Legitimate Targets


eileen_icon.gif gabriel_icon.gif raith_icon.gif teo3_icon.gif

Scene Title Legitimate Targets
Synopsis The definition is sometimes a little fuzzy. The Remnant meets to discuss what to do about Messiah and Sylar before conversation takes an unexpected turn, as conversations are wont to do.
Date June 16, 2010

Old Dispensary

It only sounds like the world is ending.

Whipping winds shriek through cracks and drum at the Dispensary's windows with threadbare branches like great, gnarled claws with too many joints to pass for human fingers while flashes of lightning illuminate the forest outside and punctuate ripples of thunder that are felt as strongly as they're heard.

Inside by the hearth, unlit, Eileen sits in one of the armchairs at the nearest window, hair, skin and clothes still damp from her last excursion. She'll get around to changing into something dryer than the dress and cardigan combination she's currently wearing as soon as she finishes the cup of tea warming her hands through its porcelain shell.

Bare legs drawn up and toes curled over the edge of the cushion with her knees held protectively in the circle of her arms, she occupies very little space, but it's her silence that makes her presence unobtrusive.

Gabriel hasn't been home all day, not since midnight last when he'd slithered out a window to go visit the main island. Despite this, there is no rain clinging to Gabriel, having not had the tangible body to allow this, and when he enters the room, he enters from upstairs. His foot steps are reasonably soft, his clothing vague and dark save for the splash of blood red that he has tied around the sleeve of his right arm, looping once above the elbow, once beneath it, knot trailing already somewhat frayed ends.

He tends to destroy things simply by carrying them around. Books, perfectly good coats, but rarely wristwatches. Both arms come to rest against the back of the armchair, and Eileen will more feel than actually see Gabriel leaning against it, just above her.

"Summer," is all he observes, as he watches the streaking rain against the window glass. New York is great this way. Then, he leans down enough for his hands to brush along her arms, chin brushing companiably against the crown of her head before one arm brackets her in a hold and the other ambitious set of fingers deviate settle warmly beneath the slipping hem of her cardigan and upon the swell of her left breast. Occurs to him after maybe a kiss might get him further, a nudge of his nose to her temple to tilt them both.

He's not very good at seduction. Even the inappropriate kind. But he is in a relatively good mood.

. Not for long, unfortunately.

"You really should make it easier for us to find you." This is what Raith says to Teodoro as they move through the dispensary's hallways. It's an innocuous enough statement, surely. "What if there's an emergency and we need you right away?" Unlike Gabriel and Eileen, Raith has managed to avoid becoming wet, despite being outside, by wearing appropriate rain gear, rather than by becoming intangible. However, he's also been home for some time, which also helps in keeping dry. "Anyway, you're here now, which is good, because we all need to ta-"

The ex-spy's sentence ends abruptly in the middle as he passes through the doorway to discover something of a predicament that he was not expecting to walk in on. Dangit, son! "Quiet, don't move," he whispers back to Teo, "They can't see us if we don't move."

"They can hear you whispering at a sarcastically audible volume, though," Teodoro perceives, his left eyebrow shifting downward a fraction of an inch, the other one going up in comical asymmetry. He is keeping the clinch on the bed in his peripheral vision, not as red and flustered as he would have been as frinkle, but nor as glibely bemused as the ghost would have been. The best term for it would probably be 'polite.'

Possibly, trying to compensate for Dad, here. "I have a cellphone," he says. "You can track me to which island by querying the nearest towers. And then you can call me. It isn't so difficult, in this day and age of technology. You're right, though," well— polite is to say that he isn't actually backing out of the room, excusing himself and Raith, promising to come back later or even requesting they keep it quick, please, with that word— please. He's standing past the doorframe, over Raith's shoulder, talking to the back of the burlier man's head like an insolent housemate ought.

There is rainwater sticking his forelocks to his brow, a speckling on the shoulder of his coat and grimy rims to the bottoms of his pant legs, but he wears this season better than he did winter. Teo can deal with anything, after that winter, short of concussive blasts— "You bother everybody," he concludes, blandly.

There's a hand on Eileen's breast. Hers grips Gabriel's by the wrist, and whether she sought it out to guide him lower or wrest him away will forever be a mystery because they're not alone in the room any longer. The nose at her temple, gently coaxing, turns her face against his, lips moving against the corner of his mouth as if beseeching him for that kiss, but rather than take him in her teeth, she groans into him instead, "Gabriel, there's something I need to—"

Tell you, presumably. She doesn't get any further than that. Whatever she'd been about to say gets cut abruptly short by the sound of familiar voices, and by the time Raith's broad frame is filling the doorway, she's biting fingernails into the skin of Gabriel's forearm and pointedly looking in a different direction.

