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Scene Title Pleasantries
Synopsis Teo and Deckard meet to discuss Abigail's situation. They fail to agree on precisely how dire it is. For some unknown reason, Teo is concerned that Deckard may choose to do something unwise. Also, he is sorry a lot. Deckard isn't.
Date February 27, 2009


It's Chinaaaaaaaaatoooooooownnnnnnnnnnnnnnnuhhh

Deckard is in a suit. Brackish, sooty grey with a similarly colorless tie striped loose around his collar. Were it not for the eye patch, he could probably pass for any of a million lazily groomed businessmen in New York City. As things are, he's taking more after a B movie super villain these days.

The restaurant he's chosen is small, cramped, and sparsely occupied at this hour. It's getting late — maybe an hour ahead of closing time. But the owner has a liquor license, which means the bar has whiskey, and so does Deckard. Why they gave him a straw, he isn't exactly sure, but he pokes the narrow thing idly around through hollow ice drifting drowsily around in the glass he's already ordered. He's a little early.

His table is near the back, meant for two, presumably under more romantic circumstances. But it's private. That's the important thing.

Though the suit does make the old man blend in with the indigenous species unusually well, the eyepatch is easy to pick out of the lineup of shadowy, male faces suspended above faintly-stained surfaces at roughly the same tipsily hunched-over, pre-hangover level. Teo doesn't look altogether out of place, either, navy blue coat over his sweater, jeans, the bruises healing on his angular face marking him solidly in the genre of drama and coming-of-age. He greets the bartender and indicates where he's going with a bob of his shaven skull.

He seats himself before asking, which feels like a mistake after he's done it but he withholds an apology because he suspects he'll wind up apologizing for that, too. Maybe it's the whole eyepatch thing. Makes apology seem like the thing to do. "Buona sera," he says instead. He pulls his hands out of his pockets, easing his elbows out of uncomfortable chicken-wing configuration pressed against the back of his seat. Conspicuously, he tries not to stare. "How are you feeling?"

"Bueno sera," Deckard echoes back at him, flatly American. His voice is rough. Moreso than usual, like he might be in the process of fighting off a sinus infection, though he doesn't appear to be ill. Whiskey is lifted and sipped, ice clinking over out of the stack it had settled into. He breathes out, sets the glass aside again, glances over Teo, winds up looking over at his napkin instead.

He's sober, mostly, chilly gaze focused and direct when it can be bothered to be. "Could be worse. Could be better. What do you want?"

There's neither as much hostility there as Teo had automatically anticipated, but what's there instead leaves him looking about as blankly stupid-faced as he gets when confronted by Japanamerican pop culture.

He ends up following the older man's gaze down to the white paper square of tissue paper, the corner of his mouth fishing upward, downward, flattening out. "Just wanted to see how you were doing," he answers. His voice comes in at a default register too low to seem tinny or hollow, but his answer still fails to seem sufficient to the question, given the last thing he wanted from Deckard cost him an organ.

Minimally. Whatever Teo was about to say next is cut short when waitstaff wanders by with an expectant air. Teo goes with a gin and tonic, watches the woman wander off on stilty heels and pendulous hips for a half-beat, before turning back. Originally, he hadn't intended to say, "I'm sorry," but that's what comes out in the end, blurted, mumbled, rattling out like one stray Tic-Tac too many from the plastic case. He stares hard, first at Deckard, then back at the inculpable napkin.

A tip of the head and an accompanying lift at his brow don't really have much to say. Granted, neither does the rest of him. A thumb taps the flat of its side idly against the table near his glass, keeping rhythm with some song or conversation playing through the crevices in his brain. He already said how he was. There seems to be no reason to elaborate further past the fact that the question has been posed again, just. In the absence of a question mark.

He watches the napkin for a little longer, comes to whatever conclusion he was trying to come to, and looks back to Teo, utterly unruffled. He could have spent the last minute or so in another dimension for all the difference the apology makes. There are no ripples, no shockwaves. Another, slower, tap of his thumb, and his lifted brow twitches a little higher before it falls. That's about it. He watches their waitress' ass make its retreat in silence that should be appreciative, but isn't…quite. He's distracted.

"It's fine."

"No it isn't." Teo normally tries to avoid being deliberately obtuse as a matter of courtesy, but that three-word objection gets yanked out through his teeth by a force so much greater than the brain in his head that he thinks it might have almost been external, except that would be ridiculous, a stupid excuse for behaving poorly and not being sure… of… what he's supposed to say. Like a dog that's been kicked away from his kibble bowl a few too many times, he is holding himself squared, braced for a boot-mark that doesn't otherwise seem likely to come.

