Times Are Gone For Honest Men


deckard_icon.gif teo3_icon.gif

Scene Title Times Are Gone For Honest Men
Synopsis For April Fool's, Flint and Teo set off to be murdered by one another.
Date April 1, 2010


Brooklyn is located on the westernmost point of Long Island and shares its only land boundary with Queens. The East river borders and defines the borough's northern coast, Coney Island, Brighton Beach, and Manhattan beach are to the south, and the Narrows separate it from Staten Island to the southwest.

Downtown Brooklyn is one of the NYC's largest business districts. Between the Bridge and Prospect Park, brownstones, townhouses, and high-end restaurants are dominant. The culturally diverse communities of Williamsburg and Greenpoint are snugged against the East River to the far north. Close by are far more criminally active neighborhoods such as Brownsville, Crown Heights, and Bushwick. Regardless of the social situation, the so-called Borough of Neighborhoods is packed to the gills in post-bomb NYC.

There's an inch of fresh snow on the ground in Greenwich tonight. Which means most of the stuff lying thick around the sidewalks where people are getting too lazy or tired to keep shoveling it out of the way is white rather than dingy grey. The rest of what's slushed viscous and murky in the streets isn't so lucky; it only just gets up the energy to slop wetly after the tires of one of the last cabs this block is likely to see. It's late. It's a weeknight. Curfew is closing in and the subway isn't far, now.

Deckard walks alone. He usually does, although he usually isn't aware of the fact that someone may try to come and kill him with kindness (or a big black gun) somewhere along the way. Overcoat collar flipped high around the back of his neck, knit cap lying forgotton on the bar next to his last whiskey, he slogs along in a mostly straight line with his eyes squinted watery against the wind's bite. Occasionally they flicker like an old argon beer lamp in a run down bar, blue ringing cold to sweep alleyways and abandoned buildings where icy paths make x-ray vision to treacherous to risk every step of the way.

His arms are folded stiff across his chest and there are still stitches in his head, buzzcut too severe and stubble too coarse, so that they nearly level out at his sideburns. If a patrol car happened past at this hour, no doubt he'd be in the back in the time it'd take him to try counting down from 99 backwards.

The guy is coming from behind. You know, the one whose arrival and inquiries and maimed side of his face the other bouncers had lightly remarked upon, about six feet tall, ragged off-blond hair, and his doublebreasted coat big enough to hide a big black gun in, sure, if you're going to be cynical like that. Probably armor as well, though that would be slightly gratuitous, even with the weather providing ample excuse to take out any layer of gear you happen to have available.

The gap closes. Thirty yards to fifteen, mapped out on a ribbon of yellow, sodium-lit pavement, mushed over slush pock-marked and zitted with the tread of countless pedestrians, a vanishing point with the skinny old man's figure stomping along the intermediate point of it. For all that he hates winters up here, his step is the more certain of the two, at this particular juncture of the evening. This is not to be mistaken for a disparity in useable confidence. He probably should have had a drink, too.

"Deckard," he says, by way of salutation. There isn't enough wind to steal his voice away, or mottle the recognizable cadence, accentless neutrality, register that Deckard can't recognize it, even a few sheets to the wind. Teodoro Laudani lives; is uncongested and steadily matching his pace, likely in reasonable health; probably not the best mood; has found him.

The sound of his name registers before damp footsteps do, and IDing the owner's voice takes longer still. Maybe because reality is still laboring to catch up with…reality.

Or something.

Flint stops and turns, looking very much like himself. Long lines and hard angles. Steep hollows pitched in under the hood of his brows and through the inward sweep of his clamped jaw. He's hard and lean in the sallow light, comfortable softnesses plied in by an alien ability's interference carved away at a harsher relief than before. He's not emaciated, or even unusually thin for what he's lost; he's just. Deckard. A manky, worn out old graverobber in a shabby overcoat whose quarry has taken a turn for the more supple of late.

His collar flaps at the jut of one overlarge ear and he blinks once, a little ssslow, like he was expecting this to happen but under alcohol's influence was mmmaybe hoping it was some other jack-o-lantern queer come to call. He owes a few people money, these days. It's not impossible.
Sinuses snuffed against the cold, breath hissed out through his teeth at a wheezy fog, he eventually tips a brow up, hazy, lazy and probably more than slightly crazy. You got me. Now what?


—Teo is on the approach. Slower now, which is about all the caution (fear) that he betrays. His ruined mouth is flat, drawn thin, an expression of deliberate non-expression, except for the upward fishhook scarring that he can't really do anything about. The darkness makes his eyes dark, also. Pupils blown up to Bambi size as he studies Deckard, over and over, up and down and then the particulars of his posture, as if some subtlety of detail could explain the dead women, and the women who perhaps still have yet to die by his blade.

