Plea From A Cat Named Virtue


deckard_icon.gif teo_icon.gif

Scene Title Plea From A Cat Named Virtue
Synopsis Deckard has a head injury and an illegal purchase. Teodoro has a box of kittons and several good intentions. Deckard displays unexpected and unhelpful interest in one of these categories, while Teo is uncharacteristically dispirited.
Date April 18, 2009

ChinatownCanal Street Market

Day or night, Canal Street is busy in Chinatown. Perfumes, purses, produce, pork, and poultry are all sold side by side in busy open storefronts. One entire portion of the street is dedicated to nothing but jewelry stores catering to various price ranges. Box vendors sell all manner of sizzling foodstuffs to passing pedestrians, some of it identifiable, some of it better left unexplained. The ambiance is one of business and pleasure.

Canal street bustles with human activity even this late in the evening. The orange, haloed haze of street lamps striking up on either side of the street has to work to overwrite the blinding, blinking array of neon signs that demand the attention of passers by and tinny classic rock eminates from some booth or another in the vicinity. The air is comfortably cool, with a breeze just light enough to be pleasant rustling past papers and ruffling hair. There's a lot going on, not all of it innocent. Even so, Deckard has a way of sticking out.

Black sunglasses painted red by the stylized wind of a dragon across the wall overhead, he's casually dressed to be making a business deal. Scuffed leather jacket open over blue sheets and some band t-shirt with the logo too faded to make out, he's currently in the process of passing over rubber banded wrap of green cash for a plastic baggy bearing a golf-ball sized clod of something that is white, powdery and in all ways highly suspicious.

In the meantime, Teodoro Laudani is carrying— a box of kittens. No euphemisms involved. They go yaa, nyaan, neeu, in raspy voices so exquisitely tiny that you could measure their size and quantity in thimbles. It isn't especially easy to find a box of kittens to carry around in Chinatown, Manhattan in this day and age. However, if anyone could manage and additionally converge on Flint Deckard's drug trafficking despite his temper and expendable energy reserves being direly abbreviated by recent failure.

Somewhat less ideally, the wadded towel underneath the litter smells like poop and pee. Also, Teo's probably running the risk of infection, having snagged up his crucifix pendant between his teeth seconds after the baby felines finished wiping their grubby hands and faces all over its corkscrewed golden tangle.

Poking his haggard head out from between a chestnut roast cart and dollar import nylon underthings, Teo shifts his eyes to and fro. Looking for somewhere optimistically public and out of the way of all traffic except pedestrian to set down the box.

Instead, he sees Flint. He stops. Stares, the cuff of his right pant leg soaking in the runoff of a gutter grille.

His muttered conversation with the seller concluded in a nod once it's been ascertained that none of the requisite dolla dolla bills have gone missing in transit, Deckard tucks the baggy into his left jacket pocket and scuffs at the back of his scruffy head. That wasn't so bad, as far as errands go. Not like the one that's the cause of the itch, which is in turn the cause of a brittle separation of scabbing somewhere against his scalp, which…when he feels a dampness at his fingers and squints at them under neon light, the red sheen to them isn't purely a product of reflection.

"Fuck." More muttering, another, more delicate touch at the back of his head and he turns, black glasses seeking out something that looks like it might sell antibiotic cream as opposed to like…powdered chicken's teeth or whatever the fuck people are buying out here. Canal Street has always been more Leah's thing.

Skulls and skeletons bustle to and fro, some shouldering past roughly enough to jostle his shoulders, but only one set of empty sockets is squared symmetrically his way. Staring. It takes him a second pass to realize it, but quickly enough, he's staring back, bristled jaw set and brows level. It's like a greeting. Sort of.

None of the kittens turn around to look at the America's most wanted, failing apparently to recognize Flint Deckard for what he is. At least from across the distance of the barricaded pedestrian's street and through their own unkempt stench, anyway. The tiny constituent blocks of their skeletons tumble over and around each other, fighting for the warmest corners of their sty, indifferent to this spectacle that transfixes their honorable steed.

