The First Nail


francois_icon.gif raith_icon.gif teo3_icon.gif

Scene Title The First Nail
Synopsis The Tyrant is dead, his scepter buried in ice, his spirit consumed by the flames of sanctified healing, but his little troupe of Russian sociopaths is still afoot. Raith is asked to infiltrate.
Date April 13, 2010

The West Village — Francois' Brownstone: Living Room

The kitchen smells of cooking — not bad cooking, even. Chickeny and stew-like, for lunch, some cooling on the counter for another time in domestic looking plastic containers steaming their lids and one of the windows. Kind of a joke, from doctor to patient, as one of the people here are ill — as much as it's nothing for folks like Raith and Francois to worry about. This virus doesn't cross species. Or whatever it is the Evolved are to those who are not, even the one with gimp abilities.

The hearth in the living room is dead, but whole place feels warm when Raith does get here. Francois is absently pulling a curtain shut against the hazy afternoon light as the other man gets settled. "Thank you for coming, I know it is a little out of your way," sounds like apology without actually using the syllables for it, tucking his hands into the pockets of his sweater. Francois doesn't say he would have gone to Raith instead, because he's the one that insisted house arrest on Teodoro in the first place.

Chained to the property or not, Francois can be assured that, if nothing else, Raith considers him important enough to make room in his doubtlessly busy schedule of daily crime. "Only a little." The ex-spy ushers himself inside the living room proper, shrugging off his dark, fur-lined coat, not needing it in the apparent warmth of the room he presently finds himself in. Scarf and goggles still hang loosely around his neck, not moving anywhere for the time being. "I assumed that you wouldn't have bothered unless it was important," he adds, "So it had better be. I have a lot of shit to do, now that I'm fully ambulatory again. A few people I need to see, all that, but neither here nor there. What can I do for you, papillon?"

Teo is a familiar figure, slightly slumped on the couch, his knees drawn up under his chin and his heels embedded in the thickness of the couch cushions nearly deep enough to submerge his ankles in the stuffed compaction. Such seating furniture is not normally for gargoyling on, but by now, both of the two other men are fairly familiar with his bizarre but harmless practices, set aside only for special occasions such a meal at the table or sleeping. Or what a man might do between those two practices.

He looks awful, but he looks here. Reasonably clear at the eyes, attentive with his hearing, fortified against the cold by a sweater or two and the blanket coccooned close around his rumpled head. When his attention finishes its brief tennis match bob through the room, it finishes on Raith because he'd spoken last. "It's very interesting, padre," Teodoro says, helpfully, his pale-eyed stare level and mouth in a straight line, up to the scar-ruched twist in his cheek. "Toward the end of the beginning, there's a short passage about you taking money to kill this girl we love. But— you don't."

And upon the other side of the couch, Francois makes his perch — relinquishing the seating for Teo, balancing instead on the padded arm fat enough for this to be comfortable enough, as if too restless to go to the trouble to completely settle himself. Heels brace against the hard wood floors, fingertips drumming on his thighs. "Dreyfus approached you to kill Abigail," he puts, more plainly, as if in respect for Raith's claim of being a busy man. He could well be. Francois isn't sure what they do out on Staten Island.

Isn't sure he's very curious about it! "Before you assisted us also that night at Eagle Electric, I had hoped I could ask you and your allies about assisting us in luring Dreyfus out, but that now depends on what trust there is between you and his group."

Raith's eyes move from Francois, to Teo, and then back to Francois. 'Leery' might best describe the expression on his face. What other expression might somewhere wear, if they had been accused of attempting to kill a close friend of their friends? "Well, if that isn't an interesting question," he says, "You know, I'm not entirely sure how I feel about this, being called over under these circumstances, so let's get one thing out of the way right now. If we're talking about the same girl, she's a job. Out of the way. Now." With a lack of fanfare sometimes expected of him, Raith crosses the short distance to the couch, and then spins around and plunks down right in between the other two men. "Just like Beauchamp is just a job, Dreyfus is just a client, and I am no wolf." Whatever that means. "I assume you knights have some sort of heroic plan, so let's hear it."

Teo tilts slightly because Raith is making the couch sag. He rights himself out with a slight pressure exerted through the nearest ankle, and a glance of irritation that better suits a pup confronted with a particularly stubborn scrap of rawhide. Nothing that facetious, though. He's annoyed at the leeriness, of all things. Not even he can tell whether it's supposed to be there or if it isn't, what it says about Raith that some easy lie wasn't served up, or at least an equally facile impudence.

'Way-ull, soon as Ah fownd out she was your fray-und, Ah figured Ah couldn't gonna 'urt a girl who's a friend-uh mah associate.' Lacking a fanfare, however. After a moment, Teo flattens his lips together. "We make Dreyfus like you enough to do business, then beat the fuck out of him when he lets his guard down with you. If he's willing, Gabriel could make it look like you got the job done."

