Red Sky


tavisha_icon.gif teo_icon.gif

Scene Title Red Sky
Synopsis Providence brings two fugitives cold rain, a handful of clues, and a painfully tentative new resource. Even through the rose-colored lenses of Teo's narration, the artist formerly known as Sylar sounds like he was a dick. For Tavisha, one to trust may be the guy who reminds him not to.
Date February 14, 2009

The Rookery

After the bomb, Staten Island grew to become a haven for undesirables. If the Island is their home, then the Rookery is their playplace. Equal parts gritty and decadent, it boasts dark alleys, bright lights, and every pleasure that one could imagine. Provided you know where to ask, of course.

Some areas have fared better than the rest of the island; some have fared far worse. For each well-tended brothel or gaming house, there's at least one creaky, crumbling structure left over from the days of pre-bomb suburban glory.

The population is considered universally distasteful, even by much of the rest of Staten Island. Criminals, refugees, victims of radiation poisoning… Those who have nowhere else to go often end up here. The most common method of getting out is to have your body dropped in the river, followed closely by being left wherever it is you got killed.

Good luck.

It's hard to tell whether it's because he hasn't been hit in the face frequently enough or smoking enough, but Teo's somehow forgotten how to coordinate a cigarette with a split lip. There's a way to do this that doesn't involve incessantly swallowing blood or alternately soddening the paper filter with it. He's sure of it. Glaring at the wall, he finally yanks the cancer stick from his mouth and wipes his sleeve across his mouth, pauses to look at the blurred crescent of red barely visible against the dark gray fabric of his sleeve, the rift in his skin apparently aggravated by this effort to chemically soothe himself.

Grimacing, the Sicilian takes one more long drag before dropping the burning cylinder to the concrete. It flares once, brilliant orange under the rusty ochre of the sky at sunset, before his foot comes down on it, quashing the waste heat and oxidizing process in one brusque shove of a ridged rubber sole. Sighing, Teo spits into the trash can nearest, earning a panicky hiss from the fat rat picking through bottles, crumbs, and oily paper.

Pedestrians pass by the mouth of the alley eight yards to his left. Long-hardened denizens of the Rookery, not one of them doesn't know better than to look at a young, hooded man alone and hocking pink loogies into dumpsters on Valentine's Day. Particularly not this dumpster, lest both the kid and the garbage be cast off from the same owner.

What's the quote about a red sky at night? Tavisha, actually, wouldn't know, but lore dictates that such a hue staining the sky as night descends calls for fair weather. So naturally, it begins to patter with a slight rain, minimal if cold, but at least the alleyway, it holds some protection. Shepherds all over New York will suddenly feel cheated, but Tavisha pays it no mind, just ducking his head a little as small, icy droplets begin to prickle on his head, against the back of his neck, and he fixes the collar of his long, dark green woolen coat to counter it.

Passing fleets of rain or not, the Rookery is busy, all bright lights disguising the grimy corners, shouts and cars and footsteps, neon signs flashing advertisements they could never get away with on Manhattan. He's supposed to be on his way to work, as it were, but he's early. Few people have as much time to kill as Tavisha does, and so he ducks into an alleyway, a dark shadow at the mouth of it for a moment as lighting shifts from red sky to darker angles, then just an ordinary passerby all at once.

If he notices Teo, this goes ignored, leaning a shoulder against dirty brickwork and taking out his own pack of cigarettes. He'd finally given in and mimicked this one habit, and eventually, it was simply soothing if not addictive, but more importantly, it gives Tavisha a few more moments to think before going in there again without people wondering what he was doing otherwise. Smoking, it's a good excuse for idle behaviour. A flicker of a light, then a rising haze of smoke.

One blue eye, pale as the winters over the Finnish tundras from whence he drew that part of his gene pool, squints up into the belching malice of the sky. A splotch of water hits him on the cheek. Unwelcome in its intrusion. Teo's broken lip curls around a sneer; he doesn't flinch, but he does reach up to pull the roof of cotton closer over his head. Fuck. At least icy rain isn't falling ice. Fucking ice.

