Room Service


deckard_icon.gif eileen_icon.gif teo2_icon.gif

Scene Title Room Service
Synopsis Deckard and the Ghost make a ramshackle rescue attempt to retrieve Eileen from Logan's clutches. Who needs plans?
Date June 11, 2009

Back lot behind The Happy Dagger

There is a thickset man standing at the end of the broad yellow stripe that demarcates the parking lot as separate from the street. He has a gun under his arm and an air about him that required a little more cultivation than the two hundred pound mass he carries stuffed inside the fabric of his black shirt and trousers. His presence is security and territory manifest, in lieu of an actual, functioning boom barrier though the ticketing machine remains there, deactivated, like a tombstone for legitimacy, snarled wires and jammed clockwork sticking out ungainly its emptied arm socket and the turfed-up panel where paper slips once emerged.

The booth behind it is occupied by another man, who seems to be a clone wrought from the same template as the first but for a difference of skintone and a distinctive scar curving down from the jut of his lip. A cigarette weaves smoke out of his meaty fingers, lids his eyes with a slothful sort of pleasure. They recently concluded a few desultory conversations about what they'd given up for Lent and this year's Maxim swim calendar. A tiny television blares Showtime nudies at him from his left side, and the lightbulb overhead is palpitating dangerously, between bright and dim.

Both men have been rotating through shifts back here for Logan long enough that none of this is truly distracting, but still, time and boredom take their toll. It's slow. Even the traffic is slow, and the pedestrians— what pedestrians? Easy work is made so by its absence. Nobody comes back here.

It is almost two o' clock in the fucking morning and Shooters awaits— they're waiting to be relieved.

Nobody ever comes back here. Except for tonight, when someone does. One minute the coast is clear. The next, a weaving, displaced alcoholic is dragging sloppily around a corner that doesn't even look like it goes anywhere. At first inclined to meander on by on his way to the moon or wherever it is that he intends to spend the night, the short, lank-haired son of a bitch stutters to a halt when he seems to notice the guards at their post, reflected light glistening bright off the ghost of his pate shining under a dubious .

"Hhhhey," he calls out at length, feet wide apart, shoulders at a curious angle. "Hey is this — are you Dave? S'a guy and he said you were Dave and this is where there's some VIP entrance'er…VIP entrance…" Wow, he's like. Super drunk!

Stone cold sober for once in his wretched life and still bathed in whiskey stink that clings in his hair and grasps at his coat, Deckard makes for an altogether lankier and more skeletal spector in his silent lift up over the fence at the Dagger's near wall in search of deeper shadow on the opposite side.

The diversion does the trick. The man on the tarmac lumbers off, motioning with his arms before he decides to speak, either because he doesn't want to inhale whatever the lush is wearing in lieu of deodorant or because he figured the brandishing of log-sized arms would be easier for the man to comprehend than words. But words there are, in a moment. "Not this way, sir. Hey, asshole. Can you fucking hear me? My name isn't fucking Dave

"I'll beat your ass, buddy." It is a bit of a downward spiral in the manners department, but really, Logan doesn't pay them to talk pretty and the man who is not Dave isn't about to bother. His big-boned starfish hands clamp down on the intruder's skinny shoulders, elbow torquing to spin him around and send him off to play in traffic or whatever the fuck.

Not the next shift then. Of course not: Logan doesn't pay them to be early, either. Too disappointed to be amused, the gentleman in the booth groans something similarly unflattering and goes back to his shows, stubbing his cigarette out on the scorch-pocked plane of his left window. He doesn't notice Deckard's stringbean figure hooking itself down over diamond-latticed iron or hear it clopping down onto the asphalt from the other side of the lot.

There is an extra blob and corner of shadow poking out of the corner of the alley's wall, cast by no physical object or source of light because it isn't a shadow at all. There is a fellow in a ski-mask and jacket squatting over the gutter grille in his best facsimile of inconspicuous, watching, and waiting.

Flint falters when he fails to land gracefully, boot treads scraping unevenly for the few steps it takes him to brick up the hole between himself and the pain searing hot through his calf and up his shin. Not a good time. He's moving again quickly enough, white-rimmed eyes turned out to the flickering bulb at the guard post for the span of time it takes him to cross the naked brick of the wall that eventually breaks into the alley he's looking for.