Like one of those water sipping wooden ducks, Gabriel is bent almost in half near the armchair, and rocks right back up at the sound of people heading into the room, an accusing glare angled their way that dies almost as quick as it manifested. His hand compulsively jerks at Eileen's clawing grip, before it passes through with just a tingling feeling sweeping bone-deep through that limb. Gabriel is no longer boob grabbing, lady and gentlemen, taking a step backwards from the armchair and hands tucking into pockets.

He could be angrier than he is, or embarrassed. Right now, mildly irritated but coping well with a slightly shy hunch to his shoulders is a pretty tame emotion for Gabriel Gray, written without definition on his otherwise expressive features as he raises an eyebrow. The look he sends Teo's way is a little more readable, an assessment of why the other man might be here as well as implication of—

Nice of you to show, in sarcastic tones. "Come on in," is the same deal, but for both men.

"Happy to, thanks," Raith says, well, happily, walking completely inside the kitchen with a slight bounce in his step. "What a momentous occasion, all of us being here at the same time. You'd almost think we were getting together to discuss important matters." A pause. "Oh, wait. We are. Who wants to start?" As he speaks, the ex-spy sets about securing a chair for himself, and while everyone else is, ostensibly, deciding whether or not they want to 'go first,' he looks to be deciding whether or not he feels like trying to light the stove. Seems like an awful lot of work when they might not be there that long.

On the other hand, if Raith is considering cooking, Teodoro might consider playing guinea pig. He finally manifests enough good grace to offer Eileen a small smile, a rueful shrug, Gabriel a glance that has no full-stop to the end of it to match the skeptical question-mark in the taller man's expression. He finds a square of floor to sit on, cross-legged, not minding that any dust or grime there is going to find moisture on his pants and person to adhere to. Sailor's habit.

"I want to go last," he states, matter-of-factly, scratching his knee through the fabric of his jeans leg. He shifts his eyes over the others, Raith first, the lovers second. A smile thins his lips right up to the jagged rift in his cheek.

Eileen adjusts her cardigan and fits the topmost button through the appropriate hole as though covering herself might also make her feel less vulnerable and exposed at having been walked in on. Her composure holds. "I spoke with Epstein yesterday," she says, because by going first she stands a better chance at saving face. "He gave me files on an Operation Einherjar. Frontline wants to start pulling new recruits from maximum security prisons and holding facilities run by Homeland Security, places like Moab. People with dangerous abilities, most of which have already been legally tried, convinced and imprisoned for their crimes.

"It's possible," she continues, "that some of them don't deserve to be where they are, which is why I want to look at each recruit individually so we can assess whether or not they're a legitimate target."

Pushing off to lean his back against where the wall meets the window, Gabriel's posture doesn't improve, and he watches the floor more than Eileen. Unobstrusive and quiet, he still has a hard time fading into the woodwork, a distinctive shape in the setting of the room as he listens. A flick of a glance, blankly distrustful in the circles of brown eyes, is dealt towards her at the name of Epstein, but that isn't the point of her story.

"What's a legitimate target?" he asks, voice flat. "The wildly opportunistic ones who might slip from their control, or the superpowered heroes that want to turn their life around that the government can use however they want?"

"A legitimate target is one that doesn't have a clean record," Raith chimes in. Apparently, given that his attention has shifted fully to the conversation, he has decided against lighting the stove. "More specifically, one with capital crimes on their record. Rape, murder, that sort of thing. In other words, same thing we've always done." Tracking down dangerous Evolved humans that the law has missed, either by accident or design, and supplying a direct solution.

"Speaking of Epstein, I caught up with him today. He's agreed to provide us with whatever information he can, in perpetuity, so we have another source at our disposal."

Teodoro doesn't blink at Raith's choice of definitions. He does point out, wryly, "I don't have anything on my record. Criminal or decorative," but there's no real heat in his voice. Certainly not objection. He would imagine that random European queers with tactically relevant memories transplanted from time-traveling sociopaths are harder to come by, and certainly more difficult to design search algorithms to find. "That's a good idea. Chances are good the government would do enough psych eval to separate the wheat from the chaff. People who can follow orders, personality predispositions toward… working in unconventional taskforces oriented around some new, potentially redemptive principle.

