Not The Beauchamps You Are Looking For


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Also featuring:
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Scene Title Not The Beauchamps You Are Looking For
Synopsis Elisabeth and Teo answer Abby's distress call, go kicking down Caliban's door and all this shit, only to find—

Date December 13, 2009

Ryazan, Russia — Caliban's Place

As she stands at the window of the small apartment after coming back from the pub, Elisabeth's head is spinning with the information Francois imparted and the possibilities and leads that can be followed up on. She's working on how to phrase herself with this call that Teo agreed probably ought to be made to enlist the computerized and satellite-savvy aid of General Autumn's crew when the satellite phone in her pocket rings. "I think we should keep the information we give Autumn really brief. The name of the ship. We need a registry number for it, but … he's got to have computer geeks working for him," she comments to Teo quietly. Their relationship is taking an odd little turn, what with having Teo as a regular visitor in her head during the nights lately while she shares blankets with Felix and Teo shares his with Abby. She's quite sure a shrink would have a field day with the fact that the two gay men are snugging up with the two women in the group, but what the hell? Snugglebunnies. Really.

Pulling the phone out to see Abby's number pop up, Liz puts the phone to her ear with a faint smile. "Hey, Abby, I'm back at the…" Her voice trails off then because Abigail is not, on the far end, speaking to Elisabeth. She's …. negotiating? What the hell?? Listening closely, Elisabeth immediately alters her course as she hears what's going on at the other end. Muldoon?? "Fuck," she hisses, already grabbing for her jacket and in motion to the front door. "Muldoon just grabbed Abby from Caliban's place." Even as Teo joins her (either in person or via jumping into her head — she's getting used to him being there and he's getting good at it), she is making another brief call to Cat to pass along the information and get people mobilizing — 'Timmy's in the well again? Let's go, Lassie!' The irreverent thought passes through her brain with only a sliver of humor associated — at least she can bank, for the moment, on Abby still being alive. Zhukovsky and Muldoon are going to want to screw with her as much as possible and find out what she knows.

She makes best speed to get to Caliban's apartment, though, entirely uncertain what she's going to find when she gets there. Once at the building, the blonde enters and goes up the stairs quickly but as silently as possible, with a pistol at the ready in her hands just in case someone stuck around to ambush anyone who might come to help.

There was a winnowing in the ether, a wash of static and discord up in Elisabeth's ears like white noise. Teo wadded up in the curve of her skull for a long moment then, abruptly, shorted out and retracts through the space that separated their physical persons. Bodied and big-booted, somewhat clumsier just after leaving his body than he is when picking his way around Abigail's smaller one in their [slightly nervously-shared] bed, he'd arrived behind the audiokinetic with one of two carried pistols in hand.

Notably, he isn't wearing tremendously fat gloves. He'd prefer to: it's fucking cold in Ryazan tonight, but he gives a few inches of the depth from his sleep to shepherd around his nightmare-stricken comrades, and a few degrees of warmth and comfort in exchange for tactile details and mobility when it comes to riddling mafia men or their puppeteers with holes. For — what. Taking Abigail?

If anyone's going to have to worry about shooting around corners, it might as well be them: his strobe-flashes of clairsentience are better for aiming than nothing at all and, wonderfully, better proof against telepathic illusions than most things, and Elisabeth's spatial accuracy based on sound alone is second to none. Adrenaline cycles static through his ears.

As they round the corner into the hall where Caliban's door is, Elisabeth moves more slowly. She slants a glance toward Teo, a single eyebrow raising in a querying movement. The are you getting anything I need to know about? thought. Even as she herself pauses just to one side of the door and listens for sounds of anything coming from inside. The first things she seeks to isolate in range are the sounds of heartbeat and breathing. Is the man in there? Is there more than one set of those bodily functions inside? Are there any sets of those functions in there? And then a wider sweep for sounds that might be out of place.

From Teo's side of the door, he raises a broad forefinger and middle scissor up into the air, indicating: two. He fetches a whisper at her afterward, funnelled through— presumably— by her audiokinesis. "Caliban's asleep. He isn't alone. Someone's watching him, empty-handed." It's quiet, he almost adds, but between the two of them Elisabeth would know that. Another three-second peek out into the waking sentinel's head assures him that this image seems to hold with some consistency, and a momentary lurch in his gut quelled when he deduces that the sitter probably isn't Abigail.

A brief moment's thought. "Can you push a knock-knock sound through?"

There's a moment of puzzlement, and Elisabeth merely rolls her eyes at him. I can't manufacture sounds, Teodoro, I can only enhance and manipulate them. She raises her left hand and knocks twice on the door, keeping her body to one side in case whoever else is in there — he or she of the extra heartbeat and such — decides to shoot through the door.

In the Bright Future—

Teo keeps his mouth shut, wonderfully. Concedes her point with an apologetic motion of long fingers, fortunately not with the hand with which he's holding his gun. Accidents would make for potential embarrassment. He pulls his feet in closer beneath himself, bracing for either the instant's notice they'd be granted before some unwonted chaos broke loose, or for a little Russian granny to poke her head out chittering benignly about how worried she'd been about young Master Caliban having to suffer the aftermath of his mugging alone. Maybe something in between.