Teodoro is obscurely amazed that that thought even went through his fucking brain. Looking at Deckard, the physical reset is jarring. He looks like he did before the initial apocalypse made him skinny, Abby's transplanted ability made him skinner, and then fuelling it made him fat. He may not be as handsome as Ghost had been, but still, it would be easier if Deckard were a slavering mess of exposed teeth, snarling fingers, frenzied epithets and blank-eyed animal appetites.

Instead of a scratchy Xerox of the old man Teo had met back the other November. Teo scrapes to a halt some yards away. Conversational distance. The Sicilian produces an even tone: "You're a wanted man for killing all those women. Probably, by law enforcement soon, too."


Well that is true.

In the face of said truth, Flint fails to look much different. Both brows tilt up in bland acknowledgement, expression vacantly lost as it is indifferent. He is usually wanted for something or another. Technically this may be the first time he's been wanted for something worth being wanted over.
Bruising's still marred in over the side of his face with the stitches, mottled darkest at the point of impact and in a half moon under his eye. Elsewhere it's had time to fade, all yellows and browns to compliment the light and an electric sear of radiation round through his irises — in and out again.

"Some of them were men," corrected with an aimless kind of reason, booze brings his left hand up to feel unconsciously over grizzled scruff where Teo's face was laid open to the molars. Not really the kind of scar college girls want to flirt about in theme bars.

Hence fucking an ex-immortal doctor with an equally gimped hand. Teo is an opportunist that way, which doesn't sound as cool and slick and indifferent as he'd like it to. He is the kind of opportunist who is awkwardly sensitive to the weight somebody's stare on the wrong side of his face. It shouldn't matter, given Deckard is saying that some of them were men, but it does. His breath goes out translucent through his nose, this time, instead of the convenient vent in the side of his mouth.

It takes a few seconds to realize that that extraneous movement registering in the left part of his chest cavity is actually interpretable as pain.

"You're not sorry?" he asks. Probably not the first thing he should have asked, and the emphasis is there despite himself, in sharp-edged italics. That is, despite that he believes that it'll just make him look like a bit of an ass, or possibly misguidedly emotional about all these recent corpses, he raises his voice anyway, and his tenor is brittle and thin in the air, lacks the movement and inertia of his breath fuzzing out of his mouth. "What the fuck, Deckard? Somebody pay you to do whores and johns too?"

Well. Gee. This is a conversation Flint wasn't intending to deal with at least until he died. …If he ever had to deal with it at all. Everything else has an express lane, these days. Why not hell?

A slow breath seems to represent his absorption of the question before his hand falls back to his side. He does Teo the courtesy of thinking about it, self-aware enough to feel like he owes him that much, even if the query itself never makes it any deeper than the shambled surface of his battered brain. All splintered fence and lonely barking on the wind.

Time passes. Enough to maybe pass for a thoughtful pause. Then he shakes his head, light eyes rolled to cast dimly elsewhere across the street, where a newspaper flops and sags heavy against the curb.

The second question is evidently too rude to be dignified with an answer; he is more interested in ice and snow that he can't see once his eyes have triggered radioactive again and stay that way.

Rude? Rude— the drift of Deckard's attention is interpretable, as is his silence as to the latter question. Shards of disparate ideas and discontinuous notions clink razor edges inside Teodoro's head, shuffle, try to make a picture that looks a little less. He doesn't know. Broken. What the Hell? Mexico had been— had supposed to have been a good thing, that sojourn, relaxation, some solitude and peace. It wasn't supposed to turn Deckard into a serial-killer.

Teo probably should be thinking that nothing is supposed to be able to do that, but admittedly, he doesn't. This isn't that world. In this world, brain chemistry and trauma conspire to turn people who are kind of OK into people that people wouldn't call people. Probably, long before Teodoro's brain chemistry, brain trauma, and subjective interpretations of tragedy came into play, however, he addressed his problems by punching them, too.

There goes the swing, prompt and public and engined by something that isn't even as honest as anger. Teo's fist snatches out at Deckard's chin like a dogbite.

For Deckard, head trauma has a habit of coming in units of two, and there's nothing quite like catching a sucker punch with your face. Even if it is a lot like punching a block of wood with sandpaper on it for Teo's knuckles.

His head snaps sideways back into his shoulder hard with force enough to crack his neck for him. There's an audible chiropractic pop with the motion and too much ringing in his ears for it to register even though he keeps his feet — and for the most part, his balance. Copper tangs at this tongue, thicker on the back of it when he manages to work his jaw open enough to determine it hasn't broken in two, and for a beat he just stands there with chin to shoulder and lambent eyes squeezed shut hard. Endorphins any second now.