Already breathing hard, he rakes a quick look over the ghost that's already there, then over to the gate. Even in the dank and in the dark it's clear he's deteriorated still further since Teo saw him last. Abigail's blessing has carved flesh out of his face as if with a hatchet, cleaving away any softness that might have had a hope of muddling the stark cut of his brow or the hollows at his bristled jaw. There's no hi there, how are you, anything I should know about before I start kicking in doors? Just a hard look and a silent direction. Open it.

As both pale eyes click up to meet their mark, annoyance wrinkles the mask on Teo's face, discernible even despite that the ribbed cloth is exactly the same color as the night. Why isn't your face covered? slow on the heels of a more visceral jolt of disconcertment, that Deckard's skin is stretched even closer to the hard-edged struts and valleys of his bones. Kicking in doors. Yeah. Sure. Fuck, vecchio— you and what gimp leg?

Fuck it. Rising, Ghost scampers agilely over to the gate. There is a length of notched metal in his hand, and it doesn't bend to useless ductility or snap too brittle when he fishes it through the little hole in the locking mechanism because it is the exact fit and proper design of the key. A torquing jerk of his arm and he unsticks the kink of the groove from the railing, leans hard. It slides, rattling, slaps the broad rectangle of gray fluorescent light out into the hallway.

Ghost half expects the grating of the mechanics to culminate in a click of the handgun hammer behind his head, but he knows he's just being paranoid. Too soon for that.

"Twenty seconds to company." The words rough into the air, distorted more by the harsh pressure of adrenalized breath than any real effort to disguise himself. He jerks a thumb backward at the camera peeping from the corner of the ceiling, then reverses a jab of forefinger at Eileen's door. Which he does not have a key for, perhaps problematically.

Annoyance is met with a bristled absence of patience, low-key, submissive acceptance that might be the norm lost to dislike for virtually everything there is to have an opinion on re: this entire situation. Deckard's right hand does brush down to draw one of his guns out into cool air at the warning about time and company, but for all the hammer is clicked nimbly back and then released, the matte black muzzle doesn't flirt with the back of Teo's skull just yet. There are more immediately pressing problems to put bullets in.

Rather than go a-kicking, as much as he might like to for purely dramatic and time-saving reasons, Flint is quick to draw a flat-head screwdriver out of his coat. It's stabbed stiff into the doorjamb at the lock, metal dragging at and pounding deeper into the space between door and wall when he thumps the butt of his pistol soundly against the grip. So much for safety first.

Thunk. Scrape. Thunk. "Room service!"

At the next 'thunk' there's a click and a clack, then the door jolting open in an arc harsh enough to have it rebounding hard off the wall it just smashed a dent into. Flint stands in the frame, screwdriver wielded like a blade in one hand, gun hefted rigid in the other.

"Flint?" The voice is rough, raw, but there's no mistaking who it belongs to. Topped off with a tangle of dark hair, Eileen's sylph shape is seated on the edge of her mattress, a dress shirt hanging off its bony angles and giving her the appearance of a rumpled black kitten peering out at him from the inside of a giant silk pillowcase. Ugly stains cover the front of the garment, some lighter than others, all in varying shades of red; gore clings to her pale face, heaviest around her nose and mouth, and clumps in her hair. It's a lot of blood, though the likelihood of it belonging to her is slim if the speed and swiftness with which she rises to her feet is any indication.

Gray-green eyes dart past the man whose build fills the cell's wooden doorframe and seek the shadows beyond it as if expecting someone else to materialize over Deckard's shoulder. When that doesn't immediately happen, her gaze returns to the arms dealer's long face, anchored by two points of less-than-luminous blue, and the expression etched across her features takes a bewildered turn. What's he doing here for her?

Now Teo is behind Deckard and taking out his gun but by now, novelly, from him no one yet or any longer expects friendly fire. On the phone, he was the supplicant; here on the field, he enjoys the prospect of confronting his co-workers with active firearms in their place of business. His enemies and friends are in all the wrong places, and any small error could make all of his bloodshed and treachery for nothing.

