Shalt Not Kill



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Scene Title Shalt Not Kill
Synopsis A ghost from Ghost's timeline comes to settle accounts for another revenant.
Date April 12, 2010

The West Village — Francois' Brownstone: Bedroom

Early in the evening, with Teo trying to sleep, the smell of tobacco smoke is suddenly lingering in the air. Then, a few moments later, he'll start hearing the spinning of a revolver chamber, followed by the click of it into the gun, then the cocking of it.

*snap* No bullet comes out of the barrel staring Teo in the face, and an older Magnes with stubble on his face, wearing a wool coat with a cigarette in his mouth is sitting on the arm of the couch by Teo's feet. "Allons-y." is all he says, before beginning the process of spinning, closing, then pulling the trigger of his gun again. No firing happens, and he's clearly playing Russian roulette with Teo's face.
Teo's initial reaction to having a trigger pulled at his face is to flinch, and this, he accomplishes with a feral animal's hiss curling his lip. When no bullet arrives, his eyes refocus, with hazed difficulty, on the face behind the revolver. It's Magnes. It isn't Magnes. It isn't really Magnes, and Teo's fevered cognitions produce this realization with a sticky shock of realization. Not again. Jesus Christ, not again.

It's an unhappy revelation, fast on the heels of his forced house-arrest and Francois' upset. He's getting worse.

"Get that thing out of my face, Varlane." There are probably self-help books out there that directly stipulate that encouraging a hallucination by talking to it is patently unwise, but at least Teo isn't throwing himself down with his arms up, or whipping at a semi-auto in response. Instead, he starts to move crabwise out of the bed, roughing a forearm under his hairy jaw.

"I don't think Minea got much of a chance to say that, when you shot her from behind." Magnes says with another roll of the chamber, but this time he doesn't fire or clip it back in, he starts loading the rest of the slots. "How long do you think it'll be? You know, until I find out in this timeline? Until I come after you, and hunt you down? I could already know, and I could be planning." He lets out a puff of smoke through his nostrils, staying calm and collected. "You people did always underestimate how spiteful I could be in this time."

The corner of Teo's mouth sinks. The corner of Teo's mouth that can sink sinks, anyway. The other stays frozen in its macabre, scar-edged twist, its rucked-up perforation making uncanny leer at anything and nothing in particular. Halfway off the bed, one bare foot on the floor and the stink of misery on the bath robe dragged halfway off his tattooed shoulders, he stops. Pauses, sticks like a grease patina to the lip of a pan. Eyes the gravitokinetic, sidelong. "Minea talked a lot before I shot her from behind.

"She shot back, then ran away. Could've stood and fought. Didn't. I don't know about you in this timeline," he acknowledges, lurching upright. He shuts the halves of his robe and ties it shut with fingers that feel too warm and clumsy, blinking unsteadily in the neutral light of the bedroom. Christ, Teo hates being sick. "I don't think either of us are more afraid of dying than we are of a fair number of alternatives."

"Alternatives…" Magnes laughs with utter amusement, spinning and slamming that chamber repeatedly as an inexplicably sinister air begins to grow around him. "You mean like being permanently frozen still with gravity, and injected with an IV of a regenerator's blood? Death's too good for you, Teo, unfortunately I wasn't as creative when I was younger." He points the gun at the Italian again, but doesn't pull the trigger. "She was like a mother to me, I'd kill you in any timeline."

Pulled up at his full height, Teo thinks the air up here is woozy. Or that might just be himself. His brow furrows slightly, and he turns his eyes in their pits, panning his gaze past Magnes' face, across the wall, at the hard yellow lines of light between the blinds, then the door. Back again. "Alternatives. Like people dying because we're not there to save them. You might be right about murder being too good for me, though.

"She was a Company agent. The Company shat you out and threw you to the river. Gave you a basket, but you aren't Moses, and the crocodiles are up to their eyes in your squishy pink baby guts. Either way, you have a pretty depressing view on parenthood, which isn't my problem. Murdering Minea is." Teo takes an optimistic step toward the bathroom door, and finds the floor relatively even.

Magnes, of equal height to Teo, follows him with the gun in hand. He seems fully intent on using it eventually. "Minea was better than my own. She looked out for me, she wasn't just trying to teach me so I'd be a success and make money for her, she did it because she wanted me to live. She made me the person I am, without her I'd just be some meek little boy." He raises the gun, firing, but the bullet flies right next to his face, instead of actually going through his head. He could curve bullets in that timeline. "You took her away. Are you even ready for when I find out? Gonna be a coward and use Abby or Delilah as a shield, or are you gonna take the bullet inbetween the eyes like a man? Oh, that's right, in this timeline, I can rip-your-heart-out."

"I suppose," is Teo's desultory answer. The faucet squeaks on in the ginger grip of his hand, sends down a fizzing white column of tapwater into the bowl of the sink. "I suppose it's better to be a meek little boy than a deranged killer with the small catalogue of problems you have. Loneliness, grief, and other manias and preoccupations. Which I can't save you from. Fuck.

"Did we actually do that?" We? He's pulled his ragged head back, is staring narrow-eyed at the ruptured hole that the bullet put into the wall.

