Terror At Tea-time


abby_icon.gif alexander_icon.gif grace_icon.gif teo_icon.gif

Scene Title Terror At Tea-time
Synopsis A few former/operatives from the Ferrymen and Phoenix talk miracles seconds before bombs take out the adjacent neighborhood.
Date November 16, 2008

Canal Street Market

Day or night, Canal Street is busy in Chinatown. Perfumes, purses, produce, pork, and poultry are all sold side by side in busy open storefronts. One entire portion of the street is dedicated to nothing but jewelry stores catering to various price ranges. Box vendors sell all manner of sizzling foodstuffs to passing pedestrians, some of it identifiable, some of it better left unexplained. The ambiance is one of business and pleasure.

There are a number of people who know where Teo is this afternoon. He called them. Contrary to recent events, he is normally capable of calling ahead. You go to Chinatown for the low prices, low but not unbearable quality of wares, and pork grease redolence, which is the economic and odorous equivalent of comfort food for the human psyche. It feels less cold here, always. It may be the chestnuts roasting in their charcoal-rimmed open air basins, and it might be the crush of marshmallow-jacketed pedestrians of the afternoon. Teo bumps into a small, tubby female Chinese one and apologizes monosyllabically, understands the unkind retort she answers with. He stops on the curb, hands in his pockets, and listens for the mechanical, stop-start putter of a scooter navigating through the more even clippety-clop of walking bodies, a smile on his face.

Wearing a decent-weight brown jacket and black jeans, Grace does a pretty good job of shrugging off the cold. When in Chinatown, she can't help but eyeball the vendors and their wares, especially the produce, as she moves through the press of people — old habits die hard, and her usual purpose here is shopping. However, today is slightly different — after all, Grace doesn't usually come with company in tow. Or in the tow of company. Which person's errand is the lead was never really clearly established between her and Abby, and all told, it's not very important. "Everything working out all right at the Garden?" she asks of the girl, with definite interest. That safe house seems to have become the repository of all their current odds and ends, and the outcome of that is important to the Ferrymen.

"Evlis has turned the living room into.. I think, I would swear, a garage, but she cleans up her stuff and found a scooter for me. No more city bus schedule" Abby informs the woman. A blue winter weight jacket, hat, gloves, scarf. "Jezebel gave me a room, and I cook, clean, till I can get a place. I think I have a job, at a coffee shop, something to tide me over till my second opportunity pulls through. Thank you though, for introducing me, for not objecting. Eve has stopped by as well.. Teo!" There's the caller. No scooter it seems, not today. Abby's face lights up at seeing her old phoenix mate and she opens her arms as they step up, to wrap him in a fierce hug.

Whatever disappointment Teo had been about to present at the absence of the Jesus scooter, inimitably awesome, it's immediately thwarted by the big dopey boy-grin that seeing Abby triggers on his face. He holds his arms up and out of the way when she comes over, a little joke about her height — or lack thereof — at her expense, before dropping them around her shoulders, squeezing until her nose bends slightly flat against his collar, waiting for a squeak of protest before he releases her with a grumble and offers Grace a hand to shake. "Grace, right?" he asks. Her voice had preceded her along the sidewalk, its corvid register somewhere between the rattle of wire clothes hangers on metal racks and the shout of the butcher, and an extremely tenuous acquaintance before that. "Good to see you, ragazza," he adds for the blonde.

Grace laughs quietly at Abby's replies, although the sound is really only made recognizable as laughter by its context. "This sort of thing is exactly what the Ferry exists for, Abby," she replies. "You're quite welcome." Blue eyes follow the girl's dash over to Teo, and, during her own more sedate closing of the distance between them, the woman offers him a polite nod. "Yes," that distinctive, ruined voice confirms, followed by an amiable smile.
"It may be why you exist, but ti still doesn't mean that you don't deserve a thank you" Abby answers, after the requisite squeak is produced from Teo's affections. "you called, I came. Grace was already heading here. Something wrong or just miss my shining face and my slapping of your hands for swearing?" Abby asks, pulling back and digging her hands into her pocket once again.

Neither for the first time— nor his most blatant of all the times he's done it before, Teo's eyes drop fractionally from Grace's face in search of a physical explanation for that voice, some visible evidence of trauma peeking out of her brown collar. He arrests his gaze about two seconds in, blinking, something abashed about the stoop of his spiky head. "Safe harbor, you mean?" What the Ferry exists for. Between sailing and fiddling with the electrical works, he's fostered a reasonable appreciation for what that means. Friends may well be for fair weather. Storms are somewhat more serious business.

He twists his mouth into a smile at Abby's question. "The latter two. Neither. Everything. You don't slap me," he points out cheerfully. "Mostly, I was wondering if you'd had enough time to figure out whether or not you're still on for the hospital visit. Or I have to find some other work to do." Occasionally, he's capable of undertaking responsibility. Right now, he's trying to focus on keeping the hopeful expression off his face, lest he lever undue pressure on Phoenix's erstwhile healer. He isn't doing a very good job of that.

A hint of a smile curves Grace's lips as Teo's gaze falls. Fractional as it is, the reaction is so common that she has no difficulty recognizing it. "Hm, yes." She looks between the two members of Phoenix, rather well out of the loop on this project — and not, from her expression, particularly irked by that fact, either. The young woman inclines her head, and steps over to one of the nearby stalls to give them some illusion of space, picking over the produce in its bins.

