The Warren


cat_icon.gif francois_icon.gif teo_icon.gif

Scene Title The Warren
Synopsis Laying low at a Company facility after the rescue operation and attack on the catacombs of the Svyato Monastery, three Team Charlie operatives encounter each other and proceed to make out trade intelligence conceal intelligence mock each other like bastards catch up.
Date December 20, 2009

Ryazan, Russia — Company Facility

It's far past dinner time. A couple of weeks ago, those of Team Charlie sticking around the house would be sitting down for whatever generous spread Katarina had chosen to cook for them, enjoy warm food beneath frazzled nerves, hopeless ponderings about what to do next, sharper rebukes and insults, sullen silences, and sometimes laughter. Then helping clean and stack dishes, retreating to check e-mails, crawl up stairs, hog the shower. Lights wink out one by one. They're displaced, now, fragmented in the Company's facility with Trained Professionals poking at one of the few inadequacies Francois now feels he has, in the same Abby tells Teo she could have removed the bullet herself. He doesn't even have two hands with which to nimbly treat gunshots and torn flesh and broken bone.

Anya might live. Ish. Elisabeth is going to be fine. Ish. His hand is stitched and bandaged into normalcy. Ish.

The door to Anya's door opens after the Frenchman has made his arbitrary check up on her, some strange sense of duty to see her well when there's nothing he can do but pace her bedside like a hungered wolf. Stepping out into the hallway with one hand made snowy white with bandaging, the ends of fingers poking out like claws, Francois leans against the wall and considers the smoke filled room of an apartment sleeping space and wanders if he has an alike craving. He could go for coffee, in any case.

Teo's had his coffee. If he hadn't, he'd probably be characterized by a little less of the warmth and energy that puts whimsy into his stride, now, pacing and loitering in the Company facility's sterile and minimalistically-furnished hallways like a restless tomcat for the past two hours.

Without the coffee, he'd probably be asleep, too, which might have been the better idea: he's fuzzy in the head, paranoid by horrific images of floods, drowned continents, radiation sickness purloined from his memories of post-Bomb New York, near-death and the explosively shattered quietude of the monastery's catacombs only a half-day earlier. Maybe less.

Anya's blood is still on his coat, a thin, residual stain too stubborn for the scrub of fingernails and dish soap. He'd put it back on anyway. Isn't sure whether it's the tinny scent of iron or of artificial horticulture clinging to the back of his nose.

It's unthinking, when he happens upon Francois in the hall. The turn of the older man's torso is roped up neatly in the length of his arm, the turn of Francois' face drifts into the path of his mouth, and in the small, bleary hours of the morning, by some coincidence of degrees, trajectories and happenstance, Teodoro Laudani proceeds to kiss a time-traveller at Ryazan's bad guy central. It is, among other things, vaguely inappropriate.

A third person enters the room, no voice accompanying that arrival, her eyes not yet seeing what transpires. It seems Cat, as she is wont to do, is adrift in panmnesiac reverie in that moment. It lifts just enough for her to make sure she doesn't walk face first into the doorframe, however, and in that instant eyes settle on the man about to kiss another.

It doesn't shock or affect her much, although her vision upon the sight remains only momentarily. She understands such sentiments, although for her same-gender dalliances are a thing of the past. Attractions to other females remain, but they no longer give rise to passion or desire to explore. Without speaking, and if possible without sound to disturb the pair, she turns and exits. Privacy granted, perhaps without either knowing it was compromised.

Not to say that Francois doesn't have eyes only for Teo— that's a whole other debate for another time— but the flicker of movement registers around the time he's content to go with it. Healthy hand raising up, even, to plant warm on Teo's chest. There's the scent of blood and dust clinging to the younger man's clothing isn't entirely unpleasant if not a draw — more simplicity. There's a lot on everyone's minds, and it's like they say about battles and wars. Being kissed would be nice.

Doesn't happen. That hand on Teo's chest firms up, head turning away despite Cat's best efforts to leave them alone with less of a guilty flash in green eyes— mature amusement. "Bonsoir," is quiet, back pressing once more to the wall.

