danko3_icon.gif eileen_icon.gif joseph_icon.gif teo_icon.gif

Scene Title Turncoat
Synopsis Joseph and Teodoro cut through the Midtown ruins on their way to deliver Emile Danko to their contacts with local law enforcement.
Date November 15, 3009

Ruins of Midtown

The last time Teo was in this car, he was close to drowning on blood and probably not paying a lot of attention to details, mostly unconscious by the time his pistol had slid to the felt ground and left there for the evening. It hasn't changed a lot - there's a Queen cassette in the glove box, a universal truth for all cars everywhere, a respectable cleanliness, and the radio switched off to the sounds of the engine rumbles and the driving rain.

The man in the back is a difference, dosed one last time with a mild stab of morphine, hands bound, ankles hobbled similarly. Joseph is more or less paying attention to the road ahead, as opposed to the prisoner or the younger man seated in the passenger seat beside him.

Conversation used to come easily. The silence on Joseph's end could be rude and thoughtless in contrast, but it's nothing he means. Anxiety renders him mostly mute, as well as morbid determination. Soon, this will be over. Soon, perhaps he could even take up Kaylee on gathering back his flock, or asking Phoebe to help him rebuild, or any manner of new beginnings. Right now, it's all indefinite darkness of a very early hour, and rain, as the modest blue Daihatsu drives alone through Midtown streets, a sight that's slowly become unremarkable to him.

His jacket is dark and weather proof, jeans ordinary, shoes of deer-skin brown, and he drums his thumbs against the steering wheel as they drive to an allotted destination that seems more or less arbitrary, in the ruins.

In the back seat, Danko is about as relaxed as Teo's ever seen him — save maybe for that one time in the bar, when things got a little too close and a little too personal. The lazy sway of his soot-smudged skull and narrow shoulders weaves in and out of focus in the rearview mirror, seatbelt (safety first!) clamped taut enough to keep him from slumping over on sharp right turns. He can just make himself out if he squints, red lamps and gaudy advertisements occasionally overruling industrial orange in light's caustic play across his skull face in between bars of darkness that slant in through the window less often than he wishes they would.

He looks like hell.

Quiet up until about now save for the dull 'whunk' of skull to glass every other left turn or so, he's also been more still than he's being. Which is to say, the car interior is plenty quiet enough for some painful rustling against locked cuffs to be plenty audible.

Conversation never actually deserted Teo's cache of talents. Gives Raith something to make fun of him about, tends to reduce the ambient awkwardness hovering over any given candlelight dinner or.

Prisoner transfer. That is, when he remembers to talk; often enough, these days, he closer resembles a child hiding in the dark, quiet not as to hide from what goes bump coming through the night but listening for the rust-hinged creak of departures. The rain sucks. He frowns at and listens to it coming down in lances through the sky, bursting apart in white sparks on windshield and mottling their inverse and negative in shadows on the dashboard, making a pointillist chalkboard portrait out of Danko's face in the rearview.

Teodoro's reverie is interrupted by nothing particular or, at least, nothing visible. He abrades a hand up one side of his face, blinks like he's fighting for wakefulness in the regularly-scheduled lassitude that characterizes the last phase of one's adrenaline cycle. He's wearing wool, denim, and steel, in his characteristically scruffy reinterpretation of metropolitan casual chic, plus some guns. His first abortive sentence sounds like it came out of a chainsmoker, but he clears his throat, sounds accentless and warm and rueful and more or less like himself, when he says:

"I hope your new faith in the metamorphosic capacity of the law— or this cunt," a backward nod at el terroristo bald in the back, "comes with detox and sobriety. How are you doing, anyway?"

The query is startling, not only for the sudden voice in the quiet of the car's cab, and Joseph betrays a glance over his shoulder at where Danko droops against seatbelt and window. It's enough to confirm that talking over him is possible, but that doesn't stop the pastor's hands from working around the wheel a little tighter. He manages a smile, fleeting though it is, as he quietly states, "Better when we get this over with. But better'n you last saw me too."

Which he hopes it is answer enough, re: detox and sobriety. Joseph rolls his shoulders to ring the tension from them. It probably would have been good foresight, to wear guns too. But that's what Teo is for. The rain patters against glass as that first half of Teo's comment is mulled over.