But they are taking their time, and it's up to whiskey to fuzz shocking pain into something that sounds a lot like a scoff in the base of his throat upon exhale, tired and sick and claggy with black runoff where his teeth tried to eat through the side of his own mouth just now. Even once one eye has slit boldly back open again, devoid of emotion as it is of reflection, he doesn't even move to put his hands up.

For Deckard, head trauma has a habit of coming in units of two, and there's nothing quite like catching a sucker punch with your face. Even if it is a lot like punching a block of wood with sandpaper on it for Teo's knuckles.

His head snaps sideways back into his shoulder hard with force enough to crack his neck for him. There's an audible chiropractic pop with the motion and too much ringing in his ears for it to register even though he keeps his feet — and for the most part, his balance. Copper tangs at this tongue, thicker on the back of it when he manages to work his jaw open enough to determine it hasn't broken in two, and for a beat he just stands there with chin to shoulder and lambent eyes squeezed shut hard. Endorphins any second now.

But they are taking their time, and it's up to whiskey to fuzz shocking pain into something that sounds a lot like a scoff in the base of his throat upon exhale, tired and sick and claggy with black runoff where his teeth tried to eat through the side of his own mouth just now. One eye slits boldly back open again, devoid of emotion as it is of reflection, but he doesn't move to put his hands up. Doesn't back up. Just stands there. Deckard.

Maybe Teo had hoped to have his guts strung out on the end of one of the old man's knives, by now. What Deckard provides instead continues to be depressingly recognizable. And now his hand hurts, wonderfully, a swollen sort of soreness that supercedes the permeating ache of cold and knotting stress. He flexes it open, remakes his fist, opens it again. Doesn't hit the old man anymore, maybe because the checkpoint cops could see, someone would call them, or maybe because it doesn't seem to be doing anything. Not even making Teo feel better.

"They describe your work as experimental," he says, and there's an ugly parody of relishing to his tone, like a rebellious Mormon teen wrapping his tongue and teeth around a dirty word for the first time. Except Teo all but spits it out. Hisses. "They say you're learning.

"They say it might have taken her—" He couldn't tell you which her, of course. Interchangeable victims, either because their names and particulars didn't matter or because they did, "hours to die, and that that was the point. What the fuck is that supposed to mean? What do you think you're doing?" Another step forward. His attention doesn't fishtail off in the dark to check for eavesdroppers, though there's an unrealized urge twitching in the stack of his shoulders.

The back of a gloved hand lifted to smudge absently after the acrid taste of metal in his mouth once it seems unlikely that there's a second strike on the way, Flint tastes the air like a snake, mouth open and teeth bared out long enough to constitute resistance towards this line of conversation. Also, a wincing pant. He has to work to keep the world at right angles; apartment buildings and closed shops have all gone smeary around the edges and there are halos around streetlamps when he segues in and out of mundane vision for the sake of squinting blearily at Teo's dumb face.

Looks better as a skeleton nowadays, if potentially more accurately, outwardly representative of the change in Deckard's opinion of him over the last year.

"Maybe I got tired of seeing everything in black and white." His voice is rough in his throat, cold and coagulation shivered damp through every syllable. "Decided to upgrade. What difference does it make, Teodoro? Are you going to kill me?"

First names. Not only that, but Teodoro's whole first name. This must be serious, and it is. It is kind of weird how the old man's way of acknowledging that fails entirely to give the situation the proper recognition. "You defend mutant orphans from cannibalistic freaks. You shot psycho future Rickham in the fucking head because he was naked homiciding at Colette— you brought Joseph back from that fucking drug lab. You saved the world, once— and you said about ashes, in November. Here's hoping there weren't…

"It fucking matters. I don't give a fuck about your fucking palettes." Obscurely, Teo is discontent that he's somehow degenerated to scolding under his breath in the middle of Deckard's drunken walk home, even if that is mostly Deckard's fault. Outwardly, it probably looks queerer than it is, and it probably doesn't help either case, any case, that Teo next aims a square shove at the older man's skinny chest. "Multiple choice question.

"Would you prefer death or half a dozen life sentences? Circle C for other: fucking stop."

"Brian took out the cannibal. Rickham kept coming; I blacked out. Someone else saved Joseph. I…chased Bella." The pause is marked by half a hiccup and a sullen, gassy exhalation that isn't quite energetic or manly enough to pass for a belch. More like wind falling tangibly out of his sails. Can't save anyone. Can't keep a job. Can't even be a serial killer without everyone finding out and being disappointed.