'Sorta Teo. I'm not welcome at the library, and I don't blame Helena. I won't do what she asks, and she won't … not ask. Easier this way, but yes, I'm still going to be doing that with you. It be unthinkable for me not to. I'm not living up to my potential and I should. It's an affront to Him if I don't" Abby grins, not needing to probably go into who Him is. "Mind if grace sits in on this? She might have some ideas. We know who just, the logistics of getting in there, and, frankly, needing the time to do it without being disturbed is in question as well"

It's too soon to go about whining and pawing at Abby until she comes back to them. Teo knows this. Wouldn't be healthy for anyone. Thus, he refrains from turning his not inconsiderable vortex of personal charm toward vacuuming her back into the fold, or whatever. "Things change," he offers instead, more by way of temporary acceptance than long-term agreement. Smiles when Abby says she's still in. Veritably beams. Continues beaming, even when he turns his head toward the Raven peering through the nearby basin of shiny objects. "Don't see why not.

"The plan was hatched at Gordon's, in front of half a dozen of her colleagues. Some of whom didn't like it," he notes because that's relevant, unwilling to presume anybody's cooperation after having heard out Anselm's aptly-phrased concerns. He glances around the pedestrian crowd, then motions at the nearest eatery: Peiking ducks hanging in front of the windows, the heat of wonton mein fogging up the windows, largely empty before the dinner crowds. "I'll find us a table." He turns to do specifically that.

Grace leisurely picks out an assortment of vegetables to take home with her, adds a couple more on a whim, then pays the good woman and bags up her selections. Additions to the larder are always good things. Sliding the handles of the cloth bag over one wrist, the woman makes her way back over to Abby sans Teo. Blue eyes flicker in the direction of the disappearing man, before Grace raises a brow at Abby. "Change in plans?" she asks, the rasp of her tone sandstone-dry. The conversation between healer and Sicilian, of course, had passed unheard by her given the amount of other noise clouding the air here.

"Teo and I going to go discuss the hospital plan" Abby speaks quietly despite the din providing some measure of privacy. "Would you like to come? Maybe have suggestions? I likely will have to be dropped off somewhere, where the ferry have safe harbor, i'll be out of it… for a while. I still have no idea how Teo's gonna get me out"

Grace tilts her head, considering the girl's words. "Which hospital?" she asks. Her nod in the direction of Teo's departure marks her consent to the inclusion. Yeah, I'll come. The woman suits action to gesture and starts after the Sicilian, albeit slowly. "We've got contacts all over; I'm sure there's something that can be arranged easily. As for getting out… same goes," Grace concludes with a shrug, that gravelly voice remarkably unconcerned.

'That… I don't know" Abby answers, a frown finally for once settling across her face. Into the restaurant they move, following in behind Teo with the hopes that something will open up fast. "They've been busy arranging other stuff, and no one much talking to me. But then, Teo is here, so that's a step in one direction at least. Know at least, that it will be a make a wish child"

Teodoro manages to kind of constitute a stampede by himself, especially when the rest of the proximate population reaches about his shoulder height on him and he's seeking warmer climes. He spills in through the doorway of the empty little Cantonese restaurant with enough bluster to occupy five other men, exchanges a few words with a waitress, and places them at a small round table that watches the entrance across the room from the tiny red box of the kitchen god, incense sticks burning before him. Teo stares at the small shrine for a moment too long before he seats himself. "St. Luke's," he says, reintroducing himself to the conversation without ceremony. "Cat has a list of names.

"I'm going to get you out with help from my brother. I'm probably going to get you in with help from my brother, too. It's his trick, and he's agreed to do it." If Teo's tone goes clipped there, that easily be attributed to rush.

"I'm pretty sure I can get in on my own power," given he's reasonably familiar with many of the evening staff and routines there now, after the lice thing, the ringworm thing, the broken thumb, sprained shoulder, the part where his head nearly blew up and took an MRI machine with it— it's remarkable what a young man gets into, between working with refugees and fucking around, "but the time you'll need to do the work could be hard to handle. I can't imagine stopping halfway." It'd kill her, he thinks. And he'd get ever so slightly upset.

"No, I couldn't stop halfway. I would either have to do many small visits, or I need…" Abby seats herself down, dispensing with jacket, hat, gloves. The scarf remains wrapped around her neck, the gold cross peeking from beneath. "Half an hour, maybe a little more. Someone with just one growth, not many. The less tumors, the better" Nooooo she hasn't done this before. "Something for energy, I'll have to.. get myself into a sugar high sorta, before that. But.. it's nto going to be quick. Quiet yes, quick no. At night might be better? They might have given him, or her something to sleep, and nurses I think, don't make rounds so frequently yes?" Abby looks to Teo and grace.

"St. Luke's is associated with both Columbia University and St. John's Cathedral," Grace points out as she joins Teo at his chosen table. She glances around the room absently before continuing. "We've got ties aplenty with all three. If your brother can get her in and out easy— " She glances over at Teo, one brow raised, but the tone of that gravel-and-broken-glass voice is all but impossible to read. "— so much the better, though you're welcome to use the Cathedral as a staging ground either way. Heck, give them half a chance, and they'll probably give you wholehearted support every step of the way."

The woman pauses as Abby chimes back in, and she nods to the teen. "This… Cat? If she has a list of names," Grace continues, clear blue eyes returning to Teo, "does she know the attending physicians and nurses also?"