His new companion in dumpster-sidling doesn't go unnoticed. By now, he's learned to keep track of exits and shit, and this guy is between him and the nearest one, no cause for panic but assessment comes at a casual tilt of his head; he applies the same voracious and pathologically optimistic brain that's absorbed Mandarin and Russian to reading body language. Threat? Not a threat? Somewhere up there, God chuckles thunder.

Glibely ignorant, Teo subtracts the distant rattle of rain-struck windows from his hearing, blinks through the increasing blur of wind. It smells less in here with the weather pushing through the funnel of dirty brick, ordinary refuse, and iron alloy.

"Need a light?"

Spark. Spark. Useless spark. The cheap lighter does more grazing his thumb and nail than it does burning his cigarette, which has useless, dead edges of black from his efforts. Tavisha sighs through his nose, removing the white stick from between his teeth, but fate has decided to be kind to him, and the voice from his fellow alleyway loiterer turns his head. At first a guarded expression, dark brows angling to communicate some initial suspicion - the Rookery is not without cut throats, even with its royalty of organised crime elbowing out some of the pettier crimes, but not enough that one can wander into an alleyway and expect safety.

All the same. Tavisha tilts his head in a chin up of a nod, and shuffles closer, scuffed boots scraping pavement, extending a hand for the offer. Rather than some sort of cosmic knowledge that the other man means him no harm, it's confidence, new found, that relaxes the amnesiac. That, and he does require a lighter.

"Thank you," he prompts, politely, now studying the other man's face perhaps in an attempt to recognise him - if not from a former forgotten life, if only because they're both new to this end of town, and the Rookery's comers and goers had begun to be familiar.

No knives, no guns. The metallic snik that clips the background drone of meteorology comes from nothing more or less than the lighter in Teo's hand. The cupped palm of his other protects the tiny flame from the interference of the wind. "No problem," he says. The wind interferes a lot. The lambent spot of butane flares momentarily too-bright, throws a haphazard stroke of orange light up into Sylar's face, drives Teo's hand away from the uncomfortable intensity of heat with an irritated flinch of photosensitivity. He mutters a curse, Sicilian. Cazzo.

Starts to apologize, but there's a coincidence of trajectory, then. Teo gets a good look at this stranger.


The lighter goes out, snuffed with a wink of wind and falls straight out of his nerveless hand to an abrupt halt on the speckled slime of the alley floor. The recognition on Teo's features isn't impossible to mistake for something else. Fear, more than a little; simple surprise. His heartbeat drubs out a staccato beat in the cloyng humidity.

In its last few moments, a streak of flame at least allowed embers to burn on the end of the cigarette as Tavisha takes a practiced breath in, head ducked as he allows Teo to light his cigarette, eyes off the man's face more out of politeness than concentration.

Then, the lighter falls, the flame going out before it can do any damage but doesn't stop Tavisha from jerking back abruptly to escape it, removing the cigarette with its new dot of glowing orange from his mouth, clasped between two fingers like people generally do. He breathes out a sigh of smoke, shakes his head. "It's fine," he says, dismisses the apology that only started to occur, puzzled.

Perhaps the man's hands were just cold, perhaps— well, a number of excuses, but what's far more important than the dropped lighter is Teo's expression, and the accompanying percussion of his heartbeat, such a sound that's never really noticeable unless it shouldn't be there, or if it kicks itself up a notch. After a moment, Tavisha bends down, picks up the lighter, cleans dirt off it with a quick brush off his thumb, and offers it back out. "Are you alright?" he asks, with a trace of earnestness not usually present when it comes to two strangers meeting in an alley, but most of everyone is a stranger to him anyway.

To Teo's credit, he doesn't back into the dumpster or go scurrying out with his heart in his throat and his hands on his head. There is a list of possible answers to put to the question of why he does not. For example, the two inimitably useful female acquaintances they have in common, both of whom probably think Sylar's dead right now. Also, the fact that they'd found a common enemy in a park once. That's not like being friends, but it's not like Teodoro's run out of wars to fight in the intervening time.