He glances towards where Teo's reflection slopes in glass, rather than solid flesh and eyes. "Call it more the Ferry's faith, not just mine."

The Ferry's faith. Teo grins, draws a silent intake of breath, nods in easy syncopation with the next knock of their prisoner's head against laminated glass. There wouldn't appear to be much necessity for the guns that the Sicilian is wearing tonight, as far as Emile goes. "'M glad to hear. Personally," he says, "I'd feel better having it out with him if and when he does what was promised.

"Seems almost superficial when I think about it, I guess, but there's a certain appeal to self-defense. I don't know. I feel like it would've been no skin off either of our noses if you'dve had to switch in lead instead of sedatives the night you caught him, right?"

The question is, of course, largely rhetorical at least in the Sicilian's mind. Few real pacifists make it to the Ferry, or more importantly, make it long in their line of work. It isn't like interning at Veteran Affairs or doing phone intakes at a youth shelter, charity work with battered women, or any other recognizable analogue in life pre-Bomb. Though they theoretically fit squarely into the general industry of human service, the Ferry won't make a pacifist out of you, and rumor had it at least on Beach Street prior, Joseph wasn't one.

All the same, it's fodder for conversation. Would have been, if wheat and chaff weren't both summarily blown away in the sudden gesture of Teo's hand, yanked up, in what would be Wait, Listen, or both, his bristly head suddenly craned around on an angle oblique through a window made useless by natural and abnatural storm weather. "We have company. Stop, kill the lights?" It's polite, the lift of register at the end, request.

Joseph may not have been interested in responding, anyway, brow knitting into a furrow. It rings somewhat familiar and leaves ash in his mouth instead of words, so the pastor isn't saying much at all, doggedly watching the street, and pitches his thoughts forward to when dawn breaks soon and he'll be free of this. A daydream that trips over Teo's alert, making Joseph's heart leap in his chest for no real reason.

Though a glance out from rain streaked windows shows him nothing at all, Joseph obediently serves his car off the desolate street, pulling up into the shadow of a building where the glass has blown so clear off the windows that not even fang-like shards are left, though this could be man's doing as well. He switches off headlights.

"Someone takin' a short cut?" is Joseph optimistic guess as much as he can't see what Teo is talking about; trusting the younger man's sharp eyes and instincts.

The distant glow of Manhattan's city light reflected in the broken glass that litters the pavement illuminates a dark shape swooping out from the building's yawning windows. A moment later, a small crow comes to land on the twisted remains of what was once a newspaper stand, its shredded canvas roof fluttering like a tent flap caught in the breeze. It's joined by another, and another, and then another until a platoon of hunchbacked gargoyles with obsidian feathers and glittering black eyes surrounds the car, their outlines obscured by rainwater carving fat silver paths across the windshield.

Clawed feet hook around pieces of bent rebar, fire hydrant spigots and the concrete lip of the roof attached to the decimated building above. It's impossible for either Joseph or Teo to count how many of them there are, and even if they could, the darkness makes whatever number they might come up with dubious at best.

Alfred Hitchcock made a movie about this once, but it seems unlikely that a filmmaker is responsible for the morass of hooked beaks and flashing talons that besieges the curb upon which the vehicle is parked.

From the back seat, quiet breathing skips a little ragged with the strain involved in Emile righting himself out've a forward slump to flatten his back flush to the rest. Seatbelt's digging into his ribs and the faggot up front thinks something's up. He caught that much.

He's also caught the black stir of movement outside his window, when with many a flirt and flutter in there stepped a metric shitton of creepy, beady-eyed little birds. It takes him a groggy beat or two to take them all in past the stop and start trickle of slender shadows across pale eyes and harsh cut of his face on the other side of the rain-streaked glass.

"…Son of a bitch."

Evidently it took him a few seconds longer to make the inevitable connection.

No, this would be someone showing up precisely where they are supposed to be, according to prior arrangement, and right on cue. Teo pitches forward in his seat, cranks a squinting stare up into the scudded pitch of sky, the avian siege fuzzing every available surface with their sodden-feathered silhouettes. His lips tense. Split fractionally around a cat's sneer, and he jerks a glance over at the pastor sidelong, barely visible, spares Danko a short-lived glance for his regained sentience. Goodie.

