Thanatos Wins


magnes_icon.gif teo_icon.gif

Scene Title Thanatos Wins
Synopsis Vendetta is an Italian word, but Magnes is determined to become the expert.
Date November 8, 2010

West Village: Maison d'Allegre

The brownstone home, number 57 on West 11th Street, is three floors tall, all old brown brickwork as the name implies. A curving stepped stoop leads up to the door, wrought iron barring it off from its neighbours, with the building's number in brass nailed into the painted wood without any glass inset to give a glimpse of the space within.

Once inside, the immediate hardwood foyer offers space to hang up coats and set aside shoes, with a wooden, open flight of stairs curving up into the second floor. The first opens up into three designated areas — a spacious livingroom with a rug of earthern tones thrown in the centre, a generous hearth set into the wall with traditional log-burning capabilities. The walls are exposed brickwork, lined with shelving of a slowly growing book collection. Next to it is a dining area defined as such by an oval dining table, generous and able to expand to sit up to eight people, and usually littered with too many things to be good to eat at until cleared. The kitchen is barred off from the rest with a counter, all stainless steel appliances and a sliding door that leads into a modest backyard. Tucked away to the right is a laundry, cramped but sufficient.

The second floor has more walls, closed off areas — a master bedroom with a connecting bathroom, a hallway that slides between the stairwell and said bathroom, into unfurnished open space that provides linen closets and such storage. The third floor is similar, if reversed, and almost designed to be its own separate apartment, with a bedroom and bathroom at the back of the house, an open social space with a squat coffeetable, and an open, unfurnished space with a balcony hanging off it, street-side. The stairwell spirals all the way up into rooftop access.

It reeks of cigarette ashes and beer.

Plaster flaked down on the floor like an earthquake had walked through it. The rooster painting was ripped down from the kitchen wall, and the table overturned. The tree outside had an arm ripped down, vivid paint slashed over the windshield of the car resting behind the garage door, and upstairs, someone has gutted the mattress and the couch out of their coarse white entrails with a knife. It's not the worst that a place has suffered in New York City today, but all the same, it stands: someone came in here and fucked up Frances Allegre's home.

It's night, now, and there is no more cursing, madcap rabble in the brownstone. A dustpan did a perfunctory job of clearing off the floor and moving the confettied dining table contents into a stack, and the light is on and yellow through the bedchamber window on the second floor.

Television talking, bouncing multiple voices down the hallway, keywords like White House and emergency measures, important acronyms and increasing statistics. There is a predictable newscaster standing with fatigue tension around her mascaraed eyes before a backdrop of recently doused chaos, a fire engine behind her, disarmed civilians being dragged away, feet kicking. Cut to the image of a crying child. Cut away. Every channel is the same.

It's been a while since Magnes' mind has felt so clear, with an unquestionable objective in mind. After returning home from such a long day of trying to do whatever he could to help people in the riots, for some reason, he just felt compelled to read that email again.

From: moc.xx|xx#moc.xx|xx

To: moc.xx|xx#moc.xx|xx

Subject: Minea Dahl

Hello Magnes,

For dignity's sake, this should have come hand-written at least, but this is coming to you from an automated system because there was something else I had to do before you might kill me.

I shot and killed the former FCC-turned-Company Agent Minea Dahl. I did this because I was fucking pissed off: she gave information about myself and those I loved twice to the Company and some Federal agencies. They had been stupid enough to trust her when she had said she was defecting to them. She was stupid enough to trust me when I implied that I didn't mind.

Minea didn't die well. She went slowly, painfully, and incredulously, hacking out her conviction that she hadn't done anything to me that deserved this.

In retrospect, she was probably right. Exposing my identity and snitching out half a dozen wrongfully taken ex-cons to the whims of your country's government was pretty awful, especially given she'd helped us save the world before. However, I could have asked for other compensation. Favors, merchandise. Tactical assistance in a high-risk situation. I hadn't. Too angry. Killing Minea hadn't seemed that different to shooting anybody else who was 'just doing their job.' I'm sorry: I should have been able to tell the difference.

This probably sounds dangerously condescending and fucked up already, so I'll try to wrap up. I thought about killing you first. Len, too. I haven't tried. This isn't me trying to soften you up, manipulate you, or whatever. Don't get the wrong idea. I don't grieve for her like you do. If you try to kill me, I'll try to kill you. If somebody wins, our friends will be upset.

If this message and the time that's passed aren't enough, I think you should come and find me.

But there's more than that, isn't there? So many more reasons to hate Teodoro. Getting Delilah pregnant, a girl that, while Magnes denied having feelings for in order to appear mature, he did indeed feel very strongly for the girl. And what's his relationship with Abby? What's Teo's deal?