Eventually, Teo frowns. The crucifix almost drops out of his lips. Between cats and men alike, staring is less salutationary than confrontational.

The next instant, the Sicilian is revving to approach, his freshly scum-rimmed pant cuff tossing out the first step, a quick stumble-hop to round in front of the nose of an oncoming bicycle with the next, the cardboard box hitched protectively against his belly.

The kittens' accompanying sign shows pellucid, ghostly, an insubstantial outline to Flint's preternatural perspicuity of vision, contrast to the usual array of firearms and knives across Teo's frame luminous in their harsh-edged opacity. The menace promised latter is probably somewhat moot point in light of his hands being full with the former. Teo handles himself and his cargo with delicacy. It would probably be really easy to run away from him right now—

The ease with which he could escape whatever this is going to be isn't lost on Deckard. When Teo steps forward, the rumpled crook stiffens, the reflexive lock of his spine dragging him back an inch or so into what could be the start of a retreat. Cross in teeth, delicate kittens worming around in his arms, weapons blaring white warning to him where nobody else seems to see anything worrisome in the young Italian's presence.

It's all so typical, somehow.

So is the fact that he's on the approach despite everything, from the end of their last confrontation to the fact that he is carrying a box of tiny, helpless baby animals into an interaction that could well culminate in violence. It's almost too easy to run. Maybe that's why he doesn't. There's an unusual stink of advantage in the air, along with kitten pee and poo. Ground held in teeth-gritted silence, he has no hope of keeping tension from knotting at his jaw and cording into his neck to make his already forbidding countenance all the more so.

Yes, yes: that's all very frightening and stuff. Teo is still coming closer, though, and as long as Flint isn't exploiting advantage of his relatively unencumbered state to beat a hasty retreat, Sicily will have no problem catching up to his spot of spit-flecked curb.

When he arrives, he does so suddenly, hanging a sharp halt on the pavement, his hands round on the right angles of the box and his face all pursed up behind the austere cut and stitch of personal fatigue and outward concern. The muscles overlaying his face are contorted around that same frown. Otherwise, he's pouting.

Same difference, probably. Kind of like how Deckard tends to portray himself in varying shades of hostile these days. Neither man ever seems about to waste much reaction on the vicissitudes of each others' moods, anyway. The kittens smell worse close up, as kittens are wont to. Teo's jaw bone swings open around an observation, relevant or not: "You're hurt."

Well. …It wasn't a bluff, then. On either of their parts. Deckard stays rooted to the spot and Teo keeps coming, which means that they're within punching distance in a matter of unhappy seconds. Breathe in, breathe out. His nostrils flare against the acrid scent of kitten piss in close proximity, and after a good minute or so spent staring Laudani down, the reflective screen of his glasses shifts its focus onto the felines.

"You have a box of cats." Apparently under the impression that they're playing some kind of state the obvious game, Deckard brushes coppery blood from paired fingers to coarse thumb at his side. Mostly he succeeds in smearing it around without actually getting rid of it, which is kind of gross.

Acidic irritation creased crisp into the fuzzy lines around his mouth, the older man just stands there. Somehow he manages to do so in a way that makes his standing there at least a thousand times more awkward than it would be if he just shifted his weight a little one way or the other. Tipped the rigid set of his shoulders into a faint slouch. Deigned to scowl less hard. Anything.

Of course, Teo doesn't really think that a litter of homeless infant felines is going to provide real protection against Flint should Flint choose to punch him in the head. If semblence to hopelessly idiotic fuzzy things could discourage the man's attacks at all, Flint wouldn't have hit his face before. Still, there's indefatigable optimism in the fact that Teo's standing there with his hands full and his shoulders huddled defensively barely within the outline of a sag.

"Kittens," he corrects. There is a distinction. The kittens are especially aware of it: their smallness, stinkiness, dependency on forces outside their own to rescue them from these dire straits of abandonment. Otherwise, the distinction was not important and Teo is just being annoying. It's possible. He rarely fails to be polite, but he is not always pleasant.