Sharp eyes, instincts, also: superpowers. "She isn't in range to get a shot off yet," Teo says, as deft and unself-consciously smooth as his incisored attempt at persiflage five minutes earlier. "I'm going to put him in the trunk, and I'm going to do it fast. The second I'm back, you drive, okay? I'll try to keep the birds off you, if she actually starts hurling them through the fucking windows, but I don't think she'd kill us with them.

"A'right?" There's a callused hand on the door, one lock popped, Teo's eyes pale as a nocturnal thing, awaiting acknowledgment— verbal or in the dull clunk of Danko's door answering before he'll moooove, piano-boned black-and-fair in the dark, as mathematically, cutthroat expedient as the shadows.

By now, the shortage of proper nouns from his sentences is hopefully not markedly gratuitous. All three of them know who this means.

Joseph well remembers the tiny forest bird hop-hopping onto Abigail's knee, Terry's curious boy-rough hands trying to pet it like a kitty while the bird's beady eyes stared at Deckard's lunch, and pronouns confirm such a suspicion with a welling of heated resentment that has Joseph breathing in deeply purely for the purpose of sighing it out again. Ridiculous. Righteous anger has Joseph silent and barely listening to Teo— in the trunkhurling them through the fucking windows

"Alright," is muttered, distracted. That she'd go against the Ferry's word is both expected and infuriating. Joseph's jaw locks steely and he pops the lock at Danko's door, already stringing together the words needed for a sound verbal lashing come the next day. It takes him half a second to remember to unlock the trunk too.

In comparison to crows that comprise her reserve army, the figure that steps out from the alley mouth between two buildings is quite large. In reality, Eileen Ruskin is actually very small, her diminutive frame protected from the chill in the frigid autumn air by the woolen coat she wears, its charcoal material soaked through with rainwater. Silver glistens in the seat of one gloved hand in the form of a pocket watch snapped abruptly shut, then slid back into her coat's silk-lined interior to protect it from the deluge slopping down in sheets from the heavens.

Dark hair shining black against pale skin crowns her head, absent of the cashmere scarf she usually wears bunched in a knot under her petite little chin. She's unarmed insofar as there's no pistol clenched between her fingers, no shimmer of knife bobbing with every step she takes toward the car, her progress punctuated by the click of booted feet on pavement and the occasional splash when they hit shallow puddles pooling in the sidewalk's natural dips.

Teo was right. She isn't close enough to get a shot off, but the distance is closing fast.

"Wha…?" Baffled disorientation is not so thick with fog that it can't breed indignation. Danko's brows screw into a skeptical knit at all this talk of trunks and stuffing him into one. They're in a car; the windows are hard to break. Birds are birds, not —

The door lock pops, and still mired in slogging disbelief, the ex-marine is slower to look back up front to Joseph than he could be. Should be. What the fuck are they putting him in the trunk for?

"Just drive, jackass."

Too late.


Behind Teo, the shotgun door claps shut with a whumpf of claustraphobic air pressure against the eardrums of both marine and pastor, and then the space to Emile's side is open and gasping freely in wet monsoon weather. A callused hand rends the seatbelt free, closes on the smaller man's elbow and hauls him out like a sack of fertilizer, bowling small limbs and sluggish torso over and through, out into the frigid hiss of liquid atmosphere and unevenly battered pavement, the birds above peculiarly polite in their spectral patience. Perhaps Eileen wants to talk.

"Come on." Frogmarch is the term. Teodoro steers the older man by the adjoined wrists and one shoulder in the bruising grasp of his own hands, shoves him forward every third step. They pass the vehicle's flank, ascend the sidewalk with a dragging rasp of shoes, and—

Don't stop.

Joseph doesn't give Danko the time of day for his comment, still seething. More things than birds can break windows, in any case, and then where will they be. Trying to relax, Joseph leans back against his seat as he listens and half-watches Danko get hauled out of the car as matter of fact as he'd been shoved inside. He almost misses it, too, torn between a guilt trip between going against the rule of the Ferry and endangering if not Joseph, but Teo, but—

"Son of a bitch." He doesn't mean to mimic Danko's words of a few moments prior to now, hissed as it is into the quiet car as he watches Teo keep— going—

Birds, what birds? Fumbling desperately with the car door, Joseph is shouting his name with as much paternal indignance as he can muster, as if "Teo!" could equal 'get back here, young man' and actually work, even before his shoe comes down onto slick asphalt. He's unarmed when he probably shouldn't be, save for keys to both his car and a set of handcuffs, and a cellphone that was meant to save the day. He pays as much attention to the rain as he does the sleek black raven bodies.