"'Course, they might still fuck up or bring in someone who would sooner fuck with us but— do you still have that touch-mindreading power?" Teo's description and understanding of that particular ability are off, but he has a vague idea of its handiness. Glances at Gabriel curiously, brows up. No comment on Epstein, though there had been a tiny twitch of a smile. The relationship between that old dynasty of spooks is one he'll never get to experience himself, he suspects, but he knows enough about it to think it's the cutest darn thing, rape/murder/capital threats perhaps withstanding.

"A legitimate target," Eileen starts, and there's a steely edge to her voice that implies what's coming next is in direct opposition with Raith's take on the matter, "is one that all four of us agree on. Every case is different." She takes her feet off the chair's cushion and places them on the floor, not to rise from her seat but to lean forward and discard her half-finished cup of tea on a low table next to her phone, its screen dark, off, and an unmarked paper bag with a folded lip.

"Sylar is a legitimate target. Some of Messiah's foot soldiers may turn out to be as well. Gabriel will let us know." And she isn't looking at him, either. Teodoro's question about the other man's arsenal has her falling silent and she cups a hand over her mouth, expectant even though she's fairly certain that she already knows the answer.

Gabriel goes a little shark-eyed at Raith's clarification, kind of blank in his disagreement, but not enough to argue. Eileen argues, anyway, and he glances towards Teo. He pauses, before tucking his chin in at a singular sort of nod. "It's not that easy, but I have it," he clarifies, consonants falling sharp from his mouth, his always slightly stranger way of talking, brittle and graveled. "Provided we do it case by case. Record doesn't mean anything."

His chin goes up again, but he's back to addressing the room. Time to make it formal. "I've joined Messiah. Only Magnes and Claire are aware that I'm myself, but Claire is a mole and Magnes doesn't know about the clones. Peter is leading them, and he'll think I'm the other clone if I can corner him for a," a shrug goes here, "conversation. It might make him trust me more, tell me more, if I don't have friends.

"I'll pick out whose worth taking out— they have soldiers rubbing shoulders with teenagers out there— and we can clean house. It'll be fun."

When Eileen contradicts him, Raith doesn't object. A say in who they go after was one of her conditions for recruitment, and he agreed to it. He's not Uncle Sam: He won't go back on a recruitment promise. When Gabriel pipes up, the ex-spy listens, and then nods. "If they're turning to teenagers for recruits, cleaning house, as you say, wouldn't hurt. It might not help, depending on whether or not word gets around that joining Messiah is bad for your health, but it's not going to boost their numbers. As for who's in Messiah… anything Magnes gets involved in usual goes to shit. You need to keep an eye on him, Gabriel, just in case he accidentally behaves like himself."

Teo keeps his face carefully schooled, having already made the mistake of giving in to traitorous feelings and expression at the mention of a man who has historically valid reasons for wanting to kill him before. There are kind of a lot of those running around, good stories to go with all of them, requisite concerns. "I'm good at pretending not to be a friend," he says, and that's only a little bit joking. His eyes go slightly crescent-shaped, ladder in lines at the corners, and then his face smoothes out again.

"They probably have Kozlow, by now. Zhukovsky's healer." A shrug shifts through the lean breadth of his shoulders, and he peaks up his knees to hang his arms over them. "Don't know whether he's a mole or gone back to mercenary shitbaggery, but from what I know of him, he wouldn't be in it for the grandiose ideology without a total personality renovation."

Eileen rubs her fingers across her mouth and looks down at the inside of her hand, checking for something that — this time — isn't there. "Magnes came to me today and told me he'd been planning to take the organization down from the inside only to be approached by a Rupert Carmichael—" Now she does look at Gabriel, searching for recognition in his brown eyes with her much paler green ones. "Carmichael claims to feel the same way Magnes does, and while he might trust him, I'm wondering how it is he knew to seek Magnes out specifically."

All this talking requires a lot of breath. Eileen draws a slow one in, then lets it out again in the form of a thin, unsteady exhale. One hand goes to her chest and suddenly the corners of her mouth are very tight. "He's either made himself an ineffectual ally or a very intuitive enemy. I'm hoping to have a better idea about which after I meet with him to discuss establishing boundaries so Messiah and the Ferry can co-exist.

"No one on either side can know what it is what we're doing here, or it's going to jeopardize our work," she adds, perhaps a little swifter than is necessary. "The politics of this are too sensitive for Eileen Spurling to advocate what Magnes is doing, and as a member of the Ferry's organizational council I won't publicly be able to support a cull, but I'm still with you."