The evening nurses are pretty. They pick shifts that go well with their regularly-scheduled daily life activities. Teo knows this, due to no gross defect of character, and he's liked to talk to them while they, you know, sassed him off for becoming a parasitic mess. "Every fifteen minutes during the day, thirty minutes at night," he says. "More frequently in the ICU for obvious reasons. Unless they've changed things recently in light of…"

A vague motion of a hand. Shit happens, continuously, in New York City post-2006. "Logistics could get odd. Possibly squatting behind furniture will be involved." Blue eyes turn on Grace, crinkle slightly. "I was uncomfortable with the idea of basing the whole thing out of our other hub. The Cathedral would be great, if we could get their support. They might not offer it," he notes, after a moment, mirth fading slightly from behind his face. He's never liked this part. "Helena still wants to pre-empt the day with a public countdown. There will probably be investigations."

"You mean… asking the hospital for help?" Abby's brows pull down, a glance to Teo marked with uncertainty. Her hand slips up to toy with the chain, with the cross, twisting it back and forth. She is /sure/ the hospital would help, but then… 'Do we know a doctor, sympathetic to the evolved? Willing to help, an inside job?" Suddenly, there's a possibility she'd never thought of. "If.. if there were one or two, we could trust, then.. we could do this easier. I would be willing to trade off, their help, with helping others, in the future, visiting the hospital once a week and helping in my fashion" Back and forth between the two she looks.

Grace frowns at the mention of the countdown, and shakes her head slightly, but she doesn't comment. "Sure, they will. The Cathedral is an active part of our logistics network, and it's one of the more 'open secret' contact points for the Ferry." The frown reappears, more of a scowl in nature, when Teo completely fails to answer her question. "As I was saying, if 'Cat' knows which staff are associated with your kids, Alistair can check the list against his contacts."

Blue eyes flick to Abby, and Grace shakes her head emphatically, raven's voice disapproving. "Don't do that, girl. If you want to volunteer at the hospital, that's one thing, but don't take on the obligation yourself. We'll carry that. There's no hospital in this city that has enough supplies; you pick a kid whose attendants are in our contacts, and we'll trade for the alone-time you need."

He failed… to… oh. Teo stops thinking about nurses and red-haired men without actually, consciously registering that he had been. What? Yes. No. Maybe? It wasn't a yes-no question, he realizes. "I'm not sure what other information Catherine has," he says. "I think she probably knows the attendings, but I'm not sure about the nurses. I'll get her in touch with you as soon as I can." He lapses into a smiling pause when the waitress brings by a pot of green tea, and reaches over to unstack the cups. When the woman takes her leave, he sends a quizzical glance between the two women.

"Jennifer may have enough energy to multiply up medical supplies as well as her other load, if that wasn't what you were talking about." A beat. "Yeah, I'm not sure how I feel about commodifying your talent. Just me," he adds, again, never one to offend; he's managed not to swear for at least fifteen minutes now, starting the miracles early. He glances at Abigail for a protracted moment, caught by a stray note of interest: "Seems like you're getting stronger, bella."

'Stronger? I'll take a cup please, if you would" Abby looks to Grace though. "If you have supplies then, to trade for time, then that would work better. Had been a thought. It's hard to offer to do it, since.. well, Usually in ends with a lecture and endless pleadings for us to have done more than we could. Nobody.. usually realizes the cost a gift can come with. If they can get me an hour, then.. I'll still have to pour it on, but at least I can go a little slower, take my time, and it won't be such a shock to his or her system. Just, just have cat choose someone already, and pick a date. I'll need to know, so I can start my job either after that, or I can ask for a few days off. I'll be.. well. yes"

"Not at all what I was talking about, but thanks," Grace remarks sidelong to Teo. "We've got plenty of more traditional avenues to tap." She takes up the pot of tea and pours herself a cup, then prepares a second for Abby — since she's holding the pot. "We can get you however much time you need," the woman promises, nodding to the healer. "Along with anything that would help you afterwards." Another subtle smile. "Just pass along the wish list."
You paged Teo with 'it's like , lets play "woo the healer"'

Teo's pleased that they haven't, at least, been flung out ass over tit thanks to that whole 'countdown' thing he still begrudges. He watches Grace the tea. It's piping hot. Steam unravels translucent against her hands, and an amber droplet swings from the lip of the stout, hits the tablecloth and leaves a dark dot that pales, gradually, not quite quick enough to see just by watching. "Stronger," he repeats. "It seems to be taking less out of you, healing. At least the way you're taking on new assignments." The alternative involves self-immolating martyrdom, which is a topic he'd sooner not broach. "Practice might be helping." It's a casual remark. "Does Cat have Allistair's number? Or vice versa?" He nudges his own cup toward Grace with a long forefinger, adds: "Please."

"Or people aren't dropping into my lap with all manner of mop handles out of their guts, stress, bullet wounds, or about to die from some strange allergic reaction all in the span of one day" Or maybe practice? Highly unlikely. 'I'm also not currently working a job as many hours as I can get while doing it. Means I'm not having to portion out what I can do, how fast. I'm used to just… going slowly. Everyone seems to want it fast, and right now" Abby looks to her tea. "Energy drinks. Like I told Helena.. Ideally, someone.. someone with what the person we're going to cure, and it is a we, I can't do it without someone to watch over me and protect me, someone at the end of their life.. I would take a week, maybe two. Just visiting them every day. But she needs it done overnight, she made that clear. You can get me in, you can get me out. Grace thinks that she get me …"Abby looks to her. Three hours? Whatever their shift might be at night. It'll be easier on me, easier on the person.. and they have to be asleep for it all. Nothing like waking up and seeing a strange person praying over your bed and holding your ha…" Her phone starting ringing in her pocket.