The carrion birds do not descend on Joseph like a carcass left to rot in the scorching desert sun the instant he sets foot outside the car. They don't pounce in the moments that follow, either, but this is because the pistol that had previously been in the holster Eileen wears under her coat is now leveled with the pastor's chest. Her feet grind to an abrupt halt and scuff against cement when she comes up on the front of the vehicle, her shape reflected in its glimmering hood and the sheen that covers the pavement she and Joseph are both standing on.

The weapon's safety is off.

"Pastor," she says, her hoarse voice audible above the rain without her needing to raise it more than a fraction of a decibel. "Get back in the car. Please."

A rank breath rakes harsh and hot through slivered teeth, billowing up into Teo's face against raindrops pelting heavy and cold enough to hit like hail. It jounces and spatters off hooded brows and bare arms all the same, bleeding grimy runoff into a dribble under his chin and around bound wrists. The closest thing to a shower Emile's had the pleasure of experiencing in over two weeks.

But odds are, he's been without one longer than that, and he has bigger problems than personal hygiene to worry about. Like the fact that he's being hustled well past extinguished tail lights and open trunk, even with his ankles chained and his stride hitched short and jackrabbit shoulders jostling stiff against Teo's ongoing efforts to manhandle him off to Acheron and other places he's decided he'd rather not go after all.

It isn't until Eileen's movement and the sheen of gunmetal catch at his peripheral vision that he actually manages to twist himself around enough to get a good look at what's happening in their wake, and the graveled, chuffing chuckle it entices falls far short of pleasant. One knee near buckles; his boot drags sideways only to scuff along with Teo's forward momentum all the same.

"She's gonna shoot him?"

No, Teo wants to say, but he's checking through Joseph's eyes instead of over his shoulder and it would appear that the inquiry contains an extremely volatile, dangerous, and unpleasant sort of legitimacy. He doesn't know. God. He hopes not.

"Eileen!" He doesn't turn to say it, despite that there's the urge to do so ratcheting and jamming in the curl of his vertebrates. The Sicilian only hauls and hurdles the smaller man one, two more hopelessly challenged steps, before giving up that particular task in favor of inflicting a kick at the back of Emile's knee, you know, the one that was caving anyway. It's far from perfect assurance that the older man is going to stay down, but it plays placeholder while he fishes a semi-automatic out from under his own arm, weighing full clip and metal frame heavy against his palm.

The Glock's muzzle shoves hard into the bend of the older man's thinning head as Teo tramples around, repositioning awkwardly, eyes flitting to and fro over the dripping point of his long nose, returning with increasing urgency to the rain-broken figures of his friends. Comrades? Frien— fuck. It strikes a sour note in him, revelatory, that he's the only one with a weapon pointed at the enemy tonight. "Eileen, he isn't armed."

No, because Teo is armed, and so Joseph isn't armed. That had been the plan. The pastor's plan. Maybe not just his. Black eyes blinkablink and squint through rain at Eileen in abstract disbelief, and hurt and betrayal and all those emotions that tide over into simple anger and frustration. He'll feel the more complex ones later. He was close - about two blocks away, kind of close. Twitching the movement, Joseph sends a glance back towards where Teo is pointing a gun, heart lurching up and down before he swings that look back towards Eileen, a hand out as if he could ward her off with willpower alone.

"The hell I am," is spoken to the woman, only barely loudly enough. He's also not dying for the likes of Emile Danko. "No one's shooting anyone. What is wrong with you?"

—is directed at both of them. Joseph's hand drips into his jacket pocket to grip onto the cellphone hidden there, to fumble for numbers, taking a step back from Eileen and towards Teo and Danko.

Any number of small but significant variations in tonight's scenario might contribute to a different outcome. If the weather had been clearer, maybe— Or if Joseph and Teo opted to move their captive when the sky was still slate gray instead of black, a wan glow infusing Midtown's hollow shell with better light to see by. As he goes for the phone in his pocket, instinct takes precedence over logic and Eileen drops her aim from Joseph's chest to his left leg above the knee.

