Lightyears From Logic


gabriel_icon.gif teo_icon.gif

Scene Title Lightyears From Logic
Synopsis Gabriel revisits a place from his past. He brings Teo. Dead parents, monsters and wishful thinking crops up in conversation.
Date May 6, 2009

Brooklyn: Gray and Sons

There are good ideas, and then there are bad ideas. Gabriel wouldn't be able to say which category this falls into, unless there's a third one marked inexplicable. Then that might be closer to the truth.

It's a stupid hour to be awake and walking around, and yet there are two men doing just that. A streetlamp is a bright point on a dark, quiet street of Brooklyn, spilling yellowed light onto the concrete, and does little else to light or guide the way. The next one over is dead, anyway, despite the power chords spiderwebbing between them, and the tall faces of apartment complexes, the squatter shapes of stores, line the road and contribute nothing, as quiet as a ghost town.

Only one place is notably abandoned, however. Gabriel hasn't said much to Teo on the way here, and he doesn't start now, veering towards where black slats of wood cover a wide glass window, where there's a heavy padlock on the door. What can be seen of the inside is completely immersed in thicker shadows, something Gabriel notes as he moves closer, rests a hand against sturdy wood and tries to peer inside. To see what's happened, after all this time.

There's a sign, a marquee, with a curving arrow, reading 'CLOCK SHOP'. The neon lights that made paths over the letters have long since stopped working.

And it's a good thing they brought crowbars. "There's another door, around the side," Gabriel thinks to say, hand still gripping the wooden slat as if wishing to simply pry it back in some feat of superhuman strength. Who knows, maybe he had once been able to.

Maybe once. Nowadays, he doesn't seem to be able to do anything, thus far, except one of the absolute recentmost tricks Teodoro is aware that the mighty Sylar had added to his bag. It's something they haven't really gotten into so far. Been a busy few days, with all the mutilations and other crazy shit that's been going on. Talking about said mutilations and crazy shit, oddly enough, doesn't seem to take priority once a man's been given an instant to breathe in New York's stale vespertine air.

It's preferable to the reek of blood over Queens' desolate spaces, or booze and salt in Staten Island, or the tasteful concealment of deodorant chemistry in Salvatore's hospital room. So far, anyway.

Crowbar swings in callused hand, end whooping faintly over end, before Teo clutches its idly baton-like spin to a sharp halt. He cranes his bristly head over to try and see around the edge of Gabriel's head and into the recesses of the shop, though he doesn't press particularly closer. "Side door's less likely to get attention afterward. Not that this place looks like it's being checked on with any kind of regularity."

He pitches his head back to look upward. The letters tracking the L-curve of the sign, the clock face sported at the very top. It's saddening, somehow, that its bony black hands point out the wrong time— though frankly, Teodoro would have found any other alternative eerie.

"Better to keep the front as it is," Gabriel agrees, relinquishing his hold on the slat. Not that he's sure anyone would really notice or care. Chalk it up to vandalism, keep on walking by. The little shop that had been open for some decades, of this Gabriel is pretty certain. In the half light, the words Gray & Sons will become apparent, Gabriel tilting his gaze up to look at the painted banner. And he certainly doesn't have a brother Teo's ever heard of.

Backing up several steps, it's not that Gabriel is ignoring Teo so much as he has a goal, and doesn't seem inclined to glance the man's way unnecessarily, trusting he'll follow. He's come this far, after all. His clothes are dark— surprise!— out of signature and practicality. Breaking into his own property— is it his? Does he own anything really, anymore? Such questions that seem important now.

They didn't before.

The alleyway Gabriel ducks into is crowded with a dumpster, crates from a store two doors over, trash and general debris, but there's a side door as promised, painted darker brown and tucked away discreetly. In here, it smells damper than out there, the city scent concentrated. A flashlight is flicked on— yet another thing he didn't really need before, but the device swings from a strap on his wrist, now aimed with care— the eye of it dancing over the dark shapes crowding the alleyway, coming to rest of the door.

No padlock, no place for one, but inevitably locked and similarly boarded over as the front windows. "Can we get it open without breaking it?" There's doubt in his voice.

A Federal agent gave Teodoro this lock pick for Christmas once, months ago, along with the green messenger bag that's hanging off the young man's shoulder now. He produces the slender implement now, waves it haphazardly in the general direction of Gabe's face. It's articulate enough an answer in and of itself, even without him explaining, but he does anyway.

"We'll know in about forty seconds."