He goes few brief half-seconds snipping glimpses back into the apartment, should Caliban wake, trying to judge the postures and precautions that his companion take.

No little Russian grannies appear in the crack between door and frame, and apart from the sound of tentative footsteps creaking across the floor on the other side in response to the knock, the hallway remains utterly still, silent except for the occasional draft of cold air whistling up from the stairwell at their backs. Nails graze audibly against wood. A small hand, visible to Teo should he be looking for it, closes around the handle and squeezes tight. Another reaches up to pinch a pair of slim, feminine fingers around the lock, though she — because it is a she — does not yet turn it.

"Francois," Abigail's voice warbles on the other side of the door, thin and trembling like the wings of a baby bird, "please let that be you."

And then the voice coming through the door is… Abby's? Elisabeth frowns, her eyes darting immediately to Teo sharply, wordlessly demanding to know if he can verify her identity. After all, we're dealing with an illusionist, right? Her right hand tightens around the pistol's grip, the safety off, and though she doesn't raise it to point it at the door, Elisabeth steps back just a bit to let Teo be the one who answers. If it's not Abby, it's in Elisabeth's mind that she's going to just flat blow whoever it is away and ask questions later.

They are dealing with an illusionist. Is what Teo's been kicking himself over for the past forty-five minutes: suppose Muldoon is real, it was to horrible detriment for him to have suggested otherwise; or even suppose he isn't, to proceed without consensus, protocol in place, or to let the habitually unarmed of their own make her rounds unprotected was a terrible mistake, even light of the obvious but unexplained quasi-truce that stands between the Russian Vanguard and the New Yorkers who have been permitted to stay at their sufferance. And now

It peeves him, vaguely, she asks for Francois. Might actually be worse if this is the real one, ironically.

"Come out, Abs. Pardon the freakishness, signorina: we have to make sure you aren't an illusion." Teo taking to speech now, gun in one hand, the other flattening against the door, to shove it wide in a brisk steal of motion. "Where's Muldoon? What happened?"

The lock turns, and Abigail's shape appears in the doorway, her face streaked with tears, light brown hair damp and plastered to cheeks flushed so pink they match the rims of her bloodshot eyes. She's been crying, but she tries not to let it show as the hallway's fluorescent lights cast her features in a wan glow, exaggerating the somewhat sunken shape of her cheek bones and delicately-pointed chin. Shaky hands wipe the tears from her cheeks with their heels, brushing those soggy curls back behind her ears.

"He's got a concussion," she says, presumably of the man in the room behind her rather than Muldoon, "but— I think he's going to be okay. Did— did you find my phone? I dropped it when I ran—"

It sounds like Abby. But then… if it's the real Abby, it would. And if it's an illusion, it would be a poor one if if it didn't, yes? Elisabeth maintains her position back from the doorway, gun hand ready. "No, I didn't see anything on the stairs. We'll look for it after we check you over," she replies calmly. "Come out into the hall, Abby. Have you been hurt?" She opts not to ask 'how did you get away?' — that answer's sort of obvious. It's not Abby. "I'll check on him in a minute," she tells the younger woman.

The gun in Teo's hand isn't safetied, but its nozzle pointed decidedly away. He exchanges a brief glance with Liz around Abigail's head, worry engraving shadows in around his eyes.

He isn't sure this is Abby, no, but there's nevertheless a certain tender tentativeness to the way he touches her that has more to do with the fact she looks like Abigail than because she may not be. Big coarse boy that he is. He hooks a long forefinger in at the collar of her blouse, testing for a cross, but there is none. Her hair's the right shade of dye, smells of the soap she'd come home with from the store.

Even her cheeks blotch the same way when she cries, and God knows he's seen her cry enough times before. "Shhh." He squeezes the girl's shoulder, marvelling, disoriented, concerned. "We'll find the phone and get someone to take care of Caliban. Don't worry about it, tesoro. Maybe we can send him home— Iz Ashford could heal him at Lucy's, eh?"

Abigail's breath whooshes out from her lungs at the touch. When she breathes in, oxygen floods relief through her features and her body seems to relax, some of the nervous tension fading from the muscles in her shoulder under Teo's palm. She reaches up and brushes her fingertips over his knuckles before curling her hand around his, giving it a tight squeeze that doesn't last any longer than the time it takes her to force a smile that's as small and fragile as she is.

The rusalka had looked real, too, and although none of Team Charlie ever got close enough to smell it, the maelstrom of snow and ice that nipped at Abby's ears and nose and choked up Felix's mouth is evidence that Zhukovsky's illusions are capable of encompassing all the senses.

But illusions are just that: illusions. Imperfect. Replicas of something based in reality. They are not without flaws, however small. Take what Abigail says next for instance.

"Y-Yeah. Of course."

There's a split second there where Elisabeth struggles with dueling impulses…. shoot her in the head right here and now or take her into their little coffee klatch and feed Zhukovsky misinformation. Lacking the ability in that moment to take the shot into what LOOKS like Abigail's head because doing so could then cause the real Abby to die, Elisabeth hesitates and looks to Teo. "I'll…. check on Caliban?" she asks him tentatively.