Her finger compresses around the trigger, and the crack of the ensuing gunshot sends the crows scattering into the air in every direction — sideways, straight up, skimming wingtips across the hood and roof of the car in a frantic dash away, fleeing the sound that splits the night like thunder.

There might. Be. The slightest twist of muddled concern in the way Danko peels his attention back over onto Teo when there's no confirmation one way or the other. Whether it's legitimate or merely butt hurt about someone else he doesn't like getting to put the squeeze on his personal chew toy is hard to tell. Especially given that he doesn't have much more time than it takes to ??? before his knee makes an unattractive popping sound out from under him and he finds himself tanking into a hard fall on his side.

For a solid minute, through the gun's report and the drive of cold rain against the side of his face, he just lies there without moving in his own shocky little black hole of pain. Light from nowhere bleeds red across the insides of closed eyes, and then slowly, stiffly, he manages to tip himself over onto his back with a scuffed bootheel and a blood-slick cough. Tonight was supposed to suck, but not this much.

Teo and the tiny bigot can agree on that much, at least. This sucks pretty fucking bad. The gunshot goes off and, "Eileen." the Sicilian's remonstrance is practically a yelp with the effort required to pitch over the drone of rain and growl of wind and the subtle influence of conspiring corvids on the white noise. If they'dve done this an hour earlier, if there was more light to see by, he could see better what was going on, but his temper is left to its perplexity as Eileen's trigger-finger is her convictions.

He then asks, only just loud enough for Danko to here somewhere in the soupy static of shit weather and proximity rancid with breath: "What the fuck?" Emile couldn't really supply an answer even if he were inclined to do so, though, genetically incapable of the sudden complication that blinds Teo in his mind's eye. He tries again. To get a closer look. Finds himself further quagmired in the bowl of his own skull like a beetle drowning in breakfast oatmeal, straightens, turns, his gun up in one hand and the other curled white-knuckled around Danko's T-shirt collar.

There's neither time to shout a warning nor a warning shot; after all, one has already been fired, and that reconfigures sitrep the instant it's true. One bullet goes through Teo's shoulder, coruscates a flash of light and a twanging ricochet off the wall above Joseph's head.

Engines gun in synchrony and high-beams flare, hurl a blinding migraine's worth of light into the pastor's eyes and the Sicilian's peripheral vision, mutate Eileen's stiff-legged shadow into a gangling titaness across the rain-hived asphalt.

When the birds startle, there's little purchase the Englishwoman can find in their panic-stricken minds though, for a moment or a sporadic handful of instants chopped up and scattered out between feathered proxies, adrenalized temporal dilation, and the wobbling distortion of the megaphone's funnelled amplification, Eileen is privvy to the eerie stereo effect of hearing the intruders introduce themselves in fifty points of surround sound. "Department of Homeland Security, don't move."

His cellphone never makes it out of his pocket, which is how good Eileen is, supposedly. A shock of a cry is yelped out into rainy air and cut off again even before Joseph hits the ground, though he's quick to do that too. His leg crumples useless beneath him, hands going down to his thigh rather than any thought given to catching himself on the asphalt that leaps up to meet him.

And then he yells in pain, deliberate, as hands come to clammily press against where blood is busy making denim black. Getting shot hurts, and Joseph couldn't tell you Emile's last name, let alone what's up with him right now, enemies split apart by their collective hurts.

"God damnit," he blasphemes, just in time for synapses to fire for the sake of irony to remind him about the idea of the fair weather pastor. And goodness knows it's raining—

He has sense enough to cower when a bullet zips through the air, promptly thrown into a situation he never ever wanted to be in. Though Joseph could reach out an arm and brush fingertips to his car, the distance between him and the driver's door seems to stretch like an eternity. "Teo," he bleats out, senselessly, having seen what he was pretty sure to be the younger man's body jerk as if struck, although he's less crying out for concern. More for help. Eileen can take care of her own skinny ass.

Incidentally, it's not her own ass that Eileen is covering. Her grotesque outline silhouetted against the glare of the spotlight, she raises her gun arm and squeezes off two more shots, this time directed at the source of the booming voice made gargantuan by the megaphone's amplifier and loudspeaker. Whether or not she hits her target is irrelevant; she's using the time between staccato reports of gunfire to seize the back of Joseph's coat, forcibly hauling him from the pavement with all the strength her matchstick arms can muster.