Third, like Deckard's said: sometimes, Teo just isn't very bright.

"Not really," he answers. With some difficulty, as if the answer he had originally meant to give had had to be cut up and squeezed into an ill-fitting new template. "Some prick at a bar hit me in the f— " Aborting out of this sentence, he stares at Sylar's face for a long moment, failing entirely to note the proffered lighter. "They tell me I have an overactive imagination these days, but I'm trying to come up with a conspiracy theory why you'd pretend not to know me and it isn't coming. Pardon my rudeness."

Lighter offered, lighter rejected, mostly. Tavisha's hand lowers at some point during the staring, which is about when he clicks on to the fact that while a stranger in the alleyway might be just unusual, it, perhaps, also has something to do with him. He stands still and guarded for a moment, mind leaping ahead to— perhaps he was a friend of the man he killed in the cage that night, or a bookie, or something. It's an entirely wild connection to make but very few can say that their first murder— manslaughter? Tavisha, after all, was about to die at the time— doesn't plague them continually, paranoia hitching up as he falls under the man's studious gaze. Besides, Tavisha's world is exceptionally small.

Then, those words flip the situation on its head, rendering him a little speechless for a moment, his own heartbeat speeding up in a way that isn't fearful or tense, but anxious. This has happened exactly once before, an invisible man that had embraced him like a brother. Similar situation, more different than Tavisha could realise.

"I'm not pretending," he supplies, tone smooth and seemingly honest sounding. "And neither are you. You know me." He takes his weight off the wall, as if perhaps to further guard Teo against the exit route, not really consciously.

The Midtown man is standing between Teo and freedom. Seems a good time to get a gun out, but you don't do that unless you really intend to use it, particularly in company whose malice is generally characterized by great sincerity. He's gone all stiff now. Steeling himself for blows of greater force than that would save him from, shoulders squared from hackling, his head low, eyes swallowed dark by the dilation of pupil, acknowledging Sylar with an extremely uncomfortable smile. It would be worse to die with an expression that more closely resembles a contusion on one's face than to die running, but—

Not by much. It's a margin narrow enough that he lets a character flaw or six tilt the balance of an otherwise logical decision. "Not very well," Teo answers, scrawling a blunt finger over the back of his ear. Breathe out, breathe in. Breathe out, breathe in. It does a little for the racketing of the heart caged inside Teo's ribs. This isn't Miles. What shifter would be stupid enough? "So what's your story, amico?" He opens up a wide palm to receive the lighter.

Preferably underhand.

Tavisha has questions of his own. Back in the day, the man Teo is slightly more (if not a lot) familiar with would have knocked this new stranger around until he had gotten the answers. Right now, he just allows his jaw to clench slightly in impatience, and then gently and easily, he throws the lighter back at the other man. Underhand. Doubt is starting to creep in around the edges, colouring that anxiety with dismissal. From the thundering of Teo's heart within his chest, it's all very possible that this is some big mistake built on the fact he's due to call himself Sylar in the ring reasonably soon, and the reason why he can do it.

Similarities, probably around the nose and eyebrow region. Muldoon can keep saying that and Tavisha is happy to say that along with him. It just doesn't help that Teo's heart is beating in the same way Nisha's had.

Still, no conclusions are leapt to, save for the one that this is possibly another dead end and he has to stop getting his hopes up at every hint of such. Tavisha turns away when he's asked for his story, abridged without needing any kind of editor, just enough to draw a decent inhalation of smoke and sigh it out again through mouth and nostrils, cigarette flaring like a signal. "I was kind of hoping you could tell me," he says, shakes his head. "Never mind. I work around here." Okay, so his story can be abridged even further. "Have we— run into each other or something?" Verbal prod, verbal prod, inquisitive squint.

