More Than Names


alexander_icon.gif brian_icon.gif munin_icon.gif teo_icon.gif

Scene Title More Than Names
Synopsis Alexander tries a different tactic with "Eileen" but is interrupted by Teo and Brian before he can get too far. Teo proposes they strike a bargain.
Date December 8, 2008

A Ferrymen Safehouse

Just the Feeeenix op you don't wanna see. Especially since he's now Mr. Scarface, courtesy of Munin's birds. Brian's conveniently absent when Al pays a little social call - the Ferryman charged with guard duty is conveniently argued out of the way, and the telekine comes stalking in, in that weird of aura of dead air that means he's overcompensating and clamping down too hard on his power.

Munin is about as happy to see Alexander as Alexander is to see Munin — if she sees him at all. Her left eye is swollen halfway shut, and her nose — complete with a wicked gash from one side to the other — is so bruised that the mottling has consumed a large portion of her face. Although she's been given the opportunity to wash the blood from her skin, much of it remains on her borrowed clothes in the form of dark, ugly stains that match the dried fluids flaking off the concrete underfoot. No one has been in to mop the floor yet, most likely because no one wants to be anywhere near her. She can't say she blames them either.

"What do you want?" Her voice comes out as a throaty growl, low, hoarse and pained. With Abby gone and no one else to tend to her wounds or provide her with drugs to take the edge off, she'd probably rather be asleep than sitting on the edge of her cot and staring Alexander down.

"What I want," Al's voice is musing, his hands in his pockets. "What I want. What I want don't bear repeating," he says, tone entirely amiable. "However. What I'm after at the moment is a little bit of information. Wanna know about the rest of your little social club. Their names, their abilities, what they're after," he says. The pale eyes are alive with malice, and there's that oddly muffled quality, as if sound were somewhat dulled around him." He flicks the door closed without touching it, not bothering to look back - it slams shut with a dull finality.

The sound of the door thundering shut causes Munin to wince. Loud noises wreak havoc on her ears and detonate localized explosions of anguish in her temples and the front of her skull. She had a headache before — now that Alexander's stepped into the room, it's been upgraded to a full-out migraine. "You're wasting your time." And hers, but that's less of a concern. She isn't going anywhere, doesn't have anywhere else to be except here, wallowing in the shadows and the half-light. "Where's Teo?"

"Perhaps. And Teo's not your concern, now, my little chickadee. It's just you and me, and we're likely gonna get better acquainted, unless you start talkin'," Al's grinning, but it's the smile of a fox who's just stuck his nose into a henhouse. "Let's start with the mastermind behind this. Who's in charge?" he says, hunkering down on his heels, letting his hands dangle from where he's rested his elbows at his knees.

He's less intimidating when he's down at her level. Munin levels her gaze with Alexander's, her eyes bright but unfocused, giving the impression she might not be entirely alert. Given what Teo did to her when she drove the kitchen knife into his gut, it would make sense — if she doesn't have another concussion, she's at the very least trying to pick the fuzz away from her thoughts. There's a noticeable delay between Alexander's question and the young woman's response, and it isn't even a verbal one.

Gathering a wad of saliva in the front of her mouth, she purses her split lips and spits on the floor at the man's feet. If her feelings toward him weren't clear before, then they are now.

It doesn't quite reach him - it lazily diverts, as if of its own accord. There's a contemptuous slap returned - no need of hands, of course. Not terribly hard, just the reflexive swat to the face you'd give a misbehaving pet. "Listen to me," he says, matter of factly. "I'm quite prepared to hurt you until I get the answers I want to hear. It's up to you how far I have to go. What do you have to lose? Let's try again. Who's Kazimir Volken?"

The swat, even with the battered condition of Munin's face, is more annoying than anything, and she curls her lip at Alexander to show him her teeth tinged pink with excess blood. "Fuck off," she snarls, the pitch of her voice rising as her hackles do. "M'not telling you shit about Volken or anybody else, so you can go suck your own cock, y'bloody tosser."

This time it's a body blow, though to muscle - not one of the incapacitating shots to the kidney or a nerve. "You're wrong," Al says, voice going flat, expression deadpan. "Who's Kazimir Volken?"

Munin's tongue shoots to the roof of her mouth to help stifle the cry she feels lurching up from deep inside her chest. It hurts. Everything hurts. She leans forward, doubling over as if to vomit, wrapping her arms around her upper body, nails digging into the exposed skin of her shoulders as the inward struggle to maintain emotional control crosses over into the physical world. Maybe if she squeezes tight enough, she can keep the information Alexander wants from seeping out in a moment of weakness. "Hnn—!"