His shoulders slouch with the sway of Teo's shove, little resistance offered for all that sheer size and weight keeps him anchored upright. He feels solid under his coat, and warm, the way wiresprung alley cats do under all the crooked whiskers and mange. "Someone else will if you don't. Won't," sounds drowsily reasonable for all that it is not A, B or C, like he's participating in a parallel but not quite identical conversation with the snow-soaked sidewalk. "I thought it'd be nice to give you the option so you don't feel guilty later…or something. Look, Teo," at the concrete, at the curb. At muddy ice that doesn't reflect the distraction lined in long around his face.

"I get off on it. And. I tried not to be, for a while. Maybe I wasn't at first. It's hard to remember. So." Sentence structure deteriorates with coherence, and the harder he tries to think the more it gets away from him until he chuckles at his own exasperation, teeth stained an off shade of red until he swallows some of it down again.

"I wouldn't hold it against you."

Stop-start. Teodoro stops long enough for the old man to say his piece, and maybe it is denial: that that wasn't the real piece, wasn't the truth, is some elaborately macabre joke nailed on, a segment wedged in, welded in and edges hammered flat to form this beautifully-articulated expression of how much he apparently hates him. Which is cool. Whatever. Popular sport, lately.

Conveniently ignoring everything that reality would undercut, he grabs Deckard by the shirt. Shoves forward, aiming him backward into whatever happens to be back there. Frost-rimed brick, wrought iron, socketed by thin ice and sand-clotted snow, solid enough to hold up the weight of a grown man. Maybe one and a half grown men, given Teo's leaning elbows and callused fists on him now, glaring at his face or merely watching Deckard's face.

For that traitorous flicker of expression to change the alignment of long bones and worn brow, the traitorous light of radiation through his irises. There's this other time where he could have scorched Teo's corneas out if he'd tried at his temper this way, but that's one of the lates that Deckard doesn't seem interested in seeing. "Bullshit." He vents this term out into Deckard's face along with breath soured from the cup of juice he'd drank two hours ago. "Will you fucking stop? You used to fucking try. You helped people. The cannibal would've hurt the kids. Rickham didn't get Colette, and Joseph got out.

"That—" He aborts out of the urge to repeat something in all of what the old man had said, louder, fiercer, as if donning an exasperated tone of voice could rewrite the sincerity with which it was originally spoken. "You were supposed to be getting better."

It's fortunate for Deckard that Teo grabbed hold of him before he shoved, this time. One boot heel scuffs slickly out from under him, leaving his dead weight to twist awkwardly against Laudani's grip at his fore until he finds purchase again. And by that time, his back's already up against the wall anyway, remnant breath hoarsed out in a misty blast of whiskey stink and flecks of brackish red.

Close as they are, with winter wet creeping its way in through grizzled hair and the woolen back of his coat on one side and Teo's tyrade on the flip, he manages to avoid eye contact. The demon light in his irises doesn't stray anywhere near the empty sockets set into Teo's skull, bristled jaw turned down and aside again — squirmed as far away as it can for all its worth. He was trying to go home. Get some sleep.

Right hand grasped automatically at Teo's shoulder to take some of the pressure to stay up off his back and feet, it stiffens into a more aqualine claw when his temper does finally begin to pull stringy muscle taut through the empty spaces between juts of skullbone against his vulpine face. "Not here."

"Where? Hell?" Teo doesn't let up, or at least not yet. He is not particularly pleased that his mad scrabble in the dark for some 'On' switch, any 'On' switch, winds up lighting Deckard's temper instead of what he was really looking for. Deckard's straying sense of honor, perhaps. Or the experimental monster that's shut up somewhere inside that periodically radioactive mule-stretched skull. He manages to keep his voice corralled down into a whisper, despite the vicious jag of italics. "Jail?

"What the fuck do you remember about anything? Who you are?" Eventually, it might occur to him that one can not typically search for a monster and human decency in the same place, or using the same methods, or maybe Deckard seems atypical enough. There's enough crazy going around that it's only understandable, particularly with the specific derangements wrought by grief. His hands tighten. Up close, his leer looks worse.

Would have, if Deckard would bother to look, the wrinkly sag of epithelium tissue and the lumpily stiff scaliness of scar around it, leering, a parody of pleasure. "What not here?"

"Abigail doesn't have her ability here. You're someone else here. I don't go to school or teach or have a family. Here." Looking at Teo at this proximity takes effort that strains tight at the corners of Deckard's lambent eyes. His skull doesn't emote, but it is familiar. Every arc and angle. High points and low. But with inebriate anger comes something like clarity, or at least enough force of will to believe that the world and all its problems have fallen out into sharp, skeletal relief. His eyes roll up into focus where the rest of him persists in pressing away. To the wall, through the wall if he could only get there. An instinct likely better employed by his prodigal sister.

