Savory Company


delilah_icon.gif teo_icon.gif

Scene Title Savory Company
Synopsis How do you get toxic waste out of carpeting?
Date March 17, 2009

Village Renaissance Building - Delilah's Apartment

Just entering the apartment, it gives of a feeling of comfortable homeliness; light colors, pastel shades, floral designs, clean and sweet smells, and only accents of dark where it most fits. The front room leads to a den further on, with a large sofa in a coffee cream color sitting opposite a similar chair, and a wooden table in between. There is only a small, almost retro television off on the other side.

To the far end is the kitchen, which always seems to smell like something recently cooked there; the appliances and counters are squeaky clean, but obviously used on a regular basis, and the leftover anything in the fridge can attest to that, as can a perpetual dish of cookies on the table. The bathroom is also squeaky clean, and it seems as if anyone coming out smells significantly nicer than when they had gone in; there is a closet within where the washer and dryer stay. There are two bedrooms, but one is emptied and instead made into a big, rainbow-colored sewing room, complete with fabric bolts and racks on wheels centered around a masterfully ordered sewing machine and table.

The actual bedroom is based in those mainly soft colors, yet the lower walls have at least two long, cluttered tackboards home to pictures, clippings, seemingly random crafts, and generally quirky things. A desk in a similar state sits in the far corner by the closet, opposite a low, wide, fluffy-looking bed swamped in pillows and comforters. At least a dozen stuffed animals peek out from various points.

The safehouse floor passes him by in doors empty or blocked, like a film reel spun past broken, too slow for the image to take seamless, animated coherency in his mind. He's on his way to see Delilah. Dropped off a thing for Cat a few minutes ago, figured he was in the same area. Same building. His jacket is off, hung up on the rack beside the front door, his keys and keycard installed in the interior pocket.

The hallway scrolls to a halt.

"Bambina?" Rough knuckles rap the door's lacquered surface.

Under the light pressure of Teo's knuckles too the door, the hinges can be felt swinging away- his voice is countered by a light squeak of metal, and the door slips open an inch to reveal a sliver of white wall and light blue carpeting. Unlocked and already open.

Just inside the door is a small pile of mail, blocking the corner from pushing too far inside the foyer.

That— he got the wrong door, Teo thinks at first, twisting his head to and fro to check. Three down from the end of the row. He remembered it right; he's sure he remembers it right. His brow folds under the weight of consternation, and his gaze sifts through the slithering pile of mail he glimpses in the gap between doorjamb and doorframe. "Lilah?" Five long fingers close on the doorknob; hesitant. "Are you in?"

Lucky for both of them, there is a response, albeit a tiny one. It's vague, and he'll likely have to listen hard.

"Hello?" It comes from inside, but not one place in particular. If Teo chooses to move his way inside, not far into the apartment there is something somewhat strange. A long, sticky-looking, clear-colored smear across the blue carpet in the den, staining the color dark. It gets wider as it passes into a doorway, leading into the bathroom.

"Bambina." God knows why Teo's always throwing Italian around. Hanging onto his culture, maybe. The repetition of words its target probably wouldn't understand anyway probably doesn't make a lot of logic, but some things operate on a plane separate from logic.

Long before language was involved, there was tone of voice. "Lilah, sweetheart." The Sicilian's now approximates soothing, now, concerned, cautious. He can guess at the nature of the stain on the carpet. Steps around it and over the stack of mail, approaches the bathroom in a thumpy cadence of feet. "What's going on?"

"Teo?" The voice pipes out of the bathroom seconds before he is able to reach it. "Watch out." Delilah's warning is tentative, just in case Teo was absentminded enough to try and get closer to that sticky trail in the carpet.