Another cup of tea is poured at Teo's request. "I haven't the foggiest idea," Grace replies to the Sicilian, raven's voice managing a remarkable impression of false cheer. "But I seriously doubt it," she concludes, setting the tea pot back on the table. "Wireless, of course, has both of them; of that I have no doubt." She regards Teo for a moment. "I can give you Alistair's current; if he switches phones between now and whenever, Wireless can forward the new number." Blue eyes flick to Abby, and Grace nods. "We'll get you time."

Promptly, Teo excavates his phone out of his pocket, hands it over obediently. "Could you type it in?" he requests. It's a simple phone, doesn't even have a flip: a disposable piece. His other remains entrenched in some recess of his coat. He closes one hand around his cup of tea and breathes in above it, enjoying the vaporous heat even as he watches Abby bustle in place. "I can get you energy drinks," he states in his most factual tone of voice. "Red Bull. Get a pallet set up at St. John's Cathedral, too, if they'll have us.

"I'll be there when you wake up." He takes a swallow of tea, doesn't flinch; his shoulders shift with a soundless sigh that is neither melancholy nor comfortable. "Hey. Before you head: I think you should consider being the one to choose which child gets it. Maybe after Cat narrows the list down. Will you consider that?" He won't rationalize his suggestion unless that's asked for, but he doesn't think he has to. Not for Abby, at least. She's spoken of that before, and at length: about having the choice.

"I have faith in you Teo. You'll choose the right person. Not someone who "deserves it" but, the peson who needs it most"Abby yanks the small phone from her pocket, so she can look at the number. 'Momma. I'm sorry, I need to take it. Teo, there's something in my coat pocket, could you get it to Sergei? I don't.. know where he is, or frankly how to get a hold of him. I need his help with something. I'm really sorry, it's my momma" And abby's sliding away from their table, flipping ponytail behind should, flipping phone open and pressing it to her ear when it auto answers. "Momma?" a pause. 'No, I'm just having something to eat with friends, I can spare a few moments momma. Dah alright?" It's a whole other girl. The drawl deepens, face brightens, and her voice is a few octaves cheerier. Abby sinks a hand into her pocket, wending for the front door and out of the noise. "Hold on Momma. Noisy in here, I'm going to go outside. Sides, rude to sit in a restaurant and talk, no momma, I have time to talk to you. Don't say that.." her voice fading away as she gets further away.

The phone is accepted, the number entered, and the device passed back across the table to Teo. Then Grace takes a drink of her otherwise generally neglected tea. Times two, as Teo and Abby digress into a last-minute conversation that she really has no part in. The woman just smiles slightly, listening, expression more evident in her eyes than any actual movement of lips.

Storing the number, Teo stows his phone. Articulates a little confusion with his stark, Sicilian eyebrows when he's given the duty of UPS boy, but he isn't one to argue, with a mother on the telephone and the number of times Abigail has fed him for free; he merely slips his hand in and out of her pocket, transferring the item into his own in a motion that isn't quite sleight of hand. He watches her as she leaves, the street light bouncing off the angles of her back from the plate glass door as it swings shut behind her with a bob of false paper lanterns. Shifts his attention back, after a moment. "I'm glad she has you and your people," he states, after a moment, for reason other than because it is true. And perhaps also because he knows that disagreeing with Helena can be a painful or awkward business, double-edged personality that the weather witch has.

Alexander has arrived.

Teo watches Abby leave; Grace watches Teo over the rim of her teacup, sipping the liquid within slowly. She raises a brow at his choice of statement, and sets the cup down, giving him a level look. "So do you, Teo. So does all of Phoenix. Don't go forgetting that."

A hole in the wall on the edge of the Canal Street Market, this is the Cantonese equivalent of a diner. Rubber-yellow chickens strung up in the front windows alongside sausages, a tiny red kitchen god enhoused in the back, bowls of soup noodles drawn on the menus. It's edging toward evening; the restaurant will start filling up soon. Grace, Abigail and Teodoro managed to snag a corner table to talk business before that happened, though. An odd set they made: Ferrymen, ex-Phoenix operative, and one Phoenix operative still. It was no meeting of coincidence: Teo had thought ahead enough to call around, let people know where he was going before he went.

The only real disappointment, thus far, has been that Abby didn't ride her scooter in. "I didn't, signorina," he promises. Grins, crooked. "I just worry about her. Little bit." Not the way a mother hen does; the way a young man would, discovering a bug from a freshly-socialized serial killer in her purse.

A six-foot tall redhead shouldn't blend in in this crowd. But Al has managed somehow, until now. It's pleasantly and weirdly reminiscent of Blade Runner at this hour - all steam and lurid neon glow, and Alex looks amused as he come up out of the crowd to manifest like a faithful genie right at Teo's shoulder. He's got a black watchcap on, army parka over all of it, black fingerless gloves - really, almost homeless garb, save for his apparent cleanliness and lack of that lost expression they so often have. Al knows his purpose, and it's apparent in his face. He's got a little of that hoodlum in his gait, as he glances past Teo at Grace, curiously. No greeting, just a hand on the younger man's shoulder.