He seems to have picked up on the volume check, at any rate. He doesn't whisper, but his croak is constrained to their little stretch of sodden, ice-slick bricking and rankled wool to match the bitter rankle of his nose when he twists suddenly. Not away, but closer in, one bony shoulder pinned awkwardly back so that he's nearly nose to nose with the Italian in a snap of teeth and a quavering breath. "I don't get better."

A sneer curls Teo's mouth, doesn't quite push his bearded face into symmetry, but closer. This time, his obscure innermore conviction is that he could perhaps have picked something better to do with his face than sneer. There is a plaintive quality to the resentment that's being put to him, fragile and translucent as the ice crystalized on the brick's sheer face.

He almost retreats his head backward an inch to avoid losing the end of his prodigious nose to Deckard's teeth, but aborts before really admitting there's any game of chicken here at all. More of a boxer's clinch, or that of a hammer with a particularly pugnacious nail. "Don't be so yellow," he grinds out. His teeth leave audible impressions on the words that he speaks. "Over there, you didn't wait on the rest of the world saying, 'Okay, but you first.'

"You know, he killed James Stutzman too." Whether because that seems like it deserves dramatic punctuation or because he tires of this fetid mingling of breath and broken stacking of gravity, Teo lets go right then. Push of Deckard's lapels, backward step. His fingers are so cold it feels like he has to crack them to flatten them out from the grip he'd been holding.

Deckard watches and listens more raptly than he feels like he has the energy to, lean muscle strained into twine cords through the stretch of his neck. Head tilted. Too interested in the answer. Then a second jostle sees him scraped back up against the wall again like the bite of a snow shovel spade to concrete, Teo leaving him for the same kind of damp litter soon to be frozen in its flutter and flag across the street.

That's when the gun comes out. Where he had it, God only knows, but it looks to emerge from underneath his coat somewhere around the back. Probably seated in a holster not unlike the one he foisted on Teo however many months ago.

Not that it matters, really. Crazy man with a gun, ears stuck out and head buzzed flat, eyes like embers smoldering deepset in his skull and he's pointing it at Teo almost before it's drawn, like he's had a lot of time to think about it or none at all.

It is too late for Teo to revise his choice of words, and for whatever reason, he thinks he picked the wrong ones. He stares at death down its black composite barrel, and stalls out on waiting for the round to fly out and hit him between his eyes. When it does not do so immediately, he remembers to stop staring at its abyssal cyclopean glower and up at the two bright points of X-ray poking at the night out of Deckard's skull.

It's a bad time to not know what to say, either, but Teodoro really doesn't. He stands there, arms hanging down on his sides, his bare fingers in pale blue relief against the dense black wool of his outer coat. Obscurely again, he is glad that it isn't a knife. Whatever else the drawn pistol means, it provides a harsh-focused distinction between him and the hookers, or Ichihara, of some kind.

A frost-tongued doldrums blows past. Rattles and clicks the bones of the nearby gingko tree, stirs at the panels of Teo's clothing, flips a lock of hair over from one side of Teo's nose to the other, but the rest of his silhouette doesn't shiver, bend, blink or seem to breathe.

It's not the first time Deckard's done Teo the discourtesy of threatening to blow one or both of their brains out. But this is the first time he's looked confident behind the gun. …If an absence of insecurity or doubt qualifies as confidence. In Deckard's case, liberal parameters may be necessary to achieve an accurate (or any kind of) reading.

But the gun doesn't tremor and he doesn't blink.

Eerie light diffracts blue through the gradual fog of his breath, too slow to read as true fury even if the stillness bit into the rest of him seethes of it. It's a deep kind of distaste. Hatred, even. If not of Teo directly, of something about him. Something different and still unrecognizeable, like a dog snapping at the stink of a twin otherwise indistinguishable from his owner.

"You're the biggest coward I know." Hard to believe someone who looks so unabashedly thuggish is capable of such contempt, but it lifts from his voice easy as his breath, coarse and corroded. "Leave me alone."

A rictus flares through the ragged line of Teo's upper lip, rifts a brief show of teeth in under the moustache half of that inscrutable mustelid creature that forms his facial hair. He closes his hands, cracks them open again, and actually feels it when the wind crawls past his knuckles and palms. "Liar," he says, optimistic in more ways than one, roughing palms down the sides of his coat. The fabric's frictive rasp fails to revive any discernible sense of feeling in them, but it's probably helping. Logically.

The street is emptier now than it was five minutes ago. With his back to the street, he can't tell if any of the cars are slowing down as they go by. "'Cause I don't want to die?" is comparatively polite. He still isn't looking at the gun, but it is probably rather unlikely that he can't tell it isn't shaking, that there's no uncertainty or fear in the old man's skinny face. Fair enough: his turn. "'Cause I won't come at you while you're armed? What else?"