The redheaded girl is sitting down in the empty bathtub in no more than a towel wrap. The a dress, slip, underthings and all, is thrown over the corner of the tile, chunks of a pasty cream-colored substance dried onto the fabrics. When the Italian becomes visible in the open door, she lifts a tired face to him, circles having appeared under her eyes. On her visible skin, it seems as if she has methodically lain on layer upon layer of damp, clotty foundation makeup. Upon closer inspection, it is that same sticky, almost transparent substance as was on the carpet, but obviously leaking profusely from her pores. Delilah's face even has this odd, sunken look to it, as if her skin where threatening to start leaking off. Just an illusion.

Plok. A drop of the stuff falls from the tip of her chin into the vinyl tub. "I would croak, but I seem to have lost my swamp." Teo probably won't understand that reference to the toads, but she makes it anyway, voice strangely bitter.

Teo's dumb a lot of the time, but not stupid enough to trod all over the Evolved secretions of a girl whose Evolved secretions he's been warned amply about. It doesn't hurt that he's warned again, either. "S— yeah. It's me."

The slice of towel-clad body he sees brings him pause, start to turn, hands spinning briefly through the air in unworded apology. There would have been words, but he aborts out of it the instant the rest of his realizations line up as if on the green velvet of the pool table. A push of his pinkie eases the door wider with a creak of hinges.

"Damn, girl." Teo casts a look around before his gaze swivels back up to Delilah. The look on her face. There's a hapless, off-kilter effort at humor, neither subtle nor distinct; hunting down the elephant in the room with a Nerf bat. "David Beckham on the television?"

She makes a sad moan in response, drawing both forearms up over already sticky hair. Any tears have been long lost to the gathering muck all over, though even closer, Lilah's eyes are red-rimmed.

"They were only a few years younger than me. They had powers that weren't toxic- weren't bad- weren't entirely useless, and they got… labeled and stolen and bullied to death anyway. What would happen to me?" Tier three, throw away the key.

Moab Federal Penitentiary, Utah. Suppressant drugs, maybe a little yard time. Seventeen years old, and she'd be bound for a concrete pit, likely. Not something Teo wants to think about, but from the frown on his face he is anyway. The thirty six. World news is regular reading for a baby terrorist so he's pretty used to a shit diet of depressing material, but even that stood out, and the association is ready when the girl invokes it.

"'S why you're here," Teo says, loping to the bathtub's edge. He drops into a crouch there, his knees folding up under the chicken-wing points of his elbows. Settling, Teo regards the girl from over the flat white horizon of porcelain, baby blues large enough to mirror her face back for her to see. "So those things won't happen."

"If I were still in school…" Would she have been number thirty-seven? Delilah wrenches that thought from her head, closing her eyes. "I can't register. I thought about it, but I can't. They'll…" When her eyes open again and look aside, they meet with those peeking back at her. Both hands draw down the length of her face and over her distressed frown. Under her palms, that substance piles up, scraping from the surface of her skin and collecting in her hands. Yeah, it's pretty gross.

"What… what do you mean 'here'?"

Gross, Teo can take. Most matters don't bother him. Faecal, sometimes, but what takes him aback is that — there's so much of it, and he knows enough about Evolved abilities to recognize what SCOUT terms an eruption event. "But you're not in school, and I think that's— probably wise. Not Registering.

"And I would appreciate it a lot if you didn't take it into your head to add another line to the message those poor kids were trying to dispatch, however noble they thought they were being. 'S good having you around, signorina." It's odd, how the greatest flights of their preternatural abilities is inevitably marked by inescapable proof of their humanity. Breaks his heart, more than a little. His mouth gives a little rueful twist; he defines the distance to the bathroom ceiling and the rooms beyond with a motion of his hand. "'Here.'

"Secret— place. With people who can try to help you with your ability. Who're in the same boat, recognize the same tragedies, and how the system's fucked in the head and… They've been doing this awhile," Teo's hasty to reassure her. His fingers twitch, visibly restraining the urge to touch. "They're good at it. We're good at it."

Delilah allows her eyes to well up, but the watering never spills to the edge. It hovers between, and even when she licks her lips to wet them, they are slickened with something thicker than saliva. There is seemingly little in her mouth than more of that strange substance. Perhaps even her tears are too, hence their resistance in leaving her eyes.