Surely everyone cares that the psychotic time-jumper gets his way with this ill-conceived timesplash, wires crossed and a different flavor of pie crumbing every finger. Surely.

Ghost is scuffing up against the gaping gate, shoulders jammed up against the steel for shelter, his own pale eyes hazed by disfocus as he sends his third eye out, around the corner and glimpses through the bounding loci of the car park's burly watchmen barreling across painted tarmac toward the alleyway, radios cackling and semi-automatics yanked free of their lapels. And others upstairs. Fortunate, that there are so many stairs. "Deckard," he hisses.

In all fairness, bewilderment is probably to be expected. The gloves and the long coat and the black vest scratchy and stiff underneath may lend some twisted form of credibility to his austere frame, but it's a boost that takes him from homeless purse snatcher to bank robbing hobo rather than — you know. White knight or conquering hero. The manic, animal sheen to eyes set deep in the sunken shadows hooded in beneath his brows has an undeniably helter skelter cast to it. He's rail thin. Sickly. Pale. Cold at the nape of his neck where fresh sweat curls unkempt hair dark against his collar. Easy pickings. It's hard not to notice, even if he doesn't particularly want to.

A breath's worth of hesitation later, Teo's voice hisses at his back and his eyes tear away from the blood clogged sticky in Eileen's hair. And everywhere else. How many times has the carpet been changed out in this room? One has to wonder.

"Hey." Hi. You look sad and are covered in gore. Flint's brows twitch nimbly towards each other, dry mouth falling open to inquire only to be cut off by recognition of the fact that it doesn't really matter if they don't get out of here. Shit. Okay…well. Okay. He glances quickly back to the door, hammer drawn back again with a deliberate click before he steps to withdraw, shotgun a black slash across the shielded ridge of his spine. "We're out of time. Can you run?"

The distinction between can and should is subtle enough that there's only a wavering beat of silence in between Deckard's question and the answer Eileen offers him, which is a muted "Yes." Maybe not very far and maybe not very fast, but that isn't what he asked — and even if it had been, it's unlikely that either detail would have influenced her response. When someone tells you that youre out of time—

"Teodoro," she says rather bluntly, and it isn't to acknowledge the man at the gate. Her limp is a little less pronounced than the last time she and Deckard saw one another, though it isn't immediately clear whether this is a result of her time in the Dagger's basement or some feigned attempt at good health. Either way, it doesnt appear to impede her progress as she hefts up her coat and pulls it on in a series of swift, jerking movements that match the halting scuff of her feet on the floor. "He's working for Logan. Helped him kill Richard Cardinal."

There's another pause, slightly more prolonged than the last. Her brow knits, the corners of her mouth turning down into an expression that's as difficult to read as it is to see in the dappled half-light. "Aim low if you see him?"

By now, the Sicilian is scrunched down at the corner of the gate, his shoulders bent almost in half against the planed concrete of the barred iron's frame. He doesn't miss the conversation going on between Eileen and Deckard, insofar as that he catches enough snippets of it through the circuit his projection takes through the proximate minds to get the gist. Inconvenient, these gossipy little fucks.

No time to argue, though. He flattens his cheek against rust-notched metal. Takes a breath, which grates like lawnmower parts inside his head while the approach of the car park guardsmen jackhammers outside. He focuses. Sticks his head out just in time to catch them bursting in around the corner and his eyes narrow behind the mask, a physical reflex of musculature that has nothing to do with the velocity of the psychic blast he halves between the two attackers.

It isn't enough to stop either from shooting, but there are two guttural squawks of surprise, two solid misses. Ghost heaves himself up and jerks himself out into the alleyway, 9 swinging. The first one isn't by any stretch of imagination a beautiful shot; the second slightly moreso. There's blood, ragged holes punched through marrow. He shouts back: "Hurry up."

Teodoro. "I know," says Flint before she finishes, even though he doesn't. Not really. Not the whole thing. His brow knits further at the rest, furrows dragging out deep across the flat of his forehead when he twists to glance back at her. Cardinal's dead? The news gives him pause, which is something he can't really afford to have at any point now or in the next five minutes or so. What might have looked like the barest beginnings of an offer of the gun he's holding twitches and retracts. "He's just outside." Long fingers resettle around the grip, and out the door he goes, sounding more decisive than he feels. "Don't say anything."