Grace smiles faintly at Teo. "Well. That much, you don't need to worry about." Her gaze lifts to Alexander as the other Phoenix member materializes out of the crowd, and the woman inclines her head. "Hey, Alex. Just talking shop. Have a seat?" she concludes, waving at the furniture.

To say that Teo required reassurance would be a slight exaggeration, but likely, so would be saying he believed in a just universe and had no issues of trust or reliable commitments whatsoever. Thus, he appreciates that whole thing well enough. "Grazie," he says with sincerity, and ducks his head to take another sip of tea.

Which he then nearly spews out across the top of the table at the touch on his shoulder. He half-turns with enough torque to wrench a squeak of chair legs against the linoleum, an arm up in front of his face to prevent accidents, one eyebrow high, both eyes wide for an instant. Narrow, the next. He groans. Coughs, once, damply. "I'm going to put a bell on you," he states, kicking the adjacent chairs out underneath the table. "You just missed Abby."

"Don't mind if I do," Al says, easily, settling in to the offered seat with a peculiar grace. Someone's been drinking a little already, it'd seem. He pounds Teo on the back with a convenient fist, and says, in tones that should be able to etch glass, "How 'bout them cop-killing motherfuckers?"

Grace raises an eyebrow at the exchange, and chuckles quietly, finishing off her tea. "I should go home and harass Alistair,

Grace raises an eyebrow at the exchange, and chuckles quietly, finishing off her tea. "I should go home and harass Alistair," the woman observes, rising from her seat. "Keep me posted, will you?"

There is no major crisis to avert. Teo's airways clear after a cough and a punch or three between the shoulder blades, and a muttered curse, long after Abby's out of earshot. He takes another drink of tea. Relaxing in his seat, his frame slides a few degrees crooked, his shoulders hitching diagonal to the back of the chair, scratching his jaw, and eyeing Alexander out of his peripheral. "Read that shit in the paper," he nods.

Then at Grace, with a thumbs-up: "Give him my regards, please. Cat will get in touch soon. Buongiorno," he adds, glancing out the window to verify that the sun's still up, albeit barely, straggling down toward the horizon. "A little early in the day to get sauced, isn't it?" he asks Alexander, finally concluding that he is, indeed, that. He sticks his nose in his plastic cup intently.

"Yes Momma. Yes Momma" Abby's weaving her way back in. "I promise. yeeeeessssss I promise. Bye. Love you too. I'll pray. I promise" Pause. 'Yes momma, I promise" Flip close, goes the phone and Abby's smiling at seeing Alexander now with the group. 'Alexander!" A dip of her head for him and then a notice fo Grace rising from her seat. "Finishing your shopping?"

"Just caught a glimpse of y'all while I was out runnin' errands," Al says. Said errands involving drinking, apparently. "I should be getting on with 'em, really," Even though he just got here. He's red with embarrassment, for some reason, as he heaves himself up. "Later, all,"

"Good night, Alexander." A glance up at the wall clock reassures Teo. It's only been twelve-odd hours. Twelve more and things will be back to normal. Not that Alexander drinking is particularly abnormal, but something else was, and he can't explain it so he won't try. Or broach the subject, as Abby comes back in, singing salutations at her mother. His cheeks puff out as he exhales another sigh, oddly childlike, until he's flashing their petite Southern belle a grin. Waves at her again. "How's your madre?"

"Worried i'm not eating enough, praying enough, working too hard and that other thing too much and not enough" Abby slides in when all others have taken off. "She and got a new car. He got a raise at work and she was looking to see if I needed any money" her hands go around the cup again, her own fingers pale after being out in the cold and she uses it to shamelessly heat up her hands. "Your not mad at me, for leaving are you?"

Teo grunts, twitch of one shoulder. "Parents," he offers, by way of sympathy though with no real rancor or anything approaching it in his tone or his manner. "Yeah? New car?

"Damn, I'm glad things are going so well for them." He polishes off the rest of his tea in a single swallow, leaning back in his chair, knees up and tumbled one lazily over the next. He studies her from through the textured distortion of his plastic cup, until his eyebrow emerges above the top, surprised at her question, and he takes it down to look at her straight, huddled under her scarves, her cross winking at him. "I'm not," he answers. "Should I be?"

"I'd hope not. I'll still come heal your ass if it gets hurt. It's only proper and christian of me to do it. That and i'd want to" But there's a measure of relief seen across her face when he states he isn't. "You make sure the others know that. If they need it, i'll come, if I can" She reaches for the teapot, topping off her cup. "Besides.. you know, the bird, How are you? OH!" Now she levels a gaze. "Your student keeps, hitting on me"

He smiles because he means it. Good to know that she wouldn't let his ass bleed out on the sidewalk, even though common knowledge has it, that maladjusted young men who get the shit kicked out of them are asking for it more often than they aren't. "Honestly, I don't completely understand why you left, but…" a long breath moves through his shoulders.

"It wasn't a small decision for either you or Hel, so I figure I'll let some time pass before I whine and wheedle you guys into remembering you guys have agreed on the important shit for ages." Leaving the cup on the table, he raises both hands, surrendering the situation as promised. The next moment, confusion. His— what? The— oh. "Simon?" he asks, after a beat.

"I said the good lords name a few times and told him I'd keep him in my prayers and I think he and his hormones decided i'm not exactly prime hitting material anymore" Abby puts the teapot back down, swirling cup and watching the few tea leaves that escaped from the pot swirl and settling her cup.