The girl smiles at the man crouched beside the bathtub, however weakly she can manage it. There is still confusion in her features. "I don't understand. Cat? Which people? They?" Maybe now it'll start to dawn on Teo that- No- Delilah has no idea who she works for, or why the extra floor houses who it houses. "What do you mean, 'we'?"

"The Ferrymen." Teo's eyes scale the girl's face. His face is still all bent with worry. So much so that it's probably going to start making the muscles in it ache, if he keeps this up. That smile would buckle under the weight of an origami daisy, he's pretty sure. "Catherine and I both work with them. We help Evolved when the law can't or won't or happens to be the shitheads on the other side of the line. Mostly means hiding them.

"You," he clarifies, quietly. His heels shift slightly on the sloughed-off biological matter below, a faint squelch that he patently ignores. "I think… the readiest historical analogy in this country is— 'the Underground Railroad?'" He would have evoked Anne Frank, but—

He'd rather leave that kind of ending alone for now.

Wait, Cat. That sample box. Even in the midst of distress and drying cakes of poison, Delilah's obligations strike her, and she starts muttering soon after speaking. "There's a container I was supposed to put some of this stuff in for her…"

Despite it, she is listening closely. Up until Teo shifts, and his heel makes that rather… unflattering noise in the stuff she left outside of the bathtub before climbing in. All of a sudden she wants to laugh, but it flickers away- the more pressing matter is the one of this new information to process.

"The Ferrymen? I'm not really hiding, I- is that- are those the people upstairs?" She whispers, leaning closer to the edge of the tub towards the Sicilian, though keeping the rest of her where it sits. "…I didn't know it was like that. I just thought-" What did she think? "-maybe they were just weird friends of Cat's. Not-" Not what? Fugitives? What does that make her, in relation to said 'Ferrymen'?

At least Teo didn't tell her he was a terrorist, right? See? It could be worse.

Half-smile, shake of his head. "No," Teo replies. "Not right now, anyway. Catherine's very generous about sharing space with people, for someone as private as she is. Few different kinds of people have ended up there. Evolved, non-Evolved. Registered, unregistered.

"Long as you abide by her rules…" His features go still, then. He isn't lying, not with the words and information he does provide her, but there's more than a little deception going on here; lies of omission if nothing else.

Which characterize far too much of his life these days. His gaze jigs sideways, searching the lip of the sink for any sign of the receptacle she had mentioned. "Where's the container?"

Delilah lids her eyes a little, squinting after Teo as he trails off almost all of a sudden. "So you help her help people get away. Is that all you help with?" It seemed to her as if he were going to add something that never came, so she leads into something of her own. Dee's still got her own mysteries to solve about Teo, and that stopping didn't help his case.

"I think it's in the den. I didn't touch it since she left it." Lilah responds and tries to swallow past that sticky feeling in her mouth and throat. If anything, she could use some water. Finally, that topmost layer of stuff on her skin also seems to be drying into an opaque wax. He's calmed her down again for now, but Delilah hasn't forgotten about those kids- or her own danger.

"I'll go get it for you. See what she can see," Teo says. He unfolds out of his crouch with another ungainly squeak and smear of the gummy substance underneath his feet, straightening his pant legs with a palm smoothed down his thighs. His hoodie string swings at his collar, and he glances over his shoulder, turns. "I used to fix lights and plumbing and shit, at other locations.

"Sometimes I drive people places. Back when people weren't too fucking afraid to do them, I went to pro-Evolved rallies, too." Teo raises his voice slightly as he widens the distance between them, the tromp of his footsteps even, audible, sporadically moist. "Do you need anything else, donna? Soap? Coffee?"