"Deliver everyone you can from evil. Fall in love with everyone who looks at you sideways; kill no one. Not even the people who deserve it. Erase your mistakes. Not from other people's memories. Just from your own." Flint's thumb trips carefully back across the hammer, wresting down against the spring with a final cl-ick timed near perfect with a curious tip of his bristled chin. The angle is mocking as it is inquiring. Eyes shrill blue, not really expecting a response that matters. Maybe not expecting him to know what he's talking about at all.

"I've seen what you are." His words are venom, translucent yellow in their viscous drip through teeth too white to belong to a petty criminal. "I know I don't matter most, or even much for what I've paid in blood to make your life easier. Save the world, save the girl. Save the other girl. Save a kid. Save ten kids. None of it matters. She's gone. I'm tired of trying. This universe sucks. So do you."

Hammer's a bad sign. The hammer is a bad sign. Teo doesn't look at it with his eyes, but his hearing snags on the sharp little hook of it in the air like a fish's mouth on the hook, almost unwillingly. He is trying to listen mostly to what Deckard is saying, and there might be a little masculine ego mixed up in that, refusal to acknowledge the bodily threat when his courage is called into question. Even if Deckard's words make it abundantly clear that that is not the subject of his vice.

"I've killed lots of people," he says, eventually. "Especially the ones who've deserved it, vecchio. I remember fucking up a lot, and I seem to have chased your skinny ass down to talk for the third time since your last giant fuck off sign so maybe your logic has shit its shor—" It is unfair for him to take a tone, maybe, and maybe that is why he finds himself biting off the end of that sentence. His breath gasses out transparent, this time, the inside of his mouth long since cooled past the point of feathered condensation.

He is going to get sick. It would be nice to have enough time to get sick.

Somebody somewhere in his range of acquaintance would if they could, no doubt, tell him that this is a waste of time. Too much distortion in the air for constructive debate, wires crossed, emotional resonance diluted by liquor, jammed up by cold, skewed off-course by darkness. At least, someone would have told him to get his gun out first. He tries to swallow, but it can't find traction inside his throat. "I can fix it. I owe you that."

How heavy is the trigger pull on Flint's familiar .40? His finger is curled in under the guard, hardly a hair's breadth from discharge with the hammer coiled back and aim locked dead on the squeeze and bump of Teo's stupid heart.

If Deckard feels like he owes him anything at this point, it is to keep his temper in check enough to provide the illusion of reason. Or maybe a genuine attempt for all the the muddle bunched up and nested in brittle knots behind eyes that see everything and very little at the same time. His pupils stretch black within demented bands of light, tiny muscles constricted and flex to constrict a beat later.

Evidently words are getting through. Maybe even messages, but not all of them, and not completely. In the end he summons enough human expression of doubt to knit his brows, skepticism tight in the narrow of one eye. "How?"

A doppler whoop of sirens in the distance, but too far still for colored light to bounce off the buildings' facades. Nor is it possible to tell where the squadcars' destination is. Or whether that's a squadcar at all, rather than a fire engine, or an unnecessarily enthusiastic relief vehicle. Its noise hurts the darkness of the evening, but it isn't the only one.

Teo had kind of expected to have been shot by now. His heart fattens and shrinks from the double-kick beat of surprise when Deckard's monosyllabic question splits the air, instead of a lead round in his chest.

Unh. Pushing air out of his lungs is evidently easier, both speech and his grating cough, clearing his throat with a sharp, nonsense consonant clipped out through the lining of his throat. Teo's face is blank now inspite of the stiffly scarred leer. "Memory manipulation. Transfers, erasures. Hypnosis. Some— fuckin'—" Ayers is going to kill him if Deckard doesn't. "Psychics. If that's what you really think they're for, then maybe they're the last resort you're looking for.

"And I think I could bring Teo back." His other offer sounds strange to his own ears, thin and lacking substance; more futile and too grandiose at the same time, but his tone is flat, factual. Teo is dully aware it is true. Would've been even without the hallucinations who dog his every other day.

Ayers may not get the chance.

Something decidedly more terrible than anger finds its way into the lengths and angles that comprise Deckard's face at Teo's proposed solution.

Pity and maybe a flicker of disappointment, dejected as it is fleeting in an awayward glance after a siren's mournful howl until fresh resolve clamps hollow into his jaw and he pulls the trigger. There's a puff of gas and black powder stippling: pow. A flashbulb crack of light and heat sprung spidery over the sidewalk.

