hana_icon.gif teo_icon.gif

Also Featuring:

pratt_icon.gif and Jared

Scene Title Tisiphone
Synopsis Greek myth.: 'Avenging murder'. One of the Erinyes (Furies).
Hana comes to claim another of the Group of Twelve, only this time there are more complications.
Date October 3, 2009

Outside Searsmont, Maine

Searsmont, Maine. There are more trees than buildings on this long, gently winding road, their verdant foliage half-obscuring the overcast sky. Compared to New York City at this hour, it's almost chilly. The breeze tastes faintly of salt, but only faintly; more of water, that damp weight which forbodes future rain. It's early enough everything seems more gray than not, colors leached out by wan twilight; hard to tell exactly what shade the clouds are, how soon rain will fall.

The motorcycles were left behind a while ago, where engine sounds couldn't wake anyone up or invite unwanted attention — which is to say, not for those who matter. That's all Hana Gitelman asks for. Her jacket is back with the motorcycle, multi-hued and long-sleeved gray cotton shirt and worn jeans being slightly less conspicuous than glossy black leather… though the jacket would hide the surface of her personal small arsenal. Not that anyone is awake enough to notice, even if they could see through all the trees — not even the gardener who has spent so much time laboring over the beds between which the Israeli woman now walks.

Carefully tended, thriving without being overgrown, the flowers and vegetables are in their prime during these warmest months of the year. She takes the time to walk around them, probably because it's practical.

The compact cabin is still dark, will remain dark for a little while yet according to what she's seen before; Hana doesn't need to hurry.

Wellness isn't exactly the noun you'd use to describe what Teo's bursting with on this morning, but he looks far better than he had a few nights ago, recently shaven, alert if not specifically well-rested, and high spirits are overrated when you're up to kill little older women anyway.

Teo is, of course, predictable to anyone at all who knows them, the man walking at Hana's shoulder, nothing particularly prowling about his gait despite that his left pant leg has a scuff on the knee and there's a small hole the size of a tot's pinkie burnt through the bottom left corner of his T-shirt, his skin showing through in a single point of pinhole, paler relief. The webbing of his own shoulder holster is not nearly concealed against the likened sobriety of color. A slightly dilapidated green messenger bag scratches and swings loosely against his hip. There are more things inside there.

There's no real hesitation when he casts his mind out to check two hundred yards' worth of their perimeter, skimming the surface of soupy dream-thoughts, winking briefly through the addled eyes of a mail man in a mail truck, passing, before he moves beyond the furthest extremity of his perception. Hana's ability follows the stranger further, of course, the dot of his cellphone and vehicle's respective chips bleating away into the distance, and further insignificance.

It is quiet like death is supposed to be, when you're any good at it. Teo can smell the shit and sugar in the resplendance of the garden, and neither changes the expression on his face. He eyes a squash squatting between headrows, cranes his head to study the trajectories between fences, windows. Lack thereof.

The back door is locked; Victoria Pratt isn't stupid. It's been long enough since Fletcher's death for her to figuratively stumble, though; to lapse, self-preserving wariness blunted, and forget about the window. It's old, eight small panes of glass set in two framed grids; used frequently enough for the bottom to slide up as easily as Hana slides through the aperture so created. It locks into place, and the woman leaves it there.

The room entered is the kitchen, pale linoleum and brown wooden counters, the sink enameled in something slightly off-white. Hana walks softly, the tread of her feet light; her shoes don't clunk against the floor. It still creaks, and under more than just her feet.

Someone tries to ease a door open; in the pre-dawn stillness, it's not as quiet as might be hoped.