Kicking open the brownstone's door, he loads a clip into the gun, wearing a zipped up black leather jacket, blue jeans, and old beat up black sneakers. Killing Teo before he takes anything else away is the best thing that can be done right now, there's no other way to protect his life from falling apart. Who else will he kill? Who else will he take away? "Teo!" he calls out, beginning to head for the stairs.

Abrupt quiet upstairs, a cessation of movement. Teo glances over his shoulder at the doorway and the promise of stairs leading downward, his brow in a knit, his fingers furrowing into the plushy false fur of the toy in his hand. It takes him a few seconds, but there is the fall of boots on the floorboards, a cough run out on a tenor.

"Boy," he calls out. "What the fuck are you doing in this house?" His shadow drops itself out long and zagging on the staircase, and then he ducks his head into view. He is a lot like Magnes saw him last, or what he remembers. Aquiline features, fair skin, spiky hair and stubbled chin, faded Columbia hoodie on too-bulky for the weather, jeans scuffed to fraying at the cuffs above his boots. Pale eyes wary on the younger man once Varlane's shape slides into view. "The rioters left a few hours ago."

Magnes stares up at Teo with a deadly serious gaze, almost uncharacteristically so, gun tightly gripped in his right hand. "Distrust all in whom the impulse to punish is powerful." He raises the gun, aiming it right for the older man, but not firing it yet. "You got Delilah pregnant, you killed Minea, you're doing something with Abby. What else do you want to take away from me? I won't let you, I'll kill you first! One should die proudly when it is no longer possible to live proudly!"

The Sicilian's hands go up, automatically. It is what you do when there is a very angry person waving a gun at you. He stares at the young man from across the floor and gooseflesh goes like a hot knife up the back of his neck. Easy to imagine bullets ripping out of that pistol muzzle, crashing into him with enough velocity to puncture skin, implode organ, force exit wounds out of his back. He's killed enough people to know how it goes, and he's killed enough people to know he should be thinking about something else.

There's a monkey in his grip. Left hand. Beige-colored hands with the separation of fingers marked off with stitches, a face of choreographed felt and plastic eyes made oddly human not merely by design but because the doll is a macaque. A creature does not have to be very human for a human to notice it is a little.

"Nothing else," he says. His voice is tight, almost monotonic. "I don't want to take anything else away from you, Varlane. I swear, I'm done killing the people who took care of you, and — uhh. They — they're my friends, Magnes. L— Delilah Trafford, and Abigail Caliban. They're my fucking friends." Twisted beat. He blinks back the staticky wash of adrenaline, the violining shriek of fight-or-flight and then, perhaps not entirely advisable, genuine incredulity spikes into his voice. "Did you come here to fucking murder me?" As if that is, in general consensus, a bad idea.

"Abigail Caliban? What the fuck are you talking about? I'm talking about Abigail Beauchamp! And you… you… how can you just say you're done! You can't kill Minea and then just say you're done!" Magnes starts marching up the stairs, and Teo can feel the push of gravity attempting to usher him away from the top so the younger of the two can take his place up there. He sounds very irritable right now. "Turn around, I'll shoot you from behind just like you shot her." There's a pain, and he suddenly adds, "Revenge is a confession of pain."

Teo concedes to the push of gravity, but he doesn't concede to turn around. That'd be a bad idea, he knows. Even Magnes isn't the boy he remembers hauling out of Dahl's trunk, once, too fucking angry and armed and crazy in the eyes, Magnes sure as shit isn't built the same as the creature who had plugged Minea's lungs up with lead from the back. Could Magnes Varlane look him in the eye and shoot him in the head?

He doesn't know. "I didn't," he says, roughly, finally. The thinnest and strangest of defenses. "I didn't do it. I wasn't myself. Abigail's moved on— she's with Robert Caliban. D'lilah has a whole other life now, and it's not with me. Look: I didn't fuck everything up. Killing me isn't going to fix very much. You know? Whatever the fuck is wrong with me, I'm just not that fucking important, and ending every— everything I was going to be, you won't like that. I'm sorry about your girls. I am."

Teo runs out of landing exactly then. His back meets the wall, tunbroken window glass leaning against the back of his shoulder. He can hear the idea of outside, distant and obscure, the far cry of sirens, klaxons, and the moving drear of cloud-cover.

"Robert? Robert? Abigail Caliban… she… she… Abigail married that old man!" Magnes suddenly fires a shot that lodges into the ceiling, then quickly lines his aim up with Teo's head again. "Fuck you, you're a fucking liar! She'd never do that, I know her! I know what you're doing, you're going to try and take Elaine too, I'm not stupid, I know!"

His expression is one of pure rage now, the floor beginning to creak and groan under them. Teo can feel the air getting heavier, literally, like someone's put a few extra pounds on his body, but not enough to hinder his movement at all. "No one went to any wedding, she didn't have a wedding, so I know you're lying! Abby would never elope, you lying fucking bastard! You kill Minea, then you drag Abby's name through the dirt. Fuck you!" His hand is starting to shake, like a mad man dangerously close to pulling the trigger.