Bullets are faster than muscular twitch, but technically both are launched by the brain, and in this setup, the wire and tendon strapped down from shoulder to forearm gets a clandestine head start. The shot is pulled — the difference between a night spent in a hospital bed or one spent in a body bag — and if the fuzz wasn't already headed this way, it probably is now. Across the street, hurried footsteps slip and scuff anxiously into an alleyway out've the line of fire. Here, Flint touches gloved fingertips to the gun muzzle's warmth and watches.

Teo has the good grace not to shriek; enough, also, to go down on a knee, if 'grace' is the word for the way his shoe slithers out from underneath him, thin-layered snow, frost, grit and perhaps some figmentary trace of sewage meltwater conspiring to, topple his center of gravity far enough off center that the disparate pieces of his frame go out to catch it. Whunk. The cold force of impact rocks up his femur, but it's all too numb to process except at the point of his knee.

In his gut, too. Ow, ow. The pain is bigger than the hole is, and he can recognize this while his body begs to contradict. Teo's arm goes around it instead of his hand, as if in some vague effort to conceal the shocking relief that would be presented by the sticky dark of blood against his skin.

"Or—" He can see his breath again, strangely enough, a warped and listing mushroom cloud of pluming steam that ropes skyward around a vicious hook. "Or you could— do things the hard way, but." That sentence is supposed to finish itself, maybe, but there are at least two men in evidence here that that doesn't always happen when it should. Teo doesn't smile, laugh, or anything that blatantly hysterical but there's half the sentiment there should be in the trailing of his eyes across the pavement, and half the fear there was.

Right glove deliberately tugged and pulled off a pair of cold fingers at a time with the gun dangling carelessly from the crook of his opposite pinkie, Deckard takes in Teo's half descent at a remove too significant to invite audience participation. He stares as people do at television sets, checked out to the chordite and warm copper stink of what he's just done as he wraps his bare palm carefully around the gun's grip, squeezes firm and tosses it to fall like a lead weight into the slush just out of Teo's easy reach.
The glove's pulled back on with minor difficulty; his fingers are numb and he's tired and still not as sober as he could be despite everything.

"Abigail already knows," muttered to the air over Teo's head, he works his sleeve back down over the glove edge and feels up after the dull ache in his narrow jaw. Not long before it starts to bruise.

"I don't need help."

Then he's walking, eyes pitched colorless grey in the city gloom as he turns to trudge in the opposite direction. Not for the subway, this time. Only a matter of time before he finds something closer to make a nest in.

Return-fire comes after Deckard has turned around, three shots in the dark, three consecutive sparks of light snipped off to chase the rounds funnelled at an eruption's pace into the old man's legs, lower torso, after a moment taken to aim. A minor prayer, first that he not miss; second, that the fuzzy distortion of darkness and puddled street lights beyond Deckard's skinny figure does not conceal some hapless pedestrian in his line of fire. According to bullet diameters and the related physics, .45 ACP makes bigger holes even than the one biting fire into the side of Teo's body, so. It would be mad if he missed. Hell, it's probably still not going to be a good thing that he hits.

Third prayer, disorganized, redundant, is that he does. He doesn't wait to verify before he's lurching up onto his feet, though, leaving an impressionistic smear of his own blood under his heel as he goes.

He untangles at a dead run. Convincing his body that this is a good idea takes next to no time at all, courtesy of endorphins, a natural tendency toward physical recklessness, and a little bit of physical conditioning. The emptied ankle holster feels light on his leg, the gun a fluent extension of hand, and sprinting a flight that defies slippery concrete, torn muscle, and the sluggish shrinking effect of freezing weather. At least, it isn't far.

Tackling marks the end of the collision course on Deckard's back. Arms pitched to squeeze, a leg hooked at the knee and teeth bared to vent out the inevitable wheeze first accordioned out of his ribs at impact, and the windy grunt rollered out second by the concrete.

.45 caliber rounds do have a fair amount of oomph to them, when you break it down. Flint doesn't really have time to.

There's a meaty punch of blistering metal through his side ridiculous enough that he doesn't immediately connect it with the firearm's report. Baffled shock and wounded betrayal so paradoxial as to be unintentionally comedic in overall effect slacks his jaw open; he turns to look over his shoulder with an utterly dim kind of Who threw that? confusion as to the cause. Because surely…surely that son of a bitch didn't just shoot him in the back.

Except for the part where he did.

Breath wheezed shockily through his teeth, he has about enough time to register movement before it hits him head on and they're both down in the cold and wet. He's bleeding from somewhere else, too, or he pissed himself — there's warmth spreading through one of his trouser legs faster than the snow can melt beneath it. Blood squelches out of his middle and through his shirt like ink at added impact. Otherwise he's oddly quiet. Disoriented. It's possible that a thunk somewhere in the last two seconds or so was the sound of his already battered skull bouncing off the pavement upon landing there under Teo.