"What are you gonna do?"

Maybe the devil's in the details. Maybe mere resemblance isn't enough. Either way, Deckard reaches to acquire a kitten from the box at random, long fingers caged around the animal without excessive care for the fragility of its little life. He doesn't squeeze it. He just doesn't allow it the freedom and range of movement it might like when he holds it up to peer at its needle-fanged skull, which results in some pitiful, high-pitched put-me-down mewling.

"Kittens," he allows, correcting himself without concern for the kitty's vocal unrest.

"What do you mean?" Voice naturally low enough that it's clearly audible despite ongoing protest near the region of his head, he tips the kitten over to squint at its butt end through the glasses. It's a boy.

Hey. If Teo had a third arm, he'd probably use it to snatch away the purloined kitten before coming up with something novelly lewd to do with it. His face snaps inward at its middle region, seized into a scowl as if by a great pinch and yank of a hand. The crucifix falls out of his mouth. The furball children are too busy being astonished by the sudden ejection of their companion to notice the return of their plaything.

"Your head is fucked up," Teo grinds out irritably. He tries to read the kitten's face in order to gauge its subjective level of distress. There isn't much light here, though, and he is more of a dog person really: he can't really tell if it's just bitching because it doesn't know any other register for its voice. He nods up at the matted curls standing up on the edge of Deckard's head. "You need to do something about that."

His head is fucked up. Teeth bared out into a glassy white sliver of a smile, Deckard chuckles at the irony inherent in what he assumes to be the unintended double truthiness of Teo's observation. It really is. Fucked up. Thoughts turned inward along those lines, he turns the twee cat over in his fingers again, head over hocks like a squinty-eyed, soft-tummied beanie baby. Tiny talons seek purchase at the padded ends of its baby-awkward and weak struggle. If they find it, Flint fails to flinch, or even notice, really. It keeps crying. He doesn't seem to care about that overmuch either.

"Think so?" The question lacks the energy necessary to really be cynical and he lowers the kitten a few inches. Disconcertingly, its new position now has something in common with the way people hold hotdogs or tacos when they are about to eat them. "The last few weeks have been enlightening. Did you know that the human body is capable of healing itself? Blood clots naturally and everything. No muss, no fuss."

This response fails to alleviate the censure bold-weighted all over Teo's face. His mouth purses into a prissier shape than the original Neanderthal hew and hang of his facial contours had conceived.

He doesn't like this. And the kitten doesn't like that! How stupidly irritating. Cloth shuffs on cardboard as Teo holds out the box and its remaining contents, imperiously expectant as an open hand proffered with rings to kiss and a palm to fill. If Deckard would be so kind as to lower the kitten a few more inches, it will be in the box, and that will be better.

No doubt, Teodoro is not completely unaware of the doubleness of his observation— not after that jackal-humored flash of a grin the old crook had shown him. His demand stands. As does his sullenness. "It could get fucking infected. And blood loss, like most jokes, is a little less funny told over and over again."

Teo makes deliberate misunderstanding almost too easy sometimes. The box pushes forth with clear intent to swallow the kitten back up into its warm and stinky folds once Deckard has done the polite thing and dropped his captive back down into it. Instead he reaches his free hand down into the mix to retrieve another one, since they're all being offered so nicely and everything. This one is ginger, and is startled enough by its own abduction to stay silent for the short term.

"I'm forty." Forty-two, but. He looks forty-five so it's not like the lie makes much of a difference in the big scheme of things. So says a careless tip of one brow while he looks the second kitten over and the first keeps on with its piteous wailing. "I think if I was going to die of a cut, I probably would've done it a couple of decades ago. Do you think I should call Abigail just to be safe?"

Currently, Teo is unable to tell whether or not mixing the possibility of infection with stinking stray kittens. By the time he realized what the old man was up to, it was too late. Ginger was already airborne, its center of gravity transferred off the damp cardboard floor and onto the splay of knobby fingers, its pitiable mass borne away on the sinew of ambiguous intentions. Teo even looks surprised for two seconds.

Argh. Aaargh.

