Little Does She Know


emily_icon.gif teo_icon.gif

Scene Title Little Does She Know
Synopsis The latest adventure-chapter in Emily's series of questionable events involves a *former terrorist named Teo.
Date April 7, 2019

The floor in the bedroom is also hardwood, which for some reason is something Emily repeatedly renotices when she re-enters the space. It's spacious, with windows on two walls. The closet space is carpeted, though. Maybe that's why the hardwood throws her. The bedroom has its own bathroom attached, which would be a nice change from her current situation.

The bathroom floor was linoleum, in a pattern so it looked like tile.

She's taken her time in introducing herself to the empty bedroom, and standing in the center of the bare space with its beige-painted walls, Emily cautiously struggles to envision her things here. Even as she walks herself through the dimensions and rationalizes where her bed could go, how her desk could be positioned by the window, talks herself through how much more convenient this could be for her, she stops just short of committing.

One thing lead to another, and now she's apartment-hunting a bit more legitimately than she had with her friends. Now suddenly, she's in a townhome that's reasonably priced, near campus, and is beautifully renovated besides. Emily wasn't expecting any of this, but here she was.

The bedroom has hardwood floors, but maybe change isn't bad?

A NE Sheepshead Bay Townhome With Room For Rent

April 7, 2019

The latest prospective roommate is a college student. Her name is Emily, no surname currently given; she has classes down the road and interns with SESA. She's never rented before, but she's offering to pay her half in cash.

Well, okay then.

The SESA part was honestly Teo's least favorite. Why is everybody so obsessed with #themission in New York City, even little girls who are too young to drink. Obviously he didn't say this out loud; he's not that rude to strangers, and he grudgingly recognizes that it's a fine and rare thing, for someone her age to be civically minded. When he was nineteen, he'd been mixed up in manslaughter and gonorrhea scares.

Teo has simultaneously twenty opinions and no opinions about her whatsoever. This city makes him so tired; his mind slips from one intrusive thought to the next, haphazardly skipping from judgment to indifference, admiration to the realization that his shin has been itchy for the past ten minutes.

Fortunately, for the purposes of touring a potential roommate around, Teo's frayed psyche actually passes for polite attention. He isn't on his phone; he isn't talking over her. He doesn't stare at her either, standing a polite distance behind, noting here and there that behold, closet space. And this is additional storage space. And if she wants to have a pet, she can have a pet, he doesn't have any pets, and the landlord allows one (1). She cannot have two (2). But he gets along okay with animals. He isn't sure what kind of college girl entertains living with a thirty-something-year-old man, but that part, he doesn't say out loud, his mind traveling briefly to the moon, then back in time for him to say:

"If you want to nail stuff to the walls, I can spackle them up so he never knows." That's: the landlord. "Art. Clocks. Elaborate sconces, wall garden." What are nineteen-year-olds into. "Swords."

That's enough suggestions, Teo realizes. He stops suggesting, wondering blearily why he doesn't own any swords.

Swords? Emily glances at him at that, her brow lifting in a quiet, yet nearly vocal 'Well then' to herself as she turns away to look around the living space on the first floor. She still can't decide if she's trying to talk herself into or out of this place, and she's neglected to bring any shoulder angels with her to soundboard off of.

To be honest, she'd not paused to think that someone offering to split rent so close to campus wouldn't also be a student, so she's still wrapping her mind around that thirty-something bit. He's older. Male. Possibly crazy? Possibly not. Either way, moving in with a strange, unknown man would be crazy to consider with any kind of seriousness.

… but this space, though.

She takes in a sudden breath, exhaling it away sharply. She wasn't sure she knew enough to make a decision. "So," Emily furrows her brow as she looks back Teo's way. "What is it you do again?" Her hand is hanging low on the strap of the small-ish brown bag clinging to her right shoulder.

Teo knows what most people don't bother to think about — that even that small, a bag like that could hide a handgun. There might not be room for much else, but there was definitely enough room for a weapon. A revolver might create a noticeable bulge, the cylinder's girth what it is, but there's a number of smaller sidearms that could fit. Easily.

You know, Teodoro begins this entire dialogue with himself entirely inside his head as he takes discreet note of the gun. You know, that's the problem with people living in New York City. Everybody has to carry a gun. Everybody was carrying guns, long before the war. It was never like other cities all over the world including Sicily, where you would find that the minute you gave up your gun, you started to get into less trouble— an obvious chain of causation. In New York City, you never think to lay down your arms, a snake eating its own tail, armies catching their own bullets, an entire generation of incidental guerillas who are incapable of acknowledging the wounds they share.