Unless Gabriel has a better idea, in which case the Sicilian half-expects to be telekinetically shifted out of the way with a translation in scary sociopath's verbiage for Lemmeatit. Lacking that, there's a raspy clack and twist of metal on metal as he tries at pins, jiggles it, in a somewhat less than precise effort at matching them up to the shear line deeper inside the handle than he can actually see. He's no leading expert at this, but there's enough shit lying around between Ferrymen safehouses and derelict hideouts that he's had some practice.

Besides, they have time. A little bit of it. The shadows that crowd the alleyway belong to no one that either man fails to expect. There's a grinding tick when the pick finishes off the job, and Teo leans the door open before releasing it, ceding Gray and Son's to its namesake.

"I read that your family's dead," he says, with far less tact than the implement that Teo disappears back into his pocket. "I'm sorry."

He means: that this is all that Gabriel has left, of back then.

The beam of light arcs on into the gaping darkness of the store. No real feeling of dread or happiness. No real feeling of anything, really, although Teo gets a slightly sharp glance when his apology is uttered. The eye of the flashlight sits itself squarely on Teo's chest; enough glow to see the man's face without blinding him. "How deeply did you read?"

It's almost rhetorical, while still curious as to the answer. It's what hinges on it being rhetorical or not. Making a point versus a genuine inquiry. What point Gabriel is trying to make, he isn't sure about. Giving people reason to dislike him, or something. Being honest, in other words.

The flash light is quick to point on into the store, and, answer or not, Gabriel follows it, thoughtlessly testing the lightswitch and knowing it was going to do nothing before the impotent clickclickclick sounds out without reply. Okay. Torch held up, Gabriel slowly lets it crawl over the room, a more closed off work area than the front, lingering on a desk, a chair. Dust has settled on every possible surface, seems to thicken and clog the air.

With the amount of particulate in the air, it's a little hard to breathe. What goes in relatively smoothly reemerges in a mushroom cloud of a cough, muffled into Teo's fist. Blech. He blinks his eyes heavily, as if the rims of his eyelids could possibly scour away the invasive sting of airborne dust, or else squeedgee away the patina it might be leaving as they speak.

"There wasn't much to read, far as the publications I subscribed to," Teo replies. "You were orphaned at twenty-eight, or something like that." There's a faint huff of breath expelled when he realizes he probably used the wrong word there. At twenty-eight, one is not a minor and therefore can no longer qualify for the definition of the term— orphan. "Sorry." A beat. "Wrong word.

"Colette says hi, and that she misses you. Except she's supposed to think you're in prison.

"And so's the rest of the world." If Teodoro knew how short that subterfuge has already fallen, and that it's doomed only to crumble further, he probably wouldn't be here with the erstwhile serial killer now. Unfortunately, he is. And he's talking to the man's back about little girls like butterflies, and pigs with wings and sailing boats and things. It's almost a triviality, an afterthought tacked onto then end, quietly, "Which is something we should probably see to— and do more about. If you're really powerless."

Closer to it than any other incarnation of Gabriel Gray than Teodoro has ever met, anyway. He shifts his gaze along the floor and steps over to a case of girls' watches. Skinny red leather straps, Minnie Mouse printed frozen behind a motionless splay of hands; flowered Swatches; a string of ribbon and beads with a decorative analog face hanging heart-shaped from the middle; all of them recognizable despite the graying-over of dust. The cheap shit. Whatever thieves had been through the store before hadn't bothered with these.

It takes Teo too long to say the next part, which is probably because he doesn't want to. "I don't know who I can trust around you in this —" disaster, clusterfuck, exigent circumstances, "…situation. Even among my own people."

Newly unsettled dust spins gleefully in the beam of the flashlight, like bottom feeding ocean life clustering around a heat source. Gabriel's brings the back of his hand up to rub at his nose when dust tickles it, but manages, barely, not to sneeze. Instead, the slight huff of air is related to that word - orphan.

He doesn't steer towards the watches formerly for sale, moving towards one of the many work areas. A contraption with lenses is cloaked in dust, and it stirs when he absently twists the circle of distorted glass around on creaking hinges. A drawer is opened, with a similar cloud of dust, something is missing but many things remain. Tools, pieces, parts, all neatly organised, labeled, obsessively put into the right place so nothing could go astray. Watch pieces could be so small, easily lost, skittered away.