No fanfare. No presentations on the details or how this conclusion came to be or any trace of the defense Francois had put up to Teo just a couple of nights ago in explanations enough to maybe desire diagrams to accompany them. Remaining undisturbed on his perch when Raith comes to land on the furniture, Francois looks down on both younger men, with more interest for Raith's response than Teo's pithy summarising. Right around now, Francois would be gilding words with encouragement and assurance, but instead he stays silent for Raith's take.

Raith at least has the courtesy to pay attention to Teo when he speaks. Even better, he looks as though he's even listening. When Teo finishes, the ex-spy shifts his gaze upwards towards the ceiling, rolling his head towards Francois and resting it on the back of the couch. A few moments pass with Raith remaining, like the Frenchman, quiet. "That's not a bad plan, you know," he says at last, "I still get paid, you get to beat up some douche plug you hate. Everybody wins." A further roll of his head, this time to look at Francois. "What's your opinion, papillon?"

"Don't call him that," comes to Teodoro too automatically to be conscious or especially sincere. He curls his fingers in against his own palm, seating his blunt-shorn nails against the skin of his hand, and then cranes his head a few degrees forward to peer at Francois. Adds, for credit where due, "It's his plan. I didn't like it.

"Just tweaked it a little after somebody mentioned you took money to kill Abigail." Teo's tone doesn't have the weight of accusation to them because there's enough accusation inherent to the fact that it fucking happened. The corner of his mouth turns downward slightly, and he penguin huddles an inch deeper in his blankets without managing to retract his peering curiosity at all, somehow.

The look Frenchman trades over Raith's head is a little exasperated — not sharply angry, or even very disappointed. It's one that good be captioned with oh go back to bed, but the words are instead; "You liked the plan before. He liked it before," he adds, more at Raith, a blithe shrug in his voice masking— well, masking something, but it's doing a good job of it. "It would be enough to us that Dreyfus is drawn out — him over all the others. We have another plan, also — a contigency I trust we won't use.

"It involves vulnerable bait, Dreyfus' terms and enough police that I think he would try something more long distance and destructive than simply coming out to meet an associate. I prefer this one — if you would do this thing, I would be very grateful."

A look to Teo, nonplussed and looking only vaguely interested, before Raith shifts his gaze back to Francois. "It's a good plan," he says, "I like it, I'd be happy to do it, papillon." It might seem, by this point, that he is trying to purposely irritate Teo. "Happy is maybe too strong a word. But I'll do it. We're all better off without Dreyfus around. Things are more predictable that way, you know?"

Teo's scintillating rejoinders are comprised of, "Bitch," for his padre, and, "It was just the in-between part when I didn't like it. I liked it in the beginning and I like it now," for his lover. The first few words of the combined strings have a grumbly feel to them, partly because— Raith is annoying, and partly because he was trying to pay Francois a compliment, Goddammit— but by the end it's dissipated into relative docility. "Abby's taking time off work and going underground, anyway. Should work out fine, 's long as this falls within a framework of a couple weeks.

"There is another factor," Francois chips in, heels coming to connect against the couch as he restlessly swings his legs — but that is certainly more of an aura of relaxedness he hasn't had since talking to Odessa, now that Raith has given his word. As the other man said — happy is a strong word.

But slightly less unhappy than he was some moments prior to this one. "We know that Daiyu wants to move in on kidnapping a child that has some value to Eileen, as leverage somehow — Bai-Chan. For now, we're not moving the child because doing so would alert them to the source of the intel, an insider, but it would be best if Eileen can keep eyes on his residence and also Fresh Kills Harbor in case Daiyu moves sooner than we anticipate. Everything should be done before this can be a concern, but we do have that time limit on top of— "

His head tilts. Kind of a shrug. "On top of whatever else Dreyfus has planned for all of this." Francois distracts himself mid-sentence by skimming his attention back to Teo, to check his response as well as what he can see of his feverish condition, periodic once overs that the younger man is liiikely used to by now, or familiar with at least.

What captures Raith attention now is not talk of the plan, but clearly that mentioned 'other factor.' "Daiyu," says Raith, repeating the name of an old thorn in his side. "Tell me, papillon," he continues, sitting up straight and tall, "Better yet, you tell me, bello-" Abruptly, his attention moves from Francois to Teo- "Would you believe me if I told you that, for everything I'm willing to do, there are rules that I follow? What would you say to that?" This isn't the sort of semi-serious question that Raith might normally ask. This one is fully serious, and the threatening edge in his voice is proof enough of that. "Even mass murderers have rules."

An old thorn in everybody's side, to Teo's understanding. There's a fleeting overlay of sympathy on his face. Not the hand-holding, skip down the yellow brick road kind, but, you know.