Though it takes far greater rejections to put a dent in Teo's ego, the hand that bars his chest is met with distinct confusion, one brow pried up in perplexity, the other stooped in consternation. He opens his mouth to ask, but Francois' head is already turning one way, and it's automated instinct in him (the not-Ghost half of him, anyway) to defer to the attention of the other person in the vicinity, so he turns his head and— and.

He jolts a backward footstep, his hands immediately and rather idiotically lurching refuge in his pockets, his gaze colliding with Anya's obnoxiously featureless door, rebounding off the wall into the empty space in the exact middle between Catherine and Francois, before reverberating gingerly back toward the woman. Some stigmas die hard. "Ahem," he says. Almost— practically says that. 'Ahem.' "Yeah. Thanks— for coming for us, Cat. I hope Orlova wakes up. I'd like to thank her, and— not to be a heartless cunt or anything, but she probably has valuable information about Zhukovsky. And Abby's foot."

This just in: when you try too hard to pretend a thing didn't happen, it rather underlines, highlights, and puts into harsh perspective that it did.

Being addressed, with two male voices, causes her turned back to turn again. No commentary is made on what she saw, that which was interrupted, and her own voice is dry. "It's what we do," Cat provides, "when time permits. Orlova's actions were unexpected, and welcome." She takes a pause there, moving a few steps closer.

Then the silence breaks. "Felix and I were laying plans when one of the Vanguardites called upon us rather violently. They used N2O canisters as an attempt at sedation and burst in with guns. One was killed, another captured and given to our contacts. I spoke with him, he hadn't much to tell, but…"

Her eyes flash with some darkness as she tacks on "He told me the Norse call sign of the chief attacker, which was Kozlow. It's Skoll."

Francois keeps his back nestled against plaster, picking his bandages, and keeping level attention on those that speak. He doesn't confirm as to whether Orlova will wake up— doesn't know— and he tips his head a little at the mention that yes, Abby's foot. If there was another reason besides the fact she proved herself in battle to deserve being taken with, it would be callous usefulness. Cat has a story to tell, anyway, so for the time being, the Frenchman holds his tongue and listens.

And stares, hand cradled to his chest as the other wraps around his midsection, supporting elbow. "But what of Faina? His healing?" A brisk shake of his head a moment later. "We should have anticipated they'd go after you, knowing we were divided." The tone of his voice suggests an I where there was a we, and apology without the syllables.

News of Skoll sharpens Teodoro's eyes considerably, his pupils constricting to needlepricks in the circles of his irises. Trust Cat to move on with pragmatism, and Francois with grace. At the very least, he can stumble along in their wake and eventually arrive at roughly the correct destination. Given he remains the only operative out of the team who's managed to get this far relatively unscathed, and mostly as a function of larking around disembodied, it would be trite and small-hearted to say 'I told you so.' He doesn't. His lips don't even move around the restrained urge.

"I'm glad you got out all right," he adds to Francois' answer. Simple, obvious. Worth mentioning. "You and Ivanov. N2O— that shit's no joke. No idea where Skoll's gone to ground?"

"I believe he was present at the Monastery," Cat provides as reply. "He wore goggles in the attack, and that one man in the cavern also had goggles. I hope he's dead, I certainly tried to make him so with a head shot." Her eyes darken again, the next words coming in a mutter. "Ivanov likes the AK-47, but I prefer the M16. An AK round off his helmet, one would think, should cause him to have a nasty headache like being hit with a sledghammer. But it didn't affect him at all."

That thought is left behind. "It's wise to presume him still alive, though: people have survived such collapses before, and absent a body there's no proof. With Grigori around, for that matter, a body isn't proof either."

"Skoll held me aloft by the throat; martial arts training and physical preparedness didn't compensate for lacking size and upper body strength in fighting him. He claimed I know where Wagner and the Verano are, demanded that information. I told him to get fucked, Munin was up his ass."

That gets a smile, overtired amusement, Francois leaning his head back against the wall as he thinks. No sense in asking 'why'. Why the woman who turned him into a statue helped them, why the man who healed him was their enemy. His hands come up, scrub at his face, and fall away again. "Perhaps there is a way to go back, check for bodies, without walking into some other trap. It would not be too impossible, but perhaps not worth it — the Vanguard might recover its own.

