Mystery, Babylon The Small


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

Scene Title Mystery, Babylon The Small
Synopsis Phoenix's other club president visits the prisoner of war. The visit treats no one kindly, though some troubling revelations and staggered progress is made at that cost.
Date December 4, 2008

A Ferrymen Safehouse

Time passes at a crawl in the confines of the Ferrymen safehouse where "Eileen" is being kept. Although she hasn't touched the food Brian left out for her, she has taken the opportunity to wash the blood from her skin and hair, trading her soiled clothes for the fresh pair at the foot of her cot. They don't fit her body very well — the sleeves of her shirt are a little too baggy at the elbows, and the bottom of the garment falls several inches past her knees — but they're clean, and they don't smell like a sickly amalgamation of sweat, filth and gore.

She sits on the floor of her makeshift cell in the lotus position, legs crossed with the soles of her bare feet facing upward as she runs her fingers through her still-damp hair to comb the tangles from it.

Two Brians sit attentively outside the cell. The two are facing each other, equipped with a bouncie ball the thing is bounced back together. He's playing catch to pass the time. Eventually he knocks on the door. "Hey!" He yells into the cell. "You need anything else?"

Crusted with frost and ruddy with cold, Teo comes down the stairs of the derelict psychiatric facility with about as much aplomb as the next kid rolled down the winter hill in the core of a building snowball. Hates the weather here. He hates it. He hits the basement floor with a percussive thump of his feet, scrubbing his scratchily-gloved hands on his ears even as he nods in salutation to Brian.

"Buongiorno, amico," he says. Pauses. Remembers: "Good morning. Here to see Eileen again." As if that hadn't been inherent and blatantly obvious. He crosses the hallway floor with an easy cadence of his gait, easing a glance back over his shoulder at the redhead who'd chosen to come with. His expression makes it obvious, tinge of humor: don't kill each other, right?

That's all he spares — if not all he can spare — for salutations, however. He winds around the corner of the observation wall with long strides, the turn of his head to indicate he's checking, first, that she isn't huddled in the corner attending to private matters or asleep. His smile fades as he knocks the door. Thrice, rote civility. He doesn't look at Brian to ask: "Did she sleep?"

Al is Teo's grim shadow - the pair are like the masks of Comedy and Tragedy, these days; the redhead, always quiet, has become as about as expressive as a plaster saint. Teo's unspoken order gets an equally mute nod. Apparently he's there to play bad cop sheerly by the gargoyle method.

Glancing up, Brian waves back at Teo, consequently he loses his handle on the bouncy ball sending the thing bouncing down away from the pair of Brian's. Sad story. "I still don't speak Italian, Teo." He informs him then frowns deeply as he glances back behind Teo. "Listen bro, not that I'm questioning your logic or anything." That means he is, "But are you sure bringing him is a good idea?" He asks, gesturing at the redhead.

One of the pair stand. "No offense, Turbo. But I don't know if she's going to be all that responsive with you in there. What with the whole bloody head thing." The young man notes. "And.. I mean. Maybe you should take a few days to cool off after that.." He gestures to the scars on his eye. Then glances back at Teo with a blatant 'what the fuck are you doing?' face.

"No. She didn't sleep." One Brian places his weight against the door. He seems very opposed to the idea of Alexander going in there.

To be perfectly honest, Teo hadn't really noticed the cowl of Bad Cop falling over Alexander. Too busy running in screaming terror of the accumulated snow, actually. He pauses after his hand falls on the lock, glances over his shoulder at the would-be skinhead that Brian was referring to. His concern makes sense: the look on Al's face is cold enough to reverse entropy. He's seen similar, before. "Al," he says, at length. His shoulder relaxes, momentarily postponing his entrance. "Smile." It's a litmus test of sorts, a gentle jab of humor at the same time.

Alexander bares his teeth at Teo. It's not even really an approximation of a grin. "What'd Hel learn?" he asks Brian, not arguing directly. "I can hang out out here, if that's we need, but I will be listening in." His tone brooks no discussion.

"Right. Now she'll be super excited to see you." Brian declares post smile. "Yeah, we can hang out here together. She learned.. Not much. Except it's confirmed she works with Sylar. Besides that.. I don't think she likes to talk to strangers. Just a guess!" Brian comments, stepping away from the door.