Please ignore the fact that Teo definitely has two or three handguns stashed around the minimalist apartment, already.

Anyway, Teo doesn't talk about her gun. He is capable of some subtlety, and he can dimly appreciate her cognizance even if he doesn't approve of her city of residence. It's none of his business. "We should talk about that before you fall down the Google rabbit hole," he says. "We should go over it downstairs. Papers are on the dining table." In a bid to attract a roommate, Teo had acquired a vintage dining table. Actually, he found one that still balanced on its legs about a half-block down, obviously abandoned on the second floor of a dilapidated tenement because it couldn't fit through the doorway, and he figured out how to disassemble it and carry it here, piece by piece. It still smells faintly of new varnish and the glue he used to put in a false bottom panel.

But that, and his three false passports, is a discovery and a discussion for another day. (Even without that, he has lost at least two prospective roommates already.)

Teo leads her downstairs, tromping down the stairs in the noisy, jouncing gait of a sleepy bear. She already saw the bathroom and kitchen. "You're not hungry, are you?" he asks, without looking back.

He's already trying to justify what she might find about him?? Emily starts to prepare excuses to leave in the same breath she wonders if his semi-notoriety might not possibly involve jailtime or narrowly-avoided jailtime. With it being New York, and in this day and age, either or both could be likely. Given his apparent age, probably civil war related, on top of anything else.

Oh god, she wonders. What if he's ex-Humanis First or something? Emily isn't immediately certain what level of negative reaction she'd have to that, but is able to determine such a revelation would not be handled politely. On the bright side, it'd become a no-brainer to pass on the co-renting if that were the case.

"I'm fine, thanks." she responds to the implied food offer, polite and distanced and, like Teo, keeping her thoughts to herself. Differently than him, her steps are light and poised as she heads down the staircase, one hand on the banister and the other still on the strap of her bag.

If Emily notes the curious blend of smells the table puts off, she says nothing of it when she enters the dining room, fingertips brushing along the table's edges as she stands over the paperwork, skimming it. She'd sit, because that's polite, but she's still reluctant to get comfortable and working through her suspicions about whatever 'Teo' is famous for. (…if that was even his real name!)

Make no mistake. Teodoro one hundred thousand percent considered giving a fake name and credentials. But in the spirit of trying to be a normal person, while also not being a farmer, he had used the one his mother gave him. (Sylar gave him the same one, in fact. Ha ha.) (That's a parentage joke.)

Teo sits down at the table, and gestures for her to feel free to sit as well, if she changes her mind. This could take a minute or no time at all. He genuinely isn't sure; he'd known she would not linger over the empty bedroom's dimensions or stand in different corners of it if she weren't at least somewhat serious, and her sink counter is pretty big, which can be important for girls. The rental application is right here. The way of things in New York City has changed a lot since the war, he notices; landlords are eager enough to see off their property that the line between sublet and lease is blurry. He slides it over to her for her to keep.

"About— eleven years ago, I was a member of PARIAH. Then Phoenix. I think freedom-fighters is the accepted term now," by the victors, as Francois has said. "But for awhile, you'd hear 'terrorist.'" He knows she probably knows that, since she works at SESA, but Teo thinks it's important to acknowledge; a demonstration of responsibility. "I fought in the war, and then I left to upstate New York a few years ago. I don't do anything like that anymore." Teodoro has dallied with different phrasing, but it seems to come back to that. "I don't have any more enemies." Except for the ones he does, but it doesn't feel like a lie when he says it. It's top of mind. He's a farmer now. His enemies are fungal blight and overambitious coyotes. And if she is an enemy in disguise— well, he'll cross that bridge when he comes to it. "I'm just here because I need to handle some personal problems.

"You know" oh no, Teo didn't tell this to the other candidates. It's systemic sexism, probably. The other ones had been men. Also homophobic stereotyping; a truly bizarre effort to reassure her. "If you're going to divorce your husband, you should do it in person. That's how I was raised. So that's why I'm here. I have more, but if you want to leave now, I'd get it."

The others had all left at around this point in the conversation. But there you have it. At the very least, Teodoro Laudani is not Humanis First, and he managed to escape jail for considerably longer than he probably should have.

What the fuck?

It's safe to say Emily remains standing, fingertips still on the edge of the table. She does not reach for the paperwork. She's so taken aback by the successive string of revelations he presents she doesn't move at all.