"It is too late in the evening for planning," he concludes. "But he has answered some of our own questions, non? As to whether the Vanguard no more than they say. Apparently not."

There's a brief snigger from Teodoro's side of the room before he wipes his features beatifically clean again. Ha, ha. Cat told Skoll Munin was up his ass. That's hilarious; almost wish it was true. Be much easier to go get i—

His brow dents. He blinks twice, swerves his head sideways around a forty-five degree angle turn, bumping his forehead against the frame of the nearest photograph framed on the wall. The image rattles in its frame, throwing a brief coruscation of reflected fluorescent light from the ceiling, before Teo resumes himself. Squares his head on-center. "Yeah," he agrees. "I should probably…" Teo swims a finger over his shoulder, down the hall. "Go to bed."

"No, they've not the first clue where the weapon is. For this reason, among others, I believe this cell of the Vanguard must be cleansed forever from the earth before we go elsewhere. It's the only way to ensure they don't follow us in hopes we lead them to it. And I certainly have no wish to face this organization a third time over some other insane Hitleresque plot."

"Fucking nutjobs Nazis."

"There's another person whose whereabouts I don't know," Cat remarks in that same dry tone, "Ethan Holden."

Francois steers his weight off the wall, nodding to Cat. "It is what I had hoped to come back and finish, but it seems as though it must be done before the world can be saved." Mention of Holden has him steering a look to Teo— the corner of his mouth hitching up.

"So early, mon chéri?" is for Teo, hands going out, coming to curl sound fingers around an arm, tugging him close enough— or himself— close enough to plant a kiss on Sicily's cheek, close enough to his mouth, injured hand hovering up in a touch to his face that doesn't make contact, plenty of mirth that probably does the quota of merriment for the day. "Mon lapin, sleep well."


Teo turns conspicuously red, a higher and more saturated pigmentation than he's been since May, and says absolutely nothing, some form of invitation or retort flattened behind his lips and the outline of his long frame redrawn around the blocky stiffness of a regular polygon. Nor does he go, blinking, unsure of what dignity was lost or how to recover it. Francois apparently succeeded, for the moment, in gassing the hamster inside its wheel, and what remains merely twitches fuzzily below the axel.

There's a brief mental image formed of Teo as a rabbit, which causes her to crack a smile, but it's short-lived. Cat did not miss the way Teo was glanced at when Ethan was mentioned, and she returns to that man as subject. "You know something about Mr. Holden's location?"

The flush of red is certainly the colour of victory, Francois' eyes going narrow with a smile, and there's some apology on that pat-pat to Teo's arm as he retracts. Later, he can blame the morphine rather than utter cruelty, and will maybe be forgiven. For now, Cat is asking a good question, and not for the first time, it's not Francois' to answer. If only because as much as neither man knows the Wolf's location, there's something slimey about a simple no that Francois is going to bed in favour of buying into.

Teo can do that. With the rubble of the cavern, Anya's disfigurement, Skoll's identity— it might not even matter. "I'm going to bed first," is Francois' sedate response. "Thank you again, Catherine, for your rescue. Always the Americans." A hand up in a wave, comes back down to clap against his side as he pushes off briskly.

"No," Teo answers, when he finds his voice somewhere. Digs it up out of the dirt and hauls it out by the bootstrings. About twenty minutes after Francois' departure, Sicily finally sees fit to fire a proper glare after the way he'd gone, though it's admittedly half-hearted at best: in his hybrid psyche, Teodoro is just this side of self-aware to know that his secondhand hangups are stupid, and groundless, particularly when his audience is constituted by a modern woman like Catherine. "I don't. Told Francois and Liz he said he was working old contacts.

"Seems clear which ones he meant, by now, but not what the fuck he's really doing with them." Lies. Truth. Mangled, mingled. Ethan's fallen so far out of Teo's sphere of protection that even Teodoro would sooner protect himself. "I don't know. Not one fucking bite of decent intel, for all the deep cover he's ripped through Abby's foot. I'll let you know if he makes contact, if you'd do the same." His face has returned to its natural complexion, eyes blinking in pale reliefs.

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