The Hand that Rocks the Cradle


simon_icon.gif teo_icon.gif

Scene Title The Hand that Rocks the Cradle
Synopsis Teo shows up at school as Simon is getting out and manages to shake up the kid just a little bit more.
Date October 27, 2008

Washington Irving High School

To all appearances, little has changed about Washington Irving High School, although it was closed for 20 months after the bomb exploded in Midtown. The windows broken and walls graffitied by mischievous teens during that interval have been restored to their original appearance; the hardwood floors have been recently waxed, the walls are clean, and row upon row of lockers line the halls of all eleven floors. The entrance hall remains elegant in its wood paneling and fireplace, as if nothing untoward ever happened.

Even when school is in session, however, there is a quiet atmosphere unusual in most public schools. Many teachers and students alike did not return when Chelsea was reopened; what faculty there are struggle with too-large classes, at least on those occasions when most of their enrolled students attend class. Some have to teach subjects not their forte, filling in the gaps left by the departed. Before the bomb, this school offered excellent instruction in fashion design and photography, along with an International Baccalaureate degree; now, it's just another example of Manhattan's fight to make ends meet at the most basic levels.

Classes are adjourned for the day. The kids exit the building like a flood. Stampede. Swarm. Some force of nature. Never try to get between a post-adolescent and her pot, or his girlfriend, extracurriculars, online Halo tournaments, something-something. Teodoro isn't sure what they do these days, over this side of the water. He wasn't very good at high school while he was doing it. It's a bit hazy, but he spent most of his time fighting, drinking, fornicating, and lurking.

He's lurking now. It's characterized differently from the lurking he used to do then. More introspective. Standing on the other side of the chainlink fence, cigarette burning its way toward his mouth, standing out in one discreet corner of the lot, a good distance from where the buses are massed and slowly beginning to pull out across the boldly marked asphalt.

The door to the seventh period Spanish literature class goes swinging open as more kids join the ebb and flow of the adolescent sea. A stream of steady Spanish comes flying out with them, getting lost in the cacophony of the hallway. Simon is one of the kids who are leaving. He's tucking a copy of native language Don Quixote into his bag, having wanted to get out of class too much to have done so inside the room. He stares into the hall and frowns at all the kids. Luckily, he can duck out the side exit near his class, which he does. Outside, he takes a few steps over to the fence without spotting Teo and pulls out his cell phone, which he begins to thumb through.

Smoking in a parking lot and watching high school students skitter around. Teo doesn't get much skeezier than that, these days. Fortunately, that prevents him from simply standing there and eavesdropping on Simon's conversation, however intriguingly furtive the younger man was going about it. He pulls the cancer stick out of his mouth and leans his head against the criss-crossed metal, exhales a syllable of salutation. "Hey," he says. The fence bends convex only slightly under his listed weight; his head isn't /that/ hard. "What's up?"

Simon is in the middle of responding a text that was sent to him from Mallory. Something about how he didn't take the trash out so he owes her. Whatever! He's so engrossed in whatever smart-assed comment he's talking out that Teo takes him completely by surprise. So much, in fact, that he actually jumps, face reddening first in anger, than in embarrassment when he realizes who the voice belongs to.

"Oh, its you," he says as he sends his message and stuffs the phone away. "What are you doing here? They're all too young for you, and if they're not they're dirty." He eyes the sometimes-substitute with narrowed eyes, then leans against the fence himself so that their combined weight makes a little s shape in the chainlink. Almost like the helix, if somewhere were to really stretch it.

He won't push too far. After all, this thing was built to protect them. The kids. See how they talk and scatter in the distance, susceptible to their pubescent dramas and the perpetual chopping block of academic failure. Teo's expression of good-natured interest turns mildly quizzical when the boy transforms his head into a tomato, through no involvement of Evolution; he bites down the instinct to retort with a perverse joke or harmless mockery, lest either of those turn out less than harmless. "Taking a break.

"I'm marking some papers and taking one of the 4:15 buses uptown after the extracurriculars are over. You?" Wouldn't want to keep him, after all, though something about Simon's stance and the very fact he's hear indicates to Teodoro that he wasn't bolting home soon.