Around the table's other flank, Teo's loping in with not quite commensurate grace, the rolling step of a cougar trampling along a mountain. In lieu of claws, he has a gun. Of course, he's heavier than Hana anyway and the distribution of his balance, despite a year of training, a lifetime of athleticism, and a decade of spare martial training psychically imprinted in his mind, is not nearly as flawless as hers. He draws a faint complaint out of the flooring, acknowledged with a slight scowl digging in down the crook of his brow. Stupid big boy f—

And then he's in a dead stop, motionless. Suddenly, the subtle wrongness of a cyborg in this sudden cessation of movement, as if somebody had pulled the plug on him and knocked him neatly over the threshold between animate and inanimate. Pale eyes sit quiescent in the pits of his head for an instant, before he's turning them, a profound gesture of minute muscles at the doorway to Hana's right, a fractioned tilt of his head. Even that movement, however, is constrained and imbalanced by some other peripheral distraction; his frown stays stuck there on his face, though he blinks once, hard, the annoyance of someone trying to get a damn camera to focus.

She's aware he stops. Doesn't need to look; not with as tightly focused as her attention is. Teo, there; someone else… here. Hana Gitelman tenses, shifts her weight.

The shotgun muzzle comes out of the door first; slammed against the wall by an instant swipe of the Israeli's hand, the person at the other end can only be surprised. Victoria hadn't expected conflict quite that soon.

She isn't really awake, but she's not about to just give up either. Lets the shotgun fall with a clatter, backpedals in desperate search for another, more makeshift weapon. Moving forward is faster; Hana closes. Victoria throws a punch at the Israeli's face; attempt blocked without conscious thought, a quick succession of movements downs Pratt on the floor of the hallway, Hana planting a knee on her chest, knifepoint hovering above the skin of her throat.

The scientist didn't really have a chance. Tries anyway. "Money's in the jar on the fridge," Victoria rasps. "If you're looking for something else, I don't have it."

The caaamera isn't focusing. No matter how much Teo wrestles and jostles it, slaps the side of his hand into its side. It's happened a few times lately, more often than he'd like to admit, artefacts creeping into the mapping process of Ghost's ability, like the pictures were all shitty or something was clinging filth on the lens. Feet trodding hallway wood, he bobs along in the wake of the tangling women like an idiot errant soda can while the motorboat's razor rotor and the manatee thrash in the water up ahead, the promise of blood and death going. He frowns. Twists his head, and his eyes nearly pop right out of his skull.

"Shit. Hana."

There was another door, you see, out of the four in the hallway. Not the closet, nor the bathroom with the laundry machines stacked up bright and Colgate white, but a second bedroom that houses a second soul. That soul has mousy eyes and a brown complexion, is responsible for the choochoo train boxers in the hamper and the other, smaller, green alligator-stemmed toothbrush beside the sink, the box of Cocoa Puffs in the kitchen cupboard. There's a boy in the other doorway, his small hand clutched white on the knob in fright. His mouth opens, and at the same time that Teo calls out to his mentor, the child calls out to his keeper.


She hesitates.

It isn't so much seen as felt, the unwelcome intrusion of thought upon determination, a momentary lapse of focus. Her posture doesn't change, the weight of her knee pressing against her target's chest; her gaze doesn't leave Pratt. But Hana hesitates. It's something she'll kick herself for later, when there is time and space for such things; has before, and will again.

Victoria doesn't hesitate.

Desperation is its own strength; she wraps her fingers around Hana's leg and rolls, or tries to. It isn't much of a roll, but it does what was intended; Hana was off-balance. Is now off-balance in a different way, freely-bleeding slice along the side of Pratt's neck silently attesting to this. The knife itself hits the floor, still securely held in-hand. The hand goes with it.

Pratt shoves Hana into the wall, perhaps hoping to keep her off-balance enough that her scrabble for the shotgun will bear fruit. Unfortunately for her, the Israeli's training is to push back; they're too close for her to hit with full effect but Victoria's breath still departs her lungs in a forced whoosh, whatever she had been about to say to the boy lost with its expulsion.

"Fucking move," Hana spits out. Normally she would attach his name to the end, but there's too many syllables for the rush of breath, too much time spent talking, not enough recontaining the woman who had been at her mercy. Lack thereof. There's a shotgun not so far from Teo's feet; a bioscientist trying to get her hands on it; Hana with her back not so far from the wall but never against it in the way that matters, tangling her hands in Pratt's long red hair. No, you don't; and it hurts enough to make the older woman still, expression twisting both with pain and the effort not to voice it in front of the child.