Shots fired. The muzzle blast slashes white light through the alley, one two, and Flint jolts into a short-lived sprint to add a third, fourth, fifth recoil to the mix just past the gate. The guy that was still moving suddenly isn't. Spent casings trickle merrily across damp concrete in rapid succession, skipping and rolling hollow at his heels through the shrieking swell of tinnitus in his ears. He's running.

So is the first thug that makes it down the stairs, taking them two at a time at a bounding gallop that bounces him off the wall when he runs out of steps and fails to stop in a timely fashion. He doesn't ask them to stop before he starts shooting.

The onus isn't on Eileen. Unarmed, minus the latent ability she can feel twisting around in her belly like a cluster of leeches, she follows in Deckard's harried footsteps and brings up the rear. One hand clutches at the front of her coat, holding it closed at the collar's leather nape, while the other lifts, splays its bone-white fingers and gathers a concentration of unseen energy in the seat of its palm. She directs it up the stairs, snaking around the wiry stalks that are Deckard's legs, and waits for it to sink its talons into the next-closest member of Logan's retinue.

Somewhere, out of sight, a male voice barks out a scream that steadily rises in pitch before cutting out around the same time Eileen drops her free hand back to her side. Either she's taken Deckard's advice to heart or she's having too much difficulty regulating her laboured breathing to go against it — never more than a few paces behind him, she doesn't speak a word, makes nary a sound except for the steady rattle shuddering in the pit of her lungs.

Now, there is nothing between the unlikely rescue crew and the blood-mottled damsel except for two corpses and running space. Not even a stripey boom barrier. Unfortunate, that the ravening pack coming from behind provides as much of an obstruction to freedom, justice, or whatever they're fighting for, removing former apocalyptic terrorist operatives from the custody of lower-ranking sociopaths, and murderers the lot of them. A most unconventional fairytale.

A thrown knife chases a linear trajectory out of Teo's hand, rams into the gut of the next torso that comes jolsting down into view under the top of the doorway. The force of the blade evicts a breath, turns it into a shout. Injured— but not fatally, the man falls backward, heels kicking, twisting, seemingly unable to decide whether or not he wants to retreat or persist downward. A bullet ricochets off the wall from the .45 in his hand.

"Minute 'til second shift comes in," Ghost gruffs out, somehow audible underneath the uncertain waver and choppy notes of the man shrieking under the influence of Eileen's new ability. He grasps the gate, starts to drag it shut with a rust-rimmed clangor and a shout over his shoulder: "Go on."

Deckard is going, really. It's just — there's a guy screaming, and his old shoe face is inclined to turn after the sound. The injured party is out of sight, so there's no apparent source, but his eyes have a chance to hook into Eileen with a hint of uneasy speculation before he scuffle steps back into a dead run. He's lost his screwdriver somewhere along the way, but the gun pumps black at his side.

Thirty feet, forty, fifty. Out ahead, he's tearing off across the empty parking lot, boots rapping out an unsteady beat across faded yellow lines and gum-studded asphalt when he scrapes to a halt and turns back, shoulders back and breathing ragged. Presumably to wait.

Deckard's dead run carries him further and faster than the pace Eileen's half-healed injuries force her to keep. The fact that there isn't anything separating her feet from the concrete beneath them probably isn't helping matters either — she catches up to the man in the time it takes her to trip, stumble, lurch forward and pick herself up without actually falling all the way to the pavement. She's at his side, bent and wheezing, neck craned in a backwards glance over the tapering curve of her left shoulder.

Pale eyes seek in desperation the outline of the man at the gate who told them to move, but the darkness swimming in vision's peripherals prevents her from making him out. She sees only shadows, vague shapes twisted into unnatural spires by the absence of light and a snowballing imagination.

Where did he say Teodoro was?

Outside. Teo is outside. Behind her, now, his gait somewhat less than a sprint as he keeps himself between the girl and the possibility of pursuit. No key in hand now, only the gunmetal as interchangeably black as the webbed cotton pulled down over his face. He is happy to stay in her periphery, and refrains from guessing too much at the thoughts or intent that cloud the space behind the swimmy green panes of her eyes.