The man Teo is slightly more (though not a lot) familiar with wouldn't have had questions. The comedy of errors that is the Sicilian's life continues apace of normal. He appreciates not being ground to a pulp against the rough stuff the alley wall is constructed from, though! That is pretty cool. Happens to hold consistent with Sylar's apparent amnesia, too. All this math and more occurs in the space of a heartbeat, another mad eddy of adrenaline through Teo's veins. The lighter hits the flat of hand with a plastic click. He doesn't flinch at its impact. Puts it in his pocket.

It's all getting very blurry, no thanks to the rain. Working? What the fuck? The implications are too ludicrous to count. "I'm sorry," Teo says, suddenly, the words as automatic as the sincerity that comes with it.

"I'm nervous." He huffs out a sigh. Makes his cheeks round, momentarily. "You look like a man I knew who hurt a lot of people who did him no harm. I care about some of those people. At the same time, some of those people care about you. I'm not really sure where that puts either of us. Except me not in Hell yet," he offers, after a moment, blankly.

Information he knows, aggravating nagging doubt he's been carrying since the second day he can remember. Tavisha's expression is more the stoic mask than he's managed lately, sort of like how one may act in a poker game, wherein you don't know what cards the other man has, and yours aren't really that awesome. But there is a flicker of something, posture stiffening. People who care about you. So now he at least has an idea as to what's at stake. The cigarette burns away, mostly forgotten where it's clamped between two fingers, hands at his sides, arms relaxed from very tense shoulders.

"Not yet," he agrees, then seems to duck his head in an apologetic gesture, or shy, but definitely frustrated. As if he didn't mean to threaten, directly or not. "I couldn't tell you if you're making a mistake," Tavisha admits, voice a little rough, before studying Teo a little closer, as if wondering if telling him the following is about to be his mistake. "I don't remember anything before this month." An eyebrow lifts, a glance over his shoulder to indicate the rained upon corner of town they're currently trapped within a nook of. "Woke up here."

Not in this very alley, presumably. Another shrug, as if to say, 'there you go', and hope he isn't a serial killer, and he remembers his cigarette, wind catching and trailing the smoke he breathes out again.

"Oh." It's the best Teo can manage for a few seconds, mostly because he was half expecting to be made bonemeal of in some desperate effort to reconnect with the phantasmic beloved ones that he had sketched out. He'd thought it might be a bad idea. Mentioning those, however vaguely. Couldn't help it, though. It'd be the first thing he'd want to know about himself if he'd forgotten everything else.

That there was something worth remembering. Before all the bad news regarding ancient, body-shifting KGB assassins emerging out of their million-dollar corporate strongholds to try and kill you because their god son asked, anyway. "Well." Another waste of a syllable. Teo thumbs acid rain out from between the eyelids of his right eye. A headache is stitching fire around his left temple. He sniffs once, loudly, and angles the jut of his chin over Sylar's shoulder, out into the road.

Weather's chased most people off it, by now. "There's a deli with a big umbrella across the street. If we're going to be circling and sniffing each others' asses, might be better to do it somewhere the rain wasn't throwing off our readings, you know?"

A huff of laughter, which isn't to say Tavisha isn't any less tense, but, you know. At least the corners of his mouth hint at a smile, but if anything, it betrays his own nervousness. He tilts his head to the side in a gesture of 'fair enough', and relocates his free hand into a coat pocket. "Sure. Blame it on the weather," he says, but if the step back he takes and the slight nod is to be of any indication, he might also not be enjoying the icy droplets that find their way through the minimal shade provided in the alleyway.

Outside of it, of course, it comes down a little harder, but it could be worse. Tavisha's pace is brisk, taking one last drag of his cigarette and pitching it aside to become lost on city ground. He no longer needs an excuse to be idle, anyway, and he's practically forgotten or neglected to care about where he was supposed to be procrastinating doing.

The lack of people is appreciated, Tavisha running a hand through somewhat damp hair once undercover of proper shade, casting a look askance as Teo draws up. "Maybe you could start with your name," he says. "And maybe you can elaborate on who you think I am."