As the murderous intent fades out of Elisabeth's gun arm, Teo is left to rage about in his own skull, momentarily annoyed that he'd te-chnically followed her and now he's going to be stuck out here with what is plainly a telepathic illusion of malicious intent—

On the other hand, he and Liz have worked together long enough, in this timeline and the other, that it's a pattern of behavior he falls into with only the briefest wrinkle of annoyance.

Whether it's abducting little girls or deducing that the little girl isn't a real girl, Teodoro Laudani is doomed~ to take responsibility. Drama, drama. He keeps his face in warm reassurance, which is a bit of a feat, even considering Ghost was an unnecessarily talented liar. "Come on, Abby. Let's clear the doorway; even if he can walk on his own, we don't want to clutter his fuckin' path more than we have to." He hoops a broad arm around the girl's waist, tugs her aside in the same gentle gesture that captures her center of balance, his gun nozzle-down on the other side. One second to gather himself.

Before he vaults mind out of body, crashes through some inconceivable frequency of energy hard into the unfamiliar soul that inhabits Abigail's borrowed shape with the intent of ramming consciousness out of body. Or else, to discover that what's in there, despite that it has eyes that see, skin that feels, and a reasonable facsimile of a voice to speak with, isn't.

When it happens, it happens very fast — there is, undoubtedly, someone on this earth whose gift allows them to view the psychic energies that inhabit the world around them, but such a person does not exist in this room. If they did, their spectral range would make Teo's transition visible to the naked eye, that evanescent expulsion of fleshy ectoplasm that propels itself gracelessly from the Sicilian's body and into Abby's.

Her head collides with the door with enough force to send her reeling, but as one small hand jerks out and scrabbles fingernails against its wooden frame like a cat's claws groping for purchase, it becomes apparent to Elisabeth that something is wrong.

Well— more wrong. Teo only winged her. His body crumples, consciousness displaced, and the hand that isn't clutching the doorframe in feeble desperation reaches behind Abigail, grasp hooking around the grip of a pistol tucked into the back of her pants beneath the jacket she wears over her willowy frame. The safety isn't on. Neither does she pause to assess the situation except to snap the weapon's aim to where the her teammate is sprawled out across the hallway's sodden carpet with her index finger straddling the trigger.

She isn't left-handed, either.

In that split second, when the choice is 'let fakeAbby shoot Teo's body' and 'shoot fakeAbby', there is no choice. Elisabeth's gun hand — which had wavered just slightly to take the weapon away from pointing at Abby — comes back up, the instinct of years of being on the streets as a cop and the sheer terror that if Teo's body dies the psychic being that is Teo also dies driving her. Muscle memory is instant and the blonde's finger tightens on the trigger to double-tap bullets into Abby's center of mass right there and then. She doesn't even blink.

The sound of bullets impacting flesh is familiar to Liz. It's one that spends a lot of time rattling around in her skull, and something she's experienced at point blank at least once herself. One moment, Abby has her pistol leveled with Teodoro's head — the next, she's leaving a red smear across the door as her body slumps against it, a marionette with its all strings simultaneously cut. The weapon is still in the seat of her hand when gravity pulls her all the way down into what appears to be a sitting position beside the Sicilian, her mouse-haired head bowed as if in prayer and dark fluid leaking out from her chest and staining the front of her twice perforated blouse a vibrant shade of carmine.

It's unlikely that she ever felt any pain. The same cannot be said of Teo, whose consciousness is winding its serpentine way back to his body in reverse, invisible to the naked eye.

The shakes, the puking, the sobs….. those will come later. The sight of Abigail's body slumping to the ground makes Elisabeth suck in a breath and close her eyes for a split second to pray as hard as she possibly can that her own and Teo's instincts were right. That this isn't Abby. Because if she just killed Abby, Liz might eat the gun. She can feel adrenaline firing through her as she moves to the brown-haired ex-healer-wannabe to kick the gun out of her hand and check for a pulse.

Although the corpse's skin has not yet cooled or muscles begun to stiffen, no pulse rises against Liz's fingers when she places them to its neck. As she takes to a knee beside it, wisps of brown hair dissipate into smoke, and the shape of Abigail's face fills out, losing most of its softness but none of its youth. In her place is a boy with hair the colour of damp straw, glassy brown eyes half-lidded and a mouth dribbling blood from one of its pale corners.

The clothes he's wearing are as appropriate for the weather as the brunette's were and are tailored for a young man in his late teens or early twenties rather than an American woman with gentle curves to embellish. The only other similarities are the two gaping holes in his sweater.

Yeah… kind of what she was expecting. Swallowing the emotions, Elisabeth moves to stand and goes to check on Caliban. She said he had a concussion, so getting him awake and getting him the hell out of here is going to need to be NOW. And Liz knows that the death of the body that was NOT Teo's will only send Teo back into his own skull, so he'll be getting his own self up momentarily. All she has to do is wait for it… and they have to get Caliban the hell out of here and back to their own apartment. She'll…. deal with the emotional ramifications of *this*…. later. In the dark of night when she has time to hide in a closet somewhere and lose her mind.

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