Al's by the door, just beyond the radius when it swings open. He's squatting comfortably on his heels, as if beside a campfire, hands loose and easy at his knees. "Hurt, didn't it?" he asks, tone determinedly amiable. "What do you owe these guys that it's worth going through this to defend them? You know you're gonna tell me what I wanna know."

Bleary-eyed after blood loss, twelve hours of sleep and half of one on the phone, Teo had only glimpsed a figure in his peripheral. Assumed it was Brian; he'd heard clone-boy's strident announcement of guardianship over the thunder of him beating his own head on the floor out of insipid frustration at everything, more than half a day ago. The exchange outside is brief. How's Brian? Don't know, the Ferryman shrugs. How's sh—? Alexander's in there with her.

The door slams inward under the brunt of Teo's right shoulder, and water slops out over the rim of the gray bucket hanging from his callused fist. "Alexander." He'd be pale underneath his winter tan and clean sweater if emotion hadn't added a hasty slap of subdermal pigmentation.

Munin blinks back tears but does not look up when the door opens again. Instead, her gaze remains on the floor where it dropped when Alexander lashed out at her with his mind. She's panting, mouth hanging slightly open, the very tip of her tongue visible behind her teeth. Her breaths come quick and fast, hard and shallow — she hates this ability with every last ounce of feeling her tiny body contains. It doesn't just leave her stomach tangled in excruciating knots. It also pulls memories back to the surface, visions of Peter and Sylar burning themselves into her retinas no matter how hard she fights it.

She's going to be sick.

Al, notably, does not startle. Perhaps he heard the approach of feet in the corridor. Perhaps he's too weary himself or concentrating too hard. As Teo bursts in, he rises with no haste, but rather a weirdly feline deliberation, and half-turns to eye his comrade in arms. "T. Whatchoo doin' up, considerin'?" he wonders. There is not a flicker of shame or guilt in his face, no indication that he's been caught with his hand in the cookie jar of Abu Ghraib immorality. Munin's ignored for the moment, as if she just weren't here, and there's nothing but gentle concern on that marble pale face.

Door bounces off the rubber stopper embedded in the floor with a squeaky jolt channeled from jamb to hinges. Teo steps inward before he's whacked by the backswing. His face changes several times, subtly, as his gaze roves between their prisoner's miserable shape on the floor and the expression on his friend's face, an internal conflict that none of the embarrassingly unsophisticated forces ultimately wins out. He ends up vacillating on a balancing beam just above the urge to hit something.

"Need to talk to her," he answers. He scratches his chin; it makes a rasp of noise, stubbly. "Don't do that anymore, please." It's merely a request until it isn't. He looks at Alexander until he's looking at Eileen and walking toward her. There's an audible change in register when his shoes step off plastic and onto dried blood.

Munin's throat contracts, gulping down a mouthful of air to counteract the bile. Her mouth moves to form words, though no sound comes out — something that might be a name, a harsh slur of consonants scattered on either side of two long vowels, repeated over and over in quick succession until it blurs together into a train of what would be gibberish if she had a voice to lend it. Teo either goes unnoticed or ignored, as does his approach.

Sylar named him Fido, and it's a nickname more accurate than he realized, perhaps. Because Al just nods, doesn't argue, like a dog whipped off a kill. He doesn't leave the room either, however. "Sure," he says, amiably, letting Teo pass.

"Grazie, amico." Ostensibly, the gratitude is for Alexander's acquiescence. Secretly, Teo suspects it was better done in some way, shape or form than not. Weighty with the oscillating level of water, the bucket hits floor with a wavering thud. There are hands on Eileen's ridiculously sparse waist then and she's steered, if at arm's length, closer to the corner of the room with the grate on the floor where she might have disposed of her food days ago.

The Sicilian keeps himself as much out of— needling range as he can, but there's no mistaking a certain level of physical recklessness on his part; doubtless, he won't grow out of that before he gets old. It's not hard to tell when somebody's gagging on a stomach load, and he's dumped enough shots into girls to be good at telling. Gingerly, he pulls her hair out of her way and waits, curled up in a gargoyle's squat to her left.

Munin's palms press flat against the floor on either side of the grate, finger splayed, the tendons in her wrists bulging against her skin beneath the rest of her body's weight. There isn't much for her stomach to expel — most of the liquid that bubbles out of her mouth is water and acid, though there's a faint hint of pink mixed into it as well. She swallowed so much blood the last time she and Teo were in this room together that some of it was bound to come back up eventually. In the end, all that's left is a thin string of saliva dangling from the bottommost point of her chin, and even that doesn't linger there more than a few seconds. Before she can attempt to reach up and wipe it away with the back of her hand, it too disappears into the blackness between the metal slats.