Someday, Gabriel Gray might have some idea of how long those seconds felt, as Teo waited for him to rotated his stately axis, turn his feet, swivel his eyes away, start across the street. Teo counted them in a hundred palpitating fractions, the passage of time grated like grains of sand through his sifting fingers. He'd got his gun out. Stepped forward. Stared. Weighed the words of two women and God against a thousand exhibits of corroborating evidence, radiation sickness, charred bodies stewing in the autumnal waters of the Hudson, sawn-open skulls, Helena's broken hand, Trask's mutilated body, the exposed cross section of bones in Rickham's sucking, bloodied chest.

It may not be so very amazing or unpredictable, in the end. That God and the girls win. He looks at the green coat, neat shoulders, and thinks to himself: Such faith.

He isn't thinking about his own, though. Another beat, and the gun is back in its holster. Hadn't even been clicked off safety, really. And now they're here, their shoeprints fading from the thickness of rainwater on the pavement, reflected in runny watercolor off plateglass windows and watching a blue street turn gray under the punishment of weather. He doesn't have enough to soak through anymore. His clothes are sodden, though.

"Teo." The monosyllabic name eddies through the thin smoke that drifts from Sylar's face. "That's a difficult thing to elaborate, signor. I only met you once, and that time made me wonder a little about everything I thought I did know about you." A rough hand slaps water off his dark canvas lapel. "You want the bad shit or the good stuff first?"

Ignorance is bliss. Tavisha trusts Teo no more and no less, despite the casual display of his back just a few moments ago. In this end of town, it wouldn't have mattered too much, save for matters of the soul and God and the girls. Either way, there's no pillar of inky black smoke rising from a dead body and baring down on Teodoro, just a man with memorable features and a slightly puzzled, slightly irritated expression. Tavisha's gaze dips for a moment, this repeated use of you and his insistent use of think creating a moment of cognitive dissonance for him and general discomfort.

"If you're wrong, it's all the same," Tavisha points out. But a moment later: "Good news wouldn't be bad to listen to. Teo." He ponders for a moment, rolling over the options in terms of an unasked for introduction, but for him, it's important. "The people that found me— I'm called Tavisha." Tuh-Vi-Shuh, which isn't much better than other pronunciations, he knows, but it might lend itself an air of foreignness that justifies it. All the same— "Or Tav." The colloquial equivalent of Tee-Oh, in a way.

Friendly colloquial abbreviations make the world go around. Lend this funny little exchange a crayoning-over of casual color. My name is Robert; you can call me Bob. Teo, instead of Teodoro. If he knew how many rounds his name has already made on the island, Teo would'dve picked another. "Nice to meet you, Tav." As long as they're being absurd, why not?

"Starts with girls. I guess— it tends to." Teo's eyes open and close a few times. Skin tension stiffens further under the evaporation of rain off his face, compelled by the heat of his ridiculous metabolism. "I think one of them is in love with — the man I think you might be. Dark hair, dark clothes, red mouth. Small, but strong. 'Least two tattoos— a rose on her wrist. Pet cat. She made deals with a few people who would've killed you on sight. In exchange for your life, she'd help them fight back a big black tide of death at the hands of a megalomania…

"You ever get to a middle of a sentence and can't believe the words coming out of your fucking mouth?" Teo's features blank; he grimaces slightly, angles a glance off at some stranger on the curb, before glancing back at the other man. "I'll spare you the details because I don't know which ones matter to you." Or which ones will get him killed, but that's par for course, isn't it? "She was a fighter and she did some fighting for you."

Dark hair and tattoos. Red mouth. Something that rings— not quite familiar. Not exactly. Unless dreams count for something. Tavisha's eyes narrow a little in thought, a hand coming up to scratch his forehead, hand back down again. A woman whose image is as vague and nondescript as the way you might acknowledge yourself to be, save for a few prominent features.