There's a certain amount of comfort that would come from knowing he's basically the opposite of a Humanis First supporter, save for — you know — the terrorism thing. (Also, Eve was one of those things, hadn't she been? Is he as batshit crazy as her?) He should get points for honesty and openness there.

But then he gets a little too fucking open with that last bit and her eyes actually widen.

Jesus Christ.

Emily is silent for a long moment, eyes trained on him. She can't figure out a practical motivation for sharing that he's only in New York to get a divorce. To her, it begs the question of why he's bothered to get an apartment at all. Perhaps it's that note of impermanence that gets her to stay. Her head dips forward slightly as she asks, openly perplexed but unmoving from the table, “There's more?

Well yes, his impermanence seems low-commitment, high-payoff, Teo was thinking. But also, if he's gay, maybe that's less creepy? Kindly ignore the fact that he has very much had emotionally-charged relationships with women before, and has sort of an illegitimate child. The 'TMI' she is experiencing is actually the tip of an iceberg, the likes of which would have made the Titanic look like a rowboat capsized in a duck pond. (Sylar is his other mom, for example.)

Teo wonders for a moment if he should acknowledge he was actually a founding member of Phoenix, but then he studies her face, and decides he was right to omit that level of detail. He thinks normal people problems should be more palatable. Divorce, marital conflict. Normal people problems.

"Yes." Hastily, Teo tries to organize his thoughts. It's difficult when you're battling a depressive haze related to your everloving hate for an entire city, to which you have mysteriously moved. "But it's— details." (Sylar is still infamous, he knows. Don't mention Sylar.) (Don't mention you are a clone.) "I have friends who don't know I live here, so there won't be any trouble." There will definitely be trouble, it just hasn't been plotted yet. Get on-board, Emily! We have adventures to play out. "I'm really flexible about the roommate situation. I'm just going to go to the gym and making food sometimes. And I read a lot. You could borrow my books," they will be arriving in the next few days, "join me at wherever." Normal roommate things. "Or you could do your own thing. Whatever you want."

A beat. He scratches his pant leg.

"Except parties," Teo adds. "I mean, I need to know if you want to throw a party. You can do it, there's just a few courtesy things."

Oddly enough it's the “normal people things” that had caused the biggest reaction out of Emily, though. Apparently freedom-fighting (as the cool kids referred to it) was understandable if not relatable, but being so particular as to make oneself physically present for divorce proceedings when one had otherwise been absent struck a tinny, dissonant, what-the-fuck-is-with-this-guy level chord with her. Him being gay eliminates some of the sleaze possibility, for sure, but definitely increases the chance she'll come home to a drunken mess needing consoled or who will be attempting to console her, needlessly. God.

But there is a chance this arrangement could be temporary. And then all the space could be hers afterward, sans very strange roommate. (Until the next roommate, but there's a lot of ifs before approaching that next nest of issues.)

In the midst of all this processing, Emily just slowly nods, trying to take this whole everything Teo has given her and repackage it into something she can work with. It involves an honesty injection of her own. Commiseration? Except not, because this is totally different. “So…” she says, fingertips resting on the paperwork, which apparently she has intention to fill out, because she's going through the effort of sharing, on top of reaching for it. “My family name is Epstein. Like Avi Epstein, so…”

She lifts her hand up for a moment. “So on some level, I get the whole 'things happened a while ago but could show back up at any time’ bit,” which she sounds particularly rueful and just a touch bitter about, but her eyes are on the paper, so maybe it's just at realizing there are actual lease break terms listed on paper that involve a monetary penalty. “but do the courtesy of being straightforward if any of your bullshit could potentially flow over so I can not be here for that, maybe we can hope that things will actually be all…” Emily lifts her eyes to him, her gaze skeptical and her tone dripping with it, “gym, and reading, with a chance of house dinner.”

After second consideration, her hand lifts back up and she stresses abruptly, “That includes shit with your ex as much as it does any other …” you know, stuff is the implication made with a wave of her palm pointed in his general direction. She knows divorce can be a messy affair.

She regards him warily for a moment, weighing something about him. “You… cook?”

Epstein. Despite his momentary overshare, Teo is definitely not a person who is very good at soliciting consolation. Despite his wilful apathy, there's a vague spark of interest behind his eyes when she mentions her father. Uncle? Whoever. Dad, probably. She has that look, when she mentions him, and it feels spectacularly unlikely that she and Avi are siblings.

