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Scene Title Temper
Synopsis Even at 26, Teo's is pretty bad and worsening— and he knows it.
Date July 21, 2009

Village Renaissance Building - Abby and Leonard's Apartment

A straining bottlefly is being pursued around the corner of the room by Scarlett's fast-clicking feet, her tail spooling black shadow across the wall. Commercial break gives Ghost the opportunity to look at the clock with an innocuous facsimile of idle nonchalance. He picks himself up off the couch's padded cushions, smooths his shirt with a palm, embarks on momentary optimism that perhaps Teo is either phased out of consciousness or has failed to notice the Village Renaissance's conspicuous shortage of rednecks this fine evening.


Flinch. Gabriel is lucky he's asleep. Ghost claps one long, coarse hand pointlessly over his ear, scrubs ruefully at his bristly scalp. Just as idiotically, he fetches a glance over at Abigail's door; the one with the yellow cross nailed in across the varnish and paint. She's asleep. Packing. Something. He could check; doesn't bother, what with having his mind occupied with the bold-weight, block-lettered, razor-serifed rage. Calm down, he replies. He's probably just taking a very long walk.


Ghost tries a different tack: Fucking shut up. Christ. Quieter at least, will you? We may not agree on a lot of things, but I think it's fairly self-eviden that I do have to listen, and you want me to.

Quiet diffuses in, barring select interruptions. The cat bolting into the kitchen on a gallop of strides that are each one as long as she is, the gun that the ghost is now fiddling with: a Firestar. It weighs its small but formidably dense weight cold against the grain of his grasping hand. He's checked it three times already, but a fourth seems to be only courteous paranoia, in the giving of a gift. He hopes zietta Lucrezia will like it, even if she used to tend to restrict the carried contents of her purses and clutches to paper, plastic and leather. Things change. With them, more than other people. Satisfied, he pops the slide back into place and slinks for the door.

This pisses me off, Teo grinds out, flatly. Did you get Wireless to check—?

He hasn't been abducted or arrested or shot or anything, no. Coords indicated safe course of travel. Ghost whistles a sweet salutation back at Pila, and yanks the door shut behind him. Why are you pissed off?

Why aren't you? He's your boyfriend.

Dead people don't have boyfriends. I'm just glad he won't be lonely after I'm gone.

I'd be here. I was going t— he wanted me to be here. He said so. He pretends you're me. I was— am— going to fucking be here, and he said that's what he wanted; you said you'd let me go.

In passing, Ghost drags his thumb across a scratch in the wall of some inscrutable origin. Possibly an accident with Deckard's face, Ferry supply movement, or some maintenance guy doing a deplorable job of checking the concealed surveillance. The lives it contains are hard on this building; if these walls could talk, they would never shut up screaming. He foregoes the elevator and takes the stairs. Yes, the ghost replies. That's what I fucking meant. From personal experience— prior, I mean, nothing snide or recent— I believe I can safely conclude: it's lonely being with you.

That doesn't make this right, Teo grinds out, above the steady drub of their loping stride. Or any fucking better. Callus little heel knows I hate this, he just doesn't think— can't be fucking bothered to think— doesn't give a flying fuck about— the fact that I'm fucking stuck in here, anger is sudden, needling bright as the sparks spat from metal wheel grinding metal rail, as inexorable as the crank of mechanics but just as inherently startling. Prisoner in my own fucking body whole some homicidal prick squirts fishy muff taffy all over my fucking reputation, relationships, and fucking psychological wellbeing. Turns out, everybody's too busy crying some fuck took their superpowers away or their fucking boyfriend might break up with them some fucking day or experiencing magical confusion about whether or not I'm you yet to try and fucking get me some fucking help. Except for who?

Judging from the drumroll pace, the crescendo, this is supposed to be the funny part except, you know, not. Gabriel 'Sylar' Gray, Teo grinds out. And Deckard— who fucking tried to fucking kill me by way of solution. Now the conclusion of the worst six fucking months of my entire fucking life is probable death facedown in Pinehearst's radioactive shitbin.

Fuck these mutants. After all I've fucking done for them.

Teo may not be able to see it, but he can feel it when the ghost puts up an eyebrow; almost sincerely impressed. Ah. He lays the pistol out on the black lacquer of the table, swatting aside a sleeved sheaf of plain cotton— the likes of which his aunt would never have dignified with her person, two months ago. He glances up. Are you going to cry?

Fuck you. He doesn't point out that he doesn't have eyes.

I'm doing you a favor, keeping your parts out of your hands while you're in this mood. Such language.