He makes an amused sound, less than a laugh, more of a 'hm' and the tiniest of smiles, when it comes to Teo's interrupting comment. "Sometimes," Tavisha murmurs, inconsequentially. "I had a…" That small smile widens a little, in great amounts of uncertainty. "I have dreams, I guess that— " Speaking of being unable to believe the words coming out of your fucking mouth, Tavisha closes his eyes for a moment and shakes his head. Not important, move along. "It just sounds— like something. Familiar. And now I sound crazy, I apologise. This isn't exactly easy.

Pause. Rain spatters loudly against the umbrella above them, a fabricy thrumming percussion. "What's her name?"

Everything seems to take longer inside Teo's head than outside of it. Racing around and around every soupcon of information he's about to part with. He doesn't know what he's trying to remind Sylar of. Maybe he doesn't think it matters. Miss Childs is as good at hiding as the next of them, and if there's anything one would prefer the Midtown man to experience at one's hand, kindness would be it. The window of opportunity for guns is, for the moment, lost. This isn't exactly easy. "Gillian. The other one," he exhales, shifts on his feet. "Was Eileen. Even smaller. Thin 'nd white as matchsticks, green eyes that take up half her face. Young.

"She gave — the man you look like, something of hers. If you find it, you'll probably find her.

"Sorry to be cryptic, amico," a pallid eye squints out of Teo's profile, his brow furrowed with hapless regret. "I mean, I'd probably punch me in the face if I heard that line, but. The truth is, I didn't really understand or believe her when she said it, herself. When the weather clears, look up. If you're him you'll figure it out. If not, it shouldn't bother you, si? She introduced us. Eileen. She did the same thing. Made deals for you." He wonders what sort of portrait these shadows and faint lines are shaping in Sylar's mind.

What sort of man who would have been hated fiercely by so many, and protected in such fervor by a precious few.

Gillian. The name is unfamiliar. A misshapen key that he tries to poke into an mismatching lock to access some form of memory, anything, but no, it doesn't fit. Not anywhere. Tavisha's gaze lowers but he doesn't give Teo feedback as to whether or not the name hits home. The visual does. But not for the right reasons. Eileen. Another key, another failure, and this time, not even her appearance conjures up anything.

Look up. Tavisha takes in this cryptic advice, glancing now towards the sky he can see past the umbrella, and it's gone a slate grey, dramatically different from the initial warm red of sunset, then back to Teo. It doesn't make sense, but it's obviously not supposed to. Not yet. So his eyebrows raise a little and he heaves a sigh. Fine. It's probably more than what he's been collecting from ghosts.

So he has friends. Conspicuous lack of family mentioned but maybe Teo doesn't know, or maybe it's taken for granted, or maybe he has none. Options. Tavisha doesn't ask, regardless. "I suppose you'd better get to the bad news," Tavisha suggests, "before I start getting optimistic." He glances over Teo's shoulder in indication. "You were scared of me," he says, not accusing, stating of fact. "And you wouldn't be the first one." He licks his lips, briefly, and much like Teo, he evaluates the information before talking, likely for very different reasons. "I know who you think I am." And nothing after that, no thoughts or feelings on the topic, just studying.

There's plenty to study, even though Teo tries not to give too much. Whatever the fuck too much means. His mouth finds a line, thin and sharp as razor wire. He feels like he should be making a joke. 'Course Sylar has dreams. That would be hilarious. Perfect. The only thing he keeps is a dream of a tattooed woman with a red mouth. They teach you about those in sex ed, but Sylar's probably forgotten that as well.

Don't want to die, Teo reminds himself. He drags his fingers down his cheek, his nails catching on the shadow of stubble emerging there.

"I wouldn't want to bore you," he says, finally. "If you already know who I think you are. Be a fucking waste of time, and you have somewhere to be, si? Who?" His head lists forward on his shoulders, canting a slouch through his lean frame, hangdog, more a recalcitrant youth than a competent keeper of secrets.

Which probably makes too much sense. On multiple, embarrassing levels.

Gaze slants away, bluff not-exactly-called. Tavisha does know, but apart from a blurry mugshot and an article on the Midtown man himself, Teo has to know more. Has to feel more other than distant and tentative curiousity. Who, now there's a question. A huff of air, that not-quite-laugh accompanied with a not-quite-smile and all the conflict and dreadful hope in the world in his eyes that he keeps steered away from Teo.