"I think you should gimme the fucking kittens back." Phoenix's inimitable co-leader grates out in his least magnanimous voice, nothing subdued about the rectangle of his shoulders or reserved about the impatience raw behind his eyes. He had left his armor at home, apparently, and he'd hadn't had the princess' favor to begin with. "And I think you think wrong."

"So that they can go back to rolling around in their own filth under your watchful eye?" Deckard's head turns the precise number of degrees necessary to insinuate allegory, invisible fisheye hardened behind sunglasses' screen in search of the rise he's been looking for. The ginger kitten stays quiet. Holding its breath, or being squeezed so hard that it can't squeal. One hopes for the former. His knuckles aren't bleached around it — he doesn't look like he's trying to hurt it. But he's definitely not putting it back, which is probably a bad sign. It's one thing to poke the bear. He's poking a bear that already looks kind of pissed.

"If I think wrong, why'd you come over here? To mother me? Just to say hi?"

The smaller, thinner muscles in the younger man's neck have wound up like a fishing reel, taking Teo's head up to a state of awkwardly militant perpendicularity, a stork built of Legos or a man fashioned out of a crucifix instead of the other way around. The little gold one winks without levity in front of his shirt.

He remembers how this goes. Deckard pokes at him. He takes it on the chin. Deckard eventually gets bored or otherwise disconcerted by the edifying words that accompany his complacency, and goes away.

Teo's jaw shifts a fraction of an inch forward, jutting with either petulance or some emotion that hurts in his teeth. Then, "I've decided to clean them up. Then I'll take them to the shelter Pam used to work at, and some state employee will kill them in a few days if nobody wants them. Someone probably will:

"They're young." You could measure the proportional turn of his head on a mirror with Deckard's coyly formatted allegory in front of it.

Deckard's teeth are showing again. Not consciously, and not in a smile. Were he literally, physically capable of bristling, he probably would. He gets close enough in the pull and roll of stringy muscle through the hollow of his jaw, all the way up across his temple. The original kitten's mewling suddenly goes a little hoarse. Taking note, its captor blinks hard and reaches abruptly to toss it back in its stupid box, where it resumes its squalling at full blast.

Taciturn firecrotch kitten remains at Flint's mercy.

"At least they have that going for them," allowed at a grating mutter, he flexes his freshly freed hand as it falls away from the box. One little snap and the fucking thing would be quiet forever.

Probably better to just take a deep breath. He fails to let it out entirely smoothly — his temper shudders along at the tail of the exhalation, hating harder than it probably has a right to.

Abruptly, Teo's nostrils flare, around an intake of breath audible with effort. Of course, taciturn firecrotch kitten had been his favorite. He doesn't make a thing of it, or at least, no more of a thing than he has already. Sniping his Feeb dead on Staten Island while he's wound up for war apparently engenders a different brand of aggression than juggling baby cats after he's soundly lost the battle.

After that breath, Teo deflates very, very slightly, with that inescapable cant of apology to the line of his neck. Glances down, at the ginger blot in Flint's hand, and then the four sets of luminous eyes in the rancid shadows of the box he's still holding, then back at little red. "New face, new papers. I still have the tools, and I still have my phone." The stress on that second I is almost negligible, as is any real belief that the old man would take up this offer now, when he could have then.

"I like my face. It's my brain that's the problem." Harder to fix, even with limitless mutant and monetary resources to fall back on. Quiet dysphoria etches across his brow in a series of flat lines, softer than the anger that preceded it, if not actually more reassuring. His grip on TFK adjusts marginally, one bony finger at a time, and with more care than he afforded the powdered substance that went in before it, he tucks ruddy fluff neatly away into a jacket pocket.

"Ruin your standing in the world, so get a new face. Decide you're attracted to somebody, so fuck them." Everything seems so streamlined in the way Teo spins the globe. Contempt is hardening its way back across the long angles of Deckard's face, though, frustration cut out stark beneath neon lights despite the intervention of black glasses. He isn't interested.