The knife, forgotten, has been kicked closer to the boy.

It is the younger of boys who takes the knife, snatches it up in two frail reed-stick hands, swings it up with a strangled ejaculation of a cry, bold courage that he might have learned from Pratt or from wherever he was before he wound up here with Pratt. The child hurls himself at Hana with metal gleaming aloft, a tongue of silver burning in his hands. Raaah! Only— it is like he is moving in slow-motion, and in the time it takes for his gangly chicken legs to scrub the distance around the Sicilian and jackrabbit at the Israeli, the Sicilian has stooped to pick up the shotgun. Holds it up, horizontal in his hands, wrong for shooting but an axle that swipes sideways, instead, cracks impact across the child's shins. His bones might as well be made of pinestraw, for all the resistance they provide against the blow of gunmetal in the hands of an adult man.

The child goes down end over end with a shriek, knees jolting into the hard floor, the knife bouncing handle-first off the tiles before taking a friction-slowed slide, haphazard, toward the biochemist's crab-jointed elbow. Before she can twist to grasp it, there's a resonant metal clunk of the slide shifting, metal on metal, the chambered round waiting at the behest of the callused finger closed around the trigger. It is aimed roughly at her torso, out of deference for the value of Hana's hands to both herself and himself, and shotgun blasts' tendency to spread. Teo doesn't say anything.

"Toryuh!" The boy's preadolescent voice threatens to break through the ceiling of its own physical constraints, bulging out behind his eyes and the tiny veins in his neck. His fingernails go white as he scrabbles toward the biochemist, tumbling the tiny trunk of his body into the periphery of fire.

Very little is ever as simple as it should be.

It's less a thought that flits through Hana's head as it is a concept, not broken up into words but the abstract whole of the thing, a bubble of frustration amidst simmering emotions both cold and hot. Heat in the curse that accompanies the boy's rush forwards, the shift of position that prefaces an attempt to shove him away; chill implacability in the adrenaline-fueled snare of fingers and faded red hair that binds Pratt close. She doesn't go for another weapon yet; has to coax her weight back into a posture which will allow that without losing her intended victim along the way.

Victoria's hands press against her hairline in instinctive, vain attempt to stop hurting; water escapes the edges of her eyes, teeth bared by the inelegant grimace of her expression. One hand is flung out with the activation of other instincts; equally vain attempt to prevent the child's headlong charge. "Jared, stop!"

Even if the boy were inclined to listen, he has no chance to; not when Teo intercedes, voiceless authority stronger than a verbal command could be. Her feet scrabble briefly against the floor, purpose without useful effect as the child falls.

Their words trip over one another:


"No. No!"

Laudani twitches when he hears his name. Not his trigger-finger, thankfully, but there's a clinch to his shoulders that hadn't been there then. The gun's muzzle protrudes the air with the enormity of its size and temporal significance, black in the slack morning gray of the air. It doesn't waver from its aim, dead centered on Victoria's straining body, but that isn't— always the best gauge for the state of a man's resolve. He does nothing, for a moment. Says nothing. It passes for deference to Hana's righteous place at the vanguard and razor tip of this kill. It passes.

If not for long. "This isn't right." It's not a particularly relevant thing to say, and he knows that as well as his mentor does. Right doesn't have anything to do with this. Never has.

Jared was, unsurprisingly, left out of this memo. The intruders are dark, Victoria is bright— shock-pale, her hair lurid as the blood they seem intent to spill, terror and desperation like he's never seen draining out the warmth and comfort from the reassuring guardian figure he's taken her to be, so long. "Leave her alone!" His dark face furrows new shadows into it, a fierce grimace squelched into the saline slime and clamminess mounting below the button point of his nose and his slitted eyes. He crawls at her determinedly, doesn't see the gun despite that he can see the gun. "Toryuh—" The arm he holds out at her is thin as a reed, stretching fingers to answer the grasp of her hands, seek shelter or answer with comfort.