Great. Teo gets to speak to the scary little girl by himself. Lord in Heaven. He doesn't look especially enthused about this prospect, but that might just be runoff unhappiness to hear that Eileen hadn't been able to— or had chosen not to even take a nap or, alternatively, disappointment that Helena hadn't been able to accomplish as much as they would have liked. "That's heartening," he says, after a moment. He might mean that they'll both be listening, or confirmation they had abducted the correct woman. He jerks his head at the switch on the wall. "Sound system's already on," he says by way of assent, and then he pushes the door open.

Munin glances up at Teo as he enters, watching him from beneath her lashes. Her eyes are still a little pink around the edges from crying, though most of the swelling has gone down in the hours between Helena's visit and his. She does not rise from her position on the floor — instead, she arches her back to give her a few extra centimeters of height and fixes him with a level stare, saying nothing.

"Please don't call him in, honey." Brian drawls, folding his arms and propping himself against the wall. In perfect imitation of Alexander. "I put thse sheets up." Brian says a little proudly, rolling his head to the windows now covered with blue sheets he brought. "She doesn't like the word goodies."

Unfortunately, Teo isn't privvy to the hilarity of the littlest Phoenix chick attempting to mimic his senior's mannerisms. Instead, he's confronted with a dour spectacle indeed. Munin's is the plaintive air of a dozen Dickensian orphans discarded on the roadside ditches of a cruel world or an especially small cheesecloth accidentally abandoned in the den of a lion. He feels like such an asshole every time he looks at her. Same when he looks at Alexander's eye. Fuck everything.

The door clicks closed behind him. Takes a long stride forward and drops to the floor a yard or two away from her, adopting a cross-legged posture, slouched and crooked, a flawed mirror of her own immaculate stance and the severity of her skinny frame. "Hello." Sometimes he remembers: not everyone speaks Italian. "How did she make you cry?" he asks, after a moment.

"The blonde?" Munin inquires, voice coarse. "No. She didn't." It likely has more to do with the fact that she was knocked out, thrown into the back of the car and spirited to someplace strange and unfamiliar, held captive by people whose names she isn't sure she even knows. Compounding her fear is uncertainty; it shows in the hesitant way she looks at him, a wounded bird with a broken wing. She's in desperate want and need of help, but at the same time she feels only suspicion toward anyone who tries to get close to her. Right now, that's Teo. "What do you want?"

Alexander has disconnected.

Compounding the spectacular unease of the moment is the stirring conviction that he's going to be left with sodden slushy footprints on his own pant legs. Despite this, Teo doesn't uncross his legs or rise; doesn't move at all for a protracted moment as if he's applying a lot of thought to that question, though his expression never turns inward and his thoughts don't leave the room. "I want this to be over. It's not— fun.

"No one feels safe in Manhattan anymore. I visited Dubai once; I can recognize expatriates who come from there when they're on the street from the way they walk. They start out in the middle, but thirty paces in, they're hugging the walls, looking for shadow again. That's what New Yorkers remind me of when I'm out there, except it isn't sunburn they're hiding from. Bombs, fires, poisoning, robbery, needle-sticks. Or if not murder, then being accused of it. Hunted.

"I wasn't lying about being at the school." For reasons probably less inscrutable than any young man would like, Teo needs a half a beat to catch his breath, then. Coughs. "I want you to make me understand your people. Why what they did was right, and why you want to go back to them." The terminology wasn't chosen with political awareness, but it's there all the same: them.

"What happened wasn't right," Munin says, her voice as even as her stare. "You and your friends — you're so arrogant. You make all these assumptions about my people and what they do, what my relationship is with them. She came in here earlier, asking me about Sylar as though I meant something to him. As if he meant something to me." And he does. That's something even her exhaustion can't hide. "I had no say in what happened at the school, and neither did he. Most of us weren't even aware of what was happening until it was already over." She snorts. "You act like you've been around the block, like you know what you're doing. But the first thing she does when I ask is admit that she's new to this. You aren't just exposing your weaknesses. You're flaunting them. Being green behind the ears isn't something to be proud about."

In a somewhat comical faction, Brian has his ear pressed hard to the door. And his brows shoot up when Munin admits what happened wasn't right. He brings a balled fist to his lips whilst she gives the verbal reprimanding. "Oh snap." He whispers into his fist.

The Sicilian's head moves slightly, dropping between his shoulders a fraction of an inch as if offering a concession: it's impossible to tell which of her points it is that he's deferring to. She had a lot to say, unlike the subdued and apologetic waif he had met that early evening in the diner. Leads a man to wonder whether these circumstances, buried under twenty feet of concrete and strange security protocols, divulge their true character or marr it with bullshit.