It therefore takes him a few minutes to realize that there's more going on at the other end of the table than whatever self-enamored Catholic mental pathology Teo has going on by himself. Deckard's distracted. "What — " he falters, less from timidity than restraint. "What's been going on with you? Do you— may I ask if you know what you're going to do now?"

"Well," Deckard allows after an open-mouthed beat, tapping fingers pausing long enough to grasp slack around his glass, "no. At least, not for Abigail. They're going to kill her." Eventually. When they wear the usefulness out of her.

Tone and expression more appropriate for a discussion about a failed business opportunity than a concession of Abby's impending doom, the older man lifts his glass to seep out a longer draw through the ice. He's looking back at Teo again, eye patch not all that disturbing in itself. It's just a piece of black leather, soft and flat. His remaining eye is lucid, clear. Reasonable. Maybe unsettlingly so.

"Someone operating out of Staten offered me a job. I dunno if I'm going to take it." He hasn't thought too much about it. So says his expression, anyway, scruffy jaw crunching down over a sliver of ice before he sets his glass down again.

The older man's lack of reaction or heat is commensurate to the amount of flinching distaste Teo visible bottles back. The shadow in the hollow of his cheek twitches and the vein in his jaw stands out sharply, pupils dilate, some sympathetic nervous reaction occurring in technicolor passion that is probably too intense to be rated by business opportunities or job offers.

"No." He doesn't even remember to say thank you when his drink arrives, lime wedge, in a glass that's more transparent than not, though the sketchy outline of that rote impulse was there, in the momentary, distracted turn of his head, a gaze flipped up at the waitress' face, the acknowledgment of over-bright blue eyes, before he turned back to Deckard so abruptly she might have been insulted.

"That's not going to—" remembering that certainty only makes him sound unnecessarily ignorant, Teo shuts up behind his teeth for a moment. The waitress' step fades from over his shoulder. "We're going to try and get her back. There's a few people who went missing in the same place and they've been missed. There will be a way.

"If you don't want to talk about it, I understand." That probably sounds slightly absurd. It probably is extremely absurd. Comes apropos of either the fact Deckard's deflecting from the truth behind his distraction or that he might not want to talk about Abigail Beauchamp after he almost died in a cell adjacent hers.

Deckard's glare intensifies across the table in turn, daring Teo to say something through his efforts towards restraint. Something stupid, or angry, or too optimistic, or any of a million other options open to easy attack. It's the most attention he's paid through this conversation so far, unintentionally telling in the premature lift at his hackles that accompanies eye contact.

"We've lost the element of surprise, and they have another healer. One who works with them. For them. One that isn't drawing wild animals out of the woods with the sounds of its distress." Tap tap tap. His thumb is back at it again, tendon lined taut along the inside of his bony wrist. He's quiet a few seconds, jaw worked to swallow down vitriol that blackens nasty shadows in around bristle-edged frown lines while he fails to remember to blink.

"Why wouldn't I want to talk about it? One more fuck up to add to my extensive resume. So some limey pimp cut an eye out of my skull. It's not like I don't have another one."

Most of Teo's time is spent open to easy attack and it's beginning to tell on him. Looking at Deckard from across a table gives him ample reason to think, maybe, that's a bad road to keep going along; he ends up plugging his face into his drink, swallowing carbonation, quinine, and cold, citrusy sourness in some irritable effort to put himself out before he says something less kind or misleading than he already has. "'When —

"'F we get Abby back—" he pauses to wipe his mouth on the back of his sleeve, momentarily uncouth from distractions. "If we get her back, she could heal your eye. You'd be fine. We haven't lost the element of surprise completely. They've fallen back. Moved her. Different place, better guarded, new secret. They don't know the address has gotten around, and they haven't caught — anyone else." There's only a momentary hitch there, a flinch, partly for his seeming insensitivity and partly because that's sort of a lie, isn't it?

Only a little. He met Jesus, but he's walking it off okay. "You don't have to…"

Join in, listen to this, believe me, do anything. Multitude options crowd into Teo's word bank, and he ends up dripping into uneasy gray silence. No pressure. I just wanted you to know. See how you were doing.

Teeth closed white to this entire line of conversation, Deckard is slow to narrow his eye. He's slower still to sit back away from the table, shoulders bumping rigid to the chair before he looks away again. His left hand curls off the table and into his lap — right left in its terse splay around the increasingly damp plant of his whiskey in the absence of a coaster.