As long as he's being an asshole inside his own head, Teo thinks: it's nice to know that Wolfhound's leadership is full of raging cuntnuggets that fuck over their families. (Hana is ever an exception, a bias that he doesn't register.)

(He is also currently refusing to register the possibility that shit with Francois may not actually end in divorce.)

"Yeah, I'll do you that courtesy," Teodoro agrees. It makes sense. She might have parties. His equivalent of that is extreme marital tension, featuring some gay stuff, references to historical combat, philosophical differences, lambent criticisms of what the fuck is New York City anymore. Most people would probably rather deal with puke stains on the couch or having to step over unconscious teenagers than all that, so he appreciates her generosity on the matter. With a pang, he realizes he should tell her about the ghost sooner than later, but— well, she fires off another question, an easier question, and who is he to resist temptation.

Let's be real, the landlord would love it, if his primary lessee swapped from Teo to this fine young citizen.

Teo nods. "I cook some. Do you eat meat? And—" man. Which one of them is getting ahead of themselves? He can't tell. Are they? Maybe she's just asking hypothetical questions without hypothetical phrasing, because it's difficult to talk that way. "Do you want twenty-four hours to think about it? I don't have anybody else touring until tomorrow."

"Yes, I would like to take that, if you don't mind." Time enough to talk this over at her current home, possibly be berated for the abrupt decision and lack of forethought, and then do it anyway — possibly out of spite, possibly to live a little. Her mother had judgingly told her if she was going to lean into this whole independence kick that she should commit to it, instead of continuing to live with her cousin, who had also been her caretaker.

Don't ask her if the impulse lease agreement was doing what her mother suggested or giving the middle finger to her in an assertion of independence, because she doesn't have a good answer. It would involve acknowledging she was doing both.

She takes the paperwork, unsigned as it is, and looks back up to Teo. He doesn't know it yet, but she might be a very supportive drinking buddy in railing against the behaviors of Wolfhound members with regards to their families. "I cook more than I don't cook," Emily says of herself. "I'm not a vegetarian." There's a brief pause as she feels the need to point out, "I'm mostly quiet. I game a lot in my free time." There's a shift of light in her sharp eyes before her brow knits. "Do you already have a GhostNet subscription for the house, or am I going to need to tether for a while until that gets set up?"

God forbid she go without the Internet again for any extended period.

She isn't old enough to drink. Future-Teodoro will disapprove, and then do absolutely nothing about it. :) At some point before or after the parties he already preemptively permitted.

"I don't have GhostNet set up yet," he admits. Mostly because he figured out how to jailbreak and wall off the connection from a local company near his storage space in Red Hook, where he is continuing to build and maintain small killer robots. But that's a discovery to be made later, probably. Teo smiles. A small one, sincere. "But if you sign by tomorrow, I'll have it the same night. And— I'd play video games with you, if you like multi-player ones. And have patience for my learning curve." There is a whole embarrassing thing that's definitely going to happen there, a ninja faltering with the controls of an FPS; he just doesn't know it yet. Also, he can't actually afford to buy a separate control unit, so— she's within her rights to say no.

Teo's standards for mental health and good judgment are very off, which is why he is currently feeling: pleased that something in his life is going right right now. It's almost a positive feeling. 2/10, which is five points higher than his usual. This seems fine. "We would have our own great American bake-off."

Emily would win, she quietly thinks to herself, but she's not going to ruin his confidence. Also, it might be a bad idea to irk someone who's offering to game with her. Given her difficulty in obtaining a stable online connection or a willing body to play locally with, she's not going to look that gift horse in the mouth — even if she suspects he has no idea what he's getting himself into.

Neither does she, for that matter.

His improved mood impacts her own, positivity feeding more positivity. "It sounds like we're looking into this, then." Anyone who took her at face value would assume she's merely considering the move, when it might as well be acceptance of the offer she said she'd just take a day to think about. "Thinking more like Chopped, first," Emily admits, "but we could work that direction. Honestly, it'll be the first time I've lived with someone who also knows how to cook for a while, so that could be pretty nice." She has to ignore the pang of guilt that comes from the idea of Julie again fending for herself post-hospital shifts, trying to shove the feeling down as deep as it'll possibly go.

"As for games, I mostly play RPGs." But, "There's a few multiplayer options, though."

She figures that's enough personal talk for the time being though, and shuffles the papers in her hand. Nodding briskly, Emily gestures idly with the paperwork she's just organized. "I'll be in touch. Good to meet you, Teo."

Emily sounds calm, collected. God only knows she won't forever.

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