"No, I'm fine. This stuff comes off clean. It's weird, but what else here isn't…" Delilah watches Teo's back as he turns away, scraping the gathered wax from her hands and taking what could possibly be the deepest breath ever, shaking with an attempt to will the stuff to dry faster. Before Teo gets very far, the girl finds the sides of the tub with her palms, righting herself. Under her there is a puddle of the stuff, framing the place where she had sat. Imagine a worse day than this.

"So- are you- are you like us too? Or just a fellow with a big heart?" Lilah pipes up again, the question slow as she draws up to both feet, wincing in mild disgust at the gunk she's left behind. "…At least I'm not a spider. Or a slug. Froggies aren't so bad."

A single breath of laughter— not at her expense, surely— rolls in from outside as if blown by a stray wind. "I like spiders and slugs, too. Frogs are great, though. Back home where I came from, we had Italian stream frogs which are… pretty much what they sound like. Coppe-colored. Big black eyes looked like they had makeup around them.

"Tree frogs, too. Green. Got all over the walls in the summer, trying to get some shade under the awnings." The rim of the cup peeks into view first, Teo's arm, shoulders second.

His mouth finds a lopsided grin at the sight of her up, peeling herself free of the tub, after just a wavering instant's Puritanical timidity. "Not that big a heart. Had my head in the sand until I accidentally…" He tilts one shoulder upward; holds out the container.

Delilah reaches out to take the plastic container, lips pursing, then attempting to wet again into a tiny smile. Maybe what she needs during these episodes is distraction- it seems to serve well, even if she's not forgotten the reason. It gives the nerves something else to concentrate upon, instead of leaking Delilah-juice everywhere. "My friend 'cross the pond had a pet toad. He ate live mice." Interesting fact, not important at all.

"Until you accidentally what, Teo? The whole bottle?"

"'Til I accidentally bumped into the angriest Evolved I ever met," Teo answers wryly, releasing the molded plastic into the girl's grasp. He cedes her a stride's worth of space, leans his hip on the sink.

Weight shifting, there's a casual jig of his knee, upward, shedding a layer of fluid off the bottom of his shoe; nothing theatrically squeamish or overtly careless. By now, Teo's learned to make moving carefully through space look like that isn't what he's doing. "Found cause to do something about it."

"Do something about… everything?" Lilah ventures, brown eyes going from him to her fingers prying open the container. Holding it in one hand, she lifts her other to the arm extended. Her fingernails appear to dig into the skin at the back of her arm, digits causing an illusion of parting skin below. When she peels it back over the top of her arm, the space left behind allows her skin to breathe. Somehow, that spot is cleaner than when it went under, and cleaner than the rest of her- must be what she meant earlier.

"The bottom is dry. Thank God. It stopped."

No need for shower. That makes sense, if that's what she had meant. Teo's eyes open and close slowly; his gaze shifts between her and the cup as she starts to lever the substance off her skin and into the container. Good to know that there will be more than enough to spare. Probably does wonders for her skin, the exfoliation.

"Guess I wish I could do something about everything," he admits ruefully. Teo rubs a fist on his cheek, grating the round bones of his face with the rough of his knuckles. "Naw. Just 'something.' I can probably find some juice or Gatorade around for you. Bet this process is dehydrating as fuck, isn't it?" His head tilts, adjusting the trajectory from which he watches the fragments of congealed secretion fall off Delilah's fingers.

Interesting. There is a small light in those brown eyes that zero in on Teo. "So you do 'something'. How helpful."

As she fills up the container, smashing it down until it is more than chock full, there's a scent left behind- a sweet smell, but not really inclusive of any particular sweetness. "It is." Delilah laughs, but of course, it is bashful. "My mouth feels like a cottonball."

There's a pause, and the redhead stands there for a few seconds with her lips open. Um. "Could you excuse me for a little bit? I just have to-" A delicate hand motions to herself, and the container, though it is mostly full. There's more to get off of her than can fit in this container. Fortunately for everyone, she's just going to toss it out.