"I don't trust your people," Gabriel says, shutting the drawer with a jerky grind of wood. "So that's fine." He doesn't bother to disguise the bitterness, there, making his words clipped. Moab, and all. The thought of Colette, the girl who had taught his amnesiac counterpart a different way to be, something he could have benefited from all these couple of years ago— which he remembers with a heightened, if mundane clarity as he sweeps the torch over the little shop— is only fleetingly thought over.

If she could see me now, is the thought, before it's gone again. "You think I should run?"

"I think you should hide until it's safer. Until you figure out what you're going to do, and get your powers back or some shit," Teo replies. He had managed, somehow, not to flinch at the rancor that Gabriel bore his people.

Somehow. Tugging his cuff over his fingertips, he rubs down, streaks a clear bar through the glass to look down over the girly things, before lowering his head to angle a glance over at the further recesses of the case, where the age-eaten velvet rests over the surface. Can't barely see a damn thing.

The noise of opening and shifting draws him upright, and he turns around and makes his careful away over to the one between them who actually has a fucking light. He peers into the drawer without any real thought that Gabriel wouldn't want him to see what was in there. "There's avenues you could take to get false identification, cosmetic adjustments to your face or things like that. I don't know what the fuck is going on with— Tyler Case or any of the douchebags he's running with but there has to be a way to fix this."

This time, the dust is gray and civilization is very near. Still, it's oddly the same. This situation, this conversation; it hearkens back to the chapter discarded into the desert in Moab, months ago. Teo lapses into silence, blows sharp on the palm of his hand like he's trying to razor thin enough air to skin that thin layer of sterile motes off his tongue. It still feels furry when he closes his mouth again, much to his chagrin. However insurmountable these challenges, the other subjects are harder to try.

There's no vocal agreement, about hiding, save for a slight head tilt. Yes, hiding, of course. He only makes a sound in his throat at the idea of changing his face, something that Gabriel had been able to do before and can't quite fathom getting someone else to do for him. "I've lost my name before. My body. Memories. Powers. Forgive me if I want to retain what I look like. I'll take the risks."

Unlike the rancor with which he'd alluded to Phoenix, his voice is devoid of it now, of most anything. He's not telling Teo off for his suggestion - just explaining himself. Gabriel's hand goes to where an item is still lying discarded on the desk, somehow, after all this time. An incredibly nerdy pair of multilens glasses - to be fair, such things can't look cool or hip in the first place, with its sturdy frames and tiny offshoots of glass to twist into place, exaggerating the microscopic with a flick. An arm of it is caught between two fingers, and as he turns it to look, it doesn't swing shut. Likely ready to snap than to bend.

They're tossed back down with a clatter. "I'm going to find him," Gabriel says, looking back at Teo now, dark eyes under a furrowed brow. "Then I'll make it up as I go. You could give me a headstart if you have anything more than just his name." A few steps away takes him towards shelving, using his free hand to paw through what's left. A metal box is located, flipped back, with only dust and a couple of unfortunate insects to greet him.

"My father isn't dead." Non-sequiter. Teo started it, anyway. "He took off when I was young. Left me this place. Haven't seen him in years." A contemplative tilt to his head. "So I guess he could be dead."

The error in Teo's reading is acknowledged with a slight duck of his head, his rue present and represented as ever. The father out of the picture long before the mother slain. He should have known that. Hadn't; possibly forgot, a detail lost somewhere amid the blur of tactical details and 'I don't want people to die' -related concerns. This may seem like an appropriate and natural coincidence of priorities except, you know.

Talking about somebody's dead family here. One should probably only broach the subject if one is reasonable educated about it, maybe. Eh heh. Little oops.

Teo pockets his hands and tries not to trip on his way around the jutting counter, up to the wall that looks, dimly like there is something framed on it. "You can't fucking do that alone. Or shouldn't. I mean, the cunt was hanging out with Allen fucking Rickham, and— God knows who else. 'Make it up as you go along' works a lot better when you're the Swiss Army knife of mutant superpowers, and even then— that seemed to be kind of what landed you in this situation, wasn't it?"

Possibly, the boy Laudani is not paying Sylar the proper recognition. Might be because he's trying to figure out what it is this image or text hanging on the wall here. The dust lays too thick.

After a protracted moment, he admits, clumsily: "I'm not a big fan of my dad either."

Gabriel turns. It's an impatient movement, boots scraping clunkily against the dusty ground, torch light swinging around with him. His expression is inexplicable in the darkness, especially seeing as the spotlight sweeps across Teo's face, perhaps by accident, when he says, "I don't have a lot of choice. I— " Snippy anger falters readily. "Gillian will come. If you have a free weekend then you're welcome to join in on the fun."