"Sylar," he says, simply, dropping the name as if he were laying down his hand of cards. He really doesn't have much else. Maybe an ace up the sleeve if he's lucky, depends what Teo knows already, really. "A man named Sylar, who blew up Manhattan and killed people. Yeah, I'd be scared of me too, if— " The sentence is an awkward one. If I met me. If that were me. If I am him. He struggles a little and just drops it. Starts again. Hands come up to rub his face, wearily, having just unloaded more weight on his shoulders than he knew about at the feet of a complete stranger, because that complete stranger has more answers than he knows what to do with. Tavisha feels mildly sick and pissed off at himself for it, but he tries to keep that hidden.

"You probably know more about him than me," Tavisha says, finally, a little emptily. "Or that's what it sounds like. All I have is an article from a few years ago." He could find out more, but he didn't care to. In his search for himself, that was one door he chose to ignore.

And Teo couldn't blame him. A quaver-beat after he thinks that thought, he can't believe he did. Couldn't blame Sylar. There are worse things to try once in your life, surely. The Sicilian allows recognition to register on his features, a fractional nod of assent. That isn't a door you'd want to push too far open.

Five fingers flex at his side, knuckles straining underneath the round calluses on his skin. "That sounds like a pretty bad guy to be, if you have to be a guy, which I figre— is why you're not… fuckin'… looking very hard." More newspapers, archives at libraries, Google. "But he'll probably catch up to you if you don't go looking for him. I don't know. If you don't learn, something could— "

He stretches his jaw forward. Back. "There's a lot of shit the papers didn't get about Sylar, anyway. More recent. Since Gillian and Eileen started to get to know him, I guess. Uh." The rim of his thumb cuts along his jaw, with force enough to raise a red line and make him blink, once, hard.

"I gue— fuck." It's catching up to him again, the absurdity of this moment, his week, last month. "Long, short, I think you met someone with more dirt on his shirt than you did. You worked together awhile, but you turned on him. You told me you were going to kill him. Eileen thinks— I believe Eileen thinks it was because you were better than that." The young man screws up the side of his face, scrubs blunt nails up and down the side of his neck: humility, recognition of the limits of his access to that particular woman's inner workings. He disclaims, haplessly, "As best I understand."

Readers' digest of the past few months is hard to compute, those distinctive eyebrows lowering a little as he tries to take this in, understand it. Someone worse than he is, whom he tried to kill, as if that's how things like justice and fairness works. You just decide the guy ahead of you is more of a nightmare than you are, and take him out, and then watch your own back so the guy slightly less worse than you doesn't get the same idea. "For what it's worth," Tavisha says, after a few moments pass. "I don't feel like a psychopathic killer."

Dark humour that reassures himself more than it does Teo, probably, but who knows. The rain beats down harder, and the sky gets darker. That sounds like a pretty bad guy to be. Tavisha's breathing has turned a little shallow, as if not willing to pull too much air in on the off chance he chokes on it. A break down would be really inconvenient at this juncture, he feels, so he takes a second to ensure that doesn't happen. "We'll see what happens when the weather clears," he adds, voice quick and clipped, and his gaze lowers to the watch on his wrist, exposed when he pushes back the sleeve of his green coat. "I have to be somewhere," he says, apology evident in his tone, and when he looks back at Teo, a decision is being earnestly made. It was nice to meet you, have a good life, try to disappear in the crowds.

But he'll probably catch up to you if you don't go looking for him. The chase is already on, it seems. How long can Tavisha keep running while so desperately seeking the truth? Or rather, some other truth. "Shooters," Tavisha says, abruptly. A twitch of a smile. "It's a bar, about a block from here. If you need— " and he shrugs quickly, as if to dismiss the notion Teo would ever need to talk to him before he can vocalise it, a shy sort of preempt— "to talk to me, you can leave a message with the bartender. When and where. I'll get it. It was— " Nice to meet you? Kind of. He starts again. "Thank you."