"I'm not," he answers, when he lifts his eyes off some interchangeable hex of sterile blue floor. He doesn't clarify what he isn't: flaunting weaknesses, exposing something, or acting, but the objection is made in a rueful tone.

"I made a bad assumption: believing you protect them because you think they're right. You'll have to pardon me for that, signorina. The alternative is hard to take. For you too, maybe. Call that weakness, arrogance, or humility— it is what it is. We want to stop them from hurting anyone else. Please explain it to me. Your situation. Other than the obvious." The wry expression doesn't fit quite right as he indicates her current circumstances with a motion of his head.

"If I tell you, does it stay between us, in this room? Or does it circulate among your people? Something funny to pass around the water cooler?" Munin offers Teo a small smile that, while genuine, is also very heavy with sorrow. Her whole body seems to be weighed down with it, shoulders slumping as she leans back, palms flat on the cement floor behind her to help support her slight weight. "You're not my friend, Teo, so don't act like it. You have other words you'd like to call me that aren't as nice as signorina. The only reason you want to know about my situation is so you can twist it around and use it to your advantage — that's fine. Just say as much next time, and don't try to string me along by playing make-believe. The bucket of water. Breakfast. These clothes. There's nothing sincere about them. As soon as you're willing to admit that, maybe I'll be willing to start talking."

Brian has disconnected.

A slight furrow appears in Teo's brow when his manners are called to question. He's worked on those for awhile so, understandably, he isn't entirely certain what to do with the critique from their small female abductee. "There's nothing insincere about any of it," he answers, at length. "If you're in a bad situation, I don't understand how keeping it a secret would get you out of it.

"It doesn't look like it has for as long as you've been doing— this. We're not friends, but if the only qualification for that was a bucket of water, breakfast, clothes, and a little politeness, we'd be all out of wars. In all honesty," or a reasonable amount thereof, "I'm hoping your situation doesn't need any twisting around for everybody to get away from this better off than we were before.

"I'd appreciate it if you didn't dash them." His hopes, Teo means. His elbows drop to his knees. Munin leans back, he hunkers forward, and the distance between them oscillates, tenuously, but doesn't change.

"I'm not going to tell you anything that might endanger the people I care about." Teo's honesty is met with the same in return from Munin. "There's nothing I could possibly say that would make you understand why these things are happening, because I don't fully understand them myself. I'd be doing you a disservice and feeding you false information if I tried. I told you the other night I'll tell you again — you're making a huge mistake. If you want them to stop hurting other people, then let me go. If you don't, it's only going to get worse. And not because they'll come for me. They won't."

He'd said as much before: this is harder to take. Than knowing she believes in this monstrous operation, or was driven to it, compelled by something hideously human like hate, trauma, cost some awful loss that the world hadn't been able to supplant. Teo's jaw tightens, his lips go white, his blood pushes so hard against its walls that it hurts him a little. Furious; he looks at the floor as if he's embarrassed about this.

She cares about them. She's being honest. He thinks so. Believes so.

He can't know he wouldn't do the same. "If we let you go, nothing changes. One hundred kids, five cops, a dozen Tier 1s off the Registry. More than that, no judge or jury, they'll keep on dying and Manhattan keeps rolling closer and closer to Hell." The floor doesn't fucking care. He should stop staring at the floor. He does. He looks at her. "Eileen— we're not out to kill them, but we have to bring them to justice. Stop them. Your friends— we don't plan to hurt… I mean— God.

"God knows if it would bring anyone ba—" He just shuts the fuck up for a moment.

Forces himself to sit back, his spine falling into an angle that brings his shoulders hard against the wall. "You choose them? Despite all of this?" His hands are together, one inside the other clinging to each other like fighting frostbite on his lap, his knuckles glaring white with tension, every line of his long body gone rigid. He searches her face, cheek to cheek, chin to brow, desperate for some give. Something.

Munin studies Teo, neither amused nor perturbed by his reaction to her earlier statements. There's a slight tightening at the corners of her mouth — the beginnings of a frown. "I'm holding back for your sake as much as I am theirs. I haven't chosen anyone." As earnest as she appears to be, she doesn't sound particularly insulted by the accusation either. "You've given me no reason to believe you can do anything to stop all this. How many people can you possibly have working under you? Two dozen? Maybe three? They have two dozen in New York City alone, and hundreds worldwide. The man spearheading this operation has Sylar wrapped around his little finger like a piece of yarn."

