryazan. We should be able to come up with a working arrangement. Or break into somebody's shit and camp out for a few weeks; it's not like we have the option of lingering on vacation out here. Twelve fucking days until Munin lights up." Blunt as head trauma. Good news in eerie light cast of a genuine nuclear holocaust. Time grows too short to have to worry about intricacies of finance.

The bag is eyed, then Teo again, as she comments "Frozen goods won't help if your parts have frozen off." Cat is still not quite getting what the actual situation is, and moreover is pulled back to business. "Very true," she allows. Time shortens.

"That will be twice now," Francois agrees towards Teo, subtle smile growing from subtext to text, rocking back on his heels before glancing at Cat. "They didn't freeze off. Is that what you told them?" This is an easier topic of conversation than a nuclear weapon killing millions of people, and he scuffs a foot enough to send a sharp spray of ice up Teo's leg as if in rebuke.

Both feet plant back down, and he shivers beneath his coat. "There are inns— motels for tourists and backpackers, they often travel in groups such as we, non? It is not fancy and comfortable, but familiar and cheap."

Familiarity and cost are good things to keep in mind. Teo nods his head, before jerking and swaying an inch sideways at the sudden wave of cold that flies up his pant leg. Heeey. H— okay, all right; that's entirely fair. "Nut shot," he says, finally, with a lugubrious sigh deep enough to twinge at the bottoms of his lungs. "With the hazing. I dunno. Guess next time I should lock my door or some shit.

"Grazie di nuovo, Francois. I should probably…" He stops before the bag of edamame in his hand completes the journey to the afflicted part of his person, his eyes starting toward Catherine, finally, with the first real figment of embarrassment that's manifested in him since Teo sustained the injury.

Even in the most energetically combusting moments of his self-loathing, his ego shielded him from that sort of thing, but waddling around with veggies clamped between one's thighs where Doctor Chesterfield is standing seems a little awkward. "Go inside. Think we should be good to move out of here in twenty-four hours? Forty-eight?"

"Oh," she comments quietly, turning toward Francois. "He said he might never have sex again, and Russia is cold. It was an easy conclusion." Then the testicular topic is left behind, Cat not being so willing to continue talk of crushed balls when the injury is real and not simply a jocular comment on weather conditions.

"It shouldn't take long," she states, while starting to move toward the inside. Moments later she's through the door, and has been sufficiently distracted from the anniversary which drove her outside at this hour to partake of memory and one-sided conversation.

"Oh," the Frenchman says, at Cat, with a glance towards Teo. "I did tell you it would be fine." Again, hard to tell if Francois has overcome the hurdles of true concern with midnight treks to a convenience store and is now allowed to tease, as much as it may be, or he's being genuine. If it's possible to have both, then that may be the case. Bringing up his hands to rub at his face, to bring some feeling back into pale features, he moves off towards the house with the other two, a hand alighting on Teo's shoulder for a brief moment before falling away again.

Occurs to him, belatedly, to ask as to why they were all standing out here, but Francois holds his tongue instead, and ducks into the warm if the Spektor house they're planning to leave behind.

Teodoro's pale eyes follow the woman as her position and stride take her toward the house ahead of her gentleman companions, concern hooding briefly at the brow. He hadn't minded the jocularity, of course. No, it isn't a good thing that dick jokes and herds of dreadfully immediate concerns bring relief to the kind of grief that drives a woman to face the cold of night alone, but better relief than none. Anyway: Teo can only hope he hadn't blundered into something Felix and Catherine would rather have been mourning.

He remembers Danielle at the Vanguard's claws, of course, and Felix at Humanis First!. He remembers, inevitably also, that Danielle had been a little too inquisitive, Felix far too physically reckless, and he, unable to quite affect the dazzling rescues he had been desperate to.

Touch to his shoulder brings a glance up. Half a smile. He's supposed to have had this Gallic shrug thing down-pat, at this point in his life, but he is neither as entirely inscrutable as he'd like to be nor as good at deciphering Francois' expressions as he'd need to be to figure out how much of that is mirth at his expense, how much sympathy, and ergo how— precisely— to respond. Doesn't think of anything until he's crossed the threshold. "G'wan, dink.

"Laugh before you forget how."

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