The subject of Sasha Kozlow has her leaning further back in her seat, fingers curling against the damp weave of her cardigan. "It's possible," she says. "Alexandr doesn't like sitting around with nothing to do. I don't think he'll give Gabriel any problems if they have, but he's—" She makes a vague gesture with her free hand. There are a lot of words for Sasha and not many of them are particularly kind, even coming from someone who used to be with him. "He's not a zealot," she agrees, finally. "Just opportunistic."

"I haven't seen him in the ranks," Gabriel tells Teo with a lazy kind of shrug to say he'll keep a look out. It's Eileen, though, that snags his attention. An eyebrow goes right up at the news of Magnes' deceit, chin tipping inwards and a smile with a feline kind of subtleness and all in tandem communicate Really? Really, Magnes?

But it's also clear that no, Gabriel had no idea, and this second deductive leap has that amusement swiftly dying, a subtle shake of his head settling him as if some internal decision was made, and he shrugs across at Raith. "Short of taking a bullet to his head, there isn't much that will stop him from fucking himself over. He has weird ties with the government, weird ties with the Ferry," he glances to Eileen, "and now he's trying to dismantle Messiah.

"I can protect him, but he didn't trust me enough to tell me about this, and I don't know much I trust him either. In terms of the politics, what should I do? Kid has a big mouth but at the same time, maybe it's valuable if he knows I'm more or less on his side. He'll approach me eventually."

"I think the less Magnes knows about your involvement, the better. You said it yourself, kid has a big mouth." And with a firm nod, that's Raith's take on that. "Kozlow can be dealt with on easier ground. He's a coward, but he's a predictable coward, if nothing else. If the scales tip, he won't stand by them longer than he has to, and he'll keep out of the fighting as much as he can. You know, that's not a half-bad idea, getting others to do as much of the fighting as possible. For instance, do we know if there's anything Frontline has that Messiah wants? That we don't want?"

Teo's eyebrows go into comical asymmetry. "A rigid adherence to established, if not undisputed American legislature," he says, dryly, answering Raith mostly because he doesn't want to touch any of the other topics with a ten foot pole. At some point, maybe he will get around to disclosing the fact he killed the kid's mentor, the kid will eventually find out and desire revenge, he has hallucinated this enough to give inkling of great subconscious repercussions, but this seems like an awkward venue for that. Embarrassingly personal.

In all seriousness. "Maybe the equipment," he adds, after a moment. "Their armor is badass. Not sure what else. Clearance. Access. Information. If there's anything that can keep Rebel out, security protocols and so on, FRONTLINE would have it. And I guess they'd look good on a cross." Teodoro roots long fingers through the hair on the back of his head.

Eileen's silence seems to suggest that she agrees with Raith's assessment of the Varlane situation, but just in case this alone does not make her opinion clear, she sends a stilling thought down the invisible line that tentatively connects Gabriel's consciousness to hers. Please don't tell Magnes anything, it seems to say, but much louder is the overlapping addendum that could roughly be translated to: I trust you.

His judgment, too. Gabriel is the only one in the room with any real experience involving Messiah, and perhaps by default the best-equipped to make decisions about what should and should not be shared.

"FRONTLINE and Messiah have 'loud and flashy' in common," Gabriel puts in, voice with that subtle monotone that could almost sound bored or lazy, but doesn't, quite. "Publicity stunts. They'll attack as many high profile sites as they do sensitive ones — freeing prisoners, bombing buildings. I don't think we'll have to chalk up much of a convincing argument to bring them into opposition, but I could try to make things go quicker by proposing we strike first."

His head tips a little to the side, shruggy. "But I think we could just knock out some of the relevant players instead of the dismantling thing that Varlane is apparently covering. They'll do like PARIAH and scatter without leadership." In theory, anyway.

"Sounds messy, Gabe," Raith says solemnly, "Effective, maybe, but messy. Look, I'll be honest here. We can speculate all day about what we can do. But we can't actually do very much without intel, and even what we can do, we can't best decide how to do it." A half-shrug from the ex-spy. "Sorry, but right now, the ideas man doesn't have any."

'Apparently covering.' Teo doesn't laugh out loud but there's a telltale twitch in his jaw: tempted to. God, oh God. Magnes Varlane, taking MESSIAH apart from the inside; sounds like a recipe for disaster. "FRONTLINE should start hunting MESSIAH as soon as MESSIAH does— something," he adds, a little blankly. "That battlefield is going to see blood some time soon. Shouldn't take a very long lever." He smoothes on his pant legs, a little restlessly. "Who are the relevant players?"