Victoria can't deny the boy contact, the thin illusion of comfort, the absence of security. Her grip is shaky; it may have to do with the fact that he's put himself in the line of fire; that their mutual touch keeps him there. The very last place she wants him.

The older woman looks up at Teo, expression plainly beseeching; Pratt has her pride, but it doesn't get in the way of this: "Don't hurt him." That they have cause to hurt her… well, Pratt may hide her past, but never from herself. Not when it was the desire to make amends, or at least to leave it in the past, that shaped her present life.

Dark eyes made cold by their deadly focus look over Victoria's head at Teo. Narrow, just slightly, in a rebuke that doesn't need to be spoken to be heard. Don't fucking complicate this, Laudani — but when does he ever not complicate things? Her grip shows no signs of fading, offers no momentary lapses that Pratt might take advantage of; rather, it tightens.

"Exactly what the hell are you objecting to at this hour?"

Nothing. Everything. Teo sometimes doesn't complicate things. Tea: they've had tea before, from the electric kettle he installed in the Primatech ruin's kitchen. Half of those tea sittings remained uncomplicated. A whole half of them.

Victoria and Jared's hands knot. Teo's guts knot too, uneasy, unusually so since this recentmost chapter of his self began; whatever lack of clarity or stability came of being bang-up engineered out of disparate parts.

Obscurely, he hopes that Pratt and her boy are more blind and deaf to this exchange than he is to theirs. "Different kinds of hurt, Hana," he says, and his voice is off its normal register, coarse with discomfort. "You know." The instant those two words are out of his mouth, he can't believe he said them. You know. He's had her dream, the bus's snapped-off passenger poles and wheels in the air; he knows she knows, but he should sure as shit know better than to say. "Doesn't this change anything?" Everything? Nothing?

She's had time and enough to collect her feet again, to compensate for — take advantage of — her victim's bated-breath stillness. Hauls herself upright now, back braced against the wall, dragging Victoria along with her by adrenaline-fueled, determination-steeled force. Pratt struggles to stifle a cry, only partially succeeds; clutches Jared close to her, though she can offer him no shield in truth.

If looks could kill, guarantee the dead one would be Teo right now. If she didn't have a stranglehold on Pratt — but she does, and while Hana Gitelman can be, is, reckless in her emotions, their intensity fails to cloud her actual goal. Fails to change the woman's course.

"Don't fucking presume you know anything, Laudani. Because you clearly don't."

She can't believe he said them either.

Life, as of late, seems to be an unremittant longitudinal study in things you can't take back. Those words, those horribly ignorant, insolent, misinformed, naive words consitute one such thing. "Yeah. You're right," he says, roughly.

The house is dark. Teo's eyes aren't blue, they're black, his face gaunt from the clenched sinew stringing in his jawbone shut and his teeth embedded in whitening gums. How meaningless, futile, foolish this excess, and all logical clarity, moral loci, the emotional investments of the two and a half lives he's lived dislocated like a screw socket and wetly popped into realignment by the presence of one fucking child and nothing more.

He isn't doing this for the right reasons. Somehow, that makes more sense because he's with Hana, not less. Not that that's going to matter. Not to her.

Teo jerks the shotgun's muzzle two inches to the right and winches his finger on the trigger. The shell bursts apart like sparks into the wall, shot wad splintering pitted into the flattened plaster and tile beside Hana's right shoulder and rocking the concussive wavelength of noise through her ear. He doesn't stop, he's already moving by the time the emptied shell is dropping like a wishing penny through the air. Yanks Pratt forward by her arm, sparing no instant's worry or sympathy for hair uprooted from scalp or the knock of her pinwheeling limbs into Jared because, frankly, he doesn't have an instant to spare. The shotgun catches its strap on his hooked arm. His fingers bruise where they touch, but it's better than the alternative they would find in Hana's grasp.