She pauses, letting this sink in as she shifts forward and moves her hands from back to front and begins crawling toward Teo on all fours. "You want to understand, Teo?" she asks lowly. "You want to know why I am the way I am? What purpose someone like me serves in Kazimir Volken's den of murderers?

The picture is changing as if by the pen of a surrealist. The frail little girl-prisoner rocks forward, realigning the wisps that comprise her body so she can come nearer and the big silly lumberjack of a man would retreat further if there was anywhere else to go. If his anger left room for it, he would be afraid. As it is, his teeth feel like the wrong shape and size and he doesn't know what to do with his hands and he'd almost forget she was here except she's coming nearer.

And saying something. Hopefully, the boys outside are listening because Teo's slightly busy trying not to lose his mind to crimson. Kazimir Volken. He doesn't think he knew that before. He forgets entirely to deny the implied hierarchy of Phoenix. Hundreds worldwide. It would be nice if she were joking. She must be, now. Her shoulder-blades saw up and down through her thin shirt like an emaciated cat.

The back of his head meets the wall. With difficulty, he stares at her. "There are six billion people, worldwide," he says simply, fully aware that the strength of the statement is lost in its ludicrous generality. "Most of them would want your boys to leave them alone if they were told about them."

One small hand shifts from the floor to Teo's leg, her palm sliding all the way up to his thigh where her nails can find purchase and dimple the fabric of his pants. If Munin is anything like an emaciated cat, she must be starving. She rises up, placing her other hand on his opposite leg to perfect her balance, and slowly, knowing he has nowhere else to go but sideways, she leans in until her forehead is touching his — cold and clammy. There's a slight hitch in her breath, a rattling tremor deep in the pit of her lungs that suggests she might be uncomfortable with this as he is, but she wills the expression on her face into a stony mask and tightens her grip on his thighs to compensate.

"What are you going to do, Teo?" she asks, breath hot and heady, dripping with something akin to the hunger belied by her brazen body language. "Climb up onto the rooftops? Shout out to the world? What makes you think they'll even listen? Six billion people, all with their fingers in their ears and their heads in the sand, willing their problems away through ignorance. Go ahead. Tell them what they don't want to hear."

If there was anything that could balk the monolithic weight of that crude Italian temper, it would be this. She can't think this is a good idea. He'd heard the raw sentiment in her first awakening cry, seen her backward scramble, recognizes something in her preference of drab and shapeless garb and the dense monochrome of her makeup that may dimly recall vanity but long since abandoned its other sins. His face says it, the inverted square of his shoulders:

He would prefer it if she stopped touching him. Really. This is creating nothing positive. He has the urge to run away or alternatively to hit her.

Third, though not last, the urge to move perpendicular to the fears that compel the ones that came before. He has no plan. Of course he had no plan. He has no right answer for her, so he settles for a good one. "People will surprise you, Eileen." His whisper cracks halfway through, ugly with the same ferocity with which he picks up his arms and lunges them around her little white neck, a brief embrace that has the unhappy side-effect of betraying his pulse and the evasion of her gaze.

"Dio ci risparmia, bambina." The grammar is broken, infinitives discontinuous, misfit, misplaced, because he could neither make it an entreaty nor a promise. Quieter than the speakers can hear. And now he gets up. Tries to, anyway; to get away before somebody really gets hurt, his face a mess of color and his composure shredded through, beaten before the day has begun.

Munin is so stunned by the savageness of his response that she falls away from Teo as he surges to his feet, unhurt, too taken aback to reach up and seize his clothes in the gaps between her fingers, to latch onto his pantleg and keep him from leaving. It may be just as well — witnessing his self-control crack and splinter under the pressure exerted by of her skinny, underdeveloped body and its artless advances is exactly what she wanted. He needs to be gone, and so she lets him go, crumpling into the wall he was leaning back against only a few moments ago, one knee drawn up, the other tucked beneath her and appearing as a vague outline beneath her borrowed shirt, so much bigger than her tiny frame that the fabric swallows whole what few curves she has and leaves her an amorphous shape misconstrued by shadows — shadows that she's already moving to retreat into.

"Eileen" is at home in the dark.

I. Log title:

"And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication:


"And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration.

"And here is the mind which hath wisdom."

Revelations, 17:4-9 (on 'The Whore of Babylon')

Incorrect invocations of Biblical text for the lose?

II. Translation of Italian:

"God save us, child."

December 4th: Lying Liars Who Lie
December 4th: Prisons
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