The security panel shifts LEDs, red winked to green, seeing them out with benign salutation. Now the ghost is checking his own gun, but his motions are stilted, slowed down and hitchy from the fidget of distraction. He bounces down the steps, three by two, jolts in his gait like a particularly spirited young puppy. Absently, he sights down at a particularly formidable dust bunny swept out on the stair, before tucking it away in an expedient shove. He looks up, past the sandblasted pattern of frosted glass, suddenly stops. Blinks.

Teo breathes against the striated gauze of separate consciousness, pushing back against the consuming mass of its pall. He's tired of dreaming. What? he asks. What?

Leonard, I think. Right height, the combat boots. Ghost turns his head in the sterile silence over the stairs. Unrealized movement resides in his limbs, his outline brimming with incipient return flight, light, despite the black-on-black sobriety of the fabric they're wrapped in or the weight of weapons carried underneath. Bemused, he observes, He's sneaking in around back. What do you think?

Ordinarily, that might readily have been construed as a ludicrous experiment in probability, unbelievable if not overtly sarcastic, but this time when Teo listens it is with frank acceptance of face value, without thinking. Or bitterness, suspicion, which is just as well; the ghost is notoriously bad at extending the benefit of the doubt beyond a modest interpretation of his own vices, or showing patience or largesse to those who do not give it first. Teo answers, flatly, I don't think so.

Ghost drops onto the next step down. There is something smaller in his thinking voice, almost neutral, akin to mercy, when he says: Okay. I'll take you to the sea.

The Ruins of Midtown — Coastline

Pewter wrinkles of ocean approach from over the ruined stone. Ghost does what Teo would have. Stretches his lungs out so far that his lungs creak heat under its flex, and straightens his arms out. Here, he tends to feel free in a way that jackrabbiting disembodied or solitude in and of itself has never merited, but nevertheless wrapped within, somehow, in the wallowing embrace of a funereal quiet and nascent energy. Probably some sort of uterus metaphor. Ghost has grown tired of metaphors over the past few months, though. He holds his eyes shut and tips his head back. Breathes in, breathes out, breathes loud.

Teo calms down slowly, in inches. I'm sorry, he says eventually. This isn't fair to anybody. I didn't mean what I said.

Ghost snorts a laugh, cajoling bright, the musical discord of a train's fetid lungs.

These things just happen— and there's too much going on. I'm not really angry with anybody. Everybody is made somehow. It makes sense Eileen would try to understand you, because of everything, and that Hana would succeed— despite everything. And Sal has to take care of himself. The steal of wind past their ears mimics the dullness of Teo's whisper. I don't think Deckard hates anything as much as he hates cages. Not even you. I understand why he tried to kill us. And I get that I'm difficult. He's left feeling a little abandoned and a little sloppy, but even at twenty six, he's been thoroughly fucked enough that that is nothing new. (Nor are sex jokes at his expense.)

(Ghost doesn't invoke any, despite that they would probably lighten the mood.) Awkwardly, the dead man answers. Oh, for the love of God. You're breaking my heart. It's fine. Get things off your chest, you're doing nobody harm in here.

I'm just saying I understand.

Neh nyah. You left out the only tacit flattery in all this.

What, Teo says, the fuck?

Ghost points out: Also, they tend to think you can take care of yourself.

He opens his eyes. Both look at the sea and wonder where Gabriel is, or what he's dreaming about. Dimly, Teo decides he'll tell, at some point, while they're still talking, that he thinks he's been having Ghost's dream. How does it go? There's a red-haired boy, three feet tall and five years old, and they are on sailing a boat. A storm finds them. Wrecking towers of fast-moving water and gale-force winds beat the vessel around for hours, careless and rough, blinds his eyes with raw salt and exhausts the child from screaming, before they finally capsize. He has his arm around the fat orange of the child's vest and his legs tearing at water, but the boat is sinking above them, crushing into them with submerged lights, bellowing mass, and his strength is inadequate. He looks down, sees stark freckles and ginger hair floating in the water. The kid opens his eyes. This is the moment, and no sooner, that Teo knows he can't save him. The kid's name is Walter.

Teodoro doesn't even know where the fuck to begin, which is regrettably endemic to never starting. He's been having this dream for weeks. You know what I'm going to do when this is over? he asks, instead.

Ghost thinks about this for a few seconds, and then shakes his head. No. He starts to trudge along the dilapidated promenade. The concrete shows him a dull wink of granulated glass, shadow too diffuse to answer to his senses. Junkheap skyline to his left, sea to his right, the way ahead breaking up between jagged zigs and zags into an indistinct vanishing point. It's so dark, the only thing he can be sure of is that they are alone. Tell me.

I'm getting off this fucking island, out of this country. I'm going home, Teo says. He must mean it, because he really does leave it at that.

Without Ghost prompting, anyway. That's kind of like running away ramped up to histrionic magnitude.

I'm serious.