Child and— mother are hauled up, body and body, each smaller than his alone but unwieldy in bulk combined and shepherded by the Sicilian's leggy figure. He half shoves, half carries. Pulls, aims for the bedroom, any bedroom, hurdles over the floor, their disorganized knot of fingernails, errant weapons, red hair, boy-pyjamas stunk with ammonia and fear. "Go."

He shot.

Not her, but the difference is immaterial; she had thought he wouldn't shoot at all by this point. Ignores the chips of tile that drive into the curve of her neck like the insect bites they are; tiny smears of red that do nothing to her ability to move.

She moves.

Prey snatched from between her very paws, the Israeli woman spans the distance between herself and Teodoro Laudani in a stride and a half, wordless, furious snarl quiet only in comparison to the memory of gunshot. She shoves Teo into the wall, doing him no kindness, not even the rough grace of an instructor's moderated attack; the force of her fury is one only rarely unleashed in full upon the Sicilian. He'll have more than bruises alone, wind torn from his lungs; injury compounded by the knife which sinks to the hilt in his shoulder, as if it might drive through flesh and anchor him to the wall beyond.

She leaves injury in her wake without hesitation, bounding stride carrying Hana past the companion who is no longer her ally, metal blade glinting keen in the wan dawn light.

Pride swallowed, Victoria did indeed run. Ran through the living room to the door her fingers unlocked with automatic, muscle-deep familiarity; didn't even have to think about it, because it is a habit of the everyday. Even this horrific, ghastly barely-arrived day.

Dragging the boy with her, she scrambles outside, door left ajar in her wake. Pratt gains that much advantage — but it's the boy who slows her down, tangles her priorities, diminishes heartbeat by heartbeat the breadth of that costly gift of time.

It all—


—crashing in. Somebody else's red hair tangling in his mind's eye, a different boy surfacing head-first through memory, freckled face split by a huge grin, Ghost's memories framed in Teo's crippling guilt. Walter just turned seven last month. Soccer season's over. Agony lances his shoulder. He's been stabbed. She's angry with him; angry enough to slit the life out of him, and for some reason, it's the younger part of him, the child who loves her less because he'd had few years with her by which he'd learned to, who is actually shocked, genuinely disappointed, obscurely betrayed, who really feels it. Shit. Ever since he and Deckard—

Eye-blink. Agony shatters in red sores behind his eyelids. There's a hole in his scapula now, and a locking, stiffening quality to the subsequent plunge and shrill of visceral pain that informs him he's been tacked to the wall like homemade sugarpaper advertisement paraphernelia. Lacking anything to say on this subject, he forebears to waste time on cries aloud or excess movement. Closes his fingers on the jut of the hilt from his shoulder, pulls it and pushes off in the same stiff flex of movement. He comes loose. More sugarpaper, fluttery edges and sodden pulp. Plaster flakes in his hair, a Teo-shaped nimbus of cracked drywall and matte paint left in the wall behind him.

Technically, in terms of physical probability, the strictest availability of options, he could shoot her in the back but he ends up tackling into her legs, instead, callused hands wrapping into the cloth of her trousers. One set of red fingers, the other knuckled-white. Not enough strength to it to make a worthy threat out of the impact or grip, but here chance is measured in fractioned, sprint-legged instants, misses by decimalled degrees, and escape by… '—He's someone's kid,' he tries to explain but it comes out wrong. No breath in it.

She isn't listening to explanations. Not anymore. The ground has shifted, circumstance changed; she isn't listening. Twists as Teo's weight topples her over, shoulder striking the hardwood floor with a force that will leave marks; air is driven from her lungs, but not in a way that requires Hana to even stop and think. There isn't much to hold on to, the thickness and cut of denim bungling the Sicilian's grasp; she takes advantage of the slippage, booted foot lashing out at the opponent scrabbling to hold her down.

It connects; hard not to, at this range. Wrests a sliver of space for Hana to maneuver in, potted plant crashing to the floor as she scrabbles free and back to her feet, small end table not sturdy enough to stand rigid under applied leverage. The shatter of ceramic is loud in the cabin, loud in the Israeli's wake; she turns her back on Teo and darts out the door.