The light drifts towards the frame on the wall, a washed out photo of an older man with his hand clasped on the shoulder of someone younger, and neither of them really resemble Gabriel Gray that much. But there they are, all the same. Shadows cloak it and its dusty glass with barely a twitch of his wrist.

"Family's overrated," he says, a shrug in his voice if not in a movement. "After a while." The light of the flash light hits a crystal, the clear quartz spikes jagged and jutting from a flat base. "Most people seem to spend their lives getting away from them and finding they can't. Short of death. What did your dad do wrong?"

The picture on the wall makes even less sense than the name of the store retained despite the strife between father and son. Perhaps because it seems like less effort to take down the photograph than to fight the bureaucracy to get all that paperwork through. Something like that.

Teo figures he's probably supposed to think that Gabriel didn't care enough to take the portrait down. Another moment, and he can't see it anymore, dismisses the ghostly image out of hand. Turns around, sweeping the space of the shop with an eye that ever fails to be entirely attached. "Gillian could barely control her newfound ability, last I saw. You should bring someone with you. Someone— I'll try, but… oh, Jesus fuck." He cuts short by rolling his eyes toward the ceiling. Coincidentally, right into the spot where young Master Gray tried to hang himself, once.

It's very inconvenient, not knowing who among your own ranks you can trust; who you know you can safely bury in impossible moral conundrums, and won't betray honor to conscience, or necessity to rage, or loyalty to righteousness, or come down on whatever side of whatever dichotomy that is which ends up with Gabriel Gray dead. Hana, he thinks. Only Hana. He doesn't know anyone else. "I'm not doing anything this weekend."

He'd accidentally upset one corner of the rug with his shoe trodding around in his huff. Noticing that, Teo pauses, turns back to slide it back with the edge of his boot. Rubs the back of his hand up on the underside of his prodigiously-proportioned nose. "Nothing. S— I d'no. We didn't get along. He was okay. A decent man, I'm sure. I just always thought he was… weak. Couldn't figure out… how to respect him, I guess. By the time I got over the phase where I thought my regard had to be earned, the habit was set."

His eyebrows raise a little at this show of self-examination. Not that he's surprised by it, but for Gabriel it's something of a mystery, as much as he might be inclined to analyse himself. "I don't know. Maybe your regard does have to be earned. He's your father, it's kind of his job." He's taken to leaning against a corner of some form of furniture, and the flash light is directed ceilingwards for no purpose but to act as the solitary light source, the bigger windows boarded up so as to keep the most sensitive of vampires happy, and the smaller windows on letting in sparse moonlight should the clouds think to show it off.

"Mine… I spent too much time trying to impress him. It never seemed to hit its mark, even when I became exactly what— "

He wanted, should be the end of the sentence, but it never quite makes it. Who knows, what Martin Gray wanted of his son? When he left so soon and so abruptly, as if his family had been a chapter of a book he'd simply closed.

The light beam is pointed just above Teo, to that exact spot. Nothing remains to show what had happened, except maybe minute fibers of rope caught in wood. Too much time has passed for marks to remain. "I can handle it. Case. Gillian can learn her ability, I can— " An incredulous chuckle. "I can help, I guess. I just need to know where to look. Try and find him alone."

What would Ethan Holden do? is a good question to ask in this scenario. Part of him wishes he could ask the man himself, rather than watch Teo desperately scrabbling for allies that might not screw him over in a heart beat.

The more Teo thinks about it, the closer he comes to the uncomfortable realization that he probably 'should' be right there with them. His allies, finding increasingly imaginative methods and implements to screw the former serial killer over. There was that one time on Staten Island where he had a gun and a clear shot and everything. He stops thinking about it. Uncomfortably inappropriate bromantic thoughts, you know.

Teo fails entirely to grok the significance of the nicked ceiling bar.

'Should's don't count for shit anymore, these days. Nobody's doing their fucking job. Not fathers, not freedom fighters. God knows, last they saw him, not even the Wolf. "I know a cyberpath who can probably help a lot with tracking the group down. Especially since the NYPD and HomeSec have started sending out hounds for them. But you should know—

"Chances are pretty fucking slim you'll find him alone with just the two of you. He's working with Edward Ray, who has the ability to predict probability, and he already knows you two run together. I'm not sure how many erratic and unknown variables you can throw at them before the whole thing blows up in your face, and— I don't know, Gillian aside, you could probably use more big guns. You really should bring someone with you. Unnh. I'll go, if— " You want. The original ending to that statement seems no less ridiculously misplaced than Gabriel speaking on behalf of his deadbeat dad.