Blood squirts out of Teo's side, but it clots up inside his clothes before running any real risk of mingling liquidly with the stuff flowing from Deckard's broken flesh. Wonderfully, their combined weight lands on the Sicilian's right arm, jars the bones in their sockets and grinds the hinge against concrete; he swears with his nose flattened into the back of Deckard's collar, though there's no real voice to it. Fishy gasps.

Convincing himself to get up the second time is exponentially harder, probably because he's trying to drag a blood-greased old man with him. Over at—

—that car, he decides after a moment. It's old, some cheap turquoise Saturn SL with too many miles skinned off its tires and the intimation of a fugly troglodyte brow to the shape of its headlights and slanted front, disjointedly counting the seconds and checking his vision for the existence of periphery, gauging that against the probability of arterial damage in his own person. He puts his elbow in the window and opens the back door.

Despite the suspicious absence of any kind of alarm system, it's loud. Embarrassingly so. Raith would be either highly ashamed or very proud. Worried, probably. It's a good time to be considering what other people are going to think and do, a bad time to ignore it. Teo manages both. It's remarkable, how many felonies one can fit onto a single stretch of sidewalk.

Arms combined, he levers the ungainly firewood stack of Deckard's skinny limbs in, arm under arm, chest and shoulders braced recurved to shove. Though his hands slip off the metal the first two times, the door crams shut against the patchily scuffed soles of Deckard's boots. He does not know whether he should call Hana Gitelman, Sabra Dalton, or Francois Allegre first, and it's a difficult decision to fit into the six stride detour to retrieve .40 then the brief, sidewinder-squirming journey across to the driver's seat. It wouldn't be far to St. Luke's.

Gravity has subtracted Flint Deckard from the rearview entirely, when Teo looks up to check. Barely remembering to safety the gun, he holds it between his knees. He hunches stuporously over the wheel, spills wires like viscera over the poke of his knife, and wondering what he is supposed to say. Mon cher, docteur ingenieux, j'ai vous deuxieme opinion. Heyyy, Hana, could you Google the average response time for the PD in Brooklyn?

I know it's been awhile, Dalton, but you could take this one out of Sheridan's paycheck—

The headlights hurl out illumination across the snow-choked gutter like dynamited chalk deposit. The engine croaks. His pant leg is beginning to cling wetly, too. "Can you hear me?"

Deckard is probably in shock.

That would explain the silence Teo gets in answer despite the fact that he's coming back to some kind of semi-consciousness — his left hand lifts enough to fumble dumbly for purchase at the back of the driver side seat before crooking back in to touch at the side of his face instead. Still here. Sticky tracks smudge across the ridge of his cheekbone; he mumbles something incoherent. X-ray illumination filters cold through the splay of his fingers despite the state of him.

Enough to make one wonder if they'd stay on for a while after he was dead. Maybe all the way until the last neuron fire died out.
Which may be pretty quick here, seeing as he is trying to die as quickly as humanly possible while already in too shitty of shape to hurry himself along with anything more substantial than sheer force of self-loathing. Everywhere hurts.

Teo almost as everywhere hurts too, if that makes him feel better, which Teo actually obscurely thinks it would. He drags the steering wheel with his hands, pulls them out onto the street. Thinks to himself, Well. Well, John Logan runs a strip club here. How fast could police response time possibly be? He glances away without having caught glimpse of those lambent points of radioactive irises.

Heard the mumble, though. Keeps talking, forgets his seatbelt, sidles briefly on his seat when he thinks that there's a piece of glass cutting into into the flesh of his ass. As if that matters, right now. Keeps talking, most importantly. "I'm pretty sure Ayers wouldn't put lead in your head if you were already freshly shot up. I'm also pretty sure you'll have a harder time gutting random people, now you're freshly shot up.

"I'm going to take you somewhere to get you patched up, though, and— to— lay low awhile. Fuck." That last remark isn't for Flint, so much, but the creak of elastic fibers holding the bullet inside his liver, and the veins intact around it, an emanating pang of pain lancing his lung, the spars of ribs over it. Teo still can't feel his hands very well, and he feels a cold coming on; his nose is wet in a bad way, without tears to explain it.



Sorry I stalled out your attempted murder, self-incrimination and suicide-by-Company Agent with two bullet wounds and massive bloodloss?
Flint squeezes his eyes shut hard enough that blood begins to ooze from the stitching bound black into his forehead, just in case he wasn't already losing enough of it from…everywhere else.

His corpus lurches with the car's slithering fishtail into the street like a corpse and there's a choke and a muddy squelch somewhere in there that sounds like pain. And maybe hatred.

…But mostly pain.

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