The same tension is tempered into the narrow angles and planes of his long face, further defined by too-low lighting that's liberal in its application of shadow beneath the hood of his brow and every other crag and hollow it can sink itself into. For breath or two, it's visually evident that how he is doing is poorly. The trace of his glare after their wayward waitress isn't just cold: it's glaciatic. So much so that the barest touch of it is enough to burn her off of another approach well before she's within range of verbal reproach.

"I never have to do anything. You should keep me informed."

It's weirdly formal language. Almost more directive than suggestion. "I'd like to know."

The bruised skin around Teo's face contracts almost visible, tightening, retracting around the lines of his skull like the retraction of a wary hermit crab inversed. Guilt puts lines in his face. Temporary ones that fail to make him look much uglier, courtesy of genetic blessings; shadow suits them also, thinning out his big nose and harshly angled cheeks when he, too, leans back in his seat and guides his eyes onto his lap. Squeezes them shut, momentarily, before blinking them open again.

"I will.

"Promise I will. When there's something to know, you'll know what it is. Should be only a few days from today. Three, at most. Uh." That's a thinking sound, not one of hesitation or maneuvering the delicate scales of a lie. "Guess— guess you should know straight off, then. Felix is involved, somewhere. So's the guy— the shadow one. Cardinal. And a shitload of people who owe Abigail favors.

"Some of the people you saw at the theater the other week, too." Same night Edward drove off to Washington DC in a limousine, that is. "She isn't the only one we want out of those cages. 'M trying to get people away from the idea of public crucifications and blood vengeance. They… did you know, after you left—

"What they did to her?" The instant he asks, he feels like he shouldn't have, and it isn't Deckard's temper he's worried about, either, or at least not with himself as the target. Face bleaches pale behind the dark holes of eyes, nostrils, mouth a seam, lips curled inward slightly, as if trying to suck the words back down his throat, take-backs.

Within the block of Deckard's skull, there's a gristled pop in the joint of his jaw, largely undetectable from the exterior. Too close to the ear. The quiet beat at the end of his thumb pauses, bone poised halfway through its next fall while he listens, eye still fixed on the fidgeting retreat of their aforementioned waitress.

Felix, shadow guy, shitload of people. There's so much suppressed in the hard set of his profile that the feeb's name coaxes forth no reaction, negative or otherwise.

Some of the people he saw at the theater. Various young faces smear through his memory, unaccompanied by more detailed information. Personality, ability, motivation. All blanks, with a few exceptions made notable by necessity.

He doesn't square himself back at Teo until he gets to that last part, shoulders, neck and jaw all realigning themselves back at the table's edge with a deliberate drag. Maybe on too much of a delay, his brows twitch up a hair, politely curious. No, he didn't know. Please enlighten him.

Take-backs. Yeah, Conrad Wozniak died and everything, and his people are in Moab, but Teo wasn't right there to have to deal with that right in front of his face; he'll take his do-over card right now, if he could. Please? Shouldn't have said anything. Obvious Statements zoom around in his head, ricochet off the interior of his skull like a stray bullet. Still looking at his lap, he puts the fingers of one hand in through the fingers of the other. Somewhere in the back of his mind, he's aware the waitress is around. Not near enough to matter.

Someday, he's going to talk to Deckard about— puppies, or a lucrative business endeavor. Something pleasant. Maybe a gift coupon for hookers. 'Stead of like, Feds who nearly shot him in the brain, and the army of children, and—

With effort, Teodoro lifts his head, makes eye-contact for no better reason than because this particular subject of conversation warrants that much proper recognition. The ice cube in his abandoned drink cup moves, slides on an entropic eddy of its gradual self-destruction. If this feeling had a sound, it would be dry, rustling abrasion, the scrape of callused feet dragging broken glass. "Logan cut out her tongue," he answers, clearly.

Teo's initial reluctance to fill in the blank he left dangling oh-so-unwisely across the little table between them is measured with a mechanical absence of pity. Deckard's fingers creep long over the rim of his glass, ice having started to melt pale into the warm amber of booze more expensive than his usual. Apparently he decided Teo was paying before either of them actually got there.

To be fair, it might be deduced from the skeletal severity of Deckard's absence of expression that he is too single-mindedly murderous at the moment to be particularly interested in money or puppies. Save perhaps for the purpose of drowning them. Of course, it's entirely possible that low light and long shadows are exaggerating, and that he is both collected and perfectly sane at the moment. Either way, he listens uncharacteristically politely, and provides nothing with which Teo might get lucky and manage to change the subject.

Logan cut out her tongue.

When the answer finally comes, Deckard breathes in, holds the air fast under the flat of his chest and…says nothing. Again. The last of his drink swallowed down, watered-down backwash and all, he examines the glass and sets it carefully back down precisely in its ring of condensation.