Alexander watches with that curious lack of expression. Like he's just some figurine set on a shelf, to whom this is all more or less irrelevant. He doesn't explain or excuse what he was doing when Teo entered, nor does he criticize his comrade's seeming willingness to comfort her. Teo can be the good cop, apparently.

And Teo's left painfully aware of both of the room's other occupants. It's hard not to be. Munin's hurling mouthful and mouthful of stinking slime down the grille, Alexander's lurking like the threat of guillotine on the other end of the floor. He doesn't feel like much of a good cop. He looks at the ruin he made out of Munin's face and feels that. "I was going to ask you if you figured we were even now.

"You know," he lets go of the stringy black stuff of her hair. His voice is oddly dry. "I had you followed, abducted, break your face. You fuck up my guys and stab me. I'm getting confused about the currency and exchange rates, though, so… Here." Blunt fingernails scuff on the fabric of his trousers, extricate two pills in a foil that insists it's Advil. He swivels on heel and leans back, snags the bucket by the rim and begins to drag it over.

Encrusted blood catches on the bottom and scrapes up, peels loose, accumulates by the time it's brought to a halt just behind Eileen. Near enough for her to knock over, if she decides to explode into a twig-limbed tantrum, or to use if the pills aren't going down the grille with the rest of Phoenix's contributions that her body has chosen to reject. "This is fucking stupid. I think we should try something else."

Munin stares at the bucket of water the same way she might stare at somebody who just swallowed a frog. It's strange, alien, and yet…

She leans into it, using her hands to splash the liquid onto her face, rinsing away the acrid taste of vomit from her mouth so she doesn't choke when she downs the pills — both at the same time, washed down with one palm's worth of water. As thirsty as she is, she wants to be sure her stomach can take it before she starts greedily scooping it into her mouth. Whether the pills are really Advil or have just been cleverly disguised as something else is the furthest thing from her mind right now. All she wants is to lay her head down, go back to sleep and dream away all the punishment she's been put through this past week. Six days. One hundred and forty-four hours. Eight thousand, six hundred and forty seconds. She's gone over the math so many times that just thinking about it makes her head throb.

"Sorry about that man." Brian says softly as he walks down the hall. Rather, as they walk down the hall. Three men. One armed with a shotgun. "I just had to take care of something." Or somethings. "Anyone come?" Brian asks, tucking his hands into his jean pockets.

The answer certainly alarms him.

"Thank you, I'll take it from here…" With that the Ferryman is dismissed, and two of the Brians take post outside.

The door swings open, and Brian (the unarmed one) admits himself in, shutting the thing behind him. "What are you doing?" He asks quite coldly, his grey eyes fixing on Munin on the ground for a moment. Then to Al, then Teo. Grrr.

"At the moment, I think he's giving her Advil," Al replies, mildly, vouchsafing Brian a little half-grin. He's by the door, just standing. Protecting Teo lest she produce another shiv, perhaps? He's got his hands in the pockets of his hoodie, and seems quite calm. Blase, even.

The scent of vomit still tingeing the hanging air of Munin's prison doesn't do anything for Teo's appetite, personally, but he can hope that can mostly be attributed to forcing down a meal earlier, the remains of which are still flopping around with a glass of milk in his stomach. Out of his other pocket comes a meal bar. It's not much: only a start. Optimistically, he swizzes it across the floor at her. Its plastic wrap skitters to a stop against the girl's bare toes.

"Look at me when you're ready to talk. If. Please," he requests in an painfully ordinary voice, then glances up at Brian, finally. Runs his knuckles down the bristly flat of his jaw. His eyes flatten, then sharpen. He fails entirely to dignify that query with an answer of his own. Asks one of his own, instead. "Amico. Were you the one who bringing Eileen her meals?"

Munin's fingers close around the meal bar, causing the plastic to crinkle audibly as she picks it up and brings it close to her chest. She has no intention of eating it, but she'll be damned if she's going to let it escape while she's still recovering from her brief stint by the grille. Even if she isn't hungry now, she's lucid enough to realize she'll be hungry later.

She does not look at Teo.

"Yes." Brian responds softly, to Teo, giving another glance to Alexander. His eyes narrow as his gaze returns to Teo. He takes a step forward. "Was something wrong with the food?" He looks over to Eileen. "What's wrong with her?" Though his words say one thing, his voice says an entirely different thing 'What did you do?'

"Headache, I think," Al says, in that blithe tone. "And not me," he notes, as if unsure to whom that question was addressed.

Not just a headache. Teo's eyes threaten to avert to the redhead. In a fashion not quite as controlled as the way Munin's keeping her head down, they do not. "You left something in here a few days ago," he observes. "I think it makes sense you should grab yourself a mop and a bottle of iodine, clean up this shit and disinfect her arms.