"You'll get your intel," Eileen reminds Raith gently. "He's working on it." Is she the only one not calling him Gabe, these days? She closes her eyes, not out of disinterest but something closer to exhaustion. The chances of her falling asleep in the middle of the discussion, however, are so slim that they may as well be non-existent; her posture remains attentive, chin inclined to indicate that she's still listening and interested in whatever answer Gabriel has for the question Teodoro just presented him with.

Outside, a branch weakened by the storm cracks off its anchor and crashes against one of the upstairs windows but lacks the force to shatter glass and require that they pause their meeting to go for garbage bags and duct tape instead. What it does do is serve as a reminder that the world is not confined the space adjacent to the cold, empty hearth.

"Their fire power — Allen Rickham was there," Gabriel tells Teo, a glance to Eileen, but there's some steel that's developed beneath his expression and softness of tone. "Among others. Their speakers, Rupert. Peter. I don't know everything yet," Gabriel says, his voice edged with his patience tested, a glare sent Raith's way, now. "But hello," a hand gestures towards Eileen, less to indicate her but what she just said, "I will. What aren't you hearing, Jensen? What's messy about my figuring out the names and faces of dangerous Evolved and proposing we do what we've always done, like you claim we do?"

He pushes off the wall with the restless energy that might have him walk away, but he manages to stay where he is. "I'm not the one talking about bringing down the whole group or trying to orchestrate some stupid West Side Story standoff between Messiah and FRONTLINE. I thought our objective, here," and he glances around their small group, this family, "was pretty clear."

There is a moment there, where he might say more, but clearly bites against it and just shrugs.

Nonaggressively, Raith holds up his hands. "You're right, you're right," he says. Oops. "You said you were working on it. We'll deal with them when we have more info." And then his hands go back down. "So let's start with what we do know, a name we do have. Let's start with Sylar." The bogeyman. "What do we know about him, what he's up to?"

Teo opens his mouth when the words 'West Side Story' come out of Gabriel's maw in succession, but perhaps wisely, he closes it before any commentary derives itself from whatever thoughts are going through his shaggy blond head. Maybe water had leaked in. He glances at the palms-outward surrender that Raith presents, and then his eyes disfocus slightly, dropping back to his lap, considering that already considerable catalogue of names. "Times like these, I really miss my superpower," he complains, after a moment.

His sober expression cracks into a slivered grin. He doesn't awfully mind that daddy and Mama duck are fighting. That is the only logical and predictable aspect of this peculiar not-quite-family: the fighting, a unifying energy if there ever was one, internal, external. "We might want to talk to Hana about Rebel, 's well. Far as I understand it, he's the one heavy-lifter Gabriel can't keep an eye on."

The fighting — if that's even the word Eileen applies to it, and it's not — bothers her more than it does Teo, but she also doesn't complain, out loud or by taking advantage of any empathic ties. The uneasiness hangs over her like a shroud instead, and maybe it's got something to do with the fact that the conversation has turned to Sylar.

She tries to remember how many weeks it's been, how many months, but finds it impossible to assign the memory a number. Glass in her feet. The sharp blow to the side of her head. Creeping numbness. But for the birds, he said, and she hasn't seen him since.

When Eileen's eyes open again, she's looking at the paper bag on the table. Or approximately where she believes the paper bag to be. It's darker in here for her than it is for anyone else, and if Teodoro didn't have to lament the loss of his ability— he'd know, were he to check. "I can send birds if we know where he is," is initially all she has to offer. Sylar. Not Rebel. "It's safe."

Fighting is, unsurprisingly, something that Gabriel is good at — he almost thinks maybe Raith gave in too easy, in the way there is a suspicious sweep up and down of a glance before his attention focuses on Teo. A brief nod is designed to indicate that yeah, he has nothin' on technopaths, do whatever, before he's letting his mind bend off towards this new direction, the next item on the agenda. It's been such a long time — and that doesn't even have anything to do with how long Sylar has been sylaring since his beginning.

"I don't know where he is," he announces, helpfully. "Not since the weather started. I can feel it when he gets hurt, and I'll know when he dies, and if he lets me, I can get a basic idea about where he is. But the trail is cold and I don't know what he wants anymore. Well— "

Mild concession. "I have some ideas. We should check in with Epstein."

"Good place to start," Raith replies in agreement, "Apparently, he's been putting on Avi's face and galavanting around DC in his spare time. You want to know where Sylar is? Check his meeting schedule. You'll be able to find at least the buildings he's hanging around. Maybe the people, too.

"Also, there's apparently a new King of Swords." A fact that Raith is not pleased with, given how his tone changes. "So, if you happen to see the new me from a bird's eye view… please poop on him."