Yee-ah. There is a surprising absence of heat or venom in Ghost's agreement, for once, only the thinnest of pretenses; spite broken like a coward in his voice. He scuffs the heel of his hand across the underside of his nose and listens to the plea of tidal water against concrete. The ghost is swinging his arms, feeling nervous, almost, the homeless guy he had otherwise scheduled to kill tonight. Sure.

I have to leave. Every fucking month I spend here, in New York, fighting this war, I hate sleeping more and killing people less. I think I need some distance; I get so angry. What happened to you, then the silence, what you did afterward— I get it. Honestly, I do. And I won't do it; I can't become you. I can't. This isn't where I'm supposed to be. There has to be something positive I can contribute to the world that doesn't require a gun arm or plumbing. Phoenix doesn't need me. Ghost doesn't question that, of course— it's true, but what's perhaps the true exercise of ruthless restraint is refraining from asking after the converse, or pointing it out, that Teo had never been much before Phoenix and he had joined this war for the same reasons he liked sex, because he was young, had strength in his fingers, and loved the attention and the short-lived luxury of simplified perspective. Anyway. Anyway, it is Teo's turn to ask, this time. What do you think? You're disappointed, I bet.

No. I should probably be the opposite. In time, I think I will be. Don't pretend you need my approval, Ghost advises. Really, Teodoro Laudani has never needed anybody's approval, which is either a symptom derived or the origin of all his daddy issues. Is that why you're saving up your good-byes? Don't think that the ghost hadn't noticed. That Teo hasn't asked, hasn't reminded, though the old specter had offered, once, to give him a moment with Deckard; has unquietly considered allowing him more.

Yeah. I'm just gonna go.

It's wise. Sometimes, I wish I could, but promises would keep him here, like nails in his feet; Ghost had promised Leonard he wouldn't leave. You should probably do it. If we survive, he adds, a footnote or an afterthought, blankly.

If we survive, Teo echoes. He falls silent to watch Ghost's movements shrink tentative, blinded by darkness— which was always somehow more terrifying than being blinded by light, waiting dread winching a tighter knot than neon pain. The ghost is crawling his fingers along the rust-flowered pipe rail, laying his steps down slowly on the uncertain progress of concrete. I hope so. Fuck. I want to find out what happens on that TV show. It would be pretty fucking lame if I don't find out— it seems to be getting good.

Ghost grows bolder the longer he succeeds in walking without falling. He wishes he had a cigarette, or something. Teo could probably use one. I know it, he says, instead. I got the DVD bootlegged in Israel, 2017. I know the ending. I can tell you.

You're lying. For once, this realization or belief amuses Teo, rather than engendering shock or indignation.

Ghost insists he isn't, and he tells Teodoro the synopsis of the rest of the season and then the movie that comes out later. The princess defends the dragon, her empty hands and bare arms upraised. The wizard comes back from the misty island of forgetfulness and finds that his lover has aged thirty years and he, not a day, that he has forgotten the language they had once spoken, refuses to forgive him for what trespasses he conveys his remorse for with tears. That funeral bell is sold and melted down to make spoons and shields. Somebody burns down the king's counting house, but nobody knows who did it; the jester laughs himself sick while they flog him, vomits up a great chunky pile of beer and gruel into the blood-clotted dust, but he has no regrets. Of course, the knight finally completes his quest. It finishes with the knight.

There, in the final minutes of the episode, the old sage reveals himself across the campfire and entreats the younger man sit with him, underneath the weeping willow tree, to rest awhile, listen and learn. He begins to tell the knight the story of his own youth, of when he was foolish and foolhardy and afraid to do what needed to be done, and played at adventure across the sea, until the night he found an old sage who sat him underneath a weeping willow tree.

I sailed the wild, wild sea
climbed up a tall, tall mountain
I met an old, old man beneath a weeping willow tree.
He said, "Now if you got some questions,
go and lay them at my feet
but my time here is brief
so you'll have to pick just three."

And I said, "What do you do
with the pieces of a broken heart?
And how can a man like me remain in the light?
And if life is really as short as they say,
then why is the night so long?"

And then the sun went down
and he sang for me this song:

"See, I once was a young fool like you,
Afraid to do the things that I knew I had to do.
So I played an escapade just like you.

"I sailed the wild, wild sea,
Climbed up a tall, tall mountain,
I met an old, old man, he sat beneath a sapling tree.
He said, 'Now, if you got some questions,
Go and lay them at my feet,
But my time here is brief,
So you'll have to pick just three.'

"And I said, 'What do you do
With the pieces of a broken heart?
And how can a man like me remain in the light?
And if life is really as short as they say,
Then why is the night so long?'"

In other words: Ghost was indeed lying. He hadn't watched the TV show, he was merely making up a plotline that mimics a few pretty pieces of literature and lyricism he'd heard.

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