Teo closes and opens his eyes twice in some pleasant sort of stupifecation. "Before," he says, carefully, "I would've suggested you bring Eileen."

The name Edward Ray gets a glance, and then Gabriel is tilting his head back in a defeated gesture of irritation. Something makes sense to him, even if he completely fails to grasp the bigger scheme of things and his revelation can be summed up as only Edward Ray would fuck him over so royally like this so that makes sense and that's enough for now. Rickham, John; they don't make sense. Ray does.

Save for the fact he had once helped him, in a different time and place. But Gabriel didn't think at the time that it was out of the goodness of the man's heart. Just another tool. One he's just discarded.

There are still shadowy corners to rifle through. Dusty surfaces to wipe clean. Things to rediscover. Right now, the flashlight is tilted carelessly away. A chair leg is illuminated, and not much else. "I went to find her. After Case and Rickham. You said she was in town and I hadn't thought so, she hadn't been using her birds."

Slightly more stalker than had gone mentioned before, he and his letting her go and all, but maybe that's just how Sylar shows he cares. "So it made sense. She'd lost her power, I'd lost mine. She said she wanted to kill me. I think if that were true, I'd be dead." He almost was, but that's neither here nor there. She called Teo, presumably. "But she held back. I've held back, before."

A self-deprecating, breathy chuckle from a smile too shadowed to see properly. "Maybe that's wishful thinking. But my ability— it made me want to do things too. Part of me thinks that maybe this isn't so bad."

If he hadn't seen the scar on the crest of Gillian's temple, Teo might not have believed it. He did, though. He had. He believes it. Saw that thin, stretched-out braid of scar tissue intersecting the strong line of the augmentor's profile above the eye, shown to him in a bid to prove that Gabriel had changed or, perhaps more importantly, that he had had an excuse for having been the thing that he was.

"I keep telling people that. That it was your ability." There's an uncomfortable shift, a quaver-beat too late, when Teo realizes that Gray might not appreciate his addictions or previous inclinations being dissected by strangers with whom he has no love lost. The line of Teo's neck gaps out above the black of his hoodie when he ducks his head, regards his toes with faint consternation. "With all of Phoenix. Hiro Nakamura. My b— Connor."

Odd retraction. He leaves it there. "Don't get me wrong. I don't try to paint you as a fucking saint. I figure— you have as much exploitable anger and trust issues," and stalking habits, "as the next guy." Who would be Teo, coincidentally, but that comparison isn't even on purpose. Teo lifts his head and tracks the progress of the torch's circular beam. "It just… that word gets thrown around a lot, that sin laid down like the final word in front of only the marked doors.


"I guess I resent it when people transpose and generalize their personal fear to some kind of righteous cosmic justice. Far as I can tell, the vast majority of my daily acquaintance is damned. Murder's murder. You kill someone, and that's the end of anything they could ever be. The babies they could shoot out, the next recipe they'll figure out how to make. Whether it was your addictive ability, or carelessness, or bloodlust, or something you can wrap in a flag."

Teo's mouth flattens, a sanguine bar of lip and lip on the Finnish pallor of his skin. "Ought to fucking mean something when someone chooses not to. Or change." There is egocentrism flawing this declaration, somewhere. A very long time ago, a girl had died because of Teo, too, but that's someone else's story, for some other time. "They don't seem to fucking get that.

"And it seems to make them a little— monstrous." He rubs his nose again. Inhales once, sharply, frowning at nothing in particular. It is no harder to breathe in here than it was before.

Gabriel's black-clad shoulders draw up like a string being pulling in his back, dropping his gaze, a suspended shrug that doesn't relax. Teo is speaking nice words. Explain why he was ever dragged into a safehouse, and before that, why Teo decided to help the stray dog Tavisha—

Like he'd told Kinney. Teo believes in redemption. Then there's everyone else.

"No…" There's a new tone of voice for Gabriel. Pained, in a way, cringing. "They're not. Monstrous. They're just— ignorant. You can bet they'd change their mind if they were the ones with blood on their hands, and it's so easy." In his world, anyway, even the first time. "And easier still to moralise. They don't believe you because they don't know."