Gabriel doesn't know what Sylar wants anymore! That sounds like a great starting sentence for a sentimental poem about how Good triumphs over Evil, Teo thinks, and there's a fleeting smile at that, but it fades pretty quick into something sober and a little sad.

Irrelevant, mostly. "Gillian once amped up Brian Fulk enough that he could break through into Brian Winters' network," he says. "I know Childs is still MIA, but if there's a way to augment you— and there's ways, I think." Blankly. Ghost remembers it differently to how it'll happen here, without Pinehearst's empire to fund that research, without that concatenation of coincidences, births, Formula inductions, but still: abilities have a way of showing up in the world. "Ah," he adds, looking at Raith. "Oh." The new what?

Well, while they're talking about new versions of people they all used to know. "There's a new-ish Deckard too," bitten out fast, before Teo can take it back, or lose his nerve or whatever, and he scratches at the base of his head.


Eileen's phone is dead, very rarely does she turn it on within the Dispensary's walls, but the power doesn't need to be on for her to remember what Teodoro said to her a few hours ago when they were going back and forth in the rain on opposite sides of the city. He promised they'd talk about it tonight, and it doesn't surprise her that he's brought it up — not really — though there's a slight pucker around her mouth at his announcement.

Admittedly, there's not much she can do about Sylar from the Dispensary if he's spending his time around Capitol Hill. D.C. is so far out of her range that it may as well be back in Madagascar. There is some comfort, however, in knowing that for now the streets of New York City are fractionally safer than she's been led to believe. "Are you suggesting that Flint is a legitimate target, too?"

Because it bears asking.

There is some suspicion confirmed when Gabriel looks at Raith, eyes going a little rounder, mouth parting, but no words come out. While Eileen finds comfort in this news, there is a quality to his demeanor that suggests the old literary idea of blood running cold, and though this is a topic he might pursue doggishly, he allows himself to be sidetracked. Deckard is not a name he has heard recently — even longer than everyone else, having lost months of time to freezing it.

It's his turn to be quiet, now, hands finding his pockets again and his shoulders finding their slouch.

Raith's attention flits between Gabriel, Teo, Eileen, and back to Teo. "Someone maybe want to fill me in?" he asks, "Flint Deckard? The drunk we took into Pinehearst? That guy?"

"A— what?" Teodoro spins his head around and levels a look of utmost disagreement at Eileen. Given the mobility of his face, utmost is a fair amount of disagreement, which only grows increasingly disagreeable when Raith contributes his negative two-cents. Excuse you? He waves his hand abruptly in the air, suddenly, as if his earlier inquiry is an aggravating mosquito that he does not want to have landed anywhere on his person or detracting even a tiny stomach-ful of blood from his cause. "No.

"He was killing people who hadn't murdered anybody because he was miserable and psychotic. I tried to get him dark-holed awhile, but the Company offered to upload some memories about being a double-agent into his head instead, and we made a deal.

"Don't hit me." Concussive blasts, avian extrication of his eyeballs, and probably 2/3rds of the secret implements concealed in Jensen Raith's clothes would probably easily concede to his request while still inflicting a lot of pain, but Teodoro doesn't waste his time covering all his bases. "I thought about it. I'm pretty sure they wouldn'tve gutted anything out of his head that they couldn't have gotten out of Meredith with less soft-focus and emotional background noise, while they had her. He's released now. This puts them at risk more than it does the Ferry or any of us— and that implies something about the state of the Company, I think.

"I don't know how you guys want to move on it, but there you go. I'm sorry I didn't tell you guys earlier. I honestly thought they might just kill him. I'm a bastard." He looks at each of the other Vanguard operatives in turn, for a moment, pushes back the wavering concern of what kind of friend they think he must make, before his gaze accords itself as unerringly as the red needle in a compass to:


If she was looking unwell before, there are no words to accurately describe how Eileen looks now, but there are a few that come close. The last time she was this angry, she'd been red in the face and hurling lewd epithets at a man she thought was Agent Epstein the same way other women hurl dishware or porcelain vases within easy reach, water or no water, flowers or no flowers.

Strangely, she's chalk white. The pink flush that should be burning all the way through the tips of her ears is absent, and so is the colour in her lips, cheeks— even her hands, which usually have a pale but rosy cast in spite of her poor circulation and marble cool touch, seem to abruptly lack pigmentation.

Glass nails bite into palms and make knots of her knuckles as she works her small hands into even smaller fists and starts to say something that doesn't get any further than the first syllable before she clenches the muscles in her neck and garrotes it to death at the back of her throat.