Teo's fingers are warm enough to feel now. He folds his palms in half, studying the veins and ligaments shift under his callused skin before glancing up. "He's a strange kid, Simon. I mean, not that I have any right to talk," he grins a little, fragmentary. "Him and his twin sister. I read their file— they lost a lot back with the explosion. I think of him as the angry one. Most of the time, she comes across as just bored. I feel like I should thank you for not breaking his heart," he adds with a touch of mischief, squinting.

'I don't think I know how to break a heart Teo. he's a good boy, but he's too young, and my energy is needed for other things that flirting up a storm and collecting hearts, much less breaking hearts" Her stomach takes that time to make a noise, indiciating it's hunger status and she grins. "I need to eat, before I have to hoof it back to the garden. Hey, which do you think is better, Brown, Auburn, or black" She plucks at a lock of her hair. "I'll have to change it, at least for a bit"

Deftly, Teo yanks a menu out of the plastic clip standing in the middle of the table, squints at the options they have printed on the paper. Your usual assortment of chicken, pork, seafood, stir fry, soup noodles, dumplings. He has to remind himself to check for English written next to the immaculately calligraphed Chinese characters, turns it around in his fingers to offer her. "Trust me, bella. Face like yours, you know how to break a heart."

He leans the elbows of his jacket on the covered table, and confronts her query with a look of mild incredulity and now-characteristic alarm. "You have the complexion for it, and I like redheads," he offers after a moment, one brow quizzically raised on his face. Then, "You're going to explain. Right? I mean, Colette isn't giving you anymore trouble, is she? Is this the bug thing?" He'd understand that. He'd— "Do you need a fake ID?"

"better safe than sorry. Someone is hounding Flint for information on helena, and he came through me. Told me to change my name, change my hair and stay away from the Diner. I haven't seen hide nor hair of Colette, but I'm still worried. If a little box of dye will put my mind at ease, then i'll do that first, before looking into getting fake ID that will convince a policeman. I have ID that convinces a bouncer at a bar to let me in" She hands the menu back to him. "You pick for me and no, I don't know how to break a heart, purposefully at least. There's be no joy in doing such. Red? Really?

Teo accepts the paper into his hand and snags a pen out of its holder, deftly begins to lay down checks on the paper. Stays away from the curry squid and the chicken feet, takes to the dumplings. Barely thinking about it, honestly; he spent enough time between Shanghai and Canton to know what's good, what's safe, and as close to authentic as he could bring himself to care about.

"I don't know what to do with you half the time," he admits in a quiet tone rather than a low voice, wearing half a smile. "You make virtue look so fucking effortless." Tone and execution would imply that he did that on purpose. Slid the curse word into the examination of her virtue.

And goodness, and stuff like that. "No wonder even our grave-robber's trying to protect you." The pen clicks back and he flags the waitress down, glances up to watch a small drove of construction workers pile in through the doorway, rowdy with fatigue, their wifebeaters showing sweat stains underneath the heavy jackets. "Red." A nod. "Really. Just my two cents. You're not going to… cut it off or anything, are you?" he asks, with a certain amount of genuine alarm.

"Cut it off?" The look on her face is horrified at the prospect. 'Maybe a trim, for dead ends. If Jezebel or Eve can manage such, but not /off/" A hand goes to her ponytail protectively. "And it's not easy. So far from easy. And i'm far from virtuous. I lied to him, and he knows I lied to him. It's why I didn't object when he took things from my apartment. I curse too, on occasion, and I sometimes think ill thought, like Colette, oh I wanted to punch her. I am /terribly/ upset with her. I miss church, sometimes, and even though I make up for it. I don't live to my full potential…"

The look of horror reassures Teo, which probably makes him a bad person. That's okay in small doses, though it leaves him momentarily unsettled, now, his most recent trespass still a haze encroached on the corners of his drunken recollection. Fuckin'… birthdays.

It's the first sign you're getting old, when those become more painful than they're worth. "Not off. Grazie," he says, restraining his smile, though the expression fades slightly as Abigail continues to speak. Her self-criticism mimics his own so closely that he might have mistaken that she had spoken at all, if the voice in his own head were a few octaves higher and twanged a little, like so. "Wow.

"No wonder we drive atheists up the fucking wall," he says, at length, humor making his features subtly animate. "The impossible standards and undervalued accomplishments and self-rancor are bad enough. The fact it actually keeps us decent and makes us happy must be the most self-contradictory invention of mankind. Which includes French bulldogs. Merda." He laughs a little. Not at her.

'they drive themselves up the wall, because they can't stand that we believe in Him, and thank Him, while they thank themselves for their lives and accomplishments. But, that is their right and their beliefs and who am I to try and convince them otherwise. I can only try to keep living my own life, according to my beliefs, to my principles. It's why I couldn't stay. I can't, and I won't limit who it is, that he places before me to heal. If they're hurt, i'll help them" Her hand closes around the little cross. "Did you know, that I can't heal, without giving him thanks? I can't feel it flow until I offer a prayer or sing a psalm in his name"

Teo breathes in once, a sigh inversed. "That sounds a little too specific to be generalizable to the entire atheist population," he points out gently. "Some of them thank random chance. Some of them thank science, parents, teachers, friends in need. I'm pretty sure I'm a lot more self-congratulatory than most of Them." He gives the word a wry twist, plays at adding the weight of formality; doesn't believe it, though. "No. I didn't know that.