"Get up," she's snarling, teeth flashing like fangs from behind her lips. Teo might be reassured to know that her ire is directed inward rather than out — she didn't come here to shoot Joseph, and the fact that his blood is soaking through his pants and mingling with the rainwater dripping down his leg twists her gut in knots. "You only need the right one to drive!"

Hollow cheeks puffed out against a splutter of caught air and saliva threaded thin with tracks of off-color blood, Danko bites back some blaspheming of his own when he's hauled back up onto his boots by a choking grip at his collar. His shirt clings heavy to his shoulders and across his chest, whatever slack he might've earned in snubbing Ferrymen meals held firm by Laudani at the scruff his neck. He doesn't weigh much. Not even as much as he used to.

But sure as shit if he wasn't awake before, he is now, eyes the color of wet cement cold as the rain running down his back in their pave down and across the street, after Joseph's felled form and the limey bird girl dragging him out've a backdrop of pure white light —

The mechanical, nasally bellow of the megaphone doesn't register in his bleary head as much as the familiar flash of a muzzle blast and the jerk of Teo's shoulder after it spark belated adrenaline. Helpfully, upon feeling the tension at his neck go a little slack, he winds the fingers of his bound hands together, "Fuck this," and swings them up into the winged Italian's retarded face like a cinderblock of waxwork and bone, cuffs and all with a final, "and fuck you."

The Italian's clever face meets the knuckles of the unkind gnome's hands with a noise like melon thrown into a hard surface. Crunch, semi-liquid, rainwater suddenly running a shock of heat down the bony shrimp curls of Danko's fingers. Teo staggers in floodlight, the reassuring answer meant for the shouting pastor lost somewhere in the hiss of rain and the snorting gurgle of bent cartlidge and ruptured. Second time he's been hit in the face with that force in two weeks. Fate's a jealous tit, isn't it?

The clop of running feet behind him spur Teo into retreat, in disobedience to the spoken commands as blatant as that which seem to have consumed— well. All of them. Retaliation is discarded. Which is to say, Danko is discarded also, shoved past with a moistly spat curse; Teodoro rounds into the street, one shoulder perforated and jangling useless and Glock shinily twitching like the hysterical throes of a suffocating fish in its fingers. He removes himself from the trajectory of headlights before he hooks toward Joseph. And Eileen.

The rounds that bounce off the sidewalk and asphalt behind him are a near miss for somebody else and, though it's hard to tell in the pandemonium of night, made of rubber.

Four running figures rake the pavement behind the Sicilian, armed, snub-nosed weapons and the Cheshire-bright parenthesis of cuffs cracked open for Danko's wrists. For the littlest terrorist, there's the fleeting impression shielded faces, exposed identification unreadable in the backlight, the options of pursuit or surrender.

Other gay is yelling in the background, made almost unintelligible by the combination of face trauma and— "Get in the car!" He yells. Two or three times, none of the iterations entirely clear. There's a man practically right behind him, coated bullets singing stranger songs as they skim pavement past him, nip the Daihatsu's brake light, plunge a hole through the back window of the car and rupturing the rest with laminated craquelure, focusing with effort on Eileen Ruskin's shrinking figure.

Joseph is more inclined to crawl somewhere dark and quiet as opposed to getting up, his body barely moving in response to Eileen's urgent tugs, hands slipping on sopping wet fabric until she gets a good grip. If God is listening, he'd like to reverse the last— two weeks, at minimum, but if that's asking too much, the last five minutes in which he listened to Emile goddamn Danko and just drove. But God doesn't really work that way. Not mysterious enough.

Walking takes two legs, someone should tell Eileen, but there's lots of shouting and his car is being shot. Hoping to latch onto anger instead of pain, Joseph grips onto Eileen's arm and allows her to help him drag him up, wherein he mostly falls back against the wet blue body of his vehicle and drags himself towards a door, any door.

Like the driver's door, where Eileen is more or less steering him towards. He bats the metal wing wider before falling inside the protective shell of metal, woundedly dragging the rest of himself after before he's groping for the key stuck in the ignition, working on auto-pilot while the rest of him steps back and regards what a nightmare this happens to be. The fact that the engine starts seems highly unlikely for no other reason than Murphy's law. His face is shock white under the dim light of the cab, which goes out when he thinks to slam his door shut.

Other people will want to get in the car around now.