Finds himself glancing down sharply at his hands, trying to tell if he actually went to the bathroom armed. If the crater in the tiles is his doing, or a total fabrication. It sounded real enough. Felt real, skimming heat through the air. That's never a reliable meter, in a fucking hallucination. He takes a breath, then puts his hands under the tapwater. It's cold enough to hurt. "You can't make me do it, so stop fucking trying."

"That's right, I dated Claire in this timeline. I never even met her in my future. I'm probably even more messed up in this timeline. Yeah, I was lonely and screwed around with Bebe, got hung up on Abby and Gillian, but I didn't suffer as much as I have in this timeline." Magnes doesn't grace Teo's question about the gun with an answer, he's just cocking it again and sits on the edge of the tub. "I was always lonely, always felt alienated. And I wouldn't call myself deranged, but I'm pretty homicidal when people take away what bit of happiness I manage to have."

Water pools cupped in Teo's hand, and he sinks his face into it. Squeezes it out of the bristly hairs of his beard, and then runs his thumb briefly across the exposed row of molars in the scarred hole in his cheek. The cold of the water is felt even more sharply against his snarled gums.

"There's a lot of that going around. Homicidal derangements of loss," he says, scrubbing at his eyes, next. They feel too warm inside his closed eyelids, like coals wrapped up in tissue then fitted into the sockets of his skull. When he opens them again, his vision is blurry from the excess. "I never had trouble making friends until I stopped trying. We're pretty different."

"I never killed my friend's friends, but then, most of you people never thought of me as a friend anyway, right? You use me when you need a gravity manipulator. The only people who ended up my true friends are Eileen, Gabriel, and Gillian." Magnes shakes his head, raising his gun and firing it at the mirror now. He's starting to sound rather irritable. "With everything I'm going through in this timeline, I won't be surprised if I end up betraying half of you. In this time, what were my priorities anyway? You can only kick a dog so much before it bites you. Especially you, the nerve you have, the things you do that I don't even know yet, and then you go and treat me like a friend. You disgust me."

The Sicilian's eyes approach sideways in the mirror, or— its indifferently shattered remains.

Pale blue. Not the kind anybody would describe as cerulean or halcyon, but slatey desaturated, a decidedly cold color at odds with the sanguine crinkle of his expressions and mobile eyebrows. The ghost had done axe-murderer psycho evil pretty good. This Teo merely looks unhappy. Discontent. "Feeling's mutual, if I'm not mistaken. We don't exactly have a lot in common, apart from saving the world sometimes, and sometimes killing people to do it.

"I don't read comic books, you don't read stodgy Japanese literature. You deliver American pizza, I hate it. Your mom's a horrible bitch, mine's a shockingly buxom saint. I've never stood on a skateboard in my life." Teo steps baack from the sink, dries his hands on his pant legs. "Like mother like son, then? Minea stabs my people in the back, you follow. That's the fucking legacy?"

"You can't say I've never extended the offer of friendship to you. You can't say I've ever betrayed you. You don't have a reason to dislike me. Besides, our differences just mean there's more to learn." Magnes seems less angry for a moment, but he still holds that gun, which clanks against the tub when he places both hands against the edge. "I only knew as much as people were willing to tell me. Who would you trust? The secret presumably terrorist organizations, or the ones that extend a hand of friendship and have a seemingly benevolent motive? Do you even know what I'm doing in this timeline? I sure don't. If it's a legacy that happens, it's one you let happen. If my parental figures are Company agents and the ghosts of genocidal terrorists, doesn't that say a lot about how desperate I am for someone to look up to, and a direction to just help?"

"There's two ways this Minea thing is going to go, at least that I can predict." He lifts the gun and dumps out two bullets, spinning and closing the gun shut. "You could explain the situation, come clean, lay out your motives, and maybe I'll forgive you." He fires, but the gun just clicks, hitting one of the two empty chambers. "Or when my memory eventually comes back, and I learn what you did with little to no context, too pissed off to listen to you," He stands up, and pulls the trigger, which goes directly through his head.

"You die." says the echoing disembodied voice, the ghost from the future no where to be seen as Teo finds himself with no hole in his head, and a bathroom mirror in perfect condition.

It isn't physically possible for a man's eyes to find purchase on a disembodied voice, even if those eyes happen to be Teodoro Laudani's, while he's here, in the worst of his fever. "There's three," he says. "You know there's three. Don't be fucking coy. I know what you want me to do. Don't you fucking wave this retarded diorama of egotism around, I know what you—"

There's only himself to look at, in an undamaged mirror. The walls are whole. There's no burnt reek of spent gunpowder in the air, there's no blood on the wall, there's none of the simplicity of final darkness or even the obvious miseries of Hell. The last thing he wants to do, right now, is to go back to bed, but Francois will be upset if he isn't there. His eyes close. Squeeze. Opens again. His sensory memory can't quite hold onto the moment the bullet carved through his head.

There are a few things Teo's never done in his life. Has no historical frame of reference for. Taking— or failing to take responsibility for the lives and failures of others, on the other hand… "I'm not putting a fucking sniper round in Magnes Varlane," he says, and pulls away.

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