"Logan likes knives." An upward flicker at the corner of his mouth is almost suggestive of a smile. That's great. Deckard likes knives too.

"Don't do anything stupid," Teo says, which was probably a stupid thing to do but he can't help it. Everybody is getting stupid now. February was not off to an auspicious start and March, with its sundry retributions and reparations, promises that that will only proceed to degenerate. He ends that uncharacteristic imperative by sealing up his face, nostrils slitting, jaws sprung-trap shut, eyes narrowed on some indistinct point of wall past Deckard's grizzled curls.

The wall isn't very impressive. Tiled, the mortar irregularly gray. Photograph of some minor celebrity who came in to try out the wonton tang mein once before, lifting a bottle of Tsingtao beer at the camera.

Like most of their conversations, there is too much dingy silence blocked in between the desultory verbal parts of the exchange. Somehow, it seems to work better that way. Disparate pieces shoved together, hammered edges, welded into something that pretends to be continuous and whole. He's termed the older man a friend before. They couldn't be if they had anything in the way of consistency. "That's it," he says, eventually. "That's all I can think of."

"You mean like…getting kidnapped on purpose? Turning coat on a group of genocidal terrorists? Prying around an evil brothel during peak operating hours?" Earnest inquiry furrows Deckard's brow, just the right might amount of exaggerated when he braces both hands against the table to push himself and his chair back away from it. "I mean, a guy who did any of that would have to be an idiot." Seriously. He scoffs, not-quite a laugh, with hellfire licking chill along a flash of bared teeth when he pushes to his feet.

Yes. No. Maybe. A fault opens dark in the middle of Teo's forehead; he lurches up to his feet, has to remember to put money down after he's dug out his wallet through some rote self-automation and spent an instant wondering what he was doing with that in his hands. Apparently, he'd decided some time before he arrived that he was going to be buying. "We'll get her back." The two halves of leather and a precious little plastic clap together, and he jams it back into his pocket. "She'll be okay.

"But she'll be worse off if you do something stupid and — unnecessary. She'll feel worse and—" and I apparently think you care about Abigail's feelings. The younger man idles on his feet, his right shoe threatening to scuff out, depart form the table, his left shoe hanging back, as if he's trying to cover all avenues for Deckard's escape; as if he wouldn't simply fuck off if told to, on those terms or kinder ones. His voice goes tight with something. Two misery, one part residual aggression.

"But thank you."

"Sure. Who wouldn't be okay after having a couple've ounces of meat cut out of their face." The knuckles of one hand still braced down against the table, Deckard makes no move at all to reach for his own wallet. Nor is he in a massive rush to depart. He stands there and blocks Teo's view of the wall while he pays, eye creeping brighter to take note of strategically placed feetbones before it dulls again, and he moves off anyway, before he can reply. Sometimes Teo doesn't seems to notice that the absence of a lift at the end of a question probably means it's rhetorical.

Flint's expression fails to acknowledge or agree that taking a knife to Logan is stupid and/or unnecessary — the brushoff of concerns at his back almost audible in the renewed set of his jaw while he walks. "Always sorry, please and thank you. What the fuck am I supposed to say? You're welcome?" Either he's talking to himself, or Teo is following. He doesn't seem to care overmuch which applies.

Teo is following. There's nothing else here except— oh. Ice. Snagging the glass, he knocks the hollowed cube into his mouth, stretching his jaws wide enough to fit his molars around the contours of the crystal lattice. When he bites down, it sounds like he's biting through desiccated biscuits from outside, but the noise inside his head is as loud as the fast-melting fragments are cold. "That would be nice? I don't know. It doesn't…" matter, except it does, so he doesn't finish that. He repeats, "I don't know. I try not to be rote. You don't have to fucking say anything."

Sometimes Teo doesn't seem to notice that a question is obviously rhetorical.

"She'll heal it. We'll — I —" thump, thump, thump, drub his shoes out of the floor behind Flint. Teo casts the bartender a distracted wave of salutation. "There will be people here for her. She has God and a number of unlikely angels. It'll take some time, probably some changes, but she'll be okay; she's so strong she's actually crazy, sometimes. I'm not fucking telling you anything you don't already know," he adds which then, conveniently, seems to cue him into shutting up. He lowers his eyes, shucks his hands into his pockets.

As ever, Deckard's strides are longer and slower, their pace mismatched for all that they're walking at approximately the same speed. It doesn't seem like a good sign that he slows still further before he reaches his overcoat, hung all the way over at the door. Not far from the bar, in fact, shortly after the, 'She'll heal it,' he draws all the way to a full stop and turrrns himself back around, patch side first.