"You know, when I first heard and read about the Evolved, I kind of felt like you are all proof of intelligent design. What gene, radioactive agent— or whatever could possibly be responsible for all of these abilities, and how peculiarly at home they are with the souls who wield them? A believer who heals," he points her out with his jaw. "My brother, a mathematician who can divide by zero.

"Serg's a hole in space, or an object in negative space— masked, a double-identity, all the time. Helena's about as mercurial and stubborn as the weather is changeable and eternal.

"No matter when you discovered your abilities or what you use them for, somehow, it always gels. With your personalities, beliefs. You're all so fucking perfect, somehow. You fit. It's the most comforting thing since Ecclesiastes," he says, leaning his head lightly on the heel of his hand. She knows what he means, probably. To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven. A time to be born, and—

"I'm not evolved Teo" She speaks it, with all seriousness. But she doesn't explain, preach, nor expound further. She could scream it to the top of her lungs and no one would likely believe her. "Just blessed, but.. I see, what you mean. Like an undertaker, with an appropriate name, to his profession. Do you ever wish, that you were gifted?" Abby's hand drop her cross and pick up her tea cup, swallowing the green tea carefully, no spilling of a drop, then wipes her mouth afterwards. Meticulous.

Long fingers move against Teo's cheek, accepting rather than dismissive: 'Evolved's just a term, as far as Teo's concerned. They can do things he could never learn to with a thousand years of study or training, that's what he means; he has no real desire to debate whether Darwinism functions or is responsible for homo sapiens, the age of the planet, or to what degree the Bible is literal or metaphorical. Those matters are, to him, unimportant.

"Huh." Teo pauses, considering her question, as the waitress arrives. Dish of chicken in a wine sauce, plate of shrimp dumplings, fried rice and gai lan— a leafy vegetable showing a healthy green under a surprisingly thin layer of vegetable oil slick. He grins, says his thanks in Cantonese. Mm-goi. "I guess?

"Everybody thinks about flying sometimes, eh? Or teleporting when they're getting home fuckin' late. It's either for practical laziiness or because maybe I wonder what I'd get. What it'd say about me. Y'know. Stronzate like that: nonsense. Kind of like reading your horoscope." His gaze falls slightly as he picks up his chopsticks, though not because he actually needed to look to sort them out.

Chopsticks come sailing down across his knuckles. Not hard, nor even a sting, a tap. He /has/ been pretty good about his language. "I sometimes wonder, what it would be like, if he hadn't given such a gift to me. But then, sometimes I wonder, what I did to be GIVEN such a thing. What made him when I was a teenager to say "I have a plan for you Abigail beauchamp, and this is how I want you to fulfill it" and boom, I can do it. I healed a bird. Mended it's wing. And I hid it, from my parents. The gift, not the bird. I was terrified, and I prayed" Abby starts filling her plate, using the chopstick with much ineptness that speaks of miles of where she's grown up and what she ate there. 'And then.. and then my father cut his leg while chopping wood. And there it was. Gods plan. I remember their faces and it scared me, I was worried that they'd.. throw me out, or that they'd place me before the church and .. drag me around. But they were sensible, and practical and understood."

Poked, Teo recoils, a look of rue comical on his face. "Sorry," he apologizes, going red around the gills, as if someone had bounced his head left-and-right between two pads of blush. Right. He was working on that. Must woo healer back into the fold, can't be running his mouth all over and getting himself in trouble. "That makes sense to me. That reaction. I'm glad your family wasn't ridiculous about it, but not exactly surprised.

"You seem like you were, so to speak, 'raised right.' Which isn't easy, from what I understand. I swear, my Madre, she tried." Mirth twinkles brief on his features. He snags a piece of chicken with his chopsticks, disappears it in two motions of his jaw. Fetches more food onto his plate afterward, realizing perhaps that that might have been construed as a little rude, slobbing his saliva over everything.

Minutes tock past, eating while the sky outside dims and the streets thicken with rush hour and dinner time. It comes without warning. Sudden: the ground rocks, as if some vast subterranean Leviathan flexed its spine sleepily beneath the concrete. Somewhere not far, a cheap window shatters; cries go up, revelers stop to stare, and a man roasting chestnuts burns himself with a leaping coal.

'some could say that. I think, they raised me best they could. but I still left home, rebelled. Just in a different fashion" Abby grins, popping food into her own mouth, sampling and tasting. 'I'm sure Teo that you were raised good. So long as your mother would stand there and be proud of you, your good, so long as you can stand before god and say "i did the best I could… " Then the room rocks. It's a flash of a second and Abby is sliding beneath the table, tucking her head down, hands and chopsticks clutching the back of her head with a just the slightest of yelp.

Teo's with her in an eyeblink, one arm instinctively flung over her bright-haired head, elbow crooked like a cradle, and one long hand wrapped around a table leg so tightly that his knuckles go white to the point of breaking through the skin of his hand. He stares out from underneath at the window, his eyes narrow and cheeks gaunt, pale underneath the tan.

Their dishes have skidded and jumped an inch, but only an inch; durable plastic and fire-hardened porcelain prevent any spills, any accidents more physical than a whole lot of civilian flailing and shrieking. Not for the first time, he notices the limited utility of being armed all the fuckin' time. Some things, bullets won't stop. Most things. "Oddio," he whispers. His heart screams; his nose is full of her hair, still golden. "Are you all right?"