One of these hands moves to clutch the arm of her chair. A moment later, she's levering herself to her feet and inadvertently making a spectacle of the gesture when she reaches out with the other to snatch up the paper bag and knocks over her cup instead. It rolls, hits the floor with a sharp crack that splits the china, sends it scattering and soaks one corner of the faded Persian carpet beneath the table.

"You're a fucking bastard," she corrects Teo, hoarse.

Shocker, that one. Gabriel's back finds its lean against the wall again, watching this exchange with a mute kind of— not exactly apathy and not exactly satisfaction, but something that borders on both of these things. He's not going to hit Teo, probably, several degrees of removed from the debacle playing out in greater detail before him, of all people, as opposed to those who might actually be friends with Flint Deckard. Or Teodoro Laudani, for that matter.

Like Eileen Spurling.

Is Raith surprised by this reaction? Not terribly, not really. He knew that Eileen had a much longer history with Deckard than his one half-meeting could hope to compare to. Teodoro had a fairly long history as well, so maybe that explains a lot about Eileen's perception of Teo's apparent treachery. However, he is careful not to intervene on Teo's behalf. It's his house and his people, but this time, it's not his fight. The Italian is on his own right now.

Left to his own devices, Teodoro makes what is probably universally regarded as a tactically wise move: he stands up. Just in case. Better to die on your feet, anyway, or rebuff the high-velocity pieces of ceramic, or at least to face the music, take this like a man.

Whatever this is, staring into the face of Eileen's awful, yowling abyss of grief, Gabriel a fuzzy peripheral artefact and Raith a zone of pronounced silence and stillness, so at odds with the symbolic representations like Wilbur, those unnamed knives, and broken limbs swung blithely around in their swollen sockets. Teodoro has a lot of experience with getting yelled at, between him, the ghost, and the child from whence they had come. It doesn't get more fun after all that history. Profoundly less.

Trust Eileen, though, to scream about this when she'd barely flinched at the news of having been murdered, once upon a time. Well, you can probably trust her further than you can trust him, anyway. "There are ways to undo it. I'll fuck off. You'll have time to think of a better way," he says, mechanically. He imagines that he sounds cold, but he can't repeat that he's sorry without being unsure what he's sorry for, which part would make it untrue, and Eileen deserves better than that, so he doesn't. "I didn't."

"No." Either Teo isn't getting off that easily, or she doesn't want him to go, and it's hard to say which because while she doesn't move around the table to go to him, the tension in her thighs and calves beneath the still-damp material of her dress makes it look like she might. There is, also, tautness in her voice, the snap of leather horse tack pulled back as she struggles to reign in her anger. Don't fuck off.

The hand that had made an unsuccessful grab for the paper bag now clutches at the front of her cardigan, a hand pressed down over her heart as though this might prevent it from doing something like bursting out of her chest. Eileen's breathing is much harder than it should be.

There's more she wants to say. Lacks the air to say it.

For the second time, Gabriel swings his weight forward — not with the fiery temptation to slam the door somewhere, but perhaps an honest desire to not be an audience to this. Because he thinks it's not meant for him, or because it's boring. Or one billion other self-absorbed interests of convoluted jealousy that might have nothing to do with Teo or Eileen, or everything to do with Teo or Eileen. It's hard to read from his face, eyes hooded and mouth relaxed and eyebrows considerable.

Kind of a fixed feature, this last part. "Is he dangerous again now, or effectively neutered?"

It isn't really a change from the norm that all four of them aren't focused on the same topic. Eileen and Gabriel focused on Deckard, Teo focused on preparing to react quickly to save his life, and Raith focused on the chipped cup and spilled liquid on the ground, if only momentarily before his gaze moves back to the table. Teo is still left to fend for himself, if only because something about the mug and table are far more interesting to Raith.

Eileen doesn't have an answer to that question.

That she doesn't immediately fire back with something along the lines of It doesn't matter, is probably a testament to— whatever it is that it's a testament to. She doesn't have an answer to this, either, and her head is swimming. Fingers tangle in her hair and, still standing, she leans back against the chair and lifts her chin, eyes raised to the ceiling.

Beneath her anger: frustration. Beneath frustration: a shimmer of emotion that's just barely accessible to Gabriel and has nothing to do with Teo, nothing to do with Deckard, nothing to do with any of the people in this room right now or even those outside of it.

She's afraid. "It's done," she tells the Sicilian, which the closest thing he's going to get to forgiveness or an apology, whichever is more appropriate. Yet another thing for her to be uncertain about.