A half a beat of pause, and he adds, "And they don't know me. Why should they label me anything other than killer when they have nothing else to go on? Besides your word. No offense but you're a nice guy." No offense but you're a nice guy. There is something fundamentally wrong this this statement, but Gabriel doesn't seem to think so.

"My head is clear. That was the first thing I noticed, when Case took it. The hunger, the envy, it just went away. Then everything else went away. I still feel deaf. And stupid. I can't remember— I can't even remember conversations. The last two years are a blur." The confession is made into the darkness, as if maybe Teo weren't here— or maybe that's an excuse, but his voice is quiet, edged raw. "I know I've changed. Just not what I've changed into."

They're nice— and true as well. How else could Teo produce them with such earnestness? He looks across at Gabriel as if he is having no trouble separating the man from the darkness, which is applicable on a number of physical and metaphorical levels. There are other lines that Teodoro Laudani can't believe in. Including the theoretical one that separates him from everyone else.

Least of all now, when he sees Gabriel. Like this. Voice shrinking down his own throat like the tender flesh of a hermit crab retracts furtively into its borrowed shell, a name finally assigned to that thing that made him kill, and admission — most importantly — that it's gone now. Teo doesn't take offense to the supposition that he's a nice guy, but he does shake his head at something. A lot. "Their self-ignorance is monstrous," he says. "That the character of the killer alone determines what the blood was worth.

"Fuck. If they want monsters…" The next expression that strikes through his features is more of a spasm than a portraiture thing, twisting the line of his lips. Teo snatches his head back abruptly, forcing his neck and shoulders straight like a soldier steeling himself to attention.

Self-discipline. It's no neutral thing. "You're Gabriel Gray. You've changed into whatever you're gonna do next."

Which is a better sentiment than, you've changed into whatever it was you were before. The empty skeleton of a half-gutted, looted clock shop doesn't hold happy memories or very promising futures, from the beam he'd briefly swung on as a dying man through to where he'd cleaned the ground with ammonia to erase the evidence of another.

"Unfortunate that I tend to make things up as I go," Gabriel says, his tone of voice the same as it had been, muted and cautious, but self-amusement adding a difference. Again, better than plainly stating that he has no clear idea other than to make things right again. The way that they were before.

Somehow. Puppet masters and puppeteers are ominous shadows over this particular destination. "Why you?" This is a bit like Africa, this trading back and forth. Shift the focus when scrutiny starts to make you fidget, adjust the lens onto the next specimen. Whether Gabriel is interested is, as ever, up for debate, and why is even more so. "What makes you different? Abigail has her God, and I guess I could write it off as a Catholic thing. But I don't think so."

He still sounds subdued, somehow managing to shake the caustic from his voice, for once. "You sound like you speak from experience. About monsters."

The misfortune of that seems to warrant some contestation, but it never actually makes it into more flowery, optimistic Italian-sprinkled insistence out of Teo's big blue-eyed puppyface. He just looks like he's about to say a thing but doesn't, which is kind of an ironic demonstration on what he would've said anyway. Sometimes it's better not to overthink things or you'll never do anything at all.

This is a dismal place to be having any kind of conversation, Teo thinks. An uncomfortable, fidgety place, fraught with recollections of deadbeat fathers and rusted, rundown timepieces, all things obsolete yet somehow relevant, even in a time when Edward Ray's crew has fucked up the machinery of their world from all levels between cellular mechanics and subway systems. Teo knows what it's like to be looked at too closely. It can't catch him entirely by surprise when the line of questioning is spun around on him with the pointy end at his face once more.

He wipes a hand down his jaw. Looks uncomfortable, which indicates, obviously that he is.

'Write it off as a Catholic thing.' Teo remembers to make a little face at that. Gabriel would know better than to mistake it for denial. "I got a girl killed when I was seventeen." Plain speech, but he does elaborate: "My little brother's girlfriend. Nine years later, he still hates my guts for it, but the whole thing's been our secret. Not that that's stopped it from destroying my family anyway." The last part, he's always left out when telling people. Alexander, Abigail. He doesn't know if he mentions it now because Gabriel's experiences with the Childs clan, or if that's a natural erosion of time.

Time's supposed to heal things. Don't believe the clocks.

There are several callous things Gabriel could say, out of instinct than because he wants to. Always fighting. He grants Teo the courtesy that he only partially (and without success) granted Kinney, and holds his tongue until something better occurs to him, which might account for the stretch of silence that draws out in the space of several feet between them.