'Earthquake? Bomb?" Her mind running through the possibilities. Even as the next words out of her mouth are the lightening quick. "Our father who are in heaven, hallowed by they name…" It drones on, under her breath and Teo only hears it because of his proximity. When it ends though, she tries to peer out, around. 'Are you okay?' Her own fingers digging into her neck, heart hammering away in her chest.

And Abby only hears it when Teo swallows because she's so close. It isn't an especially attractive noise. It sort of betrays how he's feeling when he'd prefer not to be betrayed. "I'm f— I'm fine," he finishes, steadier than he had started. It takes him a moment to unsling his arm from her neck, a hand cupping her shoulder as he twists his head, the lean width of his shoulders seesawing as he leans over to look out through the plateglass door, out into the street, then up, higher, the skyline.

His eyes go round. Not an earthquake. What is that? "Cazzo. Look at the size of…" He points numbly over her shoulder. A cloud of smoke or dust belching into the sky, the distant edge of the Financial District, amid the blur of bodies emerging to see, doubtful of the structural integrity of the buildings around them.

"Blessed jesus… Teo.. I have to go help" Her arm snakes out from aroudn her neck to her bag, digging through it for money, bills and then blindly craning her arm up and shoving it onto the top of the table. From the top, some disembodied hand leaving money on the table. 'I hav.. have to go help them, there's people hurt, or worse.."

Like some overlarge hermit crab extricating itself from the confines of a shell that's far too small, Teo pulls himself out fist, one long limb after another, blinking oddly in the fading light of dusk; he doesn't quite stop touching her exactly, his fingers lacing around her elbow once he's moved too far to keep a protective huddle around her shoulders. In all honesty, it's as much to reassure himself as for her sake.

"We can check it out," Teodoro says, neither agreeing nor disagreeing. Already, his mind is stumbling ahead, considering the possibility of secondary charges, of aftershocks, of more. If there's more before they get there, he'll stop her, he decides. If there isn't, and she's confronted with a sea of injured, interchangeable, broken, well— "I'll come with you.

"Mm-goi, lei hoyi mm hoyi—" he calls back to the waiter in a voice progressively louder as he makes his sentences, even as he pulls bills out of his own pocket. We'll be back for the food. Please, pack it, I'll come back. She's going to need her strength.

'We'll check it out." Abbi agrees. "I have.. the fake ID, I can pretend to be registered if I need to be" He's speaking Chinese. Wow. It's something that registers in her mind, cataloged for another day. "I have to try though Teo. I don't know if you'd ever understand. It's just.." She's not going to both explaining, just grabbing her bag when he relaxes his grip enough. She doesn't try to get away, just stick close. Safety in numbers, people will be screaming, chaos. 'bad as it sounds… consider this a test run for the miracle"

Of all the things Teo could do, he laughs. Not at her. Just— a touch of hysteria, incredulity, and throw in an aching bellyful of rue. "I don't know," he says. "Maybe I don't. But I think I do. I'm always…" He doesn't finish that sentence, that train of thought. Reaches back instead, to touch the handle of the gun still there, underneath his sweater, just to remind himself it's there if he needs it. If they do. Warm fingers interlace with Abby's own, hooking rough against her smoother skin unless or until she wrenches free; his shoulder bumps her shoulder and he stares into the humanity massed outside.

Running. Shouting: contradictory advice. Fathers on their telephones, shops shutting. 'Police!' shouted out in half a dozen different languages he can tell. "We'll see when we get there.

"I'm not going to let some mob tear you apart when they see what you're doing, never mind fucking HomeSec. All right?" He glances down at her a moment, blue eyes on blue. It occurs to him, one moment, that they should call for help. The next, that help's already been called in as many imaginable incarnations as you can. Finally, that there is none, not for them. He squeezes her hand and starts out, to fight their way through the throng, until they find themselves oddly alone in the scattering edges of Canal Street; smoke ahead; everyone else running the other way.

The clear blue of her own eyes, look back. "You'll protect me. He'll protect me. They won't care about locking me up, they'll only care if I can heal. But you'll.. this moment, you decide Teo. I trust you" this is all spoken as they're moving against the tie, her hand holding tight to his with fingers interlaced, hat jammed onto her head and jacket fastened right. "I'll stop, when you say so" and just like she remains quiet, only working till they come to the edges of Canal. Abby swallows had, and she squeezes his hand tight. "You ready T? Are you ready to be that miracle people pray for?"

In that moment, he's seized by that ordinary, dreadful knowledge, cast more by the words the healer chooses than by the unimaginable plight that's rocked through Manhattan.

It's not something he can say to her, separate from the other visceral hiccup of terror that's parceled with her trust, no words he would dare to dishonor her faith and courage with, no confidence that he has ever cared to share despite that every other fucking would-be hero who's ever stomped through the rubble ever has. The Financial District looms ahead behind a pall of particle matter and a smell that might be fire.

He says, "Yes." It's no lie: he's ready. He wants it.

He'd do it if he could, 'the right thing.' Only, he knows, between him and her, Grace and Alexander somewhere out there, hope, faith, courage, and all the prayers in his breath: it won't be enough.

Always, it's better than nothing. "I have your back," he says. He kisses his other fist, touches it to her chin. Turns; they go.

November 16th: The Sword of Rebellion

Previously in this storyline…
The Right Choice

Next in this storyline…
Mysterious Countdown

November 16th: Ghosts in the Shell
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