The number of times that Teodoro has gotten Eileen into trouble does not exceed or outweigh the number of times he's wrested her from its clutches — but even if it did, she's not about to clamber over Joseph into the passenger's seat, shove the muzzle of her pistol against the pastor's temple and demand that he drive. That's something Ethan might do, and Eileen is not her father.

As the driver's side door slams shut behind him with enough force to rock the vehicle, she drops her gun arm and raises the other, drawing from her ability's depleted reserves to summon the crows back to her. Most of the flock slips uselessly through her fingers like infinitesimal grains of fine black sand. She knows this feeling, the futile struggling against power negation and its numbing effects. It had been similar with Dina when she was still alive, and more recently under John Logan's influence.

One of the birds pops in a burst of black feathers and gore, spattering the street with oily confetti and a stream of vibrant-coloured innards. They do not stand up well against bullets. Neither does Teo for that matter, which is why she's directing the remaining corvids into the space between the Sicilian and his pursuers. She lacks the control to command an attack; it's better the birds die than an ally or a loved one. The terms are interchangeable in this case.

"Hold there! Hands behind your back!"

"They're already cuffed up front, Boss." Danko's voice struggles hoarse against the first fumbling grab a badge-wielding agent makes at his elbow, and he — sneezes, spattering both their sleeves with a runny film of blood and mucous. The older man is already weaving on his feet, balance broken by battered knee and opiate fog rolling through the recesses of his brain like miso soup to lap at reflex and reason alike.

Rain dribbles off the hard jut of his hooded brows and chin for as long as he's able to writhe from further restraint, tossed off in an uneven spray when it occurs to him to jag his bound hands past a patdown to wrap them cold around the nearest wielded sidearm and the hands attached to it. Conveniently, it's already pointing at Joseph's car and the meddling kids trying to hustle their way into it when he gives the agent he's gripped onto a little manditory motiviational ~boost~. Which is to say, he helps them squeeze the trigger three, four, five times rapid fire.

Joseph's driver's side rear view splinters, an unlucky crow bursts into bird-boned viscera, and then there's an arm looped around his neck burly enough to lift him clear off his twee boot treads. Somebody gets kangaroo kicked in something soft enough to give and vomits. Just HBLGUHHHkk, plop, all over the goddamn place. No joke.

Unfortunately Danko's too busy watching the world buzz and fade to grey to relish the smell.

You don't need extrasensory superpowers to be able to tell that things are dying here. Bird parts, car parts. Teo breaks the storm and blood slick on his face with a rattled cough, caroms elbow-first into the back door, skewed into the driver's side, before he manages to reconfigure his arm and numbed fingers enough to get it open.

Fuck, but the Daihatsu's a mess now: it wouldn'tve been any worse if he had just popped Danko's head in focus of the rearview mirror. Right now, there's nothing in the rearview mirror but thronged legs, beating wings, blood and needling rainwater texturing a mangled grain into the atmosphere. More megaphone. Hard to hear through the (once— thrice, now— oh, Danko got one in too) punctured window, but you get the gist, even if you're inside, bleeding out of a limb, and don't quite catch it that they're asking after Ruskin, alive, and by name.

He yanks himself in and the door shut at around the point a DHS agent is yawning sloppy chunks over the dwarven nutcase's flailing boots half a sidewalk away. On his hands and knees, Teo hurls himself across the backseat, broken glass tossing like confetti over his fingers and jacket collar, his gun jumbling into the slither of unfastened seatbelts. He yells at Eileen to get in, pushes the other passenger door open, which basically just means the bullet that zips through it lose four, five miles-per-hour ripping through the window pane before it rams squarely into the base of Eileen's throat, buckling into clavicles, with force just short of crushing her windpipe.

"Fucking hold him." Johnson isn't normally one to curse, but the words rally with acerbic vehemence into his shoulder radio, stinging Danko's captor to a tighter hold, grinding thin limbs into small sockets, a hooking jerk back toward the van. Someone has a saw out, ready to separate the older man's wrists before they get him into a setup closer to company standard. Further ahead, the DHS agent sends shoe-sized canister into the knot of birds, the vehicle and its nuke-scarred curb.

It's a beautiful throw and an easy shot.