—fucking took the fucking red one, of all the filthy little—

Teo doesn't smile. It would have looked hopelessly artificial anyway. A storefront closes behind him, a sheet of pleated steel rattling, crashing down to match parts for a padlock, and he startles faintly. He doesn't settle before the criticism comes, in its veil and coolly observational tone, and winds up hackling in his disquiet. The other kitten, the one Deckard had actually put down, won't shut up.

"I'd come up with something cannily rephrasable for your brain, too, if you'd ever talk about it," he answers, after locating his voice somewhere in the region of his intestinal tract and a Herculean effort spent digging it up. He's still angry. Painfully explicably angry. Presently, Teo gives up trying not to stare at the pocket where the ginger furball went into.

"This isn't your way of taking some fucking responsibility."

"…Why would I want to talk about it?" Incredulous doubt knits Deckard's brow and tugs up at the corner of his mouth. He doesn't jump at the gate anymore than he flinched from kitten claws or re-opening the cut in his head. Granted, he has the twelve o'clock advantage of being in a position to have seen the guy getting ready to drag it down at Teo's back.

The bulge of the kitten in his pocket turns around a couple of times before it finally makes a little bit of noise. Dark in there, no siblings in sight. Still nothing compared to its brother's persistent complaining. It's not like he actually crushed him to death. Whiner.

"I didn't say it was."

On the other hand, if the squeaping complainant weren't doing that, Teo would probably forget what he's holding and be somewhere along in the process of squeezing the damp and poorly fortified construction to pulp in his hands. His hands want to break something.

He drags his line of sight back up, level, parallel to the ground, the other end propped up on the sheer incline of Deckard's unsympathetic brow. Sonny probably isn't going to like his new idea. The one where he takes all the dirty kittens back to their place instead of leaving them, but he can't leave them now. He's told Deckard that he isn't going to.

"'Cause I'd try to fucking fix it." It is the most obvious thing in the world. Teo sounds aggravated, either because he ended up having to say it aloud, or merely because it's haplessly true.

"I can recognize misery when it's stealing kittens out of my fucking box, okay?" Also, gushing blood out of his head, rejected by pretty girl, vanished into the rotting woodwork of urban New York under martial law, committing murder in cold blood, et cetera, et cetera. Teodoro's fingers bend into the corners of cardboard. "You don't fool me."

"You can't." Faithless as ever in everything except the inevitability of failure, Deckard makes invisible eye contact and holds it, for what it's worth. Slack at his sides, his hands eventually tuck up into the warmth of his jacket pockets. One contains drugs, the other an increasingly uneasy kitten. Maybe it should have made more noise after all. It tremors against the curl of Flint's fingers around it.

"I'm not trying to fool anyone. I — does it seem like I'm pretending?" It's a hazy question asked hazily, one eye squinted as if he's not even sure. Maybe he's so out of it he doesn't notice he's pretending not to be unhappy. Which is a double negative, but potentially all the more appropriate for that.

He takes a step back without waiting for an answer, shoulder bumping off someone else headed in the opposite direction in a hurry. Having found it in himself to look annoyed, he pushes the irritation off on Teo when the offender doesn't so much as slow down, then turns the rest of the way around to make his dragging escape, kitten and all. He's not getting it back.

Why don't you ever wanna play?
I'm tired of this piece of string.
You sleep as much as I do now,
and you don't eat much of anything.
I don't know who you're talking to,
I made a search through every room,
but all I found was dust that moved
in shadows of the afternoon.

And listen, about those bitter songs you sing;
they're not helping anything,
they won't make you strong.

So we should open up the house,
invite the Tabby two doors down.
You could ask your sister if,
she doesn't bring her basset hound.
Ask the things you shouldn't miss:
tape hiss and the modern man,
cold war and card catalogues
to come join us if they can.

Girly drinks and parlor games,
we'll pass around the easy lie
of absolutely no regrets,
and later maybe you could try.
To let your losses dangle off,
the sharp edge of a century.
We'll talk about the weather,
or how the weather use to be.

Deckard is a shitheel, what.

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