In her absence, hinges creaking mournfully with the door's slow gape wider, a single voice speaks: "Wait."

Taut with tension, broken by fear, the speaker is recognizably female — recognizably not Hana.

There's a hole in Teo's shoulder and already the elbow she kicked that sprain into isn't fitting properly in its socket. He doesn't forget what he was doing, but he's doing it much slower now: falls wrist over knee across the floor, which is kind of like crawling or walking without actually involving one's— feet. He manages to hook the doorknob with the side of his hand, lurch his shoulder into the doorframe and balance himself halfway into the upright.

She isn't listening so he stops trying to talk. Leaves him shut up, breathing through his teeth, ears open when that monosyllable out of Pratt's voice lights the air. He doesn't have to see through the door to see: the stalk-limbed boy wrapped protectively around his guardian's hip, snot-nosed and screaming, stringbean feet twisted into a V and uncertain of who's supposed to be protecting who. Precocious for his age. It's what Toryuh wrote for him.

The kid is staring at Hana in the face like there's something wrong with it. Slit-eyes, scales, or perhaps somebody he used to know before he came here.

Dark hair caught by morning breeze and rising sun, Hana stands oblique to the pair, shoulder forward, torso facing Teo but her gaze intent upon Pratt. She does wait, dark eyes narrowing, expression stiff with the weight of emotion, intention, a decision so long past it has become as immutable as stone. As inevitable as tides; she can afford the wait. Doesn't speak.

Victoria watches her in turn, freckled skin paler than white, hair dappled in wan sunlight and muted shadow. One hand curves over the boy's shoulder, protective, restraining; her eyes flick only briefly to the Sicilian as he appears in the doorway. He isn't her concern. "Look.

"I don't know what — why you're here. It could be any of a million things. I admitted this a long time ago; gave it up because I didn't want to be one of them anymore. I know you don't care," she says, before Hana's thoughts coalesce enough to become speech. "But I want — " The audacity of those words, to make demands in the face of death. "I want one thing from you first.

"Let him go."

The words might have floated past the Israeli for all the change in her expression; she blinks, but it is not an emotive gesture. Devoid of weight and meaning, it is simply a physiological imperative. Lets silence hold the measure of one breath, a second; if there is thought involved, it is as hidden as reaction.

"I don't care about him."

Soft words, impassive, indifferent; so might a tree speak of a blade of grass, did it have opinions and voice by which to speak them.

It takes the bigger boy less time to realize what this means than the younger one, but the difference in speed is made negligible by the gift — or arguably, curse — of Jared's precocity. Teo is up. Bulling past Hana on a weary, crooked weave of steps, his sleeve wet but his course set, locked dead-on, inevitable despite that there are any number of things that would be physically capable of swaying him from his goal. Hana, one of them. "Come here," he says. Jared realizes about then. His fingers tighten on Victoria's dress, face screwed up around a scream he can't quite get up the nerve to expel into the wan morning air.

His jaws shut and his fingers open when the brusque hand shuts on his shoulder, yanks him up like a plastic bag full of celery stalks. Jared screams then. Flails his heels, his heart in his teeth and the logic of the moment reaching unbearably cruel clarity. "Toryuh I don't want to go!" he tells her once, then a second time, shuddering horror going right through him when the fight of his small hands comes away red with the Sicilian's blood. The Sicilian doesn't care. Keeps moving, his eyes trapped in trajectory, straight ahead, through the doorway, out, giving Hana his back because Hana doesn't care anymore either.

She doesn't even see him. Despite everything, this is not preferable.

She sees. She doesn't acknowledge, because in his collection of the boy he offers no further obstacle to her own intent. His aid is no longer desired.

Teo doesn't look back; Jared doesn't look anywhere else; the two women look nowhere but at one another.

They're still standing there, caught on the threshold from which there is no return, when Teo and his burden pass from sight, from sound, from all proximity.

The silence is eerie.

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