The Sicilian's outward passivity grows brittle under the pressure of gravitokinesis, the weight of oncoming death and the weird light shining out of Varlane's eyes. Fight or flight are incompatible, largely, with standing still with a monkey and one empty hand up, lungs doing something squirmy that passingly resembles breathing. His head feels hot under his hair. It always seems too early to die, no matter how much he hates himself, wields sword and pen for purposes as proportionally great as his existence feels small, no matter how often he loses people in every timeline there is. Not even Catholicism managed to bleed all the survival instinct out of him.

Who the fuck is Elaine? He couldn't tell you if his life depended on it, and it does. If not on facts, then apparently on lies, misdirection, but he's too far out of touch with the gravitokinetic boy and whatever seedling of psychosis has unfolded in the creases of his brain in those months since Antarctica.

"Just," Teo says, and then he stops talking. Steps forward rather abruptly, past the rattling amalgam of composite metal and white-knuckled hand as if he didn't notice it there, except of course he does; merely ignoring it, while his big Finnish nose is touching down cold on the incline of Magnes' stubbly cheek and his mouth is closing warm on the twisted lips of Magnes' rictus and the macaque plushie pressed to Magnes at the ear is soft as a woven lullaby. And he doesn't break the kiss even after his fingers close around the boy's gun wrist.

Magnes stares in abstract confusion. He has no idea what to think, but being caught off guard in such a way allows Teo to take the gun. Every seed of hate is replaced with a cloud of fog. If this were an anime, he'd have random yellow question marks popping up all around the top of his head. He doesn't move, he just stays there, there's no way he could move.

Teo used Confusion.

It's super effective!

Magnes is confused.

Magnes hurt himself in confusion!

Of all the battlefields one might have thought Teodoro Laudani might have defeated Rupe Carmichael, this probably isn't one of them. Anyway, he's a decent kisser. Doesn't drool all over Magnes' chin, is firm without making it a quarrel for dominance, aftershave smooth filtering through Magnes' lung as his jaw is rough, something obscurely apologetic about the act, be that a matter of his self-immolating faith or something personal and particular to Magnes Varlane's (considerable) list of grievances; there's as much pull to it as there is push.

And when he straightens, he has an extra gun. Not the most reliable equalizing factor ever, in a conflict between the Evolved and non-, so it's probably prudent that Teo wasn't leaning entirely on that. If such action could be considered prudence. He blinks at Magnes for a brief moment. Twists on a boot.

The window pane takes the point of his shoulder and bends, shatters, a ringing tinkle and collapse of transparent fragments and screeching protest of metal, and even though Teo raised an arm to protect his face, there's a scratch or two depicted in an audible rip of cloth and a wetly-drawn wounds. Wind gusts into the brownstone, mocking snakily at the dumbfounded standstill that Magnes' gravitokinesis has locked down around the unfortunate boy. Teo takes the fifteen foot drop agilely as a cat, tumbles across lawn, the stuffed monkey shedding glass off its fur in one hand and the gun safetied in an awkward grip of his fingers.

Magnes starts wiping his mouth and spitting, which gives Teo more than enough time to jump from the window and make space between them. "Damn you! I don't need a gun to kill you!" Despite the fact that he typically keeps four guns on his person, his current rage lead to only bringing one this time. When he finally has his barings, he rushes for the window, trying to look down and spot the Sicilian, yelling, "The pride connected with knowing and sensing lies like a blinding fog over the eyes and senses of men, thus deceiving them concerning the value of existence!"

Teo is running. Long legs tangling, untangling even before he's quite sure he has his balance centered. Fortunately, his muscle-memory is burdened with indeterminable experience in falling off high places and getting away from bad shit. He scrabbles away, heads toward the gate in great gallumphing strides, arms bent and breath coming out warm between his teeth, kind of giddy because he was nearly killed and because he was kissing. No matter how often he does that. It's probably one of the subtypes of so-called stupidities that many of he and Varlane's mutual acquaintances would say they have in common.

"Wasn't a fucking lie, Varlane," he yells back, his boots skidding sideways when he twists his head to look up. The gate clacks against his hip, and the gun's awkward angle scuffs against the grasp of his fingers. The street ribbons out long into a vanishing point. "Any of it."

"Goddamnit!" Magnes yells at the top of his lungs, for whatever reason not going out to bother chasing Teo, far too many mixed emotions going through his head. Gravity just crushes around him, floor cracking, wall crumbling, a part of the banister just breaking into a few pieces, until finally a piece of the ceiling conks him on the head.

He falls forward, floating above the stairs. If he were anyone else, that would have been a very long and deadly fall for an unconscious person. But for now, it seems he's going to sleep the rest of the 8th out.

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