Traces an elegant parabola through the air, connects with pavement in a solid rattle before the first plume of CS gas roostertails into the air, scorching a chemical reek into the Ferrymen's eyes, their noses, roiling translucent up the windows in defiance to the rain's weighted effect. The patriots that come through it are visored with plastic, uniformed, so mad with adrenaline and the tangible proximity of success that they're barely human.

There is nothing silent about this scene, but the sudden vrrr of engine adds to the cacophony as Joseph panicky coordinates hands and one foot into getting the his unrecognisable car out of here, or in the beginnings of doing so. He thought he'd seen Eileen go down, or disappear so fast from the frame of a window that she's either hit or developed teleportation, in which case, Joseph can feel less guilty later, despite himself.

The Daihatsu jerks forward at a faulty slam, and smoke starts to seep on in. Joseph flinches at the instant sear of chemical reaction, heart pounding loud enough that Teo in the back is as irrelevant as Eileen on the curb. There's a screech of tires against slick asphalt, the shudder forward is enough of a start to swing the door Teo had pushed open back closed, and they're driving at a blind swerve at first, before aligning with the road and roaring on down it.

Eileen can't blame him.

That's not a figure of speech, either. She really can't. As the chemicals react with the moisture on her skin and in her eyes, the world squeezes shut around her, replacing the rainwater clinging to her face and hair with a burning sensation that forces tears from their ducts and sends them snaking hot down her cheeks. If there's anything she wanted to say to either Joseph or Teo before the car rips away from the curb, it's smothered by deep, racking coughs that dredge mucus up from her throat and lungs as she struggles to take in oxygen.

Asthma and tear gas don't mix.

One hand closes around her throat, too disoriented to realize she isn't bleeding out from it. The other fumbles feebly in a puddle for a dropped pistol she can't see. She isn't on her feet anymore. Hasn't been since she crumpled against the car and hit the pavement with an audible crackle caused by her weapon skittering away across the cement.

Over on Danko's end of the sidewalk, no oxygen's getting in or out and the pain in his throat is clawing its way into the place of priority number one. Too late. One last kick is just there enough to plow someone's helmet sideways, his back arches, and his hands rake clumsily for purchase at the arm belted around his neck, but he's going nowhere.

Save maybe for wherever the gorilla jerking him around like a puppet with its strings cut decides to sling him once he's blacked out.

There isn't a bird in the city who would stop to help Eileen now, and it's upon her gagging figure, helpless and small, that the masked patriots descend with efficiency. The hands she has braced flimsily against the pavement are pulled out from under her, dragged behind her back and locked together.

She is under arrest. With verbal captions, in case she did not understand her situation or is actually available to hear it. Johnson's handling is not unduly rough, but she warrants little roughness at all. Easier to lift than drag: the gas is relied upon to take care of the worst part of her resistance.

Mmmmaybe they should have brought tasers, but the close-quartered contact of this tack tonight, and the rain, would have made usage unfeasible anyway. There are tranquilizers in the van in lieu of candy.

They neglect to give the proper recognition to the car shouldering away from the sidewalk but four yards from the shredding gas cloud. A parting shot for appearance's sake, blinding a license plate light. There isn't really a rearwindow anymore.

Stiff-shouldered and bubbling at the mouth like a landlocked crab, Teo rolls, jostles, bounces unevenly across the ergonomically lumped backseat. Streaks blood and chunked glass under his fingers, the rictus of his mouth rimmed red in clots around his half-formed beard. He couldn't blame Joseph either, in the sense that he couldn't blame Joseph either. He closes his other hand around the Glock. Says, "Take a right," without concrete expectation the pastor will listen.

"Go to hell," is muttered back without concrete expectation the terrorist will listen, but perhaps surprisingly, Joseph takes a right with a dubiously navigated swerve that forces both men within the car to brace themselves. He isn't sure where else they're supposed to be driving, anymore. Air hisses out of Joseph's teeth which remain clenched as if to guard against everything he wants to say and everything he couldn't bring himself to say.

With uneven lights and rain blowing in through gapped windows, the Daihatsu trundles through empty streets as fast and as agile as it can be made to go, using midtown to the best of its ability to shake off any tails. It's when Joseph near clips a black street lamp that it swerves to a halt. If bullet holes are like cellphones, Teo can drive them back.

If not, then the night is more inconclusive than the certainty of dawn beginning to turn the sky navy to slate grey.

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