Yeah, fucker needs to die, especially after the job he did on Deckard, that one time— "I'd say they only count if they're absolutes, or close to it," he answers. "But I think that might be terribly Catholic of me, you know. Dichotomies, trials, principles being hard-lines. I'm not sure I have any." Maybe he thinks that being unwell, fuzzy-eyed, and coccooned in a blanket makes that kind of statement funny.

Or maybe Teodoro is being honest, despite or because of being fuzzy from unwellness and turned cartoonish by his state of treat-into-bedclothes. "I'll believe that if you can say what they are, vecchio."

If the nickname is bothering him, it doesn't show on Francois' face, and he isn't summoning up protest — if Raith is going to go along with the plan, he can call anyone whatever he likes. There is, though, a slow blink from the Frenchman at the man's words, a line of confusion furrowing his brow. He still doesn't get up from his seat, about a foot or so taller than either man and quizzically trading a look from one to the other as he looks down on them. He obligingly and simply says, "Oui?"

"If you want absolutes, then I have one you'll like. It's deceptively simple." For drama, perhaps, Raith pauses a moment before he says, simply and sharply, knife-like, "No kids. Not, 'no kids unless it's convenient.' No kids, period. That's the rule." Casually, the ex-spy begins to examine the nails of his fingers, as if the topic of conversation were no more serious than whether he should wear pinstripes or not. "I'm very serious about that rule. Now, if Daiyu wants to break it, he is certainly welcome to. A small part of me, maybe, is hoping that he will break the rule." Suddenly bored with his nails, Raith's attention flits back to Teo. "But mostly, I hope he doesn't. Mostly. If he doesn't, the little darling won't have to get dragged into this cluster fuck, and the world will be that much richer for it.

"You'd think any moron could follow that one rule. But, as he's shown us several times before, Feng Daiyu isn't just any moron. He's a special kind of bunny-brained moron, so I don't expect he knows enough to preserve himself."

Teo closes and opens his eyes once or twice, surprised. A beat's silence, and his mouth tightens into a thin line, and he glances sidelong at the Frenchman a little ways down the couch, from around the point of Raith's caricature of casual indifference. For once, the glance exchanged is not terribly couple-y. A man says he wouldn't murder children, and defines this as a point of difference between himself and the enemy. It's not very romantic, in any sense of the term.

One would hope any given mass-murderer would have such rules, if one deigns to be at all interested in what a mass-murderer would think about anything. He doesn't say, Volken killed children. How did did you fucking work for him? "Dreyfus has already had several kids killed on Team Charlie's account. Former students of mine and Elisabeth Harrison's. If you need something else to fan the fire in your belly, that should be it. Used knives, kept it quiet.

"They were in their late teens, so maybe not as cute or button-nosed as Bai-Chan, but—"

But that's all Teo really has to say on the subject. He's rubbing his face, abruptly, restlessly scoring patches of color in his sick-time pallor. But.

Francois doesn't go into his explanation as to what counts as child to him, as unimpressed with this line of conversation as he was with Odessa's showing her cards re: ethics and willingness to murder. The same cautious neutrality has crept over his features, watching Teo more than Raith now. "But," he follows this train of logic, even if it wasn't exactly the same destination as Teo, "Dreyfus must come first in this. We have precious time, and I will gladly assist in finding the ones who worked for him if they don't scatter first. After."

"After," Raith repeats, finally pushing himself up from the couch to stand before turning to face Francois, "Done deal. You help me put a few more nails in Vanguard's coffin, after we take care of Dreyfus." He doesn't seem to feel as though they need to shake on it: Words between men is enough for him. Turning away from Francois now and pulling his coat back on, Raith advances back the way he entered from initially. "I'll work out a meeting, and clue you in to where and when. Don't let Teo outside without his mittens on, comprende mariposa?"

Teo's response to the deal done is to pull his blanket tighter around himself, compress his ankles where they're hidden beneath him, and then fall over sideways onto the butt-warmed divot that Raith just left behind.

Rather like a shelled hard-boiled egg tipped over from its very small base of balance. Teo winds up with his ragged, snuffling head bouncing near the Frenchman's hip, muttering something along the lines of 'Good-bye' or 'Fuck off' or 'Don't you catch cold, either,' shrugging heavy cotton weave higher over to cover his face. The bed is far. In a direction that would require a great challenge issued to gravity, which is one force to which the Sicilian would rather succumb.

Because, you know, it can't just be over with Dreyfus. Francois only nods in reply to Raith's deal-making, and glances when he sees Teo topple over — slightly embarrassing concern at first that that wasn't entirely voluntary, until he sees that it is. It's his messed up hand that Teo's never complained about that comes to settle on one blanket-padded shoulder, then up to brush sympathetically into shaggy blonde hair before he's withdrawing this piece of affection lest it freak anyone out — Teo, mostly.

"Merci, Jensen," he says, only replying to that final comment with a grin, good humour on the sickly one's behalf.

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