By the time Teo's figured out he should stop talking, it's too late.

Anger isn't an exceptionally flagrant expression on the older man's face. A cromagnum level at his brow that paints the socket of his remaining eye as black as the patch opposite it, accented by further tension along the line of his jaw corded all the way down his neck. It isn't likely to be misread, just. It doesn't exactly telegraph that he's about to punch Teo in his already bruised head, either.

Which is unfortunate, because his right hand clenches into a fist, and that is exactly what he does.

If Teo hadn't already locked his jaw, that probably would have been rewarded with a more satisfying noise. Instead, the intersection between the vicious arc of old man's knuckles and the line of the stupid kid's face is relatively fleshy, dull, lacking acoustic power, bap. Teo had had an instant to tense, brace; he probably should have spent that instant moving the fuck out of the way but that's a whole other set of unhealthy compulsions.

His head snaps back on its axis; he stumbles from the strength of Deckard's wiery frame and combusted temper. Clanks to an awkward halt against the other coat rack, his eyes spinning disjointedly inside their sockets, shoulders jerked up, hands not quite pulled free, either the aborted beginnings of a defensive fetal curl or a kneejerk reflex to pain. Teo's jaw feels like it's buzzing and his eyes burn uncomfortably without making any mark or impression on the zone of grime-edged window he's wound up staring pathetically down at.

These kinds of things have a way of making a place quiet. A few isolated conversations die out in a staggered hush. Glasses clinking behind the bar go still. Deckard stays where he is a moment, failing to cover the stumble's distance to put an exclamation mark on the initial fuck you. Breathe in, breathe out. He flexes his hand back open again, pain radiating dull from knuckles to elbow, and turns to retrieve his coat from the opposite rack, fumbling with the distance fairly ironically, all things considered.

Once it's in his grasp, he shrugs it on with a utilitarian kind of quickness. Blue eye scraping over Teo without any sign of imminent apology, he turns to let himself out, shoulder braced against polished wood to spare his aching hand the trouble.

Teo's kind of bleeding guilt all over the floor, so it makes sense that he trips and slides a little when he finally skews himself up into rough vertical, setting his tall frame into a hangdog slouch, starts back out through the door. The door catches his foot on its backswing, and he burps it wide again with a poke of his knee, slings his other long leg out of it, sidles free and back out into the harsh cold of Chinatown. Cold harsh enough to drive his hands deeper into his pockets and lower his chin behind the flimsy barricade of his jacket's collar. A man in a navy jacket is raking through a basin of roasting chestnuts on the curb. Smells Heavenly.

"'M sorry." At forty seconds, the delay on that one falls somewhere in the ninety-ninth percentile of displayed restraint on Teodoro's part. Not that he is actually dense enough to expect acknowledgment of that or the apology itself. He makes a few paces after Deckard so that the words can carry themselves. "I'll stop." It sounds like a promise; it is; he does.

"You can't even stop apologizing." The slap of cold wind and city air is welcome. So is the cigarette Deckard's in the process of knocking out of a fresh pack where he's parked himself a few steps out past the door. His shiny new lighter follows it out, stiff fingers not quite stiff enough to keep him from lighting up. Smoke and ash soon mingle with roasting chestnuts, and he's back to rubbing over his bare hand once he's tucked everything else away again. Brisk wind fails to dull the pain there, or in the hole in his head.

Wadded up under his jacket, Teo is mostly failing to be small. Trying. Failing. To conserve the illusion of heat, also. He hadn't been inside the bar for long, but the temperature changes that follow sunset are ludicrous and agony-inducing. The tips of his ears hurt like it would be a good idea to remove them from the rest with a very thin knife; a relatively superficial complaint. "That's different," he replies fuzzily, and fuzzily surprised also that Deckard is still here. "'S something you do when you mean it."

No reaction. Not much of one, anyway. Deckard smokes. He's stone-faced and silent — no real change from his predominant attitude inside. After a while he shifts his weight, boots scraping over chipped ice. Then he's moving away again, damaged hand tucked away out of the cold while the left lifts to tug at his cigarette. "Call me when you know what we're doing."

"I will." A second scrape on the frozen sidewalk, steering in the opposite direction without actually making any progress in that direction yet. Teo is still looking at the older man, his throat and newly battered jaw, scar-notched knuckles and worried lines hidden away in a mystery of black zippers and blue cloth. "Buona notte."

February 27th: Why Don't You...
February 27th: Domestic Bliss
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