Teo does his best impression of a dog experiencing remorse but intellectually inadequate to the task for a few more long, awkward seconds, idling there on his feet, his arms hanging straight down and fingers deceptively loose, feet parted and balance perfectly, perfectly even. When she finally says that, there is no discernible shift. There's no change. There's nothing, which indicates for at least those three present, that he had something worth hiding in there, be it as tawdry as relief or humble as gratitude.

He nods his raggedy head, matching Eileen for minimalism with what had to be effort, albeit also concealed. Doesn't sit again, but there's a fractional relaxation back onto his heels.

Settling. In case the meeting isn't concluded, for want of untouched topics. Or stuff. Suddenly, his eyes are cutting back to the other men in the room. "Not sure. Probably not—" a wrinkle of censure to Teo's face, but he merely subjects the floor to his next unhappy stare. "Neutered," he concludes, a little delicately.

"Your problem," is Gabriel's conclusion, because no one is giving orders, and he— perhaps wrongfully— is still working by the agenda. Talk of serial killers in the White House, undercover terroristing, lunatic friends. He glances back to Eileen, but he's not the kind of boyfriend— like, the good kind— to do too much about how much of this is now her problem, despite his brisk response.

On that note, he's pretty sure that's not much more to the meeting, and moves to break off from the group, garage-wards.

Maybe the shock of the evening for everyone is just around the corner: At the end of a meeting, Raith isn't done, doesn't feel like they've covered everything. He's not looking at the others, however. Rather, he's still looking at the table. After a moment, he shifts his gaze to the chair Eileen had been sitting in before rose up in her rage. "I couldn't help but notice," he begins, "That you were planning to throw your cup at Teo. That is why you were reaching for it, right?" From the chair, Raith shifts his eyes to Eileen herself. "When you knocked it over?" Not that throwing things at people has ever really been something Eileen was prone to doing, even when angry.

Gabriel is on his way out to the garage, his Jaguar and the rhythmic sound of rainwater glancing off the aluminum roof. It's not a bad place to be, and he won't have to deal with the fallout he's leaving behind, such as it is.

"Don't do this to me," is more request than demand, and more plea than request. Quiet, though, and probably not loud enough for Gabriel to hear above his own footsteps as he takes his leave of the Dispensary, which is just as well because Eileen's not addressing him. "Not right now."

"What the fuck?" On the other hand, Teo's address to the man who isn't speaking to him is loud and clear behind Eileen's voice, like a horse running over something that was struggling ahead of it on much shorter legs. "What the fuck? Lay off!" and aside of the exclamation point, he punctures this with two hands, and turns for the door, a brutal, halting stride, every inch of it measured out with herky-jerky glares in Raith's direction. Underline and circle, that he isn't giving inches. "Look.

"I just told the bird I got one of her oldest friends psychically gimped because he was becoming an even meaner, spineless old bitch than you. Cazzo. Pick fights later." His teeth flatten visibly, though he isn't baring them. Neither Italian nor English, but Dog for Please. "We have equally important shit to do, like you can try memorizing my fucking phone number, hey?"

Gabriel is gone. So gone. Quicker gone than even foot steps, as Eileen and Teo and Raith stare at each other, and he slips between time, unseen and unheard, disappearing from the room in the manner they'll all just have to get used to.

Raith purposely waits until Teo finishes speaking before he moves his attention in the younger man's direction, eyes focused on some point beyond him a thousand yards away. Teo may have tried his luck with Dog, but Raith is speaking his own language, and the question he's asking is clear: You want to fight me?

But he doesn't pick a fight. He rises from his chair, picking up the mysterious paper sack as he does before he passes it to its presumed owner.

"Get some sleep," is Dr. Jensen's order to Eileen as he surrenders the bag, "I'll keep the dogs with me tonight." Whereas it usually falls to Eileen to protect herself from the pups. Raith doesn't hang around after that, making his own exit. Whatever it is everyone else took out of that meeting, it's clearly not the same thing the old spy did.

Paper crinkles between Eileen's fingers. Gabriel is gone, Teo is leaving, Raith is leaving, and Eileen would feel ridiculous for doing the same when the hearth has done anything wrong and there's nothing left to storm away from except broken porcelain and tepid drink staining the carpet an ugly red-brown.

Braced against the table, she eases herself down onto a knee and begins picking up the pieces one at a time, using the tips and edges of her fingers to distinguish them from the weave of the sodden carpet and the smooth chill of harder floor beneath.

It wasn't supposed to go this way. But in the end, what doesn't?

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