"I want to tell you more stuff about me," Teo says, screwing up his face suddenly, like a child, his expression compacted between palms like a ball of Kleenex. "I do. I just can't… yet, anyway. Maybe next month, if we're still in touch. There's more to it. Obviously.

"I'm…" His cheeks puff out, blow a sigh, sucked back in with a self-conscious widening of his eyes as he about-faces upon command, with whiplash-inducing abruptness. Shuffles toward the doorway, with a penguin-flipper spin of his appendages to say, Yes, of course, privacy, of course. "Maladjusted young men found drunk off their asses underneath Staten Island overpasses and walking through their own puke— I'm sure you could've guessed.

"Unsavory company to keep."

While Teo keeps voicing his wayward explanation about how he wants to say and can't, Delilah watches him with a knitted set of eyebrows. Then something about being Unsavory Company. "You're perfectly savory company to me, Teo… I'd not trade that encounter for a million normal ones." While the first part can be misconstrued, the wrap of it hopefully gets her real point across. "If we're still in touch? Are you… going somewhere?"

Meanwhile, she has already pulled the solid white curtain past the tub, blocking her from view even if Teo didn't shut the door on her. The towel is tossed out the side by a long stretch of an arm. Delilah has modesty- just when it makes sense that she hide herself. A curtain is sufficient, and only a vague shadow is still there.

The door remains ajar, the man's back turned, his shoulder set against the doorframe. Teo is frowning at her choice of words! Well, not just the choice of words, but the idea she is conveying. Her recklessness never ceases to amaze him. Some symptom of being young, surely. Thinking she's ten feet tall and bullet-proof.

Teo fails entirely to make brain connections with the possibility that he is, in fact, savory company. He built bombs for PARIAH, kills cops about once a month, lies, steals, cheats. He is a bad influence in all of the most painfully generic and ridiculously theatrical ways. "I might be gone in a few weeks," he answers, at length, frowning at the wall.

A bad influence that Delilah knows no details about. As himself, sans murder, bombs, et cetera- he's not so bad in her eyes(not so bad on them, either, but that is neither here nor there).

"Spring vacation?" Delilah laughs from inside, but it is clear that she wasn't committed to the answer. "Well… if you are gone, any idea when you'd be coming back?" He can't stay away for too long, right? "If you thought I was bad in the dead of winter, just wait 'til the flowers start coming up." Therefore, he must see it. In honesty, she is much the same- save for her clothes being likely to match the outside world better.

"I'm not sure," Teo replies, measuring the probability of his own untimely demise against the safest and least difficult truth for the young woman to come to grips with. He knew a seventeen-year-old girl who enjoyed the basic friendship of a man who helped her figure her Evolved shit out and died on a mission and broke her heart. There is precedent. It is best, he thinks, not to get too close.

Delilah's reckless with far more than what she prods with her shoes, too. "Might have to leave the country. But if I do, I'll check in on you.

"First thing," he says, canting a glance over his shoulder— until he remembers better, and his skull snaps upright again, almost hard enough to make his neck crick. "Promise. Take you to Central Park, make sure you don't go floating off strung to a herd of balloons by accident, or whatever it is little girls do—"

Leave the country? There's a sudden pause in the bathroom. Dee's face is peeking out from behind the curtain just before Teo jerks his head back forward. There's a snort of a laugh from inside now.

"I'm not a 'little girl'." First things first. "And I doubt that a vendor would have enough to lift me, but if you want to make absolutely sure, I would really love that, Teo." Maybe they can go rowing! Feed some ducks! Flee with food in hand from pigeons! Et cetera. Spring is always so much more fun in theory, isn't it?

Of course she's laughing at him. Par for course, with little girls and him. It's either blunt trauma from a fax machine or laughing at him. Still turned away, Teo's frown deepens around his mouth but pales around his eyes. "You are a 'little girl,'" he responds, despite the fact that she's at best a handful of inches shorter than him, and that by the time he was her age he'd had all his firsts but one.