"Oh, me? I need to get some reading done over there," Simon points off to a tree growing in the corner of the school yard, near and entrance/exit point that won't close until security leaves a couple hours later. "Don't think about looking over my shoulder, I'm not into that." Simon's finger, still pointed, comes whirling around to aim its uneasy gaze (of sorts) at Teo. Then it drops, along with Simon's arm, to the kid's side. "Then I have to head over to my internship. It's a long day."

The Sicilian follows the gesture with his eyes, hooking four fingers onto the chainlink to shift his head. That's always amazed him slightly, that there's a tree there. Not merely surviving, but growing. "Commendable," he says magnanimously, of Simon's reading. "Mrs. Hendrickson will be proud. Though it's not completely unbelievable that a kid living on the Upper-East Side would be holding a job somewhere, you'll have to pardon Teo that he's a little bit surprised, eyebrows up, mouth twisting briefly. "Really?" A half-beat. "You know, I was just thinking, when I was your age—" —that makes him feel old. He shuts up with a scowl that betrays his thoughts on the subject completely. He taps ash onto the ground. "Where are you working at?"

Simon always found the tree to be oddly comforting. Though it's still mangled from the bomb and has a few dead branches that will never have leaves again, it still has managed to hold up, unlike so much else. He's not thinking about the tree for long, though, because Teo's question makes him laugh. "Ha!" It's not like he thinks it's funny, or anything. It's most certainly a sarcastic laugh. "I'm not going to tell you that. Then you would just stalk me over there." He glances away, but still remains pushed up against the fence. Talking to someone he doesn't necessarily like is still better than reading Don Quixote, at least right now. "What about when you were my age?" he asks, turning to look back at Teo.

Talking to someone who doesn't particularly like him is better than smoking alone in Teodoro's mind. It's been days since Romero flagged PARIAH, and those intervening days have been dense with a cloying, fungal silence that chokes his conversational ability and desire to do much except inhale carcinogenics, eye Alexander doubtfully, and wire detonators. Even Simon's laughter, however abrasive, becomes welcome relief from that over time.

"I can smoke somewhere else if you want," Teo says. He segues onward almost immediately, not one to let such a statement dangle into passive-aggression; it's just stands, brief, an explicit promise he'll fuck off once Simon breaks out with the Don Quixote or whatever. Stalking— he assumes that's what Sion meant by that. "I was just fucking around when I was your age. Football riots and stuff like that. You're a pretty good kid." He takes a drag and watches the tree. Blinks wearily in the gray light. "Can I ask you a personal question?"

Simon waves a hand in front of his face, and while it may rid his breathing space of smoke, he's merely doing it to wave away the comment Teo made. He never minded smoking, not like so many other "good kids." "You don't know me," is Simon's response to that comment, because Teo really doesn't. If he did he would know that Simon had powers, and that he used them casually to get what he wants. Like fame on the basketball team. Or money as a pool shark.

At the question, Simon raises his brows and shrugs. "Yeah, why not. It's not like I have to answer it, right." He waves his hand once again for Teo to go on and ask him whatever he wants to ask him.

Teodoro isn't ignorant of the fact that receiving the compliment of 'good kid' from someone who is or used to be a bad one doesn't necessarily register as an actual compliment. He could have said something else. Maybe he should have. However, he's feeling a little off; not in that his temper is any shorter than the one Simon's lip usually tries, but just a little more reckless, a little further past caring, a little more willing to indulge his lesser vices. Not in any big way. He watches the boy through the wire crosshatch for a moment.

"Right." He weighs said question in his mind the way he would have done to a stone in the hollow of his palm, once, trying to decide whether to skip it on the water or just to throw. He's been wondering for awhile. He asks, blankly, without elaboration: "Are you Registered?"

The question strikes Simon like a slap in the face. He really wasn't expecting that and that's clear by the look on his face. "Why would I be?" Simon peers at Teo for a long moment, shifting the weight of his messenger bag so it sits more comfortably on his shoulder. "Listen, I need to start reading this book, alright?" His gaze flutters down to his feet and then off to the damaged tree. "I'm sure I'll see you around," he pauses a moment and then adds, "Stalker." That's when he turns away from the man and heads away, faster than he would normally walk, and with a bit of a bounce in his step, as if his feet are threatening to start running.

October 27th: Uh-Uh!

Previously in this storyline…

Next in this storyline…

October 27th: Unsafe
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