"Y'ave a car or what?" Algid air and hard breathing thicken his voice. He grates to a halt after the girl, but he personally looks ill-inclined to wait much longer, lest someone else find them doing just that. However unlikely that may be. John Logan's staff has been somewhat diminished with his other holdings, of late. "How the fuck are you getting out?"

Now Ghost hangs back, though the distance between them would easily be closed by a well-directed bullet or a twist of Eileen's talent. He offers none of his own; merely shifts his gaze between the tattered Englishwoman and the lanky stretch of graverobber. Neither of them is walking even.

Equally aware of the persistent proximity of the Dagger, Deckard stays rooted where he is, air rasping coarse through the part of his teeth while he glances down to take in the state of Eileen's feet. Then the rest of her. He has a car. The problem is getting to it. Also, what to do with the Italian before they make it that far.

The ability to read minds isn't necessary to read what's chiseled stark into the ridges and hollows that comprise his long face when the iced over blue of his eyes shifts up enough to resettle on Teo's approach. Probably fortunate given that it's not one of the smattering of tricks the asshole has up his sleeve. He's right. Neither of them is walking.

Y'ave a car or what? Teo's the one that asks. Eileen's the one that gets an answer. "There's a brown buick one block to the north under a tarp. Just — turn the metal in the ignition and don't stop until you hit the Lighthouse. Or — if you have somewhere better…" he trails off, suddenly awkward. Maybe she doesn't want to go to the Lighthouse. The sentiment persists until she's made it a ways off, bare feet over concerete prompting guilt to spark and sizzle at the gasoline that's been pooling acrid in his skull all evening.

When Deckard speaks again it's at a growl, low in his throat and seethed through a show of teeth, eyes less bright than they could be. "Where's Teo?"

Breathe in, breathe out. Air goes in and out of the Sicilian's lungs and teeth with a noise like bundled chicken wire, less because of any deficiency of fitness than the fatigue of throwing that much astral assault out, running, shooting.

The prospect of losing his job, also. We don't have time! the ghost wants to argue, but for one thing he knows that isn't true, and for another, even if it were it is sometimes very difficult to get Flint Deckard to behave appropriately if the only real stakes available are his own life and wellbeing. It's a function of self-loathing. Trust Ghost: he would know.

He doesn't say anything for a moment, which stretches out over enough palpitating seconds that Ghost doesn't end up saying anything at all. Instead, he raises his gun and taps the masked curve of his head with it. Rap-rap.

Deckard's eyes spur into a twitchy, furtive glance up after the movement of the gun, narrow jaw wired shut by cords of muscle fiber more stringily defined than it should be. Comprehension is lacking, there. He's on edge, furious distrust stirring restlessness into subtle shifts of weight and subtle scuffs of wool over Kevlar with every ragged breath. Is he in his head? Is his location in his head?

All these months of working with and under other people later, he's suddenly beginning to appreciate how hard it is not to sound stupid in a situation like this when there's no one around to tell you what to do.

"I want to talk to him," he decides at length. It doesn't sound like a request. It doesn't look like one either, unconscious efforts towards intimidation hardening into the line of his shoulders and the hood of his brow. "And I want to know why I shouldn't kill you."

"Well." A waste of a syllable, hedging, struggling around brusque impatience and still-default politeness. Ghost's eyes shade a furtive glance toward the right, their whites blinking eggshell for a short-lived moment sandwiched between squinty patience at Deckard himself. He would prefer not to put this in these terms, but when somebody is threatening his life and limb— "I'm pretty sure you can only kill me if you kill him too.

"This is his body, and it's also mine. I— I'm Teodoro Laudani, recently Evolved, circa 2019, a disembodied consciousness who traveled back in time to help, and— and… now I'm embodied again." They can both sound daft together. "You shouldn't kill me because I'm Teo.

"You can talk to him later. Right now I think we would get killed. Both of us," he clarifies, in the tone of recognizing something of consequence without wanting to give it overmuch import. His throat moves, dully visible under the yellow light of the lamp. Ghost can't hear Eileen's pitter-patter anymore, and doesn't dare distract himself looking further afield with more than his eyes.