There are several callous things Gabriel could say, out of instinct than because he wants to. Always fighting. He grants Teo the courtesy that he only partially (and without success) granted Kinney, and holds his tongue until something better occurs to him, which might account for the stretch of silence that draws out in the space of several feet between them.

"Nine years," Gabriel finds himself repeating. Tripping over this more than an indirect murder. "It's a kind of immortality. She lives on as long as he's angry." The slats of wood on the front window block most of the light from the headlights of a car that swings with as much dexterity, it seems, as Gabriel handled the flashlight. Sharp paper thin beams of light ut between the wood before dying again, a growl of motor.

Gone again in the next moment, although Gabriel is watching the front window as if expecting something would come of it, although his next words remain on this same path of conversation. "Or he admired you and can't do that anymore. I don't know. But getting someone killed— it sounds like an accident. Which might make you an idiot, or careless. Not a killer."

A glance of black-glass eyes, a raise of an eyebrow. "Sorry." The inexplicable apology is delivered without much fanfare and of course no explanation. For calling him an idiot, passing judgment, for telling him what he's not. "I guess it doesn't matter much to your brother." Ah.


"Not to me that much either, I guess." Teo is dawdling back toward the door, not because he's about to insist and prompt that they leave, but because he— he's done here, as far as he can tell, and all he can think to do now is to stay out of Gabriel's way.

Stand back, watch the light go. Back and forth, up the walls, swiveling the shadows of veloured shelves across the floor. "It was going to happen eventually. It was because of my brother's ability: he could open a… a portal between himself and me. Let objects through. Knives, fists. There was a gun. I was never going to fucking stop being an idiot—" no; no apology necessary, "unless I was stopped. I don't know. I've thought about it a lot. Always seems to come down to her or me.

"I'dve chosen me every fucking time." The back of Teo's jacket meets the wall, with a thump to low for Gabriel to hear anymore. He is going to get an unattractive chalky smudge of pale gray against the dark fabric, probably, but he either doesn't care or isn't thinking that far ahead. "I know it isn't the same thing." A smile hitches up his lip; looks too much like a sneer to fit his face quite right. "I enjoyed the luxury of not thinking about what I was about to do. That's supposed to exculpate me."

By now, Gabriel has found his perch. Feet not lifted off the floor, or really trusting the work counter to keep his weight, he's just leaning back against the angle of furniture. And doesn't seem inclined to head for the door, not any time soon, whether Teo does or not. It's probably not healthy; in all respects, the amount of mildrew, dust and dampness probably doing nothing for his lungs, but other reasons.

Or maybe not. Maybe it is a good idea. He's not even sure, really. Couldn't put to words why he's here, although doesn't bat an eye at the fact it's important in some way. Gabriel lifts his hand from where it had been braced against the counter, observes his palm, and fhoo, he blows a sharp stream of air across it. In the slight glow coming off the flashlight beam, the cloud of dust is impressive.

Fingers curl inwards against his palm and dig crescent moon tracks into soft skin from his nails, before his hand lowers to wipe the rest of the grime off on the thigh of his pants. "And you never danced on her grave. You never had fun."

"You're not dancing now." Teo's voice is neutral, absentminded, almost indifferent in his saying so, but the words are a retort; unmistakably a retort. Merely one that's long since run out of patience with trying to rationalize his psychological baggage or translate it into terms that other people understand. He can't even do it in his mother tongue. He can speak a dozen languages— "Or Eileen.

"I don't know. Did Ethan Holden dance after he finished blowing up my former workplace?" The tone to that might be somewhat harsh. The words also. He closes his eyes briefly. Squeezes them. Reopens them again. "Would you've chosen your Hunger if you could've had your pick of abilities prior to conception? 'S that what you fucking chose, or was that an accident of genetics? People choose to go to war, build bombs. I like fighting. And blowing shit up.

"Murdering faceless men in uniform isn't the hardest thing I've ever done."

That is a rather grim declaration to make, Teodoro knows. Also, that it's one of the least important ones he could have made. He frowns. Makes his hands into fists and shoves them into his pockets, his fingers grating into one another, knuckle on knuckle.

"I didn't choose it," Gabriel agrees, and for an agreement? His voice is coming out mighty harsh, there, some form of pent up emotion chainsawing it out. "And I wouldn't have chosen it, not— it." People don't choose their addictions, generally, but they do— "I gave into it. And I've killed people who had nothing I wanted."