Well, Teo said it was nice to meet him. Reciprocation would only be polite. Not that the little kid Phoenix is about to throw a thing and squeak objections at the holes in Sylar's memory, of course, because, hah.

No one's here to laugh.

Still, there's a companionable curl at the corner of Teo's mouth. "Most psychopathic killers notice. I think. They live with people long enough and they notice something's missing. Not just memories, either. It happened in January. The Verrazano-Narrows bridge came down in a Hell of a fire-fight. End of last month. Flow of water currents, harbor, came over this way. A lot of shit ended up on the shore. Maybe just a coincidence of timing and depth contours with your life, but maybe not.

"Shooters?" There's a note of incredulity in Teo's voice, even as he swivels his left foot out toward the rim of the umbrella's protective circle. For a moment, Sylar might think his unlikely companion found something particularly hilarious or unseemly about his choice of venue, but that isn't it. There's a hint of disbelieving mirth creasing the corners of Teo's eyes; the humor of a man who's been waiting his turn at the gallows a little too long.

Though no one here is laughing. "You sure? Think about it, signor. What kind of asshole would know nothing about you except for the bloody rep and a couple girls making deals to save your life?" Teo runs the back of his hand across his bottom lip, then his tongue. Tastes like blood, but dried up and ridged now, scabbed over, hardened. His throat moves. The beat of his heart falters. Adjusts. The offer has almost painful appeal, even despite the risks that seem attached.

Desperate times, and all that shit. Teo can afford to seem altruistic, selfless, when all he's been doing is regurgitating old news. "Either way: you're welcome." Raindrops bounce off the back of his boot; a cold wind pushes his shoulder and squeezes cruel fingers into the gap of his sweater.

He remembers the bridge, in a sort of half-dazed fantasy of looking up at the molten surface of cold water, a ribbon of blood streaming from a head injury, although that is a poetic image that lasts only fleetingly, as if a flash of light, an explosion, a spark had been able to conjure it, because mostly it's just the harsh reality of noise, blackness, and pain. It's insight for himself, not Teo necessarily, and he keeps it that way.

Especially now. "I don't know," Tavisha says, voice a little steelier and baffled than the earnestness he'd been showing. Mistakes of trust are ones he keeps making, he knows, but it's stranger still when it's pointed out to him so immediately. "But it's better than nothing. Dreams, and nothing. What am I supposed to do?" A wave of his hand, dismissing it. Finewhatever. "Well I don't have to respond. And I can protect myself if you feel the sudden compulsion to screw me over." Funny, him being paranoid of Teo. As if Teo were the one likely to set any kind of trap, which isn't out of the question should he actually understand who Teo is and who he runs with, but he sees no reason to think the same way. There are too few people in the world who know him even a little.

And all of them seem to be frustratingly casual, random bystanders, Teo amongst them. But there are people who care. That's what Teo said. "It was nice to meet you." There. Tavisha backs up a step, a more cautious retreat than the one from the alleyway, but he's pivoting again a moment later, into the rain.

Less funny, Teo warning him. To be careful. There are people among those he runs with who would probably shoot themselves — or him — for that, but he can't help it. Sylar himself had once stated the facts in the terms that Teo's been forced to think in a month ago. Choosing your enemies may be more important than choosing your friends. Honesty helps with friendship, he's given to understand. If nothing else, than because it would be worse for Sylar to hear it from another.

"Gillian's the only one I've ever heard call you Gabriel. You'll know her."

As salutations go, that isn't cut from the same rote template of commonplace decency the way Teodoro usually conducts himself, but he's offering a wave in lieu of a Sicilian monosyllable and a smile. His arms fall in a brief shudder. Of cold, fear. Both, maybe. Rough fingers scuff down the panel of his jacket, scrabbling blind, nerveless, before he manages to flip it open. Searches out his cigarettes again, and his lighter. This would be the time. This would be a good time for a smoke break.

February 14th: Everyday Heroes
February 14th: Up To Speed
Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License