It probably takes someone who is the sum of Flint Deckard's experiences to listen to the full of this explanation without blinking. He doesn't scoff or balk or look away. He doesn't move much at all, save for where the salty wind tags at the tail of his coat and sifts quiet through the wiry bristle of his hair.

"You're not my Teo."

Sometimes stating the obvious is necessary. In this case it carries the stink of more than simple observation with it. Accusation, suspicion. Various other undefined but equally unflattering manifestations of what he's feeling in the form of -ions. "You're an asshole. …So far everyone from the future is an asshole." Or so it seems. The last observation is made to himself in a kind of disheartened, muttering aside.

There's a near imperceptible sink at his shoulders. If he lives long enough to be 52, it kind of sounds like things are going to suck even worse then than they do now.

"I wouldn't shoot him," pointed out a few solid seconds later, he looks past the Laudanis to the huddle of the Dagger dark behind them. Doesn't look like they're in a hurry to get over here and start shooting again either. The only other person here holding a gun is Teo. Even though math isn't necessarily a strong point of his, his glare chills a few extra degrees on its way past zero.

As of late, the Happy Dagger finds itself in a sad state of affairs that does not quite measure up to the expectations of its bloodthirstier critics. A little understaffed, the finances not quite tight enough to warrant protecting unnecessary investments in public relations. Four men are dead, and still this debacle was quiet enough that John Logan's reputation can dust itself off relatively unscathed and make do with scuffed pant legs. That's somehow inconvenient to the ghost's purposes right now.

"You're not," he says, but he is already stepping backward, now, his shoulders up like hackles. "Well— you kind of mess with four-year-olds— like my son, but… You're happier. Better. With Abby. I don't know how it would take," without segue, but unmistakably sequitur. The sawtoothed rubber of his shoes tracks backward, backward, toward the street. "I— the body might black out or start shooting blood out of our nose or something. Be all fucked up.

"I can't even hear him right now." There's a beat of wavering silence, and then a small vestige of incredulity steals into his query: "What would you say to him?" Deckard doesn't, as a general rule, say anything at all.

As far as deflections go, this one is successful. Some of the anger set into the lines around Deckard's face slacks into an intrigued flavor of uneasy bafflement at suggestions of his future self. Could be lying, could be leaving out details, could be none of his business. Could be a thousand different things. This isn't his Teo. He's already said so. "Don't — " Don't what?

He looks unsure, resilient irritation sifting back into the damp shine of his eyes in the work yellow orange light does to offset the dark across the parking lot. Then he sets to proving the general rule, more predictably silent and conflicted and silently conflicted than he might like. He doesn't take any steps forward to counter the ones Teo is taking back, either.

Yes, well, by 2019, Teo is an old hand at misdirection. It's very smooth, except that the rhythm of his stride is anything but, lopsided, shuffly, backing, wolfish, like there ought to be a raggedly-furred tail penduluming at his hindquarters. It is only half artifice; only half pretending at being— his Teo. The other half is less choreographed, not nearly as coherently thought out or slick. In truth, he's been a little off-balance lately.

Nothing is going as planned. Maybe it should make him feel better that Deckard is adhering to the general rule, where so few other things would deign to allow him this convenience.

"Eileen's waiting for you," he says, pertinently. Not quite hesitantly, he tramples a half-circle, glancing over his shoulder like a creature turned awkward under rebuke. After that, his strides change. The shape of him compacts, armor and jacket huddling inward, sleeking out with something unforseeably like grace. "Later." It sounds less like slang than like a promise.

It'd be hard to look more hopelessly resentful than Deckard does when Teo starts to sidle off in earnest. There's absolutely no move made to speak up or intervene or follow, but plenty of chilly disapproval to fit into the slot left by Laudani's slinking retreat. Can't kill him. Can't ask him what to do. Can't promise to fix it.

He swallows thickly, but the bad taste in his mouth isn't going anywhere. Drilling the line of his glare cold into the space between the younger man's shoulders isn't helping either. He couldn't think of anything he wanted to say in front of the impostor. Or he just couldn't think of anything to say. Still can't. Probably won't while he's lying in bed staring at the ceiling rather than through it.

More time passes than is probably safe or wise before he turns to drag off after Eileen and the car. Why is she waiting for him?

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