Also got a parking ticket a few times, stole some things, broke into abandoned buildings. Gabriel's words cut out with a slight click of his teeth coming together, and he doesn't reel off his expansive list of sins, drawing his arm across his face to wipe away the dust tickling there with his jacket sleeve, his hands too covered with the stuff otherwise.

"But I guess that makes two of us."

Monsters, or ideas of them. It occurs to him that maybe he should dismiss the other man, and Gabriel hesitates, but not for long. "I'm not going to stay here for very long. I figure if I'm not headed for Staten Island, I should keep moving. Do you— " Hesitate. Reel it back in, knowing some of Tavisha's uncertainty for wanting to maintain contact with someone. "I'll let you know," he settles on.

Does he? Teo turns his head and an eyebrow lilts up on the abbreviated, unasked part of the question before he realizes he'll have to ask out loud: "Do I wha?" Have a safehouse the man can use? Probably. False IDs. A man who can shapeshift other people if need be, but Gabriel had already rejected that offer. Being a monster requires very few real talents, but remaining alive when hunted is a trait that the bogeymen and the unsung heroes of the poem seem to have in common, these days.

Does he want to stay? Come with? The fact that Teo's shoes fail entirely to make tracks toward the door or away from Gabriel seems to imply so, here, as he stands with his shoulders framed in dust, the missing silhouette shape of cleaner wall transposed onto his back.

The whole time, Teodoro is looking at his shoes like they owe him money. Even when he asks 'Wha?' and raises his eyebrow. It's the sort of inevitable, good Catholic rue that occurs in the event of a serial killer exclaiming harshly about the last dozen times one collect a life for reasons higher or more puerile than essential robbing. He likes to fight, bite, engage in spirited debate; he's never relished murder for its own sake, which was the point. It's not the same thing, but it fucking blows, anyway.

"I don't really know what I'm gonna do next, either. Normally that means I should be helping somebody out."

"Your people are still lost in time and space," Gabriel says, a slight head tilt. Just. Throwing that out there, the sentence spoken as effortlessly as the way someone might throw a stick to play Go Fetch. "The last time I saw Peter— " He was a broken ragdoll in the iron arms of a woman turned to mineral. But more importantly, "He was trying to figure out what to do about that. I assume his powers are— tampered with, too."

An eyebrow raises, a shrug in the dark. "So that's something. Unless someone takes care of your friends, wherever they went, getting Case's cooperation— " And he says that like he doesn't really mean cooperation in the usual sense of the word. "— might be your only hope."

Your, not their. "I don't need anything," he adds, belatedly remembering to respond to that prodding 'wha?' with something of a lie, but truthful in that he isn't sure what to ask for, exactly.

That is kind of like a plan. The noise drains out from behind Teo's eyes, the pointless static of confusion and conflict blinking into square focus. A tangible goal with a rather practical progression of action to be taken and really, that does make a lot of sense. It seems more than slightly ridiculous to leave the salvation of one's people in the hands of God when the revelations that God provides are all about getting off your ass and going with the help that's given.

Gabriel is right. His only hope. Though less in the form of a dangling lifeline than the handle to a weapon. Teo always feels better when he's doing something. Better still when he isn't entirely alone. The absence of his boyfriend, disappearance of his co-leader and vanquishment of his best friend have left — vacancies; never mind those three and thousands of others besides would decry his choice of surrogates. Oh, well. He's a good person, they say. Also, a believer. Of course he'd be susceptible to feelings of kinship.

"I'll get us whatever leads I can. There's a technopath among them, a half-ton cast-iron man on Staten—" only so many ways off the island, after all, "and HomeSec's doing hunting that they don't have reason to hide from Phoenix yet. Should be able to come up with something."

Gabriel would agree. It's always best to know exactly what you want. Much like Teo, the vacuum of uncertainty is something difficult to grapple with. He knows it now. He hopes he'll find clarity in the corners of a dusty clock shop.

"You can tell Eileen where to find me."

Because he'll likely have moved on by then. But should he find nothing, he'll stay, and maybe an answer will come in the form of a matchstick-limb girl. Perhaps Teo won't even do it. Long after the other man has gone and secured a door behind him, locked with no key, Gabriel once more sweeps the gaze of the flash light around. He finds a wall to slide his back down, legs coming up in a loose tangle on the ground in front of him.

The flash light dies with a flick of his thumb, and even if the clocks weren't long since broken, their hands frozen on all the wrong times, he couldn't fall asleep to the sounds of their ticking anyway, let alone fix them even if he wanted to.

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