"And I will make absolutely sure." That she isn't accidentally evacuated toward the moon with a sudden splurge on hydrogen-pumped whimsies, and that she' still capable of that in the spring. Of laughing. "First thing. I'll be happy to get some proper fucking weather around here again."

"Every day that it gets warmer, my heart gets a little bit lighter." Delilah suddenly appears, leaning on the doorway to the bathroom, this time in a salmon pink, polyester bathrobe tied at the waist. "How am I a little girl? …Really? I'm more responsible than some people your age. Is it the age thing? I hate numbers. They don't measure maturity, they measure how much longer you've got 'til you won't get arrested for drinking."

Lilah's voice isn't especially irritated, but there is a hint of sourness when it comes to 'age'. It's unfair! Her mood has leveled out, and that coping mechanism of being Dee-lightful has turned back to almost full function once again.

The Sicilian wishes he could say the same, but there's a lot of heavy shit going on and it counterbalances whatever relief that the approach of spring brings whenever he stops to think about it. Not often, admittedly. The weather is similarly dismissible, except in the capacity that they can make plans to fuck around Central Park for awhile. He'd like to do that, if he's alive by then.

"If it helps—" he turns around, and the sight of her in her posey-colored terrycloth makes him smile, crooked, boyish, makes him look his age. "I'm still a boy at twenty-six, by the reckoning of a lot of people. Not so little, but hey. I figure there's worse things, si?" Teo takes another squelching step back, motioning with an arm out. Cleaning is later.

If there were anyone that can get toxic waste out of carpeting, it would be Delilah. She'll have a clean carpet within a few days.

"There are. It just bugs me, you little boy." Mutual teasing point, y/y. The redhead smiles and shifts in the doorway, balancing her weight on one foot and unconsciously tilting her hips under the terrycloth. For all intensive purposes- truly lingering in the doorway. That sweet smell from a rather gross display also lingers, clinging to the bathrobe.

Dee sighs, the breath leaving with the last touch of her bad mood. "Do you want to stay for tea? Something? Do you need to be anywhere? …I have cupcakes."

"I have to go in a little bit," Teodoro admits with a touch of rue, ducking his head as if in preparation to accept a sound cuffing about the ears. "Wish I could. I only have a few minutes."

There's a quaver-beat's pause, an exaggeratedly furtive shift of pallid eyes through the half-light of the economically lit hallway, squinty with some fictional paranoia or terror of rejection. Not that he doesn't indeed have as much of the real stuff, as the next poor schmuck to tumble into a pro-Evolved terrorist campaign, but some eternally optimistic part of him desperately wishes to believe, always, that Delilah would not refuse him this.

"A few minutes is probably long enough to get a napkin and a cupcake to go."

It's not a cuff, but Delilah inches close enough to lift her hand to prod Teo in the side of his face with a knuckle of her pointer finger. There's nothing left on it to make him go crazy, thankfully.

"Okay." That's right. She would not. Her voice a tone lower and eyes a shade darker, she continues. "…Thank you for coming inside, Teo." Someone else was what she needed to be drawn out of her funk- it doesn't take much to make Delilah content.

The simplicity of two is sometimes preferably to the nightmarish complexity of being one soul all alone and unaccompanied. Teo kind of understands. He's human enough for that, in the sense that is completely irrelevant to the presence of Evolved abilities. Her finger scrapes past a small band-aid, doesn't hurt him in the slightest. He grins, shows tooth, and angles his torso toward the kitchen.

A drink for her, a cupcake for him. "Is there anything else you need?"

Hooking her hands behind her back, Delilah peers down past the robe at the smears on the floor, drying into place. She follows them back across the room towards the kitchen, aiming a curling smile over her shoulder. "Nope. I think I'll be alright…" Come get your cupcake, already. In her voice is a musical guarantee to herself that Teo is sure to come back for more of them. Hopefully, he will.

March 17th: I Know Why The Jailbird Sings
March 17th: No Take-Backs
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