"I wasn't the first person she used it on." Whether because he's managed to weaponize guilt after all that Catholic upbringing or in lieu of a different punishment, that would appear to be all. Introspectively, he knows that might not be true if the curve of the little blade had found somebody else yesterday morning, but there aren't any telepaths in the room. "Come back when you have it."

He frames Eileen in his peripheral and sits back on his heels on his way to sitting down on the floor. Closer than he'd like. There's no easy confusing who he's addressing, then, a brief caption for a conversation she isn't ready to have yet. "We want to make a deal with you."

Munin is in no position to be making deals — especially deals she might not be able to keep — but Teo's choice of words earns him a short glance, sidelong. She doesn't dare look at him direct. "M'not anybody important," she says lowly, voice scratchy with phlegm, "you want names, I gave you Volken's. Go investigate that." The fact that Teo is approaching her and not the other members of the Vanguard on the outside is telling. Either they haven't made contact with Ethan and the others, or — as she initially suspected — Ethan and the others aren't willing to put their operation at risk just to get her back. She knows she shouldn't be upset, shouldn't hold it against them.

But she does.

It's a small part of her, one that she's spent the past few years trying to hide away, one that reared its ugly head only a few minutes ago when Alexander entered the room and again when she shoved the knife into Teo's stomach, then apologized in the same breath. "I'm done."

Staring blankly at Teo, Brian's mouth twitches a little bit. "She must have hid it when I took out the tray.. It was a dull knife Teo." Brian murmurs. "I didn't think she would be able to.." A big sigh is given before he glances back at Alexander. Leave and come back? That is never necessary. He glances to Munin. Then back to Teo. "Teo. Have you seen the news?" He asks.

"Brian. Will you please go get what T asked you to?" Al's voice is almost dulcet - there's no crackle of tension there. But the blue eyes are very, very cold as he regards his fellow PHOENIX. "Do we want to be discussing anything in front of her we don't have to?"

There are lots of levels where Teo appreciates not having to tell say that to the self-replicator himself. Out of those levels, there's the one where he can't help but remember Brian was there — three of him — when he yanked the knife out of his own gut and started at Eileen's face with it. An agate blue eye flashes up briefly at the younger man, then away. "I remember it was a dull knife, bambino," he says in a rough approximation of a kind voice. "Be quick, please."

His legs collapse in their established angles like a house of cards, crossed Indian-style. He doesn't look at the girl direct, either. You could match the angles of the bedpost to the marks on her face exactly. "Want more than names, signorina.

"We want their project to burn. The long-term one. The big picture one. We'd give up the smaller fry for that. Your friends. Neither vengeance nor the judicial system of the United States of America are going to bring back the ones they've killed. Our investment is in the ones they've yet to." Saying so is not easy, and he doesn't bother hiding that; the difficulty doesn't come from deception. He could have practiced that to perfection in the mirror.

"Alex. Will you please go get what T asked me too, and fuck yourself with it?" Brian repeats in an awesome imitation of the way Alexander spoke to him. He gives a flat look to the man, defiance burning in his eyes before he glances back to Teo. "Just a question, Alex. So you can go carry on with the previous suggestion."

His guys slide back to Teo. "Teo did you see the news?" He asks gravelly. Staring hard at the man. And its then that the door opens again, another Brian having brought the supplies required.

Munin stiffens at Brian's insistent mentioning of the news, but it's Teo's proposition that causes her to freeze up entirely. She tightens her grip around the bar, working it between her small hands the same way she might worry her lower lip between her teeth if it wasn't already so worn. If there's one thing she hates about this situation more than the treatment she's received, it's not knowing what's going on outside. "I want my phone back," she says at length, the request coming out as a hoarse croak. "And a newspaper." Maybe then they can talk.

Teo's eyes hood. One thing sits in the balance against the next. He inhales abruptly, a loud snf like a dog sneezing mid-investigation. A long arm reaches back, snags the end of her bed to pull himself upright and onto his feet. Too sudden: his brain doesn't like that, leaves him stopped and breathing carefully for a moment while his vision clears.

"Newspaper got kicked under your bed," he tells the girl. It isn't a concession: it was his first gift, before she ran him through. The news is twenty-four hours old, but it's still news. "No calls. You can get something better out of this.

"Whenever you're done thinking. A dopo." His first step is slow, second swifter. He wishes he had enough energy to do something more than drag his corpus out of the room, but that's all, for now. He swats Alexander, motions at Brian. Outside. Now.

December 8th: Leaving the Garden
December 8th: A New Warden
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